A naughty smile played across Bankole Balogun’s face as he cut the call. He was the senior pastor of the one of the fastest growing churches in Lagos. Before success in ministry came, he had married Tolani and they had stayed married for seven years. But as the ministry had grown, Tolani hadn’t been able to keep up. She was just not the type of pastor’s wife a growing church like his own needed. Anytime she climbed the pulpit to speak, he cringed and always had to act like he was receiving some serious revelation by peering into his bible. The women didn’t respect her, didn’t look up to her. The children made fun of her. The men looked at him with some sort of pity in their eyes as if to say “how did a fine and successful pastor like you end up with this burden of wife?”
Eventually, he decided that it was best they separated. And once the decision was made, he found a way to execute it quickly. He told her God had asked him to leave her. When she reminded him that God had told him she was his will for him before they got married, he responded that God’s will for him had changed and he had to follow the current word of God, the Rhema. She was now the Logos and not his present Rhema. She had cried and begged and sent pastor after pastor to him, but he remained resolute. He had told them with conviction that he heard from God and once he said that, none of them questioned him further. How could you question a man of God telling you he had heard clear instructions from God?
The part he thought would be the hardest turned out to be the easiest. When he announced this “Rhema” in his church, quite unexpectedly, the members seemed to be happy he was leaving his wife. They had endured her dulling him for so long, but now, he was free to rise and blaze like a shooting star. By the end of that service, the church was slapping high fives and giving the Lord wipers at Pastor Banky’s request. Mrs. Banky was gone and all the single ladies now began to see visions about being the true Mrs. Banky that the good Lord would reveal to their pastor.
And so, they began to come. In trickles at first, the braver ones. Pastor Bankole wasn’t a particularly strong man when it came to resisting temptation, so they came, he saw and he conquered. Then not content with waiting for them to come, he took his conquests beyond the church and began the twitter dalliances. That proved to be even more fruitful than the church ones, and unlike the church sisters who gave him of their forbidden fruits in the hopes of becoming his Mrs, the ladies from twitter knew their place and didn’t want more. Yet, so mightily grew the ministry and his following on twitter.
Those nasty bloggers almost got him one day at one of the hotels he normally used. It was then he decided that he would not do hotels any longer. The ministry was booming anyway and as the Americans say “money ain’t a thing” so he bought a three bedroom bungalow somewhere in Sangotedo, way after Ajah, for the singular purpose of his sexcapades. It was this bungalow he described to this fresh lady now and they agreed to meet there the next morning. She said she was married, but would get there very early since her husband left for work very early too. She had insisted she had to be back home before her husband got back from work. That was fine by him. He had a night vigil to preach at that night anyway.
Senayon watched as Professor Morkly worked, flitting from his surprisingly cutting edge tech laptop to the two slim files they had produced for the two individuals and then to notes he was making in his precise and neat handwriting. He had commandeered Senayon’s chair and made him sit in the visitor’s chair. Senayon was sure that the professor did all these things deliberately to peeve him and he made up his mind not to give him the pleasure of getting angry. Acharu had left them to go and meet with the top brass that sent her to his police station in the first place. She had assured him that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant meeting and he had told her that he didn’t envy her one bit.
After what seemed like an eternity to Senayon, the professor finally looked up. “So what do you have?” Senayon asked.
“I was clearly about to tell you something. You didn’t need to ask like this is an interrogation. Are you so conditioned to your job?” Morkly said with an air of arrogance. Senayon seethed, but kept his cool.
“Now, I made some important points about this killer at the location. I’d like you to repeat those,” Morkly asked.
“Prof, this is not a lecture hall where you do spot tests. Will you please tell me what you have found out?” Senayon found himself letting his anger slip out briefly before he reined it in.
Professor Morkly wrinkled his nose and made a “look at you” face at Senayon before reeling out his prior conclusions “she is female, young, probably between twenty five to late thirties and social media savvy. That’s where we were before now.”
He paused for effect and then continued “Now, listen closely so you don’t miss a word. I’d advise you to take notes,” he said with all seriousness. When he didn’t continue, Senayon realized that his “advise” was more of an instruction that he must obey before hearing anything further. He sighed and dragged himself up to go around to his own normal side of the table to get the pen and pad. When Morkly was satisfied, he smiled and continued “there are some sexual aspects to her killing because she gets her victims naked and leaves them uncovered. She is also a show-woman, unwilling to let anyone else take the glory for her crimes. When your people were trying to ascribe it to another person, she made sure they couldn’t do it again, both with her victim selection and reporting it directly to the media. She follows a precise pattern with hacking the head off and displaying it, hence there’s some compulsion with that. She therefore will only murder when the conditions are right for her to do all of this. She needs time, the right location, the right condition, no impulsive kind of thing. That might just yet be how you will catch her, this showmanship and compulsion of hers. Now, there’s a pattern to her victims and that gave me an idea. She calls herself The Ring Collector, doesn’t she?” without waiting for Senayon to respond, he continued “so I pondered this and wondered on this and rolled it over and over. Thankfully, the gossip bloggers have the history of these gentlemen available online. It would seem they have something in common.”
“What?” Senayon interjected, looking up from his notes.
“Well, they all broke off very public engagements not very long ago. And from what these bloggers and the comments there say, these young men broke it off in callous and hard hearted manner, reportedly philandering right after they did.”
“And that’s the exact reason why we arrested Sumbo, the first victim’s fiancé immediately after his murder. She was the most logical suspect.”
“Ow, use your grey matter mister! You have two murders now, and except she is a changeling, she could not have been Charles’ fiancé as well as Fuad’s concurrently since I can see who Fuad’s former woman was here online anyway. So it was someone else. But this someone else must have had a similar experience of heartbreak and sees herself as some sort of vigilante for women of kindred experience.”
“Well, this doesn’t get us any closer to finding who she is about to kill sir, and I have one day to find this or the blood is on my hands,” Senayon blurted out.
“The first rule of this is that you do not let her enter your head and control your thinking. She’s doing this nicely already, plug your holes young man.” Morkly said in sharp rebuke. The heat rose in Senayon’s face, but he didn’t say a word.
“So I was saying, she is murdering these men as a vigilante service. She favors very public engagement breakups and this may explain her public displays of her killing. Now, to her name. She says she is The Ring Collector. Does that tell you anything?”
Senayon didn’t want to look stupid “obviously, she is killing men who have given engagement rings but who haven’t honored it.”
“That much is obvious from my preceding postulations. What I wanted you to see was the fact that she was creating a collection. A collection means she is counting. Now I wonder why she is counting.”
Senayon hesitated. When the Prof didn’t continue, he knew he must say something “perhaps she is keeping a count of the number of her victims,” he said sheepishly.
“Wrong!” Morkly boomed, as if he had expected Senayon to miss the point. “By the nature of her selection criteria, she is probably counting up to the number of broken engagements she has had. And those broken engagements must have been public. Now if you want to find The Ring Collector, you need to begin to look for all Lagos based women who have had at least three public engagements broken up in the past.”
“Wow” was all Senayon said.
“Yes wow. But if I was you, I wouldn’t be wowing here. I’d get to work to find every woman that meets all these criteria in town. Let me recap for you. Female, Lagos based, probably between thirty and thirty five, pretty, has had at least three public engagement breakups. And if you have the resources, search for men who have publicly broken their engagements recently. One of those will be her next target.”
Professor Morkly smiled smugly as he rounded off. He enjoyed doing this every single time, leaving them all bewildered by his awesome deductive skills. “There’s one piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit yet, so I’ll need some time to figure it out.”
“What’s this?” Senayon asked, crestfallen.
“Why she has picked a fascination with you. Why she is toying with you, sending direct messages to you in her murder scenes. You haven’t broken any hearts that I’m aware of; in fact, it would seem your story is one of having your heart broken repeatedly. So, I wonder, why does the Ring Collector fancy you her Ring Maker?”
With that hanging in the air, Professor Morkly got up, adjusted his neck scarf and waltzed out of Senayon office as if to some music he alone could hear.
Senayon called Acharu up and recapped Professor Morkly’s deductions to her.
“It’s crazy, but the mad man actually makes sense, pun very intended,” Acharu said.
“Well, I have a problem. I do not know how, where and with whom to find such information. And the number of people that fit the bill is going to be so huge that we simply cannot find anything reasonable especially with the time constraints. So whilst Prof’s eccentric mind has greatly reduced our sample space, it has still left us with a very large number of potentials both on the killer and victim sides,” he said.
“You forget I’m the police PRO. I know how to get such information when I need it. There’s a certain Stella Dimokokorkus that has a hang of gist like this. I’ll get some of my boys to speak with her and she’ll tell us all the people that fit the bill in Lagos, I’m sure.”
“Yup. I’m absolutely certain. She’s in Germany, so we’ll have it by morning. You can drop by my office tomorrow at about noon when I’m sure I’ll have it.”
“Okay, that’s cool then. How did it go with the ogas?” he asked.
“Not so great, they’re angry and want results as commanded from above. Don’t worry yourself, it’s nothing I can’t handle. I have to see the commissioner himself tomorrow to explain things. But I’ll be fine jare,” she responded.
“Okay, take care you then,” he said and cut the call.
With nothing else to occupy him, he finally began to think thoughts he had pushed to the back of his mind all day. He was finally alone in his office. And professor Morkly’s last statement niggled at his mind. Why was this Ring Collector bent on tormenting him?
The next morning, as early as 6:00AM under the cover of darkness, Pastor Bankole Balogun arrived at his sexcapade lair and made himself comfortable. They had been upfront about what they were rendezvousing for, so there would be no need to do any cajoling at all. It would be wham, bam and thank you ma’am.
The call came in forty five minutes after he got there and he smiled. She had probably left the house as soon as her husband left too. He cracked his knuckles before picking up.
“I’m at the gate,” was all she said.
“I left it open. Come in and then padlock it from inside,” he said. He didn’t want to risk being seen going to open the gate for her.
“I have the same fears as you. I don’t know who is around here who knows my husband. I don’t want to come down from this car until I’m safely within your compound,” she responded.
He sighed and wrapped a robe and went to get the gate. A rich one, he thought as he carefully opened the gate to make sure he was well hidden from sight. Her SUV had tinted windscreens, hiding the occupant. When she stepped out, he said a hallelujah inside him. She was hot, hot, hot.
She smiled boldly at him and said “shall we?”
Smiling sheepishly, he led her into the house, as she dragged a small bag along the ground. She saw him eyeing the bag and she smiles at him with meaning and said “who comes to work without their tools?”
Pastor Banky lay on his chest with his eyes closed. This girl was something! Her hands kneaded the muscles on his back, allowing the oils she had produced from her bag seep into his skin. She had arranged scented candles around and soft music played from the portable mini-speaker connected to her mobile phone. She had obviously planned how she wanted to sensually enjoy the day, complete with the mood and setting and he was glad to be a willing participant. So far, he had enjoyed himself. He looked forward to an even more enjoyable day. She got up from his back and he felt like a kid whose candy had been taken away. In a ragged voice, he asked “why did you stop?”
“I need to replenish my oil supplies from the bag sir. Now lie still and I’ll be right back.”
He smiled, anticipating her touch. That smile was still on his face when raw pain shot through his being. He tried to move but he couldn’t. He tried to say something, but it was as if he had lost control of his tongue. He felt himself being turned over to lie on his back. It took a while for his brain to comprehend what he was seeing. The lady who had been taking him to the heights of sensual pleasure with her touch moments ago was holding a Taser Gun in her hand. His brain told him she must have used it on his back just now. He willed himself to move but his body didn’t respond. Helpless, he watched as she brought it down to his chest. The pain caused him to blackout.