Chapter Three: Laying Low

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Chapter Three: Laying Low

“Afternoon madam,” were the words of the doorman as he walked the few steps to the Grand Marina’s entrance, beside Terry who was now just walking out to catch a taxi, having just finished her presentation to the Turkish investors.

“Afternoon,” she replied her eyes widening with delight as it clicked that he was as Kenyan as she was. Looking him up and down she decided to dig deeper.

“You’re Kenyan.”

He nodded his smile a mile wide.

“I get the feeling you’re in the wrong job.”

“Wrong job, right job, what’s the difference? I have more as a doorman here than I would as an engineer back home,” he responded.

“No!” shocked and shaking her head, she brought her right hand to her mouth, realizing that she’d been a bit too loud. “You studied to be an engineer and you’re here opening the door… for me?”

“Don’t look so shocked. You know how it is in Kenya. You get a hundredth the amount of money scrubbing a toilet there. But here, you scrub toilets for a month and you have enough to buy a car. So you see, these toilets and these doors I open here are more valuable to me than those in the motherland. Better a wealthy doorman in Turkey than a starving engineer back home, si ndio?” (‘si ndio’ means ‘isn’t that so’ in Kiswahili)

She laughed a little incredulous laugh and then walked on down the steps turning to take one last look at him

“What’s your name?”

“Mugendi. James Mugendi.”

“Hah! It would seem that we are from the same village,” Terry said, using her index fingers to quote ‘village’. She could tell that by his name.

“Really? Now that is a rare occurrence.” He walked down two steps, stretched out his hand and when she took it, allowed himself to linger in the greeting. She did not pull away disgusted, rather, she leaned in and in a low voice said:

“I’m Terry. And between me and you, I think we shall be the ones to take over the world.”

“Of that I have no doubt. It was nice to meet a face from home all the way out here. I hope all goes well with your business venture.”

“How did you…”

“This building… only serious business deals are done here. I’ve been around long enough to know.”

“Okay then. Maybe our paths will cross again.”

And indeed they would.

As she walked down the few remaining steps to an already waiting taxi, she decided that it would be idiotic of her to believe that man’s story. James Mugendi, she thought, is not who he says he is.

***

Left with the thoughts of that beautiful woman from his ‘village’, James wondered why he’d been asked to keep an eye on her. She was, after all, just another ambitious lady trying to make her way in the world. But Black Gold Financials had another image of her it seemed, and had paid him handsomely to keep them updated on her whereabouts for as long as she was not at home. Oh well, he thought to himself as he waved back at her, what’s it matter if I’m getting paid in cash and on time?

***

Moha was now in his Kitchen, absentmindedly stirring a bowl of noodles with a pencil he’d pulled out of his hair. He couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d done. Julie. Sweet, innocent Julie had practically popped his cherry. From deep within his throat, a sound emanated that made him choke. Swiping a hand across his mouth, he carried the bowl to his home office. It was simply a desk in his living room that was strewn with books and papers he used for research. Printed emails, newspaper cut outs, a recorder that never seemed to capture the mood of the interviews he conducted. This was his life. He hated it.

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