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The Indigenius' Den by Ankit Kumar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 India License.
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Sunday, August 13, 2017


Sunday had dawned, sunny and bright. The sleepy neighbourhood welcomed the dashing rays as a brilliant start to the day of trade after the Sabbath. Paolo was already up and about in his slow and measured manner, humming a tune under his breath as he brushed his hair back - black and sleek - the years didn’t show on them! He looked out of his balcony - the Mediterranean shone like a sheet of gold.

Paolo had spent his long life here growing from the grime on the streets to the mezzanines of fame - fame and notoriety. He was a king to many, father to a son, wanted by the police but loved by all.

He had a long list of enemies whom he ticked off a pad as he pleased. No one could have possibly ousted him anyway. Yet he had exercised power and control - managing a firm grip on matters to the day. A recent entrant on that list was a new boy - Hans - a rookie straight out of a bad action movie - jackets and dark glasses. But, Paolo didn’t consider him so. He was covering ground quickly with his fancy tech and gadgets - something Paolo abhorred and never understood - he had his old school methods. Still, a recent and important heist had gone awry - thanks to Hans. This had not gone down well with Paolo’s men.

Paolo never brooded on failures, a trait that had kept him in the game for so long. Sunday mornings meant a walk to the church and the local market. Since this was the second Sunday of the month, it also meant a haircut at Dimitry’s. Dimitry was Paolo’s oldest friend and confidant. He visited him every other Sunday - a habit that had continued for forty long years. In recent times, the salon would be checked for security leaks before each of Paolo’s visits - methods deemed necessary by Paolo’s son for a vulnerable rendezvous spot.

Paolo alighted the stairs from his balcony in slow and measured steps and walked to the church. He had needless, young men escorting him all the way. Per his orders, they maintained a good enough distance. “I am not a dandy and don’t need protecting!” Paolo would roar. His son had made him swore on his long-lost wife to allow it.

The general public was always in respectful awe of him. He had done enough good for almost every family in this small suburb - a quick redressal system like a King’s court. Memories didn’t fade easily here - good or bad. It was usual for Paolo to walk with a smile on his face as people would wave out to him, call his name or tip their hats to him. Especially on his way from church, one or two would sometimes break restraint and approach - mostly looking for a favour. Paolo never sent anyone away empty-handed.

Dimitry had moved up in life but hadn’t let go off his trade. He personally attended to Paolo even today. Like a custom, the salon would be in apt readiness for Paolo’s visit - the shop, which was a favourite spot for daily exchange of latest gossip, cleared of customers, employees and onlookers; the scissors, straight razors cleaned and organized and Dimitry himself in his whitest best!

“You have grown old, Dimitry” Paolo entered his friend’s shop leaving the door ajar. His escorts never wanted the door closed.

“So have you, Paolo.” pat came the reply. The two men laughed in unison.

Dimitry’s quick, practised hands notwithstanding, the visit was always prolonged because of their banter about the latest. Dimitry was a talkative sort who gave Paolo all the gossip he had gathered. It was then up to Paolo’s discretion to process the information. He was a treasured and dependable source.

“Hans seems to be making a quick move,” Dimitry continued, moving from the sides to the crown of the head.
“Bah, he is a young fool.” spattered Paolo. Dimitry didn’t know Paolo to disregard his enemies. Paolo meditated a while. Dimitry remained quiet.

“Anyway, keep a look out. He cleaned out Ludwig last night.” the friend advised and informed. Paolo didn’t know about this. Ludwig was an old timer on the other side of the city.

Dimitry was done with the haircutting and moved to shaving of the outlines on the back and sides. He generally used a razor for this.

“I got a new electronic razor, nifty little thing.” Dimitry offered.

“No new gadgets for me, thank you.” Paolo rejected.

Dimitry didn’t mind Paolo’s dismissiveness. He stropped the straight razor with gusto on the leather belt hanging near the entrance. Suddenly, he heard a faint, buzzing sound. A bee seemed to have strayed into the shop during the most unwelcome time.

“Ugh, get outta here,” he waved the razor frantically to get the bee. But, it wasn’t a bee. It seemed to be a rather big fly.

“What is it?” asked Paolo.

“Just a bloody fly,” complained Dimitry apologetically and moved back to the chair where Paolo was seated.

Paolo bowed while Dimitry shaved the lower back of his head.

“The time has come for me to retire after all.” Dimitry heard a hint of sorrow in Paolo’s voice.

“You have lived a blessed life, my friend, a full life. You can pass the baton on now.” Dimitry had moved to shaving the side behind the right ear.

And then -- it happened all too quickly.

Out of nowhere, the fly or bee shot straight for Paolo’s face and he reacted to get it away, forcefully moving his head back and his left hand out. Dimitry was right behind him with the newly sharpened razor ready in his hand and metal made sudden contact with skin. The force cut the delicate skin on Paolo’s neck probably severing an artery. Bright red blood gushed out as if a garden hose were cut loose and splattered on Dimitry’s splashy whites. Dimitry screeched, not knowing what had happened. The needless men ran in hearing the commotion. Paolo’s body rocked in the chair spewing blood all over the floor and then fell silent.

The plan had worked. Paolo lay disheveled in the chair in his friend’s shop. The drone retreated quickly from the bloody site.

1 comment:

Shail Mohan said...

That was an unexpected end. Poor Dimitry.