• Sgt Makini leads a tell-all after his companions escape from lovers.
“So, you mean we all have spouse issues?” Millicent asks.
The three of us are seated on my mattress in my one-room shack. Inspector Tembo, Millicent and I. Pregnant, Millicent is on the run from her gun-totting father. My boss is hiding from his wife.
“Mine are not spouse issues, per se,” I say. “More like women issues. I faint at the sight of a naked woman. What about you, Inspector? What’s your problem?”
“Wait!” Millicent says. Mercifully, she’s now covered her sheer nightie with my bedsheet. “You can’t just throw that out and there and mosey on to another topic. What do you mean you faint?”
“F-A-I-N-T! Are you happy now? Not everyone is as brave around the opposite sex like you obviously are.”
“Yes! You undressed in front of me. A total stranger.”
Millicent buries her head in her hands. Begins to cry.
“Now see what you’ve done?” Inspector Tembo says. Remorseful.
“I’m sorry. But it's true.”
“Firstly,” says Millicent. Wiping off tears. “Your back was turned when I changed. Secondly, I’m only putting up a brave façade in order to feel strong. In control.
“The reason the father of my child cannot come is because I ran away from him. He started beating me up six months into our relationship. Was still doing it when a nice woman called Wa Migwi from the Usikimye organisation saved me. With the roads closed, I had to hitchhike on charcoal lorries to get here.”
Inspector Tembo and I are speechless. Seeing Millicent before, so confident and sure of herself, I was certain she did the beating, not the other way around.
“I’m sorry,” I tell her.
“It’s okay. I'll be out of your hair tomorrow. If Chief shoots me, so be it.”
“By the way, why do you call your father Chief?”
“Because he’s the chief of Jiji Ndogo, idiot. Don’t you know?”
I turn to Inspector Tembo.
“Guess we can say she’s back to her old self, huh?”
“What about me?” the Inspector asks. Troubled. “The Dragon will kill me. No doubt about it.”
“Surely it can’t be that bad, Inspector,” Millicent opines. “Why are you so afraid of her?”
“She did like you all do once you get married. She shed her skin.” Inspector Tembo grabs my head. Turns it towards Millicent. “Look at her, son. She’s beautiful, no? Now that she’s having your baby, she’ll be at her best. Lure you in.”
“Didn’t you hear anything she said? It's not my baby.”
“You’re just saying that now. Wait until they come together, pretending to see the baby! But they’re there to confuse you. Tell you his ears look just like yours. Hands. Nose. Neck. But no. You know the baby is a mix of all men in your area. The shopkeeper. Gas man. Watchman. The eyes mostly look just like the watchman’s.”
“What has all this got to do with your wife?” Millicent asks. “Haven’t you been married for long?”
“Thirty long years, but do you know dragons molt? Oh, yes. They shed their skin. I married my wife before she molted and became a dragon. If only I knew.”
“Is he okay?” Millicent asks me. “Aren't you glad now all you do is faint?”
Before I say anything, another loud knock. Everyone freezes. I included. But Millicent is afraid of her father. The Inspector, his wife. So, why am I panicking?
“Cornelius Matumbo Tembo!” a woman shouts from outside. “I know you’re in there.”
“Jesus!” Inspector shouts. “She’s found me.”
“Your name is Matumbo?”
“Is that a woman’s voice I hear?” Mrs Tembo shouts. “You’re dead, Cornelius. Dead!”
Edited by T Jalio