Edmond, the only worker who had engaged the press, was stout, dark and clean-shaven. His t-shirt bore the tale: I would rather push a Chevy than drive a Renault.
‘Are you married?’ Pai asked Edmond.
‘Two years next month,’ Edmond’s face glowed with pride. ‘Detectives, much as I would like to honour Clifford’s call I just can’t figure out why or who would want Zachary dead.’
‘How was his relationship with your colleagues?’ Sanse asked.
‘I can only speak for myself,’ Edmond said. ‘I admired his strict but considerate leadership.’
‘Was he seeing anyone?’ Sanse asked.
‘Noel, Mr. Baraza’s daughter.’
‘How did Baraza take it?’ Pai asked.
‘He was definitely boiling inside. He has had to sack two teachers who were involved with Zachary.’
‘The school has a no-intimacy policy,’ Edmond said. ‘For reasons best known to the women they loved Zachary more than they did themselves. As for Noel, Zachary had had more beautiful and marriageable girls who couldn’t tame him.’
‘Was he related to Baraza?’ Pai asked.
Edmond shook his head. ‘To Mr. Baraza Zachary was special in many ways. If I push for a raise I’ll be threatened with a sack; if Zachary threatened to quit he got a raise.’
‘How long have you worked here?’ Pai asked.
‘Mr. Baraza poached him from a neighbouring school a year ago.’
‘Was he ever intimate with Maggie?’ Sanse asked.
‘If he wasn’t done with her then she was in the queue.’
‘When did the murder occur? Pai asked.
‘Some minutes past eleven.’
‘Where were you at the time?’ Pai asked.
‘In the lower classes staffroom,’ Edmond said. ‘As a matter of fact I had dozed off. It has been a lazy morning, you know.’
‘Who can vouch for you?’ Pai asked.
‘I was alone.’
‘Was Noel around today?’
‘Who do you think is the killer?’ Sanse asked.
‘I wish I knew.’
‘Are you always this smart?’ Pai asked Clifford the moment he settled on the chair.
‘Yes, assuming that you’re not being sarcastic,’ Clifford straightened his tie.
‘Time to act on your call for justice,’ Sanse said. ‘Where were you when the murder occurred?’
‘Right here reorganising the office. We were almost done when Zachary excused himself. I can’t believe he is dead. We have been such a formidable and cohesive team and now this.’
‘Formidable, maybe, but cohesive?’ Sanse said. ‘Not when Esau thinks Zachary was a bulldozer.’
‘Esau hates the straight and narrow,’ Clifford said. ‘To him as long as one delivers lateness is a nonissue. No one should castigate his leader from such standpoint.’
‘You said that Zachary had his limitations,’ Pai said. ‘What were they?’
‘To him women were use-and-dump objects,’ Clifford said. ‘He cost two colleagues their jobs.’
‘Were you present during Noel’s visit?’ Sanse said.
‘Noel and I passed each other at the door,’ Clifford stopped to study a spot beyond the two detectives. ‘This could be important: the two split yesterday. Noel wanted reconciliation but Zachary’s mind was pretty much made.’
‘So you were his confidant,’ Pai said.
‘Not really. He mentioned it out of anger.’
‘Do you think Noel killed him?’ Pai asked.
‘I’d hate to speculate,’ Clifford said. ‘This might prove useful too: Zachary planned to quit. Apparently, someone was offering him a better pay.’
‘Who?’ Sanse asked.
‘He didn’t say.’
‘Have you ever seen the metal rod used in the murder?’ Pai asked.
‘I only learnt this morning that…’
‘Yes or no?’
‘Have you ever been to the kitchen?’ Pai asked.
‘A couple of times.’
‘When was the last time?’
‘About a month ago,’ Clifford said.
‘And you didn’t see the metal rod?’
‘I can’t remember seeing it.’
‘Are you married?’ Sanse asked.
‘Are you seeing someone?’ Pai asked.
Clifford shook his head. ‘As the Bible says there is a time for everything.’
‘How old are you?’ Sanse asked.
‘What should one be doing at twenty four?’ Sanse asked.
‘Finding one’s footing in life,’ Clifford’s eyes had clouded.
‘What do you teach?’ Pai asked.
‘Who is your favourite fictional character?’ Sanse asked.
Clifford chuckled nervously. ‘Okonkwo, I guess. He was a hero of sorts.’
‘When did Zachary leave the office?’ Pai said.
Clifford said, ‘On his way out he suggested we take a ten-minute break to resume at eleven. His body was found five minutes past eleven.’
‘Favourite fictional character, huh?’ Pai said upon Clifford’s departure.
‘Aren’t you tired of the rehearsed answers?’ Sanse said clicking his knuckles.
Read CHAPTER 4
©Anthony Mugo 2017