The taxi halts outside the silent corridors of The Rewind Button. Warm air, bustles, all kinds of sounds; not many look, not many care. Grace is lost in the previous night’s memory; the life in the dark night, the flashing lights and the music. She remembers her naïve smile and foolishly happy self, oblivious of the night’s plans.
Spaced out, Grace looks up at the driver, standing over him in the rear. He stretches out a hand, and Grace flashes to the past two times she had been or thought to be at that point.
“Three hundred?” She asks.
The man nods. Grace draws a Ksh. 500 note from her pockets. The driver takes it and before he can stuff it away, Grace stretches out a hand and the man first looks at it. He then pulls out a bundle from his trousers, picks out two one-hundred-shilling notes and hands them to Grace.
“Thank you,” she says, getting off.
Bold, blinding light greets her; more bustles, and the air, a mixture of scents. Grace walks past the cinema and towards the coffee shop, according everyone she comes by suspicious glances. My fault, she thinks, Cliff is dead because of me.
A shuffling of feet. Rummaging. The first man goes, “Hm… there’s nothing here.” More shuffling. The second man goes, “Of course… of course, it’s her place. Where is she anyway?” Silence. “That smell. Thick… mm… stuffy. Will you call Reggie? Tell her we found nothing,” says the first man.
Familiar voices? Grace blinks cursory, gathering sense. She sees a tiled floor, then her bare, tied feet. She looks up momentarily, thanking the heavens she is still in her pants but notices the ropes around her hands too.
First man: You checked everywhere, mm?
Silence. A pair of feet shuffle towards the room she is in—her room.
Grace looks around, wide awake now—tied to a chair in her bathroom, with a clothe stuffed into her mouth. How did she get here? And why do the two who sound as unaware also sound so familiar?
Second man: Nothing, man. Uh, let’s get out of here.
First man: There’s one more room, mm… a storage or something. Cliff asked me once to get an old mouse from it.
Second man: A mouse?
Feet shuffle along the corridors.
First man: Mm-mm… a computer mouse, Elvis.
Second man: Can you find it?
First man: Mm-hm… it’s on the end of this corridor.
Grace looks around the small area she is tied to—a chair in her bathroom. Two familiar men roam about her house with all the comfort, clearly unaware. So, who is pulling the strings? Well… Grace has one person in mind but she cannot bear the thought.
She tries to wriggle out of the ropes but they are tight and hurt. She tries to call out but nothing much escapes the clothe in her mouth. She waits helplessly.
These two fools are the only hope I have, she thinks.
A loud bang! Shuffles along the corridor. A cry and another. Grace sees flashes… flashes of how she got there… 4 pm… 4 pm…
4 pm. The alley where Cliff had been murdered in cold blood was clear, spotless; nothing close to a murder scene—not even the stink you would expect along such alleys in town.
Grace walked back and forth, unbelieving, not trusting her eyes; back and forth. She walked farther to the very spot in the alley and looked, presumably as Cliff did the previous night. Nothing, but more flashes of how things went down fast and deadly quiet.
Grace took another cab to LibLane Estate, Langata. Her old place was the remaining agenda. She bore weighted thoughts of who could have done all this and why. He did not leave a trace of Cliff or what he saw—this trouble the man must have gone through to get rid of the bodies…
LibLane Estate, Langata.
What if he’s waiting for me? Grace thought, He has my bag and direct access to the house. He could be there. She walked with no hurry, thinking… But… Cliff… I must talk to Cliff. Must—even if it means dying. He left without saying bye. We must at least discuss that.
She checked her time: 5 pm.
Grace got to her apartment and locked the door. She rushed to the bedroom that she had once shared with Cliff, dropped to her knees beside the bed, then held out her hands as if in prayer.
“How does this work?” She whispered, “Cliff?”
Grace looked around. Silence. She breathed.
“Cliff… if you can hear me…”
She did not get a reply.
Grace got up and switched the lights on. The illuminated room looked alive with Cliff’s possessions amongst hers. Cliff’s guitar caught her eye, hung against the wardrobe. She studied as she walked to it, stopped a distance off, then unzipped a pouch in the side. She pulled out a small, wrapped plastic bag.
Grace slumped against the side of the bed, dropping to the floor. She had by then completely forgotten about any dangers she faced. Every available resource was invested in summoning her dead boyfriend.
Grace took a lighter from the bedside drawer. She unwrapped her small plastic bag and from it, took out a thin, brown joint from a bundle of four. She squeezed it between her lips, then burned the substance to some thick smoke. Grace inhaled and exhaled.
To be continued.
- VII: Recollection
- VI: “Safe Distance”
- V: Little Palace
- IV: AM Madness
- III: Damsel In Distress
- II: Flash KiFlash
- I: The Rewind Button