I did it like a thief in the night. After Njoro and her first wife were asleep, I sneaked into their house and woke up Beatrice. You see, Churo houses were never locked. In all of my life in the small village, I had never heard a single story about anything being stolen. But I suppose there is always a first. “Wake up,” I whispered to Beatrice.
She did not barge. I stared at her for a second too long as she slept on the sofa. The moon was up in the sky, and it filtered through the many cracks of Njoro’s house and lit up her face. Even while snoring and drooling, she was beautiful. I patted myself on the back for getting their schedules right. On the morrow, it would be her turn to share Njoro’s bed, and Mama Linda’s turn to take the sofa.
Like most things in my life, the good feeling of patting myself on the back did not last. “Wake up,” I said, this time with a raised tone. But Beatrice continued snoring and drooling, oblivious to the danger I was in while trying to rescue her. I shook her arm vigorously. “Amka,” I boomed, and immediately stood still after hearing the bed squeak in Njoro’s bedroom.
“Katana what are you doing here,” Beatrice muttered.
“I have come to save you,” I said.
“I want you to save me, but we can’t eat love,” she groaned, and I realized she was still asleep. “Wake up,” I barked while shaking her and she stirred awake. “Katana what are you doing here,” she said again.
“Who is there,” Njoro barked from his bedroom and we both froze.
“Go back to sleep. It’s probably Beatrice talking in her sleep,” Mama Linda groaned.
“I have something that will solve all our problems,” I whispered to Beatrice.
“What is it?” she asked curiously.
“Njoro’s Tusker. It will bring out our true colors.”
“You need to leave Katana. I am somebody’s wife,” Beatrice whispered defiantly.
“Come on, trust me,” I said.
“If Njoro finds you here, we will be in big trouble,” she said anxiously. “Please go now,” she added.
“This stuff will make all our dreams come true. You can be a socialite and video vixen like you have always wanted,” I said, losing hope. But as I did I realized she had taken pause and all of a sudden her face showed interest. “I just need to know where he is keeping the stuff, and all our problems will be gone,” I added.
Beatrice looked at me confused, as if to say, “Didn’t you know he keeps the stuff in the hornet’s nest?” I raised a brow, and she pointed toward Njoro’s bedroom door. I have never been a coward, and I wasn’t going to start now. Besides, what we wanted was more significant than the fear we had.
I tiptoed towards the door and pushed it open. It made a loud squeaking noise. ‘I should have included oiling all the doors in my plan,’ I realized, while thinking I had been discovered. But Njoro continued snoring heavily and his first wife slept softly beside him with her arms wrapped around little Linda.
The room looked more like a store than a bedroom. Njoros panga, jembe, gumboots, and overalls were on one side. A heap of clothes and basins on another side, their bed on the third side, leaving the entrance on the fourth. I walked stealthily towards the heap of clothes and basins and started looking for the crate of Tusker, but it was nowhere to be seen.
The moon lit the night sky, but because the room was so cluttered, it felt like I was in a hole. “Clang!” there was a loud sound after I stumbled, and Njoros panga fell on the iron part of his jembe.
“Who is there,” Njoro woke up suddenly and I froze.
“It’s probably just the wind,” Mama Linda murmured nonchalantly without opening her eyes, with a tone of voice that suggested she was used to his husband’s shenanigans.
In a split second, Njoro was back to snoring. It was the strangest thing. I got on all fours and crawled under their bed, which was more cluttered. I squeezed and turned until I disappeared underneath it and just when I was giving up, I touched a crate and came out with a bottle of Tusker.
“Let’s go,” I said to Beatrice, who was seated on the sofa while biting her nails nervously. We did not go far. I wanted our true colors to come out as fast as possible so we decided to have the stuff at Njoro’s new hotel at the back of his house, which I was now just noticing was adjacent to his bedroom.
We sat on the second-hand Kenpoly chairs. My teeth sank into the bottle cap and the contents inside hissed as I spat the lead on the floor and took my first sip of alcohol. It was nothing special. It just felt warm and bitter. The most underwhelming part was I still felt the same. I handed the bottle to Beatrice and she immediately creased her forehead after taking a sip. To add to my disappointment, she also remained the same.
I took a long sip, and Beatrice did too, until there was nothing left, but we were still the same. ‘Would I have to return to Njoro’s bedroom and get more bottles?’ I dreaded the idea. I was too deep in thought to notice that Beatrice had gotten up from her seat and climbed on top of one of the second-hand Kenpoly tables.
“Come and dance with me,” she was now saying with slurred speech. I attempted to stand and get her off the table, but my knees felt like porridge and I fell flat on my back. “Come on Katana, don’t be shy. We have done it before,” Beatrice added. “Who is there?” I heard Njoro bark and this time Mama Linda did not say anything to stop him.