COIN……there are two sides to every story by @obasatemitope (Episode XI)

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Kogberegbe wondered how rude these kids have become, lips pursed. But he was thankful for the timely jolt. How could he have been drowning in such silly thoughts about women? The first thing he did was delete his ex-wife’s number from his phone. He knew that for him to be able to move on, he had to shed some of the weight he carried. He took the picture which he had kept dear over years, and carefully laid it in the waste basket, his secretary would throw it away first thing in the morning. It was difficult for him, but he knew that if he had to face the future bravely, he had to let go of the past which held him captive for so long.

He picked up his phone, recorder, notepad and headed out of his office, switching off the lights as he left. He secretary closes at 6pm, he made it a rule for her to leave the office, whether or not he was back from field work. She had a lovely family and Kogberegbe encouraged her to keep it intact; the least he could do was send her home to them in good time.

Kkogberegbe would have loved to go in his own car, but he didn’t want to spook Fadekemi. His car was an old model, the colour unique and hence it would stand out. If anyone didn’t want him to find the killer, they could go an extra mile to permanently keep someone else quiet if that someone else posed a threat. Kogberegbe didn’t want to risk another innocent life. He flagged down an empty cab. One of the good things about Lagos is that you’d hardly ever find a shortage of cabs. Even private car owners sometimes shuttle their cars to earn extra cash.

“Shoprite” Kogberegbe said through the window.

“#2,500” The driver said

“What!” Kogberegbe frowned in the darkness. Exploitation! The distance from his office to shoprite wasn’t more than 10 minutes; with traffic perhaps twenty “#2,000” he negotiated.

With a simple nod of his head, the driver agreed to the price and Kogberegbe hopped into the passenger seat. Luckily, traffic wasn’t as bad as Kogberegbe had envisaged, though that also meant he arrived Shoprite five minutes early.

“Oga, you no talk say I go wait o…” the driver started lamenting immediately Kogberegbe told him he would wait while he talked with Fadekemi, and then take him back to his office. Even before the driver finished his lamentation, Kogberegbe thrust #5,000 in his face. That should keep him quiet for a while.

At two minutes to eight, Kogberegbe decided to call Fadekemi. “Just pulling into the car park, slight traffic. I’ll be at the second entrance in three minutes, you need to pick me up. I have an unmistakable red scarf tied round my neck” she said.

“Cool” he said and four minutes later, they were in front of the entrance. Though the red scarf stood out like she’d said, Kogberegbe was confused with the rest of Fadekemi’s outfit. She had big goggles on, in fact, massive; a very short skirt, heavy wig and really high heeled shoes. Kogberegbe told the driver to stop. She saw him immediately and made her way gracefully inside the cab. You’ve got to give it up for these girls, they are classy, Kogberegbe thought, smiling.

“You’re looking at me like you’re judging me det…” Kogberegbe  gave a fake cough to cut her short. He gave her an eye signal, directed at the driver. “well, Kogberegbe”. The driver obviously found the name amusing, for he tried hopelessly to control his laughter, glancing towards Kogberegbe for a brief second.

He cleared his throat as a cover up “Where to now sir?”

“Just find a good spot in the parking lot” Kogberegbe responded.

“So?” Fadekemi looked at him defiantly.

“So what?” He gave her a surprised look. She gave him a matching look and he said “well…you look…dressy. That’s all”

“I mustn’t look different from the other nights when I go out.”

“You dress like this every night?” Kogberegbe asked.

“If you have a problem with it, I could leave”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude” Kogberegbe apologized.

“Can you excuse us for a minute?” Kogberegbe asked the driver.

The driver glanced at him in a ridiculous way “Leave you in my car? My car??”

Kogberegbe showed him the complimentary police badge which he usually carried for such occasions. “Go with your key. And you need not go farther than a few yards” He handed him an extra #5,000 “And that includes taking me back to the office” Kogberegbe gave him a menacing look. He knew the man had already made from him, more than he could probably expect for the whole night.

“I will just be by the bonnet sir o” The driver said.

“That’s fine” Kogberegbe responded, moving from the passenger seat to the back seat for proximity.

“ehn ehn” The driver said, getting out with his keys and rooted himself firmly close to the door, arms akimbo.

Kogberegbe slid forward to switch on the car radio, not because he cared for the music but to ensure the cab driver stood no chance of listening in to their conversation. Even if he wasn’t a direct threat, he seemed to like money enough to make Kogberegbe careful. For all he knew, the man could head straight to a news company to share all he heard.

“Ok, it’s safe to talk now Fadeke” Kogberegbe said.

“Just before the ASUU strike, Ronke seemed excited about something. Before then, she had been acting strange, sometimes totally off, as if something was bothering her that was beyond her control, but she wouldn’t share. She confided in me that she was doing something that could potentially be dangerous. But she wouldn’t tell me much, she said she could take care of herself. I guess she was wrong” she paused “My thinking is that someone had treated her badly and she’d been finding a way to get back at the person. She probably found a way. Her excitement was quite scary.”

“Tell a about this change in attitude, please be as explicit as possible” Kogberegbe said. He had switched on his recorder before changing seats, careful not to raise Fadekemi’s awareness.

“I am not sure if this part is relevant. But sometime last year, Ronke was very sad. Something apparently bothered her but she wouldn’t share. She must have been afraid of something or someone. She gradually sank into herself, blanking out at times, not corresponding coherently and seemingly distant most times. We had to assume it was something to do with her family because all seemed to go well in school. So we all decided to help her stay strong through it, have enough fun to drown the sorrow. After some time, she seemed to find her strength back, she became lively again. But I’m sure this doesn’t have anything to do with the murder, it was a long time ago” she said.

“You never know which little bit of information would be helpful in getting to the root of an investigation. Please go on” Kogberegbe urged.

“There isn’t much to say. About a month ago, she said she found a way to get even”

“Did she tell you who or what she was talking about?”

Fadeke shook her head “She said it was better if I didn’t know the details but she promised to tell me as much as she could as soon as the situation was dealt with. I didn’t push her because I’m sure we all have parts of our lives that we’d rather keep private”

“Sure.” Kogberegbe said, looking up from his writing pad

“I hope you didn’t put my name in that pad of yours?” Fadeke asked frowning.

“Why do you ask?”

“You know, just in case they catch up with you and kill you, I don’t want anyone getting any links to me. I don’t want to die yet”

Kogberegbe was bewildered, but one look at her face and he knew she wasn’t joking “Fadekemi, no one is going to get killed”

“How are you sure of that? Just three days ago, I was with my friend and I could have said the same thing you just said”

Kogberegbe sighed, showed her his writing pad in assurance that her name wasn’t there. There were scary movies everywhere and he was certain that she watched more than a fair share of them.

“You watch a lot of CSI movies don’t you?” Kogberegbe asked.

She laughed boldly “They’re actually my favorite”

“It’s obvious. But you need to slow down yea? Lagos isn’t as bad as L.A or Miami”

“Yea right. I’d rather be safe than sorry. Ronke isn’t safe” Fadekemi said.

“Back to Ronke, did it ever cross your mind that it could have been any of your friends that put her in the scary state? Or a fellow student?” Kogberegbe asked. He noticed the same scared look he observed in her eyes earlier on.

“No” she simply said, avoiding his gaze.

“There’s someone that you’re afraid of within your caucus isn’t there?” Kogberegbe voiced his concern.

“I’m sorry I cannot be of further help detective. I’ve told you all I know though right now it sounds futile to me. I’m sorry I wasted your time.” She tried to open the door.

“No, not at all please” he placed his hand gently on her arm “I’m sorry if that’s a path you wouldn’t like to thread”

She looked stern “It is”

“Then I apologize” Kogberegbe said. “Would you mind if I asked a few more questions?”

“Sure, go ahead” she removed her hand from the door knob.

“What do you think of Ronke’s boyfriend?” Kogberegbe asked

“Dapo?” she asked, surprised “He’s a cool guy, cute too” she said, her eyes betraying envy “They made a fine couple and I’m certain that if Ronke hadn’t met her death, they would have been crowned the couple of the year by the end of this session” a teardrop rolled down her cheek.

“Did Ronke mention her pregnancy?”

Fadekemi looked surprised “What are you talking about?”

“Autopsy showed that she was pregnant as at the time of her death”

“Oh dear! How devastated Dapo must be” she said

“Come on! He’s a kid!!” Kogberegbe said

“What do you mean?” she questioned “If I know of a couple who loved each other truly, it was those two. Dapo would have been excited about it, they would have found a way to make things work.”

“Yet you weren’t aware of this little information?”

“You are honestly not suggesting that Dapo killed her?” she looked angry

“I am not suggesting anything. I am just trying to find a murderer, that’s all”

“I understand your skepticism about him being a Pastor’s son and fathering a child out of wedlock but if they weren’t ready for it, there are ways of going about it; he definitely wouldn’t resort to killing Ronke! That’s ridiculous”

“But you’re certain the child can only be his?”

She looked from side to side “What on earth are u suggesting? First that Dapo is a murderer and now that Ronke was a slut? She was anything but! Of us all, she was the easiest going and I think this is an insult to her memory. And at this point, I don’t know what lunatic put you up to the task of investigating this case”

“Her father did”

“He’s made a grievous mistake” she said, getting out of the car.

“We could drop you close to your car” Kogberegbe called after her

“That won’t be necessary” she tossed over her shoulder, not bothering to look back.

Kogberegbe looked on as she walked away with finesse. She was a refined and intelligent lady but her dressing depicted something demeaning. He wondered how one could dress like this every night, taking in her extremely tight jeans which hugged her buttocks uncomfortably. He knew she dared not bend down. The driver peered in “Would you like to go to Allen sir?”

Kogberegbe was confused only for a second, then he burst out laughing. The driver must have assumed that Fadekemi was a pick up girl and that she did not agree with his negotiation. He laughed loudly and told the driver to take him back to his office.

 

Kogberegbe picked up his car, deciding he still had time to make one more stop which he would have deferred to the next day. He got the name of the club which Ronke and her friends visit, from Dapo. When he made a quick scan of the club and saw no familiar faces, he was a bit relieved. He had pondered on whether he would meet the friends there or not. Kogberegbe caught sight of a couple of mid-age men coming out of where he assumed was the VIP lounge, followed by some pretty girls. The club also had a hotel at the back, he mused at how convenient that was. He sat at the bar, slowly sipping his iced tea. He however noticed the bar man eyeing him suspiciously, sure that not many men showed up at a joint like this and paid so much to gain entry, only to sip iced tea. So Kogberegbe beckoned to him and ordered a bottle of rosé. The man nodded, finished folding his napkin and fetched the drink. Kogberegbe didn’t like alcohol, his system could barely take it down. But his job sometimes warrant that he indulge. The bar was thinning as the barman placed his drink in front of him. As he made to open the small bottle, Kogberegbe touched his arm, slipped him his card and quietly asked if they could meet after his shift. The barman looked from the card to Kogberegbe with hard eyes, not uttering a word. Kogberegbe feared that the man would call bouncers. He couldn’t read his expression at all.

“How much for the drink?” Kogberegbe asked audibly.

“#5,000” The barman answered coldly.

Kogberegbe fringed inside at hearing the cost of a small bottle of rosé, his brows arched for a second but he managed to pull himself back together quickly, reaching inside his pocket. He counted ten notes of #1,000 and slid it towards the man.

“Out back. Ten minutes. Name’s Jack” The barman said, still with the stern look. Kogberegbe thought the man would do better as a bouncer!

Ten minutes later, Kogberegbe’s rosé sat a few sips down at the bar while its owner stood in the hot windy night, waiting for Jack. Ten more minutes, Kogberegbe heard “Yo!” to his right and walked towards Jack.

Thanks for meeting. Name’s Kogberegbe”

“Really?” Jack asked “Thought it was a joke on your card” He still wasn’t smiling “So, your cash’s counting, what’d you want?”

Kogberegbe produced the radiant picture of Ronke which had been used to place her obituary “this girl used to frequent this place. Do you know her”

“Yea. Not so well though, club’s got boundaries. But yea, she’s always here. Haven’t seen her in days though, maybe cos of ASUU strike. I’m sure she’s a student.” Jack’s communication was impressive. Kogberegbe assumed he’s one of the numerous educated Nigerians who had to make a living anyhow for lack of suitable jobs.

“No” Kogberegbe said.

“Excuse me?” Jack said with a confused frown.

“She’s not been here because she’s dead”

“Oh yea?” Jack asked “I’m sorry to hear that”

“I was hoping you could tell me about her”

“Like I said, there are boundaries here so I didn’t know her that well. I believe she was one of the club’s freelance strippers and I know a few of the older men took interest in her. She was pretty”

“Stripper you said?”

 

COIN……there are two sides to every story by @obasatemitope (Episode X)

0799-KD_1L

 

 

 

 

CLICK HERE TO READ PREVIOUS EPISODES

 

 

 

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”

“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”

“Eerm, Detective?”

“Yep?”

“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.

 

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