Man In Black Episode 58


All three of them left the room and went downstairs. Outside, the police guy took out a big ring of keys and a padlock and locked the gate from outside. Mr dé Crozon didn’t seem surprised to see Chuks mount his motorcycle.

“You knew it was for me,” Chuks said as the man tried to open the front passenger door of the police car and found it locked. He didn’t see how Mr dé Crozon could have known.

“I noticed the helmet depressions on your head, Chuck. It was either you ordered a motorcycle ride or you had one of your own. I know which one is correct now, no?”

It was the other guy, Kunle, that gave the sleek black powerbike behind the police car a puzzled look as he walked to the car. Then he saw Chuks sliding the helmet down over his head and understood.

Kunle opened the passenger door of the car, and Mr dé Crozon entered as well. Chuks took his own motorcycle keys out of his pocket and slotted it in, then turned it. The powerbike came to life with a deep, throaty rumble. He warmed the engine a bit. Both fuel tank and seat vibrated as he did. The helmet on his head was muffling the sound, so he knew how the engine would seem to roar to anyone not wearing one.

Chuks might like the motorcycle muffled, but definitely not his vision. He had learnt that the hard way when he first rode the thing. The bike came with two helmets, one with plain and one with tinted visor. After having to squint through tinted plastic and narrowly escaping going under a trailer, he had decided it was safe to assume the tinted visor wasn’t meant for the rider.

The white lights at the police car’s rear came on, and he took his motorcycle out of the way. Kunle turned the car around and drove off down the road, back the way he had come from LIPD. Chuks wrapped his fingers around the clutch, and the bike jerked forward. He spun the thing around and took off after the police car.

There were few things Chuks liked better than the vibration of his engine, that sense of power and speed. He crept up on the car with the golden LIPD on the rear. The police car was capable of more speed than his powerbike, ideally, but Chuks could accelerate faster. And abeg, I no fit dey crawl for their back. He wasn’t used to riding that slow. He would just wait for them at the hotel.

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He had to wait almost five minutes when he reached the hotel. As he was turning from the gate into the car park, Chuks had seen a very long swimming pool that ran almost the whole length of the compound. He parked his motorcycle close to the fence and switched off the engine. 

Chuks wasn’t looking for anything at Primeview Hotel, and he couldn’t just sit and wait on his motorcycle either, so he just walked down to the edge of the pool and walked back. He must have been loitering so bad that one of the security men came to ask what he was looking for.

When the police car arrived, Chuks walked to the entrance, just as Kunle got out. Clyde dé Crozon did not. 

“Isn’t he coming out?” Chuks asked, looking past the detective to the blue and yellow car behind him in the car park. 

“He will come when he’s ready,” Kunle replied coolly, not even stopping as he walked to the entrance and pulled open the heavy glass door. Chuks just watched him go, beginning to get miffed himself.

I blame you? he thought. Shebi he would have been sleeping at home hadn’t he agreed to be a stupid consultant to the police and Mr dé Crozon. It was because the guy was seeing him here.

The first thing that hit him when he opened the door was the air condition, freezing cold, and the heavy scent of flowers wafting on the air, like the gardens at Cambridge used to smell, the ones that looked as if they had all the colors of flowers in the world and then a few extra. 

He closed the door behind him. The hotel lobby was big, and a plush red carpet led from the door straight ahead to the counter. Kunle had gotten ahead of him and was almost at the counter, so Chuks doubled his footsteps to meet up, the red carpet swallowing any noise his shoes should have made. 

The entrance and exit doors to the lobby were different. Chuks had seen two doors side by side outside and had opened the one that had a handle and said “PULL” besides. That had to be the one for entry, because the other one had a handle on the inside where the one he came in through had none, and read “PUSH”. People were exiting even as he entered, with many more walking about the lobby.

A chandelier hung from the high ceiling that was at least three times the size of the one in the house they had come from, about the size of the midfield circle of Old Trafford’s field in England, shining so radiantly that it looked like champagne frozen solid just as it sloshed out of the bottle, golden wine and silver bubbles alike lit up by the lights within. 

“ . . .Junior Detective Kunle,” Kunle was saying as Chuks reached the counter. He had a black badge open and was showing it to her. He closed the badge and gestured to Chuks. “And this is my associate. We will need access to your CCTV records, please, with regard to an investigation we are conducting.”

The receptionist, a young lady dressed in white shirt and red knotted scarf, looked behind Kunle at him with a practiced smile.

“Good afternoon, sir, welcome to Primeview Hotel.” Chuks nodded, and she turned back to face the officer as Chuks walked up beside him. “You said you want access to. . . ”

“Your CCTV footage records, yes.”

“If you want to see them, you have to ask ahead of time, so the management can process your request. If you want to see them now, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.” 

A couple walked up to the counter, and the receptionist promptly turned on her smile. 

“Good afternoon, welcome to Primeview Hotel. How may I help you, please? Would you like a room?” 

“We will not be able to wait for any processing, madam,” Kunle said, immediately. The man, who Chuks suspected was newly married, the way he held his wife’s waist, or perhaps his girlfriend, opened his mouth to voice a complaint. “Good afternoon, sir, we are with the police. Please hold on a second.” Chuks noticed the way Kunle turned slightly from side to side to make sure the man got a good look first at his badge and then his gun. 

Chuks wasn’t even with the police, so he just decided to keep his mouth shut and let Kunle do the talking. Not that the talking seemed to be going the way the guy had expected.