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© Oyinloye Oluwatosin Emmanuel
Cole walked draggingly into the computer room, he knew from the moment he saw the boss’ call on his phone that it was time to make an explanation for what happened with Tomi the day before. He closed the door and stopped behind it, expecting her to beckon on him to come forward. He eventually moved forward when he saw that she wasn’t going to respond like he expected.
‘Good morning Boss,’ he stopped beside her and greeted.
‘We’ve seen this morning already,’ she replied coldly before turning to him. She stared at his face for about ten seconds without saying anything. ‘You know why I called you right?’
‘Ermm, I’m not really sure,’ Cole replied her, trying to feign ignorance.
‘I’m sure you’re sure, you still need to learn how to hide truths from your facial expressions.’ She paused a bit and picked her phone from the table. ‘So, start explaining, I’d like to know why you wanted to kill her.’
Cole heaved a sigh and shook his head gently. ‘I didn’t want to kill her; I was only threatening her to make her tell me the whole truth.’
‘What truth did you want from her?’ Tarasha asked, her face suddenly turning angry.
He noticed the change on her face and stepped back a bit. Her changed mood had suddenly caused him to become short of words. He stared at her face without knowing what to say and not even willing to tell her the truth.
‘Did you know she was preparing the meal for everyone of us when you attacked her?’ Tarasha asked after waiting for seconds without getting a reply.
Cole’s eyebrows gathered together. He didn’t remember if Tomi was cooking when he met her in the kitchen but he wondered why Tarasha mentioned it in a serious way.
‘Do you remember my warning to you when I found you both smooching on a sofa weeks ago?’
Cole squinted and racked his brain hard, trying to remember what she was talking about. She continued to stare at his face and he knew she was waiting for his answer this time, and she wasn’t going to speak again until he gave her one.
‘You warned us that our personal relationship shouldn’t affect our jobs,’ Cole replied in low tones, hoping he answered correctly.
Tarasha stared at him silently, he turned his gaze to the floor, he could understand the meaning of the look on her face. He wondered how the situation was affecting or had affected their jobs.
She spoke at that moment, as if she could read his thoughts, ‘So you attacked and hurt her while she was doing her job, for personal reasons. Isn’t that the case?’
Cole heaved another sigh. He could understand her view but he never expected her to see it that way.
‘I’m not concerned about what your reasons were since you never deemed it fit to tell me about them first but I’ve decided your punishment already,’ Tarasha continued. She paused a bit, relaxed her back and folded her arms. ‘You won’t get your pay for this month,’ she said and turned back immediately to the computer.
‘But boss, I didn’t…’ Cole tried to protest.
She turned sharply and shot a cold look at him which made him stop talking immediately. He knew he would be in trouble if he continued at that moment. He stood there panting angrily but unable to express himself. He thought it unfair that he would have to pay with his one month salary for having a clash with Tomi.
‘You should have made your explanations before I announced your punishment,’ Tarasha said and immediately turned back to the computer.
The room door opened at that moment and Henry walked in. He proceeded to the table and stopped briefly to glance at Cole’s face. Cole turned back at that moment and walked out of the place.
‘What happened with him?’ Henry asked as he sat beside Tara. He was holding a small laptop in his hands and a mouse.
‘He got his punishment for attacking Tomi yesterday,’ she replied Henry without looking at his face.
‘Did he tell you what the matter was?’
‘No, he did not.’
‘You didn’t ask?’
‘His personal issue is none of my business, he knew why I called him and could have explained anything he wanted to explain before I announced his punishment but he waited until I announced it before he started to speak.’
‘But you should still have allowed him talk, I don’t think this punishment would put a complete stop to the problem.’ Henry argued.
‘It wouldn’t stop their problem, I’m aware.’ Tara replied sounding totally unconcerned.
‘Then why didn’t you allow him talk?’
‘I gave him enough time to talk but he didn’t. When he was ready to speak, he was only willing to speak because of the punishment attached.’
‘I don’t understand you Tara, don’t you think that the wellbeing of your employees could affect the progress of the whole team?’
‘This team is supposed to be a team of assassins and not sissies, giving room for more emotions to come to play would make us weaker than it has already done. An assassin should not keep an emotion and when there’s a feeling of one, it should not be allowed to take over the senses.’
‘But Tara, we are not assassins,’ Henry said in a loud tone, holding her by the hands and turning her body to face him.
She stared at his face for a second before turning back, ‘I am an assassin even though I’ve become weaker since I met you,’ she said in a sad tone. ‘I’m trying to get myself back and I can’t allow for any of us to be weak again.’
‘But do you know Tomi is weak already because she loves Cole but Cole has decided to have nothing to do with her?’
‘Cole is weaker than she is. Tomi hasn’t allowed her emotions to take control yet but Cole is the one who isn’t able to control himself.’
‘Anyway you see it Tara, it’s dangerous if we don’t come in between them. Cole has shown his weakness yesterday, what if it had happened at a critical moment, won’t it have cause problems for the rest of us?’
Tarasha paused for a moment to consider his last question. It took her a minute before she finished pondering over it. ‘You know what?’ she faced him. ‘I can’t handle situations like this, the only solution in my head to kill the both of them for being weak,’ she said in a sad tone. ‘The punishment for harboring emotions is supposed to be instant death but I’ve left them to live,’ she paused for another minute. ‘I think you should handle them both and get back to me when you make a conclusion, I’ll go with whatever conclusion you make.’
‘Oh! Are you serious?’ Henry asked with his eyes wide open in disbelief.
‘Yes, do that for me and let’s settle what’s happening between them.’ Tara replied.
‘Thank you,’ Henry said and let out a smile.
‘So, how far have you gone with the processing?’ Tara changed the subject immediately.
Henry opened up the laptop he dropped on the table. ‘I’ve copied the fingerprint patterns into the directory but I don’t understand the other instruction you gave.’
Tarasha turned to the system in front of her and tapped the keyboard. ‘Look here,’ she said, pointing to something on the screen. ‘The system installed on your laptop is for tracking individuals who have their finger prints stored in files in the directory. After converting the fingerprint file you have into a vvt file, we should be able to get the location of that person at any point in time as far as radio signals are available there, except the person puts on a hand glove.’
‘Are you kidding me?’ Henry’s face glowed with excitement. ‘I’ve only heard of this before, never seen it being used anywhere.’
‘It’s a recent development and only being used in few countries at that moment, I learnt how to set it up and use it during my last contract at the United States.’
‘Wow!’ Henry exclaimed excitedly and continued to punch in commands on his laptop using the keyboard. He suddenly stopped and turned to Tara, ‘Whose fingerprints do we have as the samples?’
‘The Inspector General’s fingerprint, I took it while he was here with us.’
Chief Nonso Abel’s Residence
‘Please have your seats,’ Chief Nonso ushered his guests into the living room.
‘Thank you sir,’ Dave replied for the both of them before they sat. Both of them were dressed corporately with their faces lightly disguised with makeup. They both sat on a long sofa and their host sat on the one seater sofa directly opposite them.
‘Welcome to my home,’ Chief Nonso began with a smile. ‘What can I offer you?’
‘Oh! Thanks sir, we’re full already. We’d like to proceed straightaway to the interview.’
‘Okay, if you want it that way.’ Chief Nonso replied and then relaxed himself on the seat to set himself for the interview.
‘Sir, like you already know, we represent Desert Reporters and this interview is supposed to focus on your presidential bid. However, we’d like to digress a bit and dig into your political background, I hope you do not mind sir,’ Dave began.
‘Well, I have the rights to answer or not,’ the man said with a playful smile and shrugged.
‘Yes sir, you can tell us if you’re not comfortable with a particular question.’ Dave replied.
‘Okay, lets proceed then.’
‘Thank you sir,’ Stephanie pushed forward a bit and began the session. Dave brought out a device and tapped it on, it looked like a timer and recorder.
‘Sir, we would like for you to tell us how you started politically, what was your drive and what were the stages you passed through?’
Chief Nonso began to answer every of their questions in details, hiding nothing from them. None of the questions seemed to unsettle him until Dave asked one.
‘Sir, it is noised publicly that your political mentor was late Chief Onwuli, how true is that?’
‘Well, not entirely true. He wasn’t my political mentor, he didn’t live that long for him to mentor me politically. But he was like a father to me, he made me who I am today.’
‘So, with your connection to Chief Onwuli, how would you cope with your competitors in the Presidential race?’
‘I don’t understand that, can you rephrase please?’
‘Okay, everyone knows that before Chief Onwuli’s death, he was at loggerheads with Chief Elvis and reports even has it that you accused Chief Elvis then of killing him, so how are you going to cope now that Chief Elvis is in the same Presidential race as you?’
‘Cope? I don’t have to “cope”, I run my race and he runs his, there’s no connection between the both of us.’
‘Do you still believe that he killed Chief Onwuli?’
‘Emphatically Yes, he did. It’s a pity that our judicial system has always messy and it is still messy today, that’s part of what we’re trying to change by coming into governance.’
‘Is there any possibility that your political ambition is motivated by your desire to punish Chief Onwuli’s enemies? Past records in newspapers stated that you swore to punish every of his killers.’
Chief Nonso was quiet for a while, his facial expression had changed. He wondered if he had made a wise decision to join the presidential race at that time. It seemed to him that following Chief Gab’s advice to contest in the next one would have been the best decision. By then, Chief Elvis Richards and all their enemies would have been taken out of the picture. And even though he was not really serious about the Presidential race – he wasn’t expecting to win the primaries – his declaration of interest had drawn so much attention to him.
‘My only motivation is the will to serve my nation, I don’t have any personal vendetta,’ he finally replied. ‘The results during my eight years as a governor proves that I’m someone who is focused on serving his people in the best way he can.’
‘Sir, rumour has it that so much money was embezzled during your term as a governor and part of it was used to set up drugs trafficking ex-convict Chief Gabriel after his release from prison, how true is that?’ Dave asked. A device made a beep sound n his breast pocket.
‘Rumour you say,’ Chief Nonso said in a loud aggressive tone. ‘It’s just market women’s rumour, there’s nothing like that. Chief Gab is somewhere far away in an African country; I don’t even know where he is.’
‘Sir, but…’ Dave tried to speak but the device in his breast pocket began to make more noisy sounds that and he had to stop and take it out.
‘Isn’t that your car alarm?’ Chief Nonso asked, looking at the device in Dave’s hand.
‘Yes, it is,’ Dave replied, getting up to his feet hurriedly. ‘Someone must be tampering with the car, I need to check it where we parked.’
‘Didn’t you park it in the garage here?’ Chief Nonso asked.
‘No, we left it outside, just across the road.’ Dave replied and proceeded to the door.
‘You shouldn’t have done that,’ Chief Nonso rose up to his feet, intending to follow and help Dave.
‘No, don’t bother sir,’ Dave turned to stop him. ‘She would continue with the interview while I take care of it.’
‘Okay,’ Chief Nonso sat back. They both watched Dave leave before Stephanie continued with the interview.
The Chief continued to answer questions until someone called his phone, he took out the phone to answer but it went off before he could. He placed the phone on his thigh and wanted to continue with the interview but the same number flashed his phone again.
‘Someone unserious is flashing my line,’ he said with a smile to Stephanie. She smiled faintly back at him.
He unlocked the phone and tried to identify the caller but couldn’t. He was about to continue with the interview when the caller flashed again. He hissed and then put the phone on silence. He placed it on a nearby footstool and faced Stephanie.
‘Please lets proceed, I’ll attend to whoever it is when we’re done.’
‘Why don’t you just do it now, I can wait.’
‘No, lets continue please,’ the Chief insisted.
Stephanie tapped on the phone in her hand and looked into it as if she was trying to read the next question but she was trying to send an already composed message to Dave. ‘Sir, would you be able to work with Chief Elvis Richards if a situation comes up?’ she looked up and asked after clicking on send.
‘Why not? I’m a principled person, I don’t mix personal issues with national matters.’
The phone placed on the stool continued to ring at intervals but was unattended to. Two minutes later, the gateman walked into the house and called for the attention of the Chief.
‘Sir, there’s a man outside demanding that he needs to see you.’
‘Which man?’ Chief Nonso gave the gateman a nasty look.
‘He says he’s a police officer and needs your help concerning something on the street,’ the gateman replied. ‘I told him you were with visitors but he insisted that it was urgent and wouldn’t leave the gate,’ the gateman quickly added on seeing that the man was staring angrily at him.
‘Isn’t there someone else in the house to attend to him?’
‘No sir, Madam hasn’t returned yet.’
‘Okay, I’ll join you in a minute.’ He said and dismissed the gateman. He turned to Stephanie, ‘Please miss, you’ll have to excuse me, I won’t stay long.’
‘There’s no problem sir.’
The Chief rose and glanced at his phone, he wanted to take it along with him but changed his mind as he saw the same number still disturbing. He proceeded to the door hurriedly.
Stephanie watched the man walk out. She remained at the same spot for some seconds, staring at the walls and decorations of the living room. Her phone beeped and she quickly opened the received text message. ‘Act Now,’ the message read, it was from Dave.
She got up hurriedly from her seat and reached for the man’s phone. It was locked. She quickly tapped on the power button to turn it off. She opened and glanced through word document on her phone where she had stored the instructions Dave had given her on how to access the phone’s files even if it was locked.
‘Officer, what may I do for you?’ Chief Nonso asked in an angry tone as he stepped down from balcony. The officer was standing at the entrance of the gate with the gate man still trying to stop him from getting in, he was putting on the shirt of the SSS.
‘Sir, there’s a car across the road, the driver says he is a journalist from Desert reporters who came to visit you.’
‘Can I have a look?’ the man asked as he approached the gate. The officer gave way for him to look. Dave was already crossing from the other side of the road to the gate.
‘Sir, these guys are harassing me,’ Dave said as he approached them.
‘Are you talking about him?’ Chief Nonso asked the officer.
‘He’s my guest and a representative of Desert Reporters,’ the chief said.
‘Have you confirmed that he’s really a journalist?’
‘Yes, I have. The request letter for the interview was sent to me directly from their headquarters email.’
The SSS officer frowned. ‘Well, if you say you are sure he is. We’re really sorry for the inconvenience, we had to verify because we saw the company’s tag on the car and you know they’ve been complaining of impersonators recently.’
‘No, you didn’t want to confirm for their sakes, you are only trying to harass them because they always say the truth about your government.’ Chief Nonso blasted.
‘It’s none of that sir,’ the SSS man said with a sorry look. ‘I apologize once again,’ he bowed slightly and turned to leave. ‘Sorry mister,’ he said to Dave before crossing back to the opposite lane carriageway. Dave replied him with a cold look and hissed.
‘Is your car safe now?’ Chief Nonso asked Dave.
‘Now that you’ve intervened, I believe they should leave the car.’ Dave replied, turning his back to the gate and looking towards the car parked at the other side with some SSS officials around it. His phone beeped and he quickly opened the new message. ‘I’m done with it,’ the message from Stephanie read. He locked back the phone and put it into his pocket. He and the chief waited until the SSS men entered their cars and drove away.
‘Why did you park your car so far?’ the man asked Dave as they proceeded back together into the house.
‘We left it there so it would be easy for us to leave, there would be no need to go a long way before turning.’ Dave replied.
‘Next time, don’t leave your car so far from you. Those SSS guys have been desperate since Samantha Osman published the news about the Vice President; they’ve been attacking all media houses. I heard your media outlet was one of those that published articles supporting Samantha Osman’s allegations.’
‘Yes, some of our writers did write some articles about it.’
They both walked back into the house and were surprised not to find Stephanie seated where she previously was.
‘Miss Lucy,’ Dave called out, looking around and wondering where she was.
‘Where did she go to?’ Chief Nonso asked as he walked back to his own seat. He picked his phone which was on the stool, believing that the person disturbing should have stopped.
Dave eye’s wandered to and fro and landed Stephanie’s phone on the floor with the back cover removed and the screen cracked. It sounded an alarm for danger in his brain. ‘Here’s her phone,’ he said aloud, still looking as his hand touched his belt side where he hid his revolver.
‘Her phone, where could she have gone to?’ the Chief asked as he got up from his seat to pick the phone.
Dave’s wandering eyes settled on a spot beside the curtain of the passage from the living room to the other rooms of the house and he saw the mouth of a pistol hidden behind and directed to his head. A bullet was released at that same moment.
The laughter of the Vice President filled his room. He was in the bathroom, sitting in the bathtub, smoking lightly and making a call.
‘I never knew why I underestimated that Nonso,’ he said into the phone. ‘He would be sorry for himself by the time Rex is done with him.’
To be continued.