The sound of his name frightened him more than the fact that The Mad Man knew him, knew his name.
Lionel looked up and there he was, hockey stick carelessly slung over his shoulder. He didn’t have the appearance of a monster or a scary villain. He looked like a model straight out of a Calvin Klein catalog. Still, for the life of him, Lionel couldn’t place the Mad Man. He was smiling, as if there was a joke he wasn’t sharing, a joke at Lionel’s expense.
He scrambled to his knees, flight overriding freeze, and started away from The Mad Man. He looked over his shoulder as he started away, noticed the Man, stationery, and bemused, another private joke at his expense. Normally, the appropriate response, in Lionel’s opinion, would have been anger, rage. He experienced none of these emotions.
He slammed, shoulder first, into a cement column in his haste to get away. The man followed, taking advantage of his cornered prey. He saw the Mad Man swing his hockey stick, his body switching back to freeze at an inconvenient time. He was screaming even before the hockey stick made contact with his patella, shattering his knee cap. The Mad Man crouched beside him, set aside his hockey stick, and with the patience of a man used to waiting, stayed still, and silent. The smile was gone. His face was a granite mask, devoid of emotion. He waited by Lionel’s side as he rode the roller coaster of pain, until all that was left was an echo of pain, coupled with quite sobs of anguish. To Lionel, it felt like a lifetime of pain, spread through continuous sharp needles of pain.
“I don’t want your money Lionel. There is nothing you can offer right now that could possibly interest me,” he replied with absolute certainty.
“Then what do you want from me?” he yelled out in reply, the brief burst of anger overriding his better sense.
“I want my sister back. You took her away from me and I want her back.”
Lionel tried, and failed, yet again, to place the Mad Man’s face. He was notoriously good with faces, everybody tells him that.
“My sister Rita, remember her? You killed her.”
Recognition made his body go numb.
“If you think you are going to kill me and get away with it then you have another thing coming. I have some very powerful friends. You are a dead man walking.”
He spoke with the certainty of a dying man, amazed by just how much he really meant it, and just how calm he felt. Death is an eventuality he had come to accept in a matter of seconds. His declaration had no effect on the Mad Man. Matter of fact; he seemed more amused than anything else.
He didn’t rise to the bait, didn’t reply. His smile vanished as he swung the hockey stick yet again.
Ian Ndeda stood an inch below six feet, impeccably dressed in a simple yet elegant suit, nothing fancy or expensive; more utilitarian than anything else. He had been called to the crime scene the moment the victim’s wallet, and subsequently his identity had been established, followed by the ridiculous political clout he seemed to wield even posthumously. Somebody somewhere wanted the murder solved quickly, efficiently. Despite the pressure, Ndenda was cautiously optimistic about his chances of solving the case. He gave the crime scene a preliminary sweep before getting to it. Lionel Mtafiti had been beaten to death, with a hockey stick, if the bloodied murder weapon found next to him was anything to go by. His valuables were still intact, ruling out robbery as a motive. Somebody was busy leaving smoke signals, sending a message to an unknown third party. That tiny fact in itself got Ndenda intrigued.