SHIMMER OF HOPE……CHAPTER THREE………
.…. SEVEN YEARS AGO…….
“How could you do this to me?” Simon asked getting closer to his visitor who’d called by his house one evening, “I trusted you….”
“Look”, the other man tried to plead with him, “I know I did you wrong but if you give me time to rectify myself….”
“Rectify what?” Simon yelled slamming a bunch of papers on the dining table, “One month is all I have to pay off what I owe the bank for the loan and seeing that I haven’t got a dime on me they will take this house and my car I’d signed off as surety in case I failed to come up with the money I’d borrowed”, he said brow furrowed collapsing in the sofa and held his head, “Now what will Cindy say to me? What will happen to my children? If we get evicted from the only place they know as home where will we go?”
The visitor stood there beside him thoughtful, “Don’t worry much Simon. This is all my fault. I shouldn’t have asked for the money from you in the first place. I just needed some cash really quick at the time”, he looked rueful as he spoke.
Simon heaved a sigh and raised his hand, “No, it’s not your fault. I understand your situation. I shouldn’t blame you. We were both in this together after all”, he looked down at his shoes hands resting freely on his thighs, “Whatever shall I do now?”
“I can always figure things out, you know that”, the other man said.
“How? Can you pull this off?” Simon asked looking him in the eye.
“I don’t know but I can try”, he replied.
“Mr Moby Muteba”, Simon’s expression on his face was unappealing as he was led to seat beside his attorney, “I thought I asked you to drop the case?”
The man adjusted his tie as he placed his briefcase down and unfastened it pulling out some sheets of laminated papers and other documents inclusive.
“Why are you still on to it? Call it quits”, Simon said with a wrinkled brow looking at the officers attending to the other inmates, “I’m never going to get out of here. It’s a death sentence”.
“Good afternoon to you too”, he replied looking up clearly noticing that his client wasn’t up for pleasantries. Simon only frowned. “I know you gave up nine years ago but clearly you wouldn’t expect me to drop this case, would you?”
Simon laughed wryly, “It’s a lost case. You of all people should know when there’s a closure to stories like these. I only hired you to help lessen my punishment. If it wasn’t life imprisonment I could’ve been sentenced to death”.
“The law doesn’t allow that no more”, Mr Moby said putting his papers in order, “And yes you had a very interesting story one which I was willing to go out of my way just to help you get out of this”.
Simon shook his head disdainfully, “Even to help a straight up common murderer like me?”
“Are you a murderer Mr Katani?” Moby asked grimly.
“I killed my wife Moby. What’s to say I’m not?”
“Would you have ever thought of firing at her in your sober state or will you say it was clearly because you were under the influence of alcohol?”
Simon was baffled, “Mr Muteba, what’s with these questions? You know that my murder case was closed nine years ago with everyone present that night of my wife’s death to attest to my criminal offenses”, he seemed defeated, “Face it, I’m as bad as the rest of the lot in here”, he said looking around rubbing his cuffs, as he eyed some of the inmates being led back to their cells, “Look you did your best. I hired a fine lawyer that fought hard for my case, but it was already a loss from the start. Let me live my jail days in peace”.
“Are you done talking?” Moby asked squaring sorting his files on the table.
“Actually, I must be leaving. Visiting hour is almost up”, Simon said rising to his feet.
“So, you wouldn’t be the least interested in looking at what I have with me?” the attorney asked handing out the papers to him.
“What for? What’s to look?” the man asked.
“Here”, the attorney said placing them in his hand as he organised his other files, “You have to see that”.
Reluctantly Simon looked at the papers eying document after document of the old trial statements which he seemed uninterested to look at till he came across something that literally got his utmost attention that he raised his eye at the attorney. “Mr Muteba”, he began, “Some papers here amongst the other few old ones seem to have recent dates. My case is almost a decade old. What’s going on? Is it that you have reopened a case that was already granted closure?”
The lawyer beckoned, “I will need you to sit down Mr Katani”, he said with much authority and his client obliged, “How much do you know about murder cases?” he asked. Simon looked blank for a second and he had to rephrase his question, “Can you tell from a case of that sought who really shot who?” Utter silence ensued briefly as Simon looked puzzled his attorney awaiting his answer.
“Pardon me sir but I’m afraid to say that I don’t get it”, Mr Katani said scratching his head, “What are you saying?”
Mr Muteba pulled out some tattered photos and some police report files which he handed over to his client, “Those are some amongst the few things concerning your wife’s murder case that I managed to retrieve. I’m afraid to say that it wasn’t easy. They are some photos of your wife whom you believe to have murdered nine years ago”. Simon grunted as he caught a glimpse of the old photos revealing his hurtful past he’d with much effort tried as much to keep buried.
“Why are you showing me these gruesome photos again? To remind of a mistake I can’t take back?”
“That’s not my point”, the man replied gruffly, “I had to ask for these back from the police records which I must say wasn’t no easy task seeing how hard these officers try to be but I still got them”, he paused seeing that his client was not in the slightest interested to listen but he continued nevertheless, “My reason of going back to this case is simple”, he inched closer and uttered what was more like a whisper, “What if it wasn’t you who shot her?”
Simon’s eyes widened, “What? That’s absurd. Whatever would make you think like that? I fired at her. I accidentally pulled the trigger. That’s what happened.”
“Shot her with what gun?” the lawyer asked bluntly.
Simon looked annoyed, “What’s with all this scrutiny Moby? You know the gun I used. It was some pistol model I can’t quite remember….”
“Black and silver 3.4 inched pistol with silver bullets”, the attorney clarified, “But your wife’s corpse didn’t have bullets of guns of that model. Much to say they don’t go together to say the least seeing that your weapon had rather odd shaped ammunition”.
Simon ran his hands on his face, “This is confusing me”, he stood up, “Drop the case. I might have refilled the gun with some ammunition that was probably compatible with it but what’s to say that most guns aren’t compatible with whatever can be fired out? There’s nothing strange about my wife’s murder, so give up already will you”, he was already walking to meet one of the security guards, half way.
“Mr Katani if you will only listen to me….”
“What?!” snapped Simon shooting daggers at him, “What’s to say is that you are here to make a fool out of me with such nonsense. I was the only one with her that night. We were alone in the kitchen and amidst the argument we had I lost my temper. I should have put the gun away, but I didn’t”, he noticed the officer waiting for him wondering whatever the fuss was about and regained his composure, “Is there really anything concrete you have to say to me, Moby?”
Mr Muteba eyed the security guard seeming curious about whatever he had discussed with his client. Looking away he replied, “No, as a matter of fact there isn’t. I’m sorry for wasting your time Mr Katani,” he said packing his things in his brief case.
Simon composed himself some more, “It’s fine. I’m sorry for overreacting. I know that all you have been trying to do is to help me but call it quits. It’s been nine years now. I’m not going anywhere”, he said as the officer rudely prodded his back with his metal rod making him motion ahead, “Good day attorney,” he said, and he was out of sight.
Mr Muteba sat back in his seat looking very much confused. He could see the officers leading more inmates to their cells and he re-adjusted his tie to ninety degrees. ‘That didn’t go as planned’, he thought. How was he going to prove a point seeming so far-fetched being that for over the past nine years the police had overlooked his client’s imprisonment trial? No one bothered to revisit the case? Clearly it had been unquestionable at the time of sentence for lack of extra valid information which he only got to lay his hands on when he revisited his old court cases. Simon’s case had been amongst his lost battles in court though from record he had won most cases and was still winning more.
It wasn’t an issue to say the least till he dug up what was attention grabbing. What had gotten him most curious pertaining the ancient case was that concerning the actual bullet wounds of the deceased. Hadn’t anyone noticed it before? He’d only gotten to discover years later when he decided to revisit the past trial that something seemed rather amiss. He had a hunch on the case that there could’ve been a second missing weapon, the one that was fired not the one collected from the crime scene– but what if he was wrong, mistaken? The bullets of the gun at the crime scene were closely in resemblance of the proposed weapon but what’s to say that there possibly wasn’t another never seen at the crime scene? Obviously, there was a slim chance to get any other potential parties to help him dig up his client’s archives he so much suspected to have a mystery attached to them. What if he was wrong? He couldn’t be completely sure. Tucking in his shirt, he left the prison premises with a head bowed low wondering if his assumptions still had a chance for almost a decade it was now for him to resurface such an ancient case as Simon’s.
“What is it exactly that you are drawing?” he asked trying to look at what Anita had been drawing but he couldn’t make anything out of it.
“Don’t you have anywhere to be at? It’s break”, she responded without raising her head from the drawing.
“Is that ah….” He went closer and his face shined, “Oh… it’s a bear, right?”
“Nah…” she made a face smug on, “You think?”
“It’s uh….um….” he looked again, “I still think the same”.
“Okay”, she replied adding the finishing touches and it looked like she had added a bow tie to creature and a rough sketch was coming to life of what looked like a teenage girl hugging the stuffed animal. His face was enough to make her day.
“Well”, the boy pulled on his straps chuckling as Anita added a touch of grey to the girl’s skin tone, “That’s some fine art. I never pictured you to be an artist”.
“I try”, she replied still not looking up. The whole time she’d been talking without raising her head to look him in the eye.
“May I see?” he asked reaching for the sketchbook, but she held it back giving him one of the sharpest looks she could possibly give, “Come on. I just want to see. Pass the book”.
Anita didn’t respond and proceeded to keeping it to herself much to her friend’s source of humour. As he tried to make out of it all his eyes caught a glimpse of flickering bracelet on her wrist and curious he was he wanted to read the inscribing much to her annoyance for he held her hand.
“Hey!” She pouted, and he only turned her wrist with no utter response, “What are you doing?”
“Relax. I only wanted to read the inscribing on it?”
“So? It’s not like you will earn anything from it!” she quaked trying to yank her wrist free, “Let go!”
“Why should I?” he said looking at her face, but she wasn’t even looking him still, “I love its design”.
“I’m sure you do! Now let go all I’m warning you!” she clenched her fist and gritted her teeth to get him to let go but he only laughed along granting her freedom.
“Happy?” he said smiling corner to corner.
“Delighted”, she said packing the book in her bag and, “Boys”.
“Where did you get it from?”
“My mother gave it to me”, Anita said smiling genuinely, “It reminds me a lot of her when she was young. She gave this to me as a birthday gift some time back”.
“Oh…. How so sweet of her. Must be a loving person”, he said folding his arms as he gazed at her.
“Yeah…. Kind of”, Anita replied lightly before she raised her face and finally got to look him in the face to find him staring, “What?”
“Nothing”, he brushed the thought of complimenting her seeing her face, “So….”
Just then the bell rang interrupting him and Anita got to her feet walking away from him.
“We can meet up some other time again?”
Her face was simply amusing as she wrinkled it, “Why? What for?” she was already heading for class.
He chuckled, “Do you even know my name?”
“Do I even need to know it?” she said simpering with pursed lips.
“I’m Larry Chembe—” she cut him off.
“I already know who you are”, she said over her shoulder as she walked into her class, “You are always staring that’s why. I did my research and boom I got my info of the mysterious guy from the next class”.
“So, you’ve noticed”, Larry called from the back trying to keep up, “You are ever in your own world. Whatever friends you have I know I definitely am one”.
“You wish”, Anita said entering class, but the boy was still following, “Bye Larry”.
“Wait, chill.” He said before she disappeared, and he only spotted her at her desk talking to her friends. Few minutes later it was already time to prepare for the next lesson lest he be punished for heading to his class late he walked away leaving the girl chatting away. Ever lost in her thoughts but never always found in total isolation. Odd, but she was just simply that, being Anita.
“Simon, you can’t ever be the same man drinking and wasting away carefree endless nights knowing that you have a wife and two daughters waiting for you at home. When will this stop?” she fumed.
“So long as I feed you all then it’s enough”, grunted Simon, his breath full of alcohol, taking his plate of food to the dining table; but his wife remained tapping her foot with her hand to her hip. She’d been pouting and pouting all through his meal as he ate till he dragged himself to the sink to wash his plate.
“Let me do that”, she said abruptly getting the plate from him and letting him walk away from the sink irritated, yet her ranting escalated. He got annoyed and hit her and next thing he saw was her sweaty face gleaming at him, frizzled hair covering her eyes. Her face appeared to be full of emotion with a bruise on her head and next he saw was her bleeding—Blood oozing from her forehead. He’d hit her with his gun that he had accidentally pulled out in frustration. She had her innocent eyes staring at him in utter shock and reached for a sauce pan the moment she saw the rifle.
“Look I’m sorry Cindy—”
“No stay away from me you creep!” Cindy yelled waving the pan side to side, “Where did you get that from huh? One of your night clubs?”
“No, Cindy, wait”, he tried to reach for the kitchen counter behind but accidentally knocked off a glass cup that smashed to pieces spluttering all over as Cindy yelped and backed away. He dared to move to her, but she stopped him.
“Stay there, she warned, “I will take the girls away from you. You are dangerous. I will not allow you to go near my children!” she made her way around the glass cautiously.
“No, Cindy, don’t do this….”
“Watch me”, she barked as she rushed by him.
“They are my children too”, he tried to stop her and pulled her back and she hit his shoulder with the sauce pan. He gripped her arm tight and she hit him again to break free and then the struggle began, “Cindy—” gunshot!
Simon saw the light in her eyes grow dimmer as her face turned ashen but wrinkled face, bending and gripping her guts, with trickles of fluid running down her hands. She was pale, and her life was leaving her.
“No!”, cried Simon looking at the weapon in his hands but she looked him one last time and collapsed in his hands………
“CINDY!!!” bellowed Simon in the middle of the night waking up abruptly shaking ruefully and remorsefully, “That’s not how it happened”, he muttered in his breath, “That’s not how it happened”, he shuddered, “It was an accident, but it didn’t happen like that!” he refused to believe the nightmare as the other prisoners grumbled for the noise. Simon worried not for receiving a beating as images of his wife came rushing in and the night of her death replayed in his mind that he had to grip his knees beginning to buckle and get numb.
“Hey!” ranted a policeman from the outside the cell, his rod tapping the bars, “What’s with the noise? It’s late!” he noticed how shaky the man was like he was running a fever, “Are you on drugs? Did that man who came to see you earlier today smuggle some for you?”
“No,” Simon answered bluntly.
“Then shut up already and go to sleep!” he blurted out walking away whilst shakily Simon stretched from his bent position and returned to his bed. It’d been nine years, but the terror still seemed like it was only the day before of the night his wife died! He hadn’t had such horrific nightmares in months and they came with much agony. The rest of that night he kept turning on his bed for he carried on seeing the tattered photos he’d been shown earlier by his attorney.