Ike switched off the computer and rolled his chair back from the desk. He glanced at the clock and realized that the room was almost empty; it was nearing midnight.
He had been reading for six hours, and now knew more about the Rosenfeld murder investigation than he had ever dreamed possible. Newspapers articles had made up the pile on his desk, and from them, he had formed a pretty good picture of the woman her grandmother had just left his house.
Gabrielle Rosenfeld was raised in luxury, an only child in Independence Layout, Enugu, by a multi-millionaire business man, James Mgbako, and his wife, Rosie. Gabrielle had been given all the advantages money could, and up to the time she got married, she had led a sheltered, cultured life. She had met George Rosenfeld, the eldest son of a Nigerian publishing giant, at a university party between UNN and UNEC, and married him a month after graduation.
And then, Ike reasoned, Gabrielle Rosenfeld’s charmed life began to change. Ike had his own opinion of George Rosenfeld, a pre-packaged politician who had been groomed form childhood to be a head of state, the ride to that goal designed for him by his parent’s money. George Rosenfeld, twelfth chairman of the board of Bantan Publishing, had been running the company funded by his grandfather, a minister, to publish novels, when his advisers decided the time was right to launch him into the political arena.
Rosenfeld had used his family’s history to form a great campaign funded on the great books they published. He also gained support from citizens who were disgusted by the crime rate in Nigeria.
But Ike knew that George’s private life was nothing like the image he projected. Police detectives have access to information the general public never learns, and Ike had heard stories for years about the chairman, as he was known. The cops knew that George had been picked up more than once during raids on brothels and paid his way out of the charges, then swithed to call girl services which posed less risk and provided better cover.
He was a very immoral man who ignored his family and yet expected his wife to play the role of a loving spouse, which was necessary for his image.
To all appearance, Gabrielle had complied. But Ike had noticed that in the file photos she looked more fragile and pale each year, and now looked nearly gaunt and ghostly. Ike could imagine why she hadn’t divorced Rosenfeld – the usual story in such cases was the threat to cut off access to the children, and Ike knew he could do it.
Gabrielle’s family had serious money, but the Rosenfelds had a lot more. Attorneys and Judges could be brought, made to repay old favours or go into debt for future ones. A woman like the fragile lady accused of murder could have little chance against the Rosenfeld group, and no one would have known that better than Gabrielle herself.
Ike rubbed his eyes and stretched, nodding at the detective who wandered past him. He didn’t want to consider the possible. He didn’t want to consider the fact that Gabrielle Rosenfeld had reasons to wish her husband dead. He had treated her, and her children, like props in a performance his was staging for himself. Had she finally snapped and killed him? But why do it in front of people without concealing the crime? Was she deranged, suicidal or detached from reality? Ike couldn’t see the woman he had met as the kind to shoot a public figure in front of witnesses. Gabrielle was worn out, depressed and now fighting for her very life, but she certainly didn’t appear to be crazy.
The door to the office opened and Chief Odogwu came in briskly, stopping short when he saw Ike sitting bleary-eyed in front of the computer.
“No extra pay for unscheduled overtime,” he said to Ike who smiled thinly.
“The Rosenfeld case?” the chief asked.
Ike nodded and looked away.
“What’s the problem?” Odogwu asked.
Ike shrugged. “Too easy, I guess. She goes berserk and kills the unfaithful husband with a handful of his buddies watching aside? Why? She could have poisoned his tea, for God’s sake; she didn’t have to sign her own death warrant at the same time. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
“Maybe she slipped out. It certainly looks that way.”
“She doesn’t seem nuts.”
“Neither did some others. Go on, Kid, go home. Get a life. Get a girlfriend.”
“I don’t want a girlfriend.”
“Because she might become my wife, and I had a wife.” Ike said dryly.
“Alright, so marriage didn’t work out for you the first time around. Is that a reason to become a monk.”
“I’m not a monk,” Ike replied, smiling. “I’m just selective. Let’s stop talking about my personal life for a second.”
“So what’s on your mind?”
“I want off the Rosenfeld case,”
Odogwu stared at him for a few seconds then nodded.
“Did you have a tiff with the lady?”
“Then what, Udeh? Don’t you think this request is a little drastic?”
“If I am not excused then I’ll end up being suspended for misconduct.”
Odogwu eyed him thoughtfully, then sighed. “That bad?”
“I have some feelings for Gabrielle Rosenfeld. I won’t be able to do an effective job in aiding the prosecution. I’m too involved with her.”
Odogwu exhaled. “Kinda sudden, isn’t it?”
“Well, I can take you off the case and assign you to something else, but you’ll have to answer a few questions as the arresting and investigating officer, appear in court and give evidence.”
“I know that. But I’m not just asking for reassignment. I want to take a leave of absence starting tomorrow.”
Odogwu said nothing.
“I want to help her prove her innocence, which will be actively working against the interest of the department. Gabrielle is the prime suspect in a high profile murder case, and as it stands now her conviction is very likely. If I help evade that conviction, the police department who arrested her and her prosecutors would look bad. I’m trying to save everyone the embarrassment.”
Odogwu pursed his lips thoughtfully. “And this is what you plan to do?”
“I can’t dissuade you?”
Odogwu shrugged and folded his hands. “I’ll put the paperwork in today.”
“Thanks, Chief. I owe you one.”
Odogwu waved his hand dismissively. “Do you plan to tell Ubaka?”
Ike sighed. “I’ll tell him.”
“He won’t be happy.”
Good luck, Udeh, and I mean that.”
He brushed past Tina, Odogwu’s assistant, and walked out the door. He tried to focus his thoughts on the upcoming conversation with Ubaka but his mind created images of Gabrielle, half-dressed and eyes glazed with passion. Not yet, he told himself, and headed for his office to start cleaning out his desk.
The phone rang in the woman’s bedroom, waking her from a heavy slumber. Three alarming blares that made her regret her choice of ringtone. She hazily answered it.
“We have her.” The caller said.
“Good job.” She replied dryly.
“What would you want us to do next?”
The woman thought for a while. “Get across to the lady. Make her understand the situation, and then explain to her what to do next.”
“Don’t you think it is a little too soon. We still have time.”
“No, we don’t. Get across to her now.” The woman said, her voice a cold shrill. “Don’t call me until you have good news.”
“Roger that.” The caller said.
The woman hung up and stared at the phone in her hand , smiled a thin smile and set it down. Things were beginning to turn out well.
She could actually get away with this.