Well that was a waste of time,” I said as we piled back into the car.
“Not really,” said Journeyman. He pulled the seatbelt across his chest and stuck it in the buckle. “At least we know that it wasn’t Sharon.”
“Yes, but the Shadows are still after you,” I said.
“Don’t be so negative,” said Journeyman. “We’re one step closer to finding who put the hit on me.”
I thought about that and shrugged, then took my keys out and stuck them in the ignition. My finger went over the starter button and paused. Journeyman noticed my apprehension.
“What’s the matter,” he said. “Let’s go.”
“The Shadows want you dead,” I said. “And we know that they’re not above playing dirty. What if they rigged the car to blow?”
“Hmm,” said Journeyman, scratching his chin. “You’re right. There’s only one way to find out. Press the button.”
“Are you crazy?” I said. “If I’m right then we’ll be blown to bits.”
“Yeah,” he said. “But at least you won’t be able to say ‘I told you so.’ Go on. Press the button.”
My finger hovered over the button, shaking as my heart pumped adrenaline through my body. Journeyman just sat in his seat, a blank expression on his face.
“Are you going to press it or not?” he said.
I sighed and lowered my hand. The air came out of my lungs like a balloon deflating, fast and raspy. It wasn’t worth the risk.
“I though as much,” said Journeyman. He opened the door and stepped out.
“Where are you going?” I asked him
“To find Crazy Daisy,” he said and slammed the door behind him.
I unbuckled my seatbelt and stepped out as well.
“Okay, but how are you going to find her,” I said.
“I have an idea of where she might be. It’s a short walk from here.”
“What about my car?” I said.
“Leave it here,” he said. “Just be sure to leave the watchman a big tip.”
A big tip? I thought. He should count himself lucky that he doesn’t have to peel our bodies off the pavement.
Journeyman is a liar. We were on the road for well over an hour. He took us East towards the City Centre and then we branched out towards Ngei. The night was pitch black. Nairobi City Council needed to invest in some street lighting. And paving. The paths by the side of the road were so uneven that I bumped my toe on countless rocks hidden in the darkness. It got so bad that I elected to walk on the road itself, listening out for oncoming cars and moving off to the side whenever I saw headlights approaching. Journeyman kept to the side the road, undisturbed by the uneven terrain.
He led me into the city centre and then North under the Globe Cinema overpass. I’d never been on foot in this part of town. A couple of homeless families lay huddled together for warmth on cardboard boxes. Journeyman approached them and gently nudged one of the young boys. He woke with a start then relaxed when he saw who it was. Journeyman slipped a note into his hand and whispered something in his ear. The boy stuffed the note into his shoes and pointed up the road. Journeyman winked at him and signalled me to follow.
We walked up towards Ngara and then branched left, making our way through a street with two-storey buildings and apartments on either side. We turned onto a dusty side-road and went around to the back of one of the buildings. In the dim glow of first light, I saw a large mural painted across the wall of the building. It was the square face of the kind of monster that you’d see in a nightmare. And sat in front it, next to paint-brushes and buckets of what I hoped was paint, was a woman sat in the lotus position.
Journeyman’s pace slowed as we approached the woman and her large painting. I tried to mirror his stance but I stumbled and my foot hit a pebble. The woman in front of the painting heard my careless footsteps and leapt to her feet, alert. She turned to face us.
“Journeyman…” she said.
She wore black shorts and a dark purple half coat that reached down just below her ribcage and stood with her feet spread out, one slightly behind the other and her centre of gravity lowered. A fighting stance.
“Daisy,” said Journeyman.
I noticed that he dropped ‘Crazy’ from her name.
“You should know better than to creep up on a woman on the streets,” said Daisy.
“Creeping?” said Journeyman. “Nobody’s creeping. I just came over to see how you’re doing.”
“You must have a short memory,” said Daisy. She reached her right hand into the folds of her jacket underneath her left arm and pulled out a double-edged knife, with a blade about as long as her hand, its black handle gripped light. The sun’s early morning rays glinted on the metallic silver. “Do you remember what I said to you the last time we met?”
“Yes, I do,” said Journeyman. “You said that if you ever saw me again you’d slice my guts out. Actually, that’s why I’m-”
“You must think me a liar,” said Daisy. She twirled the knife in her hand.
“Now Daisy, how about you put your toy away so that we can talk,” said Journeyman. His eyes stayed fixed on the blade.
Daisy took her left hand, reached into her jacket under her right arm and pulled out another, identical blade.
“I’m glad you came,” she said. “Saves me the trouble of having to go out and find you.”
I could see where this was going. I took a step away from Journeyman then Daisy rushed him. She covered the space between them in three long strides. I’d never seen someone move so fast. She lunged at him with the blade in her right arm, slashing a wide arc aimed at his throat.
Journeyman leaned back from his waist. The blade sliced through the air, missing him by an inch. Daisy anticipated his movement and followed through with a twist of her left ankle, bringing her right leg around in a low sweep. Her calf connected with Journeyman’s front foot, knocking him off balance. He fell onto his back and rolled all the way over into a crouching position, steadying himself with a hand on the ground.
Crazy Daisy laughed and stood up strait.
“Seriously Daisy, I don’t have time for this,” said Journeyman. “Somebody is trying to kill me.”
“Hell yeah somebody is trying to kill you.” said Daisy. “Me!”
Daisy raised both of her arms to chest-level. She lifted her front foot and lashed out with a savage front kick. Journeyman stepped back to avoid the kick, and Daisy swung a left knife jab. Journeyman stepped towards her this time, twisting his body to dodge the knife. He grabbed her outstretched arm, used her momentum against her and flipped her over. She landed heavily on her back with a grunt.
Journeyman took a step away from her. His back was to the wall with the mural on it.
“So you’re the one who sent The Shadows after me?” he said.
Daisy picked herself up to her knees and faced him.
“The Shadows?” she said and spat at the ground. “Watching you bleed out is a pleasure that I’ll reserve for myself.”
She rushed him again, swinging the knives. Journeyman grabbed one of her wrists. She aimed a punch at his face with her other hand and he caught that one too. Using the strength in his forearms he pulled her in, forced both hands behind her back, turned with her and pinned her against the wall, right in the middle of the mural.
“You asshole!” she screamed. “The paint is still wet!”
The muscles in her back contracted and she pivoted from her hip with her weight on her back foot, bringing her face forward. The arc of her forehead smashed into the bridge of Journeyman’s nose. He released her and reeled backwards, blood spurting form his nose. Daisy took advantage of his disoriented state and heel-kicked his chest.
“Relax!” said Journeyman. “It’s just a painting.”
“Just a painting?” she said. “You’re a dead man.”
“Save the foreplay for later,” said Journeyman. “I just want to know if you’re the one who hired The Shadows.”
“Not only are you an asshole,” said Daisy. “But you don’t listen well either. I want you dead. And I’m going to do it myself.”
“Thank you,” said Journeyman. “That’s all I needed to know. ‘Till next time, Crazy Daisy.”
He turned on his heel and started to run in the direction we’d come. I followed suit, pounding my feet into the ground and going after him. Behind us, I heard the scream of a pissed off animal followed by a whoosh as a blade flew through the air and lodged itself in Journeyman’s shoulder. He grunted, but didn’t stop running.