Started at (K)nighted Men-Part 1

Contd from There was no other choice-Part 15

He stared at the blank wall in front. There was no other choice.

***

Inspector Salim had just about reached the house when he saw the old lady drawing the curtains. She had particularly done so to avoid any contact with him.

But desperate for a breakthrough he decided to not pay heed to this. He ran up to the door and began knocking. First politely and then with increasing vigour.

After almost five minutes of this activity, he heard someone walk up to the door. In another ten seconds the lock turned.

“Here. This is all we can offer,” the old man handed over a piece of paper and left.

The door was still open but there was no welcome emotion in the air.

Salim glanced at the resting sheet in his hand again. It was all he ever needed.

***

Sudha reached the house and knocked. First lightly and then with steadfast pace. It was another way of letting the resident know that they had reached their penultimate act.

***

Mala sat on the floor. She traced the trail of blood in his room. The invisible room. Of course it was all over now. It could be hours before they have it all. The evidence. The witnesses. The photograph. And, the guilty.

She heard a knock.

***

Salim decided to bring all cards to the table. He knew time was short but with even one piece out of place his case would fall apart. A semblance of a story was needed to book them. Them.

“Saheb, does it have to be only one?” Ramlal’s accidental eureka moment grasped all his senses. And then he could see. The invisible strings in the air.

He was played. His entire week had gone in reaching out to puppets. The show was on.

***

Satyam decided to pick up the case and leave the office for good. He kept the keys to the building on the table and walked out. Just as he reached the entrance he looked back.

Twenty seven years. And one small step to leave it all behind.

***

Malini clutched the handbag as if her life depended on it. She eyed the empty room and the lined up suitcases in a unique way.

Who said life doesn’t set you free? It depends what price you are ready to pay to achieve it.

***

The photograph. In a tightly shut case his first point of start should have been that. Case was less about Rehan dying than about the missing photograph. It was the key. The focus of investigation.

It was all a charade.

***

It took Satyam seven minutes to reach the place. And another twenty to make the walk to the door.

But only a soft touch of his fingers on the wood to make the knock.

***

Malini heard the rap on the door and knew. It had begun.

The final act of it all.

contd. at If only Rehan could live to see the day- Part 17

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