The Jackpot Man (The End)

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That shook him a bit, but wasn’t enough to stop him or even deter him. He thought of it as just empty threats. “Jane is never going to leave me,” he told himself. His suspension ended and he returned to work. Pretended to be reformed for about a week or so before starting to bet again. One day the manager, while doing routine checks, caught him ready handed and you can imagine how angry he was. Swearing in Hindu. And for Mwas, that was the end of his tenure at the pharmaceutical company.

Soon after losing his job, he never bothered to search for another like any sane person to provide for his young family, instead chose to go full-time on betting. He had heard that there were people out there who lived of betting alone. People sitting behind computers, or their phones all day, doing nothing else just betting and they were now rich. Why can’t he do it too?

From dawn to dusk, betting is all Mwas did, hanging around anyone or anything related to sports betting, sometimes he would be spotted in those crowded yellow-blue painted Betin shops that have recently sprung up around the city. Later on started making buddies with similar interest, who did nothing but talk matters football 24/7 you would confuse them for pundits. Some were bodaboda riders who sometimes let him drive a customer to a certain destination — never mind he didn’t even have a motorcycle driving license — in exchange for some betting cash. Didn’t want much, fifty to a hundred shillings was enough to place a bet. And if not with the bodaboda, or in the Betin shop, he would be arguing with the water selling Kisii guys near the Pipeline matatu stage over the coming weekend football matches.

One day he came back home late at night bearing some shopping and a new doll for his son only to find the house dark. It was unusual; Jane was always there, on the couch, watching a movie as she waited for him to return. She still loved him. She still prayed for him to return to his former self. Not a day went by without her pleading with him to stop betting and instead concentrate on looking for a job. But it all fell on deaf ears. She had even proposed to go and beg his dad to give him a job but he rubbished the idea. And Jane was left with no other option.

Mwas switched on the lights and on the table there was a short note, written with care.

“I love you so much babe, but I can’t sit around and watch you destroy yourself and our family. I’m returning home with the baby. Hope my parents will forgive me and take me back.”

It was a big blow to Mwas, one he actually saw coming, but never expected at least not that soon. He was distraught over the whole thing. He couldn’t eat or even drink for two days in a row. But eventually realized she was never coming back, he decided to move on. He couldn’t dare follow Jane at her parent’s home and beg her to come back. With the shape he was in, he knew he was not ready, plus Jane’s dad was bad news. He hated him and will obviously without thinking twice, call cops on him.

Afterwards he decided to get a job and try to rebuild his life. He missed his family and wanted them back. His mum too had heard of his predicament and really pestered him; called him on his cell every now and then. It affected her too and in fact affected the whole family. Some of his siblings dropped by to check on him and were really disappointed in him. He got kicked out of his house after he failed in paying up his rent for two consecutive months. His friend Titus who could have helped him was currently out of the country. His cousin had found him a security job in Dubai, UAE and he took it. He promised Mwas that as soon as he’s settled down himself, will invite him over and get him a job. So in the meantime, Mwas had to manage his current circumstances

He went back to the company he worked for before to beg them to take him back, but they couldn’t. For months looked for a job in various places without much success. He finally gave up and instead asked his water selling, betting cronies for help. Stayed with one of them for about a week before finally getting his own house, the single room he was currently living in.

After a long day in the sun delivering water to clients, Mwas would get a shady place and start staring at his paper while biting at the pen, obviously in deep thought. Sometimes he would be staring at his smartphone, the one he only purchased recently because the last time I saw him, he had a tiny button phone popularly known to the locals as kabambe, mulika mwizi, or just mulika. He must have upgraded too, putting in consideration the now affordability factor of the smart phones and its ease of use with vast features at your disposal. While discussing the Emerging Issues in Information Technology with the IT lecturer sometimes back, came to learn of the reason behind the increase in mobile computing in Africa. How mobile technology is changing the lives of people not only in Africa, but across the globe. It has also brought about mobile betting, Mwas didn’t have to go to the Betin shop all the time, or the cyber café, he just used his phone.

Mwas’ life was starting to get back on track and he was really starting to feel himself again. He had saved some money and was planning to open some retail shop in Pipeline. He already had a perfect business plan and had even gone ahead and booked a room in a soon to be completed house. He had even managed to talk to his wife and their son. Jane had resumed her education and was graduating the coming December. She wanted him to be there and he had promised her he would be there without failing. But then something nasty happened.

Mwas thought he knew his water friends very well only to find out when it’s already too late that he absolutely had no clue who they were, or what they did beside selling water during tha day. One night while he was just preparing to get into bed, he heard some urgent knocking, actually banging on his door. He was scared. Was about to pull the table over the door to try and reinforce it but then he heard a familiar voice. It was Nyakundi, one of his friends who had taken him in after he had been kicked out of his house. It seemed he was in some kind of trouble. He kept banging, and calling his name.

“Mwas! Mwas! Open up bro! Mwas!”

Mwas reached over to the door and opened it, and immediately about six people forced their way into his house, hurriedly closing the door behind them. Mwas was petrified. He couldn’t even move, just stood there like the statue of Tom Mboya or Dedan Kimathi. Hardly had he come to his senses than he heard another knock, followed by a commanding voice.

“Open up! It’s the police!”

What! Mwas couldn’t believe what he was hearing. What was going on! He gave Nyakundi and his comrades a puzzled look. They were panting, sweat all over them and covered in mud. He had now recognized most of them.

“What the hell is going on?”

“Why are the police after you?”

Outside, the banging was getting persistent, and the calling more louder. Mwas was about to step forward and open the door when he was asked to stop. Did as he was told and turned to ask why, only to be met with gun nozzle, so close that he could almost kiss it.

“No one is opening the door!” Commanded Daudi, the dreadlocked guy who was now pointing a pistol at him.

He automatically raised up his hands and stepped back, saying sorry the whole time. He collapsed on his chair and almost immediately, heard a loud bang and in a split of a second, his door was wide open. He never saw who stepped in, just fire and flying bullets. Then everything around him went blank.

(The End)

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