Public Enemy No. 1



When I was young, I watched a lot of American police movies; I used to sit with my eyes glued to the telly, watching how the good guys always caught the criminals, making them pay for their crimes. My parents could never understand my passion for such movies, and they tried all they could to quell my interests in such movies. They even banned me from watching the television whenever they were not around; I was the only child, so this wasn’t hard to enforce.

What they forgot was that we had neighbours who had a televisions and a plethora of action movies. Soon, I was almost always at the house of one of the neighbours, doing the exact thing I was restricted from doing at home.

So, it wasn’t surprising that twenty-five years later, I was a police inspector, in charge of the homicide department. The past years had taught me a lot about people: at their very core, humans are evil, the difference between a criminal and a lawful citizen being that one hasn’t had a reason to commit crime. I’d seen husbands who killed their wives because they suddenly looked more beautiful; I’d seen wives who murdered their husbands because they looked a second longer at a waiter; I’ve met mothers who strangled their babies because they cried too much; simply put, I’ve seen it all.

That was why I wasn’t much excited when I was rousted from my two-hour long sleep, and informed that my attention was needed at an address downtown. The reason, a peculiar murder case. I got to the scene of the crime, flashed my badge and went past the crime scene tape. Luckily, there were a few people around the body, and the strong putrid stench of formaldehyde assaulted my nostrils. I greeted my partner, Nkem Okeke. She was a woman with the physique of a super model; she had an hourglass figure with a face that would shame BeyoncĂ©. During her early days at the precinct, she had been the object of ridicule and sexual attention. Until she had given a deputy an uppercut when he had groped her in the parking lot. Since then, she earned their respect.

After the pleasantries, I knelt beside the body, and uncovered it. It was a man in his mid-forties, with a pouch of a belly, and thin legs. He had the beginnings of grey hairs and was what you would term an average man.

“Who found him?” I asked. I touched his hands, and they were still warm.

“An anonymous caller alerted us at 12.45am. When an officer showed up and sized up the situation, he then informed the homicide department.” That was Charles, the chief forensic guy. He was my best friend and confidant.

“Luke, there’s something else about his death. The exact reason you were called,” Nkem said, looking very distraught.

I raised my eyebrows in question, and she flipped the cover off the man. What I saw gave me chills down my spine; it brought back memories of my past failure, the only one. The man’s genitalia were sliced off and a piece of paper kept between his thighs. I took a latex glove out of the forensic kit, wore it and picked up the paper. It had only one sentence:

They don’t deserve to live.

It was exactly the same thing that was written on the paper of a similar victim six months ago. This was the work of a serial killer. Someone I needed to catch before he/she strikes again.

“Do you have an idea of the time of death, Charles?”

“I’m not the chief medical examiner Luke,” he replied.

“Yeah, but can you guess?” I insisted.

“No.”

“I’ll bet it hasn’t been up to five hours.”

No one answered me, they were too shocked to speak. After about ten more minutes of evidence gathering, I left the scene, my destination was my office at the station. That was where I thought out answers to cases. And I needed to answer this puzzle before the killer strikes again.

*******************

Five hours later, and still no leads at all. I needed a break. I got a call that the autopsy results won’t and available for another hour, so I jumped into my car and headed home. As I drove, my mind went over different possibilities and angles concerning the two related murders. Was this a random occurrence? Maybe, the two men had been unfortunate as to encounter the same serial killer? But as I thought of that, something told me that this wasn’t an ordinary scenario. With the way the genitals of the two men were chopped off, it spoke of some rage against the victims.

“Honey, I’m home!” I called out to my wife when I opened the front door of my apartment. She had a little stomach upset and had taken a two days sick leave. She didn’t answer; maybe she was asleep. I went to our room, and pulled off my clothes. As I was about to remove my underwear, and head to the bathroom, I heard loud sniffles coming from the bathroom. It had to be my wife, still, I brought out my gun, removed the safety, and quietly nudged the door open.

And stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

My wife was sitting inside the bathtub, naked with her eyes bloodshot  from crying. Her nose and mouth were almost full of mucus and tears were smeared all over her face. But these were not the reason my heart stopped as I looked at her. No, it was something else, something very gory.

Inside her palms, she held the penis and balls of a man, and was muttering something I couldn’t catch. The way she was fixated on the piece of human flesh she held was also sickening; it was as if she was in awe of it, and wanted no distractions in her personal prayer, or whatever it was she was doing.

I cleared my throat and her head snapped up, her eyes glazed over, and fearful. I needed no one to tell me the truth, it was staring at me in the face—my wife was the killer I’d been looking for. We looked at each other for a long time, before I found the voice to ask,

“Why Stella? Why?”

“They deserved to die; they were the ones who killed my daughter, Nneoma.”

Oh no! This was very bad. I had married Stella after my first wife died of cervical cancer four years ago. She was also a widow whose husband had left almost nothing. As a result, she had singlehandedly raised and trained her only child, Nneoma. Then one day, she was called to her daughter’s school, the reason being that her daughter was dead. Nneoma’s body was found by a student inside their school farm, with her clothes torn, and face bloodied.

According to Stella, Nneoma had confided in her that two of her teachers had been making unwanted advances at her, and try as she might, she couldn’t make them stop their amorous moves. When she (Stella) saw her daughter’s corpse, she immediately accused the two teachers of killing her daughter.

Now here’s the catch: when the two men were accused of the crime, several other students also added their own accusations of rape and molestation to Stella’s own. Together, the police arrested them, and shortly after that, they were arraigned. But within two weeks of being charged to court, they were acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence. It had been obvious that the men had bought their own justice.
When I was dating Stella, she had once said that if she ever found those men, they would die by her hands. She had made good on her promise.

I landed on the bathroom floor with a thud, as the gravity of what I was seeing sank in. My wife was a murderer, and I was obliged to bring her to justice. Just then, my phone rang. I went into the room to pick it up.

“Luke,” Charles said, almost breathlessly, “I just searched our database for one of the prints I got from the crime scene, and you’re not going to believe this—”

“My wife is the killer, Charles,” I said without feeling. It was then that the full reality of the situation hit me. My wife would be killed, and I would have to bring her in myself.

“How-how did you know?”

“She just told me after I saw her with the dead man’s organs.”

“Jesus man. That’s awful.”

“I know.” How do I arrest my own wife?

“Anyway we’re in front of your house with an arrest warrant for her.”

“By ‘we’, you mean?”

“I and two other detectives. I was chosen to accompany them because we’re best friends.”

As I was about to reply him, a gunshot rang out, and I felt the cold lead slam into me. I swiveled at beheld my wife, the very same person I was to bring in, holding a revolver. Her eyes were blazing with malice and fear, as she said,

“I can’t go down alone, Luke.” And she blew her brains out.

That was when I felt the pain of the gunshot; the bullet had hit my heart and I knew that I was done for, I would die. Thankfully, I was already crossing over to the other side, and didn’t feel much agony.

My last thought before giving in to the darkness was: I’m sorry mother, I should have listened to you, and not gotten married to her. 



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