Editor: Read Chapter XXXVII here.
Tarun and three other men were watching a sports channel which was showing reruns of cricket matches.
‘Where’s my knife?’ Tarun asked all of a sudden. Umang shrugged and asked, ‘which knife?’
‘The one I stabbed Ravi with.’
‘It went with the body.’
‘What?’ Tarun was aghast.
‘We didn’t pull it out. Evidence, isn’t it?’
‘I wanted it.’
‘You should have told me Tarun. Anyway, what would you do with it? Once you kill someone with a weapon, you need to get rid of the weapon. That’s what I know.’
‘It was a gift from someone.’
‘A girl gifted you a knife?’ Umang was incredulous.
‘Not a girl you idiot. A man. I got it from Yaroslav, that Russian mercenary we hired. And it was part of a set of two knives. Look at this.’ Tarun took out the other triangle from and explained to Umang how the two knives could look like an innocuous thin rectangular plastic ruler, which could even clear airport security. ‘I want you to retrieve that knife,’ he told Umang.
‘You got to be kidding. That body would have started to decompose. It’s under four feet of water.’
Tarun gave Umang an angry look and took another sip of his beer.
The door-bell rang and a woman entered when Umang opened the door. She was very tall, at least an inch taller than Tarun, very fair and very pretty. She was dressed in a pair of worn out jeans and an old white shirt which had obviously seen better days. She seemed to be in her late twenties, but a closer look suggested early thirties.
‘It’s only five and you’ve started drinking,’ she commented dryly.
‘Neha, the last few days have been tough. Why don’t you join us?’
‘There’s some wine in the fridge,’ Umang said.
‘No, thank you,’ Neha replied politely and gave Tarun a look which suggested that a private conversation was urgently required. Tarun sighed and followed Neha to one of the bedrooms.
Once inside the closed bedroom, Neha’s demeanour changed to outright anger and in response Tarun tried to kiss her. Neha pushed him away. He persisted and with some reluctance, Neha allowed him to. After a few minutes of cuddling, Neha shoved Tarun aside. ‘We need to find a way to neutralise Ravi’s friends,’ she said.
‘Damn right and we need to do it fast. Else, everything will be lost.’
‘Is that why you decided to have a drink?’
‘I needed a drink baby. You come up with a plan and I will carry it out. The entire thing has been your baby. I am only the instrument of execution.’
Neha did not deny the compliment or shirk the responsibility cast on her. ‘Let me think,’ she said. She lit a cigarette and started to walk up and down the room. ‘No, I don’t trust the police to do a good job even if we tip them off regarding Holambe’s brother and his bangle shop.’
‘Do you want me to lead a commando raid?’ Tarun tried to make a joke of it, but Neha wasn’t amused. ‘Most probably neither Holambe nor Opesh will be there.’
In the meantime, Umang was telling the other two men, ‘I just couldn’t pull that knife out of that poor bastard. There was blood all over the handle and I’d had to take a firm grip if I had to pull it out. Uugh!’
The others looked confused.
Umang chuckled contemptuously. ‘I just found it too gross to pull it out of the body. I mean, if it’s my kill, I could easily do it. But it was someone else’s kill and I hate dealing with dead bodies anyway.’
They sat in silence, sipping their beers, watching cricket, two young men not dissimilar from other young men, except that these were killers.
‘What’s that?’ Umang sat up straight. A news ticker ran at the bottom of the TV screen which showed a cricket match played five years ago in which India had defeated Australia. ‘Maoist cornered inside Dadar Railway Station; Holds two men hostage,’ the ticker announced.
Featured Image (Cover): Nisha Joseph
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