Detective Muritala heard the commotion inside the station and knew something was wrong. He also knew he was at fault for whatever had happened. All he had to do was cut out the power and Martins had done half of the work. He was supposed to wait for the signal, move closer to the power source and pull a simple switch. But Shekiya had called to tell him his son was getting worse and he had been distracted. He eventually cut the power but it was late. Very late.
If Martins had been caught he had to get him out. It wasn’t part of their deal but if he was arrested the deal was off. His son needed the money so Martins could not be arrested.
He entered the station and his fear was confirmed. Power had been restored and he could see everything. The way to the store where Martins was supposed to be was crowded. There was so much noise and movement he was not sure where to start. Whoever was running the station at the moment was stupid. They had caught a thief and they didn’t have people protecting the door.
Detective Muritala made his way through the crowd. He caught a glimpse of Martins being carried by an officer into one of the interrogation rooms. He looked like he was unconscious. Detective Muritala tapped the woman standing beside him.
“Who is in charge of this?”
The woman pointed to a bald man, standing close to the door of the store. Detective Muritala headed towards the man. The man was not familiar so he was not likely to be so high on the chain of command. He’d made it his job to know all his seniors. He was almost in front of the man when two officers blocked his path.
“Everybody behind the line.” One of the officers said.
“I need to talk to him.” Detective Muritala said, nodding in the direction of the bald man.
“Who are you?”
Detective Muritala showed them his ID. They saw his name and more importantly they saw his rank. One of the officers walked to the bald officer and spoke to him. The man looked at Detective Muritala, nodded, and they let him through.
Detective Muritala walked to the officer.
“I’m Detective Muritala.”
“How can I help you?” The bald officer didn’t look too happy he was being interrupted.
“I understand you have apprehended a suspect attempting to steal from the store?”
“And you know this how?”
“It’s pretty obvious.” Detective Muritala said. “I think you should clear this area and put people at the door, nobody should be able to enter the station at this time.”
The officer paused and Detective Muritala knew the man wanted to refuse but he knew the suggestions were valid. The officer spoke to the men with him and they began to move people away.
“What exactly do you want?”
“Five minutes with the suspect.” Detective Muritala said.
“It’s not possible.” The bald officer said. “We have a lot of questions for the suspect and I will be asking them.”
“Fair enough but can I watch?”
“I’m sorry but why are you so interested in this case?”
“I’m investigating your suspect for robbery and murder in two other cases.”
“You know who he is?”
“That is what I just said.”
The officer paused then said. “How do you know who he is? Only a few officers have seen his face.”
Detective Muritala knew this question could put him trouble or lead to more questions that would put him in trouble. But he had to know what Martins would say. Would he sell him out?
“Do I get to watch or not?”
The officer looked Detective Muritala in the eyes. “No.”
His head throbbed with pain. The last thing he remembered was several people surrounding him in the store. The Blue Canim. Well, they would never find that. He was in a dark room but it wasn’t the store. The smell of money wasn’t here and this room was colder than the store. Was he still in the police station? Did the detective know he’d been caught? Was this it? The end of everything?
He rubbed his head and winced. What is going to happen to Wura now? He shouldn’t have done this. He’d been seduced by the idea of finally having the Blue Canim and he was going to pay the ultimate price for it. He’d been very confident he would not be caught. It was not confidence, it was stupid arrogance.
The door of the room opened and a sliver of light filtered into the room. Someone entered the room and immediately the door closed and the darkness returned.
Whoever had entered the room moved a chair around.
“What is your name?” A male voice asked.
Martins stayed quiet. He’d flirted with jail since the day he started stealing but it was looking so real to him now. Wura would be without a father. She would live with her mother and her numerous boyfriends. It wasn’t a picture he wanted to imagine.
“How did you know what we were keeping in the store?” The voice asked.
There was no advantage that could come from talking to this man. He needed a way out. The chances of Tiny Tony coming to his aid were low. Tony knew people, even policemen but he doubted he would want to have anything to do with him at this time. There was even a chance he was the one who set him up. He and whoever he was working for.
“Do you have any partners working with you?”
Detective Muritala was still his best shot to getting out. It was dangerous putting himself at the mercy of the detective but the man was desperate. He still needed money for his son.
“Who is your informant?”
“You can ask questions till your teeth fall out but I’m not talking to you.” Martins said.
The officer chuckled. “My teeth are not going to fall out but believe me, yours will. Or pardon me, they won’t fall out, they will be pulled out.”
Martins knew this was not an empty threat. Nobody cared about the rule of law or prisoner safety in Nigeria. They could cut off all his appendages and no one would care.
“You want me to talk?” Martins asked. “I’ll talk to Detective Muritala.”
The officer paused and Martins knew he was going to get his request. He’d expected the officer to laugh off his request but the fact that he was thinking about it meant he would get his wish.
“Why would you want to speak to Detective Muritala?”
“I like his perfume. It makes me feel comfortable.”
Martins heard a chair shift, followed by the sound of footsteps then the door opened. He had two plays; the cane and the carrot. Any of them could set him free. He could offer the detective money to get him out or send a threat to Tiny Tony. He preferred the first option. There was a third option though and he might be forced to use that option.
Whoever had sent him for the Blue Canim probably still wanted it. Nobody would find it except he told them where it was. He could offer them the Blue Canim in exchange for his freedom. He was not sure who Tiny Tony was working for but he knew they probably had the power to get him out. If – when he got free, he was taking RoseAnne and Wura and going somewhere Tiny Tony and his client could not find him. Or the Blue Canim.
The door opened and someone entered the room. He heard a click and the light flooded the room. Martins shielded his eyes with his palm and waited for his eyes to adjust to the light. He looked up and Detective Muritala was standing in front of him?
Martins looked at him but he could not talk. He knew there were several officers in the next room watching everything he did and what he said.
“Mister Martins, we meet again.” Detective Muritala said.
“I make it my duty to avoid people who suspect me of doing wrong but looks like I cannot stay away from you.”
Detective Muritala sat and looked Martins in the eye. They needed a way to communicate without alerting the officers outside to what was going on. There was no piece of paper to write on. He did not understand or speak sign language and he never got around to learning Morse code. He had very limited options.
“Detective, I have a demand.”
“You are in no position to negotiate with the police.” Detective Muritala said.
“I’m going to negotiate anyway.” Martins said. “I have something they really want and I want my freedom in exchange for it.”
The detective looked at him, a little uncertain. Martins could understand this confusion.
“Like I said before the police does not…”
“Don’t worry, they’ll come to you very soon. Just tell them, I have what they want but I’m not releasing it until they get me out of here.” Martins said.
Detective Martins nodded. The man was starting to understand.
“You want me to negotiate your release? Why on earth will I do that?”
“Detective, if I get out here, you can be sure your children will never die because they lack money.”
The idiots outside the room probably still thought they were talking about negotiating with the police. He did not know how but he was sure it wouldn’t be long before Tiny Tony’s client would come for him.
“Before I leave, you have to give me something.” Detective Muritala said. “Some information. Don’t let the good officers outside think I’m your errand boy.”
“You wanted to know if I had an informant in the station?”
“Of course I do.”
Detective Muritala raised an eyebrow; he was confused again.
“Are you going to give us his name?”
“Yes I will.” Martins said. “But first, I need a box of pizza.”
Martins opened his eyes and sat up immediately. Light filtered in through a small window behind the room where he was held. It was morning. He had struggled to stay awake though the night. Detective Muritala had gone and was yet to return. He did not trust any of the other officers not to manhandle him. Better to be shot while you were awake than to be raped in your sleep. He’d lost the battle against nature and didn’t even know it until now.
They had chained his hands together and shackled his feet to the table. Escape was nigh impossible. Not that he had any thoughts of it.
Sometimes deep into the night, movement had stopped in front of his cell. They had probably gone home for the night; they knew he was going nowhere. And that was a scary thought. He had a lot of confidence someone was going to pay his way out or break him out. But what if they didn’t?
He heard a pair of boots just outside his door and the murmuring of two people talking in low tones.
He was not expecting anybody to come this early. He’d expected that the whole morning would be spent in meetings, giving reports and patting each other’s backs for catching the thief. Stupid bureaucrats would give his rescuers all the time they needed to get him out.
Or maybe he was wrong.
The door opened and the bald officer from the previous night entered. Only this time, he wore gloves and looked like he meant business. Something about his demeanor scared Martins. He’d spent the whole of the previous day talking like he had something over the police but he did not. He had to continue the bluff though.
“Hello Officer, hope you were not caught doing anything naughty last night?” Martins said and added. “Oops, that would me.”
The officer walked closer to him without saying a word. Martins had a foreboding something terrible was about to happen. The officer removed a small key from his pocket and reached for the handcuff on Martins’ hands.
“I’m free to go?” The detective did not respond. “Am I free to go?”
The officer stooped and unlocked the shackles too.
“Wait a minute, they sent you?”
The officer looked at him. “Yes they did.”
Martins smiled. “Awesome, now, what is the…?”
The words were not out of his mouth when a punch landed on his nose. Martins staggered backwards and struggled to regain his balance.
“What the hell was…?”
Another punch landed, this time, heavily bruising his lips. Martins touched his lips with his fingers and looked at the blood on them.
“Who the heck are you?” Martins asked.
“Where is it?” The officer asked.
“What are you talking about?” Martins asked.
The officer rushed at Martins, pushed him against the wall and punched him twice in the stomach. The officer released him and Martins crashed to the ground.
“Stand up!” The officer said.
What on earth was going on? Did Tiny Tony and his man send this man? Well, the man did not know who he was dealing with. The officer pulled him up.
“I’m going to ask you one more time; where is it?”
“Hold a minute, let me catch my breath.” Martins said and breathed heavily for a few seconds. “You want to know where it is? I left it in your wife’s…”
Another punch to the stomach stopped him mid-insult. He coughed and spit out the blood in his mouth. This could be the end for him but it would very stupid for them to kill him when they did not have the Blue Canim yet.
“If you’re trying to beat information out of me, you are not going to get anything.”
The officer pushed Martins on the table and held his throat with two strong hands. Martins struggled to get free but the weight of the officer was too much for him. He started to sweat and his he could not breathe. His eyes burned and his head hurt. He looked at the officer and it looked like he was not going to stop.
But then he removed his hand and Martins fell from the table. He gasped for breath and panted like he’d just ran a marathon.
“Listen to me and listen very carefully.” The officer said. “You are going to tell me where it is now.”
“No, I won’t.” Martins said. “If you are going to kill me, kill me now.”
The officer laughed. “Who said anything about killing you?”
Martins looked up at the man, he did not want to hear the next thing the officer wanted to say but something told him, it was something he needed to hear.
“Deliver it and you’ll be out of here soon, do the opposite and you will mourning more than your freedom.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
The officer walked towards the door and stopped.
“I almost forgot, something arrived for you from Abuja this morning.”
Martins stopped. What on earth did he mean by that?
“RoseAnne and Wura say ‘hi’.”
The officer opened the door, stepped out of the room and closed the door behind him.