By Neel Anil Panicker

Six o ‘clock on a Tuesday evening was a little too early  for the well heeled patrons of the Greater Cochin Metropolitan Club to coverge and let loose their hair over a round of drinks and some delectable lip smacking gastronomic delights prepared by the legendary Head Chef Joseph and his hardworking team of talented cooks.

Life and its myriad problems ensured that the outer world’s problems needed more attention, relaxation be damned, if at least for an hour or so.

And so it were that not many noticed the two men who had just ducked inside one of the five private cubicles that lay well hidden behind a thick overgrowth of foliage at the far west corner of the exclusive club that was the haunt of the wealthy and the mighty.

Who ordered Mrs Lekshmi’s killing. Was it Prakasham, or that crazy son in law of his? Or, was that you, DGP?”

Momentarily taken aback by the high pitched voice and the sheer ferocity of the question, DGP K J Alphonso squirmed in his seat.
Half lifting his dark shades, he peered through the translucent glass walls and let out a sigh of relief, thankful that not a soul was there within ear shot.

Turning his gaze back, he looked across the table at State Minister Chandy.

Chandy was right. The second murder was a mistake. A big mistake that could cost him not just his job but could also see him spend the rest of his retired life behind bars.

 ‘Sir, I told that fool to take it slow. That I am handling it. But…

But he didn’t listen to you, right, Alphonso? And what did we get in return. Another high profile murder that still yet unsolved. Have you any idea who I met today and what I had to hear because of you fools?

Sir, I am sorry…

Yes, you should be, Alhopnso. Do you know the Opposition is all set to pass a No Cponfidemce Motion against the Government in the Assembly. And God forbid if that were to happen, this Government is going to fall like nine pins. And then I don’t have to tell you what awaits our individual and collective fates__ yours, mine, Prakasham’s, Rajesh’s…our entire cosy gang’s…”.

He let the words trail off and for the next few minutes an uneasy calm hung all over the place as if an evil albatross hovered all over, any moment ready to swoop down and shred to pieces all and sundry.

After what seemed an interminably long time, DGP Alphonso cleared his throat and leaning forwad spke, his voice low and conspiratorial.

Sir, If it were possible for you to change the medical report findings…

Minister Chandy rubbed his large hairy fingers all over his pockmarked face.

The lines in his forehead turned thick as his eyes, small as an elf’s, turned inward, its pupils getting smaller and smaller.

Finally, he spoke, his voice unusually low pitched, “Well, let me see if that’s possible. But in that case we need a new suspect. Someone on whom we can pin these two murders.”

Alphonso mulled over the question even as a sixty something elderly gent in a red and white ceremonial attire coughed before gently presenting himself at the door.

Ah! there you are,” Chandy said, before asking, “So what’s

tonight’s special, Joseph?”.

Sir, chicken roast with either rice or chappatis. Also payasam for dessert.

Chandy felt himself salivating as he licked his lips.

“Fine, make it four plates then. But first get us Black Label. Also, soda and some nuts.”

Chandy waited for the cook to leave and then leaning forward, answered_ his voice a low whisper,

Sir, I think I may have found us a perfect suspect. Remember, the spate of unsolved murders that rocked this city some three years ago.

Chandy nodded hios head as he felt a surge of excitement run through his veins.

Immediately straightening his back and with his hands now leaning on the glass top table. He was concentration personified.

“Yes…yes, I do remember that case…The presse called it the Harmony Orchestra Case, right?”

Exactly, three members of the family including Raman Pillai, who not only ran buit also was lead singer cum guitarist; his wife, their two children aged five and seven, and their full time maid were foud murdered, their bodies cut to pieces and stuffed into gunny bags that later were found amongst a pile of filth in three municipal dustbins located at three different parts of the city.

“Yes, that’s five murders that kept the Press, the public and the government on tenterhook for the larger part of the year, ultimately leading to the toppling of the then ruling government, and subsequently led to our party coming to power. That case is still unsolved. A blind case, a set of perfect murders if there ever was one. So, what are you thinking, Alphonso?”

The DGP leaned forward.

‘Sir, how about floating this theory that Anjali and Lekshmi’s murders wwere committed by the same anonymous person who committed the Orchestra murders?

Chandy bit into his lower lip, an indication that he was thinking hard.

Finally, he spoke, his voice a whisper, ”Good idea. But, I suggest to make it a wee bit more plausible, we add one more murder. As to who that unfortunate soul needs to be, I leave that to your better discretion,” adding, “But remember, make sure that whoever that person is, he or she is in some manner connected to the Muthuswamy family”.



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