wetwool

because you never forget that funny smell

Category: crime and punishment (page 1 of 3)

Watch Fundi Was Late

Traffic along State House Road was light for that time of the morning and Woolie’s niece eased her car carefully round the bend past St Andrew’s Church hugging the inside lane. She came to a stop just before the traffic lights. Woolie thanked her again. Looking quickly over his shoulder, he opened his door and got out of the car. He was just in time. The lights changed back to green and his niece took the left turn into Uhuru Highway heading off towards Westlands. Continue reading

Babu is no murderer part 3 The conclusion

Woolie and Commander Ruby watched from Dogar’s office as several valets attended to Nancy Kibiwott’s car. Nancy herself was sitting in a white plastic garden chair in the shade a few yards away. She seemed to be enjoying the young men’s banter as they worked. Continue reading

Babu is no murderer part 2

08:00 am Saturday 15th June

Commander Ruby Mwekundu Regional Crime Squad arrived at Police HQ to find an extremely upset Woolie Kondoo waiting for her at the reception desk. He stood up when he saw her and said ‘Finally, you’re here. How dare you send your storm troopers to arrest my Babu you evil witch! You only had to ask him to come back to the station. Nobody here seems to know where Babu is. Tell me, where are you holding him?’

Ruby stopped in her tracks totally taken aback by Woolie’s aggression. ‘What do you mean, Kondoo? Babu is at home. I dropped him off myself, yesterday.’ Woolie looked at her and shook his head slowly. He said, in a softer tone, ‘They came for him in the night. The neighbour told me armed police came in 3 Land Rovers. Are you telling me you had no idea?’

Just then Ruby’s mobile vibrated with an incoming message. It was from her boss, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, and read, ‘Retired Chief Inspector Babu has been arrested in connection with 2 murders in a Westlands hotel last week. Commander Mwakundu I expect you to do your job and have the necessary evidence ready to have him charged within 48 hours.’ Ruby took a deep breath ‘Damn it! ‘My idiot boss is using Babu to get at me. He knows Babu did not commit these crimes.’ Woolie looked at her and said, ‘So what are we going to do, Ruby?’ he asked.

Ruby was already walking across the foyer. She said to Woolie, ‘Quick, first we go to my office. We’ve got to find out where they are holding Babu and get him out of this mess.’

They went went up in the lift to Ruby’s 14th floor office.

When Woolie was seated Ruby gave him a summary of the events of the past week. Then she said, ‘I’ll make some calls, find out exactly where they are holding him so that you can go and see him and reassure him. Trust me Kondoo, all will be well.’

On her second call Ruby was able to establish that Babu was being held at Muthangari Police Station on the James Gichuru Road. The OCPD was a good friend and he assured Ruby that Babu was sitting quite comfortably in an office at the station.

Ruby relaxed a little. She was quiet for a moment then said, ‘ Woolie, first we need to look at the facts as we see them. There is no question that the two items that Babu brought in on Monday were used in the murders of those poor victims. The forensic lab people have matched fibres from the nylon stockings to fibres found on Anindo Opondo’s neck. They also obtained DNA from her mucus on the stockings. The blood on the knife is an identical match to that of Ed Malu, the waiter. We urgently need to establish how Babu came to be in possession of these two items. My detective interviewed Babu yesterday with a degree of difficulty.’

Woolie said, ‘Babu has been taking medication for his enlarged liver condition. One of the side effects is short-term memory loss. He can remember stuff from the past but doesn’t seem to recall what he had for dinner the night before.’

Ruby listened carefully before she replied, ‘I wondered why he wouldn’t give his name at the desk.’ Anyway my detective was able to establish that Babu was at his farm in Mosoriot on Sunday morning, preparing to drive back home here in South B. His wife had given him a new LED torch to keep in the car in case of emergency. When he opened the glove-box to stow it away he found a loose bag with the bloody knife tightly wrapped in the black nylon stockings. The detective sent officers from a nearby Police station to check with Mrs Babu at the farm and she corroborated this account.

Ruby had paused to look at her notes and Woolie said, ‘But that is most ridiculous. Mosoriot is 320 km away how did these items get to be in Babu’s van? Wait….’ Woolie was scratching the top of his head where the hair was fast disappearing. He said, ‘Babu is a creature of habit. He always takes the van in for a service before embarking on a road trip to the shamba. Oil change, tyres check, radiator, brakes, lights, that sort of thing. Ruby was looking at him, unable to hide her sudden excitement. She asked, ‘Do you know where he has his van serviced?’ Woolie smiled and said, ‘Yeah, the Dogar Metro Garage at the corner of Junction Road.’

Ruby and Woolie drove up to the corner of Junction Road, past M&J Wedding Supplies and found the garage. Mr Dogar, the boss at Dogar Metro Garage was an affable man who sported a turban and a very wide moustache. He was extremely cooperative and answered their questions without hesitation or deviation. Yes, Mr Babu was a long-standing customer. Yes, he had brought his car in for a service on Tuesday morning, saying that he was to go on safari the following day. This was quite normal with Mr Babu. The mechanic who had service the van was Eric Muli a conscientious young man with a keen eye for detail. Eric was summoned to the office and gave a positive account of the work that he had carried out. He had changed the oil, adjusted the brakes and topped up the coolant in the radiator. The van was in tip top condition. Once completed he had taken the van round to be valeted prior to release.

As they spoke a BMW X5 with tinted windows pulled slowly into the garage forecourt. It eased its way down to the car wash end of the yard where valets with sponges and squigees waited. In Dogar’s office, they looked through the large window and waited, keen to see who would emerge from the large vehicle.

Oh, I see who it is,’ said Dogar, smiling. ‘It’s Senator Kibiwot’s wife. Another frequent customer. The lady has so many cars.’ As they watched, Mrs Kibiwot called to one of the valets and he went to the car. She got back into the car and brought out her hand bag. All the while she was talking to the valet. The watchers were not able to see exactly what it was that Mrs Kibiwot handed over to the valet. Mr Dogar was not smiling now and he said this was most irregular. The normal practice was that all payments for work done at the garage were made at the reception.

TO BE CONTINUED>

Acquitted

“ Wait,” said Richard, “First click on the call tab. We might need to check the mic and speaker settings.”

“Translate that into English, will you.” said Babu. But Richard Kamba was busy punching several keys at once on the keyboard. He clicked on something else and looked at Babu saying, “That should do it. Try and call again.” Babu clicked on the call button and they all heard a sound, just like a phone ringing, on the other side.

“But….what if it’s in the middle of the night? She wouldn’t like that.” said Woolie. Kamba immediately disconnected the call. Nobody had bothered to check what the time would be in Toronto. Continue reading

The black briefcase

On Monday there was a small article in the right hand column of page 3 in the Daily News that said “Police now believe that a faulty gas bottle was the cause of an explosion and fire that destroyed a house in Ruiru on Saturday night. One man was killed in the tragedy…”

Saturday morning

It was 9.am when young Idris tapped softly at the bedroom door and walked into the dark room carrying the large breakfast tray. The stale smell of cheap Moroccan hashish hung in the air. He went to the bay window and slowly pulled back the heavy curtains. His master, eyes tightly shut, groaned and flung his legs about on the bed as bright sunlight poured into the room. Continue reading

Super Tuesday

When a man opens a car door for his wife it’s either a new car or a new wife ~ Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.

For as long as I could remember Tuesday evenings at the local had always been quiet. If you wanted a bit of peace or perhaps you’d planned to meet a friend or work client you could more or less guarantee a decent noise-free environment on Tuesdays. Continue reading

the guns are with the bad guys

The car had not quite skidded to a halt when Woolie jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran round to get the passenger door. He held it open for her until she was seated. He closed her door and went back and settled himself behind the wheel. He selected drive, eased the handbrake and drove slowly down the short drive to rejoin the Mbeki Road where traffic was nose-to-tail in both directions Continue reading

Dad forgive me.

She was quite sure that her friend had said “Half-way up Loita Street.”. Her feet were killing her, but she walked on in the mid-October heat. She crossed the road and hurried past the ghastly Nyati House, Nairobi’s infamous chambers of horror. She walked on towards the Libyan Embassy and it had occurred to her that this was an odd place to have an embassy, but then again, Nairobi town was odd like that. There was no diplomatic district as such; embassies and consulates were scattered about all over the city.

Rubina saw the coffee house and walked up the short flight of steps leading up to the entrance. It was cool and welcoming inside and it took a moment for the eyes to get accustomed to the low, soft light. There were few customers in the restaurant and her friend was not there. Rubina smiled. She was always the early one. She chose a seat by the window, looking onto the street. When a young waitress came over to take her order, Rubina said she would have a bottle of water as she waited for her friend. She sipped the cold water watching the world go by.

There was a quiet, pleasant hum of conversation in the restaurant. That and the cool breeze from the slow moving ceiling fans above offered Rubina a chance for quiet reflection.

The day in court had gone very well. Both sides had finished their submissions and the judges would probably issue a ruling in the morning. There was pressure from many quarters for the matter to be concluded speedily. Any further delay would be a case of justice denied.

It was clear to Rubina, if not to all the other participants in this tragic affair, that this was one of those cases that would never have got to this point, but for the various shortcomings of our justice system. She considered the old quote: the wheels of justice grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine. In this particular case a totally corrupt and ruthless man, who had bullied, bribed and bought his way throughout his adult life had died at the hand of his wife, thus cheating justice. When the judges considered all the facts presented before them, the only conclusion that they could reasonably arrive at was to uphold Mrs Indania’s appeal and quash her conviction. Nothing else would serve to heal the tarnished reputation of the justice system.

The facts were very compelling. Everyone and their dog had heard some version of the story. The daily papers loved this sort of thing. It sold papers. Targets were met and people received fat bonuses. The main papers were all carrying a special ‘High Court Section’ dedicated to the big trial of the year or as one editor had put it: Kenya’s OJ moment. The public’s appetite had been worked up to a frenzy. Everyone wanted to read about the wealthy, former cabinet minister and advisor to leaders, Nowa Indania, who had cheated friend and foe alike for most of his adult life, whose life now had suddenly been cut short by a blow to the head administered by his wife in a domestic violence incident.

The masses had bayed for blood. This case was not helped by countless stories of men suffering death and mutilation at the hands of their spouses across the length and breadth of the country but most notably in the county of Nyeri. Julia Indania herself was, quite understandably, in a state of shock following the death of her husband and in that state, could hardly take in the full implications of being a defendant in a murder trial. Her defence team at the time seemed overwhelmed by the public storms and did not, in Rubina’s mind, have a snow flake’s chance in hell of putting forward the woman’s side of the story. Their case was tossed about like a small boat in a violent sea and Julia Indania was convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

That would have been the end of the matter, as Rubina recalled. Mrs Indania spoke little during the trial save for answering questions. In this same air of quiet disinterest she accepted the court verdict and went to prison without ever protesting her innocence. It was a little while later that Rubina learnt that Mrs Indania’s father-in-law wanted to launch an appeal on behalf of his daughter-in-law. In his papers Mzee Indania Snr had stated: The boy has already lost one parent, surely that is a burden enough, for someone so young. He added, my daughter is not a murderer. I will sell everything that I own if that is what it will take to see that she is set free.

Rubina recalled how thrilled she had been when they asked her to lead the appeal. If proof was required that they held her in high regard back at the firm, this was it. She knew that this would finally put to rest the demons that stalked her following the leopard attack. She smiled at the thought of her pals visiting her in hospital back then, all crowded in that little ward. Babu was scared as hell, but tried not to show it. Woolie’s eyes were filled with sorrow and he looked out through the window most of the time that they were there and Ruby – she was just angry beyond words. Angry that someone could have done this to her.

Back to the appeal. The original case, as Rubina had suspected, was handled poorly by both sides. The prosecution believed what the police had told them. It was an open and shut case. A murder victim, a weapon a suspect and some sort of a motive. Mrs Indania was portrayed as an angry woman, jealous of her husband’s wealth and success. The defence argued that this was a most improbable motive. They claimed that Nowa Indania had attacked his wife in a fit of drunken rage, a fairly frequent occurrence, and that she had struck back in self defence. His death, therefore, was an accident.

Rubina had met Mrs Julia Indania for the first time at Sharwama Women’s GK prison. She wanted to hear her story. In the course of the conversation Rubina had realised that something was missing in this woman’s life. They went through the events of that fateful night. Rubina was making notes and would ask a question here and there. Julia answered as best as she could. She told the same story again and again with very little variation.

Nowa Indania had come home angry and very drunk. He had come straight to the living room where Julia had been seated near the fireplace, watching a television thriller with their ten-year-old son. Julia sent the boy upstairs. Indania had just poured himself a double-whiskey when his cell-phone rang. He had answered it and exchanged some angry words with whoever it was on the line. He threw his whiskey glass at the wall shattering it into a thousand pieces. Julia knew better than to speak to Nowa when he was in that state. She stood up to leave the room and go to bed. He grabbed her roughly by the arms and pushed her back into the seat. He declared that Julia had poisoned his boy against him. “I will teach you a lesson tonight!”

He beat her, first with his belt and then he used his fists and his feet. She was screaming at him to stop and he taunted her saying “Scream all you like, nobody will hear you, except your gay little son.” Julia was lying on her back in the sofa as he rained blows to her body and face. She thought she was going to die. She reached her had out and grabbed the fire poker, and whacked him on the head. His eyes rolled over and he fell back, blood gushing from a big wound just behind the left ear.

Julia’s story was accurate in almost every detail. This was because she had told it to herself so many times that she had come to believe it. Looking at Julia, Rubina realised what it was that was missing. There was no light in her eyes, no hope, no future. Now she understood. Mzee Indania Snr had completed the jigsaw.

When the police arrested Julia Indania on the night of the murder, officers also kept the boy at the station over night before taking him to his grandparents the following day. The despondent ten-year- old told his grand father how his mother had sent him to bed when Baba came home. He had sat at the foot of the stairs listening to Baba say some really awful things to his mother.

“Suddenly Baba started hitting my mother again and again. I opened the door and shouted Baba, stop! He didn’t stop he just kept hitting her with punches and kicks. I jumped on Baba’s back and put my arm round his neck. He growled at me like a bear and threw me to down the ground.”

the fireplace

That was when Julia had picked up the poker. Nowa had turned back to her and in the shoving about she had dropped it to the floor. Nowa continued with the beatings. The young boy launched himself across the floor. He picked up the poker and stood over his father and said “ Dad forgive me.” As he brought it down, Indania turned to look up and the blow caught him just behind the left ear. That must have been was when the lights had gone out of Julia’s eyes, Rubina thought.

A white cab drew up on the street alongside the restaurant. The occupant got out and took the steps up to the entrance two at a time.

Rubina called to her, “Ruby! Over here.” The ladies hugged and sat down. The police commander raised a hand to attract some attention. “Hope you haven’t waited to long, Rubina. The traffic is manic on the highways, you’d think someone important is coming to town. Shall we order?” Rubina smiled and nodded. “Let’s order.”

They had coffee and chocolate cake. The commander watched as Rubina stirred her coffee, deep in thought. She asked, “You said you had some news. Is it work related?”

Rubina smiled and looked at the commander. She said “I have been short-listed for an interview for a teaching post.” “ Oh, how thrilling!” said the commander, showing real pleasure. “When’s it for?” Rubina said “In about five weeks. I’ll need all that time just to organise everything!”

“You’re the most organised person I know, my dear, it will be a walk in the park. A piece of cake.” the commander said this as she picked up another piece of the lovely chocolate cake.

“I dunno, Ruby. I need you to tell me how I’ll break it to the guys that I’ll soon be off for an interview for a teaching post in Toronto……”

Collision Course

So earlier this afternoon I was standing by the bus stop waiting for the number 10 when a young lady emerged from a side street pushing a baby buggy in a bit of a hurry, nearly running into the old lady who stood in front of me.

“Hey! Look where you’re going.” Said the woman. “There could have been a collision.”

The young mother mumbled an apology without pausing in her mobile phone conversation and hurried off.

It struck me at the time that the baby in the buggy seemed rather large. I mused that perhaps the near-miss had been caused by the fact that it must have been quite a mission for the petite mum to control this heavy buggy with one hand as she came down the very steep hill. I dreaded to imagine what nature of a collision would have happened had the lady tripped on a paving stone, say, and let go of the buggy for a second……Our bus stop is at the junction of a very busy road.

It has often been said that you hear a new word one day and then you find that for the next few hours and days you are coming across the same word so many times. The same thing happens when you buy a car, dress or jacket. Suddenly you find that the whole world is full of cars, dresses and jackets just like yours but you had never noticed. Today’s word of the day was Collision. When I switched on the telly at Rubina’s flat later in the evening there was this wonderfully boring science programme about mechanics, velocity, motion and all things collision.

Don’t get me wrong when I say boring. I enjoyed the show. I really loved physics way, way back in my school days. The principal reason was one bright scholarly girl: Condoleezza Ajiambo. She was the light of the class, no… the light of our school. She demolished the old (silly and somewhat chauvinist) ideas of a less enlightened age and inscribed in every school boys heart at the time that smart girls were nerds and Beauty X Brains = K. Condoleezza was consistently top of the class. She was clever, witty and very pretty and had what is sometimes referred to as a heart of gold; she was a gracious soul. Everyone liked to be near her and every night I said a prayer for the physics master because he had instructed me, the slowest kid in the group, to sit next to Miss Ajiambo in the physics lab.

The master himself was something of a phenomenon. Back then the older kids joked that he had taught Einstein most of what he knew. I believed them. The guy suited the part of the nutty professor perfectly. In his lab he was King. If you asked him a question he would swing round on his heels, and armed only with a piece of chalk he did battle on the black board producing obscure (to us) characters. He would tweak them here, cross-out there and adjust there and in a few minutes he would derive another masterpiece of an equation.

One morning, after another satisfactory equation exhibition, Master asked if there were any questions. Ms Ajiambo, or Condi, as we called her stood up and asked “So Master, how do you think this world will end?”

The physics master smiled, pulled out another piece of chalk and said, “There are many ways in which the world can end but my favourite ones are as follows”

He swung on his heels turning to face the board and wrote:

1 The sun burns itself out, suddenly like the flash in a camera so that the earth has no source of energy and life, as we know it ceases to exist.

2 A most powerful volcanic eruption that would crack the earth’s core killing most life on the planet.

3 My worst case scenario is the very probable prospect of an unstoppable body moving fast and colliding (that word again) with an immoveable body, (our planet)

heavenly bodies

The master went on to explain that outer space was full of debris from the break up of larger heavenly bodies, asteroids and such like. This debris travelled across space at “astronomical speeds” and If even one such body say about a quarter of the size of our moon was to crash into the earth…….He painted a scene of devastation of cataclysmic proportions and concluded by saying that even now as we spoke there were many objects hurtling through the universe, faster and faster on a collision(Ha!) course with our planet. Impact was most certainly assured. It was simply a question of when, not if, this would happen.

Astronomical

Much time has passed in between and over the years we lost touch with one another. Sometimes, I do wonder what I would ask the master today. What about Condi? If I met her today I think I should like to ask her whether she might agree with me that there is a new unstoppable object sweeping rapidly across the planet, almost as fast as the moon’s shadow racing across earth during an eclipse.

This object is on a deadly collision course with the rest of humanity. I describe the rest of humanity as the immoveable object today because it is totally oblivious to the nature of the threat that it faces. The rest of humanity has no response and watches in awe and confusion as killing and maiming, raping and beheading, burning and looting rages in almost every continent.

Last week’s attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait drew swift condemnation and anger coming as they did in the Holy month of Ramadan but like numerous attacks in Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and other countries, tough talk about tightening security, punishing the perpetrators and the all important War on Terror do nothing to hide the most inconvenient truth of today: We don’t know where or how the next attack will be carried out. Like the physics master’s dire warning it is just a question of when.

A loyal friend to the end – final part

A poacher comes forward

Inspector Makrahanish drove them the few hundred metres to Peter Malo’s house. As they approached the entrance, he said, “I just got word from the station. We rounded up the usual suspects this morning. The petty muggers and crooks, that sort of thing. My officers have been interviewing them all morning. It is doubtful that this attack was carried out by a simple criminal. The attack was so savage and yet nothing at all was stolen. Why did they cut her up like that? Torture, perhaps?”

The commander shook her head. “We have to assume that the perpetrators are sick individuals and that Rubina just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. There was no sexual motive to the attack. They must be sick sadists; only that can explain the horrific injuries.” She said.

As they pulled up at the front court-yard by the house a lady opened the front door and came to meet them. She introduce herself as Margaret Kromati, farm manager. They explained why they had come. She ushered them inside and showed them into a comfortable lounge. As they were seated, a servant was sent to bring tea. Ms Kromati pulled forward a straight-backed chair placing it where she could face all of them and sat down. She spoke calmly and said, “I have heard the talk in the farm. A woman was attacked in the road by robbers in the night. They say it is Rubina. I called the hospital but they won’t talk to anyone about it. They wont let us go and see her.”

Inspector Makrahanish asked when Ms Kromati had last seen Rubina. “Oh, I saw her yesterday morning as she was leaving for town.” She told them. “When she is using matatu she has to leave quite early, but I am always up and about dealing with farm matters, you see.” The commander said, “Ms Kromati, are there times when Rubina does not use public transport? How does she get to town? She doesn’t drive.”

“Her father normally drives her.” Came the reply. “He went away on Wednesday, you see. He drives her to the courts down town and picks her up later in the afternoon.” He’s gone away on business. That’s why Rubina was using public means.” Kromati shook her head slowly. Commander Ruby pressed, “ But where is this that Mr Malo has gone, Ms Kromati? We have tried calling him but his number is unavailable. When do you expect him back?”

Ms Kromati sighed. “ He is mteja because he doesn’t take his phone with him. I can’t reach him, nobody can. Not until he gets back from his safari.” There was a note of despair in her voice and Babu followed it up. “ You say he leaves his phone, How do you know this?”

Ms Kromati stood up and walked over to a large painting hanging on the far wall of the room. It was a larger than usual copy. Babu noted the unmistakable features of Jomo Kenyatta in his black leather jacket on the night that the colonial powers arrested him and many others and declared a state of emergency in the country. Kromati took down the painting to reveal a large safe built into the wall. She fished out a small key from somewhere and unlocked the safe. She now brought out a passport, national ID card, a driving licence and two mobile phones. She placed these on the table for them to examine.

Ms Kromati said, “I am not just the farm manager. I look after the domestic arrangements here too. This gives me access to every part of the house. I open this safe almost every day to pay the casual workers. I am constantly in and out of Mr Malo’s room looking for an invoice here or a receipt there that he has forgotten to bring to the office.” Babu looked puzzled and asked, “So why does he leave all his stuff here when he goes away? I don’t get it.” Ms Kromati laughed a short laugh. “ You’re asking the wrong person. I asked him so many times, I lost count. He always said “That’s my business.” So I gave up asking. It really isn’t my business what a grown man does in his spare time.”

It was Inspector Makrahanish who now said: “Tell us a little about the business trips, madam how often does Malo go away?” The reply surprised them all. Ms Kromati said, “Peter Malo goes away on business every three months. He leaves the farm on a Wednesday and returns on a Wednesday some four weeks later. He always stays away for four weeks. Always. In the eight years that I have worked here He has never failed to make this trip. He locks away his car in the garage and uses a rental vehicle for the trip. Also he does not take any luggage from the house with him.”

Brown all through

It was getting late and the shadows outside were growing longer. They were slowly making their way back to the car. The commander and Ms Kromati walked slowly at the rear. In the courtyard some children had gathered and stood looking at the police vehicle. Now they watched the visitors with interest. A small boy in the group held a little brown puppy in his arms.

“Hello,” said Babu “ What a beautiful puppy. What’s his name?” The little boy smiled. He told Babu that his puppy was a girl. “Her name is Jinja. But you knooow…….. her mummy is gone.” The boy was suddenly sad. He looked at Babu and said “ Mister police can you find her mummy?” “Sure I can.” said Babu. Tell me her mummy’s name.”

Ms Kromati came along to where Babu and the boy stood. She said the kids had told her that the big dog, Cadbury was nowhere to be found. “That dog never leaves Rubina’s side when she is here. In fact she walks with Rubina to the bus stop in the mornings and in the evenings she runs back there to wait for her to arrive. Nobody knows how the dog figures out the time to go to the bus stop. Really weird.”

Commander Ruby asked, “Did you say the name is Cadbury?” Kromaty said“ Yes Hahahaha.The kids said they called her that because she was brown all through, like chocolate.”

The commander was serious now. “This is the name that poor Rubina has been trying to tell us.”
Babu said, “Of course. They must have been together when she was attacked. Where is the dog now, I wonder.” Makrahanish called the station with instructions. They were to check for and investigate all sightings of a brown dog in the neighbourhood.

They went back to the hospital and met Woolie who told them that there was some improvement in the patient but she still slept heavily. The nurse said that all the vital signs were good. In her opinion it was very likely that Rubina would shake off the sedatives and wake the following morning. The Doctor looked in and confirmed everything the nurse had said.. Inspector Makrahanish took his leave. Babu and the Commander brought Woolie up to speed with what they had learnt at the farm. Commander Ruby elected to stay the night in case their patient woke.

Woolie and Babu made their way to the hotel. Woolie said to Babu “ It seems to me that whoever it was that stole the dog, they are the ones responsible for the attack on Rubina. Find the dog and we’ll have the attackers.”

When Babu finally got to his room the tiredness had got to him. He undressed and collapsed onto the bed. He turned off the light and lay still. Sleep eluded him as it often did when a case presented seemingly impossible complications. The case before them was crazy: A random absentee father who abandons all that he owns. To go where?

Babu thought back to how he had so wanted to reconcile father and daughter. How he had managed to get Rubina to lead the defence team on a high-profile case. He had contacted Peter Malo and urged him to invite his daughter to stay with him for the duration of the case. He remembered now how Malo sounded the genuinely proud father. He would drive his daughter to court every morning, he had said. Rubina had accepted her dad’s offer graciously. She had told Babu that Malo had simply called her out of the blue. She need not stay in some random hotel when her dad had more than ample accommodation at the farm, Meddling old fool that I am, thought Babu. Where was Peter Malo. Did his absence have anything to do with the attack, or was it just coincidence. It was obvious that he was up to something. Fake Ids? Impersonations? A double life? Espionage? These were fantastic ideas. Rabbit holes. Babu reminded himself of the need to stick to the facts.

What were the facts: A young lady viciously assaulted. No obvious motive. Nothing taken. Hundreds of cuts, lacerations all over the body. Then there was the issue of the strange crime scene. Complete lack of physical evidence. No footprints, No tyre tracks and no reports of suspicious vehicles in the vicinity. How had the attackers arrived there and how did they leave? There was something one of the radio news readers had said in a report on the attack. “These vicious thugs were not human…” And what was it that Woolie had said before we parted? With that thought Babu finally dropped off.

Every Sunday morning Chadli Hosein walked through the forest checking his traps and bee-hives. Sometimes he got lucky and found small antelope or dik dik caught in the snares. He took only what he needed and shared any surplus with his neighbours. Hunting was once a noble and respected occupation. A source of fresh meat for the pot. The poachers who wiped out Rhino and Elephant for horns and ivory had driven good hunters underground.

Chadli was now quite close to the place where that poor girl had been attacked. It happened under that big tree. He looked down towards the river. Down there the vegetation was very thick. Perhaps he could place a trap down there. He slipped carefully down the embankment. He was now completely invisible from the road above. He walked along the river for a while. He was looking for a suitable place to set a trap. He came to a bend in the river.

If he had not been looking carefully he would never have seen the cave. The vegetation had grown so high and then it had fallen over almost completely blocking the entrance. “What an amazing hideout.” He thought. It was unlikely that anyone else knew of this place. He pushed the bushes to one side and moved into the mouth of the cave. A hundred thousand flies suddenly lifted off from their feeding ground. Chadli jumped back, terrified. The buzzing sound as they flew off was deafening. There was also a horrible smell. He quickly recovered his composure and strained to look at what the flies had been feeding on. He could barely believe his eyes. Lying there spread on the cave floor was the largest leopard he had ever seen. Beside it, clinging to the leopard’s neck, even in death was the carcass of a fine dog. Even in the faint light he could see that the dog’s fur was a smooth brown colour, like chocolate.

An hour later Chadli Hosein walked into the Sobea Police Station. He said to the officer at the desk “Who’s in charge here? I think I know what happened to that poor girl on Friday.”

The end

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