The daily morning session was over and everyone scurried like frightened chicken back to their work stations. It was a Monday and though most consider it a slow day, at our office this was the busiest day of the week. The scoops had to be taken, the targets set, and with the bosses’ sweaty nose breathing over everyone’s shoulder, there was no room for idling. At the corner of my eye, I could see him making a beeline for my desk. Why can’t he go away for heaven’s sake! I thought. My hangover wasn’t letting off and the last thing I wanted was some spoilt brat lecturing me on how to do a job he didn’t even understand. No sooner had I placed my note pad than his sweaty body created a shadow all over my desk. He was a towering hulk and sometimes, I wished God had been more accurate in calculating the ratio of his brain to the mass of his body,

“My man Steve,” he intoned. He looked even scarier with what seemed like a smile on his face. I instantly knew he was up to something when he leaned towards me though it wouldn’t have been a bother were it not for the gust of pungent breath that hit my nostrils.

“My man, I have something big for you, it will change your career and maybe, just maybe, your way up the ladder might be cleared, he he he!” I tried to smile back while holding my breath to avoid chocking. I wondered whether his wife wanted to murder him by feeding him rotten eggs and garlic for breakfast.

“Sir, what is the big job?”  My voice was quivering with excitement in spite of the acrid breath. Anytime J.K talked of something big, the story always turned to be so and circulation would shoot up for our struggling celebrity gossip magazine.

“There is a pastor, one of the richest in the city. He has a mistress and has a reserved suite in Blitz hotel, do you know it? By now, I could feel stitches scudding through my body. As the senior investigative reporter, it was my duty to bring the juiciest gossip to the magazine and having been promised the chief editor’s job, I knew this could open the always clogged doorway to success.

“Sir, isn’t that the hotel where that Nigerian superstar was staying? Anyway how did you get the leak?”J.K was silent for a minute and then with a stern face, he whispered,

“I don’t know how you will get into that room,” he continued deliberately ignoring my question, “set a camera and a microphone and get out unnoticed. He is never in the room during the afternoons and remember, if caught, I don’t even know you and you are on your own.” I was anxiously waiting for the clincher which sounded more like a caveat emptor.  J.K had connections high up and though he owned the magazine, we were expected to do the dirty work without ever dragging him into our murky business. My heart was now pulsating faster than that of a Kenyan minister facing a corruption scandal. Within a minute, I had summoned my team including the driver, technician and an assistant. We were the bad boys of Sleaze Week magazine and everyone attested to that. Pastor Ken was the most flamboyant of the contemporary evangelical big men who preached the gospel of the wallet. It was rumoured he had a helicopter and a full security detail and I knew it was going to be tough. My idea was to approach one of the cleaners at the hotel pretending to be police and after parting with a few thousands, then everything would be organized. After setting the gadgets, we were to meet with the technician in our van and wait for our biggest scoop ever! It was a foolproof plan and everyone toasted to my ingenuity. As they made the final arrangements I quickly called my wife Cynthia

“Hi sweetie, I am sorry we will have to cancel our evening outing as I am going out of town for a brief assignment. I will be back by tomorrow evening. I love you,” she sounded excited despite the fact that we had arranged the evening out to patch up our withering relationship, women! I thought , you can never get them.

The room was magnificent and as I quickly fixed the miniature camera on the ceiling, I envied the lucky lady who would be sprawled on the immaculately made bed. The Persian wall to wall carpet looked so soft that I felt the urge to lie on it for a second. My camera was set and I jumped on to the fluffy rug to fix the mic on one of the bed stands. The driver and the technician were keeping guard at the lobby to avoid any bust up.  The microphone was stubborn. It was larger and conspicuous from whichever angle. As I tried fixing it on the window drapes, I heard noises coming towards the presidential suite. My watch told me it was 2 pm and there was no way the pastor could risk such an hour for a tryst. As the key turned in the main door I ducked under the bed.  My wish to lie on the carpet had inadvertently come true but at the rate which my heart was running, I knew it was most likely to be the last comfort for me this side of the sky. How could the fools at the lobby have missed the pastor! I wondered. The voices were already in suite and pastor’s husky voice tempered by the amorous giggling of a woman filled the air. My system was failing and my eyes were already seeing visions of heaven. There I was before St. Peter explaining why I was shot under a pastor’s bed.  The tinkling of the glasses clearly indicated the pastor and his catch were having a drink and I could clearly guess it wasn’t the blood of Jesus, what a scoop this would have been! My heart constricted like a boa swallowing a bitter boar at the knowledge that my career was coming to an early demise. Was it a set up by J.K to get rid of me? As the conspiracy theories started swimming in my brain like fish high on poison from an oil spill, the voices started flowing towards the bedroom and I cursed like a rainmaker bawling at a dry wind.

(Part 2)

© chrispus kimaru (his work)