My eyes picked out the empty cup lying carelessly on the floor as soon as I entered the room. I turned back, the police men were busy whispering to one another, I picked it up and scrunched it. I walked towards the window, stepped over the pool of blood on the floor and threw it out, through the window. I don’t know why I was doing this. I wasn’t trying to save his a-s, I was only saving his wife and daughter further pains. I went to the bedside and checked Funmi’s pulse, she was so cold and I felt tears stung my eyes. I heard the ko ko ko sound of Annie’s heels as she walked in and stood beside me, her arm placed on my back.
“She’s dead” I said, checking her pulse over and over again.
“Step aside sir” A police officer said. They had re-entered the room with the paramedics and they were ready to take the body to the morgue. Some police men they are, I thought. Saying they were unprofessional was an understatement. They seemed very spooked and they were so anxious to put it all behind them. Why send a couple of rookies to do the job meant for the superiors? That goes to show you the level of decay in the system. If only I hadn’t told Tade she confessed, if only…
“Sly…” Annie said quietly.” She’s dead. Please let them do their job.”
I walked out of the room silently and I heard her run after me.
“Sly don’t blame yourself for this.” She said.
Earlier that evening, when I discovered my car was missing, I entrusted the baby to Dubem’s care and I was calling for a taxi when Annie drove into the hotel. Tade had called and informed her, that he was lying in a pool of his own blood in Swann hotel. She had called for an ambulance and she had also called the authorities before coming to get me. I couldn’t question Tade because he had been taken to the hospital by the time we got to the hotel but I knew it in my heart that he was behind her death. The empty Latte cup, which the police had overlooked confirmed it.
“Oh, I have a call” Annie said. She walked few feet away from me and answered the call. She walked back towards me, beaming.
“What is it?” I asked, not ready to take in any more bad news.
“That was Uche.” She beamed. “He said Dupe just went into labor.”
“Great” I replied and walked out through the exit.
That same Night…
“We have just given him a sedative and it will take few minutes before it works so you only have few minutes with him.” The doctor said.
“Thank you” I said and waited for her to walk out of the room before facing Tade. “Why?”
“I’m sorry. I overreacted. I thought she killed my mother but she said….” He said feebly.
“You poisoned her.” I stated.
“No, I did not. I swear it to you. She had the drink with her when I got there and she tried to get me to drink it so I refused and…..”
“She decided to drink it herself?” I said, “You better come up with a better lie, believe me you will have to cook up a better story to convince a judge she poisoned herself.”
He groaned and closed his eyes.
“Where is the key to my car?
“In my pocket” He said.
I fished it out of his pocket and walked out of the room.
Few hours later…
I showed the security my Id and they let me through the gate. I parked in front of Judge Michaels’s block and walked to his door. I knocked on it, then pressed the doorbell.
“This better be good Shark” The judge said, holding the door open, with a shotgun in his hand. “I can’t believe you roused me up from sleep at three am! What do you want?”
“I am calling in that favor you owe me.” I said.
Judge Michaels was a reputable Judge but he loved anything in skirt and that almost led to his downfall. One early morning, I had come upon him in a delicate situation which I helped resolved. The delicate situation involved him and a s-x worker, according to the Judge they had agreed on a price which he paid before taking the girl home. In the morning, the girl had begged him to drop her off on his way out. While on the street, she had latched onto his shirt, saying he hadn’t paid her the night before. He had offered to pay her some more money but she had declined, saying she wanted a million Naira or else she would make a video of them and release it online. A sea of people had congregated, ready to spring out their phones, if any further drama occurs.
I had written the check for the girl immediately and declined it when the judge offered to pay me few days later. He had been so grateful. Now I was calling in that favor.
“I want you to hear this.” I said, pressing play on the tiny tape recorder. He listened intently to Funmi’s voice and to my surprise, let out an expletive when the tape ended.
“That Cecilia girl is a beast and she ought to be behind bars.” He said.
“I am glad you feel that way Judge. I need a warrant for her arrest.”
“Done” he declared.
“I have a daughter” I said, holding the little bundle closer to my chest. The baby smelled so good and I knew she must look like her mother. The thought brought tears of happiness to my eyes.
“She’s so beautiful” Annie gushed out.
“Yes she is” My mother seconded.
“What about Dupe?” I asked the duo who had gone to bring the baby home.
“There is something you have to know Uche.” Mama said.
“Did something happen to her?” I asked.
“No, she’s alright.” Mama said.
“Funmi is dead but she talked before dying.” Annie said, “She named Cecilia as her accomplice as a matter of fact it was Cecilia who spearheaded everything from the get go.”
“Wait, which Cecilia?” I asked.
“The same Cecilia… Uche it was all my fault. While you were at the hospital she came to see you and I carelessly mentioned to her that she was only interested in the money you were paid.” Mama replied.
“You told Cecilia?” I asked in disbelief. “Mama you know how she is when it comes to money!”
“Yes. I know I shouldn’t have said anything to her, knowing how greedy she could be but I was so angry with her and I wanted her out of your life for good. I realized my mistakes too late, I treated Dupe so badly, I failed to see the good in her because of her tribe.” Mama said. “And I was ready to apologize to her and tell her how wrong I was about her when Cecilia came in at that moment and I couldn’t help giving her a piece of my mind.” She said.
“You mean Cecilia was the one behind everything? She committed those murders?” I said. “Why didn’t I think of it! She was a member of a deadly cult while we were in school and I convinced her to leave the group when we met.”
“The good news is that she was arrested last night while she was trying to flee. And oh they found Mrs. Afolabi’s phone, her jewelry and her wedding ring in her apartment.” Annie said elatedly. “Guess what?”
I sighed roughly, causing the baby to squirm and I rocked her gently. “What now?”
“Dupe is coming home soon” She and Mama chorused.
“The police as usual were careless when they got to the hotel room. They didn’t notice the empty cup on the floor and they also overlooked the rose flower and the big teddy bear lying beside her on the bed. I picked up the cup and I trashed it.” I finished the narration of the events which had led to Tade being hospitalized.
“Thank you Sir,” Mabel said, with tears in her eyes. “Thank you for…”
“Don’t thank me ma’am.” I said. It was an awkward moment for the both of us, we were both concealing a crime and it was best if we put it all behind us.
“What should we do now?” She asked, staring at her husband who was sound asleep on the hospital bed.
“The police have questioned him and he’s off the hook. I suggest you take him home.” I said. “As soon as possible”
“Thank you. We’ll go back to the states as soon as he’s fit to travel. Thank you once again.” She said.
“You are welcome. Can I ask for a favor?” I said.
“Yea sure. Anything” She said.
“I want to adopt Tom” I said.
She looked momentarily stunned and blinked furiously in confusion and then looked embarrassed. “Tom?”
“Funmi’s son” I said.
“Oh” She uttered and looked down at her feet.
“Yes” Tade replied.” If its’ okay by you,Bell.”
We both turned to look at him, he was wide awake and seemed to be in his senses.
“Yea….I guess. I ….mean… well” she stuttered.
“Thank you” I said and walked out of the room. I paused outside the door and looked back for a second. Mabel was beside her husband’s bed. He held her hand while she placed her head on the bed.
“Tade, are you certain about it?” She asked him. “You’ve always wanted a son”
“Yes but I am content with my girls. Sylvester will be good to him.”
She leaned over and kissed him softly on his lips.
To be continued