Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mr. C

The idiots agreed to my demand. Amateurs! They were going to send one of their people, in person, to talk about the deal. They agreed to my request of letting me talk with my son. They hit him when I was talking to him and made him cry out loud. They made him beg that I save him. This, after I specifically told them not to hurt him. The call then ended abruptly.

Of course I can't bargain with them. Even though the money they were asking me was huge, they have my son. My only son. May be they think was going to talk to them when they get here, beg them. But I had other plans. I just needed to get hold of one of them. Then, beat out of him the place where they were holding my son.

I had told them to meet me at my house that night. I took out my revolver that I had bought years ago. I had some practice at a hunt the previous year. With a silencer on, it sounded like a tiny cracker. Of course, I was not going to kill any of them. I was going to aim at their legs. Make them helpless long enough for me to find out where my son is. They said they were monitoring my calls and watching me, but once I knew where my son was, I was going to let the cops know.

When you are rich, its as if you have a bulls-eye on your back. Everybody's trying to get a piece of the pie. Everybody trying to get through to you. I used some duct tape to stick the revolver on the underside of the table near the edge where I pictured I would be sitting and talking to them. I also found an old handy hammer. I taped that beside the revolver. I rehearsed a few times sitting at the table and taking off the revolver or the hammer with a simple flick. Perfect.

It was 10 minutes to 9. I waited.
9:00 p.m. There was no sign of them. I started getting restless even though I knew that this wasn't like an appointment at the office. They didn't have to come exactly on time.
9:10 p.m. I was pacing around in the living room. May be they got scared. May be they let him go. May be they came to their senses finally.
9:13 p.m. There is a knock on my door. For a moment I was stunned by it. I gathered myself up and with a last look at the table under which my weapons were hidden, I walked over to the door and opened it.

A man in his early 60s stood there. Not just any man. It was Mr. Chaudhary. He stood there with his hands in his trouser pockets with a mocking smile on his face.

“You?!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, me.” he said pushing himself in past me.

Again, Mr. Chaudhary wasn't just any man. He was the head of a crime syndicate involved in all kinds of illegal activities around this town and surrounding cities. Although these days, his sons ran the 'business' and he more less just oversaw everything. I watched him walk in with a slight limp that had become synonymous with the man. Its something that thugs try to emulate. They think it makes them seem like him. That it makes them seem powerful like him. The limp was caused by a nerve injury after a rival gang attacked him decades ago. He wasn't a stranger to injuries though. He was shot once, underwent a 32-hour surgery, and the son of a bitch survived it!

He seemed to have noticed the table and moved towards it. I had moved it more towards the center of the room and placed chairs on either side so that it seemed quite obvious. But I was worried he might end up taking the seat on the other side - the side where my weapons were hidden!

I rushed past him and stood on the side of the table where the weapons were hidden and motioned him to take a seat on the chair opposite mine. I tried to be casual, but he looked at me with a curious smile.

With both of us seated, I stared at him. My eyes moved to the front door, which stood partially open. There was no sign of anybody else. Did he come alone? Did he feel I was not a threat at all. Or had he lost his mind in his old age, thinking he was somehow invincible? I looked back at him and he was now looking at some photographs on the wall.

“Wheres my son?” I asked him.
The question seemed to have taken him by surprise. He looked at me confused for a moment, then said,
“Oh! Hes fine.”
“Why have you kidnapped him??”
He laughed. “I thought it was made clear to you how this works. We have your son. You pay us the money we asked. We send him back to you,” he said counting the points on his fingers.
“I dont have the money. My company's been running in loss. I might have to shut it down soon.” I said trying to look distressed. He laughed. Again.
“You think I'm dumb? I know exactly how much you own, so dont try to play some dirty game with me!”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Mostly because you can afford it. Apart from the other obvious personal reasons.”
“What 'obvious' personal reasons??”
“Have you forgotten?” he said and he was now looking straight at me. I looked back at him confused. He continues,
“Oh, what was it? Around 45 years ago?? Remember how you always looked down at me? Remember how you always thought you were superior to me??”
What the hell was he talking about??
“May be I need to refresh your memory.” he said. “I used to see you almost every day. Passing by my school in your luxury car with your rich parents. And every time you looked at me, you had this look on your face. A look of superiority. As if I was worthless just because I was a poor boy attending a public school.”
“I dont remember seeing you. Hell, I didn't even know about you until I read about you in the newspapers.” I said.
He laughed again. “Guess I was just too insignificant. Too poor that you just didn't give a damn?”
I sat there stunned, racking my brain trying to remember him. Its true that I used to pass this public school on my way to school, but I dont remember him.

He sat back on his chair. “I was always so angry. So angry at that kid sitting in that car and scoffing at me. Scoffing at me for something that wasn't my fault! I never wanted to be poor! I have never told this to anyone, but people like you pushed me to become what I am today. I tried to make money for sometime. Running around stealing stuff. But then, one day, I realized something. The world 'thinks' money is power, but the truth is power gets you money.” He placed both his hands on the table and pushed himself up off the chair and stood up. He turned to the side and took a few steps and seemed to be inspecting the hall. I squirmed in my chair. What was he going to do? Did he have a gun? It was possible that he did. He could just kill me here and no one will question him. I actually felt relieved that I hadn't told the cops about this 'meeting with the kidnappers.' They would have simply saluted him and left the house. Nobody screwed around with him and lived to see another day. This man was too powerful.
“I was sorry to hear about your wife passing away.” he said suddenly turning to look at me.
“You kept tabs on me?”
“You are one of the lucky people to be included in my 'interested persons list.'” he said with a chuckle and eased himself back down into the chair, and I felt my breath easing down.
“As you know, I married thrice.” He said. I had no idea about his marital status or his personal life, but I didn't correct him. He continued,
“The first wife was killed by a 'competitor.' Another person of interest. The second, well, I killed her. And now the third. Been with her for almost 10 years. I dont love her that much, but, you know, I am getting old, and I have decided to just stick with her. And I am quite lucky, unlike you, about my kids. 3 sons and 2 daughters. The sons and 1 of my daughters are managing my 'business' at different places. The other daughter is a bit dumb. I would go as far as to say as dumb as your son.” he said with a disgusted look on his face.

I started to feel confusing emotions. Fear and anger battling each other.

He 'was' right about my son. He dropped out of college that I had paid a lot of money to get him into in the first place despite his low marks. He spends his time loitering around with his friends visiting pubs and attending parties. I am sure hes on drugs. For years, I thought he will eventually come around. But he was reaching his late 20s, and he still hasn't. In fact, I had started to lose hope in him.

Mr Chaudhary wasn't done. He kept talking, “I mean, sometimes I wonder if hes really your son. If.. if somehow your wife despised you. What if she found another man? I mean, you must have been so busy with your...” His head hit the table in front of him. I was standing up in an awkward position with my knees partially bent. My right hand beside his head holding the hammer. It felt like I had just hit a wooden block with the hammer and it sent shock waves into my arm. A tingling sensation followed. I stood there in that awkward position for a few seconds. Mr. Chaudhary's figure was prone on the table, still. I slowly became aware of my breath sounding raspy. I thought I saw his head move, and before I could think about it, I had hit his head a second time. A thin trail of blood appeared at the edge of his receding hairline and slowly found its way onto the table. As I stood there, a small pool of blood had formed on the table.

I put the hammer down, and looked towards the partially open door. One of his men could walk in at any moment and shoot me down. I would probably be hunted. I had killed a very powerful man.

I pulled off the pistol from under the table and walked towards the door. I peeked out. Not even a soul. I was surprised. He 'had' come alone.

But it was only a matter of time they would realize something was wrong. It was only a matter of time before they send somebody to check on him. I had to do something, and quick.

I racked my brain and the first thing that came to me was my son. They still had him. If they found out I killed Mr. Chaudhary, they would kill him. I can't let that happen. I decided to hide the body. Make it seem like he never came here. Yes. This meeting never occurred.

I rushed to the door to my backyard. I peeked out to make sure there was nobody around. A muddy road runs beside my backyard. The place was more or less deserted. The only people I would have had to watch out for were my next door neighbors, Mr, and Mrs. Prasad. A couple in their 80's with their children overseas. They always wake up early in the morning by 5 and start doing pujas. They were proud about their morning rituals, but they went to bed by 8 p.m. everyday. So, thankfully, they weren't going to be an issue either.

I rushed back to the table and pulled his face up off the table. Half his face was bloodied. I tried to feel for his pulse, and there was none. With my hand under his armpits, I managed to get his body off the chair and started to pull him towards the door to the backyard. Then I heard it.

I heard the sound of a jeep passing by on the muddy road beside my backyard. I wasn't alarmed to hear it at first because it was just Inspector Ravi on his way home. He rod this way everyday. His house was just 2 blocks away from here. I had met him just the day before when I had gone to file a missing persons report for my son. He had promised to do everything he can. But I hadn't told him about 'this.' About this meeting with the 'kidnappers.' For a moment, I had the horrible thought that what if he came over just to see how I was doing. To comfort me and to let me know that he was doing everything he could. And I would be caught standing with a corpse at my feet, a pool of blood on the table and the floor, and the murder weapon left openly on the table! I waited in horror. The noise of the jeep passed by and then finally died down as Inspector Ravi rod on to his home.

Once it was quite again, I gently opened the door. There was nobody hanging about. There usually is nobody around here, but sometimes youngsters hang about in the field close by. Most of them go there to get drunk, but luckily that night seemed to be a quiet night.

With one last look towards Mr. and Mrs. Prasad's house and noticing that the lights were out, I pulled the body out into the backyard. My plan was to bury it there. I quickly headed to the shed where I had my gardening tools in. I found my shovel. I brought it over and started digging a hole. I thought I heard something. Was it a creak? Was someone watching? Or was it the branches of the nearby tree. I waited for a few seconds with sweat trickling down my brow. No more noises. I continued to dig.

I still had the feeling that I was being watched. Was it Mrs. Prasad? She had the habit of peeking into our house. I had noticed her do that before. Whenever we had someone come over, she would slightly pull the curtain away and look at us. I always pretended like I didn't notice her. Sometimes, I felt sorry for her. Its like there was nothing interesting in their lives anymore. Like they needed to spy on us.

I turned my head slightly towards their window pointing at our backyard. It was hard to see in the dim moonlight, but the curtain seemed to be drawn all the way. May be she caught me about to look at her and closed it. Or may be my mind was playing tricks on me. I had to concentrate and finish this. Just bury him and be done with it.

After what seemed like 15 minutes, I had dig a hole that was a few feet deep. I decided to call one of those guys who specialize in getting rid of bodies later. But this will have to do for now. I just need this hidden. I remembered and took out his phone and rolled the body into the hole and quickly realizing it wasn't as deep as I had imagined. I cursed under my breath, but decided to made do with this. I started to shovel the mud on him. Once done with it, I hurried back into the house.

I took a look at his phone. Calls from people I didnt recognize, except for one that was his son. No calls in the last hour or so. I took out the battery and hid the entire thing under the cupboard. I hurried into the kitchen and used some cleaning clothes to clean off the blood off the table. I decided to get out of the house after I was done with the cleaning. I expected his men to barge in at any second. I can't tell them what happened. Not when they still had my son.

After washing the blood off my hands, I locked the house, got into my car and started driving. I kept driving till I was out of town.

If they caught me, I was going to tell them that I never met Mr. Chaudhary. That I was called away urgently on something. But what? What can be more important that my son's life?? May be some kind of a family emergency? I was still thinking when I saw a motel. I booked myself into a room. I ordered a bottle of vodka and started drinking.

Sitting there in the quietness of the hotel room, my mind began to race. What have I done!? Have I put my son's life in danger? I looked at my phone again. No calls. Did Mr. Chaudhary really come alone. But he must have told someone that he was going over to my house? Were they following me? Would they barge in anytime now and kill me??

I walked over to the door and double checked that it was locked. I poured myself more drinks. I dont remember when I fell asleep. Everything was a daze. I woke up the next day around 10 a.m. I ordered breakfast and more vodka. I started drinking again. I needed to escape reality. This was too much for a sober me to handle. What Mr. Chaudhary said. Yes, I am the CEO of a company, but it doesn't make me a psychopath. People believe that you can only get rich by destroying others. By stabbing others in the back. But it isn't true in my case. Or may be my dad already did it for me. Like Mr. Chaudhary said, I was born with a silver spoon.

I dont know how long I have been here. I checked the call logs again. Just the calls from my company officials. None from unknown numbers or from the number I had received the call about my son being kidnapped. Now, I was beginning to panic that I hadn't received any calls from the kidnappers. I called the number, but the response came back that the phone was switched off. Shit!

I drive back to my home. I park my car a block away and walk towards my home. No sign of anyone. But what if they are waiting for me? Hiding? There were a few cars parked close by.

I steadied myself and keep walking even though I kept feeling foolish for doing it. The door was closed. No sign of forced entry. I unlocked it and got inside. Everything is as it was when I left it. In the daylight, I could see dried blood on the floor, Mr. Chaudhary's blood, as I had dragged his body out to the backyard. Shit! I should clean it!

I was headed to the kitchen, but then stopped when I heard the noise of the jeep. It was Inspector Ravi on his way to work. I stiffened for a moment even though there was nothing to be afraid about anymore. I scoffed at myself. But is this going to be my life from now on?? Afraid at every moment that I will get caught?? My heart stopped when I heard the vehicle stop near my backyard. The engine quietened down. Shit!

I rushed to a window and looked out. I saw Inspector Ravi get out of his vehicle with a frown on his face. Another inspector who was with him got down from the other side and came over to join him. They both looked around at the backyard suspiciously, stalling for a moment before walking in. My heart pounded against my chest. I had to do something! May be go out there and send them away! Or at least quickly invite them inside the house before they end up prodding around and finding the dead body! Shit! The blood on the floor!

I noticed them head right over to where I had buried the body. Without another thought, I threw open the door and forced a smile on my face, but then it hit me. The stink. The stink of a rotting dead body. I looked at where I had buried it. I should have spent more time and dug a deeper hole. I looked back at the inspector and I saw him frowning at me and then looking at the place where I buried the body. I felt my skin crawl with fear. I looked back down at the place and noticed the damn shovel lying there!! SHIT!!

“I think its a dog.” said the other inspector who was now covering his nose with a napkin. Then, as I watched him, he walked and stood right on top of where I buried Mr. Chaudhary and looks down at some shrubbery nearby. Inspector Ravi and I moved closer to take a look. We could see fur and dried blood. I recognized it as Jimmy, Mr and Mrs. Prasad's pet dog. I noticed to my horror that the inspector was now struggling to stand on the loose mud underneath him. The patch of earth looked too uneven and disturbed. Anyone could look at it and realize that someone had dug it up recently.

“What's it, Mr. Rohit? Something wrong?” I heard Inspector Ravi ask me. I looked up at him shocked. Both of them had a weird look on their faces. They once again looked down at the patch of loose ground. Fuck! I had been staring at it like an idiot!
“Na.... nothing. I was just..” I tried to brush it off, but my face was twitching and sweat was now pouring down my head. Inspector Ravi stepped towards me saying,
“Alright, Mr. Rohit, why dont you take a step back while we.....” he looked at the other inspector and nodded towards the ground. The inspector picked up the shovel and started to dig.
“No. Stop! You cant.... wait!” I shouted, but he kept digging. Inspector Ravi forcefully pushed me closer to my door. This has got to be against the law, right? They can't just come in and start digging in my backyard. I should threaten them with something legal. But before I could come up with something, the inspector had stopped digging. He used his napkin to brush away some of the mud, then stood up with a solemn look on his face and removed his hat.

“It was all in self defense!” I shouted. “I didn't mean to kill him! It was an accident!”

Inspector Ravi handcuffed me and took me to the jeep, and on my way, a shock ran down my spine when I saw what was sticking out from the earth. It was my son's face.

****

I was held at the station. I had called up my assistant and let her know to send in my lawyer. I guess the obvious story will be that I killed my own son, buried him in my backyard, and filed a missing persons report to make everyone think that he's gone missing.

I was relieved when one of the cops told me that I had a visitor. I had gone over the incidents of that night over and over in my head so that I can give an accurate description to my lawyer. I am taken to the visiting area. I am still handcuffed. And on the other side of the steel bars is Mr. Chaudhary.

He stood there looking at me with a vicious smile on his face. The cop who brought me to the room left abruptly, and its just the two of us separated by steel bars. I walked slowly towards him, unsure what to make out of all this. I noticed the funny hat he wore.
“Oh this?? Hats are not my thing, but...” he gently removed the hat revealing a huge bandage on his head. The place where I had struck him with the hammer. So, it did happen. I was starting to feel I was losing my mind.

“If it makes you happy, I almost died.” he said with the smile still on his face. But I buried him! How is this even possible??
“I had one of the guys come with me. Told him to wait outside. By the time he grew suspicious and came in to check on me, you were already burying me. He called my sons and dug me out. Again, I barely survived. And when I came to, I realized my son had done something stupid. He killed your son.”
My teeth hurt as I clenched my jaws too hard.
“I had this funny idea. Why dont we bury him where you buried me!??” he started laughing again.
“I am going to get out of here and prove that you were the one who killed my son!” I told him through clenched teeth.
“Mr. Rohit, you might be rich, but you do know that I own the police here, right? If I want you to rot in prison for the rest of your life, then that's exactly what will happen. Anybody who even thinks of stopping me is as good as dead. People like you think that money is what motivates people, but I have found that people are always more motivated by the fear of death. The way I see it, Mr. Rohit, you are going to be locked away for the rest of your life. After sometime, the guilt is going to hit you. Sitting here all day with nothing to do, your mind will start playing all kind of tricks on you. I wont be surprised if you start wondering if you really did kill your son.”

I felt my heart pounding harder. What have I got myself into??

“I had to wait so long to return you that look you gave me when we were kids, Mr. Rohit, but it sure is satisfying as hell!” he said with a vicious smile on his face. Then, he turned around and limped his way out of there while I stood there helpless.

***

- Rejo John

Future Stories:
March 19th:  After being given another 5 months to live, he decides to undergo a procedure that promises to make him better, but soon realizes there is something very suspicious going on. [Published:  TELEPORTATION]

March 28th:  Mr. C visits another person on his "Interested Person's List."
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