THE COLONEL’S HOME

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Tuesday, July 5th, 2023

The July heat had been relentless. The roads were dusty. Red-brown clouds of dust swirled in the air, as the dogs rested in the shades.

He didn’t hoot at Onan to open the gate. It was open anyway. He had ordered that they repaint it. The men had probably gone to grab a lunch bite. He had come in haste and knew that soon, the news would spread and even these, his hired labourers, would no longer falsely call out to him as “boss”.

He stepped out of the battered Nissan Xtrail, his favourite vehicle despite owning two others, a Mercedes E240 and a BMW X6, for his wife, Lola.

Lola: What is it, you’re back so early.
Col: Pack up. Only the necessaries. Where’s Ed?

The tone in which the command was issued meant Lola, ever opinionated, would comply.

Only two things could explain this; William had messed up so badly or, worse, the man was dead. William had mentally prepared her for either even during courtship. She just never thought the time would come.

A mess by Will wasn’t altogether a warrant for such abrupt change in circumstance, Lola surmised. The man, no one in the inner circle called him by name, could be dead. Neither was that a bad thing, if it was natural. The Constitution provided for such eventuality in a clear and unambiguous manner. Whatever had happened had to be so bad, she concluded as she glanced at Will, noticing he had already changed into a pair of tough Blue Jeans and a battered, long-sleeved T-shirt.

William Bigirwa, now 43 years old, had planned for this day every day since admission to Staff College, and especially after leading command of Vital Installations in the office of the Supreme Commander Strategic Defence. The amount of intelligence he was privy to made certain that all of his peers had such contingencies in mind.

He glanced at Lola. An epic beauty of the proud Adhola. Heavy with their second, he realised and smiled at the thought that all his escape plans from his house at Kitukutwe didn’t factor in a pregnant wife.

He remembered, not for the first time, Brigadier Lokuru’s words at Senior Command College, that no plan survived first contact with reality. In fact, if plans went according to plan, a Colonel wouldn’t be packing up, nor would those pampered idiots at Secret Service have lost the life of their charge so carelessly. The violence was going to be brutal and indiscriminate but targeted towards the upper middle class for the obvious reason that the populace believed they were complicit in the 37 years of plunder of their country. The boys at DMI had forecasted this after the elections of 2021. Everyone just wanted to know how and when the shit would hit the fan. The Colonel could survive any of it. He was basically a disciplined killing machine.

Lola was only a beneficiary of the other part of Will, which no sane commander dared show his men lest they mistook it for weakness. She took him for a gentleman, eager to please and pamper her, washing the dirt off Ed, their son, one time breaking the hand of a petty thief, which made her puke- the thief had grabbed her purse and Will just snapped him up like a small football. She knew he was her man because, for the 7 years of their young marriage, she had done all she could but not sniffed anything untoward in his behaviour. Lola, with her prim and proper upper-middle-class upbringing and Gayaza High School sensibilities, would never survive a slap in the face.

Lola: What car should I place the items in?
Will: None. We are walking. In fact, change into trainers. Those shoes you are wearing won’t do.
Lola: You can’t possibly expect me to walk in this state, honey. What about Ed? He can’t even walk a mile. Please, honey.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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