January 23rd at 8 pm:
A group of guys were thrilled to see Rachel. She was impeccably dressed. She had long, thick wavy ebony-black hair which plunged over her shoulders. She had chocolate brown eyes with velvety eyelashes and slender eyebrows. With a straight nose and full lips, she was stunningly gorgeous. She looked like a decade younger than her actual age. She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf.
They entered the cafe and could not trust their eyes when they noticed the knife. They felt totally disturbed.
A ten member group in the cafe, was busy gossiping about her. A girl from the group quipped “I heard that she had an ex-lover who was stalking her for a while. She might have killed him.” A guy sitting next to her added “I thought she got married recently but had a turbulent married life because of her secret lover. She might have killed her husband.” Finally a girl concluded “Let’s wait until the media comes up with a detailed coverage on this.”
A guy who was in his mid-twenties took photos of her with the knife and posted in Facebook. The post attracted thousands of likes and comments within minutes. Soon the news spread like wildfire. Not just the customers but even the baristas were worked up due to this.
An old couple was least bothered about the flurry of activities around them and was happily enjoying their coffee.
She watched the mirror next to the window and silently made a note of the gossips and the expressions. She found it hard to hide her mischievous smile and enjoyed every moment of what she was going through. She ordered a Milk Choc Chunk Cookie and just enjoyed every bite of that.
Taking note of the events unfolding around her, she quietly wiped off the blood using a tissue paper and tucked the knife and the scarf inside her handbag and left.
As soon as she left, the cafe came to life with boisterous conversations about how she had kept her cool after having committed a cold blooded murder.
January 23rd at 7.26 pm:
Lily Gardens was a redbrick baronial apartment in the countryside surrounded by lawns, flowerbeds and shrubs. The peaceful life of the people at Lily Gardens was interrupted by a shrill scream from the fifth floor. The guy next door was alarmed and rushed to Remo’s place. He tried to open the door with kerchief in his hand, but the door was already opened. He cautiously stepped inside and found a maid in her late fifties with a pale face.
He was shocked to see Remo in a pool of blood and felt sick to his stomach. He went on the lookout of the murderer but he could find none. He went back home and informed the police immediately.
The police arrived at the scene after fifteen minutes. Inspector Mark was a tall, well-built man in his mid thirties. The maid was still panic-stricken. He started enquiring her about the victim. She gave detailed information about her owner, the renowned actor Remo.
Remo had been living in that house for more than 3 years with his wife Ria, who was then at her mom’s place after delivering their first baby few months back. The maid had been appointed two and a half years back. She generally came at around 7’ o clock and she was given an additional key to their home to carry on with her work when Remo was not available. Only Remo, Ria and the maid had access to their home. She had come around 7.25 that day, when she saw Remo lying in a pool of blood.
Mark checked the entire home to confirm whether the motive of the murder was burglary. He also instructed the maid to check if there had been a burglary. She checked and confirmed that most of the things were in place.
Mark asked her to leave for the day but informed her that she might be called for enquiry over the next few days. She returned home terrified. He ordered his subordinates to collect all the incriminating evidences and meet him at the station. A useful fingerprint was lifted from the entrance to the portion in which the murder had taken place. The weapon used for murdering Remo was missing.
Mark noticed that there was a CCTV camera installed at the entrance of the apartment. He checked with the security and got the detailed video of the visitors on that particular day. He observed that the maid had left the apartment before 11 am. Other than that, he saw a lady carrying a handbag enter the apartment covering her face with a blue scarf at around 6 pm. The silhouette of a lady of similar height was seen exiting the apartment at 7 pm. She also had something draped in a cloth. Mark was on the lookout for something extra, but the minimal lighting in the lounge ensured that he had his homework cut out.
The reporters started rushing to the place to collate the sensational development about the murder of the famous hero. Any additional information on the case would set up a rewarding career for the young journalists. Mark provided information about the CCTV footage and the lady with the blue scarf and informed them that the investigation process was on.
The papers had the photo of the victim and the lady with the handbag and blue scarf. The news rang a bell to the guy who had the thought of flirting with Rachel in the cafe the previous evening. He immediately called the police and provided the detailed information of whatever had happened at the Starbucks cafe.
When Mark received this information, he was reminded about Remo and Rachel’s recent interview where they had displayed intimacy. He checked the CCTV footage again and the height of the lady in the video matched with that of Rachel. His suspicion grew stronger. So he decided to land up at her place to enquire her. She wore a dress which sat on her body as if it had been made for her. Its satin folds hugged her figure following her curves and the deep blue colour was gorgeous against her ivory skin. The moment he saw her flawless face and innocent-looking chocolate brown eyes, his heart skipped a beat and he was overwhelmed with remorse for having to enquire her. But being a conscientious cop, he did not let his personal prejudices impede his duty.
Mark informed her about Remo’s murder and Rachel was shattered. When he showed Remo’s photo, she squealed and dropped the photo. He was her cousin Ria’s husband and what a wonderful pair they were. He had been by her side, whenever she needed him. She could not quite digest the fact that Remo was dead. Mark wanted to gather some more background before enquiring about the handbag, blue scarf and the knife that she had with her the previous night at the cafe. She gave an unconvincing reply and Mark found it hard to believe that a famous writer could carry a blood-stained knife to a cafe for the sake of her next story. He told her that he would require her to come to the police station for collecting her finger prints and other evidences and escorted her to the police car.
She was still coming to terms with what she just heard and felt terribly embarrassed about being in the eye of the storm. She had planned to write her next novel based on real time experience and it had been fantastic to draw together people’s reactions instead of just trying to visualize the events. But she never thought that it could change her life drastically. She was totally helpless, as she could not convince the cops that all she had was a knife dipped in blood from a butcher shop. She resigned to the fact that there was no escaping the gallows.
Her entire body started trembling as it was the first time she was going to step inside the police station. She watched scared stiff as police officers were whipping people with sticks half the size of their bodies. She had written stories with characters getting hammered in police stations but never ever dreamt of becoming one. She wondered whether they were going to thrash her in similar fashion. There was a silent tear which she tried to hold back and somehow managed to project herself as a brave woman.
When she was questioned, she could hardly speak, her throat went suddenly dry. She felt pathetic and was unable to even open her mouth. She signalled that she needed water. She had been used to drinking bottled water all her life and here was a guy who put his soiled hands inside the glass of water that was fetched from what seemed like a ‘stink tank’. She felt like throwing up immediately. But she had no other option than drinking that ‘substance’. She regained composure after ten minutes and answered the questions that Mark had for her. They took her finger prints, photo and recorded her oral statement. She now had a firsthand account of the treatment meted out to criminals and she loathed herself for going through this.
After around two hours, Mark allowed her to leave home with two policemen to keep tab on her. This had been the most humiliating day in her life. As soon as she entered her apartment with the policemen, people gave her a repugnant look. Her heart sank. She was eagerly waiting to get rid of the policemen and be alone to come to terms with the day’s events. As she entered her empty apartment, she had a better companion in solitude.
She was not allowed to leave her house the entire day. She took an oath that she would never ever try something stupid like this again in her life. Playing pranks would look good in a story but not in reality.
January 25th at 5.30 pm:
Mark came back to convey that her fingerprints did not match with the sample collected at the crime scene. When he was about to leave, he saw her chocolate brown eyes brimming with tears of joy conveying how appreciative she was for the news. She briefed him about how supportive Remo had been. When he explained the details of the case, she suggested that she might get a clue if she could have a glimpse of the CCTV footage. She was shaken on seeing the lady in the footage. She was not able to cork up her emotions. Before she could stop herself, she mumbled “It is Cathy” and tears started flowing down her eyes. She started sobbing and she couldn’t keep things to herself any longer. She decided to bare her heart to Mark.
A decade ago:
Remo, Ria, Rachel and Cathy did their schooling together. They were bosom friends and were the ‘Famous Four’ of their college. They did not have an iota of doubt about Remo and Ria falling in love. Rachel was hurt that Ria did not discuss this with her. It came as a bolt out of the blue sky when they declared their intention to get married.
It was one of the best marriages Rachel had ever attended. The couple was made for each other. Ria had been a loner from her childhood and Rachel felt really happy for her as Remo was the only one who could make her mingle with people.
Few months after the Marriage:
One day, Cathy came to Rachel’s place intoxicated. She was taken aback on seeing Cathy in such a pathetic condition. Cathy started sobbing inconsolably and swore that she will kill Remo for marrying Ria. Rachel had the shock of her life but was quite confused when Cathy behaved absolutely normal the next day. Since Cathy had been pretty normal ever since, Rachel never bothered about that incident.
January 26th at 6.30 am:
Mark got dressed and sprung into action. He reached on time with his subordinates before Cathy could leave her apartment. He ordered his subordinates to thoroughly check her apartment. One of them returned excitedly with a blue scarf resembling the one in the CCTV footage. Mark carried on with his usual investigation process. Cathy was asked to wait till they got the results of the fingerprint analysis.
Cathy started thinking about the wonderful time she had with Remo during her college days. He had been the most handsome guy she had ever met. She had tried in vain to subtly express her love for Remo during several occasions. When she came to know of Remo’s love for Ria, she wanted to kill him somehow for betraying her.
That was when she had decided to meet Remo in his apartment. He was happy to see her after a long time. But she was seething in rage. When he gave her a friendly hug, she stabbed him in his back. Giving vent to the flurry of emotions, she stabbed him erratically in all directions shouting “Why the hell did you marry Ria?”.. After cruelly murdering him, she returned home happily in the hope of never being traced.
Little did she realize that one of her long term friends Rachel would prove her wrong!