The First Demise – Chapter Four

The time was 9:30am in Vimal’s mobile, when he got the train. It was a tiring journey since he was already travelling the last night. He had thoughts of Christie and himself in college. First they were just normal classmates. Then they had little useless fights. They got to know about each other well, after they had to do a project together. She had wished for a brother since childhood. She found him very supportive and caring. She started to share things and thoughts with him. She used to seek him for all tiniest help. He would affably help her. They would meander around to places together. He would invite her home if she had to be alone in hostel. He was roaming around the woods of his thoughts, looking around in search of sleep, having forgotten to close his eyes. And he dozed off slowly with those deep thoughts pulling him deeper somewhere. The time lapsed sooner than actual.

Vimal first went to Ajay’s hotel. It was a moderate one; the one that usually moderate companies give free to the managers. He asked in the reception, showing his Driving License which the receptionist should have perceived as an ID, ‘I’m from Crown Shoe Mart, came to check for Mr. Ajay. Is he staying here?’

‘Yes Sir,’ very attentively, ‘he has booked a room for two days. He usually stays here only whenever he comes to Erode for company work.’ He was given more data than necessary, thought Vimal.

‘Does he take any guests with him?’

‘No Sir. He never brings people with him here.’

After coming out of the hotel, he called Ajay. ‘Is this Ajay? I’m Vimal, your old friend. I hope you remember me?’

Ajay recognized him in a few seconds. ‘Yes, how are you? Where are you now?’

‘I’m in Erode. I saw someone resembling you in the junction today. Just now I remembered about it. So, I thought of making a call. Are you in Erode?’

‘Yes, I am on office work, a store visit now. Can you come to La café? We can meet there.’

‘Oh. Yes, I will be there soon.’ Vimal was happy that Ajay did not ask about how he got his phone number.

In almost fifteen minutes, they met in La café. They soon settled in the coffee shop.

‘How is life going on?’ Vimal asked speculatively, with an eye on every move of Ajay. But as he remembered the things Prathap told, he controlled himself, calmed down and started speaking again. ‘I’m working in Coimbatore.’

‘I’m living in Coimbatore too. Which area are you in?’

‘I’m in Tatabad.’ After a sip, ‘How is your job here?’

‘It’s good except that it keeps me moving all around.’ Ajay smiled.

‘Good. I did not expect to meet you at all. How is Christie?’

This question was made for Ajay to change his expression. But, the conversation proceeded with both men behaving as if nothing horrible had happened. They both remained undisturbed. Both were very casual. Vimal had a tough time testing Ajay. He did not find any clues in him. He did not even find him convicted.

Ajay got a call –his tone showed that he was talking to a senior officer. After the call Ajay was tensed and twitchy. ‘I’m sorry Vimal. I’m on duty now. I’ve two more stores to visit and report today. If you do not mind, you can come to my hotel in some half an hour.’

‘Ok. I’ll come to your hotel.’ Vimal got his hotel address and checked if it was the same one he visited some time back.

When Ajay moved out of his sight, he called Prathap. ‘Prathap, he’s working as a store manager. That Crown shoe mart is not a shop. It’s a trading company. They buy Reebok and Woodland shoes in bulk. They then sell it to stores all around the city. He’s the Sales Manager to the West Zone. He travels around Coimbatore, Erode and Salem. He visits the stores to which they supply and check the inventories. He then reports back the available stock, the most selling products and the products in demand to his head office.’

‘Did you tell him about her death?’

‘No, not yet, I just learned that he’s angry on her. He does not like her.’

‘Good Vimal. It’s fine. I’ve talked to both Christie’s parents and her in-laws. I do not find them guilty too. Our F-team will arrive in some time. I’ll talk later. Have you recorded his statements?’

Vimal checked his pocket and stopped the recorder. ‘Yes boss. We’re done. I’ve to meet him in his hotel in some time. He’s gone to finish his work for the day.’

‘You left him out of your hands? See that he won’t escape your eyes.’

‘I’ve checked with the hotel already, boss. He has booked for two days. He won’t leave in between. I’ll take care of him.’

‘Good job, Vimal. Go on with it. Stay low.’

‘Yes boss.’ After he cut the call, he went around the city and spent time eating things. After some time, he started to Ajay’s hotel. On the way he tried calling Ajay. But his calls could not reach Ajay. He started having suspicions. He hurried to the hotel room. His heart beats rose as he did not get any response for the buzzer and for his continual shouts calling out for Ajay.

When he pushed open the door, he found no one inside. He carefully took his steps. The room was void of human life. He checked every room. He did not find Ajay. He remembered Prathap’s words; do not let him escape your eyes. He opened the bathroom. He called Prathap.

‘Boss, things are getting fishy.’

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