She stared at the email message on her computer, her mind racing so fast that the words blurred together and no longer made any sense. Just three lines, but enough to make her life. The life she’d worked so hard and sacrificed so much to build–begin to crumble around her.
She moves the cursor of the wireless mouse but she hits the cup accidentally and falls on the floor and breaks it into pieces. Few people surrounding her turns back due to the sound of the broken coffee cup in the coffee shop. She closes her eyes. The waiter comes forward towards her. She opens her eyes. She closes the lid of the laptop quickly. She switches of the hotspot of the mobile. The waiter says, “Madam, Anything wrong?”
She says with nervousness, “I am s…s… sorry. I will pay for the cup. I… I…”
“It’s alright, madam! No need to worry…”
She interrupts the waiter, “I am not… I just… not feeling well… there is…”
“Shall I call you a doctor? You are sweating.”
She touches her head. Check her pulses. A palpitation in her heart beat. She cannot make herself calm.
The waiter asks, “Madam May I…”
She asks, “Bring me the bill.” She brings herself into control.
“But the doctor…”
She demands, “Just bring the damn bill, Mister.”
The waiter gets little offensive and says, “Okay… Give me five minutes.” The waiter goes back to the counter. She puts her laptop in her Leather Bag. With a sense of uneasiness she drums the table with her fingers which annoyed some of the customers sitting nearby. The waiter brings the bill. She stops the drumming. She pays the amount and signs the bill off. She gets up with her bag up and puts it across the shoulders towards her back. She wears her silk scarf rounded on her face and puts her sunglasses. She makes a move towards the cafeteria door to the main street. The scorching sun strikes on her face. She moves near to the pavement to cross the street. All the vehicles come to a halt due to the signal. The passer-by is given the signal to cross the road on the other side. She crosses along with the crowd. She reaches. She takes a turn towards the medicine shop nearby. She pulls some money out of her bag. She buys nerve pills. She asks for a glass of water. She takes two pills out of the container. She puts it into her mouth and drinks water. She holds onto herself for a minute. She finds the strength. She takes out her mobile. She types a message and sends the message to one of her contact. Message sent confirmation received. She gets a reply. She starts to walk. Some of the passer-by notices her. She smiles at them.
She walks for another two miles. She reaches an alley. She stands near the wall for a moment and pushes her back towards it. She brings out her cigarette and the lighter. She lights it up and blows her first smoke. She receives another message. Blows another smoke on the air. She reads the message and walk towards the end of the alley. She reaches a three floored apartment. She takes the stairs and walks. She stops at the second floor. She pulls out her sunglasses and loosens the scarf. Takes a left turn. She reaches the gate of the flat on the floor. She knocks at it. The gate opens quickly. The flat dweller looks at her. She looks at him.
The flat dweller says, “So, after all this time! We meet again!”
She replies, “This was unexpected. I…”
He interrupts her, “Come on in.”
She hesitates and yet she enters the room. He closes the door and fixes his sleepwear. She says, “What do you want from me?”
He smiles at her and touches her hand, “A little conversation what I demand.” She feels uncomfortable.
He remarks, “What has happened to you?” He looks at her and continues, “Sneha! That’s what you call yourself now-a-days.”
“Yes. I am having a life.”
“The so called miserable life. I hope your better half does not find out who you truly are.” He arranges the seat. She sits on it and he sits opposite to her. She keeps her bag under the table. Both of them keep their hand on the table.
She abruptly asks, “Is there anyone else in the flat?” “Just you and me, Darling! Just you and me!”
“How did you find me?”
“It’s not hard to track your whereabouts!” “How come you got yourself released?”
He touches her fingers and smiles at her face. She looks at the floor. He touches her chin. Moves her face upwards. He laughs in a low manner and says, “How can I forget this beautiful face of yours!” She moves away from the touch. She hates it with disgust.
“Oh! Ms Sneha! The Hatred!” He gets up from the chair and goes towards her back. “All those days which you have left behind. Those exciting days of ours!” He takes a turn around.
She protests, “I have a life. Please don’t destroy my mental peace!”
He slams on the desk and says, “WHAT ABOUT MINE!” “I beg of you not to… shout!”
“You sold me out! You destroyed my entire trade! You made my life so miserable which is beyond your dreams!”
“I wanted to escape! I wanted to settle down!”
“No! No! No! That’s not the way it works! We were partners! We had people who helped us! You betrayed all of us to hell!”
“What were we doing then? Ripping off corporate affairs and lives! That’s what you call life!”
“But we earned a lot through it”
“But that was blood money! Blood! I felt, guilt!”
“In our trade we should not feel the guilt of blood loss of others! We were professionals. We were the guns for hire!”
“It was hell.”
“If you have kept your mouth shut we could have helped you escape! I had gathered a team! But you got to spill out everything!”
She stares at him. He says, “What was it? Money! A fake identity to have a comfortable life! A luxurious apartment! A regular nine to five job! What was it that made you betray all of us?”
“I was exhausted! I wasn’t able to handle the torture anymore!” She starts to cry.
“Now, you are going to cry now, isn’t it?”
“Why are you disturbing me? We have parted our ways so long ago!”
“It is a question of Justice! The justice of loyalty towards me.”
“What do you want me to do? Beg for forgiveness!” “No! I am not talking about forgiveness!”
“I will expose every single damn thing of yours! You will lose your job, your new identity and your faithful husband in one swift stroke! Not even the officers will be able to save you from your exposure! ”
“You came back to my life with your three line email to me and… I am crumbling to beg you from not destroying my current life!”
“Well, nothing else matters!” He brings out two guns from the pocket. “Well, I will give you a fair chance.” He keeps both the guns on the table. She looks at them with fear. She is losing her nerve again.
“One of them has one single bullet loaded. The one you select you have got to shoot at my head. If you have made the wrong fateful selection, I take the other one to shoot you!”
She smiles at him for a moment, “The Justifiable Probability!”
“You shoot on the Just and the Unjust at the right moment, as
I give you the fair chance!”
Her opponent keeps her hand on both the guns. She looks at both the guns. She wipes her tears with her hands. She touches both the guns. She says, “Well, after all this time it has to come to this situation!”
“The circle is now complete!” “You loved me once!” “Unfortunately, I don’t anymore!”
“Things would have been different, if I have never got caught!
I miss the thrill of death! Those cat and mouse chasing days!” “We have been waiting for this so long! Since the day we met!” “We were destined for this moment!”
He moves his hand away from the guns. He let her chose the weapon. She looks at both the guns from the right and to the left. She closes her eyes. He looks at her deeply. She chooses the one on her right. She points the gun on his head. She looks at him. She thinks of the past. She thinks of the dead past she left behind for so long. Yet, she sees herself together with him. The history of their togetherness they led once. She wanted the past to be buried. Burn it, if she has to. That’s the only way to become what she will destine to be justified.
She closes her eyes. Deep down inside. She loves him still but her betrayal makes her feel the guilt of not standing of her own. He looks at him. She opens her eyes. There are tears in his eyes. She pulls the trigger. A gunshot. But the shot has been fired on the air intentionally. She drops the gun. He picks up the other gun. She fears, “But there is no bullet … in this one!”
He says, “I lied!”
She looks at him. He points the gun towards her head. He pulls the trigger. She closes her eyes in the face of death. But there is no shot, just the sound of a blank trigger being pulled. He drops the gun.
She opens her eyes and says, “You lied again!”
“I can’t kill you!”
She cannot answer. As the police enforcers enters the flat in quick succession and handcuffs him. He looks at him, “I knew, I will be caught! But, I wanted this showdown to happen! I wanted to know who you really are! I got the answer! That’s what life is! It is filled with irony!”
He is being taken away downstairs. The officer in charge comes towards her and says, “Thank you, Madam. For helping us to get him caught! We owe you a million thanks!”
She nods her head and takes a deep breathe. She looks outside the window and sees the convict being put inside the police van. She never felt so different. Yet, she cannot bury the past as the past emotions are not easy to let go even if she moves on with her daily life. Her mobile rings. It’s her husband and says, “Hey Honey!”
She takes her time and with a smile she says, “Hello, Dear!… I will be bringing home the groceries for the night…” and she continues her conversation with the husband and discuss about the daily happiness they share together.