Femi stood waiting patiently for Pamela, Chief Emeka’s secretary, to scrutinize his I. D card She handed it back to him and rose to her feet.
“You know we can’t really trust people these days” she said and led him to Chief Emeka’s office. She opened the door to his office and walked in with Femi behind her.
He walked past her to the centre of the big office and stopped. He looked around the place and heard Pamela speak.
“I told the cleaners not to come in here…you know, even after the CSI left”
“That was really smart of you Miss…” he paused and waited for her to mention her name.
“Pamela” she replied as he nodded and turned his attention back to his surroundings.
He walked to the desk where files and papers were arranged neatly. An empty A4 paper lay in the middle of the desk with a pen beside it as if waiting for him to come to work.
“What time did he usually close from work?”
She held back a smile. “He owns this place. He walks in and out whenever he pleases”
“Let’s try to put it this way; from your observation, what time did he usually leave?”
“Let’s say three…but if he was tied down with work he could leave at five or six” she explained as Femi nodded and threw another question.
“What time did he leave on the 13th of August?” Her brows furrowed as she thought of the date. “The day he died” he reminded her as she nodded.
“He left at 3:00pm that day. A family stuff”
“So he was a family man?” Femi made it sound like a question
“He was” she had a sad smile on her face. “And I’m sure they must be going through a lot right now. Do you know that-” he cut her short not happy that she was derailing.
“I need to go through his files” he said as she nodded and walked to a door which he noticed for the first time.
It was a small room with shelves on both sides containing files and folders.
“Can you get me the files from last week till the 13th?” He asked as she nodded and proceeded to the end of the shelf where she took out five files.
“I’ll be at my table” she informed and walked out as he scanned the files and papers. They were all useless to him; nothing connected to a possible homicide. He looked at his watch and hoped Mrs Okafor would be in a stable mood. He put the folders back where he had seen Pamela remove them and noticed that one of them stuck out. He tried to push it in, but it did not budge.
Out of curiosity, he removed the folders and noticed a safe in the wall; it’s knob had pushed the folder out. He was positive that the investigators had not seen it seeing as it was hidden. He walked out of the office and back to Pamela’s table.
“Do you know the combination for the safe?”
“Only Chief knew that” she replied as he frowned a bit.
“Is it mobile?” He asked as she nodded and he then decided to test his blackmail theory.
“Did you notice any change in his attitude days, weeks or months ago?”
Her brows furrowed as she tried to remember. Femi concluded she always did that when she was thinking of something.
“Think hard enough Pamela” he cut in. “Did you hear him shout over the phone? Did you deliver any
message that had made him uneasy? Try to think Pamela” he pushed as she closed her eyes and opened them.
“No…there wasn’t. He only yelled when targets were not met”
Femi was disappointed.
“I’m really sorry. I wish I could help” she had noticed the look in his eyes.
“Actually, you can” his eyes lit up. “Did he usually keep his important documents here?”
Godwin had ransacked the whole house but still could not find what he was searching for. He had searched all the drawers in his parents room and had even gone to the study to find it. He walked into the living room where his mother and wife sat saying nothing to each other. They both turned to him at once but his wife looked away immediately while his mum kept her eyes fixed on him. He looked unkempt and as if he had not slept a wink the whole night. He had woken up earlier than everyone and had begun searching the whole place for heaven knew what. She had tried to ask him but he avoided the question and Annabel had not helped either.
“Since when did we have rats in this house?” He asked no one in particular.
“I am going to ask again…what in God’s name have you been looking for since morning?”
“Some documents” he replied and began to think of a place he had not yet searched. He did not want his mum to find out what he was searching for. She would know what he wanted to do. He was relieved Annabel had said nothing to her yet even though he knew his wife better.
“What’s in the documents?”
She frowned at how stupid he was beginning to make her feel and she was about to complain when Annie spoke up.
“He’s looking for Patrick’s adoption papers” she said as Godwin frowned but she ignored him and faced Ujunwa.
“Maybe, the chatterbox can give you an answer” he smirked with heavy sarcasm as she smiled at him and faced Uju.
“And I will give her an answer…the detective was asking questions about Pat’s mother and your son as usual was withholding information”
Ujunwa sighed and looked up at her son who was thinking of where else to search and paying no attention to them. He had hated Catherine ever since she became wayward. He had even severed all ties with her and felt so embarrassed when she was called a part of them.
“Godwin” she called but he did not answer. She knew why he was looking for the documents; he could not stand letting the detective know that such a person existed in their lives. “Godwin” she was louder this time and he turned to her. “No matter what you do, he’ll eventually find out”
“Not if I have the document…mum, where is it?”
“What makes you think I have it?”
“You should know where it is”
She turned to Annie who did not say a word but watched the mother-son drama.
“Your dad keeps his documents in the office” she said as his eyes widened. Why had he not thought of going to the office all day?
He looked at the wall clock, it was 1:36pm. He rushed upstairs to freshen up while his wife muttered “he’s never going to love her, is he?”
Ujunwa shook her head.
Few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Annie answered immediately and opened the door to see Femi.
“Good afternoon detective” she greeted. She had no idea he was coming that day.
“Good afternoon Annie” she made way for him to pass. He was already being informal with her. “Good day Mrs Okafor”
Ujunwa simply smiled and motioned for him to sit.
“Is Godwin at home?” He asked as soon as he sat on the sofa.
“Good day detective” Godwin greeted cutting his wife short.
“That was fast” his mum remarked as Annie chuckled.
“Were you busy behind the house or…”
“I’m going out” he said defensively as the detective looked him up and started to speak when Annie and his mother burst out laughing.
Godwin had to look at himself before he saw the reason for their annoying laughter. He could also see how hard the detective was trying to hold back a laugh too. He had worn the back of his polo, he had buttoned his shorts without zipping them and one leg of the shorts looked folded and the other straight; he really looked as if he had been busy behind the house.
“You can stop laughing now” he said to them and turned his attention back to Femi. “How may we help you?”
“Remember I wanted to know more about Catherine without a surname but your mum was not in-”
“Oh that…you won’t believe it” his mum and wife really wanted to hear his next line. “Mum lost it” he said to their surprise. “Who loses documents these days, huh?” He asked rhetorically with a smile as he opened
his hands. “Anyway, you know when people get old and-”
“Do you remember I’m sitting right here?”
Femi turned to her and smiled before turning back to Godwin. “I’m not here to ask for the documents” Godwin looked relieved.
“Then why are you here?”
“To show you these” he said as they noticed, for the first time, the papers in his hands. He handed it over to Godwin who looked at them and gave a sigh of resignation.
“You were in my dad’s office?” His tone was rising.
“I had a warrant” Femi said immediately and turned to Ujunwa. “Tell me about Catherine”
Uju sighed as a sad expression took over; another reason Godwin despised Catherine. “She is my-”
“Was” Godwin corrected immediately but his mum ignored him.
“She’s my daughter and Godwin’s sister. She just found herself on the wrong path but soon she’ll realize her mistakes and come back home” she explained briefly.
“Mum, you know that is never going to happen”
“He could be saying the truth” he paused and looked into the widow’s eyes. “Did she ever threaten you or your husband or this family?” He asked as Ujunwa swallowed and her voice became high pitched.
“She’s always under the influence of alcohol. She doesn’t mean half the things she says” she quickly defended and turned to Annie for support but none was forthcoming; Godwin was a no-go area. She looked back at Femi, his stare was now piercing. “She would never hurt any of us. She loves us even if she doesn’t know it” she turned angrily to Godwin. “Say something”
“Something” he said as she frowned and turned to Annie who hated getting involved when Catherine was the topic.
“I’m not saying she killed him…herself” he said as Uju’s eyes widened in fear.
“She’s not that smart. Even if she did, she would just lie there in her vomit and wait for you to come for her” Godwin said and waited for someone to scold him but nobody said anything. They knew he was correct.
Femi took a mental note in his head; she hadn’t committed the act herself. He started to speak when someone forcefully pushed the front door open and strolled in with a box.
“I heard the old bastard is finally gone” Catherine said taking off her sunglasses as they all stared at her.
Written by Miracle Emeka-Nkwor
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