1. Cat Woman
No bad deed goes unpunished. When I interact with someone, I open their file in my mind and I see how they treated me from the first time we met and I reward and punish them accordingly. Everything is weighed on a scale and nothing escapes me. I am the judge, jury, and executioner; some get away with a slap on the wrist, and others, well, others pay the ultimate price.
Even as I close the door to the basement to go for my date, I know my reward and punishment system will catch up with me someday, but today is not that day and my nosy neighbor, Natalie certainly won’t be the one to unravel it. She came around, apparently to say hello when really she wanted to gossip about two of our neighbors—Owen and Lucy who have been missing. It doesn’t help that they were my next-door neighbors. Oh, snooping Natalie, I have already opened her file and perhaps I will pay her a visit one of these days.
But enough about her, I have a hot date tonight. But first I bolt shut the door to my basement with three hardened padlocks and hide it with a bookshelf. I look at my sitting room with a grin. It now says I am a well-adjusted upper-middle-class woman in her late twenties.
The black cat scratching the bookshelf, looking for the scent it can’t quite find is called Kiwi. It says I’m crazy but not too crazy to keep more than one. She scratches the bookshelf some more as the silver cross written Kiwi fastened on her blue-collar swings left and right.
The picture on the wall of me in a bikini in Diani with what looks like friends says I am outgoing, and the other picture of me in Paris and the UK next to the Eiffel tower and London Eye says I am well-traveled and I can afford things beyond the clothes on my back and the food in my belly. While the sculpture of the smiling buddha on my TV stand says I am a free spirit, superstitious, or crazier.
All in all, I’m decent enough to have scored a date with an eligible Nairobi bachelor, God knows those are hard to come by nowadays. I look in my full-length mirror one last time; The tiny butterfly tattoo on my ankle says I’m hip, without being ratchet and the little white dress with a dipping cleavage that I’m wearing says he might get lucky tonight if he plays his cards right. Will he play his cards right, or will he fumble the bag? And if he does, will he get away with a slap on the wrist, or will he pay the ultimate price? I wonder as I wear my red heels and leave the house.
2. Wine and Di(e)ne
God is always making men; some are tall, others short. Some hate women and others love them too much. Some shower three times a day, while others don’t believe in soap. Some are cruel and others are cowards. But every once in a while you come across a proper man that makes you rethink your singlehood. And I’m lucky enough to be seated across from one.
Moses smiles at me. We have been talking for over an hour and it feels like I have known him for a lifetime. He is a writer, a Master of Ceremonies, and a Marathon Runner. He is one of those men who go around the world being successful at everything they do, you could almost resent him. He reveals his perfect pair of teeth again and that devilish smile cuts me open like a dagger. Moses, oh Moses, take me to the promised land.
“Your keyholder is unique.” He puts his empty glass of wine down, picks up my keys from the table, and starts fiddling with the cat-shaped design.
A man who pays attention to detail. I smile while drinking the last dregs of my sweet red.
He picks a key. “What does this one open?” I look at him and smile nervously. “Let me guess, it’s the key to your heart,” he adds.
I giggle. “It’s one of those things that if I told you, then I would have to kill you.”
“I’m already dead from your killer looks,” he flatters.
“Let’s get out of here,” I say, grabbing the keys from his hands.
“Do you have a location in mind?”
I told you, it’s not every day you meet a proper man in Nairobi but when you do, you grab the bull by the balls. And this one, this Moses, I am going to let him part my legs like the Red Sea.
He parks his BMW X5 in my Townhouse driveway in Spring Valley, gets out, and opens the passenger door for me. I’m hot and bothered and I can’t quite open the door to my house. “Let me,” he says, taking the keys from my hands.
Kiwi has been busy looking for the scent she couldn’t quite find and in doing so, she knocked a couple of books off the bookshelf revealing my basement door. But Moses’ eyes are deep in my cleavage for him to notice. He raises them and I distract him further by plunging my tongue deep into his mouth I think I touch his tonsils.
My white dress is soon a puddle on the floor and Moses is in my burning bush, taking me to the promised land again and again and again. I raise my head to gasp for air. I didn’t imagine you could go to the promised land that many times. I will keep this one I think, as he takes out the rubber from his now flaccid penis and I go to freshen up having forgotten all about my bookshelf.
“Three padlocks. What are you hiding in there?” I come back from the bathroom to find him inspecting the door behind the bookshelf. “Don’t!” I hear myself bark but he has my keys and he is unlocking the third padlock. The next thing I know Moses is unmoving on the floor with the smiling buddha sculpture in pieces next to his head.
3. Church Woman
“Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been twenty-eight days since my last confession. I have harbored feelings of jealousy, lust, hate, and wrath.” I wipe the film of tears from my eyes and begin my confession to the priest but first some preamble.
No bad deed should go unpunished. This is true. But what happens when you come across a person like Moses; someone who has done you no harm but you somehow end up hurting them? What’s your retribution then—a slap on the wrist or the ultimate price?
After taking care of Moses and his personal effects, I find myself at the Holy Family Basilica garbed in all black. Nosy, nosy Moses. I try to convince myself that he had it coming as I walk through the gates of the Church. ‘Come to me all ye who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.’ I glance at the noticeboard as I enter the confessional room.
“Forgive me father for I have sinned…” I continue in between sobs and short tight hiccups. “I have wished ill on my neighbors. I have dressed provocatively to get a married man’s attention and recently I put down a bird that had done me no harm. I detest all my sins and firmly resolve, with the help of your grace to sin no more.”
“He deserves my tears,” I murmur as I wipe the film of water from my eyes for the last time. “Huuhh,” I exhale a sigh like air from a deflated balloon. There is a catharsis to confessing. I think while leaving the church. Sure, I embellished some things and said some half-truths but that knot that was in my stomach has loosened and I feel lighter.
I pass by Carrefour to buy cleaning utilities and spend the better part of my afternoon on my knees scrubbing the red smudge on my floor; as Kiwi scratches the bookshelf. I am removed from my kneeling position by the ringing of my doorbell.
“Hello, are you Edna?” A strange man asks after I open the door. “Might you have seen my brother?” He raises a picture of Moses leaning on his BMW to my face after I nod. “Your neighbor Natalie was kind enough to tell me she saw what looked like his BMW pull up in your driveway?” I smile nervously. Natalie, oh snooping Natalie. Forgive me father for I am about to sin again.
4. Friends Without Benefits
“This is not a good time,” I say matter-of-factly and begin closing the door on the stranger holding a picture of Moses.
“Reach me on this line in case of anything,” he says politely, extending his card.
I close the door and place the card written ‘Jim’s Pub’ on the table and pace across my living room. “Fuck!” I bark. Kiwi jumps from the bookshelf frightened. ‘Did Natalie see me changing the plates on the BMW, before driving it out in the country and sinking it underneath the waves of Lake Naivasha?’ I mumble as I open Natalie’s folder in my mind and remember how we met.
I had just broken up with my then-boyfriend, God rest his soul—who also happened to be one of my neighbors. Our passion burnt hot and we decided to remain friends with benefits as we worked out the grubby details of moving on.
His name was Owen and it was love at first sight. Hey’s turned to introductions, and introductions into dreams of being together. It’s such sweet pain, isn’t it? Wanting someone and knowing they want you and it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable happens.
The inevitable followed and we quickly became an item and broke up just as quickly. You could believe the lie that I grew jealous or the truth that he didn’t have boundaries.
All the same, there I was knocking on his door, telling him I had forgotten my earrings at his house. It was about time I started enjoying these benefits, wouldn’t you agree? Instead, he opened the door in a bathrobe, Natalie hiding her nakedness behind him. “This is not a good time,” he said and closed the door in my face.
It wasn’t a good day either because that was the day he went missing and the same day I opened Natalie’s file in my mind. She came later to apologize. I told her we had broken up with Owen and she shouldn’t lose sleep over it. After that, she decided we were friends.
I walk the length of my living room one more time before going to the kitchen. I turn on the burner and pour water into a sufuria. I pick up my phone and dial Natalie as it boils.
“Hi, Nat. I have some tea about Owen…is this a good time?”
“It’s perfect,” she sings excitedly and I can hear her rushing for the door.
I tap the red receiver and smile anxiously.
God is always making women. Some are loving, others caring, some sweet, others brave but every once in a while you come across a woman and you have a hard time deciding what she contributes to society. That woman is knocking on my door as if it’s her right to be allowed in.
“It’s cold, open up!” Natalie complains.
I open the door to the sound of chewing gum and the smell of vanilla-scented smoke. “Want a puff?” she asks, extending a vape pen. “Maybe later,” I say.
“Come on, live a little.” She presses the pen in my hand.
I look at her after closing the door. Her hair is dyed pink, and she’s wearing an off-shoulder top, miniskirt, and green platform heels to go with her green choker and green eye shadow. She looks like the kind of girl who is always getting into tricky situations because of peer pressure.
“Will you have something to drink?” I ask when really I want to ask if she’s on mid-term break.
“I will have Gin or anything strong,” she says, plopping herself on the sofa Kiwi was on. She jumps and hides under the table. “Have you heard the latest language in town?” she goes on oblivious to displacing my pet while blowing a big bubble with her gum. I shake my head as it explodes on her face.
“It’s called shembeteng.” I raise a brow. “Wabambataba wanalombotov wamambatama wa mchembetele.” I ignore her and go to the kitchen. “It loosely translates to, wababa wanapenda wamama wa mchele,” she shouts mid-chewing gum.
A minute with Natalie and I already have a headache. Luckily it’s the last minute I will ever spend with her. I think and smile while placing her nasty vape pen on the countertop. I turn off the burner make myself a hot chocolate and pour Gin into a glass and mix it with, ahm, what did she call it? Yes, mchele—enough to put an elephant to sleep—and take it to her.
“What’s the tea on Owen?” she whispers, blowing another bubble as I take a seat. It explodes and I feel parts of it on my lip and I want to strangle her with her choker.
“You need to be tipsy for this,” I take a sip from my hot chocolate. She moves her hand and knocks her drink over. “I’m so clumsy,” she says while getting up. As she does, I see what looks like a gun tucked in her skirt’s waistline. God is always making women, I realize. Some are loving, others sweet, and some are not who they pretend to be.
The other missing neighbor was called Lucy, she also thought she was sleek. But this one hurt the most because she made me believe she was my best friend until I realized she was only my friend because she felt better about herself because of how badly off she thought I was. How could that be, you wonder?
‘Oh, I’m such a lonely Lucy.’
‘But at least I am not as lonely as Edna.’
‘I could be a fashionable Lucy.’
‘But at least I’m not as old-fashioned as Edna.’
‘I could be a slimmer Lucy.’
‘But at least I’m not as out of shape as Edna.’
You get the picture, don’t you? Did I get rid of her because of this? No, I am not that petty but it did make me want to prove her wrong. I started making changes; besides, money has never been a problem for me. Like Portia from Merchant of Venice, you could say I am richly left. I won’t get into the mucky details of what happened to my husband. I’m pretty sure you can guess what went down. His file was opened and the ultimate price was paid. See, you catch on quick.
Back to Lucy, as I said I’m not petty, not where someone’s life could literally be on the line but I did go about trying to prove her wrong. I got into the gym and trimmed down my baby fat to a no. 8 figure. I got a skincare routine and spruced up my wardrobe. Trips to Mombasa, London, and Paris followed, and soon men and women alike were falling over themselves to invite me to shindigs, and guess who wasn’t happy? Moses? No, Lucy.
She started peddling gossip around the neighborhood that I was a witch; my black cat Kiwi and husband who had disappeared without a trace did not help. All this I could withstand until she started talking about my husband being locked away in my basement. If these rumors got enough steam the police could start snooping around. The last thing I wanted was for one of them to show up at my doorstep with a search warrant and so I had to do something about it.
I called her over and told her I wanted to make amends; I would even show her what was in my basement because I am an open book with nothing to hide. That day. I dressed down. I didn’t put on any makeup and we were back to the days of Lucy feeling good because of how badly I compared to her. God knows we could have carried on with this farce for a lifetime until she said she was ready to see what was in my basement.
I opened one padlock after the other until all three were off the lock; swung the door open and turned on the lights. After you, I said and then I pushed her down the flight of stairs. The only part of her that screamed was her skull cracking open from the impact of her fall being broken by a brick wall.
7. Hidden In The Basement
Natalie is flashing her police badge and gun in my face. Come to think of it, she moved into the neighborhood after Lucy disappeared. Talk about deep-cover. Her face has transformed from that of a teenager to a grown adult who means business and I find myself lifting my hands in the air without being told.
“Edna, I am going to have to insist to see what’s behind your bookshelf,” she barks. Her singsong voice having been replaced by a domineering one.
“There is nothing to see behind there Nat, it’s just old, withered equipment and a lot of dust,” I say casually while my mind works overtime thinking of how to get myself out of this fix but judging from the defiant look on Natalie’s face it looks like my goose is cooked. “I will need the key to open the padlocks,” I add while staring at the hook where they hang.
She nods and I pick them up and she follows me to the bookshelf with her gun trained on my back. I have my hands back. I could get myself out of this yet. I think while I push the bookshelf away and open one padlock after the other until all three are unlocked and off the lock. “After you,” I say after I swing open the door and turn on the lights.
“It’s your basement,” she says. “You lead, I follow,” she adds to my disappointment. “Put your hands where I can see them,” she continues and I am back to being handless.
“You won’t find anything down here Nat, except for souvenirs, broken appliances, and worn-out clothes,” I emphasize as we pass a box full of knick-knacks that she doesn’t give a second glance. She could have found a few things that would have surprised her. That’s the thing about people, they refuse to see what’s right underneath their noses.
“I guess souvenirs have the pungent smell of death nowadays?” she says sarcastically just as I realize that Kiwi has run ahead of us and is leading the way. I suppose in a way she is more curious than all of us because what is ahead could mean a meal for her.
We get to where the smell is strongest. “Open the damn fridge,” Natalie barks, and I can feel her gripping the gun a bit more tightly. I hesitate for a second then swing the rectangular chest freezer open. The smell hits both of us like a mallet and we move back two paces before Natalie proceeds toward it.
She covers her nose with one hand and starts going through the packets of bacon, sausages, goat, beef, and pork chops that I keep in the basement fridge because they can’t fit in my kitchen fridge with a disappointed look on her face. Its fuse must have blown out. I think while grabbing Kiwi from inside the freezer and carrying her on my bosom.
“See, Nat, I told you there is nothing to see here.” She tucks her gun back into her waistline. “You should really empty that and contact an electrician,” she says evenly. “And you should tell people the truth about who you are,” I chirp as I see her off the door; knowing all too well that our tea time about Owen, together with the gossip about my basement has come to an end. “Two birds one stone,” I mutter under my breath while throwing her vape pen into the bin with a self-satisfied grin.
8. Out Of The Closet
Bodies can be buried; flesh and bones dissolve in acid. So you shouldn’t be asking where the bodies went. But there is one, in particular, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. I mean, it’s not every day you come across an eligible Nairobi bachelor who is good to you and good for you.
I walk the length of my sitting room and climb the stairs to my bedroom. I go to what is supposed to be my closet which has now turned into Moses’ residence. He is in chains and I drug his drinks to make sure he doesn’t get any ideas. You might be saying that is no way for a man to live but the alternative is worse, isn’t it?
He is withering every day. I suppose the drugs are starting to take a toll on him. But there were days when he used to be in high spirits. Days when I would give him a sponge bath, a change of clothes, and a hearty meal. He is a man and he still gets sexual urges like every other warm-blooded male and maybe I did or didn’t let him part my legs like the red sea.
But the fun and games are all gone now. Most times he is in a vegetative state drooling all over his shirt and my carpet, and pissing and shitting himself and I am always doing the hard work of cleaning after him.
I find him in that same state today, that state that is making me start to resent him. I change his diapers and leave him in the company of Kiwi. He has taken a liking to her even though at first he wanted nothing to do with the pet. “Demon!” he would bark at the poor thing. That is of course before his speech slurred and the words completely left his voice box.
I throw his used diapers in the dustbin and wonder if perhaps it’s time for Moses to join Owen, Lucy, and all of them. I mean, Moses removed the Israelites from Egypt but he did not see Canaan. It’s biblical. “Tonight,” I say to myself and make a mental note to go for Confession at the Holy Family Basilica the next day.
Kiwi is playing with the hem of Moses’ shirt as the silver cross on his collar swings freely. She is excitable like every cat is when someone shows it a little attention. She starts to lick the drool off him and Moses picks her up and fixes something in her collar and begins shooing her away with hostility. Kiwi runs out of the bedroom and down the stairs into the sitting room where she finds Edna.
“I’m off to buy some supplies at Carrefour I will be back in an hour.” Kiwi hears the voice of Edna that she is already used to by now. Edna opens the door and as she does Kiwi runs ahead of her past the Uber she has ordered into their next-door neighbor’s garden.
“Come back here Kiwi, what did we say about going into other people’s houses?” Kiwi hears Edna’s voice but she is busy shitting on the grass. The engine of the car hums and she watches the grey-shaped box with black round things disappear into the horizon.
“Meow,” she sings, now sunbathing on the grass, opposite her excrement while licking her charcoal-black fur. She is distracted again and she is now jumping from one stone to the other and she is soon on the roof of the house. She finds a stray cat there. “Meow,” she screams with hostility to mark her territory.
When that fails her claws come out. Both cats roll around the roof making hostile sounds and after some time Kiwi stands and runs away. She will have a bowl of milk and a hot meal waiting for her at home. She remembers. She doesn’t need to die on the roof to some stray cat in the name of marking her territory.
The sun is going down when Kiwi finds herself on the opposite side of the road jumping the flower pot of another house and climbing up a slightly cracked window into a stranger’s bedroom. “Meow,” she sings softly to the unfamiliar surroundings. Then she sees a familiar face applying green eye shadow on her face and sits on the bed.
“What are you doing here?” Natalie asks Kiwi as if she can understand the words while picking her up. “Who hurt you,” she says concerned looking at the gapping wound next to her blue collar, and as she does she sees a folded white piece of paper tucked next to the silver cross that is almost falling off. “And what is this,” she says while removing it, unfolding it, and reading it out aloud. “I’m in her bedroom closet. Help!”
Natalie stands up with Kiwi in one of her hands. She picks up her gun with the other hand tucks it in her waistline, wears flip-flops, storms out of her house, and crosses the road. “Thank you for bringing her back. What did we say about going into other people’s houses?” Kiwi hears the familiar voice and warmth of her owner Edna and meows.
“There is something else. I will need to see your bedroom,” Natalie says. Kiwi can feel herself slipping from Edna’s hands but like all cats, he falls on her feet and sees Edna running. She doesn’t run far before Natalie tackles her to the ground and handcuffs her. Not long after that their doorstep is filled with sirens. Her owner Edna disappears in the backseat of a police car and Moses is brought out of the house on a stretcher before he disappears inside an ambulance.
Natalie adopted Kiwi and Moses stayed with his brother Jim as he recuperated. He got better within a week and he was back to work. I suppose besides being a writer, Master of Ceremonies, and Marathoner he was also an actor.
They found the souvenirs and DNA footprints of all my victims and so I am being guarded 24/7 like some rabid dog. Can you believe it; harmless little old me? They have chained my legs and hands and I can barely get into the armored van as I am being transferred from my holding cell in Spring Valley to Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.
I don’t wonder for long who my cellmates will be because I am immediately thrown into solitary confinement after I arrive. It is a small box with a high ceiling and very little light filtering from tiny crevices at the top, so it’s mostly dark in here.
There is a bed in one corner with a King James bible on top of it. It will come in handy if I ever need to confess. I think and grin. On the other corner is a stainless steel toilet with tissue paper and that’s just about it.
Twice a day Constable Josephine will bring me food through a hole in the door, and twice every week she will bring me toilet paper and allow me to have a shower and a change of clothes. I have been observing Josephine for a while now. She could be a Lucy or even a Natalie.
Today she didn’t talk to me much besides bark commands.
My tea had sugar last week but this week it did not.
The food was saltier this month than it was last month.
The clothes she brought this year had stains on them when last year’s did not.
I open her file in my mind and weigh everything she has done to me on a scale. Should she get a slap on the wrist or should she pay the ultimate price? I wonder.
Hello sexy friends. I enjoyed the hell out of myself writing this. And I will say; it does feel good to be back!
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I love this! Never disappoints!