Tom was sitting in the dark, smoky and dingy bar by the huge wooden counter downing his fourth beer. He was eyeing a seminude voluptuous girl swaying her hips from side to side in a seductive manner while trying to catch the game on the small TV mounted up high on the wall. He had traveled a long distance to try to get away from it all. His mom had died of cancer just 6 months ago, his wife left him a few weeks before and his faithful dog, Spikes, had run away from home.
He had tried all avenues to help his mom live longer but nothing came to fruition. He had fought to keep her alive. But then she died, and he started spiraling. He was not able to come to terms with her death. He had been robbed of the most important person in his life. He felt like he could end his. The pain was unbearable. He started drinking and being absent from life. He no longer cared about anyone or anything. He just wanted to get away; get away from Nairobi and its busy culture and go to a place where he could sulk and wallow without his neighbors and friends being so much into his business.
A week earlier, he had left Nairobi and was now walking the streets of Lamu, a warm beautiful sleepy beach town. He harbored a lot of hate and sadness and certainly looked like a ticking time bomb. He had pain and anger in his heart and just wanted to forget his memories of home. Home! The place he felt most secure, most wanted, no longer existed. He had left his best friend to run their business while he tried to figure out what to do with himself. And as luck would have it, he immediately identified a local pub right next to his hotel room and spent most of his time there.
As he continued to admire the heavily bosomed woman from where he sat, he couldn’t help but remember his wife, Joy! She was a beauty. Short, curvy in all the right places and had dimpled cheeks that her smile always lit up a room and always warmed his heart. He had met her at a club along Lang’ata road in Nairobi. She was a wild spirit, she danced in a sensual way and had admirers lined up from here to Timbuktu. Men loved her, and she craved that attention. Maybe that was a red flag he just didn’t see.
He hadn’t noticed that the beautiful woman was now walking right up to him, he quickly got his head back to reality and there she was, standing right in front of him. She wore a red revealing bandage dress that left zero to the imagination. She was pretty. She shakes his hand; he could feel her soft warm palm, like that of a baby.
“Hi, I’m Sue.”
“Tom,” he said trying to put on a smile.
“I’ve never seen you here before! You are not from around here are you?” she asked inquisitively.
“No. I’m visiting family.” A complete lie considering all his family was gone, including Spikes.
“I don’t see them,” she said looking around the now almost empty bar.
“They left.” He said starting to feel some amount of irritation build up.
“Can I join you?” She asked with a sly look on her face.
He battled with his answer. Did he really want to engage with someone who reminded him so much of Joy? Or should he talk to her to try to fill up the gap that was growing deeper by the day for old time’s sake? He was conflicted. All the while, she stood next to him, trying to read his ragged, tired-looking but handsome face.
She had come to the local bar to unwind after a long day at work. She worked as a paralegal and had had a bad day. A sexual assault case had got into her head and she was feeling all types of ways. She was sad, angry and bitter because of the injustices in the world. Why can’t we just be kind to one another? She had thought to herself. She definitely had to unwind and blow off some steam.
She had noticed him sitting at the counter, alone, lost in thought. She was immediately drawn to him. He looked a bit shabby and beaten down. His face looked worn but still very good looking. He looked like he had seen better days. As she danced and sashayed the night away, she couldn’t help but notice him steal glances of her from where he sat. She loved the attention.
“Can I join you?” she asked again.
“I was just about to leave,” he said nonchalantly.
“Ooh. Some other time then.” She smiled while turning to walk away.
He was conflicted.
“Wait!” he said with a hint of nervousness.
She turned to look at him and smiled. He couldn’t help notice her beautiful face as she slowly sat down. Right there, they hit it off and talked like they had known each other for years. As the night passed away, they talked about work, life, and laughed heartily. They sang along to the soul music know playing in low volume and ended up slow dancing on the empty dance floor. As the morning light started to seep through the windows, they had undoubtedly enjoyed each other’s company, exchanged numbers and planned to meet for drinks at the same place later on in the day.
Growing up, Tom’s father was abusive. He was mean, angry and often hit his mom. He could drink himself into a stupor and pass out anywhere and everywhere. When he was strong enough to get home, he would cause fear for Tom and his mom. At a young age, Tom learned to stand up for himself and his mom. She would take a beating without saying a word and always had the hope that her husband would change. He never did.
At 15, Tom had grown so protective of his mom and she became dependent on him. His mom would dash into Tom’s room whenever his father would get home drunk. His dad had become intimidated by Tom’s height and always chickened out when he tried to hit him. But one night, he tried to. He had tried to get Tom out of the way so he could get to his mother. Tom could not allow it. He had blocked his father from hitting her and shoved him several times. They struggled with one another and ended up on the stair landing. Then with all his strength, he pushed his father down the stairs. It was a sad night; one they would all remember for the rest of their lives. Tom’s father ended up crippled, cold and lonely. He could no longer walk, drink or go outside. His relationship with his family had deteriorated because of the years of abuse towards them. Even though they took care of him, his sober state led him to regret and shame. A few months later, he couldn’t live with himself and committed suicide.
Tom lived with that regret. He lived his life replaying that night and even though he went to therapy and had closure, he still wondered what if. But he lived through it knowing that he had stood up for his mom. He always guarded and protected her so fiercely but eventually, he couldn’t protect her from the cold hands of cancer. He had tried to provide the comfort she needed but cancer won. He was left broken.
In his relationships, he had the savior complex where he felt the need to be the hero for the damsel in distress. He almost 100% attracted women who needed saving; who couldn’t live without the attention and it never ended well for he would become too protective, too controlling and borderline obsessive.
That evening, Sue called him to confirm if they were still up for their date. He had spent the whole day sleeping and nursing a hangover. He confirmed his availability and for some reason, was looking forward to the date. She had spent the whole day thinking about him and work seemed easy that day. She couldn’t wait to see him again.
Sue grew up in a pretty decent family. With great parents who worked had to provide for her and her siblings. But that meant that they were mostly left in the care of the nanny. She always craved her parent’s presence. During her primary school days, she would pretend to go to bed on school nights only to wake up late at night when they came home which didn’t go well because they would always sternly get her back in bed. She was smart and was always top of her class. She always received medals, certificates, and trophies in academics but most of the time, the nanny or the driver were the ones present during the ceremonies. By the time she was in high school, she wanted her parent’s love and approval so bad that she became a rebel. She would do anything just to get their attention. She started rebelling by missing classes, started drinking and was even one day caught stealing. By the time she was in university, she had gotten herself into a great deal of trouble and moved away from home. As she started dating, she found out she could get the attention she so greatly yearned for from her boyfriends. She started her Law career but always had a deep hole in her heart that she always felt the need to fill. All the while, her parents’ lives had started to slow down and were more at home. The irony of life!
Tom and Sue started a whirlwind romance that was amazing. She was the Bonnie to her Clyde. They were perfect for each other. She wanted someone she could get all the attention from and he wanted someone to save. The relationship was perfect. Tom had decided to run his business from Lamu and would travel regularly to Nairobi to check in with his best friend. He had decided to stay and be with her. His best friend tried to dissuade him from jumping into another relationship too soon especially with all the baggage but his convincing just wasn’t good enough. He eventually stopped and assumed it was just a fling and that it would end as first as it started. He was wrong.
As the weeks went by, they both started to open up to one another and shared their deepest fears, regrets, and secrets. They formed a tight bond and always had each other’s back. Their intimacy grew and they were together most of the time. Sue learned of Tom’s past, his father, his mom, his wife and even Spike the dog who had run away after Tom had kicked him in a bout of anger and sent him flying up in the air. She had promised to protect him from being hurt again. She vowed to be his comfort and restore his faith in love. Soon enough, Tom started being lively and upbeat again. He would always rush back to Lamu with a sense of urgency after going to check on his business in Nairobi. His friends still tried to convince him to stay and get the closure he needed but he would have none of that. He wanted to be with Sue.
Tom had fallen for her; fallen hard. She craved his love and attention and that always made him feel useful. He felt wanted and vowed to also protect and guard her. Soon enough, he started meeting her friends who all approved of him and he one time took her with him to Nairobi to meet his pals. But his friends didn’t buy the idea of Tom being in a committed relationship too soon. Not after the pain and heartache he had gone through. Did he really heal? Was he okay or was he just trying to numb the pain with this new woman? His friends eventually let it go when Tom became defensive and said that he would not be around them if they could not accept Sue.
Their love was the deep, raw kind of love. The love that would mostly stand the test of time because of the effort and care put into it. Within a few months, Tom was head over heels in love with Sue. His ex-wife Joy was now a distant memory. They would spend a lot of their time together and would take trips, go on safari, plan excursions and live their best lives. Sue was doing well in her career and had recently gotten a promotion. She was advancing steadily and the stars seemed to have aligned in her favor. She now started to think about settling down and having a family.
When she proposed the idea of settling down and taking their relationship to the next level, Tom was ecstatic. He always wanted kids but Joy had never really gotten round to the idea. Sue, on the other hand, was ready to start a family. He couldn’t have it any other way. They laid down their game plan. In a few months’ time, they would have moved in together, ensured that their finances were okay and move on to the next step. But before they could do that, they needed to get the blessings of their families.
Eight months into their relationship, they traveled to Nairobi to visit Tom’s aunt and uncle from his mom’s side. They were all that was left in terms of family, and Tom respected and regarded them as his parents. His aunt and uncle were not too keen on the idea of him wanting to marry again so soon, but they had no choice than to give their blessing after Tom was insistent that she was the one. Back in Lamu, Sue took Tom to meet her parents. They were welcomed with a lot of joy and happiness. Sue’s parents immediately took a liking to him and approved of their relationship and gave their blessings.
Life living together was exciting especially for Sue who was going at it for the first time. She loved having a man around her who would shower her with all the love, attention and affection she desired. For Tom, it seemed like deja vu. But he was set on making this one work. Once in a while, he would get these flashes of his life with Joy. Their relationship had ended up being a toxic one. He remembered how his ex-wife ended up being too needy and clingy and how he had ended up being over-controlling and bossy. In the end, while he was reeling and spiraling from the shock of his mom’s death, he had stopped caring and being affectionate to his wife, the thing she desired the most. Eventually, she ended up in the arms of a more caring man and never looked back.
As Tom and Sue got to know each other better now that they were living under the same roof, he started holding back and being reserved. Was it finally hitting him that he may have rushed into the relationship? He started to question his love for Sue. Was it real or was it all an escape he had yearned so badly for? He was not sure if he wanted to go ahead with the future. He would stay back home while Sue was at work and go through the motions. He started feeling the pain he felt when his life started to crumble a few months ago. He started to realize that he had too much baggage that he needed to sort out before he embarked on this journey with Sue. He didn’t want to let her down. It wouldn’t be fair to her. And furthermore; he wasn’t a quitter. He was not going to run from his problems this time around. He decided to make his life better and sort a therapist who would help with the anger, grief, and betrayal he harbored.
He started seeing a therapist secretly and never let Sue know that he was seeing someone. He didn’t want to worry her with his emotional issues; she was too happy. But she had noticed that Tom had become a bit withdrawn. He was no longer willing to have fun or go out and would disappear for hours on end on some days. He wouldn’t notice her or acknowledge her presence as he did before. When she asked what the problem was, he always said all was well. She figured that he was still adjusting to the new living arrangements and didn’t want to overwhelm him considering his past.
On a business trip to Kisumu town, Sue had too much to drink and started flirting with her boss. He had always thrown advances at her but she never paid much attention to him. But that night, she yearned for it, and subtly flirted with him; ‘just a few hours of feeling loved again’ she thought, plus, Tom would never know since he was miles away. She spent the night with him in his hotel room and the same happened in the three nights to follow. And just like that, she had gotten herself in an illicit affair and she loved it.
When they got back to Lamu, instead of ending it, Sue found herself craving for the attention of both men at the same time. She wanted both of them. So she continued with the affair with her boss. She would be away at work and spend time with her boss and go home to Tom as if nothing happened. She felt no regret for what she was doing was justifiable in her mind; she was getting the love, affection, and attention she needed, in double measure. Things were going good for her.
As the weeks passed, Tom was getting better and had started getting over his mom’s death and Joy’s betrayal. He was turning a corner and was proud of himself for showing such progress. But as he got better, he started to notice that Sue was coming home later than usual, her phone was always on silent mode or off when home and she was more engrossed with work than usual. At times, when her phone rang, she would light up, and pick the call in the other room and the most noticeable; her dressing had changed from smart presentable office wear to more showy suggestive outfits. She also wasn’t interested in starting a family soon as they had earlier planned. She now wanted to wait, something that didn’t sit well with him. He knew something was up.
He tried to ask her what the problem might be but she always smiled and said everything was ok and that she just needed more time. All the while, things had gotten serious with her boss that he tried to convince her to leave Tom and be with him. She had toyed with the idea of leaving Tom but decided against it. She made the selfish decision that she needed both men for her emotional needs.
Tom became obsessed with finding out what was up with Sue. Why did she all over sudden change plans of taking their relationship to the next level? He now noticed that she had bought several lingerie outfits that she wore every day to work. She most definitely looked great in them and immediately suspected that she was having an affair.
Not wanting to lose her, he went back to doing what he does best, protect. He became overprotective and started monitoring the time she got home. They would fight when she came home late especially without a proper explanation. He started being demanding and only wanted to be heard. What he said was final. He was determined to fix her and the relationship. As their issues transpired, Sue felt that Tom had started noticing her again and did as she was told. But she was still unable to end the affair with her boss. Tom continued to be interrogative and felt that he needed to do so to make things better for their relationship. Only he could help her.
One day, Tom suggested that Sue quit her job and focus more on them trying to start a family. He would provide financially for her and get them back to where they had started; the deep love they had for one another. Sue was totally against it because that would mean that her relationship with her boss would end. She refused to quit and a big fight ensued. They blamed each other for their troubles. Tom accused her of cheating although he didn’t have any proof. Sue accused him of neglect and not being attentive as he used to. That night Sue slept over at a friend’s house trying to figure out what next.
After two days, Tom had convinced her to go back home and she had agreed to quit her job and save her relationship. She decided to end her affair with her boss who took it hard. They decided to work on the relationship and even see a counselor for guidance. Both of them were now in a good space and the relationship was evidently back on track.
A month after they had fought, things were starting to look up for them; they were happy. The counseling sessions had helped a great deal and slowly, they had found their rhythm back. They were looking forward to beginning on their original plan of starting a family.
One evening, as they were just about to retire to bed, Tom got a call from an anonymous number;
“Hello,” he said.
“Hello,” a deep voice answered. “Is this Mr. Tom Mugi?”
“Yes. This is him. How can I help you?” tom answered with heightened curiosity.
“My name is Brian, Sue’s boss!”
“Ooh, how can I help you Sir?” signaling Sue that he was talking to her boss.
Sue started to panic. She didn’t know how to react. Three weeks ago, she had gone to collect her things from work and at the heat of the moment, had slept with her boss one more time before leaving for good. Now she feared she was pregnant and didn’t know what to do or who the father was. She had contacted her boss and informed him that she might be pregnant but she couldn’t keep it because she didn’t want to live with the guilt of Tom raising a child that might not be his. Brian had tried to convince her to keep it and get back together but she was set on moving on with her life. He got very agitated and angry and vowed to get her back at all costs. Here he was now, calling Tom. She didn’t know what to do or say without knowing what Brian wanted to say. She tried to get the phone from Tom but he continued;
“Sue is pregnant for me. I thought you should know” he hanged up.
At that moment, Tom felt like a ton of bricks had just hit his body. He dropped the phone and started feeling dizzy. The room began to spin and a wave of mixed emotions ran through him and he suddenly felt an upsurge of anger rise from within him. What had he just heard? That Sue was pregnant? He turned to look at her. She was trembling and all she could say was,
“I can explain! I can explain!” with fear and remorse in her eyes
Tom looked at her and it all came back to him. It all started to make sense; the late nights at work, the business trips, the different dress code, the protected phone, it had been her boss this whole time. He looked at her with anger and disgust and almost slapped her.
“Explain!” he roared, shaking and trembling.
She couldn’t continue with the lie any longer. She had to come clean and hope that he would forgive her transgressions. It was now or never.
“I’m sorry Tom. I was having an affair with Brian and I think I am pregnant!” her voice cracking and slowly walking backward.
Tom was in a fury she had never seen before. He had anger written all over his face. She was in fear.
“Whose is it?” he shouted and looked at her with deadly eyes.
“I don’t know Tom. I’m not sure!” she whispered in a tiny and scared voice.
At that moment, the world seemed to come to a standstill. Tom remembered his father and the abuse he put them through. He remembered his mom, the pain she endured in his father’s hands and the pain she suffered while she fought cancer. He remembered Joy, the one he had loved but his love was not good enough. He remembered Spike, his loyal dog whom he had kicked so hard that he ran away and never came back. It all came flooding back and he realized that he had lost. His life was useless. He couldn’t keep anyone or anything. He looked up to Sue and realized that he lost her too. He couldn’t live like this anymore. Why was everyone getting away from him? He couldn’t take it.
In a fit of rage, he lunged towards her with all his might. She didn’t have time to turn and run. He tripped her and jumped on her. Sue desperately called out his name but he was too far gone to realize what he was doing. He grabbed her throat and started choking her. All the memories they shared flashed before him. He could hear his aunt and uncle’s voices telling him to take it slow. He could hear his best friend’s voice telling him to reconsider his relationship with Sue. He had definitely lost.
Sue tried to fight back but he was too strong for her. She tried to hit and bite but all that could not stop him from squeezing more tightly. She struggled to talk and could feel her throat start to snap. She felt as if her eyes would pop out of their sockets. As she struggled to breathe her last, she looked up to Tom and their eyes met. His eyes were cold and dead. There was no more life inside them. He was no longer there. She regretted being unfaithful to him; she just wanted attention.
Tom strangled Sue to death. By the time he came to his senses, he had already broken her neck with his bare hands. As he let go of her, he felt a weight lift up from his shoulders. He felt a sense of relief. His mind was at ease and a sense of peace and calmness engrossed him. He had never felt this way in a long time. He felt lighter and almost smiled at the contentment and satisfaction. He looked down at her lifeless body and felt nothing. He stared at his hands and smirked, he still had his power. He had not lost; he had found his strength and he felt amazing! He felt strong, almost superhuman; like Superman or the Hulk with their power. And as he stood and start to walk away, all was left was to figure out what to do with Sue’s body.