Dungaree. Her lean light skinned fingers traced the coarse twill-weave cotton cloth. Her well-manicured nails nipped on them from time to time. It usually distracted her but not this evening with her eyes looking but not seeing. Her distraction lay in the feel of the cloth. Her mind would usually rivet from the things that worried her to peaceful things like home. But it was difficult, to escape her thoughts now. She slowly brought the car to a stop, her heart beating rapidly. She stilled her hands on the staring wheel to get her sight straight. She felt dizzy, a light headache spreading through the side of her head. She rubbed her temples with her middle and fore finger, in light circles. She was thinking fast but not fast enough. She tried to take deep breaths to make herself calm, but it seemed like she was going through a nervous breakdown. Her muscles were tensed and her palms were sweaty and clammy.
She studied the skies. It was a beautiful evening. The sun drowning in its horizon, painted the sky with an array of orange and white. The wind was blustery and there was a possibility of a heavy shower in the July day. There was serenity about the day as most people started off for home to meet their lovers or the lovers hit the sidewalks for long strolls holding hands, until the sun whispered goodnight. It was a good idea for a project. An Evening in the Lekki Suburbs.
She cracked her knuckles, letting her head leave the scenery she wished she could just paint and go on back to the present situation. The guilt of what she’d just done made it seem like everyone was watching her when really no one paid the slightest attention to her or her two year old Mercedes. As she drove aimlessly around the roads of Lekki, she felt very nervous and jittery, at the sight of any uniformed government official. The one time she was stopped and asked for her driver’s license, her heart almost jumped out of her chest. The rapid beat of the organ was just that bad. She felt like she was going to die in her car, after having a heart attack.
“They know, they know. Somehow they’ve found out and are going to arrest me and charge me for murder. They know!”
When she showed them her driver’s license and they passed her, she calmed down and gave them her sweetest smile. She’d felt like the worst of it had passed but the guilt crept back into her and driving aimlessly wasn’t doing anything but making the guilt worse and her chances of getting arrested quite high. She had no idea what to do but to stop. She came out, went back in, and then decided finally to go back out. She locked the car nervously and fidgety. Why hadn’t she hired a professional to do this? Not that she had thought of it earlier. But she could have let go of the anger raging in her and hired a professional. It was also rather coincidental that she had a pen knife which she had been using earlier in her studio. What made me carry the pen knife along with me? She wondered as she walked, hugging herself against the evening breeze, into a coffee shop across the road and got a seat closest to the window.
She studied the coffee shop. The pungent smell of coffee filled the air. It was an aromatic sort of scent; stimulating and invigorating. She liked it. But she didn’t like that it was overly homey. The theme was a traditional homey one. It had a very cool ambiance.They wanted to make their customers comfy in a coffee shop which was rare around. The general color was red. Aside the brown hardwood floors and the simple style stainless steel one leg square table and vast counter, every other thing seemed to have a touch of red. The draperies were red. The exposed brick wall was orangy-red and had African paintings hung on them . She recognized, Ephrem Kouakou, Abdul Badi and James Adoo. The large counter space had red tall seats for customer. Their employees wore red t-shirts and red face caps on blue jeans. The menu above the counter was also colored red. Bloody red. She cringed. A music player was playing Fela, Lagbaja, Sonny Okosun and Tony Allen, interchangeably.
Most of the customers seated were youths and teenagers with their computers and other gadgets. They are “chilling” she thought bitterly shaking her head with envy. An old man sat with a newspaper perched in front of his nose and a young woman and a baby sat in the seat not too far from her with a cup of cappuccino.
She tried to relax. She tried to let the air conditioning seethe in through her pores and cleanse her head. She leaned against the settee, watching young lovers hold hands through the shop window. Hopeless romance she thought bitterly. She would know because she had felt that way before. She traced her hands through her full kinky braids and for one second, felt frustrated enough to pull the braids out.
A waitress came by her with a flaccid smile
Without looking up from her scenery she spoke before the waitress could utter a word
‘Two Scones and coffee. Black.’ She was hardly thinking. She didn’t like black coffee. She hated black coffee. But that was the least of her problems. The fact that she thought the waitress was spying on her made her weak and vulnerable but she tried to maintain her air of indifference. She looked into her eyes. She didn’t like her at all. Her eyes looked broody—too snoopy and obviously fake-friendly. Her Brazilian weave was a mess, sweat gluing it to her face. Her mascara was a mess. She was the type of girl to spy on her. She didn’t feel authoritative next to her, instead, she felt, vulnerable as if her freedom and reputation depended on the ordinary waitress.
But it was only a case of nerves. She was being paranoid. She hit her hand on her forehead.
Calm down Linda baby, calm down. She said to herself, her eyes leaving the waitress’s as she went about her business and back to the outside world.
It took her ten minutes to get over the fright of everyone including other customers, staring at her. Ten minutes, within which she had packed and repacked her long kinky braids in different styles and chewed on her bottom lip, voraciously.
She was planning her next move. She couldn’t go back home just yet. She usually got home around eight. If she drove back now, they would suspect that she was home early. There had to be absolutely no trace that could connect her to the murder.
Yes, to the Murder.