Quirk: By B. Nikhil Baliga

You can now read the story from the book - Swami G's Short Stories

The cold metallic barrel of the 0.38 automatic against his hip gave him a strange comforting feeling. He was nervous and comforted by it at the same time. To be honest, he was anxious, scared... He could feel his heart pound against his chest as he stood waiting under the street-lamp. He had worn the trench coat she had gifted him on his birthday. Every time he touched his forearm, it reminded him of the pale ghostly face he had seen in the hospital. The faded yellow light of the street-light showed a grey hat pulled against his head, and that along with his over turned collar covered his face quite well. He had kept his head at an incline to hide his face even more. The only illumination that could faintly reveal his granite hard mask of a face was the dim glow from the red tipped cigarette, slowly smouldering, releasing wisps into the cold night. He stood steady, as if being a manifestation of his rock solid conviction to go through this ordeal. The silence of the lonely throughway was broken by the quiet pattering of the rain drops.

And then he saw a man hobbling his way hurriedly. The short man appeared to be the perfect victim. He touched his hip again to ensure his gun was still there. Robbing him would be a cinch. He was not a thief. He had lived an honest man, but fate had driven him to a point where he had no other go. He slowly closed his eyes trying to collect his memories. He remembered her pale blanched face again. He knew she needed him there right now. But what was needed more than his presence next to her, was money. He had never thought that he would be driven to a point where he would not have enough money even after selling all that he had ever owned. For her, he would have sold his soul to the devil, but he could visualise the devil shaking his head sideways and saying – “That is still not going to fetch you enough money to save her”. He had then known that this was the only way. He knew that a lot of rich people generally walked along that road at night. These were no ordinary people, but in fact owners of large shops and restaurants. And they walked at odd times, without escort and didn’t even take their vehicles because more often than not, vehicles would be ambushed by gangs, and good help was hard to find, with more fences chewing on the crops than the vermin that had to be prevented. Nobody suspected lone hobbling men to be carrying a large amount of cash. Well, nobody except him. He had done his homework well. And he had to do so, in order to save her life. She was suffering from a strange illness, that none of the doctors in that city could solve. They said she could be cured, but that would require a huge sum – an exorbitant amount in fact. But human life came above everything else.

He suddenly spiralled to the present, opened his eyes and saw the man was inching closer. The man seemed to be in a hurry, and had the face of a person who was not very comfortable with the rain. Appearing to be one of those rich professionals who always drove around in big cars and stayed in big houses waited by several servants, walking seemed to be exhausting for this man. For a moment, a surge of envy and anger grew in him, looking at the hobbling gentleman. He appeared to be one of those leading a perfect life, while here he was, waiting for hours in the cold, to rob for the first time. But now was not the time to get angry. The man had noticed him from a distance, and was now a little wary of coming close to him. But the man seemed to be running late, and in his fit of impatience, was not sure whether to continue walking or exhibit prudence. Throwing his own cautions into the air, the suited man continued walking. When he had hobbled to within a couple of feet, his collar was suddenly gripped by a strong hand, and something hard was poking into his belly. “Your money or your life”, he heard a growl. The suited man could see a faint glint in the eyes of the predator. This man meant business. “Listen, mister... What you are doing is not right. I have nothing to give you right now. Let me go, I am running late.” He tried to reason out. But the vicious thug seemed to have other plans. “Nothing to give me? Haaa! Poppycock!” He roared, “You rich folk make us poor people sweat and bleed. Well, think of me as Robin Hood. I am stealing from the rich, and giving to the poor. I am poor, and I think it’s justified”. The suited man was more angry than scared. It was bad enough to be robbed in the middle of the night, but to be listening to insinuations was worse. “I told you once, and I am telling you again. I think you have misunderstood me. I don’t have anything to give you. I am running late. Let me go before I start shouting for help. In fact, that’s what I am going to do. HELP! HEL--” A fist of steel punched the daylights out of the suited man. Before he could regain control of his spinning head and assess the situation, he saw a orange yellow gleam, heard a loud bang, felt seething hot lead sear though his body, and lay limp, quickly being covered in a pool of his own blood. Just before losing consciousness, he could feel two strong hands groping through his clothes, reaching out for his wallet and cell phone.

“Trench-coats are always stronger than suits”, he mumbled to himself as he hurriedly opened his wallet. He started walking quickly towards hospital. He could see colour regaining in her blanched skin. She would be fine again. He walked a couple of steps and was done counting the money in the wallet. “No money? That damned liar. He deserved to go to hell, and that’s precisely where he went. Liars don’t deserve to live.” He turned back, spat at the big lump on the road, and continued walking. The money in the wallet seemed to cover her hospital expenses. He had collected enough from selling his property – well, excuse of a property, in fact, he felt. This money seemed to complete the gap between the hospital bill and what he had. And he had a new phone – probably he could gift it to her when she was up again. He was jubilant. He was running towards the hospital, jumping in puddles at times like an excited little child who had been given his favourite little red toy car for his birthday. Nothing could come in the path of her recovery. He wanted to shout out in the night skies...

He was racing towards the gates of the hospital. He almost bumped into the security guard, hurriedly raised his hat, smiled and apologised, and ran on his way. He reached the doctor who had been taking care of her. “Dr. Sarita? Good evening. Or should I be saying, good morning” He grinned looking at his watch. He was beaming. “I have brought the money for her surgery, just like I had promised you, doctor. Please get all the things ready to get her healed as soon as possible.” Dr. Sarita looked at him with concerned eyes, “Well, I have some bad news for you, Sir. She is in a critical situation right now. The surgery needs to happen within the next hour. Or else we’ll lose her.” She picked the receiver of her phone, dialled some numbers, turned to him and said “I consulted Dr. Anand. Only he can perform a surgery of this magnitude. In fact, excellent news for you is that he even told me that he would do this for free after hearing about your poverty. He had told me his car had broken down, and was on his way here. He should have been here by now.” The phone in his pocket started ringing, he picked it up and saw “Dr. Sarita calling...”

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Roshni said…
Very well written! Even though the ending is predictable, the story is really very touching!! Actually felt so bad reading it...
Dolly Singh said…
Very well written story!! I actually felt connected to d character.. keep it up Nik......
Unknown said…
Woow!!!!! bravo!!!! i m speechless bro !!!! very well scripted
Anonymous said…
Sooper story, Nik! The words you've picked out add more depth to its meaning :)
arb said…
Good, but only if its your 1st attempt at story writing.
Unknown said…
Really very touching....Good one..Way to go Nikhil !!
Unknown said…
The descriptive language reminds me of authors like GK Chesterton.The pity is it was too short.
The surprise element is great and leaves the reader cold.
Who said the English standard in schools and colleges was higher when the British were around?
I shall await another piece from you. Keep it up.
Unknown said…
The language reminds one of authors like GK Chesterton. The descriptive sequence itself is interesting and absorbing
It was told to us that the standard of English was much higher during the British rule. Today's generation has a good grasp of the language.
The turn of events leaves one cold.
I shall be looking forward to some more from the author.Good sailing!
thrups said…
d descriptions r extremely good!! =)
nice story

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