They entered what seemed like a huge warehouse as the she walked towards the centre and left Karan there. Karan was beginning to focus better and his head throb was becoming a dull ache and things seemed better. The woman opened her purse and pulled out wads of cloth which was so dirty that Karan was sure that he was going to get infected by it.
“Hold still,” She said as she went to Karan’s back and was rubbing his wound on his head. Karan winced but he said nothing as the woman completely wiped out all the blood from his head. “You really are not from around here, are you?” She asked him as she was rubbing the blood away.
“I got lost,” Karan said wincing and groaning.
“Yeah, I can see,” She said walking towards a leaky dripping tap on the side of the place. She was washing her cloth and bringing it and wiping his head. “Men who come here, usually do not react the way you just did. Those are the kind of bastards that hit you.” She said viciously rubbing his wound even more ferociously as Karan nearly growled.
Then suddenly both heard movement from the outside and Karan could feel the woman freeze.
Swearing again, she pulled out what seemed like a really small, sleek looking gun from her purse and pointed it at the door.
“Most probably, it must be one of the other girls. Words must have gotten around that the coppers were coming for Rik…” She muttered as the gun was lying uncertainly in her side.
“Is that a gun?” Karan asked looking completely shocked and he was so terrified and he was left to wonder how hard he had hit his head.
“You rich bastards are such freaking idiots,” She fumed at Karan angrily.
“Kiara,” The voice came from outside as the woman beside Karan sighed and put the gun back in her purse.
“Come, its me,” Kiara, the woman said angrily as Karan saw another woman come inside the place.
“The coppers are here,” The new entrant said angrily, as she entered the room. Karan nearly gasped. The woman was breathtakingly beautiful. But that was not what caught his attention. She was probably twenty years old. She could be no older than that. But the one thing which completely took away the effect of her beauty were the woman’s eyes. They belonged to a woman, who had seen it all and had absolutely no illusions or hope left in the world. “Damn Rik! I told him to stop peddling drugs. I knew it was nothing but trouble!” The new comer woman fumed angrily, making herself comfortable as she was sitting on the sacks at the far end of the warehouse. “Now, Rik dragged the damned coppers for the night. I can do no business for the night,” The new comer woman fumed angrily. “I needed some money so badly.”
“For home, Chaitra?” Kiara asked the other woman and Karan could not believe how gentle Kiara’s voice had become.
“Yeah,” Chaitra, the other woman fumed still angry.
And that was when Chaitra saw Karan.
She looked at Kiara and then Karan and sighed. “I am sorry for butting in. I did not know you had a customer..” She started as she got up. “I will go to Ria’s house at the end.”
“Wait,” Kiara said sharply. “You cannot go out now. The coppers are out. And our business…” Kiara said looking at Karan. “..is complicated. I bought him here because he was hurt.” She said.
Chaitra said something about Karan which any other time Karan would have found offensive. Right now, Karan was too much in information overload to even process what Chaitra had said. Let alone get offended by it.
“You don’t understand. He is not my regular customer. He got hurt, when we were trying to get away from the cops.” Kiara said sighing as she shook her head.
Chaitra looked at Karan and looked unhappy. “I am sorry,” She said gruffly paying no more attention to Karan.
And that was when Karan nearly trembled as he heard a loud rat-a-tat from the side. Even Chaitra was slightly shocked.
Kiara pushed the two of them to the side of the sack to keep them safe. “Keep your head down and don’t talk,” She said angrily.
Karan was nearly hyperventilating as he realized that it was a gun. A real gun which could kill people. Karan was even more shocked when there was a sudden wail from somewhere and held his trembling hands tightly as he realized that someone was hurt. He nearly pulled himself up as Kiara sneered angrily at him and pulled him down. “Keep your head down, your freaking idiot,” She yelled. “Or it is going to be you who is next.”
Over, the next half an hour, the sounds of the shots came from all over the place. Wails, bullets, guns, cursing, yelling....
Chaitra who was skimpily dressed was shivering as Kiara was hugging her slightly.
After what seemed like an eternity, the shooting stopped. Then Karan realized that it had not stopped. It had moved over further away.
“Is it over?” Chaitra asked Kiara in a whimper and Karan could see tears in her eyes. Karan found his hands trembling badly and was struggling to breath.
“The first time is always terrifying,” Kiara said sadly. “Over time, we get used to it,” Kiara said in the same tone. Kiara looked at Karan and said nothing. “Lets get you home mister,” She told Karan. “Before the cops come back here and the fight comes here again.”
Karan nodded as Kiara took the money from her purse and gave it to Chaitra. “Don’t stray out, till morning,” Kiara told Chaitra. “It is not yet over. Take the money for your home.” Kiara said with a small smile.
Chaitra looked shocked as she saw the money. “I can’t take this money, Kiara,” Chaitra said shaking her head. “I...”
“Repay me later, Chaitra,” Kiara said dismissing it, pushing the money in her hands. “Besides this guy promised to pay me some more money, when I get him to the main road.” Kiara said nodding at Karan. “So don’t worry.”
“Thank you!” Chaitra said with a smile as tears came up to her face and Karan realized that Kiara looked breathtakingly beautiful at that time. She was not putting on a mask and without the mask of world weariness, she looked like a beautiful twenty year old girl. A girl whose entire future was waiting before her.
“Here, take this,” Karan said lamely handing over his suit to Chaitra. “You are cold.”
Chaitra looked shocked. Kiara saw Karan completely blankly, like he was an alien from outer space.
“He is not from around here, is he?” Chaitra asked in a slight whisper looking at the coat.
Kiara nodded and for the first time she was looking at Karan with a strange expression. “Let’s go mister,” She told Karan.