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EPISODE 12

Yesterday, the sky was pregnant, it appeared to
be swaddled in disposable diapers, but the rain
that was supposed to break was not delivered.
Today, the sky was blue with a scattering of
popcorn clouds, the day was mild, there was no
wind and no rain was in the forecast.
Cain Martins had gotten his own share of the rule
stating that every man born of a woman must
surely return to dust, and Detective Lot had given
the household a week to mourn the departed soul
before resuming his investigation, but there was
no mourn at all––it appeared as if Cain Martins
never existed at all until the detective came
reminded the household that someone there had
died a fortnight earlier. He was only able to
convince them that Cain had existed when he
spoke about death in sepulchral tones. Everybody
was seated, including Hakeem who was in his
best sartorial presentation, and Doctor Adam. On
the television, an evangelist was gesticulating
furiously, but the sound was muted, so he
seemed like a crazed and poorly trained mime.
The Dow tape with its hieroglyphic markings ran
across the bottom of the screen. The resulting
scene was slightly less baffling than the antics of
an ant colony.
It was Hakeem who brought to the household
notice the obvious, “Why is the photographer not
here today? I was expecting my picture to be
taken today.”
Eze Chima answered him immediately, “Will you
do us a favour and zip those lips of yours?”
“I only asked a question, sir.”
“I said shut your trap or I throw you out of this
compound.” He glared at the boy.
Hakeem seeing the gatekeeper’s angry face
immediately tightened his lips; a symbol of his
acquiescence to the ex-soldier’s command.
The detective spoke:
“It had been almost a fortnight since the death of
Mr. Cain Martins, and we all know that it was not
a natural death––he died from gunshot wound.
“From my point of view,” he continued, “Two
things were bound to have caused his death; it’s
either he committed suicide, which is still highly
unlikely, or he was killed in cold blood.” He
paused to look around for any reaction from
others, it was only the police officer who
shuddered in disgust, others were as mute as
sheep.
“That is what I am here to investigate and I want
everybody to co-operate with me in arriving at
the truth,” he turned to the doctor, “Doc. Adam,
you performed the autopsy, right?”
The doctor nodded.
“Okay, doctor, I need to ask you a question. With
a self inflicted gunshot wound there’s always a
powder burn on the victim’s hand. Was one
discovered on the deceased?”
“The answer is no.” the doctor replied plainly.
Detective Lot nodded in approval, “I thought as
much. This means that we rule out the possibility
that the deceased committed suicide. That man
was murdered.” He called Abigail, “Madam, can I
have a room where I can make my interrogations?
Starting from Hakeem.”
The boy stood up abruptly, “Why me? Please do
not torture me, I did not do anything.”
Lot tried to calm him down, “Be cool, boy, I learnt
that you saw the man first.”
“Yes, but he was already dead.”
“That is why you need to help us on this case.”
“You are not going to use coercive measures in
getting the truth out of me, are you?”
“Of course not, why would I do that? I trust
you’re not going to withold any information
regarding this case, are you?”
The boy grinned widely, “I will be glad to help.
You see, it is a wonderful thing to be involved in a
murder case, is it not?” he did not wait for an
answer, “I have never seen a dead man before
and that sight is what I’ll always keep green in
my heart. But believe me, I am not looking
forward to a kind of death like that, I will not like
somebody hiding a bullet in my skull. Besides––”
The detective cut him short, “I’ll appreciate your
help, thank you.” Death means very little to a boy
of fourteen, he thought sadly. He looked at
Abigail, “Madam?”
“Oh, there’s an empty room among the boys’
quarters. You can use that one.”
“Can you provide us with a table and three
chairs?”
“Sure,” she turned to the gatekeeper, “Mr.
Chima, please make sure they have what they
need.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” Lot said.
“Ordinarily, my upbringing would require me to
say ‘Don’t mention it,’ or ‘A pleasure of mine,’ or
‘You’re welcome’. But they’ll all be lies.”
“Uh––I don’t understand ma’am. Can you please
be clearer?”
Abigail smiled, “You’re a detective, aren’t you?
Figure it out yourself. By the way, from the little
detective stories I’ve read, a detective would have
made some startling deductions from the most
trivial phenomena by now.”
Lot ignored the insult. In about a quarter of an
hour the interrogation room was prepared. The
room was as commodious as a coffin, it was also
dusty, cobwebs festooned the corners of the
ceiling. There was no rug or carpet, and above,
the ceiling fan was oscillating loudly without
blowing much air. There was an air conditioner,
but it did not seem to be working. The light in the
room was subdued and the low-wattage bulb was
encased in wire mesh and bolted to the ceiling. A
fading sign on the wall facing the door: TRUST IN
Jesus.
Detective Lot sat in a chair facing the door; he
was awaiting his first questionee. The door was
opened slowly and Daniel came in, behind him
was the boy, who was still grinning from ear to
ear like a monkey eating thirty naira sugarcane,
and some vitamin deficiency in his teenage body
seemed to be screaming for appeasement. The
boy sat down and crossed both arms and legs
uttering bismillah, he brought his finger to his
mouth and bit at the nail, he caught himself on
time and stopped the action. Biting his nails was
a bad habit he had not been able to stop. Daniel
Famous took the third chair, a chair whose right
rear leg wasn’t very firm and which had a
tendency of collapsing under the police officer’s
weight.
“I feel very happy.” The boy said.
The detective was getting irritated to quite a
disproportionate extent from the fun the kid was
having, the child was simply having no idea the
gravity behind cause of a man who had lost his
life. He thought the situation on ground was what
he should be joking around about.
“Why? Is today your birthday?” Lot asked.
“No, I am just glad to be involved in this. Will I be
shown on the television? Will my name be
mentioned on the radio? Is my picture going to
be printed in the newspapers?” the boy asked
eagerly, “I will really love that, I will become
famous and my parents will be proud of me. In
short, my friends and classmates will envy me,
beautiful girls will woo me.”
“Actually, you would be shown on the TV,” said
Lot, “Your name would be pronounced on the
radio and you would appear in the papers as you
have said––”
The boy became very excited, “Really? I will––”
“That’s if you are the murderer, and after
becoming infamous you’ll be hanged like a crazy
dog. So, I will advise you to rest that wagging
tongue of yours, get off your ebullient mood and
answer my questions truthfully.”
The boy’s smile vanished like a rat down a hole,
he looked at Daniel’s face for intervention but the
policeman merely shrugged.
“I am not a murderer, I did not kill anybody,” he
started sobbing, “I will never kill anybody in my
life. I am not a killer.”
“Hakeem, nobody is accusing you of murder.”
Daniel said.
“But he just called me a murderer, he called me a
murderer.” He cried some more. “Now, I am
being tortured!”
“No, he didn’t call you a murderer. He’s only
interested in asking you some questions, that’s
all.”
The detective brought out a portable tape
recorder, he inserted an empty cassette and
pressed the ‘Record’ button when the boy finally
stopped his wail.
“According to Famous, you saw the deceased
first. How did you come across the body?”
“It was about half past five in the morning when I
saw the body, I initially thought he was asleep.”
Daniel was startled, “He was asleep at the side of
the road?”
“That was what I thought at first, I thought he
was in a complete state of inebriation––as in
drunk till unconscious.” He had read his
dictionary, “It was when I noticed the wound on
his forehead that I realized what had happened.
One need not to touch it before knowing that he
was as dead as Sanni Abacha, his eyes were wide
open like those of an uncanned Titus. May he rest
with Allah in his gardens.” He continued, “I
quickly rushed to Brother Daniel to report what I
saw. We both returned to the scene; the body
was lying by the gate of this building so we
knocked the gate and the gateman opened it
almost immediately, the man was already awake
after all––his eyes were as clear as the Islamic
rosary. That’s all I know, I did not kill anybody, I
am innocent.”
“What were you doing there so early in the
morning?” asked Lot calmly.
“I was not being a vigilante, that is one job I
detest. I was returning from the minaret. Brother
Daniel can testify to that, he saw me holding my
Qur’an when I came to call him. That day was on
a Saturday and I went to Tajjud vigil the night
before, which was on a Friday.”
“Now, I want you to answer this question
truthfully.”
“That I killed him? I have told you, I am not––”
“Will you stop flapping your flatulent mouth and
let me finish?” Lot roared angrily.
The boy became mute.
“When you saw the body, did you come across
any weapon––any gun?”
Hakeem shook his head.
“Are you sure?”
He nodded, beads of sweat had begun to form on
his nose.
“Before seeing the body, did you meet anybody
on your way?”
He spoke up this time, “I met many people, most
of them were returning from church, but I did not
see anybody when I turned into this street. The
street was as quiet as a Shehu’s grave.”
“What about when you were going to Daniel’s,
did you meet anybody?”
“I met nobody, but I felt the spirit of the dead
man following behind me. It made me burst into
a run with fear.”
“Okay, thank you, but before you go, how old are
you exactly?”
“I will be fifteen by November twenty-eighth.”
“What’s your full name?”
“My name is Ciroma Hakeem Musa and I am not a
terrorist.”
The reply surprised the detective, “Who says you
are?”
Hakeem spread his hands, “That is the idea. Most
people believe every Muslim is a terrorist.”
“Then you’re a devout Muslim, right?”
“A faithful believer in Allah and Prophet
Mohammed, salla Allah alaihi wa sallam. I have
never gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca, but I pray
to Allah five times daily and I do not eat pork.”
“Are you from the North?”
“I am precisely a Fulani but my parents work here
in Lagos. My mother sells Tuwo Shinkafa at the
car-park and my father imports cattle from
Kaduna to sell here in Lagos.”
“You’re a very smart and intelligent boy, I like
you.”
The boy’s face brightened up like a Christmas
light in a dark alley, “SubhanAllah. Allah be
exalted.”
Lot smiled, “I want you to pray to your Allah or
Mohammed to give us the wisdom to catch the
murderer. Will you do that for us, please?”
“Detective Abdullot and Brother Abduldaniel,
have faith in the Qur’an, first paragraph, book
four.”
“Care to tell us what it says, Imam Musa?” Daniel
asked.
“The feasts were brought among the unbelieving
infidels and no longer were they unbelieving.” The
boy quoted. “You see, all you need is faith and
Allah will help you.”
“Do your parents know how intelligent you are,
Hakeem?” Daniel said to Hakeem, the boy’s
foibles he had always been finding charming.
Hakeem shrugged, “I doubt it, my father spends
more time with his cattle than with me and my
mother is always flirting with cab-drivers at the
park. They are both illiterates, of course.”
“Thank you, Hakeem,” Lot said, “You can go
now.” He pressed the ‘Stop’ button on the
recorder.
The boy rose and bowed to the two men, and
then he walked out like someone who had just
rescued a drowning dog in the presence of an
impressed crowd.
Georges Lot turned to Daniel and asked, “What
do you think?”
Daniel smiled, “That boy is funny and intelligent.
He’s definitely one of those boys who do not mind
exchanging banters with anybody they come
across. And he speaks English almost perfectly. I
mean he never uses contractions. Never ‘I’m’ or
‘you’re’ but always ‘I am’ or ‘you are’.”
“I know what contractions are,” Lot snapped at
him, “Was he lying when he was explaining how
he came across the body?”
“If that boy was lying, you would have known, sir.
He spoke everything he knew.”
A bee buzzed past them and banged its face
against the wall.
“The gun was taken away by the murderer.”
Though Lot spoke out, he actually spoke to
himself.
“Mr. Martins might have committed suicide.”
Lot cast a sharp annoyed look at Daniel and said,
“Have I got to tell you thirty-six times, and then
again thirty-six that he was murdered? Where
were
you when the Almighty passed out brains?”
“I’m sorry, sir. Who are we questioning this
time?”
“The gatekeeper, of course.” Lot answered. “Wait
a minute, Hakeem said the gatekeeper was
already awake when you knocked on the gate,
was that true?”
“It seemed so.”
“Then he might have seen or heard something.”
“Or he might know how the body reached the
gate.”

**

The name ‘Eze’ meant ‘King’ to Chima, and he always acknowledged himself as a person of royal status, though he was a gatekeeper most of his life and has not even a chieftaincy lineage. He was dressed in his native Igbo attire; a red cap rested smugly on his head and a pair of black pointed shoes covered his feet. He sat on a chair as he entered the interrogation room.

Detective Lot watched him closely and coughed. He picked up the recorder and pressed the rewind button for a second or two, then he pressed the ‘Record’ button and began:

“What is your name, sir?” said Lot, calling upon all his powers of self-control to force the last of these five words through the barrier of his teeth. He believed Chima was an older man who deserved no much of a respect from him.

“John Eze Chima.”

“Can you please tell us about yourself, Mr. Chima?”

“I have nothing much to tell; I’m an easy-going man and I don’t cause trouble.” Eze said flatly.

“Is that all you’re going to say?”

“What else do you want me to say? I’m in perpendicular a man who doesn’t speak much about himself.”

Lot leaned back in his chair and looked at the old man opposite him intently. He could only see a calm but dangerous expression in the man’s eyes.

“Sir, how old are you?” Lot asked.

“I can’t remember, but I celebrated my eleventh birthday when Nigeria got her independence.”

Lot made a swift calculation in his mind, “Then you’re sixty years old.”

“Thou hast said.”

The detective slapped his forehead and groaned, the man was succeeding in getting on his nerves, he suppressed his anger. It was like gulping a mouthful of bile. “How long have you been working under the deceased?”

The old man lapsed into memory, “About half a decade now, I think.”

“Your relationship with the deceased, was it what one can call amiable, as in friendly?”

Eze chuckled, rivers of wrinkles flowing down the corners of his eyes and mouth. “That’s quite on the contrary. No one had a friendly relationship with Cain, except his lawyer, of course.”

“Now that he’s gone, do you miss him?”

“No, I don’t. I mourn his death though, but not the closing of his big mouth. He was as cruel and headstrong as an allegory on the banks of Nile. Nobody would miss a man who had visited the pearly gates with a CV that would make Saint Peter call for the celestial security guards to bundle him straight to hell.”

The detective shifted in his seat to a more comfortable position.

“Mr. Chima, let’s talk about that gun you possess. How did you come about the old rifle?”

“It’s my war souvenir.”

“Excuse me?”

“Biafra,” Eze said, pausing to scratch his groin.”It was in the late sixties when I was still young and handsome,” he laughed, “I was about eighteen or nineteen years old when the war broke out. I was picked to join the army against my wish, then I was given an oversized uniform with a gun and sent to the warfront to face death––there was no shooting training performed, no combatant training, nothing. Yet, I killed about six dozen enemies with that gun, can you believe that? The more I killed, the braver I became. It was a sheer miracle that I was not killed in that war, I didn’t even sustain a scratch. Many of my colleagues, older and younger, were unlucky and got killed, some got their limbs blown away, some bodies could not even be identified because they were silly enough to face a killing tank with pistols and hunters’ guns.”

He smiled as a remembrance occurred to him. “There was time during the war when we were suddenly attacked with tanks, it was just like God’s attack on Sodom and Glocca Morra from the pages of the Old Tentacle, as brave as I was, I immediately turned and ran like hell, dripping with inspiration. I wasn’t turning chicken, and I wasn’t trying to be a superman either, I was just using my head for once. Those who fight and run away live to fight another day. So I ran, a bullet richshawed a tree and almost hit me in the head. There are times when you don’t need a priest to tell you that it isn’t sensible to take on a tank with your gun, because if you do, you’ll be standing there holding your gun and looking at the hole the tank just created in your belly. I think that was what really happened in the case of some of my silly mates.

“After the war, I kept my gun as a souvenir; its sight will always remind me of my youth, the days when men were still men.” He smiled, “I don’t think you can reprehend the meaning of what I’m saying.”

After listening patiently to the gatekeeper’s tale, Lot asked, “Have you ever shot the gun after the war?”

“Yes, twice. I shot a bullet in 1988 and another in about a decade and a half later.”

“What war were you fighting then?”

“No be war. I shoot the bullets up to the heavens because of the sound, it makes the memories of the Biafra fresh in my brain.”

“Did you shoot any recently?”

“No.”

“Mr. Chima, do you have a family, any wife or child?”

“I lost my wife in 1992, she died of tuberculosis and Chidi, my only son, died in 2002. He was one of the victims of that bomb explosion at the cantonment.”

“Accept my condolence, sir.” Lot said dryly.

Chima smiled, “Seven or seventeen years ago, I would have appreciated your sympathy, but now, Amaka and Chidi are nothing but old memories to me.”

“We are investigating the death of Mr. Martins and I believe you are going to help us on the case, right?”

“Sure, why not? If he was killed, then the person who did it had done many people a great favour, yet, he shouldn’t have taken the law in his own hands. If I may say, I don’t even believe Cain was killed.”

“Can you please recount to me what happened on the night of the seventh?”

The old man began to speak his words in orderly sequence as if he had composed the speech on paper, then memorized and possibly rehearsed it. “It was about ten-thirty in the night when I heard the sound of a car engine,” he began, “I went to the garage and saw Cain and the driver in a jeep, of all the cars in the garage, Cain had always preferred to go out in a jeep.”

“Where were they going?”

“I have no idea, nobody told me. Cain only ordered me to open the gate, which I obediently did; he was my boss.”

“And the next morning Cain was found dead?”

“No, something happened before that.”

“What happened?”

“At exactly half past twelve that night, Oga drove back inside alone.”

Daniel, who had been silently listening to the two men was surprised, “Are you sure about that, sir?”

“Positive,” replied Eze Chima, “Cain came back that night without the driver. When I opened the gate and saw only Cain in the jeep I immediately sensed that something fishy was going on––honestly, I thought Cain had killed Richard and dumped his body somewhere before coming back. You see, Cain and his driver were like cat and mouse, so the thought that Cain had killed Richard was not really a surprising one to me. What really baffled me was seeing Cain lying dead outside, because I locked the gate from within when Cain drove back inside, and I put the keys under my pillow. Nobody could have taken it without my knowledge.”

“Maybe there were the duplicates of the keys.” Lot said.

“That is highly possible, but opening the gate without my awareness is highly impossible. My room is by the gate and that gate makes more noise than rolling back the door of a tomb of a pharaoh dead two thousand years.”

“Maybe you were drugged into unconsciousness and the gate was opened with the duplicates.” Daniel chipped in.

“And the single horn of a car was able to rouse me into consciousness?” asked Chima, “I’m not a deep sleeper, not at my age, and if I was drugged I would have known, don’t you think so?”

Daniel could not say any more word.

Chima continued, “Even if Cain had to die, his corpse should have been inside and not outside. When that man,” he pointed to Daniel, “and the boy
called me that there was a dead body by the gate I thought it was the driver they were referring, but I was shocked when I saw that it was Cain, I’m still very confused.”

The detective sighed. “Is that all?” he asked Chima.

“No,” the old man dipped his hand in his Bosom pocket and extracted a folded paper which he handed to the detective. “Maybe this will help.”

Lot hesitated a bit before collecting the note, and unfortunately for him Chima noticed.

“What are you scared of, detective? You think it’s a letter bomb?”

“Who would want to blow me to smithereens?”

“You’ve got the reputation of stepping on a lot of feet in this country, and no bad deed goes unpunished, as you quite know yourself. Everybody knows that Giwa wasn’t toasted for minding his own business.”

“And from wherever comes that bit of gibberish, old man?” he snatched the paper in anger.

The detective opened the paper, and on it was a writing scrawled carelessly in pencil:

In the morning, call my lawyer.
––MC
The writing was quavery, as if it had been written with the left hand of a right-handed person, or vice versa. Daniel Famous collected the paper and read it. The detective looked up at the gatekeeper and asked, “How did you find this?”

“The next morning, not long after I was called to see the body.”

“Where did you find it?”

“The same place I kept the keys.”

“Then you should have seen it when you were called by Daniel and the boy.”

“No, I saw it after, when this officer called me, I only put my hand under the pillow without looking, and I withdrew the keys. But it was when I
wanted to pick my cap, which I also put under the pillow, that I saw the note lying there.”

“Did you read it?” asked Lot.

“Shouldn’t I have? Or do you think I can’t read? Well, if I read something that is written down in English, I can understand what it means––I am not talking of abstruse stuff, formulae or philosophy––just plain business-like English––most people can’t! If I want to write down something, I can write down what I mean, I’ve discovered that quite a lot of people in this country can’t do that either! Though you can’t illiterate from my memory the fact that English is a mad man’s language, I’m even surprised that I’m so affluent in speaking that language. And, I can do plain arithmetic––if Aki has eight bananas and Pawpaw takes ten from him, how many will Aki have left? That’s the kind of sum some people likes to pretend has a simple answer. They won’t admit, first, that Pawpaw can’t do it––and second, that there won’t be an answer in plus bananas! Evidently, arithmetic is a blessing in the sky, but nobody knows that.”

“That’s the lunacy of Mathematics,” said Daniel, smiling, “We call it Mathematics these days, not Arithmetic.”

“Did you hear any strange sound that night?” Lot asked Chima, after silently listening to the gatekeeper’s annoying spiel, and noticing how wanting the older man’s grammar was.

“A sound like what?”

“Gunshot sound.”

“Within or without?”

“Which one did you hear?”

The gatekeeper hesitated for precisely ten seconds before replying, “Nothing, I heard no sound.”

Lot caught the hesitation and he, therefore, looked askance at the gatekeeper, as the older man’s reply was not very convincing, “Are you sure?” he asked him calmly.

“Hundred percent.”

“Mr. Chima, do you know that withholding vital information is an offence.”

“I heard no sound, detective. If I did, I’d have screamed it into your hearing.”

“You needn’t be so nasty about it.”

Eze smiled, “You have no idea how nasty I can be if I put my mind to it.”

Lot tried to find a befitting reply for the gatekeeper but thought better of it.

“Now, Mr. Chima, I want you to answer this question truthfully.”

“Do you think I’ve been lying before?”

“That is left for me to judge.”

“Then you’ll still have to judge if my next answer would be the truth or not.” The old man smiled, “I’m a bit of a nuisance to you, right?”

“Listen, you senile anachronism, that’s an understatement. You’re probably the most irritating, vexatious man I’ve ever met.”

“Sorry, I’m not a very pineapple of politeness.”

The detective could take it no more, “The word is ‘pinnacle’.”

“That’s what I called it.” Replied Eze.

“No, you said ‘pineapple’.”

“It’s you who just called it that, not me.”
Lot realized that arguing with the gatekeeper about English usage was insane, he therefore allowed it to slide, “Before you were called by Famous, what were you doing?”

“I was doing nothing. I was in my coffin––sorry, cabin.”

“Were you asleep or awake?”

“I was already awake. Actually, I’m always awake every five in the morning.”

“Why?”

‘That’s just my nature, I don’t set the alarm and when it is five, my eyes snap open automatically. It’s like a kind of mechanism in me. Whenever my eyes snap open like that, they don’t shut again. And on that day, the same thing happened, just like this morning or any other day.”

“That’s all for now, Mr. Chima. I’ll call you again when I need you.” Lot stopped the recorder.

The old man stood up, absently picked the seat of his cloth out from the crack of his bottoms, and started taking his leave, when he got to the door he turned to face the detective.

“There’s no point investigating this case,” he said, “Stop wasting your time here. How do you think you will dissolve this mystery if you can’t find any culprit? You may never know the man who did it, just take my advice and leave. You and me know that Cain’s death is not a loss to anybody. So, why investigate it and unlease a hornet’s nest?”

“Because I have to. That is what I’m always paid for, trying to find out who murdered people. And ‘You and I’ is the correct grammatical construction of the sentence.” answered Lot, “By the way, what gives you the impression that I can’t find the killer?”

“Because he was not killed by anyone among us. I think he was killed by a complete outsider, probably someone he had wronged earlier.”

“Really?” Lot feigned surprise.

“My instinct told me so; nobody could have possibly killed him between the widow and the driver.”

“What about you?” the detective shot out.

“What are you trying to incinerate, detective?” The old man’s face changed, “I could have possibly killed him but I didn’t. Cain is too small a kill for me. Besides, I’m not one who hides his deeds, I’ve taken over seventy lives and I don’t feel any remorse for any of them. Bob is my witness, if I had killed Cain I would have told you frankly that I did it. The worst you can do is to persecute me for it, I’m not afraid of anything.” He paused and added, “You are not illegible to be called a detective. When I was in the war, you were nothing but a kid still suckling its mother’s breasts.”

Lot stood up abruptly, “Don’t insult me, old man!”

“And don’t annoy me, young man!” the gatekeeper retorted.

Both men stood glaring at each other before Daniel came between them. The old man gave a weary smile and walked out of the room.

Lot sighed again and sat down, “That man is a very dangerous one, I wonder what he might have done.”

“You looked at that man and saw a dangerous human being,” said Daniel, “but I saw a man whose life had been filled with tragedy and sadness. I pity him, though he’s not the essence of courtesy. The deaths of his wife and son and what he had endured in battle changed him; all made him a different man. I think he’s a man who needs to be understood. He may actually be a sweet old man.”

“Yet, he can be terribly dangerous when he is annoyed. That was actually what I wanted to do, I wanted to annoy him and see his reaction but he didn’t give me the chance.”

“What are you talking about, sir? I don’t understand what you are saying.”

“Do you remember what he said when I stood up to him?”

“He told you not to annoy him, and he was already very much angry.”

“No, you’re really getting it wrong. He was not a bit angry, even when I challenged him with that last question. He was not in the least annoyed, he only wanted us to think he was. Before he went out he gave a strange smile, do you know what that smile meant?”

“Please tell me.”

“ ‘They think I’m angry, fools.’ ”

“Was that last word really in that smile?”

“I don’t care, but he thought us fools.”

“I hate people reminding me of who I am. What do you think about the letter he brought, sir?”

“I think of two things for now; one: the deceased knew what was coming to him so he wrote a note stating the summons of his lawyer. Two: the deceased never wrote the note, it was written by the murderer to add more salt to the injury. We are left to find out who really wrote the note.”

“In your first idea, why couldn’t the deceased call the lawyer on phone by himself instead of writing a boring note? And why did he hide the note under the gatekeeper’s pillow instead of giving it directly to him or instructing him verbally? He called you, I don’t see the reason he couldn’t have called his lawyer too. Please, tell me what is going on in this compound.”

“That’s what we’re here to find out. And by tracing the subtle twitchings of the web, we might find the spider.”

The police officer thought for a moment before asking, “Sir, is it possible for someone to confess to a crime, especially one that has to do with killing?”

“Confession is advisable because sooner or later, the criminal would be caught.”

“But some do get away with it.”

“Some lucky ones, but in my own case––Never! As the person tries to cover his trails, he leaves more trails behind him. Take for example, you are walking at the sandy side of a beach, you looked behind you and sees your footprints plainly visible on the sands. You decide to clean them by rubbing the marks off. But you are ignorant of the fact that, the prints won’t go; instead of them to be decreasing, they in actual fact increase. As you try to wipe out the visibility of the prints with your hands, you create another print with your palms and toes. That logic is applicable to crime too. You know, criminals are sometimes drawn to the scene of their crimes, and in doing so, they thwart their chances of escape.”

“Can that happen in this case?”

“I don’t think so, this is another ball game entirely, the crime was committed outside, and that makes it complicated.”

“How is that?”

“What does the criminal want to come back for? He shot Cain and went away with the pistol. Do you think he would come back to check if the victim had died? One rarely survive a bullet to the head. And the idea of looking for fingerprints or whatever print there is is impossible.”

“May I ask why?”

“Because I know, but permit me to chip one reason into your palm-oil soaked-brain––a strong wind blew on that Saturday morning, didn’t it?”

“I don’t know. And as Lincoln said, ‘Ignorance is preferable to error.’ ”

“I believe it was Thomas Jefferson that made that statement, Daniel.”

He shrugged indifferently, “Anyway, I can’t remember a strong wind blowing that morning.”

“I confirmed from an outsider, a strong wind did blow. So, any print there might have been cleared. Remember, where the corpse was lying was quite sandy, if you will agree with me.”

“Agreed,” Daniel sighed, “But still, I don’t think this crime can be solved.”

“O! Ye of little faith! Since when were you baptized a pessimist? Have you forgotten Hakeem’s words so soon?” Even a part of him felt some of the air bleeding out of his own balloon of optimism.

“Okay, okay,” he said grudgingly, “I wish you luck.” Even for bad luck, he thought, one needs luck.
“Us.”

Daniel felt he was in a dystopian investigative chamber because to him, everything was going forth in the wrong directions, he asked hastily, “Who should I call in this time?”

“Not now. Right now, we’ll do another thing. We are going to search the dead man’s bedroom.”

Daniel was flabbergasted, “What!”

“You heard me right.”

The police officer shook his head, “I’ve never probed into other people’s secrecy before in my life.”

“Then today is your first chance, grab onto it.”

“I’m not looking forward to the pleasure, sir.”

“And who said you have any choice here?”

“Lord,” he breathed as he got up; he didn’t know he had just said the world’s shortest prayer. “What have I gotten myself into?”

The detective also stood up and said cheerfully, “Let’s go a fishing.”

As they headed towards the door, Daniel wiped the sweat forming on his forehead with the back of his hand and muttered under his breath, “What a crazy being this detective is?”

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