Saturday, September 29, 2007

Short Story - Tough luck

All set. The planning, the preparation – all set. Not long to wait now. Half an hour at the outside.

Arijit leafed carefully leafed through a mental checklist; one more time. It was his only chance. He couldn’t afford to blow it.

The two men entered the broker’s cabin together, the beams of their torches shining brightly and blankly on the opposite wall. They looked around once more, satisfying themselves that they were without company, and set to work.

Two of Arijit’s men had, unobtrusively, boarded the 21:40 flight at Mumbai along with Krishnan. Krishnan was unaware of their existence, of course. It would take forty minutes for them to reach Ahmedabad.

A Maruti Alto (ridiculously fancy cars like those shown in the movies are seldom ever actually used by those whose chief sources of income lie beyond taxability), stood waiting outside the Ahmedabad airport, with another Arijit accomplice at the wheel. It was the car Krishnan expected to be waiting for him. That morning, the real driver (a silly character of 40 something – of little consequence to Arijit and lesser consequence to Krishnan) had been coerced to surrender his cell phone and other instruments that aided establishment of personal contact & identity, paid off handsomely and allowed to walk away. Later in the day, he had been unfortunately run over by a speeding truck.

The second automobile, a Scorpio, stood right next to it. It is human instinct to watch out for safe distances; the utterly proximal is the best concealed. The Scorpio was unoccupied. It did, however, contain two perfectly silent specimens of 9MMs.

Two more men waited at the Exit – armed and holding placards with arbitrary names on them.

Arijit, himself, was stationed twelve miles away, on a hastily constructed and rarely used brick road just off a lonely stretch of the highway connecting Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. He had walked some three miles to the spot from where the state transport bus had dropped him off. A car would have been too conspicuous.

It took less than ninety seconds to unlock the password that restricted access to the mainframe. Another thirty to find what they wanted.
‘My God! Thirty billion dollars! He must have swindled half the world’s population to bankruptcy!’
‘Poor fellow, all this effort to get blackmailed out of the money anyway!’
The data took forty five seconds to copy onto the CD.

The plan was simple. The two men on the flight would emerge through the exit right behind Krishnan, thus identifying their target to the two placard wielders and then move off in a different direction to quell any lingering suspicion. Krishnan was not expected to carry any arms on his person (too risky in an airport these days). The placard wielders would wait for Krishnan to locate the Alto and get into it. They would then approach the car from the sides and force their way into it, thus effectively boxing Krishnan inside. The car would then drive away from the airport and to where Arijit waited.
In the meanwhile, the other two (the ones on the flight) would make a detour of the area and lookout for signs of unexpected aid for Krishan. That established, they would follow the Alto in the Scorpio, again, keeping a lookout for unwarranted encounters.

Arijit had long looked forward to this encounter with Krishnan. A few pleasantries – a few more questions – the CD – and then a few shots from the 9MM.

The two carefully cleaned the room of traces that could lead back to them. In twenty minutes, they were ready to go. One of them relocked the door to the cabin. Once done, he turned to the other and exclaimed,
‘We are rich, Krishnan! Filthy rich!’
He never saw the steel rod which thudded into the back of his skull.
‘No, I am.’

Krishnan looked out through the porthole as the aircraft gathered speed on the runway and lifted off into the night sky. The experience had never ceased to exhilarate him.

The stewardess handed him a lozenge which he promptly popped into his mouth. Presently, the seatbelt sign turned off and he got up to, presumably, take a leak. He spotted the two men, trying their best to not throw sidelong glances at him, seated three rows behind and across him. Having spent a couple of minutes inside the loo, he returned to his seat and did not budge for the remainder of the flight time.

Eleven days later, Arijit was sentenced to three years of prison for an attempted robbery at Bullstock brokers. It was said that the watchman had seen him enter the office and brought him down.
At the end of three years, Krishnan was richer by nine billion dollars and counting.

That had been two years ago.

Krishnan had received his first tip-off three days earlier. An anonymous caller, who wished to remain that way, had informed him of the impending danger, promising further details on payment of a certain sum. The payment had been made and further details duly received.
The anonymous caller had been identified without any significant effort. It was found that the man could be put to further use; after much threatening and negotiating, he found himself on the Mumbai – Ahmedabad flight, three rows back and across Krishnan, sitting next to a man who thought him to be an accomplice and whom he would have to kill soon after they’d landed.
Five of Krishnan’s men lay in wait outside the Ahmedabad airport.

Krishnan had debated whether he should carry the CD on him; never yet had he let the thing out of sight. He knew the perils of carrying it on this occasion, but had eventually decided to carry it anyway. He was confident of his arrangements and mistrustful of any form of safekeeping other than his own person.
He checked his watch. Fifteen more minutes to land. He picked up a magazine and proceeded to flip through it. A little over two hundred miles away, Arijit lit his sixth cigarette.
All was set. Tonight, it would end.

By the time the control tower spotted the two bleeps on their radar closing in dangerously on each other, it was already too late. Two flights, one from Mumbai and the other towards it, crashed into each other, 213 kilometers from Ahmedabad and 6000 meters above mean sea level. A scheduling error with disastrous consequences, that was all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hai james,
keep writting- why it is only a monthly issue?