The hooded figure combined caution with speed like a seasoned soldier as it approached the cabin. Every second mattered as Sanse or Pai could return any moment. Interesting that the whole affair should start and end with metal rods, he thought fastening his grip on the metal rod in his gloved hand. Anyone who stands in the way is as good as dead, he thought. I have become damn good at it.
The padlock gave on the first blow. He stormed the small room, his heart threatening to break free. Thirty seconds and he was out of here.
‘Clifford,’ a voice called. ‘What took you so long?’
Clifford stopped dead as a powerful beam caught him dead in the face. He flung the rod which hit the far wall. He froze as a gun cracked.
‘What are the odds that I will empty the clip wide?’ Sanse said. ‘Do the math, Clifford.’
‘You left in the car,’ Clifford said at length.
‘My passenger left in the car. Looks like you bought the little altercation with my partner.’
‘Let me guess,’ Clifford said, ‘the eyeball thing is a ruse too.’
‘It is a murder detection myth we all shared in our childhood.’
‘Nobody ever pulled the rag from under my feet like this. Congratulations.’
‘We are smart until we’re not,’ Sanse said.
‘What gave me away?’
‘Janet,’ Sanse said. ‘You separated four days ago. Furthering one’s education can necessitate the suspension of tying the knot or having kids but not an affair. I wouldn’t have let go without a fight if I were in your shoes. Zachary gave Noel the boot yesterday. He sounds like a guy who kicked out a girl for another. Coincidentally, to Janet, Zachary was “Zach”. On your part you denied ever having been in an affair. You wanted justice for Zachary until I mentioned the eyeball expert. You suddenly realised we might take forever to solve the case.’
Someone put the lights on to reveal some workers at the doorway.
‘You!’ Janet said.
‘Liar!’ Clifford charged. ‘I trailed you to Java where you and Zachary had dinner. How could you choose him over us? The bastard was a user who would never marry in a thousand years. I couldn’t sit back as he broke your heart.’
‘You are a dunderhead,’ Janet said. ‘It is my love to give, not yours to take!’
‘No one can love you as I do!’
‘No one can hate you as I do!’ Janet said. ‘You were ever too insensitive and selfish.’
‘Wait a minute,’ Judy addressed Clifford. ‘How did you get from Zachary’s office?’
‘Through the dilapidated ceiling,’ Sanse said. ‘He took the keys to Class 4 whose ceiling is peeling off as well. The lock opens from either side. He used a chair on the table in the office and a rope in the classroom.’
‘Let me guess, Maggie saw him take the metal rod,’ Edmond said.
‘Esau took the rod,’ Pai said joining Sanse.
‘I was about to break into my locker when I saw my keys under Janet’s chair,’ Esau said. ‘I put the rod on the window sill planning to return it to the kitchen. I was shaken when I saw it on Zachary’s body.’
‘Then why kill Maggie?’ Judy asked.
‘I urged her to recount what she had seen and when she mentioned having seen a movement in Class 4 I suggested we investigate,’ Clifford said. ‘We got to the building separately to avoid attracting attention.’
‘Why, Clifford, why?’ Judy asked.
‘I saw Janet through college,’ Clifford said. ‘I pushed her to apply for a job. How could she turn her back on me? I preserved myself for her. I am a virgin for goodness’ sake! What was expected of me? Jubilation for losing Janet to the man who thought I am here to get him bhang? When, two days ago, I arrived in the staffroom and saw the rod an idea occurred to me. I confiscated it and gave in to Zachary’s push to help him organise his office. At ten to eleven I suggested we smoke some weed near the toilets. I told him I would join him momentarily.’
‘Clifford,’ Sanse said. ‘The little that I know about love is that it is a two-way traffic. Love that was meant to be will be no matter what. Not that it matters now because you are under arrest for the murder of Zachary Muia and Maggie Keya.’
The Land Rover that had ferried Zachary’s body drove into the compound and left with Maggie’s body and Clifford.
‘You put Judy in charge knowing we would defy her,’ Esau addressed Pai.
‘Some of you are incurably arrogant,’ Pai said.
‘I just can’t believe you were playing us all along,’ Esau said. ‘You make a wonderful team. To be honest I doubt I could have cleared my name were you to charge me with Zachary’s murder. Thank you guys.’
Judy approached Sanse. ‘Why did you arrest Mr. Baraza?’
‘Who arrested who?’ Sanse asked. ‘The last I heard of Mr. Baraza he was at home shooting the breeze with his wife.’
‘But you left with him?’
‘How else could you be in charge?’ Pai asked.
Judy shook her head, smiling.
© Anthony Mugo 2017
Books by Anthony Mugo
- The Lollipop Flew Away (Mike Sanse Murder Series #2)
Emilio Gitonga is murdered following a quarrel with Bob Gitau, his son. In the quarrel father disowns son and son threatens father’s life. When Bob is found at the scene of crime holding the murder weapon he is put on trial. His fate appears to be sealed until his wife hires Mike Sanse, a former CID officer now a private investigator, to interrogate the case. The judgment is a week away. Sanse has a week to stop the bank from repossessing his home. Can the police stand being challenged? Did Bob kill his father? If not, can Sanse navigate the web of deception, blackmail and greed in time?
- .. I Need Your Corpse (Mike Sanse Murder Series #3)
When a decapitated body is found Diana Ciuri identifies it as that of her husband who went missing two days ago. Oscar Ciuri happens to be a popular candidate in the oncoming elections. Senior Detective Cosmas Pai and Senior Detective Mike Sanse fell apart when the latter pointed his gun at the former. Pai transferred to Kathare to distance himself from Sanse. Sanse has since lost his job to become a private investigator in Kathare. He has information that could cost Pai his job. And now Pai’s boss wants the two men to be partners all over again. The two rivals must find a common ground and find Oscar Ciuri’s killer before his mad supporters burn down the town. Just when the two think they have it figured out another body surfaces…
- Never Say Never
Never Say Never is a compelling story of a teenager’s quest for education under the most difficult conditions. Daniel Muthini Njoki, the son of a poor, single mother, is arrested and taken to a remand home in Murang’a, then to Getathuru Reception Center. He is subsequently transferred to other approved schools: Kericho, Othaya, and finally Kabete, where he sits and passes the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. The doors to a university are now open. Although he is an innocent inmate, and although textual evidence points in the direction of the mother, the question of who engineered his arrest is part of what makes this work so interesting. The sum total is a superlatively well written novel about the difficulties, the challenges, and the hopes of getting an education in Kenya.
Never say Never won the Burt Award for African Literature in 2012.
- Ask the Stars
In Ask the Stars, Titus Mutuiria remembers how at the age of ten he seemed to lead a normal life of sibling rivalry with Njorua, Antonnina and Sarah until some events from their past threaten to rewrite his life. Njorua and Antonnina learn that Mutumia Mutana, the mother they have always known is not their biological mother while Titus learns that Muthuri Mukaru is not the biological father of himself and Sarah. What follows is a gripping story of jealousy, fear, loyalty, friendship and love as the siblings grow and confront an array of challenges as the family forge solutions to the troubles that beset them. The story of young love between Titus and Joan and the actions of a lurking rapist in the village bring added dimensions to the story, showing that things are not always what they seem. Eventually, the teenagers and their parents must nurture a love that strengthens their family and that also brings sanity to the village.
Ask the Stars won the Burt Award for African Literature in 2014.
- Blame it on the Stars
Blame it on the Stars is a sequel to Ask the Stars. When Mukaru’s marriage to Simane collapsed he retained custody of their children, Njorua and Antonnina. He married Mutana who had a son, Mutuiria. She bore him Sarah. Mukaru dies leaving behind a will that tie his beneficiaries together for four years. A week is hardly gone before Sarah is kidnapped forcing the family to disregard the will. Who would demand a million shillings from a family that is down to its last cent? Will Njorua and Antonnina sacrifice their inheritance in time to save Sarah? Blame it on the Stars affirms Anthony Mugo’s place as a master storyteller.