Motives

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He has the height and the pudgy face of a child, so let’s call him a boy.

The boy’s eyes are red and wet with tears. He sniffles for added effect. The boy is in a plain brown shirt and blue jeans. It is difficult to know if the shirt is dirty, because of its colour; but as for the jeans, the splotches of brown are enough proof. His outfit is tattered, like someone blindly cut through them with a pair of scissors. No one knows how long he has walked on barefoot to get here.

“Where are your parents?” The female officer at the reception says, trying on a smile for the boy to feel at ease.

He doesn’t. In fact, tears start streaming down his face.

What if it is a test from God to finally bless her with a child?

She squats before the boy, wipes his tears with her bare hands, and immediately rubs them off on her black trousers. “Don’t cry, you hear? Tell me. What is your name?” Her voice almost a whisper.

“Isaac.” He says, amidst sniffs.

Still with that voice, like they were secretly plotting a conspiracy, she asks, “What’s wrong? You know you can tell me. Remember the police is your friend.” She points to a yellow cardboard, battered at the edges, with a bold green inscription of the same phrase. “And me, I’m like your mother.”

He speaks. (Imagine his mouth is a broken dam, and his words are water.)

After he finishes, her ears are filled. Is this the same evil world she will bring her child into? At least she can help, in her own little way, in making the world a better place. So, she takes the boy to her boss.

The boy scratches his chin and the sides of his face, as he tags along.

######

It isn’t like any officer of the woman’s rank can enter the boss’s office without knocking, but she has earned it. The boss had desired an affair with her, like every other junior female officer that had crossed his path, but she had her ways of dousing that desire into something platonic—and also her husband, a captain in the army, had a way with persuasion. So, she has earned the attention of the boss, who still hopes one day, of her own accord, she will come to him.

The boy narrates his story, pausing only to sniff, scratch his chin, and the sides of his face.

The boss couldn’t believe his ears. He jumps out of his chair, and thumps his fists on the table. (Here, we are not sure if he is genuinely angry/concerned, or it is merely a devise for the female officer to see him as being compassionate.)

“You are sure your uncle will be back by evening?” The boss bellows.

“Yes—yes sir.” The boy draws closer to the female officer. She rubs his hair. White particles fall off. Then she wipes her hand against her trousers.

#######

The police officers clamp the handcuff around the uncle’s wrists. The uncle has known this day will come. The last operation they went for, he removed his mask outside the premises, and like fate would have it, there was a camera that he feared had captured his face. The operation was meant to be their retirement plan. Lay low, let the tension subside, split the money and flee. But see how that proverb—everyday for the thief but one day for the owner—has come to catch up with him. His only surprise is how the owner had located this hideout so easily. And where the hell is Tade?

“At least tell me my offence.” He says.

They tell him something about kidnapping, torture, and indecent sexual relationship with a boy, his nephew.

The uncle lowers his face, falling silent. The female officer thinks he is ashamed.

“Wait. Wait. Wait. What nephew?” He finally blurts out.

“Isaac.” She says, facing the police truck. “Please come out.”

Isaac steps out.

At once, the uncle is enraged. “You, you!”
It takes about five police officers to pin him down.

And while the attention is on the uncle, the boy manages to slip away. He too has a retirement plan, which does not include the uncle. As the police drives off, he knows he has to act fast. He runs into the house and locates the brown briefcase. He hurriedly transfers its contents into a smaller bag, scratching his chin and the sides of his face. He curses the itching that comes after shaving.

#######

When the female officer gets to the police station, she will realise Isaac isn’t in the other police car. Then she will race back to the house, screaming his name, thinking she has failed God’s test.

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