The Divisional Police Headquarters,
“Mr. Johnson, I need you to open your eyes.” A low feminine voice spoke.
David groaned in pain as his eyes blinked open, he struggled to sit up even as the dull pain in his head throbbed a terrible beat. Before him stood a woman dressed in a white lab coat. She had a neutral expression on her face as she watched him.
“Where am I?” His voice cracked due to disuse and his throat felt dry.
“You’re at the Divisional Police Headquarters. You were found unconscious early this morning and your colleagues rushed you here.”
“But… why would they bring me to a Police station?” David asked in confusion.
The lady looked at the gentleman to her left and he nodded briefly before stepping forward to speak.
“Mr. Johnson, my name is Detective Tunde. You were first taken to a nearby hospital but at the request of Senator Mfon Abasi you were brought here instead.”
David’s eyes widened and he unconsciously moved backward.
“I don’t understand. What does the Senator want with me?”
“Last night his daughter, Miss Nene Abasi was murdered in her room at the hospital where she was supposed to be recovering after the accident on Monday evening. You were found near her room at the time of her death, therefore you have been included in the group of suspects we’ve gathered.”
“But… but,” David stuttered. “I don’t remember anything from last night. All I remember is being attacked and waking up here.”
The Detective’s expression didn’t budge.
“I’m sorry but you cannot leave until you provide us with a statement. Nurse, see to it that he’s ready within 15 minutes, one of my men will escort him to the room.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked out of the room.
David turned desperately to the nurse. “Please, I have nothing to do with the murder. I only just heard of it.”
She shook her head at him in pity. “I’m sorry sir but I have no say in such matters. I suggest you do your best to support their investigation.”
“Wait!” He called as she was about to walk away. “I’m allowed to have at least one phone call right? I need to call my family.”
All his personal items had been taken away and even his mobile phone which he always had with him was nowhere to be found.
She hesitated for a moment before nodding briskly. “Just one.”
She led him to the side of the room where a phone booth was and she stood outside, right by the glass doors of the booth. David quickly dialled his dad’s number and waited for a response.
“Hello?” It was the first time he’d heard his voice in three months.
“Dad, it’s me.” David muttered quietly.
“Hello?” He repeated several times.
“I thought I made myself clear?” His dad said.
“No please, you don’t understand, I need your help. I’m-”
“I don’t want to hear it.”
David’s mouth dropped open as he stared at the phone in disbelief. He made an attempt to dial again but was stopped.
“You’ve used up your one call allowance. Please come with me now.”
He ignored her and tried again but the number didn’t go through. With resignation, he turned and followed her. Deep within him, David knew that since he had been regarded as a suspect already, there was no way out. He had nothing to tell them and worse still, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t remember the details of yesterday night.
Fifteen minutes later, a policeman came to escort him to the interrogation room. David followed with his heart in his throat, wondering how on earth he had gotten himself into such a situation. He was shoved into the single wooden chair in the room with a bare wooden table before him and his hands were forcefully handcuffed to one of the legs of the table, restricting his movement. A bright fluorescent bulb hung above the table, illuminating his face. Moments later, two gentlemen entered the room and the policeman left.
“Mr Johnson, I am Detective Hassan and you’ve already met Detective Tunde. I strongly suggest you cooperate with us and answer our questions as truthfully as possible.” The tall man who spoke looked to be in his Fifties and had light streaks of grey hair by his temples.
“Please I know nothing about the murder. I had nothing to do with it.” David pleaded.
“So says every other suspect we have detained. It is left for the law to determine your innocence. All you have to do is cooperate.” Detective Tunde said in a firm voice.
David nodded in acceptance.
“As a security guard at St. Augustine’s hospital, which areas do you usually patrol on Tuesday evenings?”
David took a silent calm breath to steady his voice. He didn’t want to say anything that could implicate him or lead him into further trouble. He had no lawyer and couldn’t even afford one.
“I patrol the reception area, 1st floor and the ICU rooms.” He replied.
Detective Tunde nodded slowly before he spoke, “Did you notice anything strange the night of the murder?”
“All I noticed was that there seemed to be more bodyguards present that night. There were some new faces too. I assumed they increased security without informing us.”
Tunde glanced at Hassan questioningly. “Did you interact with any of them?”
“Rarely, they usually ignored me and I did the same.” He shrugged.
“Okay, can you tell us what happened the night of the murder?” Hassan said.
David went ahead to narrate how his shift went up until the point he made his way to patrol the ICU rooms.
“I don’t remember anything else.” He trailed off.
“What do you mean?”
“That’s just it, there’s a blank space in my memory and I can’t explain it.” David shut his eyes as his head began to pound.
Tunde frowned when he noticed the change in David.
“Don’t you dare pull that trick here boy. Tell us what you know or we’ll forcefully get it from you.” Hassan growled, taking a threatening step closer to him. Tunde put one hand out to calm him and spoke in low tones to his partner.
“That’s enough for now. Putting any more mental stress on him might cause him to lose his memory of that night altogether. What we need is a trigger.”
Moments later, they took David to a room and set various items before him. He was instructed to look carefully at each one and say what it meant to him or reminded him about concerning that night. The first item was a picture of the late Nene Abasi. Her dark eyes seemed to stare at him, mocking him.
“Do you remember seeing her that night?” He was asked.
“No.” David whispered, shaking his head.
He didn’t recognise any of the other items they put before him either. The detectives felt they were heading towards a dead-end search but kept him detained for days in case they could get anything out of him. He ate miserable portions that made him wish they wouldn’t bother feeding him altogether. He hated being treated like a criminal but there was no way out of there… unless… he could escape. As a trained guard, not only had he made sure he was familiar with every possible method by which someone could get into a building, but he had also learned all the ways to get out.
Later that night, the officer who usually went to serve David his dinner of dry bread and watery beans was shocked to the bones to find the room he was detained in empty. He swore angrily and called the attention of the others but it was too late, David was already gone.
Amanda was startled awake to hear the frantic knocks on the door to her apartment later that night. She pulled her night robe tightly around her and reached into her drawer to get the pistol she kept for protection. She’d never had a reason to use it before and hoped she wouldn’t have to do so now. She crept slowly to the front door and checked through the peephole. Her eyes widened in confusion and shock when she saw David on the other side of the door. His face was illuminated by the security lights she had installed outside.
“David, what on earth are you doing?” She asked when she let him in.
“Shh… there’s no time to explain. I just missed you so much.” He replied, locking the door behind him after glancing about to make sure he wasn’t followed.
Amanda loved romantic gestures but even she knew that there was nothing romantic about him showing up by 2 am panting like he just ran a marathon, besides there was a crazy look in his eyes that certainly wasn’t because he was happy to see her. He lived on the mainland while she lived on the Island. The distance between the two locations is quite far and not the kind of journey one would take at such odd hours without a very important reason.
“Don’t give me that.” She deadpanned, discreetly tucking the pistol out of sight underneath her robe. No one knew she had it, not even him.
“Darling, I just need a place to stay for the night.” David sighed as he rubbed his forehead tiredly.
“What’s wrong with your apartment? Besides, aren’t you the one who suggested that we don’t spend the night at each other’s place?”
He strongly believed in resisting temptation and Amanda was a very attractive woman, he knew that.
“I know, but this night is different. I’ve got some… issues with my apartment. I promise I’ll be out of here soon.”
“Relax,” She smiled slowly, placing her hand on his chest. “You know I can’t refuse you anyway.”
She turned and walked halfway across the room, her night robe swaying with each step before she paused and looked back at him. “Well, come on then. Let me show you to your room.”
David followed after her, wondering if he hadn’t just put himself in a different type of trouble altogether.