Sanse terminated his call, entered Crescent Plaza along Moi Avenue and used the staircase to the second floor. He was delighted to find the same receptionist at Herman Medical Centre two years down the line.
‘Claudia,’ Sanse said. ‘Is the good doctor busy?’
‘He is abroad,’ the girl said with a business smile.
‘Is that a fact? When do you expect him back?’
‘When did he leave?’
‘Really?’ Sanse embarked on clicking his knuckles.
‘I remember you,’ the receptionist said. ‘The clicking of knuckles. Your colleague was undergoing dialysis sometime back.’
‘What a superb memory. Who conducts dialysis in Dr. Herman’s absence?’
‘You know him; everything practically stops in his absence.’
‘Seems like I must seek assistance elsewhere,’ Sanse said. ‘Thanks all the same.’
Sanse stopped at Disneyland Club along Accra Road for a beer before he drove to Shalom Junior School. He parked outside the cabin where Maggie’s body was being kept. After a brief exchange with Pai the two proceeded to the manager’s office.
‘Detectives, is the doctor here?’ Baraza asked.
‘Can we see your payroll?’ Sanse said.
Baraza regarded the two detectives for a long moment before he took a piece of paper and wrote employees’ names and their pay. ‘I am the payroll.’
‘Zachary got thrice Clifford’s salary,’ Sanse said.
‘Zachary was worth a hundred times more,’ Baraza said. ‘Kids loved him, parents respected him. Where are you going with this?’
‘You sacked two girls with whom he was involved,’ Sanse said. ‘You would do anything to keep him.’
‘I am a businessman,’ Baraza said. ‘Much as employee retention is important I can’t allow everyone to play Romeo and Juliet. Of course the sackings rubbed the staff the wrong way but I am not here to please anybody. Making a business decision is not like pointing black from white. The simple truth is, if I had to choose between Zachary and the next worker my choice would remain constant over and over.’
‘Yet he planned to quit,’ Pai said.
‘What gives you the idea?’
‘How dare he after all the demigod treatment?’ Pai said.
Baraza peeled off his glasses. ‘Are you insinuating what I think you’re insinuating? My goose is cooked for heaven’s sake! Now parents will question the safety of their kids. Workers will spend half of the time looking over their shoulders. Look at the dormitory coming up. Look at it! I plan to grow this place, not to run it down! I think you owe me an apology.’
‘Dr. Herman is out of the country,’ Sanse said.
‘You keep the key to the gate near the toilets,’ Sanse said.
Baraza jerked suddenly and dialled his phone frantically. ‘I can explain… Caroline, where are you? Thank goodness. Hurry up to my office, please.’
Pai paced. Sanse clicked his knuckles. Baraza removed his coat and mopped his dump face.
A slim, timid-looking girl walked into the office.
‘Caroline,’ Baraza’s voice was laden with relief. ‘Sorry for everything. But you should give the detectives our whereabouts at the time Zachary was killed.’
The girl’s eyes dropped.
‘Prestige Hotel,’ she was barely audible.
‘Doing what?’ Pai asked.
‘Mr. Baraza said for me to work here I had to…,’ the girl tried to talk but ended up sobbing.
‘So the workers can’t be intimate with each other but you can force yourself on them,’ Sanse approached the girl. ‘Do you want to press charges?’
Caroline’s sobs increased. Sanse excused her.
‘I know it is wrong…,’ Baraza started.
‘Get in the car,’ Sanse said.
‘We can settle this…’
Sanse reached for his gun. Baraza hurried towards the detectives’ car.
As darkness crept in so did frustrations in the workers. They were excited to see Pai and Sanse argue as they headed to the car. Pai was clearly as fed up as they were. Noel, now crouched at the corner, was the only one not interested in the drama taking shape outside.
Sanse opened the door for Baraza and slammed it after him.
‘Poor Pai,’ Esau said as Sanse seized Pai by his collar and shoved him. Sanse entered the room where Maggie’s body was as Pai hurried towards the staffroom. He stopped at the door for what seemed like a roll-call. He stepped away just as the car was driving out of the compound, fished out his phone, talked briefly, pocketed it and stood akimbo. His eyes narrowed as Esau approached him.
‘You’re increasingly becoming unlikable,’ Pai said.
‘That is unfortunate,’ Esau said. ‘Your partner seems a bit obsessed with corpses.’
‘Congratulations for fuelling his obsession,’ Pai said.
‘Blame it on my genes or whatever. My elder brother hanged himself when his wife left him. My father slugged his boss following a dress-down. Think of a shoot-from-the-hip bloodline.’
‘You mean like a fools bloodline?’
‘You said the two of you are in the same rank,’ Esau said. ‘Senior detective.’
‘And you know otherwise?’
‘You are stronger physically than Sanse yet he keeps tossing you around.’
Pai’s eyes became slits. ‘What do you want?’
‘To go home,’ Esau said. ‘Come on, you want out too.’
Pai regarded the young man in semi-darkness. ‘Do you ever tire of being a nuisance?’
‘Your partner is…’
‘Don’t test my patience.’
Esau retreated to the staffroom. Fifteen minutes later a car drove into the compound. Pai hurried to the staffroom and summoned Judy.
‘You are in charge,’ he said. ‘No one leaves. Understood?’
‘Sir…?’ Judy started.
‘Just do it!’
A storm was already afoot before Pai could drive out of the compound.
‘Damn!’ Esau said. ‘We are stuck between a busybody and his toy.’
‘Rephrase that to “a lunatic and a dunderhead”,’ Edmond offered.
‘Why did they arrest Mr. Baraza?’ Judy asked.
‘I have an educated guess,’ Clifford said. ‘He was interviewing Caroline.’
The men laughed, the women frowned. Noel was still lost in her own world at the corner.
‘Shit!’ Clifford exploded. ‘I am tired of this circus.’
‘I am hungry, angry and weary,’ said Edmond.
‘Spare the departed souls a thought, will you?’ Judy said.
‘Guys,’ Esau started for the door, ‘so long!’
‘You heard the detective,’ Judy warned.
Edmond followed Esau.
‘Hey, I am warning you,’ Judy said.
‘We stand warned,’ Clifford said walking out. Janet regarded Judy, lifted her shoulders, dropped them and marched out.
Noel remained at the corner.
Read CHAPTER 8
© Anthony Mugo 2017