Damaged Goods- a short story

Do you love crime fiction? Then this story is all you ever wanted.


Death at the Henderson Hotel

The pool was the most spectacular outdoor attraction at the Henderson Hotel on Ahmadu Bellow way, Victoria Island. During the day, it was the finest of mirrors, never showing exactly what was above, but converting it to an image so beautifully smudged and broken that only an artist of repute could revel at the possibilities.

Efe’s job was to keep the pool “crystal clean”, as the hotel manager was wont to say every morning, after he resumed for his weekly shift at the locker room. Armed with a leaf rake, skimmers, and net, he took intermittent walks around the pool, doing his bit to keep the sparkling blue water clean.

That night, when he took his usual walk around the pool, he heard a high-pitch scream, but he didn’t realize it was his, until moments later. He wanted to run for safety, but his feet would not allow him that privilege. He stood transfixed to the spot, screaming his lungs out, until the first three responders knocked against each other to pass the only access door into the pool area from the hotel lobby. They raced at neck breaking speed to the pool side where Efe stood screaming and pointing to the pool.

Lights flickered on from rooms that had hitherto been in pitch darkness, after their occupants had earlier retired for the night. Curtains were parted as half-naked guest peered through the windows wondering what the hullabaloo was about.

What looked like a female hair extension, dispersed by the receding waves of the water, bobbed about a circular spot in the pool. But despite the poorly lit pool side that allowed lovers to take a snuggle away from peering eyes, a keen observer could discern the unmistakable image of a female cladded only in her briefs inching slowly to the bottom of the pool.

With her face downward, legs extended backward, and arms stretched forward, there was no doubt that someone had drowned and was immobile in the cold water.

Efe’s powerful splintering scream was a bother, but one quick and powerful slap from the manager’s wide-open palm, on his left cheek put paid to that. The manager then took a dive into the depths of the pool to rescue the victim. He hadn’t bothered to take off his uniform, what mattered that moment was to prevent the worst ever accident to happen at the hotel since it opened 5years earlier.

By the time he started the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the side of the pool, there was already a small gathering of onlookers. Those folks whose beauty sleep had been rudely interrupted were now starting to pray for a miracle. Afterall there was nothing else anyone could do but wait for a sign of life.

Time elapsed. The futility of the chest tugging, and pumping was beginning to tell in his waning efforts.

The manager tried to call her name, but he had no clue who she was. Questions flooded his thoughts as he desperately called out to her.

“Lady, lady, lady. Can you hear me?”

“Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!!!” rented the air repeatedly, as voices competed for God’s divine intervention and attention, some voices louder than the others, but the small crowd grew as the reality of the situation started to dawn on the guests.

It had been 15minutes of puffing and pumping, yet the “lady” laid unmoved and unresponsive.


Exasperated, the manager, eyes downcast and beaten, released the budding tears that pooled at the corner of his eyes. That moment, preceded by the tightening of his throat, fits of tremors shook his wet body so hard, that the guests started a frenzied race back to their rooms.

It didn’t matter that it was 1am in the morning, wise guests knew better than wait for the infamous Nigeria Police to arrive. Suitcases and bags were dragged hurriedly from several floors of the 6-floor twin building into the lobby, as guest checked out in droves.

“Nnamdi, what do we do now?”

It was the voice of one of the receptionists who was on shift that night, Glory.

“Can you confirm that she is a guest?”

“Yes, I am certain, I checked her in myself this afternoon.”  Her voice quivered like she had just finished a sprint. “I remembered her very well sir. I remembered her”

“Damn!” muttered between clenched teeth and fist.

“What do we do now, Nnamddddiiiiiiii?” Glory sang as she hopped frantically on both feet, as though dancing on hot coal.

“Would you just shut up and let me think”

He scanned the poolside for any clue to the identity of the lady. The poolside was as crystal clean as he had instructed. Not a leaf amiss or paper waste out of place. He couldn’t find her slippers too. Did she come bare footed?

He peered into the pool, but his view was obscured by the floating mass of hair extension that bobbed on the surface.

Nnamdi’s eyes then caught Efe, whose hands held his face like they were about to peel off.

“What happened here?”

A moment of hesitation was followed by a grunt in protest of the slap. He sat still at the edge of the pool, his legs inches away from the surface of the water.

“You better start talking this minute, Efe!”

“I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t even here. I just saw her. I don’t even know” He stuttered, confused and still in shock. It was hard to tell whether the shock was from the resounding slap that shut his mouth or the corpse that laid underwater.

“Why is your body wet?” Nnamdi asked, as he raised himself up from his knees walking towards him.

Efe blinked rapidly, before easing himself into the pool to retrieve the hair extension.


The lady’s name was Onono, a historical Efik name that bellied their oriental origins from the 13th century. And yes, she was indeed a guest at the hotel and she wasn’t alone.

Her husband was the man whose gut-wrenching sobs that tore through his chest, left no one in doubt that he was the bereaved.

He was inconsolable. His chin trembled as tears flowed down his cheek. His mouth contorted into an unsightly shape as spittle dribbled down both ends of his parted lips.

Ekpeyong, was what he called himself when the police arrived.

Of course, a good number of the guest had left before Nnamdi succeeded in locking the access doors to the hotel lobby.

One of his security personnel on duty that night had absconded out of maddening fear as soon as he saw some guest hurrying off with half-closed bags stuffed with clothes.

Two policemen that looked like they were roused from their beauty sleep struggled to interrogate Ekpeyong. They arrived 5am while Onono’s body laid by the poolside where they had left her.

“Who she be to you?”

Ekpeyong sniffs, sobs, shudders, and then heaves, before shaking his head rigorously.

“Na my wife”

“Wetin be her name?”

“Onono Joyce Nta”

The police sergeant scribbled noisily into a torn and beat up exercise book, then nods.

“How old she be”

“twenty-eight, no…..twenty-nine.”

“When last you see ya wife?”

“We were together in the room most of this afternoon until this evening when she tell me say she wan go swim.”

“And……” The sergeant listened intently, urging him to continue.

“I don sleep go when I hear say somebody die inside pool”

Ekpeyong broke into another dramatic wail.

“My wife o….my wife ooo”

“Ok! Oga, you go follow us go police station to write your statement”

Please follow the story here.

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10 thoughts on “Damaged Goods- a short story”

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