My mother came just about the time Gold was about to leave the police station. They met each other. My mother could not but wail and keep asking me, “why?”
I tried to explain all that happened, how I obeyed her instructions and how things turned out. What she said really amazed me. “That lady killed him. Yes, she did.” She hit the table.
I opened my mouth wide in surprise and looked at Gold. “Is it possible?”
“It could, that was why I asked where you met her.” Gold chipped in.
“Michael, the most important thing right now is that you’re alive. You might have been the one dead.” My mother said.
“So I could have been dead.” I first felt my mother was selfish, and the next minute, I thought I really should be grateful I wasn’t the victim.
My mother left, to get her lawyer since I had been charged to court on the basis of murder.
I looked at Gold, “but Fredo died. What will happen to him?” I knew what the look on his face meant.
He sighed, “Fredo had his chances, Michael. God sent people to him. He didn’t yield.”
“What about this one? God could have found a way to not let him come home, or something.” He hit the table.
“God doesn’t take away the free will of a man. Michael, I am sure God has reached him times without number. I do pray him. Also, we can’t be sure, we did not know what his last minutes were like.”
I thought. “Is it possible?”
“That he believed and accepted the Lord before he died? We can’t answer that. Or you’re doubting God’s forgiveness?
“No. Not that. It’s just too unbelievable that with all Fred has done, God would forgive him at the last minute.”
“We are not sure of anything. Michael, we are not. But I strongly feel, there are some things we don’t know yet.”
While we discussed, the policemen looked at us in intervals. That bothered us less. My mother rushed in with her lawyer, who was a childhood friend of her. She asked me many questions, and I answered all, sincerely.
Just when the lawyer was done questioning me, my mother received a call. “Jesus Christ!” She said and started crying. We tried to calm her down and know what was done.
“She is dead o, she’s dead.” she continued crying.
“Gloria o, she’s dead.”
I was so surprised, I was expecting it. I swallowed the saliva that had gathered in my mouth. “Who’s Gloria?” Gold asked.
“My Aunt…” I immediately remembered when she called me and asked for forgiveness. I strongly felt bad for the way I treated her.
My mother picked up her phone, and noticed that one of the nurses in the hospital where aunt Gloria died had called her many times, hours ago. She pulled a call through to the nurse.
“I missed your calls…” She wiped off the tears on her face. “I just heard about it.”
“I’m sorry ma. She actually wanted to speak to you when I was calling you. When you didn’t pick, she wrote a letter. I think she knew she was going to die, she told me to give you the letter.”
“Really?” She sniffed, “I’ll come collect it.”
What was in the letter Aunt Gloria dropped before her death?
It was the first hearing in court. That was my first time of being inside a court, my mind was off everything that was happening. When I was guarded in with my hands cuffed, I saw a lot of students – coursemates, acquaintances, friends and hostel mates. Even those I didn’t know, came to witness the hearing.
What really happened in the court that day, is faint in my memory. I was not really alive to all the back and forth arguments that occurred in the court room. What I remember vividly is when the hall porter and I was examined and cross examined. The questioning brought out a lot I didn’t want out.
“So, that evening, what happened?” The lawyer asked me.
“I already did…”
He cut in. “Yes, I know. It’s needed. So, proceed.” He gestured.
“We were together that evening before a lady called and asked me to come pick her, she wanted to come to my hostel…”
“Your girlfriend?” The lawyer faced me.
“Something like that.” I stuttered.
“Something like that? Be exact, Michael.” He said firmly.
“Objection, my Lord.” The lawyer defending me in the court sprang up.
“Objection overruled.” The judge said with authority.
There was an uproar among the people in the court, which consisted of students mostly. The judges brought sanity back to the court with his gavel.
“So, is that the first time you will be coming in to the hostel with a lady?”
I paused, looked at my parents. I bowed my head in shame. “No.” I stuttered.
“I need to hear you clearly, Michael.” The lawyer raised his voice.
“No, sir.” I replied more audibly.
“Okay, continue. What happened that evening?”
“Yeah, so I went to meet the lady. I left Frederick, in the room. By the time I came back with the lady, Fred already left because I told him to. As I was in the room with the lady, I received a call from my mother. She was asking me to leave the vicinity I was, then I left the lady alone in the room. So, the last time I saw Frederick was before I went to meet the lady.”
“Who’s this lady and why are you referring to her as the lady? I thought you said she’s your girlfriend.”
“Her name is Catherine, she’s in the department of biochemistry, also in 100L.”
“You did not answer the other question. I asked…”
“That’s because I don’t want to.” I intentionally didn’t want to speak about her. My mother’s heart was obviously broken. She must have had an idea of the kind of life I was living on campus.
Mr. Kolawole, the porter who was in charge the day I brought Catherine in was called upon for examination.
“Mr. Kolawole. Is it true you’re one of the hall porters and the one in charge the day before Frederick was found dead.” The lawyer asked.
“What movements did you notice of Michael the evening before Fred was found dead?”
“He went out, and not so long, he came back. Again, about fifteen minutes he had entered, he went out.”
“Did you see any lady with him when he came in?”
“No, he came in. He ran in.”
“So you mean Michael came in alone?”
“Yes, he came in alone.”
“Thank you, Mr. Kolawole. I want to ask you, did you notice any funny behaviour from Michael the last time he went out that evening?”
“I didn’t really notice anything because he really ran out so fast.”
“You mean, he ran out?”
“Thanks you so much, Mr. Kolawole.”
Mr. Kolawole had said the truth that really happened that day. I was delayed by Gold, and I asked Catherine to go in before me. The porter didn’t see us together. I came in to the hostel alone.
The lawyer defending my case noticed the loophole that the statements of the porter already created. He decided to cross examine him.
“So, you said Michael came in alone.” The lawyer paced.
“Did you notice any lady come in few minutes before or after Michael did.”
The porter raised his face, placed his fingers on his head. “Yes, there was this fair lady that came in before him.”
“Does Michael come into the hostel with ladies?”
“Very well, especially with his friend, Fredo. I mean Frederick.”
“Thank you, Mr. Kolawole.”
“Your honour, I’d like to call on Michael once again.” He bowed.
I was called upon again, and I was being questioned to know if I had enter the hostel with Catherine.
“No, I was actually delayed by someone.”
“Why did this person delay you?”
“He was warning me about the lady that was with me, she already went in when he was giving the warnings.”
“Who’s the person you’re talking about?
Gold was called upon. From the questioning, it was found out that I didn’t enter the hall with Catherine at the same time. This created a balance in the tozzle. Even though, it didn’t prove that I didn’t kill Fredo, but it had an impact.
The hearing was announced to be continued on a day that will be disclosed later. The strange thing I noticed, all through out the hearing, I didn’t feel my fears. I remembered how fear nearly strangled me before the hearing.
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