Chuks held his phone and stood outside the gate, the high walls of the fence making him feel small. He looked back, at his motorcycle parked along the road, wondering whether or not the helmet he hung on one of the handlebars would be safe. His eyes drifted to the police vehicle parked in front of it, and he hoped someone would think twice about filching it with the possibility of it belonging to the police and of an officer or two watching the car.
He was still tired. Honestly, hadn’t it been for the promise he had given for his engagement today, he would have just spent the whole day sleeping at home. He envied Segun, out on his date with Belinda.
He had ridden all the way from Ikeja out to the Lagos Island Police Department, where he had found a message waiting for him that Mr dé Crozon was not in the department. He had been given the address of this house, the place where a sensational crime had happened on the very day they had begun at Star Ranges, and when he got here the police car with LIPD written boldly on the front and side outside told him he hadn’t missed the address.
At first he hadn’t known whether or not he was supposed to knock, and had chosen to send the Frenchman a message via Whatsapp, since it showed him online. And now he was waiting, looking up at the electric cables on top of the towering fence and solid gate.
His phone vibrated, pulling his attention. He looked at it. It was a new message from the open chat on his Whatsapp. Clyde dé Crozon. Someone is coming to let you in. He had hardly finished reading the message when he heard footsteps approaching the gate from the other side.
He took a step back from the gate just as it was unlocked and swung open. A young guy stood there, not in police uniform but definitely looking like an officer, and with a gun at his belt. Chuks didn’t recognize him and didn’t know whether or not he was connected to the police car behind him.
“Good afternoon,” he said politely.
“Good afternoon,” the guy returned formally. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
They no know say I dey come? He thought Mr dé Crozon would have come personally or at least told whoever else he was sending about the fact that he had been told to come here.
“I’m Chukwudi,” he said. “Chukwudi Brown— ”
“Oh, the one from Star Ranges?” the guy asked. Chuks nodded. “But they said you were two.”
“Yes, but my friend has another engagement elsewhere. He wasn’t able to make it.”
The police could sound formal, abi? Well, he could as well. And he could turn up his British accent on top of it.
“Okay, then.” He held the gate open. “You can come in.”
Chuks walked into the house, and the gate was shut behind him. He followed the officer into the neat blue house, across the tiled floor inside and up a stylish, twisting hanging staircase. The place didn’t feel as if it had seen people in a while. It felt empty, even though it wasn’t. Just as if the people living there had traveled and had yet to come back.
Was this acutally the place where that woman had been killed half a year ago? It felt strange, been this closely involved with the police that he was allowed into a place like this.Visit www.pobsonline.com for more amazing stories
Upstairs, they ducked under yellow police tape— he looked closely at it as they did to make sure it was actual police tape, so much did he find it hard to believe —and entered through an open door into a pink bedroom. Inside, beside the bed that took up most of it, sat Clyde dé Crozon in a chair, hands clasped in front of him.
“Ah, Chuck, you are here. What about your friend, where is he?”
Chuks’ eyes were locked on to one particular spot in the room, the place on the duvet where blood had soaked through from the murder six months ago. A bullet to the head, he couldn’t forget. Dem no fit change am? Or at least self, make dem wash am.
“Chuck?” That snapped him out of his thoughts. “You cannot believe you are actually here, yes?”
“No, I can’t,” he replied honestly.
“I was asking about your friend. He is not with you.”
“Yes sir, he’s held up somewhere, something that popped up at the last minute.” As if it wasn’t Segun himself that made it pop up. Brother wey dey toast woman. “He wanted me to send his apologies, but I’m sure I can assist you with whatever you want to know.”
“All right. Kunley, meet Chuck and Chuck, Kunley. He’s an acquintance from England.” The police guy looked at him and nodded curtly, a certain respect in his eyes now that he had heard that Chuks was a personal acquintance with Clyde dé Crozon from the UK.
“Good afternoon.” Oh. And na me greet you downstairs. The guy mouthed something. “Chuck?” it seemed like. Chuks shook his head matter-of-factly. And he was going to assume Kunle’s name hadn’t been properly pronounced, either.
“Kunley,” Clyde went on, oblivious to all of this, “is a detective at the LIPD. So, Chuck, you are aware of what happened here half a year past, yes?”
“Yes, I heard all about it on the news. I can’t still believe I’m actually here, you know,” he said, his eyes wandering all about the room.
“I can understand. It will wear off after a while. And feel free to sit Chuck. I daresay the police have used everything they can from this room, no?” It was a question, and it had to have been directed at Kunle, because the guy nodded.