Here I am, continuing with the second excerpt from my yet unfinished work: ‘The Night Avenger: A Toji Oguavor Mystery‘. If you haven’t read the first excerpt, I suggest you do. https://philoyok.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/tale-of-a-night-avenger/
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Through a wide foyer and down a short flight of stairs into the living room. There were six persons seated pressed against each other on a long sofa, all looking like accident victims with long sad faces. The rookie officer watching over them rose to his feet as Samuel and Toji entered the room. Of the six people seated across, two were men while the others were females. There was Chief Alan Barry dressed in an undershirt and native outfit, in his mid-fifties, seated by the foot of the sofa, with his wife clinging to his arm, looking distraught with teary eyes. Two of the other women with them were their daughters, whilst the others were house servants, all of whom had been indoors when the alleged incident occurred. Toji noticed the stains of blood on Chief Alan’s undershirt and on his arm. He stood a few feet away from them while the young detective first conferred with the rookie officer before addressing Chief Alan.
“Good evening, Chief Barry,” said Samuel, then displaying his detective badge. His voice was firm at the same time solicitous. “My name is Detective Samuel Ejun,” he half turned to indicate Toji. “This here is Senior Detective Toji Oguavor. We’re here to look into the matter surrounding what happened here in your home.”
He stopped and waited for Chief Alan to say something, but the man remained mum except switching his eyes back and forth between Samuel and Toji. Toji saw the apparent fear in his eyes, like he knew he was in deep trouble already but couldn’t gauge the extent. Such was the irony of politicians and why Toji never stopped being disgusted by them. They always assumed because they wined and dined with the governor or any other important big-wig in the society that they same ‘Get-Out-of-Jail-Free’ clout extended toward them whenever they went and did something stupid. His eyes went to observing Samuel. He stood facing the elderly couple with his hands held in front of him like a priest delivering bad news. Toji could just picture him wearing a black frock and imagined he was going to announce that the couple bow their heads while he prays for the deceased. Still he was doing a fine job of everything so far.
When Samuel waited and he didn’t say anything, he turned first to look at Toji before returning to him. “Chief Alan, has my officer here explained to you the grievance of what’s before you?”
It was then that Chief Alan’s lips came alive with a mumble: “It was an accident . . . an accident.”
“My husband speaks the truth,” the wife chipped in; her voice was raspy like one who’d been crying for a long time. “The stupid girl . . . she tried to murder my husband.”
“That remains to be seen, ma’am,” said Samuel. “We’ll have the right answers once we’ve taken your husband’s statement down at the station.”
Toji conferred with the office to lead him to the body.
They left the living room and the officer led him down the centre hallway toward the back door beside the kitchen entrance. The officer led him under the downpour through a garden trail that led to the Boys Quarter building. There were four apartments there, and one of it belonged to the deceased. The officer had been wise enough to make the door with a crime-scene yellow tape.
Toji broke the tape and entered the apartment.
It was a two-room affair, with the second room acting as a bathroom/toilet. A bed occupied half the space of the first room; there was splatters of blood on the wall and the bed too carried evidence of blood. Toji took out a handkerchief from his pocket to shield his nose against the pungent smell of blood and death.
The body laid on the floor with a bed sheet draped over it. Toji came to his knees and pulled the sheet aside to get a good look at the deceased.
Her eyes were open and stared past him in shock at the ceiling fan above his head. Blood had poured out of her nostrils and caked her upper lip. Toji pulled the rest of the sheet away from her to see the rest of her anatomy. The kitchen knife stuck out five inches below her sternum; blood had encircled the sport around her blouse where the knife remained embedded on her flesh. He remembered back in the car, Samuel had mentioned that the girl was sixteen. She looked more like a fourteen to him. Hard to imagine that less than three hours ago she’d been full of life, had whatever hopes and dreams ahead of her. Now that as gone. Snuffed out of her by the knife in her flesh.
Toji saw she had something enclosed in one of her fists. He knew he ought not be doing it, and he couldn’t help taking a look at the door in case anyone was there waiting on him before reaching toward the girl’s hand with the handkerchief still in his hand. He managed to pry her fingers open and saw she was clutching a rosary.
No more prayers for you, little girl.
Toji rose to his feet. He draped the cloth back over her.
There were a set of books positioned against the wall at the head section of the bed behind the pillows. Toji carefully stepped over the corpse to go examine the books. He found text books on Biology, Chemistry, and several romance novels with the covers torn off. He flipped through one of the romance books and stumbled on a folded note inside.
Just then he heard approaching footsteps. He palmed the note and made like he was checking the books again when First-Class Detective Samuel Ejun walked past the door. He had a pitiful look on his face as he gazed down at the corpse. Toji heard his sniffle.
“Anything new from the couple?” he asked.
Samuel looked up, as if then remembering where he was and that he wasn’t alone. “Uh, yeah, I got some details. The deceased’s name was Ronke. She has been under their employ going five months now. The Chief’s wife said she was the one that brought her from the village to come stay with them. They took care of her education while she looked after the little one in the house.”
“What did the husband, Chief Alan, say happened?”
Samuel pulled out a jotter pad from his pocket and consulted it before speaking. “According to the first officers’ statement, he said the girl had been acting pretty erratic lately. She’d been keeping late nights and sneaking out of the compound however she can. He came by here to check on her when he realized she hadn’t made breakfast for his little daughter. He said she was waving the knife at him, threatening him with it. He tried to fight her off. There was a struggle, and somehow the knife ended up in her.” He closed his pad and returned it to his pocket. “Though his words were jumbled up, I could barely make sense what he was saying when I told him back what he’d said.”
“You haven’t read him his rights, have you?”
“No, I haven’t.” He looked sceptical. “Should I go back and do that now?”
“Has he talked about getting himself a lawyer?”
Samuel shook his head. “So far all he’s being saying over and over again is that it was an accident.”
Toji smirked. “That must have been some accident. To think that a frail sixteen year old like her,” he indicated at the girl’s corpse with the stub of his shoe, “could take down a heavyweight like him. I’ll believe that if the coroner makes that assumption. Though I doubt it.”
He was silent for a moment, contemplating.
“So, you don’t think I should return and read him his rights?” asked Samuel.
“No, don’t do that. Do that now, and you risk getting anything out of him. His lawyer would allow you any inch to him if Chief Alan lets him know. Best take him to the Charnel House and sweat him in the executive suite.”
The Charnel House was the street name for the Cape City Federal Criminal Investigation building, and the executive suite was the row of interrogation rooms where Toji and his fellow detectives conducted their sweaty questionings to whoever was unfortunate to spend the night or even an hour as a suspect in whatever crime had brought them there. some of them were lucky to leave the interrogation rooms with nothing but a slap to their wrists, told to return back to the world and sin no more. The unfortunate ones sooner or later broke down and cried, knowing what awaited them once they left that room was a nightmare in purgatory they would never forget.
“Only sixteen,” Samuel murmured, gazing down at the covered corpse. “My God. She’s a year older than my youngest sister.”
Toji looked at his hand and saw he still had the note hidden in his handkerchief. He threw it into his pocket and wiped sweat off his brow.
“Be thankful she’s not your sister. Too many in Cape City don’t live to see twenty.”