The Cornfield Quartet: Book Two - The Cornfield Conspiracy

The Cornfield Conspiracy - Chapter Eleven

 

The Cornfield Conspiracy
Chapter Eleven

 

''This morning's first three hours of testimony at the Langat trial seemed to have almost whizzed by,'' commented Sergeant Kip over a Sprite and what passed for a hamburger at the Police Canteen where he and Chief Juma, Willi Wanyonyi, Isaiah Ochieng, Dave Cheriot, Brother Rob Kitonyi, Dr. Peter Mooney, and Zak Morani were each gingerly eating their choices from the Cook's menu which would never pass muster on an inspection under any nation's Trade Descriptions legislation!

Looking down at his plate with wide, glazed eyes after having quickly swallowed his first fork full of what had been advertised as Chilly Con Carny (sic), and realising - too late  - that if you can't spell it, you probably can't cook it, Peter Mooney suggested that Langat's attitude that morning showed signs of true remorse.

''Oh, before you interrupt, Mike, and call me naïve and remind me that he cut a deal to avoid serious child molestation and child trafficking charges, I do know all that.  But, beyond that, there is the vestigial father there, the man who brought up two sons of his own.  And despite extensive investigations you know you've come up with zero evidence that he ever abused any of his seven kids - the two boys or the five girls.  So all his sexual perversions, if that is what you consider them to be - and certainly they are if they're non-consensual - were with adult women and with street boys.  And I truly think I saw him walk as if from the petrichor into the sunlight as he gave his evidence this morning.''

''How do you mean, Daktari?'' asked Brother Robert.  In fact the postulant was looking to reinforce something he thought he'd seen in the former police sergeant's demeanour in the course of the morning, as he explained more and more his rôle as protector of the circle of sex traffickers who initially used and later abducted boys from the streets of Bringitar, as well as entrapped others - perhaps somewhat less physically attractive - to run drugs for them or act as reminders to local shopkeepers that they were ''watching''.  Robert thought he'd seen the insouciance that had been there when the all powerful Senior Sergeant was first arrested back in July prove to be evanescent.

Sure, his outward show of hauteur was there - probably to reassure his family - but it was diaphanous.  Robert was certain there was a new Langat now - a palimpsest replacing the older persona with someone who truly wanted to do something positive.  And not simply because he'd cut a deal with Mike Juma.  Much more importantly, during his weeks and months in gaol in Vanga Robert was convinced that Langat had cut a deal with a far more sempiternal Chief.

''You ask me what I mean, Brother, and I find it a little challenging to be specific.  But I'll try,'' continued Peter Mooney.  Being a paediatric physician, surgeon, he was not accustomed to being questioned in this way in such an assemblage as this.  Village and small town parents virtually never questioned a Daktari's decisions and certainly not one of Peter Mooney's seniority and recent fame.  It would be like challenging one's priest, almost the Chief, or God himself.  Oh no, never.

But today he was with his peers - educated, middle class Africans.  They had television.  A few had the internet no doubt.  Many may have travelled outside the region, and certainly through contact with Daktari Adam they will have associated with people from many other cultures and countries.  So he has to defend himself and he can not try to dissemble.  Some of these guys - Kip, Zak, Robert and maybe that unknown quantity Isaiah, are acutely percipient.

''The way I see it is that Langat surely agreed to your deal, Mike, to save his neck.  But, of course, by doing so he put his entire family and its safety in your hands.  It gives you entire power over over him, for I am absolutely convinced he loves both his wife and each of his children.  Now don't interrupt me, please.  Ask me for my reasoning at the end, OK?  I think you'll find I will have covered most things.''   The paediatrician had put up his hand to stop Zak from posing a question when he'd spoken that last sentence with a smile.

''At least let's get in some chai and Tusker or Pilsner.  Those are things even this place can't fuck up.  Oh, sorry, Brother,'' Chief looked over at Robert Kitonyi and put his two hands together as if in prayer to ask forgiveness for his bad language.  At the same time he was taking beer and chai orders and saw everyone except Isaiah wanted one or other of Kenya Brewery's finest.

''No apology required, Chief.  I work with street kids.  The number of times I've been called a son of a bitch and five minutes later received a huge hug, and alternately hailed as a guy's best friend for life only to be spat on and called a no good, cunt, bitch, bastard, motherfucker ten minutes on you wouldn't believe.  By the way when I later point out the physical impossibility of me or anyone fitting that last description to the boy in question we both got a great laugh - usually over an illegally acquired Tusker by the way!''

''Here's the beer, and your pot of chai, Isaiah.  Thanks for your, what shall I call it, yes...forbearance I think, Daktari.  Now, please we won't interrupt again, short of a tsunami.  And as we are 1050km from the ocean...''  Mike Juma smiled, clinked bottles with neighbouring Kip, Peter and Dave Cheriot across from him.  From the corner of his eye he noticed that the Public Prosecutor, Rabat Ali Ali was sitting in the corner with two of his assistants and with The Fraternity lawyer Omar Majdi Omar.  He wondered what they were cooking.

''As I was saying,'' Peter was continuing,'' Langat put the panoply of his life in Mike and Kip's hands by turning State's evidence.  The degree to which those running the drugs, racketeering, money laundering, protection schemes, child and women and surgical organ trafficking, and sexual prostitution rings were worried by Langat talking was evidenced by the bombing in August.  I have totally no doubt that if you hadn't moved him way outside Western when you did, he would have been killed.  I don't know where his family were taken, but having them safe and presumably satisfying him that they were safe, has created a whole new scenario for him to build a new life for himself.  And my psychological observation of him, admittedly from afar, is that he is about to do that in an historic way.''

''Peter, I know you said not to interrupt, but may I fill in some details here for the sake of those who don't know Langat's family.  And I will reveal some confidential stuff strictly, and I do mean strictly within the confines of the Community Committee on Anti Corruption.  I'm briefing David and Felix by phone later,'' began Kip Kipsang.

''Langat has only one wife.  Rare in our culture, as you know.  Apparently they met in school, fell in love and neither ever seriously dated anyone else.  He went to Police Academy, she to Nairobi University.  She graduated with BA in English with Spanish as second subject.  He came third in his year out of 295.  Anyway, over 20 years they had seven kids.  Two sets of twin girls.  Also a boy who died at the age of 4 months.  

''By now as Senior Staff Sergeant, he is top NCO in Bringitar.  He cannot go further unless he goes back to Staff College for a year to be commissioned as an inspector.  His wife, Elizabeth or Lizzy, is Head Teacher at a private school in Mumias.  Grace and Ann are 24 and are graduated last year from Makerere (in Journalism) and Cairo School of Art and Design (in Fine Arts) respectively.  Caroline is graduating this year at Witwatersrand University in Music, specialising in traditional African drum rhythms and compositions for Western jazz and African drums.  Alexandra and Sarina are 22 and both are students together studying agriculture after gaining a special joint project scholarship for 4 years  at The University of Manitoba at Winnipeg, studying the use of multi grain planting patterns for use in semi arid conditions.  Leo is 20 and is in his 2nd year studying Linguistics at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London, to which he gained a coveted St. Andrew's scholarship from the Church in 2015.  Finally, the afterthought, ''accident'' Grey Langat, born in 1993, eight years after Leo and six years after little Dean who so tragically died and when mama and papa said, 'No More!' 

''Obviously, Grey didn't agree and on May 12th 1993 Grey Dean Langat appeared.  

''It will be obvious to you all that this family has a propinquity for scholarship.  Each excelled in her year at school, yet kept her head and thus, which I believe is the mark of a truly gifted child, kept her circle of friends, and beyond that a wider group of playmates and acquaintances.  She, and later Leo too, each in turn, was simply an ordinary kid with smarts.''

''Of course  each had their older siblings on whom to lean for guidance, to answer the normal questions parents cannot be approached to answer - It would be just too,   .....too.....ugh!!!!!!the very idea  ........AGH  !!

''But by the time Grey came along…and anyway, while the girls and Leo were regular kids with the ordinary following of friends at school, with Grey…let's just say...

''Somehow from some genetic throwback his eyes are amaranthine.  That is they look a type of magenta in sunlight, rather than black.  His ophthalmologist says it's 'just the way it is and not to worry about it'.  But at first kids in his Grade One class would call him Evil Eye or Witch Boy until one day a particularly obnoxious boy who kept taunting him with 'Why don't you hex me, Witch Boy?'  got on his nerves and he responded by saying, 'I don't need a hex on you flab fat boy!' 'What you saying?' 'I'm not sayin' any more Fatso, I'm doin.'  At which point Grey whacked the bigger boy smack in the nose - twice - with a classic one-two he'd read up in a book on self defence.  There was red stuff everywhere, a 5 year old screaming and a look of indecent self-satisfaction on Grey's face as he took his young, lissome frame quickly down the corridor.

''In short, Peter, and my colleagues, this was the beginning of the seventh child's discovery and that of his siblings first, then his parents, that he possessed - to some degree - a lagniappe.  From being born with a upper cleft palate, the less serious of the two clefts in many ways, Grey had evolved into a stunningly beautiful boy by aged 8.  He had a natural warmth and quick mind which made him the cynosure among any gathering of boys within a year or two of his age.  He played sports, thought games strategically so was invariably chosen by his peers as captain.  He swam, dove with a courage edging onto irresponsibility -  but never really crossing the line.  He debated at school by aged 10, having jumped grades 2 and 4, so being in grade 8.  

''Then he learned something of what his dad was doing in Bringitar.  How, I haven't been able to find out.  I do know he spent sleepovers with a good friend near your place, Robert, near the Brothers' on the Mumias Road.  I cannot check the veracity of the story given me, but one former street boy, now in SEKs, says he met Grey a couple of times.  He and his friend were cooking up something.  All I know is another source told me one day as I was reducing a fractured femur that Langat had gone into a room one day as he'd been told an extra sexy new boy was waiting for him, but as it was so small in there could he leave his stuff in the living room, though he could take his gun and ID of course.  So a naked Langat had crushed his way into this tiny cubbyhole of a room, with almost no light.  He saw there was a bed crushed right up to the doorway.  He was about to jump on the bed when there was a flash of a phone camera.  

''Not knowing who had taken his naked photo he simply punched whoever it was in the face in the dark , then punched them in the stomach and warned them if ever that photo appeared anywhere they'd be hanging by their penis on a lamppost by midnight with their testes stuffed in their mouth.  Then he punched him in the nose and eyes again and left warning the guys outside that the new guy was dangerous.

''According to the story which is powerfully supported by subsequent events, Grey comes out of the tiny room, blood pouring down his his chin from his broken - no, smashed - nose, which later required total reconstruction.  Both eyes were mere slits.  There were cuts on his cheeks and forehead from his father's rings.  Blood was all over his chest and stomach.  Nevertheless, the 10 year old totally refused to go to even so much as a clinic.  He accepted an Ibuprofen to take the edge off the pain.  He had a simple plan.  

'' He informed his peers, 'If you guys don't see me for a while after today, don't panic.  Dad won't do anything really bad to me after I confront him at dinner tonight.  But he may send me to stay away with my brother or someone for a while.  But I will  force him to think about what he's doing with these street boys just a little older than me.'

''And this, I am told, is precisely what occurred.  Grey delayed arriving home until his parents had already been seated, he'd heard his mother say Grace, and the ugali had been begun to be divvied up.  I can, in my mind's eye bring up the scene:

Mama ''I wonder where Grey is.  He's so rarely late when he hasn't said so.''

Langat ''That's the trouble with kids these days.  Even the best of them sometimes require some discipline.

''Then, in would walk Grey, wearing only his shorts, his nose so smashed as to be unrecognisable, dried blood covering the entire front of his body, both eyes mere slits, cuts everywhere.

'Agh! ....ahh!!! Grey......  my darling boy, look at you, what happened to you........oh this is dreadful.  Darling, call your office, get a patrol over here and take his statement.  I'll take him to the hospital and perhaps the P9 report will get things moving.  There are enough...'

'Sorry, but shut up, Mum.'  His mother looked broken for a moment, then looked over at her husband, realised that all this time he hadn't moved a muscle.  No move to greet or help his son.  No move to call for medical support.  No move to call in a crime report.  Not even any move to comfort her in her parental distress, a distress he showed no signs of sharing, either.

'That sounded harsh my mother dearest, my loving  my caring , my ever understanding mum.  But I wonder if you'll understand...'

''If my reports are correct it was at this point that Langat came alive and tried to stop his son revealing anything further.  But Grey was ready.  His dad didn't know he was fooling him as he spoke.  He might have suspected if, but he couldn't risk it.  

'Grey, you stop this.....'

'Shut the fuck up you whoring bastard.  You move one centimetre out of that chair until I tell you and I press this quick dial button on my phone and a certain photograph goes into the phone inbox of several influential people and a few media houses.  So sit down, motherfucker.'

''The story has it that Mana was now sitting on the sofa looking at Grey with a totally confused look.  By chance Leo was home for a few days on a break and took just this moment to come in and one can imagine the look on his face to see his dad sitting, seemingly frozen in his seat at the dinner table with all the food getting cold before him.  4 metres away sits his mum, half weeping, half frowning, and nursing a cup of Fanta or something which the apparent central character of this tableau had just passed her.  

''This unbelievable looking imp, barely 4ft 10in, 30kg of zero fat, his normally chatoyant, subtly, weirdly, reddish eyes now almost shut, his pecan brown skin rusted and ruined by rivulets of blood now dried and crusted.  Where his elongated Nubian nose had once taken its place central stage at the centre of what was even he, Leo, had to admit was his brother's beautifully handsome face, was now a sanguinous mass of broken bone, sinew and puss.  But what was most interesting to him, the older son, the heir, was the way that little Grey was controlling this assemblage.  It was his demesne this night.  No doubt of that.

'Ah, welcome fond brother of mine.  Most opportune that you be here.  For two reasons, I think.  And father, before you even think about about it.......don't think about it.   For tonight, motherfucker you're mine.  Tomorrow I know you'll beat the shit out of me.  But for tonight, for the sake of all the boys you've fucked both physically and figuratively, you're going to suffer humiliation in front of your son and heir.'

''And he proceeded to explain what he'd learned about his dad's shady work, what he did for himself.  He told his mum and Leo what had happened earlier.  He showed Leo the photo.  His mum said, with a cruel laugh, that she had seen him naked lots of times.  But rarely of late.  She had wondered why and assumed it was because he was getting older.  Now she knew it was because he was getting gayer.  And she told Leo to fetch the gin and tonic from the drinks cabinet.  When Leo asked if he could bring two glasses, she said of course, he's over 20 for God's sake.  When Grey asked asked for a glass too, she asked for one good reason, and apparently she gave in and told told Leo to bring three glasses when Grey's argument was that he almost got his dad's 7 inches up his arse earlier that day.

''It seems that prospect  broke the gloom that had descended on the household.  Grey suggested Leo bring four glasses.  He also proposed a compromise.  Obviously, by what we later found, Langat didn't keep to the deal, but the idea was good.  He knew his dad couldn't get out from under the big guys who used him to gate keep for them.  So, for as long as he stayed at Bringitar keep doing what he was doing.  But, try to keep young boys, under 13 out of the sex business and free from trafficking.  Then, after Grey goes to boarding school, put in for Staff College and find a new posting with no street work.  Finally, no sampling the goods.  

''Langat agreed with these terms.  In exchange, Grey gave his Dad his phone during which he admitted he'd played him and, in fact, there had been no copies.  If he'd rushed him, he'd have been dead.  

'Son, if ever you decide to become a cop, you'll be a natural for covert work.  You lie like a politician.  But I have to ask you.  After the camera flashes today.  If I had decided I still wanted to get some satisfaction from the bastard who took my picture, how far would you have gone?'

'Dad I'm a virgin.  And I don't plan on giving it up to my dad.'

 'A total virgin, Grey?'

 'I don't understand.  A cherry is a cherry is a cherry, right?  I only have one ass.  Nobody's been there and I have no immediate plans of admitting anyone.  So I don't follow you.'

'But have you blown anyone.  Are you an oral virgin too, son?'

 'Daaaaaaaaad! Mom's right here.  This is not a question for what our Spanish friends call Sobremessa! '

  'Why not, Darling (he was looking at his not at all yet mollified wife), we had oral sex before we undertook The Act, didn't we?  And I'm quite sure Leo can tell you of a few antics in the attic at Uncle Ralph's place at Narok, eh Leo?'

 'I agree with Grey, I think you're trying to divert us from your…Dad I am not going to mince words here.  What I have learned here tonight has disgusted, disappointed, and thoroughly disheartened me.  The man I have looked up to, respected, God, almost worshiped all my life as a paragon of knowing right from wrong, of respecting people whether they be poor or rich and treating them equally.  Now I know it was all a sham, a front.  All the time, while we were living rich it was because you were helping suck the poorest hawker trying to make a shilling on a street corner, or a store keeper or taxi driver, working 18 hours to scrape together school fees.  You were paying for our school books by scavenging the kidneys of girls half our age.  Those shoes mother wore to my school graduation were from the proceeds of multiple men having screwed some pretty boy like Grey, just as you would have have done today.  In England, one nickname for police is the Filth.  Well it sure fits you.  Grey,  my brother.  I am so, so  fucking proud of you.  In my opinion you are the first born son, not me from now on.  You sensed  it didn't add up and you dug and dug until you found where the cesspit was.  And dad was sitting there and the shit was him.  You obnoxious excuse for a police officer.  Well you're not my dad any more.  Not until you sort yourself out.  Grey, with the huge big heart, he has has offered you a way.  When you've taken it and I have seen evidence of it, I may see you again.  Until then I don't want one single shilling of your evil, shit smelling, ill-gotten money acquired by boys on their backs and on the backs of other boys of my age dying of horse, molly  and bad surgeries.  Grey, you can come with if you like.  I have some savings.  Grandad left me something.  We'll survive.'      

''Grey, I am reliably informed, was then in a real quandary.  He felt his dad would probably be more comfortable if he wasn't around for a while.  However, he desperately needed his sisters to be in on what was going on as otherwise Mom was left alone and vulnerable.  So he took Leo aside.  They talked for an hour, including brief calls to those sisters who could take info easily and use it constructively to pass on in ways appropriate to each of those they were next to call.  It's called being empathetic, or in simple terms, trying to sit in your listener's knickers.  It's amazing how differently one needs adjust a story depending on to whom one is telling it.

''And telling the story of 10 year old Grey laying naked on his bed with his digital camera pointed at the door when, as expected one must add, his equally naked, yet armed (in more than one sense) and fully tumescent policeman father enters the almost totally darkened and anonymous room, new to him.  And explaining the resultant destruction of Grey's face, the later confrontation, and all the history.  Well, one may appreciate that different knicker wearers require that this story most certainly handled sensitively in a different way.     Oh yes, indeed!!

''The compromise Leo and Grey and Grace, as the oldest sister (by 10 minutes) was this.  Leo was leaving after taking a few things he wanted, so within a couple of hours.  He would be gone by 11.00 pm.  He would stay with a friend nearby and plan to start the trip out east to Nairobi tomorrow.  By then he would have made the calls he needed to make.  Grace was currently working on a PhD thesis.  She was driving overnight and would be  here for breakfast.  Grey planned to go to his room soon.  There he planned to spend most of the night packing his two suitcases.  If Leo's calls worked well then he would accompany his brother to the UK and attend school there until Leo would graduate in 2005.  

''And so we're up to date - just about -  on the Langat saga.  Grey returned as a Grade 9 equivalent in July.  He has visited his dad five times.  When his family was moved to - and this is the confidential bit here - Tasmania as permanent residents (at least those not at university elsewhere), 12 year old Grey totally and absolutely refused.  He insisted on being in court.  He says he has been learning to defend himself.  Kip here told him that a knife will not stop a sniper's bullet.  To which his reply was nothing would.  So...!  He was sticking with his dad now he was a good guy, just as he'd kicked his ass when he'd been a fuck, to use his words.  Obviously his two years at a very, VERY  expensive English public (which in Britain means private...go figure!) school has only enriched his gutter vocabulary.  He had been following the news of the establishment of the Fraternity, but by the time everything was settled for him to be allowed to have a guardian to remain in Kenya, it was too late for him to apply for the Irregulars or anything.  Anyway, his guardian being none other than Omar Majdi Omar, it was obvious that he would be a last minute entrant at South Rift.''

''All you have said, Kip - and what I myself have learned from sessions I've had with Langat and Grey, each alone as their clinical psychologist, and in two joint sessions we've had, add to the deeply held opinion I put to you that Langat is an invaluable resource.  I will go further.  Grey has an amazingly percipient genius about him when it comes to calculating outcomes from planned street ops.  How to adapt to changing situations, he is totally beyond my imagination.  I have had him playing battle games against my computer.  He wins every time.  Then I introduced him to your Ian Odiambo, Kip.''

''Ahem, yes, Peter, I know you did.  I trust you didn't know he was due to play left back for our football 11 next Saturday against the Kenya Wildlife  Rangers,'' said the Sergeant.  ''Apparently he won't even be fit enough to train for a minimum of four weeks.  The damn season has just begun and a star defender is incapacitated for at least two months by a damn 12 year old! Doc?  What's the world coming to?''

''Sorry Kip,'' Peter was smiling and there was a general sense of hilarity around the table.  ''But your 6 ft. 2 in. 77kg  Luo long-legs shouldn't be making fun of physically challenged kids!''

''Come again?'' said Zak.  ''I must have missed something somewhere.''

''Yes, I haven't mentioned that while Grey was in school in Derbyshire in England he was taken ill.  In the end it was found the boy had bone cancer with a large tumour and metastasis.  It was a question of very rapid surgery.  Ironically, if he hadn't gone to England when he had, there is no doubt at all he would be dead.  Another 6 to 8 weeks without the surgery and metastases would have been too severe to respond to treatment and it would have been bye-bye Grey.  Instead his fellow pupils at school, who barely knew him, but to whom he has been writing a daily log even when things were at their roughest, and who nominated a boy and a girl as liaisons to visit him every day…well…they crowd funded to raise money for a state of the art prosthetic leg and foot for him.  Also he began a daily regimen of training in Bajiquan Kung Fu, which he decided was the best choice for him as his martial art for both defence and, if necessary, as he put it, to put a little hurt where necessary.  As a classified A2 para-disabled sportsman, Grey would be graded as  Black belt in Kung Fu.  But there is no competition for para-disabled martial arts, so he uses a 'soft pad' prosthesis, which offers him support, but no muscle power at all so that he is effectively restricted to using only one leg in an offensive way, and is then graded as a third level Brown Belt.  To have attained these grades in 30 months, while undergoing two changes of school and continent, facing down a metastasized cancer, and confronting one's father in the way Grey did with a fait a complit so well thought out, combined surely indicates an outstanding - yes I'll use that word again - genius.

''There must have been something in the stars that night.  May 12th 1993,'' ended Kip with a grin.

''Why do you say that?'' Willi Wanyonyi asked after there had been a few movements hiatus and no one had spoken.

''I know why,'' said Zak.  ''That is Felix's birth date too, right?  Was it the same year as well?''

When Kip nodded and smiled again, Isaiah's response was, ''I wonder if there's a third out there somewhere?''

''God forbid.  Two Felixes will be more than enough to keep me going in this lifetime, thank you very much,'' said Chief Juma .  To which sudden off-the-cuff comment everyone broke into spontaneous laughter.

''But trying to get back to Langat,'' said Peter Mooney, ''even more apposite now that we know of his unique family and the possible ways we can deduce to infiltrate Grey into the Fraternity somehow, how can we best use what Langat has brought us to hasten the downfall of the network he was working for?''

Here, Chief Juma just beat Willi to the draw and got his words out first.  ''Look, what Langat's given us has been invaluable.  His giving testimony on the stand today and the way he stood up to questioning by those lawyers for the various policemen he brought down with him was first class.  The Public Prosecutor has already told me that two of the younger cadets have approached him to make a deal.  So they will corroborate some of Langat's accusations.  I think that will cause the police protection part of the issue to then collapse like a house of cards.

''The bigger picture, though, is getting at Mama Tweed and Charlie Kamau for directing the big stuff.  This will be tougher.  The smaller guys will take the fall.  In exchange for accepting going to prison for 5 to 10, during which they will get the best jobs inside, their families will be well looked after, the kids' school fees will be covered, if necessary, jobs will be found for older sons, and when dad gets out there will be a good job and a tidy sum in the bank waiting for him.  

''So we need to infiltrate deeper.''

''What you're saying, Mike, is that Langat was too small a sprat to catch the big  fish?'' suggested Willi, finally able to get his oar in.  

''Yes.  I couldn't have possibly expressed it better, Willi.''

''So, how do we go forward now?'' posed Isaiah.

Kip, who had been strategising via numerous conference calls between himself, Chief, Felix, Lucas, Mark and Abel (whom the Mount boys had chosen for these strategy meetings), then decided to open up a bit in advance of the next Community meeting, which could not be until Half Term in three weeks.

''We, that is our Strategy Group, considered a three pronged attack on this issue.  

''First, we approach from beneath.  The Langat trial has shown how effective this can be.  At first it has not directly gotten us the king pins, but it did shake the structure for a while in this region, at least.  The organisation has lost key men and women who will take months to replace.  It has lost at least two important routes for smuggling which will be difficult to replicate in this area.  The mules whom they held in fear are scattered and what is more important these people now know they can be beaten and are not some invulnerable demigods.  Consequently, both recruiting and maintaining order over mules will be more difficult in future.  

''So we'll continue to attack from below in two ways.  Firstly by proceeding with this murder charge sting which we have begun.  Already the man has had four witness statements made against him.  He's been charged with premeditated murder.  He was arrested.  He has been in cells three days.   His bail hearing before Magistrate Noah Okidi, who's sitting in for the Chief as he is presiding over at Webuye because of the Langat matter, is scheduled for tomorrow.  There is never, ever bail at first hearing for murder cases.  But both Grey Watene, the Police Prosecutor's Clerk, and Julius Opio, the Chief Magistrate's clerk have spoken to the Public Prosecutor, who is busy with the Langat case and who is sending a 27 year old woman assistant to deal with the bail hearings the next day as they are generally very pro forma, and both caught him at a busy time and got him to quickly sign a bail release.  So tomorrow, while her boss is here in Webuye in court, where he cannot be reached - for we'll make sure our man's application is made at 09.00 just when this case here begins and thus nobody can reach the Prosecutor for a couple of hours - Magistrate Okidi will be given the signed bail clearance.  There will be more all round.  The judge, having had an envelope containing 20,000 shillings given him when he was at PMs last evening (and photographed doing so, of course), will set bail at 50,000 shillings, with a guarantor and cash of 5,000.  The court date to be set sine die.  The poor prosecutor assistant will not get a word in.  And so the trap will be set for getting to organisation from beneath.''

''Sorry, Kip, I still don't get it.  How do you get anyone this way? '' asked Isaiah.  ''I'm a poor shopkeeper.  I sell books.  I am a tool to these intrigues.'' And the older man truly did look bemused.

''Less of the 'I'm a poor shopkeeper' bit, Isaiah, eh?'' said Dave Cheriyot, chuckling.  ''Sure, you began with a glorified kiosk in Toriop thirty or more years ago.  But look at you now.  How many is it?  Six or eight book shops in five towns and villages and several vans supplying text books and exercise books and writing materials to schools everywhere I turn.  I hear your main shops will start showing computers soon.  Poor shopkeeper!  And I'm a changa'a mama I suppose?''

The proprietor and co-owner of the district's biggest and best nightclub had everyone in fits by the end of his little take down of the district's Sheik of Stationery.

''I'll  explain it to you, Isaiah,'' said Mike Juma,'' while Kip regains his composure.  Dave, I would say you should be on the stage, but I suppose that being Mein Host at a place like PMs is akin to playing a daily soap opera, isn't it?''

''Yea, more than a bit, Mike.  We have our share of drama queens visit us each evening.  And they're not all female either!''

More laughter.

''For the Lord's sake, don't get this lot started again.  Let me get back to Isaiah's valid question,'' insisted Mike Juma.  

''As we allow this case to proceed through the courts, indeed we are going to bribe our way to fast track it for a while.  All the while, of course we shall electronically record every illegal act made.  And not once, but three times, by three people from three sources.  For example, the 50,000 shillings we gave Okidi was first counted by three people who didn't previously know one another.  They then, together, placed it in an envelope which had two unique identifying marks.  One, a small mark made by the three which they could see and identify anytime on the video camera of the seat where Okidi later sat at PMs.  The second a tiny microdot implanted on the envelope which could be read by a special reader which Dave carried.  When the envelope was handed Okidi, the three saw it on video camera, Dave photographed it on a small camera he held on his hand at the next table, and a professional police photographer using a zoom lens took a series of images from across the other side of the bar.

''Our intention is that by the time we decide to pull the plug on this sting there will be more police, plus a chief magistrate, several magistrates, various grades of court officials, police court clerk, prosecutors office lawyers and clerks, prison and gaol chiefs and warders, security officers, maybe bailiffs, bail officers, even Administration officials from the Internal Security office.  Who knows who will have been dredged into the net?  Who knows how many may want to talk just as Langat sang like a skylark.''

''And when we talk about approaches from the top.  This, now comes very, very deep confidential stuff.  Even Felix and Lucas - who are deeply involved in this already - didn't know they were until last evening's conference call.  Rashid Hussein has had this happen just so, so quickly.''  Kip Kipsang was speaking with an intensity which made each listener shake any vestigial lassitude from his brain and focus to ensure not a hint of a mondegreen occurred.

''Rashid obviously has built up a remarkable network in the course of his career as a senior official in the Office of the President.  He has used that now in opening doors to sports events in which some of our boys might compete.  It is up to them  of course, to advance to the stage where Rashid hopes they themselves can have time to relax and network with their peers who could be of help in our top-down approach.  In that also, Felix is involved by befriending the artists providing music for some of the events.  Harry and Frank are in with a group who, though they don't know it yet, will be chosen as East Africa's debating team and media reporters at a joint sports jamboree to be held on the Sunday after the competitions end.  I just hope now that Isaac's tae kwon do team from South Rift and Ant's Rugby 7s from the Mount, both incidentally called The Fraternity Boys, will qualify.  Isaac has already.  Ant has to win at Mombasa next weekend, yet.''

''This all sounds absolutely incredible.  I, for one, congratulate you, Rashid, the boys, well...everyone, on the planning, the execution, every f....damn thing about this.  And I plan to cheer our boys on to make sure they know we're backing them up all the way.''  Isaiah was positively bubbling.  Nobody there had seen the normally rather staid sixty-something Bukusu so animated.  

''You are, certainly, very, very welcome to both world schools championships, which they are.  But I hope I'm not bursting your enthusiasm balloon when I tell you firstly that these are both week-long events, and secondly that they're being held at different venues in Hong Kong,'' said Kip.  

There was a pregnant pause.  Then a slightly longer longer one.

''Damn it,'' Isaiah said with a growing  smile,'' there's no purpose in acquiring wealth if one's not at some time or another going to damn well spend some of it and have fun.  Robert, Zak, how do you feel about joining me on a trip out to cheer on our lads in Hong Kong whenever it is.  I don't feel like travelling alone.  I think we should also bring any boy from the Fraternity who isn't on a team.  Find out for me and clear it with the school and parent, OK?''

''I can share with those costs, Isaiah, for I will beg my partner to let me go too and for sure the Chebet brothers will want to go too.  Willi, what about you?  And Peter and what do you think about Arthur and Matron Jo?''  Dave Cheriyot was as exited as the older man.  

Daktari Peter was quick to reply.  ''I cannot just down tools and fly off for a week, Dave.  There is one Paediatric surgeon here for a population of over 3 million people.  At least I have Adam to call on to help me.  Most districts aren't as lucky.  None of us get time off much, and we cannot be away more than 10 days at a time.  I want to save that for my family when my wife is free.  Sorry.  Arthur is committed to Adam, though he's over 70 now and retired.  He tries to get Adam to slow down a bit since his latest relapse in 2002 when he had to be in rehab for almost 4 months.  Everyone panicked then and thought Daktari was dead.  So since, Arthur and the clinical officers, Steve and everyone try to get him to slow down by taking some of his cases.  Felix tells them not to waste their time.  The more cases they take off him, the more new cases he accepts which he would previously have refused as impossible.  And, as usual, Felix has been proven right.  And the hospital now has some very, very difficult cases which previously Daktari wouldn't have touched for lack of time.''

''Like Philip?'' asked Kip.

''Hmm.  Hard to tell with that one to be honest.  Maybe we would have accepted Philip in light of the criminal element surrounding the injury.  If it were some circumcision gone wrong, then no.  I don't think we would have accepted the case.''

''Before we go back into court in a few, Kip,'' said Robert, who had been uncharacteristically quiet most of the extended lunch break, ''you mentioned three ways of attacking the organisation.  You have covered from below and from above.  Now, as to the third...''

''Ah yes.  This is one I will want to prepare for with great care, and use only if I feel we are not advancing adequately by the other two means.  This is approach from within, by planting people inside the operation to listen.  We are recruiting Listeners for outside.  So why not listeners inside?  That's the theory.''

''I am sceptical you could get men or women into sensitive positions quickly enough.  People who have already been hit like these will take a while to establish trust in anyone new coming on board.''

''Very true, Brother.  But certain situations encourage lips to loosen.  Drink does for sure.  So do drugs.  And so does sex.''

''You cannot be sugg...''

''I'm not prepared to say any more about a highly hypothetical plan which is in very early planning stages, now being led by Francis Kiyonga.'' Sergeant Kip was obviously a little flustered.

''In any case it's time we moved back towards Court Room number two and see what more Langat has to say,'' said Chief Juma.

 

**********************

 

That same Francis was enjoying revision of Wegener's theory of continental drift just as his name was being banded about 450 km westward at Bringitar.  

''Continental drift.  It's my fucking brain that's bloody drifting with this lot.  Plate tectonics.  Damn it.  So by the time I'm 90...90, for fuck's sake, as if I won't be damn lucky to live to see 19 living with you three, but whoever reaches 90 will be 160mm closer to India than we are today.  16cm.   That's even shorter than your dick, David, and I thought that was pretty microscopic.''

''How do you know?'' asked Finch.

''How do I know what, numb nuts?''

''How long Dave's dick is, obviously,'' interjected Felix, not wanting to be left totally out of the conversation, inane as it seemed to be.  ''Did you sneak up on him when he was having a nocturnal ejaculation and quickly measure it at full tumescence?  Or how else?''

''First off, Felix, why can't you speak like a normal human and say wet dream and erect instead of these long words?  And second, believe if or not, no - I do not spend my long nights speculatively espying my neighbour boy's bod on the off chance I'll get a show and a chance to get a measure of his treasure.  He just told told me.  Remember, Dave the rave boy.  At that party we went to with those Italians and French boys and girls.  The Yanks  said everything in America was bigger and better -  the sandwiches (we definitely had to agree as ours are generally one slice of mystery meat between two pieces of cardboard); the burgers, the buildings (for sure as theirs rarely fall down after you build the fifth floor as often happens here), the cars (we don't  make any), the roads (ours don't exist), and on and on.  

'' But don't you remember that after they brought out something called Kentucky Bourbon.''

''Oh, yes, I remember now.  I had been in that basketball game we lost.  It was at the Academie Francaise.  We decided to stay over because of the very heavy rain and we were taking an express matatu,'' said David.

''Now you're on the right page,'' Francis was grinning.

By now Felix and Finch, the other two who shared Serengetti Room in the attic of Salisbury House at South Rift, were paying close attention to their mates.  Theoretically each boy in this room had a bed allotted him, but in practice nobody claimed ownership of any one of them.  These four, The Musketeers (plus d'Artagnon) picked one another's clothes at random each morning.  When other boys saw they used toothbrushes without checking, one day Felix simply commented, ''Lucas, we share spit when we kiss, so a toothbrush?  Hell!  Anyway, you know I've had far more than these three's spit in my mouth, eh!'' Lucas looked abashed.

So the story of the bragging Yanks continued.

''Now that you're sort of up to speed, Big Dave.''  The other two actually saw David sigh and slump in his bed, until the Turkana boy forced him up and sat him next to him on the little sofa at the corner of the room where the sitting area was and the windows met to form a little gallery sitting area just for one.  Tonight, though, all four were gathered around the small coffee table.  Francis and Dave on the sofa, Fello and Finch on the huge floor cushions.  Dave was the most conservatively dressed, as usual.  Although this was informal Preps time, all phones were off, and internet use (which was monitored) was limited to school research at this time, David still was very regulated in the way he relaxed until he was actually in bed.  Then he could be a tiger.

So David had on his Harambe (the Kenyan national football team) t-shirt and  almost knee length navy blue shorts over fruit-of-the-loom white underwear.  He'd been finishing his mathematics homework on parallelograms and trapeziums.  He found geometry the most difficult of the three branches of grade 9 maths.  Algebra and arithmetic were a breeze.

Francis found most subjects enjoyable.  He strained a bit at Latin because he found no purpose in it.  That was why today's geography was so excruciatingly pointless.  And the thing was, both Mr. Midlane his Earth Sciences (Geography and Physics) master and he knew that Geography was his ace subject.  98.0 in his first examination.  He loved not just regular geography, but meteorology and geomorphology, too.  Tonight,  after this shit awful crap he'd just had to make himself happy somehow.  Somehow, yea, sure.  At 12 years and 5 months of age.  Hence by now he was more relaxed and was sitting next to David clad just in his nominal pyjama shorts, which fell about a quarter of the way down his thighs.

Finch found his new school a treasure trove of wonder and every day a new facet of understanding enriched his life.  With his sports, martial arts, the Fraternity, his little intimate family of four here in Serengetti, and this daily dose of learning, Finch felt he would risk anything to keep it.

His subjects were all marking highly, up in the lower 90s mostly.  Scripture and Latin fell to the 80s and metalwork was in the 60s!  But music scored 98 and art 99.  

Felix with his memory always scored extraordinarily in exams requiring regurgitation of facts.  But he also did well in practical skills, of course in sports, which are not tested!  But in music he excels with a 99.  Art is OK in the upper 80s, but he acts in drama which isn't tested at his grade.  Not until grade 11 for some reason.

Finch and Felix were really relaxed and ready for story telling, it was 23.I0 and both hoped the story of the Dave or ''Big'' Dave and the Yanks wouldn't be too long and would get - or perhaps more accurately develop further their mood.  Felix was on two huge floor cushions, with corduroy covers, one a light tan, the other lime green.  Both were about a metre square.  Another Felix was using using as a back rest come prop against the side of the Marach wicker chair opposite the sofa.  The lissom boy was wearing a simple white towel around his waist.  The one he'd used as a secondary one after dumping the larger one he'd dried himself with after showering 30 minutes earlier.  He needed this one, he reckoned just to maintain some modesty in case the house master came calling.  Though he wouldn't come now.

Finch had obviously not felt the same.  Laying on his back, his head on Felix's chest and his legs intertwined with the boy 4 months his junior he was as naked as the minute he was born.

''So,'' continued Francis at last.  ''As I said, I told these bragging Yanks that Africans may not beat them in those things, but in three areas we have the best or the biggest.  Firstly, we have the best runners.  Second we have the finest women.  Third we have the biggest dicks!

''They didn't argue about the first.  They actually agreed with the second.  As to the third, well they disagreed vehemently.  So I said we could easily judge it.  Let's find  boys of similar age and measure.  And, David, by then if you recall, we had enjoyed quite a bit of this Kentucky stuff.  You rather more than me.  Anyhow, like aged boys were found for all of us.  Ten Africans and five each US and French.  Poor French had been dragged into this.  Anyway they all took it in good spirits.  

''In short it was a farce, but it took a little longer than planned.''

''Oh no!'' said David suddenly.  ''Now I remember.  Oh God.  Oh no!  Don't tell them.  I beg you!  I can't hear this.  Damn it!''

''It's not that  bad Big Dave....well, possibly it is, but it's sure funny.''

''The contest was easy.  All ten African dicks beat their competitors, most comprehensively.  The French were closer than the Americans in four out of the five cases.  The problems arose, or rather didn't arise...''

''Damn, please don't tell this Francis.  I'll do anything.''

''It's very tempting, David, but you'd regret it later and it might affect our friendship if I asked for something of you that I have craved and lusted for since I first saw you.  But if I get it then you'll bring it of your own choice in time, not under duress.  But I shall tell the story, because it makes you more one of us, like Adam and Finch and me...a bit rough around the edges at times.  And not always perfect.

''You see you two, and this story is private  just for us in this room, it seems Dave here and one of the French kids who was to compare with Younghusband, you know the big Maasai boy in Grade 11, well these two seemingly got down more into the Kentucky whatsit than the rest of us.

''The long and short of it is that neither of them could make the long of it.  They couldn't get it up.  They stroked.  Someone gave them KY.  Our 100 per cent record depended on it.  10 minutes.  15.  20.  It was absurd.  I said to the adjudicator, a Dutch boy, so obviously open minded, that there was only one answer.  So the Judge ordered the boys to do a 69.  

''It worked and everything was sorted in under 3 minutes.  Then David mysteriously disappeared for ten minutes or so.  But it appeared all was well.  But Felix, you will have to teach your boyfriend not to leave tell-tale ejaculate on his eyebrows.  Unless it's a modern day fashion statement no one has told me about?

''Coming Dave?''

''Fello and Finch seem settled for tonight, Francis, so yes, I think I will.  And I think I can promise you you'll find I'll do so more easily tonight than after drinking Bourbon.''  And he gave the  Turkana a huge wink and squeezed him where the communication could not be mistaken for a polite hug!

 

**********************

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 ''Good morning!''

''Hello!  You're new, aren't you?  You weren't here when term  began.  I'm Felix Sikuku, by the way.''  He was looking at a really hot, and he meant H O T boy about 4 or 5 inches shorter than him - in height that is!  How come they'd never spoken in the couple of weeks he'd noticed the boy'd been around?  He must be losing his gaydar, for he's sure this boy's bending his way.

''Yea.  I'm Grey.  Black, Grey with red eyes.  That's me.''

''Glad you mentioned them, 'cause someone was bound to.  It's my experience that's it's better out and proud than in and scared.''

''Well, sure as fuck you and your clan are not likely to be the scared type.  Bringitar.  What!  Man did that take  initiative and willpower or what?  Felix, put it there.  I am proud to make your acquaintance.''  With that the new kid on the block ventured into the world which soon would change him in ways which, in that moment, he was incapable of imagining.  

''You sound a bit like a friend of mine, a Turkana named Francis.  When adults aren't around he enjoys throwing the f-bomb into sentences all the time.''

''Why the fuck not?  It's an Anglo Saxon word like any other.  It makes as much sense to use it as to worry like fuck as to why not to use it.  People say stupid things like fricking or flaming when every one knows what they really want to say.   I think the swear word Bloody is actually worse.  It insults menstruation.  Felix, take me, leave me.  I haven't been through live gunfire - yet.  But my guardian has sent me to this school out in the boon docks after I had first asked to stay at the school where I was, which he refused and just because my brother was moving.  Then he refused me a school in Nairobi, where I thought I could meet some international boys.  So he sends me here.  There is logically only one reason.  I researched my foster dad, his work, his client list...bingo.  You, The Cornfield Fraternity, of course.  It all fits.  You and I are like twins Felix.  Only we've never met.  When do I meet the famous Musketeers and Lucas and Isaac?''

''Woah there, new boy.  What makes you think any if these guys might be interested in meeting you?''

''You did what I almost did, Felix.  Two years ago I set up Langat and took his photograph naked as I lay naked and he was about to do the deed.  The room was dark and he didn't know who I was.  When the flash went off he beat the shit out if me!  In exchange for giving him the photos he was supposed to stop any sex deals with kids under 13 and himself stop all sex and leave the district.  He didn't live up to his side of the deal, but by then I was in a situation where I couldn't go back and tackle him.''

''You actually had the guts to go naked and confront the guy and got pounded by him, but couldn't stop him.  Why the bell not, Grey?  Hell, we'd have had him two years earlier.''

''Sure you'd have had him.  That's all you, or rather some court hack would have had.  There was no Chief Juma then.  No Kip Kipsang.  He might not ever have gotten to court.  Certainly there would have been no pressure to shop any one else.  In retrospect, what happened , happened for the best.  Langat got shaken up nicely.  So the next time he fell like a domino row just waiting for the first tile to be tipped.''

''Still, Grey, you were a wicked little kid to risk…boy, oh boy!''

''And you should have seen his face later when he saw me.  My face with eyes just slits, my nose totally destroyed (it took 4 hours of surgery to rebuild that motherfucker), cuts everywhere, blood from my chin to my knees.  I'm told I looked like something from a Hammer horror movie.''

''Langat!  He saw  you later.  Weren't you scared he'd renew his attack on you.  Finish what he'd started?''

''Oh no.  Neither mum nor I would let him.''

''Sorry, your mother?  What?...''

''Felix.  I'm being totally unfair and fucking with you.   I haven't told you my last name.  My family name.''

''What on Earth has that to do with anything?''

''Felix, it's Langat.  I'm Grey Dean Langat, third, and second surviving son of Senior Staff Sergeant Langat.  That's why it was important the room was dark when he entered.''

''Damn.  Double damn.  Come here.''  He gave Grey a huge hug.   

''Grey.  What you did took unspeakable courage.  Man, oh man.  What happened after you made your deal?  And when  he went back on it, why did you let him get away Scott free after all you had risked?''

''Felix, I went to an excellent school in England and I have done very well academically and in some sports, too, I have excelled.  However I also was found to have advanced stage bone cancer and I have a prosthetic leg.  Don't worry though.  I can still beat the shit out of you!  When my foster father found that I refused to run away into the secure housing found for mum and my sisters but am determined to stick by my dad now that he's finally doing the right thing, he's obviously thought this is the best school for me.  My foster dad is Omar Majdi, by the way!''

''My turn to say, fuck me!  Grey, welcome.  Whatever house you're in we need to sort you a move to Salisbury.  I'll cite security issues concerning your dad's testimony.''

''One last thing before we rush or we will both be late for Chapel, Felix.  But you may be interested to learn our birthdays are celebrated the same day.''

 

With that the two dashed off at a steady run for Matins, it being a Wednesday.

 

**********************ENDIT