“It’s an open and shut case, sir,” says a happy Freddy, so he could get back to his favourite pastime of eating. But the hotel manager interrupts the investigator, “It’s not.”
“Why not,” asks Freddy, with a gulp, as he imagines his pizza fading away from him yet again.
“The girl says that she killed him, but the gun she holds had dummy bullets.”
“How do you know that?” asks ACP Pradyuman, Freddy’s boss, who is with him.
“The girl told me.”
This puts the entire Central Investigation Department (CID) team into a tizzy. They look at each other, the way they always do when caught in a sticky situation.
ACP Pradyuman breaks the silence by addressing the girl: “So why did you kill the guy?”
Freddy, tries to answer, “But the manager said she’s not killed him….” But ACP lifts his palm to hush him up midway.
The manager intervenes: “Madam, this is ACP Pradyuman from CID. Feel free to say it all.”
“Yesterday being a Saturday, I partied late last night and came up quite late into the room. Even before I could get dressed to bed, I heard a lot of chatter in the adjacent room. It was 3am and people were talking like it was morning. I went up to their room to request them to go silent, so I could catch up on some sleep. But the moment I knocked on the door, there was pin drop silence. No one opened the door. I went back to my room and tried to sleep. But again, the noises were back. This time, I had had enough. So I alerted the hotel manager and rushed to the room to confront the room users. Before I could knock the door, the door opened itself with just a slight nudge from me.
There was no one in the room. I stepped inside to see if anyone was there. But there was no one. Suddenly, this man came from behind and tried to attack me with the butt of a gun. Since I was trained in martial arts, I dislodged his gun and pushed him to the ground. He bleated like an angry goat and I tried to reason with him on the noise in the room. He did not care to answer that and only tried to get the better of me. In one instance, he tried to grab the gun lying nearby and shoot me. He missed because I used a karate chop that temporarily numbed his hand and the gun fell to the ground. I took it and fired at him. Untrained, and using it for the first time, I did not know where I fired, but he fell to the ground in a heap and died instantly. There was blood all over. I had killed him in self defence. Or so I thought and decided to kill myself rather than go through the ignominy of being a murderer, but nothing happened. That’s when I realised that they were dummy bullets.”
She hands the gun and the CID team analyse the bullets and confirm the girl’s verdict.
A puzzled Freddy, not happy that the case is far from solved, asks, “So who killed the man then?”
The girl is brought to the bureau for further examination.
Investigator Daya starts first. “You killed him. All criminals have an alibi. What if you used a different gun to kill him and then show this to us as an excuse?”
“I swear on my mother, I didn’t. But I wish the bullets were real, so I could have died and saved myself this daily torture.”
Sensing something amiss, Investigator Abhijit asks, “What daily torture?”
The girl breaks down.
“Sir, I am what the society calls a brat, because I am the daughter of a rich businessman. But I don’t want any of his property. I just want to settle abroad with my boy friend with the money I have inherited from my grandmother, but my father, actually my foster father, does not want me to go with this boy because he’s our family driver and a Muslim to boot. But what has love got to do with religion or profession? I find the most peace from him and not from any of the high society friends that I have. They are all fake.”
ACP Pradyuman: “All lies. If you are so innocent, why were you partying all night yesterday? And going by your dressing, you seem to be quite the party animal.”
“Looks can be deceptive, sir. I dress like this because if I don’t, people will take advantage of me. I have to look tough, look smart. This is my daily charade to get away from the suffocating home and the even more suffocating friends.”
“So who do you party with?”
“With myself, because my father has kept body guards who follow me wherever I go. He fears that I might commit suicide or run away with my boy friend.”
“Where are your bodyguards now?”
“Last night, I hoodwinked them, checked into this hotel and you know what happened later?”
Freddy is finding this incredulous. “Unbelievable, what a storyteller? How much of this is really true?”
The ACP instructs his men to get all the details from the girl and asks them to check out if what she has said is true. The next day, in the anti chamber, Abhijit walks in to say that the girl’s version is true.
Just then, a very angry black suited gentleman strides into the CID office and starts berating the officers present.
“How can you take away my daughter without an arrest warrant? Do you know who I am? The Home Minister is my childhood pal…”
He is cut short by ACP Pradyuman.
“If you really knew how to police your daughter, you wouldn’t have come here in the first place. We could arrest you for limiting your daughter’s freedom to be through the use of bodyguards…”
“How dare you….” starts the girl’s father.
The ACP holds up his palm and Daya starts firing his questions.
“Is it true that she has come into a lot of inheritance from her grandmother?”
“What has that got to do with this case?” asks the father.
“Please answer our questions. Your unwillingness to cooperate with us can go against you.”
“Okay, okay. Fire away….”
“Has she become rich overnight, richer than you, that you have decided to take away her property through devious means?” asks Daya.
“What do you mean? Yes, she’s inherited quite a lot of money from her grandmother, but that was known two years ago, and is not a new story.”
“Yes, it was two years ago, but she only became a major a couple of months ago,” says Daya.
“Your business isn’t doing well. In fact, you are more in the news for your financial upheavals and you owe a lot of money to the banks. The money runs into hundreds of crores. Is that right?”
“That’s right, but how is that related to this case?”
“Very clearly related. You want her to give her share of the monies to tide over your financial problem.”
“No way, why would I take money from my daughter to fund my business. Agreed, I am her foster father which must have given rise to such doubts, but I have been more of a father to her than her real father who left her for dead a long time ago.”
“Is that true?” the ACP asks the girl.
The girl is visibly ruffled and takes time to answer. “Yes, he’s a good father… I lied.”
“What else have you lied about that our investigation could not detect?” asks the ACP, glaring at his subordinates who hadn’t fact checked this bit of info between the father and daughter.
“I did not commit the murder. I wanted my father to be ruffled by my behaviour. I am a brat all right, and I have the right to do this.”
“Yeah, right, but not at the expense of public money. Your mischief has cost us a lot of time. Instead of back checking on you, we could have investigated the other aspects of the murder and perhaps made some headway by now.”
Just then, Abhijit rushes in and whispers into the ACP’s ear.
Daya is with three of his gun-toting men, inspecting the a garage in a suburban area far removed from the city’s hustle and bustle. Freddy seems to be all concentration. His inner thought: If the criminal is caught now, I can relax for a week before the next case is given to us.
“Check every nook and cranny. Don’t leave anything unturned. You never know what is hidden beneath anything,” instructs Daya.
The men and women inspect the dilapidated garage where no one seems to be working.
Suddenly, one of his men finds a safe deposit locker in the attic.
In the ACP’s control room, the locker is broken open to reveal a series of property documents. They relate to the girl’s grandfather’s will, giving all his property to her. How they came to be in the garage beats everybody.
“What do you know about this?” the ACP asks the girl who is brought in for questioning.
“Maybe my boy friend must have hidden it there.”
“Did you hand it over to him for safe keeping?” asks the ACP.
“No, I didn’t.”
“Then how did he get it?”
“I don’t know, really.”
“Can’t you see? He has stolen it from your house.”
The girl pleads innocence, and the CID is perplexed even more.
ACP’s anti chamber
“But how did you trace the garage, sir?”
“It was Daya who came up with the idea. Instead of raiding the boy friend’s house, we decided to raid his garage first. It’s time we got the driver to understand the case better.”
The driver gives them a good chase when they knock on his door. It was as if he knew that they were coming. As if he was informed prior to their visit. Perhaps, the garage raid might have alerted him. But who could be the insiders at the CID bureau who could have tipped him off? Finally, the driver was caught and brought to the bureau.
“Who tipped you off?” the ACP asks the driver.
“My girl friend,” the driver says promptly.
The girl friend who was in the adjacent room confessed to it.
“The moment I heard that you are raiding him, I messaged him,” the girl whose name is Anjana said. “I love him so much that I don’t want him to be troubled in anyway.”
“Love is indeed blind, Anjana,” Abhijit said. “Do you know how your boy friend got his hands on your property papers? He had his eye on your property and does not love you.”
“This cannot be true. He loves me and even said so to my father when he objected to our marriage.”
“That was just an elaborate make-believe to trap you.”
Abhijit showed her a video recording of what her boy friend Vishwas confessed to the police.
The girl was taken aback and could not stop crying for hours together. Her foster father was called to take her home. She sobbed in his arms.
Freddy was relieved. “That solves the case. The boy friend killed the man in the room,” he declared.
“That is not proven yet,” says Daya, making Freddy frown yet again.
“The girl pretended to have killed the man because she wanted to upset her foster father. But our interrogation revealed that she or her boy friend had nothing to do with the murder. That case is still at square one.”
“So you mean that we went to solve the murder case and ended up reuniting the daughter with her father and separating her from her boyfriend?” asked Freddy.
“Yes, you are right for the first time,” said Daya.
“This case of the Girl with the gun is still a mystery. Does the man have any connections to the girl or her father and boy friend?” asked the ACP.
“No sir, that man was actually in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Abhijit, walking into the room just then.
“What do you mean?”
“We just found out that the person was a stock broker masquerading as a businessman. He was staying at another hotel but was found at this hotel.”
“Meaning? The real resident of the room is missing?” asked an incredulous Freddy.
“Right again, Freddy. The hotel records suggest that one Ashok had checked into the hotel a day earlier. We have his picture grab from the CCTVs entering the hotel, but we don’t have his image checking out.”
“Either he is in the hotel even now or he has gone out through some other exit?” says the ACP. “Do a thorough scan of the hotel, including the kitchen and the pantry now that we know how he looks like.”
At the hotel, the CID get into action. Each member of the team enter simultaneously from different exit points. And all are armed with a fingerprint scanner that is preloaded with the fingerprint database of the five star hotel’s employee database. This way, no one can get away by masking himself as an employee. At the end of a grilling three-hour session, two men Danish and Jatin and one woman Anisha get caught and are brought to the bureau after a double verification by the hotel manager.
Danish speaks first: “Sir, we have nothing to do with the murder,” pointing at Jatin. “We just came to have free food from the leftovers at the hotel.”
“Oh, yeah? Convenient. And how easy is that?” asks the ACP.
“It’s a regular, sir. The hotel staff encourages such things, but perhaps the manager did not tell you that because it could risk his job as we bribe them to get inside and have five star food.”
The hotel manager is called.
“Yes, sir. They are telling the truth. We do it because otherwise the food will go waste. We may as well give it to them at a small price and pocket the change for the effort.”
“We will not get into this as it’s between you and the hotel management,” says the ACP. “But we have called you because you lied to us and said these two are not known to you.”
“I was telling the truth, sir. I don’t know them by face since the people keep changing. Only my lower level staff will know that.”
“But how can two people eat so much leftover?”
“We give it to them in bulk parcels, and they sell it to third parties.”
“Nice business, you have there. But we are back to square one.”
The two men are dismissed and it’s now the turn of the girl Anisha. But before they interrogate, the ACP asks his team to get more dope on her.
They take two hours and come back with their report. Armed with the report, they interrogate Anisha.
“So Anisha, before you plead not guilty, let me tell you that we know your entire family tree by now,” begins the ACP. “It’s better you tell us first before we reveal anything. The charges will be less harsh, because we can say that you cooperated during our investigation.”
Anisha is shocked to hear that. She does not talk for a while. Her expression varies from shock to sadness to awe to a puzzled look.
“I did shoot the guy, but I never meant to. I don’t even know him.”
“What do you mean?” asks Daya, coming a step forward.
“I was playing a ‘do or dare’ game with my boy friend. He gave me a gun and asked me to go to the man’s room and shoot him thrice. He said he won’t die as the gun had dummy bullets, and I did just that. But when the woman screamed and the man fell into a pool of blood, I rushed to my boy friend who kept me hidden in one of the staff rooms.”
“Who is your boy friend?”
“It’s Arjun, one of the waiters, sir, we have him here,” says Abhijit and brings the man.
“Sir, I don’t know anything about this. One of the people seated at the lobby called me up and handed ten crispy Rs 1000 notes and told me to play a prank. He said, “One of my friends is in Room No 666, just barge into the room and brandish a gun and shoot him thrice.” Since I didn’t want to risk my job here, even pranks are frowned upon at a five star hotel, I asked my girl friend to do that.”
Further examination about the waiter’s character was done by speaking to the hotel staff. Once convinced, the CID team take Arjun to view the footage captured by the hotel’s CCTVs of the lobby area on that fateful day.
The face was visible. A check was done with the police database, and it turned out to be Sumesh, a sharpshooter on the run.
All the entry and exit points of airports, railways and bus stations were checked for Sumesh. He was nowhere to be seen. The CID thought they had failed in this case for the first time as they had no other clue to catch him.
One day, the ACP receives a call. He was elated. Sumesh was cooling his heels in a Goan jail.
“Sir, we had been searching him outside when he was hauled away inside,” said Daya.
“Can you please explain?” asks Freddy. “I am relieved but want to know how we finally solved this case?”
“Freddy, he was caught at one of the Goan beaches, while he was harassing one woman. The woman took his picture and tweeted his pic to the Goan police commissioner, who promptly took action, little realizing that he had apprehended a noted killer.”
“All is well that ends well,” exhaled Freddy. “Now I can go back to my pizza.”
And the phone rang. “Please don’t pick the phone… let me atleast finish my pizza,” pleaded Freddy.
About the author
Writer (https:www.zahidjavali.com), Editor, Content Marketer (https://www.writewing.in), Journalist (https://www.residentswatch.in) and author on Substack (https://repdiary.substack.com).