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Learned Man’s scary night with Jessica

By Makau Kitata

There is a kind of sadness that visits optimists in January. On this day, we met to break the Christmas and New Year holidays’ partying. As with all New Year resolutions, we indulged more after promising to quit. We had met in high school and then again on campus, managing to delude ourselves that being colleagues was equivalent to friendship.

Mutemi was a medic and worked in our county hospital. Surgical procedures gave him a sense of purpose in life. But they also left him exhausted. He’d sneak from his night shifts to join our drinking parties. Muteti, the political scientist, was now Deputy County Commissioner, or DC, as we called him. During the day he had armed security; at night, he carried a gun.  I had studied literature and was teaching English and stories at the girls’ school across town. To this group, I was the underdog – able to quote famous writers but with the least financial power.

Miss Jessica Mutile, a younger graduate, was the only outsider in the group. She was working at the DC’s office as the communications girl. Correcting all correspondence in the county office made DC feel illiterate. She knew he had clumsy sentences and an inability to write a good speech. Our common calling made us strike an easy association.

Jessica was a beauty to behold and knew men desired her. She perceived that we needed wives and she was the most eligible in our world. If any of us dated another girl, we ensured Jessica didn’t know – miserably policing ourselves. She towered high and loved high heels. I often told my friends, “She is a tall order.” Accepting defeat and taking refuge in wordplay.

Recently, our classmate Godfrey Musili returned from South Africa with a master’s degree in law and an attitude to boot. He worked in a local law firm and had established a vicious reputation in Machakos as the lawyer who got things done. To him, we were his academic juniors and inferior beings. He didn’t care to parade his girlfriends. He’d break from a conversation to take a phone call as he walked slightly away, enough for anyone to know he was speaking to a woman. Perpetually on his feet and a phone in hand, Jessica was taken in by his arrogance. At last, she had found an ally against the people she had known – and despised.

On this day, Musili had convinced Jessica to escort him to the furnished apartment he had rented for the day.  Jessica didn’t come to our habitual party, choosing to enjoy her evening in the more private apartment. Shortly after Musili joined us, he announced he had to go.

When he stood to leave, I told him, “Congrats, Learned Man. Remember to tell us how it went.”

DC looked at me and wondered what we were talking about.

“Guys, there can only be one bull in the pen,” I said.

“Last Man, I hope Learned Man is not in an escapade with someone’s wife or a small girl from your school. You know I can arrest him for that, and you too for abetting a crime,” warned DC. It was apparent he was the only one who had not picked up the blossoming relations between Jessica and Learned Man. His government power could not allow him to see he had lost the bet.

“Use the spear well. If the cut is precise, there is no blood drawn or bone broken,” said Doc in his grave casualness.

At around midnight, when all was quiet, we heard a scream coming from the direction of the apartments. Suddenly, Learned Man entered the room we were drinking from, frantic and trying to catch his breath and hide his nakedness.  I offered my jacket to somehow cover the midnight apparition.

“Who took your clothes away?” roared the DC. “Are the robbers still around?”

“She is dead. Jessica has died. I have killed her. What am I going to do, guys?” he rumbled.

“What happened?” we all asked, suddenly sober.

He was unable to speak, but I later got the story of the tragic love tryst: While the new lovebirds were rolling and rocking in ecstasy, Jessica’s insistent shouts of “Kill me! Learned Man, kill me!” seemed to encourage Musili who now applied all his gymnastic fantasies.

In due course, he felt Jessica kick under him and shriek. Then she kicked again and again like a mad person wrestling herself from the clutches of a malevolent force. Then she dug her fingers into him, dragging him along into an abyss. He got alarmed.

Freeing himself, to avoid an embrace to oblivion, Musili disengaged to see her kick and stretch stiff. Saliva and foam frothed from her mouth as she kicked and twitched again. Then she rolled her eyes, screeched, and lay limp. On seeing this frantic loss in the fight for life, Musili panicked and rushed out of the room, naked.

“I have killed the girl,” He shouted as he collapsed. DC grabbed his side to ensure the gun was in place.

“What girl? Did you take a high school child to your apartment as we had feared?” he growled.

“Ok. Let’s go and see what he is talking about,” said Doc in his usual calmness.

When we got to the house, there was an eerie silence as we anticipated the catastrophic sight. Then DC pushed the door open with Doc at his heels. Musili grabbed his trousers from the floor and tried to slip in.

The bedroom door opened to reveal a serene figure of Jessica, seated on the bed in her white see-me-through evening dress.

“Get me a glass of water,” she groggily requested.

On hearing this, Musili bolted again into the night, swearing that Jessica was dead when he left the house. He had seen a ghost.

“What is the meaning of this, Jessica?” I asked. “Say something. Doc might help.”

“Last Man, leave these fools alone,” she snapped, limply rising to support herself with my shoulder. “Can you take me to the nearest chemist? I forgot to take my anti-convulsion tablets because of this January partying,” she added, sadly revealing the reason for her many years of abstinence.

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