I stayed up all night, thinking of my encounter with Cane. Maybe I should give him a chance since I’m currently not seeing anyone and besides it’s not that I don’t like him. He’s much better than all the men I have dated. He doesn’t come in the form I desire, but it’s okay, I will compromise. With time I will get to like him more, or else I will grow old in my mother’s house all in the name of waiting for “Mr. Perfect”. So yes, I will inform him of my decision immediately after I get to work.

I open the door and the faces that greet me are that of the detectives. They are standing so close to each other that their shoulders are grazing.  My smile fades immediately and a sudden disquiet flows through my body. What do they want again? I thought they were done with this restaurant. Anyway, I restore my smile which is forced this time, and walk to them.

“ Hello detectives, long time no see”, I try to sound as friendly as I can but they don’t smile in return, not even Detective Nimo and I immediately sense danger.

“ Hello Abena, I hope you are doing well. We are here to see you”, Detective Bediako says.

“ Is anything the matter?”,  I ask as my blood pressure rises. The detectives exchange looks and with a smirk, Detective Nimo says, “ We will like you to come with us to the police station, to answer a few questions”. My smile disappears and I ask them why they need me at the station.

“ It’s concerning the manager’s death. A witness saw you with him when he was on the verge of dying”, Detective Bediako says.

“ Me? I think you’re mistaken. I told you before that he was totally fine when I left him. That so-called witness is lying. Who’s that person anyway?” The detectives stare at me intensely, it is as though they can see through me. They drift apart, leaving a space between them and revealing Cane, sitting on a chair. He isn’t facing me, so I stare at his side. He turns his gaze slowly towards me and within a few seconds, looks away shamefully and stares at the table before him.

“ Detectives, I just asked who the witness is”

“ You are staring at him”, Detective Nimo answers. I look at Cane again in confusion. He can’t be a witness. He left that night and even when Emefa indirectly accused me, he defended me. There is no way he’s a witness. Or was he paid to lie?

“ Cane, tell me what’s going on here? I don’t understand what the detectives are implying”. Cane doesn’t say a word. He stands up and walks towards the kitchen, ignoring both my gaze and question. I freeze for a moment, trying to figure out how Cane got mixed up with this issue. The detectives ask me politely again, to go with them. I readily follow them, not because I believe they have something on me, but because I’m curious to find out how Cane became a witness.

The interrogation room is dim. The two detectives are sitting across me while leaning forward with their elbows on the table. They ask me the same questions they asked, on the first day they came to the restaurant and I give them the same answers but with more confidence this time, I have come to believe my own lies.

“ We’ve heard all that you’ve said. But there is something we need you to explain”, Detective Nimo says as he draws out a tablet and pushes it to me. I look on the screen and there’s a video playing. I panic and cover my mouth with my hand. How did this happen? How did they get this video? Who recorded it? I can’t believe I’m watching exactly what happened on the day the manager died. The video began from where I held his leg, begging him to let me keep my job and everything that ensued till he died.

“ How-how-how, did you get this?” I stammer.

“ We told you already, your co-worker witnessed it. He had forgotten his phone in the restaurant and came back to get it, only to meet this scene.” Detective Nimo says.

“ And he kept quiet all this while because he was afraid of what you would do. Apparently, you’re a very dangerous woman Abena. A very wild beast” Detective Bediako adds. I am partially deaf to their words right now. I’m seething with anger. That betrayer! He was never scared of me. He only kept it a secret because he liked me. He is trying to avenge the rejection I bestowed upon him. I now realise Cane is more dangerous than I am. He shouldn’t be left to walk freely on the streets!

“ Do you know this man?”, Detective Bediako asks as he pushes a picture to me. It’s Richard’s picture so I nod to his question.

“ He’s dead. I guess you heard”, he asks again and I nod without staring at him.

“ Well, his autopsy results revealed that he was poisoned. We did our investigations and discovered  that the last place he ate was at your restaurant where you personally served him”

“ So you think I poisoned him?” I ask with a scoff.

“ No, we don’t think you did. We know you did”.

“ Just because I’m pinned with the death of the manager doesn’t mean I go about killing people. I am not a murderer. Besides, I have no reason to kill that man. He was just an acquaintance”, I blurt out.

“ I think you do because you both once dated and nearly got married and besides, we found this in your locker”, Detective Nimo says and pushes a tiny sachet to me. It’s the poison. How could I have been so careless, I thought I had taken it home. The poison has failed me this time, how come it took effect so quickly? Could it be a fake one?

“ You’re under arrest for the murder of both the manager and Mr. Richard”. Detective Nimo says.

I stare at them quietly, thinking of how to get out of this mess. I have been caught , there’s no doubt. I’m taken out of the interrogation room and headed to the cells. I walk slowly because there’s no way I’m ever stepping foot in jail. That would be over my dead body. We are halfway to the cells and I abruptly fall to the floor, startling all the men. They shake me vigorously but I remain still. I make them believe I have passed out. They try all they can to make me regain consciousness but I don’t even flinch. They have no idea that I have done this on numerous occasions while I was still a member of my high school drama club, I’m glad that talent never died.

I’m taken to a nearby clinic and even the doctor is deceived by my pretense. He puts me on drips and I hear him tell the police officers it’s important I stay in the hospital for a while even after I regain consciousness. I’m enthused about this. I have bought more time for myself and all I need to do is think of a way to get out. I open my eyes when I realise I’m alone in the room. But I know there is a policeman guarding the door. I need to get him out of my way. I remove the needles from my hand, deliberately drop an object on the floor and he comes running in a haste. I pretend to have a convulsion and he stares at me in perplexity. He holds my hand and then drops it again. He finally tries to do what he should have done first, call the doctor. But when he turns to leave, I take the chair standing next to my bed and hit him hard on the head. He passes out on the floor without any sound. I wonder what training he was given, such a weak man. I ran to the door but halt again. The doctor and nurses who attended to me might recognize me immediately since I’m still in my uniform. Fortunately, the policeman is about my size, so I take off his uniform and put it on. It’s a little too tight but I will manage it. I open the door and I see no doctors or nurses around, just a few patients and their visitors. I walk briskly and don’t even stop when the security man stares at me suspiciously. I hail a taxi and disappear far away from that vicinity. I pay the driver with the money I found in the policeman’s uniform and head to an uncompleted building.

I can’t go home now. They have probably noticed my absence by now and I know the first place they will go to is my house. The building is creepy. The grasses in it are tall and there are cobwebs in all its corners. I spot lizards and other reptiles running about. I become anxious and can’t wait till evening.  At about 5:30pm, I leave the uncompleted building and head home. I use an isolated route where nobody will see me. I’m relieved when I see the gate of my house open. I enter my room first and change my clothes. I then go to my mother’s room and find her taking a nap. I begin to wonder if the police actually came to the house, because the atmosphere seems normal and my mother looks peaceful.  Nonetheless, I have to leave, I can’t take any chances. I furtively open her drawers and take out her money and some jewellery. I stare at her for a moment, thinking of how much I will miss her, though I know she won’t miss me. I turn to leave but something strikes my mind so I stop.

I take a pillow and move slowly towards her face. She suddenly wakes up and screams.

“ Eeeeiii, what are you trying to do? You want to kill me too?”. I stare at her with utmost confusion and the pillow slides from my hand.

“ You know, I should have listened to my mother and given you up for adoption or better still thrown you away. All that you’ve ever done was bring me bad luck. I curse the day you were born”, my mother says. Her words hurt more than a razor cut. I always knew she didn’t love me, but I never knew she actually despised me. I can feel tears forming in my eyes, I try to pull them back but they still trickle down. My mother gets down from her bed and pushes me out of her room.

“ Go away. I don’t want the police to come back and meet you here”. She says. I feel elated for a moment, thinking that for the first time, she cares about me. But then she adds, “ If you’re caught, everyone in this town will know you’re my daughter and I will be the center of all their gossip. I can’t bear it. So go far away from here and never come back”. Her words are a big blow to me. I pick a torchlight from the floor and walk away briskly while wiping away my tears with the back of my hand. I make up my mind not to look back or ever return again. I cross the road leading to the forest. It is almost dark and beginning to look scary. I heard there’s a route that leads to a nearby town. I will definitely go to that town and start my life afresh. I want to leave behind this one and everything in it behind.

As soon as I get into the forest, I hear faint voices behind me.

“ Hurry, I don’t think she has gone far” I hear a voice say and I sense immediately that it’s the police. I begin to run as fast as I can but I hear their footsteps and bushes rustling behind me. They are close, I can feel their presence. I need to hide before they find me. I nervously scrutinise the area and finally see a small shelter made of sticks, behind a huge Baobab tree. I enter inside and sit upright with my knees to my chest and arms wrapped around my legs. I’m suffocating, I hope the police retreat so I can get out and inhale some air. Now I can hear their voices clearly. They are not far from where I’m hiding.

“ She must be around here”, one of them admits and I begin to panic. What if they find the shelter? My mind is still in a race about what to do and then I hear a hiss. I get startled, I don’t know where the sound is coming from. There’s a hiss again and I hear it more loudly this time. I turn on the torchlight and glance around the shelter. I throw the torchlight on the ground in fear but hold my mouth tightly to stop myself from screaming. It is a big, black python curled right at my feet. Impulsively, I want to scream so the police will come to my rescue. But I stop after a second thought. I would only be running from frying pan to fire. Even if I don’t die in the stomach or from the poison of this python, I would definitely die in the hands of the law. Nowhere is safe for me.

I’m doomed and I know it. This is my end. My death is inevitable. Now how I die is in my hands, I‘m served with two options and I don’t know which to choose.

Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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