The general opinion among the masses, about crime, is that it is a trade of the night. ‘The city is not safe in the dark’, hence they say. What usually follows in this prejudice is that “these criminals”, born a different breed from everyone else, are not people from the crowd of course. They live in shady corners, and walk in the streets only when their “animal minds” seek harm, and evil.
Defying all these beliefs, in an ‘innocent’ colony in Paschim Vihar, in broad daylight, three men stood, one gun pointed, thinking AND acting like criminals. Whose aim is nobler we are not to decide.
The unexpected visitor pressed his gun to Karan’s forehead, calm but not smiling anymore. Though the one in command, he knew he had to deal smartly. These weren’t just some Delhi-boys, he had seen that night.
Jeremy was only thinking about attacking the assailant by surprise, when he said, “Oh no you don’t. The time you’ll take to hit my leg, I will have pressed the trigger twice, sending at least one bullet into Karan’s brain here. Instant death for him; and you still get to deal with me. But good try.”
Jeremy hung back. It was Karan’s turn at epiphany. “Jem… It’s him…”, he whispered, suddenly understanding. The shooter who killed Varuna, shot at Mrs. Virmani, and probably also arranged Ankur and Sunny’s death.
“Ya, that’s better. Let’s start with introductions. You two are nuisances who are constantly creating trouble for me, and my best interest is to eliminate you once and for all. Of course, that won’t suit the two of you. So YOUR best option is to help me with what I want from you. Matters of the game, you will understand.”
It was a master plan. In fact it was so smart, even the collective brains of Karan and Jeremy couldn’t find loopholes. More than anything, the simplicity of the entire deal was baffling.
Jeremy would do the what the shooter said. A few necessary things before we move, he had said. He would only take the phone the shooter had brought for him, leaving behind his own. Some money, the shooter gave him. Before going, he would tie his belt around Karan’s hands, in front, not behind his back. And a piece of black cloth to Karan’s eyes, which the shooter had brought. Only a precaution, the shooter had said, to delay you. And anyway, my finger is faster than your wrists can be.
Jeremy would then wear a small microphone and walk out on the road, while the shooter took the blind, maimed Karan up to the top floor of the building they were standing under, to watch as Jeremy moved around, doing what he said. Via stairs. Lifts had a way of proving sticky in such situations.
“Any funny things with the mic, I pull the trigger. Anything happens to my view, I pull the trigger. You try and waft off the course, of course, I pull the trigger double quick. Not one task will take you away from the main road, not once out of sight. So don’t try,” he said.
And then he threw the bomb shell. The plan could not have been better. Sheer marvel.
Karan would not hear anything the shooter told Jem to do. Instead, he would report what Jem was doing, looking down the roof, when he was needed to. This gave the shooter immense power to deal with any other things that may come up, while not losing control on his prisoners.
Should Jeremy try a stunt, Karan would have to report fiction, and the shooter would know that instructions were not being followed. And from the opposite end of the roof where he would be managing the other business, he would send a bullet through Karan and make off.
Trying to find some way out, both men reluctantly went their ways. Jeremy was chillingly conscious of the shooter’s heavy dependence on his gun. No way he was carrying just one, he thought. He was right, as the shooter stepped back towards the building, Jeremy could see the outline of at least two more guns under his kurta, one on each side. Jeremy turned away.
Karan couldn’t see anything. It was no use trying to hit the gun out of his captive’s hand, he could feel another on him. Anyway, the nozzle was too steady to be sent flying with one’s hands bound, and eyesight blocked. The trigger would be pulled by then too.
Karan hoped then, that they somehow be intercepted on the stairs. Some civilian, some kid, someone. At the same time, it was strange the shooter hadn’t thought of it. Did everyone really use the lift?!
They continued hurrying up the stairs. The shooter was fast. And he steered Karan quick too. I could try slipping. It would look an honest mistake. Create some sound somehow! But he never found one pot-plant to break, one metal plate to bang. The stairs were made of the usual cement and stone, so popular in Paschim Vihar. God, how he wished someone had opted for marble, it echoed so good!
Either the shooter was being very very smart, or these people really didn’t care for the staircase. Karan didn’t like how things were going. He didn’t like being blind.
Jeremy’s mind was the model of speed. In fractions of a second, he was formulating plans and rejecting them, unable to find just the thing. All he knew was he had to get Karan and himself out of the shooter’s reach, because their was no foresight on what they would be in, once they left this locality. Their was no hope whether they would even live.
Jeremy stood still, waiting for the call and a joyous thought.
His speculations were cut short by the shooter’s cell vibrating in his palm. Please God, let something go wrong in his ruddy plan! Jeremy took the call. “Ya.”
“First job, there’s a dinghy shop on the road. Selling tobacco primarily, and other trivial stuff. Go to the man on that shop, give him fifty bucks, take three packets of his most expensive weed, and don’t take the change.”
“Why not? I will be paying him way above double.”
“Try not to think that much, it just itches me to finish you two quicker. And just wanted to let you know, I have my rifle aimed at Karan’s heart. And he doesn’t know it.” The phone clicked.
Geez, the lunatic even had a rifle!
Jeremy was sweating.