*) - The Mysterious Woman
(Srishti Yash Mudaliar)
"It might have been a little trouble to you darling, but it’s said that he is a dangerous man. He craves for women. And this, after all is a world where one fears even moving out", Srish tried to explain.
"It’s not a trouble to me but it might be a trouble to my girlfriend. Ha ha!!", Gauti tried to lighten the mood.
But the atmosphere was fearsome. It was a dark, gloomy, quiscent area in a suburb and so was the night and there was fog and humidity and traces of precipitation.
"It is", continued Srish "said that he craves for sex. Two years ago he attacked his maid. His only son prefers not to live with him. That’s why he lives here in a less populated area. I’ve worked under him and to me he had been courteous. But I didn’t want to take risk. Life is precious, isn’t it?"
They walked upstairs to reach the mezzanine floor of a little multi-storied wooden house. Sobyasacchi Dasgupta occupied the whole house, all alone. Srishti or Srish was a journalist and had worked for the Real Times magazine for about three years. She was later promoted to the newspaper sections of the publication house. Sobyasacchi DasGupta was a retired editor-in- chief of the Real Times and Srish was assigned the duty to invite him for the silver jubilee celebrations of the magazine. She thought him not a man to visit without company and took the company her friend Insp. Gautam aka Gauti as everybody would address him.
They knocked the door thrice. No one came forward to open. But the door slung due to force when knocked the third time. DasGupta, a man in his late sixties was sitting with his coffee mug. A dumb waiter stood nearby. A supposedly dinner, consisting chiefly of junkies was seen lying on it. His eyes looked stary, as if they were under spell.
"Mr. Das! Hello!", said Srish in a low and suspicious voice. "Remember me Mr. Das?”, she uttered while she stepped forward.
Dasgupta didn’t utter a word in response
“Mr. Das..” Srish tried to move a little more forward, when she heard
“Mr. Das!” this time it was the boyish voice of Gauti “are you alright?".
He put up his gloves and tried to feel life under his neck.
“Oh no! HE IS DEAD”, said Gauti coldly.
Soon there were cops in the house.
“Doesn’t look like a natural death, sir.”, Rizwaan Sheikh, a tall handsome man in his late thirties appealed to his superior Gautam. “His eyes were wide open and staring. 'am sure that HE WAS DRUGGED! We sent the body to the forensics sir. We’ve found no other clue!”
“Srish!” Gauti turned to the girl “you worked with him for three years! You think anyone wanted to take his life?”
“He was a big pervert!! All the women hated him. He was never good to the staff either!! So all in all everybody hated him. He liked elderly women and young girls didn’t interest him, so he never bothered me but I know how exactly he was! I’ve seen him do things!”
“What about his family?”, Gauti inquired more.
“I don’t know him in person. Let’s ask the neighbours!", Srish gave an honest reply.
Dasgupta’s house was fenced and the neighbourhood gathered round the entrance gate. As they saw cops approaching, many disappeared in thin air. Mr. Singh and gossipmonger Mrs. Patel and a few street loafers stayed.
“His son would often come to see him”, informed Singh
“Nope! He never showed since the old man shifted here. He had been showing only since past six months! His woman is believed to have had a pre-marital affair with her own father-in-law and that boy hated him, I heard”, corrected Mrs. Patel. “He wasn’t rich anymore. He spent all his earnings on his rich life, beer and..and WOMEN”, she continued.
“You mean there were women??”, this interested Srish. “
“Not many! We think he had one..or a few!! Not sure..”, Mr. Singh informed.
“Yes! There was one!! I saw her many times! I threw passes at her, but she didn’t even blink at it!! I guess she was too much fond of her old scum!!”, babbled another guy, that gave the appearance of a street ruffain and who was also involved in the conversation, while his friends guttered a laughter.
“Or she was too much fond of his money!! If he had any..I mean the hidden one!!” said Mrs. Patel as she made her way home. “My son must be back home!! I must go!!”, she said.
Others also moved.
“They couldn’t give much information. But we know that there probably was a woman”, Gauti noted.
“He must have been bringing in wenches!! We know that he was a sex-maniac! There might have been one or there might have been several.”, Srish made it more vague.
“No!! There was only one!!”, the silhouette of old widow Mrs. Rominje appeared approaching from the entrance of the fenced house in the neighbourhood. She had difficulty walking. Gauti rushed towards her and took her to and comforted her in a recliner in her garden.
“Thank you!”, her voice quivered as she continued “My feet and voice have turned feeble over this period. But my eyes and ears are sharp. She was with him since past few months. The son also appeared after she appeared. I heard him shouting to his son and sometimes on phone that he was out of money and this might be true. He stopped seeing girls for a while. Then came this woman! She was very beautiful, I tell you. But..”
“Please feel free to speak Mrs…”, Gauti comforted her.
“Rominje!! My husband Rominje died eight years ago and left me with this house alone!! Since then I’ve been observing the outer world. That woman was beautiful. But she was lame. The pig carried her in arms at times dragged her upstairs at others. He probably used this poor unfortunate girl to satisfy his thirst. He was rude to her. I once saw him shoving her into his car. She didn’t even utter a word. She probably.. was also dumb. I pity her. Any woman would want to get rid of such a monster”
“You mean she might have killed him to escaped his tyranny?”, Srish tried to reach a conclusion.
“I doubt yes!! Someone might have helped her escape”, murmured the old woman.
“He died” Sheikh reported, “of overdose of anesthesia, Sir and..and his liver has been found missing which was removed through surgery, and this surgery was quite recent!!”
“Well excuse me sir, we have a visitor” interrupted constable Shirine
Gauti went into the waiting room. Srish followed him. She was preparing a crime report of the case and assisting her friend.
“Hello Sir..I am Shrivastava. I live next to Mrs. Rominje..you talked her that day..I.. I saw..”, said Shrivastava who was a thin dark man and looked a little scared.
“Please feel free to speak Mr. Shrivastava”, Gauti conforted him in his usual way.
“Well..I wanna confess something..err..I saw him bu..bu burn her..”, said Shrivastava in a stammering voice. “Ye..yes..he burnt her and..and then he took a bag..i am sure he kept her in that bag and buried somewhere very f..far..Didn’t report that, I was not sure! I wasn’t even sure that the woman existed!! There were often flames from his house..he burnt a number of things..But I didn’t want to bother a neighbor..be him whoever..without reason..And moreover..I was afraid of him..What if I was wrong and later he might have tried to cause us trouble..in revenge..as my wife suspected..so I didn’t report..”
Suddenly there was interruption. “Excuse me sir..a woman’s clothes have been found in the house!!”, came constable Shirine with the news.
“Aha!!” exclaimed Gauti “So, there is a woman!!..look for her DNA!!”
Real Times was one of the major selling business magazines in the country. Dasgupta had been working there for forty years.
“He, brought us where we are today!” informed Miss Meera Shyam, the new editor-in-chief of the magazine. The response of the staff towards querries was the same. “He was gentle and humble,” they said.
“Liars!!” murmured Dixit and went off the desk room. Gauti noticed him and followed him in the canteen. He signaled Srish to carry on with inquiry at the desk room.
“Yes gentleman!! You got anything to say?” Gauti kept a gentle hand on Dixit’s shoulder and asked.
Dixit inspected the room first and then started.
“He promoted that bitch, that Meera Shyam to the highest post!! And why? Because she slept with him!! That bastard!! My wife deserved this position. She didn’t succumb to his evil wills! He sacked her off the job and after that he kept bothering me…never let me have my deserved promotion either!! We made the Real Times!! What was this shit of papers before we joined in here?? And my poor wife!! She took to drinking out of frustration and died with my child when she was carrying it!! She went out drunk one day and she was found dead due to liver failure”
“Aaah!!”, thought Gauti loud “Any ailment?”
“Yes!! Cirrhosis of LIVER”, said Dixit.
“The son Sudhodhan Dasgupta is a self made industrialist. His father spent all his earnings on his lavish life and saved not a penny for his son. The son rather lent him some money as a loan to keep his house and living. He gains nothing from the death." reported Sheikh.
“Dixit”, started Gauti after Sheikh left, placing the photographs of the suspects on the desk in front “whose wife died of cirrhosis of the LIVER, a son who benefits nothing from the death, daughter-in-law, I’ve enquired, had dated DasGupta before she dated his son, the son seems unaware of this, then there are some jealous colleagues, as you said you noticed, fearing neighbours, Shrivastava said some feared to let their girls out because he lived there when I further inquired...Humm..what about the maid you said he attempted to rape?”
“Shomita chetterjee!” Srish informed, “I heard she lives in the Raven villa, we can find out exactly where!!”, Srish gave the information she had to her cop friend.
“Let’s do it then”, Gauti said.
“He tried to exploit me when I begged him money for the medical treatment of my husband”, Shomita expressed her grief with tears. “When I refused, he tried to force.”, she continued “I somehow managed to escape his clutch. I made a complaint. But who listens to the poor? The media didn’t support me! I had no evidence. He was granted an immediate bail and soon was set free.”
Shomita was a healthy woman in her late thirties. a very beautiful face she had!
“What kind of ailment did your husband have?”, asked Srish.
“HEPATITIS B!!”, said Shomita.
“Avantika Dixit was found dead”, reported Sheikh to Gauti “in the Rosalynd woods. It was a natural death due to LIVER failure. She was carrying a baby but she kept drinking!! She suffered great deal of depression, it is marked. Her husband Pradyuman Dixit swore a revenge on someone nobody knows of”
“Humm! Anything else?”, asked Gauti
“Yes sir, this”, Sheikh brought in a file to Gauti is “Sir, is the medical report of Mr. Sudhodhan Dasgupta, that you asked for He is all over a healthy person, he got his liver transplanted last month, exactly on the day his father died. Someone stabbed him in the LIVER, some eight months ago, while he was walking towards the car park. He survived the injury for a few months. But then it became almost impossible for him to survive without a transplat.”
“What?? In the LIVER?? You sure??” Gauti growled, but with astonishment.
“Yes sir in the LIVER”, said Sheikh coldly.
Another month passed. Gauti and his team went in to explore Dasgupta’s cottage again. There were lots of eatables, rotten pizza, burger buns, breads, oat cakes, aerated drinks, some gold chains and rings, rich furniture and clothes. And there were women’s clothes!
“Sir, sorry for interruption, but there are visitors!”, constable Shirin escorted a few visitors.
“Aah!! Mr. Sudhodhan DasGupta!! Please come!!”, Gauti welcomed Sudhodhan DasGupta, the son of Sobyasacchi Dasgupta. His father’s neighbourhood and some colleagues of important designations followed him.
“Hello sir!!”, said Sudhodhan DasGupta, a middle aged man of fine health and a neat moustache, his hair was neatly done and he wore a light colored suit. He continued “Sir, I find it very inappropriate to interfear with your investigations but I am sorry to say that I am a bit disappointed with what the police is doing. They say they have no clue of what has happened to my father. They gathered nothing very noteworthy yet!! It’s been two months and no clue of who killed my father! Sobb!!”, Dasgupta wiped a drop of tear in eye.
Others also showed dissatisfaction.
“Investigations take time when the slayer flees. But no worries!! The killer has left his HAT in the basement!! There must be scratches, boils, hair samples. Sooner or later we’d find a DNA sample and get the match!! The forensic experts shall come and pick it up by tomorrow morning. Till then I suggest that we evacuate the house.”, Gauti gave a quick and short answer.
“Moreover,” continued Sheikh, “there are two other blood samples and these samples give us very important clues!! We’ve identified those samples. The HAT could not belong to those two persons. It is a rich and very costly designer hat that the people identified cannot posses. So, we suspect that there was also a third person!! And actually we found a hair sample in the hat that doesn’t belong to the victim and the other two identified! It could belong to the killer”
“Were you stabbed in your LIVER a few moths ago Mr. DasGupta?”, Gauti asked suddenly.
DasGupta and Gauti started.
“Yes! It was ten months ago. A thin small figure rushed towards me. It stabbed me violently and fled. I shot it in the leg as it rushed away. My liver got damaged in that accident. For a while it seemed I recovered but later the doctors found the need of replacement and I underwent sugery.”
“Did you feel like your attacker targeted your LIVER?”
“Well I am not sure..I didn’t notice!! But may be..I don’t know. But the way the attacker overcame my resistance and did it..it’s just possible that a target organ was set!!”
“Mr. Dasgupta..”, said Gauti grimly, “I am sorry but looks like YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER”
Sudhodhan Dasgupta rested in his armchair. He saw a mysterious shadow in the backyard. He rushed towards the door but before he could open the door, he heard a knock.
“You!!”, he was amazed to see the person at the door “You? Inspector Gautam?”, he screamed.
“Convict’s HAT!!”, Gauti wore a Hat and moved it in a Cowboyish manner.
DasGupta stared at him with mouth wide open.
“Ha ha!! This is only the hat. The hair sample has been removed and kept safe at the crime scene. Forensic experts from the Investigation Deptt. Shall pick it up and see tomorrow morning!! We assume that your life is at risk Mr. DasGupta. I’ve come here to guard you!! I’d stay here tonight, keep eye on everything and plan security measures for you!!”
DasGupta hesitated first but later agreed. “Please make youself comfortable!”, he said
Gauti investigated the house. Late at night he came back to the huge sitting room. DasGupta offered him dinner. They dined.
“Mr. DasGupta..are you an architect?”, asked.
“I’ve got my degree in the architechture. But I don’t get time for thi hobby anymore”, said DasGupta.
After dinner DasGupta went into his room to sleep while Gauti jumped on a couch in the living room. Mrs. Shuporna Sudhodhan Dasgupta frowned at him. She had known that he had been enquiring about her relationship with her father in law.
The basement staircase at the crime scene. A shadow creeped slowly upwads towards the living room, where the cops had laid their tables and lockers where they kept various sample. It wore a cowl. It crowled towards the table. It kept a master keys of various designs and seemed well adept in making their proper use. It pulled open several drawers and cupboards and finally found the hair sample!!
“Looking for the hair sample?..”, asked Srish “Mr.Sudhodhan DasGupta!”, said she with a cunning smile.
Sudhodhan removed his cowl “So..you knew it was me!!”, he said, quickly taking out his pistol. He was about to press the trigger, at once but he got a sudden blow from behind. It was Sheikh. He banged him down and later held him in his stern captivity.
“Now tell us Mr. Das junior..why did you kill you father??”, asked Srish
“For the LIVER”, Gauti’s voice came from the entrance. “His liver was damaged in an accident. He had only one matching liver and that was his father’s!! He urged him to donate it to him! He refused, so he forcefully took it off from him!!”, he said.
DasGupta denied the conviction first but after getting a few blows from Sheikh he confessed.
“Yes. He had no one. I have my family. My wife is a fool. She’d spend all the savings on her boyfriends and leave my kids to starve. I hired two goons to kidnap my father. Dad was a tough guy. They gave him a high dose of chloroform. He was given anesthesia again. We got his liver extracted and left him the car. He was greatly drugged. But still he somehow managed to drive home. He probably didn’t realise what has happened to him under the influence of the dose. He prepared some sandwitches and then died of the overdose!! I didn’t want to kill him. After a week then I gave contract to the two boys I hired to finish the doctors and the nurses. They did. Then I shot them dead in the basement of this very house!! Ha ha ha! Right under your nose. I am an architecht. I designed this house for my father to suit his use. I constructed this alley that leads to a lift that opens a mile away from the house in a desserted plot so that he could bring in wenches withot bringing them to public notice!! But he was a fool he didn’t make proper use. I did. I called in the two goons I hired to take their money and shot them dead. I flew them off in my car that stood in the desserted plot that opens a mile away from this house electrocuted and disposed them. The cops however recovered their burnt body remains in trash cans.”, DasGupta confessed.
“You must have been week after surgery, how did you carry the bodies?”, Srish asked.
“I cut them into many pieces and filled them in light weight wheeeled bags and pulled them quite easily across the passage. Though later I suffered owing to the stress I took. I used silencer, kept careful with any kind of noise that could be made. I anesthised the goons first and then shot, so that they don’t give a shout. I wiped away blood stains and every possible evidence before I left. But unfortunately, I guess the cops recovered some remains!!”, DasGupta told.
“This is a punishable offence Mr. Dasgupta. Now the court will see you!!”, said Gauti grimly
***After the cops left, Gauti offered to drop Srish home. Srish was still left with many questions and so they started.
“But how could you be so sure that only the murderer would show up at the scene to pick up the hat?”
“Owing to killing of three doctors and four nurses in a car accident and two goons who were shot dead and chopped henceforth. These were studied as a separate cases. When I saw Dr. Ranjan, one of the victims’ name on DasGupta’s medical file, I got a hunch! The investigators of that case found out that two goons Shiva and Sonu were hired to kill the doctors and their nurses. When the sample of their blood was found in the basement, which wasn’t earlier found, I knew what it was!! DasGupta was a clean man, his extreme will to keep secracy of the sin he did tempted him to kill more”
“But why did he choose this house to finish the goons?”
“His extreme will to keep secracy again!! Noone new of the lower deck of the basement! It was a secret place. The cops discovered it later when they discovered Shiva’s blood that had reached the upper deck through a rat’s feet that led them to the lower!!”
“And what about his hat?”
“Ha Ha!! No the hat was not found at the crime scene!! I just asked Sheikh to secretly investigate Sudhodhan’s backyard. He found a blood stained raincoat and this rich hat. He brought the things to me. We assumed, with quite surity that he used these during the day he killed the goons. But the blood was only of Sudhodhan, probably his liver bleeded after he took stress, so no use. But, I planned to use this hat. Sudhodhan might have thought that he might have dropped the hat in hurry. We made it a public hoax that we found the hair sample of the convict. And he then took all the risks and came up to pick up the hat. I just kept my fingers crossed that he doesn’t send a hired dog to do this. And as I assumed, he didn’t! He planned to use me. I was at his home. He had a senior inspector to witness his alibi and no one would doubt him, he thought. That’s why I kept you and Sheikh waiting there with other guards and moved at a distance of ten minutes fron him from his house.”
“Oh genius!! You solved the case!!”
“Nope!! Not completely!! We’re still left with a mystery. We still don’t know who the WOMAN was..they say that he burnt her and dumped her somewhere in the heck!! No trace of DNA in her clothes”
“Well..I don’t think so..while we were looking for clues..I found this in a frawer..hope this might help”, said Srish while pursing in a naughty smile and passing Gauti a piece of paper.
“Oho!! Ha ha!!” Gauti laughed “So this it was!!”
Gauti carefully folded the paper and kept in his pocket. It was a receipt of payment to “Nylece Sex Doll Manufacturing Firm.” for the order of a doll.
*) - A Tale of E and S
Eric squeezed the trigger thrice; the bullets pierced Mr. Godric Hannaway’s flesh easily. Eric felt he should have charged more every time he saw the aftermath (he had even given a discount this time). Blood, sinews scattered on the ground, a gun to dispose off, hands and clothes to be scrubbed clean, occasionally wiping the blood off the copper; pulling the trigger was easy, anyone could do it, it was clearing the mess effectively that earned Eric his bread. No one had been able to associate him with the murders ever, his alibis were perfect, his methods surgically precise.
A knock on the frosted glass door woke Detective Shepherd up. He hated “The Knock”. It invariably meant that someone else had been killed, or maimed and killed, or raped and killed, or in some sick perversions, even worse, and now he was supposed to observe the crime scene, constantly swallowing the bile that rose in his throat due to smelling the dried blood.
He had been drooling on the desk. He wiped the corner of his lips with the back of his hand, and slurped the extra back in noisily, and croaked, “Come in”. His voice wasn’t anywhere as authoritative as Senior Detective’s in the Homicide Division of LAPD should be.
It was her new boss, Julianne Roark, a sharp, ebony-skinned woman of forty. They had not gotten to the first name basis yet, but she was the only person he respected enough to allow to call him by his first name. He was Detective Shepherd to everyone else.
“Did I wake you up detective?” Roark asked.
“Yeah. But it’s ok. I shouldn’t have been sleeping on the job anyway.” Shepherd smiled back.
“Well, I have something that will give you sleepless nights.”
“Who is it?”
“Godric Hannaway. Multi – …”
“Millionaire and owner of the Hannaway Chain of hotels. He’s dead? What happened?”
“Three shots, 2 thorax, 1 abdomen. Didn’t get hit in any vital organs but died of excessive bleeding.”
Shepherd drew in a sharp breath and let out a long sigh. “Fuck man! I saw that sucker last Sunday in church. Told the senile bastard he was going to hell for screwing that 20 year old Whatsisname from last month’s GQ”
“Eric Spellman. He was the one who called us. He met him last night at some party and had planned to go out with him today. He got there at 8, forced the servants to open the doors when Hannaway didn’t answer and saw him dead on the floor.”
Hannaway’s house was a mansion to put it modestly. Dog Kennels and Swimming pools are objects of grandeur for small men like you and me. Hannaway had Stables and Lakes scattered around for the sake of it across his 10 acre estate (still putting it modestly). Italian marble was used as abundantly as overpriced plants and ridiculously similar looking ferns. Shepherd both loved and hated the placed at the moment. Loved it due to what he was seeing, hated it due to what he was supposed to.
Shepherd crouched under the yellow tape and walked into the almost giant entrance hall of Hannaway’s home. He waved at one or two of the familiar faces from the Ballistics department, forcing the customary smile and thanked God that the fingerprint guys hadn’t got there yet. He didn’t really feel much like smiling. He knew Hannaway early on from his career. Hannaway had been a suspect in a murder case Shepherd had investigated nearly 10 years ago. Hannaway had escaped gracefully due to lack of evidence and Shepherd had never liked him since. He reserved his interactions with Hannaway to a formal and rather cold Hello at the church. Why did Hannaway even bother to show up at the church was a mystery to Shepherd, Hannaway was obscenely open about his homosexuality and philandery. But now that he was gone, Shepherd felt like the Joker to his Batman had gone away and felt weirdly empty.
James Sheldon, head of the Ballistics department, jogged to Shepherd. Shepherd saw him out of the corner of his eye and slowed down his usual trot to a stroll. Sheldon, a heavy, balding man of about 50 panted his way to walk beside Shepherd, “God Boss! Canna walk ni slower? I ‘ave kids you know!”
Shepherd replied “You are not carrying them in you, are you? No? Then, deal with it. So, what have we got here?”
Sheldon sighed at Shepherd’s reply, “Gee boss! Can’t cattcha break, can ya? Anyway, prettee stanard stuff. 9mm bullets, probably silenced, the barrel prints are all over the place, 2 thorax, 1 abdomen, shot fromma close range, 5 feet from ventral, maybe less, but not more ‘en 5. Hannaway sure had a clear view of his killer.”
“How is that relevant?”
A glimmer shone in Sheldon’s eyes at this comment, “Ahh! I am glad ya ask me that. Follow me.”
Sheldon trotted towards a room that clearly belonged to Hannaway. A riot of colours would have been an understatement if used to describe that room. The room had ornate golden doors that lead in to a room with a circular roof with frescoes on it. The walls were covered with books arranged in tasteful oak shelves and drapes of a million colours that still didn’t become an eyesore were hung around the room like a sole column of sunbeam hangs to the earth on a cloudy day.
“You see, when we got here, we found Hannaway lying face down in a pool of blood. No one had touched anything as instructed. But when we flipped him over, we saw he had written something in his own blood.” (Shepherd walked faster on hearing this)
Shepherd entered the room and tread cautiously to the white chalk line. The handwriting was Hannaway’s beyond doubt. Some of the letters had been smudged by blood and were therefore unreadable, but an E and an S were distinct.
“E-S? What is that? Some sort of an initial or something?”
“I think so boss. Lookeere. There is some bloodied up space ‘tween the E and the S. Maybe three or four letters. The poor bastard knew who had shot him and tried to tell us, but sadly, his hand fell on what he wrote and blood mixed with blood.”
Shepherd looked at Sheldon incredulously, “Blood mixed with blood? Seriously?”
“Smart, eh? Read it one of my daughter’s college books. She is getting straight A’s.”
“So, does this make Eric Spellman our primary suspect?” Shepherd ignored the comments unrelated to the scene at hand as usual.
“Just coz of E.S.? I dunno boss. That could apply to thou’ands of people. Even…”
“I know that! But it’s obvious Hannaway knew the shooter very well and could recognize him even in the dark. And plus, we have to start somewhere.”
“Come on Boss! Have ya even seen Spellman? The bastard couldnta killed a fly even if he wanned to. Even Silvano ‘ould be a better option.”
“Eric Silvano. E.S. applies to him as well. Was Hannaway’s cook. Italian. The other guys in the house told Jimmy that Hannaway and Silvano had had a pretty big fight last night. I looked him up and the Silvano guy sure is a character. Has been in’n’outta the joint 3 times. BnE once and bar fights the other two. His father worked hired muscle for the Carltino family back in the 60s and 70s, was killed by our men during the big Plaza raid of 82.”
“Hmmm… Interesting! Send him in, will you? And when Spellman turns up, hold him, I want to talk to him.”
“Sure thing boss.” Sheldon said and walked out of the room as fast his abnormally thin legs could carry him.
Eric Silvano was more Italian than pizzas and pastas. His distinct Tuscan features made him stand out glaringly among the others around him. He was almost 6 feet tall with smooth chiseled cheek bones and big, brown eyes. He spoke with a thick Italian accent inspite of living in California for almost 30 years now. He walked in with slumped shoulders, knowing his past would catch up with him here as well and he would be sent to the joint again.
“Eric Silvano? I am detective Shepherd with the Los Angeles Police Department. Please, have a seat.”
Silvano saw a middle-aged, almost balding man of around 45, flanked by two officers, sitting on the edge of Hannaway’s desk. Silvano staggered into the chair facing him and hid his face in his hands.
“Picked the best of the times to pick up a fight with the old bastard, didn’t I? Just my luck, as usual.”
“Relax Silvano. If you are innocent, nothing will happen to you.”
Silvano snorted, “Yeah officer, whatever you say.”
Shepherd was liking the Italian lesser by the second. He continued, “Ok, can you tell me what happened last night? Did someone come to see your employer?”
“Well, Mr. Hannaway, well, he is dead, right? The bastard sent us off to the servant quarters every night at 9. He returned home at around 8 last night with his pretty boy but that was the only person that visited him in front of us yesterday.”
“If someone else visited him after 9?”
“Then he usually answered the door himself, but it rarely happened. The son of a bitch made his own mother take an appointment.”
“The only way to enter the estate is through the main gate?”
“Technically, yes. But with the boundaries so vast, it’s not the ONLY way. The walls aren’t barbed all the way through, so…”
“Hmmm… I see. So you want to tell me what happened last night between you and him?”
Silvano looked out of the window into the pines for a minute and then said, “Well, basically, he is, sorry, was, whiter than me.”
Shepherd groaned within. He had been tired of listening to these immigrants saying how every altercation they ever had on this continent was because they weren’t born here. Starting from Road Rages to Parking Tickets, everything was done to them because they weren’t pure Americans.
“You wanna explain yourself?”
“Imagine this, you slave all day for a person who pays you a pittance as compared to what he would have paid a guy from around here. Then you listen to him shout orders, obscenely, at you, day in and day out. Then he comes back home one day, drunk as fuck, and starts calling your dead father names when you ask him about dinner. What would you do officer?”
“Wasn’t your father Big Joe, the muscle for Carltino family?”
Silvano’s face whitened at this. Shepherd immediately felt he had crossed some invisible line. Silvano stared at his hands for a few moments and then looked up and met Shepherd’s gaze with an even steelier one, “I see I have already been declared guilty. I refuse to speak anything else till my lawyer is here.”
Shepherd looked at Silvano, unsure of what to feel about this man. He quickly made up his mind and said, “Very well, you can go now, but you can’t leave the state. You will get the paperwork soon. And beware, I am watching you.”
Silvano smirked, “Whatever, Officer.”
Sheldon held the door open as Silvano walked out. Due to some weird reason, a shiver ran down Sheldon’s body when he saw Silvano’s eyes.
“Done withim Boss? Whatcha think?”
“He is not lying. He is a stereotypically hot-headed Italian, the kind that usually kills over honour and shit, but my gut tells me he did not kill Hannaway. Anyway, what have you got for me?”
“The finnerprin’ guys are here. They sent in the rookie. And yeah, so is Spellman.”
“Great! Send them both in. The print girl first.”
“Sure thin’ boss.”
“Hey Detective! What’s up?” Cynthia Johnson, an attractive 25 year old blonde, walked into the room, waving at Shepherd a few minutes later, still working her way through a chewing gum that Shepherd was sure had been in there for over 6 hours now.
“Hey Cynthia! Listen; I need a full check on zones one through three. You can do the fours and fives later, but cover the high frequency zones right away, doorknobs, telephones, bedposts, walls, you know the drill. You think you can do that for me?”
“Sure Detective.” Cynthia smiled back at Shepherd. She respected Shepherd’s calmness. He could be watching his wife at gunpoint and still take in useful information about the situation.
As Cynthia got to work, Eric Spellman walked in and suddenly even Shepherd could feel the room go airless by the sheer beauty of the boy coming in. He had distinct Norwegian features, blond hair, blue eyes and a tall, muscular body. Spellman wore a leather jacket, a white t-shirt underneath and blue denims with cowboy boots. Shepherd felt weirdly rustic in his brown trench coat and standard shirt and khakis. Shepherd could see Cynthia gasping out of the corner of his eyes. Spellman nodded slightly with a bright smile at Cynthia and Shepherd considered the idea that he might have to sprinkle water on Cynthia’s face soon.
“Officer.” Spellman said to Shepherd with another slight nod.
“Mr. Spellman, have a seat please. You look Norwegian but your name doesn’t sound Norwegian at all. How come?”
“I am in showbiz officer. Spellman is my stage name.”
“Ok! So will you please tell me what happened last night?”
“Well, me and Godric went to Ciccone’s party. We came back at around 8, talked for a little while and then I left for home.”
“Hmm… Is there someone who can second your story? Neighbours or a security guard or someone?”
Spellman gave a good natured chuckle at this. “Security guard? Hell officer, I am not sure that people in my apartment even know such a thing exists. Well, I am afraid not. I live alone downtown and my neighbours are too busy pimping their girlfriends to know me from Tom Cruise.”
“I see. Did something happen between you last night? Or did you notice something unusual?”
Shepherd waited for an answer for a few moments and then followed Spellman’s gaze. Spellman was staring intently at Cynthia who had bent over a cupboard door and was picking up prints. Shepherd knew the gaze pretty well.
Shepherd cleared his throat loudly once. Spellman broke out of his reverie and said, “Erm, I am sorry officer. You were saying.”
Shepherd almost smiled at the comical reaction, “I thought you like men?”
Spellman went red in the face immediately. “I do.” He insisted.
“Son, I am a guy too. I know the look when a guy stares at a girl’s ass.”
“Erm, I am bisexual.”
“It’s ok, detective. I didn’t mind. He can stare at my ass all he wants.” Cynthia winked at Spellman. Spellman returned a sheepish grin.
“Son, it’s my job to tell when people are lying. You are right now. Why don’t you come clean?”
“What do you want to hear? That I am straight? Well, yeah, I am. Big deal.”
“Then why were you with Hannaway?”
Spellman pursed his lips at this and said, “Well let’s just say that I am poor boy with big dreams and he is rich, connected man.”
“You sound bitter.”
“Imagine yourself officer. You could get any girl you want north of the equator. Any! And yet you are forced to,” Spellman choked on the words, “sleep, with this, this creep. But this is the way showbiz works. You don’t need me to tell you that do you?”
Cynthia stood open-mouthed in the background. Shepherd almost felt sorry for this boy. He looked back at Cynthia and determined to save Spellman from any further humiliation said, “Cynthia, why don’t you get back to work? And Mr. Spellman, you can leave. We will contact you if any further help is needed. Thank you”
“I am done detective. Nothing, as expected. Everything is clear. There are some prints, but only those of Hannaway.”
“Not a single damn thing”, Cynthia shook her head.
“Mr. Spellman, would you wait for a second?”
Spellman halted near the door and turned, “Yes, officer.” His eyes were red.
“Would you close the door for a minute?”
“Sure.” Spellman walked back in, closing the door behind him.
“Did you call the police about Mr. Hannaway’s demise?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Did you use your mobile?”
“No, I used that phone kept in the corner,” said Spellman, pointing to an ornate metal landline phone.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, obviously, I am!”
“Then how come your fingerprints aren’t on that receiver?”
Spellman whitened at this statement. Shepherd knew in an instant that he had his man.
“Err, I probably, had my golf gloves on in the morning. Yeah, that’s right, we were supposed to go golfing and I had my golf gloves on.”
“Ok, so if I searched your house right now, I would find a pair of golfing gloves, is that correct?”
“I suppose so, officer.”
“All right! Jimmy, watch Mr. Spellman here till we get a warrant to search his place and make sure he makes no calls or tries to contact anyone outside this room in anyway. Am I understood?”
“Yes detective!” Jimmy replied confidently, finally relieved to have been given some responsibility at last!
“So there were no Golf Gloves at his place?” Roark asked Shepherd, she was still amazed Shepherd had caught the culprit in less than 2 hours.
“Not even a thread! Is he in now? What are we looking at?”
“A good long sentence. Everything points against him, he has a motive, the skills, he was in the army in Norway under mandatory service and the access to Hannaway.”
“I must say Detective Shepherd, I am impressed!”
“Please, call me Eric.”
Roark let out a small gasp of laughter, “Well, sure. Eric it is then.”
“And while we are at it Commissioner, I lost my gun. I need a new piece. Can you do something about it?”
“Sure! File in the paperwork and I will get you a new gun by day after tomorrow. Till then, get a temp from the armory.”
Eric Shepherd smiled back at her, “Of course, Julianne.”
Roark watched Shepherd walk out of the campus through her window, tossing something into the trash, what she didn’t see was that it was a pair of White Golf Gloves.
The Mysterious Woman by SrishtiYashMudaliar
"Quite out of the box and was un-predictable but story was slow in pace and ending was abrupt."
Average Penal Rating - 60/100
(3790 Words) Word Limit Penalty (5+5+5)
Final Rating - 45/100
A tale of E and S bySiddhantShekhar
"Nice writing but again ending was too quick. :("
Average Panel Rating - 65/100
Result - Mr. Siddhant Shekhar wins the match & qualifies for Quarter Finals. Miss Srishti Yash Mudaliar is eliminated from Freelance Talents Championship.
Panel of Judges - FA Gang Stuffs Group headed by Miss Simmi Singh (Artist, Author & Social Activist)