Zachary’s office was a partition within the staffroom. Sanse sat on the deceased’s chair, Maggie sat across the table while Pai remained on his feet. Sanse took a minute to study the room; the files on the table and the shelves, the dilapidated ceiling, the duty roster on the far wall and the keys rack under it. Pai concentrated on Maggie who in turn studied her shoes, her head corked dejectedly to the right, her hands folded in front of her.
‘How did you discover the body?’ Pai asked.
The big eyeballs behind bushy eyes lashes could have been dashing on a merrier face but now, as Maggie faced Pai, her eyes were windows to a soul in turmoil.
‘I was on my way to the toilet,’ her voice was barely audible.
‘What was the time?’
‘About 11.05 am.’
‘What did you do on discovery?’
‘I dashed to him but stopped when I saw the rod and the blood. The next moment Judy was calming me down.’
‘Were you close?’ Sanse asked.
‘He was my senior. He was… he was a good person to work under.’
‘Are you married?’ Sanse asked.
Maggie shook her head.
‘What do you do?’ Pai asked.
‘I am a cook.’
‘Then you recognize the murder weapon,’ Pai said.
‘The rod went missing two days ago. We thought it was just misplaced until I saw it on the body.’
‘Who is “we”?’ Pai asked.
‘Judy, the matron, and I.’ Maggie was lost in thought for a while. ‘Esau!’
‘What about him?’ Pai asked.
‘He visited the kitchen the very day the rod went missing,’ suddenly Maggie was alive. ‘When I asked how I could assist him he said he knew his way around. He must have taken the rod!’
‘Can you prove that he took it?’ Sanse asked.
Maggie was lost in thought for a long moment. ‘He once borrowed the rod after he had lost his keys.’
‘Do you think Esau killed Zachary?’ Pai asked.
‘He had no respect for Zachary as his boss,’ Maggie said.
‘Any other useful information?’ Sanse asked and Maggie shook her head. ‘Tell Esau to come.’
Esau was tall and muscular. His beard was shaved to leave a strip that connected his ears.
‘How many cigarettes do you smoke in a day?’ Sanse asked.
Esau displayed his cigarette-stained teeth, amused. ‘It varies.
‘An estimate will do.’
Esau’s right hand began turning the ring on his left middle finger. ‘Five.’
‘How about weed?’
Esau’s eyes oscillated between the two detectives. ‘Is this important?’
‘Just answer the question,’ Sanse said.
‘I have never touched weed.’
‘Were you and Zachary close?’ Sanse asked.
‘I am never close to my workmates,’ Esau said. ‘It kills respect. Of course you will hear all manner of stories.’
‘What stories?’ Pai asked.
‘Of imagined animosity between us,’ Esau said. ‘To Zachary leadership is bulldozing everyone around. I strive to earn my pay, willingly, always.’
‘Where were you between ten thirty and ten past eleven?’ Pai asked.
‘I was at my desk before I moved outside the compound to smoke.’
‘Who can vouch for you?’ Pai asked.
Esau lifted his shoulders, dropped them and said, ‘I don’t know. The gatekeeper was not at his post.’
‘This is important,’ Pai said.
‘Look, if you don’t anticipate a session like this you just do what you have to do. Anyway, just ask around. Someone must have seen me walking in or out.’
‘Have you ever been to the kitchen?’ Sanse asked.
‘Yes,’ Esau said at length.
‘When was the last time?’
Esau turned the ring rapid-fire. ‘Yesterday but one.’
‘What was the purpose of your visit?’ Sanse asked.
‘A cup of water.’
‘You had lost your keys, right?’ Sanse said.
Esau squirmed. ‘I found them.’
‘Before or after you had found a way to access the locker?’ Pai asked.
‘Have you ever seen the metal rod used in the murder?’ Sanse asked.
Esau stole a glance outside the window. ‘I once used it to access my locker.’
‘About four months ago.’
‘And you didn’t take it two days ago?’ Sanse said.
‘That’s what I said.’
‘Are you married?’ Pai asked.
‘Where are the keys?’ Sanse asked.
Sanse and Pai accompanied Esau into the staffroom where the two detectives examined Esau’s padlock and the locker.
‘Who are your neighbours?’ Sanse asked.
‘Janet to the right, Purity to the left.’
‘Who do you think killed Zachary?’ Pai asked.
‘You’re the detectives,’ Esau said and hurried out.
‘We train the mouth to lie but forget the rest of the body,’ Pai said.
Read CHAPTER 3
© Anthony Mugo 2017