Strike of the Vulture
By Lawrence Kadzitche
They were drinking beer in Joe’s, their favourite pub in Old Town, when Wiley
Katani said suddenly, “Guess what, Jonah; I’m getting married!”
Jonah’s jaw almost dropped into his glass of beer with surprise. “Getting
married?” he paused then pointed a finger at Katani. “You?”
“Yes, me,” Katani said with a smile, sipping from his drink. “She’ll be moving in
Jonah was astonished. He had given up on the idea that his friend would ever
marry. You see, turning fifty, Katani was now taken as a confirmed bachelor. For
the past twenty-five years, he had refused to marry, giving this or that excuse
when the subject arose.
Katani owned a consulting firm. His first excuse was that he could not marry until
the business was established. That took years. Then he said he wanted to
expand the business. ‘I’ll be so busy so that a wife would feel neglected.’ That
took years, too.
Then it was small things like building a house or buying a car. Excuses and more
excuses. Jonah had taken them as such and nothing else. He secretly believed
that the real reason his friend was not tying a knot with any woman was because
he could not father children. But this opinion, never did he dare to voice.
This was why he could not believe that Katani was marrying. Apart from that,
being Katani’s best friend since their school days at Chancellor College decades
ago, he would have known if he were courting a woman. What type of game was
his friend playing?
“Wiley, let us be serious,” Jonah said at length. “You don’t have a girl friend, so
how can you be talking of marriage?”
Katani flashed a triumphant smile, obviously enjoying himself. “Found her a
month ago. She came to the office. She was looking for employment.”
Christ, this was bad news. Bad news with a capital “B”, thought Jonah. “Wiley
you mean you want to marry a woman you just met a month ago?”
Katani smiled. There it was. He had been right. Nobody would understand. He
had been correct to make the decision to marry her without consulting anyone.
He called out how he had first met Miranda, the girl he was going to marry. It was
a Friday afternoon. He was sitting in his office, eyes closed, savouring his
success. He now had what he wanted. Several houses. Expensive cars. His
business was expanding fast that he had opened branches in Blantyre and
His telephone buzzed.
“There’s a young woman who would like to see you, sir,” came the voice of
Patrick, his secretary. “She won’t say her name. But says she’s an old friend of
Katani frowned. He didn’t have any female friends. Not yet ready for marriage, he
considered friendship with women as dangerous. That was why even his
secretary was a male. He didn’t want any temptations.
Intrigued, he told the secretary to let the visitor in.
The door opened and in walked the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
And that was it. Katani immediately fell in love with her. It was as simple as that.
Love at first sight.
Of medium height and very light in complexion, she had a curvaceous figure that
was hugged by a short red suit. Shapely legs tapered into matching high heels. A
faint smell of fabulous perfume reached his nostrils as she neared his desk.
Katani found his heart suddenly beating wildly. “Take…take a seat,
“Miranda. Miranda Pompani,” she said in a voice coated with sugar.
Her skirt went up as she sat down in an armchair. Katani tried not to look at her
exposed thighs but failed. She let Katani’s stare guide her eyes to her thighs
before pulling the skirt up with a sweep of her hand.
“Sorry for the way I came in,” she apologized. “But you know you can’t go
beyond the gate if you say you are looking for a job.”
But Katani wasn’t listening. He had found the woman of his dreams. A woman
that would bear him his heirs.
His reverie faded. Dreamily, he said, “I’ve made up my mind to marry Miranda.”
“Things don’t work that way, Wiley,” Jonah said. “You need to know a woman
very well before deciding to marry her so that you can find out whether you’re
suited to each other. This Miranda you’re talking about, how much do you know
It wasn’t much, apart from that she was very beautiful and desirable. “But I know
that she’s the right woman for me.”
So against the advice of his friends and relatives he went ahead to marry
Miranda. And soon everyone came to accept that Katani had made the right
choice. Miranda was the perfect wife so that Katani had nothing to complain
But there was only one snag. A flaw that only Katani knew of. Miranda refused to
bear children. She said she had reasons but declined to share them with him.
To excuse her, Katani attributed that to childlessness. She was only twenty-five.
She would soon see the need of having children. But when six months later, she
was still refusing, her obstinacy began to frustrate him. She was young and could
afford to wait. But he, at fifty, could not afford to wait.
“Miranda, I’m your husband,” he said softly. “Tell me why we can’t have children.”
Miranda gazed at him sadly. “Wiley, it’s not that I don’t want to have children. But
there’s one problem.”
He put his arm around her shoulders. “What is it, dear?”
“Darling, you know our customs. If you were to die, your relatives would grab all
Katani cut her. “I don’t understand….”
“I don’t want our children to grow in poverty. It will be OK as long as you’re alive.
But if you were to die things would change. I don’t have any source of income;
how would I take care of your children if you died and your relatives grabbed all
Katani laughed. “So that’s what has been bothering you, darling!”
“It’s nothing to laugh about, honey,” she said seriously. “You know without you,
Katani laughed again. “I’ll take care of that, sugar. I’ll write a will bequeathing
everything to you.”
Relief showed on Miranda’s face. “It’s not that I’m saying you’ll die soon. But one
must take precautions, honey.”
The following day, Katani made a will leaving his wealth to his wife. Miranda was
beside herself with happiness.
“A friend has organised a party,” she said. “We shall celebrate there. From there
we shall rush home for…” she finished with a mischievous wink at him.
It was a big party, well patronised by the City’s elite. Katani drank only a few
glasses of wine. He didn’t want to get drunk because he had a job to do. Alcohol,
he knew stimulated the need but took away the performance.
They left while the party was still in full swing. When they arrived home, she gave
him a glass of wine. “We’ll have our own small party for the great occasion.”
Katani drank the wine, his heart pounding with excitement. It was a great day for
him, the day they would conceive the heir to the Katani Business Empire.
Miranda slotted in a compact disc in the stereo. To Katani’s surprise, it was a
mournful song played during funeral ceremonies. Any way he would still dance to
it if that was fine by his wife.
He started to rise. The room suddenly spun, his legs buckling. He collapsed back
into the sofa. What was the matter with him? Surely, he couldn’t be very drunk.
The beautiful face of Miranda appeared before him. “Sorry, honey. The dirge is
for your funeral. You can’t dance to your own death song.”
Katani didn’t understand. His tongue seemed to fill his mouth. He felt weak, his
body on fire. “Darling, I’m not feeling well…”
“I know. It’s the wine honey,” Miranda purred. “I poisoned it.”
Katani gaped. “What?”
Miranda flashed him a bewitching smile. “Darling, all I wanted when I married you
was your wealth. Now that you’ve made the will in my favour, I no longer need
“You…you can’t do this to me…” croaked Katani.
“But I’ve, honey,’ came her reply
“That was a mistake,” said Katani. “You’ll never get away with this…”
“I will, sweet. It’ll look like you were poisoned at the party you attended.
Obviously by a jealous business competitor,” Miranda said. “No one will suspect
me. Can I be so stupid as to poison you the very day you make a will in my
favour? No. After all, everyone knows what a loving and devoted wife I’ve been
to you. So all they will have for me will be nothing but the deepest sympathy.”
Though in excruciating pain, Katani couldn’t believe this was happening. Miranda
couldn’t do this to him. Not his lovely Miranda. His ears should be deceiving him.
“Please…take me to the hospital…”
Miranda knelt before him and tenderly took his face in her hands. Hope surged
through him. His wife would take him to the hospital, he thought with ardent
“I will honey, but don’t have any illusions about it,” she said softly, her face very
close to his. “It’ll only be for the doctor to certify your death.”
With her breath hot across his cheeks, he now believed that this was real, that he
had been duped, that Miranda was going to kill him in such a cold blooded way
so that she could inherit his property.
The last thing that came to his mind before he lost consciousness was Jonah’s
question: “How much do you know about her?”