The night was cold and windy, it was a good night to kill. He had watched her for two weeks and he knew she was coming, she always did. The road was straight and clear, he would see her long before she came close. He held his palms against his cheeks, holding his trembling lips with his thumbs. He was standing under a tree just after the bridge he was sure she was going to cross. He smiled, it was very cliché; the boogie man always came from behind a tree in the dark. No cars were passing, he did not expect any to, he could not afford any witnesses and he would have none.
A shadow crept into the horizon, his heart skipped a beat; she was coming. The cold was gone and he began to sweat. His lips still trembled and now his teeth were joining in the freak-out party. Calm down, she’s just a woman – a girl. He pulled his hood lower, he could not make any mistakes, it had to be that night, he had waited long enough.
She was getting closer. He shoved his hands into his pockets to keep them from falling off, he could not scare her away. She was getting closer. He inhaled deeply as the wind blew the scent of her cheap perfume on him. She was very close now, her heels clicked as she moved towards him.
She was four feet away when he stepped out from behind the tree.
“Hello babe.” He whispered trying his best to hide the tremor in his voice.
She jumped when she saw him. “Hey, why na? You scare me, wetin you want?”
“You know what I want, the question, do you have it?” He answered, moving closer to her. His heart was racing. It is happening!
“See you, do I have it?” She staggered backwards, he could smell the alcohol. It did not matter, she would do. “If you get the money, you fit get anything you want.”
He brought out a wad of cash and waved it, she stumbled forward to take it but he pulled back.
“Nope, not until your job is done. Let’s go.” He held her by the arm and led her to the bus he had packed not far away from his pick up point. She climbed into the bus and slumped into the seat. He closed the door behind her and locked it. He went round the vehicle and climbed into his seat.
It had taken many years, but the night had come; Diana would have her sacrifice.
The light stung his eyes as he opened them, Adam Ademola shielded his eyes with his right hand and pulled himself up from the sofa with his left. He rubbed his temples, they banged in a way he had never experienced before. He was used to waking up with headaches, but the pain he felt at the moment threatened to split his head. He reached for the television’s remote control, the sound coming from the television was going straight into his head. He put the television off and threw the remote on the table.
He stood up and knocked over an empty bottle as he staggered towards the refrigerator. There were a number of empty bottles around the sofa, the splintering head was not a surprise. He reached for the top of the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of aspirin and popped three tablets into his mouth. He picked a bottle of water from the refrigerator and gulped the whole bottle.
He had promised himself he would not wake up like this anymore, but he had kept the promise for all of three days before he picked up the bottle neatly tucked away in his car.
Idiot ! He had no idea what time it was but it did not matter, he was going to bed.
His phone rang and he jumped, stumping his toe against the table. He cursed and snatched his phone from the table.
“What?” he screamed into the phone.
“Sir, you need to come to the office now!”
Who is this fool ?
“I don’t need to do anything. Who is this? Whoever you are, know that you have lost your job.”
“Sir, this is serious, you need to be here.”
“Look here, nothing serious happens in that office. Whatever it is, it will have to wait.” He ended the call.
He sat heavily on the chair making it squeak. He placed a finger on a vein that was threatening to pop on his neck, it was probably a foolish idea but he needed some scotch.
His phone rang again.
“Why are you disturbing me so early in the morning?” he said in a barely audible whisper.
“Adam Ademola, it is Eleven A.M.” What ! “Are you hung-over again? Anyway, you need to be in the office. You have any doubt, well turn on your TV. Your girlfriend is on.”
He threw away the phone, picked the remote and switched on the television.
“This is the first murder of this kind that this city has seen.” She was still pretty even when she was reporting a murder. She was not his girlfriend, they had had a brief relationship but it had ended for years. “It looks like a ritual killing but the police are yet to comment on the murder. We will come back with an official police statement in a few minutes.” The reporter said and her pretty face gave way for a bank commercial.
He switched off the television and headed for the bathroom, he really needed to be in the office.
One hour later he drove into office of the Crime Investigation Bureau of the newly formed Kwara State Police Department. The guards saluted as he drove past the gate, he ignored them and pulled into the carport. Reporters had gathered and were waiting for him, they identified his car and were now rushing towards him. He had taken a couple more of aspirin pills before he left his house. His head still throbbed and he had difficulty looking at anything for more than five seconds before he felt dizzy. His sunglasses covered his sunken red eyes, he had to hide them, the journalists would have a field day if they knew he was hungover.
He stepped out of his car, supporting himself with the door of the car. Immediately microphones were shoved in his face.
“Mister Ademola…” a journalist started
“Detective please, Detective Ademola.” He corrected the reporter.
She smiled and continued. “Detective Ademola, do you think this is a ritual killing? Should the people of the city be worried about this?”
“I would normally not comment before full investigation has been conducted but I would like to say this, the fine people of this city have nothing to worry about. Whoever did this will be found very soon and he… or she will be brought to justice. We don’t care if it is a ritual killing, we will put an end to this soon. Thank you very much.”
He turned, picked his I-pad from the car and closed the door.
A ritual killing? He had not had a serious case of murder since he became head of the CIB. He would take his old job back with a huge ‘thank you’ but no one was offering it to him. His head still ached, he had planned to drop in, make his appearance for the sake of the press and pass the case to the nearest deputy. It did not look like he could walk so easily.
He entered into the office building feeling like a stranger. People were huddled in offices, the murder was making the CIB agents go bonkers. Adam smiled, at least they were going to work for their pay. He removed his sunglasses as he entered his office, followed immediately by his assistant. He had reassigned four assistants before he had found the perfect combination of angel and devil he wanted in Tola Dosumu
“Are you crazy Ademola? A murder like this happens and you decide to sleep in?” She put her balled fists on her waist like a mother scolding her ten year old.
“Dosumu, you do realize I’m your boss right? I can fire you anytime I want.” He answered. He set his I-pad on the table and sat on the edge of the table. “Who got killed? Why is everybody going crazy?”
“You know what Ademola? Maybe you should fire me, I can’t put up with this. You realize I am not your secretary, I am a cop who is unfortunate to be your assistant. You are the head of the CIB, yet you come to work anytime you want, usually drunk.”
“I’m not drunk.” He replied looking away from her. His head still pounded, the sooner he was done with the murder nonsense, the sooner he could return to his house and his sofa. And my bottle . “Okay, I had a few drinks yesterday, I’m sorry Mom. Can we move on now?”
“Yes, we can. That file…” she pointed to the blue file on his table. “is a summary of all we know about the murder. I’ll be in my…”
“Dosumu I said I’m sorry.” He jumped from the table and grabbed her hand. “Come on, why are you so angry this morning?” They had a weird relationship, he knew they did but he was content with it. She had saved his butt more than once, while he had done all that was humanly possible to drive her crazy. “You know it’ll take all day to read that file, just give me the main points.”
“Okay, I don’t know why I do it but I forgive you. First, you need to take something for the terrible headache I’m sure you have right now.” She said, walking towards his refrigerator. She opened it and brought out a bottle containing some kind of green liquid. She poured some into a small cup. “Drink this and let’s go meet the pathologist.”
He squeezed his face as he drank the liquid. He had no idea what it was but he knew Tola would not poison him. God knows he deserved it, but she would not hurt a fly.
“Alright, let’s go see the pathologist, hopefully he has something to tell us. You need to see the body also, some crime scene pictures too would help you understand what everyone is freaking out about.”
Okay, ten minutes at the pathologist’s then I’ll go home.
He had never been in the coroner’s office, it was new, one of the last additions to the CIB building. It was very unlikely that he would be visiting the office or the lab very often, he was the boss, he could read all their findings in a file – or have Tola read them to him.
He sneezed; the smell of fresh paint irritated him.
“Bless you sir.” The coroner said. He was a queer one, the coroner. He had learnt a few things about the man a few minutes after meeting him. He was young – too young, eager to please and knew his stuff.
“Thank you Doctor. How about we move to the lab? I prefer if you showed me instead of telling me all these stuff. I have a tendency to forget, something Dosumu is always eager to remind me.” The coroner smiled nervously, Tola just rolled her eyes and looked away. She definitely has respect issues.
Five minutes later, Adam was standing in the lab waiting for the body to be rolled in. Tola had bailed, he was on his own she had told him. From what he had been told, he knew the body was cut up really bad.
“Here goes sir.” The coroner annouced as the body was rolled in. Adam stepped back and held his breath as the covering sheet was removed. He swallowed, even though the body had been cleaned, it looked worse than it did in print. The face had been untouched, the limbs had not been touched either but the torso had been cut. The cut started from the navel and ended in between the breasts. The flesh had been uncovered revealing the inner organs, according to the reports Tola had read to him as they moved to the lab, the liver was missing.
“Well, I have seen it now“ He stilled his stomach, he was a detective now, he had to get used to mutilated bodies. He looked at his watch. “What can you tell me about this? Sick bastard cut her alive?”
“That was my first thought but then when I opened her up, I caught the distinct smell of almonds.”
“Almonds? Wait, that’s cyanide right?” The course in criminology might not be wasted after all.
“Yes, very good sir, very good. The scent made me check for other signs of cyanide poisoning, it wasn’t difficult as the body was already open. Her blood – what was left of it was bright red and her organs had a reddish hue. So my guess is, the killer poisoned her first and the cut is postmortem.”
“Wow, the killer is really a sick bastard. Have you seen this kind of stuff before?”
“No, definitely not. I’m hoping this would be the last.” Adam nodded and looked at his watch again, the dead body had not helped his headache. “Will you be running this investigation by yourself sir?”
“That’s a good question, I don’t…” His phone rang cutting him off. It was State Chief of Police.“Hello sir.”
“Ademola, are you still at home? You cannot afford to maintain your old habits in times like this. You realize how important this case is, don’t you?”
“Sir, I am at the coroner’s office and I do realize how important this case is.” The old man was just as freaked as everybody. The press no doubt would be on his neck.
“Okay then, you must realize with the attention this is getting from the press, you are the lead investigator. We need to assure the public we have our best people on it. You, Ademola are our best people.” The old man sighed.”God help us.”
Adam looked at his phone, shook his head and slid it in his pocket.
“Looks like I’m lead detective on the case after all. I hope this is just a stupid careless killer who can be caught easily. I have no intention of seeing you again, no offense.”
“None taken.” The coroner answered and bowed his head, he looked hurt. Sorry, seeing dead bodies isn’t my idea of fun.
The sooner the case was closed, the better. If the criminology professors were to be believed, the crime scene was probably the next place to visit. But first he had to get Tola.
“What are you watching?” Adam asked leaning into Tola’s office through her open door.
“Come in if you want to know.” She answered without taking her eyes off the television.
Adam walked into the office, pulled a chair and sat next to her.”What is this?” He pointed at the television.
“Remember the accident involving the governor’s daughter? It happened about three months ago, well the press is digging it up again.”
Adam looked away from the television, his throat felt dry, he needed a drink.
“Are you okay?” Tola was looking at him with her penetrating look. He had seen the look more times than he could bother to count.
“Yes I am. The chief just called me, I’m lead detective on the case, that means we – you and I have a lot of work to do. Work that is not fixing my life, actual police work.”
“You think I’m trying to fix your life?” She chuckled. “That’s not even remotely true. I would love to, but it’s impossible. No mere mortal can fix your life.”
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. We’ll be going to the crime scene, there might still be some clue left, something spectators have not destroyed. But let’s go over what we know already.
“Okay, we know that the victim is a young woman, probably early or mid twenties. We don’t know who she is yet, but she doesn’t look like a rich girl, she hasn’t been reported missing too, that’s got to mean something”
“I like the sound of serious Adam. You’re right, she’s not a rich girl – well she might be but get this, she was a commercial sex worker.”
“A prostitute?” He groaned and held his head in between palms. “That’ll make this even more difficult. You know where she plies her trade?”
“Coca-Cola road, that’s where. You realize you are going to be speaking to a lot of hookers, right?” She laughed.
He did not find it amusing, he had to forget about going home, he would be talking to hookers instead. He could postpone that though, the crime scene would be less depressing.
“Where was the body found?” He asked as he walked out of the office.
“St Andrews Anglican Church”