Fiction

Off-Beat: A Short Story


For what he has done, easier death was the last thing I wished for him. I was more than desperate to drag him to grave on all his fours, day by day. Plans on where to do and what to do, were in place. It was time for me to take the bull by the horns, all at once.

Opened the pack containing the powder – I was searching for months all over the places I can look out for, with all patients in an intend to miss not an ounce of it. Next-thing to do was to dump the powder into four thin skinned party balloons I have got. Stretched balloons’ mouth to an inch circumferenced plastic tube. Discharged the powder from the spoon into the balloons through the plastic tube, wearing a surgical mask. Removing the tubes, spilled adequate sized radium balls one in each balloons and tied their mouth with the string. Rolled all tools – knife, scissor, forceps, retractors, blades, needle handlers and many I would be in need, into a towel. Collected all balloons, tools, hand balloon pump and masks into the kit. The whole night after that was spent brushing-up things I read in medical college, again and again, to make myself well prepared for the next evening.

Off-Beat

***

For I’m aware Bathran and his men are animals illiterate in non-violence, I always warned Udayaan(Thodudayaan) over it. Only he never took that in mind.

“They never walk the talk”, he would say.

There has always been an underplayed restlessness in the village for that matter. Few wanna make money over the dried-up lake and the people against it were behind Thodudayaan. Each summer as the lake dry-up, Bathran and his stooges would turn-up towards the lake Kane to make it obsolete. Thodudayaan would each time raise the flag against it, till the lake fills herself with some water.

Last summer things worsened. Bathran and his men were vehement towards their motive. Recognizing the altitude of the situation, Thodudayaan waited for no time to deepen the lake; making me drown into a period of extreme angst. Man is a greedy thing!

“Hey!! you ill creatures!” Bathran shouted with a sly grin, as Thodudayaan and I were waiting near the lakeshore for labourers to turn-up on the second day of work in deepening kane.

“Better learn to button your bad-mouth, Bathran!”, I bustled. Thodudayaan pulled me back furiously, “their intent is to provoke you.. don’t feed that!”, he said biting the tongue.

“Do you want me to listen all he says and be quiet?” I exclaimed. “Shut your bloody mouth for god sake”, Udayaan forced his anger down my throat. Thodudayaan, My friend is a selfless, non-violent fool; someone I care for.

“I don’t wanna see anymore of your philanthropy over this lake, getaway from here safe..” Bathran raised his voice.

Udayaan stepped towards him, signalling me to remain in place. I couldn’t hear anything they spoke, but it was obtrusive that Bathran intended not to lend the ears.

“Look Mr.Bathran!”, heard Udayaan’s lifted tone, eventually “I do this not just for me but for your flesh and blood as well! Only I appeal to you to not stop me… and you can’t”

In next to no time, before I could reach them, Bathran lifted Udayaan by neck and smacked him to mud. Udayaan tussled with pain. Bathran – animal born to eat. I grabbed the log down the shore blowed it over Bathran’s arm. One of the men with him, pulled my arms twisted it hard, broke the bone, then thrusted me to a rock, rubbed my face over it. After I slided-down to mud, a wicked fool dropped the slab over the leg. Leaving me howl with ache, Bathran crashed his metal-boot over Udayaan’s face. Blood seeped out of Udayaan’s nose and mouth. Bathran pulled Udayaan up swinged him to his shoulder and carried him somewhere I didn’t know. I stumbled hard to stop them, another blow over the back of my head made me less concious. Its was a nasty brawl.

*

A great deal of time must have passed since the time we two were beaten-up like two rats held between hungry cats. Was lying crashed, face-down on the cracked-up lake-shore, almost drenched in blood. Couldn’t move a finger-breadth. Animals howl stuffed beneath aloof leaf rustles. Flies buzzing over the wounds – shining in fresh dim rays of dawn. Scaling the most it could, my least alive eyes were still looking for Thodudayaan. Pushed my arms up biting the pain. Couldn’t reach him through the eye. “HELP!”, I cried gathering all energy that was dripping down. Nothing but my own tone hurriedly echoed in the dead silence. Gave-up helplessly smacking my fist on the muddy shore in the fight between the muscle and me. For arms deprived of energy miserably, face buried itself down the mud. We two are now added to the list of victims enduring arrogance of power with Bathran. Lines I read of a dying physic scrolled through the dimming vision, as few hurrying foot-steps rushed on to me.

***

Every little thing.. every bric in the wall, arm of the chair, couch, door and window at his home silently screamed with grief, without making a noise. I rested on a chair as if those screams were obscure. His mother brought a plate to serve me food, as always, only him.. my bloody fool – Thodudayaan wasn’t there or rather he was there unseen.

As I took the last piece of food to mouth, she ruffled my hair and asked me, how was the food. “What more drug one need than a good food, to calm the self”, I chocked up. She wiped my eyes with tears, as she shedded her’s. Thodudayaan was Dead! Or Rather he was considered dead.

He was considered not killed only because he survived his head injury that Bathran’s boots gave him in the rough fight happened in the lake-shore, for few days before his death. Time allowed me to survive by making few people reach dying me on the shore of lake Kane that morning, for a trade-off!

***

Hearing the bell ring, Karnan opened the door; Shielding brightness by his palm from the sun that was just about to sink below the horizon, to read someone before him, I.

“Hey! Come on in!”, he said, with the tone that expressed his unexpectedness.

“There isn’t anytime for it. Change your cloths, take the things you need, we will have to be there far-ahead before Bathran reaches there” I said.

“Well.. you serious?”

“If you can’t, probably I would be able to handle it alone”

“No.. no.. you can’t, wait a sec, will be back”  Karnan responded helplessly. I told nothing on my plan, I just told him I need his help at something dreadful – something to do with Bathran. I rebuffed his protest to know the plan, For I’m very much aware that he has the capability to convince my will.

In the darkest of silence at his home, for a while, I awaited for him to return. A black paperback book with inscribed white letters: “The Secret History” and “Donna Tartt”, was lying on the table – that was near the couch, with a bookmark slided in-between immediately after few pages from the start. Books have always drawn my attention involuntarily. To my right, just above the end of the Bookmarked page carried a passage:

Thus he died, and all the life struggled out of him; and as he died he spattered me with the dark red and violent-driven rain of bitter-savored blood to make me glad, as gardens stand among the showers of God in glory at the birthtime of the buds.       

Karnan arrived with a wear that one would wear only for a party, radiating a smell of raw denim, edifice around the wrist.

“We aren’t going for any party, my beloved!”, I said with a pinch of anger. He smiled a smile that even he wouldn’t dare to see on the mirror.

“You sure, you have the spray with you for the safety?”

“You bet”, he said, with a firm thumbs-up.

Karnan and I studied medicine together in college. He is one of very few crazy friends, upon whom I always had all rights – to yell, to laugh at, to roll-over and to drag them to the dreadful.

***

Karnan and I, parked our vehicle far behind a kilometre and arrived at the farm house, by a walk through the darkness. Hiding behind the dread dark bush – not too far from the house, we were making air pattens through the tongue that only we two would hear. It was a longer wait than we expected.

Finally, Hyundai slowed down and halted its wheels, a twenty feet away from us. Radiating a yellow beam – sharply guarded by the darkness, thrown out from the headlight, not an inch was scattered. Engine was given a couple of race and put-off. Headlight weren’t turned down. They were still doing their job, perhaps for us. There is no way for him to find us.

This farm house is where Bathran usually rest alone at nights, these days, after the demise of his wife. Well, people in the village haven’t come to a conclusion on – if its a demise or a killing, yet. If there could be someone who know well around anything in that house and its surroundings, morethan Bathran, it would be no one but me. The dense bush where we were remaining unseen is the place I have spent my recent nights, after Thodudayaan’s death or rather killing, awake – missing not a routine that is happening in and around the farm house.

Bathran got-down from the car, leaned back on the engine, he didn’t do anything but to just be there. Though air was cold without breeze, we were sweating behind the bush. Grass blades in his garden shimmered in the yellow beam of light. Full-moon floated like a orphan son in the dark sky with glittering white moles. I started filling the air into the balloons I carried with me, using the hand pump and tied the balloons’ mouth with the string.

By far my watch on his routine from the hiding, the first thing he should have done immediately after getting down the car is to smoke. He didn’t do that for a while. My plans seemed to be shattering. Eventually, Bathran pulled a cigarette from the metal case, lighter burned one edge of it, his back facing me. That was an another hit to my plan.

“Shit!” I frowned and mentioned “we still have one another chance” to Karnan,   smacking my fist hard on the well grown tree. Karnan’s face stumbled with expressions, incapable of imbibing anything that’s happening around.

Losing not a pinch of hope, waited for Karnan to finish that cigarette. After each pull, warm smoke densely curled out of his nostril into the chillness, then losing its strength, then finally dissolved into the air. With each suck, cigarette died a little more with a glowing orange scream.

“Stay here, as I told you”, murmured to Karnan, “get to help me only when things get out of my control, Okay?”

“Okay!”, Karnan sighed.

“And leave to home with the bike unseen to any eye, once I get off your sight, Okay?”

“You bet!”

“What you gonna do?”, Karnan enquired.

“What?”

“What you gonna do to him?”

“Never mind” I said

Bathran pulled the second one from the case, this time facing towards the bush we were hiding. Hoping he wouldn’t turn his back this time even, took the air filled party balloons – in which I have stuffed a lot more than needed Ketamine powder and a radium ball. With a pleasurable smile, I came a little out of the bush, but not from the darkness; made myself comfortable for the task.

Bathran pulled the wheel in the lighter for the flame – to light the cigarette. And as he lit the cigarette, the balloon that I throwed hard from the bush had hit his face busting in the flame and Ketamine powder that was stuffed in the balloon were flung all over his face due to the bust. In an immeasurable frequency, I throwed another over to his face, which with another burst must have forced down atleast a little of the Ketamine into his nostril. Radium balls that were there in the balloons bounced quite a times and died on the mud glowing in the yellow light.

Bathran digesting the bewilderment, unfolded his knife from the chest pocket. Wiped his face off and intensely smelled the ketamine powder that busted out from the balloon, perhaps to inspect it. That was another pleasant surprise between my plan. Ketamine is a drug used for starting and maintaining general anaesthesia. Put’s off the brain function temporarily. Although, what he smelled and what has got into his nostril wouldn’t faint him, it would for sure make him unstable. That was what I was morethan in need. Darkness shielded me hard. Bathran was racing all around. Perhaps he got my image even in the blackness, Bathran rushed towards the bush but only until he become a little imbalanced. He shook his head hard, wiped his eyes frequently – perhaps to wave off the outrageous illusions his eyes pictured before him.

Waving Karnan to leave home. I raced fast towards Bathran on tiptoe, with the Esketamine nasal spray Karnan had with him. Perhaps he was able to figure-out someone even in his instability with the brightness of the headlight, Bathran flung his knife abruptly around him; Luckily, it missed me. Sprayed all the Esketamine(Esketamine is also an anaesthesia, available as spray) into his nostril, which left him unconscious.

Dragged him by his arms all the way till his house. His metal boots made the mark in the ground like a rail track ending at the house’s door steps. Opened the door with the key he had in his pocket.

I almost lost half my energy by dragging him into the house. Slapped him hard with all my might to make sure if it was all right to start the procedures. He was as still as a corpse. Removed all his cloths, Wiped alcohol all over his skin from the neck to the waist as a disinfectant and covered him all over except leaving his left part of the abdomen bare.

After a sigh, scattered all tool from the backpack into the plastic spread. Pulled over the hand gloves covering till the wrist. With a whole new sigh: I Started slicing his skin then the muscles and fat, till I reached that organ, a bit lower to his left ribs. White gloves and tools socked of blood shimmered in the rays from all the lights that was glowing around. After an hour or so, with a fulfilment of achieving things I intended to, stitched his muscle and skin. His heart was beating with all might and his lungs was breathing all good. An Operation done successful.

Wrapped all tools into the bag, left his farm house. I intended no care over hiding my identity in this deed. Every deed is rewarded with something it deserves – Good or Evil. Marched down the roads past the trees with tears running down my cheeks – tears  not of fear over the future that scaled before me, not of regret or remorse, but just to melt the weight down my heart; with calmness one would sense in accomplishing something he was desperate, stray dogs howling at me, through the dark to home, thinking of all calculations possible: Even with such loss of blood, he would be able to survive if his men were able to take him to a hospital before noon; Although the unmeasured anaesthesia sprayed into his nose was a little more over dosed, he must turn conscious by another nine or ten hours, which is mid-noon. Finally composing myself, I told to self: ok! if he dies – not bad, if he didn’t – damn good. After all, history has always taken pride in killing the evil, why should I be any different!

***

A long, deep, uninterrupted sleep after a long time; only, it was in the daytime rather being at the night as used to be.

Karnan opened the door before I rang the bell at his house, the next evening to that all those happened. He was in the same wear that I saw him in, yesterday. After looking around the place near his house, Karnan pull me by the shirt in to the house and pushed the latch.

“Whole village is abuzz about that thing you did”, worried Karnan.

“So what?” I replied carelessly.

“What the damn you mean by so what?

Trying to change the topic, “Since when have you been reading this book The secret history? lend me once you are done with it, uh?” I requested.

“You would definitely be getting them in the prison’s library, you need not worry!” he muttered angrily.

We spoke no word for a while, Karnan was racing from the end to the end of the dim lit room. Halting eventually before me, “What did you do to him? stabbed him? slit the throat? what did you do?” inquired Karnan.

“It doesn’t matter” I said, leafing though the pages in the book.

“Get Off that!” snatching the book from me, he pulled my collar “Now say, what did you do  to him?”

“Before I say anything, tell me what’s the news. Bathran is dead or alive?” I intrigued.

“He was lying unconscious at his farm house this morning and was taken to the hospital, is all I heard” he said, loosening the grip on my collars.

“Oh..!” after a pause “I removed that!” I uttered bluntly.

“What? you removed what?”

“Spleen and pancreas!”

“You heaven forbidden crap! you removed his, spleen and pancreas?! How did you do that? I’m sure you didn’t have the blood to compensate the loss”

“No, I didn’t have the Blood.”

“Then, How? Spleen must have made a huge loss of blood.”

“I didn’t cut his spleen, knowing it would make a huge loss. Just removed it” I said without expressing anything in the tone.

“Damn! Why didn’t you just kill him rather?”

“That would be a easier death for him then, that was the last thing I wished for him. I wanna make him crawl like a baby on all his four to grave, repenting each minute for what he has done to Thodudayaan. Removing his pancreas and spleen would make him die the way I want. Removing his healthy digestion and immunity, I thought would be a good idea. So, Pancreas an major partner in digestion and spleen an important organ in immune system. Also, disposing both these organs wouldn’t leave him dead!”

“and you buried his pancreas and spleen? or did you burn them?”

“Some animal must have digested the both by this time” I said.

“OH! SHIT!”

“Why the hell does he so concerns to you, he is unlike you and me, unlike anybody, a disgusting creature that kills his own species” I yelled at his face until I had to take some breath.

“Its not about him, Velu! Its about you! Its about the unshunnable rage that has made your non-violent soul yearn for blood!” Karnan crumbled on the couch with his palm over his head, almost crying.

Haunting calmness made the two hearts beating in out-of-sync audible to each other’s ears. Unnerving!

“May be what Thodudayaan once told me is true. He said, There isn’t any ‘zero’, there isn’t any ‘one’ in here. Everything is a number that is between those two. Number next to zero is not one, not even zero-point-one, the number next to zero itself is unpredictable. Could be zero-point-infinite-zero and at the very end it will have one. They are hooked to one another. Everything, Everything is such: life, life-time, men, men’s nature, Everything. Zero is the negativism I mean and one is the positivism. In light resides an invisible darkness and in darkness there resides an unseen brightness,always, you see”, I sighed, sensing all emotions towards Thodudayaan that were left unnoticed when he was by my side.

Karnan pulled me close and wrapped me tight between his arm, as cops arrived at the doorstep to take me to the place that I was supposed to spend, perhaps, a part of my life.

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2 thoughts on “Off-Beat: A Short Story”

  1. As usual awesome Velu. Went deep into each n every tiny emotions of Velu Character….
    U r too good in explaining/detailing a scene especially retaliation scene was too good…. U can direct a motion picture rather than just writing a script.

    Hats off.. Keep going…

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