Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nderitu and the Lions

African Writer Inspired By Strength of Lions

Lions are the largest and most feared predators in the African savannah. With flaming yellow eyes, vampire-like canines, a resounding roar, regal demeanour, heavy black or brown mane, sandy-brown fur (like the grass of the savannah), chiselled body, retractable claws and a ball of fur at the tip of its long tail, the 500-pound male lion (Mr. Panthera Leo, to be formal) evokes an air of majesty. BBC’s Big Cat Diary described these glowering panthers as nothing short of ‘stunning’.

Although smaller than its often-reclining counterpart, the female of the species (Ms. Leo) is no shrinking violet and it is she that does the hunting, often accompanied by other lionesses. Male lions don’t hunt because they’re too heavy to maintain a high-speed chase. They also don’t climb trees like other cats because even if they managed to go up, they couldn’t come down without slithering.

Lions are the most social mammals next to man and live in groups called ‘prides’. A typical pride consists of four or five related females accompanied by a couple of males. Probably related to the saber-tooth cats whose fossils have been found in Africa, the lion is a natural-born hunter. Like all big cats, lions usually hunt down prey much larger than themselves – zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, giraffe, elephant young. In fact, lions are the only African predators that can bring down a buffalo. Not only does the sharp-horned buffalo NOT die quickly but it is badly in need of anger-management therapy and will often charge at people for no reason. Human hunters branded this 2000-pound beast ‘the most dangerous game.’

Breeding season is a very interesting time for lionesses. To produce a single litter of cubs, the lioness may have to mate more than a hundred times in the space of about one week. She will also allow herself to be mounted by any mature male in the vicinity. This may sound like scandalous behaviour but it is actually a necessity. Firstly, the multiple copulations would be killingly exhaustive for a single male and, second, all the males will be kind to the cubs because any of them could be the father!

In lion society, it takes a village to raise a child. A cub – the cutest thing! – can suckle from any female with milk and is protected by all. Weaned cubs put extra pressure on the females to hunt and with an adult male lion gobbling around 75 pounds of meat at a sitting, these brave hunters have no choice but to roll their eyes, say a prayer to Diana - Goddess of Hunting - and step back into the killing fields. Although they’re often seen hunting during the day, they are largely nocturnal: like your domestic cat, lions can see pretty well at night, which gives them an unfair advantage over their prey. Between nocturnal and diurnal hunting, raising the cubs and keeping enemies like the African laughing hyena at bay, a lioness has no time to watch ‘Desperate Housewives’ or the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’.

At first sight, the male lion looks like the most spoiled creature anywhere. It shamelessly spends about 18 hours a day sleeping or otherwise lounging. It occasionally roars, snarls or brawls just to remind everyone who’s boss. In reality, the males do much more than mate, eat and sleep. It is their duty to protect the pride from danger, especially from other lions and from hyenas. A lioness may be more than a match for a single hyena but hyenas run in packs and constitute the largest threat to lionesses and their young. The sight of the larger, stronger, males usually sends hyenas flying in all directions.

You can’t stare a lion down – I’ve tried. Its unyielding yellow eyes inspire fear and – like an antelope or zebra – your first instinct is to run. A Discovery Channel narrator described the sensation as ‘the feeling that you are being sized up for the next meal.’ Humans are not normally on lions’ menu (thank God) but fair game is fair game and, unarmed, a person’s chances of overpowering a lion are between zero and nil. In fact, for many decades the most shocking story to come out of Africa was that of the man-eaters of Tsavo (a place near the coast of Kenya.) when U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt heard this bizarre story, he immediatedly sent for more information. It all started when Kenya and neighbouring Uganda were under British colonial rule. To boost trade and communication between the two territories (called ‘British East Africa’), the colonial masters resolved to link them with a railway line. As the natives were ignorant in railway works, platelayers were shipped in from India, another British colony.

Well, neither the colonialists nor the labourers knew what they were getting themselves into until the railway reached the danger zone of Tsavo. Huge, man-eating lions began coming down from the hills by night and making meals out of the workers. Over the next few months, so many Indians died in encounters with lions that the project stalled and was nearly abandoned altogether. One Indian died strictly from terror while 28 others were dragged out of their tents by night and spirited into the jungle to be fed on. In view of the peril, the, er, lion’s share of the Indians abandonded the project (now dubbed ‘The Lunatic Express’) leaving the colonial masters with just a couple hundred workers. Lieut.-Col. J. H. Patterson, a British railway engineer, eventually put an end to the madness by shooting two of the most notorious lions. One of them, an elusive male, had to be shot 6 times with a rifle before it finally succumbed. Its buddy, also male, was nearly 10 feet long. It took 8 men to carry the carcass back to camp as a trophy!

For more information about what happened at Tsavo, read the non-fiction classic ‘The Man-Eaters of Tsavo’ by Lieut.-Col. J. H. Patterson. (http://www.rtpnet.org/robroy/tsavo/tsavo+pics.html)

For a movie version of the feline terror, I highly recommend Michael Douglas’ Oscar-winning film, ‘The Ghost and The Darkness’

(c) Alex N Nderitu http://www.alexandernderitu.com/

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare

Edge of Composure

This is an excerpt from Alexander Nderitu's collection of short stories, 'Angela on My Mind' (http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/angela-on-my-mind/3494168).

In this particular story,a successful female Canadian architect discovers that she is being stalked and has to employ all manner of tricks to outwit the stranger.

'Edge of Composure' will put you right on the Edge of Your Seat...

I climb the winding staircase up to my bedroom.

I remove the clip from my hair and shake my blonde tresses loose before shedding my clothes and heading for the bathroom. I plug the drainage hole of my Jacuzzi, turn on the warm water jets, pour in my favorite bath salts and climb in.

There is no better way end to a hectic day than to soak in foaming bath salts! But as I begin to luxuriate, a sudden realization makes me snap my eyes open: what if the stalker has followed me home? Not only do I live all by myself in an expansive compound where a cry for help would go unheard but I’m lying in a bathtub buck-naked! I’m about as vulnerable to an attacker I as I could possibly be without throwing myself at him.

Dripping wet, I climb out of the Jacuzzi (My ex-boyfriend used to call it the “love boat” because he used to join me there), grab a robe, return to the bedroom and listen for any unusual noises. Nothing. I tip-toe to the top of the staircase and look down. Nothing. I’ve never seen the stalker near my house but I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up here. After following me around for so long, he probably knows me down to my blood group.

I return to the Jacuzzi but its no fun now because I’m distracted, thoughts of being attacked pre-dominate.

You may think that’s it a little flattering to have your own stalker but it’s not. To have a stranger following you is to live a nightmare. You always wonder what he wants – to rape you, kill you, kidnap you, snatch your handbag or whatever. If you know the guy, if he’s some ex-lover or something, that’s better because you can confront him and tell him to get off your back or threaten him with court action but if it’s a stranger, watch out. He’ll be more aggressive because he knows you can’t threaten him with exposure. It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t gone to the cops yet.

If I inform the police, they’ll recommend I apply for a restraining order. But stalkers like mine are psychos – they don’t obey orders, they obey their own twisted desires. An obsession is an obsession is an obsession. And since being crazy is not a crime, the uniforms can’t arrest the stranger just because he’s mentally unbalanced. For that, he needs to DO SOMETHING - there must be some damage to me or my property before he can be labeled a criminal, worthy of arrest. But I can’t wait for him to DO SOMETHING. I don’t want to use my bumps and bruises as evidence in a court of law.

I leave the Jacuzzi and go back to the bedroom where I change into lighter gear and go downstairs to the kitchen. As one who lives alone, I rarely use my living room and the expensive furniture and electronics there are virtually untouched. Apart from the bedroom, the kitchen is the only room I properly utilize and it's where I keep the telephone. I touch a button on the answering machine and then open the fridge as I listen to the messages.

“Hi, Claudette,” the first message crackles in, “Jane here. We’re going skiing up at Black Creek this weekend, just the girls, and we wanted to know if you can make it to come.”
Jane is a fun-loving friend of mine and when we’re together with her equally rowdy girlfriends we behave like freewheeling college girls. I make a mental note to call her back as I remove a bottle of orange juice from the fridge.

The second message kicks in as I head over to the cabinet to get a glass: “Debra here. Call me back ASAP.” Debra is a client of mine, a wealthy blonde heiress who always sounds urgent, even when ordering a doughnut. I’m certainly not going to call her back ASAP. I’m designing a sports center for her, not negotiating Middle East peace – there’s nothing urgent.

The next message comes in as I seat myself at elliptical wooden table: “Hey, baby…You looked real good today… And your lips … they’re so luscious…so beautiful…and your lipstick is so red…like dark blood…Did you know that you always twiddle your hair with your free hand when you’re on your phone?”

I’m thunderstruck. My hand is shaking so badly I have to put down my glass of juice or I’ll spill it all over the table. That was the first time ever that the stalker has called me. He must have gotten my number from the telephone directory: I’m listed.

When I heard “Hey, baby”, I thought some ex was trying to re-establish contact but the voice – a rough, masculine drone – is unfamiliar and his taunting message points him out as the stalker.

“You looked real good today”, he had droned.

I spent the whole day today going over a proposed building site and kept in touch with my office using my cell phone. The sleazeball must have been there!

“Did you know that you always twiddle your hair with your free hand when you’re on your phone?”

My God! If that psycho could follow me all the way to the other side of town just to stare at me, what’s to prevent him from following me home? I have to be prepared for anything!

I pull my knife drawer open with such force that it comes clean off the cabinet and crashes on the tiled floor. My heart pounding, I skim through the collection: an eight-inch chef's knife, several ordinary paring knives, a family of utility knives and a serrated bread knife. I settle for the longest weapon in the range - the chef’s knife. I put rest of the knives back in the drawer and return it to its housing.

Clutching the chef’s knife in both hands like a character in a slasher movie, I look out the kitchen window for any signs of intrusion. I gather no evidence but there’s plenty of vegetation out there, plenty of places to hide.

“And your lips … they’re so luscious…so beautiful.”

It’s just like I told you – there are sexual undercurrents. That’s why most stalkers are men following women. It’s a sexual thing.

“And your lipstick is so red…like dark blood.”

Well, mister, I have an eight-inch blade and I’m not afraid to use it! If there’s going to be dark blood on the floor tonight, it won’t be mine.

I take my juice, a pack of potato crisps and the knife upstairs with me.

Full story: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/angela-on-my-mind/3494168

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It’s Hollywood, Jim, but not as we know it

 Comic Writer Takes on Hollywood!
It would appear that rumours of Alexander Nderitu’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Nearly two years after releasing his debut e-novel, 'When the Whirlwind Passes', the former movie reviewer is back with 'What’s Wrong With This Picture?', a comedic stage play about Hollywood.

The farce revolves around Jack Lloyd, a failed Alfred Hitchcock, whose attempts at producing a hit movie in California are frustrated at every turn. He is what Graham Greene might have called, ‘a burnt-out case’.

Although Nderitu admits that he was under the influence (of instant coffee) when he wrote this comedy, he believes that his unflattering portrait of the Hollywood film-making scene is more accurate than most people would like to admit.

‘People still have this fairy-tale image of Tinseltown,’ he says. ‘They think it’s a magical place paved with gold and populated with smooth young men and angelic little girls. Well, it’s not… Movie-making is an expensive, complicated and difficult affair. Don’t let the red-carpet glamour fool you.’ Nderitu echoes the sentiments of producer Michael Hauge who wrote, ‘The process of making a film involves so many people, so much money, so much talent, so many egos, so many physical obstacles and so may things that can go wrong that it is a near miracle every time a movie gets made, let alone is any good.’ ('Writing Screenplays That Sell', Elm Tree Books, pg.287-288).

‘What’s Wrong With This Picture?’ (or, more accurately, ‘How Alexander Nderitu Sees Hollywood’) is written in a style reminiscent of humourist S.J.Perelman ('Acres & Pains', 'Crazy Like A Fox') and dedicated to ‘the granddaddy of playwrights’, William Shakespeare. Most of the action takes place on a film set and features a large cast of well-portrayed characters.

(c) Alex N Nderitu http://www.alexandernderitu.com/

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare

Alex on 'Paradise Found'

Author Of ‘Paradise Found’ Talks About Inspiration For Poem

‘Here where Kenya’s mountain shows
her crown at dawn
A secret mountain, wreathed in cloud
Above the wooded hills…
‘She shows her height then coyly hides
her beauty once again, seen from these
lovely lawns where terraced lakes
reflect the cloud…
‘…Where herons fly and peacocks strut
in fanned delight, kites circle overhead,
and green beneath the graceful lawn,
parades with sacred Ibis,
Sarus crane and marabou.’
- Extracts from a poem composed by a visitor to the Mt.Kenya Safari Club in 1986

'The afternoon full-monty teas, served on the lawn and in view of the colobus monkeys, are something special.' - Travel writer John Fox

February 1 2005 – Nairobi, Kenya.
Alexander Nderitu:
‘My most recent poem, “Paradise Found”, was inspired by the natural beauty of Kenya. The richness of the African landscape has enchanted just about every visitor that ever came here, as exemplified by Alan Paton’s book, “Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful,” which contrasts the “ugliness” of South Africa’s apartheid system with its stunning geography.

‘One might ask why I’m not jaded by now, having lived in equatorial Africa all my life. But the truth of the matter is that I’ve learned more about the geography and natural history of my homeland in the last two years than in all preceding years combined.

‘In 1998, Al-Qaeda bombed the US embassy in Nairobi. Later, unknown terrorists blew up an Israeli resort in Mombasa and others came within an ace of shooting down a passenger plane. After 9/11, the US issued negative travel advisories against visiting Kenya. This resulted in a sharp drop in tourist numbers and a major blow to the highly profitable tourism industry. To make up for the loss of foreign exchange, the government championed domestic tourism which opened eyes and made many Kenyans begin to see their country as if for the time.

‘I didn’t know, for instance, that the Mt.Kenya forest is home to the rarely-seen Black Panther (made famous by a Michael Jackson video) until recently. The Black Panther is actually a leopard with a gene that makes its entire coat of fur black as night. Its close relative, the spotted leopard, is a more common sight, although its numbers have drastically dropped from the time when almost every tree in the bush seemed to contain one. Another rare animal I never knew lived here is the gorilla, the largest of the primates. As black as a panther, the gorilla has haunted the hills of Africa for ten million years.

‘Mt.Kenya itself is a lovely but shy volcanic mountain that usually hides its head above the clouds. Plunging more than five kilometers into the sky, to stand on its peak is to stand on the highest point in the country. At its foot is just one of the myriad wildlife reserves that once made Kenya the world’s number one tourist destination.

‘Barging through the bush is the African Elephant (not to be confused with the Asian variety), a six-ton behemoth that continues growing throughout its life. It may be the largest creature on land but fossils reveal that its ancestors were even bigger. A gentle giant, it was unclear why rogue elephants sometimes mauled humans until a naturalist discovered that all culprits were over-excited bulls at the peak of their sexual desire (called “masting”). In the long, dry grass of the savannah, lions lounge under acacia trees while cheetahs scan the horizon from atop anthills, ready to give chase to gazelles. Favoured with a light, lanky body and taking some of the longest strides anywhere, the cheetah spends half its running time in the air. Meanwhile, along the shores of the rivers and fresh water lakes, crocodiles bask in the sun with their jaws open. Long past their expired-by dates, it’s hard to explain why or how the crocs have survived so long. 200 million years old, the crocs swam with the dinosaurs and survived many global catastrophes, including asteroid impact and the floods that sunk Atlantis. With a small brain, like its dinosaur cousins, the crocodile is so primitive an organism, it needs sunlight to digest its food.(Some species of crocodile are, however, extinct.) When darkness falls across the savannah, a shapely form is seen to slink in the shadows and along tree boughs. A master of the ambush and perhaps the greatest pouncer of them all, the leopard hunts in darkness…

‘Kenya also boasts a long coastline (the south-eastern side of the country marries the Indian Ocean) with white sands and emerald waters. Coral reefs, salt-water fish and luxury hotels are some of the attractions of this part of the world. Blue Marlin swordfish, popular with those who fish for sport, swim alongside giant turtles and tropical fish of every description.

‘Bird lovers are never short-changed in the African wild. From beautiful peacocl to the worse-for-wear vulture and from the 350-pound ostrich to the tiny red-breasted robin, a kaleidoscope of bird life makes the trees and skies come alive. Lakes such as the famous Lake Naivasha turn from blue to pink as millions of flamingoes land in the shallows to look for fish, wading through the water with stick-thin legs.

‘But the spectacle to end all spectacles remains the annual migration of the wildebeest. Fleeing the dry spell in the savannah, over a million wildebeest stampede between Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania, traversing lion territory and crocodile-infested rivers in what has been described as “the greatest show on earth”.’

For more about the Black Panther, visit:

For more about The Great Wildebeest Migration, visit www.governorscamp.com/migration.htm

For more about African wildife and tour spots visit:

(c) Alex N Nderitu http://www.alexandernderitu.com/

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rude Was The Shock

A detective story from my short story collection, 'Angela on My Mind'
 by Alex N Nderitu (

The murder wouldn’t have occurred if old Mrs.Manish hadn’t left her bathroom tap running.

 Arriving at my Knight Mutual Insurance office, I was informed that a Mrs. Manish, her daughter, Leela, and her granddaughter, Devi, were leaving their home in Nairobi’s Parklands area – to see if Devi’s wedding gown was ready – when the old lady remembered that she had left the tap running. She disembarked the car, entered the house and never came out. When Leela’s patience expired, she went to check on her mother only to find the elderly matriarch lying dead on her bedroom floor, beside a stool, a scarlet pool spreading from under her grey hair. Leela’s screams brought Devi to the house and together they called the police. There were no signs of a break-in but Mrs. Manish’s insured jewellery collection – brought out of the safe in readiness for the wedding – was missing. The only person in the house at the time of the incident was Leela’s father, Mr.Manish – an ancient, infirm loner – and he heard nothing, being almost completely deaf.

 Hi, my name is Tracy “Trace” Tergat (alas, no relation to the star athlete) and I work as an Insurance Claims Investigator for Knight Mutual. Like most banks and insurance agencies in this part of the world, Knight Mutual is a branch of an overseas concern but it has the distinction of being the oldest in its field, having been established at a time when the region was still known as ‘British East Africa’. In the ten years I’ve been here, I’ve saved the company millions of shillings in fraudulent claims, but you could have fooled my bank manager – my salary is nothing to write home about. The deceased’s jewels – gold and sapphire ornaments – were insured for nearly half a million shillings and before we compensated her next-of-kin, we wanted to make sure that the claim was genuine.

I drove up to the Manish’s residence and was greeted by the barking of dogs. (Why hadn’t they barked at the intruder/murderer?) Funeral preparations were under way and Devi’s wedding had been postponed indefinitely. From Leela, I obtained permission to snoop around the house, hunting for clues. In the soft soil of a flower garden behind the house, I found what I was looking for – shoeprints. They belonged to a man who wore size 7 shoes wasn’t heavy. They were under a large window through which, no doubt, the intruder had sneaked in and out. I got down on my hands and knees and as I was combing the nearby lawn for further clues, my eyes fell upon the prettiest feet I’ve ever seen. I looked up to see Devi, the bride-to-be, staring down at me. Her large oval eyes, like a tiger’s, were ringed by extravagant lashes. Shiny blue-black hair framed her head and cascaded all the way down to waist level and although the sari she wore exposed her presentable mid-riff, her breasts were carefully concealed, like weapons of mass destruction. Her curves were a marvel of symmetry. She looked as if she had just walked out of the Song of Solomon.

 ‘Sherlock Holmes?’ she inquired, favouring me with a smile.

 ‘No…uh…Actually…Trace Tergat, no relation…Very sorry about your grandmother. Tragic.’

 I was down on one knee as I mumbled and, from a distance, I must have looked as if I was proposing marriage so I clambered to my feet. Devi had a sweet coconut-like smell scent around her. It was probably emanating from her hair. I asked her if she had any suspects in mind – a disgruntled house servant, for instance. No, she didn’t. I said I was sorry about the wedding. So was she – it was going to be quite grand: a horse-drawn carriage parading around the temple and all that jazz. For the honeymoon, they were going to their native India for the first time and they were going to have their picture taken in front of the Taj Mahal! Her fiancé was well off, then? Yes, he had a plum job with Vishnu Steelworks Ltd, a leading manufacturer of pipes, kitchen sinks and similar.

 As it was around mid-day, Devi’s mother invited me to lunch. With us at the table were Mr.Manish and Devi’s fiancé, Visha. The former was frail and balding and the remaining hair was as white as the snows of the Kilimanjaro. By contrast, Visha was a portrait of youth - virile, dark-haired, slim, madly handsome. He could have passed for a Bollywood star. He regarded me with suspicion, as if we were competing for something.

The moment I tasted the food, my mouth caught fire. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I saw Visha reach forth and add more curry to the pepper-rich chicken stew. Despite my manly attempt to contain the culinary inferno, Devi noticed that I was in agony and began to smile. When I gave up pretending that the Asian cuisine was one I could handle and actually started to fan my mouth with my hand, Devi said:
 ‘Would you like a glass of water, Trace? Or should I call the Fire Brigade?’

 ‘A glass of water will do just fine,’ I said, groaning inwardly.

 She went to the kitchen and returned carrying a glass and a jar full of water. Visha’s displeasure at seeing his girlfriend serving me was unmitigated but it didn’t bother me – I was there on business not pleasure. As Devi poured me a glass of the essential liquid, I caught a whiff of the “coconutty” scent again. It was definitely coming from her hair. To give credit where credit is due, the meal – rice, chapati, chicken stew, and a convoy of side dishes – was mouthwateringly delicious and smelled the part. The problem was the amount of pepper and spice in the stews. By the time that curve collection, Devi, came to my rescue, I was sweating bullets.

 The Kenyan Indians, sometimes called “Kenindians”, must live in a kind of limbo. They are not considered “White” (where would that leave the Europeans?) but they’re not considered Black either, being markedly different, in look and culture, from the original Kenyans. But Kenyan they are! Having lived in the country for generations, they have woven themselves into the tapestry of society and become part of the bigger picture. A good many of their ancestors arrived here as workers on the payroll of the colonial government but others simply arrived as traders and never left. I guess most of them see Kenya as their ‘natural’ home and India as their ‘spiritual’ home.
There could be little doubt that Devi got her good looks from her talkative mother. Leela was an extremely attractive woman despite being in her mid-forties and on the plump side. She was still curvy and favoured with the smoothest of skins. On the day of the lunch, she wore a black sari with a headscarf as light as a cobweb. Her outfit was embroidered with green and red flowers and golden threads. She had a golden nose ring, flashy rings on every finger save the thumbs, dangling earrings in the shape of four-armed Hindu gods, and multiple golden bangles that jingled on her light-brown forearms as she encouraged me to have more chicken or chapati.

 Could she have been the culprit? I found myself thinking. It was long shot because she only went to check on her mother after the latter had overstayed in the house. So what kept Mrs. Manish in the house? Did she surprise the jewel thief and was silenced to prevent her from identifying him? Did she simply go upstairs to turn off the tap, trip, burst her head open on the metallic stool and when Leela found her, she (Leela) had grabbed the jewels before screaming for help? She certainly had a fetish for ornaments. It was possible but it didn’t explain the shoeprints in the garden. What about old Mr.Manish? Did he have a motive? Husbands and wives quarrel all the time and sometimes those quarrels lead to violence. In fact, according to statistics, you’re more likely to be killed by your spouse than any other person! But did Manish have what it takes to kill? I spied him eating his food with shaky, leathery hands and eliminated him from the equation. He simply had no stamina. He couldn’t possibly have zipped to the bedroom, stolen the bling bling, gone outside, hidden the loot, and zipped back to his original location before Leela burst into the house calling for her mother. He walked, I noticed, with the aid of a cane. At his age, if he tumbled down the staircase, his bones would break like matchsticks. And of what use were the jewels to him (or the insurance money for that matter)? He was too old and infirm to pursue creature comforts. So who was the second man in the house? Or, as they say in the books, whodunit?

 I had hoped to use the lunch as a forum for further investigation but Devi’s mother turned the tables, figuratively speaking, and fired a salvo of questions at me, only stopping to reload: What position did I hold at the insurance agency? How old was I? Which part of the country did I hail from? Where did my parents hail from? For a moment I thought I would have to retrace my ancestry all the way to Homo Habilis. She struck me as one of those pesky people who can’t keep their noses out of other people’s business: Say you’re getting married and they’ll want details, Take a piss and they’ll probably test it for banned substances! Mr.Manish said nothing at the luncheon and probably heard nothing.

 Towards evening, I left the Kenindian family. I had found more of the same shoeprints on the garage floor – plus traces of garden soil – and quizzed every member of the household but I had no suspects as yet.

The next day, wanting to talk to Visha, I called Vishnu Steelworks only to be told that he had been “dismissed” from the company three months before. The pieces of the puzzle fell into place with an almost audible click. I believe that this is what transpired:
  Devi and Visha, two young Kenyans of Indian extraction, were planning to get married. They laid out lavish plans but just as the wedding day was approaching, Visha lost his well-paying job although he never told anyone. Financial pressure mounting, he decided to steal and sell valuables from his fiancé’s home. One sun-soaked Saturday morning, he sneaked into the residence, which was easy enough considering that the security dogs knew him. He hid behind the house until he heard the family car driving off. He climbed in through a window and, knowing the geography of the house, went straight up to Mrs. Manish’s ensuite bedroom. What he didn’t know is that the car had stopped and Mrs. Manish was coming back into the house. She walked in on him and was so shocked to see her future in-law robbing her that she staggered backwards (or perhaps he made a move to grab her) and tripped on her long dress (She dressed like a nun.) She fell, hitting her head on the edge of a glass-topped metallic stool. The thief then bolted out of house and hid in the garage, pondering his next move. When people started arriving at the house in response to the news, he went round to the front of the house and pretended to be arriving.

 Although Visha was the culprit, Devi may warrant a small portion of the blame. If she hadn’t been so insanely beautiful then maybe men wouldn’t go to such ridiculous lengths to please her. It will be remembered that Sita was at the center of the epic battle of the Ramayana. History also records that the kidnap of Helen of Troy was the genesis of the nine-year Trojan war. Should part of the blame in Mrs. Manish’s demise be apportioned to her gorgeous granddaughter? The verdict is yours.
Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare


Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Considered thoughts, accidental wit, motivational quotes, book excerpts and one-liners from "Saint Alex" (License: Free Documentation )

'It's easy for me to rap because I talk fast anyway...Just add a beat and I'll be in there like swimwear.'

'These are the guys who ruined Kenyan hip hop: they jumped in like rapists when hip hop was in the middle of a seduction...In the early '90's, rap music began to gain popularity thanks to acts like MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, LL Cool J and others. But the new guys didn't bother to understand the culture behind rap. They have for the last two decades or so been raping our ears with meaningless sonic garbage.' - Complaining about wannabe rappers who took the pimping/gangsta facade so far, they became caricatures of the hip-hop heroes

'I love jazz. I just wish it had more lyrics.' - On why his music is clearly influenced by jazz licks

'I am not wedded to any genre.' - Refuting claims that he is an aspiring hip-hop artiste

'How is Lady Gaga a "lady"? Saying "Lady Gaga" is a contradiction in terms. It's like saying "hot ice" or "Kibera millionaires".'

'I don't know why people say Madonna isn't a good singer. She's a great singer. Her work from the late '80's to the mid '90's was especially good. As a vocalist, she's right up there with Celine Dion and Mariah look-at-my-boobs Carey.'

'Kenyans are very helpful. When Michael Jackson was alive, they offered to help him find his other glove.'

'I am so old-school, I still refer to rock music as "Rock & Roll".'

‘I don’t wear bling because I have a heart of gold.’

'Yes…the memory is as bright as movie lights in the summer

All I wanted was a chance like Tom Cruise in ‘Days of Thunder’
I always knew I would be great man some day

It was no coincidence I was born on Shakespeare’s birthday'
- 'The Bookman Cometh'

'Of course Italy is a fashion capital - the entire country is shaped like a boot.'

‘Kenyan publishers are not that bad: at least when they reject your manuscript, they write the rejection (note) personally.’

‘I was born to be a storyteller – even my dreams have a full cast of characters and a twist in the tail.’

Alexander Nderitu, 'Harvest of Blood'‘One of the reasons I like writing so much is the flexibility of the hours: they bend like rubber.’ – ‘Angela On My Mind’ (short story), Angela On My Mind

‘At heart, I am just a guy who likes to tell stories.’ – On why he doesn’t stick to one genre, writing everything from stage plays to novels.

‘I will never retire from writing. I’ll probably die in the middle of (writing) a sentence.’

'As a spy writer, I approach the drama genre like a tourist, taking note of anything that’s mildly interesting.'

'I have seen the furure and e-books work.'
'I want to talk about humility. But before I talk about humility, let me reiterate that I am the greatest living writer.'

' "I write what I want." Steve Biko said that, but I use it so often, it might one day be attributed to me.'

'I have written so many books that I haven't read some of them.'

'It's not that I'm anti-establishment, it's just that I'm always looking for easier and faster ways of doing the same old things.' - On his many innovations, especially in literature

‘I’ve got all these ideas running through my head like migrating wildebeest.’ – On planning to release several books in the year 2008 alone

‘Like Panasonic, I have ideas for life.’ – On being the first Kenyan to put out a POD book / e-novel

‘The Internet made me.’ – On relying on Internet technologies for most of his earnings.

'Talent is not enough...Dreams are not enough...You have to learn to market and sell your product, even if your "product" is yourself.' - Talking to Spanish interviewer
''Makeshift goalposts were designated using pullovers or shoes and referees were as rare as European royalty at a reggae concert.'- ‘A Game For Heroes…If You Believe the Hype’ (short story)

'As all golfers and surfers know, the wind is a fickle mistress and cannot be relied upon.' - ‘A Game For Heroes…If You Believe the Hype’ (short story)
' "Exciting" is a dull word to describe the pro wrestling business.'

'These guys (politicians) lie all the time. They can tell you they buy Playboy for the articles and expect you to believe it.'

'It’s not like Western governments were doing any cheerleading for us when we were peaceful.' - Addressing Kenya's descent into chaos after the 2007 presidential election.'

'Reactions to emerging details (about the 1994 Rwandan Genocide) were slower than a striptease.' - 'Harvest of Blood', (short story), Angela On My Mind

‘I don’t remember the collapse of the first East African Community, mainly because I wasn’t born yet.’ – During the 2007 talks to restore the EAC which collapsed in 1977

'If religion is the opium of the masses, then politics is the marijuana: It is cheap, commonplace, highly addictive, can be good but is often harmful and gives people a euphoric high that only lasts for a short time before reality comes crashing in.'

'If I'm politically correct, it's by accident. Even when I was a child, I never cared much for political correctness or conformity.'

'What we need is Africa 2.0 - A new version of Africa. A United States of Africa.'

'There are 50 states that make up the US; there are 53 countries that make up Africa. If we can have a United States of America then there's no reason why we can't have a United States of Africa.'

'There's food for though here, but let us not go into a feeding frenzy. There's enough for everyone.' - On the feasibility of a United States of Africa.

'Kenyans are way too obsessed with politics. I knew this shoemaker when I lived in Lang'ata who wouldn't even turn up for work if there was a political rally to be attended. His makeshift workstation had no shelter and he lived in the nearby Kibera slum and yet, he was still content to discuss duelling politicians all day. The politicians themselves lived in mansions and were flush with money...Many Kenyans are like that shoemaker. Politics are inevitable but do we have to dwell on them 24/7? There are other things in the world - there's tourism and agriculture, there's sports and entertainment.'

‘I love people – and I have the scars to prove it.’

'I don't like know-it-alls. In other words, I don't like competition.'

‘I see things in black and white. To me, Robin Hood was a thief and Cinderella was a social climber.’ – ‘I Tell You True’ (unreleased)

'You know the world is upside down when Zsa Zsa Gabor, who never accomplished anything of note, is many times more famous than Nikola Tesla, whose inventions affect every person on earth.'

'I once dated a Miss Tourism model who turned out to be more like Miss Disappointment...it turned out that she wore padded bras."

‘I never pay critics any mind: I just let their criticisms pass harmlessly through me, like neutrinos.’
(A neutrino, in physics, is an elementary matter particle with no atomic mass. Neutrinos, shot out of the sun, pass through our bodies every day.)
‘Old age creeps up on you like a mugger on the streets of Nairobi.’

‘If men like clean girls, then how come prostitution is the world’s oldest profession?’ – Sex and the City: Kenyan Prostitutes in London (article)

'Don't make fun of women. If anything, they're the cornerstones of the community.' - Reacting to an online ad that suggested that a winged sanitary pad is the ideal pack for an Apple iPad

'I never interfere with nature unless it is absolutely neccesary. I don't even interrupt insects if I catch them mating inside my house. I do, however, wish they would be more discreet about there sexual encounters: a white wall provides very little camouflage.'

'Her eyes were as blue as the cloud-starved African sky / that arched above us like the Sistine painting by Michaelangelo.' - Someone in Africa Loves You (poem), The Moon is Made of Green Cheese

'The El Nino weather phenomenon was in force and the icy wind was as deadly as the Devil’s own breath.'- A Cold day in December, 'Angela on My Mind'
‘They were enjoying their first date at a small restaurant a few days later when a tornado ripped through the area like the wrath of God.’ - What’s Wrong With This Picture? (play)

'A blood orange African horizon, and the rising sun like a raw egg yolk.' - Life as a Disease, 'Angela on My Mind'

'It was another cold day, the morning breeze a worthy rival to arctic winds.' - A Cold day in December, 'Angela on My Mind'

'...the sky was an abstract painting of purple and pink and orange.' - Kiss, Commander, Promise, 'Angela on My Mind'

'It didn't even look like the sun! It was so big and full and beautiful, it looked like a sister planet - something out of a Flash Gordon comic strip.' - A Game for Gentlemen

‘A spray emanates from the shoe and the Henchman collapses, dead as chivalry.’ – What’s Wrong With This Picture? (play)

'As we wait and watch, a sulphur-yellow Hummer 3 zooms past, sticking out from the mostly dark vehicles like an albino in the Million Man March.' - 'Kiss, Commander, Promise' (spy story), Angela On My Mind

'My first port of call was the mortuary where the MP’s cadaver lay on a slab, post-autopsy, like the victim of an alien abduction.'- A Cold Day in December, 'Angela on My Mind'

'A few drunkards stagger home or lie on the filthy ground like broken dolls.' - Life as a Game (film script)

'... and although the sari she wore exposed her presentable mid-riff, her breasts were carefully concealed, like weapons of mass destruction.' - 'Rude Was the Shock' (short story), Angela on My Mind

‘A virus is the smallest parasite in the business.’ – Life as a Disease (short story), Angela On My Mind

‘There is a time to walk and a time to run; a time to spy and a time to refrain from spying.’ - 'Kiss, Commander, Promise' (spy story), Angela On My Mind

‘The police residence was densely populated – rumours would swirl around us like flies over a dead dog.’ - ‘Angela On My Mind’ (short story), Angela On My Mind

'...the seven Israeli legislators...were now sitting around an elliptical Formica table, as silent as the faces on Mt.Rushmore.' - The Tommorrow Soldiers, 'Angela on My Mind'

‘Hard words they were and they hurt like punches.’ – The World is Upside Down (poem), The Moon is Made of Green Cheese

'As the getaway car zoomed down Uhuru Highway, navigated the roundabout with Haile Selassie Avenue and headed on towards Nyayo Stadium, the Hyundai stuck to it like a cheap pair of trousers.' - 'Kiss, Commander, Promise' (spy story), Angela On My Mind

'Nonsense! I avoid cliches like the plague!' - Character in 'The Smartest Guy in the Boardroom'

'... and although the sari she wore exposed her presentable mid-riff, her breasts were carefully concealed, like weapons of mass destruction.' - Rude Was the Shock, 'Angela on My Mind'

'I don't remember saying that - but it sounds like something I'd say.' - Asked if the line 'Police intelligence is an oxymoron' is attributable to him. (He actually wrote in the script for the movie 'The War Room')

'Doctors are the gods of the new millennium.' - The Tomorrow Soldiers, 'Angela on My Mind'

'Night and day, Maggie fumed. Her mind went to and fro like a caged tiger.' - When the Whirlwind Passess

'The Mercedes lurched forward and managed to catch the tail-end of the yellow light. ' - Life as a Disease, 'Angela on My Mind'

'Tall, lean and with greying hair, he (the doctor) wore a white dustcoat and smiled like a magician entertaining kids.' - A Cold day in December, 'Angela on My Mind'

‘The press. They’re as inevitable as death and taxes.’ – A Konkodi as President, Matatu magazine (2007)

'The problem was the amount of pepper and spice in the stews. By the time that curve collection, Devi, came to my rescue, I was sweating bullets.' - Rude Was the Shock, 'Angela on My Mind'

 ‘I was born as the credits were rolling up on the Seventies.’ – ‘A Game For Heroes…If You Believe the Hype’ (short story)

'This hint should be as clear as a neon sign in a desert but some guys still miss it and keep pursuing a chick who couldn't be less interested in them.' - 'She's Just Not That Into You' (Article)

‘The city blacksmiths made more and more weapons and amours and soldiers began wearing amulets into battle but the invaders usually had the weight of numbers and when the battles were over, the bodies of the sons of the stars lay all over the Flatlands like rotting fish on a dried-up river bed.’ - The Amari Chronicles

‘I have some poems under my belt but I consider myself a prose writer. Readers of my poems will have noticed that most of them are ‘story poems’ that come dangerously close to the poetry-prose border and even threaten to jump over like illegal immigrants.’ – Alexander Nderitu Changes Kenya’s Literary Landscape

‘History records that prostitution was humanity's first profession. Before there were lawyers and doctors, there were prostitutes. Before there were soldiers and spies, there were prostitutes.’ - The Naked Truth About London's Sex Queens

(c) Alex N Nderitu http://www.alexandernderitu.com/

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare

Alexander Nderitu presents WRESTLING GREATEST QUOTES!!!

'You have to grab your competition by the throat and you gotta squeeze the life out of your competition.' - Vincent K. McMahon, wrestling promoter

'If Mr.McMahon dies, do you think the mourners will outnumber the cheering section?' - Commentator Jerry "The King" Lawler after Vince McMahon and Shane poured green paint all over "Eugene" on RAW

'This man can make a horror movie without makeup.' - Jerry "The King" Lawler talking about The Great Khali.

'If Shakespeare was alive today, he'd be writing wrestling shows.' - Wrestler Chris Jericho, promoting his book, "'Lions' Tale: Around the World in Spandex"

''Walk along one day and do nothing wrong, play by the rules, be a good person, do everything right: it doesn't guarantee anything.' - The late Owen Hart, 'The Life and Death of Owen Hart' (DVD)

'Vince Russo destroyed the Periodic Table as he only recognises the element of surprise.' - Jim Cornette, 'Ring Roasts III'

'The grass is always greener on the other side, unless Vince Russo has been there in which case the grass is most likely dead.' - Jim Cornette, 'Ring Roasts III'

'The saddest moment in a child's life is not when he learns that Santa Claus isn't real, it's when he learns that Vince Russo is.' - Jim Cornette, 'Ring Roasts III'

'He (Vince Russo) is the only booker I've seen who doesn't get people over, he gets them under.' - Jim Cornette, 'Ring Roasts III'

'Is your (Missy Hyatt's) pussy still considered a private part?.' - Al Snow, 'Ring Roasts III'

Al Snow, 'Ring Roasts III

' "Exciting" is a dull world to describe the wrestling business.' - Alexander 'Saint Alex' Nderitu, African wrestling promoter

'Only death can seperate me from the wrestling world.' - Alexander 'Saint Alex' Nderitu, African wrestling promoter

Alexander 'Saint Alex' Nderitu, African wrestling promoter  
'I go out there, I live everything in the ring...I live, eat, sleep the business and try to get better.' - Ken Anderson ("Mr. Kennedy") in and interview with the PWR show.

'It's the greatest show on earth. It's unbelievable.' - Ric Flair, retired veteran wrestler, in interview with CBS

'And what this ECW is doing is educating you people once again that there IS wrestling, spelt W-R-E-S-T-L-I-N-G, out there.' - ECW hardcore legend Terry Funk

'I believe you've got to learn to lose before you learn to win, and Brock (Lesnar) lost his share of matches and he was not special coming up in the kids' ranks and then he caught on and when Brock gets confident, he's unbeatable.' - Brock Lesnar's amatuer wrestling coach.

'I got this bad allergy - I'm allergic to bullshit.' - Jim Cornette, 'Ring Roasts III'

'Paul Heyman could shit a better wrestling format in his sleep than Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara could do if they worked on it for twenty years.' - Jim Cornette

'Picking out Vince Russo's faults could be a full-time job for somebody.' - Jim Cornette

'I spent my life - all my life - learning to wrestle. It's the only means of livelihood I've ever had and, uh, the only gimmick that I have in wrestling is wrestling.' - Lou Thesz, pro-wrestling icon

'We're the greatest athletes in the world without a doubt.' - Hulk Hogan, legendary pro wrestler

'No great success comes without risk.' - Dixie Carter, TNA President

'I got sued more times than Martha Stewart.' - Paul Heyman, Executive and spiritual guide of Extreme Championship Wrestling

'You cannot achieve success without the risk of failure...You cannot achieve success if you FEAR failure.' - Paul Heyman, Executive and spiritual guide of Extreme Championship Wrestling

'Why be second best at anything?' - Paul Heyman

'He (the Iron Sheik) loves wrestling. It's like breathing for him. He's always loved it.' - The Iron Sheik's wife

'That was my heart and that was my passion. All I ever wanted to do is wrestle. I never wanted to pitch in Game Seven of the World Series, I never wanted to throw the touchdown in the Superbowl, I wanted to wrestle...Be a professional wrestler.' - Tommy Dreamer aka "The Innovator of Violence", ECW veteran wrestler

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Angela on My Mind (Short Story)

A high-strung cop, a beautiful girl and a naive writer... After this drama, Angela will be on your mind, too!

It’s hard to explain what happened.

Even today, more than a year after the fact, I still find myself at a loss for words when I try to tell the story. But I’m a writer: I’m supposed to be able to describe people and events with devastating accuracy. So I’ll try to explain.

I first met Angela on a shimmering Saturday afternoon. (Yes, this is a love story – but it’s unlike any love story you’ve ever heard.) The sun was blazing in a barren azure sky and I had gone to purchase a loaf of bread at local kiosk. The kiosk was decorated with posters of Coca-Cola, orange juice and other products and Angela was leaning over the counter, making small-talk with the seller from whom she had bought some innocent household items. She was in her early twenties, about five-foot-five, very slim, endowed with large, golden-brown eyes and thick, sensual lips. She wore a long lemon-coloured shirt and black slacks. She had blonde hairpiece which went well with the delicate biscuit-brown of her skin. Attractive she certainly was, but no more attractive than other hotties I’ve seen around the estate.

I said, ‘Hi’, to the shopkeeper and since Angela was the only other person there, I greeted her as well. The wide ovals of her eyes studied my face for a brief moment and then she said, ‘Hi’, in return. She excused herself and as she sauntered away, I took care of my business. As I left the kiosk, I noticed Angela a few paces ahead of me, walking leisurely. I debated with myself as to whether I should catch up with her and in the end I said, ‘What the hell!’ and made my move.
‘Hello again,’ I said, drawing abreast of her and flashing a smile. She again stared at me for a second before responding and I started to despise her snotty attitude.
‘My name is Drew,’ I mumbled. ‘Andrew, actually. But everyone calls me Drew. And you are…’
She had a soft, child-like voice that I found rather endearing. Kids on roller skates and BMX bikes overtook us as we walked.
‘So…you live in this estate?’ I ventured.
She shook her head.
‘No, I just pass through it as a short cut.’
Hot air was rising from the baking ground in wavy currents and the dust stirred up by passing bikes or cars took time before settling.
‘So what do you do, Angela?’
She said it chirpy way but I didn’t like it because it didn’t make building a meaningful conversation any easier. I hoped she’d say she worked somewhere or went to college so that I could use that as the basis for my next query. You can’t make build something out of nothing.
‘What about you?’ she asked, turning to face me.
‘I am a writer. Freelance. I write feature articles on topical issues and then sell them to newspapers and magazines. Sometimes I write short stories, too. The magazines are usually interested in them.’
‘Does it pay well?’
‘Not really, but I love writing. Just being published is like part-payment to me.’
We had reached my gate so I stopped and extended my hand.
‘I guess I’ll be seeing you around,’ I said as we shook hands. And on that unromantic note, we parted.

I should have asked for her digits, I know. I should have, at the very least, asked her which estate she lived in and her house number. My main problem is that I often freak out when it comes to asking girls for their phone numbers or e-mail addresses or anything else that puts me at their mercy.
I hoped to see into Angela again but that didn’t happen for a while. I made more trips to the kiosk where we met but drew a blank. I almost asked the shopkeeper for Angela’s contact information since I had seen them talking but I decided not to until I became desperate. The thing is that, like most men, I prefer not to involve other people in my romantic escapades. Spread but the word, untune that string, and those who know you will watch your burgeoning relationship the way bored housewives watch Mexican soap operas, not to mention that they’re liable to get jealous and throw a spanner in the works.

Hence, instead of asking after her, I took long walks around the estate in the vain hope that we would bump into each other. I didn’t consider walking around a waste of time because walking helps me think out stories, especially when I’m “blocked” - when the creative juices aren’t flowing.

And then one hazy Sunday morning at around ten in the morning, I was going home from a nearby supermarket when I spotted Angela in the distance. Her shiny, blonde hair was the placard that grabbed my attention. Again, she was on her own and walking leisurely. I rushed towards her and called out her name from a few paces off. She stopped to wait for me.

I came up to her, said hello and asked her where she was headed. She said she was just about to enter her church, indicating a Baptist establishment behind her. I asked what time the church service ended and if we could meet up afterwards: churches and I don’t mix. She said that the church’s traffic would end at mid-day, after which she would be free. So I suggested that she pass by my place afterwards and I would take her out for chips or something and she agreed. The Baptist church choir struck a hymn as Angela walked into the worshipful compound.

I stuck around the house, doing little chores and hoping she’d keep her promise. After my clock’s minute hand married the hour hand in a 12 o’clock ceremony, I started to peep through the window in anticipation. Fifteen minutes past the hour, the door bell rang.

A nice time we had of it, cracking jokes and getting to know each other. It emerged, to my detriment, that she lived with a guy. He was a cop attached to a police station neighbouring our estate. (There was also an army barracks, a prison facility and military hospital in our environs but for some reason the crime rate remained high). Angela’s boyfriend was called Dave and had the unimpressive rank of constable. I asked how they met, which was probably a mistake because I didn’t like the feeling I got in my stomach as she narrated the tale. Their paths first crossed as Dave and a fellow cop were on patrol, harassing drunks and arresting weed peddlers. Dave spotted her walking around with a friend and started teasing her. First, he said something to the effect that that he was going to arrest her for ‘Loitering with intent’ for which the sentence was marriage to him. He then changed directions and said he was going to arrest her for being so beautiful as to contribute to global warming and the sentence was…marriage to him. She was laughing as he fooled around so he just kept going. He insisted, in all seriousness, that she was too fat for his taste and that if she slimmed down she might have a chance with him, which was hilarious because she was as slim as a whip while he was potbellied. After a few minutes of making her laugh, Dave and his mate moved on, Angela and her friend watching their retreating backs.

Angela and Dave’s paths crossed each other again soon afterwards and this time he accused her of stalking him. They chatted for a while and then Dave had to go and throw weed peddlers into dank police cells. In later days, Angela and Dave’s flirty interactions began to gel into a relationship and Dave asked her out on a date. It was a Saturday and he was off-duty. It was the first time she saw him without his deep-blue uniform but the bulge of his holster was still visible on the side of his jacket. He took her to a classy restaurant and asked her to order ‘anything’ which surprised her because the salaries paid out to constables were nothing to write home about. Later in the evening, he called over a young waitress, gave her a Gloria Estefan cassette tape and asked her to play it over the stereo. The waitress thought it was a romantic move and dreamily obliged. As the strains of Gloria Estefans’ I’m Not Giving You Up filled the room, Dave took Angela’s hand and smiled in her face. It was at that moment that she realized what was going on: Dave had fallen in love with her.

It was past two now and I asked Angela to accompany me to a nearby Kenchick takeaway joint. She agreed. I bought us chicken, chips and canned Coca-Colas and then we returned to my place where I sought to learn more about her.

With her legs crossed and a fork held gingerly by her slender fingers like a painter’s brush, Angela explained that she came from a small town, without the benefit of a college education, and had originally hoped to find a job as a receptionist or something while she mapped out her future. Initially, she lived in my estate under the auspices of her older sister but they fell out dramatically when her sister’s boyfriends switched their attentions to her. At the time, she was working as a shampoo girl at a local salon. When she explained to her lady boss that her sister wanted her out of the house, the salon owner gave her a place to stay. Shortly after that, Dave took her out to the trendy restaurant and later asked her to take up residence with him. Since she was drifter, she said yes.

Did she love him? She liked him, certainly. She liked him from the day they met. He made her laugh, he showered her with affection and presents, he gave her commitment. Without question, he was madly in love with her. Unfortunately, she didn’t reciprocate the feelings. Girls like her were approached by men all the time. They couldn’t fall in love with every man that fell in love with them even if they wanted to.

Angela and I spent the whole afternoon together, that cloudy Sunday, talking and eating. Somewhere along the avenues of conversation, she asked me whether I smoked. I used to smoke but I had since given up the habit.
‘No,’ I said. ‘Why do you ask?’
Because she liked the way men smoked, she said. She enjoyed watching the blue smoke curl out of their mouth. It was like Angela to say things like that. She wasn’t the smartest girl on the block and was very much taken by small things.
At round seven in the evening, we left my place for Angela’s. I asked her if it was safe for me to visit heart her boyfriend’s place and she said, ‘Sure’. Dave was away throughout the day so I could turn up any time during those hours. She had stopped working at the salon because she didn’t like job description.
One had to enter the police station compound to get to the cops’ residence so I bid Angela farewell at the main gate and returned home.

One of the reasons why I like writing so much is the flexibility of the hours: they bend like rubber. The following Monday morning, I finished up an article I had been writing on Human Genetic Cloning and e-mailed it to my main client, a general-interest magazine called The Informer. I then shut down my computer, bought a packet of Marlboro cigarettes and went off to Dave’s house. The area was rather crowded with clotheslines everywhere and kids running up and down between the semi-detached houses. I located Dave’s house and knocked on the door, ready to say I was an insurance salesman should Dave open the door. (I had real insurance forms left for me to fill by an Alico agent). Angela opened the door in a T-shirt and shorts and invited me in. She had been watching TV and the set was still on. We had orange juice and then I pulled out the smokes and asked Angela if I could light up in the house.

‘Of course,’ she said. ‘Dave smokes all the time.’
I offered her one stick but she declined, saying she wasn’t a smoker herself. I lit up the cigarette and proceeded to entertain her with the peculiar smoke signals I could blow out of my mouth and nose. She especially liked it when I closed my mouth and puffed out streams of nose smoke the way a raging bull puffs out hot breath.

Afterwards, I started kissing her around the neck and we ended up making love on the sofa. I have to say I was rather surprised at how easily I nailed her. I had expected my seduction to last at least one month. She must have been bored with just hanging about the house all day. Later, we had more orange juice and then I left.

Over the next five months, Angela and I engaged in a passionate love affair. I didn’t go back to Dave’s house because it was more discreet for her to visit me at my place. The police residence was densely populated – rumors would swirl around us like flies over a dead dog.
To spice up our sex life, I talked Angela into bringing along one of Dave’s spare police uniforms when she came to visit. We’d wear the deep-blue uniform in turns. Imitating the detectives on TV, I’d feign seriousness and tell Angie, ‘You have the right to remain silent…Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…’ Angela would burst out laughing while I fought hard to remain stone-faced. She loved my Oscar-deserving performances almost as much as I loved seeing her in nothing but the unbuttoned police shirt and the peaked cap. It created a lust in me like the Devil’s own. Once, Angie even brought along a set of shiny handcuffs. She deliciously arrested me, read me my rights and then made love to me while I was helpless.

I won’t go into graphic detail concerning my intimacies with Angie, not because I’m a gentleman but because I don’t want to create distractions or downplay the gravity of this tale. Suffice it to say that those lazy summer days I spent with Angela were the best days of my life. I even toyed with the idea of marrying her. She may not have been overburdened by brains but she didn’t have as many issues as most women, the kind who enter union with a man still carrying baggage from as far back as childhood.

So one day, as I pondered the question of marrying Angela, I offered to buy her French fries and soda at a nearby sports club. The sun was beating down on the earth with hammer blows of heat as we walked out of my estate and onto the main road on which busy vehicles criss-crossed each other. We were passing a roadside grocery when a fat woman buying onions and tomatoes greeted Angela. She didn’t greet me but her beady eyes flashed at me from above sagging cheeks and I knew that she had taken a mental picture of me and filed it under ‘PEOPLE TO INVESTIGATE’. Even as the distance between us and the woman widened, I could sense her gaze on my back.
‘Who was that?’ I asked Angela, further on.
‘Just a neighbour,’ she replied in a dismissive tone.
We reached the sports center which had, among other amenities, two gyms, two Olympic-size swimming pools, three tennis courts, a restaurant and a members-only bar. We entered the restaurant and ordered fries and chilled sodas. The large windows gave an engaging view of one of the swimming pools and every now and then we would watch a swimmer launch himself from the high-up diving board and plunge into the blue water with a mighty splash. After we had had our fill, we walked unhurriedly back to my place, the looks from men we passed leaving no doubt that Angela was very easy on the eyes.

Angela took a nap while I tapped on my keyboard. Towards evening, she announced that she had some errands to run. We kissed and she left.

The very next day, Angela unexpectedly turned up at my place. She looked distraught and I immediately sensed that something was wrong. She informed me that Dave had been asking questions about me. Apparently, the woman at the grocery store was as nosy as she was fat and had spread the word around the neighbourhood. She had actually commissioned a small boy to follow us and report back to her.
‘What did you tell him?’ I said.
‘First, I told him you were just a friend but he said that he had suspected I was cheating on him for a long time now because there were many times he passed by the house during the day and missed me. So I told him everything.’
‘I told him that it was true that I was seeing someone else.’
‘How did he take it?’
‘Well…He was hurt.’
‘Did he beat you up or anything?’
‘Are you sure?’
‘What do you mean, “am I sure”? Dave can’t beat me. He loves me.’
‘You mean he didn’t react at all? Most guys I know would have gone ballistic.’
‘Well…He was hurt and he didn’t want to talk to me after that. But it’s not like we’re married or anything.’
I was relieved that he hadn’t hit her but I now began to fear for my own safety.
‘So what will we do now?’ Angela was saying.
‘Er…er…Tell you what – why don’t you just come and stay with me? I mean, you can’t continue staying with someone who knows you’re cheating. Dave won’t have it. Ok? Will you come and stay here?’
‘So when do you want to move in?’
She shrugged.
‘Even today,’ said. ‘But I have to tell Dave first.’
We parted.
Angela never did move in with me.

She packed her bags and waited for her policeman lover to come home. She told him that she was leaving him. He asked why. She confessed that her feelings for him had never been that strong; that she thought of him more as a friend than a husband. He controlled his emotions and asked for just one last favour – that she would dine with him at that restaurant where they had had their first date. She agreed.

The rest of the story is gleaned from a hodgepodge of eyewitnesses. Dave and Angela arrived at the restaurant a little past 7 PM. They ordered drinks which neither touched. Dave did most of the talking, speaking in the low tone of a bereaved person. He presently handed a passing waitress a Gloria Estefan cassette and asked her to play it over the speakers. The love song, I’m Not Giving You Up, suddenly imbued the diner. Dave reached into his jacket. The waitress who had taken the tape was passing by again and thought that the romantic cop was about to present an engagement ring. Instead, Dave drew his service revolver and trained it at Angela who was seated across from him. Her eyes widened into orbs but that was her only visible reaction. The sound of the blast filled the diner, drowning out Estefen’s ballad. So great was the force of the bullet that Angela toppled backwards in her chair and hit the floor, arms outstretched, a red magma of blood flowing down her bust. Dave then placed the muzzle of the pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Another volcanic explosion of blood erupted, mottling the waitress and an old couple sitting behind the crazed policeman.

Chaos erupted. Patrons, waiters and waitresses all scrambled for the exits, screaming. A crowd of curious onlookers gathered at the windows. Traffic on a nearby road ground to a halt. Before long, a police car rolled up, followed by two more, sirens wailing. The law enforcers parted the crowds like Moses parting the Red Sea and studied the mess. Man, the place looked like a slaughterhouse! The most nauseating aspect was Dave’s bulk as it lay in a pool of its own blood. The face, including the mouth through which the bullet entered, looked as calm and innocent as a sleeping man’s - but the exit wound was another story. Half the back of his head was missing and blood-soaked brains littered the shiny floor. Shaking their heads at the spectacle of their fallen colleague, the cops secured the area and set about recording statements from witnesses.

So that’s what happened. Dave the cop put a bullet through the girl he loved and then blew his own brains out. The story sounded so unbelievable to me when I first heard it that I would wake up in the morning hoping it was all a bad dream. I have tears for Angela – and Dave too. He wasn’t a bad guy. He just loved too much.
I haven’t been the same since the incident, as you I might suppose. To expunge my guilt, I keep telling myself that it wasn’t my fault. That people cheat on each other all the time. The trick is not to turn love into an obsession the way Dave did. It’s ironical that Dave spent most of his short career arresting drug dealers without ever knowing he was himself addicted to a potent drug – love.

I now smoke more than I ever did and think more carefully about the consequences of my actions. Right now, I’m alone in my house, tapping on my computer, with a packet of Marlboro cigarettes on the desk, a sense of loss in my heart and Angela on my mind.

(c) Alex N Nderitu 

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at: http://stores.lulu.com/NewShakespeare