CHAPTER 9: THE DARK NIGHT

“Come on yaar. It’s not the time for those lame jokes of yours”.

“I’m serious Adi. He’s a terrorist. The guy behind the PBR blast and my broken nose.”

Adi’s eyes shot up as I said those words in my typical no-nonsense voice.

“What the hell…are..are you kidding?”

“No. I’m not.”

He was left speechless. I waited for him to regain composure. Which he obviously didn’t.

“How..how did you.. ”

“Long story cut short, I spotted him near the bus stop. I attacked. He fell.”

Even I was amazed at the way I was answering without any fear. My steely resolve to punish this guy had taken over my weak brittle side.

Adi got up and cautiously came near the body. Wide eyes, the thick eyebrows, the pretty long nose,the rough beard and an insignificant face with many cuts and bruises. He noticed it all.

“You 100% sure it is him?”,his voice cracked in uncertainty.

“Yes I’m sure. No doubts.”

“But what will we do with his body? Make pickles!?”,he sounded confused at the same time angry.

“No. We’ll fetch out information from him. Or at least try to do so.”

“There is a thing called law who will do the necessary. Why we? Aren’t you happy with your present life Sooraj? Why this trouble!?”

“Umm..for some thrill.”,I guffaw as I plonk on the bed. Deep inside I knew the smile that I managed to plaster across my face was fake.

“You and your cheap thrills. And where will we keep the object of your so called thrill?”,he asked the question I was waiting for.

“You perhaps know the answer Adi.”,I smile.

For a moment, he didn’t speak anything. And then the dawn struck on him.

“NO! NEVER. NEVER EVER! My house isn’t for storing people that you try to kill. Be it a terrorist or be it a layman, I WON’T ALLOW YOU TO KEEP HIS BODY HERE!”,he yelled.

He yelled out so loud that it woke up the owner of the bungalow who lived beneath. And the next second,we hear a knock on the door.

“Open the door Aditya. Is everything okay?”,a sleepy voice murmured.

“Where the hell would I keep this guy now!? I’m dead if he sees me with an almost dead guy! All because of YOU! You idiot!”,he whispered.

“Stop swearing and now help me put this guy below your bed. There is enough space I guess.”

“Well there isn’t! It’s full with my ‘stock’ and cricket equipments.”

The knock on the door still persists.
“Aditya..you there..?”

“Hurry up! Open that cupboard and stuff him in! ”,he commanded.

“As you say captain!”,I followed.

120 seconds later, he opened the door.

At the door was Mr.Mistry, the owner of the apartment. He was in his late forties, with specs of grey hair trying to overcome the dye which he used to hide them. He wore spectacles and was potbellied. Clearly a 9-5 office slogger like the most of us. The mediocre mango man or the aam aadmi,as we say.

“Is everything all right Aditya? I heard you yell at someone. And what took you so long to open the door?”,he asked suspiciously.

“Actually me and my friend Sooraj were practising for a play that we’ve to perform the next week. I went inside the character too much I guess….hence the yelling.”

“Only two guys in a play? ”,he shooted out from his questionnaire.

“Er….actually,the fact is that this part..that we were rehearsing a few moments ago is the climax. But he couldn’t say out his dialogues in conviction. So the practice. I’m the scripter of this play.”

“But,this late?!”,he yawned throwing a cursory look at his high end mobile device.

“Since my entire schedule is choc-a-bloc and I get back from my office late, this was the only time when we could practice Sir, I apologise on Aditya’s behalf. We will make sure we won’t disturb you again.”,I say as if I really cared for his sleep.

“No..no! It’s fine..I too used to take part in plays and skits during my college days and have won many accolades…..”

And then he started his story,making me red in anger.

What if Junaid wakes up due to the noise that Mr. Mistry was creating?

That’s when I spot slight movements from the cupboard.

The Devil is awake!

“Sir..sorry to interrupt you,but we have little time left. We have to practice hard. We would love to meet you some other day and we can talk a lot about skits and theories related to it..”

He was obviously annoyed at my sudden change in interest.
“Oh ya..its too late..2 am already! You guys practice then..I hope I didn’t disturb you both.” 

Frankly speaking if I had a revolver in my hand at that very moment,I would have shredded him to pieces.

“No sir! It was such a pleasure to meet you.”,I fake another smile.

As we grow old,we learn this art very well. The art of concealing our emotions for a greater good.

As he left the room,I locked the door and indicated Adi to check the cupboard.

Slowly, he went near the cupboard and cupped his ears on the door, trying to hear Junaid inside.

He shaked his hands signalling “nothing! ”.

Open it!

Ohk..

..cautiously!

..ya I know!

Wait!

I tiptoed to the bed and took out the very steel bottle with which I had banged Junaid a few hours ago.

Now!

Slowly, Adi opened the door.
A bloody Junaid jumped on him and beat him black and blue. Adi couldn’t even react at the sudden and strong blows from him. With the bottle in my hand I run to help out Adi.

“Take this!”,I was about to strike on his head when he stopped me with an unbelievable reflex,snatched the bottle and hurled it towards me. And it hit me directly on my right shoulder.

I winced in pain and went to the other side of the room,looking out for other potential weapons. Meanwhile,Adi had managed to hold Junaid’s blows,even returning some in equal measure.

I spot a bat that Adi had stacked beneath his bed. The bat was a ‘kangaroo bat’ with a long handle and a heavy bulging base. They were mostly used by T20 specialists,Andrew Symonds the most famous of them, for hitting powerful sixes. But with time, cricketers started using them even in Tests.

Adi was still fighting bravely guarding the door so that my catch doesn’t run away. Junaid now had a dagger in his hand, threatening to stab Adi.

Channelling the frustration towards my Supervisor and Mr.Mistry I smashed Junaid on his shoulder.

As he turned around,the willow smashed his long nose. One more blow on his forehead and he gave up. Unsurprisingly, he fainted.

The next moment, we tied him tightly with a rope and stuffed a kerchief into his mouth. We were about to hide his body inside the cupboard once again when an idea struck me.

“Wait..wait a minute.”

“What now?”,Adi looked puzzled.

I take out some capsules from my bag and hand it over to him.
“Make sure he swallows them.”

“What are these capsules actually? ”

“Sleeping pills.”

“And why do you use them?”

“There are reasons..”,my voice crack.

“Like..?”

“My stupid past.”.

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