Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 126 Justice

Part 1.

Friday 24th June 9:30 AM

Terry Lewinski opened the door to his apartment and picked the morning newspaper up from the mat. The world read their news on computers and smartphones in these modern times but he still preferred the newspaper and his morning tea. Retirement meant that he could finally live life on his own terms. It also meant that he would have to look at the obituary column everyday to figure which of his friends or acquaintances had kicked the bucket. What he saw he did not expect. 
Molly Fry was dead! That could not be! She was the sweet young woman who stayed in apartment 21A. It was on Monday that they rode the elevator together and he remembered her smiling at him with grocery bags in her hand. He read her obituary in disbelief.
 
Friday 24th June 11:00 AM

Terry rang the doorbell for apartment 21A and Molly’s husband Ryan answered the door. He looked like he had not slept in days. Behind him Terry could see that the apartment was a mess, clothes strewn around and half eaten junk cluttering the dining table.

“I am really sorry to hear about your wife,” Terry sympathized. Ryan looked at him for a while, like Terry had lost his mind, “What have you heard about my wife?” Terry was wondering if this was supposed to be a dumb joke. He had heard, nay read, that his wife was dead! But had Ryan not heard? “I read that Molly was no more,” Terry mumbled. “Are you out of your mind? Where would you read such a thing?” Ryan was clearly enraged.

Terry told him that he had read it in the obituary column. Ryan dismissed it as a joke that some insensitive person may have played and shut the door on him. Most odd, thought Terry.
 
Friday 24th June 3:30 PM

Terry has spent his life at the Chicago Chrome, first as a sports correspondent and when he finally retired he was the sports editor. He knew how the newspapers worked. No one paid for an obituary as a joke because it just was not funny. Another thing that his life in journalism had taught him was how to smell a fish and here, he could smell a whole school of fish!

Sebastian had been his best correspondent and someone who he had mentored. Sebastian was the person to go to he decided.

He called Sebastian and asked him for a favor.

Could he check into an obituary printed in the American Central Journal? Sebastian asked Terry to give him an hour.
 
Friday 24th June 7:30 PM

Terry waited for Joe Scazzi to finish his briefing with the beat officers. Joe and Terry had become friends over a sports fraud that Joe was investigating and Terry was reporting. Terry had only the highest regard for Joe, both for his integrity and his talent as a police detective.
“A beer?” Joe asked from across the hall adding enough warm laughter to his voice. “Would love it!” smiled Terry.
 
Friday 24th June 8:30 PM

“Let me understand this,” Joe said thoughtfully,“this girl Molly is dead according to the newspaper and not dead according to the husband?” “That is correct!” Terry confirmed.
“Could be a mistake?” “It cannot be a mistake because I asked my source at the newspaper to confirm the obituary and my source got back saying it was genuine but when we dug deeper we discovered something very suspicious,” Terry said.

“What is that?” Joe leaned forward getting drawn into the mystery.
“The Obituary was paid for by Molly, in person, in cash. Why would a woman publish her own obituary?”
 
To be Continued….

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 125 Law of Karma

The clouds of war had been gathering over Germany since the German takeover of Austria and one knew this better than Otto Zimmerman.

Otto ran a small newspaper that he had inherited from his father. Though he had spent most of his life in the town of Brunswick, Otto had a way of predicting the world events way before they unfolded and he could see that his beloved country was going into a phase of history that they would live to regret.

He watched very closely as Hitler’s Nazi Germany passed special decrees against the Jews. It happened over years, systematically.  In 1933 he witnessed the boycott of Jewish books and businesses, in 1934 Jews were excluded from exams like medicine and pharmacy, in 1935 they were denied basic civil rights, in 1936 Jews lost German citizenship and were not allowed to vote, in 1938 special identity cards were issued to the Jews and Jewish children were expelled from their schools, in 1939 Jews were evicted without reason from their homes, in 1940 Jews could not have telephones and were forbidden rations and in 1941 Jews were forced to wear a special star of David with “Jew” written on it. For nine years Otto had watched his country target the Jews and for nine years he saw no one from his country raising a voice against this atrocity.

On a winter morning in 1941 Otto asked his wife Adalia to get ready to move out of Brunswick and Germany, for that matter. Adalia did not understand why Otto would want to do something like that, “We are not the Jews and we have nothing to fear. Why should we move out of Germany?” Otto took a bite of the sandwich Adalia had made him for breakfast and spoke with a sad concern in voice, “Adalia let me tell you a story that my father used to tell me when I was little.” Adalia sat on the chair next to him and poured herself a mug of warm coffee ready to listen to her husband.

“A Zen Master once asked his Disciple to find him the most foolish man in the world,” Otto launched into his narrative, wiping his hand with a napkin, “The Disciple found this a strange request but he did not question his Master. The Disciple began his journey and travelled through many lands, many cities and countries but he never really found the really foolish. Then one day the Disciple found himself in a sultanate of a very powerful Sultan. The Sultan there was very angry with his Vazir and had appointed a new one. On that day the new Vazir was to take his seat by the Sultan’s side. But there was a strange ritual to get to that seat. The new Vazir had to step on the murdered body of the old Vazir and then take his seat. As the ceremony began the new Vazir stepped on the dead body with newfound pride and then sat himself down next to the Sultan with great smugness. The crowd cheered wildly and the Vazir waved. As soon as the ceremony was done the Disciple asked the Vazir if he would accompany him to meet his Master. The Vazir inquired why and the Disciple told him that his Master had asked him to find the biggest fool and he had found one after a long search.”

Otto then looked at his wife, “Do you know why the Vazir was the biggest fool?” Adalia thought a moment and then nodded, “I know why. When you climb over someone’s body to get somewhere one day someone would climb over your dead body. No one can be a Vazir forever.”

Otto smiled at his wife, she was clever.
“We must leave this place Adalia because the German people stand quiet and watch the evils committed against the Jews. What we forget is that today we might be the new Vazir but a day is not far when we shall be the old one.”

Adalia held her husband’s hand. She knew he was right.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 124 Secret Affair

Never ever change your lover in the middle of the night, everything may look so different in the early morning light. Aaron remembered listening to a song that went something like that, he did not think he would be caught in a vice of a similar kind.

Irene, his wife, was hosting a gala to support her charity and Aaron, who generally made an excuse to stay away from such acute boredom was on that day given no chancs to make one. He had to be there!

And that was the night he met her, she looked like she had stepped out of the cover of a vogue magazine, gorgeous to a point where she could send any middle-aged man into a severe middle life crisis.

In retrospect, she did begin his crisis.
Her name was Shawna, he fell in love with her and what was hard for him to believe, she fell in love with him. As time went by she did make him believe that it was possible to feel all those emotions that he had thought he would never feel again. He had never felt more loved.

Secret meetings in highway motels, getaways buried in lies, hidden text messages, Irene had no clue that her husband was having an affair and the clandestine fires of love burned right under her nose. Long for though…
It was six months into their affair when, one afternoon lying in the corner suite of the Spa resort Shawna told Aaron that she was pregnant. The heavenly bubble that they had made for themselves burst and the harsh reality shone through scorching everything in its wake. Love was made of very fine threads that anchored it to the real world, the fine threads could snap with the slightest wind of changing agendas. And the agendas here were changing. 

Shawna wanted the child, she wanted Aaron. But she was trying to change the rules of having an affair with a married man. There was only a today in that game, never a tomorrow and there was no changing that rule. Aaron had no choice but to distance himself from her but in the times of DNA parental tests he had to make sure that Shawna did not have the baby. If she did everything was over, his marriage, his reputation, his estate, Shawna had to be stopped. There had to be a way!

Shawna was heartbroken and the only choice on the table was to pick up a cheque of a large sum of money that lay on it.

It was sad that love came down to lawyers and a lot of stamp paper but that’s how everything that’s wasn’t legal ended up; a lot of pains to make the illegal, legal. Shawna signed various clauses agreeing to abort the child and never in the future mention about the affair to anyone. She gave Aaron one last hurtful look and walked away without love but with a lot of money.

Two days later Irene lay in bed, the warm sunlight filling the motel room. She kissed Shawna deeply, “this is fun! Now you must introduce me to your husband.” 

Shawna smiled, “if you promise not to fall in love like I promised you.”

Irene promised and Shawna kissed her back.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Krishna · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 123

Once Narada informed Kansa that Krishna was Devaki’s eighth born and living among the Yadavs in Brindavan, Kansa couldn’t wait to eliminate Krishna and with his death bring an end to the nightmares that he had been suffering for more than two decades.
 
The politics of the time prevented Kansa from going against the Yadav clan and so he deviced a cunning plan, arrange a wrestling match between the sixteen-year old Krishna and the mighty Chanur. The monster that Chanur was, he would crush the little boy in minutes.
 
Kansa sent Akrur to invite Krishna. Akrur a Vishnu devotee saw the plan for what it was but also knew that he had little choice in the matter.
 
Akrur travelled to Brindavan and met Nandraaj, Krishna’s forster Father, and told him of the invite. Nandraaj knew that the time had come. The prophecy had to be fulfilled. Krishna had to leave but there was only one big problem, Yashoda. She did not know that Krishna was not her son. Telling her the truth was going to be heartbreaking. How was he going to tell her that her dear Kanha was not her son but Devaki’s son?
 
It was devastating!
 
Yashoda’s grief could have torn the world apart. The hamlet of Brindavan came to a standstill with shock over the news that their beloved Kanha was going to leave them.
 
Yashoda walked to Kanha, tears flowing down her beautiful tragedy struck face. She caught hold of her startled Son, “Kanha, there is a man here from Mathura, says you are not my Son! He has come to take you away from me. But no one can take you away from me! Come with me! Now!”
 
Yashoda dragged Kanha to a room and bolted the door from the outside. Kanha’s heart was breaking seeing his Mother’s anguish. He knew this day would come even before he had incarnated.
 
Nandraaj, Gargacharya, Balraam and the elders of the village, all of them tried to reason with Yashoda but she would not listen. There was no way anyone was going to take her Kanha away from her. She stood like a sentry outside the bolted door, stoic and defiant. The entire village had gathered and watched the scene in pained silence.
 
Then Kanha spoke from the other side of the door, “Maa, everyone is lying, don’t believe them. I am your Son. Have you not brought me up? Have you not seen me grow day after day? Then whose Son can I be?”
 
“Hmmm… ” a sound of acknowledgement was all Yashoda’s choked voice would allow.
 
“But you know why you brought up me to be this strong and clever boy?” Kanha continued to talk to his Mother with tenderness. “Cause one day you knew I would have to face life without you. Every mother knows that there is a Kansa out there for her son. Because Kansa is the fight every son has to fight to earn his place in the world. Kansa is the reality of every boy who grows up. Do you want the world to say that you brought up a Son who was too scared to face Kansa?”
 
Nandraaj and Balraam admired Kanha for his wisdom. The villagers listened, their eyes welling up with tears.
 
“You are trying to fool me with your words Kanha!” Yashoda said between sobs.
“Maa, when I had the butter and broke the pot, that was when I tried to fool you, when I harassed the gopis and they complained, that is when I tried to fool you, when I stole out of the house with Balram and got lost in the forest, that is when I tried to fool you but today I am not. Today, I am telling you what your heart already knows,” Kanha spoke with a tear in his eye and a smile on his lips. “I cannot live without you Kanha,” Yashoda opened the bolted door and hugged Kanha.

Kanha, now taller than Yashoda, spoke like the older one amongst the two, “Yashoda can never be with Kanha because wherever Kanha goes he takes Yashoda with him. Yashoda lives in Kanha because Yashoda has made Kanha what he is today. Every mother lives in her child because a child is nothing but a mother’s values, her intergrity, her sleepless nights, her constant worry, her honesty, her love and her upbringing. Yashoda lives in every cell of Krishna.”

Kanha let Yashoda hold him and cry as much as her heart desired, while he cried too. Nandraaj and Balram, Garagacharya and the village, everyone wept their tears.
Then from the waiting chariot Akrur watched Yashoda kiss Kanha on his forehead, “Go rule the world my Son! Let the world know you are Yashoda’s Son.”

It was then that Akrur cried as well.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 122 Eerie hour of the night

It had been three grim years for Susan and it seemed to be only getting worse.

Tomas had no problems sleeping but she had always been a light sleeper. A little creak here or a rattle there would wake her up. The trouble had started a week ago. Tomas and Susan had just returned from their so-called honeymoon, it was a Sunday night and Tomas slept early to wake up for a morning meeting. It was about midnight when Susan heard the television come on in the lounge.

She walked to the eerie light that emitted from channels being changed randomly, to find that the television had come on without any real reason. The remote lay where she had left it and to her surprise the socket to which the power cord was connected showed it was in the ‘off’ position. She turned the television off and pulled the cord out for good measure. Nothing. The television stayed turned off. She shrugged it off a freak incident and went back to sleep.

The next night it happened again.

She walked into the lounge to find the television was changing channels on its own, randomly. It cast a strange hue of changing colors in the otherwise dark room. Susan stood in the middle of the colorful melee, frightened. Then what she saw took the breath out of her. The television power cord was not even corrected!

Susan sat alone in a café by the river, sipping her cappuccino and watching the tourists in the afternoon Sun. The television problem had her petrified, yet, she did not want to tell Tomas, after all the last few years had not been easy for him either.

Antonio, her husband before Tomas had died in a car accident three years ago. It had devastated her, she spent a year drinking herself into a blankness, another year in and out of rehab and then she finally met Tomas who brought the sunlight back into her life.

It was not easy going for Tomas but he had enough sunshine to quell the darkness around Susan. As the afternoon began to give way to the evening Susan decided that she need not trouble Tomas with nonsense like the television; it was time she was part of the solution and not the problem.

She waited for the eerie hour of the night.

The silence was broken by the television coming on. Susan stepped into the lounge and watched the channels go crazy. The power cord was out of the socket and the television had a life of its own. Despite her fear Susan watched the television run its madness, one channel to the other and then she realized that there was a method to the madness.

Susan knew one thing about everything that happened in life, there was a reason for it. She had to find the reason.

The next night when the television did it’s jig Susan sat ready in front of it with a sheet of paper and pen. She quickly wrote down everything that was coming on the channels, from the news channels to the sports channel and from the animation channels to the music channel.

When she read what she had written it sent a chill down her spine.

“today… everyone knows that… you are… you are a victim… no one in the world… has the thought… you did it… I died… you have made that happen… I am not going anywhere… you are coming with me… the first… you killed me… my red car… it was not an accident… you should be ready… you will die!”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 121 Kismet

The telephone ring was not the usual kind, no real melody to it, just staccato rings at irregular intervals. Rahul answered the telephone in any case; not really surprised by the kind of ringing but more by the fact that someone was actually calling on the telephone in times when everybody called the cell phone.

“Hello! Hello!” he heard his own voice in a strange kind of echo and a strange humming but little else. He let the receiver back into its cradle.

It had been raining all night and Rahul could see that he was already late for work. The dark gloom outside had fooled him into believing that it was still early in the morning when it was really his time to wake up. He drew the curtains open to figure how bad the storm had been and what he saw revealed to him what was wrong with the telephone. The storm had knocked down the telephone pole and the telephone lines lay severed in a puddle emitting little electric sparks. What a mess!

The telephone rang again. Must be the electrical interference, Rahul thought, but answered nonetheless. This time he was certain he could hear a girl’s voice in background. He heard her saying something like, “it fell in the water…”

“Hello, this is Rahul Sharma, if you are trying to reach me, please call me on my cell phone!” Rahul instructed clearly and was about to hang up when a surprised voice asked, “Rahul Sharma?” “Yes!” Rahul answered a trifle irritated. “Whatever you do get into the elevator!” said the voice. Rahul was confused, “What?” “The elevator at work, get into it!” that was the last thing he heard before the line went completely dead.
 
Rahul got into the office building to find long queues snaking towards the three elevators. The shortest one had Riya standing at the end of it. Riya and Rahul had shared two years of their lives together but it did not last and the end was bitter. It would be really awkward standing there behind her in the line but it was what it was.
Riya noticed him and ignored him. He ignored her too.

The elevator doors opened allowing them in. When Riya got into the elevator it was almost full. Getting in would mean standing really close to her and “Literally” rubbing shoulders with her. And then he remembered, “Whatever you do get into the elevator!” He got in.

They rode the elevator in silence and soon the car was empty of everyone but them. They looked away. Three more floors to go. The elevator gave a sudden jerk and stopped and then the lights went out. Great, thought Rahul, this was the last thing they needed.
They stood motionless in the darkness for a while. Rahul knew that Riya was scared of the dark.

He told her that it would be all right. She thanked him.
Silence.
He looked nice in blue she told him. He thanked her.
Silence
He asked her if she was getting married next month. She said she was.
Silence.
He told her it hurt him a lot. He still missed her.
Silence
She said she missed him too. It hurt her a lot too.
Silence.
He heard her crying softly. His hand found her hand. She came into his arms easily.
The lights came on.
 
Two months later they sat together in the candlelight, the rain fell softly outside. Riya had ordered some Chinese takeaway and Rahul had brought some wine. They laughed and spoke all kinds of nonsense that made them fall even more in love with each other, it was great to be back together. After that day in the elevator it took only hours for Riya to call off her wedding and a week later Rahul asked her to move in.

Riya was trying to fix her cell phone by the candlelight. Rahul took it from her offering to help. It was then that he noticed that the phone seemed connected to another telephone line. He heard himself saying “Hello! Hello!” Then he heard the voice say, “Hello, this is Rahul Sharma, if you are trying to reach me, please call me on my cell phone!”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 120 Relinquish

Hanz looked at the black and white pictures in front of him, it was hard to see them clearly through the tears but looking at the hard truth in the eye was what life had taught him. He looked long and hard at the pictures of his wife in the arms of another man and then sighed.

“How long back was this?” he asked the Detective in front of him. “It was about two days ago Sir,” the Detective responded. Hanz nodded, “Thank you for your service and please take your cheque from my assistant outside.” The Detective thanked Hanz and showed himself out of the office chamber to leave Hanz alone with his thoughts.

A light snow fell on the city of Berlin. The open window framed a beautiful view of the Brandenburg Gate in the distance. Hanz wiped his tears and thought back to the last two months of emotional upheaval that had led him to hire a Detective. His wife, Julia was a picture of unhappiness, she would cry without a reason and lost her temper over little things. He noticed that she took a pill to sleep every night and what was more, she seemed to pull away every time he tried to touch her. It did not take Hanz a lot of time to figure that something was wrong, horribly wrong and now the Detective had confirmed his worst fears. There was no choice but to confront Julia.
 
It was dinnertime when Hanz finally made it home through the evening traffic. He could see Julia in the kitchen working on a salad. “I think we need to talk Julia,” he said trying not to give away too much but Julia was a woman having an affair and she saw through the tone. “Everything okay?” she asked shakily. Hanz did not respond and Julia kept her look steady. Julia then wiped her hands with the kitchen napkin and gestured to Hanz that perhaps the lounge was a better place to talk about something she knew was coming.

Hanz placed the pictures on the coffee table. Julia looked at them and did not have the courage to look up at Hanz. She began to cry and sat herself down on the couch; her head bowed.

“You do agree that an honest conversation is the only way out here, don’t you Julia?” Hanz asked.
Julia nodded.
“Since when?”
“About three months.”
“Is it just sex?”
“No.”
“Do you love him?”
Julia did not answer.
“Do you love him?” Hanz repeated the question.
Julia nodded, as her sobbing did not allow her to speak.

Hanz kneeled down in front of Julia and took her face in his hands, “You know why we got married Julia? Because we made each other happy. Two people come together because they find happiness with each other. That is the reason for two people to be together. And if for any reason that stops to happen and you are unhappy why would you continue? It makes no sense to me.” Julia looked up at Hanz, confused. “Julia you are free. You have no need to hide. You are free to go and seek happiness where you can find it. Marriage is a union of happiness and not compulsion. I love you enough not to chain you.”

Julia stared, not believing her ears. Hanz smiled and gently kissed her forehead, “You can only give me what you have. If you have no happiness you cannot make me happy. Go fill your heart with happiness.”

Julia hugged Hanz very tight. The tragedy of being unable to love a good man was the worst curse of them all.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 119 If Only….

The funeral service was short and elegant, the way Roger would have liked it. Jeff watched through the mass of mourners dressed in black, Roger’s wife and children maintain a silent dignified silence.

Jeff had no choice but to watch from afar, his guilt would not allow him to come any closer to the dead body of his childhood friend. Not after what he had done.

The Rolls Royce Phantom snaked through the roads of Lower Manhattan and the lone passenger; Jeff Tremor gazed at the passing traffic absently, his mind reliving the events of the last few years.
Roger and he had been the best of friends for as long back as Jeff could remember. Soon after college they had invested in a dilapidated hotel and turned it around to a profitable venture within a year. In the next few years they had bought more hotels and before they knew it they had a hospitality business that could rival the Hiltons and the Marriotts of the world. Roger and Jeff were billionaires.

Then came the marriage and the sons. Roger had two sons who joined the board a few years ago and Jeff was the quintessential bachelor, he and he alone. The other board members were getting a bit edgy about the imbalance of power. Roger and his sons were taking more and more control of the company and Jeff was being kept out of the loop.

Jeff at first did not believe it but when he learned that Roger had made his son the Head of European operations without even informing him, Jeff was heartbroken. He could not believe his friend could do that.
The power struggle had started. The Board members would bring matters to Jeff on an everyday basis and with that the proof of Roger’s autocratic way of functioning. The plan was to marginalize Jeff. It was clear that Roger and his sons would finally take over the company. Jeff was hurt, very hurt.

After battling the goings on for a year the board members finally had to gather around Jeff and ask him to do something about the situation. He had to act and act immediately or all would be lost.

Jeff took off for a weekend and when he came back his mind was made. If Roger was not the friend he once had, then he had no reason to continue being the friend he once was. He asked to meet The Man who had done a few shady jobs for him.

On a cold day by the Hudson, Jeff Tremor paid The Man a lot of money to make Roger disappear. Roger’s car crash the next week looked nothing like sabotage.

The Rolls Royce came to a stop outside the tall skyscraper that had Jeff and Roger written on it. He would have to wait for a few days before getting rid of the Roger from the plaque and then plan to get rid of his sons from the board. The rule of war was never to leave anyone around to take revenues, should they ever find out.

When Jeff entered his private office he saw that Lucas from Lucas, Brent and Hodges, was there to see him. Lucas had been the company lawyer for the longest time.

“Hello Lucas, could this not wait for a few days, considering we have just buried Roger,” Jeff pretended to mourn his friend. “I am afraid not,” answered Lucas creasing his brow. “I have Roger’s last will and testament to discuss.” “Why with me? Discuss with his sons,” Jeff said trying to keep the scorn from his voice. “Well I cannot because Roger has left everything to you in his will, he has handed his shares of the ownership to you and willed that you decide the future course of the company’s actions,” Lucas said.

Jeff felt like he had been hit by a freight train. He staggered back slowly, not breathing. And then he fell on his knees. Lucas was asking if he was okay but he could not hear that clearly. He felt that his heart would stop. What had he done! He had doubted his friend, killed him and for what?

Lucas called for an ambulance. As the medics were wheeling a semi conscious Jeff out of his office Lucas heard him say, “If only I had spoken to him once, I believed everyone else but him.”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 118 Responsibility and Ambition

It was September 1998.

Roland Heights was a one traffic light town and to Brad, a town that time forgot.  He hated his life. All he could think of day in out was getting out of the damn place and making a life for himself in a big city.

His Father, Geoff Rhodes was a certified software engineer but in Brad’s eyes he was just a loser.  Geoff had a degree with which he could have gone places but he did nothing of that sort. All he did was run the gas station that the family owned and went only as far Dale Brooks for a family vacation with Mother and three sisters. He surely did not want to be running a gas station for the rest of his life.

‘I want to leave this place, go to the city and make a life for myself,” Brad said at dinner one evening. There was a silence at the table. His sisters looked at the Father for a response and so did his Mother. “What’s wrong with the life here Brad?” his Father asked. “I want to be more than a gas station owner,” Brad said insolently. His sisters gasped and his Mother frowned but his Father said nothing. He only thought for a bit and then nodded.
 
It was May 2015.

Brad was wheeled out of the operation theatre. He had survived the bypass surgery. The Doctor assured the family that he was going to be fine.

Geoff and his youngest daughter were the only one who could travel to the city for Geoff’s surgery. His wife was plagued with rheumatoid arthritis and could not make the trip and the other daughters caught up in their own lives. 

Brad had made a great life for himself, owned his own software company, a huge villa by the beach, a fleet of cars, a success story. But his two marriages had fallen apart and he never wanted children so he did find himself alone at times like these.
Brad slowly opened his eyes, breaking out of the anesthesia, to find his Father sitting on the couch reading a newspaper.

“Hi Dad!” Brad whispered. His Father looked at him and smiled. “Seems like the Roland Height’s bred heart gave the city a run for its money, huh?” Geoff smiled with affection. Brad smiled back. He looked at his Father like he wanted to finish a conversation that he had never had the courage to start. “What is it Brad? I am getting old and then you will have to go to psychics to talk to me.” Geoff guessed Brad’s need to say the unsaid and tried to make it easier.

“I am sorry for what I said to you over dinner all those years back.” Brad found his voice choke with a sob. “Ah Son,” Geoff said folding his newspaper away, “There are two kinds of people and none better that the other. I married your Mother when we realized she was pregnant with you. That stopped me from going to the city. Then my Father, your Grandfather had a stroke and again I could not leave, I had to take care of the gas station. There were some family mortgages, I waited for them to be paid up and before I knew I was a Father of four. I could never make it to the city. But I am glad you made it. I never thought you were wrong in doing what you wanted.”

“What are the two kinds of people Dad?” Brad sounded like a child again. “One, who hold ambition over responsibility and the other who hold responsibility over ambition, know which one you are and be that one unapologetically. But remember if you try and be both you will always grudge responsibility. That is the rule of this game.”

Brad looked away and out of the window. All these years he had thought his Father a loser, he had no idea that there could be people who could choose responsibility over ambition.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 117 Afterlife

Part 3.

Yusuf Hamza drove two days straight with the unconscious woman in the passenger seat. His instructions were clear; cross the border into Mexico from the United States and kill the woman.  The international border patrol bought the story of the ill housewife sleeping in the passenger seat.

Yusuf had been part of the sleeper cell that was activated by Abu Ahmed for the Daniel Webb case and the woman in the passenger seat, his wife, Laura Webb.

The city of Zumpango was Yusuf’s choice for murdering and disposing off Laura.

There was just one problem that Yusuf had not anticipated. He had no idea that Laura Webb would be this beautiful. He also had no idea that Laura would have the most vulnerable doe eyed look he had ever seen on a woman.

He paid a month’s advance and shut Laura Webb in a house by the Lake Zumpango. He needed time to think. He could not bring himself to kill the woman. And then as he expected Abu Ahmed called from a disposable cell phone on the morning of the fifth day. “Have you done it?” he asked. Yusuf could feel the fear of double crossing the terrorist organization. “Yes,” he lied. The dye was cast. Yusuf had crossed the Rubicon. Now there was no going back from here. But what the hell was he going to do with the woman? He could not have her locked up in a house by a lake all her life?

He had to keep her safe. He had to keep her close, very close. He had to keep running.

Yusuf Hamza disappeared from the radar. For a year he kept moving from one place to another with Laura, from Mexico to Venezuela.

Laura bid her time. Her captor was quiet and dangerous.

It was after a year that she made her escape attempt. They were in Guatemala. She stole the car and made for the Mexico border on the CA13, Yusuf was close behind her, tailing her. And then in front of him she lost control of the car and plunged into the Lake El Golfete.

Yusuf ran out of the car and saw the car going into the water with Laura in it. He took his jacket off and plunged into the water. The car was filling up with water and he could see Laura strapped in her seat behind the closed car door, she had fainted with the shock.

It took all Hamza’s strength to elbow the glass in and shatter it. He was running out oxygen inside the water and he could scarcely breathe. His vision started blurring and he felt his lungs would burst. The seat belt, he had to get the seat belt off! Hamza dragged Laura out seconds before their certain death.

They lay on the shore. Hamza was breathing hard and Laura was coughing all the water out. She opened her eyes and saw that her escape had not worked. She was still a prisoner of Yusuf Hamza. But all this was nothing compared to what she had seen under the water.

She turned to Hamza,“I almost died and came back.” “Yes, you almost killed me,” Hamza responded coldly.“I mean, I think, I did die and there was this big white light. I went through the light and saw my husband, Daniel.  It was like he had come to receive me. I asked him if he was dead and he told me that he had a tumor, he was dying, then you dragged me out and I saw no more.” Hamza could see that Laura believed in what she had just seen. He looked at her while she began to cry. She turned to Hamza and with folded hands and begged,“My husband is dying. Please take me to him. You know what love is? Don’t you? I know why you did not kill me. Please help me! I beg you.”

Hamza closed his eyes as they burned with tears.

If he took her back he was a dead man. If he did not take her back he would kill love. If he took her back the cover of the imposter Laura would be blown to bits.

What was he going to do?

Then he smiled as he thought of the message of the Prophet. He had asked to spread love, not hate. It was time to be a true Muslim.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 116 Afterlife

(You might want to read story 115 first )

Part 2.

The Café boasted a great view of the city of Antwerp. Abu Ahmed sipped his coffee and waited for his contact to emerge out of the crowd. He had never seen him before. He wished there was another way of making money but destiny had made him a professional in skills that were more useful to groups like the Islamic State than any legitimate government.

Abu thought back to the time when he was the most feared agent of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the Mukhabarat. That gig dried up with Saddam hiding in a hole. Now he was just an agent available for the money.
The terror outfit that hired him wanted the blueprints of the operating system of the new American Missile; they were almost invincible apparently. Not an easy job, but then why would they pay him millions for something that anyone could do?  His thoughts were broken by a beautiful woman heading straight for him, she approached him with a smile, “The Sun shall always rise in East, and the West will know that soon.”

Abu smiled, she was his contact.
“You know the plan?” he asked her, not wanting to give her too much information. She nodded. “Tell me,” he probed further.

“Webb Industries has the blueprint. We need the blueprint. The Missiles will be ready for deployment in fourteen months, so I have fourteen months.” Abu nodded confirming both to her and him that she knew the mission. “My job is to train you to be the woman for the role. We have all the information that you would want but it is not going to be easy to live in the skin of another woman. It will take dedication,” he warned. “I understand,” the woman said. “Well then, if all goes well we shall put you in Mr. Webb’s wife place by staging an accident. We shall make sure that his wife is dead and you take her place. I have never seen a likeness like this in my life, you look exactly like his wife, you will only need to color your hair.” The Woman nodded again.

Almost a year later, after the switch had been made, Daniel Webb of Webb Industries had a near death experience, where he met his wife Laura, in the after life. He learned that this woman was not his wife.  But he did not know what she wanted or who she was?

The fake Laura had only two months to get the Blueprints before the missiles were deployed. Daniel Webb had the same amount of time to figure who killed his wife and why.

The game was on!

The future of the world depended on what happened in the life of a Man, a Woman and in their marriage.

To be continued…

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 115 Afterlife

Part 1.

The tumor in Daniel’s brain had grown to a size where speech and hearing were becoming a problem. The headaches were more frequent than ever and no amount of painkillers helped him. He was living a nightmare. The Neurosurgeon at the city’s most advanced hospital gave him a year at the most under the circumstances he was in but the prognosis of surgery was not great either, just a twenty percent chance of survival.

Daniel and Laura, his wife of ten years, had been in an accident a year ago. Laura had pulled out of it almost unscathed but Daniel had started complaining about headaches and soon the tumor was discovered. Now, a year later, things were looking even bleaker.

Daniel called his near and dear ones to figure what the road ahead should be. Sasha, his sister, was there with her husband George. Both George and Daniel had been friends for the longest time and their perspective on things was important to him. Laura was the only one who opposed the surgery, as was natural for any loving wife but Sasha and George agreed with Daniel that a life filled with so much pain was no life at all.

The operation was scheduled for an early Friday morning. The rain came down in torrents and the dark clouds gathered ominously. Daniel was wheeled into the operation theatre and half past eight. At half past nine a nurse came rushing out and when George accosted her she told him it was not going well. In all probability Daniel would not make it.

Eight hours later the Neurosurgeon walked out of the Operation theatre. He had managed to save Daniel’s life. But there had been a complication, Daniel had died and come back! For thirty seconds his heart had stopped. They would have to wait for him to come out of anesthesia to figure if there was any brain damage. Laura, along with Sasha and George still hung between hope and remorse.

Late into the night the floor nurse approached the three in the visitor’s lounge. Daniel was awake and he was talking! All seemed to be fine! There was instant jubilation between the three of them. Then the nurse said that Daniel first wanted to meet his friend George before he met anyone else. Laura decided to fight with Daniel about that another time and kept her smile going.

George walked into Daniel’s room, happy to see his friend alive.

“I had a Near Death Experience George” Daniel whispered.

George nodded, “We heard that, the Doctor told us.”

“You know, it is exactly like what they say in all those documentaries. You see this bright light feel weightless and then as you glide through this feeling of peace you find your dead dear ones have come to receive you.” George smiled, “So who came to receive you?”

Daniel suddenly seemed very worried, “That is the reason why I asked to see you first. I saw both Mom and Dad come to receive me but with them I also saw Laura.”

George looked flummoxed.

“That Laura told me that she had waited for me after the accident. She was lonely in her life after death. So if Laura is dead then who is the Laura outside in the visitor’s lounge?”

To be continued….

-Arsee.