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A Murder
A Murder

© Kausik Chatterjee

Abstract Crime Drama

32 Minutes   17.5K    197

Content Ranking

He saw the bullet from very close, for the first time in his life noticing the faint rifling on its shiny copper shell and even the small dent on its tip. Before his eyes, the frames of events moved at an exceedingly slow pace, extension of one sequence blurring the other slightly, like a haze. But he knew that he would not remember them. There would be no future for him to recollect the past. He was surprised at the speed of his mind; so many thoughts could cross him on such a fraction of time! Perhaps at this speed he might reconsider his truncated life span an eternity. Then there were rivulets of sticky fluid, crunching feeling of breaking skull and shards of bones and shattered glass.

This was likely to be the last passage of the story. If this was the beginning then time structure was compromised and flash back of past events had to be accommodated. But for the bullet, the journey had just begun. The bone fragments and blood flow also found a new direction. The glass was now free of its frozen crystalline existence. But there might not be much future left for these elements. They were too inert to go further. Hence the police, detectives and forensic teams were summoned. But I was not comfortable. They were alien elements to me. I read many such thrillers, often staying awake until the small hours of the morning, but they never impressed me enough to try my hand on one such endeavor.

At that point of time I noticed the girl, unimpressive and sad. Her clothes were shabby. Her cheeks were puffy and so were the eyes. She was standing flushed against the dirty wall outside the shop, unsure of her right to occupy more space than that. It was not a free country for her, as the recent election propaganda had claimed; rather it was just marginally less oppressive than the jail she spent some time in, not long ago. She was looking around anxiously. She heard the shot, I assumed and she knew the victim, perhaps. This was a seedy part of the city, full of crooks and rampant crime. Shooting in broad daylight did not put the daily routine out of gear. The inhabitants could not care less. But the girl was an alien. She looked terrified. It might not be the shooting per say, she might be terrified because of being there in the first place and got further unsettled by the shot and bursting glass panes at such a close proximity.

I didn’t dwell long with the girl, because the murder scene was a mess already: blood on the table, brain matters in the food, bone and glass shards scattered all around. Some seasoned customers were still sitting in their tables but majority had left. No one wanted to be involved with the police and the judicial procedures, not out of fear, I guessed, but out of general aversion to the system. But a murder had to be reported. Hence the proprietor of the food joint rang the local police station. The conversation was short and succinct. The man’s hands on the telephone receiver were steady and his voice matter of fact. This man appeared to be blasé to such tragedies; else he was a cool customer. I looked around and found a single white face. The young waiter who was serving the dead man was trembling. The front of his dirty apron had a large wet spot and it was spreading. It could be water, but I suspected something else. Terror could make a person lose control over his sphincters.

I went back to the vantage point of the victim’s mind, just before the bullet hit him. Yes, he saw the bullet with unimaginable clarity and its flight trajectory from the muzzle of the gun, until it came too close to be seen, the blind spot of human eye. But did he see his assassin? There was no imprint in his memory. He must have been busy eating and lifted his eyes only when he heard the firing of the gun. He might have known the assassin too well and did not suspect and his image was discarded by his conscious mind as background noise along with many other images. The waiter might have seen the killer, I guessed, but he was too terrified and his mind was in complete mess. I had a hunch that the girl outside knew both the man and the killer.

The girl was too panicked to decide her next move. She kept herself rooted there but looked around with terror filled eyes, like an animal of prey. She anticipated that her turn would come quickly and she had no means to escape. But the sense of fatality did not make her aloof, but rather desperate to escape her inevitable fate. It was obvious that she was not very familiar with the place, its intricate maze of alleys, lee ways and crowded rooftops. She was looking around for her hunters but there was no scheme in her head to outfox them. I assumed that she was connected closely to the murdered man. Perhaps she had started trusting the man to rescue her from her inevitable doom.

The police responded with surprising alertness and shortly a small contingent appeared at the scene. Their promptness could mean two things: (1) the murder was well anticipated and the police was just waiting for it to happen (2) the victim was an important person for the police, might be a vital cog in well oiled crime machinery. The person in charge of the investigation team looked young, well groomed and intelligent, more suitable for a quiet classroom. He donned on latex gloves, shoe covers and coverall and his approach to the crime scene was confident and methodical. He was supported by another young person, obviously from the forensic team. The rest of the team started with the questioning. All the staffs and customers were asked not to leave the premise until the police were satisfied with their interrogation.

The girl now had sensed the danger as well as the refuge. The police did not treat her kindly in the past. Slapping and abusing were an integral part of their approach to their suspects-more for showcasing their absolute power to frighten the subjects and to subjugate them, but for a good number of policemen it was a source of entertainment too. She was first arrested when she was nineteen and looked quite attractive and was asked often for sexual favors by interrogating officers. She never refused and in return was never handled too roughly. She had learnt pretty early in her life that a good suck could mellow even a brash man. Once she was known within the interrogator’s circle for her mastery in oral skill and willingness to please, she was usually asked to perform even before the questioning began and the rest of the process became quite amicable for her to handle. But there were a few sadist police officers whose chief source of pleasure was blood, tears, stench of fear and urine. She also knew that the police custody could offer her a good deal of protection against ordinary crooks, but when the stakes were high and the master players were involved, even the inside of the prison was not safe enough.

The policemen finished with the proprietor fast and approached the terrified waiter whose condition had worsened at the site of the khaki uniform. Perhaps he had a few occasions to experience the wrath of the guardians of law in his past, most likely for some petty crimes. A portly policeman took charge of the interrogation. He was in his mid-fifties and saw little prospect to progress his carrier in the force beyond the point where he had already reached and a sense of bored complacence had set in his persona. He looked disapprovingly at the large wet spot on front of the apron of the waiter, the wetness of his trousers and wrinkled his nose, partly out of disgust and partly due to the stench. The hapless waiter was still shaking and his speech was not coherent. The policeman tried to soothe him in his usual brash manner and asked him to take a few sips of water. But all these kindly gestures went in vein. The policeman could not extract any useful information from him and surmised that he had not seen the murderer at all. He dismissed the waiter and asked him to change his clothes quickly and to wipe the floor well where he was standing once the senior officers were done with the crime scene. As an afterthought he asked him to report to the local police station in the evening for some questioning when he could restore his composure. The waiter tried to touch the feet of the constable in gratitude, but the portly man shooed him away.

Not far away from this shop, a dilapidated man was lying inside a ramshackle room. His pallid skin, sunken eyes and gaunt face made him look much older than his age. The room was dark despite the scorching sun outside. The man was lying on a filthy bed. He picked up a tin mug from the side and drank water. Some water spilled on the bed but he didn’t bother. He was looking anxiously at the door from time to time, obviously expecting someone to come. He moved his head every time there was a tiny sound outside. His raspy breath sounded like a blunt saw on a piece of tough log. A thick pall of fear and despair hung in the room. I assumed that he was expecting the girl to appear with some news of hope. But at the heart he was sure about his ill fate. Life had always cut a raw deal for him in the past.

Inspector Chaudhary picked up the fragments of bullets painstakingly with a pair of tweezers and put them inside evidence bags. He collected the bone fragments and pieces of dentures in labeled bottles filled with preservative liquids. The bullet had a soft nose and made havoc at the crime scene. Everything was distorted, broken to pieces and difficult to recognize. He cursed softly under his breath. The forensic fellow with him was working mechanically, without any emotion or irritation. Chaudhary could not help appreciating his cool. I knew that forensic was a science and the investigators should stay detached in the search of the truth just like any other scientist. But I could see the lines on Chaudhary’s face betraying his emotion. He gradually started getting disturbed and distracted. He left the evidence gathering to his companion and concentrated on the topography of the crime scene.

The eatery was a cavernous hall with a large glass fronted door. There was a smaller door to the backside that led to a narrow space with lavatories and a locked door opening to a side alley. There was another door on one side leading to the kitchen. But it could be well assumed that the murderer entered through the main door. The victim sat on a corner table from where he could keep an eye on the entrance, so it was unlikely that he missed his murderer when he entered. So it could be concluded that either the murderer was an ally or was a complete stranger. The hall was strewn with clusters of tables and chairs, but one could approach this table unobtrusive walking diagonally along the free space lying like an aisle between the rows of tables. The trajectory of the bullet appeared to be dead straight on the centre of his face, though only the ballistic experts would be able to confirm it after a meticulous examination of the skull, the entry and exit wounds and the locations of the bullet fragments in the crime scene. But Chaudhary knew that his initial assessment was good enough and was supported by the spurting marks and the blood stains, the bone fragments on the table and the gaping hole on the glass pane bang behind the victim’s seat. I noticed him discarding his latex gloves and pulling out a large sketch book from the trunk containing forensic equipments. He started sketching the crime scene in meticulous details. I could appreciate his bold strokes, unwavering steady lines and precise sense of proportion. It seemed to me that he got good grades in drawing during his school days and perhaps own a few prizes at the school level competitions.

A phlegmatic man stayed seated at the other corner of the room throughout the investigation sipping his tea. He was obviously a regular in this eatery and appeared to be not foreign to such murders. He was wearing a badly fit expensive linen half-shirt. Thick gold chains could be seen adorning his bullish neck through the open shirt where several upper buttons kept casually unfastened. I cursed my imagination for not being able to find a man who differed in the look of the underworld prototype. However, the man showed traces of restlessness through the thick cover of apparent cool. He was expecting the policeman to come and ask him questions, I assumed, but they were too busy with the other waiters, cook and the regular staffs of the eatery. I now knew that his patience started wearing off. Patience was the key attribute of good predators and its short supply proved his rank to be at much a lower rung of the criminal hierarchy. He had a script to follow and the delay might ruin his feign. Eventually he called the portly constable who appeared to be the dumbest of the lot and told him with a practiced nonchalance to finish off with him because he had to leave the shop shortly to attend some urgent commitment. However, he was always available for future questioning and with another rehearsed gesture tried to pull out a fat wallet from the back pocket of his trousers, apparently to produce some fake visiting card. But the wallet was a tad too fat for smooth removal and got trapped inside the pocket. In an effort to free the wallet, he half-stood and something fell on the floor with a clang and suddenly a shade of fear crossed his face. However, the constable was too thick to notice anything that subtle and was busy opening his black notebook and licking the tip of his copying pencil.

The air inside the poky room in the nearby shanty started getting thicker with time. The girl was supposed to return by now and her non-appearance could only mean bad news. There was no clock or calendar around. The time appeared to have frozen inside this room. But I knew that time was running out pretty fast for the sick man and no one knew it better than him. He sipped a few more times from the tin cup, every time spilling more on the bed. Though I could not see well in the dark, I could gather that his hands were shaking pretty bad. There was a deep gurgling sound within his chest as if some choked drain had been opened. Suddenly the man heard attentively and tried to get up. He had heard a shuffling sound of moving feet just outside. But they did not appear familiar. The panic was written on his face. He ran his hand under his thin pillow and pulled out a glittering razor blade.

A local train left the nearby station and moved fast west ward. It was choke a bloc full. There was perhaps some room inside but the corridor and the entrance was jam packed, extremely difficult for anyone unfamiliar in this route to enter. A sinewy man jumped into the running train at the last moment but found it impossible to get in. He had a precarious foothold which was not secured enough. He pushed with all his might to squeeze past but the solid block of crowd at the gate did not budge a millimeter. The train started accelerating at a fast clip and the newly boarded passenger felt iron poles wheezing past his half hanging torso alarmingly.

I knew that detection of crime was not as suave as it read in the best sellers. The murders were hardly driven by any passion and psychopaths were a rarity. Most of the time it was just routine business and was mundane. The police could detect the murderers but other equations deterred them from apprehending the criminals. Yet the scene at hand had a tight undercurrent. The interrogation and evidence collection had already become stale, but the inspector in charge had a fire in him, he had an agenda. He was prowling around the scene with a tense energy uncommon among the police here. Perhaps he was new and was an intellectual in his field; perhaps he had some inner demons to settle with when he would go back to his bed alone in the night. He suddenly went out of the shop and came back instantaneously pushing the glass door open. He walked with determined steps towards the table where the victim sat while casually looking around, but stopped suddenly midway. He was pondering something. He again retraced his steps and went out the shop and reentered, but this time his demeanor had changed and instead of walking down to that table at the corner he turned and walked down to the table where the portly constable was interrogating the other customer. The confident man had been observing the inspector all along with the corner of his eyes while feeding the constable with a well rehearsed story. But the sudden approach of the inspector to their table unsettled him and the tea he had been sipping with an elaborate fervor found its way into his windpipe, choking him instantaneously and he broke into a violent bout of cough spluttering tea all over his expensive shirt.

The mechanics of any story composition demanded a central pull to keep the characters cohesive and a synchrony in events, even if not linear but related spatially, to tie the knots together at the end. Any storytelling was essentially a design which begged symmetry. But I started appreciating the lack of symmetry in a real murder scene. A chaos was pushing hard to take an entry confusing the readers. Detective stories were considered to have the simplest plot structure, where all the events were known well in advance to the writer and often it was constructed retrograde in his mind. But here the events were taking shape more in lateral than in linear dimension. Despite having a privileged entry into the mind of the victim and some of the characters involved, I had little control over the events or their minds. New characters were popping up at will and some existing characters were static with respect to the plot, not helping it to grow or dovetail. However, the inspector had impressed me with his out the box thinking and dramatic actions. I wanted to keep a focus on his dealing with the crime scene where he had already injected more drama by dismissing the dumb constable, calling the petrified waiter to the table and cornering the shady looking man. I started expecting a tellable story at hand. But something morbid was brewing not far away that drew my immediate attention.

The footsteps were followed by the screeching of a door, strenuous movement of rusty pieces of iron hinges on each other. But to the sick man they appeared like the cry of hungry wolves. The man who entered the room had an ordinary ubiquitous face and features, unrecognizable in any crowd. He looked at the man in bed, then around the room and chuckled with disapproval, all quite amicable gestures and not threatening at all, but that was enough to make the other man terrorized and shaking uncontrollably. The razor in his hand was shaking too and a thin shaft of sunlight dazzled on its sharp blade. Despite the physical debility of the sick man and such a violent uncontrolled shaking of his weak hands, the intruder did not take the situation lightly. He was assessing risks and talked in a quiet reasonable tone, ‘I know your expertise with that weapon. Your victims used to fall dead before they knew what struck them. But do you think you’d be able to save yourself today against me? However, you can help me to make it faster and simpler by telling me all. Perhaps, that would save the girl’s life. She has other gifts and the Boss might not want to waste such a talent.’ The sick man’s face was distorted with extreme fear and despair, but his eyes had a glint of determination and in a single deft sweep he sliced open his own carotids. His partially severed head flopped to one side.

The stranger was disappointed at the suicide of the sick man. Of course the man had to die and killing such a skilled man, even when terminally ill, had some potential risk. But he looked forward to extracting some information from the man before the final blow. The information was important but the procedure to extract them was also something to savor. This strange man took pride in his innovative techniques of tortures and the absolute power over a doomed person and finally the kill was no less thrilling than a good orgasm. Talking about orgasm, he suddenly recollected the girl. He was instructed to extract the information from her and then dispose her off. The girl would return home shortly. The mission she had been sent to by her now-dead father had no chance of success and she had nowhere else to go. The thought of the girl’s nubile body and the future prospect of his playing cat and mouse with her to his hearts’ content for a long time sent a warm thrill through him. He started devising an elaborate and detailed scheme to torture her slowly and seductively to a point when she would first offer him her everything to leave her alone and then beg him to finish her off. He could not hide his pleasure and started humming a tune in low voice.

The girl standing outside the shop suddenly noticed the shopkeeper across the street gesturing wildly at her. She did not know the shopkeeper but the man apparently knew her well and had been keeping an alert eye on her movements so far. The gestures were vague but he tried to point at the direction of her shack. She assumed that she was asked to return to her place. Her father was there and he was extremely ill, but he had categorically told her not to return there without the man she had come to meet. But on the other hand that prospect was already doomed. There was not much point waiting outside the shop. That man would never walk out of the place. She was told that her life was under grave threat unless she could convince the man to come with her and she was kind of confident of her power to convince a man, any man for that matter, to come with her. But she knew the first brunt would be borne by her father in case of her failure. She was afraid to think of the aftermath when she became sure of the failure of her mission, but could not decide her next course of action. She was about to turn towards home when the portly constable came out of the eatery and noticed the girl. He felt slighted after the rude dismissal by the inspector from the interrogation procedure and just noticed the frightened girl. Despite his poor IQ, his instinct was honed well during the long association with criminals and crime scenes and the frightened face of the girl spelled trouble. He pulled up his humiliated self esteem and with all the dignity he could summon he called the girl with an authoritative wave of hand inside the eatery for interrogation.

The local train did not move far away, but for the man hanging at its gate, it seemed an eternity. He feared a fatal blow from the swiftly moving iron posts any moment. Every time he saw one coming he curved his body and tried to tuck his head within the train compartment, but his abdominal muscles started getting fatigued and his grip felt clammy and weak on the steel hand-rail at the door. All his requests and appeal to the human wall guarding the entrance to let him get in fell into deaf ears, so were his abuses and threats. He was running out of options. His prior experience with the mob was pretty satisfying. He learnt early in his life that a few choicest abusive words and showing off of a weapon were enough to scatter even a sizeable mob instantaneously. But he was new to this city and the people here apparently had a different set of rules. Perhaps showing of the gun tucked at his waist-band could still have the desired effect, but both his hands were engaged in keeping himself hanging from the running train and by no means he could pull out the pistol.

Inspector Chaudhury’s tone had no threat or malice overt or covert. It was rather polite and academic, but his words made the customer in linen shirt and gold chains quite unsettled and panicked. He licked his lips several times with his black colored tongue and he was constantly fidgeting with numerous stone rings on his fingers. The cool confidence he sported in the beginning of the interrogation was now a memory of the past. Strictly speaking, it could not be called an interrogation, because the inspector was not asking him any question. The inspector had been telling him how the murder was committed and what role this man played in the scheme. Chaudhury drew a diagram of the eatery on a piece of paper and talked in a reasonable voice, as if explaining a simple theorem to an intellectually challenged student.

I hated the heroes in a story. They killed the nuances of the plot, subtle turns of events, delicate shades in portrayal of different characters. The readers always worshipped them, ate from their hands and eventually remembered the story only as a background of that hero’s great achievements. The heroes of the detective novels were the worst of the lot, because the author was no more remembered and individual plots gave way to a series of sequels. The best in the business like Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie killed their popular protagonists just out of disgust. I already started having a feeling that Chaudhury was going to do a lot of damage to my honest effort of systematic description of the events centered on a murder. The scheme of a crime or the anatomy of a murder was more of logistics than humane elements and emotions, thus of much lesser importance. The motives might still have some merits but the mechanics of deductions, the heart of such stories, made them simply brain-teasers, a game of logic. But now Chaudhury was trying his best to play a maverick. He had been explaining the events like steps of a mathematical proof, I noticed with dismay. The deduction sounded ridiculously simple, but then all crime detection looked simple when explained by the detective. I always felt like a fool when the culprit was caught at the end of a story, for missing all those simple clues throughout the enthusiastic read. Now Chaudhary was in his elements and the only things he missed were a blackboard, chalks and dusters.

Step I: The victim was sitting at a vantage point from where the only entrance of the shop could be watched. He had done this purposefully. So either it was a routine precaution or he was apprehensive of an attempt on his life. He could by no means be unmindful or lax in his vigil before the attack on his life.

Step II: The victim was a professional criminal and had a long history of operating locally. He knew most of the potential killers of this area.

Step III: No familiar killer entered the shop after the victim entered (as per step I) and he did not see any one inside the shop (he would not have seated and stayed there in that case). So the killer was a new face, most probably one hired from some other place.

Step IV: If the killer was not known to the victim, it was unlikely that the killer knew the victim (though some earlier reconnaissance was possible like showing the photograph of the victim or spotting him elsewhere). But in all likelihood, going by the common modus operandi of local gangs, there was a spotter, who knew the victim but was not feared by the victim as a possible threat.

Step V: The victim had been eating peacefully before he was shot. He did not try to defend, fight or flee. Hence, he did not see the killer.

Step VI: Considering the victim’s background and his suspicion of being attacked, he would not have seated inert had any one, even an unknown face, approached him directly entering through the front door. So the killer must have been already sitting inside the shop along with a spotter and approached the victim’s table along a route blocked from his vision.

Step VII: The waiter was serving the victim standing on his left side, blocking his view, at the time of shooting. So the killer moved towards him from his left side staying in the zone blocked from victim’s vision by the waiter and then turned to avoid the waiter to be within the line of his fire and shot the victim from frontal position.

Deductions: a) the killer was hired from outside b) the spotter accompanied the killer, stayed seated with him in one of the tables on the left side of the victim c) the waiter must had been instructed to block the left side view of the victim and stayed put there serving him when the killer moved. It could not be a coincidence in such kind of killing plan where the chance factor was reduced to a minimum d) the persistent fear of the waiter, a novice and not part of the gang, suggested close proximity of a watcher, presumably the same spotter.

Conclusion: The waiter knew about the killing in advance, saw the killer and knew the spotter who was still present with them.

A young boy was watching intently the modus operandi of a house lizard catching insects. He was perched on a horizontal bamboo pole supporting the clay walls of a shanty. From his vantage point he saw a man entering his house where his ill father was lying on a cot, he saw the suicide and then noticed the stranger waiting patiently inside. He was just thirteen but had come across many shocking and ghastly events in his rather short life span. He saw his mother being severely beaten by his step father to the point of death; saw two of his elder half-sisters being gang raped and killed by local goons. But they had faded in the crevices of his memory. The single incident that came back to his dreams many a times was the murder of his elder brother, who was his only friend and the protector against all the harsh forces of this dark world. His brother started working for a local gang peddling drugs like most of the young boys of the locality, but otherwise was an amicable, quiet and loving person. The man who was now waiting inside the house appeared one evening to enquire about a lost consignment of drugs, presumably sold under the nose of their gang to some outsiders for quick bucks. He called his brother to a nearby deserted building and treated him well with pieces of fried meatballs and some local hooch he brought in a polythene bag. The discussion had been going well for the better part of an hour and his brother frankly told him whatever he knew about the lost consignment because he was not a party and had nothing to hide. The little boy, then only ten, had been watching them through a crevice in the wall, waiting for the man to leave and then to join his brother for the leftover meatballs. But when the discussion seemed to have been over, the man suddenly held his brother in a vice like grip and pushed him on the dirty floor face down. With slow relish, the man pulled down his brother’s pants and sodomized him brutally and at the stroke of reaching the point of his peak ecstasy, just before the ejaculation, the man pulled out a thin-bladed knife from his shirt pocket and partially slit open the throat of the hapless boy, enjoying his convulsions and spurting of blood all around and kept on humping him ruthlessly. Once finished with his pleasure, he cleaned his flaccid penis with his brother’s pants, kicked the bloody body and then left the place with immense satisfaction written on his face, humming softly a tune, which just now reached the young boy’s ears. He had already identified the man but the tune doubly confirmed it. The boy waited silently with baited breath and kept a piece of rope tied to the bamboo pole handy in case of need for a quick escape. But watching the patient house lizard catching one insect after another with consummate ease and short bursts of swift movements interspersed with patient waiting inspired him, not overtly and not his conscious mind even, but the boy’s thought process started changing. The man waited for nearly half hour and then decided to quit, assuming some other gang member must have taken care of the girl in the mean time. The futile wait for a highly coveted victim perhaps made him sluggish and a bit off guard. He missed the flurry of movements just above his head until a piece of rope thrown from above looped around his neck. The boy quickly turned the rest of the rope around the old greasy bamboo pole a few times and jumped from his perch holding the other end. Though the boy was perhaps much less than half the weight of the perpetrator, the interesting law of physics, of the lever and force, pulled up the man against the gravity and he kept on dangling there without much resistance until a stream of urine made a spreading blotch on his trousers and his tongue came out of his mouth and hung limply.

Inspector Chaudhary had finished with the two witnesses and accomplices of the murder and got them into the police van handcuffed and tied around the ankles, but a missing link kept on disturbing him. He did not like it and got restless. At this point the constable produced another suspect, a possible witness, who had been waiting outside the eatery with trembling hands and ashen face. Chaudhary looked at the young girl and then suddenly he was hit by a strange feeling, a sweet emptiness pervaded him instantaneously like a strong wave and for a moment he lost his bearings. Did he know the girl, he asked himself and received two diametrically opposite replies simultaneously from deep within: yes and no. He read somewhere that some seventeenth century philosopher believed that all men fell asleep somewhere and then woke up elsewhere and whatever he remembered as his life of the intermediate phase was nothing but a dream. He could be wrong. He might have just formulated the philosophy himself. I had seen people’s mind going out of gear when they got emotionally charged and were unsure of the nature of their strong emotional impulses. But Chaudhary was sure that he knew the girl somehow. He had seen those eyes and the half turned neck and the downcast gaze in his distant past, though his conscious mind alerted him regarding the fallacy, the possible elusion. I already got disgusted with my chronicling of the murder and its aftermaths. I cursed myself for making the mistake of giving the inspector a proper name when the consciously I kept the rest of the characters anonymous. Now Chaudhary was reaping benefit of all the attention of the writer and the readers alike and was trying to play the hero of the story. Things were slipping away from my grip every moment at an alarming pace. The only clichéd analogy I could remember was the slipping away of grains of sands when one tried to hold them tight. Now the romantic angle of this part of the story was too syrupy for me to handle. I could not help but conjuring some purple butterflies in the scene from nowhere, let there be absurdity, let there be falsity plaguing the scene. The girl had the similar half dazed look in her eyes and her gait got unstable suggesting how weak she had gone in her knees and her body was trembling in sweet anticipation like a lovelorn deer waiting eagerly for her stag as soon as she saw the look in the inspector’s eyes, though these gestures could all be pretentious. The girl learnt instinctively how to wrap the toughest-of-the-pack police officers around her little finger through her traumatic past and her vast experience with male libido. But I felt my brain must have got putrefied and my imagination had gone bonkers from watching too many romantic blockbusters in the recent past. I had been almost waiting for holding of hands and perhaps some more intimate moves before shouting ‘curtain’, when Chaudhury startled me and the girl simultaneously with a comment he uttered as softly as the proclamation of love: ‘You must be the conduit who asked the victim to come to this eatery and passed on the message of his location and the timings to his rival gang!’

The tough man hanging from the handrail of the local train was by now a wreck. So many times he felt his head close to be smashed to pieces. His abdominal muscles were too weak now to tuck it within the confines of the compartment. His fingers were fatigued and were about to stop obeying orders from his brain to carry on with the tight grip. He once thought that he was fearless in the face of death. His uncanny knack to take risks against some of the toughest players of the opposition gangs made him a legend in his circle. But he never realized that death could be so unceremonious and tricky, it could hang its trophy within his reach but still a tad away and test his endurance. His voice was hoarse from pleading, from shouting abuses, from hollering cries. He again scanned the impassive faces at the gate of the train. Any one of them could save his life by slightly moving in, slightly weakening the solid wall of resistance. He saw the reasonable, well groomed, shaven faces, well combed hair styles and neatly creased clean shirt collars. They were all ordinary people with a job and a family and a home to return, whom he always considered to be softest of his targets, easiest to terrorize and quickest to yield to the smallest of the threats. But all these faces were mocking silently at his utter despair, enjoying the fear in his eyes and perhaps laughing within at his dumb show of threats. He looked at the nearest person, a young man of about thirty with a rather handsome face and even a tie knotted around a nice looking blue shirt. He asked him to save his life. A very personal, an intimate plea. His voice got too feeble to be heard over the rattling noise of the train and the man did not even bother to look at him. Tears were pouring out from his eyes out of frustration and fear and suddenly he felt angry again, drowning all other emotions and fear and he spat on the handsome face, a dollop of his hatred and anger. The man now looked at him. He did not even try to wipe his face. He did not show any surprise or disgust or anger. He calmly lodged a well aimed kick on his shin with the toe of his tough leather shoes, just hard enough to make his precarious foothold loose. The centripetal force and the blast of air and the careening of the train as it was approaching the platform of its first stop threw the killer out of the compartment into a fatal fall. The passengers of the next compartment saw a flying human body in the mid air, spinning out free till it hit an iron post and crumbled like a rag doll, but the train had already started decelerating and everyone’s focus got shifted to alighting at the station quickly before the mad rush of incoming commuters would push them back.

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