Ed: It might help to read: “They killed them?” first
It’s funny how things pan out, isn’t it?
I had called John as we left my mothers apartment building and told him to come pick us up from the road outside. Even he seemed confused as to why I would wait for him outside. The thing is, we needed to go to the shop right outside to buy pesticides and some other item I forget so it only made sense. By the time we got down and had purchased the goods, he would be there. Or so we thought.
We had to wait a few minutes. Couldn’t have possibly been 10 minutes but a lot can happen in 10 minutes. A lot can happen in 2 minutes in fact; and I’ll give you an example. In two minutes, a motorcycle with 3 young men on it can ride by you. The man behind the handles can pull out a duct taped pistol (looked like a 9mm) as two others begin to offload you of…well, everything. They can get in your pockets and that of the lady behind you and pick everything they can carry off you. Then they can ride off and leave you destitute. Then you will remember every smart idea you had two minutes earlier for two minutes afterwards.
There were 2 seconds of that two minutes that I surely will never forget when a white Toyota Ist drove by. While that may sound inconsequential, the lights from the car lit the faces of the men who had drawn guns on us. Young faces. Especially the one who was robbing my lady. The other thing that I saw, other than their faces, was the fear on them. Their leader got very agitated and very firmly poked the barrel into my belly as I was being patted down and urged me to not incite trouble. I had been mostly silent throughout the whole ordeal, only once looking over my shoulder to make sure she had not been hurt.
We got out of it safe and no more than a minute later, the taxi was there. I remember very little about the long drive to drop her at the mother’s house. Very little. I just remember my rage. I was livid beyond reason. I had been through this before.
Four years ago, I lived near Atlanta, GA. I had had a roommate for 2 years who turned out to be a relatively major drug dealer and when he ran away, his suppliers came looking. I was the only person in the house with about 7 armed men and 5 pistols in my face. If someone sneezed, I’d have lost my head. Thank goodness I had vacuumed.
I remember when they left, I was angry at how powerless I had been and I was. I had no one I could call except the police. And what would I have told them? “Hello officers. My cohabitant is seems to be into the distribution of illicit narcotics and his associates were just here looking for him and I just wanted to call you to express concern? Also, they took some stuff from me.” Nah. Last time I called them to help a neighbor out, they arrested me. So…yeah…no.
Instead, I took matters into my own hands. It didn’t take long. I already had my license, the first of the 3 pistols arrived 72 hours later. I felt safer. More in control. I felt no fear.
Tonight, I remembered how that anger lifted and how good it felt to have done something. Except this time, I couldn’t get a gun. But I could call the police. I was at home, dammit. These guys were meant to be on my side, right?
I walked into the police station to find a man thumbing the record book.
“I’m here to report a robbery at gunpoint.”
He didn’t look up.
I repeated louder.
He got up and walked off. I looked at his female counterpart
“Is this where I make the reports or can I get your names and badge numbers so I can talk to Chief Inspector _____ in the morning?”
She was shocked and quickly offered to help. The fear in her eyes was familiar. The gentleman in the back and another man in the next room also walked in.
I began to explain the ordeal.
“Three men riding a motorcycle robbed myself and my companion at gunpoint…”
The first cop sniggered; the lady stifled a laugh.
“What the F*CK is your problem?” I was now openly angry.
“Sorry, sorry.” Still laughing. “You’re not the first person to tell us about those guys.”
“Oh they’ve robbed people before us?” I asked.
“Yeah, a few everyday.” He said. “Like this lady earlier…” and then he giggled.
I was seething. These f*ckers knew? Then the cop who had been silent the whole time muttered under his breath
“In fact, they were found recently.”
I had a brief flashback to the young boys who stole the bus and got sent to the afterlife.
“What happened to them?” I asked him, aggravated by the two incompetent twats I had been dealing with.
“Nothing happens to those ones.” He said matter of factly before retreating to the next room.
“So they didn’t kill them?” I asked.
He put on a coat and said something unintelligible before saying he was off duty and walking out.
I tried to resume that line of questioning with the original idiots who were taking my details, but to no avail. So frustrated, I stormed out and figured I should get home first and let the neighborhood security know not to let people walk out.
“Oh, yeah, another lady was robbed there at 7pm.”
This is what the security guard said to me.
He already knew too.
He watched us walk out, knowing full well what was out there, and didn’t say a word.
I was losing my cool. What is this apathetic nonsense? I urged him to warn women and children not to walk out. He just nodded uninterested and pulled a blanket over himself and let a few young ladies walk out in the same direction. At that point, I told him if he didn’t take me seriously, I’d find a way to charge him with conspiracy and that I was a lawyer. He ran outside and informed the ladies.
I couldn’t take it. I lit my cigarette. Let off some steam. Just to feel numb. Just to forget. Just to feel something and feel it go away. Really to see an effervescent cloud instead of the darkness and emptiness that is the night sky and the city of Nairobi. Sometimes you need to feel that; sometimes you need to feel the pain to enjoy the pleasure. Sometimes you need to lose it all, to be able to know what really matters. Sometimes in order to know who to trust, the world must first betray you.
I was scared. I was angry. I wanted to change my situation and when I was most desperate, the system had failed me. Much like the thieves.
The difference is circumstantial. One day you may be the shooter, they next you may be getting shot.
Welcome to Nairobi.