|Photo credit: horrorland (silent night)|
“Why did you do it?”
Those were thwe words that had continuously escaped the lips of the DSP even though the minor that sat before her blatantly denied every allegation. She glared at him as though her eyes were bullets in the gun that was held in her waist holster.
No thanks to the diary owner, the identity of the puppet was not revealed and hence she could not get evidence to prove that Daniel had a motive to get the diary but one thing was for sure; there was something about him in that diary that he wanted to stay hidden.
His silence was beginning to irritate her and it took all her power and knowledge of the fact that his lawyer was waiting outside the door for the slightest cry of help from the suspect, to keep her from reaching out to him and violently shaking the truth out of him.
She inhaled deeply and clasped both palms before her chest. “Okay, let’s take a different approach,” she finally suggested while adjusting in her seat. Daniel looked up at her, suspicion clearly written over his features. “Why is everyone shocked at the fact that Judy had a phone?”
Dan cringed in his seat; he was still getting used to hearing about Judy being described in the past tense. “I don’t know,” he finally said with his palms open. “Maybe she didn’t want them to know,” he suggested while licking his lips.
Sokariba nodded satisfactorily. If she continued with the current interrogation pattern and he remained cooperative, she would get the truth out if him sooner than she expected. “And you were the one she chose to tell about her “secret" phone?” she asked raising both her index fingers to emphasize the word, secret.
Dan pouted his wet lips suddenly regretting giving her the phone; nobody would have ever suspected him. The DSP was studying him closely and the way she peered at him, he could tell that she personally wanted to give him the death sentence. “That’s not it,” he paused and sighed while simultaneously interlocking his fingers. “I gave the phone to her.”
Sokariba pretended to brush her breast pocket while in fact; she was trying to assure herself that the tape recorder was exactly where she had put it in her breast pocket. “Oh really,” there was a cryptic smile on her lips that made Dan know he would require more than luck to get out of the mess he was in. “Why exactly did you get her the phone?” she tried to maintain a straight face devoid of suspicion.
He looked up at her as though that was the most stupid question she had asked throughout the course of the investigation. With his features scrunched, he cocked his head to the side and replied, “For communication, obviously.”
She frowned visibly and tightened her knuckles. “You know what I mean, young man,” she tried to sound as calm as possible but Daniel looked as if he was done speaking to her because his head was bowed and the handcuffs on his wrists made a jingling noise as though to purposely silence her.
“Daniel Kalio,” she called calmly with the intention of trying out another approach. He did not look up at her, he continued jingling the handcuffs.
She rolled her eyes at the next thought that crossed her mind. “Daniel, please,” she begged with her voice low and brittle.
That definitely caused the youngster to look up at her in surprise. He furrowed his brows as though he wanted be sure of what he had just heard.
“Please, I need you to tell me the truth,” there was no change in the tone of her voice. If she could not get the truth out of him, she could work on his conscience; there was one in everyone, even the worst of killers.
Daniel kept on staring at her, trying to understand what had initiated the change in her manner of speech.
“Please, Daniel, please. I need to know,” she confessed slowly while leaning forward in her seat and peering into his eyes.
He stared back at her and in those seconds that went by, she could tell she was slowly getting somewhere. There was distrust in his eyes but she could see the invisible battle going on in his head; to tell or not to tell; to confess or not to confess; to trust or not to trust.
“I really want to help you here, Danny, but I cannot if you don’t confide in me,” she egged on and he immediately pursed his lips.
He did not need her in any way; his Uncle Tonye was well grounded enough to get him out of the mess he was in.
As though she could read his mind, she swallowed hard and clasped her palms on the table still maintaining that eye contact; it was imperative not to lose that connection. “I know you have a lawyer and he’s very good, but with me on your side, there might be no case here and if you confide in me, you’ll be free from the burden of keeping such a secret.”
That was not the best speech in the world, but it had done the magic. Daniel sighed and laid back in his seat while occasionally biting his lower lip.
“What do you need to know?” he asked with his eyes still on the white ceiling.
She could not believe her luck as she struggled not to smile triumphantly; she had just learnt a vital lesson: to be in charge, you did not need to pull down walls and tear down gates with your authority; sometimes, a little appeal to the heart does the trick.
“Everything Daniel, everything, but more importantly,” she paused and inhaled deeply. Her voice low and her eyes emphatic, “did you kill Judith Ani?”
He kept his eyes up and for a split second, Sokariba thought she had lost that connection but when he spoke slowly, she relaxed a bit for the bitter truth to hit her.
“I didn’t kill Judy,” he repeated as Sokariba licked her upper and lower lips.
Try to keep calm, Soky, she convinced herself as she stared at him.
“Okay, I believe you.”
He sat up instantly, “Do you?”
His question shocked her; she was the one asking the questions but she knew to retain that connection she had established with him, she had to forget the rules.
“Yes, Daniel, I do,” she sounded sincere; she understood the effect of continuously calling someone’s name even when it did not seem necessary; it always created a sense of trust in the other party.
Daniel seemed pleased with her answer because he nodded quickly and bowed his head but said nothing again.
She prayed mentally for a breakthrough in her interrogation. “I believe you, Daniel,” she repeated, “and that’s why I want you to tell me all that happened today.”
Daniel shook his head tiredly; recounting the events of a day was currently at the top of his list of most boring and annoying activities.
She nodded, “every single detail.”
He recounted the story he had narrated to his lawyer about an hour ago and when he was done, she nodded as though she could really understand what he had said to her.
“Your text to Judy,” she began as he rolled his eyes at her but she pretended not to notice. “Sounded urgent, so I’m trying to understand why you did not try to hurry your visit at Sola’s house so that you could attend to the important emotional issue you had to sort out with Judith.”
He sighed and then a fake smile plastered his face. “I guess you could say that I went to see Sola to sort out my emotional issue,” he raised his two palms and made quick movements with his index and middle fingers simultaneously.
She scrunched her face and scratched the side of her face, “I don’t understand.”
I’m sure you don’t. “I went to Sola and when we were done talking about her, I brought up the Pamudith issue,” he saw Sokariba struggling not to look impressed at the portmanteau he had just created. “We talked extensively and,” he paused and bit his lower lip as he looked away, regret evident in his eyes.
He had messed up and there was no making up for that. Sokariba cleared her throat to bring him back to the present. “And what happened, Dan?”
He sniffed even though there were no obvious tears in his eyes. “And we finally came to the conclusion that I was actually in love with Judith Ani.”
Sokariba did not look surprised and that shocked him; was he the only person who was not aware of his feelings for the Deeper Life teenager?
She tried to be quick. “So with that, um, revelation, you could not go to her house as promised?” she made it sound like a question.
He nodded. “I couldn’t face her and I felt so transparent that if Sola could see through me, she could too.”
Sokariba stared at him; the biggest mistake was to say that she did not believe him. She covered her face and thought deeply with her head bowed. She had to be missing something. There had to be something she was not doing right. What if she was not asking the right questions?
That last thought hit her like a bullet in the heart. That had to be the breakthrough she sought desperately.
What then were the right questions? She wondered as she took down her palms from her face and watched Daniel whose eyes were back to the ceiling with his head resting on the chair he sat on.
As she studied him, she thought of Pamela; of the principal; of the notes; of the victims and then it stopped at the diary.
Eureka! The diary was the key.
“Dan,” she did not sound as eager as she felt. He looked up at her and as she peered into his eyes, she could feel the butterflies in her stomach dancing to the beat of skelewu. “Did you have any connection to Jane?”
He seemed shocked for a split second but he put on a straight face in time but not without the notice of the watchful DSP. “She was Pamela’s friend,” he subconsciously rolled his eyes at the last word.
Sokariba got the message, “You never really liked her, did you?”
He shook his head slowly.
“I didn’t hear you, Dan.”
“I never liked her.”
“Why was that, Dan?”
“Was it because she was a bad influence on Pamela?”
“Was she so full of herself or something?”
She thought carefully before asking the next deliberate question. “Did she try to get you to do something for her so that she could put in a word for you?”
His eyes flickered and in less than a second, he looked away clearly avoiding eye contact.
She had gotten the reply she so desired; there was definitely a connection; there was a motive to keep the diary away from the police and away from anyone who would find out his identity. If only he knew that the deceitful Jane had kept his identity a secret, maybe Judy would still be singing Christmas songs at home or in church.
With the content of the diary, she already knew that the deceased Jane was as manipulative and cunning as a snake. “What did she make you do, Daniel?” her tone was slowly rising and as much as she tried to keep it under control, she could not.
He looked scared and she could tell he was hiding something. There was only one way to get the truth out of him.
“I have the diary, Dan. She has everything written in ink; when you confess, it will reduce your-.”
“That’s not true,” he almost shouted and she could swear that there were tears in his voice.
What was he hiding? She knew the approach she was currently following was not allowed for minors; forcing them into making a confession. His lawyer would be furious but she was willing to take a shot.
“Tell me, Dan. I’m the only one who can help you, but you need to tell me the damn truth,” she insisted and banged her fist on the table causing the scared young boy to jolt in his seat.
“She forced me to do it,” he shouted and covered his face with his palms. The tears were now evident in his eyes even though he was trying to hide it.
There was no room for silence on her part; she had to strike at the slightest opportunity she was presented with. “She forced you to do what, Dan?” she pressed on. “What did she force you to do?”
His palms slowly left his face causing a smear of tears on his face. He shut his eyes and as though asking for a saviour from Sokariba’s questioning, he confessed in a shrill voice. “To hide behind the door and take pictures of her making out with the school principal.”