Saturday, 16 December 2017

The Brand Of Cain Episode 12

The sensational death of Cain Martins prompted headlines in almost every newspaper in the country, and was featured in network TV., not only because he was a wealthy man, but the interest of Detective Georges Lot in the affair had also spiced up more debates among the media houses and others––Was it Murder or Suicide? Though most people considered Cain Martins a reprobate when he was alive, (and he on the other hand, had not integrated with the society in character-wise since his aberrant behavior did not allow him that humility) his death still pulled a large crowd. The cream of the society were present in the funeral of this wealthy Nigerian. Cain’s death was also considered a paradigm of the destructive side of humanity bad acts. Even the details of the newspapers were quite vilifying in the minutest degree. And surely, fathers would perhaps forge out didactic stories from the affair and admonish their stubborn wards about the tragedic ends of villains.
That same day, the State Morgue released the body of Cain Martins to his wife, Abigail, who announced that a funeral service and burial of her late husband would take place on Friday––a week’s time.
Though there hadn’t been much time, Abigail did her best, with the aid of Barrister Michael Kish, to arrange a grand funeral for her late husband. The chosen church was St. Paul’s Catholic in Anthony Village.
A Requiem Eucharist was arranged, with full choir and a bishop and some others to officiate. Pallbearers included Cain’s associates and staff, all drawn by Abigail’s summons like iron filing to a magnet. Being the death of a rich Nigerian, the church was filled, though inconspicuously absent was Mrs. Philip, Richard’s mother, who had heard the news but did not attend the funeral for a reason Richard could not fathom. He had urged her to attend but she had blatantly refused, saying that she hated attending funerals; he thought his mother was just being too spiritual. Also absent was Cain’s business colleague, Mr. Dele Hassan, who was residing in Rivers. Most people present there were dressed in the familiar funereal black.
Also present in the church were Detective Lot, Daniel Famous, the photographer, and Doctor Adam. Although nobody, except Eze Chima, was aware of the presence of the photographer. The gatekeeper had intentionally invited the man to the funeral to find out if any dirt still needed to be cleaned up. The photographer on the other hand, busied himself by taking photographic shots of the corpse lying in a casket so grnad that a wretched man could be forced to look forward to dying. Detective Lot in particular was not there as a mourner but as an observer, his eyes scanning the congregation. Despite the thin possibility that Cain committed suicide, Lot strongly believed that he had been murdered, and experience showed that murderers are morbidly drawn to a victim’s funeral.
After the funeral, the body was being transported to the cemetery for burial. The detective did not follow them to the site. He had concluded there was nothing there to go for. He never found a personal sanity in interring a body, they would be wasting time and efforts digging a deep, vertically sided hole in orange-coloured earth of the cemetery and lowering the poor body down on straps. He had seen the sort of thing on TV many a time and he had always had much distate at the acts. He asked Daniel not to go for the burial either, and the young police officer had reluctantly stayed back. He had wished he were closer to the widow rather than the gumshoe.
When they were having a walk the detective said, “I want us to work on this case together.”
Daniel did not say anything.
Lot asked, “You saw the body first, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t, it was Hakeem who did.”
“Where’s he?”
“Not here, sir.”
“Don’t be a dumb––I know he’s not here. Where does he live and how did you know him.”
Daniel had never worked with Georges Lot before. He therefore felt insulted by the harsh words lashed at him. “He’s just a son of the neighbour living adjacent to where I live.”
“Um––Famous, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, sir.”
Not far away from them were six teenagers playing football. The impressed Daniel watched as the kids were using the front walls of the two houses on either side of the street as goals, and showed amazing accuracy in never hitting any of the windows. He was so captivated by the youngsters’ skills that he wondered if he wouldn’t be the one who ended up breaking a window had he joined them. One of the kids missed either of the houses and the ball went in the direction of the two law-men. Daniel skillfully controlled the rolling ball and did a little pre-intimacy with the sphere-like object before he kicked it back to the kids, smiling.
“With the way you carried that ball,” said Lot, “Football must be your favourite sport.”
“No doubt about that, sir.”
“You’re a fan of the Pillars, right?”
Daniel was startled, how could he possibly know that? “How––”
“The jersey you wore last week.” The detective explained, “It was the Pillars’.” He paused, taking his time to study the young man’s physiques. “What would you prefer? Being the country’s best footballer or being the country’s Commissioner of Police?”
The policeman laughed heartily, “With all due respect, sir. I think that is a far-fetched question, I would surely like to be the footballer. That is my dream, my passion.”
“Then what are you doing in the police force?” Lot asked sharply.
“It’s a long story, sir.”
“Tell me, I like listening to stories.”
As they continued walking on, Daniel let the tale unfold:
He had never wanted to be a policeman; police work never had been Daniel’s first choice for a career. He had applied into the force so as to get even with his folks––an act of rebellion against his parents, for it had been the last thing they had wanted for him. He had been drawn to the uniform and badge because being a policeman had seemed the easiest way to prove his masculinity. Police work was not and never for him. He was still a young man; there was still time to change career.
When Daniel graduated at the age of seventeen he had told his parents that he wanted to go to the university to study Mass Communication, but his parents had disagreed with him, they wanted him to study Medicine and become a doctor. He had also disagreed with them; he got himself recruited in the police force.
In the force, he had always been very unlucky. Two years earlier, he had stopped a motorist at the checkpoint for a bribe, and the motorist had stopped him with a pistol fired point-blank. He’d narrowly escaped being locked up in the coffin because the bullet had only gone a few inches away from his heart and grazed his right shoulder. He spent a month in the hospital. Since then, Daniel had never stayed at the checkpoint nor engaged himself in any act of venality.
Sometimes, he could not remember why he had become a policeman. It seemed not a career choice but an act of madness. A couple of months after his discharge from the hospital, he had wounded a belligerent drunk whom he thought had been armed. Instead of a gun; the man he’d accosted had had a mobile phone in his pocket. With all his misfortunes, he had never allowed himself to be deterred from performing his obligations; even though some of his colleagues in the force mocked and called him names. He was known to most of his colleagues by his nickname Stu, which was short for silly.
Initially, he had always wanted, when he was a younger boy, to be a footballer, but he gave up when realized how hard it was to become a professional footballer in this country. Daniel had always admired the country’s football heroes––and he had been a life-long fan of the Pillars.
“But out of everything,” continued Daniel, “My father had not been able to forgive me for the decision I took.”
“You’re the black sheep of the family?”
“Blacker than black.”
“Do you ever visit them?”
“The family? Now and then. The prodigal son returns. They kill the fattest calf like the biblical tale. My parents are always glad to see me, my siblings too. But I always see it in my father’s eyes the disappointment he had in me, no matter how much he tried to hide it.”
Detective Georges Lot frowned, his expression looked serious, “You’re the master of your decision, I can’t decide for you.” He was now letting himself the pleasure of thinking that this young police officer was not perhaps the nonentity that his appearance might seem to signify.
“I know, but it feels better having to tell someone this.”
“I also like football,” Lot said, smiling, “At least I enjoy watching it.”
Daniel beamed, “Really? Which club do you belong, sir?”
An engaging smile crept across Lot’s mouth. He thought he and the boy would get on well together. “I’m a Gateway fan.”
“That’s interesting; we played with you last week Friday.”
“I learned that the match was played at about eleven that night. I never got around to watching it, did you?”
Famous looked disturbed, he started stuttering, “I––um-uh-I didn’t watch it either.”
Daniel replied quickly, “I went to the vigil, but I heard on the NBC Sports that it was a tie, a goal each.”
“Maybe one day I’ll be watching you play on the television.”
Daniel was perplexed, he hadn’t expected that kind of statement coming from anyone, “What are you saying, sir?”
“What I’m saying is––when the opportunity comes, always go for what you desire. One Nigerian football player you know was once a restaurant waiter receiving a meager salary before he became a world-class footballer.”
Daniel lowered his face, when he looked in the detective’s face again; tears had formed lenses in his own eyes. “Thank you, sir,” he said, “Your faith in me has renewed my strength.”
“With enough hardwork and dedication, you’ll surely see it through. Don’t see your being a policeman as a curse. Do you believe in destiny?”
Daniel did not know how to answer the question. The honest answer to that question had never occurred to him. He felt as if he believed it, yet he did not believe it all the same. Crazy, like the way he believed that witches and wizards exist but did not believe in the existence of ghosts. Daniel had always strongly believed that we are the masters of our destinies and we shape them to what suit our purpose––either good or bad. And he also had always believed that whatever happens to a person id his destiny, it’s what he cannot but do. Destiny is the master, it can never be controlled but it rules our lives. Each man will always come to term with that thing after swimming through the cesspool of life––his tomorrow, his Destiny.
“I don’t know if I do, sir.” He replied honestly.
“Well, believe it or not, it has been destined that you’ll be a policeman, and who knows? This destiny may lead you to your greatest destiny; if being a footballer is part of that destiny, you’ll surely become one.”
“But I’m confused, sir, how can I be a footballer when I’m still a mere police officer?”
The detective patted him on the shoulder, “Have faith, my friend. This profession may be an avenue to that profession. All things work with and for a reason, finding yourself in the force is not by accident, it happened for a purpose. Besides, you said you got yourself recruited––nobody forced you to.”
“Yes, sir.”
They continued walking silently.
“Sir,” Daniel called.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, it’s Q and A time.”
“Are you a Nigerian?”
That was not a kind of question he had expected the young man to ask him.
“Wow!” he paused, then he asked the younger officer, “Do you think I’m not?”
“I’m having a personal doubt about your nationality.” He stopped, expecting the detective to say something but when the older man did not talk he continued, “Because you sometimes use some strange expressions when you talk. I’m sorry if I seem to be going too far.”
Lot smiled, “No, you’re not going any farther than necessary. I’m a Nigerian just like you but my mother was a Roman descent, so she taught me many Latin languages when she was alive. Those strange expressions you heard me speaking were Latin. You can see my skin colour, it’s not a bit different from yours, is it?”
“Thanks for satisfying that curiosity of mine, sir.”
“You’re welcome.”
They continued walking in silence again, each person deep in thought. A scrap of paper blew along the street and at one corner two rubber tyres burned sootily.
Daniel broke the silence again, “You wanted to ask me a question.”
“Oh, yes,” Lot paused, then continued, “We both know that Cain died from a gunshot to the head.”
“Of course,”
“When you were called to see the body, did you find the weapon––the gun?”
“No, sir.”
“That means, without any doubt, Cain was murdered.”
“But isn’t it possible for him to have committed suicide?”
“If he had committed suicide, then his ghost had probably risen and concealed the gun somewhere nobody could find it.”
“Maybe someone else took the gun when he took his own life.”
“Why would anybody do that?”
“Hakeem perhaps, he saw the body first.”
“Hakeem you say?” the detective feigned surprise. “What would that boy do with a gun?”
“Well, that boy is over fourteen years old and he might decide to keep the gun. You know our Naija teenagers, he might have kept it to use as an object of pride among his peers.”
“Or he might even have been the murderer of Mr. Martins.”
Daniel could not believe his own ears. “My God! That boy is a kid for singing out clear.” He made a screaming whisper.
“A kid. What if he’s a kid? Grow up and stop being a kid yourself, everyday we see murders committed by kids–fourteen, fifteen, sixteen for God’s sake! Or younger. Of all weapon arrests, almost half involve teenagers. A bunch of teenage boys somewhere stabbed a woman a sixty-four times to steal a lousy thousand naira note. Two twelve-year-olds in P.H threw a kid of five from a cliff. In Delta, two ten-year-old boys killed a two-year-old. It’s the same with robberies, assaults, rapes, you name it. Don’t you read the papers? Almost a decade ago, the ten years old Damilola Taylor was stabbed in the United Kingdom by some racist teenagers and left to bleed to death. Search for the name on the internet and read the story about the boy’s death.”
Daniel groaned, “Hakeem is not the murderer, he’s not.”
“I know he’s not, the fact that he’s younger doesn’t exonerate him is what I’m trying to tell you. Mind you, this murder is a well-planned one; it’s not the kind a fourteen-year-old can commit.”
“Glory be to God.” He sighed in relief.
“But Cain did not commit suicide, he was murdered.”
“I’ll say you should not totally rule out the possibility that he committed suicide.”
“Suicide is out of it, I know Cain was murdered.”
“You know?”
“I was called by the deceased.”
Daniel’s heart skipped a beat, his eyes almost popped off their sockets, “When was that, sir?”
“At about 10pm on the seventh.”
“The night of the incident?”
“Exactly, I received a call that night from a man who called himself Cain Martins, he said he had paid a certain amount of money into my bank account for the job I was about to do. He refused to divulge when I demanded the kind of job he was offering me, he said I should come early the next day and I would know, he gave me the address.”
“So that was the reason you appeared suddenly at the crime scene?”
“Now you’re getting it.”
“After the call, did you check your bank account to know if he was actually speaking the truth?”
“I did, he really paid some money into my account.”
“How much?”
The detective paused before answering, he didn’t at first want to respond, thinking the statement a non sequitur, and Daniel almost fainted when he did.
“My God!” exclaimed Daniel, “that’s a pretty large sum of money.”
“You see what I mean?” Lot asked, “Does a man pay a detective that whooping sum of money just because he wanted to commit suicide?”
Daniel frowned, “Sir, do you not think the man who called you was not Cain Martins? Maybe it was someone else claiming Mr. Cain’s identity.”
“It was Cain who called me, I know that too.”
“Don’t be too sure about that, sir. Voices can easily be disguised––especially on the phone.”
The detective shook his head, “No, that is not the case. When I came to the crime scene that morning, the first thing I checked on the corpse’s was its mobile phone; I checked the dialled calls, and guess what I found, it was my number, even the exact time I received the call was recorded on it.”
Daniel sighed again, “That explains it, someone tried to stop him from telling you something very important––by killing him.”
“We don’t know that for sure.”
“Okay, I have a question, sir,” he was already feeling free to strike a conversation with the renowned detective, “What would you have done if you had found out that your number was not on the dialed calls of the deceased?”
“Then I may have believed your theory that it was someone else who called me. Then I would have collected the phones of everybody connected to Cain and checked each person’s dialed calls.”
“But won’t it be easier if you had called the number used to call you, and you’ll know the culprit when it rings?”
“A hidden number was used to call me, so the only choice would be to check everyone’s call records.”
Dust tickled in Daniel’s nose and he sneezed, then he said, “Don’t you think that the person might have deleted your number from the phone after calling you?”
“You see, when you commit a murder you make twenty-five mistakes. If you can think of fifteen of them, you’re a genius. The criminal, having succeeded in mimicking the deceased’s voice, may probably fail to perform a simple task of deleting my number from his phone, or he may underestimate me thinking I can not go so far as checking his phone. Many great criminals get caught by a simple mistake.”
“Would you have checked the wife’s phone too?”
“Why not?”
“You would have been wasting your time, sir. Mrs. Martins was sleeping in her room when the whole thing started.”
“Remember, I received that call at about 10pm, she might not be sleeping then.”
Daniel carried an amused expression on his face, “So you think a woman can mimic a man’s voice?”
“Anything can happen, besides, someone else may use her phone.”
“Exactly, someone else might have used Mr. Martins phone to call you, or Mr. Martins was held under duress to call you.”
“The detective thought for a moment and shook his head again in disagreement. “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think anybody used his phone or held him under duress––who else would have sent that large sum of money into my bank account if not Cain?”
“Was the account name through which the money came in Mr. Martins’?”
“No, it was through an account by the name Abel Martins.”
“Abel? Why would Mr. Martins send you some money under that name?”
Lot shrugged, “Why else but to disguise his identity? The surname he used, he only changed the first name––like the biblical Cain and Abel.”
“Maybe he was also forced to change his name, too.”
“That even explained that Cain was actually murdered. Why would anybody use his phone or put him under duress if he had nothing up his sleeves?
Someone killed Cain and I’m going to catch that bastard.”


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