(Continued from Vanuatu III)
“Clarise and I will need dresses,” Vanuatu tells her uncle after Pastor Musyoka and his wife leave.
“I know. I have already talked to my tailor in Nanyuki, and he is on the standby. After you view the bodies we will pick Clarise and go there so that he can take your measurements and so that you can decide on the design.”
Vanuatu again silently wonders why her uncle is in such a hurry to get her parents buried, but she is grateful that someone is helping her with the preparations. And her uncle is proving to be very efficient. It is only a day since her parents died but every detail has been arranged. It is almost as if Fredrick had prior warning of her parents’ death.
“That is fine. In fact, while we are in Nanyuki I will make a point of talking to my father’s lawyer,”
The surprise, some would say shock, on Fredrick’s face is unmistakable. He did not think that this girl would be so interested in the affairs of the estate of her late father. Perhaps it is that pastor who planted ideas in her head. Either way he needs to stop treating her like a kid, because if he underestimates her she might just ruin his plans.
“Is there a problem with me seeing the lawyer, uncle?”
“No, of course not. I just didn’t think you would want to do it so soon, even before your parents are buried,”
He says it like an accusation meant to make her feel guilty. Vanuatu is unable to decide whether he does it deliberately, or whether it is his phrasing that came out wrong. She decides to give him the benefit of doubt.
“I need to be busy, uncle. Being busy will keep my mind off the fact that I am now an orphan.”
“Oh I understand,” Fredrick says pensively. “I felt the same when my parents, your grandparents, died.” Fredrick the glances in the direction of the morgue. “I think they are ready for us now. Can we go in?”
Vanuatu follows his eyes and sees a staff member standing at what must be the entrance of the mortuary. Suddenly Vanuatu feels weak again. Is she ready to do this? She can always view the body tomorrow alongside everybody else. But deep down she knows she needs to have some time alone with them, or rather with their bodies, for her subconscious mind to accept that they are gone forever.
She steels herself and walks towards the door. Her uncle is by her side, holding her hand. The door leads to a small reception, where she is required to fill in her name and ID number, before she is led to the viewing room.
She enters the viewing room through a door in the reception area, but she notices that there are two external doors in the room. She assumes that they are meant to ease the flow of mourners who come to view bodies on the day of the funeral. Her parents’ bodies are on stretchers, side by side. They are covered up to the neck with white sheets.
“I need to be alone with them, uncle,” she tells Fredrick.
He leaves, but the attendant they found in the room does not move. Vanuatu ignores him and moves closer to the bodies. She does not attempt to uncover them. As she stares at the stiff faces, she sobs uncontrollably but in a low tone that can hardly be heard outside the room. The attendant glances at her but lets her be. Fear is still written on her mother’s frozen face. Kananu’s eyes are closed, but the expression of fear is unmistakable. Even her father’s face, naturally calm, looks unsettled. Vanuatu can only imagine what they went through in those moments before they were killed.
How long did the thugs terrorize them before killing them? And what did the thugs want? They did not steal anything. Not even her father’s expensive diamond-crested gold watch which he was gifted by a wealthy businessman after successfully conducting surgery on him. By all indications, they had just come to kill. Why, nobody knows. A rumor has been started that her parents had been involved in some illegal business with the Somalis and tried to defraud them. Vanuatu does not buy that story even for a second. Her parents’ business has always been above board. If there is one thing she is sure of on this planet, it is her parent’s integrity.
Vanuatu wonders whether the thugs raped her mother. Rape is the ultimate insult to and humiliation of a victim. She remembers reading in Tess Gerritsen’s novel The Apprentice about a murderer who liked raping women in the presence of their husbands before killing them.
“I am sorry, mama” she says, stroking her mother’s frozen cheek. She strokes her father’s cheek as well, and for the last time, touches the goatee that she liked to play with as a child.
“I want a post mortem done on my parents,” Vanuatu tells her uncle when she emerges from the viewing room.
“What for? We already know what killed them. An autopsy will just be another unnecessary expense,”
“I want it done uncle. I believe my father left behind enough money to cover a simple autopsy,”
“But we do not have time. The burial is tomorrow,” Fredrick protests.
“Then postpone it,” Vanuatu snaps. “After all, why are we rushing to bury them? There are answers I need before they can be buried,”
Vanuatu ignores the question and turns to the receptionist.
“What is the procedure of requesting for a post mortem?”
When Vanuatu and Fredrick finish filling out the necessary forms authorizing the hospital to conduct post mortems on both bodies, they head to the wards to take Clarise, who has already been discharged. They find her sitting on one of the seats at the hospital’s reception area holding a closed magazine on her lap. It is one of the hospital magazines at the reception area. Seated next to her is the DCIO, Inspector Fred Sempere.
The presence of the DCIO is unnerving to Fredrick. This man has a reputation for being incorruptible. He is one of the very few senior officials in both Laikipia and Meru Counties that Fredrick has not been able to befriend. The man is still keeping him at arms length, even though he was a good friend of Festus.
“Hello Inspector. I am surprised to see you here,”
“Hello Fredrick. I thought when people are murdered in this area my presence is expected. I am in charge of criminal investigations in this area, remember?”
“I know, I know. I just did not think you would be investigating this personally. I thought it is constables and corporals who do the actual running around,”
The inspector smiles.
“When someone starts spreading rumors that my late friend was involved in illegal business, then I get interested,”
“So you think my late brother was involved with the Somalis?” Fredrick asks.
“No, of course not. I just need to know the source of the rumors, because that will point me in the direction of the murderers,” the inspector replies, looking keenly at Fredrick. Fredrick does not like the scrutiny.
“I thought you guys said the dead Somalis were the murderers,”
“Yea, but I am convinced someone sent them. That is the person I need to find,”
Fredrick shivers. This policeman might prove to be a problem. He will have to be dealt with. Killing him might be on the extreme side of things though. Killing a cop, any cop leave alone a senior one like this one, is usually dangerous. Fredrick is confident that he can find someone more superior to bribe so that the guy can be transferred.
“True. I would also want to know who wanted my brother dead,”
“It won’t be long now,” the Inspector says casually. “One of the thugs is actually not dead as we had earlier thought. Or maybe he resurrected, I don’t know. But one of the mortuary attendants saw him move as they were attending to the bodies. Both men were returned to the hospital. Doctors confirmed that one of the men is dead, but the other is very much alive. He was just in some sort of shock that slowed his heart to almost nil. I heard them call it hypo-something. Anyway, I will personally make this guy talk once doctors say he is fit to talk to me. I will also ensure they do a postmortem on the dead one. I don’t think those men accidentally plunged into the river. I think they were killed. Or rather the dead one was killed…you get the point.”
Fredrick’s heart nearly stops, but he puts on a brave face. The cop doesn’t know anything yet, he reassures himself. There is still time to make amends. But a few more people will have to die in the cover up.
“Who would dare kill a couple of assassins?” he asks, trying to sound naïve.
“The one who hired them in the first place perhaps?”
“Yea, you are right. Is he still at Moshi Hospital in Nanyuki where the bodies had been taken?”
The inspector smiles.
“No, he was moved,”
“Where was he taken?”
“I cannot tell you that Fredrick. He was moved for his safety, it is important that his location remains secret,”
“But don’t you think that the family of the deceased has a right to know?”
“The relatives of deceased are the ones who should not know. They are the most likely to seek revenge,”
“We are Godly people, Inspector. We believe that vengeance belongs to God,”
Just then, a plain clothes officer joins them.
“Inspector, we have received word from the hospital. Our guy is awake and is saying that he wants to talk to the police,”
“Oh really? This is becoming easier than I thought. Get the car, we are going there immediately. I am sorry Fredrick, but I cannot tell you where this guy is. See you later,” the Inspector says.
After the Inspector leaves, Fredrick excuses himself from Clarise and Vanuatu saying he needs to use the washrooms. He leaves the reception area and finds a quiet spot outside the building. He pulls out his phone and dials Karimi’s number.
“We have a problem. Apparently your poison did not work. One of those thugs is alive and is willing to talk to the police…”
“No way! I…”
“I am not calling to argue with you Karimi. I have work for you. First, I want you to find out where that idiot is hospitalized and kill him before the cops get to him. And you need to do it quickly because the DCIO is already on the way. Second, that guy Victor…the one who insists on sleeping with you. I know he is a wealthy and very connected businessman. Call him. I want this DCIO transferred today.”
“Today? How am I supposed to achieve that?”
“I don’t care how or what you do, Karimi. Marry Victor if you have to. But Inspector Sempere has to pack his things and leave today otherwise you and I are going to jail.”
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