[The thoughts are in italics]
I came to my car, unlocked it, placed the laptop bag on the back seat and started my car, headed for a long drive. As I was thinking about the long drive on the east coast road, I was suddenly jolted to reality as I saw a cop right in front of the car waving his hands frantically for me to stop the car. He asked only me to stop the car. There were other cars on the road, why didn’t he stop any of them?! I stopped, of course. He took a look at me, I was in formals, he was looking at the laptop bag when the honking began from behind my car, thankfully! Now the cop can’t take so much of my precious time. I was getting late for a meeting with an important client. He finally let go of me and said “Be careful, there was a murder in this street, the murderer is lose and since it looks like a one man job, I’m sorry to say but we have been told to check anyone who is alone. And you seem to be going for a meeting but you are going to be late.” And I wasn’t going to question him lest he gets irritated and decides to take a tea break. I mean, a tea and a break at my expense. So I decided to go my way.
My mind was running through ideas to get to the meeting on time. That’s when I saw him running towards my car. I didn’t know whether to slow down or just keep going. I finally decided this was my chance for a fast passage. Because now there will be two of us in the car and no one will stop for checking as the cops have been told it was a one man job. I checked my watch, I had 40 more minutes for the meeting, and I could use this guy to reach in time. I asked “Sir, do you want a lift?” and seems like he did.
I could not get a good look at him before, and now, staring at his face might make him think that I’m suspecting him as the murderer. So I did not. And I drove for hardly 200 meters where one other person was asking for a lift. This time I took a good look at him. He wore a worn out cap, rucksack and was sporting a stubble. He was fair-faced, short haired, decent looking chap. I decided to give him the lift as well. He sat in the seat behind me and placed his rucksack in his lap. He was a bit paranoid and seemed like he wanted to get out of the place as soon as possible. Thus I got the Hitchhiker no.2.
I asked them what their names were. The first hitchhiker’s name was Kumar and the second decent chap’s was Manoj.
I asked Manoj where he would like to get down and he said “the big bus stand some distance from here, I forgot the name and am new to the city”. I offered him some help “Are you talking about Guindy? “. “Yes, that’s the place. Thanks. Drop me there.” he replied smiling. And Kumar wanted to get down at some busy place. “That is weird” I thought. I didn’t think much more of that. What’s the point of worrying. Everyone’s got to die one day or the other. All I could think at that time was the meeting I was to get to. I had 30 more minutes.
Manoj seemed a bit relaxed now but was holding the rucksack very close to him. I figured “he said he is new to town so he must have come on a tour and must be carrying cash in it.” I smiled at him and he smiled back but he kept looking at the bag.
I wanted to break the ice and asked them if they heard about the murder and the murderer on loose. As soon as I said that I realized the sudden raise in tension inside the car. Kumar was looking at Manoj and me suspiciously. Was he or am I imagining things.
Kumar: Are they suspecting me or am I imagining stuff.
Manoj: Are they suspecting me or am I imagining stuff.
As I shifted gears, my hand rubbed against Kumar’s thighs and I could feel a metal object and I instinctively stared at it. And Manoj caught my stare and stared at Kumar’s pant pocket. There it was, the black shining muzzle of a gun. I caught my breath and I’m sure the poor chap sitting behind me skipped a heartbeat. I could hear his heart thumping in his chest, and so I could hear it skip a beat too.
Manoj: I Hope the moron of the driver does not ask anything about that gun.
And I asked Kumar “Is that a gun?”
Kumar: Dam! Shouldn’t have let it slip out.
Kumar said “I’m working under cover, I’m a cop. Here is my ID.”
And he flashed his ID. I was happy. This was the first time I’m taking an undercover cop in my car. Wait till my client hears about this.
Kumar: But why didn’t Manoj ask about the gun. I’m sure he saw the muzzle. Maybe he is the murderer and the way he is holding on to the bag, I’m sure it has the murder weapon. He didn’t even know where he wanted to get down.
Before I knew it, the cop had taken the pistol out in one quick motion and was pointing it towards Manoj and shouted “Don’t even try to move, I’ll shoot you. What do you have inside the bag?”
I didn’t want the car to be ruined and I was sure the poor chap couldn’t have done any wrong and I could hear my head scream “THE MEETING”. The cop checked the bag and found some money, nothing more. Manoj was shivering and almost in tears. By now the cop realized the mistake, apologized and asked to be dropped off. I obliged. I told Manoj to relax and dropped him off at the Guindy bus stop. I had 10 more minutes to meet with the client. And I reached in time. The client was there. He gave me the money and congratulated me after asking me “you are sure you left no clues at the murder scene?” for which I said “Relax, this is my 8th job. I even gave a lift to a cop on my way back”. Both of us smiled and parted ways.
There is one more ending to this story.. click here.
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