"Let the gun go, Sandeep," Mayank heard Nalin's stern voice, and looking up saw the officer enter the barn; followed by another policeman, and a stranger. "Ali, hold him..." he called out.
"Cover him up," Nalin instructed Lluis as he passed Mayank, going over and taking the gun from Milind, who had snatched it from Sandeep. "Where is Harsh," he asked Sandeep as he stood, held tight by Ali and Milind, defiant.
"He... he's in there," Mayank replied, quickly pulling on his trousers that Lluis had handed him, rushing over to the stall, "Ask him to open the door..."
The men crowded around, gasping as they saw the teen, sprawled out on the bare floor, buck naked, tubes and wires running out of him...
"Where's the key," Nalin asked Sandeep, quickly handcuffing him. "C'mon now, don't make it any more difficult for yourself..."
"On the table there," Sandeep replied, surly.
Ali ran, picking up the keys and returning to unlock the stall door.
"Nikel, get the blankets from the jeep," Nalin asked his assistant, Nikel Coelho, and as the man ran out he turned to Sandeep, "What have you done to the boy?"
"He... he's drugged him with some muscle medicines used on horses," answered Mayank, already by Harsh's side, gently holding him up, sobbing as he vowed to get him out of there.
"Well, we need to take off the IVs and get him to a hospital, fast!" Lluis suggested quickly going in and squatting by Harsh's side, checking his pulse, and the eyes...
"Wha... what are you doing," Mayank asked, terrified that it might hurt the boy further.
"Mayank, you forget that I'm a final year medical student, and we deal with a lot of cases everyday," Lluis replied in a gentle voice, quickly getting up and turning off the IV fluids, and then looking at Ali instructed, "Check if there's any cotton wool on that table, else give me a clean handkerchief, I'm not carrying one."
Ali came back with a roll of cotton wool, handing it to Lluis, along with the blankets that the officer had brought in.
Carefully pressing down where the needle had been inserted, Lluis gently pulled it out, asking Mayank to hold the cotton wool to stop the flow of blood as he went around to the other side and removed the second needle. And then slowly reaching between Harsh's legs, gently lifted the relaxed penis, holding it in his palm as he carefully eased out the tube... systematically removing the numerous wires, before quickly covering Harsh with a blanket. "He needs to be shifted to a hospital, immediately," he told Nalin.
Nalin nodded, "Mr. Pinto, you will need to drive him... take him to Dr. Lorso Gonsalves' hospital. I'll call the doctor and tell him to expect you, and please, all of you, no one will talk or discuss about this!"
"Also, Mr. Pinto," Nalin called after the portly figure, "ask your driver to return to the car and drive back to your office, he need not know any of this."
Joki nodded, as he left the barn.
"Mayank, you will go with Harsh," Nalin told the distraught man, "please go and sit in the car."
"I'll go with them," Lluis informed, "I know the doctor, and maybe I can help while we are on the way to the hospital..."
Nalin nodded as Ali and Lluis gently lifted Harsh up, carrying him out and down the aisle to Joki's car, which he had already driven up to the entrance of the barn.
Coming out after them Mayank slowly bend down and collected his clothes... suddenly feeling totally drained, empty. It was a terrible moment, a dreadfully bittersweet moment - relieved that Harsh was finally in safe hands, on his way to the hospital... yet somehow joyless... mourning the loss of a friend that he had loved and cherished...
And as Mayank pulled on his clothes and followed after them, Sandeep called out after him, "Mayank, don't leave me... please don't leave me..."
Mayank paused, turning back to look at his old friend, the eyes tired and sad.
"Mayank, I'm sorry..." Sandeep sobbed, "that boy will be fine, but you don't leave me... PLEASE!"
Mayank turned away, suddenly revolted, and then quickly walked out.
"Mayank," Sandeep screamed after the retreating figure, struggling against Milind and Nikel as they held him, "I love you... I want you... don't go... MAYANK!"
With Harsh and Mayank gone Nalin turned to Sandeep, "Why did you do it?" and since the man didn't reply, his eyes fierce, the face stubborn, Nalin shrugged, "Well, at least tell me what chemicals or drugs you've used on that boy, trust me, it will ultimately help you..."
"You are in enough trouble, Sandeep," Nalin tried again, "don't make it any more difficult for yourself..."
"His dad will be here within another hour," Ali announced, "till then put him in a lockup and maybe then he'll talk..."
"Who called my dad?!" snarled Sandeep, "he is supposed to be at a conference in Delhi!"
"I did," informed Ali, "once I realised who it was, I thought it best to inform your dad about your activities..."
"YOU BASTARD!" roared Sandeep, his eyes flaming, the teeth clenched.
Sensing Sandeep's terror of his father, Nalin quickly intervened, "Well, Sandeep, maybe your cooperating with me would go a long way to keep you out of further trouble, including your dad's wrath..."
"I've... I've used about four different drugs..." Sandeep finally answered, suddenly obliging... slowly enumerating the names of the drugs.
"Thank you," Nalin nodded, and then asking his assistant to keep an eye on him, walked to the barn door, making the call to the doctor, talking earnestly, giving him the details.
"Nikel," Nalin instructed rejoining them, "put him in that stall, and lock the door."
"Yes, sir," the man replied, leading Sandeep away.
"You can't lock me up," hissed Sandeep, struggling against Nikel, "my dad will make you pay for this!"
"Oh, yes, I can," Nalin called after him as Nikel shoved him into the stall that had held Harsh a few moments earlier, locking the stall door. "And your dad can do absolutely nothing!"
"He'll get your ass kicked out of the police force..." Sandeep ranted, slamming the steel door with his shoulder, "get me out of here!"
Not bothering to respond, Nalin went over to the table, keenly going through the items there - syringes and vials, sealed pouches of IV fluid... the elaborate console and monitors bristling with wires... some attached to the blinking laptop, with others running across the stone floor, towards the row of stalls.
"Guys, help me get these stuff to the jeep," he finally said looking up at his brother and Ali.
Once the last piece of item had been loaded Nalin turned to Ali, "Sandeep's dad, is it true that he's on his way here?"
Ali nodded, "Yes, he'll get here in another hour."
"When did you talk to him," Nalin asked, "and where is he supposed to meet you?"
"Well, a friend of mine did," Ali replied, and then after a pause added, "Once he reaches Goa, he'll get in touch and then we can tell him where to meet us..."
"Okay," Nalin nodded, "fine, you can tell him to meet me here, at this farm... And now, you two better leave, I'll ask Nikel to drive you back to the city. Get to the hospital and be with Mayank, he needs you with him right now."
"And what about you," asked Milind, "how will you get back?"
"Nikel will come back for me once he drops you off..." Nalin answered.
"Well, we can all drive back together, we'll go to the hospital and you can take Sandeep to the lock-up," suggested Milind.
"Listen you guys," Nalin suddenly snapped at his brother, "do it as I say, now just go!"
Milind stared back stunned and then asked, his voice quivering, "Aren't... aren't you arresting him... taking him to the lockup?"
"And how will that help?" Nalin asked, looking at his younger brother.
"What do you mean?" Milind asked in shocked surprise.
"Forgive me if I'm wrong," Ali suddenly spoke, "but do I sense a certain reluctance on your part in arresting that animal in there?"
"Yes," Nalin nodded, looking at Ali, into his eyes.
"You... you're going to let him get away," Milind gasped in shock, "then what was all this for? He just walks away, free, after all he did to Harsh?!"
"I'll arrest him, take him back to town and lock him up," Nalin said, looking at them, "and then what? He get's to make his one call and immediately the wires get busy across the country, the high and mighty roused. Within minutes I'll have the top boss demanding to know what I'm doing with him in my lock-up, and even before I put the phone down, a representative from one of the country's leading law firm will be throwing his release orders on my face and whisking him away..."
"So, we let him go?" asked Ali, his voice chillingly hostile.
"Do you know who his dad is? Do you have any idea about his reach?" Nalin asked in turn, "Once he's got his son safe at home, he'll ensure that the case never goes to court... and even if by some miracle it gets to the courts, they'll prove it beyond an iota of doubt that this is a simple case of blackmail and cheating. Mayank and Harsh ganged up to befriend the young, naive son of a rich and powerful man, and then tried to frame him with false accusations, to extract money. In fact, they will sue you for trespass - illegal entry and wilful damage to property, and instead of Sandeep, you will be running around the courts to prove your innocence!"
"But... but that's bull!" exclaimed Milind, outraged, "how can anyone just turn the truth on its head?"
"Se non e vero, e ben trovato," Ali muttered under his breath, looking away.
"Well," smiled Nalin, "I never learnt a foreign language and so that was a total waste on me..."
"That's Italian," Ali replied, looking back at Nalin, "and loosely, it means - 'It's so well-contrived that it deserves to be true, even though it isn't'."
Nalin let out a laugh, shaking his head. "Do you have any idea how things work, huh?"
"Probably we have no clue to your law, or its mysterious ways of functioning; nor the power equations of the high and mighty," Ali answered, his voice cold, "but one thing I can assure you of... Sandeep won't stop at this, and once he realises that he got away with what he just did, he'll come back again, and then he won't be playing games anymore, he'll simply kill them both!"
"No, he won't," Nalin asserted, "he won't be doing anything like that, and that's why I'm keeping him here..."
Ali tilted his head to a side, eyebrows raised in question.
"You mentioned that a friend of yours had contacted Sandeep's father, who is he?"
"With all due respect to you and the police force," Ali replied, "I don't think I want to reveal the person's identity..."
"You suddenly don't trust me anymore?" Nalin smiled at Ali. And once he didn't respond added, "Fine, but, please, call your friend and ask him to tell Sandeep's father to come here, to the farm, as soon as he arrives. You can do that?"
"But what's going on..." Milind asked again, looking at his brother, shamed and dismayed.
"Listen, both of you, and get this straight in your bloody righteous heads," Nalin said, looking at both of them, "you arrest that kid and his dad goes ballistic. He'll move heaven and earth to bail out his cherished son, and protect him. He'll also ensure that the people who dared to touch his darling lambkin, pays for their audacious offence."
"And so we cower down and grovel at his feet, and once he permits, we crawl back to our burrows and let him go because he has money, power and clout!" Ali cut in, a condescending smile pasted on his steely face.
Nalin shrugged, "But if we keep him out of the lockup, don't officially arrest him, or charge him, then he is the carrot and the stick..."
"What do you mean?" this time Milind interjected.
"Well, you arrest or charge his son, and you rub him the wrong way," Nalin answered, "and the man will hunt you down no matter where you run, to extract revenge... But with him here, 'imprisoned', yet not arrested, and with all the evidence, which by the way, his lawyers can rip to shreds in a court of law, the man will be willing to listen... as keen to get his son away, unscathed, as I'm desirous of extracting a just payment for Mayank and Harsh..."
"What?" Ali exclaimed, looking up at Nalin.
"Yes," Nalin nodded, "once he get's here I can tell him the facts, and with his son cuffed and in that cage, he should be mellow enough to listen to me... Back at my office, his highly qualified and articulate lawyers will do the talking, but here, he'll talk, and I'm sure I can bluff my way around, convince him to the extent of evidence I have in my possession... and how tight the case is against his son..."
"He'll offer you money for Sandeep's release?" blurted out Milind.
"He won't, that man should be too smart for such cheap and foolish gimmicks."
"So?" Ali asked, curious
"I can't, no matter how much I want to, send that boy to prison, but I can pressure the father to get that boy out of Goa, and..."
"Will he do it?" asked Ali.
Nalin shrugged, "We live in hope... and strive to make things work our way."
"But still, that bastard gets away!" Milind hissed, shaking his head.
"Can you stop it?" asked Nalin, "and if we can't, atleast lets get the best out of the situation. Harsh is in danger, real danger... he needs care - the best that's available, and that costs money, which I'm sure, Harsh's family can't exactly afford. We'll ensure that Sandeep's father pays the expenses... undo what his son has done!"
"Son-of-a-bitch!" spat Milind, helpless and frustrated.
"Well, Ali, please call your friend and tell him to instruct Sandeep's father to come here, I'll wait for him."
... end of terror
a story by outlaw
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