Ngozi walked into Jay’s cell. And switched on the flourescent bulb thereby illuminating the whole room.
“Hey!” He said on sighting her. Ngozi ignored him as she walked towards him on the chair where he was seated and binded.
“Won’t you answer my greeting?” Jay asked smiling. What’s making him happy? What’s amusing his useless self? When you have been charged with murder and terrorism, whose punishment is death, you are here smiling. She thought as she walked towards him and started tearing of his shirt.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” He asked, an alarmed look on his face, but there was nothing he could do. He was currently immobile.
“What does it look like?” She asked rhetorically, but surprisingly he managed and answer.
“You are tearing of my shirt? Do you want to strip me of my clothes?” He asked.
“Just watch me.” She said and with one mighty pull, the buttons on his shirt came down at once and his bare chest came into view. Jay stared into his sister’s eyes for answers or clues on whatever she was looking for.
“What does this mark stand for?” She asked. Since she concluded that Kelvin was somehow connected to the Khal corp, she had been tempted to call him and ask him if truely he knew anything about the emergence and existence of the largest and the richest insurgent group in Africa, according to forbes magazine. Its weird isn’t it? Why would a group of people sit down around a table and draft the list of richest terrorist groups in the continent Africa? They are jobless right? But mere sitting down and drafting the list is a job. Even though she would still call Kelvin and interrogate him over the phone, she needed to get first hand knowledge about him from Jay, if truely he belonged to Khal corp. She knew it is unethical of her to ask a terrorist if he is one, who would be so silly to declare himself a terrorist to even his best friends, not to talk of a police officer.
“What does this mark represent?” She asked once again producing a sharp kitchen knife and flashing it accross his face. “I won’t hesitate to use this on you. Tell me about the mark. I know it was given to you at the Khal corp, because I have seen it on Viktor’s body and something similar to it on Habeeb’s shoulder. Now tell me everything, and who is this Danger-kelv of a man?” Since she had seen the acronym D-K on Kelvin’s singlets and she had heard of a terrorist who goes by the name Danger-kelv and had suspected Kelvin to be a terrorist, she had stringed up everything and had formed a perfect tactics to stop the Khal corp. But first things first, she needed to know more about the mark which she had seen something similar on Kelvin’s body and then know more about Danger-kelv. No doubt, the ‘Kelv’ stands for Kelvin. But which Kelvin?
Clement pulled up in front of the gate and walked up to the pedestrian gate, but to his utmost surprise, the gate was left opened. Where is Akpan? Why would he leave the gate unclosed? Were the questions on his mind as he walked into the compound where everything was normal except for the silence that enveloped the compound. It was quite unusual for the compound to be this silent at the time of the day, because the presence of Akpan alone in the compound will always produce sounds. He could either be whistiling or singing, at times, he listen to his transistor radio. Anything that could make sounds and keep everywhere lively can be found on Akpan.
“Akpan.” He called as he knocked on his door, but go no response, not even a sign of him sleeping, because Akpan was a loud sleeper who would snore from the moment he shut his eyes till when he opens it. And to say it is impossible for someone to have fallen asleep between the moment he left the house five minutes ago and now that he is back. So where could he have gone to? He pushed the door into his house open and it was empty, save for his belongings, about five transistor radios, both functioning and malfunctioning ones, his phone, a television, a DVD, his bed, his bag of clothes and a bucket.
He walked out of his room and made for the main house, then he got the shocker of his life when he saw Akpan’s lifeless body lying by the side of his house with blood oozing from the back of his neck. Immediately he removed his gun and bent down beside the corpse. He felt his pulse, but it was lifeless. No doubt, Akpan is dead. He picked up his phone and dialled Ngozi’s number.
“Hey Ngo, arrange a backup team and drive down to my house. My gateman has been killed by only God knows who…” He was saying, but a baby’s sharp cry made him drop the phone as he ran towards the main house.
Clement considered taking the kitchen door into the house to catch whoever was in the house unawares, but on a second thought, he realised that the kitchen door would probably be locked from inside, thereby making it impossible for him to enter. He diverted towards the main entrance. He pushed the door open and eased himself in without making a sound. His fears was making him grow weak, because by this time, little Amanda’s cries were getting louder.
“Rachel.” He called. Maybe Rachel had left him like he ordered when he was leaving the house five minutes ago. He rubbed his eyes to confirm if he was dreaming or seeing it live. Rachel was lying down in her own pool of blood.
“Rachel, who did this to you?” He sreamed as he jumped a couch and squatted on the floor beside her. “Talk to me, what happened?” He placed his left ear on her chest, but he couldn’t feel her heartbeat. He rememebered he has once damaged his left ear as a kid, maybe it was malfunctioning again, he placed his right ear, no difference still. He violently shook his wife as tears rolled down his cheeks, so many thoughts ran through his mind that moment.
He blamed himself for his wife’s death, how he wished he had stayed a bit longer with her, instead of walking out of the house, but he couldn’t stand another minute with her beside him which was why he left. How he wished he had taken his time to beat her some more, how he wished he had beaten her until she passed out, then he can drive her to the hospital and thereby making it impossible for her killers to get her.
He felt empty that moment, he could feel his world crumbling at his feet, and he was watching without being able to do anything to probably avert the situation or reduce the damages done. If he as a police inspector who has been responsible for stopping many criminal activities, bringing law offenders to book, securing the lives of millions of Nigeria by foiling terrorist attack couldn’t save his wife. Just one person we are talking about here, the most important person to him, his life partner, the mother of his kids. Who could have done this to him? Who could have shattered his hopes of a much better tomorrow? Who could have decided that killing his wife was the best way to get at him? Why not kill him instead and spare his wife so that she would be able to take care of the seven day old Amanda.
He thought about his life right from when he could differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong, evil and good. He remembered that the majority of his life was lived without a female companion, he was seperated from his mother and sister right very young, he attended a boys only secondary school in Nigeria, attended the University of Lagos from home, giving him no chance to make friends, he did his youth service in Lagos, all from home except the three weeks orientation camp which was a death camp for him. Then proceeded to a criminology and intelligence institution in the United states, where he met about a hundred classmates and friends, among which one hundred and seventy were boys and the megre thirty were girls who were tomboyish and acted like boys. So it was all living with boys in his three years stay in the states.
Sirens sounded in front of his house and a few seconds later, he could hear footsteps trottling towards the front and back doors of the house.
“Clement, what’s going on?” Ngozi asked. Clement stood up and turned to face his greatest companions both in and out of work, the only trusted friends he had, the ones who understood him, even though he was about four years older than Ngozi, a total of seven years was seperating him and Mike.
“I just don’t understand.” He replied. It was a wide believe among the yorubas, an ethnic group in the south-western Nigeria, that a man shouldn’t cry over any misfortune that befell him. But it seemed they forgot to give thorough explainations. A man who looses his mobile phone shouldn’t cry, but a man who looses his business has every reason to cry.
Ngozi left Clement and other police officers as well as the medical team which has been summoned immediately. She returned a few seconds later with a crying Amanda in her arms. It was then Clement remembered he was a father, no one paid attention to the cries until Ngozi, the only woman present went in to bring her out.
Clement has refused to return home or go back to the office right after his wife was transported to a motuary. Efforts made by Mike and Ngozi to make him go with them or at least sit back at home died on arrival. He couldn’t place the force that was controlling him, because the next minute after Ngozi came out with Amanda, he was out of the house and before anybody could catch up with him, he had driven off furiously with no plan of returning home or to his job anytime soon.
Truely, there seems to be solace in drinking. He felt peace in the past five hours since he had been sitting in the bar. His mind was less foggy and less occupied as he drank with reckless abandon, such that everyone in the bar looked at him in total dismay with the way he drank. He knew he deserved a world recognition for the number of bottles he had consumed, for someone drinking bear for the first time in his life, it was a remarkable feat to achieve.
“Thank you very much sir for you kindness.” One of guys whose bill he footed came forward to thank him.
“Oh! Its.. nothing.” He said absent-mindedly.
“I still have to thank you.”
“Join me here.” Clement said. The guy, as if being controlled quickly removed a chair and sat down opposite a well respected police officer who as a result of his tattered dressing, no one could identify him. “Barman, give my friend something to drink.” He said at the top of his voice.
“Thank you sir. May God continue to bless you.” The guy said once again. Clement smiled, who blessed him in the first place? Was it not God. Who blessed his job and made everything he did successful? Was it not this same God? Who made him meet Rachel? It was God. Who blessed their union?
He could remember the day they were both exchanging marital vows in the presence of great people from far and near, including the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, about twenty one state governors and their deputies, about seventy senators, two hundred federal honourables, every minister in the president’s cabinet, even world leaders were all present at his wedding, those who couldn’t make it to church, either because they were sinners and are afraid to enter the church all made it up by gracing the reception.
He could remember the priest calling on God to bless the union, bless the marriage and other prayers which all had the name of God in them. He didn’t remember the priest saying anything like God should take his wife after two years, so why should his wife die now?
“What’s your name my friend?” He asked.
“I am Roland.” The guy replied. He had switched on his observative sense right from the time he entered the bar, there seemed to be equality between everybody. The way a man who came in his car would exchange pleasantries with a wretched looking man will make one wonder if they both owned the car or both are wretched.
With the little senses he had left in him, he knew he would be at least a decade older than the guy in front of him, but he doesn’t seem to care. He thought about his little daughter. Did he just behave like the best dad he ought to be? He shouldn’t have left home that way and even if he wanted to leave home, he shouldn’t have driven himself to a bar to drink.
He was sure Amanda is fine, Ngozi will definitely take good care of her, but with what? He couldn’t say.
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A family doesn’t neccessarily mean someone related to another by blood or by marriage. Family simply symbolises love and unity. Dolapo might have lost the first family given to her by God, but she miraculously found herself in another family, all thanks to late Dayo, whose parents took her in and caterd for her until Dayo died. She lost her foster family too and miraculously, she found another family, all thank to Inspector Clement. Maybe her name should have been miracle. Even if her relationship with Mrs Rachel Obi-Patrick has not been rossy, she still loved her because she made her feel at home the first time they met. She couldn’t fathom what took her out of the hospital, but the moment she heard that Rachel was killed, she took a cab and came home immediately where she had been with Ngozi and little Amanda.
“Hello darling. I won’t be coming home tonight. Clement is not home and I need to stay with his baby.” Ngozi said as she walked into the kitchen where an emotionally traumatised Dolapo was, boiling water with no idea of what she would do with the water. She just felt the need to boil water.
“That’s my fiancee.” She heard Ngozi say a minute later. Really? But she didn’t remember asking her who the caller was. Maybe she had said something prior to her saying it was her fiancee. She must have lost her mind completely.
First, it was Darasimi, then Tolani and now Rachel in just seventy two hours. And God is somewhere up there watching.
Its now almost a week since the death of Rachel, and even though Clement is trying to adjust to life without her, he still couldn’t help but go into deep thoughts most times. His families didn’t help matters either, but there was nothing he could do to them, his father didn’t call to express his condolence neither did he picked his calls. Kelvin avoided him like plague and made sure he cut off all possible means of communication.
Clement was driving towards the Murtala Muhammed international airport that morning with Dolapo seated at the backseat with little Amanda who has been christened amidst grief and sorrow in her arms.
“I know this will be hard for you, but once you arrive at the airport, my friend Vlad will come and pick you up. An apartment has been set up where you can live and do whatever you want to do, be it working or enrolling for your post graduate studies, just inform me of any plans you have.” Clement explained as he drove into the airport.
“And concerning Amanda’s case, you can always drop her with Vlad’s mum at the next door, she’ll take care of her until you return home.” Clement said. Dolapo was just nodding her head like a lizard. Everything was happening at a faster pace, she never expected things to be in place this fast.
It has been her dream to have her masters programme in the United states and possibly settle down there, but she knew she would have to work for maybe a year or two in Nigeria before being able actualise that dream, but with the situation of things in Nigeria, you dare not take permission to travel abroad all in the name of getting another certificate which the Manager of the company is yet to have, the moment you step out of the office, a vacancy board would be placed outside.
“Now lets go and do some major clearances.” He said as he brought his car to a halt. The three of them headed into the airport building with their bags. Fifteen minutes later, they were all sitting in the departures lounge waiting for the announcement of their flight.
“Uncle, how do you intend to live now that you are all alone?” Dolapo asked with tears in her eyes.
“I will definitely survive. Remember, we Nigerians learn things the hard way. And I have just learnt another lesson in the hardest possible way you could think of.” Clement replied smiling.
“Don’t you think you should join us in the states? Just to put all these behind you.” She asked.
“Well, the last time I spoke with Doctor Kolade, he made me understand that it is you that needed a change of environment. And we both concluded that you should travel to the US. And to put my daughter on the safer side, its not bad if she travelled with you. The doctor didn’t tell me anything about me changing environment and moreso, I want to personally handle my wife’s case. I want to bring her killers to book.” He said. Dolapo thought for a minute before breaking the silence.
“Uncle, I think you should speak with Chidinma. There is a secret between her and Aunty Rachel which according to Aunty was about your dad. But unfortunately your dad saw the secret as a result of me sweeping her room and packing the papers where the secret was out. They didn’t tell me anything except that.” She began.
A voice echoed throughout the departures lounge announcing the next flight to the United States.
“I am not saying it has anything to do with Aunty Rachel’s death, but the way and manner they both handled the situation told me something was wrong and at stake. Just talk to Chidinma.” She said and picked up a small bag where all neccessary things were kept. Things that could be useful for Amanda during the long flight.
“Dolapo.” Clement called. Dolapo stopped in her tracks and turned to face him. “Thanks for everything. I don’t know what I could have done without you.” He said.
“You deserve more.” She said as she walked toward Clement and gave him a bear hug.
“You’ll be fine.” He said.
“You too.” She said and they both gave a short laugh, the first time in a week. Even little Amanda chuckled.
–to be continued–
Ngozi walked into Jay’s cell. And switched on the flourescent bulb thereby illuminating the whole room.