‘I am sorry about all this’ The man spoke as the woman turned around after closing the main door behind her.
‘Shivu go and get ready for school’ The woman ignored the man and instructed her son.
‘Mumma! It is Sunday’ The boy rolled his eyes as he admonished his mother, before running to place his young behind on the settee and grabbed the TV remote. He punched buttons on the remote and Ninja Hatori came on the screen.
‘How long was I out?’ The man questioned as he tried standing up on his feet, with the bedsheet clutched around his waist. The woman walked to the kitchen ignoring the man. The man stretched and took support of the couch and the dining table as he followed her into the kitchen.
‘I didn’t mean to cause you guys any trouble. I will be out soon. As soon as I figure out where my shirt is’ The man explained. The woman opened the fridge and pulled out six eggs. She loudly plopped the skillet on top of the stove, yelled to her son from the kitchen.
‘Shivu, what eggs do you want?’
‘Kacha-mucha’ the boy yelled back.
‘You fine with scrambled eggs?’ The woman looked at the man for the very first time. She stared at him with deep disdain.
‘Yes. Thank you!’ The man smiled.
‘Go into the bedroom, you will find shirts hanging in the cupboard on your left.’ The woman instructed as she pointed the way. As the man made his way towards the pointed direction, the woman spoke again. ‘I hope you are out after breakfast.’ The man nodded his head.
‘Switch off the TV! Come and have breakfast’ The woman ordered her son. The man sat down opposite the boy, dressed in a pair of jeans which was a size too big for him and a pale blue shirt cinched together with a leather belt.
‘The whole floor was flooded.’ The boy exclaimed looking excitedly at the man. ‘Water, water everywhere…’ He boy sang as he picked up toasts from the tray onto his plate.
‘What’s your name?’ The man smiled looking at the boy.
‘Shiv Shankar, but everybody calls me Shivu’ The boy grinned as he stuffed his face with scrambled eggs and toast.
‘Close your mouth and eat’ The mother admonished.
‘How long was I out for?’ The man gingerly raised the subject again, softly enough for Shivu to ignore the adult talk.
‘Thirteen hours. I think I need to apologize to you. I am vet and I don’t do humans. I am afraid that I may not have done a good a job. You might want to go to a hospital and get it redone.’ The woman spoke hurriedly avoiding the man’s searching green eyes.
‘It is good that Shivu came and saved me.’ The man smiled as he gave the young boy a conspiratorial wink.
The man pushed his plate away and sighed.
‘Thank you for breakfast and everything else.’ The man pointed to his shirt, ‘I will get out of your way now.’ The man declared as he sipped the last of his orange juice.
‘If you need anything, let me know’ the woman offered with a weak smile as she held the main door open for him.
‘Mumma? Why is he wearing dada’s shirt? Will he return it?’ The boy inquired as he plonked himself in front of the television set again.
‘Bye shivu!’ The man waved, ‘And yes, I will bring back dada’s shirt’ the man grinned before awkwardly turning his back.
The man gently pushed open the door and heard the door sweep the broken glass behind it.
He heard the door bell ring. He turned the water off, he loosely wrapped a towel around his waist. He pulled the gun from the shoulder holster hanging behind the bathroom door, he checked the magazine and the silencer. He quickly walked to the door. He looked through the peep hole and saw nothing. The door bell rang again. He put the chain latch in its place, pulled the safety off his gun. He heard the rustling of cloth against the door and wall. He opened the door ever so slightly when somebody kicked the door. The chain latch did its job. But there were too many hands with makeshift swords and iron rods.
The first shot caught an eager man trying to push his way past the door in the knee.
The chain latch gave away. A sea of bodies tumbled in.
The second shot caught another assailant in his shoulder. A rod swung high in the air and caught the man on his shoulder, forcing him to drop the gun. Reflexes took over. His fist moved through the air, catching somebody right in the solar plexus, his heel catching somebody in the neck. Things were hurled. Flesh was pounded. Bones and fragile objects were shattered. But the chaotic flaying about of sharp objects was intense. A sword cut through the flesh on his arm, a sickle sliced through his shoulders and an iron rod found itself deep in his guts.
The man quickly walked to the bedroom, pulled out a new white t-shirt, jeans, fresh socks and slipped on his vans sneakers. He jumped and pulled out the taped plastic bag from behind the geyser in the bathroom. He quickly counted the stack of money and pushed it back inside the plastic bag. He pulled out a red passport, his gateway identity, the color synonymous with the country – Swiss Red. He stuck his hand inside the plastic bag one last time and pulled a switchblade and a brass knuckle. He slid the knife in his socks and stashed the brass knuckle in his jean’s pocket.
He stepped out of the apartment complex, crossed the road and bought two packs of classic milds from the pan shop. He lit a cigarette as he waited for change and scanned the road from behind his aviators. He saw the nondescript Tata-Indica waiting on the corner of the road, leaning on it, two plainclothes men wearing khaki shoes. He smiled and waved at them. The two plain-clothed policemen ignored him. He chuckled to himself.
As he stood pulling hard on the cigarette, he weighed in his options. He couldn’t take the nano, not because of its garish color, but because using it would lead them to connect the vehicle with the dead Hamas body back at the hotel. Taking an auto meant going around with a giant target painted on his back. He stretched his back and winced at the pain around his gut. He felt the soft spongey feeling of the bandage underneath his t-shirt.
‘Hello!’ he heard a voice yell at him from across the road.
He saw Shivu waving at him as his mother steered the car to a stop outside the apartment’s main gate. The man jogged his way to the car.
‘Should I drop you somewhere? The hospital perhaps?’ Dr. Sinha inquired as she looked at her son smiling gleefully at the man, whose name she hadn’t bothered to inquire yet. All she knew was that Shivu had dragged her down the stairs and pointed to the water flooding out of the bathroom from Apartment 3A. She saw the wreckage and stepped gingerly into the room while she instructed Shivu to go down and call the watchman. When she saw the naked man laying on the floor, his finger stuck deep inside his gut, with blood trickling down. The many years of medical training and practice kicked in. She called out to Shivu to go fetch her medical bag and instructed the watchman to call the cops and an ambulance. The watchman stood watching perplexedly at the woman deftly wipe and clean the wound before sticking the thread in the eye of the needle.
The woman called out to the watchman to help her lift him. The two of them struggled to carry the man into the lift and drag him on the woman’s couch. The young boy kept his distance while excitedly looking on at what his mother did.
‘That would be great!’ The man hurriedly got to the other side of the car and got in. As he buckled in his seat belt, and a moment of thought, he added ‘Only if am not imposing on you’, The man smiled.
‘You were naked yesterday!’ Shivu exclaimed as he burst into a fit of giggles. The man turned around and smiled at the young boy. His eyes were glued on the Tata-Indica as the two men got inside and instructed the driver to follow the Honda City.