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

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Stripper you said?”
Jack frowned “Yeah? Thought you knew; why else would you be asking me?”
“What did you mean when you said ‘freelance’”
“Means you aren’t really bound to the club. You do your thing as and when you want”
“Ok. But I was of the impression that she used to come here with her friends?” Kogberegbe was getting even more confused.
“Perhaps. Like I said, I didn’t know her that well. The job comes with a lot of protection for the girls. It’s a high class thing, and I know it’s one of the ways girls get high level contacts in Lagos. It also pays well, and it’s safe. Just a bit of pole dancing or something, no touching except for special requests and it comes with the girl’s consent. I’m not really sure what goes down in there; we have levels of operation in here and only designated staffs are allowed in the suite. We don’t know much about the girls, and absolutely nothing about the gold and diamond members”
“Those are the ones allowed in the VIP suite?”
“Yea. Silver members have another lounge; and unregistered members like you are not allowed beyond the regular floor”
“I see” Kogberegbe said “Who owns this club”
“Look, I’ve told you more than I should. My shift doesn’t end till another four hours, I just asked someone to cover while I went to the gents. I’ve overstayed as it is”
“Alright. Thanks for your time” Kogberegbe said without a choice because Jack had already turned his back and was on his way in “You have my card, please call if you remember anything else”
“Sure” Jack said and a few steps ahead, Kogberegbe saw him toss his card into an industrial bin.
Sitting in his car, Kogberegbe dialed Fadekemi’s number. She picked on the fourth ring “Yep” she said.
“It’s Kogberegbe”
“Ok”
“First let me apologize for earlier” He said
“It’s cool” She responded briefly.
“Sorry I’m calling this late but I need to ask you further questions…”
“Yea, she said so” She responded incoherently.
“Excuse me?” Kogberegbe said
“He’s here as well”
“Who?”
She gave a short laugh “She should be with you in ten minutes don’t worry”
“Hello” Kogberegbe said, confused. It was as if she was responding to a totally different conversation.
“Alright then, later” she said and went off the line.
Kogberegbe stared at the phone, wondering what madness just happened. Now he’s been able to confirm for sure that there was someone in Ronke’s clique that at least Fadekemi is scared of; and now he suspects that that person might be Fadekemi’s boyfriend. The only explanation was that he was beside her when Kogberegbe called, and must not even get a whiff that she’s been speaking with a detective. Now, Kogberegbe wondered if he shouldn’t really be taking a deeper look in the school or even among the clique. And he also wondered if Fadekemi wasn’t deliberately sent to him to throw off the trail, what if she’s been lying to him all day?
Kogberegbe put his earpiece in place, phone in the holster, turned to his favorite radio station and drove out into one of the well lit roads in Lagos state. The state was always busy, no matter what time of the day and this made it beautiful in an eerie way. Despite the daily huddles faced such as heavy traffic and poor electricity supply, Kogberegbe loved Nigeria, but particularly Lagos state and he couldn’t blame the people that daily fluxed into the state. The expensive lifestyle that also came with staying in Lag suited him just fine; he made enough to cover up for such expenses. As he drove, he noticed one of the billboards erected by the Ministry of Environment “Keeping Lasgidi clean…Eko o ni baje o”. Lagos was getting popularized as Lasgidi, and the numerous names never ceased to amuse him; some others would call it Eko state, combining English and Yoruba to qualify the state. But whichever way it is called, there was this solidarity slogan about not allowing Lagos to get spoilt, literally, and that seemed to build a kind of belonging in the people, making them feel like something bound them all together as they answer “o baje ti” in response always to the slogan of “Eko o ni baje”. Kogberegbe smiled, thinking he certainly belonged here. A few minutes later, his phone started ringing. He just glanced down briefly to ascertain the caller before refocusing on the road. As much as he liked Lagos state, he knew he had to be careful at all times and as such, he knew that one of the most stupid things he could attempt to do at that time of the day was to park to pick the call. And it was for this reason that he put on his earpiece before leaving the clubhouse, for it was also dangerous to drive and use the mobile phone.
“Fadekemi” He said into the earpiece in acknowledgement.
“Hi detective. First of all about earlier, it’s not cool. Second, sorry for the incoherent responses I gave, I couldn’t speak where I was and you ensured you called long enough that I couldn’t continue to ignore”
“I apologize. I am constrained by time, that’s why I have to get to issues as soon as I can. You held back some information about Ronke, I wonder why?”
“Excuse me?” She said. Kogberegbe could sense the anger creeping back into her voice.
“About what she…or perhaps you all do at the club”
“I’m afraid I don’t get your drift”
“Do you work at the club for instance?”
“I’m beginning to feel sorry that I came to you detective. How dare you insult us so? Of all places to work, would it be at a club house?”
Now, Kogberegbe was all the more confused, because it sounded like Fadekemi was telling the truth. “I’m very sorry Fadekemi, but trust me I’ve not had any intention of insulting you, not before and not now. All I ask is for you to help me make sense of a few confusing things.”
“I hear you”
“That club is pretty expensive, and it requires referrals. How did you guys join the club?”
“First of all, there is no such thing as ‘expensive’ for some of us. And for your information, Ronke single-handedly organized the whole thing. She did it as a surprise on Dapo’s birthday, and we’ve been frequenting the place ever since. We like it there, it’s not as low class as most other clubs you see around, if you know what I mean”
“Yea, sure.”
“Well then I gotta go now” she said hurriedly. Kogberegbe heard footsteps in the background and Fadekemi’s “Yea, it’s mom” before she went off the line.

After much deliberation, Kogberegbe decided to call Dr. Okanlawon despite the time insensitivity.
“It’s late, detective” Dr. Okanlawon said gruffly
“Apologies sir” Kogberegbe said.
“Uhn-uhn?” Dr. Okanlawon asked impatiently
“I was wondering if I could go through Ronke’s school effects. That’s if she left anything behind in school and if you’ve collected them sir?”
“No, we’ve not got round to doing that. We’ve not even formally informed the school authorities yet. I can’t say for certain that she left anything in school, but I believe she has a regular room and some of her friends are always there so there is a possibility. If you need access, I could place a call tomorrow and probably arrange someone to box and take them to the house, if that’s fine.”
“That would be perfect sir” Kogberegbe said.
“Please remind me in the morning”
“Definitely sir”
“Is that all, detective?”
“Eeer, I’d also need to know what allowance you gave Ronke?”
“Is that important to the case?”
“It probably is sir”
“Well, it varies…varied” Dr. Okanlawon corrected himself, then took a pause before going further “But we tried to keep it modest so that she wouldn’t get carried away with frivolous activities”
“Could you please be specific sir?”
“It should be in the region of #30,000. Between #30,000 and #50,000, but definitely not more than that. It was just for upkeep, we supplied everything else she needed”
“Thank you sir”
“At some point, her mother said she requested for more. But we expressly declined, so I’m sure that isn’t an issue in your case”
“It shouldn’t be sir” Kogberegbe lied “But can you remember when this was sir?”
“Not really detective, but it hasn’t been more than a few months”
“Thank you sir” Kogberegbe said.
“Are you going to tell me what this is about?” The venom was slowly entering Dr. Okanlawon’s voice but Kogberegbe wasn’t intimidated. If anything, he had learnt that in his line of work, one had to be hardened and prepared to meet with all sorts- intimidations, lies, rudeness and annoyance alike.
“Not right now sir, I haven’t yet figured out the relevance of these information; I just know for certain that they will be useful whether in affirming suspicions or discarding them” Kogberegbe answered.
“You’re hiding something from me detective; I am not stupid, you know.”
“Your daughter was a clubber Doctor”
“You insinuated as much the very first day you visited the scene”
“She was a heavy clubber sir. And there’s an indication that she frequented an expensive club” Kogberegbe said, certain that he had to give Doctor some information, howbeit little, if he wanted to get him off his back.
Dr. Okanlawon sighed “Well, she made a choice of where to spend her money then.” He said sadly, then after a long pause said “There’s more to this isn’t there?”
“It is a very expensive club sir, I have been there myself”
“And I suppose the charges don’t fall within the range of the allowance I mentioned?”
“Even if she went five times a month, and alone, I’m afraid not sir” He didn’t bother to emphasize that she financed her friends to the club.
“Then Dapo must have picked the bills. His parents are quite wealthy too, and you know boys have a way of getting more cash”
“Absolutely sir; I will question him about this tomorrow sir” Kogberegbe said.
“I heard he was picked up?”
“Yes sir”
“Have you talked to him?”
“Yes sir”
“Does he strike you as someone capable of this crime?”
“No sir. But I’m sure the Police are doing their job sir” Kogberegbe said.
“The boy’s a good lad detective; we attended the same Church when we lived in their estate. I would say I know him quite well, but I obviously didn’t even know my own daughter.” He paused; Kogberegbe refused to comment, so Dr Okanlawon went on “I don’t want to make the mistake of requesting his release if he’s involved in this, do you understand?”
“I understand sir” Kogberegbe responded.
“Do you have an idea when he can be bailed?”
“I’m not sure sir. But I was told his parents were there this morning, they should work things out soon.”
“Keep me informed detective”
“Yes sir”
“During the day detective”
“Yes sir. Sorry for the disturbance sir.” Kogberegbe said.
“Bye then” Dr. Okanlawon said, immediately followed by a click that indicated he had cut the line.
Kogberegbe found it difficult to sleep, another experience that felt alien to him; the hollow feeling persisted. He sighed in resignation when he heard a click which made him realize he’d unconsciously dialed Lucy’s number.
“Hello” She said, her voice sounding so sweet, like he was hearing it for the first time. “Hello?” She repeated in a sleepy voice.
“Did I wake you up? Kogberegbe asked.
“Not really, what’s up?”
“What? Oh, nothing really. I was trying to call someone else and…” Kogberegbe tried hopelessly to explain the mistake off.
“So it was a mistake then”
“Yea…erm…” He stuttered.
“It’s cool. You take care then”
“Lucy?” Kogberegbe called
“Yes?”
“Nice hearing your voice.”
She gave a small laugh “Thanks. I know you’re dying to discuss your case”
Kogberegbe laughed back. He really did miss sharing with her; whether directly or indirectly, she used to help him through his cases. “Probably” He said out loud.
“Maybe we should do lunch tomorrow then? I’m really knackered tonight and I’ve got an early shift tomorrow” Lucy answered.
“Ok, that sounds great”
“And Steve…?”
“Yes?”
“You should get some sleep yourself” she advised.
“Thanks. I’ll do just that. I’m sorry I forgot your birthday”
“It’s alright, it’s a weakness with most men anyways” Lucy said and Kogberegbe scoffed. He didn’t like the sound of being categorized with ‘other men’ but he knew he deserved that. Lucy ignored the scoff and said “Don’t forget to call the person you originally intended to”
Kogberegbe laughed “Goodnight Lucy”
“Goodnight” she said.

 

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?”

 

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