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The picnic

Woolie thinks that it is a sign of our times that most people that we know – and you might also include yourself here – are time poor. Simply put there are just not enough hours in the day to accommodate all the competing preoccupations of our daily lives. This might explain why we do not take too readily to people who delight in telling random rambling stories with endless detours and diversions. We are a species on the run today – get to the point and do it quick…before we become extinct.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That is why today we are turning back the clock several months in order to make sense of the present time. Do you recall how in a previous post, Woolie’s pal, Blue, chose to deal with his loss and grief by moving his home base to Nairobi? Whilst Blue was sunning himself and touring the Fair Republic Woolie went back to basics, so to speak, and made some interesting discoveries on Broadmoor Island. He relayed this information his pal as quickly as possible but when Blue made no response Woolie believed that the matter was closed.

It was about six months later. Woolie was seated at the edge of a hospital bed in a recovery ward at the Horton General. He was watching as a young doctor tried to manipulate a patient’s foot. The patient, Woolie’s colleague at work, had landed in hospital following one of those accidents that come under the category of foolishness. A raving Man U fan, the poor chap had been ironing some underpants and vests when his team scored a goal, apparently a rare occurrence these days. He had jumped up and down, both arms raised and the Iron handle had come apart from the heavy solid steel body. Loose screws, they later said. The whole 8.5Kg hot iron had travelled quickly to the ground landing squarely on the rejoicing fan’s foot and flattening it into a rectangular lump.

As the doctor manipulated, pulled and twisted ,Woolie’s phone came to life vibrating excitedly in his pocket. He took the call outside in the corridor. It was Blue!

They spoke briefly. Blue had arrived in London three nights before. There was a bit of business to attend to. He had wrapped things up in the capital and was now on Broadmoor Island! Woolie could not believe his ears. Blue was talking all excitedly now, clearly he too had missed his good friend. He announced that he had brought a special package from Babu. He suggested they meet for a simple dinner and asked Woolie to sort out a table for four for some time mid week.

“Make sure to bring Mrs Wool – there is someone whom you should both meet, formally like.”And with that he hang up.

The following week we met for dinner at the elegant Living Room restaurant in the Castle complex which is part of the old Oxford Prison. There was good food, wine and music and exceptionally good service. We had a great time. Blue was up to no good with his jokes and riddles. He had us in stitches all night. It was such a joy to see the lovely Carmine again. She was happy and relaxed and Mrs Woolie was to say later that she had never seen Blue that happy in all the years that she had known him. We would have liked to spend some more time together but alas Blue was taking Carmine back to the island the following morning to announce their engagement.

As we rode home in the taxi I asked Blue what the package contained. He explained that he had told Babu of his insurance investigative background. Babu dug out a case that had been in all the headlines about 7 years back. A sordid tale from start to finish. Blue asked Woolie to read it so that they could discuss it at length next time he was around. He said that the voice they would be hearing in the story came from pulling together actual witness statements, an accused man’s confession and police evidence gathered from various sources. The whole thing had been put together in continuous prose by the young lawyer, Rubina

I went up to my room, closed the door and opened the pink GK folder. Inside there were newspaper clippings, statement reports and other bits and pieces from years gone by. I quickly leafed through the foolscap pages until I found what I was looking for. It was a document several pages long with the title Statement of Mr Alphonse Mapanya. This document was a photocopy – as were the clippings and other material. Babu would have had the original file in his possession for only as long as it took him and Rubina to make copies. That was the rule. That was how you kept the keepers of secrets at the records department on friendly terms. A decent bottle of gin when you placed your request for information also helped.

I started to read the document…..

My name is Alphonse Mapanya from Nairobi County. Three years ago I was employed by the American Moon And Star Insurance Company (Amasico) as a sales agent. My remit was to seek out business prospects in life, accident, motor vehicle, commercial and domestic cover and I was based in the Huzuni Plaza offices near South B.

In the course of my duties I attended a cocktail party at the table tops Pavilion on the final day of the Mombasa Show. The do was attended by many important guests and sponsors and my office manager had asked us to go forth and work our sales charm. The man in the centre of the room was a big executive type, a larger than life character called Emilio Kasuku. He was a former deputy police commissioner and had served in various capacities in all seven provinces. When the government brought in sweeping changes to the police force many senior officers accepted the generous retirement packages. Kasuku moved effortlessly from cop to business tycoon.

It was my office manager who said to Kasuku, “I will send Mapanya here to come and see you about insurance. Just to see if you have adequate cover.”

Kasuku was delighted with the attention and speaking loudly he asked me to visit him at his Nyali home the next day. As we sat down to enjoy the show Kasuku began to misbehave. He gropped a young waitress who ran away sobbing. Next he slapped a waiter who accidentally spilled some wine as he was pouring it. Kasuku kept saying to people, “Do you know who I am?” He was getting worse the more he drank. The final straw came when he slapped the Deputy mayor’s sister-in-law on the back side. He was escorted away by security guards whom he abused saying they were lucky he had not brought his gun with him. Kasuku behaved like a typical gun slinger thug.

Needs must however and I kept my appointment. It was just before lunch time when I arrived. I was ushered into a beautiful air-conditioned lounge and a tall glass of something orange and sweet was placed at my elbow. Moments later Kasuku entered the lounge. Just behind him was his wife who I later came to learn was called Samira. She wore a bright blue hijab that matched her blue high heels and clutch bag. Mr Kasuku announced that something had come up and they were leaving immediately. He said he would see me at 10:00 am the following day. With that husband and wife left the lounge, hand in hand.

Next day it was Mrs Samira Kasuku who opened the front door. She asked me in and told me that her husband was stuck at the golf club. He had asked her to arrange any deals concerning household and motor insurance that they may need. The Kasukus had a large sisal farm over at Minazi saba on the road to Kilifi. Samira Kasuku said we could drive there together and do an assessment. She
asked the cook to pack a huge picnic hamper which he loaded into the back of her Discovery.

The sun was quite hot when we got to the sisal farm. I noticed that there was not a soul in sight. Mrs Samira explained that they had just finished the harvest. Most of the workers were migrant labourers from further north. They had gone back home now to tend their own shambas and would be back again in 3 months.

We reached in the back of the landi for some water before carrying out a quick inspection. I did some rough calculations to work out what was adequate. These would form the basis of my quotation. I checked the farm equipment and buildings and put those into the calculations. After another hour and a half Mrs Samira announced that it was time for lunch. We got the things from the car and laid a beautiful red-and white picnic blanket on the grass under the swaying palm trees. I was a hungry man.

For starters we destroyed a large plate of spicy chicken wings. There were some fresh samosas and some beautiful baked potatoes done in their skins. We ate fish and rice and sweet pastries. I tried the sesame seed cake too. Mrs Samira was a great hostess. She had selected some excellent wines and I made sure the glasses were always topped.

I did not see any of this coming. One moment we were sitting on the blanket, eating, drinking and chatting quietly. The seagulls were calling to one another in the sky and the breeze was just beginning to turn. Next Samira was lying on my chest popping juicy, red grapes into my mouth.

She asked me, “So what is it that you want from life, Mr Mapanya, apart of course, from that which you can’t have?” She laughed a lazy, seductive laugh. I had stopped thinking. My heart was racing and an eight piece jazz band was playing in my head. Looking up at her as she gazed into my eyes I was the happiest man in the whole of Coast Province.

Now the tables were turned. She was below me. I lay looking down at her, into her eyes. I did not recognise my own voice as I said, “I will insure your husband for 100 million shillings. Then I will kill him. You will collect the money and we can run away together.”

“Would you really do that for me, Alphonse?” She asked me, Her eyes were all round and innocent like. Soon after we got up and brushed the grass and sand off her clothes and hair. We giggled like teenagers. We had savoured life and it had a nice sea-salty taste to it.

The insurance scam would be a long term plan. We needed to be careful. No mistakes. It would have to be at least 18 months before we could silence Kasuku. This gave me the time to work out a simple yet effective and risk free, humane method. Samira was soon a frequent visitor to my simple one bedroom bungalow near Kongowea market. We texted and chatted and spoke on the phone on a daily basis. We went through the plans a hundred and one times to make sure that we had covered every angle.

Finally the 18 months were up. I had managed to set Kasuku up on a 100 million shillings life insurance ticket with his wife as the sole beneficiary. Nobody had suspected a thing. I had also worked out a simple execution plan.

Kasuku travelled a lot ostensibly on business. Samira believed that her husband had a mistress keeping a warm bed for him in each of our 8 provinces. She supplied a copy of Kasuku’s diary which I studied intently before drawing a short list of 3 possible execution dates based on his travel plans.

The most ideal business trip was a mining and geology conference to be held at a posh hotel in Kirinyaga. My trick was simple. I had already obtained a supply of anaesthetic from a dodgy hospital member of staff. Samira would spray the stuff in her husbands ear at night rendering him unconscious. The next step was to get the unconscious Kasuku to Kirinyaga. I would go into the hotel as Kasuku and confirm my arrival for the conference. I would then simply throw the unconscious victim down a ravine where his body would lie undiscovered for days, perhaps weeks.

One the proposed day of the murder, I tailed Kasuku keeping him under very close surveillance for most of the day. At about 4.30pm he picked up a lady and a girl of 8 or 9 years of age from a house on Ngong’ Road They sped off to the big supermarket. Just by the entrance to the car park a random matatu was blocking the way having stopped to pick up some passengers. Kasuku left his car to have a word with the matatu driver. Across the road another matatu had stopped. The driver called out to Kasuku and showed him the finger. As I watched a red mist descended down Kasuku’s face. He ran towards the mat across the carriageway in a blind fury.

Several loud noises happened together all mixed up like. The woman in his car screamed “Nooooo!”

The little girl cried “Daddyyyyyy!”

And the big lorry’s breaks screeeeeeched for ages before there was a loud Bang. Kasuku was sucked under the lorry and was dead when he came out on the other side. There was a very strong smell of rubber.

Kasuku was subsequently buried and the weeks went by. Samira put in her claim and this was duly paid. We had agreed to maintain strict communications silence until the payout came through. I found out from work that they had paid the Kasuku widow a cool 100 million. Where was she? Why had she not contacted me? After a week I gave her a call, all excited, like. The phone rang and rang. I put it down and then tried it again. On the sixth attempt she picked. “What?” She asked, her voice chilly.

“It’s me, Alphonse. “ I said putting a smiley in my voice

“What do you want, Alphonse, it is 9.O’clock you know?”

“We had a deal, Do you want to double-cross me? Have you forgotten that we got the insurance set up fraudulently?” I knew that I sounded desperate and unconvincing.

What she said next caught me by surprise. “Why don’t you come over and see if we can come to some arrangement.” My brain screamed Nooo but my loin area was stirring. I just had to go.

She closed the deal for me saying, “You can always spend the night if our discussions run on an on till late.”

What the heck – I would go there and hit her for 10% and walk away forever. Start at 20% and settle no lower than 10%. She was a nasty piece of work – I knew that so I would have to watch my back. I was running all these thoughts in my mind now as I rang the door bell. It was opened by the cook. He led me into the lounge but there was no welcoming cold drink on a tray.

I remained standing as he went to fetch the mistress. It was then that I heard the unmistakeable sound of a gun being cocked. I looked up to see Samira pointing a shotgun at my heart…..Bang! She fired and I dived to the floor. She missed.

“Woiye! Are you crazy you stupid woman!” She fired again missing wide. I stood up and ran for the french doors. As I went through I heard another bang and felt an extremely sharp pain in my back. I had been hit! I ran out of the house screaming and dodging this way and that. I got to the main road and collapsed. I am told that it was just my luck that a good Samaritan was travelling along that lonely stretch of road. He stopped his car and rushed me to hospital. I had lost a considerable amount of blood but I was able to make a full recovery. The police were eager to interview me immediately being a shooting victim. I confessed everything to the police hoping to make it easier for them to arrest that horrible widow. I was later told that when they sent units to arrest her they found that she had disappeared into thin air taking with her someone who could cook. My confession led to a charge of conspiracy to murder which carries a sentence of between fifteen years to life inprisonment.

I declare that this is a true and accurate statement of my recollection of the events. Alphonse Mapanya


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7 Comments

  1. Poor Alphonse! But he can sure write.. what a sad tale! I can picture the picnic scene perfectly, taste the food and smell the ocean air.

    But considering the actual cause of death was an accident rather than the murder, shouldn’t Alphonse be charged with ‘attempted conspiracy to commit murder’ or am I missing something?

    And Woolie, this is a tale within a tale! What about Blue and Carmine. Does Blue know that she was a he? How does their story play out?

  2. Savvy, I think this Alphonse was foolish, greedy and besotted….

    It seems Alphonse was seriously shocked to discover that Mrs Samira could actually want him dead. This in turn brought him to terms with his own actions leading to his decision to confess all to the police.(they had been planning to kill an innocent man for chapaa)

    The very act of putting together the fraudulent life insurance made him liable to a charge of conspiracy – this would be so whether Kasuku had died or not.

    Finally, It was Carmine’s brother who had recently changed that died when the ferry went down.Blue never got to meet her (him)…. hahahahaha…gosh

    Thanks for reading……

  3. ….the ironing board bit made me burst into ravenous laughter until my dry pupils squeezed out the rare wet DNA drops down my lapel…..

  4. Oh dear….Hope it is ok now. Thanks for dropping by Len

  5. Oh yeah, Carmine the schoolteacher. Now I remember.

  6. Trust a woman to plan something then let a man think it’s his idea. She is my favorite kind of woman.

  7. @ Lydzayar they say that a man will do anything, Anything for a woman with whom he is besotted. Add money into this equation and you have the ingredients for much mischief making.

    Thanks for visiting.

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