PORCELAIN MASK

by K Cheryl Mwanza| image credit : allpoetry.com

“You sure this guy can help?” Detective Inspector Jess Marufu asked her partner as she made it a point not to step on top of sunken graveyards that surrounded them at the moment. For some reason whenever she had heard about warren Hills, she had, had this perception that it was the place to be, once you were dead of course.

“At the moment, I’m willing to talk to any psycho that will answer back.” Detective Sergeant Helen Huni answered with her gaze in front, disregarding the fact that she was walking on top of graves.

It wasn’t that Marufu had any superstitions on death, she worked on dead bodies all the time. It was just, after having seen that much death, she believed people resting ought to be respected.

…a girl was found dead just after the Warren Park D round about. She had blood all over her and a slit throat. The crime scene was messy and the conclusion was, they were dealing with an inexperienced killer..

The two had become partners only recently and neither ladies wanted to talk about the reasons behind it. Anyway, their track record had been stellar and they had been nicknamed the two Sherlocks of Harare Homicide, something that almost went to their heads had it been not for a case that had seem so simple on face value but had contributed to many sleepless nights and an obsession that was increasingly border lining on the psychotic. A week to date; 3rd of February, a girl was found dead just after the Warren Park D round about. She had blood all over her and a slit throat. The crime scene was messy and the conclusion was, they were dealing with an inexperienced killer, hence this was going to be a walk in the park. A walk in the park it was.

Then yesterday evening, a voice that brought chills to Marufu, had called and had pointed a finger at an old caretaker who had dedicated his life to catering for the dead in Warren Hills Cemetery. Urban legend had it that, many years ago, the caretaker had witnessed a brutal murder that had messed with his brains. After wards, he wasn’t able to distinguish the present from the past, and most of what he said was just pure trash. But the two detectives had seen it all to know that diamonds came from compressed trash.

“I think I see him.” Huni said pointing at a Dead End sign. An old man with a pipe and a tattered blanket over his legs was sitting leaning against it, not a care in the world.

“I think this is stupid.” Marufu said abruptly stopping, one hand on the tip of her gun. “Extremely stupid.”

“I know. That’s why we are doing it.” Huni said proceeding.

Marufu couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen, she felt cold and dead inside and battled with going back and throwing the tip line out the window. But then Huni continued without fear, and her turning back would just reflect badly on her record. As she followed after Huni however, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was walking into a trap. The feeling was so strong, she swore she heard footsteps follow after her. Whenever she turned, however, nothing and no one was there.

She turned and soldiered on.

“Maswera sei.” Huni said and the old man turned to face her and her partner. “I’m Detective-“

“Finally.” The man said as he focused his gaze on Marufu. “You a detective too, Mzukuru?’

“Yes.”

“Good. That gun might just protect you.”

“From what?”

“The man who is hunting you. I fear, he is close, Mzukuru.”

Marufu shivered involuntarily, and for an instance froze. She was experiencing it again. The symptoms that came before… “What man? Why is he hunting me down?”

“I told her the very same thing. To be careful, because the man was hunting her down. She thought I was crazy. I hear she died.” He tilted his head to the sky then puffed out smoke.

“Sir, are you talking about the girl found by the Round about?” Huni asked as she opened a file she had in her hands.

“Matilda.”

“That’s her…” Huni began then paused. “How did you know that?”

“I told her the man was hunting her down. Just like he’s hunting you down.” He said looking straight into Marufu’s eyes. “She didn’t listen. Now she’s dead.”

“What can you tell us about the man?” Marufu asked trying to remain calm. “Who is he?”

“You remind me so much of my granddaughter Melissa. They say she went missing. Are you detectives here to investigate that?” He asked sitting upright like someone who had just become aware of their surroundings. He dropped his pipe as tears shone in his eyes. “I was with her yesterday. She left and I swore she was with that boy we kuraini. Are you detectives here for that?”

Both women were taken aback by the sudden change in character, not sure on how to proceed and feeling like her time had been wasted, Huni turned to leave. Marufu who believed that old man had more secrets hidden, and who wanted to know more about who was hunting her, cleared her throat as she said,

“What year is this, sekuru?”

“1989. What kind of a question is that little girl? And look at what you wearing! Melissa was dressed exactly like this and look what happened to her.” He looked straight into her eyes then said. “He’s looking for you. The same way he was looking for her. Matilda, they used to call her.”

“Let’s go.” Huni hissed at her partner.

“He’s on to something you know.”

“Is that why you’re shaking?”

“No.” Marufu said as she put her hands behind her back. “I think he’s the key to solving our murder.”

“Yeah. If we can get him to stay in 2011!” Huni shrieked as she picked up pace.

“Wait. They said he witnessed a violent murder that messed with his brains, right?”

“Why are we doing this again?”

“What if it’s connected to 1989 and what happened to his granddaughter?”

“We haven’t solved this murder. You want us to re-visit an old one?”

“No. let’s go back to him and talk about 1989. If he’s mixing up our victim with his granddaughter’s disappearance. He’s bound to mix up his granddaughter with our victim’s death.”

Before Huni had a chance to respond both women suddenly fell to the ground, and blood began oozing from one of them. The old caretaker picked up his pipe, neatly folded his blanket, got up and as he walked away said, more to himself,

“I keep warning them. Just like that girl. The one they called Matilda.”

 

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