The crash site was crowded with people, young and old, male and female. They were huddled behind the bright yellow police tape.
It was barely dawn and Inspector Doris couldn't help but wonder how these people weren't in bed. She herself should have been snuggled up with her husband. But she had been on the road when the call had come in on her radio. She had been on her way home from an all night vigil. And seeing as she was in the area at the time the call entered, she decided to take it.
She parked her police issue vehicle well away from the crowd and began to shove her slim body through.
"Clear!" She shouted so they could all hear, "I need to get through."
Holding her badge up in the air, she cut through the crowd until she got to the yellow ribbon and walked under it.
"Hey ma'am. You can't..." One of the police officers began, she flashed the badge at him. "Oh, sorry sir."
She walked past him, secretly impressed with his crowd control skills.
This was mid April, the rainy season was just beginning. Hell, even the dew was still falling. This was not a time to be investigating car accidents.
She was already regretting taking the call.
This was Lagos state, Ikoyi G.R.A to be precise. Many of the higher echelons of the society lived here. And as she approached the black remnants of what had once been a Mercedes Benz, she knew the victim or victims would have been one of the rich as well.
"How's the victim?" She asked the first officer who approached her. It was a female sergeant, dark skinned and with long hair tied in a ribbon.
"On his way to the hospital sir." The sergeant replied.
Doris stopped by the charred remains of the wrecked car, it smelled of smoke and fire extinguisher, a faint smell of gasoline clung to the wreckage. From the extent of the burn, she could tell it had been a really mighty inferno before the firemen managed to quench it.
"Who's the first on scene?" Doris asked then studied the sergeant's name tag. "Sergeant Kemi."
"I am sir. Along with my partner Sergeant Taye. He's helping in crowd control."
Doris nodded, "you got your kit with you? I need gloves."
She wore the plastic gloves, letting the elastic bands slap against her wrists, stinging her. She cursed herself once more for taking the call. She was in homicide, and she had no business investigating an accident.
"This is a Mercedes Benz C class." Kemi muttered, staring at the car in pity, "a 2020 model. It didn't deserve to go out this way."
Doris looked at her. She began to stutter, "oh. I just love cars that's all. And I'm glad the driver survived it."
The Inspector only rolled her eyes, "nobody deserves this."
The car was still at the junction on the road where it had run into a wall. It had gone with such force it punched through the wall and into a tree directly behind it.
"The driver must have been going really fast for this kind of destruction." Doris commented.
The Mercedes had taken a bad hit even before the fire. The bonnet was crumpled like paper, the door had folded inwards. All windows were shattered. With such a crash, she was surprised the victim lived through it.
"The civilians were the ones who pulled the driver out," Kemi explained as though reading her thoughts. "The ambulance would never have gotten here before the for started."
And from what she could see, the crash had caused a leak in the fuel tank, and that had caused the fire. Turning the beautiful car into burnt metal.
Next, Doris studied the area leading to the crash. It was a hard tarred ground. She could see the neat tyre tracks of the car.
"No skid marks." She commented.
"Uhm... Sir?" Kemi muttered, lost.
"There are no skid marks here Sergeant." Doris repeated, "if the driver had tried to step on his brakes, it would have shown skid marks. Especially going at that speed. From what I've seen, I can guess he was going somewhere between one-fifty to one-seventy km/h. So why are there no skid marks?"
"Uhm..." The Sergeant thought for a while. "He didn't step on the brakes?"
"That's pretty obvious, and correct. But then, he could have been asleep. After all, it was early morning." Doris straightened up and walked to the crumpled bonnet which she pulled open. "If he was asleep, then it's case closed. But if the case is as you say, no brakes were applied, what do you think could be the cause?"
"Correct again. Brake failure could have been a fault of the car, or it could have been rigged. Let's see if the car's engine would tell us something."
Kemi watched as she rummaged through the contents of the bonnets, knocking on the engine every now and then, fiddling with the battery and carburetor. Then she stuck her hand in and pulled out a slim strong metal that looked like...
"The brake line!" Kemi gasped. "It's cut."
"Yes Sergeant. Now, study it." Doris cleaned the soot and smoke off the tip with her gloved fingers. "What do you see now?"
The Sergeant studied it for a while, at a loss for what to say. Then she suddenly got it.
"It's too neat." She gasped, surprised she even knew the answer. She was immensely pleased with herself. "The brake line was cut on purpose."
"Yes." Doris agreed, placing the line back in the bonnet and closing it up. The car creaked loudly and the cover didn't lap. It was too crumpled. And what does that tell you?"
"It was an attempted murder."
"Correct again. You are really solving this case, with a brain like yours, we could use you in homicide." Doris told her, taking off her gloves. "And this is where I stop. The only cases I investigate are murders. As in, I need a dead body. So I'll let the appropriate department handle this."
"Okay sir." Kemi said, looking really happy with herself.
Doris walked off to get some air, away from the smell of the smoke. She would be there until the new investigator would come, then she would report her findings to the person."
"Bloody paperwork." She muttered, stopping just short of the crowd.
Hearing footsteps behind her, she turned to see sergeant Kemi approaching her. The happy look on her face was gone.
Doris looked at her.
"I just got a call from the hospital."
From the look on the Sergeant's face, she could guess. "The driver is dead, isn't he?"
Kemi nodded, "yes sir."
Doris looked now, over the crowd and the rising sun currently high in the sky. It was now a bright morning, full of promises and surprises.
"Well well, sergeant. You've got a murder." And the Inspector began to walk back, no longer regretting picking the call. Because she was Police and this is what she was meant to do. She was meant to find answers for the dead. And solace for the living.
And as she walked back to the destroyed vehicle, she took out her radio and spoke into it;
"This is Inspector Doris. And I've got a homicide."
Thank you for reading.