Three is a perfect number. When someone calls you for the first time, that is a mistake. When they call you for the second time, that is probably coincidence. When they call for the third time, that is a certainty. Three!
This is the last piece I will write. By the time you get to the end, the reasons should be clear. Piece, maybe not. This is not a memoir, neither is it a letter. It is a dilemma. And you may have come across this piece from the ‘most emotional stories’ or maybe from the ‘thriller stories from Africa.’ That does not matter. What should be clear is: Do not believe a single word from here. — Ken Lutheran. 28/08/2008
Life is an art of drawing without an eraser. The two souls, thirty years apart were set for the day. One prepared for the Holy Pasaka (Easter Sunday) while the other prepared for the end of his Berserker.
The imposter borrowed the name of Father Chrisantos Ochieng, an actual Catholic priest at St Mary’s Cathedral and a principal at the Mary’s High School. In his preparation for the Holy Easter Mass that was to take place in two hours, he put on his last make-up to look like Father Chris before dragging the body of the Catholic priest to the washrooms.
“Do you know what day today is?” He stared at the tied body of Father Chris and gave an arrogant smile. “Today is the day.”
Ephantas Jones, the guy posing as Father Chris, took one more glance at his image behind the mirror and smiled in contentment. His red eyes scanned at the room as he made his way to the door. Empty. He walked down the stairs quietly not wanting to bring any suspicion from the nearby convent.
Father Chris’s bedroom door was open. Locks were forbidden here. He entered, closing the door behind him.
Today, at last, Jones would be able to pay his debt. Hurrying to the dresser, he found his disposable cell phone and placed a call.
“Yes,” a male voice answered.
“Master, everything is set.”
“Speak,” the voice commanded sounding happy to hear from him.
“The priest is dead. And the Mass is set to begin in an hour…”
There was a momentarily pause, as if both were in deep thought.
“Then I assume today you will retrieve the diamonds.”
“Certainly, the diamonds will be brought as tithes. Everything is set.”
Jones listened intently at the Master’s breath and he couldn’t help join in excitement. “The diamonds, exactly as we suspected.”
According to his research, the brotherhood consisting of seven priests had created a a map made of stone, a tablet that showed the resting place of eighty seven kilograms of diamonds that had been excavated at the place the church laid its foundation.
The information of the key to the engraved stone was so powerful, that its protection had entirely depended on the brotherhood’s existence. The last of the brothers holding on to the secret was Father Chris. However, just as his fellow brothers, he had breathed his last answering the same questions his brotherhood had been asked:
“Where are the diamonds?”
But no one had ever given the truth about the loyal secret. No one, apart from Father Chris.
“Good afternoon, Father, the Mass is already set to begin,” the altar boy alerted him.
“On my way,” Jones answered with a frank smile.
People who say that sunshine will bring happiness are probably the part of people who have never danced in the rain. The pain. Cuts to his wrist. Blood on both sides of the blade. Warm blood against his skin and a head of combating thoughts. Yet now at the gravel yard of the Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, the .38 silencer should have played the magic of erosion of the thirteen year old Ken Luther’s memories, both bad and good.
The most painful memory was when Ken walked away and Father Chris couldn’t stop him. He fought against his emotions on whether to look back. It even hurt more when he was not sure whether to just forget or wait, or both. At that moment, Ken was grateful for the rain because it all looked like clouds falling apart. It made him feel good to know he was not the only one that breaks, even nature shatters.
The midday sun was just breaking over the rooftops of Molo shining through the paths below. The bells atop the St. Mary’s cried out for the afternoon mass. Like lifeblood along the veins of missionary centers, families made way towards the heart of their religion, toward the core of their history, toward their shrine, toward their God, toward their church.
Somewhere in Ken’s mind, the bells were tolling. Almost reluctantly, he reached for his right pocket to have a final feel of the gun. Yet holding that precious thing felt wrong, like he shouldn’t be trusted with something so new, so impure and the price from his late mother’s inheritance. But he had to do it. He had to quench the thirst of revenge. The end of his lavishing in poverty.
The bells were deafening, the reverberations trapped in the high-walled plaza. The crowds converged, everyone was happy for their risen God, pushing square towards the doors of the St Mary’s Cathedral. They mumbled prayers and clutched rosary beads in their fingers. Ken also mumbled prayers as he clutched on his gun in his pocket. “Today is the day.”
In a cathedral, it is always night. The warmth of the midday sun turned to dump coolness. There was only one dark-stained glass filtering the ugly rays of the sun into red and blue. Ken Lutheran sat at the seventh bench from the vast doors.
At the altar, Jones sat in the middle tall, and proud. The Holy Pasaka was worth the forever blessings that had cost seven priests’ lives. But he had allowed silence to speak in deafening volumes, only to draft an idea of imposing as a Catholic priest just to have the church’s wealth by himself. And his efforts were worth the wait. At least, in such an occasion, it would take a pretty long time before someone found Father Chris’s body with a bleeding lung and a suicidal note in his pockets.
There are two tragedies in life: not getting what you want and the other is getting it. Ken Lutheran listened to the rub of his leather gloves on the leather seats ten metres away from Father Chris. He thought about the sound that had come from his mother’s leather jacket three years ago. The way she had flailed her arms pathetically, trying to fight Father Chris off. She gave silent screams. No sound came from her throat. It was only her leather jacket whipping on their leather seats that made tiny whispers, alongside the soothing voice of Father Chris. It was at that moment, just before the ten old Ken burst into the room that he heard the priest talk.
“We both drown in the words we are not saying. Tell me that I will never be too late. That our precious feelings are not gone forever. That you still love me with your broken fragments the same way you did when I left for priesthood while you left for the maternity. And our crack, now a large valley has no bridge but we could still connect with the waves of mutual feelings.”
From the ignition switch in his hands to the want in his tone, from the lust in his eyes to the way his lips trembled when Father Chris made his confessions; and it was at that moment Ken joined one and one to get two. Yet maths was not his forte but at ten years he discovered he too was a son that had a father like any other child. Only his father, was an actual Catholic priest. Or better, a father to all.
Ken could have easily forgiven his mother if she had not mortified him. But that was not the important part in the conversation. Father Chris went on to say, “My pain has many faces; sometimes it wears our son’s. I wish I was here to give him what a daddy should. Even though, with a broken wing hearts do fly. I am not rich.” He gave an eerie silence to think about what he was to say. “But I am the last of the brotherhood in possession of eighty-seven diamonds that were dug where the church laid its foundation. The map is made of stone and it shows the resting place of all the diamonds. I hid it in the old hut of my father’s, under the bed we first made love.”
Hopes keep us breathing only to kill us in the end. Ken Luther’s mother didn’t live long after that weary night Ken overheard what he wasn’t supposed to. The worst mistake she made before her demise was to blurt out the tiny secret in one stormy night to a random guy as they sipped liquor on the same coach the secret was whispered. But to the young boy, he became a slave to voices of anxiety. It was on that night that he vowed to kill his father and take what was rightfully his. It had been a long time languishing in poverty. What he did not know was that at least two diamonds from the lot were donated by some catechist, a secret member of the brotherhood, on Easter to facilitate the church’s welfare.
The twenty-feet high cathedral doors slammed in a decisive thud. The mass was set to begin. But time really moves slow when one has diamonds on target or a man to slaughter in broad daylight. All Jones wanted to get was the diamonds brought as tithe and the secret catechist who brought them. At least, the catechist was easy to blackmail later. Everything else were things he had rehearsed to avoid suspicions from the congregation.
Ken kept his head down, wondering how long the service would take. He hated church all his life and recently the hate was on the rise upon discovering the true identity of his biological father. Eventually, everyone was standing in a hymn.
Ken saw the altar boy at the end of the row and two single-file lines moving up the center aisle toward the altar. Communion.
A fine time to die. A good place to die.
Ken moved up the centre aisle. He fanned the tiny metal contacts on his fingertips. The end of his Berserker. On a Holy Pasaka. Like a predator moving downwind, Ken followed the sea of Christians with every step heavier than the previous. In a flash in his mind he thought about his past and most importantly, his future. Maybe that crime would cost his life in prison. But most importantly, he would eventually be a rich man. It didn’t matter whether bound by the bars of prison. His body was never in freedom, or maybe, it was made up by many more cells.
Four people. Three. Two.
Ken fingered the gun in his pocket, keeping it low. The bullet would hit the lung, or the heart. Both were fatal, and he wanted him to have a deplorable death, like the dreary life Ken had lived.
One person ahead of him then, he stepped on the altar. He laid his hand on his head, aimed the gun, then fired. One for the berserk he finally expressed one-on-one. Two for the secret he learnt at impromptu. Three for diamonds all by himself he acquired for himself for free. Three! Three shots. Instantly, the body was rigid. Then it was falling. And there were the men in blue.
Ken laughed, hysterically. Everything had gone as planned.
The blood of Christ… the cup of salvation.
People gathered in the pews. Overhead, the frankincense swung in its peaceful arcs. The police rushed towards the altar.
The wine splashed on the man’s face and immediately his fake moustache fell off. Ken spun the dead man angrily. The horror was instantaneous. The face was not Father Chris’! The man he had just shot was an imposter.
Perhaps power is letting go of the grip of the past and standing empty-handed facing the future. Ken looked at the thousand eyes staring at him and instantly felt blades twisting in his stomach. At that moment, in the middle of the congregation, he thought himself a branded criminal and the crime he had planned three years down the line had gone up in smoke. But it always rains hardest to people who deserve the sun.
“Congratulations boy!” the chief police shattered the silence. Shaking Ken’s little hand he added, “You just killed a terrorist. An imposter that killed Father Chrisantos two hours ago. You must be brave.
The crowd stared in immense shock. But the boy Ken smiled at his blessing in disguise.
“You will explain to the police later how you got the gun. Meanwhile, Kenyans celebrate you!”
At that moment Ken Lutheran tore off the piece he had written just in case the court gave him life imprisonment. The truth was far too much brutal. And a writer is made up of lies.