By Larry Sun
The detective smiled at the man, “I’m only trying to check if you’re actually the criminal here, I don’t have to be wasting my time if you are.” He turned to Daniel, “Where are we on this case?”
“Um—I’ve asked a photographer to take several shots of the body, the pictures will be out tomorrow.”
“Good work, officer.” He patted him on the shoulder. “I need to make a phone call.”
Half an hour after the detective’s call, the sound of a medical emergency bus approaching could be heard; the two notes screeching nah-noahs as the medical unit skirted both shoulders of the road to reach the casualty. The ambulance was a minibus with Red Cross emblems and a flashing light on the roof, gathering speed as it made its way towards the detective. The vehicle stopped and an elderly man in white overcoat and a stethoscope hanging on his neck got out. His Adam’s apple looked as if he’d swallowed a coin.
“Morning, sir—” he held out his hand to shake the detective which Lot grabbed warmly. The detective’s hand, the elderly man felt, was like a pair of pliers. The grip from the detective caused the doctor to wince in solemn anguish.
“Glad you’re here, that’s the body.” He pointed to the corpse lying there on the ground.
“Can we carry him now?” asked the doctor, when he swallowed, his Adam’s apple went up a few inches and stayed that way.
“Actually no, there’re still some things we have to put in place.”
Lot turned to the others. “Meet Doctor Adam.”
The boy giggled, “Doctor Adam with a big Adam’s apple.”
Lot faced Daniel, “Hey, do you have your phone with you?”
“Excellent, now call your division and ask them to send five men over here. Tell them what happened if you’re questioned.” Lot noticed blood oozing from the scratch marks on the police officer’s left wrist but he didn’t comment about it, he thought it wasn’t any of his business.
“Okay, sir.” Daniel Famous began making the call immediately.
The detective turned to the doctor, “Doc, can you please tell your men in the van to come out and watch over the body till the police arrive?”
The doctor went to the ambulance and called the four men dressed in white—they were soon standing round the body.
“They’ll be here in fifteen minutes.” Daniel said.
“Good.” Said Lot, “Doctor, did you tell your men not to touch the body?”
“I don’t need to tell them, they know their jobs.”
The detective crushed out his mutilated cigarette, his fingers covered in ash.
“Now, let’s go inside.” He declared, “We have a lot to talk about and a lot to find out.”
They were all in the house; in the living room, each person looking at the other for an explanation. The silence lasted precisely two minutes before the lawyer spoke first.
“Where’s the driver? I haven’t seen him.” He asked Mr. Chima, who was the only person standing in the room. He had never sat in the room and he was not ready to begin now just because his master had passed on, even after the death of his master, Chima’s sense of servility had not waned.
“I don’t know his whereabouts, sir.”
“The deceased had a driver?” asked Lot.
“His name’s Richard and he’s not here.” Michael answered the detective.
Daniel Famous turned to the gatekeeper. “Sir, can you kindly go and wake Mrs—” he looked with pleading eyes at the gatekeeper to help him with the name.
“Martins. Mrs. Abigail Martins.” Kish helped.
Abigail, in a nightdress, entered the room yawning and stretching.
“I’m already awake.” She said.
Daniel Famous who had always had a private predilection for pretty women opened his mouth wide, his heart began banging violently in his chest so much that he was scared people around would hear. Except in movies, he had never seen a woman as striking in appearance as the widow, and what particularly sent his ventricles aflutter was the fact that she was dressed in negligee. The doctor’s eyes in the spectacles almost popped off their sockets, the detective only stared at her—he took his time to study the woman, his face carried that of a man looking through a high-powered microscope and observing an interesting specie of paramecium. Noticing where almost everybody’s attention was shifted; he could see that the men in the room were looking at her as if they could eat her with a spoon. The photographer was looking at the woman and also at the detective. The only person in the room who did not notice Abigail enter the room was the boy; he was lost in the world of his hand-held PSP Game.
“Oh, naughty me. I didn’t know that Cain would be having visitors.” She smiled, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have slept like a snail. Good morning, everybody. It’s a nice weekend, isn’t it? Don’t mind me, I oversleep on Saturdays. By the way, where’s the host? There’s a photographer—should I go and change to a better dress?”
Silence fell for a millisecond.
The detective stood up and approached her, “Good morning, Mrs. Martins. My name is Lot and I am a detective of the LAGPID.”
Abigail appraised him and brightened up with excitement as she recognized the man standing in front of her.
“I know you! I see you in the telly; you’re that famous detective, aren’t you? I’ve also read about you sometimes ago in the papers. The ways you solve all these enigmatic cases have always appealed to me.”
Daniel was still staring at her agape. It took him a lot of his self-control to prevent himself from drooling at the mouth. He watched her closely as she brightened up when she was speaking with the detective. Daniel was not even listening to what the two were saying. He was engrossed in appreciating how radiant her face looked when she smiled. She looked so lively, so full of excitement and happiness. She hadn’t even known that she had lost a husband. Then he saw the smile disappear suddenly from her face. From the look she carried, Daniel could see that she had sensed something wrong. Oh, not now, he thought, not when she is so happy. She must not know that her husband had been killed.
“Why are you here?” he heard her ask the detective. “Where’s Cain?” she looked around at the people sitting and said, “Richard’s not here, where’s he, too?” Without waiting for an answer she burst out of the room into the compound and out of the gate. She saw some men standing around a body on the ground. Slowly, she walked towards the men and looked at her husband lying dead. She turned away quickly and leaned against the fence, weeping. The others in the room had also come out to join her. Except of course, the boy.
“It’s a pity his life had to end this way,” Abigail said softly, “I feel sorry for him.”
“Let’s go back inside. These men will look after him.” The detective assured her.
Down the street came the wailing of sirens of the police car as the vehicle approached. The car stopped and five armed policemen jumped down from the back. Georges Lot approached and spoke to them; they immediately joined the four white-clothed men watching over the corpse. They were careful not to get too close to it so as not to tamper with any evidence—especially prints.
The street had become almost deserted after the arrival of the police car. The crowd that had gathered across the street to watch had fled, thinking there would be gunfires.
The detective, the doctor, the lawyer, the police officer, the wife, the gatekeeper and the photographer—all returned into the house. When everybody, except the gatekeeper was seated again, the detective asked:
“Mr. Um—Chima, you said there was still a member of this house—the driver, and he’s not here. When last did you see him?”
“I was in my room last night when I heard the sound of one of the cars in the garage. I came out and saw Richard and Oga in the jeep. I tried to ask where they were going but my boss asked me to mind my business. So, I opened the gate when he ordered me to, and they drove out of the compound. That’s what I know.”
“So, that was what happened,” said the lawyer, “Richard drove out with Cain and he killed him. I knew it! I know that boy is a criminal. He has run away, we must find him and bring him to justice.”
“What makes you so sure about that, sir?” the photographer asked Kish.
The gatekeeper opened his mouth to speak but the detective spoke before him, “Nobody should be accused for now. It’s too early to assume or suspect anybody; we still have a long way to go in investigating this case. Nobody is guilty until proven so.”
“This is everything you need, detective,” said Michael Kish, “Richard killed his boss and ran away. What else do you need? Or do you think he will come back here to surrender himself?”
“We are not yet sure of what really happened and I shall be obliged if you will kindly keep your theory to yourself until I ask for it—all right?”
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