Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Black Box

The blonde looked pretty good for a dead girl. I stood there in shock staring at the still and lifeless body. This was a familiar route and for the first time I have stopped my car for such a situation. There were no cars around. A million thoughts rushed through my head. Should I call the police? Should I touch her? Should I check her purse? Should I check her car? I should call the police- that is exactly what any good samaritan who stop their car on a crime scene would do, I thought. The bullet mark on her head was very disturbing. I decided to check her car first.

Just as I was about to open the door, I heard a cell phone ring. My heart started racing. How would I inform her death? I have never done that before in my life. Telling their loved one that they have lost someone dear to them – it must be the hardest thing to do in the world. I reached to her purse hurriedly, as I averted my sight from her bloody face. I took the phone hoping it would not display the name “Mom” or “Dad”. To my relief, it was a private number. 

I waited for the person on the other end to speak. “Is it done?”, said a very calm and deep male voice. I waited for a few more seconds. “I said- is it done? Did you give it?”. The voice was still calm but it was getting more aggressive. It sent shivers down my spine and I immediately muttered, “um..there is a problem”. There was a pause and I could hear sudden movements on the other end.

“Who is this? What’s going on?”, he was getting worried. “Uh.. Sir ,look I was just passing by this road and found this female dead on the road. She has been shot.. SHOT! On the .. on the head.. I have stopped my car.. I don’t know what to do? Do you know her? Can you come here right now?”, as I paused to catch my breath, I realised how horrifying the situation was.

There was no reply on the other side for a while. I could heard the caller talking with another man. I couldn’t make out what they were talking exactly, as everything sounded muffled. The tone, however, suggested disbelief and anger. “Can you look if there is a black box inside her car?”, the caller came back on. Something was wrong. He did not ask if I saw her getting shot or if she was really dead or anything concerning her. He did not sound concerned at all. Black box?! Something was very very wrong.

I didn’t want to give him the impression that I was becoming suspicious. I ran towards her car and started looking for the box. There was no sign of any box on the seat, in the trunk or on the dashboard. “Did you find it?”, the caller was getting impatient. “I’m still looking”, I was getting annoyed with his tone now. I gave up searching and in one final attempt, reached under the front seat and my fingers finally met the box. I pulled it out. It was a black box, more like a shoe box and quite heavy. I was hesitant to open the box. “What happened? Did you find it?!”, the caller screamed right into my ears. “No. I looked everywhere. There is no box.” I did not know why I said that.

“What?! Are you sure? Did you look everywhere? What about the trunk?”

“Yes I checked everywhere, there is no box”, I lied as I stood staring at the box in my hand.

“DAMMIT! They took it.. they took the box from her. I told you we should’ve been more careful. You knew how important it was. I should’ve gone with the box myself. Now look.. I..” The call got disconnected as the caller continued shouting at the other man.

I had to think and act fast. I took the box to my car and started driving away from the dead body. I stamped my foot hard on the accelerator and drove as fast as I could. What did I just do? I felt the adrenaline rush within me. Why am I enjoying this? I looked at the rear-view mirror to check if there was anyone following me, and I noticed something weird about my reflection - there was a smile across my face. There is a dead girl who I just abandoned and now I’m almost a criminal running away with a black box, and here I am, smiling! The thought that nobody knows about this and the fact that I managed to cheat the guy on the phone gave me a thrill. I drove for miles outside the city thinking about what could be inside the black box. Drugs? Diamonds? Stacks of cash? Or maybe even highly confidential government or military files. Whatever it was, it was definitely something very important. It was either going to make me rich or powerful or powerful and rich. I chuckled at the thought. I was surprised at my behaviour. Maybe this was going to change my life forever.

After driving for more than three hours, I pulled over my car and checked into a small motel. I had the odd sensation of being followed.  I locked myself in and made sure I secured all the windows. I took a hot shower to soothe my tired body and finally fell on the bed. I stared at the black box on the table. Not yet. Not when I’m this tired and confused. I fought the urge to call the police and don’t remember when I slept.

It was a sunny morning. I got up with excitement and immediately pounced towards the box. I was clearer now and felt like somehow, I earned this. This was it. This was the moment that is going to change my life. My fingers were shaking as I started opening the box. I carefully removed the lid and placed it aside. Inside the box, in a neatly stacked fashion, I found clay bricks.

Miles away in another motel, a woman sank to her couch smoking her final cigarette. She switched on the TV and started packing her bag. She brushed her blonde hair away from her face as she placed the gold biscuits in her bag. She puffed her cigarette as the news reporter on the TV continued: “… And in other local news – the Police are looking for the miscreants responsible for staging a fake murder scene on the highways last night”


Chitra R said...

Good imaginative story with very good Twist in the end.

Subhalekha Karthikeyan said...

You kept the adrenaline rushing high and gave a sharp twist at the end!!

Jayalakshmi Muthiah said...

Good one!!

Kalpana Rajasegaran said...