Boluwatife Joseph Martins dropped from the fence, his feet making almost no sound. Stealth was a talent he’d always had and now practice had made him perfect. He tiptoed to the guard’s room and just like he expected the man was fast asleep. He smiled, people are so foolish thinking because they had a guard they were safe. He pulled his backpack closer and ran for the door.
He brought out his pocket torch and stuck it on his right ear. The door was going to be a piece of cake. He’d studied it when he delivered Pizza to the house two days ago. He brought out his pick and wrench and went to work. He fought the temptation to hum while his fingers twisted and turned, he was enjoying this. He made the last twist and waited for the click, it came and he stood; another job well done.
He pushed the door open, stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. It was about two in the middle of the night so he did not expect any one moving around in the house. This was one of those jobs that was so easy you could actually fall asleep doing it.
He walked to the fridge in the dining room and opened it. He looked inside, there was nothing interesting enough to eat. He closed the fridge and went into the kitchen. There was another fridge here. Frigging rich people. He opened the fridge and was glad he did. It had almost every snack he loved, this was a blessed house. He reached into the fridge then stopped. He should probably finish his business before he started eating. He closed the fridge. If only he could take the whole thing home.
He’d promised himself he would not stay more than five minutes in the house. He’d already spent half of that admiring food. He walked to the Master bedroom and put his ear against the door. He heard heavy breathing, exactly what he expected. The woman inside the house was heavily drugged. Even if he wanted to steal the bed she was sleeping on, she wouldn’t wake up.
The door made a creaking sound as he pushed it open and for a moment he thought he heard a sound come from the other side of the house. It was probably his mind playing tricks on him. The woman was alone in the house, he was sure of that. Her room was big, kind of like the woman herself. It was dark except for the light his tiny torchlight shone everywhere he looked. He walked to the cabinet beside the bed and opened it. And there it was. The diamond ring lay on a pile of other jewelry. This was too damn easy. He picked the ring and slid it in his bag. Now to the feast waiting in the kitchen.
Something moved in the room and he stopped. He did not imagine this one, something actually moved. His brain quickly worked out the options. It wasn’t another human being, whatever had moved wasn’t large enough to be a person. The light he had on his ears made him a perfect target. He reached for the torch light and put it off. Was it a mouse? Or maybe it was a cat. The woman did not have any pets, none that he knew of. Was it a…?
He heard a movement to his right and as he spun around to look, a dog jumped on him, knocking him to the ground. The woman had a dog? How did he miss that? He struggled to his feet and immediately the dog was back on him. It was dark and he could not see but the dog was not having that problem. If the dog was not letting go, he had to find a way to silence the dog. He reached into his backpack while fighting the dog off with his legs and grabbed a pocket knife. He slashed out and a loud yelp filled the air. No! He did not need noise, not right now. The dog began to bark. Soon the whole neighbourhood would be up. He jumped to his feet, fumbled around till he found the door and slipped out.
The barking of the dog had become even louder and it wasn’t going to stop. He was in trouble. He ran to the living room, his heart pounding. He loved excitement but he was not prepared for any excitement on this job, it was supposed to be an easy grab and run mission. He reached the living room and ran for the exit door. He opened the door and stopped, the night guard stood in front of him. His brain brought him all possible resolutions to this problem and none of them ended well for him.
“Who dey there?” The guard asked.
Martins looked at the guard and it dawned on him, the guard could not see him. Oh, what a relief. But there was still a problem, the guard stood in front of the door and who knew what the man held in his hand. He really should have brought his night-vision goggles. He had to do something. He stepped back a little and with his whole strength threw a punch at the guard’s temple. The guard let out a yelp, kind of similar to that of the dog and fell. Martins jumped over him and ran for the fence. Whew, that was close. He ran to the spot he had prepared for his escape, jumped up and grabbed the fence. He was about to throw himself over when something grabbed his leg, pain shot through his leg. He looked down and it was the damned dog. He shook his leg and the dog fell off. He threw himself over the fence and dropped down on the other side.
He’d never been bitten by a dog before, it was not very nice.
He ran towards his hidden bicycle. He didn’t care much for stealth right now, he wished he’d brought his car. He swallowed, his leg throbbed, and he wished he could cut it off, if it would stop the pain.
He thought about the diamond ring in his bag and sighed. No pain, no gain.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
The sign above his table said ‘Carpe Diem’ but Detective Musa Muritala was definitely not seizing the day. He had not seized the day for decades. Like most government workers his age, he was simply counting down the days till his retirement. The junior officers pretended like he didn’t exist and he did not mind. They were all jumping on the new goldmine for law enforcement agents; the fight against corruption. He sniggered at the irony. The officers were making a lot of money ‘fighting’ corruption. They knew he wouldn’t touch their dirty money and he would die in poverty they had assured him. He was not afraid of poverty. He had no family, no responsibilities, he could afford to be poor.
A knock sounded on his door but he did not move, it was a mistake, he was sure. Nobody ever came to see him in his office, except in the morning when they delivered the paper to him.
The knock came again and this time he looked up. The knock came the third time and he became angry. Didn’t this fool know he was not to be disturbed?
“Who is there?” He asked.
“The D.P.O wants to see you sir.” The voice came from behind the door.
“Right now sir.”
He smiled, was this a joke? The D.P.O. technically was his boss but even she knew to stay clear of him. They had only talked once; when she was newly appointed and even then it had been obvious she saw him as he was; a dinosaur that did not belong in the twenty first century. What could she possibly want with him now?
He stood, dusted his properly pressed shirt and matched out of his office. The officers he passed on his way to the D.P.O’s office pretended they did not see him. He wished he could fart at will, it would be great to see them pretend someone didn’t just fart on them. He smiled and shook his head.
He got to the door of the D.P.O, knocked and entered. She was standing behind her table, drinking a cup of coffee. He’d heard about her addiction to coffee and he didn’t care. At least it was not marijuana like the last D.P.O.
“You wanted to see me?” He asked, he didn’t even salute.
“Please sit Detective.” She didn’t seem to mind that he didn’t salute.
“I know you are busy so I won’t waste your time.” She knew he wasn’t busy but he was not going to argue with her. “Sometime last night a woman was robbed and murdered in her sleep. Brutally murdered. Did you hear about the case?”
“No, I didn’t.” He said.
“This is not something the commissioner normally would send to my desk but for some reason he has sent it to me.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“You are our most experienced detective…”
“Wait a minute, you are giving me a case?”
“All our other detectives are running down leads for the EFCC. Apart from the importance of your experience, you are the only one available.”
“And if I say no?”
“Why would you say no?”
“If I did?”
“You will be disobeying a direct order from your superior officer, you know what that means.”
He knew what it meant. But he also knew what she was doing. This wasn’t a case that held any promise for her, not financially or politically, she couldn’t dedicate any real human resource to it.
“Alright, I’ll take the case.” He said.
“Okay.” She said so dryly, he almost wished he had said no just so he could see how she would react.
“There’s no pressure, just let me know when you have anything to report.” She said.
He stood and walked out of the office without another word. She hadn’t even handed him a case file, it meant they had nothing on the case. He shook his head. Maybe this was a good thing, maybe he could get some excitement in his last days that he had not had in years. Maybe he would solve the case. The look on the faces of the D.P.O and the young money-crazy detectives would definitely be something.
Alright, he would do this; shock everybody and bring in this robber-killer.
“Salvation is all God’s idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish.”
Martins heard the bell ring and in about five minutes, kids thronged out of the school. He looked around till he sighted his little angel. Wednesday was his best day of the week, it was the only day he was legally allowed to pick his daughter from school. She saw him and started to run towards him. He wanted to shout for her to stop, she could fall. He could never allow anything happen to his little girl.
She screamed and jumped on him. He lifted her and for a moment forgot about his wounded leg. He didn’t forget for long though, the pain reminded him.
“How are you my little golden princess?”
“I sang in class today.”
“You did? What did you sing?”
“Beyonce.” She said, flashing her white baby teeth.
“Beyonce? Which one?”
She started to sing. “All the single ladies, all the single ladies…”
Martins laughed. “You danced too?”
“Yes but Aunt RoseAnn laughed at me.”
“Hello Mr. Martins.”
Martins looked up and saw RoseAnn Azubike standing in front of them.
“Aunt RoseAnn, is it true you laughed at Wuraola’s dancing?”
“Oh no, I wasn’t laughing at her, I was laughing with her. It was adorable actually.”
“Do you hear that baby?” Martins said to his daughter. She nodded. “Okay, go and wait in the car, let me talk to Aunt RoseAnn.”
Wuraola enters the car. Martins moves closer to RoseAnn.
“You love beautiful today, as always.”
“Thank you Mr. Martins.”
“Wura is not here, so please drop the Mister thing.”
“Okay sir.” She said, with the sweetest smile. “I wanted to talk to you about Wura’s dance today.”
“You said it was adorable.”
“Yes, it was.” She said and smiled again.
“Wait, before you continue, could you please stop smiling?”
“It’s distracting. I can’t concentrate on what you’re saying. And it’s about my daughter so I’m guessing it’s important.”
She smiled. “Well, I will try and stop.”
Martins shook his head. “You can’t help yourself, can you?” She smiles again. “Forget it. So, Wura’s dancing?”
“Yes, the dancing – it was sort of sexual.”
“Yes. It was adorable to me until another teacher came in and saw her dancing. I got a stern correction and I was asked to tell her parents so I’m here telling you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I guess what I’m saying is, be careful what she watches. Maybe monitor her TV exposure.”
Martins sighed. “You know she’s only with me one day a week.”
“Well, it’s easier to speak to you than her mother.”
“I agree with you on that.”
She smiled and clasped her hands together. “I’m sorry if this was awkward, I just had to tell somebody.”
“It is fine, thank you.”
“Take care sir, have a good evening.” RoseAnn said and turned to leave.
“Wait, RoseAnn.” Martin said and she stopped. “Can I take you to dinner tonight after I drop Wura off?”
“Oh.” She said and looked down. “I’m not sure it will be appropriate.”
“Is there a law against it?”
“Not explicitly, but it is frowned upon.”
“If it won’t get you fired then let them frown.”
“I don’t think…” She started then stopped. “Is your leg okay? Looks like it’s wrapped with bandage.”
Martins looks down at his leg and saw his trouser wasn’t covering the bandage properly. That was dumb. Nobody would ever think he was a thief but it was better not to leave anything to chance.
“I’m okay. I had a little bicycle accident this morning.”
“Bicycle? Don’t you have like a hundred cars?”
“Bicycles are better for the environment.” Martins said and laughed. Even he was not convinced by what he said. “I love to ride sometimes.”
“Alright sir. Please be safe.”
“Maybe another time.”
She turned around and walked away before he could say anything else. He had stolen quite a number of precious jewels but Aunt RoseAnn was the one that seemed to escape him.
She and the Blue Canim.
“For Everyone who who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Martins held the cold tumbler against his head and closed his eyes. He could not drink when Wura was with him but he’d been needing a drink since he came back from the job. That crazy dog and its sharp teeth. It was a good thing he was not a thief in America; the blood on the mouth of the dog would have led them straight to him. His arrogance had gotten the better of him that morning, he had to be careful next time.
He opened his eyes and looked at the TV. He saw the headline and his eyes popped; he was on the news again. He picked the remote and turned up the volume. He listened as the reporter talked about the two million naira diamond ring he had stolen. Well, now he knew the value of what he had stolen. Not like it mattered, it was a job for a client and he was getting paid whether the ring cost 2 million or 2 naira.
Wait, what? He sat up.
The reporter just said he murdered the woman. He increased the volume of the TV. Then he stood and began to pace. What the hell was this? He did not kill her.
They showed the guard and he was talking some nonsense about the robber tying him down and then going upstairs to kill his madam. His heart started to racing and he was sweating. He had never killed on the job, this was one of the things his client respected about him. He looked at the face of the guard as he rambled his nonsense. The guard did it and wanted to use him as cover-up? The guard was setting him up?
He wondered how it felt like to kill because he was about to commit his first murder.
Next episode drops on Wednesday, 8th of March, 2017.