Flash KiFlash is a local pub, hidden within the old shanties behind City Market. Its tiny space accommodates two seated couples and two idlers in the best. This night, it hosts a couple, a loner, and two idlers. The drunken chants, yammers, and laughter over blasting music give Flash KiFlash the impression of a night club; a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
“Five minutes, Cosmas, then you go out. Make room,”
A woman emerges from below the counter. She is looking 50s or late 40s.
“Mama,” says one of the idlers, “ten minutes, please.”
“Four minutes, Cosmas,” says Mama.
Cosmas looks down, sniffs, and rubs his nose with the back of his hand. Someone laughs, but he doesn’t turn; who cares? Outside, an occasional chant goes up—a drunk idler awaiting his turn. Cosmas stretches out a hand. Mama exhales, then places a glass with a tot of liquor in it.
“Three and a half. So, 350.”
Cosmas empties the glass, then bangs it on the counter. He dips a hand in his pocket, then scratches his thigh. He takes it out, sniffs, and rubs his nose. He then dips the hand in his breast pocket.
“Mama, I have 300,”
Mama looks at Cosmas for a moment, then disappears below the counter. She reappears seconds later.
“Give it to me,”
Mama stretches out a hand, and Cosmas places three crumbled notes in it. He sniffs, then turns to leave.
“Mama,” calls the second idler.
“How many, Victor?”
Mama disappears, then reappears, with a shot glass, topped with cheap liquor. Victor takes it and gulps the drink. He watches a man walk in through the door, and two seated others chatter, to one end of the pub. For a moment, he gazes at a man seated alone to the other end, then finally at Mama.
“Mama,” says Victor, “he waited?”
“As it appears,” says Mama, disappearing below the counter.
Victor exhales, then walks towards the solo individual. He sits beside the man, and greets.
“Hello, Victor,” says the man.
He is wearing a navy-blue shirt and grey pants; his leather jacket hangs across his laps.
“Mama said you wanted to talk? I did not think you would wait,” says Victor.
“Well, I did.”
Victor looks over to the counter. Mama appears from below it seconds later. Their eyes lock, and victor gestures. He watches Mama whisper to the man who has just come in. The man then walks over to Victor.
“Two, please,” Victor whispers to the man’s ear.
He turns to the one seated beside him—a tired-looking, perhaps sleepy fellow in his mid thirties. He reeks of the same liquor they were all served; a “Kaflash.”
“I’m here, Afande,” says Victor.
“No need for “Afande”, Victor, I’m not on duty.”
“Okay, Nathan. Talk to me.”
A man arrives with two glasses. He places them gently on the stool before the two, then exits through the door. Cosmas staggers back into the pub in the company of another. He sniffs, then pauses when his eyes lock with Mama’s.
“Cosmas, no. Leave!” Says Mama from the counter.
“Mama, come on. It’s just one more round…”
“And you will wait that round, outside. I don’t have space for more birdbrains in here,”
Cosmas turns, sniffs, and hangs his head, dragging his feet out. Victor raises his glass, then empties it in a go; Nathan holds on to his.
“It is about Michelle, I believe you know,” says Nathan.
“I did not, but now that you’ve mentioned her, tell me; what about your wife, Nathan?”
Nathan drains his glass, then looks up at the counter. Mother is up, and their eyes lock. He gestures, and mother sends an idler.
“Two,” says Nathan, who then turns to Victor, “can you please stay away from her?”
Victor chuckles. He gets up and takes a glass from the idler who has just arrived with their order. Victor empties it, then sits, turning to Nathan, who retains his drink.
“Stay away from Michelle,” says Victor.
“Correct,” says Nathan.
“Nathan, why would I stay away from Michelle?”
Nathan gulps his drink, then turns to Victor.
“I have at least two reasons,” he says.
“First is because I asked nicely,”
“Okay, fair enough. I respect that,” says Victor.
“Now, second, is something I would like you to be very careful about, Victor,”
Nathan leans towards Victor, who gets closer.
“Why is that?” Whispers Victor.
“Because if you don’t stay away from her, I’m going to kill you,”
Victor withdraws, then looks up at the counter. Mama appears seconds later. He struggles to lift his now-tons heavy hand and gestures. An idler walks to their stool with two glasses and hands one to Victor, the other to Nathan. He takes two empty glasses from the stool in one hand, and the remaining two in the other, then walks back to the counter. Victor empties his glass; Nathan retains his.
“Nathan, I need you to understand something. Michelle and I work together in opposite booths. I believe you know that. Now, we look at each other all the time. We come across one another uncountable times in a span of ten hours. That is, every Monday to Friday; five hours on Saturday. I could try to stay away from her, but I would be lying if I claimed to be successful.”
Nathan gulps his drink, then sits up. His eyes are now bloodshot; his head must burn like hell.
“You do not choose your words wisely, Victor. I cannot warn you every time you forget to.”
“My freedom of expression is one of the rights that I pay you to protect, Officer, Afande, in case you forgot. You are a servant of the nation; a servant of the people’s will. I am the people, Sir.”
“And I am the Law—I should not have to remind you that. I will not ask you again, young man. Michelle, my wife, is off-limits. You can have all the fun you want at work. But should I get a whiff…”
“What? You’re going to kill me?”
“I would blow your brains out, but I’m not carrying a gun. I could not trust myself not to mess you up tonight. But careful, Victor… I will dig your brains out with whatever I can get my hands on, and piss on them. I will make sure you are gone and forgotten, and that you are buried with no name, no home, and nobody to mourn you.”
“Threats, threats, threats; I have had enough of them! You want to kill me so bad? Go ahead, do it right now, Nathan. Who do you think you can scare, huh? Me?” Victor rises, thumping his chest, “Go ahead, try. I dare you. Right here, right now. I would love to see how big those balls are.”
Victor smiles as he watches Nathan bite his lips. He settles down, then leans towards Nathan.
“Of course,” Victor whispers, “threats!”
Nathan withdraws, slumping against the wooden wall.
“I know, Nathan. When you are off-duty, your gun is as good as a toy. You probably have it with you right now. The best you can do is threaten to blow my brains. Huh, kill me? Dig my brains out and-and piss on them? You are more psychotic than Michelle thinks…”
“Leave my wife out of this, Victor. I don’t care what things you have talked about, but I am warning you—forget about Michelle and stay miles away from her. I will remind you your place, and, Victor, I am going to enjoy doing it.”
“Fuck you, Nathan! I am going to remind you your place if you keep thinking that you are in charge.”
Nathan rises and Victor follows.
“Boys! Boys…” says Cosmas, who sniffs, then goes on, “let’s settle back down, please. Mama’s stool and glasses are quite precious; let’s not break them now, eh?”
“When did you even come back?” Says Victor.
“I’m just glad Mama’s glad I’m here,” he sniffs, “can we settle down, please?”
“No need,” says Nathan, “I’m leaving.”
To be continued.
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.