Detective Muritala looked at the picture of Ahmad, his son who he knew nothing about for twenty six years. Muritala didn’t think the boy looked a lot like him; he had his mother’s beauty and her tenderness. But his eyes gave him away. They had a fierceness that Muritala’s had when he was younger. Detective Muritala set the picture down. He was not sure what to feel about this whole thing anymore, now he had time to process it. He had a son, something he had wanted for so long even though he could never commit enough to have but the son was dying.
He stood from his chair and looked out through his window. He did not understand the obsession of the western world with views but he could certainly use a good view at the moment. The only thing he saw from his window were little children coming out of the police barracks; some going to school, others going to hawk. He was not in the mood to look at children or worry about their problems. He needed a distraction.
The door opened and a woman stuck her head in.
“Sir, the DPO wants to see you.” The woman said and was gone.
The DPO had requested to see him twice in a week, he had a son: he was definitely having a strange week. He started towards the DPO’s office. He did not shave that morning, another first in a long time but he did not expect to see anybody important. Definitely not the DPO. He got to her office, knocked and walked in.
“Good morning Detective.” She said as he entered.
“You wanted to see me?”
“The case I gave you…”
“I’m on it. I’ve interviewed a few people, you will have something on your desk very soon.” It was a lie, he was not preparing anything anymore. Not since he heard about his son.
“That is what I wanted to talk to you about.” She said.
Was she taking him off the case? That would be a great blessing.
“There’s been a report of another murder.”
“What?” He exclaimed before he could stop himself.
“The White Agate, a guest was murdered.”
“Surely, another detective can handle this one.” Detective Muritala could not hide his displeasure.
“You are our only available detective. I already told you this.”
“Look DPO, I have some personal problems that is going to be demanding a lot from me, physically and mentally in the next few days. I don’t think I can handle two cases.”
The DPO looked him at him for a few seconds and he held her gaze, finally she looked away.
“I’ll give the case to someone else.” She said.
“Thank you.” Detective Muritala said and stood.
“I’ve not dismissed you Detective.”
“I’m sorry, was there something else?”
“I may be giving the case to someone else but we still need someone to check the crime scene, do the preliminary investigation. Business has to resume at the White Agate.”
“So, you want me to…”
“I want you to go to the White Agate and find out all you can.”
“Will that be all?” Detective Muritala.
“Yes, thank you Detective.”
Detective Muritala turned around and headed for the door. A part of him wanted to finish this case, one last halleluiah before he said goodbye to the force but he had a son now, one who really needed him. He got to the door and opened it.
“Detective?” The DPO called. “As soon as you are done today, write a report, I’m handing both cases to someone else.”
He walked out of the room and closed the door behind him. He was not sure if he should be relieved she was taking the cases from him or he should be insulted. He was not going to decide, he had something else to worry about. As soon as he was done with this White Agate business, he was going to Kaduna to be with his son.
Martins entered the house, trying his best to keep from running. He was fuming so much he could almost feel the heat coming out through his nose. Tiny Tony’s house was anything but tiny. It had only two floors but was so tall it was absurd. This detail always puzzled him but his height was a very sensitive subject for Tiny Tony so Martins had never broached the subject of his tall house. Tiny Tony’s feelings was the last thing on his mind at the moment though.
He opened the door to the patio and Tiny Tony, wrapped in a towel, stood.
“Joe, how are…?”
Martins did not wait for him to finish the sentence before he landed a punch on his nose. Tiny Tony fell backwards and his towel fell off. Martins had never imagined fighting a naked man but he was too angry to stop. He jumped on Tiny Tony and landed another punch, this time on his mouth. He raised his hand to throw another punch but Tiny Tony landed one of his own. The punch connected with Martin’s ribcage and he groaned.
“Stop it.” Tiny Tony shouted.
The blow to his ribcage had reduced his energy but it had fueled his anger. He threw another punch at Tiny Tony and it found its mark; the temple.
“You bastard.” Tiny Tony shouted.
Tiny Tony grabbed Martins by the waist and shoved him off. He stood over Martins and looked down at him.
“What was that for Joe?” Tiny Tony asked, wiping blood off his mouth.
“You are seriously asking me that question?” Martins asked?
Tiny Tony picked up his towel and wrapped it around his waist.
“If another person tried the nonsense you just pulled with me he would be dead already.” Tiny Tony said.
“I could say the same thing. You are lucky I came here with a punch and not a gun.”
“Are you high or something?” Tiny Tony asked.
“You don’t know?”
“The woman from last night, she’s dead.”
“No, no Martins. She cannot be dead. What did you do?”
“What did I do? You think I killed her?”
“You did not?”
“Are you listening to me?” Martins shouted. “I took the necklace and somebody killed her after I left. Barely ten minutes after I left.”
Tiny Tony sat. “Holy crap.”
“Tony, who is doing this? Who is messing with me?”
“With this second murder, the police will be looking for you. You need to seriously lay low.”
“Who was your client? Who wanted the necklace?”
“You know I can’t give away my clients, just like I can’t give you away.”
Martins looked at Tiny Tony and it took all his self-control not to jump on him with another punch.
“Did you hear what I just said?” Martins asked. “Someone is trying to frame me for murder and you are protecting him?”
“If my client came to me asking for your identity – which he might now – would you want me to give him your info?”
“He already knows who I am and he is probably the person trying to set me up.”
“Joe, I don’t think…”
“Tony, if you don’t tell me who it is, I will go out of my way to destroy you. You’ve been my friend for a long time but my life is about to end and I won’t go down without a fight.”
“You know I don’t make threats until I don’t have a choice and you know I don’t make idle threats.”
“Okay Joe. I’ll tell you what you need to know.” Tiny Tony said. “The client who wanted the necklace, I don’t know who it is.”
“Don’t mess with me Tony.”
“I’m not messing with you.” Tiny Tony moved closer to Martins. “I didn’t meet the client personally. I don’t meet all my clients in person, you know that.”
“How did you get the job then?”
“People know how to contact me when they need to.” Martins said then added. “Before you ask, there’s no way to trace this person.”
“The drop off, what was your plan for that?”
“That could work. I was supposed to leave the necklace at the library.”
“Yes, among the books. We have a spot.”
“Does the library door have metal detectors?”
“Of course not.” Tiny Tony said. “Why are you asking?”
“I’m going to that library with you and I’m bringing my gun.”
Martins downed the glass of scotch at a go and swallowed a small cube of ice. That was not good. He coughed till his eyes were red and watery. It looked like nothing was going well for him today, not even drinking. He poured another cup and took a sip. He had a lot to think about but his mind was numb. Alcohol was not the solution but it certainly could not make things worse. Someone was framing him. Someone with enough resources to murder the woman inside the White Agate when everybody was on high alert. Someone who knew who he was going to steal from. Someone who probably shouldn’t be messed with.
He drank the scotch and poured another cup. Was he wrong to trust Tiny Tony? The man was his friend but like any other person in their business, he put money before anything else. Tiny Tony was not a great thief, he wasn’t a great liar either, he looked like he was telling the truth when he said he had no idea who was behind all these. Or maybe he had been paid enough money to learn how to lie.
Martin grabbed the cup and threw it into the pool. The splash did not have the crash effect he wanted. Nothing was going well at all.
He heard footsteps coming from behind him and he sprung to his feet. No one was going to kill him in his own house. He looked back and it was RoseAnn.
“Are you okay? You look like you were expecting the Terminator to come through those doors.”
He smiled. There were several smart come-backs he could throw back at her but none of them came to mind so he just continued smiling. Nothing really was going well.
“You didn’t pick Wura up from school.” RoseAnn said.
Martins frowned. “I wasn’t supposed to. Her mother should have picked her up today.”
“I thought so too so I called her. She said she’d called you already and you were picking Wura.”
“I saw her call, I didn’t answer.” Martins shook his head. “Where’s Wura?”
“She’s gone to her room.” RoseAnn said. She looked at the half-empty bottle of scotch. “Are you drinking straight from the bottle?”
“What?” Martins saw she was looking at. “No, I threw the cup I was using into the pool.”
She chuckled. “Why? Why would you do that?”
“I was frustrated; work problems.”
“I’ll like to tell you about it, I’ll get two glasses, you can share from my scotch.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t drink right now. I still have a long day ahead of me.”
“Okay then, I’ll drink and talk, you’ll watch and listen.”
She smiled. “I guess I can do that.”
Martins pulled a chair for her and she sat next to him, facing the pool.
He looked at her and wondered how lucky it would be to have her as his woman. She was perfect. She was light-skinned, long legged, with the shapeliest hips he had seen all his life. Her lips looked supple, ready to be kissed and he hoped he would get to, someday soon. He smiled at his own vanity. It was nice to lust after something that wasn’t gold or diamond.
“What are you smiling about?”
“Okay, I have to ask. What is a gorgeous, smart, rich girl like you doing teaching in a primary school?”
“That is what you were smiling about?”
“Just answer the question.”
She sat up. “Have you ever heard that question; what would you do if money wasn’t a problem?”
“Of course I have.”
“Well, that’s what I’m doing.”
“Okay, I have to ask another question. Money, how did it come? Did you work in heaven and come to the earth to enjoy or do teachers make this much?”
She giggled. “You’re making it sound like I wear titanium shoes and use diamond lipsticks.”
“Wait a minute, are those shoes titanium?” He asked and she laughed. Well, this was great, he was getting his groove back.
“To answer your question, my Dad, rest his soul, was very rich. I’m an only child and my mom married another very rich man so…”
“I just want to say officially, I’m sorry about your Dad but I’m super jealous right now.”
“You are not doing so bad yourself. Biggest jewelry store in the city, best daughter in the world, that’s not too shabby.”
He laughed and leaned back in the chair. She was right, what he had wasn’t too shabby. Why did he need to wait until some maniac ruined everything for him?
“Remember that question, what would I do if money wasn’t a problem?”
“Yeah sure.” She said and smiled. “You want to give me your answer?”
“School closes for the term in two weeks, would you take a trip to Europe with Wura and me? ”
Detective Muritala trudged along the corridor to the room where the lady was murdered. It was his first time in The White Agate and the hotel made him angry. This was the kind of place he should have visited more often when he was younger. This was the kind of place he should have brought Sekiya and Ahmad to. Instead he had spent his life at a job where he was not appreciated and he would not be remembered as soon as he retired. He’d spent his life being bitter and unhappy.
His phone rang and the guard leading him to the room looked back at him. He loved to see the look on people’s face when they heard his ringtone. Yes, he still used a monotone, monochrome phone and he did not care what people thought about it.
The call was from Sekiya.
“Excuse me.” He said to the guard and answered the call. “Hello?”
“Good afternoon, I’ve been waiting to hear from you.” Her voice sounded weak.
“I’ve been a little busy but I’ll still fly to Kaduna this night.”
“Okay.” She said.
She did not continue but she did not say goodbye. Detective Muritala knew what that meant. She was still the same old Sekiya. This was her cue for him to press for more information.
“Is everything okay?” Detective Muritala asked.
“I’ve not heard from my sister’s sister-in-law. She was supposed to pay for the tests.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem, I will pay for the tests.”
“No Musa, you cannot pay for it. If we want the test to be done on time, we need to pay a lot of money.”
Detective Muritala contemplated what she’d said. He had no response, at least not a good one. He honestly could not afford the test if it was as expensive as she was making it sound.
“Sekiya, I’m sure she will show up. What is the woman’s name?”
“Mariam Bello, she came to Nigeria for a visit and she said she will send the money once she got here.”
The guard in front of him was tapping his feet a little too loudly, Detective Muritala got the message.
“Sekiya, I have to go. I will call you when I’m at the airport. Let me know if you hear from this woman.”
He ended the call and slid the phone in his pocket.
“Come in sir.” The guard said.
Detective Muritala walked into the room and looked around. He didn’t care much for what he was seeing, another detective was coming to give the place a proper scrutiny.
“From what we gathered,” The guard was saying. “This was a robbery gone wrong.”
“A robbery?” Detective Muritala asked. “Something was stolen?”
“Yes sir.” The guard said. “The murderer obviously was looking for something based on the state of the room.”
Detective Muritala agreed, the room looked like it had been searched.
“But that is not evidence of a robbery. Was anything stolen?” Detective Muritala asked.
“At first we couldn’t say but when we wanted to move the body, we found a small cut on her neck.”
“After we found the cut, I suspected the murderer had hurriedly taken off her necklace, something like that. My suspicions were confirmed when we checked security footage of her coming into the hotel last night. She had a necklace on, we have looked through the whole room; the necklace is not here.”
He smiled, the guards were playing Detective and were feeling really good about it too.
“Is that all?” Detective Muritala asked.
“You can take a look at the footages yourself and I will take you to the morgue to check the body.”
“You don’t have to do that.” Detective Muritala said. “Someone else will be checking those. Anything else important here?”
“Yes sir.” The guard said. “We found her passport. Apparently she just came into the country this week.”
“Really? Let me see the passport please.”
The guard handed him the passport. He opened and looked at the dates, the guard was right she had just come in. And people wonder why Nigerians in diaspora prefer to stay abroad. He looked at her name.
“Wait a minute.” Detective Muritala said.
“Is there a problem sir?” The guard asked.
He removed his phone from his pocket and dialed Sekiya’s number.
She answered. “Hello?”
“What did you say the name of your sister’s sister-in-law was again?”
“Mariam Bello. Did you find her?”
Detective Muritala ended the call. Yes, he found Mariam Bello and she was dead.