Category Archives: The Aftermath

25May/17

The Aftermath 13 (Final Episode)

PREVIOUSLY ON THE AFTERMATH
“Hello Martins?”
Martins looked back and saw RoseAnne standing at the door to the room.
“RoseAnne?”
Martins ran towards her but the tall man stood in front of her.
“No touching.” He shouted.
“Are you okay?” Martins asked.
“Yes, I am.” RoseAnne said.
“I’m going to get you out of here, I promise.” Martins said then turned to the man. “Where is your boss, I need to talk to him, now!”
“You’ve already met the boss.” The man said.
Martins swallowed. “What?”
RoseAnne moved closer to Martins. “You want to meet the boss? Here I am.”

EPISODE THIRTEEN
Martins stepped back and shook his head. “What?”
“The boss,” RoseAnne said and curtsied. “Moi.”
Martins did not understand what was happening. RoseAnne was the boss? What boss? She was the one doing all of this? That was not possible.
“Do you want to sit?” RoseAnne said. “I think you should sit.”
“No, I’ll keep standing.” Martins said. “RoseAnne, how do you know these people?”
RoseAnne moved closer to him and put an arm around his shoulder. “How do I know them? I employed them, they work for me.”
Martins still could not wrap his head around what was going on. If RoseAnne was their boss, it would mean she was the one who set him up at the station. She was the one who kidnapped herself and Wura. That made no sense.
“Aren’t you going to ask why I did all of these?” RoseAnne asked.
“What did you do exactly?” Martins asked.
“Everything.” RoseAnne responded. “Killed the people you robbed, fed you the news about the Blue Canim, made sure you were arrested, kidnapped your daughter and girlfriend, everything.”
Martins staggered backwards and dropped into a chair. How could she have done all of this and he did not know? He loved her, at least he believed he did. This made no sense.
“So, all the time I was chasing you…”
“It was fun.” RoseAnne said. “To see someone run so hard towards his own death, get obsessed with the person who wants to kill him, so much fun.”
He grinded his teeth together and tried hard to stay still. He had spent time, money, energy, chasing this woman and she was the one who was the source of all his troubles? This was hard to take, hard to understand and maybe he never would understand but he had to know what her plan was. With him, with his daughter. He could not believe he had put his daughter in the care of somebody so evil.
“So, what now?” Martins asked.
“You don’t want to know why I did this?”
“Honestly, I don’t care.” Martins said. “I just want to know what you plan to do. My daughter, where is she?”
“Your daughter is fine. I like Wura actually, she’s one of the best things I got from this.”
Martins shot to his feet. “You are not going to get my daughter.”
“Oh, calm yourself. I already have her. I’ll tell her daddy died and I’ll be there for her. You know she already loves me.”
“So, you are going to kill me?”
“Of course I am.”
“Why? What did I ever do to you?”
RoseAnne smiled. “Finally, the question I have been waiting for.”
The door opened and the tall man Martins had seen earlier came into the room. He whispered to RoseAnne and left the room.
“We have to go.” RoseAnne said. “Looks like your house is no longer a safe place to set up camp.”
Martins had not considered the possibility of rescue. Mostly because he did not know if he needed rescuing or not. Everything was still confusing. Was RoseAnne actually going to harm him? If she was, which it increasingly looked likely, he had to find a way to get out of here. Or at least hope somebody on the outside would come to his rescue. The chances of that happening were slim though.
If he was going to have a chance, he had to delay RoseAnne and her men for as long as possible.
“Before we leave, can you please tell me why you are doing this?”
“We can talk about it where we are going.” RoseAnne said then turned to the tall man. “Get the girl and the detective into the Hilux, we’ll leave in five minutes.”
The man nodded and left.
RoseAnne spoke with a level of authority and firmness he’d never seen in her before. After all he only knew RoseAnne the beautiful, gentle teacher, not this tyrant standing in front of him.
“RoseAnne,” He started. “If that’s even your real name…”
“It is my real name.” She said.
“Is any other thing I know about you real?”
“I like your daughter.” She said. “I’ve always loved to have a little girl but there’s no way I’m sacrificing this great body to pregnancy. Wura just solves that problem for me.”
“Why are you doing this? I’ve always done my best to be nice to you from the very moment we met.”
RoseAnne chuckled. “Really? So you consider yourself to be a good person?”
Martins thought about that question for a moment. He wasn’t a good person but he tried his best not to be as bad as he knew he could be.
“No, maybe I’m not but I try my best.”
“By not killing anybody when you rob, right?”
Martins pondered her face for a couple of seconds. So she knew he was a thief all this while? While he was pretending to be a good person, wooing her, she knew what he was? He felt so ashamed of himself then he was angry for allowing himself to be played.
“You consider yourself to be a good criminal, you don’t kill anybody, right?”
“No I don’t.” Martins said. “Stealing makes me rich but killing adds nothing to me.”
“So you’ve never killed?”
“No.” Martins said.
“Really? Never?”
“Never.”
Martins watched her face change. She was not joking and her face made sure he knew. He’d never felt more confused in his life.
“You don’t remember him, do you?” RoseAnne asked.
Martins frowned. “Remember who?”
“My father.” She said and grimaced. “You killed him, you bastard.”
Martins paused, opened his mouth but nothing came out of it. He killed her father? How on earth did he kill her father?
“I did not kill your father.” He said. “I don’t even know who he is.”
“I was sixteen and we were having a late dinner at home. It was one of those nights when my dad came back late from a trip. We were about finishing the food when we heard a loud knock on our door. Guess who it was; armed robbers in face masks.”
Martins’ heart began to beat fast. He could already tell where the story was going.
“You guys came in and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what you guys did.”
Martins could not remember the incident she was talking about but he knew what would have happened. His experiences running with his old gang was what made him decide if a job could not be done without killing then it was not worth doing.
It still didn’t explain her hatred for him.
“Everything was over after a while but as you turned to leave your face mask dropped and I saw your face.”
“What?”
“Oh yeah.” RoseAnne exclaimed. “Not just me, my dad too.”
He remembered the job now. It was his last job as an armed robber, it was the one that made up his mind. But still, he did not kill anybody on that job.
“I did not kill him.” Martins said.
“You hit him on the head with the butt of your gun.”
Martins sighed. “I did but it was not that bad. I just didn’t want him looking at me.”
“Not that bad?” RoseAnne laughed dryly. “The butt of your gun caused internal bleeding in his head, he was dead in less than twenty four hours.”
“Oh my God.”
“My slut of a mom just moved on, married my Dad’s friend and left me alone to fend for myself. I was a teenager!”
“I thought you said your dad left you a lot of money.”
“You think money is everything? I loved my dad and you took him from me.” She walked closer to Martins, the clicking of her heels on the ceramic tiles raising the tension in Martins’ body. “But you are right, money is great. I devoted a lot of it to finding you. I found your old gang easily and had them all killed but you, it was as if you’d dropped off the crime world. But you know, all I had to do was wait and you eventually turned up.”
“Why didn’t you just kill me when you found me?”
“What’s the fun in that?”
“You killed innocent people RoseAnne.”
“My dad was innocent too.” She said. “I didn’t kill anybody anyway, my guys did.”
“Why? Those people didn’t harm you.”
“Well, first, out of the window went your ‘I’m a thief not a killer boast’.”
“So this was your plan? Kill everybody I rob and then what?”
She paused and looked at him. “I have to be honest my plans didn’t quite work but it doesn’t matter, we are still at the right end point. I’m going to kill you today, finally get over my father’s death and raise your daughter as mine.”
“I am sorry about your father RoseAnne, I truly am. He’s the reason I have never done a job with a gun. Please let Wura return to her mother, she has nothing to do with this.”
“Oh she does. She’s going to know what it feels like to live without a father. She’s fortunate I will care for her, unlike my mother.”
RoseAnne walked out of the room and in less than a minute returned with a gun. Martins recognized the gun. It was a local gun, like the one he carried the day he robbed her family.
“What are you doing RoseAnne?” Martins asked.
RoseAnne pointed the gun at him. “Get on your knees. Now!”
Martins dropped to his knees and raised his hands. “RoseAnne please, you don’t have to do this. You know I did not kill your father intentionally. Shooting me now is not justice…”
“Justice? Who said anything about justice?”
She moved behind him and Martins closed his eyes. He waited for the gunshot but it didn’t come. He opened his eyes and turned back to look at RoseAnne and at that moment he saw the butt of the gun come down and hit his head. He crashed to the ground, his head exploding in pain.
“Oh yeah,” RoseAnne said. “I’m not going to shoot you, I’m going to kill you exactly the way you killed my dad.”
Martins tried to stand up but she hit him again on the head. For a few seconds or minutes, he could not tell, he felt numb and his eyesight blurred. There was a dull ringing in his head and he felt like his heart was no longer beating.
A loud crash sounded somewhere in the house and RoseAnne paused. She signaled to the guard who’d been in the room all along to watch Martins and she ran out of the room.
Martin laid on the ground waiting to die. Even if the blows to his head were not enough to kill him, he knew RoseAnne would come back to finish what she had started. If anybody had asked him how he was going to die, he would never have said ‘at the hands of the woman he loved’.
“There’s somebody here.” Martins heard a male voice shout.
He knew the voice but could not identify it. He heard the footsteps of two people run into the room.
“Put that down.” The voice he’d heard earlier said.
Martins rolled over to look up. He saw the guard RoseAnne left in the room on his knees.
“Lift him up.” The voice said again.
Martins felt hands grab him and lift him up. He saw the owner of the voice and gasped. It was Agent Ponsah.
“Good to see you again.” Agent Ponsah said.
***
Martins sat at the back of the police car, his hands handcuffed behind his back. He was not sure if he should be grateful or sad. He was not going to die at the hands of RoseAnne but these agents weren’t much better.
The door opposite him opened and an officer threw Detective Muritala in with him.
“What happened to you?” Detective Muritala asked.
Martins shook his head. “How did the agents find us?”
“I took their phones when we broke you out, apparently they can trace their phones.”
“This is not going to end well.”
“No, it’s not.” Detective Muritala said. “But at least, they saved your girlfriend and your daughter.”
“What are you talking about?” Martins asked.
“They found your daughter and your girlfriend tied up in one of the rooms.”
RoseAnne played them? They were going to release her thinking she was a victim.
“She’s not my girlfriend.” Martins said through clenched teeth. “She is the one behind this whole thing.”
Detective Muritala looked at him, a little confused. “What are you talking about?”
“Yes Martins, what are you talking about?”
Martins looked up and saw RoseAnne standing beside the car.
“You evil…” Martins started to say.
“Woah, don’t talk like that about your girlfriend and the future mother of your daughter.” RoseAnne said.
“You will never be her mother.”
RoseAnne paused and nodded. “You are right. As soon as these cops clear out of here, I’ll get rid of her and get out of the country. I’ll have to pay someone to finish you off. That is if you are not already bleeding inside.”
She was going to kill Wura? No, she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. Martins could not believe he had once being in love with this girl. How did she hide all this hate from him?
“Hey, one more thing.” RoseAnne said. “Check this out.” She dug her hands in her pocket and brought out something. The Blue Canim! “Oh yeah, my guys found it. I have the two things you love the most.”
“You will not get away with this.” Martins said, even though he did not believe it.
“I already have.”
Martins saw Agent Sanni walking towards the car. He had to do something. They would not take his word over RoseAnne’s. She was a beautiful victim, he was a criminal already caught in the act. But he had to do something.
“Are you okay Miss?” Agent Sanni said to RoseAnne.
“Yes sir.” RoseAnne said in a soft and trembling voice. “I’m still shocked you said my boyfriend is a thief.”
She gave Martins a cold look and walked away. Agent Sanni moved closer to Martins.
“See what you put your loved ones through when you choose a life of crime?”
“She is the criminal.” Martins said. “She was the one who organized all of this.”
Agent Sanni looked at him with a straight face for a couple of seconds then burst into laughter.
“Agent, you have to believe me. I didn’t know it at first too but she’s the mastermind behind all these.” Martins said, hoping desperately the agent would believe him. “Ask Detective Muritala, he heard everything she said to me just now.”
“Detective Muritala broke you out of jail, of course he’ll support you.” Agent Sanni said. “Well, it’s time for your questioning to resume and believe me, you will wish you had died here.”
Agent Sanni made to go and Martins knew this was his last chance. If RoseAnne left now, she would never be found again.
“Agent,” Martins called out. “I’m ready to tell you my source. I’ll you right here, right now.”
Agent Sanni looked at him. “I’m listening.”
“Before I tell you, you have to do something.”
“This is not a negotiation.”
“It’s something really simple and you’ll have your answer.” Martins said.
“Go on.”
“Check RoseAnne’s pockets.”
Agent Sanni frowned. “What?”
“It won’t cost you anything. Just check her pockets.”
“What am I looking for exactly?”
“Just check her pocket.”
Agent Sanni shook his head and walked away. Martins bowed his head and hoped for the best. One minute later, Agent Sanni came back, holding the Blue Canim.
“I found this in her pocket.” Agent Sanni said.
“That is the Blue Canim.”
“The blue what?”
“That is one of the jewels recovered and kept in the station. How did she get it?”
Agent Sanni frowned and looked at the Blue Canim.
“Ask her how she got it.”
The agent walked away and Martins sighed.
“Even if they arrest her, you are still going to jail, you know that, right?” Detective Muritala said.
“I’ll pay for my sins but at least she won’t be able to harm my daughter.”
Agent Sanni ran back to the car, anxiety written all over his face.
“What happened?” Martins asked.
“She’s gone.” Agent Sanni said. “Your girlfriend is gone.”

***
Martins placed his hand over the swollen spot on his head. The prison doctors had checked him and they said he was not bleeding internally and he was going to survive. He was going to survive the head injuries but he knew there was a big chance he might not survive here in jail. He was not physically or emotionally stable enough to live the prison life.
RoseAnne had disappeared into thin air. They were still looking for her but what were the chances she would actually be found? Wura had gone to stay with her mother. That was the part that hurt him the most. He could not see his baby. Her mother had refused to let her visit and had even told Wura he was dead. Maybe it was better if he was.
He’d almost killed himself a few days ago, maybe it was time he completed what he started.
He stood up from the floor and looked around the cell room. There was nothing here he could use to kill himself. Except maybe starve himself to death.
He heard footsteps outside his room and a few seconds later, his door swung open. It was a guard.
“Your lawyer is here to see you.” The guard said.
He didn’t have a lawyer. His ex-wife had refused to get him one and he had refused the one the government provided for him.
He followed the guard into a room and sat there. Whoever this lawyer was, he was going to fire him immediately. He didn’t need anyone defending him, he wanted to be punished.
The door opened and a man entered with his back turned to Martins. The man turned around and it was Tiny Tony.
“Tony?” Martins exclaimed, he felt so great relief seeing a familiar face. “I thought you were dead.”
“Everybody thought so.” Tiny Tony said. “I don’t have much time so I’ll go straight to the point.”
“What’s going on? How is Wura? Have you checked on her?” Martins asked.
“That is exactly why I’m here.” Tiny Tony said. “I’ve got good news and I’ve got good news. Which do you want to hear first?”
“Tony, come on.”
“I’m getting you out of here tonight.” Tiny Tony said.
“What?” Martins’ eyes lighted up.
“Don’t sleep too deep, Michael Scofield will be visiting you.”
Martins placed his head on the table in front of him. Tears had welled up in his eyes, he could not believe he was getting out of here.
“Don’t you want to hear the other good news?”
Martins lifted up his head. “What is it?”
“I have your two favorite things in the world, waiting for you across the border.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ve got Wura and the Blue Canim waiting for you in Ghana.”
Martins jumped to his feet. “What?”
“The old detective, remember him? Well, they released him on bail yesterday but he won’t be coming back. I got him and his woman in Ghana with Wura waiting for you.”
“Oh my God, Tony.” He could not believe this.
“Yeah, remember, you’re getting out tonight.”
“And the Blue Canim? It is with the detective too?”
Tiny Tony paused. “Not exactly.”
Martins knew the look on Tiny Tony’s face. “What’s going on Tony?”
“Well, the Blue Canim is in the house of Nigeria’s ambassador to Ghana and we will need to steal it.”
“Tony…”
“So what do you say? Ready to go get what’s yours?”

THE END.

17May/17

The Aftermath 12

Detective Muritala sat in front of his boss and like every time it had happened, he wished he didn’t have to. She looked at him with suspicion, almost as if she knew what he wanted to talk about. He’d thought about several ways he could get Martins out of the station and from the hand of his torturers and he realized he needed the help of someone higher than him.
The DPO was that someone.
“So, what can I do for you Detective?” The DPO asked.
“Remember the cases you gave me?” Detective Muritala asked.
“You mean the ones you didn’t want?”
“The very ones.” Detective Muritala said. “I have made a major breakthrough in the cases.”
“A breakthrough?” She raised an eyebrow, she apparently didn’t trust him very much. He could not blame her.
“The culprit in both cases were the same person.”
“And you know who this person is?”
“Joseph Martins.”
“I know that name.” She said.
“Do you buy jewelries?”
“Joe Martins? The owner of the jewelry store?”
“The very one.” He had caught her attention now. “It makes sense if you think about it. He owns a jewelry store, the thief steals jewelry.”
“And you haven’t arrested him?”
“That’s what I need your help for.”
She leaned back in her seat. “What do you want from me?”
He’d thought about this carefully. She didn’t know about Martins’ arrest yet. The headquarters were keeping it under wraps and he was grateful they did.
“He has been arrested by another police station and they are refusing to hand him over.”
“What do they have him for?”
“Same offense.” He said. “I want him transferred here, I believe I can close the case faster.”
“I don’t know about this.”
He knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get her to agree but it was his only shot.
“This isn’t unprecedented.” He said. “And I’m not cutting them out of the investigation, I just need to question him here on my turf.”
“That’s not enough reason to cause friction with another…”
“This won’t affect you in anyway.” Detective Muritala said. “I wouldn’t even have come to you if I had the authority to sign the necessary forms.”
“I don’t…”
“If I close this case, you realize you get all the credit?” She liked that. “And all I need is bring him here, question him, return him to them and we can put him away while they try to figure out what’s happening.”
“Okay then, I’ll do.”
“Thank you. You won’t regret this.”
That was a huge lie, she was going to regret it.
The bald officer – he actually still didn’t know the guy’s name, had promised once he got a letter requesting the prisoner transfer, he would find a way to get him out of the station. Once he was out of the gates of the police station, he had made arrangements for people to grab him. The plan was coming together already.
Detective Muritala shook his head as he walked out of the DPO’s office. Breaking out a prisoner was the latest to be added to his list of sins. That list was growing longer every day now. But this would be the last he would do. Once he got Martins out and the man he’d spoken to on the phone before paid him like he promised, he would get Shekiya and leave the country.
If she would have him.

***
The door opened and Martins looked up, the evil twins were back. If their faces were anything to go by, he was in a lot of trouble. He had given up on life now. He was going to rot here, if he didn’t die first. He would never see RoseAnne again or Wura. If they were still alive.
Why was nobody helping him? Not Detective Muritala. Not Tiny Tony.
“You don’t look so happy.” Agent Ponsah said, with a sadistic smile.
Martins ignored him. They had brutalized his body. Worse still, they had brutalized his mind, the best part of him.
“I’m sure you know we didn’t find your Tony guy.” Agent Sanni said.
“Probably because he doesn’t exist.” Agent Ponsah added.
Agent Sanni pulled a chair and sat in front of him.
“We’ve beaten you, we’ve broken bones in your body but it looks like you are a really tough guy. That’s great, I’m almost impressed.”
“I think it’s time we step it up.” Agent Ponsah said. “Have you heard about the term ‘pharmacological torture’?”
Martins swallowed. He had feared it would eventually come to this. He could not take this, not anymore.
“Have you heard about the Insulin shock therapy?”
Martins sat up. “You can’t do that.”
The agents laughed. “We can do anything we want. You are a bloody criminal.”
“I still have rights.”
“Call your lawyer then.”
“You can’t keep me here forever.” Martins said but even he didn’t believe that.
“We don’t want to.” Agent Sanni said. “We have other people to interrogate. Just tell us what we want to know and you won’t see us ever again.”
Martins sank lower in his chair.
“Alright then.” Agent Sanni said. “Agent Ponsah, prep the other interrogation room, let’s have fun with this guy.”
They both walked out of the room. Martins looked around, he was done with this. He was not going to be tortured any further. Even if it meant killing himself.
The room was empty except for the table and chairs. There wasn’t much he could use to kill himself but he had to find something. He wasn’t going to be alive when the two demons came back.
He shook the chair he sat on then he stood and hit it on the ground till it broke. He picked up the broken leg of the chair. It wasn’t the best weapon available but it would do the job. The only way he could use the piece of wood as a weapon was to stab himself.
He sighed. He could not believe he had come to the point where he was considering suicide. Not just considering it, he was planning it. It was better if he died now though. It wasn’t like they would let him go anyway. At least now he could die without further torture.
He picked up the piece of wood and lifted it up. He closed his eyes and gripped the wood as tight as he could. He had to do this once. If he survived the stab, he was in for a very terrible life afterwards.
“Okay, this is it.” He whispered.
“What are you doing?” A voice shouted from outside. The demons were back?
The door opened and Detective Muritala ran in.
“What on earth are you doing?”
“Will you please leave?” Martins said.
“Were you going to kill yourself?”
“What is it to you?”
“You cannot kill yourself.” The Detective said. “You are leaving this station now.”
“What?” Hope rose in his heart. “You are breaking me out?”
“Don’t be ridiculous Martins.” Detective Muritala said. “I’m moving you to another facility.”
He couldn’t care if he was being moved to hell, anywhere but with the two psychos who had pushed him to suicide.
“We have questions to ask too and we’d rather not do it here.”
Martins was confused but he did not care, he was going with him.
“Let’s go and be done with it.” Martins said.
“We need to wait for a few minutes.”
“Please, can we just go before those crazy agents come back?”
The door opened and the agents entered. They looked at Martins and the piece of wood in his hand.
“Are you trying to break out?” Agent Sanni asked and then turned to Detective Muritala. “And you were just going to stand there and watch him?”
“I was just…” Detective Muritala started to say but is interrupted.
“Frigging incompetence, it is a good thing people like you are gradually being pushed out of the system.”
Martins looked at the Detective, he didn’t seem to like that comment.
“Can I talk to you please?” The Detective said and Agent Sanni drew closer to him.
Detective Muritala’s fist moved like lightning and connected with Agent Sanni’s temple and he went down, cold.
“What the hell?” Agent Ponsah shouted.
Detective Muritala drew a gun from his belt and pointed it at Agent Ponsah.
“Shut up and stay where you are.”
“What on earth do you think you are doing?” Agent Ponsah asked, his hands raised. “You are dead already, you know that, right?”
Martins could not believe what was happening. He’d never believed the old detective had that kind of punch in him.
“I’m transferring the prisoner.” Detective Muritala said. “You know what, I don’t want any trouble from you clowns. Hand me your phones now.”
“I can’t believe this.” Martins mumbled to himself.
Detective Muritala collected both phones and slid them in his pocket. Martins wanted to insult the agents but there was chance they would get him back, he couldn’t risk making them angrier than they were.
“Let’s go.” Detective Muritala said.
Martins followed him out of the room and they locked the door behind them.
Martins was not sure if this was a breakout or a transfer like the Detective kept saying but at least he was out of the crazy cell with the crazy agents who were trying to get him mad. The Detective had a pass of some sorts that got him out of the station without further violence. Martins was thrown in the back of a police Hilux, beside the bald officer who was working for the person who hired him. Detective Muritala sat in front of the car with the driver.
Two of the three people in the car were not clean, that much he knew. Was this a rescue mission? If it was, who was the sponsor? And where were they taking him?
He could not ask anything because he was not sure what the cover was and he didn’t want to expose the Detective and the bald officer. But still, he was curious.
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll see.” Detective Muritala said.
They drove in silence for about then minutes and then the driver pulled over by the road. He came down from the vehicle without saying a word and walked into a nearby bush.
What is going on?
A few seconds after the driver walked away, another man came and entered the car. Detective Muritala and the bald officer said nothing. The man started the car and drove into the road.
Martins looked at the man, he was familiar. Yes, he remembered him now; he was one of Tiny Tony’s men. This was a breakout.
Finally!
But this wasn’t necessarily good news for him. The bald officer beside him was the one who delivered the news of RoseAnne and Wura’s capture to him. He was probably going to be tortured again or worse they would make him watch while they tortured the girls.
He leaned back in the car and shook his head. There was no point worrying; he would cross that bridge when he got there. But he could not stop thinking about his daughter. She was too young to go through all of these.
He turned to the bald officer.
“What is going on with my daughter?”
The words had barely come out of his mouth when he saw a car coming speeding towards them from the side of the bald officer.
“Watch out!” He screamed.
The coming car collided with their car and Martins was thrown backward from his seat. He hit his head on the window behind him and dropped down, unconscious.
***
The ache hammered at his head like someone was splitting wood on his temple. He slowly opened his eyes and for a few seconds he did not know where he was. He looked around the small room. It was a painted pink, like Wura’s room. There was a pink train set that ran around the room and big pink teddy bear. Wura had those too.
He sat up.
He saw the little pink bible, the pink closet, the lion on the closet – the only thing in the room that wasn’t pink, he knew all of these.
He was in Wura’s room!
What the hell was happening? He stood and immediately reached for a wall, his eyes swarm and tongue tasted salty. He looked down at his shirt and saw blood then he remembered the accident. A car had hit them. Maybe ‘the accident’ wasn’t an accident. Where was Detective Muritala and the bald officer? Did Tiny Tony have anything to do with this?
He dragged along the wall till he got to the door. He knocked on it. There was no answer. He raised his hand to knock again but the door swung open and he saw a tall man standing in front of him. The man was not familiar. Maybe he was one of the guys who worked for Tiny Tony.
“I see you are awake.” The man said with a smile. “How was your sleep?”
“I was not asleep.” Martins growled.
“You looked like you were asleep to me.”
“Who are you?” Martins asked.
“I thought your first question would be ‘where am I?’”
“I’m in my daughter’s room, you idiot.”
“Okay, so you recognize the room. Shouldn’t you have asked about your daughter then? Or how you got here?”
Martins looked at the man and sneered. “I want to talk to Tiny Tony.”
“Oh, you do?”
“Yes, immediately.”
“I’m sorry that won’t be possible.” The man said and Martins frowned. “You see, Tiny Tony is dead.”
“What?”
“Your little escape from the station with the old detective, Tiny Tony arranged that behind my back. I warned him not to do anything stupid, he didn’t listen.”
Martins stepped back. Tiny Tony was dead? That meant this man did not work for him.
“So, who the hell are you?”
“I am Tony’s boss. I employed him so he could employ you.”
Martins frowned, that was strange. He’d always imagined he knew all the big players but this man was not remotely familiar.
“You want the Blue Canim?”
“Not really, I don’t.” The man said. “I wanted you.”
This was all so confusing. He did not know this man, why on earth will he want him? Was he the one behind the murders too?
“In case you are worried about him,” The man said. “Your detective friend is alive. For now, at least.”
The detective wasn’t his biggest concern right now. “My daughter and RoseAnne, did you touch them?”
“Did I touch them? Oh, you are in for a surprise.”
Martins moved closer to the man. “What the hell did you do?”
“I think it’s time to meet the boss.”
Martins raised an eyebrow. “Your boss? You are not the boss?”
The man chuckled. “Oh no, I’m not the boss.”
Martins had a foreboding about meeting this boss. He had a feeling it was someone he knew, someone who knew him, RoseAnne and Wura.
“Go wait in the living room.” The man said. “You know your way, right?”
“You are in my house, I know my way.”
Martins walked to the living room and sat. These crazy people were camped in his house? How come nobody had thought to check his house?
“Hello Martins?”
Martins looked back and saw RoseAnne standing at the door to the room.
“RoseAnne?”
Martins ran towards her but the tall man stood in front of her.
“No touching.” He shouted.
“Are you okay?” Martins asked.
“Yes, I am.” RoseAnne said.
“I’m going to get you out of here, I promise.” Martins said then turned to the man. “Where is your boss, I need to talk to him, now!”
“You’ve already met the boss.” The man said.
Martins swallowed. “What?”
RoseAnne moved closer to Martins. “You want to meet the boss? Here I am.”

10May/17

The Aftermath 11

The room was dark and Martins could not tell if it was day or night. He laid on the floor on his side. He was not sure how long he had been in that one position but he was sure he was not changing anytime soon. His body hurt all over, he was sure things were broken in different places. At some point he had expected to die but apparently the human body could take way more than he assumed. He did not even pass out once. His torturers knew what they were doing. They hurt him so much but only till the point his body could take it.
This could not continue.
They had taken a break but he was sure they would be back. And soon. This wasn’t even about the Blue Canim, they didn’t know about that. They were asking him a question he couldn’t quite answer. He did not know who originally got the information about where the seized properties were kept so there was no way he could give them that information. He could give them Tiny Tony’s name but they would never find him and so they’ll think he sent them on a wild goose chase. That wouldn’t reduce the torture at all.
He needed a plan, a way to stop this madness but his brain could not handle too much work at the moment.
Martins moved his left arm closer and he winced at the pain. He needed help.
The door opened and he heard a set of boots enter the room. A switch clicked and light flooded the room. The light went straight into his eyes and shut them quickly.
“Mister Martins, please stand.” Agent Sanni said.
Martins did not move. Not because he had any desire to disobey these men but because he couldn’t.
“You heard the man,” Agent Ponsah said. “Stand up.”
Martins struggled to push his legs out but they wouldn’t move. It was probably stupid that he had stayed in one position for so long. His body was now too stiff to move without excruciating pain.
“Do you want me to kick you up?” Agent Ponsah asked, moving towards him.
“No, please.” Martins mumbled.
He wanted to cry. No, he was crying already. The tears were not falling yet but he was sobbing inside. This was not what he bargained for.
“Help him up.” Agent Sannni said.
Ponsah, the demoniac put his arm under him and pulled him up. He left Martins as soon as he was upright and he shouldn’t have. Martins crumbled back to the floor, his whole body shaking with the pain that coursed through it.
“Please, what do you want?” Martins cried through the tears now pouring freely from his face.
“The name of your source.”
“I already told you…” Agent Ponsah moved closer and Martins stopped. “Let me explain to you how I got his job, maybe that will help me.”
“Go on.”
“I have a contact, Tiny Tony.” That was the first time he was telling anybody about Tony but who cared, he was about to die anyway. “He got the job from somebody, I don’t know who, and told me about it.”
“Who is this Tiny Tony?”
“That is his street name. Anthony Badmus is his real name.”
“Where can I find this Anthony?”
“I can give you his address but you won’t find him. He would have left town immediately he heard about my arrest.”
“For your sake, we find him.”
***
Detective Muritala sat in front of the police station, his hands on his head. It was a posture of doom and gloom and it got him stares from passersby but that was exactly how he felt. His son was dead? Everything he had done was for nothing? He had soiled his name, soiled his hands, soiled his records and now it was all for nothing? He did not even get to do anything for the son, nothing at all. Worse still, they never even met.
He removed his hands from his head and covered his face with them. He wanted to cry but the tears did not come. He wanted to go throw himself off a tall building but that would mean standing up and he did not have the will to do even that. What was he to do now? Shekiya would be devastated, the son was all she had. It was her fault this had happened to him. Why did she come? Why didn’t she just stay with her son? Why did she have to tell him he had a son? Why did she have the son at all?
“Hey.” Someone called over his shoulder.
He looked up the stairs and saw the bald officer who had let him in to see Martins. He ignored the officer and looked ahead. He should probably go to Kano to be with Shekiya. But will she want to be with him? He had left her all those years because of his stupid arrogance and now when she came back to him for help, he had done nothing. He was as useless now as he was then.
“Detective?” The officer called again.
Detective Muritala ignored him.
“Look Detective, you can ignore me all you want but if we don’t do something, Martins is going to die in there.”
Martins? Die? So what if he died? He was a thief who had probably killed too, even though he insisted he hadn’t. Martins was a criminal who had successfully roped him into his crime, he did not care if he died. Detective Muritala shook his head. He could not imagine the depths of filth he had descended into just to save his son. He hated himself for what he had done. He hated everyone who helped him do it. Martins, especially.
The officer came down the stairs and stood by him.
“What do you want Officer?” Detective Muritala asked.
“We need to rescue him from the psychos torturing him.”
“Rescue who?”
“Martins.” The officer said. “I don’t know what your relationship is with him but…”
“I don’t have any relationship with him.” Detective Muritala cut him off. “He was a suspect in a few cases I was running and now he’s going to jail for sure so, that’s it. I’m done with him.”
The officer moved closer. “Who do you think you are kidding? I don’t know exactly how, but I know you were involved in this robbery.”
Detective Muritala stood. “Are you accusing me of colluding with a criminal?”
“Relax old timer, we all have our reasons for doing what we do.”
Detective Muritala sat.
“I’ve checked you out and I see you have an impeccable record, clean as a whistle. If you had anything to do with Martins, you must have had a good reason.”
“I said, I didn’t…”
“I know you didn’t have anything to do with it, alright.” The officer said. “But let’s say you did. Are you sure you want him in there? Are you sure he won’t mention your name to his torturers? Are you sure he hasn’t already?”
The man had a point.
Maybe it was time he headed for Kano. If Martins named him as an accomplice he could always just stay there. And if the heat got too much, he could move to Chad, he had people there. There was no need to wait anymore, he was leaving town.
He stood and started to walk away.
“Where do you think you are going?” The officer called after him.
“Far away from you.”
He had taken just a few steps when his phone rang. He looked at the phone, he knew this number. He answered the call.
“Hello?”
“Gotten what I asked for?” The voice on the phone asked.
“Go to hell.”
“That was not what I was expecting.” The person on the phone sounded genuinely surprised. “Sounds like you don’t care about your son anymore.”
“No, I don’t.” Detective Muritala said. “My son is dead.”
“What?”
“Oh yeah.” Detective Muritala said. “Sounds like your men on the ground aren’t as good as you think they are.”
There was a pause and for a second Detective Muritala considered ending the call.
“Well, that doesn’t change anything.” The person on the phone said.
“What?”
“You are still getting my stuff from Martins.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Oh yes, you are.”
“How’s that?”
“Look detective, I am a desperate man here, okay? I tried using the carrot, unfortunately that failed. Now I have to use the cane.”
Detective Muritala paused. “What do you mean?”
“Your son may be dead but there is still someone else you love here in Kano, right?”
Detective Muritala swallowed. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“Your son’s mother is here, isn’t she?”
“If you touch her, I swear I will…”
“No need for threats Detective. Just fulfil your end of the deal and I promise you I will fulfil my end. Your son may be gone but I’m sure you and your woman could use some retirement fund.”
Detective Muritala stayed quiet. He had gone to bed with a criminal once and he had lost everything he held dear, including the person for whom he did all these. Why on earth would he do the same again? What was the assurance this terrible person on the phone will not harm Shekiya anyway?
“Detective?”
“And if I say no?”
“She will be dead before the day is over.”

***
Tiny Tony ended the call and set the phone down on the table. He could not believe that he was now down to the level of threatening women. Things had changed for him. For everybody. Martins was locked up, taking regular doses of beating. RoseAnne and Wura were not faring much better. Nobody had laid a hand on them, he had begged for that but they weren’t exactly in heaven. In less than a week, he had gone from a wealthy and connected business man who had a good criminal reputation to a person who betrayed his friend, threatened innocent people and ran errands for a pompous idiot.
He sighed and stood. He walked to the window and looked out. He caught sight of a construction work going on just across the road from the building he was in. It was a gigantic building, probably owned by some corrupt politician in Abuja. He shook his head, who was he to judge a corrupt politician?
Could he redeem this? Could he still save this situation?
Martins was crazy but he was a good person. He’d stolen much in his time but he’d never hurt any of his targets. He had drugged them, he had gassed them, he had done all sorts of things he would go to hell for but he never permanently hurt any of them. He did not deserve to go down as the victim of his friend’s betrayal. He had to do something about it.
The door of the room opened and he entered.
The one person that had turned his life to this nightmare. Ojiji, as he liked to be called was a huge man. He was huge to men with average height, it was worse for Tiny Tony. He was nobody as far as Tiny Tony could tell. Nobody in the game knew him or where he came from but he’d bought his way with money. He had loads of it and for some reason he was very interested in Martins.
At first he suspected nothing of Ojiji, which was very unlike him. He had survived so long in the business by instinctively knowing who was good and was who bad. He was probably mesmerized by all the money, idiot. Now, he was so deep into whatever Ojiji was doing he could not get out.
“How are we doing with the plan?” Ojiji asked.
Tiny Tony nodded. “Everything is fine. I just made a call, I have somebody working on it.”
“Do I need to know the details?”
“No, I have it under control.”
“You do?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Really?”
Tiny Tony clenched his teeth. “I said, I do.”
“Angry, are we?” Ojiji said and moved closer to Tiny Tony. “Got something on your mind you would like to get out?”
“Back off.” Tiny Tony said.
“Or what?”
There was no need for this confrontation, the guy was just trying to make trouble when there shouldn’t be one. Maybe it was time he showed the guy he wasn’t some pushover.
Ojiji stepped back and laughed.
“I’m just joking man, why so serious?”
Tiny Tony walked away, he had to do something about Martins. He could not keep on working with this idiot just for money.
“Hey.” Ojiji called after him.
Tiny Tony stopped. “What?”
“Whatever you are planning to do, don’t do it.”
Tiny Tony frowned. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Okay, if you say so.” Ojiji said. “But just so you know, for every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.”
Tiny Tony turned around and walked away. He did not care about the threat, he was going to do what he had to do.

***
Detective Muritala paced in front of the police station, there was a lot on his mind. He had made his peace with the fact that his son was dead and there was nothing he could do about it. No, he had not made his peace with it but he had pushed it to the back of his mind. He had to rescue Shekiya now. He was not sure how but he would. If he lost Shekiya too then he would kill himself, consequences be damned. He shook his head; that would not happen.
“You are still here?”
He looked back and saw the bald officer.
“Yes I am.” Detective Muritala said.
Maybe this man could help, he also had some connection to Martins.
“Can I talk to you?” Detective Muritala said.
The officer came closer.
“You were talking about Martins earlier, what did you have in mind?”
“Now, you’re admitting you have something to do with him?”
“I’m not admitting anything.”
“Then I’m telling you nothing.”
Detective Muritala sighed. He had nothing to lose now. His son was dead, his reputation was gone, what was he protecting now?
“Okay, I admit I had some connection to Martins.” Detective Muritala said. “So, what is your plan?”
The Officer stepped closer to him.
“We are going to break him out.”

03May/17

The Aftermath 10

​Martins paced in the room, his face still throbbing from the punches. Things had gotten out of hand. The only reason he had had so much confidence was because he assumed RoseAnne and Wura were safe. How did they find them? He’d made sure Tiny Tony did not get a whiff of their travel. Was someone watching him? Or worse, watching them?

His options were limited. There was no way he would see harm come to RoseAnne or his daughter. He did not want to hand over the Blue Canim but he would, if it would mean his girls could go free. If. That uncertainty was his fear. Criminals were known to break their promise from time to time. He had to negotiate his way out of this one. RoseAnne and Wura were unlikely to be harmed for now, as long as there was a chance he would cooperate. 

Martins knocked on the door. No answer. He banged on it. He heard a foot shuffle behind the door.

“I’m ready to talk.” He said.

The door swung open and the officer who had punched him earlier entered.

“I’m listening.”

“You need to get me out of here.”

“This is not a negotiation. You either…”

“Shut up, you big, bald idiot.” Martins said. “I’m not giving you anything if you don’t get me out. If I give you what you want, how do I know you won’t hurt my daughter and leave me to rot here?”

“That is not my business.”

“Are you new to this?” Martins asked. “You don’t know how this works?”

Martins saw a hesitation in the officer. So maybe he was actually new to this.

“I see what’s going on here. You don’t know anything, they just paid you to beat me up and question me.” Martins pulled the chair and sat. “Let me tell you how this works. I am a high value prisoner to whoever paid you because of what I have. They will torture and threaten me until I give them what I have. But until I do so, I am very important to them. Do you understand?”

“I don’t care how this works.” The officer said. “I only care about doing the job I’m paid for. And if you’re so good, you pompous bastard, how come you are the one in jail?”

The guy had a point. If he was so great, he shouldn’t be in jail. If he’d followed his instincts to take RoseAnne and Wura and walk into the sunset, he wouldn’t be here. Greed and obsession; that was what he followed.

“There’s no need for all these talk,” Martins said. “This isn’t a peace summit. I’m not giving you anything until I’m out of here.”

“That is never going to happen.”

“No?”

“We are not releasing you, not on bail, not for any reason.”

Martins chuckled. “You just confirmed you don’t know who you are working for. You know what, I’m not talking with you anymore. The next time you talk to whoever is giving you orders, tell them I want to talk to Tiny Tony.”

The officer looked confused.

“You don’t even know who Tiny Tony is, do you?”
***

Detective Muritala panted as he ran to the foot of the stairs of the plane. He was lucky to have met the plane, he’d been told. He was on his way to Kano again and like his previous trip, he was going with a lot of apprehension. Shekiya had called to say his son was in a coma and the chances of him coming out of it were getting lower by the minute. He was yet to meet the boy or he should say the boy was yet to meet him. If he died now… he shook the thought off his mind, he was not going to die.

He entered the plane and found his seat. He was just sitting when his phone rang. He did not know this number and frankly he was not in the mood to speak to anyone. 

What if it was Shekiya calling? He answered the call.

“Hello?”

“Detective Muritala?” It was a male voice, one he did not recognize.

“Yes, who is this?”

“It doesn’t matter who I am, I just want to offer you a deal.”

“Please, I don’t have time for…”

“It’s going to save your son’s life.”

Detective Muritala paused. Who was this man on the phone? How did he know about his son? More importantly, what was this deal he was talking about?

“I’m listening.” Detective Muritala said into the phone.

“I need you to get something for me from Martins.”

Detective Muritala looked around to see if anyone was listening. No one was supposed to know about Martins or his involvement with him.

“Who are you?” Martins whispered into the phone.

“That is the wrong question Detective.” The voice said. “You should be asking what I need you to do.”

“How am I supposed to do deal with someone I don’t know?”

“Because I will save your son’s life, that’s why.”

Detective Muritala sighed. “Go on.”

“Martins has something of ours and he’s refusing to give it up. He trusts you so maybe he will give it to you.”

“He doesn’t trust me.”

“Well, the bastard doesn’t trust anybody but he doesn’t have many friends right now, you are one of the few people he would talk to so make it work.”

“How am I supposed to trust somebody I don’t even know?”

“You don’t have to trust me but this is a business transaction for me. My people have already spoken to them at the hospital in Kano and I know how much you need. The money is on ground already, all I need to do is give the signal and your son’s life will be saved.”

Detective Muritala sat up in his chair. “Send the money to the hospital now and I promise I will do anything you want.”

“Business doesn’t work that way. Do what I ask, and I’ll send the money immediately.”

What the man was asking was simple. All he had to do was get something from Martins through any means he could and his son would be saved. He owed this Martins man no loyalty, none at all.

“Alright, I’ll do it.” Detective Muritala said. “What do you want me to collect from him?” 

“Just a small jewel called the Blue Canim.”

“That is all?”

“Yes.” The man on the phone said. “Oh wait, there’s something else.”

“What is it?”

“You cannot allow Martins come out of that station alive.”

Detective gasped and lowered his voice. “You want me to kill him?”

“Do we have a deal?”

***
Martins sat, resting his head on the table in front of him. He had not eaten anything since he was caught. He’d not even been given water. He’d been a criminal for a long time but he’d never suffered the consequences, things had changed so fast. He was hot, he needed to use the toilet, he was of course thirsty but nobody had answered his request for any of those things. They say crime does not pay but crime had paid him big time but now he was the one paying. 

His discomfort wasn’t his biggest problem at the moment, it was the thought of his daughter and RoseAnne stuck with these criminals. Who knew what they may have done to RoseAnne or worse still, to Wura. He shook his head, he shouldn’t be thinking about things like this. Or maybe he should. He deserved the mental torture. He’d been a very bad person, he should pay for it.

The door to the room opened and he lifted his head from the table. Two men entered, both of them people he’d never seen. From the suits they wore to their composure, he knew these were not street police officers like the idiot he’d been dealing with. They could be secret service or something more covert than the secret service.

“Hello, Mister Martins.” Officer One said. “I am Agent Sanni.”

Agent? Who were they? FBI?

“I am Agent Ponsah.”

Martins looked from one agent to the other as they sat. Agent Sanni looked like he was the one running the show but Agent Ponsah looked more intense. They didn’t look like men who came to play. But agents?

“Can I ask a question?” Martins said.

“Please go ahead, Mister Martins.”

“You can just call me Martins.” They nodded. “You said you are agents? Which Agency do you work for?”

“I’m sorry I cannot say.” Agent Sanni said. “Our unit is a convert operation. For your peace of mind, just think of us as police.”

They were so professional and precise it scared him. 

“Can we ask some questions now?” Agent Ponsah asked, his eyes holding Martins’.

“Please.”

“How did you get information something was being held in the station?” Agent Ponsah asked.

Martins knew he couldn’t tell them the truth. At least, not the whole truth.

“I have sources, people who tell me things.”

“Can we have the name of your source please?”

Martins shook his head. “I’m sorry, you cannot.”

“Martins,” Agent Sanni started. “I hope you understand you are in a lot of trouble. Giving us a name right now will go a long way to help you.”

“Oh, so guys can offer deals like the FBI does in movies? If I give you my source, you put under witness protection and I go and live in a far place like Kotangora. Is that it?”

“We are not the FBI but we can offer you a deal.”

“That’s nice to hear.” Martins said. “This is what I want; a full pardon, no prosecution at all and I’ll give you the name of my source. I’ll even give you the name of his grandfather if you want.”

“I’m sorry, we cannot offer that kind of deal. A reduced sentence is the only thing we can guarantee.”

“So you are saying, I’m going to jail for sure?”

“What do you think?” Agent Sanni said. “You robbed the police headquarters.”

“Attempted.” Martins said. “I attempted to rob.”

“You understand you will have to give us your source eventually.” Agent Sanni said.

And Agent Ponsah added. “Willingly or unwillingly.”

Martins understood what they meant.

“Willingly or unwillingly? I thought the FBI was not allowed to torture.”

Agent Ponsah looked at Martins, his eyes not blinking. “We are not the FBI.”

“How long do I have before the torture starts?”

“We have other questions to ask.” Agent Sanni said.

“Are you connected in any way to the previous owner of the seized properties?” Agent Ponsah asked.

“Are you asking if I was stealing something back for the original owner?”

“You could answer that question too.”

“No, I wasn’t. I was on a personal mission.”

“Did you have a partner? Someone on the inside or the outside who helped you?”

Martins chuckled. “I’m not stupid.”

“Please answer the question.”

“I didn’t have a partner.” Martins said. “If I did and I’m not saying I did, do you think I would sell him out?”

“Are there any questions you will answer willingly?” Agent Ponsah asked.

“If you ask me if I’m hungry? I will willingly tell you yes, because I am.”

The agents stood.

“We’ll be right back.” Agent Sanni said.

“We need to take off the suits.” Agent Ponsah added. “The drycleaner asks questions when he sees blood on the suits.”

Martins smiled until the agent left the room then he placed his head on the table.

This is not going to end well.

***

Detective Muritala entered the station feeling like every eye was on him and they all knew what he wanted to do. He couldn’t overanalyze this. The only thing he placed his mind on was his son. He needed to save his son and he had promised he would do anything it would take and that was what he was about to do. 

He looked around, there were no familiar faces. He needed access to Martins. Was he really going to kill him? Maybe he didn’t have to. The only thing the man said was to make sure he didn’t leave the station. Oh, this was too hard. All his years of honest service and integrity had disappeared like smoke. First he agreed to help a thief steal from the police, now he was considering murdering that thief. Was his son worth all of these?

He heard a scream come from inside the station and he hurried in the direction of the scream. The closer he got to the scream, the more he was convinced it was coming from Martins. Was he being tortured?

He was almost at the room where Martins had been earlier when he met the bald officer.

“What’s going on there?”

“Some agents are in there. This is no longer just the police now.” The bald officer said.

“Are they…?”

“Yes, they are torturing him.”

“What?”

“They said this wasn’t just a robbery case anymore. It now had to do with financial crimes and terrorism.”

“Terrorism?”

“Just some crap they cooked up to justify what they’re doing.”

The bald officer walked away and Detective Muritala followed him. The screams he was hearing made him nauseous. How was he supposed to talk to Martins now with the goons in the room? Even if he waited till they, what were the chances Martins would want to talk to him or even be able to?

His phone vibrated in his pocket and his heart skipped a beat. Could be the man who promised to take care of Ahmad. Or maybe it was Shekiya. He brought out the phone; it was Shekiya. He couldn’t remember the last time he received a good call from the woman. 

He sighed and answered the call.

“Hello?”

“He’s gone.”

“What?”

“He’s gone, my son – our son, is dead.”

27Apr/17

The Aftermath 9

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?”
“Do you?”
“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.”
“What?”
“Molly’s 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.

19Apr/17

The Aftermath 8

It was the special night and everything was set for the job. He’d never been more glad the Nigeria Police was not the FBI or NYPD. The Police had beefed up their security because of all the cash and valuables they were holding but still it was nothing a little creative thief could not get past.
He walked into the police station through the front door. He wore no disguises, he was going in as Joseph Martins of Joe Martins Jewelry. The Martins everybody knew and could recognize. He wore tight navy blue trousers, a black T-shirt and a grey sweater with its zipper loose. It was a dull combination, the kind that wouldn’t get too much attention. It would also help him move through the darkness without been seen. He held a satchel. It was nothing but a satchel to everybody and they would find it so if they opened it but it had a secret compartment that held all the tools he needed.
He got to the counter and looked at his wristwatch. It was 7:15. It was go time.
“Good evening.” He said to the officer at the counter.
“Good evening. Can I help you?” The officer said.
“I hope so, I’m here to see Sergeant Bosede.” Martins said.
“I’m sorry but I don’t know anybody here by that name.”
“She said you might say that because she’s actually new. She’s supposed to be in the accounting section.”
“Could you please sit?”
“Of course.” He said and took a seat.
There was a Sergeant Bosede who had recently been posted to the Police Headquarters but he would not find her because her maternity leave started that week. He didn’t need the officer to find her but he needed to establish a reason for being in the station. He looked around the lobby; there were a few armed officers, understandable considering what they held. They were smart enough not to show too much by bringing in too many officers though. Most people, even some officers in the station, did not know what they held. It was safer that way. Or so they thought.
He looked at his watch again, it was 7:20. Time for the next phase. He brought out his phone and typed. Detective Muritala was at the other end of the phone. The man was brilliant, way more than he’d expected. He was desperate and that was good thing. The detective needed this to go well, almost as much as he needed it to.
“Get the pizza as planned.”
He hit the send button and waited. In one minute, the power will be cut off and everything will go black. He dipped his hands into his satchel and reached into the hidden compartment for the night vison goggles. Time was everything. As soon as the power went off, he needed to move.
He closed his eyes and tried to stay calm. He didn’t want any of these parading ninjas to pay him any attention.
“Hello?”
His eyes snapped open. He looked up and saw a woman standing in front of him. He was going to need to move in forty seconds, he could not be talking to anybody at that time.
“Can I help you?” Martins said.
“I heard you were looking for Sergeant Bosede.” The woman said.
“You are not her.”
“No I’m not but we work together. She’s on maternity leave, I guess she didn’t tell you about that.”
“No, she didn’t.”
Twenty five seconds more.
“The officer said you had something for her?” The woman said.
“Yes, I do.” Please go away.
“I’ll be seeing her this weekend so I can take it.”
Ten seconds more.
“Can you just get me a pen, I’ll leave a note.” Martins said.
Seven seconds more.
“Sure.” She said and walked away.
Martins sighed and gripped the night vision goggles.
Three seconds more.
It was almost time. He looked up and saw one of the gun wielding officers looking at him. It did not matter because it was time for darkness. He looked down and waited for it.
No darkness. Everything was still as bright as before.
He looked at the light bulb above him, everything was fine. He looked at his watch, it was time. What on earth was happening with the Detective? They’d gone over the plan several times, why was he delaying?
The officer who was looking at him earlier, started towards him. Bloody, old, stupid detective was ruining this for him. He hated when things did not go to plan, it made him nervous and that was not good because the officer was already standing in front of him.
“Please identify yourself.” The officer said.
Martins smiled as much as he could without showing how nervous he was.
“I am Joseph Martins Officer.” He said. “I believe we’ve met before.”
That threw the Officer off his interrogatory stance. “Sorry?”
“Have you ever been to Joe Martins Jewelry store?”
“The one on Masade Avenue?” The officer asked. “No, I haven’t.”
“Oh, sorry then. But I have to be honest, you look familiar.” Martins said. “I own the store.”
“Okay.” The officer said.
He stood in front of Martins and his eyes went from his T-shirt to his sweater and his trousers. And then his eyes went to the satchel. Not the satchel, please. Martins’ hand was still on the goggles. He was already about two minutes late and he could do nothing without the goggles. That was if the stupid Detective ever got around to cutting the power. He needed to distract the officer from the satchel.
“Are you married officer?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Then I think you should bring your wife to Joe Martins, I’m running a special discount for wives of law enforcement agents.”
“Can I see that bag?”
Martins swallowed. Crap!
Swush! The light went off.
Martins heard the officer retreat and he immediately pulled out the googles. He put them on and looked around the room. Most of the occupants of the room were taking it easy, they were used to power outages. The officer who was talking to him before was standing beside another one and the officer was pointing in his direction. Did they suspect him? Were they coming for him? He could not wait to find out. He looked at his watch, he had lost five minutes already.
He stood and moved in the direction of the store where the Blue Canim waited for him.
He had studied the blueprint Tiny Tony gave him and he knew the station like he knew his daughter’s name. Detective Muritala had made things easier for him by getting him details of how the store looked like and what kind of locks to expect.
He got to the corridor leading to the store without any problem. Everybody was sitting still, waiting for the generator to come on. It never would, he had made sure of that but they did not know that. Some people had put on the torches on their phones but he walked without making any noise, most of them did not even hear him pass.
He looked at the door to the store and stopped. There was a big problem. Two of them, actually.
The power outage was planned so it would coincide with the time they changed the guards at the door of the store. The blackout should have kept the door unguarded for a while but the Detective had delayed and now a new set of guards were posted at the door. He had a Taser in his satchel that could do the work but there was a great chance there would be noise and he would have to tie the officers. He didn’t have time for that. He had to do something else.
He dug into his satchel and brought out a small high-power flashlight. He put it on and shone it in the direction of the officers. They immediately stood up and reached for their guns.
“What are you doing here?” Martins asked and before they could answer added. “How can you do your job when you can’t even see?”
He could see the officers were confused and that was all he needed.
“You,” He shone the flashlight on the face of one of the officers. “Go and get a flashlight now.”
The officer stumbled forward and past him. He smelled alcohol on the officer as he passed. That was great.
“Hey, come back here.” Martins said. The officer stopped. “You two have been drinking?”
“No sir.” The officer said.
“You have been drinking on the job? Two of you get out of here, I’m assigning other officers here now.”
“Sir…” The second officer started to protest.
“Report in my office once the power is restored, you are both going on suspension. Now get out of here.”
The two of them walked away. Martins sighed. He could not believe that worked. It was a whole lot of help that the officers were drunk, they didn’t even bother to ask which office they were to report to to get their suspensions. He had no time to celebrate though.
He knelt in front of the door, brought out his wrench and pick and went to work. They were stupid to use such a simple lock. But according to the Detective, changing the lock would draw the attention of people. It was still stupid. The locked clicked open and he pushed the door in. He entered the room and closed the door behind him.
He looked around the room and shook his head at what he saw. It was a surprise no one else had broken into this place to steal the money. Cash lay on the ground in bundles and piles. If he wasn’t busy stealing something else, he would start hatching a plan to rob the station and steal all the cash. Focus! He looked around for the safe that was supposed to hold the Blue Canim. According to Detective Muritala, it stood by itself, he could not miss it. But he was missing it at the moment.
He walked around the room. There wasn’t much leg room, there was cash everywhere. A little stacking and arranging would have saved him all these stress. He pushed a stacked pack of dollars aside and saw the safe. He dragged it from under a pile of money he wished he could take too and carried it to the corner of the room. He set it down and set his satchel down beside it. He brought out a stethoscope and knelt beside the safe.
He sighed deeply and placed the stethoscope beside the dial of the safe and turned it. It was a three combination lock and this could take a few minutes. It wasn’t his first time opening one of these safes but inside this safe was the Blue Canim; that was enough to make him nervous. A lot could be going on outside but he had no time to think about that. He listened for the clicks and made a mental note of every number where he heard them. He was hot, sweat streamed down his face.
Three minutes later and he gotten two of the combination numbers. That was faster than he expected. Maybe he would make up for the time he’d lost before. He heard another click and that was it, he had the three numbers he needed. He smiled, time to meet you baby.
He turned the dial to the first number, he heard the fence fall into the wheel notch. He turned again and the second fence fell. This was going great. He was about to turn the dial the third time when he heard voices outside the door. Had they found him? Did the drunk officers tell somebody something?
He stopped and listened. The seconds dragged and felt like hours but he knew he could not move until he knew for sure the voices were not coming into the store. The door of the store opened and two people; a man and a woman entered. It was the woman who had come to talk to him about Sergeant Bosede. Did she lead the officer here?
He stayed still and watched. They held torchlights but he was safe behind a huge stack of money. If and when they came around that huge stack, there was no escape for him. He dipped his hand in the satchel and gripped the Taser; he would not go down without a fight.
The man and the woman whispered to each other, he could not hear their words but it looked like they were not here for him. They were opportunists trying to steal part of the money. He was not surprised. Frankly, he expected more than just two people. He had no idea how long this people would spend in the store. He could not wait forever.
He turned the dial again and the third fence fell into place. The safe was unlocked. All he had to do was pull the safe-door open. He took a deep breath and pulled the door. The hinges of the door creaked and Martins stopped. The other occupants of the room must have heard too because they were silent too. He ducked lower and waited to see what would happen. A couple of seconds later, he heard the door close softly. He looked; they were gone. That was good but it wouldn’t be good for long. There was a huge chance they would send officers in his direction.
His head told him to get out of the store before he was found but his heart longed for the Blue Canim.
He opened the safe totally and he could feel his heart racing. He was about to meet the real Blue Canim. He shone his flashlight into the safe and there it was. It sat there among the gold chains and diamond rings like a King, lost in the market in a town where no one knew who he was. Martins picked up the ring and smiled. At last, he had the Blue Canim.
The door burst open and he dove to the floor. He heard the sound of boots on the floor, several flashlights swept through the room. They had found him. One of the boots moved towards him. His Taser would do some damage but it could not get him out. Was this it? All these years of stealing and building his empire would be lost? Wura! He’d been so lost in what he was doing he’d forgotten his baby. He had to escape even if he would be shot. Wura was not going to grow up without a father.
Martins kissed the Blue Canim, picked up his Taser and waited, ready to move. He would get out of this. He loved his daughter too much, he would get out of this.
He heard a deep, crushing thud and for a second he could tell where the sound came from. Then his eyes began to water and he felt dizzy. He heard the sound again and this time it was accompanied by a searing pain in his head. He tried to stand but his legs were no longer functioning. He touched his head and felt something liquid on his head. It was not water. He looked up and saw an officer with the butt of a gun aimed at his head.
His vision became cloudy and he felt like throwing up. He collapsed to the ground and everything started to get dark.
He would not die. No one would take them away from him.
RoseAnne. Wura. The Blue Canim.

12Apr/17

The Aftermath 7

Martins rolled the ring in-between his thumb and his forefinger. It was beautiful, made from 24 karats gold and Cullinan Diamond. It was large, one centimeter in diameter. The head of a Lion was edged on the ring and it had the words ‘Dum vivimus, vivamus‘ engraved on the inner circumference. It was a great thing, the Blue Canim. It was not meant to worn, it was meant to be worshipped.
He looked at the ring in his hand and threw it against the wall. It wasn’t the real thing. He’d owned several replicas of the Blue Canim, some of them very expensive but none of them could satisfy his hunger for it. Now he was close to holding the real thing he was besieged with doubt. Too many things plagued his mind. There was the problem of the two women who had been killed right after he robbed them. He no longer trusted Tiny Tony, there was that. And now, he was not sure how much the Detective knew about him and his side hustle. He’d done this for almost two decades without getting caught, why would he throw it all away from one ring? Except this wasn’t one ring; this was the Blue Canim.
RoseAnn was coming over later to discuss their trip, that part scared him too. He’d finally found someone he could give his heart to, was the Blue Canim worth losing that relationship for? And if he was caught, would she still date him when the whole world knew he was a thief? Too many questions. He needed a break.
He picked up his car keys and headed for the door. The fake Blue Canim caught his attention and he picked it up. He looked at it and put it in his pocket, it was better no one else saw this around him.
He was about opening the door when someone knocked on it. He turned the handle and pulled the door open.
“Good afternoon, Mister Martins.”
It was the damn detective again. This was a sign, he was not doing this job again. No way, there was too much heat headed his way.
“May I come in?” The Detective asked.
Martins wanted to say slam the door in his face but he knew that would not be help him. He stood aside and the Detective entered.
“What can I do for you Detective?” Martins asked.
“Can we sit please?”
“No, I’m fine on my feet.”
“I’m sorry, I’m old.” The Detective said and sat.
“What can I do for you?”
“Before we start, I want to guarantee that none of this is being recorded and none of this will ever be used as a testimony against you.” The Detective said.
Maybe he needed to sit. Martins sat and said. “Continue please.”
“I’m not going to mince words here because I’m desperate and in a hurry. I know you were involved in the robbery and murder at the White Agate…”
“Detective,” Martins cut in. “I’m not going to sit here and hear this accusation.”
“Let me finish please.” The Detective said. “May I finish?”
Martins had no idea where this was going but if this man had any evidence against him, he wanted to hear about it.
“Go on.” Martins said.
“You may ask what my evidence is and in truth, I don’t have anything I can arrest you with yet but I will find it.”
Well, that answered his question. “Are you finished?”
“No, I’m not.” The Detective said. “I could find evidence and get you locked up but that’s not what I want to do. I’m here to propose something to you.”
“Well, I’m assuming you are not finished.”
“This is not something I would ordinarily do but I recently found out I have a son who is dying and I’m in desperate need for money.”
Martins stood. “Wait a minute, is this a shake down? You want a bribe? For a crime you cannot even prove I committed?”
“If this was a shake down, I will be here with guns and a handcuff.”
“So what the hell is this?”
“I need your help. Borrow me all the money I need to take care of my son, I’ll keep off the police from you and I’ll pay you back your money.”
Martins laughed. Was this a trap? Or was it a joke?
“I don’t know what you think you know about me,” Martins said. “But this sounds like a big joke to me. Let’s say you are right and I’m a thief, why on earth will I need your help?”
“The woman you killed at the White Agate…”
“I did not kill anybody.” Martins retorted.
“The woman that was killed at the White Agate is the relation of someone I know and they are powerful, they won’t stop until they catch whoever did this.”
“So?”
“I know you did it. I could help them find evidence connecting you to the murder. I already have one and it’s only a matter of time before a team of more funded, trained and equipped people find out more.”
Martins wanted to scoff at everything the Detective was saying but he could not. He was afraid the man was right. But there was no way he could take him up on his offer. At the end of the day, the man was still law enforcement.
“Thank you for the warning and all Detective but I insist that I don’t know what you’re talking about and I think it’s time to go.”
“Mister Martins, I’m a desperate man and you know desperate people do dangerous things. You have a daughter, don’t you?”
Martins moved closer to his man, his right hand balled into a fist. “Are you threatening my daughter?”
“No, I’m not, that would be stupid. But being a father, you will understand what’s going through my mind. I don’t know anybody else who can help with me this amount of money that is why I’m throwing away my integrity and reputation by coming to you.”
Martins sat and contemplated the Detective. He pitied the man, he looked genuinely in distress and desperate but he would be stupid to offer him any help.
“I’m sorry Detective. I hope you find help for your son but I cannot help you, I am not what you think I am.”
“I hope you change your mind.” The Detective said and stood. “My son doesn’t have a long time but please call me if you do.”
Martins stood and watched the Detective walk out of the office. He understood the Detective’s willingness to throw away his career for his son’s life. He should be able to do the same for his daughter. He would. But first, the Blue Canim.
***
Martins stood by the car waiting for the bell to ring. He’d made up his mind on what he would do. He was going for the Blue Canim but he could not concentrate with RoseAnn and Wura in town. He was not even sure where he had to break into to steal the Blue Canim yet. There was always a chance of him getting caught and he would not want his girls in town for that either.
The bell rang, school was over for the day. For the term for his daughter and Aunt RoseAnne. He saw them coming out of the school hand in hand and he smiled. It wasn’t just a facial movement but the smile came from deep within. They made him happy and he would have nothing tamper with that.
“Hey ladies.” He said.
Wura hugged him and he kissed her on the cheek.
“Aunt RoseAnne said I’m not coming back to school tomorrow.” Wura said.
“No love, you are not. We are traveling.”
“Where are we going? Is Mommy coming with us?”
“I’ll answer your questions in a minute baby. Wait in the car while I speak to this beautiful lady, okay?”
Wura nodded and entered the car.
“Even after a long day, you look beautiful as always.”
She smiled. “And you know the right thing to say, as always.”
“So, about our trip…”
“You want us to go tomorrow? What’s the hurry?”
“There’s no hurry. We are not leaving the country tomorrow.”
“So where are we going?”
“Abuja. You and Wura will go to Abuja tomorrow, have a little ladies time for a week and I’ll join you.”
She frowned. “I don’t understand. You want only two of us to go?”
“Exactly. Wura has spent time with you in school but how many hours have you spent together, alone? I know she looks so nice now but after a few days, she may not look so nice anymore. Maybe by the end of the week, you will pull out of the trip all together.”
She wasn’t convinced. “I don’t know.”
“Do you trust me?” Martins asked.
“Of course I do.”
“Then believe me, this is a good idea. I have to confess this will be a hard sell to her mother so I need to know you are on board.”
RoseAnne smiled. “Alright, I’ll do it.”
“Thank you.”
“Are you sure you can live without your daughter for a whole week?”
“I’m not sure but I’ll try.” Martins said.
Everything was almost ready now. With RoseAnne and Wura going out of town, he could have the mental space and emotional freedom to plan for the heist.
“What will you be doing all week anyway?” RoseAnne asked.
He looked at her and smiled. “Living my dream.”

***
Martins sat across from Tiny Tony, listening but also watching the man. They were joking around, talking about different jobs they had pulled together. Martins was laughing at all the jokes and he even told some but he never forgot that Tiny Tony was not to be trusted.
Tiny Tony put out his cigar on an overflowing ashtray and pulled his chair closer to Martins. It was time to talk business.
“So apparently the Blue Canim has been in Nigeria all along.” Tiny Tony said.
Martins frowned. “No way.”
“Yes it was. It was in the house of General Galadima.”
“Didn’t he die five years ago?”
“He did and thank God, his family did not know what the ring was. It was just another piece of jewelry to them.”
“So what happened? One of the children try to pawn it?”
“Not really. EFCC happened. They raided the house and it was part of the items confiscated.”
Martins paused and considered what he’d just heard. He could not believe some ignorant people had been in possession of the Blue Canim for so long.
“So, EFCC has it?”
“Yes they do.” Tiny Tony said. “It’s been held with other items at the Central Police Station.”
“The Police Station? That is stupid.”
“No, it’s not actually because it’s not common knowledge. And who will be stupid enough to break into a police station especially now when it is under serious security.”
“Isn’t that what you are asking me to do?”
“The fact that you can do it doesn’t mean you are not stupid.”
The police station wasn’t an easy target. He’d stolen things from a military barracks before but that was still a residential area. This types of jobs worked better with a team. And more importantly, an inside man. The Detective! Having the detective on his team would be a great advantage for him, if he could guarantee that the Detective will not sell him out.
“Now that you know where you have to rob, do you still want to do this?”
“Of course I want to.” Martins said. “Do you have a blueprint of the station?”
“What do you think I am? The FBI?”
Martins did not laugh. “Do you have it?”
“Yes I do.” Tiny Tony said.
“Alright then. Give me that and any other thing you have.”
“You’d need a man on the inside.”
Tiny Tony knew this and Martins knew this too. The Detective would be a perfect insider. He was experienced and knowledgeable. He was known for his integrity so he probably won’t be the first suspect. But it was dangerous. Maybe he could find another person. It might take a little time but he would find another person.
“One more thing Joe.” Tiny Tony said. “The ring and the other thing will be moved out in forty eight hours.”
Okay, so maybe he did not have time.
***
Love was not a good thing. Or maybe Parenthood was what he should blame. A week ago he was just a guy, living a simple uneventful life. He had integrity, he was honest and he had no affiliations with evil. But now, he had offered to help a thief and murderer and he was about to sell another piece of his soul now.
“What do you want Detective?” The DPO asked.
This was even more difficult than talking to the thief. “My son is dying and I need help.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your son.” She said, and she sounded genuine. “What’s wrong with him?”
“He needs a bone marrow transplant and it’s going to cost a lot of money. I need your help Boss.”
She sat back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest. From his years of observing people he’d learnt that was not a good sign.
“I’m not asking you to give me your personal money.” He said.
“So, from what money do you want me to give you?”
“I know how junior detectives make money here. I know how they paid for their SUVs and Dubai trips, I just want a little bit of that. But for my son.”
She looked at him, it was obvious she could not believe what she was hearing.
“I don’t understand.” She said.
“Do you have children?”
“Yes I do.”
“Then I don’t think you should have any trouble understanding.”
“I understand why you are desperate Detective, I just don’t understand the part of the SUVs and Dubai trips. Is there something going on I don’t know about?”
He could not believe this. She was trying to act ignorant?
“I’m not telling you anything you don’t know about. I’ve been here for a long time and I know what I know. Please, just help me out.”
“Let me get this straight, you think there is some illegal money we are making here and you want a part of it?”
“I know officers in this station make a lot money on their EFCC busts and I just need you to put me on one of those as soon as possible.”
She chuckled, then relaxed in her chair and laughed.
“Detective, I’m going to pretend this didn’t happen and I’ll ask you to leave my office now.”
“What?” He felt blood rush to his head. “You are going to laugh in my face and walk me out of your office?”
“Exactly.” She said. “Except you want to be bundled out of here.”
Detective Muritala stood. “You are going to regret this. I know a lot more than you think. I may be old but I know every trick in the book and you are going to find out what it means to cross me.”
“Are you threatening a superior officer?”
“I’m threatening a fool with a lot to lose.”
“You are the fool and you are the one with a son to lose. Now, get out of my office.”
He’d never hit a woman in his life but he felt like hitting this one. She looked at him and smiled.
“You want to punch me?” She asked. “Please, I beg you, do it. You will be dead long before your son dies.”
He pushed his chair aside and walked out of the office. He closed the door behind him and leaned his head against the wall. This was his last point of call. Was he really this useless?
His phone rang, he looked at it; it was the thief.
“Hello?” He said.
“Are you still interested in that money?”

05Apr/17

The Aftermath 6

He looked at the necklace, shook his head and threw it on the table. He did not understand art at all. The necklace was not even made of gold, how could it cost so much? But it wasn’t his job to care about the art or what it cost, his job was to handle business. And business was good when your best allies were not questioning you.
He looked at Tiny Tony seated in front of him, he admired the man. He was a businessman to the core. He did his job, collected his pay and never asked questions. But he was also a man who valued contracts; written or spoken. It was ironic how a man with so much integrity would be involved in the re-acquisition business. He didn’t have time to enjoy the irony though, Tiny Tony was clearly unhappy.
“Tony, you have something on your mind?” He asked.
“You lied to me.” Tiny Tony said, his voice measured. He could tell Tony was trying not to blow his top.
“I did not lie to you.” He replied.
“Don’t joke with me you son of…”
“Stop it right there. No one comes into my house and insults me.”
He knew who Tiny Tony was and what he could do but he also had a reputation to protect. If one person, even someone as reputable as Tiny Tony could insult him and get away with it, soon every Tom, Dick and Hannah would think they could do the same.
“Look Tony, I apologize if you are angry and I understand. Believe me I do.” He said. “But you have to understand my situation too. I don’t call the shots and you know that.”
“You gave me your word man to man.” Tiny Tony said. “All I had to do was poke around a little and I found out you were the one behind the hit. How long do you think it will take for Martins to find you?”
He smiled, walked around his desk and sat on the edge. Tiny Tony had to raise his neck at a bigger angle to look at him. He’d learnt that little things like this mattered in power play.
“Martins is a craftsman, a very good one but still a craftsman. He doesn’t have the brain for business or strategy that you and I have. That is why he will continue to work for us.”
Tiny Tony laughed. “Work for us? Martins is done. He doesn’t trust me anymore which means he doesn’t trust anyone. He won’t take a job even if you promised him the seven kingdoms.”
“The seven kingdoms?”
“It is a game of thrones reference. What I’m saying is, Martins won’t take any job anymore. Not from me, not from you, not from the President of the World.”
“President of the World?”
“You understand what I’m saying.”
He understood what he was saying and he had also had that doubt but not anymore. Men like Martins could not help what they were. He was a thief and he could never stop. He could go dark for a while, but that wouldn’t be for long.
“Tony, how long have you known me?”
“I don’t care. It wasn’t the years I was counting, it was the number of times you’d told me a lie. It had always been zero until yesterday.”
“Will you let that go already?” The old boy was stubborn. “I lied, I’m sorry. My boss wanted the woman dead, what was I supposed to do? Consider your feelings?”
“So, it was a business decision? Nothing to do with me or Martins?”
“That is exactly what I’m telling you.”
He could tell Tiny Tony did not believe what he’d just said but of course he didn’t expect him to; the man was no fool.
He picked up an envelope from his desk and threw it in front of Tiny Tony.
“I have another job for you and your boy.” He said.
“Have you been listening to me? Martins is done. And so am I.”
“Are you looking at me? Don’t you see I’m smiling?”
Tiny Tony paused, he could see he was confused.
“Just open the damn envelope Tony.”
Tiny Tony slowly picked up the envelope and opened it. He removed the check inside and his eyes widened.
“This is a lot of money.” Tiny Tony said.
“And that is just the down payment.”
“I don’t know about this. I don’t think money is enough to tempt Martins at this point.”
“You think this is about money?”
“It’s always about money.” Tiny Tony said.
He laughed, stood and walked over to his mini bar. He picked a pack of cigarettes, removed a stick and lighted it.
“Mind if I smoke?” He asked.
“You’re already smoking, why are you asking me?”
“What does Martins care more about than money?”
“I don’t know, his daughter, jewelry.”
“Jewelry, exactly. And which particular, locally made, foreign based and totally unattainable piece of jewelry is Martins most obsessed about?”
Tiny Tony’s eyes widened again, this time more than it did for the money.
“No way.” Tiny Tony said.
“Look who you are talking to.”
“You know where the Blue Canim is?”
“Yes and we want Martins to steal that for us. The question is will he do it?”

***
“Hell no.” Martins screamed and threw the phone against the wall.
Idiot! He’d just wasted a perfectly good phone on a perfectly useless man. He could not believe Tiny Tony had the nerve to ask him to do a job. The man used to be one of his most trusted allies but he was fast becoming one of the people he wished he could kill. It was not going to matter for much longer. He was leaving the country in a couple of weeks with his daughter and RoseAnn. After a long summer of fun and reflection he was sure he was not coming back to this life.
The phone rang on the floor. He looked at the phone, so it wasn’t dead yet. He picked it up and looked, the screen was broken; he couldn’t even see who was calling. He slid his finger from left to right on the screen. He winced as the glass cut him a little.
“Yeah?”
“Listen to me Joe.”
“Tony?” He could not believe the bastard had the nerve to call back.
He tried to end the call but the screen was too broken.
“The Blue Canim Joe.” The sound filtered through the phone speaker.
He took the phone to his ear immediately. “What did you say?”
“Joe, the job I have is the Blue Canim.”
He could not believe what he was hearing. “Nobody has seen it in years.”
“I know, I was surprised too but that is the job.”
Martins swallowed, what was he supposed to do? The Blue freaking Canim!
“Joseph?”
“Can I call you back?”
He dropped the phone on a couch and began to pace. He was confused. A part of him screamed for him to let it go but he couldn’t. That part of him did not understand how much he wanted this. This was the jewelry that took down his mentor. His mentor had tried stealing the Blue Canim and like everybody else who did he was caught.
He had so many big jobs in his time: he had stolen in a government house, he had stolen from a minister’s convoy, he had even stolen from a general in the army barracks but none of these compared to stealing the Blue Canim. If he did this and pulled it off, it was proof he was better than his mentor. Atletes gave their all to break Olympic records, Astronauts defied logic to access new planets, he would do all he could to steal the Blue Canim.
He picked up the phone, he had to talk to Tiny Tony. He could see nothing on the screen, he needed to get another phone.
“Joe?”
He squinted at the phone then held it against his ear. “Tony?”
“So what did you decide?”
“You didn’t end the call?”
“No, I didn’t. So are you game?”
He wanted to say yes immediately but he needed some reassurances. This was his last gig, probably, he couldn’t leave much to chance.
“Who gave you this job?” Martins asked.
“You know I can’t tell you that.”
“Same person as last time?”
“What? No.” Tiny Tony said.
Martins paused, he’d heard the hesitation in Tiny Tony’s voice. There was something fishy going on. It is the Blue Canim!
“Am I stealing this from a person or a location?”
“I don’t know yet. Nobody was sure you would agree, the guy couldn’t just give me the address.”
“Tell him, I’ll do it. Get me that address and a deadline.”
“What’s your price?”
“After I get the Canim, I’ll name my price.” Martins said. “Now, please end the call.”
“Okay Joe.”
Martins waited till he heard the dial tone before placing the phone on the table.
The phone had barely touched the table when it began to ring. He slid his finger across the screen, this time slowly.
“Tony?” Martins said.
“Tony? Who is Tony?”
“Sorry, who is this?”
“Am I speaking to Mister Joe Martins from the Jewelry store?”
The voice was familiar. “Who is this?”
“Detective Muritala.”
What now? “Detective, what can I do for you?”
“Can you see me at your store immediately? I have a flight to catch in two hours and I would hate to miss it.”
Martins cleared his throat. “May I ask what this is about?”
“I wanted to ask you some questions about a robbery that took place at The White Agate yesterday.”

***
Detective Muritala watched the man pour himself a cup of coffee. He’d once been addicted to coffee himself so he always looked with pity when people casually poured coffee like it was water. There was something not so casual about this Mister Joe Martins though. He was not panicky or shifty or any of the things that generally aroused his attention, in fact he was normal. Too normal. He acted with too much ease, as if he was trying to stay calm.
“So what can I do for you Detective?”
Detective Muritala stared at him for a little more than was normal, still he got no reaction from the man. Something was definitely amiss.
“I came here last time asking about a piece of jewelry, I’m here for the same purpose.”
Martins sat, his knees tucked beneath his desk and his right hand curled around the cup.
“Please, go on.”
“The ring was appraised in your store before it was stolen and somehow you couldn’t help with that. Maybe you can help with this necklace.”
Detective Muritala placed a couple of pictures of the necklace on the table. For the first time, Martin’s calm façade showed a little crack.
“This necklace was appraised here too?”
“No, not that I know of. Was it?”
“No, of course, it wasn’t.” Martins said and sighed.
Was that relief?
“Mister Martins, I have to ask for my own peace of mind, do you know anything about the person or people who stole these items?”
Martins smiled, he was back to his cool guy disguise. “If I did Detective, I would tell you. Anybody who is out there stealing jewelry is my enemy as much as yours. I should be the one most afraid of him.”
“Are you?”
“Am I what?”
“Afraid of the thief?”
He smiled again. “With you in charge of the case, I’m sure I have nothing to worry about.”
Detective Muritala was not buying all the nonsense Martins was selling but he was used to this type of men, he wouldn’t keep the pretense up forever. He was bound to slip, he just had to be ready to catch the slip.
“Please take a good look at the jewelry and tell me what you can about it and who would have an interest in it.”
“I’m sorry but that is not a question I have an answer to.”
Detective Muritala sat up. Maybe he needed to ease up on analyzing this man as a suspect, he was here to beg for help.
“Mister Martins, I don’t know what you think about me or the institution I represent but I really need your help here. The woman this necklace was stolen from is somebody important to me. She was murdered, I need to find out who did this.”
Martins looked at him and Detective Muritala saw another break in the pretense but it was short-lived.
“I’m sorry Detective, I don’t know what to tell you.”
“You don’t know or you won’t say?”
A knock sounded on the door before he could respond.
“Come in.” Detective Muritala said.
A young lady popped in her head. “A friend is here to see you sir. He said I should tell you it’s Tony.”
“Please tell him to go, I’ll see him later.”
“Wait.” Detective Muritala said.
“Excuse me?” Martins said.
He was not sure why he’d asked to wait but maybe seeing Martins talk to someone else could reveal a little more.
“Please tell the man to enter, thank you.” Detective Muritala said.
The girl left and closed the door.
“I’m sorry, but you can’t do that.” Martins said. “I have a private meeting with the man.”
“I just need to see you talk to someone with your guards down, that’s all. Although now that I see how nervous you are, I want to attend this meeting.”
“Detective, I have nothing to offer you but if you’re going to be insulting me in my own office, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“I apologize.” Detective Muritala said. “I meant no offense.”
He stood, he’d seen enough, Mister Martins knew about the stolen items. He was probably helping the thief sell the stolen items. As soon as he was back from Kaduna, he would get a warrant to search the store.
He got to the door and looked back. “Sorry again for the trouble.”
The door opened and a short, mean looking man stood in front of him. He’d seen the man before.
“Thank you Detective for coming, please close the door on your way out.” Martins said.
Detective Muritala walked out of the office and left the door open. He’d seen that little man somewhere before. Was he linked with the robbery? Was that why Martins was nervous?
Detective Muritala stopped and looked back and his eyes met Martin’s as he closed the door. He remembered where he’d seen the little man before. This was no longer a guess, Mister Joe Martins was definitely connected to the robberies.

***
Detective Muritala arrived at the hospital barely hanging on. He was tired and weak. His shirt stuck to his body with sweat and his collars were soaked. This was not the first impression he wanted to make on his son. The boy probably thought he was an irresponsible father who abandoned his mother but at least he shouldn’t look like a loser while he made his apologies. He had to clean up a little.
He walked to the attendant at the reception and got directions to the bathroom. He entered and crashed on top of a toilet seat. He let out a couple of sighs and leaned back in the seat. His tiredness was not entirely due to the journey, it was partly mental. He was not sure how he was supposed to tell Sekiya their sponsor was dead. It was even tougher since he truly could not provide the money his son needed. He wanted to cry, tears had welled up in his eyes and they were ready to fall. He grabbed a tissue and dabbed at his eyes, he was not going to cry. If what Sekiya told him was accurate, he still had a couple of days to gather the money. And he would, even if he had to give his life for it.
Ten minutes later, he emerged from the bathroom in a clean shirt. He trudged to the room where his son was waiting, partly due to his tiredness but mostly because he was afraid of what he was going to meet.
He was about ten feet away from the room when he heard the commotion. He forgot all about his tiredness and ran. Oh God, please. He got to the door of the room and made to enter but a nurse stopped him.
“He’s my son.” He screamed. “Let me in, he’s my son.”
The nurse pushed him out and closed the door in his face. He wanted to punch the door open but that was not going to do him or his son any good. What was happening in there? Was his son dying? Was he dead? He had to meet his son before he died. But no, he was not going to die Insha Allah, he would make sure of it.
The door opened and Sekiya came out, crying. Tears welled up in his face as he grabbed her.
“Is he…?” He started but his voice faded.
“No Musa, he’s not dead.” She said and he sighed, alhamdulilah. “But he’s dying. We need to find Mariam.”
“Sekiya,” He started, wondering if telling her the truth was a good idea. “Mariam is dead. She was killed yesterday.”
“What?” Sekiya exclaimed. “If Mariam is dead, then Ahmad is dead.”
No, there was no way he was going to allow his son to die. He would save his son even if he had to sell his soul to do it. Even if he had to sell it to a jewelry thief.

29Mar/17

The Aftermath 5

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?”
“Please sit.”
He sat.
“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?”
“Know what?”
“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.”
“Come on.”
“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.”
“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’m sorry.”
“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?
“RoseAnn?”
“Yeah?”
“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.”
“Okay, bye.”
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.”
“So?”
“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.

22Mar/17

The Aftermath 4

Martins picked up the bottle of water from the seat beside him and downed the entire content of the bottle. He stepped out of his car and locked the door. He was parked some meters away from the hotel. He did not want much attention. A man in blue overalls coming out of a Mercedes Benz CLS 350 would get people’s attention. He held his briefcase tight, it held all the tools he needed. Well, except his brain. He was using more brain power than brute power for this job, his tools needed his biggest tool to function well.
He got to the gate and showed his ID to the guard. The guard had probably seen a dozen technicians come to fix one thing or the other, he didn’t even look at Martins twice. It also helped that the ID was from Helix Engineering, the company the hotel used. Martins entered the hotel and stopped.
The White Agate hotel was palatial. It wasn’t very tall; only four stories but its height or lack of, took nothing away from its beauty. The walls were white and the roof was golden brown. Martins admired the hotel. He would bring RoseAnne to the place sometime in the future, if she ever agreed to go out with him. The hotel had a very well done landscape and a magnificent driveway, something that would be a problem if what he was stealing was large. He shook his head, he was here to steal, not admire the architecture of the hotel.
The hotel was the type where a thief would be noticed in one minute. The hotel reception had six cameras that left no part uncovered, especially the entrance. That was not good. They had guards at the door who had guns and sophisticated communication systems. That was not good either. That meant there was no getting into the hotel without someone seeing him. He needed to get in without leaving any trace because once the woman noticed she had been robbed, they would check every camera. No thief worth his salt would get caught by camera though and he was worth every pinch of that salt.
He had a plan.
There was a back door into the hotel, fortunately, there was only one camera here. His plan was simple but he needed everything to go right. He rubbed his fake moustache and smoothened the artificial side burns. Even if somehow the cameras caught him, no one would recognize him but still he wasn’t taking that chance. He got the door and pushed it in.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
The voice stopped him. He’d not expected anybody here, but he did not have to panic yet. He turned in the direction of the voice, it was a guard. That was not good.
“I am Adekunle Owolabi from Helix engineering.” Martins said, showing the guard his ID. “I’m here to fix something.”
The guard collected the ID card and looked at it.
“Why didn’t you use the front door?”
“I was inside before, I just went to the car to pick something.”
“Still doesn’t answer why you didn’t use the front door.”
Martins didn’t like this at all. “I forgot my pass inside.”
“I’m going to have to confirm this.” The guard said.
“No man.” Martins said.
“You said what?” The guard asked, his hand already reaching for his walkie-talkie.
This was not going great at all. Who was this dedicated guard that was ruining his life. He did not plan for this.
“My man,” Martins said. “Please, this is the third time this is happening this month. It happened a few days ago at Four Points. I forgot something that almost got us in trouble and my boss already said that was my last chance. If you call somebody now, this is it.”
“Sorry about your job but I have to do my job, I have to report this.”
“My brother please.” Martins said and moved closer to the guard. “I’ve had a lot on my mind, that’s why this happened. My wife died last year and last month the doctor diagnosed my daughter of cancer. I’ve not even told my boss, I don’t know what to do.”
The guard looked at Martins and handed his ID card back to him.
“I’m sorry. My mother died of cancer, I know it can be tough.”
“God bless you my brother.” Martins said.
He sighed and walked off. He had already spent more time than he planned entering the hotel. He hurried through a dark corridor and came out inside a large store. The store held supplies, things that probably would have interested him when he first started out. But he was a big deal now, he no longer had time for small things. He set his briefcase on the floor and opened it. He removed his tablet and opened the phonebook. He dialed the number marked ‘target’. In a few seconds a woman’s voice came from the other end of the phone.
“Hello.”
“Good evening Madam. We are sorry to disturb your evening but we have noticed an electrical fault in your room and we are sending a technician to check it out for you ma.” Martins said.
“A fault? I did not report any fault.” The woman said.
“Yes ma, it was detected by our engineers. We will hate for this to become a bigger problem in the middle of the night ma. Our technician will be in and out of there in five minutes.”
“Okay, send him up.”
“Thank you ma.”
Martins smiled. She bought it, Plan A worked perfectly. He returned the tablet into the briefcase. He owed Kamal a bottle of wine for helping him hack the hotel’s phone network. It had made the call his simplest option.
He opened the door at the other end of the store and came out inside the kitchen. The cooks were so busy they didn’t pay him much attention. He was counting on that. He stepped inside the restaurant and went up the stairs without anybody noticing him. There was no avoiding cameras here but it was better than riding the elevator. He walked, placing one foot gently after the other, careful not to walk too fast or too slow.
Two minutes later he stood in front of Room 78A, this was it. He knocked and waited. He kept his head down, pretending to check something on his briefcase.
“Who is there?”
“My name is Adekunle Owolabi, I’m here to fix the electrical fault in your room.”
The door opened and Martins paused, taken aback by the beauty of the woman. She was light skinned, very flashy. She was the kind of woman that would make a jealous husband kill himself. Even though she wore a turtleneck sweatshirt, he could see enough to know she was his kind of woman, not only by her face.
He recovered his senses very fast and walked into the room. He was not here for the lady. He made sure the woman did not look into his eyes, that part was not disguised at all. He looked around the room, it was large and beautiful. The White Agate didn’t do anything mediocre. The bed was large and was covered with the most beautiful duvets he had ever seen. On the wall was a large painting of a beautiful Fulani girl leaning on a power bike.
“Irregular, right?” The woman said.
“What?”
“The painting. A power bike and a Fulani girl, not very conventional.”
“Yes, but very beautiful.” Martins said.
“The girl or the painting?” She asked with a beatific smile.
“Both, I guess.”
Martins looked around the room, the woman had a half drunk glass of wine on the table. That made his job very easy. The biggest question was, where was the necklace?
“You mentioned a fault.” The woman said.
“Yes ma’am. I’ll have to check some wiring in your bathroom. Could you please go in, see if there’s any personal stuff you want to remove?”
The woman smiled again. “You are a grown man, I don’t think there’s anything in there you haven’t seen before.”
Martins laughed. “But still, please check.”
“Okay, but only because you asked nicely.”
As the woman entered the bathroom, Martins brought out a small vial from his pocket, emptied its content in the glass of wine.
“The bathroom is safe now, you can come in with no fears.” The woman said from inside the bathroom.
“Thank you.”
She stepped out of the bathroom. Now, he had to hope the woman took the wine. And on time. He entered the bathroom and closed the door. He had no repairs to make, all he had to do was sit down and wait till the drugs in the wine took effect.
“Are you okay in there?” The woman’s voice came from the room.
“Don’t worry about me, I’ve been doing this for years ma.” Martins said, adjusting on the toilet seat.
A couple of minutes passed and Martins heard no sound from the room. Was she out or was she just quiet? Had she even taken the drink? He could not open the door to find out.
“I’m sorry I’m taking so long ma.” Martins said.
“It is fine, you work very quietly and it’s not like I’m solving the world’s problems in here.”
She was not unconscious yet. The longer he stayed the higher the risk of getting caught.
“Do you want a glass of wine? This is very fine wine.”
“No, thanks.”
“I’m calling the kitchen for pepper soup, want some?”
Calling? No, that was not good. He did not want anybody coming to the room.
“Hello, this is Room 78A.” Martins heard her talk into the phone. “I’d like some…”
Her voice faded out. Was she out?
“Madam, are you still offering me that wine?” Martins said and waited for an answer.
None came.
He opened the door slightly and looked; she was passed out beside the phone. Martins stepped out of the bathroom. Okay, where was the necklace?
“Hello?”
He heard a muffled voice call. The phone was still on. He ran to the phone and hung up. That was not very helpful but hopefully the kitchen would mind their business.
He opened the wardrobe and pulled out a large box. He looked at the woman and for the first time in a long time, felt bad for stealing from somebody. He had no time for sentiments though so he opened the bag. Where are you, precious?
The phone rang and he jumped. The kitchen was probably calling back, he let the phone ring. He went back to the box. He removed clothes, lots of clothes. If the woman was in the country for just a few days, why did she have so many clothes? The necklace was not in the box. The phone started to ring again. He looked at it and looked away. There was nothing else in the wardrobe or the room. He removed every cabinet, checked under every chair and table.
He had to check under the bed too.
There was a problem, he had to move the woman off the bed first. Even passed out, she looked beautiful. She deserved the necklace, it was meant for beauties like her not for whoever Tiny Tony got the job from. He no time for this, he was a professional and he had a job to do. He put his hands under the woman’s back and lifted her. She groaned. Crap! He stopped and stood still. She wasn’t supposed to be awake yet. She wasn’t. He held her tighter, lifted her and carefully placed her on the rug.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered.
He removed the bed coverings and lifted the mattress; there was nothing there. The phone rang again. This time he paid no attention to the phone. Did Tiny Tony send him on a fool’s errand? Did the woman know she was going to be robbed? Was this a trap?
He picked up his briefcase, he had to leave immediately. Was Tiny Tony trying to set him up? He got to the door and looked back. Maybe he was missing something. He looked at the woman on the floor – her turtleneck. He ran back to the woman and pulled the neck of the shirt lower; there it was. She was wearing the damn thing. Whew. He was glad he had taken that last look. He loosened the jewelry off her neck and smiled. Another job, done and dusted. He opened the briefcase, placed the necklace in it and locked it. Alright, time to leave.
He opened the door and stepped out. He pinned his ID to his pocket and started for the staircase. He’d taken only two steps when he saw two security men walking towards him. They’d seen him so he could not run. If he was lucky then maybe they didn’t see what room he came out from. He walked towards them, as casual as he could. They already had their eyes on him. His briefcase was his biggest problem, it was too expensive and it looked it. He got to the men and smiled.
“Who are you?” The buffest of them asked.
“Adekunle Owolabi sir. Technician. Just finished work in Room 82A sir.” Martins said.
He hoped the number would throw them off. They eyed him and walked away. He sighed, that was close. He walked fast now, there was no need for finesse anymore; he just needed to get out.
“Hey.” He heard a voice call from behind him.
Martins looked back and saw Buffy, the security guy looking at him.
“What room did you say you worked in?” Buffy asked.
“Room 82A sir.” Martins said with a smile.
And as soon as the words came out of his mouth he knew he had made a mistake. The rooms on that floor ended at 80A. There was no 82A. He turned around and ran. Buffy’s partner followed him and he could hear Buffy talking; the whole hotel was going to be looking for him in five seconds.
He ran through the corridor till he got to the stairs. He ran down the stairs as fast as his feet could carry him, skipping as many steps as he could without falling. Buffy’s partner was close, maybe he should stop and fight the guy. It was a stupid idea though. He’d missed, well, ended all his karate classes for the past two years and he had fought nobody in those two years. He would be killed by the Van Damme chasing him in two seconds. He got the end of the stairs and jumped out into the restaurant. A few people looked in his direction and he stopped running. He walked very fast to the kitchen door. From the corner of his eyes he saw another security officer sight him and head in his direction. Great, now Chuck Norris had joined the chase. He entered the kitchen and grabbed a knife from the sink.
“Hey you, stop there.” Chuck Norris shouted.
Yeah, like that ever worked. He opened the door into the large store he’d entered through and ran to the exit door. He opened it, stopped and looked around. He picked up a big iron spoon and knocked off the handle with it. He jumped out of the store and closed the door behind him. No one could follow him out through that door now. He ran through a dark corridor for the back door, he was just a few seconds from his escape. The guard! He had to deal with the guard at the door. Maybe he would be lucky and the guard would not know he was the one they were looking for.
He slowed his pace as he approached the back door. He looked and the guard was asleep. What? He could not believe his luck. He walked quickly and quietly towards the door, towards his escape.
“Hey.”
Martins looked to his left and the guard’s eyes were open. Martins looked at the knife, hidden in his pocket, was he going to have to kill this guard?
“Are you done?” The guard asked.
“Yes sir.” Martins said. “Thank you so much.”
Martins made to go but the guard stood in front of him. God please, I don’t want to kill.
“Is there a problem?” Martins asked.
“You look like somebody in need of money right now and I want to help you.” The guard said.
“What?”
“Have you heard of Majestic Wealth Creation Platform?”
Martins could not believe what he was hearing. “What?”
“It is like MMM except that this one is legit. It is from Dubai and even the Prince of Dubai has money in it.”
“Sir, can I please go? I’m kind of in a hurry.”
“All you need to start is forty five thousand and in two weeks you receive four fifty thousand.”
That was it, he was done with this fool. “Do you have a paper where I can write down all these?”
“Oh sure.”
The man turned around to pick a paper and Martins hit him on the head as hard as he could. The man dropped down, cold. Martins shook his head and stepped out of the building.
There was no way he could make it out of the gate without getting caught. He would have to do it old school. He looked at the fence, it wasn’t too high but he could still break something jumping down from it. Maybe there was another way.
“There he is.” He heard someone shout.
He looked and three guards were running in his direction. There was no other way, he was jumping. He could not jump with the briefcase. He threw it across the fence and in two seconds, he was on the fence himself. He looked at the guards, one of them had a gun. He jumped down, picked the briefcase and ran for his car. He removed the fake moustache and sideburns and stuffed them in his pocket.
He got to his car and jumped in. He locked the doors and tried to calm his breath. That was close. He removed his overalls and threw them under the seat of the car. He was not safe yet, he had to leave. He started the car, turned it around and headed towards the hotel. His plan was simple. The guards were not likely to suspect him because of his car and they would probably be paying more attention to the cars leaving the hotel. He got to the gate of the hotel and stopped.
What are you doing fool? He should get as far away as possible.
A guard came to his window.
“Sir, are you coming in?” The guard asked.
“Is there a problem? I see a lot of guards running around.” Martins said.
“Everything is fine sir. If you are not coming in, I’m going to have to ask you to leave sir.”
“Guys,” A muffled voice came off the guard’s walkie-talkie. “The situation is now Code Red. I repeat the situation is now Code Red. The guest is dead.”