THEY WILL FIND HIM IN THE DIRTIEST PLACE POSSIBLE. And the last memories anyone would have of him would be the ones baked with disgust, with disgrace. I guarantee it. 

His mother … I can imagine how horrified she would be. How she would cringe away on seeing her dear son reduced to shame. Tears would wash her tiny eyes as she crawls towards his rot to feel that tender face one last time. Then she would curse me and my generations—she is too foul-mouthed. But who cares about that? Curses and prayers hold no weight. 

Even as I’d like to do this now, how to achieve it, I still don’t know.

But I will do it. And once I begin, no one can stop me.

Each day reeled by with grisly images of death, and tonight was no different for Dipo Stevens. Being the Deputy Commissioner of Police at the Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department (LSCIID) meant getting a worse portion of every day.

He frowned at the screen, at the reporter standing before the Kirikiri Maximum Prison. Okokomaiko’s notorious killer was released a few hours ago. It had been fifteen years, yet the gash that the killer gave them all was still deep. He switched off the TV and sank back into his couch. God knew he would send that jerk back to jail.

He fumbled for his phone and dialed a number that was on speed dial. Tapped the loudspeaker and placed it on a stool. “Hello, Detective John.”

A long yawn breezed through the mouthpiece, followed by a hoarse voice. “Hey, bud, why ya callin’ this late? Your insomnia again?”

As if that mattered now. “Did you watch the news?”

Another yawn. “Huh… what cop spends time on TV these days but you. I got no time, bud.”

“You remember Tilani, that psychopath …”

“Eh, why that out of the blue?”

“He’s out of jail, John. He always gave me sleepless nights.”

“Wh-wh-what? Who released him?”

“Heck… Is that a question?” Stevens picked the phone, minimized the call interface, punched in two keywords on Google—Tilani’s release— and browsed all through. “John, you see—”

“Huh, his jail term ended already I see bu’ how could he be released just like that? I … I mean he was a jerk, a real jerk, a fuc … crazy killer.”

“John.”

“Huh?”

“I want to send him back where he belongs. And I’d need your help.”

“Huh, how’d ya …? ME?!”

The front desk of the Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department was pretty busy today: officers zipping about the foyer, two or three citizens faltering in and out the door, and dispatchers answering the flood of calls with frustrating excitement. 

At the far corner, where the Homicide Department had their desk, DCP Stevens sat hunched over a computer, punching at the keyboard, oblivious of whatever was happening around him. He needed to fish out information from the Homicide database since Detective John was away. A thump on his desk jerked him back to now, and he looked up, first at a small hand plastered to the desk, then at the young lady standing before him, teeth bared in rage.

“You call yourself a policeman? What were you doing when my brother was brutally murdered?”

His face crumpled at the report. But there was no such thing as new. And if it wasn’t new it held no surprises. Evil visited his desk almost every day and he was now used to it. But he was no common policeman. He was the DCP. “Tell me about it. We have to take your statement—what exactly happened to your brother.” He retrieved his notebook from a stack of files.

“Is that all you can do?” the lady cracked again. “Someone was killed— and all you can do is ask me rubbish?”

Stevens nodded. It wasn’t like the murderer was still on the crime scene waiting to be caught. “All we can do now is investigate. The deed has been done already, so fill me in on the circumstances.”

She collapsed in a sobbing fit. Stevens walked to her and helped her up. “What’s your name? Who was killed? Where did it happen?” He sighed. “We have to know everything?”

“I’m Janet,” she replied with a creak. “My brother was found—”

“Stevens!” That was John’s voice for sure. No one else would call him by his name. Stevens shot up a glance as John rushed towards his desk. “Hey bud, we have a situation.”

“What can be worse than murder?” said Stevens, eyes lighting up.

“Murders got degrees you know.”

“So what’s peculiar?”

“The body was found in an open junkyard behind Lagos State University. Right now, it’s crazy out there!”

“That … that was my brother,’ the young lady announced. “I was suddenly called this morning to come and see my brother. He was naked and— all his body…” She trailed off in sobs again. 

Stevens turned to a young, idle officer. “Constable Jide, take her statement and keep her around for questioning.”

He hurried out of the front desk alongside Detective John. A few officers were on stand by outside. “Four of you, get in the van. You, call 112. Junkyard behind LASU.” He turned to John. “Did you see the body yourself?”

“Not yet. Just pictures circulating the internet. Eh! Reminds me of Tilani. He also went about killing and dumping on junkyards.”

“Ti-Tilani?”

“Yeah. You look surprised?”

Stevens halted. “That jerk was released yesterday, wasn’t he?”

“Wait. Do you mean …?” A frantic nod. “Impossible!”

***

The crowd smothering the crime scene assured Stevens this wouldn’t be an ordinary murder sight. Most of them were students; little wonder why they needed to act fast.

Within the swarm of sympathizers, a wail surged, stifling the cacophony of murmurs. He rushed on, squeezing his way through, and John followed after. Once they got through the crowd they flashed their ID cards. Stevens shook his head at the wailing woman. Possible evidence contaminated already. He turned to the officers. “Set up the demarcation. Restrain the mother.” As the woman was pulled off the scene she began to curse in the Yoruba language. 

He puffed a deep sigh, wrapped his hands in latex gloves, and crouched beside the corpse. Detective John was already photographing the scene. The victim was a young man, roughly twenty-four. He lay naked and supine, bloody punctures spread about. A smooth slash to the right arm. Both eyes rolled backward leaving a whitish hue. But the left arm struck a fascination. It held onto its own limb penis and wouldn’t let go. Stevens pulled a frown. “What could this be?”

“What could it be other than a shadow from fifteen years ago,” said John, stopping to observe the puzzle.

“Tilani’s signature?… He got out only last night, eh. Now, this?”

,”Think we got enough to arrest him.”

“We can’t be so sure, John. We have to get halfway through this case right on this crime scene.”

“Aren’t ya the one who’s eager to send him back to his place? Now ya being slow.”

“Although I’m desperate, I don’t fail to observe. See this.” Stevens pointed at the slash on the victim’s right arm. He poked at the body for emphasis as he analyzed. “This was the initial strike. The unsub struck him right across the arm. Observing the wound, it was an up-left to down-right slash. The left side is deeper since it was the entrance, and the right side is fainter. 

We can conclude the victim was attacked while standing. And the unsub is probably a left-hander. No right-hander would cut in this manner, instead, it would have been an up-right to down-left cut.”

“Good deduction, bud,” John said, nodding.

“Yes, Tilani was right-handed.”

“Still this is no good enough to call him free. His murder styles are glaring here on this victim. The penis grip, the many stab wounds.… Heck, why was he released!”

Stevens observed the stab wounds again, the ones all around the chest area, the ones on the abdomen, and the ones on the shoulder. It really was a frantic kill. He trailed his hand about the abdomen, circling each wound. Then he found it. Three stabs came in succession in the stomach area: one appeared deeper than the other two, but they all intersected. They were obviously the first set of stabs after the arm slash.

“We are missing something, John.”

“What?”

“What comes to your mind when you see stab wounds that intersect?”

John compressed his lips and nodded. “Rage. Anger. The unsub can’t wait to strike out the life—”

“Yes. Rage. And this …” He pointed at the victim’s lower body. “Our unsub could be a woman.”

“The gripped penis was Tilani’s major signature.”

“But he didn’t say he hated men.” Stevens clenched his fist, heat flushing through him. At that moment, images from the past shaded his view, as though flashbacks from a horror movie. How he wished… But it was all gone! That jerk! “You see, when interrogated, he claimed he didn’t want them to get off the pleasure even as they died. He would force them to wank off in front of him, and while he was climaxing, he would stab them to death. He claimed the killing kept him in a sustained orgasm. He killed them all, male and female! He killed my only sister!”

John grabbed him on the shoulders, shaking him. “Calm down, Stevens!”

“Why didn’t you call the police when he first attempted to rape your niece?”

The victim’s mother was still down in a fit of tears. She seemed unable to figure out why anyone would murder his only son and dump him in a junkyard. As she sat across the table in the interrogation room, Detective Stevens wouldn’t stop hoping the case had something to do with Tilani.

“You are not cooperating, madam,” he said. 

“Ah! My son,” she said, sobbing. “I no fit sell am out. I no fit report am, na why.”

“And he ended up raping your niece two times after that. Yet you chose to protect him.”

“Alabi na good boy even though he go rape Janet. Hin bin good boy I dey tell you, Oga Police.”

Stevens furrowed his brows. “Wait, madam. What did you call your niece’s name? Janet?”

“Yes oh. Hin bin Janet.”

Stevens picked his phone, paused the recording, and dialed Detective John. “Hey, John. The lady who reported the crime is called Janet, right?

Alright, understood.”

***                                

“I’m sorry to approach such a sensitive issue, but it’s necessary for the investigation, Janet,” said Stevens, passing off an apologetic look.

Janet nodded. “Yes, he did rape me. But he apologized. And he has been good ever since.” She wiped a tear. “He even bought me clothes and ensured I was doing fine. To assure me, he went to church with me all the time. My phone, my tuition fees, he paid for everything.” Now she broke into tears. “Who— who would expect such evil would happen to him. It will not be well with them.”

Stevens cleared his throat. Did women find cursing a last resort? “Em, Janet. I’m sorry about that. But I’d like to know if anything went wrong the day before the incident.”

A twitch appeared on her face and she gently tapped on the table, swallowing her sobs. “Actually he told me he was planning something great for my birthday present.” Sobs again. “To … today is my birthday. And he died in the early hours of today. I was expecting what he wanted to give me but death took him away.”

Steven wobbled out of the interrogation room. It had been an exhausting day after interrogating over twelve witnesses. He glanced at the wall clock: 77:35 pm. It wouldn’t be wise to summon Tilani for interrogation yet. He was released just yesterday. Even if they would bring him here, they would first need something incriminating. 

“The fact that someone copied his modus operandi is enough to summon him for investigation, don’t you think, Stevens?” asked John, inching close.

“I understand your point, but Tilani was never careless. He wouldn’t repeat the same crime pattern after fifteen years when it would be obvious he did it.” Stevens sank into a chair. “Moreover, we got information from the Ikeja Police Headquarters that Tilani has been closely monitored since his release yesterday. They claim he’s been self-isolating in an Anglican church near Jagun Street.”

“Geez.”

“No matter how I think of it, the killer isn’t smart. They would end up making a mistake soon.”

Stevens’ phone rang. A sharp breath cut into the mouthpiece. “Deputy Commissioner, I just found something.” That voice was familiar. And the rage that blended with the panic from that end. Yes, it was from earlier. That lady, Janet. “Janet?”

“Yes, Janet. You gave me your card after the interrogation.” She was panting real heavily.

“Oh. So what did you find? Are you okay?”

“It—it’s a letter. I think … I think I might be the next person …” The call trailed off.

“Hello! Janet!—Hello!”

He turned to John. “Something is wrong.” 

“What’s going on?”

“It seems Janet is in danger, but I feel somehow that she has something to do with the case.”

“Huh why?”

“I know it’s crazy, but she’s left-handed. I remember our first meeting. She banged my desk with her left hand, and it exuded much strength. I saw it. And she also has enough reason to commit the crime. Also considering the circumstances we found when examining the body—”

“Isn’t that too cheap?”

“Well Tilani is no longer a suspect; instead we have Janet.”

Detective John rubbed his forehead. “So, bud, what do you suggest?”

6 Shodi Street, alongside Ayepe Central Market, Okokomaiko.There, darkness blanketed every existing thing, thanks to poor electricity supply. And there, houses lay crammed against one another since there were a few open places. Stevens had been here once; he had come to arrest a drug dealer. He had seen the dark lonely alleys and dilapidated houses—perfect spots for murder. And this was where Janet lived.

Tonight, it was unusually calm. The usual bustling market seemed to have closed sooner. And there were just a few students hurrying to their hostels.

Hands buried in his Jean pockets, Stevens hunched past a dark alley that spiraled down between two-storey buildings. He sneezed. The smell of uncivilization hanging in the air tucked at his nostrils. He flashed his torch around. Then he saw it. 6 Shodi Street.

A puff of breath, and he hurried to the other side, looked back,and made for the corner. A step. Two. Three. Four. A door slammed. Something struck his face, ramming him to the sodden earth. A groan burst through his mouth and he struggled up, hands clawing the wind that calmed the night. But those hands soon got a sound whacking. “Who—who are—” Another crack sent him crashing against the wall. He was sure of one thing. There was only one assailant and they must be very strong. He would have no chance at this rate and it would be too late when John arrives. 

No one would blame him if he used his service weapon. He reached for his waist, but a gash cut through his chest at that instant, forcing him to belch a mouthful of blood. He reached for the wind with one arm and with the second he grabbed at the assailant’s hand. He made to speak, but blood spurted out.

Then he heard it. First a lady’s cocksure giggle, then a jeer. “Not so smart, detective. Got you all played well.” 

Now he knew he was right. But he was never played. He just didn’t anticipate this gruesome move from a young woman. This lack of foresight would now set him in the same state as the victim he found in the junkyard. 

As his eyelids pulled, one against the other, he slowly reached his free hand behind him. Only if Detective John would come quickly. What was keeping that jerk? “Ja—Janet,” he called, blood accompanying his egression. 

The giggle came again puffing a cold warmth against his face. “You figured it out late, boy.”

Now the second stab would come soon. But he knew. Criminals like Janet were so full of themselves. They thought they were in command of whatever situation they got hold of. As if the whole time was on their side. She wouldn’t know. I hope she doesn’t know. But she pulled out the knife at this moment. Like the first victim, she might get enraged and stab him continuously after. 

As he dropped to the ground, he managed to pull out his revolver. He aimed at her immediately and watched her cringe with a snort. “Are you even strong enough to trigger that? Mr.Detective? Your punishment will be worse than that fool!”

And that was the end. He had angered her and he couldn’t even use the weapon. He cringed against the wall as she closed in on him. With a snort, she kicked the revolver off his weak hand, closed in on him, and her left arm shot up at once. That was it. That left arm. 

A shot pierced the dark. Janet’s arm didn’t come down as she had expected. It hung mid air, and the weapon dropped off her grip. She groaned and recoiled, turning to flee from an unseen assailant. Another shot cracked, ramming her down against a stall.

Stevens heaved a sigh. Crunching footsteps stifled the hush, flashlights invaded the dark, and from the same dark came the voice he had been waiting for. “Hey, Stevens! Stevens, are you okay?” 

Elisha Oluyemi grew up in Ogun State, Nigeria. He is an author and creative writer, and presently an English Language undergraduate. He began writing as a teenager, and has contributed a number of works to literary journals including Spillwords, League of POETS, Sledgehammer Lit, The Shallow Tales Review, Paracosm Literary Journal and a few others. He is the chief editor of Fiery Scribe Review, a literary magazine, and he also runs a writing agency, called ContentSCRIBE Studio. Singing helps accentuate his beautiful writing hobby.

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