Men always scold us for being bad drivers, but should that be held against us? Okay, well, maybe. I can think of a few reasons: we don’t snake through traffic as though we’re riding a bike. We’ve got all the time in the world when on the road. We keep the textbook distance, not because of ‘Driver under Construction’ as men spite us. Above all, we are too careful on the road that we never cause accidents unless when rammed by some drunk man. How’s that for a bad driver? Well, that’s me. I’m a bad driver – ‘cause I always double-park, add that to the list, and care less, or don’t give a shit as Americans say.
The ride to Nakuru town took a measly twenty-five minutes. I drove along the Nakuru – Eldoret Highway, then made a hard left at the OiLibya petrol station into Kenyatta Avenue, and for once in my life I felt like I belonged. I double-parked my Vitz outside the Merica Hotel. My heels clicked rapidly on the marble-tiled floor. It felt like home.
I spotted my date, Jack, at a table for two by the hotel’s lido glued to his BlackBerry as though the whole poetry of life was contained in it. He stood up as soon as he saw me, his eyes widening at the sight to behold – me.
“My God, you look great, Folami.”
I giggled – unladylike – pleased that he’d kept the compliments coming since the first day. He kissed me on the cheek – what I offered – then lightly on the lips – took what he thought was rightfully his. He then pulled the seat for me – his chivalry meter ticking on the red – and well, perched my overworked butt on it.
In the dark recesses of my mind I toyed with the idea that we made a nice couple, and I was happy. But one thing disturbed me: what if I was wrong?
Jack regaled me to his endless lousy sense of humour. Many a time I tried to put up with it. As I sipped my Martini – James Bond style – I found it funnier and funnier. I sometimes managed to tear my eyes with laughter, not just to spite him.
Dinner was buffet, and just before the starters Milcah Muthoni, my boss’s smarmy, pushy Britak Insurance agent and her CARE International boyfriend joined us.
“Hey guys,” Jack said. “What a coincidence. Why don’t you join us? That’s ok, Fo-Sweetie?”
How could you, Jack. It’s our date.
I was speechless, but Jack was already pulling me to a table of four. Talk of coincidences. I did not like this.
“Why did you invite them?” I whispered in Jack’s ear, already feeling a sharp pain in my heart. “This was our date, Jack.”
My sweet Jack ignored me, and that stung. I narrowed my eyes on Milcah – ever since I knew her from my boss, she was too much of everything: makeup, hair, colour and all. She looked like a moving rainbow.
“Guys, we’re about to dine – and wine,” said Jack. “Please, join us. It’s a buffet.”
“As the saying goes, ‘Ladies first’,” Milcah’s boyfriend, Bernard Wanjohi, said.
“Why not!” I snapped as I stood up.
The fat, almost overweight, Milcah followed me. Women are intuitive creatures, and she well knew that I was the least happy for she said, “Look here, it was not my idea to come here. It’s all Ben’s. He said he had a meeting with someone and would I please accompany him? He’s my man, I love him, I came.”
That was it. With cold humiliation, I realized that the whole thing was a set up. It was never about us, or me, after all. Either I was being set up, or used.
“Fancy meeting you, too,” I said. My skin was crawling with resentment.
Over dessert, Jack said, “Folami, sweetie, now that we’re through, let’s talk. Shall we?”
“Yes, indeed,” Bernard chirped.
“Well, I’ll just go straight to the point,” Jack went on. “Folami, enhe, Ben, Mark and I have been talking.” My boyfriend paused as if for effect.
Mark is my boss by the way. The little dappled man who ought to have bribed his way in to the army. Mark Mwangi.
“What we and you guys have been waiting for has finally come. There is an opportunity we can exploit to benefit from this fund. There are other opportunities, but this one is perfect, spot on. We need to exploit it. Who doesn’t, anyway? And you know what? We deserve it. Don’t you agree?”
So, this was it. All the chivalry and the make-believe. They wanted my hand in stealing from the coffers of the Post Election Victims’ donor fund. I was furious, and sad. But mostly furious.”
“So, all this Mr. Nice Guy crap was to lure me to your camp,” I said to Jack. “How could you, Jack. How could you?”
“Oh, let’s talk it out, Fo-Sweetie…”
“Talk it out? You must be out of your darn mind.”
“You do plan on rewarding yourself some, Folami. Don’t you?” it was Bernard.
“This meeting is over,” I said. “You, Ben, of all people, could connive with these government thieves to steal from those poor suffering people and derive pleasure in it? Jeez!
“And you, Jack, you are in the government. You should be the last person thinking of conniving to jail those IDPs in the gaol of desperation. They are your people. That’s your duty as a government employee.
“What’s in it for you, insurance lady?”
At that very instance, I saw my whole romantic future go up in flames. I hated it so much.
“I’m not just sure I heard you right, you…” I didn’t finish what I was about to say. I paused as if for effect, and then spoke in the quietest voice. “I’m being straight with you.”
Jack reached for my hand, but I pulled it away.
“You need to think through this,” he said intently.
For an instance I thought of what my boss had said just less than two hours before. Not many of them benefit, though. Most of it finds its way to the Cayman Islands, or the Bank of Scotland, Folami. Stolen money, that is.
So, they were asking me to take part in looting the coffers of the needy, the victims of political avarice that had left many displaced, homeless and others dead.
Suddenly, with a speed that even startled me, I stood up.
“I am not going to be part of this conspiracy,” I announced. “You’re but wasting your time. To hell you conceited freaks.” And with that I stormed out.
The rising moon was just starting to illuminate as I steered the Vitz into the line for gas at Total Petrol station on Kenyatta Avenue. Fuel prices had skyrocketed in the past few weeks leading to some greedy businesspeople holding onto their drained reserves thence fuel shortage. Motorists who didn’t fuel early in advance – and that is late in the night – would either take a ma-three, as public service vehicles are called over here, to work, or abandon their stalled vehicles in the middle of the road and walk to work.
As I waited, I thought of what had just happened. Jack, my extremely gorgeous boyfriend had just asked me to abet in stealing from the poor, the needy and the suffering. What even hurt most was the fact that he’d even been convincing together with his conniving SOBs. That notwithstanding, Jack is a government employee. He’s the county treasurer. If anything goes by, his budget allocation to the IDPs in his county would have boosted the donor fund and alleviated the lives of many. Jeez, he stank, and stung. How could he?
And how could I be so doofus to see from the very beginning that he was a sleazy, conniving, son-of-a-bitch? Pardon my language.
As I waited for my turn to refuel, I knew that the lid had just gone pop! Like champagne – I was up for a fight, and a big fight it would be, against a very big adversary.
Most of all, my romantic future had just been reduced to cinders.