What's In A Name?
What's In A Name?
What’s In a Name?
“Mr. R!” exclaimed a voice upon the stairs outside the lodgings of the summoned. Mr. R was the best detective one could find in the whole of Asia, and his powers of deduction and reasoning were not to be lolled around with. He had a peculiar habit of not disclosing his train of thoughts and chain of deduction and reasoning, and producing them with a final finesse at the end. This more than annoyed the official detectives who more than often approached him for something more than help in solving something more than a murder mystery. The voice had resounded through the long corridor outside the room, and by the time it reached R, it was more of a mixture of a howl and a whine than a human voice.
“Mr. R!” As the voice called upon him again, the door burst open and a huge, burly man in an official-looking uniform, with a big forehead and deep-set eyes, a sharp nose, and thin lips entered the room, panting heavily. “Ah! I was expecting you any moment. I guess it’s the Cheng case?” R said. “How did you come to know?” the official inquired. R just smiled a knowing smile and motioned his hand towards the chair.
“Here are all the facts known presently” said the official, and produced a piece of foolscap from his pocket. It read:
Victim: Cheng Do
Motive: unknown, most probably revenge
Time of death: several weeks ago
Death cause: unknown, no marks on body of victim, no signs of struggle before death
Clothes worn: Ordinary shirt and trousers
Belongings found on body: Handkerchief and identity card with no photograph but the name Cheng Do
Place body was found: stuffed up in a Peepul tree, in the Tam Ral Horticultural garden, 78 kilometres from Dehradun district, India.
“Interesting!” R exclaimed. “Well, the rest has to be investigated at the scene itself”. The following day found R and the official near the Peepul tree, and R crouching, and twiddling, and crawling, and rolling round the tree. Well, there has certainly been a crime, and the assassin can be traced quite precisely. The assassin is a male, about five foot nine, with square toed shoes, Huffingson cigarettes and a blunt pen-knife in his pocket, around 85 kilos in weight, and most important of all, a high knowledge of poisons and antidotes.
The official cried out in amazement. “Don’t tell me you found out only this much in the past 2 hours.” he exclaimed. R replied “Do not mistake me, for I may disclose less or more than I know.” R just chuckled, and left the official bewildered. And worried.
A week passed, and the whole time R was hot on the scent, though he wouldn’t tell anyone who or what he was tracking. The official used to visit him every day, but with the same result told to him. Yet R knew he was right in the verge of the solution, for he always grinned when the official had left. And the official’s behaviour and temper had grown worse, and his trust on R had faded.
And then came the day. The official had resolved to meet R for the last time, and if he still didn’t get an answer, he’d continue investigating on his own. “Mr. R! I want the solution, and I want it now!” he exclaimed. “Okay. As you demand. Well, official, meet Cheng Do, the so-called victim.” The official looked bewildered. “Is he in this room? With you and me? He is dead, isn’t he?” R calmly replied, “Well, he is, no doubt, in this very room, and he is with me, mind you, but not with you. And he is very much alive.”
“Sorry, Mr. R, but I guess you should stop fooling around.”
“I’m not fooling around, Mr. Cheng Do!”
“I said I’m not fooling around. And I said that to you, Mr. Cheng Do!”
“I-I-I don’t understand!”
“You won’t, because although you are Cheng Do, yet you won’t know it.”
“Stop! Tell me all about it clearly”
“I would rather prefer the opposite, official.”
R made an absurd, low-pitched noise somewhere deep inside his throat, and, as though a miracle, the official’s facial features convulsed, and his voice grew stealthier, and he spoke:
“I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop. You obviously must have seen the recent killings. I didn't set out to be a serial killer... Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis and hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia had ruined my life. The serious cough and the name of the disease itself had led me to despair, and no doctor alive had a cure to this stage of my disease. I had tried everything, doctors, astrologers, what not. It drove me insanely mad and madly insane. I had lost control over myself, and started to have hallucinations. And I couldn't differentiate between reality and hallucinations. And I used to believe whatever I saw, real or imaginary. And I did so when a hallucinated Dracula told me to become one myself. And drink blood instead of water, and eat human flesh instead of food. And my only source was the common man. So I started, with two meals a day, and then it increased to three, and subsequently to five. Newborn for breakfast, child for brunch, teen for lunch, adult for snacks, and seniors for dinner. And occasionally unborn foetuses for supper. Every meal, I used to leave my mark on the door of the house of the victim, and some restaurants, the residential complexes, were my favourite. My mark was simple, yet elegant. It consisted of a dot. A normal dot. But made with blood. Not the delicacy's blood. Not mine either. Yours.”
And with that the official-turned-Dracula-a.k.a-Cheng-Do pounced without a blink’s notice, and in an instant, R was on the ground, but not below Cheng, rather the versa. Cheng (I fear to even write the name now) had grown snaggleteeth, and was craving to devour R. No one knew what happened next. When the police intervened, neither of the bodies were found, and the only clue that indicated of some cannibal-cum-Dracula-cum-victim-cum-official’s existence was a recording sent by an anonymous person, that too only up to the point that the Dracula pounced and both of them were on the ground. Rest of it was blacked out.
The next day was a nightmare. The papers, news channels, radios, what not were all full of this inexplicable happening. Pasts were recalled. Present was inspected. Future was worried about. Life was endangered. A wild, ferocious, double-personalitied cannibal was out in the open. Yet no one co-related it with the Cheng Do case. No one suspected that he was Cheng Do. No one knew. Except R.
The police had not known in which house did the occurrence take place, so they set out checking all the houses of that sized rooms in the district. Only after weeks of inspection was R’s house discovered and verified to be the crime scene. By then it was assumed that both, R and Cheng had died in the struggle that followed, as no sign or trace of either was found whatsoever. Yet the discovery and confirmation of R’s house brought in a new twist to the case.
As the police forced their way through the door, they were left absolutely gobsmacked. In front of their eyes, there sat R and the official, all in his normal self, merrily laughing, as if nothing had happened between them, and jolly enough in their talks to not even notice a gang of policemen force their way in through the main door of the house.
When the police regained their senses, they noticed R, secretly, by the side of his chair, waving his hand in a ‘stop’ motion to the police. Doing so, R got up, took out a book upon Dissociative Identity Disorder, and handed it over to the official-a.k.a-Cheng-Do, who sat in front of him, saying that it was related to the Cheng Do case, and asked to be excused to the washroom. He got up, and reached the police officers. To them, he whispered. “Well, I have the so-called victim and assassin with me, and how I caught him was another affair, and that they should just arrest the official on the cause of murder of an anonymous person, and an attempted murder of Mr. R, but only when I signal you to.” “Okay, if you say so, Mr. R” the head constable replied.
With that, R went down and sat back with the official, with a grave face, and said “Sorry, but you have to be arrested.” Within a femtosecond, the police were over the official. R said “Let me present to you, Cheng Do Mian, the infamous criminal, or a Dracula, as you may call him, the cause of all the recent blood-thirsty nuisance, with a dual-personality of an official, the person who had attempted to assault me, as you have seen in the video tape I sent you, and also the murderer of Cheng Do Xing, whose body you found.”
Just as a last word, the police inspector asked R:
”How did you get hold of him?”
“Well, a pretty long story, you know. I guess I’ll narrate it sometime later. All you need to know is that you have the right man, and he is about five foot nine, with square toed shoes, Huffingson cigarettes and a blunt pen-knife in his pocket, around 85 kilos in weight, and most important of all, a high knowledge of poisons and antidotes. And all the chaos was caused due to the similar names of the victim and the assassin.”
“Oh. Would you mind one more question, sir?”
“Not by the name of Cheng Do”
“May I ask you your full name, sir?
“My name is Bond. Ruskin Bond.”