My friend, the retired Detective Inspector, called me late on Friday afternoon. I was making an easy day of it working from home in my PJs. Two days before, I had left a message with his office asking if he would be kind enough to grant me an interview. I am doing some research on an unsolved murder that took place over thirty years ago and I was hoping that the D.I could arrange it so that I could see the official notes taken at the time.
‘Meet me at the community centre in an hour,’ he said after I had briefed him.’We can talk about it then. Also there is something I would like you to see.’
Knowing the DI’s views on punctuality I put away my work, shaved, showered and dressed in record time. There was no time to do the magic thing with the hair. I did however use a drop of her majesty’s hair oil, mainly for the good smell.
Just as I was ready to leave a dull pain and low grumble in my gut sent me back to the loo. Now this was becoming a bit of a routine. It seemed that there was a problem with my body’s number 2 functions. I had noticed over the past 3 months or so that I would sit on the throne, empty the bowels making certain that all was done. I would then shower,getting nice and fresh. But then, just as I got to the front door I would have the urge to go back to the loo dropping a whole bucket full once again. It was getting quite annoying and worrying. I would bring it up next time I saw the Doctor.
I jumped into the next mat and arrived at the community centre with about ten minutes to spare. Inside, I spotted the DI standing at the front of the hall. He appeared to be in deep conversation with a uniformed female police officer. They both turned round to look as the door closed gently behind me.
‘ Aha, there you are, Woolie,’ said the DI. ‘Come straight through. We are just about to begin.’ I followed them into an inner office inside which several people were getting ready. I learned that they were recording a short radio mini – play and the actors were all local people.
The lady holding the huge furry microphone came into the centre of the group and when all was ready the director said ‘Action!’ The amateur players took their cue.
Their setting was a typical evening street scene where two friends have unexpectedly bumped into one another.
Bubba: Hey Plaxton, how are you me old friend, long time no see
Plaxton: Oh, is it you, Bubba. I am fine, my good friend. How’s the family?
Bubba: Oh forget that for a minute, will you. Come here…
Thwack!! Bubba lands a big fat slap on his mates back. Plaxton stumbles and nearly falls.
Bubba: Hey…listen, let’s have a quick drink for old times bwana. Mtego’s is just round the corner. It’s so great to see you.
Plaxton: I really can’t my dear friend. I need to hurry home. We are having guests for dinner and I promised Armonia I would home on time.
Bubba: That is all woman’s work. Let your wife get things ready. We’re having a drink.
They have stopped at the door to the bar. Plaxton is reluctant to enter but Bubba pushes him in. Soon their table’s surface is all but covered in bottles of frothy beer. Bubba is downing them at the rate of three bottles to Plaxton’s one.
Bubba: You are the Man in your house, Plaxton. If you get home and find that your woman hasn’t got things ready, give her a few slaps, like I do. That will teach her for next time.
Bubba wipes the froth off his lips with the back of his hand.
Plaxton: We don’t have that sort of a marriage. I treat Armonia with respect. I treat her as an equal and we share in all the household tasks. I must go.
Bubba gets up and pushes his friend off his stool, knocking him to the ground.
Bubba: Then go away you girlie-man go and help your wife chop the onions. It is no wonder our country is going to the dogs.
The security men quickly escort Bubba outside to the warm evening air with kicks and slaps.
Police woman: Domestic violence is a crime and the police now treat it very seriously. Call a stop to domestic violence now.
I learned that the mini play would be aired every day for a fortnight after the early evening news.
After the DI had said his farewells we left the centre and headed back into town. We stopped at the place called the city jungle. It was my first time in the new club. At the bar we ordered a couple of beers taking in the atmosphere. I excused myself and headed off to answer a swift call of nature.
As I returned to the bar I spotted someone speaking to the DI and my heart sank. They were taking our drinks over to a table and it appeared that my private chat with the DI would have to be postponed. I recognised the newcomer as I approached the table. Joseph Francis was our local bank manager. A popular figure. He was one of the characters in our community.
‘I needed this.’ Said the manager, draining his glass in one long draught. ‘I have had the most challenging of days.’
‘Tell us what happened,’ Said the DI. We’re dying to know.’
‘Perhaps you mustn’t mention dying so readily.’ Was the distressed manger’s reply. ‘When I woke this morning I did not have a clue that at some point today I would be involved in the loss of life.’
‘More drinks, Woolie. Fetch more drinks please. Joseph here has something important to tell us.’ I took the cash that the DI thrust towards me and headed for the bar.
It did not take long for Joseph to get into his story.
He had woken early that Friday and then quickly remembered that it was his day off. It was a favourite time in their work calendar, the long weekend. It meant that he was not due back in the office until Wednesday morning. So an easy, soft day lay ahead.
He would start with a leisurely breakfast, read the papers, deal with personal emails and then perhaps visit a few of his favourite blogs. Depending on his mood, he might spare a few moments for the hideously named “social media”. After all that it would surely be time to slip into the shed outside and get onto the one thing which gave him the utmost pleasure. He was currently working on a short stool, a project which was more a labour of love. He would dedicate 3 or 4 hours to this. Francis may have been a banker but carpentry was his true calling. In his spare time he turned out lovely bits of furniture which he proudly presented to his wife and her friends. He had fitted his shed with various carpentry tools and not a soul knew about this place.
His wife at this moment would just be getting ready for work. Once she had left, Francis would be free as a bird. He half listened to the noisy drivel from the radio djs on the morning drive time show as he waited to hear his wife saying good bye.
He was more than a little surprised, he told us, when his good lady, Alexis walked back into their bedroom smiling sweetly and wearing nothing but her wedding ring. She hopped back into bed pulling the covers over her smooth body. There must be an explanation, Francis thought. Perhaps she was unwell. Alexis did not look unwell. They spent some great quality time together and after that she explained to Francis that she had taken the day off from her job at the wholesale chemists to spend time with him. How lovely, Francis thought.
Ms Alexis had the whole day planned out. A quick visit to pick up some special prescriptions at Village market, followed by a drive to Ngong Road to see a client and then a quick lunch for two. After that on to Nakumatt to pick up a host of household items. The errands would take all day, thought Francis and he could think of no way to get out of it.
As they went to the car Alexis noticed that her pussy was resting in the shade under their car. Alexis advised Francis to tap on the horn to frighten the cat away. You must always do that to avoid an accident, Alexis told him.
The day had gone cheerfully well to Francis’ surprise and delight. They had enjoyed themselves and completed Alexis’ to do list with plenty of time to spare. She was very happy and gratefully told Francis that he was free to do as he wanted now. He slipped straight out to the shed to start work on his stool. As Francis worked away at it occurred to him that he would need another tin of wood-glue. The hardware store would be closing soon and he would need to drive there without delay.
He had jumped into the car and set off. There was a sudden and very loud and deadly shrieking howl from underneath the car. Francis had stopped immediately. He looked under the car to find a dead cat. The front and back wheels had crushed it spreading brain and intestinal matter on the pavement. Francis had panicked. He looked around him astonished that nobody had come to check the source of the loud racket of a few minutes ago. Once he was certain that he was not being observed Francis scraped the black cat’s remains from the pavement and went to the back garden where he interred them in a shallow grave.
Now what to do about Alexis? She adored that cat and Francis had neglected to tap on the horn. What a mess. Perhaps he could buy her a new cat – but she would realise straight away that this was not the same cat. There was only one way. He would have to tell her the truth. Francis counted to ten and marched into the house. Alexis was in the kitchen making some tea. She took out a bottle of milk from the fridge. There was a saucer on the floor and she filled this with milk. Francis had started to say that he had something to tell her. But Alexis did not hear as she was calling out saying: Here pussy, pussy come and have some milk, pussy pussy.
The cat glided smoothly through the door that led from the living room into the kitchen where they stood. Francis let out a cry saying to Alexis that he urgently needed a drink.