A story written by INEGBENOISE OSEODION OSAGIE. (07068221839, 08093828575, [email protected])
He rose from the bed and staggered to the cell railings. The rails rattled as he held them with both hands and streaks of rust surfaced on his palms. The opposite cell had four inmates in it while he was solo in his. The overpopulation in most of the cells was enough to kill the detainees before their trials. He dusted the rust off his palms and staggered to the bed. His body needed to stretch to its fullest, but he couldn’t get himself to lie on the mattress. Sitting on it was hard, let alone lying.
He sat and stared at the floor, at the broken rubber tiles that housed lines of old sands, and then thought of where Ezinne would presently be—probably at the house, waiting for his arrival. Where did she get the heart to shoot a man and why did she do it? If the man dies, her life would be useless, she would spend the rest of it in jail, in this jail, where several hours in remand was like a thousand days in hell, and if the man didn’t die, still, she wouldn’t escape jail.
Richard tried picturing the hatred that clung to her face the moment she shot the man, a hatred he had never seen in her, a hatred he never thought would find a place in such a face. Who was that second man and what were in those bags?
The railings opened. An officer stood by it. “Someone is here to see you.”
He rose and followed the officer to the visitor’s room. The officer showed him the room and departed. The police guard front of the room budged away from the door. Richard opened and stepped in.
It wasn’t Jide. It was Ivie. Jide never shut his mouth. She rose and raised her head to him. “Richard, why did you go to the scene?”
“Nothing to worry about. It’s a simple mix-up.”
“You said you were sending another team of police there. You never said you were going there.”
He sat on a wooden chair. “I won’t spend more than two days here. Everything would soon be resolved. How is your friend?”
She shook her head and touched her mouth with a thumb. “He’s in the hospital.” She sat down and fixed her hands on the table.
“Was it that man? The shot man?”
“Yes. I dialled his number. A policeman responded and said he was shot.”
“What’s his condition?”
“Bad from the little I saw. The doctors in the hospital did not let me have full access to the room.”
Richard passed a hand through his hair, and the strands poked his palm.
“I explained to an officer it was I who contacted you,” Ivie said. “I showed him the time of call on my phone. It agreed with the time on yours. They are holding my phone as evidence.”
“Thanks, but you shouldn’t get too involved. My lawyer will handle it from here.”
The skin circling her eyes crumpled into folds. “Don’t tell me I shouldn’t get involved. You think I’m okay seeing you here? Or do you expect me to fold my hands and do nothing. You’re here because I phoned you, which I regret ever doing.”
“I chose to drive to the scene, and I’m glad I did. If I didn’t, there might be no knowledge of what really happened. The doers left before the police could gain a glimpse. I’m the only witness. I saw the whole thing. Your friend was shot by a woman.” He paused and prepared his next words. “I’m sorry to say, your friend might have been involved in a deal, a crime deal.”
She angled head and the crumple of her face doubled. “Crime deal?”
“I’m not sure about it. I’m only speculating. There—”
“You are wrong.”
“Yes I might be.” It was not good news to her. “I might be wrong.” He tapped his fingers on the table. “How did you gain access? I believe Jide must have tried visiting but wasn’t allowed.”
“Jide is outside the station. We came together. It was hard convincing the policemen to allow the visit. They ended up permitting no more than one of us. I insisted on coming. Jide previously went to a law firm to hire a lawyer, but I doubt there will be much need for one since the police seemed to believe me when I explained your innocence.”
“There’s always need for a lawyer.”
“What actually went on in the scene?” Her voice lowered. “My friend sounded scared on the phone, which made me reckon something was wrong. What happened at the orchard?”
She wouldn’t want to hear what happened. She wouldn’t want to believe her friend or whoever he was to her was engaged in something bad and was probably framed. She wouldn’t want to know the identity of the woman who shot her friend. “I peered through a scope, so I didn’t see much and I heard nothing except the gunshot. There were three persons at the scene: two men and a woman whom later appeared.
“One of the men held a gun while having a conversation with the other. Shortly, the woman appeared and fired your friend. I’m sorry. I had my gun pointed, but lost focus the time she shot him. I couldn’t pin her down.”
“The victim’s name is Bakare.” Her lids sagged. “He is a friend. That orchard is his. I pray he survives.”
“I’m guessing he was shot either in the head or the back. The back should bring more chances of survival.”
“But why did you go there? You endangered yourself. You could have been shot.”
“I didn’t go unarmed. I’m trained to use guns.”
“That’s no excuse. What do you think would have happened if—”
“Nothing happened, and I got information. It was a gain.”
“I’m glad nothing happened, but I would have preferred you never went.”
“I’m sorry for disappointing.”
She stared at the table as though studying the written jargons on it and rose. “We will see when this is over.”
“I’m sorry for your friend’s condition. I pray he doesn’t die and he recovers speedily.”
“I pray so.”
She walked past the door. He stretched his ears for her fading footsteps, which slowly faded away.
To Be Continued…..