It was morning, 8:24am precisely. Car horns blared through the streets while people went about their own activities.
Among them were feet covered in black, low-heeled shoes, walking briskly down the busy Sapele road. School bag hung over shoulders and a portable leather folder rested peacefully in the left hand. Dressed in a casual blue jeans pants, a red t-shirt and loose braids, Fegor Obaro wasted no time with the scenery. She walked fast while nodding rhythmically to a tune filtering into her ear through an ear piece.
She was slender, five feet tall, dark skinned and a little muscular. The fifth and only girl child of her parents, Mr and Mrs. obaro. Right from her days as a teenager, she had always been a tomboy and she didn't care. Of course, everyone around her complained. They wanted her to be more lady like. They said she won't get married - no one will marry a tomboy. Fegor ignored them all, flushing out their rants with a wave of hand. Was it her fault she was born among boys? Was it her fault that her parents, at a tender age, could not afford good clothes for her? Thereby making her share clothes with her brothers? Was it her fault she got used to the ways of men? She had tried to be more lady like, but how could she? Members of her sex were just so annoying; gossiping at every turn, crying all the time like babies, wearing skimpy clothes, swinging hips, and so much more. There were a few descent ones though, but no one recognized them since they weren't LADY like. Her aunties and uncles made being lady like sound the same as heaven. But she knew better.
"Whoever can't accept me as I am, the person shouldn't bother seeing me." She told everyone who attacked her for the same issue. "You people made me who I am so stop it," she yelled at them one time. They couldn't say anything more. They knew she was right.
Before getting on the road that morning, she had a similar argument with her mother. She loved the woman too much and didn't want to raise her voice to her. "I can't hear you, mom." She cut the call instead and put the phone on airplane mode before playing music. Music always had a way of helping her un-wind.
After about 15 minutes walk, she arrived at the police station sitting opposite Oba Market at Ring Road. She walked in boldly, ignoring the frown from some officers who watched her come in.
Close behind, two policemen dragged in a bus conductor. Although he pleaded with the men, all plea fell on deaf ears. Fegor ignored their drama and headed straight to the building. Within three minutes, she stood out side the DPO's office and knocked gently at the door.
"Come in." a hoarse and unfriendly voice invited.
She pushed the door open and stepped in. "Good morning sir."
"Do you have it?" The DPO, Sam Asuen, asked, ignoring her greetings.
"Yes." She sighed at his rude behaviour. It was typical of him. Smiling or being friendly had always been as issue for him. She didn't bother wondering why, it was waste of precious time. Not waiting for his response, she dropped the leather folder on the table and slid it across to him. "Everything is inside."
"Ok," Sam said, collecting the folder. "You can go."
"You haven't paid me my balance." Fegor said. Her eyes moved to a narrow slit as she observed him. How cunning does he think he can be? She thought.
From across the table, the DPO watched her. His expression, angry. For a woman, she had too much guts. Well, what else could one expect from a tomboy. "How much is it?" He asked, impatient.
"I don't remember agreeing to pay you fifty."
"I have your voice recorded." Fegor said, stubbornly. "You promised me fifty. Or do I have to play the recording just to remind you?"
"Don't you know better than to threaten me?" The DPO scowled.
"I only want my money, sir." She didn't flinch.
"You kids don't ever learn." He searched his drawer and brought out a bundle of one thousand naira notes. "This is thirty thousand. Come back in the evening for the rest."
Fegor quietly picked up the bundle, counted it before keeping it in her bag pocket. "With all due respect sir, I'm not a kid." That said, she walked out, ignoring the fresh anger on his face. He could turn red for all she cared, that was his business.
An hour later, Fegor walked into her apartment. "I thought you two were out?" She asked as soon as her eyes rested on her house mates sitting casually in the living room. Photos laid carelessly on the table
"We went out, we're back." Chigozie, fair skinned, wore long braids but a little taller than Fegor, said. Her slender figure laid easily on the couch. Froom her tone, Fegor could tell something was off.
"What happened?" She asked, moving closer. "How did it go?"
"You first" Zino, the boy amongst them, male, 5ft plus, requested.
"Phew!" Fegor sighed. "Just as we suspected. He denied promising 50k. I insisted. He paid 30,000. He asked me to return later today for the balance. My instincts tells me he won't pay. He might frame us up or get us arrested."
"Well, the atmosphere is heated. He'll have good reasons to throw us behind bars."
"How? What are you saying? We didn't do anything wrong. We only spied on someone."
"Look at the photos." Chigozie pointed at the pictures scattered on the table.
Curious, Fegor dropped her bag on an empty seat and moved to pick up each photo. She frowned as she realized she was staring at the photos of the dead girl; the same girl she and her roommates had spied on the day before, into the late hours of the night. For some reasons, she had asked her friends to go back after the target and take more serious intimate photos. The extra pictures were to be used as leverage to get their contractor to pay in full.
"How did this happen?" Fegor asked, frowning even more.
"I don't know. I can't say." Zino sighed. "One moment they were having a go at it, the next, she was not responding. Her lover simply ran off. I'm sure he was scared of being accused of murder."
"If we really want to know what happened, you know where we should start from." Chigozie chipped in.
"Why would I want to catch her murderer?" Fegor frowned in her direction.
"Because you are the good Samaritan and you always find a way of dragging us into your good deeds." She replied, sarcastically.
"Forget her, forget the case." Fegor said, her mouth, set. "We did what we were contracted to do. That's all that matters."
"The DPO won't be happy." Zino said. He sighed before throwing his feet on the table, so as to assume a more relaxed position.
"Okay." Chigozie said, getting to her feet. "If you're not going to take on the case, I better go get dressed. I'm meeting my boyfriend this morning. We need to discuss and take a decision." She walked out to her room.
"I'm out too." Zino said, getting up. "I'm working afternoon shift and it will soon be afternoon.
Fegor gave an understanding nod before throwing herself on a seat. She sighed deeply. Her thoughts took a different turn as regards the pictures before her. She understood her friends' reluctance to find out what happened to the girl. Through recommendation, the DPO had contacted her four days ago and asked her to spy on the girl. She started her spy business during her days in Uni. It helped solve a lot of her financial needs but it was quite risky. However, soon after school, she returned to her neighborhood and recruited her best friends, Chigozie and Zino, into the business. She needed more hands and only from friends she could trust. They had been in business, all had been successful until this.
When she first got the job to spy on the dead girl, Chigozie didn't want it. It was like she knew something would go wrong. She had always had good instincts but they needed the money. Now the girl was dead, under her watch. The DPO wouldn't waste time arresting them. Before that happened she had to find out what went wrong. She just had to and she was going to do it alone.
To be continued...