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Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

Old Man

He looked nervously at the brute with the knife, who was demanding the ring from his shrivelled old finger.

“No” he said trying to be firm, but failing miserably.

The thug closed in.

He didn’t see the hand slice through the air and break the side of his neck, and the foot that followed and rendered his nose contorted beyond recognition. He slumped to the ground and fell face flat in his own blood.

The old man hobbled away, smiling.

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Lost!

Prologue

As it periodically happens, with unfailing frequency, yet again, my life was shattered.

Story

As anyone who has read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy knows, a towel is a very important device that a interstellar hitchhiker should have. When you meet someone and you feel that they are alert and aware, you don’t tell them “Hey you! You know, you come off as a person who looks rather alert and aware about his surroundings”. No! You go up to him say “You seem to know where your towel is!”

I was walking down the street to get some coffee the other day, when I walked right into a lamp-post. Something was not right. The world seem out of balance for some reason. I thought I would try my space travel trick to reassure myself that everything was alright.  “Beam me up Sujit Kutty”, I said. Yup .. outsourcing has hit Star Fleet too.

Nothing happened. That’s when it hit me. I had lost my towel. I could not show my face. Everyone was staring at me. I had to hide my face. Alas! I had no towel to hide behind. Oh what a shameful situation to be in!

I felt naked as I ran home. My wife asked me what was wrong, but I couldn’t come clean with her. She asked me if I was okay as she saw the sweat dripping down my face onto my shirt. I took off my shirt and sat down and as I watched the beads of sweat drip onto my chest and missed my loyal red companion who would have dabbed it off in a jiffy, she asked me “Is there something you want to get off your chest?”

That was it. The emotion overcame me. I fainted.

When I woke up, I could make something blurry in front of my eyes. I got up slowly. My wife was sitting beside me.

“Rest honey”, she said, “it will be alright. Your head is burning”. So saying, she dipped a pink towel into some hot water and  dabbed it on my forehead.

Pink. towel. Not my red towel. Not even red. Pink. Her. Towel. I fainted again.

When I woke up the next time, there was no one in the house. My wife had left for work. I quickly went online. I had to get back my dear red towel, the source of all my powers. Using the search function on my Galaxy phone, I searched the cosmos for my prize towel. It was nowhere to be found.

With no option left, I quickly designed a poster and put it up on the Inter-galactic Bulletin Board. There was nothing else I could do.

I got a few calls from some of my enemies who thought I had thrown in the towel, and some more weird ones who, by extension, thought I had kicked the bucket. Why were they calling me, I wonder.

But the towel remained elusive.

Desperate, defeated and devastated, I took a walk around the corner to the local watering hole – Sam Bar.

I got in and ordered my usual, a Black Russian.

The bartender told me that she wasn’t coming in today, she was having sex on the beach.

I stared at him in disbelief. “How about a grasshopper then”, I asked. He said “You know we’re a vegetarian bar”.

Finally, I called for a Bloody Mary. He took out a screwdriver, went into the back of the bar, came back with red hands and told me – it’s ready.

When I saw all the red, I remembered my towel again. Boy! Did we have some good times!

The seat next to me was taken suddenly. I swiveled around expecting to see a pretty lady, but as luck would have it, it was my old friend Bunty Joginder. Many years later, he would change his name to Bon Jovi and become famous, but none of us in the bar at that moment were aware of this irrelevant fact. He looked more miserable than I was and I found consolation from this . I asked him what was eating him.

“I’m not the man I used to be”

“What happened? You look like what my dog deposits on our lawn every morning.”

“I .. I .. I lost my towel.”

“You WHAT!!?” Someone else had lost his towel too. How could this be? Was there a serial towel stealer on the loose? If there was one, what would they call him?  Towel Prowler? Wonder how they would catch him? Obviously, this guy was into towels. They’d have to bait him with a towel. Who were “they”? Would a they be even interested? Mere mortals cannot comprehend the significance of what a towel meant to a enhanced beings  like us. Us .. hmm .. I’m here with someone aren’t I? Oh, there he is looking at me. I haven’t spoken anything for 5 minutes now. Hope he hasn’t realized it.

“You haven’t spoken anything for 5 minutes now.”

“I was doing a math problem in my head, but I have realized that it is hypothetically plagiarized and there indiscriminately decipherable.” I added two coughs at the end for good measure.

He squinted at me. His eyes became very narrow. I looked like he was trying to see my words through his narrow eyes hoping it would make sense to him. It didn’t work. I didn’t think it would. He gave up and ordered for a glass of water.

“I’d gone to the park and I put the towel on the bench next to me. One minute it was there and the next minute I was gone.”

“Hmm”, I said scratching my beard and thinking I should grow a beard soon, otherwise I may look very stupid scratching a non-existent beard.

“Hmm”, I continued, “who do you suspect?”

“Everyone! I feel miserable. I wish there was something I could do”

Now, every once in a while I get an amazing idea in my head. I wouldn’t call it brilliant and genius, but you could call it that. This idea would just change everything about my life and everything about everyone else’s life. My last big “flash” was when I deflated the school bus’ tires because my hair dryer wouldn’t work.

“We should write a song about it!!”

Bunty cheered up a little. “A song. Yes! That’s a great idea. People will sing the song everywhere. And then someone will hear it, find our towels and give it back”

“Er..yeah..that’s why we should do it. Great!”

And that night both of us sit together and put together this song. Of course, when Bunty Joginder moved to the US and changed his name, he changed the lyrics around a little bit (he had my blessings, of course) and released it as a song called It’s my Life.

Here’s the original lyrics of the song that we wrote that momentous night.

Towel Gaana Paatu

This ain’t a song for those wearing clothes
How I’m surviving God only knows
And I ain’t gonna take bath and shake myself dry
and point to the dog when people ask why

It’s my toweeeel
It’s used to be a part of me now
I can’t just find it somehow
I just want take bath tonight

(It’s my towel)
To go to the toilet I need to use
Like Frankie said, “To go to the kakoos”
I need it when there’s movement in my bowels
coz it’s my towel

This is the ones who stole my red one
For Frankie and Dolly, who’re going down
The towel really stinks, it smells like s**t,
What could someone want with it!!

It’s my toweeeel
It’s used to be a part of me now
I can’t just find it somehow
I just want take bath tonight

(It’s my towel)
To go to the toilet I need to use
Like Frankie said, “To go to the kakoos”
I need it when there’s movement in my bowels
coz it’s my towel

You better give me back
my thorthumundu
or I will have to use
vedi-gunduuuuu

It’s my toweeeel
It’s used to be a part of me now
I can’t just find it somehow
I just want take bath tonight

(It’s my towel)
To go to the toilet I need to use
Like Frankie said, “To go to the kakoos”
I need it when there’s movement in my bowels
coz
it’s
my
towel

Epilogue
(cue violins)
I still haven’t got my towel back.
Please share this story with all your friends, so that I can get my red towel back soon.
If you want, you can sing a jingle with it too
Oh where, oh where has my red towel gone ..
Oh where, oh where can it be.
There’s a small yellow stain that is round
its not mustard, it’s really …

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Magic

“Bang, bang”

Jack doubled up as he held the door frame for support. He tried to scream but the words wouldn’t come. He clutched his heart and dropped to the floor face-down. He was breathing heavily and suddenly there was no sound.

Scott, walked over to Jack and tried to move him eager to see to see the red artwork he had painted on Jack’s chest. But Jack was huge. And he was motionless.

“Daddy, are you going to be alright?”

“……”

“Daddy, say something”

“Use your magic wand, Scott”, came Jack’s whisper. He said did this without moving his lips and speaking into the floor.

“But .. I don’t have a magic wand”. Scott’s voice was trembling as he grew more worried by the second.

“Sure you do dear .. look inside your pocket”

Scott reached into his pocket, and sure enough he found a long colorful pencil his dad had gifted him a few days ago. He raised the wand and poked Jack hoping to wake him up. Nothing happened. Jack lay motionless. Scott’s eyes were welling up.

“Daddy, it’s .. it’s not working. Daddy do something”

Jack whispered again into the floor, “But you didn’t say the magic words now did you?”.

“The..magic..words?” Scott bit the tip of his pencil and wondered what the words could be. Suddenly his eyes lit up. He knew he had it.

“Abracadabra !!!”, he screamed in glee.

The only sound in the room was of Scott’s breathing. Jack was not moving. Scott’s eyelids gave in as the tears blasted out. He got back to rocking Jack back and forth. “Wake up daddy. Wake up. I don’t know the magic words. Wake up.”

“What do I tell you before you go to sleep every night kiddo?” The hushed voice seemed to come from nowhere.

Scott needed only a second. In that second, his face went from feeling despondently sad to utter ecstasy. He gripped his pencil with both hands as tight as he could, lifted it high and then touched Jack with it.

“Daddy, I love you. Wake up Daddy”

Jack turned around to to show his son his smile. Scott yelled a shriek of delight and wedged himself into what little space there was between the cold floor and his father’s warm chest. Jack hugged his son with as much as might as he could muster, a force that could only be compared to the little four-year old who was hugging him back. A few adamant tears escaped Jack’s eyes as well.

There they lay. Father and son. In a manner that only pure love and affection can dictate.

The door-way opened. The man with the white suit looked at the duo grappling each other on the floor. He felt sorry about what he was going to say.

“Mr. Jack Preston . I have some news for you .. ”

If you could see time in absolutely small measures of time, you would have noticed that the earth stopped spinning for a span the millionth of a heartbeat.

They followed the man inside. Jack stood by Marie’s bed. He held Scott in his arms as they looked over her face. She was pale white. There was no other sound in the room. There was a heart-beat monitor in the room, which at that moment was as silent as them, as if mourning the lady in the bed as they were.

“Daddy, why is Mommy not moving?”

Jack didn’t know if he could talk. He opened his mouth, but the words would not climb out.

“Daddy, what’s wrong with Mommy?”

Scott jumped from his dad’s bed and stood next to Marie. He reached into his pocket. He lifted the pencil high in the air and touched his mother’s forehead with it.

“Mommy, I love you. Wake up Mommy”

He waited and tried again and again. “Daddy, nothing happened. It doesn’t work. Why won’t it work?”

Jack collapsed to the floor for the second time in the hour.

This time it was for real.

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Based on a true story – Mine!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1


I have never believed in love at first sight.
Two people look into each other’s eyes and suddenly you hear violins! That’s a riot! People looking at each other’s eyes itself is a rarity. Isn’t that the reason the cellphone was invented? I believe that Cupid had nothing to do with to do love and affection. He’s just a cute guy who likes to prance around in his nothing-wear and shoot people in their rear sides.

I don’t believe in love. I thought I was right. I was wrong. She came along.

I had just returned from a hard day’s work last night. The warm weather was getting to me. I threw open the windows and kept the door open as well. I opened my laptop to play some soft music. I went into the shower and felt the warm water cleanse me of all my tension. I wrapped a towel around me and stepped out into the hall.

There she was.

She had entered silently, propped herself up on my couch and was sitting and staring at me with a level gaze. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Somewhere in the distant background, I could hear a faint music.

Violins! And my butt had this funny sore feeling to it as well!

I wanted to ask her what she was doing here. I wanted to know how she had the audacity to enter my apartment, sit on my couch and stare at me. I opened my mouth to speak but the words were lost as the memories came rushing by.

Every morning, when I would get ready for work, I would see her face. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. I knew there was never a chance we would meet. From the looks of her, I assumed she must be from a big family. The pining was there, I’ll admit. But I had never disclosed this to anyone, much less – her. Our interactions to date were only glances and glimpses with averted eyes.

And yet, she had come. She had come and here she was.

“What .. er .. do you want?”, I asked her, not knowing what kind of an answer I could expect. I got none. She merely looked the other way and then looked straight back at me.

“This is my house. Please tell me what you want”, I could feel some confidence creeping into my voice, thought I didn’t sound convincing even to myself.

This time she did answer me. Not in words. But in action. She stood up as if to leave. She touched the door and then started to walk around the house. I stood transfixed , cold and dripping. Slowly, I went to the door and closed it shut.

I thought for a second, then I bolted it.

~~~
2
She walked around the house tantalisingly. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She walked everywhere, and took in the place as if she was considering moving in here for good. Meanwhile, I fixed drinks for both of us, both neat by the way. By the time she had returned from her tour, I was sitting on the ground in the hall. She came sat in front of me, looking straight into my eye as if she was trying to read something there, and then abruptly turned her attention to her drink and began sipping her drink slowly. I watched her. There was no more than 4 feet between us, but the tension was so thick, you could cut it and put it between bread and serve it as cheap burgers. I wolfed down my drink, poured myself another glass and finished that one as well.

I looked at the time. It was 11:30 p.m. We had kept up this drama for almost an hour and a half now. Who was she? I knew nothing about her. What her name was, where she came from, what she wanted, how she was spending an evening with a total stranger … nothing. But then I thought, maybe I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe my prayers were being answered. That is why they constructed places of worship, didn’t they? Maybe it was God giving me back something for all my years of …

She stood up. Her eyes looked different now. They had a purpose. She walked gracefully away from me. I found myself lost in total rapture… and then shock.

She had walked straight into my bedroom.

Nervously, I got up and walked in. She had ‘gotten comfortable’ and settled nicely on the other side of the bed. Not knowing what to do, I put the AC on full blast and cautiously crept in beside her. I lay my head on the pillow and looked away. I was a scaredy cat when it came to females. I waited for her to make the first move. She made none, at first, and then I felt something tingling up my spine. She was teasing me. I turned to look at her. I could see nothing, it was pitch dark. She snuggled up under my arms and lay her head to rest on my chest. That was it. It felt nice.

It had come a long way from seeing her on the street to finding her cuddled up with me in my bed. This had not gone so bad after all. This could be a new beginning. Maybe, I could hint at her moving in soon. But she had other plans…

An hour later, she got up and walked out of the door. She was going to sleep outside. And that was that. I felt an admiration for her. I was not sure why. But it felt nice that she had acted so maturely. I drifted off to sleep.

~~
3
My alarm clock screamed to life at 7:00 a.m. I woke with a start. Had I dreamed the entire thing? That question was quickly put to rest. The entire bedroom smelt of her presence from yesterday. I slowly opened the door so as not to startle her.

There was no one there. She had left me. I searched all the rooms for her. Not a trace. Had she gone to the terrace for an early morning walk? I screamed up the stairs. The shining terrace stared blankly back at me. I came back to my house, miserable and dejected. I felt used, there was no two ways about it. She had come, used me and gone away. She didn’t even leave a note.

“Thank you. Last night was wonderful!”

“See you again tomorrow night!”

“Haha! Sucker!!”
I cooked tea and toasted some bread. I did everything in slow motion. I wanted to give her as much as time as I could to come back. I realised that I was in over my head!

I finally got ready, locked the doors and walked heavily to my car.

Then I saw her. But something different happened.

She walked towards me. I didn’t know what to do. It was broad daylight. This was unprecedented. When she came closer, she touched me with her paw, meowed a few times and went back to sleep under one of the other cars in the lot.

I opened my car door and as I turned on the ignition, I tried to interpret what she had told me.

A voice in my head told me it was “See you at 8:00!”
I smiled and drove away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Author’s Note:

This is a true story. I had named her Phoebe .. for a good reason! This story is not inspired by Jeffrey Archer. Though it is very similar to one of his short stories, this has been written from a diametrically opposite perspective. This happened to me yesterday night. At least two people know about it. Tell me what you think. Hit Comments below. Come fall in love!
This is my second short story. You can read the first one here.

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I reached the place five minutes before I was supposed to have been there. I was nervous, I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task. Looking around me, I started into void. True, the commotion around me was perpetual, but I was unaffected by it all.

“Your the best negotiator we have Jim!”, my boss guffawed at a toast a few months ago.
“Those buggers didn’t know what hit them. You left them thinking that they struck the best deal and yet you ran circles around them”

I blushed appropriately. I didn’t deserve all this praise, I thought to myself. I’ve been negotiating with people ever since I can remember. When I was young, my dad used to tell me “If you have to choose between keeping your money in your pocket or someone elses, which would you choose? That’s what you need to remember”

At first, I would do the ‘base talks’ – let the party know we were interested, get to understand his structure, tweak the areas of debate and generally lower it to the point where I would set it up for my dad. He would just walk in, speak crisply for some time and very soon the guy at the other end would be either weeping or grinning like an idiot – which he probably was.

One day, my dad thought that I was at my aunt’s, he set up a meeting of our key suppliers from Korea at our home. He was through half the discussion, when I returned. He didn’t notice me, so I managed to watch what was happening from a hole in the kitchen. I watched my dad play them with ease and he was reaching a point where he was about to strike the winning blow.

I threw the door open and shouted “This is unacceptable”. Everyone turned to look at me. I rattled out what I knew of what was happening, and told them that their offer made no sense to me, and I didn’t see any reason why my dad would even consider taking it.

There was a silence in the room. Silence that you could cut and serve on plate to a room that was starved for words. Finally, someone did something.

It was a Korean. He got up, looked me straight in the eye, walked to my dad, handed him a piece of paper, whispered something into his ear and the entire team walked out.

I stood dumbstruck. My dad gave me the most stern look I have known him to possess. He looked at the paper and told me. “Never, never again”, he started sternly, as he handed me the paper, “Never, never again leave my side”. He burst out laughing.

The Koreans had reduced the supply rates by half.

I was delirious. Soon, my dad did the base talks, I simply jumped in and hit the ball out of the park. When this new negotiating specialist firm opened in Washington, dad said I should give it a shot.

“He’s done what no one else can and no one else will.”, my boss continued. “Our clients are happy, our management is happy, I’m happy. You’ll have to wake up very early in the day to beat our man Jim”

He was happy and also very drunk! I slipped out, grabbed a couple of beers and slept on the couch. I was alone. Never had much luck with girls. What was their line? You take us apart with your words. Never managed to sustain a conversation with them for more than a few minutes.

But I loved my life. I did what I enjoyed. Got paid silly to do it (Mom would have blushed if he saw my pay cheque and the gifts the clients sent me). Things were good.

A wry smile teased my lips as I thought about the times of the past. Those sure were good days. My job responsibilities had increased. I was handling bigger and bigger clients. When one day, the biggest job I had ever seen landed on my table. My eyes bulged out. The commission we would earn from this job alone, would cover an entire financial quarter’s earning.

Here I was then standing in this place. Waiting to meet the people who would create a golden bullet point in my resume. I had spent the past three months gathering everything I could about our ‘target’ company and our client. I pored over every number, investigated every decimal and wrecked havoc on our coffee machine. The people at office were placing bets whether the caffeine would kill me first or the nicotine.

Neither did, as I stood at the pavement ready to figuratively throw my briefcase at the target party. ‘Relax, you’ve done this a million times before. Just swoop in and swoop out’.

I didn’t notice a black Merc gliding to a smooth halt in front of me. When the driver pressed the brakes, the noise stopped my senseless ramblings in a hurry.

What happened next was a series of events, not events spread apart, but events that were milliseconds away, which my eye and mind captured like snapshots in flashes.

A driver got down and ran to the rear, paused a bit at the door.

A sleek, heeled leg pushed out. I stared at it in disbelief. Heels.. women? The target company was sending women!?

Soon I realized that the leg would have to be attached to something – and she stepped out. She was wearing shades. The dark shades set off her milky face, so that it presented a picture of perfect contrast.

As I took in detail by detail, I realised that she was not wearing any make up. Which made her more stunning that I could ever imagine possible.

Her fingers were caressing her phone which was a sleek model that you see the ads these days. Only, they looked so much better in hers. I noticed her lips were moving as well. My ears sprang to life from sensual shock and what it tuned into was poetry, melodic and heavenly. Her diction was perfect. Her words were impressive. The effect, stunning.

Another hand ran over her dress, she was wearing a nice white shirt, covered by a silky cream coat, that almost seemed to pass the baton of perfection to a smooth, black skirt that swished mischievously as she walked towards me.

She gave the driver a nod and he bowed low and he got into the car. I got the feeling that if could bow any lower than he would.

In all the time that I had spent noticing her, I realised that she was still had not realised that I was present. I walked up, surprised that my legs were slow to start, and pushed myself up to a decent distance, when my nose, which had been complaining of being left out of all the action in front me, went into ecstasy – Perfume. Intoxicating.

As she walked towards me, she brushed her long silky hair away from the face, and for a moment I lost track of what I was supposed to do; look at her face, admire her hair or simply drool.

I was put out of the misery of answering that question, when she stopped in front of me and raised a well trimmed eyebrow. It slowly dawned on my overloaded brain that it was my turn to speak.

“I’m Jim. Jim Burke. From Dela Associates. I .. er.. have been sent,er.. will represent the interests of ..”

“Donna Rose, pleasure!”

She got back on the phone. She was British. She was talking into her phone again. I had never felt like a bigger fool all my life.

She was sophisticated, sounded intelligent and looked hubba-hubba. I found myself admiring her all over again. When could I hear that voice again? As if on cue, she suddenly turned towards me. “Are we going to talk here or do you have a better place in mind?”

“Er.. right this way ..”, I said sheepishly. I led her to the conference room close by. I held the door open for her. She slid in without so much as an appreciatory glance.

She sat down on one side of the table, crossed her legs, put her hair in place and stared at me.

“Jim, this thing is not going to work for us”

Okay, I was used to this. Hard ball upfront, I should have countered with “Then I don’t see why we’re here“. But I found my mouth saying “What seems to be the problem?”

One part of my brain was saying “She said your first name, score! score!”
Another part worried, “She’s so pretty. She’ll cry if you run a hard deal. Go easy on her”
A third part was saying, “Are you guys serious? We have a deal to cinch here. Get with it!”

The third part was found murdered very mysteriously.

The rest of the meeting went as per plan.

Her plan that is. All my tactics faded into nothingness. She would say the most simplest of things, and my counter would take a vacation.

At one point, I managed to pull in enough courage to make a good point. One look at her deep blue eyes, I was afraid she’d break down and cry.

Worse.

She smiled. She said “Really?”, and then changed the topic.

The whole thing lasted 3 hours in my head. I knew. I was counting her eye-blinks. In reality, it lasted just 15 minutes.

She got up. She held her hand out. “Pleasure doing business with you, Jim”. She smiled. My hands were sweaty.

I walked her out, or rather she walked out and I followed her, my memory conjuring, for some strange reason, images of sheep!

As she reached her waiting Merc, she turned around sharply on her heel. Her heel.
“Good day, Mr. Burke”

She left. At least most of her did. I was clinging to all the whiffs I could get off her perfume, till there was no more.

And then, I collapsed. It dawned on me that I may not have an office to go to tomorrow. I may not have a job to attend tomorrow. I may not be as happy as I was a couple of months back when nothing could go wrong.

And definitely, not as happy as the man who was strangely brimming with joy next to Ms. Rose in the Merc.

Definitely not as happy as the Korean.

Author’s Comments:
I’ve seen guys, the best of them ,get intimidated by suave ladies. It’s something that Darwin wanted to write about, but then chose to talk about birds and bees instead. This story was fictional. It was thought up because I was under extreme pressure to deliver in a month end. Doesn’t make sense. Sure sonny, nothing does!

This is my first short story. Tell me what you think. Post in the comments

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