Hosted by Sue Vincent
A DEAR ‘DEER’ CLUE
By Neel Anil Panicker
The encrypted message on the Police website read:
A convicted criminal has escaped from a high security Canadian prison a month ago. According to Interpol, it is suspected that this man named Avtar Singh, age, around 35, has escaped to India, and may be holed up in his ancestral village in Kapurthala, Punjab.
Inspector Sharma stood in the centre of the large hall and looked piercingly at the eight people lined up in front of him.
“You,” he thundered, his baton pointing menacingly towards the only male member around.
“What’s your name?”
‘ Sardar Angrez Singh, Saheb’.
The voice, despite the advanced age, __he looked not a day less than eighty__had not lost its timbre, and the rich baritone boomed across the four walls of the haveli-styled two story building.
Inspector Sharma twirled his moustache.
He had to be careful.
This was no ordinary family. His subordinates had apprised him about the ‘Singhs.’
Not only were they prosperous, owning several hundred acres of rich farmland, but they boasted of some very powerful political connections.
The elder son, Satinder Singh, had even contested the last municipal elections on the ruling party ticket.
Avtar was a year younger to him.
“When did you last see or hear from Avtar?”
‘A month ago. He said he was driving to Toronto and would be back in a week.’
“Back to India?”
‘No Saheb, back to Vancour where he stayed. He is a truck driver, you see’.
Inspector Sharma chewed the information, his eyes taking a 360 degree inspection of his surroundings.
Clearly, this was a wily old man, tutored to say the right things.
No point wasting his time. He had to take a different approach.
He turned around to leave.
It was then that his eyes fell on the large photograph that hung on the red brick wall opposite him.
He stepped forward and peered into it.
Three reindeer heads, their pointed antlers jutting out, almost breaching the edges of the large rectangular frame.
Not unusual, he thought.
A cold country animal from the deer species.
The man must have brought it all the way from Canada during one of his annual sojourns to India.
He was about to turn around when his eyes fell on the plaster.
He touched the cement around them. They were slightly sticky.
It meant the photo was recently mounted, plausibly less than 48 hours ago.
His eyes lit up behind his dark glasses.
It could only mean his quarry was here, or somewhere nearby.
Now, it was all a matter of finding out where.
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