Kogberegbe suddenly realized he was sweating. He looked around the eatery and noticed there weren’t so many people there anymore. Naija! He mused for he knew what had happened. The air conditioners were switched off to reduce cost; they tend to leave it on only when there were many customers around. Business minds in Nigeria could be irritating, he thought, gulping the last of his coke and making his way out of the eatery in annoyance.
Kogberegbe mentally checked his to-do list and fired his car, heading toward Unilag (University of Lagos) where Ronke used to be a student. Kogberegbe already got a list of Ronke’s ‘few friends’ from her dad and a more comprehensive one from Dapo, as well as the address of the club they used to visit. According to Dapo, Ronke’s closest friend wasn’t even known by her parents.
Though Kogberegbe was skeptical about finding anyone of them in school, Dapo assured him that some of them would, especially because many of the students come from far and wide.
Ronke stayed in Moremi hall while she was alive, and that was where Kogberegbe headed. He saw a woman who identified herself as the hostel warden; she said men were not allowed in the hostel. Her face however fell as Kogberegbe told her the nature of his visit, she knew Ronke quite well. According to her, the girl was vibrant and full of life, but also very kind. Kogberegbe knew what it meant when older people said someone was ‘vibrant’. She pointed abruptly mid-sentence “Look, that is Kemi walking towards the car. Both of them were pretty close.”
“Thank you ma’am” Kogberegbe said, running to catch up with the girl before she got in the car which was obviously waiting for her, packed full with students.
“Kemi” Kogberegbe called out. She looked back and gave him an assessing look followed by an expression that showed that she didn’t know him and wasn’t too keen on doing so. She was obviously one of the high class babes on campus who didn’t have time to spare anyone who wasn’t rich or popular in school. She turned and continued graciously towards the car.
“This concerns Ronke. I assume you knew her?” This made her stop in her tracks, she turned back and smirked, throwing her head back, a gesture that made her fake long hair fly backwards. Her right hand was glued mid-air, hanging her handbag perfectly in place, her face half covered by a huge pair of sunglasses.
“Knew?” she said, giving him a look that so annoyed him.
“She’s dead” Kogberegbe said and was instantly rewarded with an immediate change in her total expression. Her seemingly starched hand impressively went limp and her face went pale.
Frowning, she asked “What are you talking about?”
Kogberegbe brought out his identification card and took a step towards her “I am detective Kogberegbe, investigating the homicide”
“Homicide?” her face contorted “what on earth are you talking about?” she screamed
“Please calm down, I will not like to take you in for questioning” which he was sure would have been what the Nigerian police would do “but at the same time, I do not want you to cause a scene” Kemi nodded her comprehension and leaned against the bonnet of the car, a tear rolled down her cheek. Kogberegbe saw her friends scurrying out of the car, they were obviously worried.
“I would like to ask you a few questions. Can you kindly ask your friends to excuse us for a few minutes?”
“It’s ok” she said blankly “we are all a clique. Some of them were even closer to Ronke than I was”
“Alright then” Kogberegbe said as the first girl approached.
“Hey” she greeted him casually and turned her attention on her friend “are you alright?” at this point, everyone else was by her side.
“Ronke is dead” Kemi blurted out and ran off into the hostel, sobbing uncontrollably as she went.
Kogberegbe rolled his eyes wondering how dramatic these girls can be. He was quite surprised though that none of these supposed friends had heard about the death or of Dapo’s arrest. Their faces registered shock, surprise and grief. One of the girls went after Kemi.
“None of you knew she’s dead?” Kogberegbe asked and they all slowly shook their heads “Did anyone of you notice anything out of the ordinary? Any odd behavior or associations that could suggest anything?” again they shook their heads in silence “was she part of a cult group?”
“Why are you asking all these questions, Mr. …?” One of the boys stepped closer, questioning Kogberegbe’s authority.
“Oh, sorry. Since you didn’t know about her death, you wouldn’t have known how she died. She was killed, more precisely her neck was snapped” Kogberegbe added for effect. He knew that these kids would need a little fright if they were going to be of any help to the case.
“Killed? That doesn’t make any sense. Who would want to kill her?” the boy questioned further.
“I was hoping you’d tell me that” Kogberegbe responded, wiping dust off his sunglasses with a white handkerchief.
“Me?” the boy asked
“Not you in particular, any of you whole lot. From what I gathered, you were her friends and you apparently knew her better than even her parents did. I am certain you are aware that she lived a double life?”
“What are you talking about?” He looked at Kogberegbe, at his friends and back at Kogberegbe “we all flock together, we know ourselves quite well. Ronke was a high spirited girl, she liked to enjoy life and get a little wild sometimes. But that’s nothing bad, we party quite hard but we also made a pact to study twice as hard. It’s not a bad way to live” he added defiantly.
“Yet one of you lost their life” Kogberegbe thre back “What’s your name buddie?”
“David, that’s one part of Ronke’s life that you know of. I believe…”
“How dare you insult our friend?” David darted back
“Ronke is- was different at home” one of the girls supplied quietly, her head bowed “Her parents don’t support clubbing or any of our lifestyles” tears rolled down her cheeks as she spoke.
David looked back at Kogberegbe, a deep frown on his face “Who are you anyway?”
“I am Kogberegbe. Detective Kogberegbe, and I’m officially investigating your friend’s death”
“I wish you luck detective. We’ll be glad when you apprehend the murderer, but nothing in our lifestyle suggests why she may have met with such fate. None of us is in any kind of cult. We are regular students, we only like to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. I still maintain that that is not a crime”
“Indeed” Kogberegbe smiled, noticing that the girl who spoke up earlier looked slightly uncomfortable. “Well, just in case you remember anything that can help with this investigation- anything at all, please give me a call” Kogberegbe said, handing out a stack of his business cards.
“I’ve told you all we know sir, we don’t have anything more to say” David said, refusing to take the cards.
“Humour me nevertheless” Kogberegbe insisted. He turned to the girl “What’s your name, lady?”
“Fadeke” she responded, looking up and collecting the cards that Kogberegbe offered.
“Thank you” Kogberegbe said, still smiling. He wore his sunglasses and excused himself. As he drove away, Kogberegbe wondered if this was another dead end…though something about David struck him as odd. He was defensive for no reason- perhaps too defensive.
Back in his office, he thumbed absent-mindedly at his desk, thinking about the case. No one saw anything out of the ordinary, according to all he’d talked to; and no one knew anything either. It’s either the murderer was a third part of Ronke’s life that he was yet to be privy to, or those who knew about him or her were extremely frightened to talk.
There had been a weird feeling that Kogberegbe carried around all day, and he just recognized it now as loneliness. It was a feeling he didn’t understand, almost entirely strange to him as he didn’t feel lonely often…and he couldn’t figure out where this is stemming from. His mind went back to all the encounters he’d had during the day, deliberately blotting out Lucyji. What she did was too much of a betrayal and even though he would admit that he wasn’t serious with the relationship, he knew he didn’t deserve to be treated the way she did. Kogberegbe decided to focus on Dana; now that’s a weird one, he mused. Dana and Kogberegbe were good friends and though he knew her to be straightforward with her opinions, those opinions had never before been directed at him; and it was for this reason that Kogberegbe wondered if she could be right. He knew he always had challenges in his relationships but what if the problem lay within; what if he truly needed to work on himself? For one, he knew he didn’t know the first thing about women but he also knew that it was hopeless for him to attempt to start learning at this stage. Women seem to have a way of making a man’s life complex and truth be told, he still hurt from his broken marriage. Kogberegbe hated to fail at anything and to him that was a major failure. It also hurt that he let his wife down and another man was able to fill the void she felt with him for so long; do for her what he was too busy to do- care. Kogberegbe should have moved on by now, and many times he thought he had…but once again as he’d done many times in the past, he found himself staring at the picture of himself and his ex-wife which he always kept at the bottom of his drawer. He felt the urge to talk to her again if only to feel a bit of the comfort, love and assurance he always did with her. He often resulted to checking up her facebook page whenever he had such urge but it always ended the same way. He would see her contended smile in lovely pictures where she was always swarmed with her family, she never seemed to have a dull moment in her life. And Kogberegbe always ended up weighing his life against what probably was hers and he ends up feeling sad. Knowing this, he deliberately veered away from his ex-wife’s facebook profile that was loading, and instead went on Lucyji’s page. As his heart began to feel a warm glow, he suddenly realized the origin of the lonely feeling he had- he missed this woman! But how can, he wondered. He’d always loved his life independent of anyone; he only put this on the line once and since that didn’t work out for him, he concluded it was best to live his life the way he liked it- independently. So why was his feelings drawing him back when he’d just been given a perfect escape route out of the strong strings that women ensure they wield round their men?
His phone ringing tone jerked him out of his reverie, he frowned as he checked the number, it was an unregistered one. He sighed and pressed the green button.
“Detective Kogberegbe on the line” he said
“Hi” The person on the other end of the line said, it was a female voice which sounded vaguely familiar but he couldn’t place it just yet “My name is Fadeke” she continued.
“Hi Fadeke, how may I help you?”
“I’m one of Ronke’s friends you spoke with earlier today” she said
“Oh, pardon me I didn’t get your name earlier on. Thanks for calling” Kogberegbe heart started racing. Probably something good was coming out of the day afterall…
“I couldn’t say anything in the presence of others earlier on.”
“Is there a reason to fear your own friends?” Kogberegbe enquired
“You mentioned cultism detective. If this is true, no one can be trusted.”
“Ok, please go on”
“I can’t discuss this with you over the phone. I am not supposed to know anything, if you know what I mean. And even if I do, I am not supposed to share.”
“Ok, can you come to my office Fadeke?”
“Your office ke? That’s risky, I can’t afford to be seen with you. Who’s to say the murderer isn’t watching us all?”
“You’re right. How about we meet casually?”
“Casually bi ti bawo? Are you listening to me detective?”
“Fadeke, you’re a smart girl. I believe you can act like everything is normal; use a camouflage is need be. Can we meet at Shoprite car park? It’s usually pretty crowded, if anyone’s following you, it should be easy to lose them around the parking lot.”
“Ok cool. How soon can you get there?”
“I can be there by 8pm, you?”
“Eight is fine. Call to know my exact location at the car park when you get there”
“Ok, see you then”
“Please don’t come in that car of yours”
“Why?” he asked confused.
“Just please don’t. Thanks” with that, she went off the line.