With a heavy sigh, he forces himself to stagger away from the window, where he’s been standing in his boxers for the past thirty minutes, no longer able to bear the sight of the man staring back at him. His eyes are partly bloodshot, his head heavy and his hands are trembling. Taking one last sip from the bottle of vodka firmly in his grip, he places it on the small table beside his bed, gently, before reaching for the pack of cigarettes next to the now empty bottle. With a slight hesitation, he lights up a match, but his trembling hands cause him to burn two of his fingers in the process. He winces. More scars. It doesn’t matter to him; what are two more little scars compared to the millions of scars that blight his life anyway.
He lights up another match and this time, he successfully manages to light up the cigarette already on his lips. He inhales and feels the head rush hit him almost instantaneously, even before he blows out the poisonous smoke. The woman on his bed coughs and stirs up, her gaze now fixed on to the back of his head. Annoyed, he takes two more puffs in rapid succession, almost choking him. He didn’t pay for her services to care a morsel about her; besides, it’s his room. Like most smokers, he resents how the cigarette makes him feel like shitting a ton. He wishes the cigarette, now almost halfway, could make him release all the shit in his life.
The events that led to this night are still fresh on his mind, burning him, scorching his soul and will to go on in the process. His gaze is fixed on his right hand; he wishes he could cut it off. After all, Jesus did say any part of the body that causes you to sin should be cut off. He wishes it were that easy- to cut off the hand that drove a dagger deep into woman’s chest only hours before and forget the whole thing happened. He knows he’d give anything, including his own life to go back in time and warn his past, angry self before the bugger did the heinous act, because like most murderous, he didn’t intend for it to happen that way. He also knows his anger for her cheating didn’t warrant her death… for starters it has only added more misery into his life… but what is done is done. They are probably looking for him now, but he’s made up his mind not to run.
God knows he already misses her; if she were here he’d probably tell her something cheesy to make her laugh, just to see her warm smile one more time… to hear her beautiful voice call out to him telling him to stop making her ribs ache. He knows he’d probably respond with something even dumber. He’d tell her to forgive him for making her tired, because she’s always running through her mind. He still remembers the very first time he saw her. He was having lunch with a friend when she walked into the hotel. Disappointed they didn’t have pork ready at the time, she left. He’d run up to her and told her he wanted a picture of her to show Santa exactly what he wanted for Christmas that year. He bursts into a drunken, hysterical laughter when he remembers the priceless look on her face. For them it had been the proverbial love at first sight; there had been no need for him to walk by again. People had once described them as the perfect couple.
But like everything else on earth with the exception of Herpes, love too fades away. He makes a resolve.
He staggers one more time to his bed, where by now the hooker, whom he can’t remember her name, has already helped herself to a cigarette, but was too occupied with his thoughts to notice it. He takes out another cigarette and hands the remaining pack to her; where he’s going he won’t need them. Then, he pulls out a bunch of notes without bothering to count them and hands them to her. She knows she was lucky this time. To show her gratitude, she tries to pull him back into bed to give him one last fuck. He declines and she starts putting back her clothes- her work here is clearly done.
She follows him out of the door and watches him as he slowly locks up and without as much as a goodbye; both of them take to their different directions- two strangers that will probably never meet again, at least not in this crowded neighbourhood of Ngara. He pictures his destination in his mind. Outside, it’s began raining but he keeps walking straight ahead, willing every muscle of his legs not to let him stagger, knowing he’ll soon reach his destination. The darkness coupled with the rain trickling down into his eyes make it hard for him to see where he’s going, but he soldiers on, unafraid someone might jump him at any instant in these unsafe streets of Nairobi.
At last, he arrives. He looks up at the signpost that reads ‘Nairobi Central Police Station.’ He smiles as he lights the last cigarette he’s ever going to smoke again. He finally knows he can have a chance of redemption by taking the first step of taking responsibility for his actions. He reduces his pace now, taking one step at a time. He knows he may be drunk, but his mind is clear. This is what he wants to do. What he has to do if he’s to live with himself. Finally, he’s at the doorstep and he throws away the remaining cigarette.
He takes his first step inside the building, his gaze firmly at the book on the desk ahead, unconcerned about the curious glances directed at him. Then his phone starts ringing… A new number. He might as well find out whom his last call will be with.
“Hello, is this Alfred?”
“Hello, yes it is… Who’s this?”
“I’m Dr. Kimana calling from the Nairobi Hospital… We want to let you know your wife was brought here today with a stab wound and we performed an emergency procedure. We managed to save her life.. She’s awake now and she’s asking for you….”
He doesn’t bother letting the doctor finish… Alfred drops the phone and crumbles to the floor, tears in his eyes…