“So we know that explosives were involved, right?” Jerry asked.
“Yes,” James said. “It’s been confirmed, although there’s going to be some analysis.”
Jerry nodded. They were still within the building. Both he and James wore waterproof bags over their shoes, tied down with rubber, and they also wore rubber gloves. The whole place was covered with soggy ash, grime and water. The destruction was enormous. Nothing stood. Nothing useful remained. Somewhere in the bowels of the house, Jerry heard running water, and the murmur of voices. A few firemen hurried past them as they walked to the kitchen. They’d gone through all the rooms upstairs. Nothing much to see there, but at least they’d confirmed that this was no accident. And from questioning some of the MOPOL, the ones that had stayed back, that was, Jerry had been able to confirm that the fire had started downstairs.
Upon entering the kitchen, Jerry decided that the fire had started in the kitchen. The damage in here was total. The walls were black. All the cabinets had been reduced to ash. All appliances had either melted or had been destroyed completely.
“It started here,” Jerry said.
James looked around. “Jesus Christ,” he breathed. He felt mad that this had happened, and to the Senator, of all people. This really had gone too far. Yes he was aware of the tension in the state during the election campaigns; was there ever a tension-free time during elections? But this was taking it too far. “I’m pretty sure his party will retaliate for this. The only question now is which party had a hand in this?”
Jerry looked at him for a moment, and then said, “You should never come to conclusions in the heat of the moment. Bad decisions are always driven by emotion.”
“But don’t you think this is a political killing?”
“While that is a possibility,” Jerry said, eyes scanning everything, “never discount other possibilities.” The cool breeze wafted in, cooling him off a bit.
“But the Senator was contesting for the Governorship, right?”
The cool breeze…
“Yes, he was but-”
“-if this had hap-”
Jerry stopped mid-sentence, and looked at the window. It was stuck halfway upwards. He treaded his way to it, James trailing carefully behind. He looked at it a moment and then asked, “James, do you remember anything about the rooms we’ve checked so far?”
James waited a beat, then said tentatively, “They’re…burnt?”
Jerry turned to look at him, and saw uncertainty on his face. Sighing and giving a wry smile, he said “You need to pay attention to the little details man. Those are the things that matter.” Then he turned to the window and asked, “What do you remember about the windows we saw?”
“They were closed.”
Jerry bent at the waist and poked his head outside, looked around for a beat. Scanned outside, along the fence. The trees that lined up in front of the fence impeded his view somewhat, but something tugged on his mind.
“Hmph.” Jerry brought his head back in, then went outside, James in tow. They walked to the side of the house, outside the kitchen, and Jerry looked at the window, then on the ground at the shattered glass. Then he turned and scanned the area once more.
Come on…I feel you…Come on show me…
Then he spotted something.
Jerry struck off towards the trees, taking care to scan as he walked also. “Look around the window, see what you find,” he told James, as he neared the trees. As he got closer, the thing he had seen became clearer.
The alignment of the trees had blocked it from view earlier, with just a part of it visible. Now, he knew how the killer had gotten in. He looked , and saw the roll of barbed wire on the ground, then saw the empty space at the top of the fence.
Inspector Mark Ike stood, watching the flow of the river that ran through the estate where he lived. He’d left his house about thirty minutes ago, walking to the river bank, for the first time in a long while. It was almost noon, but the weather was a bit mild, and from behind the little embankment that served more as a bench than as a deterrent for kids (although parents never let their kids come here alone) he watched the currents of the river, saw the fishes as the broke to the surface, and then dive back down again.
Peace, even if for a little while.
Clash of blades… ‘IFY!!!’
The surgery had gone well, and the doctors were surprised at the speed with which he’d healed. They’d said he would spend at least 4 months healing; at least 3 weeks to a month in the hospital, and the rest of the healing period at home. It had been just about 2 months, and he was walking about with relative ease, with nothing but a dull ache at times in his side.
At least he was lucky no bones or major organs had been damaged.
But he hadn’t been able to train for a while now, and his division needed him too. The death of the Senator was going to cause a big row in the state, and something had to be done soon.
Maybe he would have to cut his recovery period short… Well, he would wait and see…
And where the hell was Stone?
The guy had disappeared after that long night, the longest night of his life….Of all their lives…
I’m going to get her back, Amaka. I swear to you…
All he’d gotten from him was a message from a Nurse, while he’d been in the hospital.
‘Whenever you need me, I’ll find you.’
Very cryptic. Was he God? Mark chuckled. The funny thing was that he was sure if he tried, he could find Stone, but he had bigger problems on his plate at the moment. Besides, he didn’t want to lead anyone to Stone.
It was difficult enough turning away from a life of crime.
Maybe he needed time to heal, to forgive himself for what he’d done.
For murdering his friend, among other things.
And what about Bola? What was he going to do about her? At least his wife wasn’t giving him grief about her, and Ifeoma, his daughter, seemed taken with her. He would have to wait and see how things played out.
But life sure was cruel.
Sighing, Mark raised his hand, made a fist. Looked at it, turning it this way and that. Looked at the other one.
So I am this much of a weapon eh?
But he already knew that.
He hadn’t wanted to kill Marshal Briggs, but the man had forced his hand. He’d shot him in the back.
It had been a long time since he’d killed anybody…The last time had been a long time ago, in another place, another time.
He hoped he would never have to wield a katana in battle, ever again.
But life…ah…life had the funniest ways of broadsiding a person. He was hoping against hope…
His phone vibrated, and he took it out. His wife. She was probably worried. He couldn’t blame her, not after what they’d both gone through. Might have been about 2 months, but it still felt like yesterday to her, he knew. And sometimes he knew his daughter had nightmares. He’d had to go into her room a couple of times in the middle of the night to comfort her.
He couldn’t blame her. She was just a kid, and what she’d gone through was enough to break an adult. She was a tough one, that girl, Ifeoma.
Thank God the nightmares were reducing in occurrence. She hadn’t had one in over 2 weeks, which was a good sign.
Watching a fish come up for food one last time, he turned and walked back home.
Sally sat at her desk, staring at her computer screen and seeing nothing but his eyes. Those thoughtful, deep eyes that could be playful one second, and serious the next. Eyes that had always turned her knees to jelly.
She’d known he’d been in town, but she’d shut everything about him, and all memories connected to him in the recesses of her brain. She had been scared of opening old wounds; she’d been scared of what she would see. Questions she’d always wanted answered.
Had he moved on?
Had he forgiven her?
What had made him the way he was; what was the reason for his emotional distance. Despite the fact that he’d said he loved her then, his demons had not let him open up completely to her, and in the end, she’d drifted away from him.
His eyes, the hurt in them, when she’d told him not to look for her.
God, what did I do?
The past four years came rushing back.
I don’t need this now, not today.
Her Boss, Mr Tamuno Banigo, had called her into his office the moment he’d come in; he too had been late. He’d told her to cancel all appointments for the day, and then he’d asked her how she’d felt. He’d known that she had been close to the Senator’s family. Not related to him in any way, Sally had actually worked for him, doubling as P.A. and Internal Auditor. Her analytical mind impressing itself upon the Senator, he’d loaned her to her current Boss when a scandal had rocked the Secret Service. Wanting to keep it on the down low, Mr Tamuno had brought her in, telling all she was his new P.A. After three months of tireless work, she’d stumbled on the whole thing. A whopper of a financial scandal. Weapons and ammunition consignments worth over N100 million diverted, and more than N600 million worth of funds, siphoned into unknown accounts.
And all evidence had pointed to 5 men: Mr Roland Akin, Mr Nelson Michaels, Mr Tunji Olabiodun, Mr Kabiru Sani and Mr Victor Tekena.
Impressed by her work, Mr Tamuno had asked Senator Chimeka immediately to let her work for him. It had taken 2 months, but she’d finally been allowed to join the Secret Service.
She’d met Jerry way before this, before she’d even started working for the Senator.
She’d never loved another man like she’d loved him.
And now, fate was throwing both of them together.
She just hoped she would survive this whole thing, with her life, and her heart, intact.
She waited for her phone to ring.
“How do you reckon he’d gotten in with the ladder in here?” James asked.
He was standing outside with Jerry. Upon seeing the space in the barbed wire, Jerry had begun to walk outside. James had looked up, called after him, and upon Jerry ignoring him, had known something was up. He’d run to the fence, seen what Jerry had seen, and had run outside the gate to meet Jerry. Now they were standing outside, beside the fence, looking up at the gap in roll of barbed wire.
Jerry looked up at the fence. Too high for a normal person to climb. But the tree was much taller, and the branches leaned right over the fence, and were within arm’s reach of the barbed wire. He turned to the tree and examined it closely Random piercings…until a pattern began to present itself. Smiling softly, he squatted, checked the trunk. Found the same piercing, at a height he knew someone’s foot would be. Stood up and looked up. They were faint but he could follow them upwards to an extent.
“What did you find?” James asked.
“What do you see?”
James looked closely. Stared. Then he touched one of the marks. “These marks….They are different…and a bit fresh too… At least they don’t look old.”
“Yes. And I think our killer made them.”
James looked at him. “So how did he get the ladder over the fence then?”
“Working on it.” Jerry walked back towards the gate and into the compound. Walked along the fence, with James trailing behind, till he got to the ladder. “Go and ask one of the MOPOL men who worked here to come.”
As James left, Jerry looked at the ladder. It looked quite new. He wouldn’t bother looking for the place of purchase; that was going to be futile. And he didn’t hold out much hope of lifting a finger-print either, but it was still something he had to check for. Sound of footsteps, and he looked. James and a MOPOL man came.
“Yes Sir?” the man asked, although he looked slightly irritated.
Jerry ignored his discomfort. “How long you don dey work for here?” he asked in Pidgin English.
“Emm…” The man’s eyes rolled up to the right as he tried to remember. His lips moved silently as he tried to recall. “This na September….I come here for…march, I think. Yes. March. So na emm…” He tried to count with his fingers. “7 months, I think… Yes, 7 months.”
“You recognize this ladder?”
The man’s eyes clouded as he looked at it. He shook his head. “No sir. We get one ladder, but that one long pass this one, and e dey for back. Person no dey carry ladder come here, unless work dey to do.”
James looked at him. Jerry nodded. “Okay”, James said. “You fit go.”
Wordlessly, he turned and left. James turned to him. “What now?”
Jerry turned to the ladder. “I don’t think we’ll find anything here, but we need to get this to the lab for analysis. Get someone on this. Arrange for it to be transported. Stay here and see what else you can find.”
“Where are you going?”
“Me? I need to make a phone call. Then hopefully, a meeting.”