No man had ever hit Tracy Kimani. No man had the guts. No man had the audacity. No man had neither the spine nor the audacity to do it.
Her father was no man.
This argument was one among the several held every month for the past two years. Two per week. One on Fridays. The second on Sundays. The former had to do with Tracy’s lifestyle. The latter had to do with the family religion. In Tracy’s opinion, nobody in her circle of relationships bore the moral authority to dictate the terms of her lifestyle in Friday nightclubs or her dismal passion for Sunday Church services. The alcohol was never that serious. She went overboard in her stupor only once or twice but she never slept around with any of the men that dogged her on Friday nights. She had been with Eric. He was a nice guy. She felt safe around him. He always watched out for her and made sure no man took advantage of her. Tracy didn’t need someone looking out for her, but she didn’t mind it. He was sweet. She liked him.
This time, she had gone overboard again. Eric had dropped her home in his Toyota Camry. She was heaped in the backseat like a dead animal rambling about what a sweet guy Eric was. Eric literally dropped her at her doorstep, rang the doorbell and sped off. He would rather not face Mr. Kimani on a night like this. The door creaked open and Tracy slithered into the house on all fours. She grabbed the window sill and lifted herself to stand. Many men who looked like her father were standing before her. They dressed the same. They all had their hands akimbo and they all looked very displeased. The common sense kicked in after a few moments afterwards that they were all one person. Her vision was blurry after the heavy bingeing. Today she downed extra tots of a cheap tequila to celebrate the post-examination season in campus. The multiple images of Mr. Kimani soon condensed into one man. Tracy saw his face and knew the routine. The argument would last twenty minutes or so. She would cry and say that she is sorry. Her parents would absolve her of her reckless drinking and invite her to church the next day. She would promise to come but would sleep through to Sunday afternoon instead. The routine had lasted two years and Harold Kimani was going to put an end to it tonight.
“Tracy, your behaviour is deplorable.”
Tracy slurred something about a double gin vodka and leaned her back on the wall next to the light switch. Whether it was to support her drunken soaked body or help alleviate the pain of the luminous pink six-inch heels on her feet, Harold didn’t know. He didn’t care. The moment she leaned back, her back pressed against the light switch. The room went dark. Tracy giggled at the stupid trick and turned to switch on the light. Her eyes squinted at the 60 watt bulb. She giggled again and switched off the light. She laughed out loud and switched it on again like a child who had discovered the relation between a socket and a bulb.
“I control the sun!” she shouted. “I contro__” A hiccup interrupted her drunken statement. Suddenly, she threw her hand over her mouth and looked at her father. Her eyes bulged out of their sockets giving Harold the appropriate warning. He quickly opened the door for her and she poured herself out onto the steps leading to the driveway. She hiccupped once more and puked out a foamy pale yellow sea of what was in her stomach. Two men stood on the other side of the street watching Tracy’s ordeal. Harold Kimani saw them and assumed them to be neighbours. If they thought her daughter was strange, then they should look at themselves standing in the middle of the street at 2 o’clock in the morning doing nothing. Harold reached to his daughter and dragged her up the steps. He shut the door and locked it with the latch and key. Tracy returned to her leaning position and her back did the light switch trick again. Like before she giggled and switched it on. She almost repeated her amusement when her father caught her hand with a painful grip. He was angry with her. She fisted her fingers and pulled out of his grip. His face was masked with irritation. She matched his countenance showing that she too was displeased with his rude grip.
Harold Kimani was cognizant of three facts. One, his daughter was dressed economically. Two, she was drunk sufficiently. And three, he had failed appropriately as a father of his only 23-year-old child. All facts made it difficult to have this conversation right now. He couldn’t look at her in her skimpy attire without growing contemptuous of her. He could neither drive sense into her mind in the state of her toxicity. But there was one thing he could do. He couldn’t remain a failure of a dad. He could show her who’s boss in the house of Kimani. He was going to set her straight. He looked at her and hated what he saw. He shouted at her to get the words past her semi-oblivion state.
Tracy shut her eyes as drips of Harold’s spit spluttered on her face. It happened whenever he spoke in passion. She had been embarrassed by it severally as she grew up especially when people were around his conversation, but not now. Now, she was disgusted. She wiped the salivary drops off her cheek and onto her father’s nightgown.
“You are irresponsible and immature!” Harold began.
Tracy’s eyes cracked open. Finally! The decibels of his voice confirmed it. What was taking the old man so long? She needed to have the argument over and done with already so that she could head to bed. She nodded in agreement, her eyes shut, as Harold ranted on. Then she realized that this was not like the other arguments. He wasn’t going to tell her to wash up. He wasn’t going to call her mother and have a conversation afterwards. He wasn’t going to ask her to accompany them to church that would begin in the in the next seven hours and he definitely wasn’t going to let her go to bed to sleep. He was doing this fight alone without the tag team. Mum must be asleep, she figured.
“Hey, I’m talking to you!” Harold bawled, shaking Tracy awake.
“Go to hell dad,” she whispered.
“What did you say?” Tracy’s father asked more bewildered by the words than from the fact that he hadn’t heard them.
“I said go to hell!” Tracy screamed. “Go to hell! You and your selfish egocentric self dad! You can do me a huge favour right now and just…” She hiccupped. “Jus…go to hell,” she ended softly.
“Don’t you dare speak to me like that!” Harold Kimani thundered.
“I want to sleep,” Tracy said softly. She was too tired to talk. Harold and Miranda knew it. Their daughter, even when drunk, could communicate to them what she felt and they could understand. They would usually drop the matter and pursue it in the morning. Miranda was asleep right now and Harold had nobody to intuitively let him know that he should wait till morning to talk about this. He wasn’t going to let her sleep until she understood him loud and in clarity.
“You will not sleep until I am done with you here! Do you understand!”
“Oh, don’t even pull that card on me mister!” Tracy countered. She grabbed her shiny purse that was on the floor, behind the door, and walked past Harold heading to the staircase.
Harold snatched the purse from her hand and hurled it on the floor, back to its old position. Tracy turned, undisturbed by his actions, and noticed that two shiny beads from the purse had popped from his violent throw. One bead rolled across the foyer and into the living room, a few feet away. It stopped when it hit the foot of the telephone stand just before the living room. The second bead bounced thrice on the granite floor, into the living room, and lost it’s kinetic when it landed on the carpet. Tracy’s fury was kindled by her father’s actions. She had spent no small amount of money on that purse.
“Are you crazy? You control my whole life for 19 years and now you think you can have a say? I am an adult and I don’t need your consent to grow up or whatever it is you think I need to do!”
“As long as you’re a Kimani, you will abide by the rules of this house!”
“Nonsense dad!” Tracy countered pushing him out of the way. She picked the purse again and several beads poured onto the floor.
“You see what you’ve done! YOU HAVE RUINING MY PURSE!”
If the terrible grammar was anything to go by, Harold Kimani, should have perceived that the fight was a useless pursuit.
“You’re drunk, you don’t even know what you’re saying!”
“I know what I’m saying! You’ve ruined my purse!”
“Stop trying to change the subject here!”
“Stop trying to tell me what to do! I don’t need your permission. I’m not a child!”
“Then stop acting like one!”
“Well at least I’m better than you! I don’t sleep around in my drunkenness like you do in your sobriety!”
The words punched the air out of Harold. Surely, she was drunk and knew nothing of what she was saying. His forehead lines softened and his scowl reduced into a frightened look. Tracy smirked at his change in reaction. She had him cornered.
“Oh like you thought I didn’t know about you and Tony’s mum! She’s a widow and you’re already getting your bed warmed with her.”
“Tracy,” the dad managed to chip in softly
“I’m not finished!” Tracy roared. “What, dad? You were waiting for her husband to die so that you can cheat on mum appropriately.”
The animal in her father returned. She could see it in his bloodshot eyes. He wanted to hit her. She had seen that look several times. But this time, it had a tinge of horror in it and deep down it scared Tracy witless. It did not deter her nevertheless.
“I’m not cheating on your mother!” Harold angrily whispered behind gritted teeth. But Tracy was only beginning.
She dropped the purse and walked to the telephone stand where most of the beads had dropped. She picked a few and then after realizing their infinite number, resolved to gather them in the morning. She had won today’s battle and for her dad’s sake, he was lucky her mother wasn’t awake to hear what she knew.
“And don’t think I don’t know about your boyfriend!”
It was the kicking of a dying horse. Harold uttered the words and he regretted having said them. Tracy’s eyes lit in fury. He had reignited the exchange of words. He knew if he backed down, she wouldn’t let him retreat with dignity. She would probably pummel him with more secretive information that he was too afraid to find out if she knew. So, he backed up his statement.
“That good for nothing boy is banned from coming to this house. Do you hear me? The two of you have probably caught some deadly virus for all I care.”
Tracy laughed at the irony. An infidel husband was warning her of STIs. She didn’t take the accusation too kindly. Yes, she had slept with Eric but it was him alone. He had been faithful to her and they had had a mutual agreement to commit to each other. Furthermore, she had been checked last month when the Counselling Centre in the University offered free HIV tests for the staff and students. She took the test after three months of repeatedly waking up in Eric’s hostel. Although the test results came out negative, the nurse said she would have to test after six months since sexual activity to be assured. It did not worry her. She was confident that he wasn’t infected. Notwithstanding, after another three months, she visited the clinic and assuaged her doubts. A negative result proved that he was faithful. The proof however was not sufficient. There were enough ways to be clean and still have a number of girlfriends. The thought didn’t perturb Tracy. She had known Eric well enough. Beyond the clinic results, her conviction assured her against what her father was insinuating. She sipped in every word he said and prepared her assault carefully. Harold knew it was going to be bad, very bad. The silent pause after his careless words affirmed it.
“Well I hope Tony’s mum doesn’t have deadly viruses too because that will be two people visiting the clinic in this house.” She paused. “Oh wait, three. I forgot your wife.”
Tracy’s found herself rummaging on the telephone desk grasping at pieces of the flower vase that was now fragmented into pieces. A couple of the broken pieces had sliced her wrist and blood stained the white cloth that sat sandwiched between the phone and the desk. This was too much blood for a wrist cut. It wasn’t until she felt the warm liquid in her mouth drip profusely like a leaking tap. He had hit her? He had hit her! Tracy gathered herself to fight back but she couldn’t. She didn’t know how to and she knew she could never win at this level. At the physical, he was King. He had won. She reached her hand to her mouth and was enraged at the site of the blood. The rage lost enthusiasm and it deflated to depression then pain and hurt and then more hurt. She struggled not to cry. She failed. Harold staggered back, his heart pulsating rapidly in shock.
“Oh dear I’m so sorry! What have I done! Tracy I’m so sorry!”
“What is going on he…”A new voice came from the stairs. Miranda Kimani. She was garbed in a night dress and thick purple woollen socks that she wore without slip-ons. She took in the sight of the broken vase, the scattered beads, the crying daughter, the kneeling husband and the smell of vomit and alcohol for a full five count before saying or doing anything.
“Harold what’s going on?”
Harold hardly turned to his wife. He was still stunned by his actions. Tracy knew her words had achieved what she desired. What was that thing Eric kept saying. Hurt people hurt people. Her father deserved it.
“You are not even half the man Eric is!” Tracy cried, tears trickling down her powdered cheeks. She sniffed and dried her face with the back of her hand. The tears and the makeup smeared into a muddy smudge. If she said he had beat her up severally, any sane person would believe her.
“Tracy why are you crying?” Miranda asked.
“He hit me mum!” she screamed. “He freaking hit me!”
“I didn’t mean to…”
Miranda cupped her mouth and hushed her gasp.
“You hit our daughter Harold?”
Tracy’s mother walked down the staircase and went for her daughter, tears streaking her face. She helped her up slowly and erupted into a wail upon seeing the blood on the cloth. Tracy staggered on her feet and slumped on the bottom of the staircase. She was still drunk. The floor and the ceiling were exchanging position in a clockwise movement. They slowed down and took their rightful places. The room began getting dimmer. In mere moments she blacked out.
Harold Kimani looked at the two women he loved most in his life. Both stained with tears. He backed up to the door, slumped to the floor, grabbed his head in frustration and he too began to cry.
The two men outside the Kimani’s house stood in silence. They watched Eric carry Tracy over his shoulders and seat her on the steps. Her head dangled, threatening to fall off. He leaned it closely to the door beam after struggling severally to have her hold it up. He kissed her on the forehead, rang the doorbell and raced to his car. Then he was gone. They watched Tracy vomit on the steps. Harold caught them looking and gave them a disgusted look. He dragged Tracy back in the house. They watched the light in the house flicker twice or thrice before Harold began shouting. They heard the entire ordeal and their hearts grieved.
“We’re here to answer her prayers,” the first man said.
“Like we always do,” the second responded.
“The situation is worse than I imagined.”
“Nothing impossible that the LORD can’t handle.”
“The girl’s insolence towards her father grows progressively less…charming.”
“He has problems of his own.”
“I don’t understand. He is a Pastor. He should know what to do without our help.”
“That title doesn’t give him power just as the daughter’s drunkenness doesn’t give her authority,” responded the first man.
“How does he stand before his congregation with an offspring that hearkens not to his own teachings?”
A solemn silence ensued.
“Do you have her name?” the first inquired.
“Yes I do. She will not react well to the fact that we are here to help her. She doesn’t even acknowledge that she needs help.”
“I know, Michael. But with time, she will see.”
“I hope she is not afraid of angels.”
“She won’t know you’re an angel as long you remain in your human form.”
The second man pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. The moonlight was sufficient for reading the writing on the paper. The name of the lady that needed help was in clear handwriting. Michael read it out loud.
END of chapter 1