Rebecca smiled consciously for what felt like twelve hours as her colleagues sang the birthday song to her. It was finally her thirtieth birthday, the long-dreaded birthday. Her colleagues all came together to buy her a gift and a very big red cake; her best color. She couldn’t wait for them to be done with the song and leave because she really wanted to be left alone to cry and get back to her investigation of Bishop’s murder. Isaac was next on her list to question and she couldn’t wait to get to it.
“The wife said they were attacked by two gunmen, did she see what any one of them looked like before she passed out?” Inspector Dele, Rebecca’s direct boss asked her.
“No, she said that she was attacked from behind and that her husband is the only one who got a glimpse of them”, Rebecca replied holding back a wall of tears. She avoided his eyes by fondling a plaque on her desk
“Who else do you have on your list to question?” he asked
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“I have a list here” Rebecca pretended to be looking for a list praying that he would leave
“Bring it to my office,” he said and left. The moment he closed the door, she let the tears gush down. She was very sad; it was a very difficult week for her. A week before, her only problem was the fact that Ben was not ready to marry her anytime soon but an afternoon with Bishop Chukwu had changed her life. Being raped was one thing but investigating the murder of the person who violated her was another thing. She watched her colleagues eat her birthday cake and crack jokes with her but unbeknownst to them, they were not cracking jokes with the Rebecca they had always known; that girl was far gone.
Rita sat in Bishop Chukwu’s office going through his drawers for any useful document she could find. She had already emptied his safes both at home and in the office; so she wanted to make sure that she wasn’t forgetting anything. As she searched, the door opened. It was Nkechi.
“What are you doing here?” Rita was furious but calm. Her time with Bishop Chukwu had taught her to be calm no matter the situation.
“I don’t mean any trouble; I only came here to…” Nkechi was obviously distraught by Bishop’s death. She basically lived her life for him and now that he was gone she didn’t know what to do with herself anymore
“If you know what is good for you, you will leave this very moment”, Rita warned
“You know that you are not the only one who has the right to be here, I have been with Chukwu for more than five years now; I deserve the right to be wherever I want to be in his name”. She talked through tears but she was very clear.
The urge to hit Nkechi in the head with a blunt object was so strong that Rita decided to ignore her words and continue doing what she was doing
“I am pregnant you know” Nkechi blurted, “and this baby is the only connection I have to Chukwu, I am going to keep it… I am going to keep it and I don’t care what you or anybody in this church thinks. I will have the son that he never had. The son that you were never able to give him” she finished, her voice harsher than a million pins poked at Rita’s eardrums but Rita ignored still; a way of preventing herself from committing murder. “If Chukwu did not drive me to kill him, you are not a threat,” she thought then she heard the door slam. It was Nkechi leaving. She laughed
“Nnaemeka Edison Chukwudozie, what will I not see in your hands; even in death you manage to hurt me”.
It was a very hectic day for Rebecca; she had gone all over Port Harcourt verifying everyone’s alibi. She and her partner on the case questioned five people in relation to Bishop’s murder, Rita and Isaac included. It was a very high profile case with the state government’s interest and the case seemed to be going cold because there was no hole in the statements of all the possible suspects. Not until her partner Onu entered eagerly, “I have something you will love to hear”. He was barely sitting when he began explaining his new find.
Inspector Onu, or I.O as he was popularly known in the office, was a very sharp and instinctive officer who did not believe in himself. He never believed he was good enough to be an inspector of the Nigerian Police force even though it was his dream job. He seldom made any decision about his findings without Rebecca’s consent. It was a dream partnership because Rebecca was a control freak who needed to be in charge and in the loop of everything.
Inspector Onu told her how a witness placed Isaac in two compromising places on the day that Bishop Chukwu was murdered. A witness said they saw him buying a gun and another witness saw him sneak in and out of Bishop’s compound on the night the murder took place
“We have a prime suspect,” Onu said with a knowing smile but Rebecca was not happy about the news. She wasn’t buying it.
“Bishop was stabbed but this Isaac guy bought a gun” she probed
“He must have wanted to shoot the man and it went left, so he had to stab him”
Rebecca questioned Isaac a day before, he told her that he was in the hospital with his mother because his sister died that day; and his mother corroborated his story. She had a feeling that he may have nurtured the thought of killing Bishop, who didn’t? But she did not believe that he actually did it.
“Let’s put a pin on it and keep looking” she commanded.
“There is nothing to put a pin on, this is enough evidence to make an arrest” he explained
“I’d like to question the wife again”, she stated and turned away from him which was not an invitation for him to convince her otherwise.
Later that day, Ben called her to take her out for her birthday but she declined; she really wanted to question Rita again, something about her story was nagging at her. There was an evening service that day, so her plan was to attend the service and watch what the church was like after Bishop Chukwu; then find Rita to get more answers to her questions.
“I have called this meeting today because there is something very important I would like to share with all of you” Rita started, she looked at Madam Lucy who gave her an approving nod then she continued
“I will go straight to the point and say that as the person who was there with Bishop Chukwu from the beginning of it all; I propose to take over from him as the general overseer of this church” she declared confidently
There was a silent shock coursing through all of them “what do you mean general overseer?” an elder asked “and what about Abel?” another added. They all looked at the assistant general overseer Pastor Abel Egwurube “I understand where she is coming from and I get it. I concur she has my blessing”
“Concur to what exactly?!” another angry elder asked and without an answer, he declared war in the church if Rita moved forward with her ambition and all the other elders agreed with him except Pastor Abel and Madam Lucy. The meeting ended in a heated argument, it would have come to kicks and blows if Pastor Abel didn’t adjourn the meeting.
After the meeting there all went to the church auditorium for the service, Isaac was just concluding the praise and worship session when Inspector Dele and Onu entered; they walked straight to Isaac
“Mr. Isaac, you are under arrest for the murder of Bishop Nnaemeka Edison Chukwudozie…” Dele recited his rights to him while Inspector Onu handcuffed him. The entire church was filled with confusion, no one saw it coming; Isaac the sweetheart of Christian Peoples’ Ministry was capable of murder?
As they escorted him out, Rebecca rushed towards them “Onu, what the hell are you doing?”
“I’m sorry, I had to tell him… he is the boss and he agreed with me” he barely stopped to respond to her
It was the first time in history that Onu did not listen to her. “Why was he rushing to make an arrest?” she asked herself as she watched them put Isaac in the police car. It looked like he didn’t want them to look into other suspects, did he know something about the murderer? She waved the question away. Her mind was going too far… as usual.