Saved from a Con and dangerous criminal

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I once had a workmate called Mike who was a messenger in our Company. Messengers were in a department we used to call Communications department which used to run for 24 hours because of the nature of the industry. Their duties sometimes included running the front office besides running for errands here and there. Some senior managers used to send them for personal matters which were against the Company’s rules and regulations. Most messengers would refuse to be misused but Mike would do anything you told him to do. For example you would ask him to go to the National Hospital to see a cousin to your cousin of your great grandfather and he would even use his own fare to go. In such circumstances, I used to ask myself whether Mike was suffering from mental illness or he was just a good man. Why was he allowing himself to be misused by everybody?

He was a quiet almost shy guy in his mid-thirties. Being a messenger meant that his payslip was not as fat as the others whose input was skilled manpower. One striking thing about him was that he was very smart. His clothes were always well ironed and his shoes well-polished. He was a tall gentleman and when walking, it was like his steps were always well calculated. When talking, he was not just talking to exercise his jaws because he put a lot of importance in his syntax of words. In the course of his conversation, he would occasionally close his eyes to explain a point. He hated arguments and he would never talk ill of anybody. To my opinion, he had some hidden power. His personality fitted a senior manager but it was a fact he was just a mere messenger. The only odd thing with Mike was that he always came to the office with a bag which he carried even when going for lunch or to the toilet. This made him look weird despite his near saint character. The big question is – what was always in that bag? Read on:-

I loved Mike and he would sometimes pass through my office and we could chat and chat after work. I like interacting with everybody because everybody is somebody and nobody is nobody. When talking to me, he had a weird sense of humour which is what I like most in this world. I can recall him telling me that if his wife visited him in the city incognito, he would not start asking her why she had come to the city. According to him, he would first make sure that he greeted her not only with his hand but also with something else before asking her what had made her visit him in the city. In another incident he was telling me that the moment he will notice that his daughter was staring at men somewhere below the belt will be the time to know that his daughter was now not a chicken but a mature hen! We had created a very good rapport and we trusted each other like gentlemen. I was many ranks above him but we were almost best of friends in the place of work.

It was one Friday morning when I reported to my place of work as usual. No sooner had I sat down than my office phone rang. It was Mike on the other end informing me that I had a visitor by the name Suleiman. I could not recall having a friend by the name Suleiman ever in my life and so I was confused. I politely asked him to bring the visitor to my office and he sat in one of my visitor chairs.

I noticed that the visitor was a tall black guy who was clean shaven and a small moustache. His black shirt matched his black trousers. His navy blue jacket had gold buttons which made me think that he was doing his shopping in Savile Row in London or Yves Saint Laurent in France. He was all smiles as he extended his hand to greet me. I noticed that his gold chain in his left hand matched very well with another gold chain on his neck. He looked an extra-ordinary happy person and whoever he was; he must have been who is who in the society.

Soon, Mike left me with my visitor. My heart skipped a beat because to me the visitor was a total stranger. I extended my hand and gave him a wet-fish handshake, partly because he was unknown to me. Secondly, he was shouting my name so loudly in the office which I found very annoying. He was not in a market place but in a respectable office with some protocol. He went on to introduce himself as Francis. What happened to the former Suleiman? I was totally confused.
Francis: Man Man, I can’t believe this is you man! Look at you, just the other day you were going to primary school smelling smoke, barefoot woh! How time goes man?! We used to do fishing together and instead of catching fish you were catching crabs! Remember how we used to eat in that Kiosk and after eating we take cover without paying
Me: Could I ask you to lower your voice please. I don’t think I have ever seen you.
Francis: Are you serious, you cannot remember me. Your memory must be very short. You can’t remember Francis from Baringo? My auntie was your neighbour there in your village. Remember the person who helped you master Times table? C’mon Man Man, stop pretending!

I recalled the first time our Primary school teacher told us to memorize Times table. He had given us one weekend only to memorize everything failure to that, he would cane you until your buttocks were minced meat. He used to keep a bundle of canes in one corner of the classroom to cane children. If I tell you that his hobby was abusing children that would be an understatement. If I can call him a pedophile, I will be 100% correct. Some school children in upper classes used to be in the family way because of him. He was cruel, stupid and a sadist. He could even call you and ask you to confess your sins to him. If you told him that you had no sins, he would tell you that it is only Jesus who had no sins and that would be an excuse of beating you as an eight year old kid. If he could beat you because you were not Jesus, imagine what he would do to you if you tell him that you did not know your Times table.

Indeed, I was helped by a guy who was working as a shamba boy to my neighbour. His parents did not value education and they were not ready to let him continue with education after primary school education. He decided to try enrolling himself as a carpenter in our local village polytechnic as he worked in the farm for my neighbour. His name was Francis but he liked to be called Prances. I have no clue why he liked being called Prances, maybe the name sounded more sophisticated. If he was the one in my office, then this was a perfect substitute of complete metamorphosis. The Francis I knew was just a nobody and you could easily ignore him and get away with. He didn’t have nice clothes and now he looked like he was a C.E.O. of an international Company. Wonders will never cease they will always increase!

After recalling who he was, I was also overjoyed though it had been more than twenty years since I last saw Francis. Through his help, I managed to master the Times Table in one weekend and so I was spared the beating. He went on to tell me how he went back home and decided to go back to school before finally starting business of importing chemicals from Europe and South Africa in addition to importing cars from Dubai. I congratulated him for turning his life around and he thanked me for that. The last time he saw me I was only eight years old so how did he get to know where I worked and how did he recognize me after more than twenty years?

Unfortunately, Francis (sorry Suleiman!) tone of voice was very high for a quiet office like mine. I suggested we go to the nearby hotel and have some coffee as we got to catch up with the past. We started talking and as he smiled more I saw that his face had a set of dimples only that his left side dimple was more pronounced (deeper) than the other. No doubt this was Francis who I knew many years ago.
Me: Francis, good to see you man, so tell me how you discovered me again.
Francis: Ah Man Man, even if you go to a hole in the ground, I can smell you. My memory is very sharp. I saw you enter the lift yesterday and I lost track of you. I was coming to clear my bill with an Airline because I am flying to South Africa to see my clients. The only problem is my mother is hospitalized at Mater hospital would you believe I have already spent one million with her treatment and she is not getting better. She has cervical cancer.
Me: Sorry Francis, these things happen. At least you are lucky that you can afford, thank God for that. All in all, I wish her a quick recovery.
Francis: That is the main reason as to why I have come to see you. I want to organize a small get together so that rich guys like you can help me somehow. If I can get ½ M from you and friends
Me: I can’t promise you that much but we will try where we can.
We finished our coffee and Francis suggested that we meet one week after he was back from South Africa. I bid him goodbye and soon I was back in the office. Suddenly Mike came to my office and as usual we started talking. I noticed that he was so much interested in my visitor and what he had come to do and how we knew one another. He told me that my visitor looked a very rich man and he could possibly get him a job in his company or something like that

Exit one week after and Francis called me. He asked me whether we could meet somewhere in River road and I was surprised with his suggestion of River road area. I asked him whether we could meet at 680 Hotel in the open and he was totally against that.

We met in a backstreet Bar and Restaurant in River road where we had beer and Nyama choma as we talked and talked. I was still uncomfortable with Francis tone of voice. When talking, it was like he was in a war zone. The more beers he took, the more loudy he became. It was going to ten in the evening and I had taken enough beer so it was now time to go home. I asked Francis that we leave and he had no problem. Just when we had just woken up, Mike entered the bar from now nowhere, still with his bag. He greeted us and asked us to have more beer on his account. We agreed and we continued irrigating our throats. After taking two beers, Mike also became mouthy and sleepy. He asked me to offer him lift on his way home and I had no problem with that. I could not believe that the usual naïve looking guy in Mike had all of a sudden transformed to be mouthy and disturbing. I ordered him to keep quiet or I leave him to find his way home. To my surprise, he told me that I was not a small god and I could as well leave him. And I left him.

Francis had not yet told me where he lived and when I went to my car, he followed me and opened the passenger door. On the way he asked me where I lived and I told him. He then told me that he lived in the estate next to my estate so he was just on the way. Good for him! We had just passed city stadium when my Pager beeped meaning that there was a message. I looked at the message and it was from Mike and it read; ABANDON YOUR CAR IMMEDIATELY AND WALK from Mike. On seeing the message, I laughed and laughed. Since when did a junior instruct his Senior what to do with his car? On and on I drove, still with Francis half awake and half asleep. After about ten minutes later, another message arrived in my Pager, this time Mike again with another instruction, ABANDON YOUR CAR. LAST WARNING! WALK from Mike. I looked at the message again and I continued laughing.

I was just about to take the exit heading to my place when I was quickly overtaken by one Subaru Legacy white car. I looked at my side mirror and saw another car slowly following me. I decided to avoid the whole drama by entering in a Petrol station and the car in front entered also, so was the car closely following me. In each car were four men and they quickly stopped and ordered me to stop my car immediately. I did and they then ordered Francis and I to raise our hands. They started beating Francis and telling him that his fortieth day had come and from that minute henceforth, he was a prisoner. I could not believe what was going on. More surprise was in store for me. Guess who was among those men beating Francis? Believe it or not it was Mike.

I only knew Mike as a worker in the lowest rank. So he was a Policeman in disguise? How about Francis? I came to realize later that Francis was a dangerous criminal and Police had been hunting him day and night. The pronounced extended dimple was the effect of a gunshot many years back. Behind that expensively dressed man was a criminal, possibly a robber, maybe a killer? Yes, men are like turn-coats. Take time to know somebody before you pour your heart. Even those people you went to school with, today they might not be the people you knew. Don’t tell them everything even if you meet after one hundred years. Don’t take matters for granted, beware of innocent crooks and intelligent fools, they might be scheming to finish you. Don’t behave like a gazelle such that you are just eating grass without looking for lions around, look around and identify your enemies. Use your gut instinct and trust it because that is the universe talking to you. If God is with you, no weapons formed against you shall prosper. All in all…in whatever you do…take a closer look.

A Whisper from London.By Man Man

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