|Image Credit: Splatter by jain7th, on Flickr|
t was just like any other November night in Pudhupettai. The tea stall was busy with about a half a dozen men standing with half-full glasses in an animated discussion about state politics. There wasn’t much of traffic on the road. The vehicles that did pass through carefully avoided the small puddle on the side of the road from the previous day’s rain. Kasinathan and Sridhar stopped at the stall.
“A pack of Wills cigarettes…” Sridhar asked the shopkeeper.
Kasinathan looked around, studying the place.
“No. It’ll work! Let us move. It is going to be one long night…”
The car sped away and disappeared into the darkness.
* * *
Kasinathan looked at the sketch. Sridhar stood there silently, waiting for him to speak.
“This is the road that the car would take to drop off the boy at school.”
“hmm.. yes. We confirmed that.”
“The first traffic light where the eastbound road is a one-way… that won’t work. The red light stays for a very short time. The second traffic light about two blocks away is ideal.”
“So we create a distraction that causes the driver to get out of the vehicle, right?”
“Yes… and we hijack the vehicle.”
“I have an idea…”
“Why don’t you go dressed as a police officer who stops the vehicle and the driver for questioning? When the driver gets out of the vehicle I will get away with the boy in the car… I will wear the same white uniform as the driver. The boy won’t get suspicious and raise a ruckus!”
Kasinathan thought about it for a second and nodded his head in approval.
“Great! We go to work tomorrow…”
* * *
Inspector Sathya checked the rubber marks on the road.
“These marks are from that vehicle that got away, right? It seems to have gone north. Can you alert the checkposts...” The constable nodded his head and turned around speaking into his walkie-talkie.
He walked up to the pavement where another policeman was putting the handcuffs on Sridhar who was in a white driver’s uniform that had a splattering of blood.
“This is one bizarre case. Why is your dead accomplice dressed up as a policeman? What were you guys up to? It is terrible bad luck that he was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Fate catches up fast with you, doesn’t it? We are still trying to find that guy who fled the scene in a black van.”
Inspector Sathya looked at Kasinathan who lay spread-eagled on the ground with a small pool of blood and a red rivulet that mixed with the rainwater puddle on the road.
* * *
He stopped the van by the side of the isolated stretch of the road. An oil tanker whizzed past him. There were no other vehicles behind it. He turned the engine off and got down. The front of the van was dented and there was a small patch of dried blood on the black surface.
He walked away from the vehicle. He pulled out a crumpled photograph of a smiling 7-yr old girl. Teardrops that flowed down his cheeks bounced off the old photograph of his daughter who was killed a year ago by her kidnapper. Today, she gets closure.
It started drizzling. He wiped his face, pulled his jacket to cover his head and started running slowly towards the city.