Saturday, 16 December 2017

The Brand Of Cain Episode 17

According to Mark Twain, ‘Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.’ Barrister Michael Kish had some ugly stories of his own which he never wanted anybody to know or be told. He had always wished all his life that he had not gotten himself in the mess. But life must go on, first rule of survival.
Nemesis, he thought as he followed the younger policeman, does nemesis really catch up with people? Yes, it does. I’ve had my own share of the bitter cake. Nemesis or mimesis, man is prone to his own challenges in the struggle to keep his own head above water in the cesspool as he swims across the journey of life. Life contains a lot of different situations and parts that are prone to change everyday, every time and everywhere. Life’s a kaleidoscope. It’s the butterfly effect, whatever action you take today may affect the life of another person a million miles instantly or tomorrow or next year or ten years’ time. Change. Does the change from one’s past affect one’s future? Sometimes in life, we do some things we would never think of doing if we were given more than one choice.
He followed Daniel into the small room and he sat down facing the detective who was looking at him with an expression he could not understand––he returned the stare. Both men continued staring at each other, and the silence had begun to irritate Daniel.
“I’m sorry if I may be interrupting your chain of eye communication,” said Daniel defensively, “but I don’t see the sense in using our eyes to discuss when God gave us the free gift of speech.”
The detective broke his gaze like a child who had been defeated in a game of stare and Kish smiled. By habit he had always smiled even when he did not feel like smiling. Lot removed the cassette in the tape recorder and turned the other side before he inserted it back in the machine. Then he pressed ‘Record’.
“Your name is Barrister Michael Kish Jr., is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“May I ask how old you are?”
“I’m as old as you are.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“Oh yes, I have. Have you forgotten your own age? We’re both born in the same year and month, but it’s a pity not the same day. You were born on the twenty-third and I was born on the fifth of March.
“Who told you my age?”
“The internet, bro.”
“Oh, I see. I guess we both have something in common.”
“You can say that again.”
The detective dipped his hand in his Bosom pocket and extracted a box of cigarette.
“Do you mind?” he asked Michael.
The Barrister shook his head. Lot opened the box and removed one stick, he dipped it in his mouth between his teeth and lit it with a lighter. He sucked in deeply and exhaled a cloud of smoke before speaking.
“You were a friend to the deceased, right?” he asked, pointing the cigarette at the lawyer.
“From teenage,” the lawyer replied, “We both passed out from St. Joseph College in 1974. We lost contact after then but I never forgot his name. It was after three decades of losing touch that fate brought us together again. We met again a week before he got married to that beautiful girl.”
“Did you attend the ceremony?”
“What ceremony? Oh, you mean the wedding?” he shook his head, “No, there was no ceremony. They got married in the court, both of them and the court officials alone.”
“So, you didn’t attend that?”
“Not at all. The week I met Cain was when he brought me here, he was living alone then, about two weeks later when I came to visit him I saw Abigail. My first thought was that she was a housemaid, because she was so quiet then and I could see fear on her face.”
“I don’t think you can understand what I mean. The fear I’m talking is something else, she was afraid of looking at Cain’s face. She spent most of her days in the kitchen. I never thought she was a wife until Cain told me so.”
“Were you not surprised that somebody like Cain got married to a young girl like that?”
“I don’t expect you to ask me that kind of question. We are in Nigeria, remember? Anything is possible. And by the way, Cain was a rich man; he could get anything he wanted. Abigail on the other hand is not as if she’s a toddler.”
“Let’s say I’m just plain curious. Do you know if your deceased friend was once married before meeting Abigail? Any Mrs. Martins before her?”
“Yes, Cain once had a wife before Abigail.”
“Where is she?”
“Dead, he told me he once had a wife and a son. The wife died of liver cancer and the son was killed by armed robbers. He stopped the bullets meant for policemen. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“When did the wife die?”
“That was in the New Millennium; nine years ago. Three years after the wife’s death, the boy died too––he was seventeen then.”
“What was the boy doing at the robbers-police shootout?”
“Nobody knows, Cain said he didn’t know either, he did not even go for the boy’s corpse.”
“How sure are you about that?”
“Cain told me himself. He said he refused to go for the corpse because the boy was not really his son; that he was a bastard child born to him by his wife. perhaps the wife was cheating on him and got pregnant in the act.”
“And you believed him?”
“What do you expect me to believe? The boy died in 2003 and I met Cain again in 2006.”
“You seem to know much about the Martins’ connubial status.”
“Connubial what?”
“Cain’s marriage relationship.”
“Of course I do, I’m his friend. He told me everything about his family.”
“Okay, when was the last time you saw the deceased before his death?”
“Um––I think we met about two or three weeks before the incident.”
“You think? Please will you be specific?”
“I’m sorry; I can’t remember what day exactly. But I know it’s not more than three weeks previously, though we call each other occasionally.”
“When was the last time you spoke together?”
“Friday, the day before his death.”
The detective and Daniel leaned forward.
“On Friday?” asked Lot, “What time did you speak?”
“About ten in the morning.”
“What did you discuss?”
“Nothing, he called me to know the next time I’ll be visiting him.”
“Is that all you discussed on the phone?”
“See, I don’t know what kind of cigars you smoke, but you had better changed your brand. You’re starting to ask the impossible. Do you expect me to remember everything verbatim? We spoke for about twenty minutes on the phone, and remembering everything word-for-word is not intelligence, it’s lunacy.”
The detective leaned forward and stared into the lawyer’s eyes as he spoke, “I know it’s impossible for you to tell me everything. Telling everything you see, hear or do always demands selection. If I asked you to tell me all the events of your day the day before yesterday, you would probably reply like this: ‘I woke at six in the morning, took my breakfast at seven. I had bread and beans and tea. I met a lady whom I took to the cinemas and we watched ‘The Figurine’. You would, perhaps, never remember to tell me thus: ‘My phone died and I had to put another battery. I spilt a little tea on the table mat; I brushed my shoes and put it on, the lady had red paint on her fingers’. Everything is never told, therefore one selects. However, when selecting at times, those we rule out as unimportant and never told may be relevant––especially in cases like this. So, will you think deeply and tell me more of what you can remember?”
He was silent a moment and obeying the detective’s adjuration to ‘think deeply’. He shook his head in negativity. “I’m sorry, I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary in what we discussed,” he paused, “but he asked me a question. I don’t think it odd but maybe it can help in your investigation. He asked if I would always be there for him as a lawyer.”
“Did you ask him the reason for that question?”
“Not really, he told me he just wanted to be sure.”
“Thanks for your assistance,” said the detective, “but I want you to see something before you go.”
He brought out the notes again and gave them to the lawyer. Michael Kish read the notes carefully.
“You want me to tell you which was written by Cain?” Michael asked.
He held out the first note immediately, “Cain wrote this.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I know. I can identify Cain’s writing with my eyes closed. He had the world’s most illegible handwriting; I can pick it out among millions.”
“What about the second note?”
“I have no idea who wrote that. Where did you find them?”
“Never mind, just one final question, please.”
“Fire off.”
“You’re Mr. Martins’ friend and lawyer; was he of any will before his demise?”
The lawyer was clearly surprised, “Will? No, he has no will. What would he need a will for? He has no other heir but the wife. He doesn’t really need any will.”
“Barrister Kish, you don’t own a gun, do you?” he shot out the question suddenly.
Michael replied immediately too, as though he had known that was the next question the detective would ask, “Good lord, no! Wouldn’t know which end to point now. But I’m armed with faith, righteousness and a pure heart.”
“Thank you, Barrister. I appreciate your contribution. You can go now, sir.”
“Officer, I’m not trying to challenge your ability but I think you’re taking too long to solve this case. I want to know who killed my friend and I would do everything to get him hung.”
This was the third time, Lot felt, that his appropriate degree of investigative acumen in solving the mystery fatefully presented before him had been doubted. “I’d prefer to use the word ‘Hanged’ instead.”
“Whatever, he will swing by the rope until he’s lifeless.”
Daniel who had been quiet as usual said, “Sometimes, those who hunt for the criminal do turn out to be the criminals themselves.”
Michael and Georges cast a questioning look in his direction. Daniel became nervous and added, “In novels, I mean.” Kish looked at him with his left eyebrow higher than the right––a display of legerdemain few people had been able to master, he apparently decided that Daniel had IQ problem, shrugged pitifully, and turned his attention back to Lot who was talking to him now.
“Thank you, Barrister Michael Kish Jr.; I’ll call on you if I need to ask you any more questions.”
The lawyer rose, shook the detective’s hand and went out the door.
The detective turned to his junior partner smiling, “This case is becoming more interesting. You agree with me, don’t you?”
“I think it’s more boring than interesting. It’s getting too complicated.”
“Elementary, my dear Watson. You seem to be ignorant of something––the more complicated a case becomes, the easier it tends to be solved. As a child, did you ever play the game called ‘Treasure Hunt’?”
“No, but I watch the reality TV game show called ‘Ultimate Search’.”
“They’re similar to each other, wherein one clue leads from A to B. from, let us say, a little message hidden underneath a stone to a further message pinned behind a tree. It’s the same in this case, but I’ll rather call this ‘Criminal Search’. A clue leads from one to the other. I know the clues are already there for me to use, what I only need to do is to link them together to fix the puzzle.”
“What clues are you talking about, sir? The notes?”
“The notes are parts of the clues, not all. This Martins’ saga is beginning to resemble one of those children’s puzzles in which numbered dots are connected in sequence to form a picture. But in this case, most of the dots are unnumbered––or missing.” said the detective, “Moreover, what do you think about the lawyer’s choice of the notes?”
“The wife said it’s the second note that was written by her husband, but the lawyer claimed it was the first. Honestly, I’m confused, but I think the lawyer was lying.”
“This may thwart what I’ve been thinking all along.”
“And what is that, sir?”
“That both the wife and friend connived to murder Cain.”
“It doesn’t make sense; you know it’s utterly impossible for that to have happened. The wife was sleeping at the time of the incident, unconscious of anything going on, and the lawyer was about hundreds of kilometers away. It’s absolutely ridiculous to link those two with the crime.”
“Before you think it––ridiculous, listen to this and tell me what you think––the wife was having a secret Sekxual affair with the lawyer, and she had convinced him to destroy Cain’s will which, however, was stating that his property was to be bequeathed to someone else; a charity organization maybe. Both lovers had planned to kill the husband, and they had carefully laid down their plans. On the day of the crime, the night to be precise, the lawyer had already parked his car at a quiet place not far from this house. When it was time for them to carry out their evil deeds, the lawyer called Martins that he was close to the house and his own car had broken down, so he asked Cain to come pick him up. Without thinking, Cain called his driver and they both drove to the point of rendezvous. But unfortunately, he did not have the faintest idea about what was going to happen to him. When Cain got to the location, the lawyer did not waste time, he shot him in the forehead and carried his corpse in his car or trekked, then he laid the corpse quietly by the gate. If he had been killed close-by, the gatekeeper would have heard the gunshot. About five hours later Hakeem saw the body and came rushing to call you. The wife played her role when you called the gatekeeper out to see the corpse. She might have been watching the gatekeeper, and when he went out at your request to see the body, she quickly sneaked into his room, put a note under his pillow and hurriedly departed. At that exact time, the lawyer had already reached home and snoring; though waiting to receive the gatekeeper’s phone call. As soon as he got the call, he came rushing back as if he had known nothing. The deceased’s wife also completed her part by acting as though she was asleep all the while. A carefully planned crime. What do you have to say to that?”
Daniel stared at the detective in astonishment. For a moment he thought the detective was rambling, and with genuine concern Daniel began to doubt the detective’s sanity. Although, of course, he had listened with interest, and without interruption, to what Lot had said. Apart from the seemingly plausible a tale, it wasn’t particularly an astonishing analysis, it was not just the sort of self-consistent hypothesis that Daniel would have expected from the detective. He knew very well the amazing feats of logic the human brain was capable of––but quite often, life could elude logic––and when a brilliant logic itself got built there could always be a fault in its foundation of deductive analysis, thereby causing the whole edifice to collapse right on the occiput of the mason. This explanation of the detective’s did not bring together all the clues into one coherent scheme of justification, because there were one or two weaknesses in what Lot had laid down, at least as Daniel saw things at the moment. Whenever Daniel could not follow the train of the reasonable, he stopped. He didn’t always venture into shuttles of the unreasonable like most detectives did.
He shook his head, “I disagree with your permutations and combinations, remember Mrs. Martins said she saw her husband at about three in the morning. How do you explain that?”
“You’ve got a great brain, use it. If you have a criminal who went to the extent of writing a note to complicate things, do you think she won’t give another lie to make things as complicated as they can be. If you had the sense God gave a goat, you’d know that what she said about seeing her husband at midnight is fallacy.”
“But the gateman also claimed the same thing; he said Mr. Martins drove back in at half past twelve that morning. Was he lying too?”
Lot drummed his fingertips on the table, thinking deeply.
“Bribe.” He said at last.
“I think he was bribed to say that, or he was made to believe that saying that was for a noble cause. Have you ever thought about bribery?”
“I don’t need to think about it because it is the most unusual thing to have happened in this case. I don’t think that man can be bribed to do something as outrageous as that.”
“Well, it may seem inexplicable to you, but if you think deeply in your mind you will come to realize that that is the only reason for that.”
“You’re burning up my brain, sir,” said Daniel, tapping his skull to make emphasis, “There’s another thing which you seem to be forgetting too; what about the driver who drove Mr. Martins out that night, what happened to him?”
“The fly in the ointment, it seemed as if there are too many fish in the net; I think he’s also involved in the affair. But I can’t conclude until I’ve heard what he has to say.”
Daniel spread his hands, “Well, lucky your belief has been thwarted.”
Lot met his face with the kind of eyes a pope would use in looking at Hitler after the end of a long war, “How do you mean?”
“You said it yourself; you said that the notes have thwarted what you have been thinking. The two cannot both plan the notes and have different ideas about it. You should think of another possibility.”
“No, I’m still sticking to my theory.”
“But you––”
The detective shook his head, “You’re not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, Daniel. Can’t you see it? That’s part of their plans too.”
“You’re not making the slightest bit of sense to me, sir. I’m sorry, my poor befuddled brain can’t take any more of these. I enjoy a challenging riddle as much as any genius like myself but when the riddle turns out to be as complicated as the Daily Times crossword puzzle I can only feel frustration and fury at being such a sap in the end. Unlike you, I can’t glance at a man and immediately know he is left-handed, diabetic, has a pregnant wife, and sells meat for a living. I only see the obvious and notice the unlikely.”
“Like I said, the two lovers planned about the notes; maybe they got two different people who do not know what was going on to write them. They had planned that the wife should claim that the second note, which was found in the bedroom, was written by her husband, and the lawyer should claim the first.”
“Why would they do that?”
“To complicate things as much as they could. For Christ’s sake, can’t you use your noggin for once? Have you got a Ph.D. in fatuity? They purposefully did that to confuse me. They are clever, those two, they knew that if they both claimed the same thing about the notes I’ll be suspicious of them. But they don’t know Georges Lot, nothing passes him by.”
He continued, “If you could remember what that woman said when I told her that she was the only person who inherits her husband’s property––do you remember what she said?”
“She told you to call the lawyer.”
“Good, remember what the first note says? ‘In the morning, call my lawyer’. There’s a link there; I haven’t shown her the note when she said that.”
“What are you going to do now, sir? Arrest them?”
“Not that fast, all what I said were only the possible reasons for Cain’s death; why he called me instead of his lawyer. I can’t arrest them yet, I need proof. Besides, we haven’t questioned everybody, therefore, before I decide who is guilty or innocent among the household, I need to question the last person involved, and I also need the gun.”
Daniel acted surprised, “The gun? Don’t you think that might have been miles away?”
“I have the feeling it’s around here, and I’m going to find it. Now, let’s call in our next guest.” He knew that he had reached this conclusion largely by imagination rather than by reason or even intuition.
“Who do you think?” Lot scowled at him.
Daniel Famous went out of the room to summon the driver––Richard Philip.


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