Read the first part of Guilty or not guilty……. here
Mrs. Anya Ogidi showed up early at the courthouse. She was never late. She was wearing her trademark ankara, a beige and red shift dress that barely kissed her knees, thus giving a good view of her fair skinned shapely legs. She wore little makeup. That was understandable; she was a woman in mourning.
Those legs had been wrapped around my bare waist eight days ago… Or was it my shoulders they rested on as I…?
“Mr. Harrison, there’s been a change.”
Ifiok blinked twice, not too happy with this interruption of his daydream. He reluctantly peeled his eyes off her and turned to face his learned colleague.
“What change, Wale?”
It took Wale a few seconds to reply as he was still trying to catch his breath from coming up the flight of stairs.
Na wa o! This boy should go easy on those cigarettes.
“Judge Kefas,” Wale started, between deep breaths, “he had to be flown to the USA this morning. Something about an urgent knee surgery.”
“Oh, oh. I didn’t hear.” Ifiok remembered the judge walked with a slight limp, but he’d never paid much attention to it. “What happens to our cases, then?”
“They’re being reassigned to a new judge as we speak. Most of the cases today would have to be adjourned.”
“Wow! Thanks, man. Let me inform my client.”
Ifiok felt a bit of nervousness as he walked towards Anya. He couldn’t remember ever feeling this intimidated by a woman’s charm. He had always been the one that held them in his sway. But this one….hmm! He squared his shoulders as he got within earshot and tried his best to act professional and not give any hints as to what had transpired between them last week. She did likewise. He informed her of the change in judges and a possible adjournment of the case.
She wasn’t too pleased that the case was going to go on for longer than expected. She had passed by Fred’s sister and aunt in the parking lot. If their eyes had had laser beams, she would have had blood spurting from a dozen holes in her body by now. She shivered and wrapped her arms around her.
He wanted to reach out and pull her into his arms again, but he realized it was a bad idea. Instead, he took her elbow and guided her towards the parking lot and told her to go home. He would check on her later and give her the updates, he said.
She sat in the car, sobbing with her head on the steering wheel for about 10 minutes, before she finally started her car and drove off.
Later that evening, the aroma of fried goat meat greeted him as he approached her door. His stomach growled happily.
How did she know I love goat meat?
Anya looked pleased to see him.
“Good evening and welcome. I wasn’t sure you’d still come.”
“Good evening. I got held back with a new case that came in this afternoon. Sorry, I’m late. I would have called, but since I promised to stop by….”
“It is okay. I need the company. I, um, cooked. Eating alone isn’t fun, so I hardly cook these days. I hope you brought your appetite?”
She led him to the large dining table. There were two place settings at one end. He sat down and followed the sway of her hips underneath the pale blue tunic she wore.
He exhaled deeply.
She came back carrying a large tray with three covered dishes. His eyes widened as she opened the bowl of asun (goat meat stir fried in chili sauce). There was some white rice and tomato stew in the other two bowls.
In between shoving forkfuls of the delicious food into his mouth, he told her the hearing would be on Monday. The new judge was a more lenient one, and since they already had a good argument, their chances of winning the case were even higher now. This made her really happy and she laughed heartily at all his jokes afterwards.
When they had finished eating, she put all the dishes in the tray to take to the kitchen. She was almost at the door when she said over her shoulder, “I’m bringing dessert.”
“Whoa! Okay, bring it on. There’s space for more.”
Ifiok stretched out on the dining chair, admiring the paintings that hung on the walls and didn’t notice when she came back in. He heard a soft rustle and he turned toward the sound. His jaw dropped and the toothpick he had held between his lips fell to the floor.
“How do you like your dessert, Mr. Harrison?”
The pale blue tunic lay in a crumpled heap on the floor, and she dangled a black bra on the index finger of her right hand.
He swallowed. Hard.
Three days later, as soon as the judge banged his gavel after pronouncing the judgment, she ran to where he sat and flung herself at him. She was crying, laughing and hugging him all at once. They had won. She was free.
She barely cast a glance at where Fred’s family members sat. The men held their heads in their hands and some of the women sobbed quietly.
Ifiok opened his eyes just a tiny crack. The pillow underneath his head was softer this morning.
This isn’t my bed.
The orangey curtains were strange too. And the nightstand. And the….
The recalled the events of last night. The bar with the waiter that kept giving them “drinks on the house”. Anya had suggested they spoil themselves with a night at this nice hotel, tucked away on the quiet outskirts of the town.
He opened his eyes wider and turned. There was a dull ache at the back of his head.
Too much to drink last night, I’m sure. Thank goodness I don’t have to be in court till Friday.
Anya sat cross-legged at the far end of the bed. She wore blue jeans and a plaid cotton shirt, and her braids were done up in a tight bun.
“Good morning, handsome.” Her pink lips parted in a smile. “I made you coffee. With or without milk?”
“Milk, please. Lots of milk. Thank you.”
“Yes. I did. I wonder what time it is. I feel like I’ve been sleeping for days.”
“Why are you all dressed up? Are you leaving? I was hoping we could…”
She came over to where he sat and kissed him on the forehead.
“Even when you can’t see me, I will always be in your head. Won’t I?”
He nodded, taking another sip of the café au lait. It tasted good, but was doing a bad job of curing his hangover. In fact, he felt kind of….fuzzy. He drained the cup quickly, thinking he needed to take some analgesics for the increasing ache in his head.
Anya was laughing. What was funny? He hadn’t said anything. Somehow, he realized she was laughing at him.
She pulled him up from the bed and sat him in a chair. He opened his mouth to speak but there was no sense in the noises that came from his throat.
“It’s scopolamine, sweetheart. The Devil’s breath. Made your coffee taste good, didn’t it? Don’t worry, it is only lethal in high doses. Wait, how much did I put in? I can’t remember.”
This time her laugh was sinister and evil. She opened a side door he hadn’t noticed earlier and went in. When she came out, she was pushing a wheelchair.
A scary confusion worsened his drugged state. A woman was strapped to the wheelchair. The woman was Anya. No, Anya was the woman. He looked from one to the other confused. His brain couldn’t will his muscles to move to get up.
“A-A-A-Anya?” His lips trembling as he forced the syllables out.
“I’m Anya. She’s Angela.” It was the woman in the wheelchair spoke in a soft voice. “Don’t do this, Angie.”, she begged the other woman.
“I’m sorry. I have to. This is the only way I can fix this. Fred tore us apart, sis. Twins are supposed to stick together. Forever. You let Fred ruin us. I had no one. You stopped calling every day. You hardly visited. You stopped loving me. You forgot our oath of friendship. Were you ashamed of me, Anya? Just like the rest were? What did you expect me to do? Anyway, it’s over now. We have each other. We’re going away. Far away. Fred’s money will take us wherever we want to go. Trust me. “
Ifiok stared blankly as Agnes put several empty bottles of strong liquors around the room. She even splashed some brandy on him to make sure he smelt of alcohol. She moved him to the bed and poured some more alcohol on the sheets. He didn’t flinch when she drove the syringe into his thigh.
Instead, he closed his eyes and waited silently for…the end.