What Are You Gonna Do?

The mouth of the gun was still hot and the white smoke was still wavering around it. The loud bang the gun had produced still rang in the ears of the passersby who had stopped walking to watch the chase. Their mouths were still open and their eyes wide with shock. Anderson’s mind was still in turmoil, questions without answers flowing down his head in quick successions, then coming back up and flowing down again. The body was falling down at a lightning speed and the splash of blood from the hole that the bullet had gone through, was still in the air. Anderson could not believe his eyes, leave alone the finger that had pulled the trigger two seconds ago. His pointing finger was still hovering around the trigger, eager to fire another bullet. Anderson was hesitating, though. He never wanted to find himself in these situations. But he had to; it was his job.

The echo of the victim’s painful cry hit him on both ears. At that particular point, the time was at a standstill. The gasps of the crowd seemed to have been left hanging in the hot afternoon air. Anderson knew for sure that he would be in hot soup once he got back to the station. He had killed Gerald’s partner. And it wasn’t the first time to commit such a mistake. He watched with confusion and shudder as the culprit disappeared between buildings. The many memories that were now flowing down his small head were not doing him any good.

Then he awoke from his shudder. Still in his mind, though, were the occurrences, one after another, that led to the death of Judy, the new partner to Gerald. Judy was the best cop a station could ever get. She was talkative, always smiling and a friend to everyone. All this was added to the intelligence she had. Since she came to Karima Police post near Kahawa Wendani where Anderson worked, there wasn’t a single case that she had been handling that was never solved. Gerald felt like he was going to scratch the skies. Promotion would be coming his way soon, with all the cases they had solved together with Judy. But now Judy was dead, by Anderson’s gun. Gerald would definitely eat him alive. What would he do? And what about the Captain? He was short-tempered and Anderson knew for sure that today he was going to the station to get sacked. He looked at the sky, the sun was hot and heading to the west. People had already gathered and some were even taking photos. Neither Judy nor Anderson had worn their police uniforms. Anderson pondered over the idea of leaving the scene for a few seconds then decided against it. He heard the sirens he had grown so familiar with. He knew right away that the clock of his days as a policeman was ticking away and fast. The sirens belonged to an ambulance, though and Anderson couldn’t help heaving a sigh of relief. In his mind, time didn’t seem like it was moving. But in reality, time was flying. Judy’s body was taken away two minutes after the sound of the bullet hit the air. A few seconds after the ambulance drove off, Anderson was in the police Land Rover that had arrived immediately after the ambulance arrived. He was headed for interrogation, perhaps a Courts-Martial hearing. What he was sure of now was that he wasn’t going to be a police officer anymore.

In the Rover, the two officers kept throwing side-eyes towards him. However Anderson was sure he had tried. He wasn’t scared of what might happen. He wasn’t sure though what he would do after he was sacked. Still he was ready for that uncertain future and he didn’t worry at all how it would turn out. He didn’t want to think about it. Even if he wanted, his mind didn’t have time for that. It was already wandering, recalling the events that had led to Judy’s death.

When the captain called and told Anderson that he was to take over the case involving a three member gangster, Anderson had hesitated. He was not ready to go to the extremely populated and criminal- infested town of Githurai to conduct an investigation. He had a reputation of coming up with details which always proved to be helpful in whatever case he found himself in. So the captain knew what he was doing by giving him the case. In the end he had to take it. That was six days ago. The case was easy, he had several connections in the underworld and the case had most of the details he required. Three days ago, he had been tipped that the gang, which had terrorised Kahawa Wendani and Kahawa Sukari residents, not fearing the army barracks in Kahawa Sukari, was having a meeting with the MCA of Kahawa West ward. According to the information he had gathered, the gang was selling drugs for the MCA and in the night, they hijacked cars from the Wendani neighborhood. They had killed three men and a lady, one who drove a Toyota Mark X and the other two Mercedes Benzes. The lady was driving an Audi A4 and she was a wife to a prominent business man in Murang’a. These murder details were in the file of the case. About the deals with the MCA was one of the information he got from the field.

He had investigated and known that today at two o’clock in the afternoon was when the meeting was to take place in a shanty near the road that led to the superhighway roundabout from Githurai 44.

He was there five minutes before two and he hadn’t waited for long. He was waiting in a coffee stall and it wouldn’t have been easy to notice him among the pedestrians of the very busy road. His eyes were focused on the shanty that seemed to have been deserted a long time ago. One minute to two, a black vehicle slowly drove through the dusty road and parked close to the shanty. Anderson waited for a little while longer. Things were going smoother than he expected. When he was sure that now the deal inside the shanty was at its best, he took calculated steps towards the shanty. He had hardly taken five steps when he heard gunshots. He did not have a partner and he hadn’t talked to the captain about the case yet. That was his first mistake. He asked for backup stating that he was in a situation and said over before the captain asked questions. He did not wait for confirmation; he rushed to the shanty and was just getting near the door when the MCA got out with his bodyguard.

“Freeze! Police!” Anderson shouted.

He didn’t expect them to freeze, and he was ready to duck behind the next building when they drew their guns and fired a few bullets at him and before he returned fire they had gotten inside their car and got away. He stood there, in a frustrated pose, his hands on his head. And then it wasn’t over. A young man of late twenties got out of the shanty, looked left then right and decided to take to heels towards the road that led to the superhighway roundabout. Anderson did not want to make another mistake. He ran after him at his usual cop speed. Five minutes later, they were past the roundabout and headed towards Mwihoko. And although Anderson was panting soundly, he did not let the chance go when he got a clear shot. He had not been informed about the backup that was coming and he didn’t care so much. He was craving this guy’s blood. So, he stood and aimed and fired, almost at the same time. The bullet must have been in the air when Judy rushed in. She was about to get hold of the criminal by the shirt collar from behind when the bullet hit her right in the head.

And now she was no more. In a way, Anderson felt innocent because if Judy had not jumped in, she wouldn’t have been shot. Yet, his heart was filled with guilt, especially when he considered the so many mistakes he had made. He could imagine those mistakes being retold to him by the captain, one by one. He had not reported the developments of the case; he had gone to a dangerous mission without the knowledge of the captain and he had asked for back up without giving clear explanations; he had said ‘over’ even before he got confirmation telling him that the backup is on the way. And many other mistakes he was sure would be made up as the interrogation continued. He surely had a big case to answer. And being honest with himself, he told himself that he wouldn’t plead innocent. He was guilty and he knew it. He remembered back in the days, when he was a soldier. So many things had happened and that last mistake that he made was still an unhealed wound. He could remember arguing that he was innocent. And that could be understood, in so many ways, he was innocent but he couldn’t be in the army any longer. He was demoted although when he came to this police station he was given a little respect for being in the army.

The police Land Rover that carried Anderson pulled over at the front gate of Karima Police Post. Anderson’s heart was beating a million times faster and he was heaving quick and loud sighs now and then. He was breathing fast and somehow he was even scared of getting off the police rover. He looked at the two accompanying officers and curved a little smile that didn’t last a second. Even if he tried his hardest to hide the anxiety, it would show very easily. He was scared of the questions he would get from the captain because he knew he didn’t have answers. He was more scared of what Gerald would do to him for killing his partner. He wished that this part of his life be skipped and the good parts he knew would be there in future, to come. He couldn’t blame himself when he found that he was shivering a little. The anxiety was becoming too much. But what would he do? The only way to get out of this situation was by tackling it head on. He jumped off the rover and was escorted to the Captain’s office. When he passed by the main hall, every officer stopped what they were doing and stood up, staring at him like he had come straight from hell. Gerald was about to take his usual huge steps towards him, but some reasonable cop stopped him. Anderson knew for sure that his fate was in this station. And it would be decided a few minutes from now. The captain was waiting for him.

“Have a sit,” he said after Anderson was brought in and the two cops accompanying him left.

The conversation that happened in the Captain’s office was a heated one. And in the end, when the Captain told Anderson that the best he could do was to sack him, Anderson heaved a sigh of satisfaction, glad that he wouldn’t be taken to a court martial. Now he was scared of what Gerald would do. He knew for sure that no one would empathize with him. No one was ready to understand the circumstances under which Judy died. And he didn’t have any explanation, he didn’t have the words they wanted to hear. And he still remembered that it had been his fault. His little mistakes had led to the mourning of a renowned cop.

“I will kill that son of a bitch! He has cut down my ladder and I can’t forgive him for that!” Gerald was saying when Anderson was getting out of the Captain’s office. When he saw him, he angrily tried to jump on him, but was held by others as the Captain called the station to order. He announced that Anderson won’t be working with the police force anymore. Some people loved Anderson; he had been a good help. But they all loved Judy too, and Anderson had caused her death. Although some of the officers would have forgiven Anderson, it wouldn’t be a good thing to keep him around. Anderson felt okay with it because he knew that it had been absolutely his fault that Judy died. He strolled to his desk and started parking. He didn’t have a lot, so it was just a matter of time and he would be out of sight of the several menacing eyes that were being shot at him. He packed quickly and left.

Later that evening, he lay face up, thinking of the good times he had while serving the nation. And wondering what he would do now that he wasn’t in the service anymore.