When Gabrielle Rosenfeld’s doorbell rang a while later in Nawfia Street, the sound awakened her from a light sleep. She looked at the clock, remembered that she had sent Nelo home at four in the afternoon, and reached for her robe. She was belting it around her waist and climbing down the stairs when the doorbell rang again. “Alright, alright. I’m coming.” She muttered, crossing the flowered rug on the parquet floor. She switched on the overhead light and the gold chandelier beamed with a dazzling glow. She pulled open the door.
Two policemen with badges on display stood on the brick pediment. Their expressions were grave. The first one was an older man of about fifty, and the younger, much taller, was a handsome man close to her age, with thick black hair and a steady brown gaze that made her kind of breathless and worried. Behind them were two police cars, their red-blue light pulsating silently.
Her hand went to her mouth. “Has something happened?” she said quickly. “My children?”
“Mrs Gabrielle Rosenfeld?”
“Yes, yes, what is it? What happened?”
“I’m Lieutenant Steve Ubaka of the police headquarters, New Haven,” the old man said flatly, and added, gesturing to his partner, “And this is Detective Ike Udeh. Mrs Rosenfeld, your husband is dead.”
Gabrielle gasped and the younger man stepped across to take her arm, leading her to a round seat at the base of the staircase. As she sat down, her hand pushed the delicate vase on the stand next to the chair, and the vase crashed to the floor, shattering and spilling water and roses.
Gabrielle glanced around at it automatically. “Don’t worry, Nelo would get that,” She said and then shook her head in annoyance. “No, she’s gone. I’d clean it up myself.” She started to stand up and the policeman pushed her to seat gently.
“Mrs. Rosenfeld,” Ike said, “Remain seated.”
Gabrielle looked at him sharply and obeyed, her eyes wide and watchful. Ike squatted down facing her, trying not to be affected by her loveliness. She had ebony black weave just touching her shoulder, and her clear brown eyes fringed by thick lashes much darker than her hair. Her skin was pale and flawless without makeup. She was slim, almost thin, with prominent bones showing above the collar of her robe and at her wrists. She looked like the wife of a millionaire, yes, but she didn’t look happy. There were dark shadows below her eyes, and the faint lines bracketing her lips indicating a mouth that frowned more often than smiled.
“Are you alright, Mrs. Rosenfeld?” Ubaka asked, coming into the hall, glancing around as he pulled the door close behind him. He immediately recognized everything in the room as top of the list. Some setup, he thought.
Gabrielle nodded, responding to his question.
Ike cleared his throat. “I want to believe that your children are away at school, Mrs. Rosenfeld?”
“Is anyone else here?”
“No, I told you my house keeper went to her sister’s house in Trans Ekulu this afternoon, and the rest of the staff are day workers. Please what happened to my husband, Detective…Udeh is it?”
“You haven’t told me anything. How and where did it happen?”
“He was killed at about seven o’clock tonight, after delivering his speech at the Grand Berry Hotel.
“Then why didn’t anyone call me? I’ve been here the whole time.”
Ubaka exchanged glances with his colleague.
“Detective, please talk to me.”
“Mrs. Gabrielle Rosenfeld?” Ubaka asked, moving closer to her.
“Yes, of course,” she answered, looking from one man to another. “What’s going on?”
Ike looked away.
“We’re here to arrest you for the murder of your husband, George Rosenfeld.”
Gabrielle’s complexion became almost ghostly. “Wha – What?”
“You have the right to remain to remain silent because anything you say or do –” Ubaka started.
“Lieutenant Ubaka, this is preposterous!” Gabrielle shot back. “I didn’t shot my husband; I was here all night asleep!”
“Because anything you say or do can and will be used against you in the court of law.” Ubaka continued.
“I’d advise you not to say anything else, Mrs. Rosenfeld,” Ike warned.
“Who says I killed my husband?” Gabrielle demanded in an outraged tone. “Who says so?”
“There are several eye witnesses, ma’am,” Ike said flatly, gesturing with the handcuffs for her to extend her wrist.
“Eye witnesses? That’s ridiculous, there’s been a misunderstanding! I was here! I wasn’t feeling very well; I have a cold, so I let Nelo go early. She got a message from her brother saying that her daughter was sick and she was concerned about going home to see her. I went to bed early and feel asleep until the doorbell woke me.”
“Mrs. Rosenfeld, be quiet.” Ike said, more urgent this time and Ubaka threw him an exasperated look.
“Why should I be quiet? I’ve got nothing to hide. I’m telling you the truth.” Gabrielle shot back angrily.
“Do you understand the rights as stated, Mrs. Rosenfeld?” Ubaka concluded. He stretched out the handcuffs impatiently.
“Don’t you think we should let her dress first?” Ike asked quietly.
Ubaka looked at the satin negligee and matching robe Gabrielle was wearing.
“Take her to her room and let her change her clothes and pack a bag,” Ubaka said. “Make it quick. Five minutes.”
Ike looked at him.
“Fine, ten minutes.” Ubaka said.
“I don’t plan on escaping, Lieutenant,” Gabrielle said with as much dignity as she could muster. “I’m sure this misunderstanding would be resolved quickly.”
Ubaka looked up the stairs. “Where’s the bedroom?” He pointed, “Up there?”
Ike gestured and Gabrielle rose, climbing the stairs with him behind. He passed a balcony filled with exotic plants. He looked at the beautiful combination of peach and brown wallpapers over the brown carpet on the floors of the hallway.
“This way,” she said glancing over her shoulder at him. He followed her into the master bedroom suite and stopped. The king bed was draped with the same fabric as the bed spread, the pale colours blending with the huge circular rug on the floor. To his immediate right was a shinning tiled bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and separate showers, its anteroom lined on one side with double sinks and a vanity unit on the other end.
She took off the robe she was wearing and he saw the outline of her slim shoulders. Her hair swam with so much elegance as she turned to look at him. He got a faint look at her nipples against the thin material she was wearing.
He looked away.
“You can wait there, detective, its three floors down from these windows, I wouldn’t jump.” She said with so much sarcasm. She stepped into the dressing room, pushing the door closed, leaving it slightly ajar.
“I’d keep talking anyways so you’d know that I’m still here,” she said. He could hear her opening drawers and wardrobes. “Will I be allowed to call a lawyer, like in the movies?”
“I don’t have any criminal attorney, not personally anyways. I’ve never been arrested on a murder charge until tonight. May I call Judge Anozie? Perhaps he could help or maybe recommend someone.”
“You can call anyone you like.” He said, studying the framed pictures of a boy and a girl on the bedside table. The boy was about eleven while the girl was fifteen, obviously a future beauty like her mom. She emerged, dressed in a tank top and a black jean trouser, an overnight bag in her hand.
They descended the stairs together. Ubaka was waiting for them, a folded sheaf of papers in his hands.
“We have a warrant to search your house, Mrs. Rosenfeld,” he said to her, handing her the document. She scanned through the pages.
“Not wasting any time, are you, Lieutenant?” Gabrielle said.
“In murder cases it is best not to waste any time, Mrs. Rosenfeld.” Ubaka brought a pen out of his breast pocket and handed it to her. “Please read and sign on the last page.”
Gabrielle glanced through the pages, flipping them quietly, then took the pen from him and signed her name neatly on the last sheet.
“Thank you. While we’re taking you to the station, my men would be going through the house and grounds.
“You’re welcome to the task, Lieutenant.”
Ubaka extended his hand for her bag and she gave it to him.
“May I make my call now?” she asked.
Both men stood back as she called Justice Nnamdi Anozie of the Enugu State Supreme Court. They listened as she accepted his condolences and then stood silently as tones of outrage poured from the other end of the line after she had explained her situation.
“Thank you, Nnamdi, I’m sure it’s a mistake too,” Gabrielle said. “But in the meantime, I’m being arrested and I need someone to come to the police station and see about bail. Can you help me?”
“Thank you, once again, I’m very grateful. I look forward to seeing you. Okay, bye.” She hung up.
Ubaka opened the front door and signalled to one of the waiting cars. Gabrielle watched as a female police officer came up the porch and into the hall.
“This is Sergeant Nnedi, she would search you now.” Ubaka said.
Gabrielle flushed faintly, whether with anger or embarrassment, it was difficult to say.
“Here?” she asked.
“Take her into the parlour, Sergeant.” Ike said.
She stared at him for a moment, “Thank you,”
The policewoman took Gabrielle by the arm and led her into the adjoining room, closing the door behind them.
Ubaka went through Gabrielle’s bag quickly, shoving aside the toiletries and a change of under wears, looking for a weapon. When he found nothing, the two men waited in silence until Gabrielle returned.
Nnedi nodded. “She’s clean.”
Gabrielle stared at Ubaka as if waiting for the next embarrassment she would get from him. He stepped forward with the handcuffs.
“Is that necessary, Steve?” Ike asked quietly, “She’s not armed and it’s unlikely she could overpower both of us on our way to the station.”
Ubaka thought about it, and then shrugged. Gabrielle shot Ike a grateful look as Ubaka clasped a large hand over her shoulder and led her out the door. Gabrielle stopped as Ike opened the door of the car and held it for her.
“Get in, Mrs. Rosenfeld.” He said
She looked at him. A light sparked inside them like a switch had been turned on. Ike had the desire to take her in his arms. She gazed up at him a moment longer then pressed her lips together and obeyed.
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