Different Shades of Red

Different Shades of Red

By Anita Wairimu

I stood before a mirror; I could hardly recognize the woman who was staring back at me. She was withdrawn, drained, and her eyes were hollow. She was a shell of her former self. A beautiful shell none the less. Her once lively big, dark brown eyes looked void and haunted. She knew this day was coming, but she never expected it this soon.

I was born in a little village on the slopes of Mount Kenya. My mother was the most beautiful woman in that village. She had a dark chocolate complexion, a heart-shaped face with dimples on each cheek, red full lips, and perfectly lined white teeth. She had luscious curves, and shapely beautiful legs, she stood at five feet two inches. She was short and perfect.  Unfortunately, she died from a gruesome shootout at our local bank where she worked as a teller. I was only fourteen then and I needed her the most at the time, you know, teenage hood and all. She was the kindest person I’ve ever known. My father was devastated for losing her, losing his queen, the love of his life. I was depressed. None of us was prepared for such a loss; none of us saw it coming.

Being an only child with a dead mother and a workaholic, drunken father was not easy. My father decided to replace his dead wife with work and liquor. He totally forgot that he had a daughter to bring up. As long as school fee was paid, he cared less about anything else relating to his daughter. He had lost a wife, yes, but I too lost a mother, confidant and best friend for God’s sake.

The school holidays were hell, watching my dad kill himself with booze was bad enough. He listened to nobody; he spent most of his time at work. I hardly saw him home, and when I did he was too drunk. He was a performer, he excelled in every project he put his hands on, promotion after promotion he got. He was an excellent accountant, he loved figures. He had an eye for good businesses; he could turn a shell of a business to a million making business. The trouble is that he could not do the same to his life.

I buried myself in books, I had no friends, didn’t want them. I felt like they were trying to replace my mum and I could not allow that. That spot was already taken, and the owner was long gone, it made me cold. I excelled in school, scoring straight A’s. I’m the spitting image of my mum or so I’m told only a bit taller, but trust me, she was way more beautiful than I will ever be. But I took my father’s brain. I loved figures as he did, I remember when I was young we would play the figures game. My mum would just watch us in amazement and tell me that I indeed am my father’s daughter.

Apart from figures, I was fascinated with machines. I would dismantle things and put them back to how they were. Sometimes I was unable to. My mum once left a laptop in the living room, she was late for work, and so she just ran to her car and drove off forgetting it there. I took the thing to my bedroom, dismantled it, I got too excited and was unable to make it work again. I was depressed, when my mum came back home, I met her at the door, went on my knees and confessed. She just shook her head, hugged me tightly then grounded me for two weeks.  That’s the only time I ever got grounded.

I did my KCSE and of course, I excelled. Straight A’s as usual. I was not excited about it, I had no one to share it with, and so it meant nothing. It was just another test. I refused to talk to the media about it, what for? How was my success any of their business? I kept it low until the whim was over. It was not a difficult task because I was used to keeping to myself. The media gave up fast; they couldn’t get hold of my father either. He was always working; he had no time for little things anymore. I don’t even think he ever knew how I performed.

One day he came home early, he called me in his study and gave me an envelope. He told me that was all I needed to access my trust fund now that I was eighteen.  I opened the envelope and was impressed. My account had a clean million shillings. He told me that would be enough to pay my college fee and help start a life of my own. He apologized for being absent in my life and I told him it was okay. I did not want to ruin the moment, because it was the first time we were talking in four years. As I left the room, he said that I looked just like my mother. I took it as a compliment and thanked him.

Two days later, he came home drunk. He was hysterical, shouting my mother’s name in his study. I went to talk to him, make him understand that his wife is died and not coming back. When he saw me, he came smiling calling me Mariana, which was my mum’s name. I told him am not Mariana but he was not listening. He held me and forced his way with me, right there on his study’s floor. I tried to cry, scream, but he was too strong for me. I blocked everything from my mind and allowed myself to feel the pain, only the pain. Hatred crept in slowly, the kind I had never known was possible. I hated him with all I had.

When he was done, he stood and looked at me. “Oh my God! Nelly? What have I done?” he asked. I just looked at him, my eyes red from crying, cheeks tear-stained, hatred written all over my face. He tried to apologize but I could not hear any of it, I left him kneeling and headed to my bedroom and locked the door. I could not sleep the whole night; I lay awake crying until I could not cry anymore. Why had it to be my father? Why? I thought he was coming around to being himself two nights ago. I hated myself for allowing myself to hope. He was just another guy to me before, I should have settled for that. Instead, I allowed myself to feel, to hope that my father was coming around, that I would finally have a family again. I then decided that he was as good as dead.

At three AM I had had enough torture, I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I could not live like this anymore. I wore a scarlet red lipstick, stepped in a black dress and walked noiselessly into his bedroom; he was sprawled on his bed facing the ceiling. He had drunk himself to sleep. I stood there and looked at him; I debated in my head on what to do. I finally came up with a verdict. He didn’t deserve to live, he only wastes his breath, and he will never be the person he was, at least not to me. I took his pillow told him how much I hated him and promised myself to enjoy doing it the way he enjoyed taking away my innocence. He killed me then, so I was just returning the favor. I promised myself that I will not feel guilty about it. True to my word, I really enjoyed watching him fight for a breath. It felt right, I did not falter; I held it strong until his kicks stopped. I touched his neck, the pulse was gone. I turned him face down on his pillow and the following day at 10 am he was declared dead. “He drank too much and he suffocated in his sleep,” they said. We buried him five days later.

A few years later, I sold everything he had, all his businesses, houses, cars, everything. Gave out some to the needy, cleared his bank accounts because I was his next of kin, I had no trouble at all and then I moved to the city. There was nothing left for me there, I had no family, no friends, and I needed to start afresh, away from here. I bought myself a three bedroom apartment, master’s ensuite in Lavington. With the money I had, I didn’t have to lift a finger. I had enough cash to last me a lifetime. I had kept one of his cars, a black Mercedes-Benz F700, it was well maintained. He had bought it for my mum as her fortieth birthday gift. She hadn’t driven it for three months before dying, so he kept it, now I get to keep it.

I hadn’t moved all the way to come and stay indoors. I would sleep during the day and go out the whole night. Nightlife became my life, hopping from club to club. Life was good, party all night and sleep all day, a new experience every night, it was fun. I decided then never to step a foot in college, what for?

One night, I found myself in Pisycasso nightclub in Westlands. It was somehow different, it smelled class and exclusivity. It pulled me like a magnet. I found prominent people there and that’s when I realized that not everyone could afford it. It became my daily hang out, I loved it.

I started making friends there, the frequent people would invite me to their table to drink with them, what harm was there? Paul, Thomas, Sheila, and Pete were my favorite; we hung out most of the time. They came from wealthy families, Sheila and Paul were spoilt brats who did nothing but use their parents’ money however they saw fit. Thomas and Pete had their own businesses, they were thriving. I loved listening to their stories, I had since improved my social skills, but still, I kept everyone at an arm’s length though I had known them for close to a year. It was always better that way.

There’s this night that none of them showed up, so Cyrus came to me and invited over to their table. I was the only woman and they talked like I wasn’t there. They were either ignoring me or they totally forgot I was there. They were discussing someone by the name Tim who had threatened their client. I realized that they were politicians’ watchdogs. “What if he goes ahead with the threat? What if he exposes him?” Lukas asked.

“We should eliminate him before he does any damage, we cannot afford a set back at this time. We need to keep him clean for the public.” Said Ben, we all called him the big Ben cause man, he was huge.

“It’s not as easy Ben, who do we hire? A hit and run? A Shooter?  A butcher? Do we have such kind of money now? “Kevin argued.

The discussion went on and on, it was like I was invisible. As I listened, I had flash images of my father’s last kicks. I had an urge of a repeat. Overpowering another human until they surrender was fascinating, I craved for it. At last, they settled for elimination but they were in a dilemma on how and who will do it. Before I could help myself, I found myself talking “I will do it” I said. It’s like I had suddenly been possessed.

“Sorry?” asked Kevin

“I said I will do it,” I said.

They all looked at me like I had grown a horn. Then they tried asking me if I knew what I was talking about. After one hour of arguing, I asked them if they wanted it done or not? At last, they agreed that I could do it, but I refused to tell them how I would do it.

I was given his address and the following day, we all watched news astonished. Tim was reported to have had committed suicide, he had his wrists slit and he bled to death. I remembered my scarlet red lipstick and black dress. I hadn’t worn them since my dad, I had felt invisible. I sat with my friends who wondered why anyone would want to commit suicide.

I became Cyrus’s kill machine, I realized that I’m a natural shooter, I never missed. Each time I had a kill I would step in a black dress or black leather leggings and choose a shade of red lipstick, each shade carried its own meaning, it depicted a weapon or the method I would use. It all became a game. I loved the rusty smell of blood, the silky feel of it on my fingers.

One day I was given an address, I was in a short, figure-hugging black dress, red stilettos, red clutch, and crimson lipstick. I knocked on the door and what I saw made me gape. He came to answer the door shirtless, the abs, Oh my God! They looked like they had been chiseled. My mouth went dry, I stood statue at the door, his face was the most handsome I had ever seen. I looked into those brown eyes and drowned in them. The man was beautiful. He too had his share of mortification. Unfortunately, he recovered before I did. “Hello, how may I help you?”

“I, I, I think am lost” I stammered.

“Who were you looking for?”

“Lucy” I lied.

“I’m sorry I don’t know of any Lucy in this apartment.”

“I must have taken a wrong turn thanks though, I must leave now.”

“No, please come in for a drink before you leave, you are already here anyway.”

“No, I can’t, thanks.”

“Please, for five minutes assume am Lucy” he grinned.

God, the man was beautiful, the dimples, those lips, I could kiss them all night. “You okay?”

“Uuuhm Yes, sorry” caught staring! “Please come on in.”

One glass of wine had led to another, then another, the guy was hilarious, I could not remember the last time I laughed that hard. Booze and laughter were an intoxicating combination. One thing led to another and before we knew it, our clothes were piled on the floor and we were sweating and making animalistic sounds. That’s the night I will live to remember.  Me, sleeping exhausted in those arms, sleeping for the first time in years at night. That was my turning point.

Cyrus and the team waited for the news but nothing came, lastly I told them it wasn’t happening and told them to piss off. They weren’t pleased to lose client’s credibility plus their kill machine. I vowed to quit my nightlife for Brian. He was worth it; he made me feel loved and alive. He gave me life itself; he was the very air I breathed. I threw away my different shades of red lipsticks, but I kept one. I had not worn it, I hoped never to. It served as a reminder of who I was before Brian.

Five years of happiness and metamorphosis, I changed into a woman I never thought I would ever be. Brian and I had moved in together, we were talking about starting a family of our own. I was in love, something I never thought I could experience. The world was perfect, too perfect to last forever and I knew it. Nonetheless, I allowed myself to be happy even if I knew it would crush me eventually.

Last month, that day came. Brian was reported dead in his car from a gunshot in his head. He was on his way home when it happened, and instead of him knocking at our door, policemen did. He had filled a hole in my heart that nobody had. Now its agape, it’s even wider, actually, I don’t feel like I have any heart left at all.

As I sit here in Pisycasso nursing a cold whiskey, dressed in a little hugging red dress, red stilettoes, the blood red lipstick I had hoped to never wear, playing out the scene that is about to unfold in my head. I know none of them is expecting me. They thought if I was avenging I would do it when I was freshly wounded. They were wrong; I had to mourn my man before avenging him. I have carried a big handbag today, its full of tools, I want to shoot out first, incapacitate them all, I know I can do that in seconds before anyone gets a chance to cock their gun, yes am that fast and accurate, I never miss, I have never missed, l don’t intend to miss tonight. I know all other people will run after the first gunshot, which will leave no room for collateral damage. Then I will lock the door, slit Ben’s throat slowly, I want to cut every vein, I want to watch his face as I do it.

Kevin, I will puncture his lungs and deflate them, then watch him breathe his last. I will crush Luka’s balls with my shoe, I need to feel them bust, see what his testosterone will do for him when he is at my mercy. Then I will suffocate him in a polythene bag, I will love to see him try to fight for air.  I will then have some fun with Cyrus. I thought he was my friend, only to realize that he is a snake. I will shoot him at different parts, each part at a time, not any part that can kill him. He will not die easy. I cannot give him that pleasure. He must know how it feels to be dead when you are still breathing. He must know the pain of wishing he was dead. Then I will him to bleed out.

I don’t imagine I will leave here alive, but I cannot give anyone the pleasure of taking my life. No, I must do it myself, I will not allow anybody to come anywhere near me. Even if I had the chance to escape, I cannot live like this anymore. No, I must go and reunite with Brian, my Brian. I can almost hear him beckon me. Today is the day we all meet the maker, a bullet through my brain will be suffice.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Michael Wainaina

    This is a moving piece. That is why we should not judge one’s character only by what he or she is into currently, but also try to understand what made them be what they are. Kuddo Anita.

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