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PHOTO BY WAMBUI MWANGI

What BimHoefstra hated most about the city was the Sixth War with the Half-Ways.

“They came down from the open sky,” he said.

BimHoefstra was having breakfast – hot tea in a mug, bhakris in a plate.

He clasped the hot mug, fingers curling around. What he wanted was to put the mug aside and see his wife’s fingers which were then hidden behind the body of the mug. Heat bit him. He pulled his hand back – the mug toppled – tea spilled onto his thighs – he got up immediately – took a step back and stepped on a toy truck.

The toy truck had sharp points. He felt hurt on the soft part of his foot, the soft skin between toes and heel. He felt attacked. Kicked the truck. It wheeled away toward a wall. The truck was all black with red doors and big red tyres.

Here he was, back home. He wanted to see his wife when he spoke to her.

“It’s true. The city was of the time of women. I was just standing on the roof, looking down. Atop a big one. Eye and Em bank tower. All blue. The roof was littered with junk. Alone atop. They still found me,” he said.

Veena, his wife, wiped the spilt tea off the floor, off the table, off his thighs. He spat on his palms, spat on his thighs. Just some instinctive way to cool the scalds.

“Are your bhakris warm?” she said.

He thought some particle was still embedded in his neck so rolled his head around.

“Was your chai steaming?”

He looked behind his wife and, in the dimension there, a message appeared:

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“They didn’t find me. They saw me. I looked down. Down at the streets and all the girls and ladies looked up at me.”

“The only man in town.”

“The only man in the big bad city.”

“Just tell me”

“Yes, they weren’t just girls and ladies. All something else. Just as we had been told. All the stories. Read back in kindergarten. All correct.”

“Just tell me she wasn’t.”

“She. Hmm.”

“Was she a she when. Did she become she?”

“They were all in that days halfway. In that days, I don’t know, neither man or woman. Both. But for me women. All men gone. Just me atop and they saw me.”

They came down from the open sky. Six women parachuting toward BimHoefstra. Their parachutes were ‘incognito®’. This means all BimHoefstra saw was the women only. The blue, open sky only. The big bad city only. He only discerned they had parachutes when he saw their fall was slow and measured, a ‘matrix effect®’, six women almost floating in ‘mid-air®’, only just succumbing to gravity, like ‘angels or godesses®’. All dressed in black ‘military something®’ with red coloured hair fanning out, red dreds kicking in the air.

BimHoefstra searched the roof. He felt lucky to find an antique TV and video cassette player amidst the junk there. He felt lucky there was a video cassette in the video cassette player. He played it. Clint Eastwood had his revolver aimed at the Bad and the Ugly. The TV was an antique SONY. BimHoefstra put his hand into the TV and snatched Clint Eastwood’s gun from him. BimHoefstra turned and now saw the six women landing on the roof. He aimed the revolver at them, one at a time and fast, and shot them, emptying the six chambers of Clint Eastwood’s revolver. On the SONY, the Ugly shot the Bad and Clint Eastwood dead, took the loot and rode away on horse.

“I am broken by these shifts of time you bring home.”

BimHoefstra watched the angled plume careener to the behind of Lonhro and come out adjacent the ‘g’ on Eye and Em. He watched it coming with speed, a disciplined smoke-tail oozing from its nozzle; that woof missile flossing the interstices of Nairobi’s skyscrapers.

***

Toys everywhere. A Lancia Martini hanging precariously off a slot on a banked corner of a Scalextric track. BimHoefstra bites a knuckle. There is the unfinished Lego fuselage of a Kenya Airways. There is a garage of military toy cars adjacent the airport. Bimhoefstra clamps his lower lip between his incisors.

Where is this kid? Has he seen him? Does he remember? How clogged up is his personal history? He missed this?

“Okay, I just have to tell you. Yes, she was very close. Warm. My spirit was only beginning to rise. Like the sun. From the sleep of anaesthesia. And there she was.”

BimHoefstra looks at his wife. Her fingers. And tells her.

That later in the day.

When the blush personality of sunset had drenched the downtown streets – bored orange and fading drool blue shining off the ten million city windows – he had them removed from his flesh. A nice nurse, white skirt and white cap, with deep liquidy eyes, all hazel, poked with precision tools into the meat of him. The petri-dish beside collected the detonation remains. His rich biceps, anaesthetized; and some were tweezed out from the fringes of his intestines. Now she bandaged his head, cut away the long dedan-kimathifarian locks. There was silence out on the streets and like a pin drop he could hear the ball-bearings hit the petri-dish. He had them removed from near his bones.

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