Joshua Fela | Damstylee_Original picture sourced from Google
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Nike moved closer to Jonathan. Her steps measured gingerly like a lioness stalking its prey.
“What did you just say?” She asked him.
He repeated his earlier statement; “Joshua is my brother.” The small group gasped again like earlier; the element of shock still very much alive. Nobody knew Josh had a brother, even his infatuated lover.
Nike turned to look at Jeff. The puzzled look on his face told her she wasn’t the only person who thought Jonathan a lunatic.
“Why do you guys keep calling me Josh? My name is Jeff.” Jeff insisted ignoring the claim Jonathan just made.
A closer look at Jonathan told him his fib could have been genuine. He had always wanted a brother and they did look alike. At least their noses and ears did, he thought.
Ronke jumped in here and asked him how much memories he had.
“What memories?” He asked.
“Do you remember the accident? Two years ago? You were out with Nath and you never came back.” The mention of the accident put him in a shocked state. He watched the rest notice his amazement and advance on him like a paparazzi ready to take notes of anything and plant them in their respective papers. He stepped back and put his hand up to stop them from getting any closer.
“How do you know about the accident?” he asked
“Who doesn’t? Oh we know. We all know.” Ronke said. She looked at Jonathan’s face and he played along. “The whole school knew. They said you died in it.”
Jeff retreated further from the group to assimilate his obituary getting recited to him orally. He paused to think and for once had enough evidence to support the claims that his dad had hid something from me.
“But my dad said…”
“Your dad?” Jonathan interrupted.
“Yes, my dad. Any problem with that?” He replied without paying much attention to Jonathan.
“As a matter of fact, yes. I believe your father has fed you so many half-truths. I’m suspecting you lost your memory after the accident.”
“Well, that’s none of your business, is it?”
“I’ll need to meet your dad in person.” Jonathan said. Jeff ignored him and continued talking to the girls. Jonathan advanced on him and grabbed his wrist to drive his point home. He sought to repeat his statement when Bayo and another officer interrupted.
Ronke saw them and turned away. This could only mean one thing. Bayo observed the duo that looked like they could get in a fight anytime and placed his hand on the hip that held his official pistol. They separated and he smiled. The glamour of being a police man he thought and walked towards Ronke.
“Miss Ronke Gbadamosi, you’ve been called in for questioning again.” She bit her lip in disgust and frowned at him.
Dozens of students in the cafeteria hovered a few feet away from them waiting for some action or an apprehensive take down. They got disappointed as Ronke obliged and they started towards the exit.
“Can I come with you?” Shade asked. Bayo turned to look at her and shook his head in disapproval. She got the message and asked Nike to walk her to their dormitory. The boys would sort themselves out; she said.
Nike pecked her boyfriend goodbye as she left. Bristles from his goatee brushed her cheek and she closed her eyes as she felt a brief twinge of excitement. He smiled at her and winked as she walked away.
“You do know the other one likes you right?” Jonathan said, abruptly disrupting whatever chemistry was left between him and his girlfriend. He turned to leave and he had gone a few steps before what Jonathan said struck him.
“What did you just say?” he asked.
“The last girl, the one that didn’t talk much. She likes you.”
“How do you know that?”
Jonathan smirked and sat on a seat. Jeff fought the urge but eventually settled adjacent to him. Jonathan’s mind travelled years earlier. He saw Josh; his brother tugging at his sleeves begging him to deduce for him. I started young he thought. He remembered telling his brother the girl that liked him and the ones that had not a care in the world as regards him. He could have vanished from the earth and they wouldn’t notice. Those however were the girls Josh…sorry… Jeff liked.
He returned from his trip down memory lane and saw Jeff staring at him.
“You were saying?”
“I was saying the other girl likes you. She’s prettier and calmer than you self-centred, attention seeking, and obnoxious girlfriend.”
Jeff took offence at the ill but fatally correct description of his girlfriend and Jonathan apologised after a few laughs. “I’m sorry.” He said and tugged at Jeff’s shoulder till he accepted his apology.
“Dumb move in knocking her up though.” Jonathan added after the awkward silence had returned.
“Knocking her up? How did you know she was pregnant?” Jeff asked. He turned his seat to face Jonathan directly. “How did you know she was pregnant?” He asked again.
“It’s obvious, don’t you think.” The latter replied.
“No, it’s not.” Jeff argued for a few minutes and only settled when Jonathan said; “Nobody else knows ‘how’ to look”
“Alright then.” Jeff said. He stood up to leave and Jonathan offered him a ride home. He refused and Jonathan followed him till he agreed. They got into a 2013 model of the Toyota Tundra and drove out of the school towards Ebutemetta.
* * * * * * * * * *
The dusty car with the official plate number settled in the allocated parking lot for the DPO of the station and Mike jumped out. He walked briskly towards the station and closed the automated locks in the car with the remote control.
In the station’s reception, he inquired about Bayo’s whereabouts from the office of duty and was directed to the interrogation room. He was in front of the door in one stride and opened it.
In the room were Bayo, Ronke and another officer. He ordered the officer out and waited till he heard the door shut before saying anything.
“I’m sorry for bringing you back here, Ronke.” He said to break the silence.
“It’s no problem.” She was secretly glad he was involved in the questioning process.
“Did you know Nathaniel Bassey well?” He asked going straight to the point.
“Yes, to an extent.” She replied.
He dragged a chair from the wall towards himself and opened a paper file on the table. He took out a sheet of A4 paper and a pen and scribbled something on it while Bayo and Ronke watched in silence. He stopped writing and looked up.
“Do you know he is mentally disabled?”
She started to answer and hesitated. “Yes.”
The words of the doctor rang in his ears;
“You have to be careful with this case, Mr Mike. The suspect you have in custody might not be the guilty one”
He smiled when he remembered the doctor’s native accent and wrote in the paper again.
“How did you know he was mentally disabled?” Mike’s cell phone’s ringtone interrupted her reply and he sighed before picking it from his breast pocket.
“Hello,” He said into the mouthpiece.
“Mike. It’s me, Senator Ibikunle.” The caller said. “I just want to know how the investigation is going.”
“It’s going well Sir, although we have hit some sort of brick wall.”
“How so detective?” The senator asked.
“The young man we have in custody is unlikely the murderer we are looking for.”
“Do you have another suspect?”
“No, not for now.”
“Then you prosecute that boy.”
“I beg your pardon, Sir.”
“I said you prosecute that boy.” The senator said in a measured tone. “My son just died for God’s sake. I need someone to be punished for his death.”
“But he is innocent!” Mike bellowed. His countenance had changed and his eyes flared like forest fires.
“Well, he’s not until I say he is. It’s either you prosecute him or someone suffers for it.”
“Is that a threat Sir?” Mike asked. His other fist was clenched.
“I don’t know. Let’s ask our young nurse girlfriend shall we?
The phone slipped from his hands to the concrete floor and spilled its insides in different directions. The whole room became quiet like a graveyard and the other two just stared on not knowing what to do. Bayo was first to move. He searched for the components of the phone on the floor and assembled them. He handed it back to Mike but the latter didn’t move. He just stared at the wall behind Ronke’s head.
After numerous snaps of Bayo’s fingers in his line of sight, he jerked back to reality. He got up from his seat like it had burning coals on it and headed for the exit.
“Get her back to her school.” He said to Bayo and slammed the door behind him.
* * * * * * * * * *
Jeff opened the door and let Jonathan in. The ante room welcomed them and Jonathan took to surveying it. The room which was neatly decorated with some furniture had a bit of elegance to it. He whistled gently as he felt the chill in the room created by strategically placed air conditioners. He saw some framed photos at the corner and observed them. This is going to be easy; he thought. Definitely the house of a government worker he observed. Jeff called him and he followed Jeff into the living room.
The living room was designed more extravagantly. A 45” plasma TV adorned the front wall and black leather couches were arranged around it. A bar stood at the far end of the room and beside it was a wall that had the family pictures and artworks. A picture frame on a side stool with three men standing in front of a picture of the president of the country and other dignitaries convinced him of his hypothesis. The immaculate brocade of the men in it screamed affluence. Politician.
He walked towards the ‘picture wall’ and observed each picture. For the first few minutes, he looked up at every sound. Then he knew nothing but the pictures. A tap on his shoulder brought him back to the present. He turned around to face the man of the house.
“Good evening Sir” He said and held his hand out for a handshake. The recipient ignored it and sat one of the couches.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my house?”
“I’m Jonathan Fela. I’m a police officer. I’m just here to…”
“Akoka Sir.” He replied with alacrity. The ‘politician’ walked to the bar and poured himself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. The redness filled the cup like a spectre and Jonathan felt his throat ache for some. He didn’t expect the ‘politician’ to offer him some and he wasn’t disappointed.
The ‘politician’ walked back to couch and sat, this time in a different couch from where he sat earlier. Jonathan smirked at his attempt to intimidate him.
“Okay, what can I do for you?” The politician asked. Before Jonathan could answer, he added; “Let me first state that I’m a very influential and affluent person in this state. I’m sure you’ve heard of Mr Balogun; that’s me. I can make you and I can also destroy you.”
Jonathan looked away. He fought the urge to showcase his deduction skills and stuck to his plan.
“Duly noted, Sir. How is your wife?”
“Dead.” Mr Balogun replied without batting an eyelid.
“Murdered, you mean.” Jonathan muttered under his breath.
“Nothing… Nothing.” He said and smiled at Mr Balogun. “I noticed there is a big hole in your family pictures timeline.”
Mr Balogun looked at the wall and back at Jonathan. “Hole?”
“Yes, memories not existent. I don’t see any pictures of your son during his adolescent years.”
“What are you inferring?” Mr Balogun asked. He dropped the glass of wine on a side stool. Jonathan noticed the gesture and smirked. So much for his intimidation techniques.
“The pictures of your son stopped when he was about ten, eleven maybe, I guess and suddenly resurfaced when he was much older. Why’s that?”
“We stopped taking pictures.” Mr Balogun replied bluntly.
“The boy himself, I mean the older one doesn’t have a resemblance to the younger….”
“Mr…?” He paused.
“It’s Fela Sir”
“Good. Mr Fela. I don’t appreciate you befriending my son and coming to my house to interrogate me. If you don’t mind, I need you out of my house now.”
Jonathan obliged without a word. He walked briskly out of the compound into the streets. Taking one last look at the Tundra, he called a cab and headed home. It was too early to be arrested for a criminal charge. Of all criminal charges sef; stealing a car. He snorted and relaxed in the rear seat in the cab.
The cab stopped at a red light and Jonathan used that time to purchase a bottle of water from a hawker. A white van was directly beside them and it looked oddly familiar. He caught the face of the driver and was sure he had seen it earlier. He just didn’t remember where. Little did he know that his unborn niece, her mum and his brother’s longtime crush laid chloroformed in the trunk of the van.
* * * * * * * * * *
In his home, Jonathan walked into a gloomy atmosphere. His father sat on a chair, his eyes buried in a newspaper and his mother stared at the TV without really seeing anything. Shade wasn’t anywhere in sight so he guessed she was in her room.
“What’s with the gloominess?” He asked.
“It’s always been like this. Ever since Joshua died in that car…” Her sobs disrupted her sentence and his father pulled her to him in an embrace.
Jonathan laughed and headed for the stairs.
“Why are you laughing? His father asked sternly.
“Joshua is not dead. He’s hardly alive either.”
To be continued next week.
Thanks for reading.