Kasarachi was on her way to work when she received a call from DJ Hinnow. He was returning her call which he had missed the night before while at a party. She was on a public bus so she cupped the phone with one hand to ensure that her words were not heard by any other passenger.
“Good morning and thanks for calling back,” she said.
“Yeah, hi. How have you been?” It sounded as if he was in a car as well.
“I am not fine O! Didn’t you hear that your friend dumped me? You never called or anything,” she whined.
“I didn’t have your number but I apologize. It’s a pity about that.”
“He treated me so shabbily.”
“Well, that seems to be his trademark. I have been on the receiving end as well. ”
“He told me he loved me. He told me I was beautiful and sexy. He said I was his dream woman.”
“Too bad,” he said without any empathy.
“Listen babe, I am driving. Maybe we should talk later?”
“I need your help in making him pay.”
“Whoa, whoa, hold your horses! Make him pay?”
“Yes. I know a guy in drug law enforcement. He will do anything for me. All I need is for you to organize one of your usual parties and we will take it from there,” she announced.
“You must be out of your mind to think that I would betray my friends!” he sputtered angrily.
“Friends! What a laugh. You need to hear their true opinion of you.”
“Tell me about it,” he muttered under his breath.
“I won’t be involved in setting up anyone, even if they betrayed me first,” he was shaking his head as he spoke.
“Are you aware that Dr. Veronica was arrested for murder?”
“Dr. Veronica? Their cousin? That’s strange.”
“Yes, it is; considering that the murder took place on the night Abel was admitted in the hospital.”
Hinnow was silent.
“I am heading to the hospital now and a nurse called to tell me the police are interrogating all the staff. They will be interested in the names of all those who entered those premises that night.”
“Is that a threat? You know I did not have anything to do with that boy’s murder!”
“Are you sure about that? I heard you like little boys.”
“That’s a bloody lie! Don’t you dare accuse me of being a pedophile,” he warned.
“Throw a party this Friday. Make sure that the usual stuff is plentiful. I will take care of the rest, while keeping your involvement a secret though,” she insisted.
“Your type is never satisfied: you will keep coming for more.”
“Trust me Hinnow, once I put those evil twins behind bars, I will be more than satisfied. Call me when you have a time and venue.”
She ended the call.
Pressure was mounting on Jang. He received an email from human rights agency that had an international spread. The director, François was polite but direct. It was either he released Veronica or he charged her formally so the court could decide her fate. He gave him 48 hours before he would go to the press with the story. Her brother, Bobby had volunteered with their organisation for 4 months. They could not turn a blind eye to injustice in their backyard while fighting for the downtrodden elsewhere.
Jang was yet to show up at the station. Bobby and Jeff stayed with Veronica, chatting about sundry issues, browsing the internet, praying at intervals and just keeping their spirits up. The officers had created a space for her to the left of the reception and given her a chair to sit on while Jeff and Bobby sat on a bench. They observed as complainants, detainees, criminals and officers went to and fro. Insp. Kome had not left his position at the counter all morning. He kept an eye on them while engaging his colleagues. Veronica marvelled at his professionalism.
Barr. Obi called her at 1pm.
“Doc, how are you?”
“I am fine, sir. How are you?” she replied cheerfully.
“Has the D.P.O showed up?”
“The cunning fellow has turned off his phone and he is not at home. I don’t know if he intends to hide in a cave forever,” he sputtered angrily.
“The wicked run when no man pursues them.”
“He is wicked indeed. I have called both Omotunde and that Sgt. Victor fellow. None of them seems to know where he is.”
“What do we do?”
“Let’s hope that someone turns on his phone accidentally, maybe one of his children. If I can’t reach him, you will not be released today. ”
“I can do better than hope, I can pray.”
“You do that. I will work on Omotunde to see if he will betray anything. ”
“Okay, sir. Thanks.”
“Be strong, okay? Things will work out.”
Veronica smiled. “Amen.”
He ended the call. She put down the phone and bit her lip.
“What did he say?” Jeff asked.
“Jang needs to put on his phone so he can get him to release me,” she replied.
“Why would it be put it off in the first place?” Jeff asked. “A security chief in charge of over 50 men?”
“It’s obviously a ploy to delay my release. Let us pray. I want us to ask God to send an angel to turn on his phone or to make him turn it on,” Veronica replied.
“Good,” Jeff agreed.
The three of them bowed their heads and began to petition heaven quietly. Kome observed them and began to pray under his breath. A lady officer standing beside him had been watching him since that morning. She waited till he ended the prayer and tapped his arm.
“Meet me outside in 5 minutes,” she whispered.
He nodded without looking at her. She casually strode over to her superior and took permission to go outside for a smoke.
“Na cigar go kill you*! How many packets have you smoked since morning? ” he asked.
“My husband like me like that*,” she retorted as she sauntered out.
He shook his head behind her. Out of his sight, she made for some abandoned cars parked outside the gate. They had been confiscated from their owners for one traffic infraction or the other. Most had been there for months and even years and were in various states of damage. Rodents and weeds had taken up habitation in them. She hid behind one of them, took a cigarette out, lit it and puffed at it while looking out for Kome. Exactly 5 minutes later, he joined her. He crouched to avoid being seen.
“How far?” he greeted.
“What I am about to tell you is a secret,” she said, taking a puff of her cigarette.
“I will give you Jang’s emergency contact. He has a radio device he never turns off. Our bosses have access to it but they will not reveal it. However, only a highly placed individual can radio him. If your lawyer or any ordinary civillian does, they will ask questions. You need to get someone like a governor to radio him. He will be too afraid to launch an investigation, ” she revealed.
Kome nodded as she slipped him a note with the details.
“Why are you doing this?” he asked.
“Victor once tried to take advantage of me. That was when I was a recruit. I reported him to our superior but he was let off with a warning. His day is coming,” she spat.
“I am sorry to hear that.”
“That’s okay. It’s in the past.”
Kome fixed his gaze on her.
She threw her cigarette on the floor, stepping on it to extinguish it, then looked up.
“Jesus died that you may no longer carry the guilt of your sin,” he said.
“My brother leave am. Nobody holy pass*,” she snorted.
“He can set you free from the guilt of the adultery you commited,” he said, never averting his gaze.
She stood still, shocked, mouth agape. “Who told you?” she asked, frowning.
“After that day, you began smoking. You have even tried indian hemp but your husband fought against it. He has given up on trying to stop you from smoking. When last did you talk to him, by the way?”
“He works in Delta state. We barely talk.”
Kome took her right hand in his. “Allow me to pray for you. You cried out to God and he has answered you. Let him deliver you.”
She fell to her knees. He placed his left hand on her head and began to pray.
“Say after me, ‘Lord Jesus, I admit all my sin. Forgive me and take away the guilt. Today, I denounce the kingdom of darkness. Write my name in the book of life. Save me to the uttermost. I declare that I am your daughter and you are my father, in Jesus name’,”he prayed.
A shout ascended in heaven as the angels went into jubilation for a soul reaped into the kingdom. They sang, danced, clapped and rejoiced, spreading their beautiful wings as they flew over the celestial realm, more colours than the rainbow could hold streaking the firmament.
Veronica decided to call the hospital to find out how they were faring. The receptionist answered the call but before she could speak, she heard a voice screaming in the background.
“Who is that?” she asked her.
“It’s a patient that Dr. Korede refused to see because he wants to go to the bank. The woman had waited for an hour as he was busy. Just when it was her turn, she went to the bathroom. He was on his way to his car when I told him that she was waiting but he said he would be back shortly,” she narrated.
“Has he left?”
“Yes. He said she is not seriously ill if not she would have waited for him.”
“Do you know her name?”
“She is the wife of that man that works in Midas Bank.”
“Put her on the phone.” There was a pause as she held the phone away from her ear to tell the patient to come and speak to Veronica.
“Hello doc, where are you?” the patient asked.
“I am indisposed, madam. Please accept my apologies on the behalf of my colleague. He is under stress as I have been away for some time.”
“That was very bad of him. He didn’t even have an emergency. In these days of internet banking, what is he rushing to the bank for?”
“Let me deal with him later. What is your complaint? ”
“I have been coughing for 3 days now. When I cough my chest hurts and I have catarrh as well. The whole thing is giving me a headache.”
“Are you coughing out anything, blood perhaps? ”
“I don’t cough out blood, just whitish substance. And it’s very thick but not plenty.”
“Do you have difficulty breathing? Are you asthmatic?”
“Is anyone around you coughing?”
“My son has cough. I don’t know if I infected him cause his just started.”
“Did the nurse take your temperature? ”
“She said it was normal. My blood pressure was 139/ 85.”
“I’ll take that, though you need to reduce your weight. You know we discussed this last time.”
“It is not easy, doc. When you have 4 children you will understand,” she evaded.
“Okay, have you taken medication?”
“I bought cough syrup and honey.”
“Pass the phone to Soton. I will instruct her on the tests you should run. When Dr. Korede returns, he can listen to your chest.”
“No O! He will never touch me again. When are you coming back?”
“I believe I will be at work tomorrow.”
“Then I will be here to see you.”
“I will instruct the lab not to charge you for the tests.”
“Really? God bless you!”
“Bless you too. Please, forgive the inconvenience we put you through.”
“That’s alright. Thanks.”