It is a lost battle. I stand up and rush to bathroom, cursing as I speed to my upheaval pit.
Done, I trudge to the sink. In the mirror, I see his body. The knife had been dragged around after the plunge. The slashes of the knife form an X with the knife finally resting in the eye of the letter. He is naked. On his stomach, the words “I am a rapist and a narcissistic pig” inked black. The uneven swirls of the letter give credence to the mastery of the hand that had held the tattoo style. I bend, turn on the tap and splash water on my face. I squint, bidding the image away but the words keep dancing in the back of my eyes.
I pull at the paper towel and clean my hand with it. I draw another to wipe my face and take a big breathe.
I can do this. Yes, I can. I can walk back to the court, sit through the proceedings and shove the pictures into the rear end of my mind. Yes, I can do this. I take one last look into the mirror, steeling myself and walk out.
I do not stop at the court door. I open it without making too much noise. The door opens and I slide in. I have to walk to the front while everyone stares at me. I flick my head to the right and raise my shoulders.
“Miss Doyles, I hope you are fine,” the judge says.
“Yes, Your Honor and I am sorry,” I say.
“Good, because I shall hold you in contempt if this reoccur.”
Sandra stands. “My client is sorry, Your Honor and there shall be no more incident.” She says as she stares at me. Message gotten. Besides, I know how bad this is. They shall be no more incidents or my head shall be on the skewer somewhere. I take my place besides Sandra and murmur, “I am sorry.”
“Idahosa Uhemike, please continue your examination,” the judge says.
The lead prosecutor nods at the judge.
“Miss Okafor, what did you do next?” the lead prosecutor says.
“I freaked out. I went to the main house and talked to my dad?”
“Was there anything amiss in the house?”
“Besides my brother cold with a piece of paper sticking from his mouth?”
“Did you see anything out of place?”
“Was the door forced, his room in disarray with clothes everywhere and his closet flung everywhere?”
“No, his room was the same except he was lying down like that.”
“Thank you, Miss Okafor.” He smiles at her. “That’s all for the witness, Your Honor.”
“Defending counsel, you may cross-question the witness.”
“Miss Okafor.” I am sorry for your loss. Do you live at home?” Sandra says.
“Only when I am back from school?”
“What’s the name of your school?” Sandra says.
“The same as your brother?”
“Have you ever seen Miss Doyles before your brother’s murder?”
“No, but my brother talked about her?”
“Has Miss Doyles ever been to your house?”
“Not while I was there?”
“Does your brother usually have girls over?”
“My brother was a party guy. He usually had his friends over?”
“In your opinion, do you think that Miss Doyles has ever visited your house?”
“I don’t know”
“Let’s go over your testimony of discovering your brother. What time did you find him?”
“I need the time Miss. Okafor. When was dinnertime?”
“Around 7-ish. We usually have dinner at 7.”
Are you certain you found your brother at 7?”
I think so’
“Are you absolutely certain that you walked into your brother’s place around 7?”
“That is all for this witness, your honor,” Sandra says as she walks back to her seat.
Chinedu’s sister walks away from the stand back to her parents. Pretty short, I think. What’s Sandra up to? She didn’t discredit the witness or even smear her by a bit. I go over the witness list in my mind. The coroner is next. Maybe she has bigger fishes to fry. I hope so. I pray so. It would be nice to have an idea what she is thinking. As she sits beside me, I can only trust that she knows what’s best for the case. I guess not everyone has to be a pit-bull.
“Mr. Uhemike, you can call your third witness,” the judge says.
The lead prosecutor stands up. “I call Mr. Ibrahim, the coroner on this case.”
Mr. Ibrahim walks to the stand and take his oath. The lead prosecutor walks to the stand.
“Mr. Ibrahim, could you tell this court how Mr. Okafor died?”
“He was knocked off by first stab to the heart. The knife went in first, slicing an artery close to his lungs. However, he died from blunt force trauma to the head,” Mr. Ibrahim says.
“Blunt force trauma to the head ? Could you expatiate?”
“The deceased hit his head on bed stand as he fell. He either tripped or was pushed. He was brain dead even though his blood pressure was stable for a couple of minutes.
“Are you saying that the victim was dead, yet alive?”
“He was what we call a little bit alive, meaning if there had been a ventilator nearby, his lungs would have continued to work, breathe, and his heart continued to pump blood to his other organs,” Mr. Ibrahim says.
“Let’s talk about the knife. What kind of knife was the murder weapon?”
“It was a kitchen knife. The wound had clear pointed edge, with the opposite edge split, often termed a ‘fish tail’.”
“How many times was the knife thrust?”
“About four times.”
“How then was an X formed?”
“The assailant thrust the knife and moved it around.”
“So, you would say that the assailant was calculating.”
“Not necessary calculating, but definitely not whiny about blood.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Well, the deceased's blood had to splutter out of his chest and hit the assailant in the face.”
“Thank you. That’s all for the witness,”
“Miss Ehikhon, you may cross examine the witness.”
“What time were you called into the case?” Sandra says.
“The corpse was brought to the hospital at 9:30,” he says.
“When was the deceased pronounced dead?”
“How long had the deceased been cold?”
“About six hours.”
“Are you certain? Could it have been earlier?
“Based on the rigor around his wounds, he has had been dead for at most six hours.”
“Thanks you, Mr. Ibrahim. That’s all I have for you.”
Sandra turns to the judge. “Here’s a videotape from Delarento Inn where Miss Doyles was at from 5:30 till 8:00 p.m. I will like to note that it’s a two hours’ drive from the Okafor’s place to the Delarento Inn. So, it would have meant that the deceased was dead at 3:30 if it were my client that killed the deceased.” She turns to prosecutor and smiles. She has him by the balls and we all know it.
I turn to Sandra. This is hasty, showing the trump card quite early in the case. It seems like she is going for an early dismissal.
“Your honor, I move for an immediate dismissal as the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence against my client. My client can’t be placed on the scene and there is sufficient evidence to prove she wasn’t there. All of the prosecutions argument hangs on the probability that she was there. She wasn’t. A young woman has been wrongly accused and the police and the prosecution refuse to admit their wrongs. Your honor, the defense rests.”
“I call a recession. Mr. Uhemike and Miss Ehikhon please step into my chamber.”
The judge stands up and goes into his inner chambers and they both follow him.
A couple of minutes later, they all come out. The judge takes his seat. Sandra and the prosecuting lawyer take theirs.
“Based on the lack of substantial evidence and the prosecution being unable to proof without reasonable doubt that the defendant was at the scene of the event, I pronounce Miss Doyles not-guilty and acquitted of all charges." The judge knocks the mantel.
I am free. Whao! Just like that. I turn to Sandra. “Why show your card this early?”
“I’m tired of this all. They had no case. Why are we here in the first place? A battle isn’t fun when there is no risk factor.”
My parents walk over and hug me. Now, I could go back to my life. And I don’t have to lose a license I haven’t gotten yet. But one thing remains, who killed Chinedu?
My phone beeps. It’s a text. The “you’re welcome” jumps from the screen. I turn and look around. But, I can’t find the answer to my query.
“Who’s that,” my mum says.
“I have no idea,” I show the text to them all. It is signed by B and from an anonymous number.
“How do you feel?” Sandra says.
“I don’t know,” I say.
“That’s a good answer. You would be fine,” Sandra says.