The Bother in Kenya

Jim Grace, early fifties, is a farmer in Kenya and with the help of his farm hands abducts people from the nearby road, takes them back to his farm and hangs them. Chege, a young Kenyan man, unwittingly gets involved in the hangings while working there. Complaining to the local police, he is framed by Sergeant Abasi, and sent to a Kenyan prison. (There are further forty one chapters)
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I am seeking a publisher for my writing – mikewrite9now@gmail.com.
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2. Chapter two

Chapter Two

In the north of England, Humberside, Hull, the garden had a central lawn with the trees, shrubs and flower beds around it.  It was the middle of summer and the three deck chairs were facing the sun.  Jim was asleep and snoring in one of the deck chairs.  His wife, Ruth, in another, irritated by his snoring, picked up the small radio beside her and turned it on.  She turned it up full volume and began to sing along with the pop singer on it.  To her surprise he slept on.  She saw her mother appear at the window of the nearby house and so turned the radio down.

‘Ruth, I’m making some homemade lemonade, would you like some?’ shouted her mother, Mary, from the house.

‘That would be lovely, mother,’ shouted back Ruth.

All this shouting woke Jim from his sleep.  ‘Keep the noise down,’ he said, wiping his eyes with a hand.  With just a pair of shorts on you could see that the sun was turning his exposed skin red.  On his face and hands, where the sun had caught him before, were patches of flaking dry skin.  His short hair cut didn’t help matters as his scalp was dry and flaky too.

‘I suppose you’ll want a glass of lemonade, will you?’ said Ruth.

‘You suppose right, my dear.  Anyway, about that question I asked you last night.  Have you thought about it?’ asked Jim.

He had asked her if she was returning to Kenya and the farm with him the next day.

‘It’s so damn boring, Jim, that farm.  Playing the farmers wife is so dull, as dull as ditch water,’ she said.

Mary appeared from the house carrying a large tray with glasses filled with lemonade on it.  Walking beside her was a tall, thin man, who seemed to lack confidence in his manner.  His long hair was grey and free flowing as was his long grey beard.  His eyes were brown and looked like two nuts dropped in cream.

‘Uncle George has come to see you, Ruth,’ said Mary, as they approached.

Mary put down the tray and sat back in a deck chair.  Seeing that there wasn’t a deck chair for him, George, aged fifty four, sat on the grass.  He took a packet of cigarettes from his jacket pocket, took out a lighter and lit it while holding the cigarette with his lips.  He breathed in the smoke deeply.

‘You still got that filthy habit?’ said Jim.

‘It’ll be the death of me yet.  I smoke about fifty a day and the doctor advised me to pack it up.  But you know I can’t.  Looking on the bright side, Ruth, when I’m gone you will have my house and assets.’

‘I’d rather have you, George.  Stuff your house and assets,’ said Ruth.

George began to cough and soon a trivial sounding cough turned into a much more serious, deep, chesty, throaty cough.  He quickly took out a tissue and spat some blood into it.

‘You told me last time I saw you,’ began Jim, ‘that the doctor said that a hot climate would do you good.  Is Kenya hot enough?’

‘Is that an invitation?’ asked George.

Jim looked at Ruth.  ‘I don’t know, it’s up to Ruth?’

‘How do you fancy some time in Kenya, George?’ asked Ruth.

George was retired and didn’t get up to much in Bolton where he lived.  The prospect of some time in Kenya was very tempting.  ‘OK, you’re on.  When do we leave?’

‘Well?’ prompted Jim, looking at Ruth.  He reached over and took a glass of lemonade.  The liquid cooled his throat and the bitterness of the lemon made him screw up his face slightly.

‘One week today,’ said Ruth.

‘Don’t expect me to wait a week, I’m leaving for the farm tomorrow,’ said Jim.  ‘The livestock won’t look after themselves.  You can come with me, George.’

‘You have farmhands to do that for you,’ said Ruth.

‘I don’t like leaving them too long.’

 

Chege saw and heard the two shotgun pins go back, but he wasn’t frightened.

‘You don’t have to do that,’ he said, to the shotgun holder.

‘Get off this land.’

‘Why?  I haven’t done any harm.’

‘Go now!’

Chege didn’t want to argue with a man holding a gun, so he turned and walked away.  While he was walking along the farm track towards the road, he saw the red pickup coming towards him.   It stopped when it reached him, despite standing aside to let it pass.  The window was down and an African man was sitting in the driver’s seat.  He was wearing a hat that Chege thought he recognized: an old, wide brimmed straw hat, but he couldn’t place it.

‘What are you doing here?’ asked Hiuhu, through the open window.

‘I’ve been to the farm to ask if there’s any work.’

‘What did they say?’

‘No work,’ said Chege.  It just dawned on him, that the hat was the same one Arogo had worn on the day she left the village, he was sure of it.

‘Well, they were wrong.  There is work available for a hard grafter.  The pay is good, too.  You stay on the farm, meals and bed included, for three months, after that we renew your contract if we’ve been impressed by your work.’

‘So you’ll have me?’ asked an excited Chege.

‘Yes.  When can you start?’

‘Well, I need to tell my aunt first.  I’ll be back tomorrow,’ said Chege.

Hiuhu revved the engine.  ‘See you tomorrow then.’  He sped off towards the farm. 

On the walk back to the village, Chege never gave the hat another thought.  His aunt was pleased to hear the news that he had found a job, but when he told her about the straw hat, she was naturally suspicious.  He told her that he would be leaving for the farm in the morning and he would be gone at least three months.

 

‘This is the worker I told you about, Jim,’ said Hiuhu.

Jim and Hiuhu were standing on the farmhouse porch looking down at Chege who was standing on the dusty path that led up to the house.

‘I want that muck cleared out from the lower barn; you can put him on that first of all,’ said Jim.

‘OK,’ answered Hiuhu as he descended the porch steps two at a time.  ‘Come with me.’  Chege followed him through the stable yard, past the manure heap and into the large barn.  There was a section of it boarded off and it was about four or five feet high in manure.

‘Over there,’ said Hiuhu, pointing at a wheelbarrow that had a pitch fork and a pair of gloves in it, ‘is a wheelbarrow.  Your job is to move all this muck to the manure pile outside.  Got that?’

‘Yes, I got it,’ said Chege.

‘Good.  I’ll leave you to it then.’  Hiuhu walked out of the barn.

Two hours into the job, Chege began to feel his back ache.  He couldn’t wear the gloves because they were too small, so he had large blisters forming on his hands.  Though it was backbreaking work, the worst thing about the job was the fleas that lived in the dung.  They got everywhere and caused Chege to itch all over.  Two hours later and he had only made a dent in the job.  The only saving grace about the dirty job was that it wasn’t out in the open sun, but indoors.  After five hours without a break and his blisters causing excruciating pain to his hands, he left the barn and went in search of someone.  He went up the porch steps and knocked on the door.  Jim came to the door.

‘What is it?’

‘I’m sorry, but I can’t do any more,’ said Chege.  He held out his blistered hands.  Jim looked at them and pulled a face.

‘Come on in.  You can put them under the tap.’

Chege followed Jim into the kitchen.  He put his hands under the tap while Jim turned the water on.  Chege moaned with relief as it felt good.  The cold water took the sting out of the burning blisters.  Then Jim gave him two clean cloths to wrap around his hands.

‘You shouldn’t have carried on working with blisters.  Where were your gloves?   Hiuhu should have given you gloves.’

‘The gloves were too small, Hiuhu didn’t know that,’ said Chege, in Hiuhu’s defence.

‘Boss!  He’s scarpered!’ came Hiuhu’s voice from outside on the porch.

‘No he hasn’t, he’s here,’ called Jim.

Jim and Chege went out onto the porch.

‘Why aren’t you working?’ asked Hiuhu, looking at Chege like he was an escaped prisoner.

‘Show him your hands,’ said Jim.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Hiuhu.  ‘But there were a pair of gloves in the wheelbarrow, why didn’t you use them?’

‘They were too small.  You should have checked,’ said Jim.

Hiuhu apologized to Chege.

‘We might as well call it a day.  Show Chege to the dormitory,’ said Jim.

‘That bed in my room is very comfortable,’ said George, walking out onto the porch to join them all.  Hiuhu and Chege looked at George.

‘Who is this?’ asked Hiuhu.

‘This is George.  He’s here on holiday,’ announced Jim.

‘Come on,’ said Hiuhu, as he went down the steps.  Chege followed him across the way to a long building made of wood.  The dormitory had ten beds, five each side, a toilet and shower and a dining area.

‘Don’t you sleep in the house?’ asked Chege.

‘No,’ said Hiuhu.  ‘There are two other workers here at the farm, Kafil and Jomo.  They’re working on a ditch at the moment.’

Chege could see their beds and so chose a bed that looked unused.  ‘What about food?’

‘Breakfast is at seven and dinner is at seven.  Cooked in the house and brought to the table,’ said Hiuhu, with a nod at a large table in the dining area at the far end.

Chege sat on his bed and thought about the job he was doing earlier.  He would be back at it tomorrow and the thought of that didn’t rest easy with him.  Gloves or no gloves, he hated the job.  Ever since he had left the job, he had felt himself itch all over.  It was the fleas that lived in the manure.  As he saw Hiuhu walking towards the door, he asked him if he could have a shower.  He was shown where the towels were and he was soon under the shower.  He came out of the shower and found himself alone.  When dried, he lay on his bed and fell asleep.

He awoke to the sound of plates and cutlery.  The dinner was on the table and Hiuhu was with two other men, Kafil and Jomo.  The three of them sat at the table and began to help themselves to the food that was in half a dozen large dishes.  Chege joined them.  One of the other men, Chege identified as the man who had threatened him with the shotgun the other day.

‘Listen, Chege, I owe you an apology.  I was out of order when I told you that there was no work here.  I was also a bit heavy with you, the gun and all,’ said Jomo.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ said Chege.  ‘What’s your name?’

‘Jomo.’  He started to push back his long matted hair from his face.  It looked like it hadn’t been brushed in months and the truth was that Jomo would rather it was cut short at the first opportunity.

Kafil was definitely the tallest of them and the eldest.  His short hair was half grey and half black.  And the most noticeable thing about him was his big bulbous eyes and large, flat nose.  ‘My name’s Kafil, pleased to meet you,’ said Kafil, offering a hand.

Chege took it: ‘My name’s Chege.’

The next morning after breakfast Chege was told to finish the job he was doing the day before.  Jim asked Kafil to help him.  Kafil, only one hour into the job, threw his pitch fork down in anger.

‘I can’t believe the boss would make me do this kind of work,’ complained Kafil to nobody in particular, even though Chege was the only one around.  ‘He expects me to break my back for him when he feels like it, but doesn’t mind me helping him with the hangings.  Why couldn’t Jomo do this, he’s younger than me?’

‘”Hangings?”’ repeated Chege.  He looked Kafil directly in the face.

‘Nothing.’ 

Kafil averted his eyes from Chege out of guilt and shame, before saying, ‘I’m going to tell the boss, I’m not doing any more of this.’

Chege watched him leave and wondered what he had meant about hangings.

George stood on the porch and took a suck of his cigarette.  From where he stood he had two different views: half the view in front of him was farm buildings, the other half was the plains.  He thought he saw an elephant in the distance.

‘People pay for such a view,’ said Jim, behind him.

‘That grey thing far away, is that an elephant?’

‘I think it is.  I’ll have to take you out shooting sometime.  You hit a lion and watch how high it jumps from the shock of being hit.  It’s amazing.’

‘I don’t think I’d like that,’ said George.

‘Don’t tell me you’re into animal welfare?’

‘A bit.’

‘Fancy a cup of tea out here?’ asked Jim.

‘That would be nice.’

‘Sit down,’ said Jim, nodding at the table and chairs on the porch.  He left the porch and went back to the kitchen.

George sat down and watched an African man approach the house from one of the farm buildings.

‘Is Jim in?’ asked Kafil.  He stood on the second step that led up to the porch.

‘Yes, he is.  He’ll be out soon.  Wait for him if you want, he’s fixing some tea.’

‘He’s given me a lousy job and I want rid of it,’ said Kafil.

‘I see.  Mind me asking what the job is?’ asked George.

‘Shovelling muck from A to B.’

‘Not nice.’

Just then Jim came out of the house carrying a large tray with tea and things on it.  ‘What d’you want?’

‘I can’t stand the job you’ve put me on,’ complained Kafil.

‘Shovelling muck,’ put in George.

Jim placed the tray on the table.  ‘Chege doesn’t like it but he hasn’t complained,’ said Jim, pouring out the tea.

‘More fool him,’ said Kafil.

‘Look, don’t come whining to me when a job isn’t to your liking.  Get on with it,’ said Jim, sternly.  He sat down opposite George and poured himself a cup.

‘You didn’t say that when I helped you with those people the other day.’

Jim knew exactly what he was referring too, and thought: how dare him.  ‘You’d better not be blackmailing me, Kafil?’  Jim stood up and walked over to Kafil on the steps.  ‘Come with me,’ he said, going down the steps.

George watched them walk some distance from him and then stop.  It seemed to be a heated talk, but he couldn’t hear a word.  Then Kafil walked towards the dorm while Jim returned to the porch.

George could see that Jim was upset.

‘What was that about?’ asked George.

‘Nothing.’  Jim sat down and drank from his cup.  ‘Damn monkey, he can do as he’s told.’

‘Employment problems?’ offered George.

‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ said Jim, feeling murderous.

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