The story of a desert, an assassination, and a compelling character…
It was one of those wet nights. It had been drizzling earlier that evening and the street was empty- no cars or person in sight. The street lights next to the building he had been watching flickered once again, and a cold breeze drafted by. But Dean Wokabi wasn’t affected at all as he sat back in his car. He looked at his watch again. 35 minutes and counting. That’s how long it had been since the man under his surveillance had entered the tavern at Gigiri Street, which had neon lights above the front entrance of a thick metal door. This was where his target, Mr. X, often held his meetings with the transporters. Afterwards, Mr. X would then drive to Muthaiga where he lived with his wife. According to The Oracle, who was Dean’s boss, Mr. X will be dining at his home tomorrow given that his two daughters will be visiting. That is how they usually celebrated their older daughter’s birthday every year. That night, he would be slightly intoxicated with his favorite red wine, and his daughters’ presence would result to him letting down his guard, right before his last meeting of the day. And that is when Dean will come in and get his assignment done. Terminate Mr. X.
His watch showed that it was 9.45 PM and right on cue, Mr. X walked out and headed towards his chauffeured black Mercedes-Benz sedan. Dean had been following his target for four weeks now. At this stage, he knew his schedule, his usual routes, his favourite restaurant, his weekly contacts, the extent of his property and just about all the deals he was involved in. It also helped that he had access to the most advanced technology that came in handy when researching about his targets. He watched Mr. X’s car drive by heading towards Muthaiga, then waited for another 10 minutes before he started his car and drove in the opposite direction. Once again there was no activity going on at Gigiri Street, and all that was heard was the grey Audi A5 as it sped up towards Fairmont Hotel, where Dean had been spending his nights in the last one week.
Seated on the top grain leather accent chair in his hotel room with a half-filled glass of whiskey in hand and his coat hanged behind the door, Dean loosened his tie as his thoughts wandered to his conversation with his boss a few days ago. By this time tomorrow he will have completed his biggest and last assignment. His target, Mr. X, was the head of a cruel organization that smuggled drugs and had a hand in child trafficking in the country. To date, 120 young girls had fallen prey to them. Dean will be more than happy to put him out of his misery. And this would be it for him. His last. He will no longer be working for The Oracle. That was the plan. Even though Dean was the best agent they had, it was about time he moved on to something else. Last week was his brother’s first death anniversary. David had also been an agent. He died during his assignment following up a corrupted politician. Dean was there when it happened and he could not have done anything to stop it. Not from his distance. Remembering that fateful day still brought a lump in his throat. His brother’s last words will forever be etched in his memory as if it had happened yesterday. With his last breath, David had made him promise that he would leave this job and make a life for himself, before it was too late. Have a family and try living a normal life for both of them.
Their parents would have wanted that too, he had said just before he started coughing up blood and was no more. Their parents had died in a car accident when David was 23 and Dean 17. That’s when they had to sell everything they had and move to Nairobi from Nakuru. The Oracle had contacted David and offered him the job. They were both relieved at the possibility of starting a whole new life away from all the memories. David had also just finished college and was now his guardian. In the following year, he was trained to be an agent and in exchange for his loyalty and discretion he was given a house, a car, and what really pushed him to join them- enough money to take care of his younger brother and take him through college. Life in Nairobi was different from life back at home. Dean missed his friends and his school, but most of all he missed Jenny- his neighbour, classmate, and girlfriend then. A smile took over his face as he remembered her beautiful face, how her smile lit up her whole face, her love for nature, her laugh, and her fascination with pyramids. He would never forget how much she cried the day they moved away. But he didn’t have a choice but to end their relationship. It had been for her own good, that’s what he kept telling himself. However, there has never been another Jenny in his life ever since. Nobody was ever as smart, or as beautiful, or as funny, or as understanding as Jenny. That didn’t mean Dean didn’t get around. With his good looks, charming self, and potent aura, getting the ladies wasn’t an issue. Although it was always with no strings attached; he made sure the women knew it. And when he became an agent, he decided he would never get seriously involved again. Not as emotionally as he had with Jenny. He could not afford being vulnerable. His job wouldn’t allow it. Dean didn’t allow himself.
Looking down at his watch, it was 1 AM. Time he had to sleep; he had a long day tomorrow. And by 7 AM, Dean was up and ready. He took out the black leather suitcase from under his bed, checked on his guns, suited up, and grabbed his car keys ready for his last mission. Adrenaline pumped through his body as he sped up on the highway. At first, everything went as planned. He shadowed Mr. X to all his spots for the day and by night fall, Dean couldn’t wait to get it over and done with. With his Audi well hidden in the dark across the street to Mr. X’s bungalow, he stared on as his target spent his last night alive with his family. He patiently waited to make his move. At 11 PM, the door opened and out came Mr. X, on impulse Dean’s jaw clenched. He could see his target clearly as he laughed with somebody under the front door light, before he walked down the driveway towards his car. “Daddy, you forgot your phone,” a lady in a long yellow silk dress ran outside and handed him something. She then kissed his cheek. As he got into his car, just across the road from Dean, the lady looked up and the world stopped. It was like somebody had just punched all the air from Dean’s lungs.
It was Jenny.
No. It couldn’t be. No. Dean couldn’t move. Mr. X drove away and Jenny waved his father off. She then looked back, in the direction where Dean’s car was parked, then quickly shook her head as if pushing a thought away and walked back into the house. The shutting of the door brought Dean out of his stupor and that is when he realized his strained almost-painful grip on the steering wheel. He couldn’t believe he had just seen Jenny. Jenny was Mr. X’s daughter? Of course she was. Today was 12th October! Jenny’s birthday. How could he have forgotten that? And even though it had been almost 9 years since he last saw her, he could still remember her face, that smile, and the way she loved wearing her hair up. She hadn’t changed much. Yes she looked taller, and fuller, even more beautiful than he remembered, if that was even possible. He could now see the resemblance between her and Mr. X. The penetrating brown eyes with thick eyebrows, the high cheek bones… This can’t be, he repeated to himself. And it was almost as if she had sensed somebody was watching. Jenny had always been the observant one. His Jenny. The lights from inside the house went off and he snapped back to the present. Time stopped for no one. He still had a job to do.
Other than his first kill, Dean has never been affected by his assignments and he never hesitated to take them out when the time came; until today. As he positioned himself at building overlooking the warehouse where Mr. X was talking to the transporters, all he could see in his mind was Jenny. Her eyes and face staring back at him. He had already wasted two perfect chances to pull the trigger. And now Mr. X had piles of what looked like cocaine blocking his view. Dean shook his head to clear it, took a deep breath, and counted to 50 backwards. He had to do this. He had to. This was his ticket out. He couldn’t mess up. Yes he was excited that he had found Jenny again. But he wasn’t going to let it distract him. He had to do this if he ever wanted a chance to a normal life. A chance to a family. A chance with Jenny. And now more than ever, and more than anything, he wanted to have Jenny back in his life. With that decided, Mr. X moved away from the heap of drugs and as he walked towards the wide door at the end of the warehouse, Dean had a clear shot at him. He pulled the trigger.
The clouds were getting dark. It looked like it was going to rain. Dean pulled his long black coat closer and looked on. He could see Jenny from where he was standing, under a tree. She looked sad, like she had cried all her tears out. Her mother and sister stood on each side all dressed in black as her father’s coffin was lowered to the ground. Dean had never attended any of his targets’ funerals before. But this was going to be just one among the many firsts he had ahead of him. He was done with The Oracle, and he was starting a new life. This time he was ready. He hadn’t decided what exactly he was going to do next but one thing was for sure- he was going to bring Jenny back into his life.
Dean never took his eyes off Jenny. 30 minutes later, people started leaving and cars started driving away from the cemetery. Jenny was the only one left. He walked towards her and stood across from her, her father’s grave between them.
“Who are you? And what do you want from me?” Dean heard Jenny’s somber voice ask. She knew he had been watching her. He was not so surprised. Then she looked up and their eyes met. She immediately let out an audible gasp, as recognition downed on her. He moved around and got closer to her. Without any more words, they hugged, and stayed like that for several minutes. Or maybe it was hours. He couldn’t tell. For the first time in a long time he was not counting time.
“How did you know?” Jenny finally broke the silence.
“My boss did business with your father,” Dean muttered without moving away from the embrace. And in some way his boss really did. As they later walked back to his car, Dean found out that she had just quit her job and, together with her business partner, was about to open her own law firm. She finally did make it to be a lawyer. He offered her a ride back home.
“Do you still have a thing for pyramids?” Dean asked her in the car. She shifted slightly in the passenger’s seat and turned towards him. She was smiling. That was the first time she didn’t look as sad, ever since she knew about his father’s death.
“You remember. And Yes, I still do.”
“You want to go to Egypt?” Dean asked as he brought his eyes back to the road ahead.
“Yes. Let’s.” He heard her say and he then let out a breath he had not realized he was holding.
The heat was getting to him. But it would have been worse if he was wearing one of his dark suits. He did not wear them as often as he used to in his previous job. His blue polo shirt felt good on him, he thought. He moved his hand next to Jenny’s and interlocked their fingers. “We are here,” he whispered to a sleep-hazed Jenny, waking her up. They were sitting next to each other up high in the plane. They smiled at each other then they both turned to look out of the window towards the vast land full of sand that made up a beautiful desert. He may never tell Jenny what his father had been involved in, and neither would she know how he died. Dean had had enough of death and tragedy. He now had a new reason for living; and he was going to make the best out of his new life. His parents would have been proud of him. His brother would be proud.