Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 28
The murdered Queen was killed by nobody but Helen, the new-found love of James, and baby-sitter to his son. Read on to unravel how the deed was done.
“That is the murderer,” Smith said, pointing at Helen. Without any delay, the policemen seized her and handcuffed her.
“What is the meaning of all this? Nnadi what are you doing?” James shouted, shooting dazzling glances at his father and Nnadi.
“What is the meaning of this?” Helen asked struggling within the grasp of the two policemen. “Let me go!”
Osakwe was dumbfounded. If Nnadi wanted revenge, he should be a man and come for him and not for a stranger who has no history to the crisis at hand. “What are you doing Nnadi? Why do you fight like a coward? You have a problem with me, settle it with me and let go of an innocent girl who has no link whatsoever to the issues we have.”
“She is under arrest for the murder of Mrs. Queen James Osakwe,” one of the policemen said sharply. “We’d advice you keep quite lady, as whatever you say might be used against you in the court of law,” he recited like a nursery rhyme, yet professionally to indicate his mastery of the lines.
“What!” James and Nnadi exclaimed in unison. “Queen is dead?”
“Take her away officer, and make sure she rots in jail,” Nnadi said bluntly.
The policemen made to drag Helen away but James intervened. “You can’t just come in here and arrest somebody without evidence. This lady is not capable of murder. I know her. And Queen is not dead.”
“We have concrete evidence, young man,” the other officer said as they pushed him aside and dragged Helen out of the room.
Alarming outbursts emanated from Helen and Junior who started crying as soon as he saw the policemen drag Helen out. James head felt heavy; the lady he fell head over heels in love with suddenly confirmed his instincts of her being a criminal. He could not understand why Helen would do such a thing. He had told her that he would file for divorce once Queen got better and they would legally be together. What was she trying to prove by murdering Queen? Tears flowed down his cheeks as he heard Helen’s voice pleading softly and calling on him to come to her rescue, while the policemen brutally took her away. He was about rushing towards them when a thought struck him: a lair is capable of murder. He halted, remembering what Charles told him. Tears kept rolling down his cheeks. He turned to his father who was filled with anguish and bitterness.
Osakwe looked so grave trying to comprehend what just happened. His daughter-in-law just got killed by the woman who has taken care of his grandson for months; the woman he just invited for dinner. The connection was so complicated, and his effort to fathom the whole incidence made his head spin.
James, who was caught between believing his instincts that the allegation was true, and trusting Helen, who helped save Queen’s life two times earlier that day, stood in shook as he watched his father dance to the nasty drumbeats of the awkward situation. He shivered in rage, enough to hurt someone.
“I will come back for you, and your family,” he heard Nnadi say.
His eyes widened as he advanced angrily towards him.
“James!” his father’s voice came from behind.
He halted, looked at his father. Osakwe shook his head. He raged about that, but was later happy he did; he might have attempted murder himself. The duo watched as Nnadi and his son strolled out, victoriously, yet sad.
“Father!” he called with a shaky voice, his sight blurred with tears as he walked towards Osakwe who still did not understand anything. “There must be an explanation to this Father, I believe that. She didn’t kill her,” he said falling at his feet.
“I am afraid she did,” Charles said as he walked into the room, moved straight to Junior, carried and pacified him.
James saw on his face the familiar ‘I told you so’ look that pierced his heart. He seemed not to be surprised, like he knew Helen would do something like that.
“Tell me it’s not true,” he said wiping his tears.
“I wish I could. Our surveillance cameras caught her in the act. I guess she didn’t know they were there,” Charles explained.
James remembered how unsteady and eager she was to leave the hospital. He almost slumped as it dawned on him that she actually committed the act. He got more bewildered trying to relate the whole situation. Helen; a woman whose warm and juicy womanhood he tasted just few hours ago, and was about introducing to his father as his new-found love, now alleged of murder. He scoffed, shaking his head in disapproval.
Osakwe was confounded at his son’s emotional disorientation and his unfeigned zeal to defend the lady even more than he grieved for Queen’s death.
“Son!” he called when he could not unravel the cause of his defensive reaction. “What is this about? Why are you more concerned about the innocence of this lady than you are about Queen’s death? Someone is murdered: the mother of your child is murdered and all your care about is the innocence of the lady who killed her? Is there something else apart from her being Obinna’s nanny?”
James looked speechlessly at his father and then at Charles who peered at him in suspicion. He averted his father’s gaze, wishing he could tell him the truth about his love for Helen and how he hoped to spend the rest of his life with her. But he couldn’t mar the relationship they were just rebuilding with another absurd love talk. He shook his head.
“I guess I didn’t want Obinna to grow up knowing he was raised by a murderer,” he murmured trying to conceal his emotions. He heard Charles scoff as he laid Junior who had slept off, down.
“But we really should be happy we found out before she murders you or my grandson. Allow the police to handle this okay? We have a very serious situation to deal with,” he said calming him down.
“You won’t understand, Father. You just can’t,” he turned to Charles and whispered. “Show me that footage.”
“Let this go man. I know what I saw. I cannot lie to you,” Charles whispered back.
“I need to be sure. Please,” he whispered again, looking at his father who was admiring his sleeping grandson. He dragged Charles out of the room and locked the door after him.
Osakwe continued admiring Junior who was sleeping peacefully on the bed. He touched his forehead, pulled up the blanket and covered his legs. He suddenly turned to discover the room was empty. He made for the door but halted abruptly. A thought hit him. He wouldn’t want the tragic story of Queen’s death to recur with his grandson. He walked back, pulled a chair closer to his bed and sat to watch over him like a warrior watches over a king’s palace.
In front of the hospital, Helen was thrown into the police van with Nnadi instructing she be kept in their custody, and not allowed any visitor till the trial day, which he believed would see her sentenced to death; a perfect revenge for his daughter’s death, an eye for an eye. The officers nodded and drove away.
Helen sat in the van with her eyes on the handcuffs that limited her movement, while she thought of the man she just lost, again, despite all her efforts. She thought after the proposal that James was without doubt, hers.
She recalled her younger age; pretty and charming lady she was. Men were head over heels in love with her, but she was rejecting them all, proudly, right from the time she was in university. She would toy with their hearts and when they thought they had her for a fiancée, she would give them the I-am-not-ready excuse and break their hearts. After graduation, she continued with her fun lifestyle, meeting and discarding men as she pleased, despite her parents’ warning that women are like sunflowers; beautiful and attractive at dawn, ugly and repulsive at dusk.
Years later, she started making sense of the sunflower aphorism; her beauty began to wane, her charm reduced and anytime she looked in the mirror, she would see a woman whose beauty was misused. Her family, who waited for too long for the man she would eventually settle for, sadly accepted her as the ‘daughter-son’ of the family. She was well accepted without any scorn or insult, but that immunity did not extend to her age mates and most hurtfully, her own conscience. While some women claim a man’s name was nothing to them, she craved for one, she desired for one no matter how it looks.
She woke up one morning, months after she accepted to take in her dead sister’s daughter; a task which got her fired from the bank where she was working, and decided to register with a babysitting agency. The job was aimed at curbing her loneliness and giving her the awesome feeling of a mother. Along the line, her desperation birthed an idea she fully embraced: to start her own babysitting agency, focusing solely on young rich widowers of Lagos, with solely two motives. One motive is to do her nanny work, and the second is to take care of the man in all ramifications, with the hope that one of them would one day marry her, and make her life complete as a woman.
So she created a Facebook page and a website, and with good publicity, she garnered a large number of followers, connecting her to the Lagos populace: men and women alike. She would either turn down calls from women, especially ones she felt would be troublesome, or she would send her employees.
Her focus was on young rich men, who, due to the incessant increase in divorce rate in the world, showed up en-mass, with diverse intentions, just like her. Some slipped away because she was too desperate; some left her so heartbroken that the only thing keeping her was her professionalism, while others blatantly ignored her suggestive behaviors. Her agency flourished into a household name with almost three dozen paid staff.
Then six months ago, when she had, in resignation to fate, prayed to God that His will be done in her life, she woke up to a call from James. The voice was so mature, loving and articulated that she couldn’t wait to see the man who owned it. When they finally met, she didn’t let a second pass without admiring his good looks; a man in his late thirties, yet looking handsome and well kept. His eyes were filled with love and his words were so calm and considerate. She wondered why any woman would leave such a nice man with a five month old baby. She smiled to herself and was thankful to God for sending to her His will, just when she asked. She loved him then and knew that one way or another, she would get to bear his name.
She sent her profile to him, he was satisfied and requested for the services of her company. But instead of sending one of her staff, she undertook the job herself, hoping deep within her desperate mind that he would one day come to love her too. So she waited patiently, sometimes leading him on. Then her plan matured, bringing James to her on a platter of gold so easily that she still did not believe it. Yet she would do anything to see the lasting of that relationship.
She had walked into Queen’s ward after James excused himself to go talk with Charles. She stared at Queen who was wriggling on the bed, eyes fluttering. She coughed and Queen opened her eyes. Seeing her beside her, she was apologetic. She asked for her forgiveness and also pleaded her to beg James on her behalf.
Helen got disappointed. That was a big threat to the love she just won. If James, with his kind and compassionate heart should see Queen with that amount of remorse, nothing would stop him from taking her back; after all she was the mother of his child. In her desperation to stop that from manifesting, and keep James all to herself, her thoughts went wild. Evil inhabited her, sending numerous impious and deadly options in her heart. Happily she embraced the evil ideas. Nothing was going to stand before her and this one love she has in her hand, not even Queen, or James’ parents. She sat on the bed, and holding Queen’s hand in hers, she smiled.
“I will let James know of your repentance,” she whispered to her.
Queen smiled and muttered a thank you which she didn’t care to hear. She carefully pulled out the intravenous drip hose connected to her hand while smiling at her, taking her attention away from the evil she was doing. Then she stood up and told her she wanted to adjust her pillow. Queen let out a smile of a repentant sinner who just received absolution and raised her head. Helen pulled out the pillow, and amidst the struggle of the soul who had just sent a joyous whisper to heaven, she ended a life.
The van ran into a pothole which rudely jolted her back to the harsh reality she was into. She sighed. Stared at her handcuffed hands, and recalled how they had pulled out the drip hose, and suffocated Queen with a pillow. They were trembling. She was remorseful, yes, but the deed was done. All she has now was regret. She whimpered as she imagined how she just ruined everything she struggled so hard to build. She thought about her niece; how she would feel hearing what she has done, her aging parents who loved her all the same, her staff and her followers on social media. She indeed made a social mockery of herself. She shut her eyes and wept, hoping for a kiss from James to wake her up from the nightmare. She sobbed as the police van raced all the way to the station.