The static on the radio buzzes to life gurgling about my new assignment; it was a murder – a ghastly one at that. I spit out Nicorette which has been in my mouth for more than thirty minutes and pop in a new one. I rasp out a response on mouth piece and make an illegal U-Turn simultaneously switching on the lights. I draw in a perverse satisfaction when I see people cursing the freedom I had on road when the lights were on and the sirens blazed.
Car radio hums a popular tune from the 90s – when I was a teenager and brings back memories of first kiss in a dingy theater with smelly seats and bad popcorn. I met the girl couple of years ago, now a mother of two beautiful children and wife of a hardworking man. I had smiled at dropped her home and drank the tea she made. We didn't reminisce but spoke about our respective futures.
There are some things you don't talk to your ex-girlfriends - past.
I leave the main road in its bedazzled and gaudy glory behind and delve into suburbia immersed in semi darkness, filthy lies, greedy minds and treacherous hearts. The vulgarity of the geography dances in front of me in its ugly naked forum when I am welcomed by a mass of people in front of the crime scene. The depth of human depravity spilled out in open when my eyes saw a man selling tea to the bystanders.
The world was f**ked up; that's a given. But every passing day I believed we descended yet another step into hell.
A constable comes running out of the gate and yells at people to disperse. "Saab is coming," he says and tucks in his shirt tail. I push my way through the crowd and tell the constable loudly, "Kick out all the bystanders. If they refuse to move their asses out of twenty feet, file an FIR. I'll show them what hell is then." My loud voice carries the threat successfully as the crowd thins and disappears in a matter of minute. My chuckle doesn't go unnoticed. But I am past caring for such trivial momentary victories.
"Sir, it's a bad one." Inspector is sweating already. I nod lazily and walk inside the house, my trench coat billowing on my heels.
I am known for my filthy temper and successful case closure rate in the department. "Who gave you permission to walk inside the house?" I question a man who is taking talking non-stop about the crime in loud voice in living room. The camera man turns the camera towards me as I invade the reporter's personal space sporting a nasty snarl and see him swallow unpleasantly bobbing his Adam apple repeatedly. 'Stupid little f**ker,' I mutter under my breath and the man scrambles away.
"He took permission from DCP saab to cover the story sir…he is from news channel sir…national news channel…" A constable tells me as I push past the crowd.
No wonder DCP was ready to allow willow of a man to walk into crime scene. I had stopped feeling embarrassed about reaching the crime scene later than the news channel. Those reporters used many of us police professionals as personal wh**es. Now it was just weary. I walk into the actual scene of crime and use all my willpower not to turn away my face in pure disgust. The scene before is unnerving and unsettling. The poor bas***d was holstered up on a table, naked and drenched in blood. I feel bile rising up my throat at the sight in front of me but the messed up crime scene dissolved whatever was left of my patience.
I motion the constable who was in my direct vision. "Get everyone out. Now." I turn and walk around the room which was now slowly emptying. I waited till everyone had gone except for the inspector from my station and the forensic guy I preferred.
"What's got your panties in a twist?" Arjun cackles assessing the extent of damage on the dead guy's torso. I ignore the jibe. It's normal for Arjun to joke around crime scenes which are disturbing. This one probably takes the cake.
"Reporters, incompetent police officers, overzealous people, messed up crime scene…take your pick." Inspector Shukla, my most trusted friend, colleague and subordinate, guesses dead on.
"When did you get in?" I ask Arjun specifically. He knows why I am asking the question. He shrugs carefully.
"Shukla and I came here about thirty minutes after the body was discovered. There were already lots of people in and out of the room so…" He allows the subtlety to cover its ass.
"And the morons screwed the possible forensic evidence." I am still pissed off about it. I make my displeasure obvious and sometimes even loud. But the dead man has been waiting far too long in his gory state. I shift my focus on his body. Arjun and Shukla stand on opposite side of the table, I see in my peripheral vision. Play time is over, I chuckle.
"This is Vimal Sharma, forty-seven year old diamond cutter with big bucks, large family, fancy car and a full time mistress. This is her house, by the way." Shukla introduced the victim.
"How did an eighty five kilogram man with a fit body ended up on a table to be tortured and brutally killed?" I ask. Arjun knows the question is thrown in his direction.
"Lab work is going to take a while Arnav." Arjun replies sheepishly. I look up from the dead guy and peer at him. He is shifting on his feet which mean something is wrong.
"Why is it going to be a while?" I narrow my eyes. Shukla rolls his eyes and steps back to observe the markings on the wall. Arjun lands on a rant about budget cuts, unprofessional workers and piled up cases. Not to mention bureaucratic bullshit that had recently dropped on his head. I tune him out as my vision is stuck on writings on the wall behind Arjun. The four walls were covered in writings in blood but that particular symbol brought an old memory. "You aren't listening to me, are you?" Arjun sighed.
"Is it his blood?" I ask walking closer to the symbol and raking my brains to pop up the memory of seeing it for the first time.
"Honestly, I have no idea." Arjun turns around and motions me to follow him. He stands next to the body and points towards the torso of the dead man. "See those symbols carved on his skin?" I nod. "Well, I recognize one of them. It isn't good Arnav." The easiness on his face is gone and is replaced with…fear? I bite back a grin forcefully. "The man was stabbed seventeen times none of them hitting any major arteries. And all the carvings done on this man was done when he was still alive." Arjun turned and looked at me. His fear was now evident in his eyes and I don't understand why. I don't want to know, actually.
"Someone used his body as a canvas and he didn't scream?" Shukla quips from far end of the room still observing the wall. He is jotting down the symbols, writings on the wall on his notebook. That's Shukla – noting down things he could easy get from crime scene photos. That's his way of processing crime scene. However I – just wanted a damn cigarette.
Arjun started to hypothesize – his favorite part of crime scene analysis. "He was probably sedated or unconscious…I will have to check the body to confirm that."
I nod distractedly and my eyes fall back on the symbol on the wall again. There was something utterly familiar about it.
"I need photos of every inch of his body and this room." I tell Arjun. He nods and looks at the body again. "Let's sweep the room once and then meet the family."
"It looks like a ritual gone wrong, doesn't it?" Shukla says standing in front of a table with oil lamps still burning bright.
"No. It looks like sacrifice." Arjun replies with a quiver in his voice.
Shukla and I cannot help but stare at the dead body once again.
I am here, and I NEVER drop a comment on a thread before reading the story, but you, RB, are a lovely exception to it all. I am telling you, you're amazing
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