Series: Crimes That Bind (1)

 

sad girl


                 

"I know her." he said abruptly. "She attends the same school as my daughter." He held his torch at the body which was partly covered in sand. The girl's eyes, wide and cold, gazed upon the night sky in vain hope. Dried tears clung to her face the way her fingers clutched her blood-stained wrapper. He knew; officer Adigun knew very well the cold stare on the girl's face. His late wife had had that same scared look before she died. He cowered beside her and swipe a hand over her eyes, ending her futile search for help. The moon, high and full, is out too, glaring at her stretched body alongside two other officers.

 "She was bludgeoned," one of the officers said, his high-pitched voice cutting through the quietness of the night. Adigun could feel his heart thumping away loudly somewhere in his throat. He pulled her wrapper to cover the exposed parts of her thighs and stood abruptly - like a figure of doom - over the cold body. "She was raped," he said through gritted teeth. "And whoever did this will pay dearly for it."

"Father! Father!" Adewale called in a hushed tone as he scurried into the chapel. His outstretched shadow scanned the entire length of the alley before him. All the while he looked back at intervals, peering into the darkness behind for an unknown assailant. He was one himself.

"Reverend!" he called again, proceeding with gingerly footwork over the concrete floor. In the dead silence of the night, it seemed to Adewale that the very chapel was alive. The pews held an imaginary congregation that gaped at his guilt; the statue of Mary in front of the church leaned and mocked him as he tried to walk more softly. He wiped the sweat from his brow. 

Have mercy on me! Mary, mother of God! Have mercy!

But mere words weren't enough to make up for the terrible act that he had committed. In the midst of his current anguish, the cold stare on Ayinke's face appeared in his mind. It haunted him now; now that she is dead. 

He wished he had not forced her against her will. He felt sick. Adewale wondered how he had agreed to work for Father John. The scheme had brought him nothing but misery. And all for what? Slowly, his fear vanished and something defiant replaced it. Then and there he decided; he decided that he was going to turn himself in. At that moment, the sharp clicks of shoes sounded behind him. He whirled around.

The blank face of reverend John emerged from the darkness. "Yes, Adewale. I am here."

"Father," Adewale called. "I was just -"

"That will do you no good." Father John's voice carried the desolation of judgement in it. From the darkness where the reverend emerged, two more men appeared. They wore police uniforms. Their expressions were twisted with anger. 

Adewale knew very well the fate that awaited him. He  became cold. "I - I didn't kill her, father," he said in a small, tremulous voice. "I swear it wasn't me. The other girl did."

The father laughed. "I know, my son. I believe you." He patted Adewale on his shoulder.

Adewale grinned in nervous relief. "T-thank you, father."

The reverend laughed again. "Don't thank me just yet, son," he said as he walked away, and the two policemen closed in on Adewale. 

Adewale's face reflected confusion and fear. The thrust of a knife into his belly caused him to gasp. He fell, his body jerking from several other thrusts. 

                                                                     

Officer Adigun plunged his hand deep into the pocket of his trouser and fingered the piece of folded cloth. He heaved a sigh, renewing his determination to seek justice. It won't take long now, he thought, imagining the horrid look on Ayinke's pale face. His face is tortured, a man in his late forties, and for the first time in his entire career, he undid the belt over his big belly. He was distraught, unable to stop thinking about his late wife and sick daughter. 

He rounded the corner and decided that he was not going to the village square, where his companions waited in the mournful wails of Ayinke's demise - no,  murder. He gritted his teeth. Instead, he would go back home first and check upon his sick daughter. The apple of his eyes. He felt uneasy, not having seen or heard from her since he left home the previous night. 

Upon his arrival, his daughter was nowhere to be found. His home felt like someone had left in a hurry. Fear gripped him and sweat trickled down the side of his head. He plumped down on her bed, the rusty spring protesting under his weight. Perhaps she had gone to visit her friends, he thought, pushing out ill thoughts that now invaded his mind. He continued pushing the thoughts, till at last, he cast his eye, rather by accident than design, on a gown tucked in a corner of the room. A thought, like lightning, shot through his mind. He picked up the gown, carefully observing the rip along its side. His heart raced as he retrieved the folded piece of cloth from his pocket. They were the same. The evidence he had found in Ayinke's clutched fingers was ripped from his daughter's cloth.

 TO BE CONTINUED... 

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