I dashed out of my room the next morning and went to knock on Jenny’s door.
“Just a minute,” her voice came muffled through the bullet proof door of the hotel room. I waited impatiently, tappinjg my black leather shoe clad feet on the floor. I had been this way since I woke up from my dream, from watching the creature almost take down another victim. All of a sudden I was involved; all of a sudden I had to see the end of this thing. People were dying and I felt a moral responsibility to solving the case. And since I had Jenny with me, someone who had supernatural powers as well, I hoped getting to the bottom of things would be a whole lot easier than if I was handling everything on my own. But first I needed to settle accounts with the reason I came here in the first place.
Why was this girl wasting so much time?
“Jenny? At least open the door and let me in” I pleaded.
I heard her feet tread softly on the posh rug in her room as she made towards the door. A click later and the door was thrown wide. She stood there, decorating the doorway like an ornament. Radiantly smiling, not a strand of hair out of place which was a miracle as it was still a little early on the morning. Even without make-up she looked glorious. She smiled that ubiquitous smile of hers and the world became a better place. The irritation I had begun to feel died down immediately. She was wrapped in a large white fluffy towel, the kind that came with the hotel. It was held firmly in place by her bosom line and ended just above her knees. Her hair was covered in a smaller version of the same product. If I was a white man I would have been seen to be blushing furiously.
“What? You said I should open the door.” She said lazily.
“I had a bad dream.” I said.
Immediately her face became serious, almost anxious. “Chuks, I can expl…”
“I think the man-animal struck again last night,” I said. “In my dream I was there, at least I think I was the one there. He tried to feed on
another girl yesterday but failed and wasn’t too happy about it. Today he will attempt to feed again. I want us to formulate a plan on how to expose him, catch him if possible and make him stop taking innocent lives. But first I would like us to sort out what remains of the contract today if possible then we will have time to face this mystery. What the heck happened to your hands?!”
Her hands had been bandaged in some silky cloth and the areas that were visible appeared reddish as if scorched by fire. She looked down at them slowly and then back at me. “These? Oh, I turned on the hot water by mistake.”
“With both hands?” I asked.
She shrugged my question off. “It’ll heal. I have a special healing balm for it. Another few hours and my flesh will be as good as new. What made you suddenly want to play detective?”
“I have always wanted to use my gift to help people as much as possible. It seems there was more to it than you scheming that brought me to
Asaba at this time. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing that maybe I could have done something to prevent the shedding of innocent blood.
“Not so innocent, if you ask me.” She muttered.
I frowned at her, “from what I understand, you have a stake in this as well. Don’t you want to stop the person that killed your ‘sister’?
She looked down at her feet for a while then seemed to make up her mind. “Alright. I’m in. Come inside let me have a shower and get dressed.”
“No thanks,” I said. “I’ll be waiting in the restaurant downstairs.
“Still fleeing?” she smiled.
I didn’t answer her and headed towards the restaurant as she gave a small laugh and went back into her room.
Jenny took another ten minutes before coming downstairs. I had decided to be a gentle man and wait for her so we could have breakfast together. When she came down I saw she had changed into a polka dotted white dress with frilled edges and I wondered where she had gotten the outfit from. She walked in purposefully and sat down beside me. I noticed that the bandages around her hands had gone and I couldn’t see the blisters anymore.
“Impressive,” I said pointing at her hands. She looked at them again and smiled. “Thanks” she said, pulling up a chair and sitting down at the table with me. The cook was sitting at her corner of the restaurant and came towards us. I ordered my usual, bread and tea with eggs and sausages. Jenny asked for fried rice with fish and orange juice. I raised my brow when I saw the fish.
“You eat fish?” I asked.
“Yes, don’t you?” she looked at me quizzically.
I said nothing and we commenced breakfast.
“I was thinking of how we are going to catch this leopard fellow,” I said in between mouthfuls. “It will be easy enough for me to keep my eyes open, so to speak when we get to the office. I want to believe the reason I haven’t seen a manifestation of him before is because your ring was somehow preventing it.
“That’s very possible,” she replied. “I originally wore it to protect myself from the effect of your powers but maybe what it did was to scramble your system a bit, reduce your perception and reducing your abilities at the same time…”
“So that plan should work.” I interrupted.
“But what if it doesn’t?” she said. “What if he has some powers of his own that prevents him from being exposed, maybe a talisman that suppresses the beast within him? It was not unheard of in the old days for the man-animals to carry talismans like that, cloaking their abilities from native doctors.”
“Alright, if it comes to that then we’ll have to do a little more detective work.” I said. “Something else will give him away; his character, what he says, where he’ll go. And then there is the blue Camry…”
“The what?” she asked, looking confused.
“He has a blue Camry. That’s what he hunts in.”
“But, all our official cars are black. I haven’t seen anyone ride in with a blue camry before.”
“Well,” I said, “We can ask about Camrys. He might give himself away with that. Or at least manifest something when it is mentioned. Even if he is wearing a talisman I should be able to see something. I mean, even with your ring on I was able to see through to your real self, which means
I was overcoming whatever it was your ring was doing anyway…”
“More likely because you kissed me, the intensity of the contact.” She said. “That’s what opened your eyes.”
“Ahem, I kissed you? The way I remember it, you kissed me…”
“Whatever makes you sleep at night, honey.” She grinned. “Anyway, you’re saying you may be able to perceive more things today?”
“Definitely,” I said sullenly, still smarting over her last remark. “I’ll just have to keep my eyes open that’s all.
“And what do we do once we have apprehended the villain?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.
I hadn’t thought of that. Were we going to hand him over to the police or dispense with some jungle justice of our own? I remember what happened with Mr A****, how his own powers turned on him and made him mad.
“We’ll cross the bridge when we get there.” I said.
She looked at me thoughtfully. “About last night…” she said, “Was there only one dream you had?”
“How does it matter?” I asked, looking at my plate.
“I’m sorry.” She said quietly. “I had to try-“
“No you didn’t.” I replied. “You would have gotten yourself killed or something.”
We were silent for a while. I think we were both embarrassed by the little information we had quietly ignored since we woke up. I almost didn’t want to tell her I remembered her invasion of Chukwudi the Stronger’s sanctuary. I had experienced the whole thing as a dream of course and may not have been able to stop it if Chukwudi had gone further…
Jenny broke the silence.
“You acted without hesitation…”
“That, er, wasn’t me.”
“Yes it was.” She countered. “It was you without any of your controlling self righteousness. You without your ego or superego. You could have
really killed me.”
“So what, you’re scared of me now?” I asked looking at her.
She nodded quietly.
“Scared and Awed at the same time. I’m more attracted to you now than ever.”
The statement caught me by surprise and I laughed out loud and the cook looked up from her desk. I stifled what was left of the laugh and saw that jenny was giggling.
“At least I know not to visit you in your dreams again.” She said, grinning.
I smiled back. Then I took her hand. “I’m really…he’s really…I’ mean… we’re sorry for what happened. I would never hurt you like that…”
“You wouldn’t, but he definitely would, without apology too. I can almost hear him laughing in my mind.”
I faltered, knowing she spoke the truth.
“It’s okay Chuks, I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself.” She said, and got up from the table. “Besides, you shouldn’t show so much worry for me. I could mistake it to mean you are beginning to care.”