Femi turned on the tape recorder and faced the young woman seated before him. He inhaled deeply and smiled at her.
“Miss or Mrs Catherine?” He asked as she snorted and looked away. “Okay, I’ll just call you Catherine” he said but when she did not reply, he continued. “Tell me about your relationship with your fa-”
“Don’t you dare call him that…he was never my father” she yelled as Femi simply nodded and wrote down something.
“Tell me about your relationship with him”
His former statement seemed to crack the ice and she began.
“I hated him” Femi said nothing; he just kept his eyes on her. She opened her mouth to speak but bowed her head instead. This did not go unnoticed by Femi.
“Where were you at 10:00pm on the 13th of August?”
“I don’t remember but I don’t think it was different from what I do everyday”
“Living life, having fun” she replied with a look that said he was meant to know what she was talking about.
“Where were you having fun that night?”
“In my house…my babes came over” she replied. “Would you like to have their numbers?” She asked with a cryptic smile.
“That would be helpful” he replied seriously and asked. “When did you hear about your…Chief Emeka’s death” he corrected himself.
“I saw it on TV”
“Neither your mum nor your-”
“Would you stop that? They have names” she paused. “Anyway, we don’t talk much…they’re all a bunch of idiots who don’t care about anyone but themselves”
Femi took his cue from there. “Well, from what I’ve heard, Chief Emeka cared about everyone” he said as she scoffed and looked to the side of the room.
“Well” she shrugged still looking away. “Everyone thinks so”
Femi noticed the emphasis she laid on that word. That only meant she had a contradictory opinion; a different experience she had received due to the kind of life she had chosen for herself.
Femi mentally scolded himself for judging her.
“What do you think?” He asked as she gave a lopsided grin.
“I’ve told you. He cared about no one but himself”
“Well, you have to prove it”
“I don’t have to prove anything to you” she said indignantly as Femi realized he was going too far.
“Okay, let’s start over. What did Chf Emeka do to you that made you hate him?” He asked as she turned to him as if thinking of what to say.
“He ruined my life”
“Can you tell me how, Catherine?”
She forced a wry smile and her hands began to shake suddenly. Femi noticed it and rose to his feet.
“Are you okay?” He asked walking over to her side of the table as she put out a hand for him to stop.
“I’m fine” she muttered as she put her hand into the pocket of her baggy jeans and brought out a cigarette.
“I just need to smoke” she said and lit it.
She inhaled twice before she was relaxed and looked back at Femi.
“Hope you don’t mind” she said as he shook his head and she then nodded. Not wanting to spend more time in the interrogation room, she spoke hurriedly. “Look, I hated the man but I did not kill him…if you were to ask me, I would say he deserved what he got”
“Because I always wanted him dead”
“But you just said-”
“I did not kill him”
Femi stared at her wondering what to make of all she had said. He had a feeling she was telling the truth but in his job, feelings were completely useless. She seemed so plain and open but she still seemed to be hiding something…he was feeling again.
He needed concrete evidence to put the murderer away and so far, Catherine and Nduka were his best leads. He would keep an eye on her just as he was doing with Nduka. If they did not do the dirty job themselves, they must have gotten someone else to.
“That’s all for now, Miss Catherine” he said and turned off the recorder. “The sergeant at the door will take the numbers of your friends” he said as she winked at him.
Annabel watched James drift off to sleep before she left the room. It was just 8:00pm and the house was so quiet; it was as if everyone had died with Chief. The constant laughter in the house had ceased and Catherine’s presence had brought a certain uneasiness to the household.
She entered Patrick’s room and turned on the light switch. He had covered himself with the bedcovers as always. Annie had always told him not to cover his face as well, but she still had to cover him properly every night. It was when she uncovered him that she heard him sniffing on his pillow. She did not remember him having a cold.
“Pat” she called and turned him over to see his red eyes. “Sweety, why are you crying?” She asked as he immediately sat up and hugged her.
“Promise me you will never leave me mummy” he begged still hugging her as she held him close and patted his back.
“You know that I’ll never do that” she said kissing his forehead and looking into his eyes. “Mummy loves you”
“But…why does my own mummy hate me?”
“She doesn’t hate you honey, she just-”
“She does! I always try to make her happy but every time she…she just-”
“Hold on Pat. What to you mean by every time?” She asked quizzically because all communication had been cut between him and Catherine. She looked at him and noticed his look; as if he had just gotten into
“Mummy I’m sorry” he begged as the tears continued to stream down his cheeks.
Godwin was infuriated at what he had just heard from Annie minutes ago. Catherine had been receiving visits from Patrick everyday after school for almost two years.
“You are just…there was supposed to be no contact with him. That was the deal” he shouted as Catherine yawned tiredly.
What really got to him was that she rejected everyday he came by.
“Even the most heartless has a soft spot for a persistent kid who asks for nothing but love” he said as his voice reduced to a whisper.
“Don’t you dare call me your brother” he warned pointing his index finger at her as she shook her head.
“You don’t point at your elders…I always taught you that” she said as he frowned.
“You are torturing that boy with your presence” he said slowly as she laughed.
“He still hasn’t learned to know when he’s not needed”
“You’re a horrible person” he said and walked out of her room.
“I know that baby” she whispered as she locked her door and went back to sleep.
Femi entered his office carrying a heavy carton with him. After his chat with Pamela two days ago, he had taken the heavy safe box the moment she told him it was mobile. There was no way he could get the combination to the box so he had taken it to a blacksmith who claimed that most of his tools became bad due to the quality of metal safe. Femi was pleased it was fireproof, bulletproof, waterproof but not blacksmith-proof…if there was even a word like that.
The officers keeping eyes on Nduka and Catherine had not given any report so far and he hoped the safe would bring a smile to his face.
He put on his latex gloves before tearing the carton on his desk because trying to lift the box out would be suicide to his joints. He sat on his chair as he opened the door to the safe. He had watched the blacksmith open the box so he knew whatever evidence found therein would be clean.
He felt a sensation within him; one that he always felt when he was getting to the end of a case. The safe could be a lead to the man’s life and hopefully, his murderer.
He looked into the safe and brought out a small Tecno phone; he was not sure of the model. He tried to turn it on but it was dead. Fortunately, there was power supply at that moment so he plugged the phone into the socket behind him.
He then brought out an A4-sized envelope which was not as heavy as he had expected. He kept it aside and brought out a wad of #1000 notes.
Why would he lock these in here?
He was about to close the safe when he noticed a small brown envelope. He took it out and moved his chair to another part of his large desk where he arranged the currency notes, the small envelope, and the large envelope. He took in a deep breath and picked up the wad of notes, carefully checking in between each note for nothing in particular. Nothing fell out and when he had finished scrutinizing the notes, there was nothing written on any of the notes.
He put it down and picked up the small envelope which had no name. He opened it and took out a white piece of paper which looked like it had been read and folded a lot of times. He unfolded the piece of paper and it read:
You bloody bastard, you will pay dearly for what you did.
I’m not so stupid to send a text; I can’t stand to be the one that breaks Ujunwa’s heart.
You cannot escape it; I protected you, I did everything you asked me to do and this is how you can repay me. You will rot in hell for this.
Trust me the day of reckoning is at hand and it will surely be a great day for me; I really hope I will witness your downfall.
You will pay dearly and the entire truth will be revealed.
You know who this is from.
Written by Miracle Emeka-Nkwor.
Follow on Facebook via Miracle Nkwor
And on Twitter @talesbymimi