Chase by upcountry cop at midnight ends in really strange twist

You probably know this already but I will still say it. I am Kirundiro, the first born son of Mwobithania, or KM or Sufferer, and money evades me better than I do my landlord. Perhaps if I had spent more time in the confounded college chewing books than other things, I would be a landlord myself. Perhaps not.

Not that touting in Nairobi doesn’t have dough…it does, a lot of money. Where the chums go is the big mystery. Forever broke, is how we are. That’s how come I got to the burial of Elder Makathimo’s son with just 550 bob, yet the evening before, my pockets were brimming with a cool 4,000 bob in varying denominations.

We would have drunk the entire stash also had Kirungustu not attempted to steal a girl from a police officer. Not long after, cop and his buddies ensured our hasty exit from the bar –and general neighbourhood.

Anyways, the 550 bob was to be my fare back to the city in case I failed to secure a free ride. I kept it in my sock, secured to my leg with four bladders and a tie wrap. And then I bumped into Auntie Gatwiri. She was very happy when I agreed, albeit reluctantly, to cut my intended one-week stay upcountry so I could drive her and children back to Nairobi. That was all I needed.

One hour later, I was drowning in Muratina and friendships in Moscow Inn, Bar and Lodgings at the local shopping centre, celebrating the life –but mostly death –of the wealthy, market, mad man. A jolly good time is what we were having when the chief barged in, a platoon of uniformed APs in tow. They herded us out towards the market enclosure where more captives squatted, hands on their heads.

If you’ve been with me a while, you will have guessed that I had no intention of joining the pack. First of, there was the small matter of getting back to the city which would be greatly complicated by a sleep-over at the chief’s camp.

I tore through the church shamba like I was possessed. I was not. But the cops wanted to possess me.

Second, there was the matter of my pride. I, Sufferer, spend virtually each day outsmarting (a few times I don’t) the sophisticated city cops. How would I face the gang if it emerged that some reserve officers led by some uniformed farmer threw the famous Kirundiro in the cooler? That I couldn’t allow.

So I fished one of the oldest tricks from history, the venomous snake. The terrified scream, scared hops and shouts of “nyoka …nyoka,” as we crossed a dark patch worked as it always has. Everyone, including the officers scampered for safety. Before they could recover, I was flying over the nearby church wall, revving like a rally car.

But the confounded officers recovered faster than I expected. Must be the avocados that are in season, I decided as I saw one or two power after me. I tore through the church shamba like I was possessed. I was not. But the cops wanted to possess me. I assumed they would not venture far from the lights of the market. I was wrong. Three minutes later, I could hear the panting of one of them as we crashed through a banana plantation rousing some terrified backs from some village mongrels.

Bugger must have been a fresh Kiganjo graduate, is what I told myself. Those youngsters can chase you to Lake Victoria and back, then give you a murderous wallop when they eventually catch you –which they almost always do. Very mean fellows, those recruits are. But this one must have realised that I was no ordinary foe because he kept falling behind and panting heavier and heavier. Yet he stuck to the chase. Very frustrating, I tell you.

He would have to enlist the services of several superheroes to catch me, I told myself as I jumped over the gabions in Kiriku’s farm. I was not missing the ride back to Nairobi over some free accommodation from the State. Not that I had urgent business in the city. Nope! In fact, I had absolutely no business lined up. However, I had less than Sh150 left of the Sh550 return-fare.

All the running and hopping had started a revolt inside my tummy. The pilau, mukimo, chapati cocktail I stuffed into my tummy on Elder Makathimo’s combed lawn didn’t seem to like the company of the honey concoction from Moscow any more. I badly wanted a break. I couldn’t afford to lose either the chow or booze. But my freedom was equally non-negotiable.

A loud grunt as a body crashed into something hard helped clear the indecisiveness. Cop was more walking than running now. But he was still at it. I picked up the pace once more and tore through the bushes near the coffee factory. This is the neighbourhood I grew up in.

In fact, I had run through these same lands countless times, with Mugechi in hot pursuit most of the times. The chasings ended after Standard Eight when circumcision rendered the giant a man, a status that demanded an overhaul of manners.

Three years later, just as I was joining the league of men myself, Mugechi lost his head. Allow me to tell you about it some other day because I had reached a crossroad. I could make out the shine of the polythene papers covering the hundreds of coffee drying troughs on the other side of the barbed wire. I could also hear the cop’s steps, but he was struggling badly. I was terribly tired too.

Three options, is what I had. The most tempting was to jump over and squat under one of the mnandas until the law retreated. But that plan had a major flaw. Its name is Njararindo. He is the factory night watchman, has been for eternity. Chap has forever been armed with a swift arrow and a sincerely nasty attitude.

And nothing ever changed with Njararindo. Not the woollen hat that covers everything on his head apart from his face. Not his age –he has always been very old. Not his sight –has forever been half blind. But of particular importance, not his attitude. Shoots, is what he does, then investigates afterwards. And he rarely misses, blindness and darkness notwithstanding.

The second option was to…no, no. Running was out.

The final option was to ambush the cop and knock the remaining breath out of his tortured lungs. I reckoned that by the time he recovered some of his senses, I would be drumming my knee to Dolly Parton’s needles as she sew coloured petticoats through my auntie Gatwiri’s car speakers, halfway to the city of Sonko.

But this plan, too, had a serious drawback. I was as high as a girl-giraffe’s privates. Following bold advice from my smothered thinker has almost, always led me to some spectacularly painful conclusions. Countless are the number of times the bitter liquids have assured my ultimate victory in physical confrontations, rallied me with convictions of round-one knockouts, only to flee the instant the sucker punch knocks food from the previous year back into my mouth. That happens after my blindly swung fist misses the target by a county then lands on the target’s larger brother.

So, there I was. Either risk an arrow in my ass from an old, blind, sharp shooter or take my chances on a breathless cop. I needed to compute fast. I put two and two together and got seven. The cop, it was and he would soon be harassing law-breakers in dream land.

Huge fellow

He emerged from the thickets blowing soil and saw-dust from his kisser. Must have ploughed into the timber sawing pit a few metres away. He was also bigger than I expected. Kitu Kidogo must have infiltrated Kiganjo, I reckoned as I took notice of the huge pot the officer was dragging along.

He stood on the path facing the factory barbed wire. He seemed thoroughly perplexed, scanning the path, first the right then left, before stooping with both hands on his knees. He was out of juice. And it was my time to strike.

I approached in tip toes because my strongest weapon was surprise. Just needed to get close, wrap my arm around his neck, squeeze my bicep and tap a spot below the temple with my free arm. The bloke would be snoring in a second.

I guess I was too busy staying upright I didn’t see the dry stick on the path until it snapped under my huge foot. The burly cop whirled round and bore his eyes into mine. My advantage was gone. And fellow looked even bigger, nearly as large as Mugechi. I reckoned that he could strangle me with his index finger then bury me in the saw pit if I as much as attempted a physical duel with him now.

Flight was the next reasonable option. But it occurred to me that swift as my racers are, they could not outrun a bullet in the event bugger was loaded. Whichever angle I looked at my options, I was thoroughly dead.

I was concluding my mental will when something outrageous happened. The officer opened his screamers and let out a deep, croaky, ugly, howl of an animal being strangled. Sounded like a malfunctioning Peugeot 404 horn and it pierced the silence of the night like a diver through water.

Then out of nowhere, a second, even uglier howl, broke out from across the factory fence. I then made out the elderly form of Njararido scooting off into the coffee troughs. The officer’s horrible shriek must have startled the poor fellow out of a nightmare.

But then, for no reason whatsoever that I could see, my stupid mouth opened and belted out a perfect tenor. We must have sounded like wolves during a full moon.

Then we stopped hollering abruptly. Me and the cop began sizing each other up.

“You know that I won’t let you arrest me, but in the unlikely event you do, I will tell your colleagues how you scream like a terrified little girl,” I told him.

He did not move. But his kisser did.

“Why would I arrest you? I’m not a cop…” he blurted…

The next five minutes were spent dancing around on the dark path, laughing, hugging and laughing some more because Njuguna, it turned out, was a driver of a Nakuru matatu. He was hired by a group attending Mugechi’s burial and when the entourage decided to spend the night over, Njuguna followed his thirst to Moscow bar. When the snake struck, he took off behind me. Fellow was simply desperate to keep up for fear of getting lost in a strange countryside…

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