Saturday, February 20, 2016, at 4:09 pm.
‘Are you James Peters?’
The husky voice shook him from his reverie. He looked up from his desk. These two huge guys were there hovering like vultures over a wounded lion. He suddenly felt boxed in.
‘Please spare me,’ he pleaded.
James was kneeling down on the cold hard pavement. The muzzle of the gun was pressed hard against his temple.
It was dark. He tried to make out the face of his attacker but all he could see was that he was in jeans.
How he got himself in such a predicament was still a mystery. He tried to move. It was futile. He was numb all over and it was like he was glued there on the ground. His heart was on overdrive. Fear gripped him. Damn. Shit happens.
A sharp ring.
A flash of bright white light. ‘Don’t walk into the light,’ that little voice in his head warned him.
‘Am I dead?’ he asked himself trying to catch his breath. It was like he was being choked. He gasped for air.
That sharp ring again.
He jolted out of that nightmare in time to catch the ending of the second ring of his alarm. He was drenched in sweat. His chest heavy. He felt like he had just crossed the finish line of a marathon.
‘These damn dreams,’ he said throwing his hands towards the ceiling.
This was one of those slow days. Time seems to be just crawling by. It seemed like he had been at the office for centuries now.
He fidgeted with his pen. Being in the tropics at this time of the year was like being in an oven. The temperatures had soared. The inefficient air conditioning only made things worse. How he wished for winter at such moments.
He adjusted his tie lower. Unbuttoning the his shirt. He had hung his coat a few hours back. The sweating had not stopped. The boredom was getting worse.
He was getting hungry now. He should have accepted that offer for breakfast. Poor decisions.
Lying face up he stared blankly at the ceiling. His one bedroom apartment was modest for a bachelor. The neighborhood in Mwiki, Kasarani was nothing affluent. But what else was expected of a guy on his first gig as a P.A.
The house needs new furniture. A television would go a long way in providing some entertainment. The warmth of woman would also be welcome. Home cooked meals probably. Thoughts racing through his mind.
He slowly dragged himself out of bed. Another day in the endless rat race.
‘Boss, ongeza pesa,’ the tout was arguing with an old man.
‘Kwani si ulisema gari ni fifty?’ the old man asked.
‘Zae gari ni seventy,’ the tout answered.
The old man was seated a few seats in front of him. The white hair on his head was clearly visible from where he was seated. He chose to ignore the ensuing scuffle. He looked outside his window.
‘Mshukishe gari kama hana pesa,’ some of the passengers shouted angrily.
The traffic jam was building. The pace the bus was snaking through the jam getting slower with each inch.
‘What is wrong with our society today?’ He could not help but wonder remembering the old man. ‘Are we all just too individualistic?’ ‘Effects of capitalism, for sure.’ Man eat man society. ‘Or did that guy think his age would allow him to get away with it?’
The hooting of a car and the sudden stop of the bus took him back to the activities outside. The number of cars had built up. It was now a snail pace forward.
They had said that this Thika Superhighway would ease up traffic snarl ups. It was hard to really tell if things were any better now. ‘Fuck bureaucracy,’ he said in a murmur.
‘Are you done with the paperwork?’ His boss asked a little agitated.
‘No sir,’ he answered.
‘Hope you have not forgotten that the deadline is this coming monday,’ his boss said.
‘I am well aware of it,’ James replied.
‘I would really love if you made it a priority,’ his boss said. He made a hand gesture to signal he was dismissed.
‘Should I do it or not? What if we get caught?’ He asked himself as he headed back to his desk.
‘Would you like anything for breakfast?’ Sheila asked from across the office.
‘No, I am fine, thank you,’ he answered looking up from the paperwork he was sifting through.
‘Okay, fine’ she said walking out.
He stared at her behind. ‘I should hit that sometime,’ he could not help but think. No set time frame.
He sized them up for a brief moment.
‘Yes I am. Who would like to know,’ he answered.
‘We are officers from the anti-fraud unit. We would like to ask you some questions. Please come with us,’ one of them said, flashing his badge.