8 am. Father is glued to a newspaper as the television, a distance behind him, plays on. Mother has been preparing breakfast and now sets the table. Grace emerges looking new, fresh and calm. She sits at the end of the table, facing Father.
“Good morning, beautiful,” he greets.
“Morning, Dad… morning, Mum,” says Grace.
She takes a cup from the table and serves tea.
“Did you sleep well?” Asks Father
Grace thinks, then speaks softly.
“I did; you?”
“Well…” says Father.
Mother joins them.
“Is everyone happy?”
Grace nods, then sips.
“Uh-huh,” replies Father.
“Okay, that is good to know,”
“Baby,” calls Father as he sips, “did you think about it?”
“The police!” Say both parents in unison.
“Oh, well, yes… I guess I have. There’s no news about Cliff anywhere yet, so I wonder what happened… did they not find him? Or are they covering it up…”
Grace seems to drift to a thought. Both parents trade looks.
“I remembered something,” she proceeds, “last night.”
“What did you remember?” Asks Mother.
“The man… the man Cliff saw. He was doing something bad; something worth killing for. And Cliff… Cliff looked so scared when he saw him,”
Both parents trade worried looks.
“Baby, I feel that such information is critical to the police. I know at least a few that we can trust to help,” says Father, “pl…”
“Dad, they will only help because they’re your friends but when it means betraying their own, they may end up using you to get to me,” says Grace, “I’m scared.”
“Richard,” Mother cuts in, “let us listen to our daughter. She was face-to-face with a killer, and today we have her with us. We have so much to thank God for. If she says no police, then I agree with her.”
Voice of reason, thinks Grace. Richard remains silent for a while, then sits back nodding.
“Okay, baby. What do we do to help?”
Grace was sure to say NO to the police but she did not really think about what she wanted. What does she want? Well, most importantly, to know what happened to Cliff’s body. Her parents will not hep with that, unfortunately; it leaves only one way—she has to go to the scene.
“For now,” says Grace, “all I want to do is go back to my room. I need to think about how or what I will tell Cliff’s parents; I can’t prove he is dead. If I claim he is missing, they’ll want to question me,”
“It seems complicated as it is already. Get that rest, baby, we can talk more in the evening,” says Mother.
Evening, Grace thinks and is about to get up when Father speaks.
“Your place in Lang’ata… who is there?”
Aha! She thinks, there it is… the next stop after the crime scene.
“Nobody,” answers Grace, “see you later, guys.”
She exits to her room.
For the next three hours, Grace plots her escape from Palace Estate and her venture into town then Lang’ata. She gives more thought to her place in Lang’ata. I must observe caution, she thinks.
The killer may well choose her place as his “safe place.” He has her handbag, after all, her ID, and God knows what else she stashed ignorantly into her pouch. She should not overstay—an hour or two will do. Cliff’s spare key is with the security personnel at the gate; they know her and will give. She is dying to speak to Cliff.
Lunch hour comes and the family shares a meal. Grace eats hurriedly, then excuses herself to her room. She lies on her back, occasionally checking her watch. 1.47 pm… 2.01 pm… 2.06 pm… when she really tries to wait before checking, it shows 2.17 pm. She has to wait.
Grace’s folks traditionally take a siesta every around 3 pm to 4 pm or slightly past. 2.30 pm finally comes and Grace announces her stroll to the shops. She even offers to get anything mother wants to buy. Mother prepares a quick list, then summons her to the master bedroom.
“Do you have your phone?”
“Sad, it must be… I am sorry, Gracie. I will send the list to Sharon.”
“It’s okay, Mum. See you in a bit (if you’ll still be awake).”
“Your Father and I will probably be asleep but baby, should you need anything, please do not hesitate to ask,”
“Of course, Mum,”
Grace takes her time. She returns at a quarter past 3 pm, certain that her folks are asleep. She does not lock the door behind her; instead, she takes the shopping to the kitchen and returns. She looks behind, then around; satisfied, Grace exits.
She has enough money but no phone. Who needs one, anyway? She has survived a lot with barely Ksh. 500 on her. Grace leaves the estate gates, a flash from a previous dream washing through her mind—running from Father and three strangers.
She sees a taxi and calls it.
“The Rewinder, please,” Grace says once in.
“City Centre?” The driver asks.
He changes gears and starts off.
To be continued.
- VI: “Safe Distance”
- V: Little Palace
- IV: AM Madness
- III: Damsel In Distress
- II: Flash KiFlash
- I: The Rewind Button
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.