The inspector general’s grey and brown office was full. Extra chairs had been brought in to accommodate everyone – all the members of the Odukoya family, Chidera and his mother, Inspectors Mustapha and Tunji and of course, the IG himself. Mustapha’s blackberry blinked annoying red and he looked down. It was a text message from his junior officer confirming that they had found the original autopsy report in the family doctor’s office along with several other suspicious documents and 13 kilograms of cocaine. Doctor Chukwuma was in some trouble of his own. It further elaborated that they had collected the medical records of the entire Odukoya family were on their way to the station. Mustapha smiled before looking up to see the IG bristling angrily at him.
“Mustapha, I have received calls from four different minsters telling me that I have embarrassed a good friend of theirs and that I better have good reason. Now, I have come here to see what this mess is and you are reading your dirty blackberry instead of talking and explaining to these good people why they are here on the day of their daughters funeral, dealing with a case that Inpsector Tunji here has already closed.” He nodded gently at Tunji who threw him a quiet salute and glared at Mustapha.
“You are already one step away from being sacked, Mustapha.” The IG continued “So talk. Explain this rubbish to me.”
Mustapha cleared his throat and started from the beginning. He explained how Chidera had called him and shown him the blogposts that Sola had scheduled but never posted detailing the intricate web of deceptions that festooned her family tree. He also explained that Chidera said he had followed Yinka to Jabi Lake and retrieved the knife he tossed in. He then went over Sola’s allegations and revelations about her father’s numerous affairs which she had overheard about, her sister’s plans for re-virgination surgery after realizing her body count had hit double digits and Kareem’s family would not approve. Her own sexual experiments with her brother Yinka which had started as what seemed like almost-rape but had become a strange consensual incestuous affair between them, and even her mother’s own affair with the ‘family friend’- uncle Jide.
When he was done, The IG leaned back in his chair and went silent. Chief Odukoya spoke up.
“You have heard his nonsense. I have let you listen, now this is what you will do, IG – you will throw this incompetent fool out of the Nigerian Police Force and you will…” He paused as Jide opened the door, entering slowly.
“Mosun, are you okay?” Jide started to move to her side, his eyes full of concern and care but stopped himself, realizing too late that he was being very obvious about how much he loved her. Mosun too had already started to rise from her chair, a loving look in her eye. Everyone including Chief Odukoya saw it. He lost his calm, finally unable to take the public display of his wife’s affair. He went berserk.
“You. Bastard. You are a bastard.” He shouted before launching himself at Jide. The two men fell over in a flurry of punches and kicks and flailing limbs.
It took the IG and Inspectors Tunji and Mustapha considerable effort to disengage the two men. Mosun and Bisola just sat shocked and silently weeping. Yinka was unresponsive, handcuffed and sitting in a corner. His whole world, the whole world was coming apart rapidly.
“Ah Chief, what is this?!” The IG managed to ask as they pried the livid Chief off his wife’s lover.
“I have had enough. He can’t even hide it in my presence. Even if you won’t respect a man’s marriage you should at least be polite. Animal. You think I don’t know about your affair with this harlot Mosun?! The one you have been having for the last 17 years? I know. I know very well”
Bisola turned to her mother, looking for any kind of denial. None came. Tears ran down her face as she spoke, her voice trembling.
“Mummy… is this…. True?”
“Yes” It was a resigned admission.
The IG shouted above everyone. “This is unrelated but it means Sola’s posts cannot be dismissed so easily. So far, two of the ‘allegations’ have proven true. She got pregnant with her brothers child and her mother has been having an affair with her uncle.” The IG’s tone was different now, he was starting to have second thoughts about completely disregarding Mustapha’s findings and firing him. “But for now, please let us maintain decorum and talk to the only person who is accused of a crime here. Your family matter can be sorted out later, privately.”
There was tense silence. The IG looked at the young man in handcuffs.
“Yinka, why did you have that knife on you?”
“I didnt, sir!”
“But you killed your sister, didn’t you?”
“Of course he didn’t,” Chief laughed hysterically in between words. “Look at him, he would have confessed if he did, he has already confessed to everything thing else. He doesn’t even know who did it. He doesn’t know anything. He doesn’t even know that Sola was not his sister, well, not really anyway.”
“Wait, what?” Bisola almost jumped out of her skin.
Mosun started to shake visibly. The three police officers in the room stared at chief, stunned. Chidera’s mother pulled her son close to her as though she could shield him from the madness that was going on all around them. She was stunned at the depth of her ‘family friends’ secrets and kept hoping that they would forget she and her son were there. Not involve them in it all. Mustapha scratched his beard. He had expected a difficult, painful discussion but this was completely unexpected – chief’s breakdown and reckless ranting.
“Please don’t be daft,” Wale Odukoya snorted. “Didn’t you hear me say this animal has been fucking my wife for 17 years? Sola was 16 and I got a vasectomy after Yinka because I didn’t want any more children with this lifeless hag of a wife. I just didn’t tell her. Besides, I needed to be able to enjoy all my other girls without worrying about bastard babies.”
He turned to regard the shocked and tearful Mosun “I almost laughed when you came and told me you were pregnant, such a joke. But I decided to let it slide. To let the baby live under my roof. I even came to love the girl. But Yinka, Bisola, know now – she was not your real sister, she was your half-sister and…”
The office erupted into chaos as Jide fell to the floor shouting and holding his head as though he had been struck with a club.
“Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! My God! My daughter! 16 years! 16 years!”
Mosun adjusted her wrapper and fell to her knees beside the laughing Chief, begging and pleading.
“Please, Wale, please stop, ejo tori olorun. It’s enough, it’s okay. Please stop. I am sorry. Please. It’s not necessary. We have lost Sola, let us save Yinka. Please please…”
There was a knock at the door, insistent and rapid. Mustapha shook his head to snap him back to reality and went to open it. It was his junior officer holding a file. They exchanged whispers and Mustapha’s eyes widened in disbelief as it began to dawn on him. He quickly formulated a plan in his head.
“Thank you.” he said before shutting the door and returning to the broken family where Mosun was pleading tearfully at her wild-eyed husband’s feet.
“I am very sorry to interrupt but one of our officers has just been shot and is in emergency surgery. He needs blood donations within the hour or he will die. But he is O-negative. They say he can only receive O-negative blood. I know it’s not the right time but is anyone here O-negative?”
“Mustapha, are you mad?” Tunji’s voice was as cold as steel. “Cant you see we have a serious matter here?!”
The IG said nothing, he suspected Mustapha was up to something and he wanted to see where it was going.
Mustapha ignored Tunji. “It’s a matter of life and death, please… anyone?”
Chidera’s mother pulled her son away from her and said “Chidera is O-negative. He can help. We shouldn’t even really be here. Chidera, please get up and let us go and help this policeman.”
Chidera looked hesitant but he stood up anyway and made for the exit, his mother behind him. When they got to the door, Inspector Mustapha placed his hand on Chidera’s shoulder, stopped him and spoke.
“Go back to your seat. The game is up. You almost tricked me, but it’s over now.”
Chidera’s eyes nearly glazed over and a sheen of sweat burst out on his forehead. He knew something had gone wrong with his plan. Politeness came to him without prompting.
“I’m sorry sir, but what do you mean, errm, officer?”
“Sola’s baby was O-negative. The blood was mixed in with hers at the scene. Yinka is AB-negative and Sola was A-positive. We have just gone through the family records. No one in the Odukoya family is O-negative. But you are, aren’t you, Chidera? The baby you killed when you stabbed Sola to death in the school toilet was yours. Of course the knife was with you and you tried to tell me you retrieved it from Yinka. And of course you were the one who discovered these blog post drafts. It’s because you killed Sola and tried to frame her brother for it.”
Chidera’s mother looked at her son who had been stunned to silence.
“Dera? Dera? What he is saying, is it true?”
Chidera realized it was over, there was physical evidence. He could not explain it away this time. He was undone.
“I loved her!” He shouted, pushing his mother away. “I loved her and she was supposed to elope with me. We were going to run away to Ghana and get married. Did you fucking know that?! But she changed her mind the night before. She changed her mind and said she would stick by her family. She cancelled the post scheduled. She didn’t even know if it was his baby or mine but she wanted to keep it. Stupid girl! How could she have kept it if it was his?” He glared at Mosun and Bisola. “She was going back to you fuckers! To her fucked up family! But what about me? What about me? What about my love?! So yes, I killed her!”
He slowed down, sat in his chair and started to weep. “But it was an accident. I didn’t mean to. I was angry. I’m so, so sorry.”
Mosun, who had been holding her breath since Mustapha had placed his hand on Chidera’s shoulder, suddenly fainted.
For a moment there was a quiet silence in the room, the kind of silence that comes just before a thunderstorm – full of portents and dark broodings – and then, the room erupted in chaos for the third time that afternoon – a whirlwind of tears, wailings, anger and raised voices.
The Odukoya house was drenched in silence, the fake joy and laughter it used to hold nothing but a distant memory. Chief Odukoya stood at his bar, a stiff whiskey in his hand, images of Chidera, his daughters friend, apparent lover and murderer being dragged away in handcuffs, screaming like a wild animal flashing through his mind repeatedly. He’d lost his cool and revealed more than he should have in that station too. Between his loose lips and Sola’s confessions, his family had fractured irreparably. He’d hoped it would all just be a terrible nightmare by the time he woke up this morning, but he wasn’t so fortunate. To worsen the situation, he’d turned on his television to find his Chidera’s face plastered on every local news station in the morning. The bastard boy was talking to everyone, revealing everything including the semi-incest that had gone on under his roof. It was a mess. The reputation he had spent years building had been shamefully buried alongside his daughter.
He shook his head and took another sip from his glass. The alcohol rushed through him and made him tingle. He was starting to feel the buzz. Swirling the drink around in the glass, he realized much of this was indeed his fault. A direct consequence of years of only half-playing the role of father; showering his children with money at every whim, but hardly any love; raising them in a house where he actively hated their mother but did not leave her, keeping up a façade of family; teaching the children nothing about life or how to deal with issues, just an abundance of money and food and alcohol and false pretenses which they had seen through and also fallen into. He drank more. But then again, he thought, how could he be sure they wouldn’t have still managed to turn out this messed up even if he was the best father in the world?
He still couldn’t shake Sola’s confessions in her blog posts. What he’d read in those pages had rocked his foundation to the very core. How could I have been so oblivious to all that had been going on around me? He’d asked himself over and again, although the answer really wasn’t that far-fetched. He didn’t know because he didn’t want to. Yinka and Sola having sex every other night, Bisola sleeping around with dozens of men, including several of his friends, all that happened because he’d let it. His wife’s infidelity, he was okay with, he had made peace with, even after she bore another mans’ child but it was a mutual, unspoken understanding between them; all was well as long as they kept it from the public. But he couldn’t take seeing Jide, the ungrateful bastard, show affection to his wife in the presence of others and for her to reciprocate. He knew she was never really a willing participant in their marriage, but for her to hurt him so badly was unspeakable evil in his own opinion.
Over the last few days, the house had been more silent than a graveyard, all secrets revealed. No one could point a finger accusing the other of anything, not when their transgressions were equally aggravating. Bisola had left with Kareem and, on checking her room afterwards when wandering the house because he couldn’t sleep; he’d noticed she’d packed up most of her belongings. So, his first born had eloped to Abu Dhabi with some Arab twat and his second was depressed, morose and nearly catatonic because of the loss of his third whom he had had been having an incestuous relationship with. This life.
The sound of someone coming down the stairs, dragging a box, interrupted his thoughts. Even before she appeared before him, travelling bag in hand, he didn’t need a soothsayer to inform him it was Mosun, leaving him as well. He’d expected it and was quite frankly surprised she hadn’t left earlier.
“You’re going with him to Lagos?” he asked without looking at her when she stood at the archway of the sitting room.
“There’s no reason for me to stay here anymore and pretend to be a family, is there?”
“No, I suppose not.” He took another sip of his drink. “Are you taking Yinka with you?”
“No. You can hire someone to take care of him and get him ready to go to Harvard Medical. That’s what you want abi? Your perfect son. And money will fix everything. That’s your philosophy. I will visit him when he gets to the States but I am not doing this shit anymore.”
“You were a useless mother. But it’s fine. Go. I will take care of my son. Take care of yourself, whore.”
Mosun eyed him and chuckled before hissing caustically and responding “Mhmm. You too, take care ehn, oloshi.” And with that, she was gone.
Chief Odukoya swirled the drink around in his glass some more and laughed at himself inwardly. To think he’d just helped his traitor of a friend – Jide – sort out his issues with EFCC only a few days before. If only he’d had the foresight to perceive that his wife would soon be leaving him for the scumbag, he would have ruined him. Now, he didn’t really even care enough to try.
Glancing at his watch, he decided to try to reach Bisola again, to make sure she was okay. Getting her voicemail again, he simply left a message. “Be careful. Come home soon.” He could hear resounding laughter at the back of his mind. A bit too late to be a concerned parent isn’t it? He ignored the jeering of conscience, refilled his glass and decided to talk a walk through the almost empty house.
As he walked through the hallway and dining area, it hit him that he was alone in the house for the very first time since they moved there – no family, no help. He had the house all to himself. He decided he did not want to think, he needed something to take the edge off. To help him relax. He picked up his phone and dialed.
“What is it, Chief?” Nwando picked up on the fourth ring and didn’t even attempt to hide the displeasure in her voice.
“Baby.” Chief crooned into his phone “Come to the house, let’s have some fun.”
“You and who?” She retorted.
“Ahn ahn. You, of course. Can’t I have fun with my favorite girl before she ships out of the country?”
Nwando sighed. “See ehn Chief, I am not mad. Everyone has heard the news. Your whole family is ruined, cursed. I mean… incest and murder?! Tufia! Besides, I am no longer doing this business. I’m getting married soon. What will I be coming to look for in your house?”
“Ah ahn, look. I just need someone to keep me company. Relieve stress. And you know you are the best with those lips. Please, I’ll give you the balance of your money.” Chief pleaded.
“Wale, I don’t want abeg. The forty thousand dollars you gave me is enough. Please. Just don’t call me again. And this baby isn’t yours. I’ve checked…”
“I know it’s not mine.” Chief growled drunkenly.
“Good. So just forget about me. Please. I’m flying out with Felix tomorrow and I won’t disturb you for money again. Let everyone just stay on their own lane, biko. It’s over.”
“Nwando…” before he could complete his sentence, the line went dead. He put the phone down. Even Nwando can reject me and call me by my first name now. Wale shook his head trudged upstairs to his bedroom where he noticed that Mosun, eager to leave, hadn’t even bothered to take more than a few of her things. He concluded he would probably have to give those to charity or one of his other “babes”, certain Mosun wouldn’t be returning to the house anytime in the near future or taking his calls.
“No time to wallow in self-pity.” He slurred to himself. “I am Chief Wale Odukoya and I don’t want to deal with this nonsense right now!” He scrolled through his contact list, absent-mindedly looking for someone he could distract himself with. His eyes settled on a name that reminded him of creamy thighs and full breasts.
“Haven’t seen Tonia in a while. Just what I need to clear my head.”
He dialed the number and waited for it to ring, completely oblivious to the fact that as he did, the propagation of his family name was ending as his only son, the one he was expecting to make him proud again at Harvard medical and vicariously atone for his sins, had already slit his own wrists and was bleeding to death in the bath tub of the downstairs guest bathroom of the house on the rock.
Edited by The Alchemist
You can read all episodes of HOUSE ON THE ROCK by clicking HERE