continued from Recondite chapter 2
Atal Avadhani was a religious man and a CID officer. He believed the city was cursed and for the past few days, rain fell in torrents to wash away the sins committed by its people.
He had almost decided that the day would resign to its unfateful routine like the past few days, when the break in the rain was broken by rain itself, if it was not for a call to the emergency from a distressed teenager who was perceived to be male. The call lasted exactly thirty-four seconds, five words, a sudden retch and then nothing but the sound of rain. CID was immediately flagged, as ‘Dead Body’ was one of them.
He saw the worst of humanity on a daily basis and it tested him. He was there when fire crew cut out lifeless teenagers from burning wreckage of an airbus. He was there when the bleeding wife was refusing to press charges. He was there when parents cried in front of their lifeless girl who was raped until her heart stopped.
However, he also witnessed reuniting of a lost child with its mother who was beyond despair. He saw paramedics pulling miracles out of thin air, he saw the emergency nurses with their quick hands and the doctors who took charge of situations most would run from. He thought god tested his faith in the goodness of people and his natural optimism.
As an answer to the distressed call, Avadhani immediately left in his department Gypsy and an ambulance behind as a precaution. He also instructed two patrol cruisers to join them.
There was no much traffic. They reached the location obtained from the GPRS of the called phone. Sirens were turned off. The swirling cold wind sent a chill down his spine. The smell hit him like a ton of bricks. Two constables Rangu and Anand who had accompanied him sprung into action with his nod right away.
Umbrella hardly shielded him from the rain. The rain seemed to have become more intense with their arrival. The whole place was a mess. An ancient reeking toilet was leaking to form a puddle that was growing every second consuming the rainwater unable to drain away in the garbage filled channel.
Officers from two cruisers that had just arrived joined them. They found a boy breathing irregularly, a hand stretched and his face almost kissing the channel slab. Thin, small hairs sprouting below the nostrils, from the chin of his square face, too shy to hide the pimples placed him around late sixteen though he was quite tall nearly compensating his portly appearance.
“Boy’s out cold, sir” shouted constable Rangu against the roar of falling rain “Found this mobile near him. The last call is to the emergency, sir.”
“I know him” smirked Chandra, driver of one of the cruisers who found it all funny, “he is the tea shop Shetty’s son. His shop is up the turn besides the temple sir.”
Avadhani contacted the control room. He then instructed the paramedics to take the boy to the Wenlock Hospital, which was the nearest government hospital. Paramedics lifted the boy onto a stretcher and then into the ambulance.
Two cruisers had brought three sub-inspectors and four constables. Two out of six where drivers. One of two identified the boy. Therefore, he ordered Sub Inspector Prakash to team up with Chandra to inform the Shetty about his boy.
Prakash and Chandra left the scene following the ambulance on the cruiser driven by the latter. An ambulance with its siren blaring and a cruiser behind it seemed to enhance the menace of the rain.
Avadhani gave up on his umbrella as he was already soaking. Officers frisked over the channel slab moving their search towards the bilge. The smell, the rain and carnivorous scavenging birds perched on the nearby tree did not help to lift the gloomy mood.
“Sir?” shouted constable Anand who was then shifting through the heterogeneous garbage water mixture, “There is a corpse here. Can’t see its left foot.”
Then there was a sudden hike in the activity. Avadhani could hardly hear the temple bells. He contacted the control room once again to brief the situation and requested the forensic team to report to the scene ASAP. It was going to be an interesting day after all.
Candles were burned at both ends. The moth was attracted to the flames. Other moths were attracted to it too. Moths circled them at a steady distance. The attraction was too much. The moth was about to be burned by it. Other moths were about to be burned along with it. Then began a competition. They were two who tended the flames. One then disappeared. He could have kept the flames burning without the other until all the moths were burned. He could have saved the unburnt candles for a dark night. He shouldn’t have sent the four words.
To be continued…