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Novkey > Library > Crime > Number One Fan

Number One Fan

CHAPTER 8

Author: issabacsa Total hits: 5329 User hits: 24 Date: 05-15-2014

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  I RAN TO MY DESK to answer the phone that kept on ringing.

  “I called earlier but no one was answering,” Alex said when I picked up his call that afternoon.

  “Oh, I’m sorry. I just arrived here at my desk. I was talking to Mr. Borja awhile ago,” I said as I settled on my seat. “I have to explain to him that I needed a phone unit with caller ID. But the IT Department said that there are no more available phone units with screen on them. They still have to get more phone units. Also, Voice over Internet Protocol on all computers brought by the transition and merger has not yet completed. Mr. Borja issued a memo this afternoon to have all my calls screened and monitored for the mean time.”

  “Is that so? Well, that’s good,” he said. “At least, the prank caller would not bother you anymore.”

  “Yeah,” I said as I remembered Number One Fan’s threat.

  “By the way, the reason why I called,” Alex continued. “I’ll not be able to fetch you tonight. I have to cover some event down south.”

  “Oh, it’s okay,” I said but then remembered something when he said south. “Alex, can you do me a favor?”

  “What is it?” he asked.

  “If you have time, since you’re on your way south, could you fetch Joyce at school and drop her off to work?” I asked. “I just want her to be safe. That’s all.”

  “No problem, I will fetch her for you,” he said.

  “Thanks, Alex.”

  “You’re welcome,” he said. “You take care, okay?”

  “I will,” I said. “Bye. Take care, too.”

  I heard David said something as I put down the phone.

  “That’s sweet,” said David.

  I tried to hide my surprise and smiled at him.

  Why was he here? Did he hear us talk?

  “If you have not requested Mr. Borja about the caller ID, I wouldn’t know that the prank caller was serious,” he said.

  “Well, it’s just normal for us journalists to have those kinds of callers, isn’t it?” I asked back. “There’s nothing wrong with my suggestion.”

  Why did he use the term “stalker”?

  “I agree,” he said. “I used to receive those kinds of calls before. Was the stalker threatening you?”

  “No,” I answered and observed his reactions.

  I did not want him to know that I was starting to suspect him.

  “Was it a man or a woman?” he asked again.

  “A man,” I replied. “He has this peculiar deep voice whenever he talks over the phone.”

  “Was he saying obscenities?”

  “No. It seems like he would just like to play tricks on me,” I said. “Remember when I told you that he just wanted to be Number One?”

  “Yes, I remember,” he nodded.

  A gap of silence came between us.

  “Regine, I just want to help,” he said. “If ever he calls again, just let me know.”

  “Thanks, David,” I said.

  Why are you concerned? Are you the prank caller?

  

  

  A FEW HOURS after the evening newscast, I went straight out of the RMBN Compound and saw the stranger again staring at me. He wore the same outfit, denim jacket over white t-shirt, denim pants and worn rubber shoes. I got inside a cab that was waiting for a passenger.

  “Where to, ma’am?” asked the driver.

  “Cubao, 15th Avenue,” I said as I locked the door.

  The cab drove off and I looked back to see if the stranger followed me with his stare.

  He did. Yet something in his deep-set eyes said that I should not fear him.

  

  

  “MISS, CAN I HAVE ONE PREPAID SIM CARD?” asked Number One Fan.

  He pointed to the vendor what he wanted.

  Only a few minutes left before the shopping mall’s closing time, thus the few customers. The woman opened the glass cabinet, took the SIM Pack, and handed it to him.

  Number One Fan noticed someone familiar approaching. He gave his money to the vendor and left immediately taking the new SIM pack with him.

  “Sir, your change!” called the vendor.

  Number One Fan did not turn back.

  Anyway, the vendor thought that the mall would be closing, no more customers might be coming, and she could steal the change.

  

  

  THE TAXI STOPPED in front of our house and I dropped off after paying the driver. I saw my childhood friend and neighbor, Patrick, at his gate across our house.

  When the taxi left, he greeted and approached me. SPO3 Patrick Dagulo stood five feet ten inches tall enclosed in a large frame. Skinhead and brown-skinned, wore black-rimmed eyeglasses over a well-pointed nose covering his black eyes. Tonight, he looked handsome when shaved.

  “Good evening, best friend,” he said.

  “Hi, Patrolman,” I greeted.

  Ever since Patrick entered the police academy, I started calling him Patrolman instead. He graduated B.S. Criminology and after passing the board examinations, he entered the academy. He started from the ranks inside the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. He also took up law and hoped to finish his degree next year.

  “I saw your boyfriend and Joyce awhile ago,” he said.

  “I asked Alex to fetch Joyce from school,” I replied. “No date with Nitz tonight?”

  He smiled and said, “I just arrived from her apartment. We had dinner earlier.”

  “Ah, I see,” I said.

  “By the way,” he said, “I would like to ask you something.”

  “What is it?”

  “You know Ka Luis Anacleto, right?” he asked.

  Other people refer to him as Ka Luis; a term for someone respected and trusted journalist and public servant.

  “Yes, he was my professor back in college,” I replied. “I reported on TV this afternoon that he committed suicide inside his car. Are you investigating his case?”

  “Yes,” he replied. “My boss assigned me to his investigating team.”

  “Any update you want to share with me?” I asked.

  I remembered using my connection with Patrick whenever I needed leads and updates on some news I covered before. We have this kind of working partnership that worked both ways for us.

  “Want to discuss this over a cup of coffee?” he asked.

  “Sure,” I said.

  He led me to his gate and let me in to the porch. He pulled up a chair for me. Thermos, mugs, bottles of instant coffee, creamer, and sugar sat on a rolling tray.

  “Thanks,” I said as I sat down and put my bag on top of the garden table.

  “Here, help yourself,” he said. “I don’t know your taste.”

  I smiled, as I look a mug and started making my own instant coffee. He, too, made himself a mug of black coffee.

  “This won’t take long,” Patrick said. “I just want you to know that your professor did not commit suicide. Someone killed him.”

  I already knew that. I did not think it would be wise to tell him about what Number One Fan yet.

  “How did you know?” I asked while stirring my coffee.

  “We found the voice recorder inside the car,” Patrick said. “We listened to it and Mrs. Anacleto believed that it was not his voice.”

  “So you mean the murderer faked the suicide note or recording?” I asked.

  “Yes,” he said. “Also, initial autopsy result revealed that something hit him on the back of his head. Ballistics report showed that the killer used a silencer but we couldn’t find the silencer inside the car or within the area.”

  “When did he exactly die?” I asked before I sipped my coffee.

  “Somewhere between late night Monday or Tuesday early morning,” he said as he sipped his coffee.

  I put down my mug.

  “Wait a minute,” I said as I remembered something. “I saw Prof. Anacleto dining with David Lim at the restaurant that Monday night. Alex and I saw them. So it must be after that.”

  “What time was that?” he asked.

  “About 10:30 to 11:00 p.m. I guess,” I replied.

  “Thanks for that tip,” Patrick replied as he put down his mug on the table. “At least we could narrow down the exact time of his murder. Would you know what time did he leave the restaurant?”

  “No,” I shook my head. “Alex and I went ahead. We passed by their table and greeted them.”

  “So the last person who saw him alive was David,” Patrick said.

  I drew a deep breath and looked up the sky.

  Why was it that David’s name kept on popping up on situations like these?

  “I'd better ask David Lim then,” he said. “Does he still remember me?”

  “I think so,” I said as I remembered how our relationships were back then.

  We were college freshman; David and Patrick courted me then. I chose David over Patrick because what I felt for Patrick was more of a brother and friend. I do not want to destroy that friendship because of romance. Thinking about it now, it turned out to be better. Patrick remained my best friend. David remained as my ex-boyfriend. I do not know if both of them felt something against each other after all these years.

  Something in my peripheral vision made me turn towards our house. I saw Joyce staring out the window. She might have seen us.

  Patrick might have seen Joyce, too, as he turned his head on the same direction.

  “Well, I’d better lead you to your house,” he said. “It’s getting cold. I will update you soon. If you have any leads, let me know.”

  “Sure, Patrolman,” I said as I stood up. “Thanks for the information and for the coffee.”

  

  

  I SAW JOYCE SITTING on the sofa, looking out at the window when I came in. She did not turn when I entered the house.

  “You did not go to work?” I asked.

  “I felt sick,” she said.

  “Did Alex pick you up at school?”

  “Yes,” she replied. “He said that you asked him to fetch me because you’re concerned that something might happen to me.”

  It seemed that she was not happy with it.

  “I do not know if I’ll tell you this or not,” I said.

  “Is it about your prank caller?” she cut me off. “Alex already told me about it.”

  “It’s something serious, Joyce,” I said. “He followed us from the restaurant until here last week. Earlier this afternoon, I think he followed you at school. He said something about your P.E. class. That’s the reason I asked Alex a favor.”

  “Whatever…” Joyce shrugged off and turned to go.

  “It seems like you don’t like Alex for my boyfriend,” I said.

  Joyce turned to me, “Isn’t it obvious?”

  “He’s a classmate in college, I’ve known him for so long, and so what’s wrong?”

  “I just felt you’re not for each other,” she said. “I would rather prefer David or Patrick for you.”

  

  

  NUMBER ONE FAN PARKED his motorcycle near the RMBN Compound. He pretended fixing something. At the side of his vision, he saw a gray Toyota Corolla going out of the compound. He knew that it was Ka Poncing Borja’s car. There was no doubt about it. The head of News and Current Affairs usually leaves late, around nine o’clock or so but never earlier. He saw Poncing Borja pulled down the window and waved to the security guard on duty. Number One Fan found that strange.

  “His driver might have taken a day off,” he said to himself. “I must change my strategy then. I should do it now while he has no driver.”

  He saw Mr. Borja pulled up the window and turned right towards Tomas Morato Avenue.

  “Go ahead, Ka Poncing, that will be your last goodbye,” he whispered.

  He had observed for the last few days that Mr. Borja has the habit of passing by Starbucks before going home in New Manila, Quezon City. He stood up, pretended that he had fixed his motorcycle and got on. He took time to put on his helmet, and his gloves before starting the engine.

  He drove off and followed the car. As he turned to Tomas Morato Avenue, he increased his speed. By the time the car almost reached Starbucks, he blocked the Toyota Corolla. Thus, Borja’s vehicle halted on its brakes.

  Number One Fan immediately drew his gun and fired shots at the driver’s seat then he sped off to E. Rodriguez, Sr. Avenue towards New Manila.

  

  

  MY CELL PHONE RANG. I looked at the screen to check from whom it came from. An unknown number flashed so I pressed on the button.

  “Hello?” I greeted.

  “Regine, David here,” he said on the other line. “I have a bad news for you.”

  “What’s that?” I asked as I straightened up my sitting position.

  “Mr. Borja was ambushed awhile ago,” David said over the phone. “He was dead on the spot.”

  “What?” I replied. “Where was he ambushed?”

  “It happened several blocks away from RMBN, in front of Starbucks.”

  “Are you there?” I asked David.

  “Yes, and I’ll go back to the newsroom to do the flash report,” he replied.

  I went straight to my room and lay down on the bed. I saved David’s cell phone number.

  I enumerated the things that occurred throughout the day from my first meeting with Mr. Borja up to David’s call that evening. I tried to search for a possible connection, hoping to generate a suspicion on who Number One Fan was.

  I sent a text message to Patrick informing him of Mr. Borja’s ambush. He replied that he knew that, too. He was on his way to report to his boss, Senior Inspector Carrillo, to conduct some investigations.

  Would it be okay if I tell Patrick about my suspicion about Number One Fan?

  

  

  REPORTERS CROWDED Senior Inspector Noel Carrillo. He does not look his age of forty-five and no lines showed on his face. His tall, athletic built brought out more charisma and confidence; the same confidence that demanded equal respect to him, to his position, and to the institution. His team started investigating the ambush that killed Ponciano Borja, head of News and Current Affairs of RMBN.

  “We do not have a suspect yet,” Senior Inspector Carrillo said to the reporters. “Two journalists have died already. We are still looking into an angle that a serial killer is gunning down journalists and broadcasters.”

  “Sir, is it true that the death of Professor Jose Luis Anacleto III was not suicide as earlier reported?” Number One Fan asked as a reporter, after he returned to the crime scene.

  P S/Insp. Carrillo looked at him. He recognized him and smiled.

  “The suspect in Ka Luis Anacleto's death staged his murder to look like a suicide. Here in this ambush, the victim, Ka Poncing Borja, died on the spot near his office.”

  “Are these cases related?” asked another journalist.

  “It’s possible, since both victims were members of the media.”

  “I should be careful, then. They should never suspect me,” Number One Fan kept that thought to himself.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  
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