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|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 10:32am On Nov 02, 2012|
Usually, the drive from Victoria Island to Ikeja never took more than twenty minutes with the speed the Barrister was driving, but one would always have to face the problems of traffic congestion on the motorways. Many drivers don’t always have any choice other than to cut into different streets and roads in a bid to avoid the incessant traffic. That was exactly what Barrister Michael Kish found himself doing, and driving with only one hand on the wheel.
Driving at an alarming speed, Kish expected a slumbering police car to rouse into action and take a serious pursuit after him, but there was no police car coming behind. He was not surprised though, getting arrested for over-speeding in this country was as rare as a lady not getting her bottom grabbed when walking out of a club house. But Michael Kish decided to slow down sooner than later, though. He didn’t want to be regarded a contumacious citizen, and besides, Michael Kish wasn’t a street racer; so he took no special pride in having wheels of speed and fury. Driving fast cars with utter contempt for the laws of physics can be interesting, from the point of view of the driver himself. But it can also be some faster means of adding more population to those already sleeping in Abraham’s bosom; a danger to the driver, his passengers and whomever he may hit in his carelessness. When the car had lost the undesired speed he turned on the car radio, Banky W was singing in praises of Nigeria––a touching song, then Michael took his time to give a deep thought to the weird phone call he had received earlier that morning.
A murder had been committed. Actually, he had not been surprised when the gatekeeper called. He was a lawyer, wasn’t he? And lawyers either defended a convict or prosecuted one. Getting involved in a murder affair was not a new experience to Barrister Michael Kish. He had been involved in countless homicide cases, including divorces, rapes, robberies, and a collection of other major crimes. He had handled eighteen cases from last February to the end of March; twelve of them were manslaughter cases, three missing people cases and three domestic marital problems. Michael Kish had personally made his own study of social defiance and crime, and he knew very well from time being that murder was one of the most despicable misdeeds in the sad gamut of human transgressions. The last case in which he had gotten involved was a political one––embezzlement. His client had been accused of stealing a certain amount of money meant for the repair of a major road in one local government area. Michael Kish had saved the Local Government Chairman, Alhaji Ali Badru, from being sentenced to a couple of years’ imprisonment.
Sometimes, Kish’s profession called for defending the guilty. He knew his client had actually siphoned the money, but business comes first. It was like a talent to him; whenever he defended or accused, Barrister Kish rarely lost.
He was on the express road again after cutting through Thomas Street, leaving the traffic hold-up behind him. To kish, the city of Lagos had changed as much as its people. The city was predictably different: it was bigger, the cars and shops were more numerous and more garish, and the streets were more crowded. He had always been amused and strangely proud about the usual hustling and bustling of the city of Lagos. This was a state of the country where he’d lived all his adventurous life before fleeing to England. For some reason, just being here gave him a sense of belonging, to one’s country, to one’s native land. It was a feeling he’d never had before, and he wondered if he would ever return to the exiled life he lived in England. Driving for another quarter of an hour, he turned left into a single-lane road. The road might have been tarred originally, but now it showed bald patches of sodden earth and weeds sprouting from cracks. He drove for another ten minutes before finally turning left into Adeniji Jones Street. The digital clock on the dashboard agreed with what his wristwatch also revealed–– 08.06.
Ahead, Kish saw a group of people in front of the building’s gate. Some, he saw, were lurking behind cars; some were standing at the side of the road, most of them were jostling for space like spectators at an overcrowded local stadium. He noticed that some people had formed a circle by the side of the large black gate and he stopped his car here and got out slowly with his heart hammering so loud in his chest. By the time he was about turning of the ignition, the radio was playing Banky’s “Lagos Party”.
One with a keen sense of observation would have noticed that he appeared scared of something. Peering into the crowd, the feature of his face was instantly knocked out of true by a seismic visceral of horror and revulsion. The body was lying on its back with a hole on the forehead, and the blood which was already drying up had dripped down the black piece of clothing on it. This was a crime scene, Michael knew, what was unforgivable was vomiting at a murder scene and contaminating evidence. He turned to a nearby bush to retch but nothing came out. He hadn’t had anything for breakfast; there was nothing for him to puke. Sometimes, it pays to skip meals, no matter what the nutritionist may say. Otherwise, Kish might have regurgitated like a fountain.
The body Kish had seen was Cain’s. Martins Cain was dead––shot in the forehead. Seeing the horrible hole on the forehead was turning Kish’s stomach, so he turned his back to it. He was still in that bilious state when he suddenly felt a cold hand on his shoulder and he almost fainted with fright. Quickly spinning round, he was confronted by a young man who appeared to be in his early twenties. The man smiled.
“Sorry to have scared you, sir.” The young man said, “That man’s death must have been a shock to you. You know him?”
Kish carefully studied the man facing him; the young man was dressed in a football jersey and a pair of blue jeans. Kish could not place the club or country the jersey belonged to. Football was one sport Michael Kish disliked; he could not find the fun in watching about two dozen men run up and down a wide field in pursuits of a single ball. And since the man facing him looked like a professional footballer in his jersey, Kish felt a dislike for him boiling up somewhere in his guts. He looked handsome in a funny way, though.
“Who are you?” asked the lawyer. He could not believe his own voice, it sounded like something scraped across a rough surface. He coughed to have a clearer voice.
The man did not answer. He instead dipped his hand into a trouser-pocket and produced a card which he handed Kish. Written boldly at the top of the card was: THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE. He’s a policeman!
“Officer Daniel Famous at your service, sir.” He had what ladies called the bedroom voice, and a mouth carefully designed for kissing. “Do you know the man?” he now asked.
“He’s––he was my friend.” Michael managed to say, with a clearer voice this time.
“A sad one, isn’t it? It’s amazing how you freaked out. Is this your first time of seeing a corpse, sir?”
“I can’t stand blood.” Michael falsely replied.
The policeman studied Michael for some time before speaking. “I understand that you’re the deceased’s lawyer––Barrister Kish, right?”
“Who told you that?”
“Where is he?”
“In the crowd. He called you, didn’t he?”
Michael Kish ignored the question and moved towards the crowd, the policeman following behind him. He moved past the body, there was a middle-aged photographer clutching the neck of his camera flashlight bulb as if it were some poisonous serpent. He was bending over the body and taking photos from various angles and under three groupings: an overall shot, a medium, and a close-up. Kish knew very well that such photos often revealed evidence originally overlooked, but he could not fail to detect that the photographer was evidently inexperienced in his job. Kish did not find the gatekeeper in the crowd, but he saw him at the gate looking neither happy nor sad. Michael approached him.
“Mr. Gate–oh, sorry. Mr. um––”
“Mr. Chima, sir. I’m glad you’re here.”
“How did this happen?”
“I don’t know, sir. I think this house needs an exorcist––you know? Some priests to come here and pray over this house, priests who really believe in the devil if there’s anything like that today. Holy water and crucifixes should be brought, too, because this is something that defies all logic. This is utterly supernatural!”
“When was he discovered?”
“At about six this morning.”
Daniel Famous joined them, holding a boy of about fourteen years old in the hand. The boy was a scrawny teenager who looked as if he might profit from an occasional snack of calcium. On his face was adolescent acne, but this facial symptom seem to be make his unusually bright due to the fixed smiled plastered on the face.
“That was when we came to tell him about the unfortunate death of his boss.” Said the police officer.
“We?” asked Kish.
“Yes, at about quarter to six, this boy came to call me that he saw a dead body. We immediately came rushing here and found that man lying there dead. Then, we called the security man out.” The boy wanted to talk but Daniel gave him a pinch, the only thing he believed he could do to keep the boy’s mouth at bay.
“Where’s Abby?” Kish asked Chima.
“She’s still sleeping inside, sir.”
“What!” Kish exploded, with an eyebrow ascending to the forehead. “Her husband is lying here dead and she’s still sleeping?”
“I specifically told him not to wake her.” Daniel chipped in. “I believe that’s the right thing to do for now. I don’t think she will take her husband’s death well enough, and we’re not looking forward to a double-casualty.”
A black car parked behind Kish’s and a solidly-built man came down from it. He was a half-inch short of six-feet and only a slight potbelly bespoke the many bottles of beer he often drank and the junk food he often ate. The man was in his mid-fifties with a strong hard face, piercing eyes and a shock of grey hair at each temple. He had several lines on his forehead, which served only to prove that he frowned a great deal. He walked into the crowd and bent over the stiff detritus of the man named Cain Martins, examining it carefully. The corpse, he noticed, was lying in an awkward position; the right leg was slightly raised and the other was stretched straight but without any footwear. The left sandal was lying some inches away from the body, the hat lying away had been knocked slightly askew, and it appeared as if it had rolled out from the head when the body hit the ground. The most disgusting view was the wound on the forehead; there was a hollow space on it, which undoubtedly housed a bullet. The bullet had probably jerked the head backward when it hit it, bringing out a splinter of bones and blood. There was trickle of partially dried blood, the bright viscid fluid, which had now turned dark, had flowed onto the overcoat. The man stood up and went round the body twice, he bent down again and searched the dead man’s pocket under the overcoat, from where he came up with a mobile phone. Checking the dialled calls on the phone, he nodded, probably agreeing to something he had been thinking. He noticed that, a few paces away from the body, were tracks of vehicle tyres, and he was about rising from his crouch to follow the trails when a shadow covered him.
Daniel Famous knew he should have stopped the strange man from reaching the body, but he felt a sense of recognition––he was still trying to remember where he had seen the man when that same man was busy meddling with the body. When his sixth sense came alive, he quickly walked towards the man to stop him from the body, “Will you please step away from the body, sir?” he said sharply.
The man looked up into Daniel’s eyes. “Why should I?”
Famous could not believe his own ears, “Why should you? You’re in a crime scene for heaven’s sake, and touching the body is disruption of evidence. By the way, who are you, sir?”
The man stood up slowly, he looked into the eyes of the police officer for some time before extending a card he produced from his pocket. Daniel collected the card. On seeing the card, Daniel immediately saluted with a sharp ––tion, sir! He thought as much, it was that incredible detective, why did I fail to recognize him in the first place?
“Now, who are you?” the man asked Famous.
“Police Officer Daniel Famous, sir. Sorry I didn’t recognize you at first.”
“And you want me to give you a medal for recognizing me now?”
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“Don’t stand there like a tired masquerade, I need to know the family members of the deceased.”
Daniel walked the man towards the others who stood watching them; he introduced him to the gatekeeper and the lawyer.
“Gentlemen, this is Inspector Georges Lot of Lagos State Police Intelligence Department. He’s a homicide detective.”
“It can’t be!” Kish cried. “The ingenious detective of the LAGPID? I can’t believe this.”
Inspector Georges D. Lot had a reputation in the country’s police intelligence unit. His name and pictures always showed up in several daily national newspapers. He had received several awards for his undiluted crime-solving abilities and the clever ways he fished out criminals, especially in his field––homicide. The Daily Times newspaper once described him as ‘Godfather of Modern Detective,’ The Punch once called him “Detective Charisma,’ and he was once named ‘Detective Idol’ by The Guardian.
One of the many cases he had solved that made waves across the nation was that of the gubernatorial candidate who was reported to have been assassinated but for the arrival of Georges at the crime scene. After questioning the members of the house and making a few investigations within the first few hours of his arrival, he told the reporters and the police that the governorship candidate was killed not by any assassin but his wife.
With the little evidence and proofs he produced to the police, the wife was arrested, and with a little threat from the police, the wife confessed to the crime. She had been a mistress of her husband’s opponent and had stabbed her husband several times in the back when the man was fast asleep. She had later lied that a group of assassins had broken into their apartment and killed her husband. When asked why she killed her husband, what she had told the police could not be released to the press. The accomplice was also arrested and the truth was unveiled; he had persuaded the woman (with the promise of marrying her thereafter) to kill her own husband and make it look like the work of an outsider. Both paramours were tried, found guilty and hanged publicly. It was an unforgettable event in the history of the nation because for thirteen months, the state was governor-less.
But that astounding act of solving the crime had brought half a dozen awards to Georges Lot’s doorstep. It was one of the detective’s most famous cases. It had even been written up in magazines and newspapers; and there’d been talks about making a Nollywood movie out of it, though nothing ever came of that.
“Garbage is all a human corpse ever is,” said Lot, “and once we’ve learned what we need to, the sooner we dispose of it the better. Burn cadavers! That’s the best way–then if somebody wants to spread the ashes over some lake like the Asians, fine, no harm done. But cemeteries, coffins, they’re all barbaric––a waste of good land. I would prefer being cremated when my soul goes to the beyond to getting locked up in the coffin for the delicacy of earthworms and maggots!”
Barrister Kish, who was still in a confused state, asked, “How did you hear the news?”
“I happened to be in the neighbourhood.” Lot was not a man who just happened to be anywhere. If he ever went sleepwalking, even then he would have a purpose, a plan, and a destination. “But never mind. Who’s that man lying there?” the detective asked the question as though he meant––who’s that idiot sleeping at the side of the road?
“That? That is Mr. Martins, sir. He’s the owner of this house.” Daniel pointed to the massive structure behind the walls of the gate.
“This will be interesting.” Lot said, as he dipped his hand into his jacket pocket and extracted a pack of cigarettes. He brought out a stick which he dipped between his teeth; he lighted the cigarette and inhaled deeply, wondering which would rot first: lungs, liver or kidneys?
He spoke as the smoke curled around his nostrils. “Can you people introduce yourselves?” pointing with his cigarette to make emphasis.
Daniel spoke first, “I’m Officer Famous. This boy here came to call me at about 5.45 this morning, he said he saw a corpse so we both came running. The man was really dead when I examined him. We knocked on the gate to call the GM but it took him about five minutes before he could open up.”
“It was about six this morning when I heard a loud bang on the gate.” Said Chima. “I thought for a moment that we were being attacked by robbers. I was about pulling out my gun when I gave a second thought. Robbers rarely rob at six in the morning when dawn is fast approaching. I opened the gate and saw this man and the boy beside him. This one in sports shirt told me that he’s a police officer; he’s the one who called me out to see the dead body. It’s terrible.”
“You have a gun?” Lot asked.
“Yes, a rifle.”
“I’ll like to see it now.”
The gatekeeper went into his room and came back a few minutes later with a long gun. The detective took the gun in his hand and examined it. It was not the kind of weapon a serious violent criminal would favour. It hadn’t been fired more than a few times in not a long time, but it had some kinds of filmy substances on the barrel. He opened the cylinder, touched the inside of the barrel with the tip of his little finger and sniffed. It was the familiar smell of gun bullet and powder, it had been cleaned. He sniffed the outside of the barrel, and was trying to detect any odour of being recently fired when the gatekeeper said harshly to him; “What are you doing, young man? Do you want to eat the gun? If you are going to eat the barrel, please don’t do it here. And besides, I wouldn’t take it likely with you if my gun went down your oesophagus.” That was where both men started to hate each other’s guts; a significant case of hate at first sight it was between them.
The detective smiled at the man, “I’m only trying to check if you’re actually the criminal here, I don’t have to be wasting my time if you are.” He turned to Daniel, “Where are we on this case?”
“Um––I’ve asked a photographer to take several shots of the body, the pictures will be out tomorrow.”
“Good work, officer.” He patted him on the shoulder. “I need to make a phone call.”
Half an hour after the detective’s call, the sound of a medical emergency bus approaching could be heard; the two notes screeching nah-noahs as the medical unit skirted both shoulders of the road to reach the casualty. The ambulance was a minibus with Red Cross emblems and a flashing light on the roof, gathering speed as it made its way towards the detective. The vehicle stopped and an elderly man in white overcoat and a stethoscope hanging on his neck got out. His Adam’s apple looked as if he’d swallowed a coin.
“Morning, sir––” he held out his hand to shake the detective which Lot grabbed warmly. The detective’s hand, the elderly man felt, was like a pair of pliers. The grip from the detective caused the doctor to wince in solemn anguish.
“Glad you’re here, that’s the body.” He pointed to the corpse lying there on the ground.
“Can we carry him now?” asked the doctor, when he swallowed, his Adam’s apple went up a few inches and stayed that way.
“Actually no, there’re still some things we have to put in place.”
Lot turned to the others. “Meet Doctor Adam.”
The boy giggled, “Doctor Adam with a big Adam’s apple.”
Lot faced Daniel, “Hey, do you have your phone with you?”
“Excellent, now call your division and ask them to send five men over here. Tell them what happened if you’re questioned.” Lot noticed blood oozing from the scratch marks on the police officer’s left wrist but he didn’t comment about it, it wasn’t any of his business, he thought.
“Okay, sir.” Daniel Famous began making the call immediately.
The detective turned to the doctor, “Doc, can you please tell your men in the van to come out and watch over the body till the police arrive?”
The doctor went to the ambulance and called the four men dressed in white––they were soon standing around the body.
“They’ll be here in fifteen minutes.” Daniel said.
“Good.” Said Lot, “Doctor, did you tell your men not to touch the body?”
“I don’t need to tell them, they know their jobs.”
The detective crushed out his mutilated cigarette, his fingers covered in ash.
“Now, let’s go inside.” He declared, “We have a lot to talk about and a lot to find out.”
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 6:56am On Nov 07, 2012|
They were all in the house; in the living room, each person looking at the other for an explanation. The silence lasted precisely two minutes before the lawyer spoke first.
“Where’s the driver? I haven’t seen him.” He asked Mr. Chima, who was the only person standing in the room. He had never sat in the room and he was not ready to begin now just because his master had passed on, even after the death of his master, Chima’s sense of servility had not waned.
“I don’t know his whereabouts, sir.”
“The deceased has a driver?” asked Lot.
“His name’s Richard and he’s not here.” Michael answered the detective.
Daniel Famous turned to the gatekeeper. “Sir, can you kindly go and wake Mrs––” he looked with pleading eyes at the gatekeeper to help him with the name.
“Martins. Mrs. Abigail Martins.” Kish helped.
Abigail, in a nightdress, entered the room yawning and stretching.
“I’m already awake.” She said.
Daniel Famous who had always had a private predilection for pretty women opened his mouth wide, his heart began banging violently in his chest so much that he was scared people around would hear. Except in movies, he had never seen a woman as striking in appearance as the widow, and what particularly sent his ventricles aflutter was the fact that she was dressed in negligee. The doctor’s eyes in the spectacles almost popped off their sockets, the detective only stared at her––he took his time to study the woman, his face carried that of a man looking through a high-powered microscope and observing an interesting specie of paramecium. Noticing where almost everybody’s attention was shifted; he could see that the men in the room were looking at her as if they could eat her with a spoon. The photographer was looking at the woman and also at the detective. The only person in the room who did not notice Abigail enter the room was the boy; he was lost in the world of his hand-held PSP Game.
“Oh, naughty me. I didn’t know that Cain would be having visitors.” She smiled, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have slept like a snail. Good morning, everybody. It’s a nice weekend, isn’t it? Don’t mind me, I oversleep on Saturdays. By the way, where’s the host? There’s a photographer––should I go and change to a better dress?”
Silence fell for a millisecond.
The detective stood up and approached her, “Good morning, Mrs. Martins. My name is Georges Lot and I am a detective of the LAGPID.”
Abigail appraised him and brightened up with excitement as she recognized the man standing in front of her.
“I know you! I see you in the telly; you’re that famous detective, aren’t you? I’ve also read about you sometimes ago in the papers. The ways you solve all these enigmatic cases have always appealed to me.”
Daniel was still staring at her agape. It took him a lot of his self-control to prevent himself from drooling at the mouth. He watched her closely as she brightened up when she was speaking with the detective. Daniel was not even listening to what the two were saying. He was engrossed in appreciating how radiant her face looked when she smiled. She looked so lively, so full of excitement and happiness. She hadn’t even known that she had lost a husband. Then he saw the smile disappeared suddenly from her face. From the look she carried, Daniel could see that she had sensed something wrong. Oh, not now, he thought, not when she is so happy. She must not know that her husband had been killed.
“Why are you here?” he heard her asked the detective. “Where’s Cain?” she looked around at the people sitting and said, “Richard’s not here, where’s he, too?” without waiting for an answer she burst out of the room into the compound and out of the gate. She saw some men standing around a body on the ground. Slowly, she walked towards the men and looked at her husband lying dead. She turned away quickly and leaned on the fence weeping. The others in the room had also come out to join her. Except of course, the boy.
“It’s a pity his life had to end this way,” Abigail said softly, “I feel sorry for him.”
“Let’s go back inside. These men will look after him.” The detective assured her.
Down the street came the wailing of sirens of the police car as the vehicle approached. The car stopped and five armed policemen jumped down from the back. Georges Lot approached and spoke to them; they immediately joined the four white-clothed men watching over the corpse. They were careful not to go too close to it so as not to tamper with any evidence––especially prints.
The street had become almost deserted after the arrival of the police car. The crowd that had gathered across the street to watch had fled, thinking there would be gunfire.
The detective, the doctor, the lawyer, the police officer, the wife, the gatekeeper and the photographer––all returned into the house. When everybody, except the gatekeeper was seated again, the detective asked:
“Mr. Um––Chima, you said there’s still a member of this house––the driver, and he’s not here. When last did you see him?”
“I was in my room last night when I heard the sound of one of the cars in the garage. I came out and saw Richard and Oga in the jeep. I tried to ask where they were going but my boss asked me to mind my business. So, I opened the gate when he ordered me to, and they drove out of the compound. That’s what I know.”
“So, that was what happened,” said the lawyer, “Richard drove out with Cain and he killed him. I knew it! I know that boy is a criminal. He has run away, we must find him and bring him to justice.”
“What makes you so sure about that, sir?” the photographer asked Kish.
The gatekeeper opened his mouth to speak but the detective spoke before him, “Nobody should be accused for now. It’s too early to assume or suspect anybody; we still have a long way to go in investigating this case. Nobody is guilty until proven so.”
“This is everything you need, detective,” said Michael Kish, “Richard killed his boss and ran away. What else do you need? Or do you think he will come back here to surrender himself?”
“We are not yet sure of what really happened and I shall be obliged if you will kindly keep your theory to yourself until I ask for it––all right?”
“If you say so.” Michael turned to the gatekeeper, “When you called me you said Cain asked you to do so, am I right?”
“You’re right, sir.”
“Then how come he’s lying dead outside? And why is there only one jeep in the garage?”
Before Eze Chima could answer the lawyer the door of the room was opened and a tall policeman poked his head inside. “There’s a young man at the gate, he called himself the driver.”
The detective smiled at the lawyer, “Maybe he’s come to surrender as you have said.”
“Allow him in.” Lot told the policeman at the door.
“Yes, sir.” The policeman disappeared and Richard came in a few minutes later, he was looking tired and angry. Lot, who was fond of looking closely at new faces, studied Richard and smiled.
“You’re Mr. Richard, right?”
“I’ll prefer you call me Mr. Philip. But you can call me Richard all the same.”
“Nice meeting you, Mr. Philip.” They shook hands. The man’s handshake wasn’t exactly a bone-crusher, Richard noticed, but it threatened to dislocate his second and fifth metacarpal bones. Richard quickly withdrew his hand before he ended up with dangling phalanges. However, he checked his hand still thereafter, to confirmed that there wasn’t one of his fingers still hanging from the detective’s palm.
“I’m Inspector Georges Lot,” said Lot, wondering how many times and people left he still had to introduce himself.
Richard knew the man––the famed Criminal Nightmare, as Silverbird Television had described him. He was not surprised to see Lot, and he did not feign any.
“I believe I wouldn’t be wrong if I concluded that you’re here to investigate the death of my boss.”
“You’re right, and I trust you’ll help us in arriving at the truth.”
“I’ll tell you all what I know.”
“But Richard, honestly, I’m surprised that––how can I put it? Your boss’s death didn’t affect you emotionally.”
Richard sat down, the detective also did.
“And why should that man’s death affect me?” he asked lightly.
“He was your boss, wasn’t he?”
“Yes, he was. Any problem with that? ”
“You don’t seem to show any concern about his death.”
Richard shifted in his seat, “Well, I cannot help my flippancy, can I? But let me tell you one truth, sir. I hate Mr. Martins, and he’s a man I would
hate even in heaven if by chance we ever meet there.”
“Don’t you think what you are saying may later be used against you?”
“I don’t care. If you don’t know, Mr. Martins had the manners worse than those of a lunatic when he was alive and it would be hypocritical of me to pretend I am moved by his death when I’m not.”
“De mortuis nil nisi bonum,” Lot quoted, “Freely translated: Say nothing but good of the dead.” The detective believed that in death, the very worst man is accorded respect even by those who know that he was a scoundrel all his life. Because every one of us must die, belittling a dead man is in a way like belittling ourselves. Moreover, if you speak badly about the dead, you somehow are mocking the great inevitable end––and mayhap inviting God to punish you for your arrogance.
“Even if the dead were an annoying nincompoop in his life. That crazy idiot! May he rot in the deepest pit of hell!” Richard growled, which surprised Abigail since she knew Richard to rarely use even the mildest of oaths.
The detective looked at Richard with a blank expression and nodded. Nobody in the room could guess what was running through the detective’s chain of thought unless he said it out. Even saying it out might be complicated to understand sometimes. But from his look at Richard, one may be able to deduce correctly or incorrectly that he noticed in the younger man that, in spite of the angry look Richard carried into the room, Georges Lot could detect a spice of suaveness in the young driver.
“Anyway, we’ll talk about that later,” he said, “Right now I want you to meet these people sitting here. That’s Barrister––”
“I know him.” Richard stared coldly at the lawyer.
As both men shook hands, the lawyer leaned forward and whispered in Richard’s ear. “I told you to watch your steps here but you didn’t; now you’re in for trouble. How would you like spending the next Christmas in a nice little jail? Be sure that I will arrange for you the durance vile you deserve.”
Richard glared into the lawyer’s eyes and whispered in reply, “Let’s wait and see.” Soft-spoken, yet as sharp as a harpist’s plectrum his words were.
Detective Lot noticed the transparent animosity between the two men but he decided not to comment about it.
“Okay,” said Lot, “That’s Doctor Adam of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, he’s probably going to help us on this case.” He pointed to the police officer, “That’s Officer Daniel Famous and beside him is the boy who reported seeing the body.”
Daniel waved in greeting and Richard nodded in reply. I’ve got a policeman I’m going to kick in the gut, he thought.
“That’s the photographer.”
“The photographer is the only one here without a name?”
The photographer was about to speak when Eze Chima quickly helped him out, “His name is Leba.”
“Leba? What a strange name.” Richard commented, “Let me guess, he isn’t here to take my picture.”
“Can I ask this scoundrel a question?” Kish asked the detective.
“No question is needed for now. Questions can wait,” said Lot, “Now, we need to clear up the mess around.”
The doctor stood up, pushed his spectacles up to the top of his nose with the middle finger of his ringless left hand, and consulted his wrist-watch,
“It’s almost ten, we have to move the body to the morgue before the morning sun starts darkening it.”
Doctor Adam went outside in the wake of the others; he called his men and spoke to them. A wheeled-stretcher was carried out of the van, and Cain’s body that was put on it was covered with a black rubber sheet. The stretcher was slid into the back of the ambulance, the door slammed shut and the vehicle pulled slowly away, the siren beginning to moan––destination, The State Morgue, for autopsy.
Before his departure, Doctor Adam called the detective aside and told him something, Lot nodded and shook the doctor’s hand appreciatively.
Without any other person around knowing, the doctor had just told Detective Georges Lot the estimated time of death of the deceased.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Cuddlemii: 1:23pm On Nov 07, 2012|
@Larrysun, sorry the spambot hid you posts(Ten & Eleven) but I released them.
Next time you notice something like that, inform me quickly, I was just lucky to have stumbled upon it while reading your thread.
Other times, I might not be aware, so let me know. Thanks!
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by UjSizzle(f): 2:37pm On Nov 07, 2012|
Abby's character is infectious and Richard's a pretty weird fellow-i like him.
Update quickly Larry.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Nobody: 3:04pm On Nov 07, 2012|
thank you Cuddlemii for releasing it.
New word alert: contumacious
I hope i'm not a contumacious member of NL o. thanks OP, you are a very good novelist. . .
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 4:41pm On Nov 07, 2012|
Cuddlemii: @Larrysun, sorry the spambot hid you posts(Ten & Eleven) but I released them.
Thank you so much, you just made my day, Cuddlemii.
How may I contact you if the problem persists?
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 4:45pm On Nov 07, 2012|
uj_sizzle: Abby's character is infectious and Richard's a pretty weird fellow-i like him.
LOL! How weird can he be? You haven't seen any of his weirdness, trust me.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 4:50pm On Nov 07, 2012|
brokoto: thank you Cuddlemii for releasing it.
Bro, I hope I'm not too. LOL! Thanks for following. Your comments mean a lot to me.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 4:53pm On Nov 07, 2012|
The sensational death of Cain Martins prompted headlines in almost every newspaper in the country, and was featured in network TV., not only because he was a wealthy man, but the interest of Detective Georges Lot in the affair had also spiced up more debates among the media houses and others––Was it Murder or Suicide? Though most people considered Cain Martins a reprobate when he was alive, (and he on the other hand, had not integrated with the society in character-wise since his aberrant behavior did not allow him that humility) his death still pulled a large crowd. The cream of the society were present in the funeral of this wealthy Nigerian. Cain’s death was also considered a paradigm of the destructive side of humanity bad acts. Even the details of the newspapers were quite vilifying in the minutest degree. And surely, fathers would perhaps forge out didactic stories from the affair and admonish their stubborn wards about the tragedic ends of villains.
That same day, the State Morgue released the body of Cain Martins to his wife, Abigail, who announced that a funeral service and burial of her late husband would take place on Friday––a week’s time.
Though there hadn’t been much time, Abigail did her best, with the aid of Barrister Michael Kish, to arrange a grand funeral for her late husband. The chosen church was St. Paul’s Catholic in Anthony Village.
A Requiem Eucharist was arranged, with full choir and a bishop and some others to officiate. Pallbearers included Cain’s associates and staff, all drawn by Abigail’s summons like iron filing to a magnet. Being the death of a rich Nigerian, the church was filled, though inconspicuously absent was Mrs. Philip, Richard’s mother, who had heard the news but did not attend the funeral for a reason Richard could not fathom. He had urged her to attend but she had blatantly refused, saying that she hated attending funerals; he thought his mother was just being too spiritual. Also absent was Cain’s business colleague, Mr. Dele Hassan, who was residing in Rivers. Most people present there were dressed in the familiar funereal black.
Also present in the church were Detective Lot, Daniel Famous, the photographer, and Doctor Adam. Although nobody, except Eze Chima, was aware of the presence of the photographer. The gatekeeper had intentionally invited the man to the funeral to find out if any dirt still needed to be cleaned up. The photographer on the other hand, busied himself by taking photographic shots of the corpse lying in a casket so grnad that a wretched man could be forced to look forward to dying. Detective Lot in particular was not there as a mourner but as an observer, his eyes scanning the congregation. Despite the thin possibility that Cain committed suicide, Lot strongly believed that he had been murdered, and experience showed that murderers are morbidly drawn to a victim’s funeral.
After the funeral, the body was being transported to the cemetery for burial. The detective did not follow them to the site. He had concluded there was nothing there to go for. He never found a personal sanity in interring a body, they would be wasting time and efforts digging a deep, vertically sided hole in orange-coloured earth of the cemetery and lowering the poor body down on straps. He had seen the sort of thing on TV many a time and he had always had much distate at the acts. He asked Daniel not to go for the burial either, and the young police officer had reluctantly stayed back. He had wished he were closer to the widow rather than the gumshoe.
When they were having a walk the detective said, “I want us to work on this case together.”
Daniel did not say anything.
Lot asked, “You saw the body first, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t, it was Hakeem who did.”
“Not here, sir.”
“Don’t be a dumb––I know he’s not here. Where does he live and how did you know him.”
Daniel had never worked with Georges Lot before. He therefore felt insulted by the harsh words lashed at him. “He’s just a son of the neighbour living adjacent to where I live.”
“Um––Famous, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, sir.”
Not far away from them were six teenagers playing football. The impressed Daniel watched as the kids were using the front walls of the two houses on either side of the street as goals, and showed amazing accuracy in never hitting any of the windows. He was so captivated by the youngsters’ skills that he wondered if he wouldn’t be the one who ended up breaking a window had he joined them. One of the kids missed either of the houses and the ball went in the direction of the two law-men. Daniel skillfully controlled the rolling ball and did a little pre-intimacy with the sphere-like object before he kicked it back to the kids, smiling.
“With the way you carried that ball,” said Lot, “Football must be your favourite sport.”
“No doubt about that, sir.”
“You’re a fan of the Pillars, right?”
Daniel was startled, how could he possibly know that? “How––”
“The jersey you wore last week.” The detective explained, “It was the Pillars’.” He paused, taking his time to study the young man’s physiques. “What would you prefer? Being the country’s best footballer or being the country’s Commissioner of Police?”
The policeman laughed heartily, “With all due respect, sir. I think that is a far-fetched question, I would surely like to be the footballer. That is my dream, my passion.”
“Then what are you doing in the police force?” Lot asked sharply.
“It’s a long story, sir.”
“Tell me, I like listening to stories.”
As they continued walking on, Daniel let the tale unfold:
He had never wanted to be a policeman; police work never had been Daniel’s first choice for a career. He had applied into the force so as to get even with his folks––an act of rebellion against his parents, for it had been the last thing they had wanted for him. He had been drawn to the uniform and badge because being a policeman had seemed the easiest way to prove his masculinity. Police work was not and never for him. He was still a young man; there was still time to change career.
When Daniel graduated at the age of seventeen he had told his parents that he wanted to go to the university to study Mass Communication, but his parents had disagreed with him, they wanted him to study Medicine and become a doctor. He had also disagreed with them; he got himself recruited in the police force.
In the force, he had always been very unlucky. Two years earlier, he had stopped a motorist at the checkpoint for a bribe, and the motorist had stopped him with a pistol fired point-blank. He’d narrowly escaped being locked up in the coffin because the bullet had only gone a few inches away from his heart and grazed his right shoulder. He spent a month in the hospital. Since then, Daniel had never stayed at the checkpoint nor engaged himself in any act of venality.
Sometimes, he could not remember why he had become a policeman. It seemed not a career choice but an act of madness. A couple of months after his discharge from the hospital, he had wounded a belligerent drunk whom he thought had been armed. Instead of a gun; the man he’d accosted had had a mobile phone in his pocket. With all his misfortunes, he had never allowed himself to be deterred from performing his obligations; even though some of his colleagues in the force mocked and called him names. He was known to most of his colleagues by his nickname Stu, which was short for Stupid.
Initially, he had always wanted, when he was a younger boy, to be a footballer, but he gave up when realized how hard it was to become a professional footballer in this country. Daniel had always admired the country’s football heroes––and he had been a life-long fan of the Pillars.
“But out of everything,” continued Daniel, “My father had not been able to forgive me for the decision I took.”
“You’re the black sheep of the family?”
“Blacker than black.”
“Do you ever visit them?”
“The family? Now and then. The prodigal son returns. They kill the fattest calf like the biblical tale. My parents are always glad to see me, my siblings too. But I always see it in my father’s eyes the disappointment he had in me, no matter how much he tried to hide it.”
Detective Georges Lot frowned, his expression looked serious, “You’re the master of your decision, I can’t decide for you.” He was now letting himself the pleasure of thinking that this young police officer was not perhaps the nonentity that his appearance might seem to signify.
“I know, but it feels better having to tell someone this.”
“I also like football,” Lot said, smiling, “At least I enjoy watching it.”
Daniel beamed, “Really? Which club do you belong, sir?”
An engaging smile crept across Lot’s mouth. He thought he and the boy would get on well together. “I’m a Gateway fan.”
“That’s interesting; we played with you last week Friday.”
“I learned that the match was played at about eleven that night. I never got around to watching it, did you?”
Famous looked disturbed, he started stuttering, “I––um-uh-I didn’t watch it either.”
Daniel replied quickly, “I went to the vigil, but I heard on the NBC Sports that it was a tie, a goal each.”
“Maybe one day I’ll be watching you play on the television.”
Daniel was perplexed, he hadn’t expected that kind of statement coming from anyone, “What are you saying, sir?”
“What I’m saying is––when the opportunity comes, always go for what you desire. One Nigerian football player you know was once a restaurant waiter receiving a meager salary before he became a world-class footballer.”
Daniel lowered his face, when he looked in the detective’s face again; tears had formed lenses in his own eyes. “Thank you, sir,” he said, “Your faith in me has renewed my strength.”
“With enough hardwork and dedication, you’ll surely see it through. Don’t see your being a policeman as a curse. Do you believe in destiny?”
Daniel did not know how to answer the question. The honest answer to that question had never occurred to him. He felt as if he believed it, yet he did not believe it all the same. Crazy, like the way he believed that witches and wizards exist but did not believe in the existence of ghosts. Daniel had always strongly believed that we are the masters of our destinies and we shape them to what suit our purpose––either good or bad. And he also had always believed that whatever happens to a person id his destiny, it’s what he cannot but do. Destiny is the master, it can never be controlled but it rules our lives. Each man will always come to term with that thing after swimming through the cesspool of life––his tomorrow, his Destiny.
“I don’t know if I do, sir.” He replied honestly.
“Well, believe it or not, it has been destined that you’ll be a policeman, and who knows? This destiny may lead you to your greatest destiny; if being a footballer is part of that destiny, you’ll surely become one.”
“But I’m confused, sir, how can I be a footballer when I’m still a mere police officer?”
The detective patted him on the shoulder, “Have faith, my friend. This profession may be an avenue to that profession. All things work with and for a reason, finding yourself in the force is not by accident, it happened for a purpose. Besides, you said you got yourself recruited––nobody forced you to.”
They continued walking silently.
“Sir,” Daniel called.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, it’s Q and A time.”
“Are you a Nigerian?”
That was not a kind of question he had expected the young man to ask him.
“Wow!” he paused, then he asked the younger officer, “Do you think I’m not?”
“I’m having a personal doubt about your nationality.” He stopped, expecting the detective to say something but when the older man did not talk he continued, “Because you sometimes use some strange expressions when you talk. I’m sorry if I seem to be going too far.”
Lot smiled, “No, you’re not going any farther than necessary. I’m a Nigerian just like you but my mother was a Roman descent, so she taught me many Latin languages when she was alive. Those strange expressions you heard me speaking were Latin. You can see my skin colour, it’s not a bit different from yours, is it?”
“Thanks for satisfying that curiosity of mine, sir.”
They continued walking in silence again, each person deep in thought. A scrap of paper blew along the street and at one corner two rubber tyres burned sootily.
Daniel broke the silence again, “You wanted to ask me a question.”
“Oh, yes,” Lot paused, then continued, “We both know that Cain died from a gunshot to the head.”
“When you were called to see the body, did you find the weapon––the gun?”
“That means, without any doubt, Cain was murdered.”
“But isn’t it possible for him to have committed suicide?”
“If he had committed suicide, then his ghost had probably risen and concealed the gun somewhere nobody could find it.”
“Maybe someone else took the gun when he took his own life.”
“Why would anybody do that?”
“Hakeem perhaps, he saw the body first.”
“Hakeem you say?” the detective feigned surprise. “What would that boy do with a gun?”
“Well, that boy is over fourteen years old and he might decide to keep the gun. You know our Naija teenagers, he might have kept it to use as an object of pride among his peers.”
“Or he might even have been the murderer of Mr. Martins.”
Daniel could not believe his own ears. “My God! That boy is a kid for singing out clear.” He made a screaming whisper.
“A kid. What if he’s a kid? Grow up and stop being a kid yourself, everyday we see murders committed by kids–fourteen, fifteen, sixteen for God’s sake! Or younger. Of all weapon arrests, almost half involve teenagers. A bunch of teenage boys somewhere stabbed a woman a sixty-four times to steal a lousy thousand naira note. Two twelve-year-olds in P.H threw a kid of five from a cliff. In Delta, two ten-year-old boys killed a two-year-old. It’s the same with robberies, assaults, rapes, you name it. Don’t you read the papers? Almost a decade ago, the ten years old Damilola Taylor was stabbed in the United Kingdom by some racist teenagers and left to bleed to death. Search for the name on the internet and read the story about the boy’s death.”
Daniel groaned, “Hakeem is not the murderer, he’s not.”
“I know he’s not, the fact that he’s younger doesn’t exonerate him is what I’m trying to tell you. Mind you, this murder is a well-planned one; it’s not the kind a fourteen-year-old can commit.”
“Glory be to God.” He sighed in relief.
“But Cain did not commit suicide, he was murdered.”
“I’ll say you should not totally rule out the possibility that he committed suicide.”
“Suicide is out of it, I know Cain was murdered.”
“I was called by the deceased.”
Daniel’s heart skipped a beat, his eyes almost popped off their sockets, “When was that, sir?”
“At about 10pm on the seventh.”
“The night of the incident?”
“Exactly, I received a call that night from a man who called himself Cain Martins, he said he had paid a certain amount of money into my bank account for the job I was about to do. He refused to divulge when I demanded the kind of job he was offering me, he said I should come early the next day and I would know, he gave me the address.”
“So that was the reason you appeared suddenly at the crime scene?”
“Now you’re getting it.”
“After the call, did you check your bank account to know if he was actually speaking the truth?”
“I did, he really paid some money into my account.”
The detective paused before answering, he didn’t at first want to respond, thinking the statement a non sequitur, and Daniel almost fainted when he did.
“My God!” exclaimed Daniel, “that’s a pretty large sum of money.”
“You see what I mean?” Lot asked, “Does a man pay a detective that whooping sum of money just because he wanted to commit suicide?”
Daniel frowned, “Sir, do you not think the man who called you was not Cain Martins? Maybe it was someone else claiming Mr. Cain’s identity.”
“It was Cain who called me, I know that too.”
“Don’t be too sure about that, sir. Voices can easily be disguised––especially on the phone.”
The detective shook his head, “No, that is not the case. When I came to the crime scene that morning, the first thing I checked on the corpse’s was its mobile phone; I checked the dialled calls, and guess what I found, it was my number, even the exact time I received the call was recorded on it.”
Daniel sighed again, “That explains it, someone tried to stop him from telling you something very important––by killing him.”
“We don’t know that for sure.”
“Okay, I have a question, sir,” he was already feeling free to strike a conversation with the renowned detective, “What would you have done if you had found out that your number was not on the dialed calls of the deceased?”
“Then I may have believed your theory that it was someone else who called me. Then I would have collected the phones of everybody connected to Cain and checked each person’s dialed calls.”
“But won’t it be easier if you had called the number used to call you, and you’ll know the culprit when it rings?”
“A hidden number was used to call me, so the only choice would be to check everyone’s call records.”
Dust tickled in Daniel’s nose and he sneezed, then he said, “Don’t you think that the person might have deleted your number from the phone after calling you?”
“You see, when you commit a murder you make twenty-five mistakes. If you can think of fifteen of them, you’re a genius. The criminal, having succeeded in mimicking the deceased’s voice, may probably fail to perform a simple task of deleting my number from his phone, or he may underestimate me thinking I can not go so far as checking his phone. Many great criminals get caught by a simple mistake.”
“Would you have checked the wife’s phone too?”
“You would have been wasting your time, sir. Mrs. Martins was sleeping in her room when the whole thing started.”
“Remember, I received that call at about 10pm, she might not be sleeping then.”
Daniel carried an amused expression on his face, “So you think a woman can mimic a man’s voice?”
“Anything can happen, besides, someone else may use her phone.”
“Exactly, someone else might have used Mr. Martins phone to call you, or Mr. Martins was held under duress to call you.”
“The detective thought for a moment and shook his head again in disagreement. “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think anybody used his phone or held him under duress––who else would have sent that large sum of money into my bank account if not Cain?”
“Was the account name through which the money came in Mr. Martins’?”
“No, it was through an account by the name Abel Martins.”
“Abel? Why would Mr. Martins send you some money under that name?”
Lot shrugged, “Why else but to disguise his identity? The surname he used, he only changed the first name––like the biblical Cain and Abel.”
“Maybe he was also forced to change his name, too.”
“That even explained that Cain was actually murdered. Why would anybody use his phone or put him under duress if he had nothing up his sleeves?
Someone killed Cain and I’m going to catch that bastard.”
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|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Nobody: 7:16pm On Nov 07, 2012|
new word alert: non sequitur
i hope this my post is not a non sequitur
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 9:28pm On Nov 07, 2012|
brokoto: new word alert: non sequitur
No, it's not.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Cuddlemii: 4:02am On Nov 08, 2012|
If the problem persists after 2 days, call your doctor
Anyways, the complaints thread is there for a reason, use it!
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Cuddlemii: 4:03am On Nov 08, 2012|
brokoto: thank you Cuddlemii for releasing it.
thank you for reading it too
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Nobody: 8:35am On Nov 08, 2012|
Nice piece men! I subscribe! Also may I suggest that you adopt 'the brand of cain' as the official title, makes more sense for a detective thriller such as this,rather than Household. @ Mods pls this is front page material, help us tell seun.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 10:46am On Nov 08, 2012|
hisson3: Nice piece men! I subscribe! Also may I suggest that you adopt 'the brand of cain' as the official title, makes more sense for a detective thriller such as this,rather than Household. @ Mods pls this is front page material, help us tell seun.
Thank you, Hisson. You're welcome on board. Also, I'll consider your suggestion. Thanks again.
Here comes the next chapter:
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 11:00am On Nov 08, 2012|
Yesterday, the sky was pregnant, it appeared to be swaddled in disposable diapers, but the rain that was supposed to break was not delivered. Today, the sky was blue with a scattering of popcorn clouds, the day was mild, there was no wind and no rain was in the forecast.
Cain Martins had gotten his own share of the rule stating that every man born of a woman must surely return to dust, and Detective Lot had given the household a week to mourn the departed soul before resuming his investigation, but there was no mourn at all––it appeared as if Cain Martins never existed at all until the detective came reminded the household that someone there had died a fortnight earlier. He was only able to convince them that Cain had existed when he spoke about death in sepulchral tones. Everybody was seated, including Hakeem who was in his best sartorial presentation, and Doctor Adam. On the television, an evangelist was gesticulating furiously, but the sound was muted, so he seemed like a crazed and poorly trained mime. The Dow tape with its hieroglyphic markings ran across the bottom of the screen. The resulting scene was slightly less baffling than the antics of an ant colony.
It was Hakeem who brought to the household notice the obvious, “Why is the photographer not here today? I was expecting my picture to be taken today.”
Eze Chima answered him immediately, “Will you do us a favour and zip those lips of yours?”
“I only asked a question, sir.”
“I said shut your trap or I throw you out of this compound.” He glared at the boy.
Hakeem seeing the gatekeeper’s angry face immediately tightened his lips; a symbol of his acquiescence to the ex-soldier’s command.
The detective spoke:
“It had been almost a fortnight since the death of Mr. Cain Martins, and we all know that it was not a natural death––he died from gunshot wound.
“From my point of view,” he continued, “Two things were bound to have caused his death; it’s either he committed suicide, which is still highly unlikely, or he was killed in cold blood.” He paused to look around for any reaction from others, it was only the police officer who shuddered in disgust, others were as mute as sheep.
“That is what I am here to investigate and I want everybody to co-operate with me in arriving at the truth,” he turned to the doctor, “Doc. Adam, you performed the autopsy, right?”
The doctor nodded.
“Okay, doctor, I need to ask you a question. With a self inflicted gunshot wound there’s always a powder burn on the victim’s hand. Was one discovered on the deceased?”
“The answer is no.” the doctor replied plainly.
Detective Lot nodded in approval, “I thought as much. This means that we rule out the possibility that the deceased committed suicide. That man was murdered.” He called Abigail, “Madam, can I have a room where I can make my interrogations? Starting from Hakeem.”
The boy stood up abruptly, “Why me? Please do not torture me, I did not do anything.”
Lot tried to calm him down, “Be cool, boy, I learnt that you saw the man first.”
“Yes, but he was already dead.”
“That is why you need to help us on this case.”
“You are not going to use coercive measures in getting the truth out of me, are you?”
“Of course not, why would I do that? I trust you’re not going to withold any information regarding this case, are you?”
The boy grinned widely, “I will be glad to help. You see, it is a wonderful thing to be involved in a murder case, is it not?” he did not wait for an answer, “I have never seen a dead man before and that sight is what I’ll always keep green in my heart. But believe me, I am not looking forward to a kind of death like that, I will not like somebody hiding a bullet in my skull. Besides––”
The detective cut him short, “I’ll appreciate your help, thank you.” Death means very little to a boy of fourteen, he thought sadly. He looked at
“Oh, there’s an empty room among the boys’ quarters. You can use that one.”
“Can you provide us with a table and three chairs?”
“Sure,” she turned to the gatekeeper, “Mr. Chima, please make sure they have what they need.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” Lot said.
“Ordinarily, my upbringing would require me to say ‘Don’t mention it,’ or ‘A pleasure of mine,’ or ‘You’re welcome’. But they’ll all be lies.”
“Uh––I don’t understand ma’am. Can you please be clearer?”
Abigail smiled, “You’re a detective, aren’t you? Figure it out yourself. By the way, from the little detective stories I’ve read, a detective would have made some startling deductions from the most trivial phenomena by now.”
Lot ignored the insult. In about a quarter of an hour the interrogation room was prepared. The room was as commodious as a coffin, it was also dusty, cobwebs festooned the corners of the ceiling. There was no rug or carpet, and above, the ceiling fan was oscillating loudly without blowing much air. There was an air conditioner, but it did not seem to be working. The light in the room was subdued and the low-wattage bulb was encased in wire mesh and bolted to the ceiling. A fading sign on the wall facing the door: TRUST IN JESUS.
Detective Lot sat in a chair facing the door; he was awaiting his first questionee. The door was opened slowly and Daniel came in, behind him was the boy, who was still grinning from ear to ear like a monkey eating thirty naira sugarcane, and some vitamin deficiency in his teenage body seemed to be screaming for appeasement. The boy sat down and crossed both arms and legs uttering bismillah, he brought his finger to his mouth and bit at the nail, he caught himself on time and stopped the action. Biting his nails was a bad habit he had not been able to stop. Daniel Famous took the third chair, a chair whose right rear leg wasn’t very firm and which had a tendency of collapsing under the police officer’s weight.
“I feel very happy.” The boy said.
The detective was getting irritated to quite a disproportionate extent from the fun the kid was having, the child was simply having no idea the gravity behind cause of a man who had lost his life. He thought the situation on ground was what he should be joking around about.
“Why? Is today your birthday?” Lot asked.
“No, I am just glad to be involved in this. Will I be shown on the television? Will my name be mentioned on the radio? Is my picture going to be printed in the newspapers?” the boy asked eagerly, “I will really love that, I will become famous and my parents will be proud of me. In short, my friends and classmates will envy me, beautiful girls will woo me.”
“Actually, you would be shown on the TV,” said Lot, “Your name would be pronounced on the radio and you would appear in the papers as you have said––”
The boy became very excited, “Really? I will––”
“That’s if you are the murderer, and after becoming infamous you’ll be hanged like a crazy dog. So, I will advise you to rest that wagging tongue of yours, get off your ebullient mood and answer my questions truthfully.”
The boy’s smile vanished like a rat down a hole, he looked at Daniel’s face for intervention but the policeman merely shrugged.
“I am not a murderer, I did not kill anybody,” he started sobbing, “I will never kill anybody in my life. I am not a killer.”
“Hakeem, nobody is accusing you of murder.” Daniel said.
“But he just called me a murderer, he called me a murderer.” He cried some more. “Now, I am being tortured!”
“No, he didn’t call you a murderer. He’s only interested in asking you some questions, that’s all.”
The detective brought out a portable tape recorder, he inserted an empty cassette and pressed the ‘Record’ button when the boy finally stopped his wail.
“According to Famous, you saw the deceased first. How did you come across the body?”
“It was about half past five in the morning when I saw the body, I initially thought he was asleep.”
Daniel was startled, “He was asleep at the side of the road?”
“That was what I thought at first, I thought he was in a complete state of inebriation––as in drunk till unconscious.” He had read his dictionary, “It was when I noticed the wound on his forehead that I realized what had happened. One need not to touch it before knowing that he was as dead as Sanni Abacha, his eyes were wide open like those of an uncanned Titus. May he rest with Allah in his gardens.” He continued, “I quickly rushed to Brother Daniel to report what I saw. We both returned to the scene; the body was lying by the gate of this building so we knocked the gate and the gateman opened it almost immediately, the man was already awake after all––his eyes were as clear as the Islamic rosary. That’s all I know, I did not kill anybody, I am innocent.”
“What were you doing there so early in the morning?” asked Lot calmly.
“I was not being a vigilante, that is one job I detest. I was returning from the minaret. Brother Daniel can testify to that, he saw me holding my Qur’an when I came to call him. That day was on a Saturday and I went to Tajjud vigil the night before, which was on a Friday.”
“Now, I want you to answer this question truthfully.”
“That I killed him? I have told you, I am not––”
“Will you stop flapping your flatulent mouth and let me finish?” Lot roared angrily.
The boy became mute.
“When you saw the body, did you come across any weapon––any gun?”
Hakeem shook his head.
“Are you sure?”
He nodded, beads of sweat had begun to form on his nose.
“Before seeing the body, did you meet anybody on your way?”
He spoke up this time, “I met many people, most of them were returning from church, but I did not see anybody when I turned into this street. The street was as quiet as a Shehu’s grave.”
“What about when you were going to Daniel’s, did you meet anybody?”
“I met nobody, but I felt the spirit of the dead man following behind me. It made me burst into a run with fear.”
“Okay, thank you, but before you go, how old are you exactly?”
“I will be fifteen by November twenty-eighth.”
“What’s your full name?”
“My name is Ciroma Hakeem Musa and I am not a terrorist.”
The reply surprised the detective, “Who says you are?”
Hakeem spread his hands, “That is the idea. Most people believe every Muslim is a terrorist.”
“Then you’re a devout Muslim, right?”
“A faithful believer in Allah and Prophet Mohammed, salla Allah alaihi wa sallam. I have never gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca, but I pray to Allah five times daily and I do not eat pork.”
“Are you from the North?”
“I am precisely a Fulani but my parents work here in Lagos. My mother sells Tuwo Shinkafa at the car-park and my father imports cattle from Kaduna to sell here in Lagos.”
“You’re a very smart and intelligent boy, I like you.”
The boy’s face brightened up like a Christmas light in a dark alley, “SubhanAllah. Allah be exalted.”
Lot smiled, “I want you to pray to your Allah or Mohammed to give us the wisdom to catch the murderer. Will you do that for us, please?”
“Detective Abdullot and Brother Abduldaniel, have faith in the Qur’an, first paragraph, book four.”
“Care to tell us what it says, Imam Musa?” Daniel asked.
“The feasts were brought among the unbelieving infidels and no longer were they unbelieving.” The boy quoted. “You see, all you need is faith and Allah will help you.”
“Do your parents know how intelligent you are, Hakeem?” Daniel said to Hakeem, the boy’s foibles he had always been finding charming.
Hakeem shrugged, “I doubt it, my father spends more time with his cattle than with me and my mother is always flirting with cab-drivers at the park. They are both illiterates, of course.”
“Thank you, Hakeem,” Lot said, “You can go now.” He pressed the ‘Stop’ button on the recorder.
The boy rose and bowed to the two men, and then he walked out like someone who had just rescued a drowning dog in the presence of an impressed crowd.
Georges Lot turned to Daniel and asked, “What do you think?”
Daniel smiled, “That boy is funny and intelligent. He’s definitely one of those boys who do not mind exchanging banters with anybody they come across. And he speaks English almost perfectly. I mean he never uses contractions. Never ‘I’m’ or ‘you’re’ but always ‘I am’ or ‘you are’.”
“I know what contractions are,” Lot snapped at him, “Was he lying when he was explaining how he came across the body?”
“If that boy was lying, you would have known, sir. He spoke everything he knew.”
A bee buzzed past them and banged its face against the wall.
“The gun was taken away by the murderer.” Though Lot spoke out, he actually spoke to himself.
“Mr. Martins might have committed suicide.”
Lot cast a sharp annoyed look at Daniel and said, “Have I got to tell you thirty-six times, and then again thirty-six that he was murdered? Where were
you when the Almighty passed out brains?”
“I’m sorry, sir. Who are we questioning this time?”
“The gatekeeper, of course.” Lot answered. “Wait a minute, Hakeem said the gatekeeper was already awake when you knocked on the gate, was that true?”
“It seemed so.”
“Then he might have seen or heard something.”
“Or he might know how the body reached the gate.”
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Splendblex(f): 12:55pm On Nov 08, 2012|
Am so in love wit ur story,waitin 4 d next update
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by UjSizzle(f): 1:34pm On Nov 08, 2012|
Mehn, i have got a whole book of new words now . I'll try speaking without contractions; oh i just did it again .
I'm with the other guy on the title issue. I like 'the brand of Cain' better. It's apt n catchy
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 3:03pm On Nov 08, 2012|
The name ‘Eze’ meant ‘King’ to Chima, and he always acknowledged himself as a person of royal status, though he was a gatekeeper most of his life and has not even a chieftaincy lineage. He was dressed in his native Igbo attire; a red cap rested smugly on his head and a pair of black pointed shoes covered his feet. He sat on a chair as he entered the interrogation room.
Detective Lot watched him closely and coughed. He picked up the recorder and pressed the rewind button for a second or two, then he pressed the ‘Record’ button and began:
“What is your name, sir?” said Lot, calling upon all his powers of self-control to force the last of these five words through the barrier of his teeth. He believed Chima was an older man who deserved no much of a respect from him.
“John Eze Chima.”
“Can you please tell us about yourself, Mr. Chima?”
“I have nothing much to tell; I’m an easy-going man and I don’t cause trouble.” Eze said flatly.
“Is that all you’re going to say?”
“What else do you want me to say? I’m in perpendicular a man who doesn’t speak much about himself.”
Lot leaned back in his chair and looked at the old man opposite him intently. He could only see a calm but dangerous expression in the man’s eyes.
“Sir, how old are you?” Lot asked.
“I can’t remember, but I celebrated my eleventh birthday when Nigeria got her independence.”
Lot made a swift calculation in his mind, “Then you’re sixty years old.”
“Thou hast said.”
The detective slapped his forehead and groaned, the man was succeeding in getting on his nerves, he suppressed his anger. It was like gulping a mouthful of bile. “How long have you been working under the deceased?”
The old man lapsed into memory, “About half a decade now, I think.”
“Your relationship with the deceased, was it what one can call amiable, as in friendly?”
Eze chuckled, rivers of wrinkles flowing down the corners of his eyes and mouth. “That’s quite on the contrary. No one had a friendly relationship with Cain, except his lawyer, of course.”
“Now that he’s gone, do you miss him?”
“No, I don’t. I mourn his death though, but not the closing of his big mouth. He was as cruel and headstrong as an allegory on the banks of Nile. Nobody would miss a man who had visited the pearly gates with a CV that would make Saint Peter call for the celestial security guards to bundle him straight to hell.”
The detective shifted in his seat to a more comfortable position.
“Mr. Chima, let’s talk about that gun you possess. How did you come about the old rifle?”
“It’s my war souvenir.”
“Biafra,” Eze said, pausing to scratch his groin.”It was in the late sixties when I was still young and handsome,” he laughed, “I was about eighteen or nineteen years old when the war broke out. I was picked to join the army against my wish, then I was given an oversized uniform with a gun and sent to the warfront to face death––there was no shooting training performed, no combatant training, nothing. Yet, I killed about six dozen enemies with that gun, can you believe that? The more I killed, the braver I became. It was a sheer miracle that I was not killed in that war, I didn’t even sustain a scratch. Many of my colleagues, older and younger, were unlucky and got killed, some got their limbs blown away, some bodies could not even be identified because they were stupid enough to face a killing tank with pistols and hunters’ guns.”
He smiled as a remembrance occurred to him. “There was time during the war when we were suddenly attacked with tanks, it was just like God’s attack on Sodom and Glocca Morra from the pages of the Old Tentacle, as brave as I was, I immediately turned and ran like hell, dripping with inspiration. I wasn’t turning chicken, and I wasn’t trying to be a superman either, I was just using my head for once. Those who fight and run away live to fight another day. So I ran, a bullet richshawed a tree and almost hit me in the head. There are times when you don’t need a priest to tell you that it isn’t sensible to take on a tank with your gun, because if you do, you’ll be standing there holding your gun and looking at the hole the tank just created in your belly. I think that was what really happened in the case of some of my stupid mates.
“After the war, I kept my gun as a souvenir; its sight will always remind me of my youth, the days when men were still men.” He smiled, “I don’t think you can reprehend the meaning of what I’m saying.”
After listening patiently to the gatekeeper’s tale, Lot asked, “Have you ever shot the gun after the war?”
“Yes, twice. I shot a bullet in 1988 and another in about a decade and a half later.”
“What war were you fighting then?”
“No be war. I shoot the bullets up to the heavens because of the sound, it makes the memories of the Biafra fresh in my brain.”
“Did you shoot any recently?”
“Mr. Chima, do you have a family, any wife or child?”
“I lost my wife in 1992, she died of tuberculosis and Chidi, my only son, died in 2002. He was one of the victims of that bomb explosion at the cantonment.”
“Accept my condolence, sir.” Lot said dryly.
Chima smiled, “Seven or seventeen years ago, I would have appreciated your sympathy, but now, Amaka and Chidi are nothing but old memories to me.”
“We are investigating the death of Mr. Martins and I believe you are going to help us on the case, right?”
“Sure, why not? If he was killed, then the person who did it had done many people a great favour, yet, he shouldn’t have taken the law in his own hands. If I may say, I don’t even believe Cain was killed.”
“Can you please recount to me what happened on the night of the seventh?”
The old man began to speak his words in orderly sequence as if he had composed the speech on paper, then memorized and possibly rehearsed it. “It was about ten-thirty in the night when I heard the sound of a car engine,” he began, “I went to the garage and saw Cain and the driver in a jeep, of all the cars in the garage, Cain had always preferred to go out in a jeep.”
“Where were they going?”
“I have no idea, nobody told me. Cain only ordered me to open the gate, which I obediently did; he was my boss.”
“And the next morning Cain was found dead?”
“No, something happened before that.”
“At exactly half past twelve that night, Oga drove back inside alone.”
Daniel, who had been silently listening to the two men was surprised, “Are you sure about that, sir?”
“Positive,” replied Eze Chima, “Cain came back that night without the driver. When I opened the gate and saw only Cain in the jeep I immediately sensed that something fishy was going on––honestly, I thought Cain had killed Richard and dumped his body somewhere before coming back. You see, Cain and his driver were like cat and mouse, so the thought that Cain had killed Richard was not really a surprising one to me. What really baffled me was seeing Cain lying dead outside, because I locked the gate from within when Cain drove back inside, and I put the keys under my pillow. Nobody could have taken it without my knowledge.”
“Maybe there were the duplicates of the keys.” Lot said.
“That is highly possible, but opening the gate without my awareness is highly impossible. My room is by the gate and that gate makes more noise than rolling back the door of a tomb of a pharaoh dead two thousand years.”
“Maybe you were drugged into unconsciousness and the gate was opened with the duplicates.” Daniel chipped in.
“And the single horn of a car was able to rouse me into consciousness?” asked Chima, “I’m not a deep sleeper, not at my age, and if I was drugged I would have known, don’t you think so?”
Daniel could not say any more word.
Chima continued, “Even if Cain had to die, his corpse should have been inside and not outside. When that man,” he pointed to Daniel, “and the boy
called me that there was a dead body by the gate I thought it was the driver they were referring, but I was shocked when I saw that it was Cain, I’m still very confused.”
The detective sighed. “Is that all?” he asked Chima.
“No,” the old man dipped his hand in his breast pocket and extracted a folded paper which he handed to the detective. “Maybe this will help.”
Lot hesitated a bit before collecting the note, and unfortunately for him Chima noticed.
“What are you scared of, detective? You think it’s a letter bomb?”
“Who would want to blow me to smithereens?”
“You’ve got the reputation of stepping on a lot of feet in this country, and no bad deed goes unpunished, as you quite know yourself. Everybody knows that Giwa wasn't toasted for minding his own business.”
“And from wherever comes that bit of gibberish, old man?” he snatched the paper in anger.
The detective opened the paper, and on it was a writing scrawled carelessly in pencil:
In the morning, call my lawyer.
The writing was quavery, as if it had been written with the left hand of a right-handed person, or vice versa. Daniel Famous collected the paper and read it. The detective looked up at the gatekeeper and asked, “How did you find this?”
“The next morning, not long after I was called to see the body.”
“Where did you find it?”
“The same place I kept the keys.”
“Then you should have seen it when you were called by Daniel and the boy.”
“No, I saw it after, when this officer called me, I only put my hand under the pillow without looking, and I withdrew the keys. But it was when I
wanted to pick my cap, which I also put under the pillow, that I saw the note lying there.”
“Did you read it?” asked Lot.
“Shouldn’t I have? Or do you think I can’t read? Well, if I read something that is written down in English, I can understand what it means––I am not talking of abstruse stuff, formulae or philosophy––just plain business-like English––most people can’t! If I want to write down something, I can write down what I mean, I’ve discovered that quite a lot of people in this country can’t do that either! Though you can’t illiterate from my memory the fact that English is a mad man’s language, I’m even surprised that I’m so affluent in speaking that language. And, I can do plain arithmetic––if Aki has eight bananas and Pawpaw takes ten from him, how many will Aki have left? That’s the kind of sum some people likes to pretend has a simple answer. They won’t admit, first, that Pawpaw can’t do it––and second, that there won’t be an answer in plus bananas! Evidently, arithmetic is a blessing in the sky, but nobody knows that.”
“That’s the lunacy of Mathematics,” said Daniel, smiling, “We call it Mathematics these days, not Arithmetic.”
“Did you hear any strange sound that night?” Lot asked Chima, after silently listening to the gatekeeper’s annoying spiel, and noticing how wanting the older man’s grammar was.
“A sound like what?”
“Within or without?”
“Which one did you hear?”
The gatekeeper hesitated for precisely ten seconds before replying, “Nothing, I heard no sound.”
Lot caught the hesitation and he, therefore, looked askance at the gatekeeper, as the older man’s reply was not very convincing, “Are you sure?” he asked him calmly.
“Mr. Chima, do you know that withholding vital information is an offence.”
“I heard no sound, detective. If I did, I’d have screamed it into your hearing.”
“You needn’t be so nasty about it.”
Eze smiled, “You have no idea how nasty I can be if I put my mind to it.”
Lot tried to find a befitting reply for the gatekeeper but thought better of it.
“Now, Mr. Chima, I want you to answer this question truthfully.”
“Do you think I’ve been lying before?”
“That is left for me to judge.”
“Then you’ll still have to judge if my next answer would be the truth or not.” The old man smiled, “I’m a bit of a nuisance to you, right?”
“Listen, you senile anachronism, that’s an understatement. You’re probably the most irritating, vexatious man I’ve ever met.”
“Sorry, I’m not a very pineapple of politeness.”
The detective could take it no more, “The word is ‘pinnacle’.”
“That’s what I called it.” Replied Eze.
“No, you said ‘pineapple’.”
“It’s you who just called it that, not me.”
Lot realized that arguing with the gatekeeper about English usage was insane, he therefore allowed it to slide, “Before you were called by Famous, what were you doing?”
“I was doing nothing. I was in my coffin––sorry, cabin.”
“Were you asleep or awake?”
“I was already awake. Actually, I’m always awake every five in the morning.”
‘That’s just my nature, I don’t set the alarm and when it is five, my eyes snap open automatically. It’s like a kind of mechanism in me. Whenever my eyes snap open like that, they don’t shut again. And on that day, the same thing happened, just like this morning or any other day.”
“That’s all for now, Mr. Chima. I’ll call you again when I need you.” Lot stopped the recorder.
The old man stood up, absently picked the seat of his cloth out from the crack of his bottoms, and started taking his leave, when he got to the door he turned to face the detective.
“There’s no point investigating this case,” he said, “Stop wasting your time here. How do you think you will dissolve this mystery if you can’t find any culprit? You may never know the man who did it, just take my advice and leave. You and me know that Cain’s death is not a loss to anybody. So, why investigate it and unlease a hornet’s nest?”
“Because I have to. That is what I’m always paid for, trying to find out who murdered people. And ‘You and I’ is the correct grammatical construction of the sentence.” answered Lot, “By the way, what gives you the impression that I can’t find the killer?”
“Because he was not killed by anyone among us. I think he was killed by a complete outsider, probably someone he had wronged earlier.”
“Really?” Lot feigned surprise.
“My instinct told me so; nobody could have possibly killed him between the widow and the driver.”
“What about you?” the detective shot out.
“What are you trying to incinerate, detective?” The old man’s face changed, “I could have possibly killed him but I didn’t. Cain is too small a kill for me. Besides, I’m not one who hides his deeds, I’ve taken over seventy lives and I don’t feel any remorse for any of them. Bob is my witness, if I had killed Cain I would have told you frankly that I did it. The worst you can do is to persecute me for it, I’m not afraid of anything.” He paused and added, “You are not illegible to be called a detective. When I was in the war, you were nothing but a kid still suckling its mother’s breasts.”
Lot stood up abruptly, “Don’t insult me, old man!”
“And don’t annoy me, young man!” the gatekeeper retorted.
Both men stood glaring at each other before Daniel came between them. The old man gave a weary smile and walked out of the room.
Lot sighed again and sat down, “That man is a very dangerous one, I wonder what he might have done.”
“You looked at that man and saw a dangerous human being,” said Daniel, “but I saw a man whose life had been filled with tragedy and sadness. I pity him, though he’s not the essence of courtesy. The deaths of his wife and son and what he had endured in battle changed him; all made him a different man. I think he’s a man who needs to be understood. He may actually be a sweet old man.”
“Yet, he can be terribly dangerous when he is annoyed. That was actually what I wanted to do, I wanted to annoy him and see his reaction but he didn’t give me the chance.”
“What are you talking about, sir? I don’t understand what you are saying.”
“Do you remember what he said when I stood up to him?”
“He told you not to annoy him, and he was already very much angry.”
“No, you’re really getting it wrong. He was not a bit angry, even when I challenged him with that last question. He was not in the least annoyed, he only wanted us to think he was. Before he went out he gave a strange smile, do you know what that smile meant?”
“Please tell me.”
“ ‘They think I’m angry, fools.’ ”
“Was that last word really in that smile?”
“I don’t care, but he thought us fools.”
“I hate people reminding me of who I am. What do you think about the letter he brought, sir?”
“I think of two things for now; one: the deceased knew what was coming to him so he wrote a note stating the summons of his lawyer. Two: the deceased never wrote the note, it was written by the murderer to add more salt to the injury. We are left to find out who really wrote the note.”
“In your first idea, why couldn’t the deceased call the lawyer on phone by himself instead of writing a boring note? And why did he hide the note under the gatekeeper’s pillow instead of giving it directly to him or instructing him verbally? He called you, I don’t see the reason he couldn’t have called his lawyer too. Please, tell me what is going on in this compound.”
“That’s what we’re here to find out. And by tracing the subtle twitchings of the web, we might find the spider.”
The police officer thought for a moment before asking, “Sir, is it possible for someone to confess to a crime, especially one that has to do with killing?”
“Confession is advisable because sooner or later, the criminal would be caught.”
“But some do get away with it.”
“Some lucky ones, but in my own case––Never! As the person tries to cover his trails, he leaves more trails behind him. Take for example, you are walking at the sandy side of a beach, you looked behind you and sees your footprints plainly visible on the sands. You decide to clean them by rubbing the marks off. But you are ignorant of the fact that, the prints won’t go; instead of them to be decreasing, they in actual fact increase. As you try to wipe out the visibility of the prints with your hands, you create another print with your palms and toes. That logic is applicable to crime too. You know, criminals are sometimes drawn to the scene of their crimes, and in doing so, they thwart their chances of escape.”
“Can that happen in this case?”
“I don’t think so, this is another ball game entirely, the crime was committed outside, and that makes it complicated.”
“How is that?”
“What does the criminal want to come back for? He shot Cain and went away with the pistol. Do you think he would come back to check if the victim had died? One rarely survive a bullet to the head. And the idea of looking for fingerprints or whatever print there is is impossible.”
“May I ask why?”
“Because I know, but permit me to chip one reason into your palm-oil soaked-brain––a strong wind blew on that Saturday morning, didn’t it?”
“I don’t know. And as Lincoln said, ‘Ignorance is preferable to error.’ ”
“I believe it was Thomas Jefferson that made that statement, Daniel.”
He shrugged indifferently, “Anyway, I can’t remember a strong wind blowing that morning.”
“I confirmed from an outsider, a strong wind did blow. So, any print there might have been cleared. Remember, where the corpse was lying was quite sandy, if you will agree with me.”
“Agreed,” Daniel sighed, “But still, I don’t think this crime can be solved.”
“O! Ye of little faith! Since when were you baptized a pessimist? Have you forgotten Hakeem’s words so soon?” Even a part of him felt some of the air bleeding out of his own balloon of optimism.
“Okay, okay,” he said grudgingly, “I wish you luck.” Even for bad luck, he thought, one needs luck.
Daniel felt he was in a dystopian investigative chamber because to him, everything was going forth in the wrong directions, he asked hastily, “Who should I call in this time?”
“Not now. Right now, we’ll do another thing. We are going to search the dead man’s bedroom.”
Daniel was flabbergasted, “What!”
“You heard me right.”
The police officer shook his head, “I’ve never probed into other people’s secrecy before in my life.”
“Then today is your first chance, grab onto it.”
“I’m not looking forward to the pleasure, sir.”
“And who said you have any choice here?”
“Lord,” he breathed as he got up; he didn’t know he had just said the world’s shortest prayer. “What have I gotten myself into?”
The detective also stood up and said cheerfully, “Let’s go a fishing.”
As they headed towards the door, Daniel wiped the sweat forming on his forehead with the back of his hand and muttered under his breath, “What a crazy being this detective is?”
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 3:05pm On Nov 08, 2012|
Splendblex: Am so in love wit ur story,waitin 4 d next update
Thank you, Splendblex.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 3:10pm On Nov 08, 2012|
uj_sizzle: Mehn, i have got a whole book of new words now . I'll try speaking without contractions; oh i just did it again .
Thanks again, Sizzle. I'm only trying the little I can in the literary world.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Nobody: 4:01pm On Nov 08, 2012|
very good sir.
but i have a few observations in the interview with the Hakeem boy
1] although he was portrayed as very intelligent, i still think his vocabulary and choice of expressions were too advanced for his age, 14 or 15 i think. someone that age in Nigeria would be in SS1 or SS2.
2] his garrulity- although i agree with you that boys that age do not have a full grasp of what murder is, i still think he would have been more subdued or sober considering the fact that he was being interviewed by a well known NIGERIAN detective, especially after he was cautioned by the detective. the police in Nigeria are generally known to be mean and fearsome so a boy that age should be somewhat scared of them
3] the way he referred to his parents- a devout Muslim boy should not call his parents illiterates in front of strangers even if they are illiterates.
these are my opinions anyway. i'm not a writer nor am i an expert but i'm a voracious reader those parts just didn't 'gel' with me. thanks
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 5:17pm On Nov 08, 2012|
brokoto: very good sir.WOW! WOW!! WOW!!! Thumbs up to you, Bro.
All your observations about the boy are on point. I will revisit his dialogues. However, I created Hakeem majorly as a comic-relief character. I thought his antics would alleviate any tension building up in the plot of the story.
Yap, he should be scolded for calling his parents illiterates in front of a stranger. I'll do that asap.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Nobody: 11:34pm On Nov 08, 2012|
Larry-Sun:lol about scolding the boy. Anyway, thanks for taking my observations to heart. I look forward to more updates. . .you are very good.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by UjSizzle(f): 7:10am On Nov 09, 2012|
Good one. Can't wait for Richard's interview .
I just don't get something; if your detective Lot is so well known in his field, i'd expect he'll have an intimidating presence and yet it seem no one-not even Hakeem is showing any respect or cringing in fear.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Nobody: 8:26am On Nov 09, 2012|
uj_sizzle: Good one. Can't wait for Richard's interview .I think it works well this way, remember sherlock holmes was never intimidating so he culd blend into any situation & judge people wisely via their normal day to day lifestyle & action, so d author is spot on here, for instance I liked d part of d little spat between lot & mr chima, lot used it to gauge the true cunninness of mr chima. Only top detectives give such shadow moves to catch d real image.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by UjSizzle(f): 9:04am On Nov 09, 2012|
hisson3: I think it works well this way, remember sherlock holmes was never intimidating so he culd blend into any situation & judge people wisely via their normal day to day lifestyle & action, so d author is spot on here, for instance I liked d part of d little spat between lot & mr chima, lot used it to gauge the true cunninness of mr chima. Only top detectives give such shadow moves to catch d real image.i guess it does make sense when u put it this way.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by IZUKWU(m): 7:06pm On Nov 09, 2012|
Guy! You are too much, nigerian's own john grisham. Waiting for more. Am already addicted. And for the title, i think the brand of cain makes more sense and is more thought provocating than household.
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 12:20am On Nov 10, 2012|
Daniel Famous was astonished; the mysterious gumshoe had not been sweating all through their moments in the suffocating box called the interrogation room. The outside breeze was refreshing and he breathed as much as he could with every heaving of his chest, he had appreciated the importance of the free oxygen after learning the day before that suffocation had been considered one of the most dangerous means of meeting one’s ancestors. He was still not supporting the idea of searching the deceased room but all efforts and means he had employed to discourage the detective had proven futile, Lot’s mind was set on the task.
“You are forgetting what we’re here for;” said Lot calmly, “Let me remind you, we are here to unlock secrets lurking behind doors in this building.” He pointed.
Both men went into the building. The detective looked interestingly at the lawyer who was sitting beside the widow––their thighs, he noticed, were not very far apart, both were apparently discussing in a low voice; he was surprised that they had not seen them enter, their voices were too faint to be heard, Lot tried to listen by straining his eardrums but he could not hear, all he was able to catch were: don’t worry, everything is fine now. It was the lawyer who said that to the widow. Daniel saw them discussing and felt a brief pang of jealousy within himself. If he had had a hammer he would have bashed the lawyer’s head in.
The soporific effect of the air-conditioner in the large room had made its impact on Richard, he was lying asleep on the three-seater; Lot was contemplating if he was really asleep as he looked or he was faking it, and amid the atmosphere of the silent ennui was Hakeem on his feet swaying to whatever was pulsing through the headphones of his Discman, he was throwing himself around the room like a whirling demented dervish. He bellowed in delight as he saw Daniel and Lot. At one corner of the room, a mobile phone had been placed on a charger inserted in the electric wall socket. As Daniel watched as the light of the charger pulsed off-and-on he felt it had a kind of connection with himself and the case they were trying to investigate, in which ideas and motives behind the late man’s action that night pulsed off and on in his own mind, too.
“Have you found the stupid man who killed Mr. Martins?” he asked seriously.
“Not yet,” replied Daniel, after gulping air.
Hakeem frowned, “Why? I want to kick that idiot so much that my boots will have to be surgically removed from his bottom. Seriously, I pray whoever killed Mr. Martins have AIDS.”
The detective smiled.
“Please, make your investigations snappy,” said the boy, “I can’t wait to kick the baboon.”
Daniel Famous swallowed hard and said, “Yes, sir.”
The boy faced Lot and Daniel, “You know I told you that I wanted to help on this case, and I’ve been doing some thinkings of my own. Do you know what I’ve been trying to do? I was trying to put two and five and eight together to get seven. It can’t be done, it simply can’t be done.”
“You can’t know the killers; you’re not a detective, are you?”
“Okay, I give up, let’s ask the tec. Do you know the criminal, sir?”
“No,” Lot replied, and before the boy could protest any further the detective added, “But I have an idea of whom the person might be.”
“That’s nice,” brightened up Hakeem, “Who’s the one?”
The detective looked with calm eyes at the boy, “And you expect me to tell you?”
The boy nodded vigorously, like one of those crazy dolls at the back screens of cars.
“Then follow me. Let me tell you the murderer in person.” As the boy began to rise from his seat, Lot added, “But you may be killed, too.”
That scared Hakeem and he involuntarily relaxed back in his seat, “What have I done wrong?” he screamed.
“Many things,” answered Lot, “One, you saw the body first; two, you called the policeman; three, you want to know the murderer; and four, which is the most devastating reason––you want to kick him in the bottom. I strongly suggest that you keep out of this. If there’s a murderer lurking around the corners, be he of flesh and blood or atmospheric vapour, summon not his attention to thyself, wise one.”
The boy shook his head and said hastily, “I don’t need to know him anymore; I’m not ready to nod a flying bullet.”
“Better,” Lot looked around and asked, “Where’s the doctor?”
“Here,” the doctor replied from the door, “I went to make a call to the morgue concerning the deceased. Can I see you a moment, detective?”
Both men went out and returned a few seconds later, looking as placid as possible. The doctor calmly took his seat and Inspector Lot faced Abigail.
“Mrs. Martins,” he said, “We’ll like to search your bedroom, since I understand that you and your late husband shared the same bedroom.”
“If I may ask, Mr. Detective, what do you want there?”
“Just a general inspection,” said Daniel, “We are hoping to find something which can help us on this case.”
Daniel had intentionally spoken so as to have the attention of the woman to himself. Abigail looked at him and smiled warmly, her smile almost sent his head spinning.
“You are free to go,” she said, “Just don’t check my wardrobes, you might find a skull.” She laughed and pointed to the entrance, “That’s the room.”
“You’re a funny woman, Mrs. Martins. I’ll laugh next week.” Said Lot, without any trace of amusement on his countenance, “We will appreciate it if you lead us, Ma’am.”
Abigail looked at him in wonderment before speaking, “See, detective Lo, you––”
“Lot,” he corrected.
“Whatever,” said Abigail with the wave of her hand, “You look too serious most times,” she said, lifting her chin, “The death of my husband shouldn’t make everyone a criminal to you.” She got up, “Well then, let’s go.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.”
The bedroom was too wide to be called one, and in the middle of the large room was a large bed spacious enough to sleep a battalion of soldiers, and a white coverlet was laid so tenderly that there was absence of any rumple. The bedroom was exquisitely clean and beautiful. The walls were painted blue. Unlike the sitting room whose floor was covered in rug, the bedroom was bare, with decorative tiles that made the floor glisten. The space adjacent to the window was occupied by a large built-in twin wardrobe and there was a TV set at one corner. The side wall opposite the window-side was almost covered by the mirror of an enormous vanity table, bearing an apothecary’s stock of oils, lotions, perfumes, powder, brushes, unguents, hand mirrors, colognes, combs, and make-up aids of all kinds. Up above the entrance were two pictures. The first was Cain’s, the man’s face was mean. The picture reminded Daniel about the facial look of one of the former Nigerian presidents. The second picture is entirely different from the first. The woman in the picture was so beautiful that Daniel held his breath for many seconds. She was smiling broadly as if the cameraman had promised to present her picture to the Archangel Michael. Daniel was finding it extremely hard to take his eyes off the widow’s picture.
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life in front of a photograph or face what you’re here for?” the detective asked slightly angrily.
“I’ll prefer staying in front of the photograph,” Daniel answered mindlessly. He turned to Abigail and said chivalrously, “Madam, you are very beautiful.”
Abigail felt embarassed for a moment before she smiled, “Oh, thank you so much, that’s sweet.”
“I thought you would get on your knees and sing her African Queen.” Said Lot coldly.
“I will happily do that if she gives me the chance.” Daniel replied, his eyes not leaving Abigail.
She laughed, “You needn’t do that. I’ll rather hear it from the horse’s mouth. Let someone do me a favour and call me Tuface.”
“So let’s get down to business.” Lot said.
“But I’m not trained on how to search,” complained Daniel.
“Just look around and search as if you lost all your life's savings in this room.”
“Okay,” Daniel got on his hands and knees and began searching under the bed and under the wardrobe. The detective checked the door handle, the table bearing the cosmetics, the window panes, the edges of the bed. Daniel was tired of searching for nothing.
“What exactly are we looking for, sir?” he asked in a frustrated voice.
“I don’t know; just continue what I asked you to do.”
“Why do men enjoy crime so much?” Abigail asked.
Daniel ignored what he was doing and faced Abigail, “You know what?”
“I hate this job. I really wanted to be a footballer.”
“Oh, I love footballers.” She giggled, favouring Daniel with a smile that warmed him down to his toes.
“Really?” he stood up brightly, totally ignoring the work, “Don’t you worry, one day you’ll be watching me on that big screen in the living room, making Nigerians proud overseas. By then I would have been done with this dirty job that makes you do dirty things.”
“Dirty things like what?”
“Like this; snooping around people’s things. I really didn’t want to come but it was that Sherlock Holmes who insisted. So madam, forgive me if I’ve been offending you from doing this.”
“No––no, it’s okay. I’m not offended, you’re only doing your job.”
Detective Lot was now leafing out through the pages of a Bible, which was on a small table beside the bed. As he lifted the holy book from the stool he found a scrap of paper with a clear and concise writing, the three words on the paper were written in an artful cursive. The paper was a cut-out sheet of white foolscaps.
“Interesting,” Lot said.
The remark caught the attention of Abigail and Daniel.
“What is it you’ve found?” she asked.
Lot asked, “Madam, how long has this Bible been lying here.”
“For quite some time,” answered Abigail.
The detective gave the note to her. “Madam, I want you to look at that writing carefully and tell us whose it is.”
Abigail read the note and the skin of her forehead was squeezed together. The general drift of the note required no Aristotelian intellect to decipher; it contained plainly three most important words––‘I Love You’, no signature, no name. Abigail looked confused for a moment before raising her eyes to meet the detective’s gaze.
“Do you know who wrote that?” Lot asked.
Abigail nodded, she hesitated before speaking. “It is Cain’s, Cain wrote it.”
Daniel Famous’ eyebrows were hoisted aloft. He thought he saw some strange expressions on the woman’s face: surprise, excitement and fear. But Daniel only shrugged.
“Another question, Madam,” said Lot, “You said this Bible had been lying here for some time?”
“Four weeks, at least. I haven’t gone to church in a month.”
“Four weeks,” murmured Lot, “without dust on it.”
“What did you say?” Abigail asked.
“Never mind. Madam, does your late husband go to church?”
Abigail smiled, “I’ve never seen Cain go to church since he married me.”
“Another note,” said the amused Daniel, “How many notes are we going to find before today is over?”
The widow cast a questioning look at Daniel, “What are you talking about? Did you find a note before this one?”
The detective spoke.
“Mrs––we’ll like to have some few words with you.”
“That is what you’re doing now, isn’t it?”
“We want you in the interrogation room.”
“Maybe you can shed some light into this affair.”
“Is this about the first note?”
“Yes, madam. It’s about the first note and something much more important.”
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Iaz93: 11:14am On Nov 10, 2012|
Interesting... More pls
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by LarrySun(m): 12:22pm On Nov 11, 2012|
Back in the interrogation room, the power supply had been interrupted and the ceiling fan had stopped its noisy oscillation. People still suffer the effect of poor power supply in the country––even in some envied cities.
Abigail sat opposite the detective and Daniel also took his seat, his eyes never left the woman’s face for a moment. He noticed something odd about Abigail; she had changed since she had been shown the note found under the Bible. Her cheerfulness had vanished and she had been looking more serious ever since.
Detective Lot cleared his voice before speaking, “I’m rather going to be like those forms you fill for passports.”
“I know.” Abigail replied.
“Right, now let’s start with this––” he shifted his heavy body in the seat. “How long have you been married to the late Mr. Martins?”
“Any child between the two of you?” he asked, and swatted at a fly that was crawling up his sleeves. He missed the fly that came back to crawl over his head, sneering at him.
“None.” She answered her questions with more directness and precision without any further explanation, this brevity and new brusque tone worried Daniel.
The detective nodded.
“It means that the only person who legally benefits from his death is you. Is that right, madam?”
Abigail paused before replying, “I’m not his lawyer, call Mr. Kish and ask him.”
“I’ll do that, but since he has no living relation, his inheritance automatically comes to you. He might have died intestate. Don’t you agree with me, Mrs. Martins?”
She did not reply.
The detective continued, “Now, one more question, Mrs. Martins.”
“Call me Abigail, please.”
“Just call me Abigail.”
“Okay, I want to get something straight. Can you tell us all what you know about Mr. Martins’ death?”
“All what I know,” she said thoughtfully, “I don’t think I understand what you mean.”
“When was the last time you saw your husband alive?”
“On the night of the seventh of this month.”
“Lemme see,” she lapsed into memory, “At about quarter past ten.”
“Quarter past ten.”
“No, not quarter past ten,” claimed Abigail, she licked her lips and continued, “I think I saw him at about three in the morning of the eighth. That was the next day, Saturday.”
A facile lie––Lot thought, and such a silly lie. The stupid way one says the first thing that comes into one’s head instead of just taking a minute or two to think. He knew that sometimes when people lied they first licked their lips to lubricate their falsehood.
“Three in the morning of the next day,” the detective frowned, “what was he doing at that time?”
“I don’t know what, but I know I saw him.”
“Are you sure of what you’re saying, madam?”
“How do you mean?”
“According to what I found out, it is utterly impossible for your husband to still be living at that time you mentioned.”
Daniel was alert. What is going on here? At that moment, he was already turning his head from the detective to the lady as the Q & A progressed––like an ardent fan at a tennis match. A gear in his own head kept shifting and engaging every now and then.
“Abigail, are you sure you’re not mincing words?”
“I’m not a fool, detective. I know what I’m talking about and I know what I saw.” Abigail said, “On the night of the seventh at exactly fifteen minutes past ten, I know the exact time because that was the time I switched on the television to watch Hacienda; the late night Mexican soap opera, Cain asked me not to lock the door, he said he was going out with Richard and that may take him some time before returning.”
“Did you ask him where they were going?”
“He said he and Rich wanted to pay a friend a visit.”
“Pay a visit to a friend in the night?”
“So said he,” Abigail replied, “It was about three that I saw him again in the room. He might have been there earlier, I saw him when I opened my eyes before I slept off again.”
“Are you sure it’s not a dream?”
“Forgive me,” the detective said simply. He brought out the note he received from the gatekeeper and gave it to Abigail, “can you please carefully look at the writing on that paper and tell me if you recognize who wrote it.”
Abigail looked at the writing on the paper without any reaction.
“Who wrote this?” she demanded.
“You’re throwing back my question, madam.”
She looked at the writing again and shook her head, “I have no idea whose writing it is but it might have been written by Cain himself.”
“You amaze me, madam. You said you don’t know the writing, yet you said it might have been written by your husband.”
“In the morning, call my lawyer. MC,” Abigail read. “Who could possess these initials in here but Cain?”
“That’s intelligent, madam.”
“Where’s the intelligence in it? Does one need intelligence to know that the tortoise possesses a rough shell?”
“I want you to be specific, madam. Is the writing on this note your husband’s?”
“I don’t think so.”
“And you say your husband was still alive at around three that night?”
“Yes, he was.”
“If the doctor is right, then it means that your husband could not be with you at the time you said you saw him last, it’s absolutely impossible.”
“Doctor Adam said Mr. Martins’ death occurred not later than twelve midnight.”
Abigail was silent at first before speaking; she was thinking back, thinking back so very hard.
“Then the doctor is wrong.” She said, then she asked, “Detective, does it not seem like you are shinning a light in corners better left in gloom?”
“Pardon me, Madam. I don’t seem to get the meaning of what you said.”
She shrugged, “Anyway, it’s your job you’re doing. I shouldn’t blame you.”
Detective Lot sensed that the woman was hiding something very important but he didn’t know what it was or how he could make her spill it out. He stood up.
“Thank you very much, madam. You’ve been a great help. I’ll call on you if I need you again.”
After Abigail’s departure, Daniel who had been quiet throughout the questionings and answerings spoke:
“Detective Lot, I’m in love.”
Lot cast a sharp look at him and said, “You have a funny amorous personality, is it true love or merely gonadal twinges on your part?”
Daniel was wide-eyed, “Oh my God! I can’t believe you just said that, tell me you didn’t say it.”
Lot shook his head, “No, that woman is not for you.”
Daniel was frustrated, “Why on earth not? Is it because she is a widow? After all, sooner or later, someone is going to sweep her off her feet and carry her down the aisle. What is wrong if I’m that lucky man?”
“I know how it feels to love; it’s the best feeling in the world. But take this from me, young man, that lady is not for you. I’ll advise you to stop all your risible attempts to make her notice you.”
“Will you be kind enough to give me a reason why I can’t be her man?”
“I have no reason. But be warned, though––her honey may be sweet but she may likewise be a queen bee with a sting.”
“What an advice!”
“Why don’t you go into the room where you have everybody present and declare your avowal of love, and if you can’t do that then will you forget your love story for now and let’s face the issue on ground? We have two different notes here, and we haven’t really confirmed who wrote them. What do you think about these notes, Daniel?”
Daniel collected the two notes and read them again, “The notes were no doubt written by two different people, that’s what I think.”
“There’s nothing to explain. These handwritings are absolutely different," he cursorily compared the two samples of handwriting. "Here, it seemed like
amatuer and professional experts alike would pretty certainly adjudge the writings sparsely different. The first note contains a very bad and lousy writing. Before one can read, one will have to decipher it. The ‘t’ looks like ‘y’, and the ‘y’ looks like ‘7’. But the other writing is a well-written one, it’s very hard linking the two writings to one person.”
“That means one was written by Cain and the other by X. which do you think was written by the deceased?”
“The second note, of course.”
“Any reason for saying that?”
“The wife really confirmed the second note but she was doubtful about who wrote the first.”
“So, you believed what the woman said? She has really formatted your hard disk and put virus in it.”
“Why won’t I believe her? Do you think she won’t understand her own husband’s writing?”
“I suspect that woman of chicanery. I think she’s a pathological liar, like those people who lie when they don’t even have to. They can tell lie even when they know that their listeners are aware of the truth. As if they have an aversion to the truth about anything, no matter how benign––Mrs. Martins might fall under this category of people.”
“God! Everybody is a liar to you detectives, isn’t it?”
“That woman is hiding something––she’s hiding something very important. Did you not see the weirdness in the second note you and your love claimed to have been written by the deceased? It was apparent that the couple did not love each other when the husband was alive, then how come he wrote a note to his hated-wife stating his love at the eleventh hour?”
“We never know how much we love our spouses until we were about to lose our lives, don’t you know that? Even nasty people fall in love.”
Lot smile, “You are more intelligent than I thought of you.” He continued, “But the fact still remains that the woman is guilty of something.”
“You’re already suspecting that innocent woman, I can’t believe this.”
“Innocent you say? What makes her innocent? Is it because she is pretty? My friend, beauty is dangerous. And for all it’s worth, I personally find her
beauty quite beguiling.”
Daniel looked at the detective with annoyance, “So, what are you insinuating now? That she killed her own husband?”
“What are you saying again, sir? A Hail Mary?”
“It means ‘maybe’.”
“Jesus! What are you becoming, Detective Latino?”
“What of it?” the detective demanded sharply, “You continue to be sentimentally unbelievable! I have seen mothers who murdered their little children for the sake of the insurance money. Are you just hearing of a wife killing her husband? Did you even read about the politician who was stabbed to death by his wife?”
Daniel was agape; he could no longer fathom what the crazy detective was trying to theorize. He broke into a cold sweat.
“You saw her cry when she saw her husband’s corpse. Those tears were not fake, were they?”
“No, they weren’t. She really did cry for Cain.”
“Then?” He stared at Lot, waiting for elucidation.
“Her cry was of pity, not of grief. You remember what she said? I feel sorry for him. She didn’t cry because she won’t see her husband again, she did cry because she felt pity that his life had to end in such a brutal way. Take this from me, she was really glad that her husband died.”
“Be careful of accusing the wrong person, sir. That woman is innocent, I know she’s innocent. Maybe she hid her sadness behind an air of insouciance.”
Lot shrugged, “Maybe she is. But let’s think for once that she’s guilty.”
“What are you saying, sir?”
“Just let us look at the possibility that she planned the murder of her own husband.”
“She might not have killed him directly; she might have connived with someone to help her murder her husband. Most women don’t murder with guns, they can’t stand the loud bang from it, they instead use knives; quiet, penetrating and deep.”
“She’s innocent.” Daniel said gently.
“She may be and she may not be, but she’s my prime suspect in this case.”
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing.”
“I’m not expecting you to believe it yet. I need only one evidence to nail them with––just an evidence.”
“The murder weapon. Please call in our next guest.”
“Someone I think is the accomplice.”
“Yes, call in the lawyer.”
|Re: The Brand Of Cain (A Complete Novel) by Nobody: 12:33pm On Nov 11, 2012|
^^^moderator please unhide this post o! i think its another update. its high time they ban this pyguru sef
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