Previously on THE RETURN…
Jennifer Obiorah watched her husband from where she sat in their bedroom. Short dark hair framed her pixie-perfect face and she wore Capri pants that showed off her slim ankles that were crossed one over the other. She was in her late twenties, tiny and feminine. Next to her husband, Jennifer always seemed like delicate china constantly threatened with breakage; and now, as Michael paced anxiously about, his hulking figure seeming to fill the room, one could see how easy it’d be for Jennifer to disappear altogether into the rich furnishings of the bedroom.
Jennifer knew this. She knew her husband’s physicalness and personality was so overwhelming that sometimes, people forgot she existed every time they were juxtaposed next to each other. She knew this invisibility tended to make Michael take her for granted. She understood the dynamics of their marriage and she was fine with it; Michael loved her in his own way, this she knew. And as long as that didn’t change, she could live with being the proverbial woman behind his successful man.
Michael was walking about the room, muttering to himself and thumping his right fist into the open palm of his left.
She let out a sigh and finally said, “Darling, you really need to think this through before you do anything stupid.”
Michael halted in his step and turned a glower to her. “Stupid?” he said, mild irritation tightening the word. “Is that what you call this?”
Jennifer was a woman who had learned that in order to keep her marriage steady and happy, opposing her husband was out of the question. He was headstrong and never listened to her anyway. His persistent dismissal of her opinions and suggestions whenever he sought them had often escalated to heated arguments in the past, before she learned to be circumspect with her responses to him. She’d initially wondered why Michael even bothered to involve her in his decision-making process if he wasn’t going to listen to her, and soon came to the conclusion that it was her approval he sought, not her opinion. She had therefore learned to agree when he was right and remain silent when she felt he wasn’t. Any form of dissension from her never ended well for her. Even though he had never laid a hand on her, the sharpness of her husband’s tongue made it so that his words wounded her even more than any physical attack could ever have. Sometimes, he’d be gone for days thereafter, and she would have to call and implore him to come home.
Today however was different. Today, she couldn’t afford to simply stay quiet or nod along. She had to speak up. What her husband was thinking of doing was simply a Machiavellian form of betrayal.
“He’s your brother, Michael,” she said.
“Half-brother,” Michael bit out the correction.
Jennifer sighed. “Okay, half-brother. Still he’s family, and I don’t think you can just make such an outrageous claim.”
Michael’s face tightened into the familiar ugly expression that Jennifer knew often preceded something wounding he was going to say. “I’m not married to you so you can think for me, Jennifer.”
She’d expected his malice, and still she wasn’t able to stop the flinch. “No, of course not,” she said quietly. “Still, you have to consider what a terrible mistake this looks to be.”
“How is that so?”
“For starters, nobody knows for sure that your father was not really murdered by thieves.”
“My goodness!” Michael heaved while throwing his hands up. “Have you not been following the investigation?” The look he shot her questioned her mental capacity for saying what she’d just said.
“I have –”
“So you’re aware that the police said that the amount of blood on the scene was too little considering his many injuries?”
“Yes I know –”
“Which means he wasn’t killed there, Jennifer. Somebody killed him someplace else and dropped him there.”
“And you’re certain James did it,” Jennifer questioned. She didn’t know who James was, had never met him, even though she’d known of his existence right from the time she became part of the Obiorah family. But something about the gruesomeness of her father-in-law’s murder made her queasy to the thought that any member of his family would do such a thing, even if that family member had been estranged.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” Michael answered empathically.
“And where is your proof? You can’t just make outrageous insinuations like that without any real evidence. It’s been about two weeks since your father was killed and the police have questioned you all. But they haven’t made any arrests, not even of James. And maybe that’s because your brother – half-brother” – she hastily corrected at her husband’s refreshed scowl – “isn’t guilty of anything other than probably hating your father for the lies of his childhood.”
Michael pursed his lips. The determined look on his face was slowly giving way to a much calmer and thoughtful expression. He dropped into a chair and threw his head back so that his gaze was directly on the ceiling. He knew his wife was partly right; the claim by the police that his father’s death appeared not to have been the handiwork of robbers was seeming too far to hold any water. But then, he reminded himself that they did not know what he had now suddenly realized. They did not know that his father was killed the same night he revealed to James that he was a bastard. It was perhaps not much to go on, but it was still a possibility. It spoke to motive. James had an explosive temper, he was well aware of that. He had witnessed a number of times in the past the extent of madness to which James’ temper could drive him. Someone, who as a kid could stab a classmate with his pen, was definitely capable of murdering the abusive father he’d suddenly realized wasn’t his.
He was roused from his reverie by the voice of his wife. “…have no idea how damaging this can be for the family if you do this. You really have to think this through, sweetheart. That’s all I’m saying. Don’t go about saying things you can’t take back.”
Anger flashed in his eyes. “Do you think I’m stupid, woman?”
Jennifer drew back. “No –”
“Just what do you take me for?”
“Mike, I’m simply advising caution.”
“And by caution, you mean I should sit back and do nothing while the man that murdered my father walks about free when he belongs in jail?”
Jennifer gave a resigned sigh. “There is no changing your mind, is there?”
“I’m talking to the investigating officers, and that’s final.”
“Alright.” She gave a shrug and rose from the bed, moving toward the door.
“Good,” her husband said as he reached for his phone.
When she got to the door, she turned and said to him, “I’m going to make dinner. What would you like to have?”
“I’m not hungry,” came Michael’s terse reply as he took his phone to his ear.
Detective Gbadamosi was just rounding off for the day, trying to bring a semblance of sanity back to his office by sorting out and arranging the sheets of paper that were scattered on his table, when his phone rang. The ringing was a simple buzzing sound; Gbadamosi had no patience for all the musical jingles and soundtrack clips that was all the rave with the ringtones everywhere.
He answered the call. “What’s up, Yomi?”
The voice of his partner, Darren, reached his ear through the crackle of traffic and roadside chatter. “It has been a long afternoon of poring through documents and going through computer files, John. Rich people sure do have lots of connections and things going on for them.”
Gbadamosi chuckled. “Yes, that’s how they stay rich – by cultivating more crops than someone like you and I can.”
“Well, that leaves for a lot of mess to sludge through when they go and get themselves killed.”
“Why do you think estate family lawyers are the happiest when their clients die? The more hours they spend, the more they get paid for their time.”
Darren made a grumpy sound. Gbadamosi could hear the clicking sound of him opening his car. The younger detective had been tasked to go through the office files of dealings Dike Obiorah had had recently at his workplace in Victoria Island. Dike Obiorah was a wealthy man with vast interests in several potentially money-making ventures in the country. Such a man didn’t get to where he was without stepping on toes and making enemies. It was a stretch for the investigative duo, but Gbadamosi had insisted they cover all the bases they could think of. One thing was for sure; he didn’t believe for one second that Dike’s death was a murder gone wrong.
“You can go on home,” he said. “No need coming to the station now. We’ll see tomorrow and go through the list of potential suspects you’ve drawn up.”
Darren was acquiescing when Gbadamosi’s phone beeped, indicating an incoming call. He looked briefly at the screen. It was an unknown number. He took the phone back to his ear. “Okay, Darren. We’ll see tomorrow then. Good night.” Then he clicked over to the incoming call. “Hello?”
“Hello, good evening,” a crisp male voice that was vaguely familiar said.
“Good evening. Who am I on to?”
“Is this Detective Gbadamosi?”
“Who’s asking?” There was an imperiousness in the voice that instantly sparked off some irritation in the policeman.
“This is Michael Obiorah.”
The detective stifled a groan. He was getting tired of this man’s calls. Ever since he got acquainted with the Obiorahs during their questioning two weeks ago, the eldest son had taken to pestering him with calls for updates on their investigation. When Gbadamosi initially resisted, the man had simply trampled all over his authority by calling his superior. The Chief of Police had called him into his office and instructed him to be considerate of the Obiorahs in their time of grief.
Their time of grief, my ass! Gbadamosi had cussed inwardly. One of them had killed their father, and Gbadamosi would be damned if he would give them access to all the ways they were working to catch the culprit.
Of course he’d become cooperative with Michael after the chief’s subtle reprimand, but he kept his responses to the man just vague enough to satisfy him and still protect his investigation. He hadn’t gotten around to it, but he was now thinking seriously of saving Michael’s number so he would know to screen his calls whenever they came in.
“Mister Obiorah,” he began, “I’m afraid there’s no development to report at the mo –”
“I wasn’t calling for an update, detective,” his caller cut him off with that imperiousness that grated on the policeman’s nerves. “I’m merely calling because I believe I’ve recalled some information that might prove very valuable to your investigation.”
Written by Tobby