Eagle Eyes–Christian Thriller (LET IT SHINE MAG)

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Rayo turned again in her bed and pulled the Ankara bed cover over her legs just in time. She had just prevented a day-old mosquito from landing on her ankle with its proboscis. She closed her eyes and tried to resume her sleep. But something was just not right and she kept on closing and opening her eyes, desperate for sleep.

The light in the room went off. IBEDC had done it again. Tired of forcing herself to go back to sleep, she flung the bedcover off and realized that she was pressed.

“Finally, I’d get a good sl…” Rayo thought aloud but her speech slurred when she heard shouts from outside. She navigated her way through the darkness towards the light from the window. She looked into the vast darkness but could see nothing. However, the people shouting were barely trying to lower their voices.

A woman’s bitter wail pierced through the noise and a baby’s cry followed suit. As if on cue, Rayo’s bladder wasn’t having it anymore and she clumsily made her way to the toilet. Rayo wondered why the woman was wailing was so early in the morning, it was just 12:05 am.

**

Rayo woke the next morning and remembered the midnight shouts and arguments. The baby’s piercing cry echoed in her head and she shook it, irritated. She rubbed her eyes and sat up on the bed.

“Why did that baby have to cry? And that woman too, just by midnight. Were they robbed or something? And that noise didn’t sound like it was just 3 or 5 people. Please grant them peace on all sides. Let them recover from whatever happened to them so that everyone can also have peace when sleeping.” Rayo rushed through the prayer and smiled as she stretched.

Outside Rayo’s door, Alexandra’s fist hung from her indecisiveness to knock. She was dressed for work but her thoughts were clouded. The only solution she had come up with was to ask Rayo face-to-face. She hoped the situation was not the way she understood it to be. For the last time, she thought about it and made up her mind. Rayo opened the door to her room just before she knocked. She smiled a confused smile at her friend. Rayo’s eyes bulged out from its sockets, questioning Alexandra’s presence at her door.

“Ah…ah…” Alexandra stammered as she thought of something to say.

“Good morning though,” Rayo said as she removed the toothbrush from her mouth.

“Where were you last night? I mean, I wanted to ask about…er…”

Alexandra shook her head and didn’t believe she was questioning her best friend like a suspect. It was even more humiliating that her tactics didn’t seem to be working.

Rayo saw through Alexandra’s struggle and her head had started calculating imaginary facts. “…my wellbeing?”

“You’re right!” Alexandra laughed and it almost seemed genuine but Rayo could also read through her façade. “You know, I slept late and can’t even remember something basic such as the reason I’m standing here.” She laughed extraordinarily loud and Rayo played along, laughing as well.

“You need to take care of yourself, especially these days when people seem to be shouting at midnight and disturb others’ sleep.” Rayo chipped in but that seemed to be unnecessary as Alexandra had rounded off the stairs.

Alexandra however, needed to sort out her emotions. Rayo’s last statement before she left the house showed that she knew about the midnight disturbance. However, that wasn’t enough information to prove that Rayo was innocent or guilty. A suspect wasn’t a suspect without evidence. Tired from her speculations since midnight, she rested her head on hand, with her elbow on the table. Flashes of the dream that woke her up replayed in her head and she sighed. Her revelational gifts never failed and she was confused.

“That stature was certainly Rayo’s,” She said out loud and sighed deeply.

***

“Detective eagle eyes” A guy with a neatly cropped beard hailed and sauntered into the chief’s office and took the seat beside her. The Chief was out.

“I’m not in the mood to talk to anybody but the chief right now. I’d like to tell you to leave,” Alexandra said courteously.

The guy, named Ade was a colleague in the special investigative squad and looked at her intently before getting up to leave. “Your revelational gifts giving you some trouble again?” Alexandra looked up at him, suspicious.

“No, don’t look at me that way. But I think you’re putting way too much importance on that gift, especially since it’s giving you headaches. Other methods work too. I burst cases too and I don’t have any of those gifts.” Ade said before taking his leave. But he came back in sooner.

“Have you seen this viral video? It seems like you’ll have to dig up the case. The chief is planning to assign the case to you.”

Alexandra collected the phone and played the video. In the video which seemed to have been taken from a far distance, a man lay in a pool of blood on the floor. Four men in casual clothes had their faces hidden behind black non-surgical face masks with holes for the eyes. They looked completely rational and tush and surrounded the wounded man who groaned in pain. Each one had rubber gloves on his hands stained with blood. The eyes of the two men who faced the camera looked like they were smiling. The knife in the hand of a robust man who backed the camera clattered to the floor.

Rayo stopped the video just then and closed her eyes. Worry lines knitted between her brows.

“I’ve seen this scene before,”

“You should have just told me that you’ve seen the video. I’m leaving. And like I said, the chief said you’re digging up the case, detective eagle-eyes, freedom fighter for the poor.”

“I hadn’t seen the video,” Alexandra said gravely and tried to massage her head with both hands.

“I know some detectives use jazz, but I don’t get you. You’re just…strange.”

“Yeah. Please tell the chief that the case shouldn’t be assigned to me. I can’t do it.”

“Won’t do it?”

Rayo picked up a wrapped chewing gum on the table and tore it open. “Can’t.” She popped the gum in her mouth and chewed as if her life depended on it. She then focused her gaze on the troublesome man still standing before her.

Ade paused and suddenly laughed. “You’re no longer putting the poor at heart and you want to take up the rich people’s cases. Am I right?”

“Get out,” Alexander said calmly and watched Ade shrug just before he picked up his phone and left.

Alexander sighed and banged her fist on the table. There was no likelihood that what she knew about the case is false. But why would Rayo ever be linked to the case?

Alexander was worried and continued chewing on the gum till it lost its taste. Her thought process ended on the hypothesis that she had started seeing men as though they were trees.

****

Mummy Twins, formerly known as Aunty Temi walked around the compound inspecting the processes going on to make the naming ceremony of her babies a success. Though devastated about the sad happenings in the neighbourhood, she had to celebrate the birth of her babies after five years of marriage.

“Please increase the volume of the music,” Mummy Twins said to the guy at the DJ stand.

“Ever so…” Mummy Twins was distracted as Alexander walked towards the DJ stand.

“Ever so slightly iwo bobo yii. Soo mo p’on sofo n beyen ni?” She reprimanded the guy and asked him to be considerate of their mourning neighbours.

“Congratulations ma. I hope you’ve rested well enough?” Alexandra hugged Mummy Twins and smiled widely at her while one of Yinka Ayefele’s songs blared softly from the speakers.

“Rest ke? If I was not here now, this is how this one would be adding to our neighbours’ sorrow ni.” Alexandra smiled. “Don’t you want to see the babies before the ceremony starts?”

Alexandra nodded positive and soon, they were in Mummy twin’s flat.

“We might have to move out of this house soon now that we have our babies. This house is too crampy now even though it’s quite bigger than your self-contained apartment.”

“Hmmm,” Alexander replied as they passed by some women who moved around doing certain things in the house. Her detective instincts told her she had to watch out for minute details. She had to be more careful because the people concerned are in the neighbourhood. Maybe that was the ‘crampy’ Mummy Twins was referring to.

Mummy Twins entered the bedroom where an older version of Mummy Twins hovered above the twins.

“Good evening Grandma,” Alexandra greeted the old woman who was focused on the babies.

“They are IVF babies,” Mummy twins said solemnly and sought the expression on Alexandra’s face. Grandma unhurriedly left the room.

“And?”

“My mum’s still not over that fact. She wanted my babies conceived naturally. I don’t feel any remorse and I don’t know if I should. I don’t know if I should have had more faith and patience before opting for IVF. These babies are God’s gifts and…” Mummy twins had started tearing up.

Alexander sat her down on the bed and held her hands. “You’re happy that you finally have God’s gifts. Why should you feel remorseful? Miracles are miracles because they don’t happen the way we thought they would. You don’t even need my opinion Aunty Temi… I mean Mummy Twins.” Both ladies laughed.

Alexandra then reached into the pocket of her joggers to retrieve a gift card and pressed it into Mummy Twins’ open hands. “This is for those beautiful God’s gifts.”

“You’re not a normal Catholic Alex.”

“Thanks for noting that. I’m neither a normal Christian too. Does the church know?”

“I’m not telling them. I have my babies and my husband was in full support. So, what’s there to tell?”

The question was left unanswered as the noise of some people struggling outside the room distracted them.

“Please let me see her. I need to see the policewoman. She can help me out,” A woman’s tired voice pleaded with the young man who blocked her from entering the room.

“You can’t just enter this house anytime and anyhow.”

“How? I just lost my husband! Do you think I’d come to steal the babies? Rubbish! Tell that olopa that we know how they collect bribes for practically everything. I don’t have money but if you keep turning your face from the horrible deaths of the poor, those bad guys will have no one else to kill but the rich. I’m leaving!”

The woman shouted at the guy outside the room and turned to leave when Alexandra touched her arm.

The woman who wore all-black stopped and looked mesmerizingly into Alexandra’s big grey eyes. Alexandra on the other hand was shocked at the many things she suddenly seemed to know about her.

“Iya Alice, please input your phone number here.” She brought out her Android phone and handed it over to the dazed woman. “I’d contact you tomorrow as I have something I must sort out today,” Alexander said calmly, breaking the silence.

Iya Alice couldn’t contain her shock at how Alexandra addressed her. She quickly punched in her digits and departed from the house with many eyes still glued to her. She wondered how the strange-eyed policewoman or police girl sounded like she knew her.

*****

Iya Alice was Iya Alice, not Mummy Alice or Iya Aina even though Sade had been born as an Aina; she had the umbilical cord around her neck. Iya Alice was known as Iya Aina for a while. But she wouldn’t let anyone stick the name ‘Aina’ on her daughter whom she hoped would become a doctor. ‘Doctor Aina’ wasn’t appropriate, she had thought. So, she had preferred that the name ‘Alice’ came after ‘Doctor’.

She thought through the short encounter she had had with Alexander and her heart softened. She felt a blanket of peace cover her but sudden flashbacks of the video someone had sent to her on WhatsApp took the blanket off immediately. She remembered her husband’s last low groan of pain. The Ankara trouser he had sewn for their last Christmas was stained with his blood.

Iya Alice sighed deeply before wiping off the tear that escaped her eyes. She made a firm resolve not to trust anybody. Someone who knew her so well without prior encounter was also not off the hook. The olopa was to be suspected.

Alexandra slowly let out air from her mouth and had her hands akimbo at the little scene the woman had made. She was getting frustrated.

“Calm down Alex.” Mummy Twins cooed.

“I don’t know what to do about people who still keep making up assumptions about me.”

“People can’t help it.” She said as she felt Alexandra’s joggers for foil-wrapped gum. In the silence, Alexander understood the non-verbal exchange they just had. Alexander looked at a small basket in the room which held a handful of snatched gums that gleamed in the natural light. Before Mummy Twins had the babies, she would have shouted;

Iwo ati chewing gum. Right now, they can’t keep you focused,” And then with a swift move of her hand, snatch the gum from her.

Oya, aunty detective, come and be going.” Mummy Twins snapped her out of her reverie.

“Go and sort out that case and make us proud, Miss Most outstanding under 25 Africa’s young professionals.

Alexandra dragged her feet as she reluctantly left Mummy Twin’s room. She was even more confused now on what to do. she was torn between being loyal to her friend and fulfilling the purpose she was to serve at the police force.

Disgusted by the preferential treatment given by the force members to those who could provide cash at the expense of the poor, she decided to be the Lady Justice and fight mainly for the weak and the poor.

But being loyal had never been more tasking. Rayo had evaded most of her questions for whatever reason the last time she pretended to be having a friendly chat with her. She had used every tactic she knew to make Rayo confide in her. Somehow, Rayo seemed to be more capable of being involved in the case. If not, be a pointer that would help in solving the case. Her parents were usually in political fights. So, several stories could be woven from the assumption that she was involved in her parents’ fights. But, no matter what, the present situation of no substantial evidence wouldn’t name Rayo a suspect.

Alexander walked half-mindedly back to the ground floor where the naming ceremony was about to start. She felt around her pockets for some chewing gum when she spotted Rayo among the crowd. She had a brown shoulder-length wig with fringes on, and was in an intense discussion with an older guy. Hoping to say hi, she walked towards the duo but the duo finished their discourse just in time and parted ways when she was three steps away from them.

“Rayo!” Alexandra called as Rayo took her seat at a table.

“Rayo!” Alexandra called again but Rayo only pushed the fashion glasses she wore closer to her eyes and leaned in towards the man beside her and was saying something. Embarrassed, Alexander turned around only to face Iya Alice who smiled stiffly at her. Alexandra returned the smile and turned away from the woman, ready to leave Mummy Twins’ compound.

Forging on with the resolve to investigate the case, Alexander started collecting information. She watched the video over and over but needed to know how the video got spread. But that was where she hit rock bottom. She had to forge through it or prove incompetent. Whipping out her phone, she found the video and continued watching from where she stopped the last time.

In the ware-house-like setting, the knife in the hand of a robust man who backed the camera clattered to the floor. Some moments passed and the men chattered inaudibly. At a point, the video went black and someone’s heavy breathing was the only thing that could be heard. The video resumed soon but wasn’t stable, it shook from side to side and the video blurred momentarily. The person recording the video wasn’t stable anymore but managed to capture the moment when a lit match was thrown at the man on the floor. A wharf of flames engulfed the man. Another whimper was recorded just before the video ended.

“So, how’re you going to work with this video as the only evidence?” Ade taunted as the unsupportive partner that he was.

“Do you want to help out or not?” Alexandra asked, looking up from the video evidence at Ade who sat across her in her sitting room.

“Let’s go,” Alexandra said and stood up swiftly with her office bag in hand without waiting for Ade’s reply. If he didn’t get his butt off the chair, she was going to lock him up at her apartment.

It turned out that Alexandra’s confidence was a façade as soon as they got to Iya Alice’s house. The memories of Rayo’s strange acts in recent days were popping up and interrupting her. After hesitating for the last time, she knocked on the third door on the left wing of the face-me-I-slap-you house.

Iya Alice opened the door with her stoic face and opened the door wide on seeing Alexander.

Epele ma. Aa ni ri iru e mo,” Ade greeted properly in Yoruba and slightly bowed to her in greeting. Iya Alice smiled briefly before directing them to sit on two bare wooden chairs beside the door. Alexandra took her time to take in the details in the stuffy room. A medium-sized bed was in a corner of the room. The woman sat on it and fidgeted with the edge of the pillow-like one would a prized possession. Despite the hard front she put up, Alex could see through the vulnerable yet angst woman before her.

Iya Alice, we’d need you to cooperate with us…” Alexander was saying but was cut off by the woman’s movement. She stood up and from a Ghana-must-go bag, she retrieved an Ankara Buba and handed it over to Ade who passed it on to Alexandra who immediately penned something down. The Buba was the same colour and pattern as the one on the man who was murdered in the video. Iya Alice returned again but with a photo album this time.

Ade and Alexandra looked at one another in surprise when Iya Alice started wailing as soon as she opened the photo album. Ade tried to wipe the surprise off his face. From Alexandra’s brief, he was expecting a tough woman who wouldn’t even shed a tear on her husband’s grave.

It was an uncomfortable situation for another three minutes in Iya Alice’s room. Alexander checked her wristwatch and realized that they had hardly spent 10 minutes with the woman and they were feeling so choked. She took them around the room, showing them her husband’s pictures which hung on the wall. She didn’t give them the chance to even tell her the fact that she shouldn’t be so sure that the dead was her husband.

As though Iya Alice read Alexandra’s mind, she spoke up. “My husband is a trailer driver and should have been home by the last weekend. Besides, I can’t mistake another man for my husband. I know I’m a widow even without seeing his body… she paused, “yet.” She burst into fresh tears.

After comforting the woman, Alexandra and Ade were finally able to breathe in the fresh air. It was not an easygoing meeting but they made progress. They knew more about Iya Alice’s husband and the only link between him and the man in the video was that Ankara Buba.

They couldn’t compare the Buba to the physical evidence they couldn’t lay hands on; the dead’s body was nowhere to be found. Tracing the sender of the video wasn’t possible just as Iya Alice said and they’ve confirmed. The SIM had probably been destroyed.

Iya Alice sat on the floor with the photo albums and other materials after the detectives had left as though she hadn’t been the one crying.

Maami,” A young girl who identified as Alice called and sat on the floor beside her mother.

“I heard you crying when those detectives were here. I hope they didn’t accuse you of anything?”

Iya Alice held her daughter’s hands and tears rolled down both’s eyes. Compared to now, her earlier tears were a performance.

Maami?”

“Alice.”

“Did you give them the money?” Alice wiped the tears off her face as she asked.

“Your school fees? Never!” Iya Alice retorted.

Alice sighed. “Please give them the next time they come. Let’s get it done with.”

Iya Alice stood up and sat on the bed. “It’s not just your school fees, it is the money I got from my monthly ajo. I don’t think that giving it to those policemen…I mean police people, is worth it. Let’s not talk about this again. Okay?”

Maami?” Alice sighed and walked back into the next room.

******

Alexandra hugged the file containing the pieces gathered concerning the homicide and arson case and decided to give it her all after seeing the tough woman’s tears—Iya Alice. She would try her best to inform the uninterested Ade of her findings. She swung her file with light-heartedness as she passed Rayo’s block. She looked up at her friends’ window on the second floor. Her purple window blinds were open. Alexandra was tempted to call out to her but she hadn’t forgotten how embarrassed she was at Mummy Twins’ naming ceremony. Besides, she shouldn’t be overly friendly with anyone, as the real culprit could be her friend.

Rayo, however, had been turning from side to side in pain on her bed and decided to stand up for a change.

“Please, I don’t want this pain anymore,” She plead as she walked hastily up and down in a crooked straight line. She gasped and grasped her belly as a fresh sharp pain tore through her belly. She literarily dragged herself to the window and pulled the window blinds together to make way for more breeze.

Alexander made up her mind at that moment and walked away. “Alexandra!” Rayo called whilst pain seared through her belly again.

“Alex!” she called again but Alexandra was already climbing the stairs that led to her own apartment.

Alexandra was on her computer that night making research on the warehouses around the trailer company Iya Alice’s husband worked for. She was 50 percent certain that the man who died in the video was Iya Alice’s husband but they could still work on it. If the dead man wasn’t Iya Alice’s husband, this meant that Iya Alice’s husband had to be found.

Alexandra returned home the next week famished and collapsed on her bed as soon as she got back home. Ade had reported himself busy. She had to comb through the warehouses on her own. It turned out that Ade had found a way to get assigned to another case.

“I heard a report from Ade that that case is a stone wall you can’t bore through.” The chief said sarcastically when he called her the previous week.

“I assure you that I’ll burst the case. Just give me two more months…Sir” She said in the calmest manner even though she was angry. The chief gave a belly laugh at that point.

“I hope you have chewing gum near you?”

Alexander didn’t reply but was in truth, looking around for a foil-wrapped gum.

“I’ll hand the new case to someone else if you insist on finishing this. Bye.”

“I don’t know why such an excellent detective keeps doing that ‘weak and poor’ thing instead of embracing the connections I’m bringing her way. Ingrate.” The chief said to himself before ending the call.

The two months ultimatum passed without any difference as she merried-round the same routine of combing through warehouses—the crime scene looked like it could have happened in a warehouse, interrogating the colleagues of the murdered man, reporting back to the chief and Iya Alice and leading a most boring life in-between. By this time, Alexandra’s stubbornness seemed to have become a recessive character.

To properly close the case, she carried her shameful self to Iya Alice’s house to pay the last visit. As she crossed the murky gutter for the last time, she felt someone’s intense gaze on her but pretended not to notice. It could be a shy kid checking her out, it could also spell danger to her. Alert, she got into Iya Alice’s room. The stiff-smile woman who had finally taken a liking to her understood the face Alexandra put on. She offered to show her around the house in an attempt to cheer her up.

“This house was built by my husband twenty years ago…” She started as they walked down the corridor of the face-me-I-slap you house.

Twenty years…” Alexandra said, encouraging her to go on.

“Alice was just five years old and his trailer-driving business was booming,” Iya Alice kept on reminiscing but Alexandra’s attention was already shifted to the cautious footsteps of someone who wasn’t heavy.

“You can’t believe it right?” Iya Alice asked, not realizing the shift of attention.

“Huh-uh,” Alexandra said as someone who wasn’t listening would.

Iya Alice stopped at a potted Aloe Vera plant outside the house, forcing Alexandra to stop also.

“These plants need to be watered.” Iya Alice looks around for some minutes. Then, at the top of her voice, she shouted “Alice!”

At the same time, Alexandra shouted “Stop there!” She had seen Alice turn abruptly around when caught peeping at them. To her, the figure looked like Rayo. If this scene was to be named, it would be “Caught in the act”, the best kind of evidence to lock someone up in jail. She had whipped out a pair of handcuffs. Rayo would have no choice but to tell what she knows. Hopefully, her statement would give them meaningful cues on the case.

However, what Alice heard was her mother asking her to stop. Alice walked on her knees till she was before her mother and fell silent, expecting her mother to lash out at her in anger.

Alexandra, whose emergency adrenalin had worn off realized what was going on. It wasn’t Rayo after all. They only had the same body frame. While still trying to connect the dots in her head, Iya Alice on the other hand started screaming at her daughter.

“What did you say? Camera kinni? Video wo? Soro soke. Iya Alice shouted, asking her daughter to talk in clearer terms.”

Alice swallowed the saliva lodged in her mouth and looked back and forth from angry Iya Alice to surprised Alexandra. “I took the video and I sent it to you on a new SIM card, and…” Alice was trying to talk but her mother’s hysteria wouldn’t let her hear a word of Alice’s explanation.

*******

“I couldn’t tell my mother because of her quick temper,” Alice said, sitting opposite Alexandra at the only botanical gardens in the neighbourhood, knowing fully well that the conversation was being recorded.

“So, you recognize the guys who killed your father?” Alice nodded but Alexandra motioned for her to speak instead.

“One of them,” She started. “Mr Kevin offered to give me the money that I would have gotten from my father.”

“So, you initially went there to get some money from your father but Mr Kevin offered you money?”

“Yes, obviously that was to send me off,” Alice replied.

The tall royal palm near the shed where they sat suddenly shed one of its dry and old palm fronds, causing a small portion of the sandy soil to rise. Some of the particles entered into Alexandra’s eyes and she had to scrub her eyes out. A perplexed Alice brought out a flask of cold water and kept asking, “Are you okay?”

After the short interruption, Alexandra opened her eyes and Alice sighed—of relief.

“You’ve had brown eyes all this while?!” Alice asked surprised. “My mother used to speak of you like a cat with those strange grey eyes of yours.

“Contact lenses for short-sightedness,” Alexandra replied, holding the two pieces in her hands.

“My nickname is ‘Detective Eagle eyes,”

“I see,” Alice replied, seeing nothing but the irony of the situation.

“You know, I see stuff people don’t usually see,” Alexandra said solemnly and Alice looked at her weirdly.

“Let’s re-do the recording.” Alexandra broke the silence but the blank look didn’t leave Alice’s face.

“I’ll make sure to get justice for your father’s death. You just tell me all you know.” Alexandra said to the girl whose eyes were still wide open and pressed the stop button on the recorder.

“You’re a prophet?” Alice asked, finally finding her voice.

“Umm, something like that.”

Vocabulary

Ankara: This usually refers to a native wear made from printed African fabric.

Iwo bobo yii: You this guy

Soo mo p’on sofo n beyen ni: Don’t you know some people are grieving in this neighbourhood?

Ni: Extra effect showing exaggeration in this context

Olopa: Policeman/Policewoman

Iwo ati chewing gum: (Reprimand) You and chewing gum!

Oya: Now

Come and be going: Leave

Epele ma. Aa ni ri iru e mo: Accept my condolences. May it not happen again.

Ghana-must-go bag: A type of cheap matted woven nylon zipped tote bags, used by the migrants to move their belongings. (Source: Wikipedia)

Maami: Mother

Ajo: Contribution

Kinni: What?

Wo: Which

Soro Soke: Speak up

Author: Oluwabukola Olabode

Olabode Oluwabukola Ruth is a budding multi-genre Nigerian writer and digital creator. She loves nature and is therefore studying botany at the University of Ibadan. Being an avid reader that loves books that tell beyond normal stories, she loves to see people own and tell their own stories and thus, inspires people to tell theirs via her blog, heartychristianstories.com. One of her works has appeared on Pencillite, a recent one on Writers Space Africa, and elsewhere.

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