“Get down.” came a hurried command.
“Sorry?” asked Karan.
“Get off the ledge, and sit against the wall. Now.” the shooter replied, still not stopping with the work he was doing, which Karan could now see. He wished it wasn’t true.
What the shooter was furiously hustling with was the most diverse amount of ammunition and arsenal Karan had ever seen together. He saw weaponry in the Army all right, but never in such an eccentric pile- a barrel going through a trigger, bullets lying under a rifle, a poor quality walkie-talkie, which could only be described as a frail box with an antenna, incongruous and chilling. Karan knew who all of that was planned for. A neon-blue bag lay incapacitated, a little distance away. It seemed a marvel that all this had actually been contained in that shabby thing, but it must have been.
Karan looked properly. A rifle, three pistols, bullets for each, the “walkie-talkie”, a small cell-phone, a pair of good binoculars, and a tripod. That was all there was to it, yet it seemed all so dangerous, lying there that callously.
As he was looking, the shooter flung a few sheets of paper on top of it. There was no other word for it, he just flung the papers. Then having collected everything he probably had on him in the pile, he started readying the guns… putting in the mags… the bullets…. in ALL of them.
What a douche! Who the hell handles weaponry like this! And what the hell did he need the whole cavalry for?!
Calm as the shooter was, it WAS very strange, such a panic. And then the shooter stopped. Crouched on his toes, the shooter was going through the cell phone, one of the pistols dangling in one hand. Karan wrestled with the belt…
Jeremy had decided. Screw the shooter! Just as he was in the house, he would use his advantage of cover and carry out HIS plan. The shooter wasn’t helping, and he wasn’t going to get himself dead.
His trained mind set off on the routine tracks. Scan the Officer for guns. Just the usual police gun in the police gun-holder. It was to his side, the move would be easy. Two policemen standing behind him. Each with a gun. He should shut the door behind him. Controlling everyone at once would be a problem. As it is, Mrs. Virmani was a big black blot on any plan he made, however noble. Damn that lady! Jeremy got ready.
The door was opened, by another constable. Why one was INSIDE the house, Jeremy would have wondered in usual circumstances, but right now he was just dancing that it wasn’t Mrs. Virmani.
The two men went in, Jeremy shut the door. He thrust Officer Yadav just enough to pull out his pistol and still not knock him down. The constable had pulled out his own, and was aiming it at Jeremy but that was not his concern. They must not speak!
Having carried out this part of the plan properly, he handed the pistol back to Officer Yadav. The aim was to draw their complete attention. Quickly, Jeremy put a finger on his mouth, the traditional symbol of ‘quiet’ that was only too well ingrained in Indian children.
Both policemen were baffled. But now that they had their guns and Jeremy was begging them to keep quiet, they were at least not defensive. Suddenly, Jeremy started speaking. He was still miming that they don’t speak.
“Yes, Officer… yes, I tried to find Ankur… I had some phone numbers… common friends… no sir, I came up with nothing….” Jeremy knew he had to keep talking, just like a real conversation was going on. The shooter could still hear.
At the same time, he waved frantically for a pen. Another traditional gesture, joining the thumb and the forefinger and shaking the hand like one was scribbling. Only, this one was international! The constable was hooked. He saw his senior lower his gun, ready but not aiming. He took that as permission to give the boy the pen he had in his pocket. Jeremy found a flier on the center-table. Furiously he scribbled and scrawled a little note and rushed to give it to the Officer.
Marksman nearby. Kidnapped friend. Armed. Don’t call Mrs. Virmani.
With that he started gesturing to his shirt. The mic!
Officer Yadav understood. This mission kept surprising Jeremy. He felt so patriotic then, he wanted to give Officer Yadav a big bear hug. He didn’t because the mic would be muffled.
Jeremy had been murmuring fake dialogues throughout. He snatched the paper and wrote- Fake a conversation. Stall.
“I know…. Ankur has been a real mystery… He didn’t even reply to Mrs. Virmani’s calls, she told us.” Officer Yadav couldn’t tell Jeremy the real news anymore.
“Constable Mishra, I want you to go out, at your post. Rather, why don’t you three go back to the station, I don’t think there is any more need for supervision…”
The constable had been under Officer Yadav for seven years. He read the finescript. Inform the station. Prepare them for the shooter.
“… and anyway, I’m going to be here for the time being…”
I am waiting for you, here.
“… with Jay.”
I’ll get to the root of it.
Constable Mishra went out, fast but not rushed. The shooter saw the three constables walk out of the colony. So far, things were good. The shooter waited for information. He waited for his shot, his guns ready.
“Wait here, Jay. I’ll go see if Mrs. Virmani can talk to us… my last talk with her didn’t go very well…. She won’t like us being in her house so often… but it’s necessary…” Jeremy nodded. He knew Officer Yadav was cutting them some slack. He welcomed the break from the double-timing thinking, the make-believe conversation.
As Officer Yadav went into a corridor, Jeremy spoke into the mic, for good measure- “What do you want me to do?” He waited for a phone call.
Karan was sitting a few steps away. The shooter had had to put the phone and the mic-transmitter on the floor, on loudspeaker, he was busy aiming two guns.
From the conversation he had picked up in the past few minutes, Karan knew that Jeremy was up to something. He could feel it in Jem’s words.
About time too. The belt was breaking slowly.