Gabrielle Rosenfeld was being taken to a holding room as Ubaka and Ike completed the arrest report. Reporters screamed questions from the entrance door, and flashlights went off like fireworks in the dark as she made her way through the information mongers. The station sergeant shut the connecting doors after she had moved on, cutting the problem generated by the press.
Gabrielle looked over her shoulder at Ike as she passed.
“Why do I think she likes you, Ike,” Ubaka said chuckling and giggling, digging his elbow into Ike’s ribs.
“She’s going to be locked up with all those prostitutes and drug heads,” Ike said dryly, putting his cup down.
“Ike, she’s been accused of murder, not cheating on her husband. Where do you think she belongs? Should we put her up at Toscana Hotel and maybe get her an appointment at Indulge Spa while we wait for everything to unveil? What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I’m just saying she’d be a target for other prisoner, that’s all.” Ike replied uncomfortably.
Ubaka snorted. “She wouldn’t be there five minutes before high-priced mouthpiece bails her out.”
“I think she’d have to spend the night.”
“Don’t count on it. Anyone who can get Honorable Justice Nnamdi Anozie on his home phone would be in and out of jail like a shopping mall.”
“I think the DPO would want to keep her overnight.” Ike said flatly.
“So what? She’ll live. Come on, we should get back to her house and see what we missed out.”
They stood up together and left the station.
“Some classy woman, right?” Ubaka said once they got to the car. “She sure brought out the gentleman in you.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ike said flatly.
“You don’t? ‘Let her take her time to dress.’ ‘Don’t handcuff her.’ ‘Let her be searched in the parlour.’ I expected a red carpet.”
“I didn’t think it was a good idea to arrest her in her night gown, Arinze, not with all the photographers sure to be waiting for us when we brought her into the station. I also didn’t think it best to search her in front of us. And since each of us outweighs her at about two to one, I didn’t feel that she was likely to escape.”
Ubaka snorted and Ike restrained from saying anything more. It was obvious that Ubaka didn’t see Gabrielle Rosenfeld as being innocent while he himself had no problem doing that. She was a fragile, beautiful woman whose world had jumped out of earth and gone flying in space. Ubaka wanted her convicted immediately because she had money and had been married to a powerful man. Ike saw just the woman in her – frightened, vulnerable and achingly lovely.
He already knew that he could not be impartial about her.
“Well, she won’t be the first person I have come across with the face of an angel and a heart of stone,” Ubaka added.
Ike said nothing.
“Besides, you didn’t see her crying her eyes out when we told her that her husband was dead. She was more concerned about breaking the beautiful vase and making a mess of the expensive floor.” Ubaka had a huge problem with the rich and the perfect attitude to accentuate it better.
A thought crossed Ike’s mind but he immediately knocked it off before replying Ubaka. “She was in shock, Arinze. You don’t need me to tell you about the unexpected things people do when they’re in shock.”
“Shock, no way. She wasn’t in shock if she killed him, and my money says she did it. The kids were gone; she sent the servant home so she wouldn’t be around. She had plenty of time to go into the city and back home and pretend she was in wonderland all along.
Ike shook his head. “Do you think she’s stupid? Why would she kill her husband in front of witnesses? And even if you’re planning a murder, wouldn’t you prepare a better alibi than, ‘I was sleeping at my house all alone’? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Ubaka shrugged. “Maybe she’s crazy. I don’t know. What I’ve heard of her husband is that he was very good with the ladies, you know what I mean? Maybe she got tired of it. All I know is that the DPO has got about four witnesses including Rosenfeld’s press secretary and one of Rosenfeld’s private security guard, who are going to testify in court that the lady did it.”
Ike pressed his lips together but said nothing.
“Do you think they had a shared hallucination?” Ubaka asked as he tore open a gum and threw it into his mouth. “The press secretary, some guy named Ugochukwu, is a direct eye witness. He was Rosenfeld’s friend for close to twenty years, his university best friend and best man at his wedding, for crying out loud. Do you think he wouldn’t recognize her if he sees her?”
Ike shook his head, unable to answer.
A call came in just as he turned to the right, heading into Presidential road, saying that the search of the Rosenfeld house had turned up some relevant evidence. Ubaka reached for the handset. It was Emeka.
“What have you got, Emeka?” Ubaka asked.
“Found a woman’s dress, a suit, I guess, stuffed behind the washing machine in the basement,” Emeka Uchemba replied.
“Is it Gabrielle Rosenfeld’s own?” Ubaka asked.
“Say it again.” Ubaka said, putting the phone on speaker.
“Must be hers, it looks exactly her size.” Emeka replied.
“Bag it and tape it, we’ll be there in thirty minutes,” Ubaka said then dropped the handset back. He glanced towards Ike’s direction. “So tell me why, in your opinion, has the lady of the house been hiding her clothes behind the washing machine? Want to bet it matches the suit she was wearing when she shot her husband?”
Ike was looking unconvinced.
“She has to know that her house is the first place we’d search. Why would she hide her clothes on the property? It wasn’t even hidden that well, it couldn’t have been if Emeka Uchemba found it. You know Emeka, Arinze; he’s not exactly Sherlock Holmes.”
“So what? I’m not looking for an opportunity to save her and neither would the DPO. I know she’s got nice legs, boy, but she killed her husband. Suck it in.”
Ike shook his head. It just didn’t feel right, it was just too easy. It felt to him that Gabrielle Rosenfeld was being framed, like somebody had set her up and planted evidence in her house to implicate her.
Ubaka glanced at his friend and shook his head. “You like her!”
Gabrielle sat on a long bench. The light bulb was broken and the only light in the room was the reflection from the bulb in the hallway. The stench of urine and puke and stale cigarette was overwhelming. She was thankful that perceiving was all she could do.
It seemed an eternity before Nnamdi arrived. When the guard came to take her out to the visitors’ room, she ignored the shouts of disapproval from the actual prisoners and followed her onto the hall. She saw Nnamdi standing there and she immediately felt warm. She smiled at him with confidence she was trying hard to feel.
“You have ten minutes.” The guard said before taking a position beside the door.
“My dear, I’m so sorry to find you in such a dreadful situation,” Nnamdi said, taking a seat across from Gabrielle. He was a gray-haired man in his late sixties about to resign. She noticed he wasn’t as certain as he was when they spoke on the phone. His expression, now, was frustrated and worried. She wasn’t completely sure but there was something.
“I spoke to your grandmother on the phone. She’s attempting to get Onyeka Umeh for your defence,” he said.
Onyeka Umeh was a flamboyant media lawyer who was usually brought in to perform magic in supporting wealthy – and obviously guilty – clients.
“Nnamdi, is it that bad?” Gabrielle asked quietly.
He sighed. “Gabrielle, I’ve spoken to the police and read the officer’s statement. It is that bad.”
“I’m afraid there’s more. The DPO is attempting to have your assets frozen if you’re released on bail. He’s claiming you might fly out of town or even the country.”
“Oh! For heaven’s sake, Nnamdi, where would I go? My children are here.”
“He calls it standard procedure for the wealthy ones who are capable of travelling out.”
Gabrielle couldn’t speak.
“And you’d have to spend the night here. You’d be asked to take a plea in the morning. I think the DPO, Izuchukwu, is determined to make an example of you. He might even try to hold you without bail.”
“It’s likely Umeh would be here by tomorrow, but if he can’t come himself, he’d probably send a member of his staff to handle the bail hearing.”
“So I’m stuck here?”
“I guarantee you’d be out after the plea. We’ll pay whatever bail is set, or I’ll get it reduced. The DPO is powerful but I’ve got friends myself.”
He folded his hands on the table before him. “Gabrielle, I was your father’s friend for thirty years, as far as bail is concerned, I’d do what I can do to help you. But after that, I will not be able to involve in this matter any longer. I’m going into politics and this sort of thing, the scandal…”
“I understand,” Gabrielle said shortly. She was sure he wasn’t the only friend that would abandon her when the news went viral.
He looked relieved. He stood up and offered his hand.
“Good luck, my dear. I wish I could do more but…”
“Thank you, Nnamdi,” she said expressionlessly.
He looked at her for a long moment, then said “Gabrielle, I know that George wasn’t easy to live with. If you did –”
“I didn’t,” she replied. “Thank you for coming, Nnamdi. Good night.”