Monday, June 29, 2020

Murder In Beltour | Chapter 04 | Sunanda

Dev was taken inside by a boy who must have been sixteen or seventeen years.

“Straight in. You see the cabin?” asked the boy, pointing his hand towards an opaque wooden door.

“Yes, thank you,” said Dev. The boy nodded, and went back to the front porch to assume his usual position.

Dev walked up to the door, but stopped. He examined the heavy rosewood door on which a shiny plate carried the name of the person whom he had decided to meet- Sunanda Amble. With a sigh, he pushed the door open.

Inside, was a lean, young woman, poised on a high, fashionable chair, who must have been no more than twenty-five. She was wearing a skinny jean, and a crisp, white formal shirt, that fit on her perfectly. Her springy hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail that fell down till  her shoulders. She had a tight, formal smile on her face. Her hands were rested on the teak table in front of her chair.

Sunanda gestured Dev to sit down in the chair in front of hers with a wave of her hand.

“Yes, Mr. Som? You-” Dev cut her mid sentence.

“Just Dev, please,” said Dev. Sunanda smiled tightly.

“You must be here with a reason. I guess you know me, but for formality's sake- I am Sunanda Amble. I am a private detective. I am in no way affiliated or associated with any firm or establishment. I have my own contacts when I need information. I respect my clients’ privacy, and anything that you say here doesn’t go out beyond that rosewood door. So, please go on,” she said in a breathless, quick string of sentences, smiling her tight smile.

“Okay. I-I-” he mumbled, not knowing how to start. “All right, I have reason to believe I am not like any other regular client of yours. Before I say anything, I need a hundred-percent guarantee that nothing ever ever-”

Sunanda gave a firm assurance of confidentiality. Dev still felt nervous. He wasn't sure, now that he had come so far, whether he was doing the right thing. He would get eliminated from the face of Earth in no time, if found.

“Okay, okay. See… Let's get this straight,” said Dev, looking right at Sunanda. “If anything ever goes wrong in this process I might be as well dead as a doornail.”

“What do you do?”

“You could call me something like an ex-criminal,” Dev said, finally gaining confidence about the idea.

“How much of an ex exactly? Two, three years before?”

“Till yesterday.” Sunanda’s brows rose in a question, but she said nothing.

Dev, who was fidgeting with a pen on the table, put his hands a little farther away on the table- more to the lady’s side than his. And, immediately, an alarm started ringing. The footsteps of the boy on the porch could be heard in the corridor connecting the porch and the room.

Dev, reflexively, swooped down and cut the alarm. Sunanda looked down, rooted in her spot, her eyes wide and suspicious at the man- Dev Som as he called himself.

“Miss is in trouble?” cried the boy, as he burst inside the room.

“No, thank you, Raghav. It was an accident,” said Sunanda, calmly, and sent the boy off.

“What was that for?” asked Dev sharply, as soon as the boy went away.

“You kept your hand rather far away from yourself, on the table. Very much on my side… I happen to be in a field where I talk to a lot of people, like an ex-criminal,” said Sunanda, slowly, taking a look at her client in detail for the first time.

“No, but it is this alarm…The alarm only the workers of the Boss have, how? Who are you? Did you work for him, too?” Dev said to her, his eyes boring into hers.

“And you knew how to switch it off, which only some of the men of the Boss know to do,” she replied, her tone exactly matching his. There were a couple of moments of silence. Then she broke it by a simple question.

“When did he quit you?”

After a few moments of more silence, Dev said softly, “Yesterday.”

“And, why are you here?”

“I want you to take up the Beltour case, I want to remedy what the Boss started through me.”

*

Read Chapter 5!

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