POCKERFACE

by K Cheryl Mwanza | Episode #13

What is this about exactly?”

“We just want to talk, Mrs. Mtandwa.” Detective Sergeant Brandon Makiwa said as he gathered his hands on the table in the conference room.

“Call me Jaylee.” She said quickly. “What is it you want to talk about?”

“Your fight with Debra-“

“Why?”

“She was found dead-“

“Debra is dead?” Jaylee asked with an expressionless face as she began to drum the table with perfectly manicured nails. “A part of me wants to be happy she’s gone. But being married to Nyasha has taught me something, and it’s that some little girl is going to come along and occupy him again.” She rolled her hands then crossed her hands. “You people think I killed her?”

“Did you?”

“No. I didn’t have to. In fact I didn’t need to. His affairs usually fizzle out with time. If that doesn’t happen, I just have to call my father. Nyasha is who he is because of my father’s money, and he damn well knows it.” She said then blinked once. It was the first time that Makiwa noticed how cold her eyes were. She was very beautiful and very intimidating. Her eyes were hollow and dry, and so was she. “I married that guy because I loved him. Ten years of my life I spent on him, and I got a broken jaw for it.” She looked straight into Makiwa’s eyes then added, “Will you arrest me for totally breaking him?”

“I don’t follow?”

“The mother of his child just died. He is obviously broken. I want to totally destroy him by taking away the only thing that is keeping him sane. His company.” She added in icy calmness, Makiwa didn’t feel comfortable interviewing her even further.

Nyasha had arrived at the station when Jaylee was long gone. He was however close to Debra Chimhepo, and he found himself on the other end of a desk in Detective Chief Inspector Tanaka Dube’s office. With her was Detective Mudiwa Chiwenga.

“He is here for his wife and seeing that she is not in here-“

“You were close with Debra, weren’t you? The two of you even had a son.” Chiwenga said instead.

“He is not answering any questions. If you think he’s guilty of something then charge him. Otherwise we are out.” Matthew said as he helped his friend up.

“You are under arrest for statutory rape.” Dube said as she produced handcuffs.

“Rape has to be reported. Otherwise you cannot charge him.” Matthew said.

“I know.” Dube said as she cuffed Nyasha. “I’m not doing this because I want him convicted. I mean, I want him convicted but her mother approved the relationship. All I need is for enough journalists to see him in cuffs and to write about how, with the help of his lawyer, he made a 15 year old pregnant and probably killed.”

“Ok, stop.” Nyasha said in a softer tone. “I will tell you everything you need to know about my relationship with Debra, if you take the chains off. Detective, my relationship with my wife is hanging in the balance, and will not survive something like this. Please.”

“You talk to these guys and you are going to be public news. Your relationship with Jaylee will be doomed.” Matthew said.

“It’s doomed either way.” He said turning to detective Dube. “I will tell you anything and everything you need, detective.”

“How do you sleep at night, detective?” Matthew asked in disgust.

“Better than you.” Dube hissed. “Debra was as old as your first born daughter when she had Nyasha’s baby. As a father, how do you sleep at night?”

Matthew grind his teeth as he clenched and unclenched his fists. He was so close to Dube he wanted to strangle her. To tear her apart. To destroy her. How dare she challenge him like that? Mudiwa drew out his gun and let it known to Matthew that one slip and he was going to shoot. Matthew swallowed hard then stepped back turned around and left.

“What do you want to know?”

“Initially we wanted to talk to you-just to talk. But your friend put on such a fierce fight to prevent that from happening, I want to know what it is you are hiding.”

“I am not hiding anything.”

“Then WHY would Zvinavashe vehemently deny you to talk to the police?” Chiwenga demanded.

“Half of my company is his. He stands to lose as much, if not more, if I get caught up in a scandal. So, what is it you want to know?”

“Debra’s killer picked her up in a really nice place-“

“Really nice place?” He said as he sat up straight. “Debra says that about The Pink Dollies. We have been to many exclusive restaurants, but she referred to only the Pink Dollies as nice. Where those exact words that were used?”

“Something like that. Why?”

“Then that means she was talking to strangers again. And her death might be really my fault.” He said cracking up. “You see, we were supposed to go a date to the Pink Dollies to celebrate our one year anniversary but I cancelled last minute?”

“Why?” Chiwenga asked.

“My marriage is on the rocks and my company is hanging in the balance. I might have loved Debra, but Jaylee is my life line. I had to make a choice.”

“You chose Jaylee.” Chiwenga said angrily.

“Don’t judge me.”  Nyasha snapped defensively. “You think it was easy for me to do that? I had been looking forward to our date, and it was just as hard on me as she was on her!”

“You said something about her talking to strangers. What was that all about?” Dube stepped in to try and diffuse the tension that was building in the room.

“Whenever I missed a date, she would go to the Pink Dollies, get drunk and end up pouring her heart out to some lonely random woman that she would have met in the bar.”

“Why would she do that?”

“She said there were things she couldn’t talk about with her mother because her mother wouldn’t understand. She found it much easier to go home with some random women, and I always told her that was dangerous. I always told her that one of these days she would end up-“, He stopped himself from finishing the sentence. Instead he said, “In moments when she was really raw with emotion, she would turn to women she considered mother figures.”

“In a bar?” Chiwenga asked.

“She did the strangest things when she was drunk.” He said with a nervous sad laugh. “The strangest.” He whispered.

“So there was no way she would have left the bar with a man?”

“No way. I know-knew her and she would never leave a bar with a man who wasn’t me. You see I was her first-“

“Too much DETAIL man!” Chiwenga yelled out in disgust.

“You didn’t let me finish. I was her first boyfriend. After we had our son, her focus was solely on me. Debra was capable of anything except that.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mtandwa. If we need anything, we will be in touch.” Dube said as she stepped in front of Chiwenga.

Once Nyasha was out, she turned to Chiwenga who looked back at her unapologetically.

“I understand you feel that Debra’s life was cut way too short, and you want justice for her, but she was just guilty as this man.”

“How would a girl from Hunyani Creek come to know about the Pink Dollies?” He asked. “Without him, she would be alive today.”

“You can’t know that for sure.”

“Why are you taking his side? He exploited a vulnerable kid! He robbed her of her INNOCENCE and he participated in her death! He should be jail.”

“Mudiwa.” She said softly.

“NO!” He banged the door after himself.

 

“Is Mudiwa going to be okay?” Detective Inspector Qiniso Dhlamini asked as Dube joined her and Makiwa.

“I don’t know.” Dube sighed then said. “Let him sit tonight out. So what do we have on the girl that was picked up at the airport?”

“Gono is with her right now.” Makiwa answered. “I made a call to the Pink Dollies and they confirmed that Debra was there and that she was also drunk out of her mind. And here is the best part-“

“She left with a woman?” Dube asked.

“Yes. The waitress said the woman is well in her forties, even though she takes care of herself. She is beautiful with a dark complexion and expensive taste. The waitress said that Debra was pouring out her mind and soul to this woman like they knew each other, even though they had arrived separately.”

“What do we have on CCTV footage?”

“They don’t have any. They take the privacy of their clientele very seriously.”

“Well, the description they gave fits Sasha Mubaiwa.” Dhlamini said as she produced a khaki file. “Sasha’s husband just filed for divorce, and the two have been leaving separately for a month. Her job as a defense lawyer is hanging in the balance as well. She is being investigated for witness intimidation and evidence tampering. All of this happened at the same time and around the same time as when she crossed path with Cynthia. What is really interesting is that, during Sasha’s tenure as High court judge, ten people landed on death row and three were executed.”

“Sasha is slipping off then she meets Cynthia whom she feels weirdly connected to, and then these women who remind her so much of  past that she wants to forget.” Makiwa said.

“Do we have anything on Sasha Mubaiwa during her early days? The author despised her mother and that is the reason for the killings right. We need something to support that, otherwise we don’t have a case.”

“Anything below 20 years is sealed.”

Just then Detective Keegan Gono entered the working area with a file in his left hand.

“Do you have something for me?” Dube asked as she made some notes on the murder board.

“Yes. Karen Chimuti said that Martin Gondo gave her the bag. She swore on her mother’s life.”

“And you believed her?” Dube asked.

“Considering she almost died when I placed my gun on the table, yes. I have already called to have in brought him in, and we are in for a treat. His lawyer, Sasha Mubaiwa answered the phone and they are coming together.”

“We are fairly certain now that the author is a woman. However, we cannot totally rule the idea of a male killer out. Where would Martin have found Laura’s bag?” Dube asked.

“Maybe Sasha gave it to him.” Dhlamini said as she concentrated on a cell phone that she had in her hand. “According to the GPS on Laura’s bag, before the bag found its way at the airport in was in two places. The first place, being a house in Westlea. The same house where Laura was held captive.”

“So we think Sasha might have done this right? Why don’t we do a little experiment to be sure?” Gono said, and everyone turned to look at him. “The second letter specifies that the author’s attention was grabbed by the scent our victim had on, right? Why don’t we find someone who resembles both out victims and have her wear the same exact perfume. We monitor her and hopefully catch Sasha in the act.”

 

 

Nyasha went straight to his office after his trip to Harare. Not wanting to face either his friend or his wife, he knew being at his company would afford him that. He wanted to mourn the death of the woman he loved in peace. He found a lone envelope on his desk, and he opened it without a second thought. He felt himself crumble to pieces as the letter began to make sense in his head. Jaylee Nyoni had just divorced him.

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