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He Said, He Said

By Vishnu J


Inspector Raghav Soliah paced briskly around the room, the subtle aroma of his Marlboro trailing behind him. The police station was buzzing with activity, with his colleagues running around getting prepared for the task at hand. Preparing for a homicide investigation was not an everyday activity at the station. There were a lot of uncertainties and doubts. Raghav looked up to see Constable Bharat walk up to him, with a clear expression of worry on his visage. Exasperated about the news he was about to receive, he stopped to receive the young, short constable.


"Sir, It's not good news"

"Well, what is it?" asked back Raghav, with perhaps more venom than he intended to.

"Subramani is not here yet, we don't know what is going on with him"

"Subramani? Is that the watchman?"


Bharat nodded his affirmation to the inspector.


"Have you tried reaching out to his family and friends?"

"I called his wife. Apparently, he left in the morning without revealing his destination. His daughter is unreachable and we do not have any other contacts"

Inspector Raghav Soliah momentarily stood still, contemplating the myriad possibilities. He took another contemplative puff from his cigar. "He could be en route to the station, just running late," he mused.

Bharat nodded, agreeing with his superior officer.

"On the flip side, he is not attending any of his calls," said Raghav, thinking hard.

"Where is Rahul? Is he here?" enquired Raghav.

"He must be, I will fetch him," said Bharat and ran out.

Following Bharat, Sub-Inspector Vikatan entered the scene. Unlike the frantic atmosphere around him, Vikatan sported a relaxed yet curious expression, providing a subtle encouragement to Raghav.

"Michael wants to talk to you," he said, handing out his mobile.

"The Forensic?" Whispered Raghav, confirming the identity of the man on the call. Vikatan nodded.

"Yes, Michael, I thought the postmortem report wasn't due until the evening"

"It isn't, but I was told that you are about to hold the initial inquiries on the witnesses presented by Vikatan over here, so I thought I would inform you of some key details that strike. It could be of importance" Raghav acknowledged Vikatan's assistance with a grateful smile.

"Thanks, Michael, Please go on"

"Yes. Okay. So. Initial findings suggest that the cause of the Victim, Mr. Vijay's death is Blunt force Trauma. The impact from the murder weapon resulted in a fracture of the skull, causing significant damage to the brain. The brain's delicate structures were unable to withstand the force, leading to a cascade of events that ultimately proved fatal. Upon examination, we observed evidence of hemorrhaging within the brain, indicating damage to blood vessels. Additionally, the fracture caused compression and displacement of brain tissue, disrupting vital functions-"

"Michael, I am sorry, that's a lot of medical jargon that I don't need. Can you condense it?" Raghav heard Michael sigh on the other side.

"Yes. Sorry. I can tell you that the murder weapon, whatever was used, exerted a lot of force and clearly had quite a surface area, considering the nature of the injury. It was a very blunt instrument, maybe a bat of some kind, a metal pipe. It was definitely not a knife or any of the usual suspects"

"It was a makeshift weapon?"

"Probably. Yes"

"Anything else?"

"Well, there were some curious scratch marks on his hand. Whoever inflicted them had long nails for sure"

"So our killer is a woman?"

"Not necessarily. The scratches could have been just from the evening. He was at a party, being drunk, after all"

"Anything else that stands out?"

Michael thought hard.

"We did find traces of cocaine in the toxicology report as well. He was a regular user"

"So, not a saint"

"No. Just another dimension of investigation to add"

"Shit. Anything else?"

"Those are the highlights. Not much else worth reporting"

"Well, thanks Michael, This is a great help"

"Anytime, Inspector", and the call concluded. Raghav handed the mobile back to Vikatan. Raghav watched as Constable Anirudh approached him, visibly proud of his accomplishments. "Sir, both Ashwanth and Jitmanyu are ready for their interrogation. We have everything set up."

Raghav nodded, taking a final puff from his Cigar.

"I am coming, "he declared, plucking the cigar from his mouth. Anirudh left the room to wait outside the interrogation rooms."

Sir, this can't be a planned murder, right? As the doctor confirmed, a makeshift weapon was used" Vikatan queried, trying to impress his superior.

Raghav took a look at his junior. He tossed his Cigar into the trash can nearby and replied, "It's dangerous to assume anything about the case this Early Vikatan. For all we know, the killer wanted you to think that"

"Sorry, sir," Vikatan replied with his head hanging low.

"Don't apologize. Just learn. Come with me" he said and led the way to the interrogation room. On their way there, they bumped into Constable Bharat again. He had another police officer with him.

"I want you to go to Subramani, the watchman's house, and trace his movements. Find him," ordered Raghav.

Rahul saluted his superior and left the room, embarking on his mission to locate the missing watchman.

Anirudh provided them with files containing everything they knew about their two suspects. Raghav quickly scanned through them, and Vikatan managed to glean some information as well.

"So which one of these scumbags do you want to interrogate first?" Raghav asked. Vikatan, without a definitive answer, selected the one he earmarked to be revealed as the killer later on.

____________________________________________________________________________

"So, Ashwanth Durairaj, is it?"

The man seated across from Inspector Raghav Soliah and Sub-Inspector Vikatan Ramesh, chained to the table, simply nodded. Ashwanth appeared visibly uncomfortable, beads of sweat forming on his forehead due to both the oppressive humidity and his anxiety. Despite his tall stature, he now hunched over the table, his glasses fogged up from the perspiration, leaving the policemen wondering if he could see anything at all.

"I am Inspector Raghav Soliah and this is Vikatan Ramesh, and we would appreciate it if you could answer some of our questions"

Ashwanth nodded again.

"Okay. So let's start from the beginning. When did you reach Priya's apartment" asked Raghav. Vikatan on the other hand, pulled out a notebook and started taking notes.

"Around six. We were about to watch the second innings of the World Cup semi-finals"

"How many people were there at the watch-along?"

"There were ten people including Priya and myself. We were around eighteen people when the game ended"

Ashwanth started gaining confidence. The questions were easy and he was starting to get comfortable.

"Was the Watchman there when you entered the flat?"

"Yes"

"Was Vijay at the party?"

"Yes. He came in about ten minutes after me." This question slightly lowered his confidence, but he regained composure, ready for more.

"How did it go?"

"The party?"

"Yes"

"It was good. We ordered in pizza. We were invested in the game. There were stressful moments where tensions flared, but it was from the game alone"

"So, all of you were completely invested in the game?"

"Yes. We were"

Ashwanth watched as Vikatan looked up, taking a break from noting down the answers. He immediately went back to it.

"Okay. When did you leave the party?"

"About half past ten"

"And were you alone?"

"Not really. I may have been walking alone, but realistically, there were Vijay, Jithu, Priya, and Mukesh behind me, arguing about the game. They had differing opinions on the match" Ashwanth started losing composure a little bit. He started looking down at the table again. He started anxiously tapping the floor repeatedly, which he immediately stopped. An action that didn't go unnoticed by the astute police officers, who marked it down on their notes as well.

"Now, Ashwanth, I need you to recollect your memory and tell me precisely what happened when the five of you came down. Take your time, but I need a detailed and proper recollection of events and where every one of you was at the time."

Ashwanth was happy to take a moment to think. He racked his brain for what he needed and eventually came up with the answer he wanted to give.

"We came down, and I was heading to my bike, which was quite close to Jithu's. My bike had difficulty starting, and Jithu was scrolling through his Twitter feed. Mukesh had left the premises. I noticed that the watchman was half-asleep. I was taking my bike outside the apartment, hoping for better luck, and Jithu went to wake up the watchman, or so I thought. That's when the lights went off. Everything went off. I got frightened for a moment. I froze on the spot, waiting for my eyes to adjust for better visibility. That's when I heard the sound. The sound of something hard hitting flesh. I was afraid and wanted to run, but curious as well. The light immediately came on within two minutes. I looked around and found someone lying on the floor with blood all over, with Jithu and the watchman standing over him. I immediately ran over to see what had happened. That was when Constable Bharat came to the scene"

A moment of silence hung in the room as both inspectors contemplated Ashwanth's words. Vikatan, now done with note-taking, awaited Raghav's next question, who was busy picturing various scenarios and possibilities of the event described.

"Did you take note of the murder weapon used?"

"No. I didn't see anything. It must have been thrown away instantly"

"Did you see anybody else in the parking garage?"

"No"

"Was the gate locked?"

"It was closed, not locked"

"Did you have a conversation with Vijay?"

"Not a single word the entire day. We don't really get along" This piqued the interest of Raghav, "Explain," he said.

"Priya and Myself used to date a year ago, but we broke up. Vijay and Priya are together now and he does not like that I and Priya are still on speaking terms and quite frankly, good friends"

"Why did you break up?"

"That's personal. I am sorry. I can't answer that" said Ashwanth, getting defensive quite abruptly.

Raghav nodded and looked over at Vikatan's notes and took a quick second to evaluate his work. He was satisfied with it.

He turned to Ashwanth and evaluated his options.

"What do you know about Jitmanyu and his relationship with Vijay?"

"They hate each other, sir," said Ashwanth, rather quickly.

"Jithu has been in love with Priya for a long time, but she has never accepted him. Although he has accepted his position as her friend, he is still rather cold and untoward to Vijay, who equally dislikes him because of his feelings for her" He blurted out with enthusiasm.

"That's the most energetic I have seen you today, Ashwanth. What do you want me to infer from that?"

"If anyone killed Vijay, it is either Jithu or someone I didn't see"

Raghav nodded and pondered over Ashwanth's words. Vikatan was finally done with taking notes and now awaited Raghav's next question. To his surprise, there wasn't any.

"Thank You, Ashwanth, we are done for now, you need to wait here for a while"

Both Raghav and Vikatan proceeded to leave the room. They found Bharat waiting for them eagerly outside the room. "Got anything?" He asked.

"Maybe," said Vikatan, proceeding to share Ashwanth's account with Bharat, while Raghav remained lost in thought.

"Sir?" Vikatan called Raghav, who was clearly not happy about being interrupted from his train of thought.

"Yes?"

"Shall we talk to Jithu now?"

"Yes, but before that, I need your opinion, how much of Ashwanth's version do you think are lies?"

"It's difficult to gauge, but he is definitely hiding something"

"Which parts do you think he is lying about?*

"He hasn't told us what Priya was doing during the murder at the garage. He either left it out conveniently or it simply slipped his mind"

"There is something else"

"What is it?" Asked Vikatan, curious.

"Vijay clearly isn't a popular figure, and many despise him, and vice versa. It's unlikely that nothing happened during the party, and they were all just invested in the game."

Vikatan began considering the implications before Raghav interjected once again, "Also, what happened to the murder weapon? Was there nothing at the scene?"

Vikatan brought himself back to the conversation and processed the questions, "Uh, umm, no sir. No weapon has been found"

Both of them ruminated over their thoughts before getting into Jitmanyu's room.

____________________________________________________________________________

"Jitmanyu, I am Inspector Raghav Soliah and this is SI Vikatan Ramesh. We would appreciate it if you answered a few questions"

Jithu nodded.

As Vikatan opened a new page and prepared to take notes, he observed that Jithu was a completely different character from Ashwanth. He didn't look pale or anxious; in fact, he appeared ready for the interrogation and quite confident.

"Let's start from the beginning. When did you get to the party?"

"Quite early. I was one of the first ones there at Priya's."

"When did Vijay get there, and did anything happen at the party?"

"He came about twenty minutes after me, maybe 15 minutes after the other guy, Ashwanth, came in. The party went fine. Vijay didn't cause any ruckus; he simply sat and watched the game like the rest of us. It was way too intense."

"You did not get into any altercation?"

"Well, Diya and I had a scuffle on how to split the bill for our pizzas, but that is about it."

Raghav was content with the answers. He waited for Vikatan to note them all in before proceeding further.

"Now, Jitmanyu? May I call you Jithu?"

"Yes. Sure. Go ahead"

"I want you to recollect your memory and explain in detail what happened when the party ended. When did it end, and what happened at the garage?"

Jithu took a couple of seconds to recollect his thoughts before answering the question.

"Well, it was around half-past ten when the game ended. Myself, Mukesh, Vijay, and Ashwanth headed down to the garage toward the exit gates. Mukesh was quick to leave. Ashwanth couldn't get his bike to start, and I wanted to wake the Watchman up, and get him working. As I was splashing water on his face, Vijay and Ashwanth managed to get into a heated conversation, supposedly about Priya. Vijay doesn't like that he is her ex, and they are good friends. I assume that is what led the tensions to flare up. The lights immediately went out, and that's when I heard the sound. The sound of death. The blow to the flesh and five seconds later, the sound of wood being thrown to the floor, something that I never caught sight of. Ten seconds later, when the lights came back on, VOILA! A corpse."

Vikatan wrote down the version frantically as Raghav struggled to make sense of the story.

"You are basically informing me that Ashwanth killed Vijay."

"I guess I am. Yes."

"What makes you so certain; did you see it?"

"No. I didn't actually see it-"

"So it could have been anybody, including you."

"Well, technically yes, but he was the only person in the room, other than me and the watchman."

"What about Priya, wasn't she down there?" asked Raghav. Jithu seemed quite confused at that question. He racked his brain for a few moments before answering, "Well, we did party at her house, she did see us out, I guess, but she wasn't in the garage. As I said earlier, at the time of the incident, it was me, the watchman, Ashwanth, and Vijay."

Raghav was quite confused about the situation when he asked the last question he wanted an answer, "Did you see any sort of murder weapon?"

"I really didn't. He must have thrown it. It must be lying there somewhere."

There was a moment of silence before Raghav broke it, "What about the watchman; how was he?"

"He was quite shaken up. Confused and shocked. He would back me and confirm that I didn't kill Vijay, and that it was Ashwanth."

____________________________________________________________________________



"Sir, I don't like this," remarked Vikatan as he went through the interrogation notes. Raghav had no response to it.

Constable Bharat stood behind Vikatan, deep in thought.

"The problem is essentially a 'he said, she said' situation; all we have is their word to back them up," said Raghav.

"It's very likely that one of them made up the last part of their peer killing Vijay," said Constable Bharat.

"It could be the watchman or someone we don't know," Vikatan added.

"Unlikely. I highly doubt an old-aged and clearly tired watchman had the skills to commit the perfect murder and let two suspects blame each other, and we just don't have any information about anybody else being there," Raghav thought out loud.

"It's annoying that an apartment like that does not have a CCTV," said Bharat, a sentiment Vikatan promptly agreed with.

Without warning, Raghav got up and started walking down the corridor, gesturing for Bharat and Vikatan to follow him.

"We are going to the crime spot again. Let's see if we can find the murder weapon and maybe talk to Priya and confirm about the party."

"Sir, what about Ashwanth and Jitmanyu? Can we ask them to leave?"

"No. They are not going anywhere. We will talk to Priya and see what we know. If we have nothing after that as well, we can let them leave."

____________________________________________________________________________

Raghav Soliah monitored the scene in front of him. Four police officers were searching the premises for a murder weapon. The problem was they didn't know what the murder weapon was.

"Guys, do not dismiss anything. Anything that is heavy and fits the hand, you take it and throw it in the middle. We will examine them later," he announced and went over to Bharat, who was looking underneath a car.

"Bharat, are you sure when you came in here that you didn't see any weapon and no one around?"

"Sir, I was doing my rounds when I saw the lights go off in the building and the sound. I came in and saw three people standing over the body. I immediately ordered them to freeze and called the police station. While they were coming, I monitored the surroundings quickly and didn't see anything suspicious."

"How long did you wait for?"

"Around five minutes."

"That is probably not a comprehensive search; you could have missed it."

"Yes, but when the police did come, we did a whole sweep of the area and found nothing."

Raghav knew him to be right. He patted the young constable and gestured him to continue searching. He took a quick look around and decided on his next set of actions. He went over to Vikatan to convey it to him, "I am going to talk to Priya; take care of the search for the time being."

"Don't you want me to come?"

"No, it's alright. I will just have a quick chat with her about the party and be back immediately." Raghav went straight ahead, accidentally bumping into Vikatan, who didn't seem to mind.

____________________________________________________________________________

"It won't take long, Priya. I just have a couple of questions about the incident," said Raghav to the visibly nervous Priya, who sat beside her mother. She nodded affirmatively. Raghav continued.

"So, how was the party?"

"Went alright. It was an intense game. We ordered pizza, watched the game, and everybody had fun until the end."

"Until the end?"

"Well, we lost. The game was intense, had our full focus, and it was disappointing to lose a game like that."

"Other than that? Was everything alright?"

"Yeah. Other than the banter going around between the different fan groups, which were just friendly banter, everything was quite alright."

Raghav noted to himself how everybody maintained the same story about the party. Although he found it quite unbelievable, he had to go with this now.

"And you weren't there, were you?" he asked Priya's mother.

"No, I was in Delhi with my husband for a conference."

"And what about your brother?"

"Oh, he was there at the party," Priya replied.

"Did you witness the incident at all, Priya?"

"I didn't. I had no idea until the next morning. I was down tired and dozed off immediately when everyone left."

"Did you see everybody out personally when they left?"

Priya paused and recollected the events of the night.

"Just the closer friends."

Raghav nodded.

"I assume everybody who came were your classmates at your university?"

"They were, yes."

"They got along well with your brother?"

"Yes, he is naturally very outgoing. He is a very social person, and him being a cricketer meant they liked having him around for an important cricket match."

Raghav racked his brain for any more questions to ask. He wondered whether he needed to ask her about her relationship with Vijay and the two suspects, given both their stories already matched on how their relationships were. He came to the conclusion that it wouldn't hurt to confirm.

"And what about Vijay? How close were you?"

"Quite close. We got along very well. I still haven't gotten over it," she said. Her face immediately dimmed down. Raghav concurred that the question brought back unpleasant emotions for the teenager.

"What about Ashwanth and Jitmanyu?"

"They were good friends. I honestly cannot believe any one of them could have done something like this. They are innocent, sir," she said.

Raghav took a moment to evaluate his options. He concurred that he was done and didn't need anything else. He got up from his seat and decided to take his leave.

"Looks can be deceiving, Priya. I assure you, you don't know either of them completely."

____________________________________________________________________________

As Raghav descended the stairs to the garage, the commotion among the policemen immediately caught his eye. They were all standing in a circle, discussing something. Vikatan's eyes lit up when he saw his senior return.

"Sir, I just got a call from the station. The watchman has arrived. Apparently, he was running late thanks to an accident at the bridge."

"He is at the station now!?"

"Yes, he is waiting for us, apparently."

"Well, let's go then!"

____________________________________________________________________________

"Subramaniya Shekaran, is it?" asked Raghav to the old man in front of him.

"That is correct. Yes."

"First things first, why are you late? You were informed to be here much earlier."

"Sir, there was an accident at the bridge. A truck tumbled down. It blocked the road for a long time."

Vikatan, who was sitting beside the inspector, turned to him and said, "I just checked the news; he is not lying."

"Ok, Subramani. Let's leave that aside for the moment. Let's get to the problem at hand."

"Yes, sir, if I may-"

"You may not. You will answer the questions I ask and only what I ask. Is that clear?"

The watchman nodded nimbly.

"When did you arrive at the apartment?"

"Around half-past six."

"Night shift, I presume?" He simply nodded.

"When did the students come down after the party?"

"I am sorry, I did not take note of the time, but it was definitely after ten."

"Okay, now I need you to tell me what happened."

The watchman brightened up at that instant. He looked ready.

"Sir, I was tired and was close to dozing off at around ten when a young man came to wake me up and have a chat, presumably. Two people were having a conversation on the other end. It looked like they were in a scrap. That was when the lights suddenly switched off. I was looking around for the background to lighten up the scene when I saw someone run up from behind the tall guy. He hit the guy with a cricket bat and fled the scene."

Raghav and Vikatan stared at the watchman in disbelief. Vikatan had stopped writing notes.

"Wait, there was someone else in the garage?"

"I only saw him once the lights went off. He came from the circuit switches."

"He turned off the lights," Vikatan silently remarked to Raghav.

"Are you lying, Subramani? Are you covering for anyone?"

"No, sir, I am not. It's what I saw and has been wanting to tell for a while, but I was never let to. The constable at the scene ordered me not to speak at all. I even hesitated to go to the hospital to visit my mother yesterday night because I wanted to tell you the truth. It's why I set off early today as well. To tell you. Damn the accident."

Raghav did not know what to ask. He just sat there, bewildered, with slow relief creeping on him.

"Would you be able to identify him? It was dark; I don't think I will be able to identify him immediately, but I was able to catch some stuff. He was about the inspector's height here. Was very dark in complexion. He was also very slim. He was wearing a checked shirt with jeans."

____________________________________________________________________________

"Sir, can we trust him? We have effectively three versions," asked Vikatan as they stepped out of the room.

"We might have to. Either two essentially have no idea who did it; they are just afraid that they might be in trouble, so they concocted a version where the only other suspect did it."

Vikatan thought about it and came up with a conclusion, "Sir, to be fair, The watchman did say Jithu's version; he just added that Ashwanth killed him when the lights went out, whereas Ashwanth lied about having a conversation with Vijay. If we can confirm he lied about that, we might be able to confirm this version as the official one." Raghav agreed with his junior. As Vikatan went straight into the interrogation room, Raghav couldn't help but feel proud of his mentee.

"Sir, what happened?" came up constable Bharat, wanting an update on the situation, something Raghav was happy to provide. He called Vikatan over to speak to the constable. As Vikatan narrated the description of the supposed killer, Bharat lit up immediately, "SIR? That description matches that of Mukesh, the one who allegedly left a couple of minutes earlier!"

____________________________________________________________________________

"I want to know once again what happened at the garage."

"Sir, I told you, my bike wasn't working so I tried-" Ashwanth started off.

"LIES!" shouted the inspector, taking aback everyone in the room. Ashwanth shuddered backward, a sudden sense of fear visible in his eyes.

"I want you to be honest. You did not mess around with the bike outside. You talked to Vijay. Tell me what happened. NOW! NO LYING!"

Ashwanth shivered as he collected himself to speak up. A tear fell from his eyes as fear dominated him. The mere visage of the inspector forced the poor man to keep his mouth shut.

"Now, either you speak or we start to hit you," Raghav said calmly.

Ashwanth took a few quick breaths and calmed himself down. He let out exasperated sighs as he prepared himself to speak.

"S-Sir, I was talking to Vijay when I was coming down. We were disagreeing about the batting quality of our players in the game. It got way too heated, and things got out of control. We started abusing each other and I even hit him hard, but that was when the lights went out, and I have no idea what happened afterward. I did not kill him; you have to believe me!" He cried out loud, he had tears in his eyes and was stuttering. All that aside, Raghav got what he needed.

____________________________________________________________________________

"Well, it's official," remarked Priya's mother, reading the headlines in the newspaper.

"What is it?" inquired Priya, who sat alongside her mother with a cup of tea in her hand.

"The Vijay case is gonna be a cold case."

"They really have no leads to pursue?"

"Seems that way," said the mother, putting down the reading glasses she had worn temporarily.

"It's quite incredible that in this digital age, where you can get everything and anything, a case like this murder in an open garage is going unsolved," she continued. Priya nodded matter-of-factly.

"I still think that sad excuse for a friend of yours did it."

"Mom, for the last time, Mukesh is a good guy, and for God's sake, they have footage from the traffic cameras proving he wasn't there at the garage."

"Last I checked, they can be edited," she said and got up, trying to flee from the rinsed conversation.

"I sincerely doubt that he-" the doorbell rang before Priya could start listing the reasons why Mukesh could not have edited the footage. Priya's mother went ahead and opened the door and found SI Vikatan standing outside, smiling. She invited the policeman into her house.

"I am sorry to say that we were unable to finish the case," he said as he started to sit down on the sofa.

"Oh, that's quite alright. You don't owe us any of that."

"Well, I had a very heavy inkling that I did, so I decided to show myself here."

"Well, aren't you a gentleman! Would you like some tea or coffee perhaps?"

"Oh, no thank you! But I will appreciate a glass of water." The elderly woman ran to the kitchen to get the glass.

"I am sorry you weren't able to solve the case. It's disappointing," said Priya.

Vikatan turned to the teenager and smiled, "Well, dear, I never said we weren't able to solve the case."

Priya looked confused.

"I solved the case a week ago. I just didn't follow through and tell the inspector who is still baffled."

Priya froze in shock.

"You see, he is a lot more trusting than he should be. Which is why I want to ask you, Priya, why did you kill your friend, Vijay? What happened that night?"

Priya sat there, shell-shocked. Before she could comprehend anything, her mother returned with a glass of water and a smile.

"On second thoughts, I would actually like a coffee. I am sorry, Ma'am, but it has been a long day."

The mom, although clearly annoyed, had no problems running back to the kitchen. Vikatan immediately turned back to Priya.

"I am not here to arrest you, Priya. It is not my aim. If it was, you would have been in Juvenile a week ago. What I want you to do is tell me what happened that night."

Priya still sat there, shocked and unable to respond, with a tear forming in her eyes.

"Priya, I looked into you; you were the topper of your school and got into a great college and have just gotten placed at Microsoft. You have a very promising career ahead of you which I don't want to ruin. But I will do it, if I need to, so give me the reason I shouldn't. What happened that day? This was clearly an instinctive kill, not a planned murder. So what happened?"

Priya took a while to recover from the shock, but Vikatan had the patience. Dusting off the shock, Priya started to speak, "I walked down with Mukesh, Vijay, Ashwanth, and Jithu after the game, with my brother's bat in my hands, which I didn't even know. I was drunk. Mukesh left immediately, Ashwanth couldn't get the bike to start, and Jithu was curious about the watchman. I went down to bid goodbye to Vijay, my boyfriend. We had been dating for a while now."

"I gave him a kiss goodbye and was waiting for him to leave, but he wouldn't. He kept kissing and started rambling on about how my parents weren't home, and we should take advantage of this opportunity. I refused. He didn't like it. He forcibly grabbed me. That was when everybody around started to interject-Ashwanth, the watchman, and Jithu came to me and ordered him to leave me, but he only came closer."

"And in a fit of rage, you struck him with the cricket bat you still had," she nodded.

"He immediately stopped breathing."

Vikatan sighed.

"And then?"

"Everybody was shocked. But the watchman, bless him, immediately grabbed the bat from my hands. He ran and switched off the lights, came back and hit Vijay's corpse. He gave the bat to me and told me to run to my home, turning on the lights on the way. As I went ahead, I heard him say to the other two boys to keep my name out of it. He didn't want me to get involved in this. He was protecting me."

Vikatan sat and stared at the floor. Priya tried to control her tears as her mother entered the room, who was confused by the mood of the room.

"I need to speak to Priya alone, ma'am." Her mother left the room, completely confused and worried.

"Sir, I am sorry; I really didn't mean to do it. Please don't arrest me," Priya said, with tears streaming down her face.

Vikatan stared at her face, "I won't. But I will keep my eye on you. The only reason I am doing this is to save your career. You are not a criminal."

Priya started sobbing.

"Now, stop crying. The case has gone cold now; no police officer is going to touch it for a long time. Forget this incident and move on. Focus on your life and career," Vikatan said and got up. He patted the teenager on the head and was about to leave when Priya called, "Sir, how did you find out?"

Vikatan smiled, "The bat. You didn't clean it properly. When the inspector came to ask questions the other day, I put a camera on him because I knew he wouldn't let me be at the interview. Through that, I saw that your brother's bat had some weird stains on it. I went to your brother's coaching classes to talk to your brother. I scraped the dirt off and gave it to forensics. They examined it and confirmed my suspicions. It was blood. Vijay's blood."


By Vishnu J



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Sreekala Jagadeesh
Sreekala Jagadeesh
Jan 15
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very well written Murder mystery ending took me by surprise.

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