WRITTEN FOR MULTIPLE PROMPTS
By Neel Anil Panicker
‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man was a phrase that rolled off
the old man’s tongue quite easily every time he was on his rounds, conducting the most crucial final inspection of his hotel, the exclusive and niche ‘Entry Strictly By Invitation Only’ high street restaurant that was rather fittingly eponymous named Samuel’s.
A daily evening routine, the exercise had begun an hour ago; the time expended in casting a hawk’s eye over the goings on in the large cavernous kitchen, checking that things are in order, the cutlery all spic and span, then worming his way past the teeming crew of cooks, waiters, bell boys and other sundry staff, finally stepping over to the garden area___ensuring that the lights, carpets, smoking zones and children’s play area were all set and fully functional.
Now, fully satisfied, the sixty something silver haired owner ambled into the main dining room, the last port in his strict vigil.
A surge of pride swept through his heart as he looked at the neat symmetry laid out before him___twelve concentric rings formed all around the oblong shaped high ceiling-ed Victorian era styled room from the centre of which hung the largest, grandest and most beautiful all white crystal chandelier that was the pride and jewel of the establishment that had been voted the “Best Fine Dine” in South India for the past thirteen years in a row, an enviable record, especially and more so considering the blink and you miss highly competitive ‘dog eat dog’ world of food. Surviving and that being ton top for so long was no mean feat, and Samuel knew that well enough.
His eyes X-rayed every single square inch of space. Nothing missed his inspection___the shining high top dog teakwood leather cushioned comfy chairs, the
silken artsy table cloths, the ‘oh so sublime upturned glasses and the beautiful porcelain china hand painted saucer cups that stood in attention on every table___every single graced his attention, and passed his strict standards of excellence.
A smile formed on Samuel’s lips as he heart thumped with joy. He flicked his wrist; another fifteen minutes before the show would commence.
One by one the guests would alight from their fancy wheels and step in, their high heels and slick shiny boots making soft love on the blood red Italian carpet. Soon, the hall would ring alive with a multitude of sounds and smells as the heeled would did dig into delectable kebabs and mouth watering sweet and sour tangy gastronomic delights; the roofs ricocheting with deliriously ecstatic ‘oohs and aahs.’
And as soft piped music would chime, the mood would be well set for an evening of mellifluous laughter, low voiced discreet conversations replenished with near endless rounds of French wine and raising of toasts.
Another perfect evening would culminate a resounding success as the esteemed patrons would bid leave, singing praises of Samuel’s and vowing to come for an encore.
Samuel, having satisfied himself that everything was in order, made his way to his upper all glass perch___an exclusive viewing area fitted with a large screen split into 12 screens, enough to cover every single area of his 20,000 square feet diner.
It was then that he noticed it. There it lay, the bag__ a small black calf leather bag almost half hidden behind the security area___ a curtained enclosure near the exit area.
Why is that bag there, Samuel wondered, a tad annoyedly.
Then, finding no one around, he walked over.
“Why is this so heavy?”, wondered Samuel as he tried to half lift the bag off the ground.
Not finding success, he set it down and then, unzipped the its chain.
The next instant as its content stared out, he felt as if he had been hit by a ten tonne truck.
A gun, a shiny silver long barreled gun, the kind he had seen in several of those gangsta movies he was so fond of watching stared out from the bag’s inner folds. And, besides it, lay a severed finger___blood smears all around it.
Samule looked as if he had seen the Devil. Raw, primal fear set in.
What’s a gun and a severed little finger doing in his establishment.
Whose was it, why and how did it reach here.
Too many worrying questions raced through his mind.
It was bad publicity, something and didn’t want. And what if anyone, least of all the police come knocking on his door. A moment ago he was on top of the world. A moment later, his world was in danger of crashing down.
His heart a turnstile, his body sweating like a pig; his deeply agitated mind looked for a way out, something, anything that would help him wriggle out of the situation that he and his dear Samuel’s found themselves in.
And while he thought hard and long, the giant clock at the entrance began to chime.
Father Time was in a tearing hurry.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
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