John Coffey (Green Mile – Stephen King) on Tom Mboya Street – Njeri Tunguru

John Coffey, like the drink but spelt with a y, woke up with a start. He’d heard a startlingly loud noise which he had never heard before, and sensed everything was not okay. He opened his eyes and quickly shut them. What he saw surprised him.

He was no longer lying on his usual bunk at Cold Mountain State Penitentiary. The bars that stood between him and his freedom were no longer there. The green linoleum floor right outside his cell was no longer there. The darkness that he disliked was no longer there.

He opened his eyes again.

He saw that he was lying on a dirty pavement on a noisy street with huge metallic animals with black, circular, rubbery legs. These animals had people in them – sometimes just one person holding a round contraption that protruded from where he supposed was the inside of the animal’s mouth, sometimes it had the person holding that contraption and more people just sitting there, all facing one direction.

He saw huge masses of human beings as he had never seen before, all purposeful in their poise and hurry. He wondered where they were all headed to, so uniformly, like machines. He thought to himself that maybe the machines had colonized the human race.

He sat up. He was still in his prison clothes. He felt a bit woozy and his stomach grumbled. That did not bother him. The noise surrounding him did. What was this place he had found himself? Why did these people have such dark thoughts? These huge masses of people, each and every one of them seemingly disturbed. Now more than ever he wished his abilities could leave him. The noise was terrorizing.

He stood up. All 6’8” of him. His powerful frame made a few individuals in the sea of men stare at him, but they quickly resumed their hurry, maybe a bit too fast than before but he couldn’t notice it.  What he didn’t know was that he scared the hapless Nairobians who thought he would actually try to rob from them. Heaven forbid that he does, he would be no match to any of them.

The road which the metallic animals were using was separated by a white line that ran across its length. On one side cars went from left to right, on the other from right to left. In the middle there was a small pavement with a sign on it. Something strange was written on the sign. He could make out the word ‘Tom’, but the other word seemed strange, like maybe an alien had had it for dinner and unable to swallow it, puked it out. ‘M-B-OY-A’. What is a ‘M-B-OY-A’? He didn’t know. He had never had of it before. But then again, his memory was never the best.

He looked at his surroundings. He was standing outside a red and white building. How did I get here? He made a few steps toward the sea of humanity. The noise went up. Being sensitive to peoples’ feelings and thoughts coupled with being so close to such a huge crowd of humanity was making his head almost explode with all the noise. His heart was breaking bit by bit from all the hurt that these people seemed to be carrying around with them, and he wept quietly. He could not stop the noises. He could not help them. His empathy would be the end of him!

He left me. I feel lost. How am I ever going to live this life? A woman’s thoughts reached him.

I can’t believe my own blood parent, my own father, would kick me out of home. Is he even my father?! Where am I supposed to sleep tonight? What am I supposed to live on? A young man with a backpack strapped on him thought.

My daughter slept hungry. God, please, today let someone sleep with me today so I can get money for her dinner.

An F?! My mum will do her interior decorating with my brains tonight. Must go to gram’s place or else I won’t see tomorrow!

She can’t be dead! Mama can’t be dead! No no no no no no…

He could no longer stand the noise. It was all too much! He leaned against the white wall, dirty from neglect, and gradually crouched.

That horrible con. He will pay me back my money. He must!

Oh no, she’s calling me again. I’m so tired of this woman, can’t she get a hint?

She’s pregnant? Screw her, she’ll do the rest alone. She’ll never hear from me. Not ever. She only wants my money anyway.

He clasped his head with both hands and closed his eyes, and rocked back and forth, wishing this nightmare away. It was an almost comical site. A huge giant of a man, rocking back and forth on a crowded street like a lost seven year old would. His form was a huge chocolate-brown boulder next to a forgetful white wall. Make it stop. Make it stop. Those were the words that kept ringing in his head.

Make. It. Stop.

Suddenly, all was quiet again. He opened one eye first, then the other. A comfortable rush of warmth at the familiar sights coursed though him. The Green Mile, the bars, the uncomfortable bunk bed, his legs hanging from the end. He sat up on the bed, and wiped his tears. It was only a dream. A bad bad bad dream.

Dear God, I hope that there’s no place that horrible in the world, he thought to himself as he fell back into slumber.


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