According to Mark Twain, ‘Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.’ Barrister Michael Kish had some ugly stories of his own which he never wanted anybody to know or be told. He had always wished all his life that he had not gotten himself in the mess. But life must go on, first rule of survival.
Nemesis, he thought as he followed the younger policeman, does nemesis really catch up with people? Yes, it does. I’ve had my own share of the bitter cake. Nemesis or mimesis, man is prone to his own challenges in the struggle to keep his own head above water in the cesspool as he swims across the journey of life. Life contains a lot of different situations and parts that are prone to change everyday, every time and everywhere. Life’s a kaleidoscope. It’s the butterfly effect, whatever action you take today may affect the life of another person a million miles instantly or tomorrow or next year or ten years’ time. Change. Does the change from one’s past affect one’s future? Sometimes in life, we do some things we would never think of doing if we were given more than one choice.
He followed Daniel into the small room and he sat down facing the detective who was looking at him with an expression he could not understand––he returned the stare. Both men continued staring at each other, and the silence had begun to irritate Daniel.
“I’m sorry if I may be interrupting your chain of eye communication,” said Daniel defensively, “but I don’t see the sense in using our eyes to discuss when God gave us the free gift of speech.”
The detective broke his gaze like a child who had been defeated in a game of stare and Kish smiled. By habit he had always smiled even when he did not feel like smiling. Lot removed the cassette in the tape recorder and turned the other side before he inserted it back in the machine. Then he pressed ‘Record’.
“Your name is Barrister Michael Kish Jr., is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“May I ask how old you are?”
“I’m as old as you are.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“Oh yes, I have. Have you forgotten your own age? We’re both born in the same year and month, but it’s a pity not the same day. You were born on the twenty-third and I was born on the fifth of March.
“Who told you my age?”
“The internet, bro.”
“Oh, I see. I guess we both have something in common.”
“You can say that again.”
The detective dipped his hand in his Bosom pocket and extracted a box of cigarette.
“Do you mind?” he asked Michael.
The Barrister shook his head. Lot opened the box and removed one stick, he dipped it in his mouth between his teeth and lit it with a lighter. He sucked in deeply and exhaled a cloud of smoke before speaking.
“You were a friend to the deceased, right?” he asked, pointing the cigarette at the lawyer.
“From teenage,” the lawyer replied, “We both passed out from St. Joseph College in 1974. We lost contact after then but I never forgot his name. It was after three decades of losing touch that fate brought us together again. We met again a week before he got married to that beautiful girl.”
“Did you attend the ceremony?”
“What ceremony? Oh, you mean the wedding?” he shook his head, “No, there was no ceremony. They got married in the court, both of them and the court officials alone.”
“So, you didn’t attend that?”
“Not at all. The week I met Cain was when he brought me here, he was living alone then, about two weeks later when I came to visit him I saw Abigail. My first thought was that she was a housemaid, because she was so quiet then and I could see fear on her face.”
“I don’t think you can understand what I mean. The fear I’m talking is something else, she was afraid of looking at Cain’s face. She spent most of her days in the kitchen. I never thought she was a wife until Cain told me so.”
“Were you not surprised that somebody like Cain got married to a young girl like that?”
“I don’t expect you to ask me that kind of question. We are in Nigeria, remember? Anything is possible. And by the way, Cain was a rich man; he could get anything he wanted. Abigail on the other hand is not as if she’s a toddler.”
“Let’s say I’m just plain curious. Do you know if your deceased friend was once married before meeting Abigail? Any Mrs. Martins before her?”
“Yes, Cain once had a wife before Abigail.”
“Where is she?”
“Dead, he told me he once had a wife and a son. The wife died of liver cancer and the son was killed by armed robbers. He stopped the bullets meant for policemen. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“When did the wife die?”
“That was in the New Millennium; nine years ago. Three years after the wife’s death, the boy died too––he was seventeen then.”
“What was the boy doing at the robbers-police shootout?”
“Nobody knows, Cain said he didn’t know either, he did not even go for the boy’s corpse.”
“How sure are you about that?”
“Cain told me himself. He said he refused to go for the corpse because the boy was not really his son; that he was a bastard child born to him by his wife. perhaps the wife was cheating on him and got pregnant in the act.”
“And you believed him?”
“What do you expect me to believe? The boy died in 2003 and I met Cain again in 2006.”
“You seem to know much about the Martins’ connubial status.”
“Cain’s marriage relationship.”
“Of course I do, I’m his friend. He told me everything about his family.”
“Okay, when was the last time you saw the deceased before his death?”
“Um––I think we met about two or three weeks before the incident.”
“You think? Please will you be specific?”
“I’m sorry; I can’t remember what day exactly. But I know it’s not more than three weeks previously, though we call each other occasionally.”
“When was the last time you spoke together?”
“Friday, the day before his death.”
The detective and Daniel leaned forward.
“On Friday?” asked Lot, “What time did you speak?”
“About ten in the morning.”
“What did you discuss?”
“Nothing, he called me to know the next time I’ll be visiting him.”
“Is that all you discussed on the phone?”
“See, I don’t know what kind of cigars you smoke, but you had better changed your brand. You’re starting to ask the impossible. Do you expect me to remember everything verbatim? We spoke for about twenty minutes on the phone, and remembering everything word-for-word is not intelligence, it’s lunacy.”
The detective leaned forward and stared into the lawyer’s eyes as he spoke, “I know it’s impossible for you to tell me everything. Telling everything you see, hear or do always demands selection. If I asked you to tell me all the events of your day the day before yesterday, you would probably reply like this: ‘I woke at six in the morning, took my breakfast at seven. I had bread and beans and tea. I met a lady whom I took to the cinemas and we watched ‘The Figurine’. You would, perhaps, never remember to tell me thus: ‘My phone died and I had to put another battery. I spilt a little tea on the table mat; I brushed my shoes and put it on, the lady had red paint on her fingers’. Everything is never told, therefore one selects. However, when selecting at times, those we rule out as unimportant and never told may be relevant––especially in cases like this. So, will you think deeply and tell me more of what you can remember?”
He was silent a moment and obeying the detective’s adjuration to ‘think deeply’. He shook his head in negativity. “I’m sorry, I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary in what we discussed,” he paused, “but he asked me a question. I don’t think it odd but maybe it can help in your investigation. He asked if I would always be there for him as a lawyer.”
“Did you ask him the reason for that question?”
“Not really, he told me he just wanted to be sure.”
“Thanks for your assistance,” said the detective, “but I want you to see something before you go.”
He brought out the notes again and gave them to the lawyer. Michael Kish read the notes carefully.
“You want me to tell you which was written by Cain?” Michael asked.
He held out the first note immediately, “Cain wrote this.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I know. I can identify Cain’s writing with my eyes closed. He had the world’s most illegible handwriting; I can pick it out among millions.”
“What about the second note?”
“I have no idea who wrote that. Where did you find them?”
“Never mind, just one final question, please.”
“You’re Mr. Martins’ friend and lawyer; was he of any will before his demise?”
The lawyer was clearly surprised, “Will? No, he has no will. What would he need a will for? He has no other heir but the wife. He doesn’t really need any will.”
“Barrister Kish, you don’t own a gun, do you?” he shot out the question suddenly.
Michael replied immediately too, as though he had known that was the next question the detective would ask, “Good lord, no! Wouldn’t know which end to point now. But I’m armed with faith, righteousness and a pure heart.”
“Thank you, Barrister. I appreciate your contribution. You can go now, sir.”
“Officer, I’m not trying to challenge your ability but I think you’re taking too long to solve this case. I want to know who killed my friend and I would do everything to get him hung.”
This was the third time, Lot felt, that his appropriate degree of investigative acumen in solving the mystery fatefully presented before him had been doubted. “I’d prefer to use the word ‘Hanged’ instead.”
“Whatever, he will swing by the rope until he’s lifeless.”
Daniel who had been quiet as usual said, “Sometimes, those who hunt for the criminal do turn out to be the criminals themselves.”
Michael and Georges cast a questioning look in his direction. Daniel became nervous and added, “In novels, I mean.” Kish looked at him with his left eyebrow higher than the right––a display of legerdemain few people had been able to master, he apparently decided that Daniel had IQ problem, shrugged pitifully, and turned his attention back to Lot who was talking to him now.
“Thank you, Barrister Michael Kish Jr.; I’ll call on you if I need to ask you any more questions.”
The lawyer rose, shook the detective’s hand and went out the door.
The detective turned to his junior partner smiling, “This case is becoming more interesting. You agree with me, don’t you?”
“I think it’s more boring than interesting. It’s getting too complicated.”
“Elementary, my dear Watson. You seem to be ignorant of something––the more complicated a case becomes, the easier it tends to be solved. As a child, did you ever play the game called ‘Treasure Hunt’?”
“No, but I watch the reality TV game show called ‘Ultimate Search’.”
“They’re similar to each other, wherein one clue leads from A to B. from, let us say, a little message hidden underneath a stone to a further message pinned behind a tree. It’s the same in this case, but I’ll rather call this ‘Criminal Search’. A clue leads from one to the other. I know the clues are already there for me to use, what I only need to do is to link them together to fix the puzzle.”
“What clues are you talking about, sir? The notes?”
“The notes are parts of the clues, not all. This Martins’ saga is beginning to resemble one of those children’s puzzles in which numbered dots are connected in sequence to form a picture. But in this case, most of the dots are unnumbered––or missing.” said the detective, “Moreover, what do you think about the lawyer’s choice of the notes?”
“The wife said it’s the second note that was written by her husband, but the lawyer claimed it was the first. Honestly, I’m confused, but I think the lawyer was lying.”
“This may thwart what I’ve been thinking all along.”
“And what is that, sir?”
“That both the wife and friend connived to murder Cain.”
“It doesn’t make sense; you know it’s utterly impossible for that to have happened. The wife was sleeping at the time of the incident, unconscious of anything going on, and the lawyer was about hundreds of kilometers away. It’s absolutely ridiculous to link those two with the crime.”
“Before you think it––ridiculous, listen to this and tell me what you think––the wife was having a secret S#xual affair with the lawyer, and she had convinced him to destroy Cain’s will which, however, was stating that his property was to be bequeathed to someone else; a charity organization maybe. Both lovers had planned to kill the husband, and they had carefully laid down their plans. On the day of the crime, the night to be precise, the lawyer had already parked his car at a quiet place not far from this house. When it was time for them to carry out their evil deeds, the lawyer called Martins that he was close to the house and his own car had broken down, so he asked Cain to come pick him up. Without thinking, Cain called his driver and they both drove to the point of rendezvous. But unfortunately, he did not have the faintest idea about what was going to happen to him. When Cain got to the location, the lawyer did not waste time, he shot him in the forehead and carried his corpse in his car or trekked, then he laid the corpse quietly by the gate. If he had been killed close-by, the gatekeeper would have heard the gunshot. About five hours later Hakeem saw the body and came rushing to call you. The wife played her role when you called the gatekeeper out to see the corpse. She might have been watching the gatekeeper, and when he went out at your request to see the body, she quickly sneaked into his room, put a note under his pillow and hurriedly departed. At that exact time, the lawyer had already reached home and snoring; though waiting to receive the gatekeeper’s phone call. As soon as he got the call, he came rushing back as if he had known nothing. The deceased’s wife also completed her part by acting as though she was asleep all the while. A carefully planned crime. What do you have to say to that?”
Daniel stared at the detective in astonishment. For a moment he thought the detective was rambling, and with genuine concern Daniel began to doubt the detective’s sanity. Although, of course, he had listened with interest, and without interruption, to what Lot had said. Apart from the seemingly plausible a tale, it wasn’t particularly an astonishing analysis, it was not just the sort of self-consistent hypothesis that Daniel would have expected from the detective. He knew very well the amazing feats of logic the human brain was capable of––but quite often, life could elude logic––and when a brilliant logic itself got built there could always be a fault in its foundation of deductive analysis, thereby causing the whole edifice to collapse right on the occiput of the mason. This explanation of the detective’s did not bring together all the clues into one coherent scheme of justification, because there were one or two weaknesses in what Lot had laid down, at least as Daniel saw things at the moment. Whenever Daniel could not follow the train of the reasonable, he stopped. He didn’t always venture into shuttles of the unreasonable like most detectives did.
He shook his head, “I disagree with your permutations and combinations, remember Mrs. Martins said she saw her husband at about three in the morning. How do you explain that?”
“You’ve got a great brain, use it. If you have a criminal who went to the extent of writing a note to complicate things, do you think she won’t give another lie to make things as complicated as they can be. If you had the sense God gave a goat, you’d know that what she said about seeing her husband at midnight is fallacy.”
“But the gateman also claimed the same thing; he said Mr. Martins drove back in at half past twelve that morning. Was he lying too?”
Lot drummed his fingertips on the table, thinking deeply.
“Bribe.” He said at last.
“I think he was bribed to say that, or he was made to believe that saying that was for a noble cause. Have you ever thought about bribery?”
“I don’t need to think about it because it is the most unusual thing to have happened in this case. I don’t think that man can be bribed to do something as outrageous as that.”
“Well, it may seem inexplicable to you, but if you think deeply in your mind you will come to realize that that is the only reason for that.”
“You’re burning up my brain, sir,” said Daniel, tapping his skull to make emphasis, “There’s another thing which you seem to be forgetting too; what about the driver who drove Mr. Martins out that night, what happened to him?”
“The fly in the ointment, it seemed as if there are too many fish in the net; I think he’s also involved in the affair. But I can’t conclude until I’ve heard what he has to say.”
Daniel spread his hands, “Well, lucky your belief has been thwarted.”
Lot met his face with the kind of eyes a pope would use in looking at Hitler after the end of a long war, “How do you mean?”
“You said it yourself; you said that the notes have thwarted what you have been thinking. The two cannot both plan the notes and have different ideas about it. You should think of another possibility.”
“No, I’m still sticking to my theory.”
The detective shook his head, “You’re not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, Daniel. Can’t you see it? That’s part of their plans too.”
“You’re not making the slightest bit of sense to me, sir. I’m sorry, my poor befuddled brain can’t take any more of these. I enjoy a challenging riddle as much as any genius like myself but when the riddle turns out to be as complicated as the Daily Times crossword puzzle I can only feel frustration and fury at being such a sap in the end. Unlike you, I can’t glance at a man and immediately know he is left-handed, diabetic, has a pregnant wife, and sells meat for a living. I only see the obvious and notice the unlikely.”
“Like I said, the two lovers planned about the notes; maybe they got two different people who do not know what was going on to write them. They had planned that the wife should claim that the second note, which was found in the bedroom, was written by her husband, and the lawyer should claim the first.”
“Why would they do that?”
“To complicate things as much as they could. For Christ’s sake, can’t you use your noggin for once? Have you got a Ph.D. in fatuity? They purposefully did that to confuse me. They are clever, those two, they knew that if they both claimed the same thing about the notes I’ll be suspicious of them. But they don’t know Georges Lot, nothing passes him by.”
He continued, “If you could remember what that woman said when I told her that she was the only person who inherits her husband’s property––do you remember what she said?”
“She told you to call the lawyer.”
“Good, remember what the first note says? ‘In the morning, call my lawyer’. There’s a link there; I haven’t shown her the note when she said that.”
“What are you going to do now, sir? Arrest them?”
“Not that fast, all what I said were only the possible reasons for Cain’s death; why he called me instead of his lawyer. I can’t arrest them yet, I need proof. Besides, we haven’t questioned everybody, therefore, before I decide who is guilty or innocent among the household, I need to question the last person involved, and I also need the gun.”
Daniel acted surprised, “The gun? Don’t you think that might have been miles away?”
“I have the feeling it’s around here, and I’m going to find it. Now, let’s call in our next guest.” He knew that he had reached this conclusion largely by imagination rather than by reason or even intuition.
“Who do you think?” Lot scowled at him.
Daniel Famous went out of the room to summon the driver––Richard Philip.
It was midday; when the heat of the sun had started to really rise and birds had begun to seek shelter in between the leaves of trees. Lizards and ants had begun to crawl into the holes of walls or under stones. In the living room of the building, Daniel Famous found Richard and Abigail in a lively chat, the lawyer and the doctor were watching the midday news where the BBC announcer was wrapping up the midday batch of bad news before going to the football scores. It took a considerable amount of efforts in his part to disallow himself from sitting in-between the lawyer and the doctor, eating popcorn and listening to the scores about the recent football match between the Wolves and the Marsupials.
“The detective wants you.” Daniel told Richard.
“Tell him I’ll see him in a moment.” Replied Richard.
“No, he wants to see you now.”
Richard looked up at Daniel in annoyance but Abigail spoke before him.
“Don’t be ridiculous, officer,” she shot out, “You have been on the investigation for hours without any result. I’m getting sick of you policemen.”
Daniel felt really hurt from such words coming from the mouth of a lady he was head over heels in love with, “Madam, I’m really sorry for the inconvenience but there’s nothing I can do, I’m only following orders.”
“What are you doing in the police force anyway? Can’t you find a worthwhile profession than one that makes you run after criminals?”
Daniel smiled, “It’s a long story.”
“I’ll like to hear that story sometimes ‘cause I can’t imagine an interesting young guy like you having a boring profession like policing.”
“Let’s just say I like serving my country.”
“I won’t buy that,” Richard chipped in, “There are many other ways of serving your country than this. Do you know that I always feel like breaking your nose just because you are a policeman?”
Daniel stared at him for some time and said, “Sometimes, no matter what we do or how much we try, we can’t change that thing which starts with the letter ‘F’. I’m in this job not because I really like doing it and I believe a man of your status should be in a better place than driving a rich man around. There are some idiots who can’t even speak a simple declarative sentence and yet they work in banks, just because they have the certificates they didn’t earn.”
Richard appeared a modicum mollified by what Daniel had said and he nodded silently. He was beginning to like the police officer standing over him, he felt the man was the only policeman with something worthwhile in his skull. He had initially wanted to beat his anger out of him when he had first set his eyes on him, he didn’t know that he would soon come to like him. And it seemed Abigail liked him too.
“You’re right,” said Richard, “but I can now move ahead in search of greener pastures and I’ll advise you to do the same.”
Abigail cast a sharp glance at Richard before facing Daniel, “Didn’t you tell me this morning that you wanted to be a footballer?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Why don’t you go for that instead? Maybe you’ll make it to the national team. That’s another way of serving your country, don’t you think so?”
“Honesty, I really appreciate your concern but it’s not as easy as you may think. If you are lucky you may get an official from the NFF watch you play and get interested in the way you play, then you get signed in as the country’s footballer. It’s a one in a million chances. My desire is to go to The Academy.”
She looked puzzled, “The Academy? What’s that?”
“The Academy is a football school,” explained Daniel, “Where one would be given the chance to display how good he is without the rule of politics. It was recently introduced by the NFA, and if one performed to their expectation he would be introduced into the national team or one of the country’s football clubs.”
She brightened up, “Really? That’s brilliant, you can go there and show them your stuff, I’m sure you’ll make it.”
Daniel smiled without humour, “Getting into The Academy costs a fortune. I guess that is why most talented footballers can’t make it there. I guess we all have dreams, then we grow up and realize how impossible they were.”
“How much are you talking about?” asked Richard.
“We are not talking thousands here, Richard.”
Richard whistled, “That’s a pretty large sum.”
“It’s no child’s play, but I believe in miracles.”
“A miracle? Tell me, how rich are you in your family?”
“We’re not rich; I can’t put my burden on my parents, because I’m the first child and I have two younger sisters and a brother after me. I’m old enough to cater for myself.”
“How old are your sisters?”
“The older one, Juliet, is twenty years old; and the other, Antonia, is seventeen. But don’t ever think about getting close to any one of them.”
A very faint smile came to Richard’s mouth, “The overprotective big brother. Your little brother? How old is he?”
“His name’s Silas, he’s the last child and only fifteen years old.”
“You’re a lucky man, Daniel; I wish I had younger ones like yours.”
“It’s not too late,” said Abigail, “You have a momsy who is still young.”
“My mother doesn’t look like one who is passionate about being led down the aisle, let alone getting into labour.”
“Oh God!” lamented Daniel, “The ‘tec’ will be very angry. Can we go now, Richard?”
When they got to the room, the detective was on his feet, and not looking very pleased, he kept walking to and fro the room. Daniel needed not to be told that he had aroused the man’s ire. He decided to blow a little gasket when he spotted Daniel come in. “Young man, did you want to spend your eightieth birthday there? Why do you just choose to make me angry? I should have found a better person than you because you are slacking mentally, really slacking.”
“I’m sorry, sir.” Daniel apologized.
“We’re sorry, detective. I am the one who held him up with discussion. Can I sit down?” asked Richard.
“Please, do sit down,” answered Lot, “I need to ask you some questions, Mr. Philip, and I promise not to take much of your time.” He pressed the necessary buttons again. Like a ritual that could not be ignored, he waited for about five seconds before speaking.
“Um, Mr. Philip––”
“Call me Richard, sir.”
“Okay, I learnt that on the night of the seventh you drove Mr. Martins out, is that true?”
“Can you explain what happened that night?”
“I don’t know what really happened, though Mr. Martins is a pain-in-the-you-know-what, he might have offended many people. But I can’t think of anybody who might go so far as to kill him.”
“Tell us what you know. You drove him out of the compound that night, what happened after then?”
The fan above began to oscillate again. Up PHCN!
“That night, after driving for about half a kilometre from here, Mr. Martins asked me to stop the car. He explained with fear which I had never seen in him before that a gang of killers sent him a note; they asked him to send a cash of five million naira or he lose his wife within twenty-four hours.
“I did not believe what he was saying at first until he showed me the ransom note. He told me that the note was posted to his office in the morning and he didn’t open it until about half past nine that night. He didn’t receive any phone call or any other message––just the letter. He received the letter at about ten that morning, according to the note, he had only twenty-four hours to pay the money or his wife would be killed. The letter warned that he must not get the police involved or he would lose his life after his wife had been killed. It was also written in there that Mr. Martins must not be the one to bring the money, so that was why he chose me to deliver the ransom.”
“Was Mrs. Martins kidnapped?” Daniel asked.
Richard shook his head, “No, she wasn’t. But the note really threatened that she would be killed if the demand was not met. I don’t even think she knew that somebody was out to kill her. I initially wanted to refuse when Mr. Martins gave me the money. I was thinking that I may be killed or injured if I went. Yet, if I refused to go Mr. Martins had no other person to deliver the money for him, and with my refusal Mrs. Martins would be killed; so I had no choice but to go. He gave me a black suitcase filled with money. It was the same suitcase I saw in the booth of the car about a week ago when I went to pick him at the airport. The description of where to go had been clearly written in the letter, including the phone number to call immediate I got there. I took the letter, carried the suitcase and got out of the car.”
“You did not go with the car?” asked Georges Lot.
“I wanted to, but he refused, he said I could still see some late public transport vehicles and it was safer to go there alone without any vehicle.
“On getting there I called the number written on the letter and before the fifth ring I was confronted by two masked men. They didn’t say any word; one of them extended his hand for the suitcase and the other collected the letter from me. They thereafter dismissed me with the jerk of their heads. That was what happened, it was on the second day when I came around that I saw the body of Mr. Martins. I was so confused and angry but I didn’t want to show it; since the wife is okay, I decided to keep quiet. If I had gone talking, I’m very sure she might have joined her husband by now, they wouldn’t spare me too. I think it was those men who killed him, I don’t know why. Maybe Mr. Martins eventually called the police, I have a feeling that the men were more than two; I can’t even recognize them if I saw them, I only saw their eyes, I did not even hear anyone speak between the two men.”
“What time exactly did you get there?” Lot asked.
“Where you delivered the money.”
“At about quarter to twelve, almost midnight.”
“Where’s the place?”
Richard paused, as he spoke he chose his speech one after the other, “The place was at Victoria Island, Alexandra Avenue.”
“Alexandra Avenue,” Lot repeated. “What’s the house number?”
Richard thought for a moment before replying. “It’s number 47B.”
“There’s something I need to know,” Daniel said, “You did not return that night, were there no more public transport vehicles?”
“I could still see some few transport vans, but when I was about returning I received a text message from the deceased that I should not bother coming again. So I decided to spend the night at my mother’s. That was why it took me the next day before I could come back.”
“Why did your boss ask you not to return?”
“I don’t know, I only got the message through text.”
“Is your phone with you now?”
Richard brought out his mobile phone, scrolled it for some time and gave it to the detective. On the phone was the message:
DON’T RETURN UNTIL DAWN. I HAVE MY REASONS. BYE.
Lot frowned a little, then he frowned a lot, “I can see the phone number here,” said Lot, “The number through which the text came in. Is this your boss’ phone number?”
“No,” answered Richard plainly.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m very sure. Mr. Martins had never used that phone number before.”
“Did you try calling the number when you got the message?”
“No, but on my way coming the next morning I tried it; there was no response––I wanted to tell him that I’d safely delivered his package and I’m on my way.”
“What about his original number, did you try that?”
“Yes, switched off.”
“What time exactly are we talking about?”
Richard lapsed into memory, “About some minutes before nine on the morning of that Saturday. What is confusing me is this; Mr. Martins had his own number, why didn’t he send me the SMS through his number instead of using a strange one? Another puzzle is that I don’t find the reason why he should have texted me when he could call? I’m not sure, but I think there’s something one needs to look into.”
“I promise you we’ll surely look into that.” Lot said, he reached over the recorder and stopped it. “You have a pretty good alibi, Richard, I’m quite impressed.”
“I thought the detectives were always breaking alibis. In detective stories, it’s usually the person with the cast-iron alibi who commits the crime, isn’t it?”
Lot chose not to answer the question tag. “Thank you, Richard,” he said, “You have been very co-operative. You can leave now.”
After Richard’s departure, Daniel said:
“To be candid with you, sir, I’m really flummoxed.”
“There’s something wrong in what that young man said, there’s something very wrong.”
“What is it?”
“He said that the letter warned not to get the police involved. Yet, Mr. Martins called me himself; he even transferred a large sum of money into my bank account. No, I don’t think they go together.”
“That was what probably killed him. Maybe the killers found out he called you after all.”
A frown line delved between Lot’s brows and he shook his head, “No, I don’t think so, I received the call before the delivery was made and he did not even tell me anything about it.”
“I have nothing else to say except for the fact that the avenue must be a very long one to have a B for the aforementioned number.”
Lot stared at Daniel for a long time and his face suddenly beamed with excitement as he leaned forward and clapped a hand on the younger officer’s shoulder, “Thank you, Daniel. You are, for the first time ever, a genius!”
“A genius in what?”
“My! You know not even what you have done?” The detective was appalled, “I’ll allow you to give your so-called brain the massage it needs while I go out now and make an important call.” He dashed out quickly, leaving the confused Daniel trying to find the cause of the sudden outburst of the detective’s mania.
The detective returned after about ten minutes.
“Who did you call, sir?”
Daniel was confused some more, “My unit?”
“I assigned two officers to go and bring someone who would help us on this case.”
“You know what curiosity did to that cat, don’t you?”
“Is the household aware of it?”
“No, and I will want you to keep it that way, okay?” Lot warned sharply, “And if you screw up you’ll find yourself to blame. Do I make myself clear?”
Daniel nodded dumbly.
“Fine,” said Lot, “Now, let us go another fishing before our visitor arrives.”
“Oh! No––not again!”