‘I arrived at eleven sharp,’ Janet said. Her confidence seemed to have waned since her exchange with Sanse.
‘What did you see on arrival?’ Pai asked.
‘Maggie was standing on the building under construction.’
‘Who did you find in the staffroom?’ Pai said.
‘The matron,’ Janet said. ‘Clifford was in Zach’s office. I was hardly five minutes in the staffroom when Maggie wailed.’
‘Were you dating Zachary?’ Sanse asked.
Janet shot Sanse a sharp look. ‘Why?’
‘Zach was seeing Noel,’ Janet said.
‘Zachary ditched Noel,’ Sanse said. ‘He sounds like someone who left a girl for another. Do you have a boyfriend?’
‘That is odd for such a beautiful girl.’
‘Not when the girl is principled,’ Janet said. ‘Can I be blunt? This is becoming uncomfortably personal.’
‘Can I be blunt?’ Pai said. ‘You are seeing Clifford.’
Janet could as well have received an electric shock. ‘We ended it.’
‘Four days ago. I plan to pursue my education.’
‘How did Clifford take it?’ Pai asked.
‘It was not like I gave him the boot,’ Janet said. ‘Besides, Clifford was in Zach’s office when the murder occurred.’
‘Have you ever seen the metal rod used in the murder?’ Pai asked.
‘It was on the window sill behind Esau’s desk two days ago.’
‘Are you sure?’ Pai said.
‘That is interesting,’ Sanse said. He embarked on clicking his knuckles as a girl in a miniskirt appeared at the door. Her thin face, with rings and studs jostling for space on her nose, was framed by a green wig.
‘Noel?’ Sanse called. ‘Glad you could come.’
Noel replaced Janet on the hot seat.
‘Reportedly you were present during Zachary’s murder,’ Sanse said. ‘Why did you leave?’
‘I have and want nothing to do with the incident,’ Noel said, her fingers flying on her phone’s keypad. ‘I was stupid to have been around.’
‘When did you leave?’ Sanse asked.
‘I don’t know,’ Noel said.
‘You had left before your father’s arrival at 11.20 am,’ Sanse said. ‘That means you left just after the murder.’
‘How did your family receive your affair with Zachary?’ Pai said.
‘Why should it matter to anyone? It is my life.’
‘When did you arrive?’ Pai asked.
‘Why were you present?’ Sanse asked.
‘It is our school.’
‘You are too collected for a lover who just lost her mate,’ Sanse observed.
Noel rolled her eyes then said, ‘Do you expect me to hang myself?’
Sanse’s fist landed on the table before he jumped to his feet. ‘How dare you eyeball me when the man who just gave you the boot lies in the morgue? If you were brought up to expect others to please you know that I am a different kettle of fish! Do you understand? Do you?’
A fuming Sanse stepped out.
‘What is my crime?’ A stammering Noel asked.
‘We know that Zachary left you,’ Pai said. ‘Why?’
Noel bit her lip and corked her head. ‘He said he no longer loved me.’
‘You certainly didn’t wish him good health and a long life.’
Noel took a while to talk. ‘I wanted him sacked. That is why I kept in my father’s office.’
‘Who can verify your being in your father’s office?’
Sanse reappeared and stood against the doorframe.
‘I rarely interact with the workers.’
‘Who do you think killed Zachary?’ Pai said.
‘All I know is that I killed no one.’
‘Keep within the compound,’ Sanse said. Noel regarded him coldly before she replaced her earphones and walked out.
‘Some curses take the shape of kids,’ Pai said.
‘What are Ed and Norah?’ Sanse asked him.
‘Blessings, no doubt.’
‘What a neat mess,’ Pai said. ‘Baraza banked on Zachary too heavily to let go. Edmond was envious of Zachary and wants his position back. Perhaps there existed a stronger undercurrent between Zachary and Esau. The latter confiscated the murder weapon from the kitchen two days ago. Zachary was probably onto Janet, Clifford’s lover. Noel is a woman scorned. Evidently, if Zachary had nine lives and if everyone acted on their motives he would be dead nine times.’
Sanse led the way out as his phone rang. After listening for a while he said, ‘You found some prints? Judy, Maggie, Edmond and Esau. Abel, did I ever tell you that you’re a lifesaver?’
Sanse terminated the call and dashed after Pai as a wail cut the air.
© Anthony Mugo 2017