Diamond woke up the next day empty of an idea of what to do. She sold her liquor and the day passed. The next morning at 10am. She rang the line. “Hello, are you
Diamond woke up the next day empty of an idea of what to do. She sold her liquor and the day passed. The next morning at 10am. She rang the line.
“Hello, are you still in that your hotel? “
“Diamond. Oh! You. I have bought a brand new phone for you.”
“We are looking for a very good artiste. Very good and talented artiste that paints very well like the pictures on your wall.”
Charity said to Diamond from the particular spot they had sat the first time in Genesis. She operated the phone with her and clicked on the pictures.
“These pictures?” Diamond asked redundantly.
“Yes, they are lovely pictures that cost a lot, I want to get something like that.”
“The painter was my classmate o. He knew how to draw from small. I know him. I will take you to his house.”
Diamond never really like her classmate, the artiste, from classroom but chose to lead her new friend to him.
As she parted with Charity that Sunday evening. She laughed and thanked.
“Thank you for the new fine phone. I like the way you added the money inside. You must be a philanthropy.”
Charity laughed too.
Diamond chatted her class mate up and got him into a business mood and on a Monday morning, she was leading the duo to the art creator. Charity had said that Marshall was her cousin. Diamond almost suspected his look to be familiar but the excitement she gets with Charity cut her short. The street was lame, gutters hidden, it was like a new road and the air hitting their noses is Nigerian, crude and heavy yet so consuming. It was the beginning of the harmattan. They found number 32 Dim Street and strolled into the black gate. The compound had just two apartments by the left and a group of healthy plantains by the right, an open space demarcating them. The artist apartment was the second, so easy to catch, some of his works rested on a wall in the verandah. The apartment gate was locked. They knocked several times, there was no response. Charity had bypassed professionalism and cajoled the situation into not being public in an office or outlet but in the artist’s studio. While they waited, Diamond looked around and found a path leading to the back of apartment, she signalled them and they followed.
The end of the apartment had a verandah so neat and arranged, small containers, brushes, clean towels and art works of various sizes and quality occupying a small platform by the wall. Its gate was open. Charity went closer and gaped at the table in the middle. A half painted black and white picture of a man and woman existed on a large thick white square shaped paper. There was a container of colourful brushes and a container of coloured pen and pencils. Beside the paper was a stained red towel and a white wide mug. There was a small water in the mug. Some note pads settled around with a bunch of keys. To Charity’s impression, there were ten sticks of cigarettes in between the containers. Four other sticks beside the mug and three packs of cigarettes placed in between the space between the irons of the gate. The cigarettes didn’t look like a thing, it appeared like one of the tools the artist used for painting. She was still taking in the details, when a young voice startled them.
“You must be looking for the cigar man. “
At first, he glared at his visitors in overt surprise, disbelieve, then curiosity.
The little boy who had gone to call him had at once ran back to his mother.
The Cigar Man looked aside and scoffed. Diamond was not inside the verandah. She was standing aside. Marshall and Charity were the ones inside, very close to the door that led to his kitchen then to his bedroom.
“This boy again. Taah. E no go work this time.” The Cigar Man discussed inwardly.
“Let us go inside.”
He passed through Marshall and Charity, pushed the door. They followed. He thanked his God that Diamond decided to wait outside.
Once he padded into the bedroom. He stood by the door ushering them in. Charity strolled in looking up in circle. Marshall walked in, rubbing his palms together. The Cigar Man could not wait any longer. He strained Marshall to a hard kick of his kneel and escaped. His hands were swift on the keys. He locked them in.
Diamond’s mouth was stuffed with the small red towel.
“Where you meet Sofiri? Where you meet am? I go kill you now!”
A muffled sound came out of her. Her eyes were already teary from the grip aroumd her throat from behind and the crude smelly towel in her mouth.
“In short, this matter no concern you. I go deal with Sofiri myself. If I hear anything. You go know. Oya dey go.” Diamond almost crashed from the push. She took to her heels willingly.
The Cigar Man was already standing at the gate with a log in hand before Diamond got there. She wondered how he got there quickly. He banged the gate with the log. Diamond shivered and ran out through it. He shut the gate and locked. Diamond cursed and swore. They never liked each other from secondary school yet she wondered why he had peak terror in his eyes at the moment.
Diamond disappeared like one of those fishes in a shallow river that one nearly caught but could not immediately imagine how it escaped and vanished totally.
It had happened unexpectedly to want to cause her to piss herself. Marshall was on the floor beside a single black couch, groaning. His right hand by his side. Charity had rushed to him in the semi-darkness. She held him and screamed for help or for their capturer to hear her out. It availed nothing. She raised his brother’s head. A liquid moistened her fingers. Charity ran towards the window and shifted the curtain. The liquid was scarlet. She keened and rushed to hold her brother who had become silent.
Detective Charity had undergone combative training and handled danger as raw as it is but was not trained on how to react while her brother is on the floor. She wailed and stopped. Stood and began to bang the locked door. She only stopped when she…
To be continued.
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