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Insanely Inane Thoughts

If fate doesn't make you laugh, you just don't get the joke.

The Killing Fields

The alley was all but dead save for the vagrant who had made it his home. It was well past midnight and the rats were out in full strength. The alley was gobbled up by dilapidated apartment buildings on either side and a towering wall checked its progress. A car pulled up in the alley, startling the man. The man pulled up his blanket and stared at the car. If the lights were to have fallen on the man's face, one would have noticed his eyes. It was as black as the darkness that engulfed the alley; the eyes stared at the car; not with emotions but with frightening lucidity.

The car was an imported one. Its carbon black color sought the court the darkness as the driver killed the lights. The driver got off the car and looked around furtively. Rats scurried around his boots and he kicked them away, cursing in his native tongue. He paced around the car while throwing flitting glances at his wrist. He must have been waiting for someone. The vagrant straightened up from his slouch and grazed his fingers against the knife. He looked at his watch; it read 12:47. He was early, the fag thought to himself. But he was here just as he was told.

The other man was still pacing near his car glancing at his watch every few seconds. The vagrant couldn’t get a look at the watch as his sleeve obscured it. He was fashionably dressed as he should have been for the sake of his bank balance. The vagrant smiled but his eyes remained void of emotions. He knew that nobody was going to show up. He was told that when he was given the order to kill him.

I must act quickly, he told himself. He slinked towards the man who was busy keeping the rats at bay. The rats killed the silence that was so essential when making a kill. If there had been no rats then he would have heard the near silent footfalls behind him. There hadn’t been one but two men in the alley besides the vagrant himself.

He was very close to the man now. He closed his eyes and started praying for forgiveness just as he would do before every hit. It was an old custom he had picked up from his mentor. He wasn’t the religious kind but for him, it was more the case of preserving old habits than seeking redemption for his sins. The footfalls waded closer but still remained hidden over the chatter of the rats. The rats were trying to warn him, but once in prayer, he was oblivious to his surrounding for a full minute. This was his weakness but not many knew it.

He was about to open his eyes when he felt the arm slide against his neck. His eyes widened in surprise as he struggled to free himself from the death hold. The more he struggled, the stronger the grip grew. He tried to reach for his knife and his hands refused to take orders from his almost asphyxiated brain. His ears registered the deathly calm that had besotted the alley for a few precious moments. The rats were waiting for their midnight feast and it was then that his eyes fell on the watch. In that vivid moment when Death was almost at his doorsteps, the only thought that crossed his mind was how strikingly shiny the gold watch appeared to be.

~*~*~*~

"Who is next?" screamed the city papers.

A strange trend had grabbed the city by storm. It had fascinated the press and the people alike. Professional killers were being bumped off; one by one. The police was at its wits' end. No tangible clues had emerged so far and the few clues that they did chance upon, posed more questions rather than giving them answers. The latest murder of Elliot, one of the lesser-known but dangerous killers, fueled the imagination of the media. It was a time when sports and politics took a back seat and murder took center stage. But the spate of killings was also proving to be a boon for the killers themselves. It was proving to be a potential gold mine for the few killers that chose to stay back. They hadn't been in such demand for a long time and it bode well for the future of their profession.

~*~*~*~

The doctor was almost through with the endless stream of illness that kept plaguing his clinic. He looked at his roster and let out an audible sigh. One more disgusting body and I'm through, he told himself.

The doctor's clinic was located in upscale area of the city and his clientele consisted of the who's who of the city. He tended to both, the famous and the infamous, and he was the best in the business. He had no love for the profession and it had always been that way. He forced himself through medical college for the fear of his father, who was a renowned heart specialist in the city. His father had driven his mother to the brink of suicide, thanks to his abusive ways. He grew up under the shadow of his battered mother who refused to divorce her husband for the sake of her child. His father had made it abundantly clear that he expected him to go through medical college. If he refused to oblige, he was told that he would be "skinned alive". And he didn't doubt his fathers' resolve.

Well, here I am, doing wondrous business and making more money in a month than my father made in a year. But he had no one to share it with. His mother passed away soon after he graduated from medical school; one might say that she had kept her end of the promise by making sure that her son made it through college with all his appendages intact. He didn't date often because of the grueling work hours he put in. It wasn't for the love of money but he was afraid that he might end up as an abusive lover; he despised his father so much that he was afraid that he might try to beat his father by emulating his actions at a much larger scale.

He broke away from his reverie and buzzed his patient in.

"Good evening, how do you do?" asked the doctor as he greeted his patient.

"Not very well, I suppose. Otherwise I wouldn't be here, would I?" said the patient. The doctor laughed along with the patient.

"So, this is your first time here?" asked the doctor.

"Yes," said the patient as he leaned in towards the doctor. He held something between his fingers; the doctor had failed to notice it before. "I have some questions for you, doctor," the patient said as he plunged the plunger near the doctors' neck.

The doctor cowed with fear. He had never had such an unruly patient before.

"What do you want from me?" the doctor managed to sputter.

"Some answers," said the patient as he checked with his watch. The drug would take its effect very soon, he told himself. The doctor simply watched the man with the golden watch gaze at him as he slipped into a stream of unconsciousness.

~*~*~*~

The police found the doctor after an anonymous caller had tipped them off. He had been reported missing a few hours back by his father who was supposed to have dinner with him. The police found no traces of violence on the doctor and would have to wait for the autopsy report to identify the cause of death. The forensic team had searched the area for prints, fibers or any other clue, which might suggest foul play. They found none and approximated the time of death with the help of rigor.

The autopsy result took a few hours but it did state that traces of sodium pentothal was found in the victims' bloodstream.

"Now why the hell would anybody want to pump Sodium Pentothal into the doctors' body?" asked the bewildered cop.

"Sodium Pentothal?" asked a reporter.

"That's the chemical name. It's also known as the truth serum," said the cop as he munched on his sandwich.

~*~*~*~

He was given a simple order: to kill him. He didn't know who had given him the order since all contact had been via phone and as hard as he had tried, he had failed to get a definite trace on the call. He had thought of dismissing the caller as an idiot the first time he spoke to him but then again, getting his number would have needed a certain expertise. Subsequently, the caller had given him more information and, as promised, wired him half the sum on which they had agreed upon. It was a rather large sum but then again, he was the best of those who remained.

The victim was Jagdish Rao, one of the country's richest albeit slightly eccentric men. His history was fascinating. His father was one of the many rags-to-riches businessmen. He had worked hard to achieve it and ensured that his son didn’t have to do battle like him. He would have achieved a lot more if it hadn’t been for an assassin for hire who cut short Jagdish’s father’s success story. Jagdish’s father was killed at home; right in front of 12-year old Jagdish’s eyes. But Jagdish had coped with his father’s absence rather remarkably. The business expanded like never before and all was well for Jagdish Rao, the most eligible bachelor of the country.

For a man of his standing, Jagdish maintained a very low profile. He was also an assuredly naive man. He lived like any of us would live only a whole lot better. He had bungalows spread all over the country but preferred to stay cooped up in his penthouse. The penthouse was a thing of marvel: it was spread over 4,000 sq. feet and was connected to the apartments directly beneath it. The penthouse was centrally heated and had its own spa cum swimming pool. There was also a game room in which Jagdish fiddled around with his game boy for many a night. The penthouse also led to a very beautiful garden, if one may call it soon, which offered him a place of quiet. It also gave him an unimpeded view of the city, which would have decidedly beautiful if not for the haze serenading the cityscape.

The penthouse and the luxuries it offered were all but expected for a man of Jagdish's stature. But what one really had to marvel was the fact that a single guard who, by all means, needed to be guarded himself manned the entrance that led to the building. The guard was an elderly old man who held the world record for walking 100 yards in just under seven minutes and this was on steroids. The guard could get in touch with any occupant of the building through the intercom but they could hardly hear him over the dentures and the 1870's hearing aid. Another startling fact was that Jagdish Rao's penthouse didn't have any alarm system in place let alone CCTV cameras.

And he lived alone. It seemed like Jagdish hadn’t learned much from his father’s death. The adage ‘Like father, like son’ seemed to be written all over this kill.

All of this was told to the assassin. The assassin couldn't believe his luck. It was like having the best sex of your life and getting paid for it.

"I know your weakness, Barthez. If you fail, you won’t live to regret it," said the voice. The assassin laughed.

He never fails.

~*~*~*~

He waited till Jagdish left for work. He was of the opinion that getting past the security wouldn't be much of a problem; he was right. Getting into the penthouse took a little longer because the lock used by Jagdish was quite tricky to break into. He knew that he had time on his side; Jagdish wouldn't be back till late in the evening. It took him twenty minutes or so but he had the lock figured. Next time around, he would be in within a minute. Allowing a small smile to light up his face, he entered the house.

He let out a whistle.

The house was reeking of opulence. Inspite of all he had heard, the assassin was taken aback. The lobby consisted of some very fine artwork; including a Munch and Picasso. The living room seemed to have a trip system; the lights lit up the moment he walked into it. The blinds by the window rolled down and light music regaled his senses. If there were sensors around, who knows what else Jagdish might have installed. As abruptly as he had let his guard down, he perked up again. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he scanned the living room.

He wanted to ensure that the information he got was sound. There was no point in letting a minor oversight screw up the entire operation He took his time and did a thorough search but couldn't find any alarm system; so he was told the truth. The assassin knew that Jagdish had hired help coming in for cleaning and dusting; they usually came in by noon. He didn't have too much time to waste here.

He had already bugged Jagdish's cars and now it was time for some bugs in the house. He bugged the entire penthouse in less than ten minutes. Satisfied, he gave the penthouse one last look and let himself out. He knew he would be back soon. This time around, it would be more than cursory visit.

~*~*~*~

She pushed him lower, urging him as he played around her bellybutton. He continued to taunt her and she continued to plead. Her hips started bucking as he slid down slowly. She couldn't take it any longer and forced him under. It was a moment of glorious pleasure but the night was just beginning and she was in for the time of her life.

"That was fuckin' awesome," she told him as she nestled against his strong frame.

"That's what an Australian kiss is all about,” he told her as he stroked her hair. And what is an Australian kiss, she asked him with a twinkle in her eye.

"It's the same as a French kiss but it's done down under." Her laugh was muffled as she planted a kiss full on his mouth.

The assassin smiled in the dark. Jagdish was a wild cat, after all.

~*~*~*~

The car honked twice as the gates rolled open. Shyam hadn't been expecting this. This was the first time he had come home so early.

"Back so early, sir?" Shyam asked Jagdish as his car rolled to a standstill beside his post. Jagdish looked at the elderly guard with affection. He had been with him since time immemorial and it had been Shyam who had helped him stay strong in his fathers' absence. Jagdish had told Shyam to call him Jagdish but he seemed to forget it conveniently and always referred to him as sir. It was due to Jagdish's insistence that the guard had been held on for so long. The building committee had been clamoring for a change for years now but Jagdish's donations reduced their complaints to a whimper. Theirs' was a safe neighborhood and the police was especially alert in the area.

"I was feeling a little tired, Daaji," replied Jagdish. He referred to Shyam as Daaji, which meant father, as a mark of respect.

"You should really be looking after yourself," chided Shyam.

"I'll try, Daaji," said Jagdish as he revved the engine.

"I'll be seeing you in the morning then," said Shyam as he made his way to his post.

Jagdish didn't reply and drove on towards the basement. Today might be the last time you see me if things go as planned, Jagdish told Shyam in his mind. Sadly, telepathy wasn't one of old Shyam's forte.

~*~*~*~

The assassin had been listening to this conversation. It's time, he said softly. He had come to admire Jagdish over the course of the week and decided to make his death as painless as possible. A bullet through his brain it would be, he told himself as he planned for the kill.

~*~*~*~

The dinner had been an elaborate affair. It had taken Jagdish some time to decide on what to eat but he decided to go on with a full fledged meal; which meant a whole lot of rice, dahl, rotis, side dishes, pasta, caviar, dessert and champagne to boot. He made sure that he didn't drink too much; he wasn't a drinker but still collected wines just as his father did. It was the least he could do for his father.

The assassin, on the other hand, had had a light dinner that consisted of salad and orange juice. He was very particular about his diet as he was allergic to most of the delicacies. But he had made a note of Jagdish's extensive wine collection and had promised himself a drink in Jagdish's house after the kill was made. He might even sneak out a bottle or two, he thought to himself with a chuckle. It would be a waste for such wine to go unappreciated.

He was in the building and old Shyam was curled up in the post as he was at most nights.

Getting into the house was a breeze; just as he had predicted. He knew where Jagdish would be found and whipped out his gun as he went towards the study.

~*~*~*~

Jagdish was slouching over his printer when he heard that noise. He had been hitting away furiously at his keyboard till a few minutes back and was in the midst of printing out a very important document. He knew that he had very little time to spare and whatever he had to do had to be done quickly. He was about to turn around when he felt the barrel against his back.

"Do as I say," whispered the assassin.

"Who are you and what do you want?" asked Jagdish.

"Didn't you hear me? I said 'do as I say'," hissed the assassin.

"But you haven't said what you want me to do," replied Jagdish.

The assassin hit Jagdish near the collar with the butt of the revolver. Jagdish winced in pain as he clutched on to his printout.

"No more smart comments and I promise that your death will be painless."

At this, Jagdish started laughing. At first, the assassin thought that Jagdish was crying with fear but realized rather quickly that, to the contrary, he was laughing. The assassin couldn't make head or tail of it because he had never had a victim laugh when told that they were going to die.

"Why are you laughing?" asked the bemused assassin.

"Because you said that you would kill me," replied Jagdish, trying to keep the guffaws down.

"I wouldn't find being told that one was going to die very funny," said the assassin mirthlessly.

"Look, if you want money, just tell me so. The least that a dying man can do is give money to the needy," said Jagdish rather philanthropically.

"Do I look like a beggar to you?" asked the assassin, quite dumbfounded.

"Well, I haven't seen you so I would assume that you are here to steal. Stealing is just like begging; the only difference being that you aren't asking for the money but need it anyways," said Jagdish.

"Move five paces and turn around."

Jagdish walked onto the assassin's shoes and the assassin let out a curse.

"What the hell are you doing?" the assassin screamed.

"Well, you said move five paces."

"Yes, move five paces in front and not back," screamed the assassin.

"You should have said so. And keep your voice down unless you plan on being heard. Seriously, you are like the worst robber ever," said Jagdish as he moved five paces in front.

"Now turn around."

Jagdish turned around and saw nothing but darkness.

"Well, do I look like a beggar now?"

"I wouldn't be able to tell the difference in such bright light," Jagdish said, a little sarcastically.

"Don't talk back to me, you sonofabitch!"

"This is my house. I will say as I please."

A shot went past Jagdish's ear. Whoever he was, he knows how to use a gun; thought Jagdish to himself

"This is my gun and I will do as I please," said the assassin coldly as he turned on the lights.

What Jagdish saw was a man clad in black with a ski mask obscuring his face. He was well built, maybe 6'2" or so. He could say so confidently because Jagdish himself was a little over 6' and the assassin seemed to be loom that bit larger. From the leather boots he donned, he seemed to be quite well off. It was then that he noticed that the assassin had his gun trained at him.

"Rather well off to still be a robber," said Jagdish, a little tersely.

The assassin was about to say something when he remembered something that Jagdish has said.

"What did you mean when you said that you were a dying man?" asked the assassin.

"That I was going to die. What else can it mean?"

"Why do you say that?"

"Because just before you showed up with your little toy, I was about to commit suicide," said Jagdish rather matter-of-factly.

~*~*~*~

"Suicide," said the shocked assassin. Jagdish merely nodded.

"Why are you so shocked? Never heard of suicides before?" asked Jagdish with a smile.

"Of course I've heard of suicides. It's just that...", the assassin's voice trailed off.

"It's just that what?"

"Well, I'm an assassin and I was here to kill you." Jagdish started laughing manically again. "Now do you realize why I had started laughing when you told me that you will make my death as painless as possible," said Jagdish.

This had never happened with the assassin before. Hell, it wouldn't have happened to any assassins anywhere. Here he was, ready to kill Jagdish and then the victim tells him that he was going to commit suicide.

"No need to think so much about it. I will go on and commit suicide as I had planned before saving you the trouble of killing me," said Jagdish.

"No," said the assassin.

"No?"

"Yes."

"Great, so I can go on and kill myself as planned," said Jagdish cheerfully. He was taking the saying about meeting Death with a smile on the face too literally, the assassin thought.

"No, when I said yes, I had meant it for the no," explained the assassin getting confused himself.

"Wow, not only are you the worst robber and probably the most lucked out assassin, you are also one heckuva confused person. Make up your mind and let me know," jeered Jagdish.

"You cannot kill yourself," said the assassin as he glared at Jagdish.

"But I want to. Listen, I'm making your job far easier that what it is. All you have to do is collect the money and tell the folks who sent you that you made it look like a suicide. It's the perfect murder which isn't a murder," exhorted Jagdish. The assassin noticed the piece of paper that Jagdish was clutching to.

"What's that in your hand?" asked the assassin.

"It's the suicide note," said Jagdish.

"So you were really going to commit suicide," said the assassin softly. Again, Jagdish merely nodded his head.

"So why can't you let me commit suicide?" asked Jagdish.

"Well, I've been paid to kill you. If I let you kill yourself, it would mean that I reneged from the deal I had made. It's more of an ethical issue," explained the assassin.

"And killing people isn't an ethical issue with you?" asked Jagdish, a smile flickering through his eyes.

"Don't make this personal," snarled the assassin. Both fell silent for a minute.

"So, how were you going to kill yourself?" asked the assassin with interest.

"Well, to be frank, I hadn't decided as yet," said Jagdish. Then he thought of something. "Hey, why don't you give me ideas on how I can kill myself and if I kill myself with your method, it would be as if you were killing me. It might ease the pain you feel deep inside your soul," said Jagdish, earnestly. The assassin thought that it was a barbed attack but let it pass.

"What you say could very well be the only way out," said the assassin.

"So what do you suggest?" asked Jagdish. It almost felt as if a kid was asking Santa what he had brought him for Christmas.

"Hmmm; what about the old bullet through the temple; never fails and is painless."

"Hold on; why don't we have coffee while we discuss this. It may take sometime, you know," Jagdish suggested. The assassin agreed. Jagdish brewed up some coffee while the assassin kept an eye on Jagdish just to ensure that there wasn't any hanky-panky. He may have lucked out but he wasn't stupid. The assassin and Jagdish settled down on the futon sipping on the coffee. The atmosphere felt very informal; almost as if they were talking about the weather.

“So why do you want to kill yourself?” asked the assassin as he enjoyed the relative comfort of the air-conditioned room. Like the other day, soft music lulled the assassin into a fall sense of security.

“Why do you kill people?” Jagdish shot back.

“I asked you first. And in case you have forgotten, I’m in charge of proceedings here,” said the assassin, as he pointed to his gun. It was in the holster, which was also made of black leather.

Jagdish studied the assassin’s frame as he was talking to him. The assassin walked with an upright gait and his arms hardly swung as he walked. It might have looked funny if he were in a clown suit, but it added to his killer appeal in the presence of a gun and the ski mask. Jagdish put the assassins’ age at around 27-30 which was quite off the assassins’ age of 37. The assassin followed a rigorous schedule of yoga and athletics which helped him to retain his remarkable agility. The assassin spoke in a neutralized accent, which worked well in his profession. He must be proficient in many languages, Jagdish thought to himself.

“I was growing tired of life,” Jagdish said as he eyed the assassins’ gun.

“It didn’t seem so tiring when you were going on with that girl a few days back,” the assassin said without a hint of a smile. Jagdish tensed for a moment and then relaxed. He let his fist unclench.

“How did you know about that?” Jagdish said, keeping his anger in check.

“Ever heard of the saying that even walls have ears?” asked the assassin, enjoying himself thoroughly.

“You bugged my place.” It was more of a statement than a question. The assassin nodded his head.

“So, you are tired of your life?”

“Yes,” said Jagdish. He placed the cup of hot coffee on the table and stretched out his legs. He was growing weary of this.

“And what tires you so much?”

“I would rather not answer any of your questions.” The assassin played around with the holster. This was not lost on Jagdish who was busy watching the beads of condensation race each other; from the rim of the cup towards the face of the table. I should have brought a coaster along, Jagdish thought to himself.

“Why do you kill people?” asked Jagdish.

"For other people."

"And you feel no remorse for killing them. They could be somebodys' father, brother, son."

"Like your father, eh?"

Jagdish felt anger surge surge through his body but he acted non-chalantly. His fathers' death was still etched in his memory; he had nightmares about that fateful day, if at all he was able to go off to sleep.

"You know my history well enough."

"It's what every good assassin would do. Anyways, we don't kill people because it's fun for us. We are problem solvers; you know, helping out other people," the assassin said as he bit into the apple.

"Not all problems are legitimate."

"Well, we are a magnamious bunch; if people reach out to us, we can't refuse to help them. And the money doesn't hurt either."

"If it's money you are after, robbing banks would serve you better," suggested Jagdish. The assassin seemed to be relishing the tete-a-tete with Jagdish as much as he was with the apple.

"We are professionals; we are the best in this just like robbers are the best in their field."

"But even then, do you never regret killing people? One doesn't have the right to take away another persons' life like that," said Jagdish softly.

"There used to be regret; after the first killing. Then a little less regret as you go on killing others. By the time one has over ten killings to hisd name, regret is not something he feels. It's much like playing soccer; in your first international game, you might feel very nervous, but the pangs go away as you play more matches. Like I said before, assassins are professionals too. They are paid to do a job which isn't unlike lawyers or businessmen," explained the assassin. It felt good to talk about his business.

"I think that what you do to other peoples' life is terrible."

"Okay, now that I have had your thoughts on my profession, lets get back to why we are actually having this coversation. About your suicide," the assassin said abruptly.

"What about it?"

"Having such opinions about the right to take a life of a person, do you think you have the right to take your own life?"

"It's my life. I'll do as I please," said Jagdish, non-plussed.

"Fair enough. You are a smart man so I won't question your motives; however, I still think it's a bit mad on your part though. Now, lets talk what method will fit your madness appropriately," said the assassin.


"Alright. So where were we?" asked Jagdish.

"Bullet through the temple," said the assassin as he sipped on his coffee. "By the way, it's good coffee," he told Jagdish.

"Thanks, I got it from Colombia. One of the advantages of being really rich," smiled Jagdish. "Well, I don't like the bullet in the temple plan."

"Why not?"

"Well; for one; it would be real quick. Now Death isn't what it is unless you can actually feel it. Also, I don't want people saying I wasn't in the right mind when they look at the mashed brain," explained Jagdish. He sipped on his coffee.

"I see. Well, what about jumping off the penthouse balcony?" asked the assassin.

"Na; I've vertigo. I might fall off the balcony instead of jumping off it, so it wouldn’t be as if I committed suicide even though that would have been the intention when I stood on the railing. This is one time when the ends don't justify the means."

The assassin looked at Jagdish but said nothing.

"Take your time; we have the whole night to ourselves." The assassin pondered for a while as he continued to nibble on the apple.

"Cyanide?"

"Again; it's too quick. And I've heard that it has a terrible taste though I don't think any volunteers have verified that so far," said Jagdish.

"Then how about the slit-your-wrist-and-you-are-dead method?"

"Nope again; I've heard it’s quite painful especially if you don't get it right the first time. They say that suicide is painless but attempted suicide is not."

"Wow, for a man who wants to kill himself, you sure have some excuses ruling out the conventional methods."

"I want it to be perfect. That's all," said Jagdish, seemingly a little hurt.

~*~*~*~

"A little higher."

"Ummph... unngg…, is this alright?"

"No, no. A little higher; a little further up," said the assassin, sweat rolling down his face; his face turned towards the ceiling. He had started to feel slightly drowsy.

"Arggghhh, is this okay?" huffed Jagdish.

"No, a little more; yeah, that's it; no, no, a little lower; yeah, that's it. Perfect, perfect," exclaimed the assassin. He smiled at Jagdish.

"Well then, you think that the rope will hold?" asked Jagdish. The assassin looked up at the fan, reached up for the rope and tugged at it. "It will hold," he said with a smile.

"What about the noose? A good fit for my neck?" asked Jagdish.

"Yes, a good fit."

"So I get onto the stool and ease the noose over my head. Then you will kick the stool away, right?" asked Jagdish.

"That's the plan," said the assassin.

"Okay, so I get onto the stool, jump off it and then put the noose over my neck. I get it," said Jagdish.

"No, no. You ease the noose over your neck and then jump off the stool. If you jump off the stool before putting on the noose, you will look like Tarzan," said the assassin.

"Just show me the ropes, will you?" said Jagdish, gesturing towards the noose.

"What do I look to you? Stupid?" said the assassin.

"Come on now; haven't I done everything you have told me so far?"

"Yes but..."

"Alright, if you don't trust me then just give me your gun. If I make any move that is uncalled for, I will shoot myself when you tell me to do so. I've done everything that you have told me so far so what's one more thing?" said Jagdish.

The assassin just blinked at Jagdish. He seemed a little confused and he had started to feel drowsier.

"Okay, I take it that you don't trust me. After all that we have been through this night, you won't trust me on this?" Jagdish seemed more than a little hurt.

The assassin tried to say something all he could say was, "It's not that I don't trust you but ...". His voice left him and he thought that he felt a little spasm on his face. His lips started twitching as his eyeballs rolled in; his face was contorting rather scarily.

The symptoms seemed eerily similar to the allergy symptoms he had had before. But it couldn't be possible; he was always particular about what he ate or drank. He tried to remember what he had today. Salad in the evening and then some juice; the next thing he had to eat or drink was the coffee and the apple.

What could it be, he thought to himself as he slumped to the floor.

“Is there a problem?” Jagdish asked once he realized that there was something amiss with the assassin.

“I’m having a reaction,” the assassin mumbled out. Jagdish could barely make it out but he did hear it. He was waiting to hear these words.

"What is wrong with me?" the assassin asked. He was feeling very confused about the whole situation.

"Like you said, you are having a reaction. A reaction towards perinom, to be exact," said Jagdish.

Perinom. Why did it sound so familair, thought the assassin as he started foaming from the lips. Then it came back to him. As a kid, he had had an adverse reaction to Perinom; an anti-nuasea pill.

"But how?" gurgled the assassin.

"It was in the apple you had," Jagdish said. He wasn't being too helpful. The assassin curled up on the floor, twitching.

Jagdish walked towards the assassin and took away his gun. He then stuffed the suicide note into the assassin’s pocket. He went over towards the telephone and called up someone. The assassin couldn’t hear what was being said but the words he could make out were “man” and “dead”.

I’m not dead yet, the assassin though. Something was not right. With great effort, he reached out towards his pocket and pulled out the note. He opened the note and read it slowly. He read it once, shook his head or at least thought he was doing so, and read it again.

The note wasn’t a suicide note at all. All it had written in it was one terse sentence, it didn’t say much and yet it spoke volumes.

It said: Like I had said; if you fail, you won’t live to regret it.

Jagdish watched the assassin fumble with the note and smiled to himself. It’s time, he said softly. He went over towards the assassin and propped him against the stool. For a lean man, Jagdish was surprisingly strong. The assassin tried to fight Jagdish off but he couldn’t. The assassin had a terrified look on his face, the look that he would have often associated with the people he had killed.

Jagdish inched closer towards the assassin and whispered into his ears: Like I said before, Barthez; I know your weakness.

“This one’s for you, Father. Just like the others,” Jagdish whispered with a manic glow in his eyes. His arms curled around the neck as Barthez gasped for air. He was past struggling and wished for a quick and a painless death.

Shyam would be there to help him dispose off the body; just as he had always been there. In the alley the other night; in the house tonight.

The last thought that strayed into his mind was how strikingly shiny the gold watch appeared to be.
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