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Insanely Inane Thoughts

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

Batting For Paradise

"Are you ready?" asked Leo as he stowed away the baseball bat into his bag. His eyes, which were startlingly blue and flecked with green, remained hidden under the cap. It is often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and with Leo, it was quite true. Which is why I was so afraid of looking into his eyes right now. Moments before, a complete stranger had stared back at me through those very same eyes and I don't know whether it was the strangeness that I saw or the sameness that I felt that had scared me the most. But this was not the time to think.

It was the time to act and send a message.

I gulped down my doubts and put on the same mask that Leo had on him.

"Are you ready?" Leo asked again as he trained his eyes on me. His voice, although gentle, echoed with violent intent.

I picked up the bat and held it loosely. I closed my eyes and almost immediately, the images cornered my rationale. The dense smoke and the teary soul, the mangled steel and the splatter of blood, the smell of death and the stench of fear, the need for solace and a vent for anger, the quiet of the scarred and the shouts of the ravaged. They coaxed and cajoled me, angered and threatened me and appealed and begged to me before fading away into the same dark, recess that had offered them sanctuary.

There is still a way to be good, reason said. But I kicked Goodness in its balls and winked the Devil in her eye.

My fingers tightened around the bat as I opened my eyes. I looked towards Leo and nodded.

I was ready.

~*~*~*~*~*~

We entered the convenience store hoping to buy satisfaction. It was a tiny establishment conjoined to a larger gas pump. The hour was late and there was nobody but the owner in the store. Soft music was permeating through the store and it was a tune I had heard before but I couldn't place it immediately.

"Ahh! My final customers for the night," he beamed through his beard. I forgot all about the tune and simply stared at him.

"So, what will it be, kids?" he asked, continuing to clear out the store for the night. I looked at Leo; he had the same look on his face. On receiving no reply, the owner looked back at us. "Are you kids interested in buying anything at all?"

I couldn't pry my eyes away from his turban, so I continued staring at him.

"Alright, stop wasting my time and get out of my-" the owner started but he stopped short of completing his sentence. He was staring at Leo with a scared expression on his face. His lips twitched under the beard while his eyes narrowed with what I took to be fear. A congregation of sweat ran through his forehead from under the silken headgear.

I shifted my gaze towards Leo to find him wielding the weathered bat with a crazed smile on his face.

"Look here, kids. If it's money you want, I'll hand it over to you. I want no trouble," said the owner, trying to put up a brave front as his eyes met mine beseechingly.

"Remember what happened a few days back?" asked a strange voice I had never heard. The words were laced with hate and anger and I was slightly surprised to know that I had so much bitterness inside of me.

He quavered as if all life from the inside of him were being drained. "I had nothing to do with it," he pleaded, falling on his knees and folding his palms as if asking for forgiveness.

We had none to give.

Leo adjusted his cap and cocked his bat as if waiting for a pitch.

"I have a family," whispered the owner with his eyes closed, almost in prayer.

"So did my father, Bin Laden!" hissed Leo as he swung his bat. The bat caught him by the edge of his temple, though his turban seemed to have cushioned most of the blow. I winced at the blow because the song wood on flesh created was most unsettling. It had a single crescendo, which was then followed by a symphony of silence. It was over before it had started and the only audience it had was greed.

It always left you wanting for more.

The owner fell onto the cold floor as a dark stain seeped over it. Encore, his moans beckoned. At least, that’s how I heard it.

"Strike one," shouted Leo, laughing derisively. He had heard it too.

"Please. I'm not even Arab," moaned the Sikh, curling up into a natal position. He tried shielding his face by burying it into his arms.

"You lyin' sonofabitch," I yelled, bringing down the willow over the curved spine. A loud crack echoed through the store and then the Sikh groaned in pain. I stood dazed over his body, which was twitching almost theatrically. The enormous effort I had put into the blow still reverberated in my arms. This was the first time I had struck a person with my bat and instead of feeling remorseful, a surge of elation rushed through my body.

Vindication.

Strike Two.

I looked back at the Sikh and saw a puddle of blood forming by his mouth as he tried to breath in vain. Leo swung his bat for a final time, striking the base of his neck.

Waheguru!” moaned the Sikh, convulsing briefly before drowning on his own blood.

"Strike three and you're out!" sneered Leo, his eyes flashing with rage. His nostrils were flared and his lips were curled up in cruel amusement. He caught me looking at him and smiled. I tried smiling back before realizing that I was already smiling over what we had just done.

After all, justice had been served, right? Our country has been under seige for long now and it's about time we showed these runts who the boss was. We have to fight for the pride of our country. Not doing so would simply cheapen this Paradise.

Our Paradise.

Leo took out the spray paint canister and graffitied the words "No More Arab Gas" and "Sand Diggers Die" over the walls of the store. I collected the bats and pushed them into Leo's backpack. They were stained with blood so in all probability, we would have to stash it somewhere. I was zipping up the backpack as Leo cleaned up the cash register.

“Let’s go,” I urged Leo, who was busy stuffing his pockets with cash. Robbing hadn't been on our agenda but Leo was at it anyways.

After all, what was a little money compared to a life?

Leo smiled and nodded. I still wasn’t comfortable staring into his eyes so I stared at the bloodied body instead. It was eerily reassuring. As we headed towards the exit, the music wafted back into my ears.

Oh, think twice, it’s another day for
You and me in paradise


I whistled the tune as we got into the car and started towards home. I turned back to look at the store where I had bartered reason for madness. My eyes fell on my hands, which had been stained with blood a few minutes back. I shuddered and wiped my hand against my trouser. It still felt wet and sticky.

Just the way I seemed to like it.

It looked like Paradise had a cost of its own.
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