Rhoda was having a great week. Life was good without her parents staring at her, watching her every move. She knew her friends were probably not the best friends one could have but they had freedom, something she had always longed for. She had nagged and sulked until her parents had agreed to let her stay with the Bamigboyes for a week. All she had to do was attend prayer meeting every morning.
And she did, religiously.
She had gone late a couple of times and had caught the look of disapproval on her mother’s face. She was not going to blow any other chance of leaving her boring home just because she was late to the prayer meeting. That morning she was going to get there before anybody, even her parents.
The gentle breeze was cold and for some reason the sun was sleeping in that morning. She stuck her hands into the pockets of her pullover and walked faster. The old church was situated in a quiet corner of the street and people rarely passed in front of it except they were going into the church. She walked past the church bus which was parked in the street. The early morning semi-darkness made it look newer.
She always got an eerie walking into the church alone, especially at night. It was built in between trees or trees were built around it. It was not fenced and had no gate but two lines of trees formed a driveway into the church. She turned into the driveway and stopped. A cold chill went down her spine. She turned and looked behind her, there was nothing. She pulled her pullover closer and continued moving. She felt moisture on her palms and realized her fingers were balled into fists. She stopped and removed her hands from her pockets and held them against her cheeks, they felt cold. She wiped them on her jeans and looked around again, still nothing. It was weird and silly that the trees could still play tricks on her mind after all the years she had spent walking past them.
She put her hands back in her pockets and started moving again, this time determined that she would not stop whatever happened. Her heart beat faster as she approached the church but she was not going to stop. Whatever or whoever was behind the trees would have to come out. She began to walk even faster as she got closer to the church.
Then she saw it.
She stopped. Her mouth dropped open as she stumbled forward. She wanted to stop moving but it was as though she had lost control of her body. She lurched closer to the church. She got to the stairs and stopped.
Right on the stairs of her parents’ beloved church was an eviscerated naked dead body.
She felt lightness in her head and fell into darkness.
The door burst open and Tola jumped. It was Adam.
“Has the body been moved?” He asked glaring at her.
“No, it hasn’t. Will you calm down!” he was pacing and flaring his nostrils, it was annoying.
“You know I never wanted this case, if they knew they would disregard protocol so badly, they should have let me be. “
“Ademola, it was the chief of police, he has every right to be on the crime scene.”
“Tola, that is my crime scene, why is somebody on my crime scene when I’m not there?” He had a point. “Now, instead of letting me do my job, he’s asking to see me. Where is he?”
“He is in…” The chief walked in, cutting her off.
“Ademola, where have you been?” He looked annoyed, she could not understand why he would be.
“Where have I been? Not my crime scene! Shouldn’t I have been called immediately that body was found?” Adams was not helping the already charged room.
“You want me to call you when a dead body is found? I’m not your assistant, you know that right?”
“Yeah, you are not, you are the new P.R.O. You would take any chance to get your face on TV, won’t you?”
Tola stood up and slid towards Adam, she gently tugged at his sleeves, he had to stop. It could only end badly.
“Detective, you realize I’m your boss right? You know what, forget whatever the governor said, you are on your own.”
“I can do good by myself, thank you.”
“Disrespectful twat.” The chief mumbled and stormed out of the room.
“Can you imagine what that old…” Adam started but the chief came back in.
“I want a daily report on my table by six pm.” He announced and left.
“A daily…never mind, Dosumu, let’s go. We have a crime scene waiting for us.” Adam said and walked out of the room.
Tola sighed and picked her jacket. She had always known Adam and the chief were an accident waiting to happen, she was hoping she would not be there to witness the accident, but she had just witnessed the beginning. She hated Adam when he was angry.
Adam drove in silence as they approached the crime scene. He knew he should not take out his frustrations with the chief out on Tola, but he could not help it. She understood him and probably would not take it personal. He had woken up that morning with his conversation with the governor still ringing on his mind. He had been devastated to find out that he knew about his drinking. He was ashamed and that had set the tone for his morning.
The call from Tola had made his morning worse. Another girl had been killed and worse still the press already knew about it and were already on the scene. He had put on the TV while he hurriedly dressed up and was shocked to see the Chief holding a press conference at the scene. He was making promises he would not lift a finger to fulfill. Now he was more determined than ever to find the sicko killing these girls. If it was the same person.
He pulled the car into the driveway of the church and stopped, he switched off the car engine and got out of the car. Tola got out from the other side and walked away towards the church without waiting for him. Adam hurried after her, she was the only good and stable thing in his life.
“Dosumu, why are you angry? You know it was that old fart that got to me.” She just walked on without replying. “Tola, I am sorry.”
She did not reply. The crime scene was still buzzing with reporters and spectators. The policemen on the scene had secured the stairs and the entire church but that was as far as they could get. A few journalists noticed his arrival and started towards him.
He looked behind to see Ese running towards him. It was a surprise she was not on the scene yet.
“Adam, please wait.” He stopped and turned towards her. “Adam, I need your help.”
“You do? I thought you said you can handle this on your own and I see I’m back to Adam. I’m sorry, can’t wait to chat, I need to get on this crime scene now.” He said and walked away from her.
“Adam, you don’t understand, my career is on the line here.” She said, catching up with him.
“It is? Too bad, but it’s not your career I’m concerned about right now. A girl is dead! Another one!”
“I just need…” She started.
“I’ll tell you what you need” Adam said cutting her off. “You need to get out of my face Ese. Attend the press briefings like the other reporters.”
He walked off and joined Tola who was waiting for him.
“That was harsh.” She said as they waved away reporters.
“I’m not having a good morning, it wasn’t personal. Let’s check this scene and be out of here.”
He lifted the yellow tape and they walked towards the body. It had been covered with a blanket. Two uniformed policemen standing close to the body saw them coming and walked towards them.
“Hello officers.” Adam said stretching his hands to shake them.
“Hello sir. I’m Sergeant Dada, this is Sergeant Phillip, my partner.’ Sergeant Dada was a thick man with a bushy mustache. His partner was slimmer but his mustache was just as thick.
“This is Detective Dosumu. Were you the first people on the scene?”
“No sir.” Phillip replied. “The body was found by a teenage girl. She’s inside the church with her parents and the pastor of the church.”
“Alright, we’ll talk to her later. Open the cover, let’s see the body.”
Adam held his breath as the blanket was removed. He was shocked by what he saw. The body was open like the previous victim but it had not been cleaned, it was gruesome. The torso was cut open, but the cut was not as clean and straight as the other victim. He would let the coroner decide but he was sure the girl had not been dead for long. And like the other victim she was not killed at the church.
“So we have a serial killer on our hands.” Tola said with a sigh.
“We can’t conclude yet, could be a copycat.” He knew in his gut it was the same person.
“This isn’t a copycat. You know what bothers me here, why the church? What’s this guy’s problem with these churches?”
“Well, I don’t know Dosumu. You can ask him when I can catch him. Let’s go talk to the girl.”
The press were still waiting to talk to him, they would wait forever. The huge door of the church swung open as they approached it. A man eyed them carefully and pointed at a room at the extreme of the church. They walked towards the room. The church was old but beautiful. Its high ceilings and stained glass windows gave it an ancient beauty Adam has not seen in a while.
They got to the end of the church and knocked on the door of the room. An elderly man opened the door.
“Who are you?” He asked.
“I am Detective Ademola, this is Detective Dosumu, we’re with the CIB” Adam said showing him his badge.
“Oh, I’m Pastor Alabi. What can I do for you?”
“We want to ask you and the lady that found the body some questions. Can we come in?”
“Yes please.” He said, stepping away from the doorway.
By the look on the girl’s face he knew she was the one who found the body. It would take weeks, maybe months of therapy to forget an experience like the one she just had. She was sandwiched between her parents. They did not look pleased to see detectives.
“We realise you probably want to be left alone but we just want to ask her a few questions.” Tola said with a smile, looking at the parents. They nodded.
“When did you find her? Were you alone?” Adam asked.
“Yes, I was alone. I was coming for prayer meeting, must have been around 6:30”
“Did you notice anything strange? Anything out of place, a strange person maybe?”
“I don’t…I can’t…I’m not sure.” The girl replied, rubbing her forehead.
“Try and think, anything you remember could be important.” Tola said, sitting forward in her seat.
“I’m not sure but I think I saw a bus parked somewhere down the street. I thought it was the church bus but when I got to church I found our bus here.”
“The bus is outside, you can see it later.” The pastor said, pointing out the window.
“What else can you remember about that bus?” Tola asked.
“I can’t remember anything…it was white like our bus…it was…that’s all I can remember.” The girl mumbled.
“Think harder, there’s got to be something else.” Adam tried pressing for more.
“I can’t remember…” She started and broke into tears.
“I think that’s enough detectives. We will be taking our daughter home now.” The father of the girl said, and they all stood to leave. Adam looked at Tola, she shrugged. They needed more information about the bus, but they would have to wait.
The girl left the room with her parents. The pastor walked them to the door, closed it and walked back to his chair.
“Did you know the victim?” Adam asked as soon as the pastor sat.
“No, I didn’t.”
“So she was not a member here at any time?”
“No, she wasn’t. Do you know why the murderer chose to dump the poor girl’s body here?”
“That’s what we are trying to find out.” Tola replied. “Are you in any way connected to St. Andrews Anglican church?”
“No, I am not. I didn’t even know about the church until I read about the other poor lady whose body was dumped there.”
“Did you know her, the other victim?” Tola asked.
“She was a prostitute!” He was taken aback by the question. Tola stared at him unflinching. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t know her as well.”
“You know anybody in your church who could do this?” Adam asked, pushing his chair back, ready to leave.
“Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand times the answer to that question will be no, but there was this young man that visited our church about a month ago. He looked strange and didn’t answer too many of our questions when we welcomed him as a new comer.”
“Do you know where we can find this man?” Adam asked.
“I don’t. He came for two weeks then disappeared. Come to think of it, that was right before the first girl was killed.”
“I’ll send one of our artist, you’ll describe the man maybe we can get a picture of how he looks.” Adam said as he stood up. “Thank you for your time Pastor, we will check if we need any other information. Can we check the bus please?”
It was already dark when Adam pulled into his compound. He was tired. Both his mind and his body were tired, he just wanted to sleep. He came out of the car and walked towards his door. He got to the door and paused, he turned back and decided to take a walk down his block.
After thinking about it, he had decided his confrontation with the Chief was dumb, he should have kept his cool. The case had gotten a lot more complicated with another murder, he needed all the help he could get. He had tried to apologise but he was yet to get through to the chief. The victim herself was a big problem, they were yet to identify her. The people had begun to panic again, he could not blame then. It was bad enough when one person was killed, but two just broke all hell lose.
The press were having a field day. They had gotten pictures and videos, the chief’s press conference was being aired on every TV station. Full pictures of the victim were already on the internet, he had no idea how they got the pictures. His phone at the office was ringing off the hook, lots of people had lots of questions. The governor was yet to call, but that was just a matter of time. It had been the most challenging two weeks of his life since the shooting of the first lady and he was using the very last bit of his mental strength.
Ese. He had treated her wrongly that morning. He was angry and he had taken it out on her. She was a reporter and everything she said about her career was probably all so she could get information, but he needed to apologise to her.
He brought out his phone and browsed through his contacts, he found her name, but his phone rang before he could dial her. It was a text message. The number was not familiar.
I love Diana
And she loves me
God bless Diana
And God bless me.
See you again soon.
You know who it is.
It ended with a ‘kiss’ smiley.
Adam smiled and slid his phone back into his pocket. See you soon bastard.