Denise hands me several eight by ten coloured photos. The details are horrific. Blood everywhere. On the bed, the wooden headboard, the carpet, the nightstand, the upholstered bench. This was no doubt, overkill.
An overall photo shows Winter, with room 69 at the centre, yellow barricade tape securing the crime scene. A midrange photo of the inside captures yellow numbered markers placed against each item considered as evidence.
In the close-up photos, Dee is lying naked on the hotel room floor. Her face mangled almost past recognition. I see the butterflies tattoo on her thigh. Most of it is covered in blood. A few stab wounds on her torso are visible. A deep cut on her throat as well. It was clearly slit ear to ear.
“Goodness gracious!” Maya exclaims at the gore. I think she’s about to puke.
I’m equally disgusted but I maintain a calm demeanor.
“Mr. Mukoma, we need to know exactly what happened last night,” Kipng’etich says as Denise pulls out a small legal pad from her trench coat pocket.
I am still in shock. Initially, when I heard she’d been found dead, I thought maybe she fell in the shower and hit her head against the sink. Or maybe she just suffered a stroke, or it was just out of natural causes. Not a gruesome murder.
“Mr. Mukoma?” Kipng’etich goes again.
“Oh yes. Um uh…I don’t know where to start. This is a lot to take in. We were just together last night, and she was perfectly fine.” I murmur oblivious of Maya. Despite the horror she’s seen in the photos, she must be thrilled to hear my confession. Not of the murder, I’m certain she knows I’m not capable of such brutality, but of my adultery. She had been suspecting me of cheating for the past few months but had never caught me pants down. Now here’s a front-row seat to a live confession by a serial cheater.
I narrate to the cops everything, from the time I left work, to the time I parked and booked a room, the room that now became the murder scene, to our time at the bar, to how we went to the room and how Chris came and got me. All this while, Denise was scribbling on the legal pad and filling gaps in the story with follow-ups. She was particular and needed the exact timeline of events.
“Chris can corroborate this, my wife as well.” I say as I turn towards Maya, who confirms that they came for me at Seasons with Chris. By now her eyes are watery and I can see her try hard to fight back the tears.
“I need some air.” Maya says as she heads to the kitchen, probably for some water. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s sharpening a knife, waiting for the detectives to leave and stick it through my heart. And I wouldn’t blame her. The pain I’ve caused her, no woman should have to go through.
“We’ll need you to come down to the offices with us to file a formal statement.” Kipng’etich says.
One question is still bothering me, how come the CID are running the show? Shouldn’t the police be investigating the case?
Kipng’etich was just about to answer this when suddenly a vicious scream came from the kitchen.
The kind that you only hear in a delivery room. Did Maya decide to stick the knife through her own heart instead and end her misery? I rush to the kitchen to find out. She was holding her belly, our baby, with one hand, while the other one was supporting her against the kitchen counter. It was clear she was in paralysing pain. Denise helped and we led her to a wooden chair next to the dishwasher. She’s still moaning and groaning. Her water hadn’t broken, yet. So I was sure it wasn’t time. Plus, she’s only 24 weeks in.
Kipng’etich is motionless at the kitchen door, and clearly clueless. “We need to rush her to the hospital,” I shout helplessly. “Get the car ready, we’ll meet you up front.” Denise barks at her boss as we help Maya to her feet. For a man so used to ordering people around, this was new to Kipng’etich. For a moment, he seemed confused but obliged, eventually, after he collected himself.
The sirens on the detectives’ Peugeot 508 worked like magic. Cars, even the infamously notorious matatus were giving us right of way. The hazards were flickering away, just to exaggerate the urgency. And Kipng’etich, to my surprise, was quite efficient behind the wheel, honking furiously at any driver reluctant to give way. I was seated at the front with him, advising him on the shortest routes to take. Denise was at the back with Maya whose screams were now at almost the same decibels as the sirens. I’ve always seen ambulances and police cars drive by with their noisy sirens. And I’ve always wondered what the emergency was. Now, my wife, was the emergency.
We got to Nairobi Womens, usually an hour’s drive with the city’s traffic, within 20 minutes.
It’s barely 08:00 am and the hospital is a buzz of activity. A three-storey building had caved in somewhere in Kawangware in the wee hours of the morning. The victims were coming in and triage nurses were busy assessing the injuries.
Maya is whisked off in a wheelchair by a doctor and two nurses. I follow helplessly as they take several turns, down a long hallway and disappear into a delivery room. One of the nurses turns and says, “We’ll take it from here. This is as far as you can go.” Then she slams the door in my face, out of urgency, not rudeness. I take no offence. After all, she’s saving my wife and kid.
Detective Denise is right behind me. She assures me all will be well. I thank her for the help and apologise for the inconvenience. “Don’t worry about that. We get into such incidences more than you might think. It comes with the job.” She hands me her card and says they’ll be in touch.
I settle on a bench at the waiting area. Elbows to my knees, I cover my face with my palms and wonder, “Could this day get any worse?”
While still waiting for news on Maya, I check on my mum’s progress. She’s responding well but the doctor says he still cannot admit visitors. But he would allow me a few minutes once she wakes up. I learn that police wanted to ask her a few questions regarding the accident. Insurance adjusters had passed by as well. But the doctor did not approve.
It’s almost 11 o’clock.
My phone buzzes. Caller ID: unknown. I pick it up, with a lot of hesitation.
“Hi there? Is this Mr. James Mukoma?”
“Yes, it is. Who’s this?”
“My name is Muthoni Janani, I’m with the Nairobi Times. We’re doing a story on a lady who was found murdered at Seasons early this morning. Sources tell us that you were seen with her at the bar last night. Can you confirm this?”
“No comment.” I hang up and block the number.
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