The rap on the door began just as Tomiwa lowered the last glassware on the table. Tomiwa was expecting guests, a couple of pals and their girlfriends who were visiting today for lunch. With a last satisfactory sweep of his work on the meticulously set table, Tomiwa gingerly crossed to the front door, rubbing his palms together in quiet anticipation. Halfway across the parlor, he stole an extra moment when he suddenly remembered the pink cotton candy apron still hung on his chest. He yanked it off, rolled it into a ball and carelessly dumped it into the sofa as the knock started again, now seemingly impatient. A secret smile clung to his lip. Tomiwa really didn’t mind being caught in an apron. In fact, cooking was one of his hobbies and he was unashamed of it, but not with his friend’s girls. Should they see him that way, he would never hear the end of it.
In one full swing, Tomiwa yanked the door open, the welcoming grin plastered on his face immediately frozen. In a flash, his expression changed from shock to confusion stopping at someplace between curiosity and open amusement as he raked through the visitors at the front steps. There, grim-faced and austere, standing in the front porch, was Tobi and Tega, along with a few uniformed men and the very restless guard desperately clamoring behind the lot and belting his sincerest apology above the crowd, causing Tomiwa further confusion.
“Tega, Tobi, what’s up, what’s this about?” Floundered, Tomiwa sounded a dry humorless laugh as his gaze raked past the men he considered brothers to the policemen in black. It wasn’t some friendly visit, he deduced from the grimness in each face.
“We’ve been granted warrant from the department of police Awododu, for a thorough search of Dimeji Akinjuyigbe’s house, who is a liable suspect for Mr. Tobi Longe’s car crash dated Sunday, February 28th 2019.” Tega simply stated lifting a warrant letter for Tomiwa’s perusal.
“What!” Tomiwa’s eyes grew large in horror and when Tega started to make a dart past him, he instinctively claimed an overbearing stance over the door, obstructing him.“What do you mean, what’s going on?!” Tomiwa’s eyes now were flashing varied emotions, confusion, disbelief, anger and hurt the most apparent as he met with Tega toe to toe. He wasn’t going to be bullied by either man, not especially Tega who was clearly seething with an imminent press of his lip, and a persistent throb in his temple, all obviously indicating his impatience, as opposed to Tobi’s apologetic front pleading compliance with whatever was unfolding.
Tega started again to round his way through, but stopped almost butting head to head with Tomiwa. His jaw pressed stubbornly, his nostrils flared obvious rage and adamancy.
“I won’t just let you go in and search my house!” Tomiwa cried holding his ground. “God! I deserve at least a proper explanation to all of this!”
After a long pass of silent confrontation, Tega backed.“Fine!’ In light of recent investigations with the happenings in the Longe household, there has been cause to believe Mr. Dimeji may have a hand in Mr. Longe and Madam Pelumi’s car crash. Now if you don’t mind, with your cooperation, we would like to get into the house and proceed with our investigations. We wish not to resort to other means.”
Tomiwa’s eyes gaped dazed, swaying as the air visibly knocked out of him as he watched the uniformed men flit past him into the house under Tega’s directives.
“This is a joke right?” he sputtered a delirious laugh barely recovered from witnessing a thorough invasion of his home as through a stranger’s eyes. Suddenly, he spun on Tobi as reality struck. “Tobi?!”
Tobi swallowed, wincing at the fiery darts in the younger man’s eyes, the pained inflection in his voice and his countenance, all of which was getting to him. Impulsively, his shoulder fell sober. He wished he’d never accompanied Tega, but then he’d seen the need to especially to douse whatever tension they might encounter. However, his presence clearly did little on that matter; on the contrary, it seemed to cause even more pain for the younger man and this tore at Tobi’s heart. Though remorseful, Tobi said nothing to the clearly infuriated man whose gaze darted from sheer disbelief to hatred and betrayal. No words could justify the situation, however, Tobi’s eyes were apologetic, he hoped they’d give a glimpse to the sincere intents of his heart; that he hadn’t meant to hurt him or his brother.
Tobi felt punched in the gut by Tomiwa’s reaction as he directed from him to Tega now crossing the room with the team peering every nook and cranny. As if sensing the man’s disdainful bore into him, Tega turned to Tomiwa expressionless, and then out of the blue suddenly charged. “Do you know anything about it?”
“Know anything about what?!”Tomiwa lashed back.
“Where were you on the twenty-eight of February, the evening of the crash?”
“What sort of question is that?” Tomiwa retorted, particularly despising Tega’s accusatory glare.
Tega’s lips pressed a hard line, obviously slighted by Tomiwa’s affront and coldly he charged back. “For all we know you could have somehow aided.”
Tomiwa’s features hardened, his breathing beyond proportion as he strived control over his rage. “My brother is guilty of nothing, I didn’t aid anything and I was with friends that day!”
“Where?” Tega prodded, ignoring Tobi’s imminent look of disapproval.
“That’s not your concern!”
“Are you sure about that?” Tega’s eyes thinned in slits, a malicious grin flashed on his lips.“You can either make this easier on yourself Tomiwa or we can take a difficult approach. Your call.”
“No, I’m not going down that lane or any other with you.” Tomiwa spat between gritted teeth, his eyes flashing a mean glint. “You have nothing on me and Dimeji, we are innocent!”
“Oh well that might not be for long, we might even get luckier and find much more than expected.
For the first time, Tomiwa’s gaze faltered, briefly relaying some fears. What could Tega possibly have on Dimeji, he pondered and so decided on a much easier tactic.
“And in your first report, didn’t you say you were just returning when Pelumi and Tobi were just leaving?” Tega had not missed Tomiwa’s little hitch, a stint he’d wield to his advantage. “
“Yes, I was just entering the house.” Tobi restated when suddenly he was hit by the gravity of Tega’s insinuations. “Wait…are you insinuating that we somehow initiated the accident?” Tomiwa passed a wide unbelieving gape to the man at the door when Tega wouldn’t respond. “You believe this too?!”
“Relax!” Tobi prodded, sucking a deep dreadful breath and started on a controlled firm tone. “You know of all the recent happenings in my family; the accident, Kazeem’s bizarre death which would have claimed more lives had Kamiye and the kids been there. So in light of that, Tega has decided to re-open the case. You know just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s he never really got to do. But that doesn’t tag anyone guilty. We just need all the angles covered. I hope you understand.”
Tomiwa shook his head a mean clear cut glare at Tega. “Well Mr. Detective here doesn’t quite agree with you. He seems keen on finding proof that will ground Dimeji the real culprit.”
“On the contrary, I am keen on finding the truth and bringing justice and not wrongly accusing anyone. I am keen on facts and not thoughts. And facts are that someone messed with the brake pipe from Dimeji’s car, that the accident happened not too long after leaving here, that Dimeji was on sight throughout the visit and you weren’t and just happened to surface when they were leaving. Just saying,” Tega hastily pitched. “What are the chances of some conspiracy between that?”
“Tega?” Tobi blurted appalled at Tega’s summation and direct accusation.
“Oh sorry I was just thinking he aloud.” He said, but he really wasn’t. And then to Tobi “I told you every angle will be thoroughly covered and investigated, I meant it.”
Tomiwa through the projections played mute and tight-lipped, his dark eyes and the gentle almost invisible rippling of muscles beneath his broad shoulders as he crossed them were his only give away to rage. “You seem to be quite the Mr. know-all. Tell me of what benefit will the Longe’s death be to us.”
“Exactly what beats me. But why don’t you help me with the most nagging motive.”
“Really? ”Tomiwa charged, his nostrils flaring. “You think Dimeji and I will kill a man whom we’ve always regarded family and a woman I love?!”
“A woman who has done nothing but reject you since her return.”
Tomiwa gasped, a humorless sound.“So that’s enough reason for murder because she refused to be with me?! Oh Tega, how pathetic can you be?” Tomiwa scoffed, a bizarre dry laugh following.“I thought you were good at this, I thought you knew your job.” Tomiwa began, a condescending sweep at Tega and the team. “Apparently you don’t! And you know what, you sound like- a senseless sissy.” And then in two swift strides, he advanced to Tega’s face. “Get a life!”
Tega too had launched a purposeful stride towards the younger man, save for Tobi’s swift intervention, things might have taken a nasty turn.
“Watch your tongue Tomiwa, I’m not your mate!” Tega barked, wagging a finger past Tobi’s shoulder to Tomiwa who watched on amused, victorious and self-satisfied at having ruffled the detective’s collar. His smile further irking Tega.
“Oh so now you want to get big-brotherly on me. You should have thought about that before trying to screw us over.”
“I’m just doing my job!” Tega spat between clenched teeth.
“A job that entails breaking homes, wrecking relationships?! You are just a sorry case for a detective Tega, and when all of this is over, you will be nothing but a laughing stock because I assure you we’ll emerge, winners, while you’ll just be a sore loser.”
Now hanging only by the tether, Tega was only inches away from losing his cool and launching on Tomiwa. He’d always wanted to do that, but somehow, he contained his rage, letting it off instead in low breaths and a tightened jaw. “I am not breaking relationships Tomiwa, I am investigating. There is a difference in that, I hope you understand. I love you and Dimeji more than you can ever imagine, and I’m sorry for going out on you that way, but this is beyond me. I do not object your innocence and I do not wish to contend it. In fact, at the end, that is what I wish more than anything.” he reasonably stated and then with a deep resigned sigh. “I’m sorry I attacked you the way I did, I should understand how hard this is for you, and from now on, I’ll be easy. All I ask now is your cooperation Tomiwa. Please help make this investigation easy.”
Tomiwa raked an untrusting glare first over Tega and then Tobi now turned to him. He needed to know this was no ploy from either man. “Fine!” he primly answered after what seemed like eons. “But any more questions must be through my lawyer.”
“Fair.” Tega agreed, then turned to his men, leaving Tobi with Tomiwa venting all his rage, bitterness and anger with an icy stare, and then mutely following the team up the stairs.
The house was combed from top to bottom with Tomiwa tagging along and hating every moment of it, and only when Tega and his raid team were ready to leave, was when he took his first breath of relief. Tomiwa had never doubted Dimeji’s innocence, but he could never get over that little fear until they were off the hook.
Tomiwa watched in silence as the group finally filed out of the house, the granite crunching heavily against each boot, the sounds equaling a stampede. Tomiwa frowned when halfway across the lot, Tega suddenly halted stopping his team and then started towards the parking area alone, following a hushed confer with Tobi. Tomiwa’s frown deepened. He knew his thoughts even before Tega reached the grounds and as he started to peer at the spot where Tobi had parked his Mercedes many nights before, he shook his head in disrespect for the detective, and couldn’t help a sardonic smile seeing the investigation a lost cause.
Tega knew too. Months had passed and whatever evidences there might have been would have been long dried as the trail he was following. But he checked anyway, circling the rain patched little rocks. And when he rose, his gaze collided with Tomiwa’s, he didn’t miss the mockery in the younger man’s eyes. “That’s all for now.” He started towards Tomiwa, stopping only inches from him. “The search was clean, but that doesn’t rule anyone entirely free of further investigations if the need arises.”
Tomiwa nodded, a tight strain on his face, as he watched the group take their leave. Musa hurriedly bolted the gate after them and rushed to his boss pleading an apology, but silenced midsentence on Tomiwa’s mean stare.
“Yes sir!” he swore on Tomiwa’s threat to his job if he ever allowed the just departed guest entrance. Musa wouldn’t lift his head until Tomiwa departed, and this time he rushed to his post more alert than ever.