We never took him seriously when he said his life ended with his fiancée’s death. We thought he was just being emotional and would come to his senses after few days. Skull as we fondly called him, was the strongest man in our division. He hardly smiled and never backed down on dangerous tasks. As a specially trained detective in the Nigerian Police Force, I have seen Skull uncover hideouts of gangsters, rescue abducted girls, and deactivated C-4 in less than two minutes all by himself. So, when the news reached us in Makurdi during one of the special operations that his fiancée had died in a car crash a week to his wedding we thought his words were mere emotional talk show that would fade in a week. How wrong we were!
Three days after her death, Skull and I returned to Lagos, leaving other members of the team behind to attend the burial slated for that evening. That day, I found out that the Skull was more human than I thought. Even though he had fought tears during the flight and succeeded in stopping the flow, he lost the battle when he saw her corpse. His tears flow ceaselessly as he beheld her face for the last time before the dust returns to dust. I cried too.
The following week was not the same for the Skull. He became unnecessarily quiet, sad, and lost focus. Although he was granted a three-week leave to mourn the love of his life, Michael declined the offer and resolved to remain in the headquarter. For many days he would sit in a corner and stare at her pictures. At times, he would stop suddenly in the hallway, fold his hands, and remained on a spot with tears streaming down his cheeks. Sarah’s death really had a great toil on our point man.
The matter became complicated when Michael began to miss debriefing. We thought he needed more time alone and did not bother to disturb him. Sometimes when he showed up, he would sit in one corner smiling all through. Something untypical of the most skilled detective in our midst.
One afternoon during lunch, he told me his late fiancée had been appearing to him recently and that had been the reason for his smile. ‘No one lives forever, you know. I’ll be with her again soon.’, he said. Although I received his words with a smile and reassured him things would get better, I wished I had asked him what he meant by his being with her soon.
The day’s debriefing was slated for 18:00 hours. I picked my notepad at 17:50 and was about to leave the room when I noticed that Michael’s left his notepad in the room.
‘Hmm. Michael, when will you snap out of this?’ I said to myself as I walked toward his table to pick it up. As I was about to leave, I saw a note on the left side of the table, his pen on top of it. It reads: What is life without Sarah? What is the best thing that could happen but to reunite with you forever? I’ll meet you on the office’s ledge today. My life is not too much of a price to pay to be with you forever. Dear colleagues, don’t mourn my death. It’s not a loss after all.
‘Code red! All on the roof, Skull is about to commit suicide. Let some secure the ground floor with foams, I need rope on each floor too. Ambulance service be on alert!’ I said through the walkie-talkie as I rushed to the building top with some men trailing. There we saw Michael on the building ledge about to jump.
‘Skull, don’t!’, I shouted. ‘I know it hurts to lose the one that meant the world to you’ I began to walk toward him carefully.
‘Remember how safe the world is because you are here’. He looked at me with tears in his eyes. ‘Remember the kidnapper’s den you uncovered in Makurdi, the bandits you disarmed in Lokoja, and the helpless school children you rescued in Benin. With your input, the world is a better place. Sarah would be happier where she is to see you make the world a better place.’ By now I had reached where he was. ‘Skull, don’t die now. Sarah needs you here.’
Michael hugged me. ‘ I am sorry.’ He wept, ‘I don’t know what came over me’.
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