Joshua Fela | Damstylee_Original picture sourced from Google
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Hey there. Its been a great year and we have come to the final episode of Joshua Fela for this year.
I’ve always wanted to infuse somethiñg different into this series and I am doing that in this episode.
I hope you like it.
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The curtains adjoining the windows fluttered as the winds from the ocean gently caressed their light fabric. The room was lit by an electric candle and its flickering rendered grotesque images on the ceiling boards. These images seemed to fascinate him or he acted like they did.
His name was Jonathan Fela. Jonathan as he preferred to be called.
His smoothly cut afro created a peacock tail-shape on the pillow his head was lying on and his body length spanned the longer side of the bed. His newly dry-cleaned t-shirt was a sharp contrast to the pair of jeans he had on him and his toes played in a rhythmic fashion also creating images on the walls behind them.
At times, the ceiling looked like a work of a great sculptor and other times, the handiwork of a kindergarten pupil. The type himself and his friends drew when they were younger back in Nigeria. His mum had shown him his works and he laughed. He missed laughing. A shape formed by the dim light caught his attention but it faded as fast as it appeared. This was boring he admitted. Life was boring.
A landline rung and its sound shattered the serenity in the room like shards of glass. The antique ringtone shook him out of his trance and he almost choked to his chest a gumball that had been in his mouth all evening. He had no idea how it got there. He had no idea about many things these days. Jonathan rolled over to the other side of the bed where the phone was neatly arranged among a stack of books on a bedside stool and snatched at the receiver.
“Hello.” He said. He couldn’t avoid hearing the distaste in his voice.
“Fela?” A voice replied with a British accent. Jonathan’s eyes shone in delight when he recognised the voice of the caller.
“Yes Jonathan. Good to know you’re still alive.” Gil joked.
“I am. Just hanging on to life as it is.”
“I need you now.” Gil said with a stern voice, a deep contrast to his light tone earlier.
“There has been a murder.” He added.
“Psychopath?” Jonathan asked.
“Not sure but sure looks like it.”
Jonathan jumped to his feet and
tapped dance on the wooden floor while clutching the phone box. This was like music to his ears.
“Brilliant!” he exclaimed and apologized after realizing the situation at hand.
“Where do I meet you?”
“Block 25k, Crawford Street, Baltimore Central.”
“Okay. I’ll be right th… wait, that’s my building.” Jonathan exclaimed.
“I know. Open up, I’m standing right in front of your apartment.”
Jonathan sought to continue the conversation and ask why he didn’t knock in the first place but didn’t when he realised how stupid and economical it could be considering the caller was some feet away. He also wasn’t in the mood for a chat with the Inspector on management.
The locks on the door snapped and the door swung open.
“What are you doing here Inspector?” Jonathan asked ignoring greetings.
“To investigate a crime of course, why else would I be here?” Gil replied and stepped into the room. He took off the muffler around his neck and placed it on a coat holder.
“In my apartment?” Jonathan asked puzzled.
“No.” was Gil’s stern reply and he pointed at the apartment across the hallway directly opposite Jonathans’.
“Mrs Philips got robbed?”
“I wish she did. No Jonathan, she got murdered.”
“That’s impossible.” Jonathan replied and ate his words when he saw detectives and forensic specialists step out of the apartment. “How did that happen, I have been here all day.”
“Beats me too.” Was Gil’s reply and he walked towards the victim’s apartment that was now a crime scene with Jonathan closely behind him.
* * *
In the room where the body laid, Jonathan stood beside the door and observed the crime scene. He was no longer in his earlier apparel as he wore a blue overall and a pair of immaculate gloves now. He stooped and ran his fore finger along the wooden floor. The replica of the one he had in his apartment.
From the crouched position, he noticed a cracked phone and a case of gumballs lying on the floor at the other end of the room. His eyes shone with each clue he found as this was the only fascinating thing he had seen in weeks.
He looked up to see Gil peering at him through his spectacles and frowned. This was but a crime scene involving a murdered woman who also happened to be his neighbour for about months. The least he could do was show more respect and act composed.
Mrs Philips lay on her bed with her head propped against a duvet that had obviously seen better years. Her dry blood stained her pink flowery bed sheets and had dripped to the floor below. He squinted in disgust when a flash from a Kodak hit his eyes. A detective was taking shots of the crime scene as part of the investigation. Jonathan turned to look at Gils and back at the detective as if to say he was getting distracted. Gil got the message and ordered the disturber out of the room. He feigned a grin in appreciation and Gil simply nodded.
Jonathan turned back to the dead woman and held up her palm to see the wound. She had tried to stop the blood flow and had obviously failed because of the massive haemorrhage. He observed the wound and immediately knew what the murder weapon was. He had one himself. It was a butcher’s knife.
He let her hand down, ran his fingers along her arm and surveyed the room for more clues. Inspector Gil watched on in silence from his standing position at the door with his hands folded across each other.
“What do you see?” he asked after Jonathan observed an ash tray.
“It’s quite blurry. Not much evidence. Not much intent.” He replied without looking at Gil.
“What do you mean by not much intent?”
“She is a dying woman and unlike other psychopaths we’ve encountered, I have not found any motive. It might just be a simple murder case.”
“How do you know she was dying?” Gil asked.
Jonathan sighed and shook his head at the nescient question.
“She has lung cancer.” He held up a transparent plastic bag that had drugs in it. “Folex, Cisplatin, Taxil; all these are drug prescriptions for a lung cancer patient.”
“Why then would a psychopath kill a dying woman? Are we even sure this is the act of one?”
“I don’t know for sure. One thing I know though is that she knew him.” He caught the bewilderment in Gil’s expression and led him to the living room.
“If you observe carefully this living room, you would notice what I’m saying. She let him in because it was someone she knew, offered him a glass of beer and he was here for a while.” He pointed at the glass on the coffee table that still had some of the beer in it.
“Lung cancer patients are advised to stay away from alcohol.” Jonathan added.
Jonathan walked towards the settees and ran his hand along them.
“He was seated here.” He pointed at one of the settee. “A light weight man; about 140 pounds.” He shut his eyes to project his imaginations and saw it all. Gil saw him close his eyes and got a voice recorder. This wasn’t the first time Jonathan Fela had closed his eyes in deep thought during an investigation. What came after was pure genius. Abstract deductive thought patterns that left the best crime investigators in the county gobsmacked.
“She turned to pick up her phone.” Jonathan started and Gil clicked the record button on the device. “He grabbed her from behind and dragged her into the room. If you observe well, you’ll notice scratches on the floor made from her toenails.” A detective started talking and Gil hushed him.
“I see it now…” Jonathan continued. “Son of a bitch. He’s a psychopath. He thinks he is doing her a favour. He knows she is dying and all this was aimed at putting her out of her misery. He doesn’t like the fact that he is doing it which is strange. That’s why he shattered the mirror in the closet and any other reflective surface including her phone.”
He opened his eyes and heaved a sigh of relief. “Unfortunately Inspector, I’ll need him committing more murders before I can define his pattern. For now, I can’t help you.”
He stripped himself of the overall and removed his gloves from his already sweaty hands. He advanced towards the entrance to the apartment, threw the gloves into a bin and was halted by Gil’s voice.
“How did you know about the mirror in the closet? You didn’t go in there.”
Gil was right. How did he know that?
“Deduction.” He answered eventually and hurried out of the apartment to avoid more questions. Gil was not a genius but he did understand crime scenes.
* * *
Two a.m. and Jonathan was back to where he was before he assisted the detectives in accessing the crime scene. He had rummaged on his findings earlier and something wasn’t right.
This was not the first time he had tried to deduce a criminal’s pattern. This was however the first time his imagination had developed beyond what his eyes saw. Gil had noticed.
If it were a novel, he could have pronounced himself the murderer. The handiwork of an alter ego probably, but such things do not exist. The ceiling still showcased its art but he wasn’t interested anymore. He turned away from it and coiled in a foetal position. The least he could do was sleep.
* * *
The alarm clock rung five and Jonathan jumped out of bed red and distraught. His body reeked of fear and his shirt was damp with sweat. He wiped his face dry with a napkin and paced around the room. He had seen Mrs Philips again. He had seen the murderer. His mind meandered again and he fell into a trance.
In the trance, he saw the murderer. Black, average height and an afro that had a striking resemblance to his. He watched him drag her. He watched her scream and struggle. He watched him push her against the bed and stab her in her side piercing deep beyond her rib into her pancreas. He saw the fear in her eyes. He saw her gasp and writhe in pain. The blood gushed from the wound and he couldn’t stomach it anymore.
He reached for a bottle of aspirin and swallowed three pills without remorse. His head was banging and he felt light headed.
The murderer walked into the closet and stuck a gumball in his mouth. He threw the pack away in disgust and washed the blood clean off his gloves. The grandfather clock chimed three times and he nodded his head in approval. He bent down to the sink and drowned his head in the water from the tap. The murderer then turned to face the mirror…
Jonathan gasped when he saw what was lurking in the mirror. He rushed to the loo and sat on the toilet bowl to catch his breath. He wasn’t mistaken. He peeked again into his imagination to assure himself that he wasn’t delusional and one look convinced him he was not.
He had seen himself. He had seen Jonathan Fela in Mrs Philips’s mirror.
He let out a yell and clasped his head in his arms. Could he have done it? Could he have been the murderer? There was only one way to find out. He stood up and walked to the kitchen. He opened the door leading into the store and the coppery scent told him everything he needed to know. That was definitely the smell of stale blood and it was splattered across the floor with his butcher’s knife in the centre of it.
* * *
The plane touched down on Nigerian soil and its tires screeched on the vast concrete tarmac. Jonathan peered out of the adjacent window and sighed. He had no place here. He had no life. Neither did he have one in the states. Not anymore. The deportation papers in the folder in his suitcase assured him of that.
His mind flashed back to that evening as passengers disembarked from the plane. He felt the first surge of imagination and let it flow. He heard the clock chime in Mrs Philips room and he grinned. He sure as hell missed it. The blood. The fear in their eyes. The sheer power.
His victims had been powerless. They had screamed, wailed and cried in pain. He had listened to their yells and felt ecstasy. Nothing fascinated him more than this. All his victims; Mrs Philips, the cab driver, the girl from the one night stand stood no chance. They had experienced a higher power; his higher power.
Only Gil had survived. The only man to witness his vigour and not quiver in fear.
A hostess tapped his wrist gently and he snapped out of his trip. The plane was empty and only he was left on board.
“We have landed sir.” The hostess said and smiled.
He apologised and hurried out of the plane.
In the airport, he located his family from afar. He saw his mum wave and race towards him exhilarated. He hugged her and they walked towards the rest.
“Jonathan, good to see you.” His father said and extended his hand for a handshake.
“I can’t say the same.” Jonathan replied and stood face to face with his father. His younger sister; Shade shook her head and went to sit in the corner.
“Jonathan!” His mother exclaimed after his reply. “That’s not how to greet your dad.”
“He’s not my dad. My dad would have come along with you to see me.”
“To see you?” His father raged. “In an asylum? You killed people for God’s sake. Why would I be proud to see my murderous son in a freaking asylum?”
Jonathan ignored his cries and continued. “I was there for three years, three good years and you never showed up. Not once.” He brought out a handkerchief from his trousers’ side pocket and wiped the sweat off his face. The stupid country was too hot.
“Jonathan, your dad missed you.” His mother intervened. “You have been abroad for over seven years; he’s just not sure on how to show the emotions.”
Jonathan ignored her, picked up his luggage and walked towards the exit. He stopped after taking a few steps.
“Where’s Josh?” He asked directing the question at his mother.
She sniffed and turned away to hide the tears that welled up in her eyes. Her husband pulled towards him and hugged her. Jonathan turned to Shade for an answer and like her mother, she turned away as well.
“Where the hell is Josh? He asked again, this time with a stern tone.
“Josh died two years ago in a car accident.” It was his father that answered. “He was coming from school; Unilag along with his friend… we never found his body.” He added after a short pause.
Jonathan dropped his bags and pulled out his wallet from one of its pockets. He wiped the sweat off his face again and walked towards the exit.
“Where are you going?” His mother asked.
“To Unilag. I’ll find my way home.”
* * *
Shade followed Ronke closely as they stepped out of the reception of their dorm.
“Where are we going?” She asked for the umpteenth time.
Nike received a ping while I was with her phone. He wanted to meet her by four today in the café. Its quarter past four already.”
“So, we’re just going to jump in or what?”
“I don’t know yet. Let’s get there first.” Ronke replied.
In the cafeteria, they spotted Nike and her boyfriend from the entrance and walked towards them. They arrived at their location in record time and Ronke cleared her throat to announce their presence.
“Hi Josh.” Ronke greeted in a faint tone to Nike’s annoyance and Jeff looked up to their stupefied faces. Shade blinked a couple of times and touched his shoulder to ensure she was sane. This was definitely Josh.
“Hello. It’s Jeff though.” Jeff replied and smiled in Ronke’s direction. He had never been this close to her and he couldn’t explain his affection for her.
Shade struggled to find words and just left her mouth aghast while Ronke grabbed a seat for herself at their table and engaged Jeff in a conversation.
Jonathan walked in on their discussion and punched Jeff in the left shoulder.
“Bastard; I thought you were dead.” He exclaimed.
Jeff groaned in pain and stood up to face him.
“Who are you and why did you do that? And what the hell do you mean by I was dead? He asked Jonathan. Nike stood up in his defence and clapped her hands in a market woman fashion.
“Who the hell are you?” She asked and placed her hands on her hips ready for some drama. Ronke and Shade retreated to the background after deciding to stay out of the commotion.
“I should be asking you that.” Jonathan replied Nike.
“I’m his girlfriend.” She said with aplomb and rolled her eyes. Jonathan just smiled.
“And I’m his brother.”
The whole lot including Ronke and Shade chorused ‘brother’ which made bystanders turn to look. Nike and Ronke flashed them grave looks and they went back to their business.
Right in the corner, Mohammed and Jack observed the proceedings.
“Those are the girls, Jack.” Mohammed said.
“I know boss. Let’s wait for the guys to leave.”
To be Continued Next Year
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Merry Christmas ands a Happy New Year in Advance.