Thursday, December 22, 2016

To catch a thief, just break his heart...

 "He confessed to the murder and how she helped him in the entire thing! And she is not at her home. We are on the hunt for her!" Deputy Commissioner of Police Reyansh Miran spoke hurried as he removed his police cap when the DCP spotted Shankar Churl sitting at one of the tables at the canteen. The DCP had a small note of pride in his voice as he nodded at Shankar Churl, as he placed his cap on the table and sat opposite to Shankar. "Your hunch paid off perfectly and now we also know that...." Reyansh stopped talking as he was studying Shankar.

Slowly, the other sounds and the general hubhub of conversation among the other police personnel in the canteen and Shankar's expressionless face, made its way to Reyansh's subconscious. DCP Reyansh was a great judge of people. In his line of work, where Reyansh met criminals on a regular basis, it was not just an important skill, it was a question of survival. And it really helped that Reyansh was brilliant at trusting the right people. Reyansh was a man of sharp intelligence and had an average height and built and he was just the sort of man who would be lost in a crowd. And Reyansh knew that that was one of his greatest USP. People always looked at him and tended to underestimate him and told them all their secrets thinking that he just could not connect the dots. And plenty of criminals in jail had made the same mistake and were now in prison because of that, which probably explained why Reyansh was the youngest DCP in the city.

But Reyansh knew that Shankar Churl was one of the few people who just did not make that mistake. There was a part of Reyansh which actually realized that he was one of the few people whom Shankar genuinely respected and Reyansh knew that that did not happen often.

Reyansh studied Shankar who normally had laughing brown eyes with a broad forehead and a lean, wiry body and decided that with Shankar's rugged handsome features, it was almost impossible for Shankar to get lost in a crowd. Shankar stood out in a crowd, which was exactly why Reyansh was shocked, when eight years back, Reyansh learnt exactly what Shankar did for a living. Though, Shankar's visiting card described Shankar as the General Manager of an Import-Export firm, Reyansh learnt that the real and only way to describe Shankar's occupation, was to call Shankar a thief. Plain and simple.

And in those eight years which followed Reyansh had never been able to pin anything on Shankar. Hell, Reyansh could not even predict what Shankar was going to hit next, let alone protect what Shankar was after. And as Reyansh profiled the man, he realized that Shankar was completely non-violent, inventive, imaginative and improvised a lot, which was the most important reason, why Shankar had not even been in the radar of the police as a possible suspect for any of the thefts in and around the city of Sthapan.

And Reyansh because of some deep inbred instinct, kept his suspicions about Shankar to himself, instead of reporting it to his peers and superiors. After Reyansh studied the robberies which could have been committed by Shankar, Reyansh finally had realized the futility of going after Shankar. Which was why Reyansh did the next best thing – Reyansh made Shankar an ally. The two men had an unspoken agreement whereby Reyansh turned a complete blind eye to Shankar's activities, and Shankar in turn gave solid information to Reyansh of all the real bad elements in the city of Sthapan, which Shankar learnt in his line of work. Both the men had a neat symbiotic relationship whereby neither crossed each other's path and both were happy.

And all that came unraveling yesterday morning.

Reyansh honestly did not know what that was all about. Shankar was found dead drunk in the richest five star hotel in the city where the the royals of Sthapan were showcasing the jewels of their ancestors to the public for the first time. After that time, everything seemed to be going downhill for Shankar. Shankar disappeared from the radar for the next seven hours and was found two kilometers away from a place where there was a burglary cum murder was committed in the outskirts of the city of Sthapan – the very same murder for which Shankar was about to go to prison for.

Either it was sheer dumb luck or Shankar was really smart and Reyansh was more inclined to think that it was the second option because of which Shankar was able to find the real killer and now Reyansh even had the confession from the killer.

The problem was that all this demanded that if not anything else, the least Shankar could do was be happy about it. But Reyansh realized that Shankar was listless – which was the wrong expression for any guy to have after they had avoided the death penalty.

Shankar was staring out of the canteen window barely paying any attention to what Reyansh was saying.

"Shankar?" Reyansh asked hesitatingly.

"The security guard at Informatics said that she saw a gray-eyed woman with me!" Shankar murmured.

It was with great difficulty that Reyansh was even able to figure out what Shankar had said, let alone understand why this observation was important.

"Yes!" Reyansh said finally because Shankar had stopped talking. "I thought that was exactly what helped you, find the real culprit..."

"DCP!"

Reyansh turned sharply as Inspector Naren Silantel was nearly shouting as the Inspector came hurriedly inside the canteen. Reyansh wondered why Naren was breathless and wondered whether he had run down his cell phone battery again. The inspector could have called him instead of running after him. Reyansh pulled his cell phone and saw that his cell phone was fine as he studied Naren.

"Yes Naren, what is...?" Reyansh asked getting up, picking up the police cap and his cell phone and as Reyansh loosened the gun in his holster. Reyansh knew that the move was completely useless and that they could have no problems inside the Headquarters which a few hundred police officers swarming the place. But Reyansh was a creature of habit and some things he just could not help himself.

"The..." Naren fumbled, catching his breath eying Reyansh and Shankar a little nervously. And Naren's expression confused Reyansh. In the three years that Naren had worked for him, Reyansh had never seen Naren nervous. The Inspector fumbled a lot and made slight mistakes. But the inspector learnt and he looked like a good man to have around.

But Naren's expression or his nervousness looking at Shankar made no sense to Reyansh.

"The murderer.." Naren blurted out still nervous, "He wants to talk!"

Reyansh stared at Naren. And what really surprised him was that Shankar was shaken out of his reverie as he was staring at the Inspector, and Reyansh was slightly disconcerted to note that Shankar had a very strange expression on his face.

"The murderer just confessed. What else would he want to.." Reyansh started.

"He wants to talk to Shankar Churl!" Naren said swallowing.

Reyansh blinked. Somewhere in Reyansh's head, it registered that there was a thud as Shankar got up forcefully from his chair and his chair had fallen back hard.

The canteen fell silent. Almost as silent as a tomb as Shankar made no move to pick up the chair.

Shankar came ahead of Reyansh. "He asked for me?" Shankar repeated and his voice was soft and Reyansh could feel the underlying dread in the voice.

"Specifically for you!" Naren said nodding.

Shankar turned to see Reyansh and for once Reyansh saw naked fear running in the brown eyes.

"I need to see him!" Shankar said and it looked at Reyansh like he was struggling with himself. "Please!" Shankar almost seemed desperate.

Reyansh nodded as the three men walked hurriedly out of the canteen and Reyansh was thinking far too many things – the murderer could not know Shankar was here. But the murderer did know it and he wanted to talk to Shankar. Why? And why did Shankar know about this?

Reyansh was having a difficult time keeping up with Shankar as the man raced up to the custodial imprisonment building. There was a part of Reyansh wondering why Shankar knew so much about the police headquarters and dismissed the thought as irrelevant. As of now, Reyansh trusted Shankar and he had to let that be.

Naren led the two men to the last prison in the ground floor of the building as Shankar followed the Inspector closely.

Reyansh saw the murderer from behind and decided that the murderer was either very stupid or really insane and right now the accent was on the insane button.

Though the three men were standing outside the prison, the murderer had no eyes for any other person other than Shankar.

And Shankar was looking curiously huddled, almost afraid as he studied the murderer as Naren opened the door a little hesitatingly as Reyansh nodded his head.

"Why?" Shankar murmured staring at the killer.

Reyansh was slightly afraid because Shankar's hands were almost trembling.

"I was warned about you!" the murderer said looking at Shankar a small smile in his face.

"Who are you working for?" Shankar asked and his voice sounded hoarse, barely above a whisper.

"For such a smart guy, can you not be a little more careful?" the murderer asked in a taunting voice.

Shankar swore angrily.

Reyansh was completely not prepared for what happened next as in a swift move, Shankar pushed Reyansh back back and pulled Reyansh's gun from the holster.

Reyansh fell hard on Naren and both the men fell on the ground scrambling to get up.

Shankar's hands were trembling as he was pointing the gun at the murderer.

Reyansh cursed himself as he pulled himself up as he saw Shankar who was looking nearly insane and the gun in his hands trembled real bad.

"I do not use weapons! That is for fools!" Reyansh had a flash as he remembered something that Shankar had told him just a few hours back.

"Shankar!" Reyansh said struggling to control himself. "Put the gun down! You are going to do something you are going to regret!" Reyansh said slowly, as he heard a loud click of the safety hatch of the gun coming out. And if Reyansh was honest with himself, he realized that Shankar was beyond reason.

Naren who was beside Reyansh, pushed himself up, looking confused. Reyansh cursed himself because he had always known that Shankar knew how to use a gun. The man just did not prefer it. Until now.

"Where is she?" Shankar demanded and his hands were trembling worse than ever. Shankar looked at the murderer with barely controlled rage and using the butt of the gun hit the man hard on the cheeks.

The murderer was handcuffed and could not protect himself well as he toppled falling hard. Shankar was panting hard and Reyansh nearly winced as he wondered whether today was the day when Shankar was going to turn a murderer.

Slowly with deliberate viciousness, the murderer wiped his mouth and saw that there was some blood in his hands. He looked at Shankar. "Answer the phone!" The murderer said in a poisonous tone.

Reyansh blinked staring at Shankar and the murderer, both of whom were looking beyond reason. And Naren and Reyansh nearly jumped as Reyansh's cell phone rang loudly and Reyansh winced because he thought that Shankar had pulled the trigger because of the sudden noise.

But the scene before him was anticlimatic.

Shankar looked defeated and lost as Shankar dropped the weapon as the gun fell on the floor of the jail cell with a loud clatter.

Naren hurriedly took the gun away as Reyansh pulled out his cell phone.

"Hello!" Reyansh said hopefully in a calm voice noticing that the number was unknown hoping that his people could track down the caller real fast.

"I want to speak to Shankar! Shankar Churl, the thief!" The smug attitude, the slight accented voice, and an arrogance. These things Reyansh could figure out almost immediately from the slight muffled voice on the cell, as he handed over the cell phone to Shankar who was beginning to look haunted. Actually Shankar looked slightly more than haunted.

And Reyansh was beginning to understand.

Shankar nearly dropped the cell phone as he took it with trembling hands and put the cell phone on speaker.

"Shankar..."

Reyansh winced as he realized whose voice it was. And nothing could take away the fact that the speaker on the other side of the cell phone was sobbing and terrified. Badly.

"I am sorry, Sri!" Shankar's voice sounded dull, almost dead. Shankar could not even bring himself to look at the murderer who was looking at Shankar almost smugly. "I am so sorry!" Shankar said in a broken voice.

"Don't do it..." The speaker spoke hurriedly and Reyansh winced against as there was a thud and groan as the speaker was hit hard as Reyansh saw Shankar's hands tremble real bad as they heard a quick change of hands on the other end. Shankar snarled as his face went almost impossibly cruel.

"My man for your girl!" Another voice came on the other end of the phone and the voice was curt and arrogant. "I will send you the details of when and where when you get him out of prison! And do not waste your time tracing the call."

With that the call was abruptly cut.

There was a silence. A huge silence and Reyansh honestly did not know what to say.

"What did she do to you?" Shankar voice was brittle and he looked like he was struggling to control himself. "I do not know who is doing this. But your problem is with me. Why did you go after her?" Shankar whirled angrily looking like he was going to rip the murderer, piece by piece.

This time Naren was smart and came before Shankar pushing the man back.

"We had no intention of going after her." The murderer almost laughed. "You should have been a good boy and taken the murder rap and gone to prison. You unfortunately did not. You were able to solve the murder and now she is paying the price for it!"

This time Shankar lost it as he snarled and pushed Naren to a side and punched the murderer hard.

The killer winced and fell back as Shankar slowly throttled the man who was struggling to breathe.

It happened faster than anyone could blink as the murderer was slowly dying.

Naren brutally pulled Shankar back as Shankar was panting hard and the murderer was retching, struggling to breathe.

"Shreya is not gone, you bastard!" Reyansh yelled slapping Shankar hard. "We can still find her!"

The murderer had overcome his coughing spasm and he laughed and a maniacal laugh filled the prison....

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