(Continued from Vanuatu IV)
Vanuatu stares at the lawyer. He is a short man with a cylindrical figure, his potbelly rounding up into his soft chest. He is wearing a relatively expensive suit, but it is a couple of sizes too big.
After getting their measurements for the funeral dresses taken, the sisters split up. Clarise met a friend and they decided to go shopping for shoes while Vanuatu came to this lawyer’s office. Their uncle told them he had errands to run. They agreed to meet up later for the drive home.
“Are you saying that I cannot get copies of my father’s files?”
“Yes. They are protected under advocate-client confidentiality,”
“My father is dead, and I am his first born. I am your client now,”
“Your father left a will. He named your uncle Fredrick as the executioner. Fredrick is the only one who has the right to access my files.”
“A will? Why am I hearing about this now?”
“Your father just died, Vanuatu. It is not like we have had lots of time. We will read it after the burial,”
“Who are the beneficiaries?”
“I cannot tell you that. Just wait until I have gathered all the others then you will all get to know,”
“Alright. That should be all then,” she says rising.
The lawyer coughs and smiles, a sinister, wolf-like smile.
“But I can talk to Fredrick to allow me to share the documents with you. I am sure he will not refuse,”
Vanuatu sits again.
“Fine, why don’t you call him so that I can leave with the copies?”
“He usually doesn’t pick calls. I will send a message to him to call me back then we can meet up later so that I hand you your copies. We can even dinner while at it,” he says. Vanuatu can feel his eyes undressing her shamelessly. He is not even attempting to be discreet in his ogling.
“I came with him and he is expecting my call because I will go back with him to Timau. Let me call him. He could even come here and give you a verbal authorization,”
Vanuatu extracts her phone from her handbag and dials her uncle’s number.
Fredrick picks up the call at the second ring.
“Are you done, Vanuatu?”
“Almost. Just one small detail. I need copies of the documents relating to all the transactions the lawyer has ever done on behalf of my father. The lawyer is saying that only you can authorize that,”
“Let me talk to him,”
Vanuatu hands over the phone to the lawyer. From the bits of conversation she can get from the lawyer’s end of the conversation, she knows that she will not get the files immediately. The lawyer and Fredrick are obviously “boys”. Which makes her wonder whether the alleged will is legitimate. She needs her own lawyer. She makes a mental note to call Pastor Musyoka’s son. Maybe the pastor just genuinely wanted to help.
Fredrick smiles. He had told that lawyer Waithaka to draft a fake will. It is part of the larger scheme to inherit Festus’s property. He does not intend to have the will read at all. His plan was to file the succession case secretly, forging the signatures of both Clarise and Vanuatu. If his plan had worked, he would be the owner of the property by the time Vanuatu and Clarise got suspicious.
He knows Waithaka wants to sleep with Vanuatu. The guy is a hopeless womanizer. Fredrick thought about that possibility when he let her go to the lawyer’s office alone. Letting her go alone was a triple win for him actually. First, it would allow him to meet Karimi-at a restaurant because he cannot afford to be seen entering the guesthouse-and following up on the transfer of the DCIO and the elimination of the assassin. Second, it would improve his credibility in the eyes of Vanuatu. She has started complaining that that he is controlling her every move. Letting her go on her own would make her feel free. He had no issue with that because he knows Waithaka would not dare cross him. Finally, he knew Waithaka would make passes at her. For a man not endowed with good looks or impressive physique, Waithaka has an astonishing record of success when it comes to wooing women. And all the women he seduces are usually stunning beauties half his age. Vanuatu certainly fit the bill. Fredrick is convinced that a romance-however short-lived-would be welcome to distract Vanuatu away from her father’s business. By the time Waithaka gets tired of her, he, Fredrick, will have found her a job and shipped her off to Nairobi so that he can defraud her and her sister in peace. He will get her fired later.
He had not expected any of the girls to offer resistance. Vanuatu is proving to be more formidable than he had thought. He will have to think hard of a way to contain her. He knows she wants to be a journalist. He will pull some strings to get her a job to get rid of her. Then he will ensure Clarise goes off to medical school. Except that he will not allow her to complete her studies.
“So you were saying…” Fredrick turns to Karimi after finishing his conversation with Waithaka.
“I have good news and bad news. We have found the assassin. He is still at Moshi. The inspector lied to you,”
“So he is dead?”
Karimi looks at her watch, a simple gold, wrist watch.
“He should be by now. My people are working on it.”
“I presume that that is the good news. So what is the bad news?”
“Victor refused to play ball. He says the Inspector is a favourite of some big shot. Basically, he is untouchable,”
“Who saw the Probox leaving the guest-house?”
“No one. Since I reported that it had been missing it was tucked away at a small farm that I own outside town, hidden in a shed. While there, I had it repainted by your crook Amos (he overcharged me by the way) and he also fixed a false number plate on it,”
“You own a farm? How come I don’t know about it?”
“You didn’t say I have to tell you everything I do with the money you pay me,”
She has a point, and Fredrick knows it.
“Okay, so how did they get to the Probox?”
“When the assassins went in with the girls, I had another of your crooks steal their car. Apparently they had also stolen it. The car was found yesterday abandoned at a garage in Nyeri. Anyway, when they finished with the girls and came down to drive away, they discovered that their car was missing. There were very few cars in the parking lot, but one of them was a silver Probox which had windows rolled down and engine running. The gate was open so they did what any criminal would have done. They assumed the owner had forgotten something inside the guesthouse so they stole the car and fled,”
“Why didn’t you let them use their car?”
“Because your crook had tampered with the brakes of that Probox. Of course I had poisoned their beer, but just in case the poison didn’t work as it should have, then the car would take care of them. Up to now I am not sure whether it is the brakes or the poison that sent them to the river,”
“So if they dust the Probox for fingerprints they will find yours and the girls’?”
“They will probably find mine, but that will not be a problem because they will later discover that the car is the one I had reported as missing. The girls and your crooks had gloves at all times,”
“Where was the guesthouse guard when all this was happening?”
“I sent him to the mall to get me sanitary pads. At that time most of the shops were closed, but there is an all-night supermarket on the other side of town. I knew it would take time before he got there, and when he got there, it would take some time before he figured out what I wanted. Amos opened the gate as he was stealing the assassins’ car and left it that way. By the time the guard came back, both cars were out of the compound.”
“The guard must have seen the silver Probox come in,”
“He didn’t. Amos rolled it in after he had left for the supermarket,”
Fredrick smiles. Karimi is a genius. But the more amusing thing is the thought of the old man who guards the guest house walking up and down the aisles of a supermarket looking for sanitary pads. The man is a grandfather, and Karimi only keeps him employed because he is cheap.
“And the girls, where are they now?”
“In the Pit,”
The Pit is a room on the topmost floor of the guesthouse. Girls who have a disciplinary issue, like arguing with a client, or getting drunk, are usually sent there. Karimi dictates the length of time a girl stays in the Pit.
“Are they expendable?”
Meaning, do they have family? Most of the girls who work at the guest house are former street girls who would not be missed by anyone even if they disappeared. If the other girls asked they would be told that they just disappeared without telling anyone. But being a prostitute herself, Karimi is very protective of the girls. She argues with Fredrick often about their pay and their working conditions. None of the girls has ever been killed, although knowing Fredrick, Karimi has always known that that day would come sooner or later.
It seems that that day has finally come.
“The girls are not a threat Fredrick. There is no need to get rid of them. They will stay in the pit until the dust settles then they will resume service. They are my best girls. I cannot afford to lose them.”
“I don’t think you appreciate what we are dealing with here, Karimi. This inspector is thorough. And today the way he was looking at me, it is like he suspects that I am involved in Festus’ death somehow. They already know that that Probox is the one you had reported as missing, so you can expect the inspector to scrutinize you. We cannot afford to have loose ends, and those girls are extremely loose ends. They have to go Karimi. And soon. So make it happen, preferably tonight. I have to go now. I need to take my nieces home. Call me as soon as you get word from the guy you sent to finish off the assassin,” he says and rises to leave.
The DCIO, Inspector Sempere, enters the ward with Dr. Ouko, the Medical Superintendent. They find the curtains around the assassin’s bed drawn. There had been discussions on whether the guy should be taken to a private ward to protect him from the other patients, but the hospital management refused. Private wards are reserved for patients who can pay.
Dr. Ouko pulls the curtain inside and is surprised to see another doctor, Dr. Oloo, preparing to inject the patient.
“Dr. Oloo, what are you doing? I am this patient’s doctor and I have not authorized any injections,”
“He was struggling and I decided to give him a sedative,”
“What are you even doing here? You are not on call. It should be Dr. Alice and Dr. Wahome doing the rounds. And I was in my office. If there was a problem with my patient, I should have been called. You should have alerted me before deciding to inject,”
The two doctors stare at each other. Then suddenly Dr. Oloo lunges at Dr. Ouko. But Inspector Sempere anticipates the move and tackles the offending doctor, then cuffs him.
“I will want to know the substance in that syringe,” Sempere says, pointing at the syringe that Doctor Oloo had been holding, now rolling on the ground. “I will send it to the government chemist. Put on gloves before you touch it.”
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