Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What the Hell is Happening?

I am a journalist no doubt, but even I am losing track of what is happening here. There seems to be nothing but chaos today that is taking a grip of my life. What the hell is happening to me?
I was standing right there, with the witness in front of me, when Maher had rushed in. All hell broke loose that moment when he agreed to the fact that he had been a witness to that ghastly act of the play of life that had unfolded that dreaded night. And yet, he is not in the condition to do so, for he is “too weak to be exerted upon”, as the doctors said that day. Maher, in the meantime, was giving a piece of his mind to his subordinates.
“What the fucking hell were you doing huh? Sleeping on your asses? This git of a reporter manages to get to the bottom of the matter and identify a witness, and all you give me is that they did not want to talk. What am I supposed to do with you guys now, huh?”
I looked at him. He was really pissed off with his subordinates, who, like swatted flies were strewn all over the floor, with their heads hanging in fear of what the chief might say to them.
“Maher, leave them. What is important is that we have a witness. What are you going to do now about it?” Somehow, even in such a heated moment as this, I could not hide the journalistic instinct of mine, and slipped in a question.
He gave me dirty glance, clearly indicating that he was in no mood to humour me, which made me slip behind to prevent myself from being drilled into, while his rant continued.
The whole outburst lasted for about half an hour, most of which had to be done in the corridor amidst the disapproving glances of hospital staffers, who had pushed us out of the intensive care unit to “avoid mental agony to an already distraught patient”. But what about the agony that all of us were standing in the corridor, listening to an impromptu lecture being delivered by this asshole Maher?
I began to yawn behind his back, seeing which, a couple of officers started to smile guiltily.
“Don’t you dare to smile; I saw that. What do you think? Is this some sort of a joke going one here? We are playing with lives here, not guns or drugs or words,” he emphasized, which beautifully managed to wipe the smile off our faces. “Get lost all of you. Arrange security for this chap before I wring your necks.”
Hearing this, the entire force ran around like kids in a playground to make all the necessary arrangements. Maher turned around, and blurted out, “Thanks Ms Young, your job is done now. Now it’s our turn.”
“Not yet Maher,” I spoke, at which Maher looked at me with a puzzled look, wondering just what more trouble was I intending to be to him.
“You have to allow me to know all that is going on. You know that I will not cross any lines of journalism, but you have to be sympathetic towards me as well. After all, such stories do come once in a journalist’s lifetime. Should I allow this chance to slip away, just like you did with this witness?”
Maher looked at me with a blank face. Then he took out a cigarette, and lit it up, while offering me one, which I accepted, and saw him light it up while I held it in between my teeth. “You know,” he spoke after we had a puff, “you are one bitchy woman.”
“I’ll take my chances on confirming that one Maher,” I replied, while we smoked outside after being pushed out of the hospital by members of the anti-smoking lobby. Dusk had just begun settling in, and the smoke began to play with the breeze blowing, contorting into different shapes before flowing away. “So, is it really him?”
“Is the interview still on?” he retorted back with a tone that smelt of utter contempt. I coolly ignored it and continued. “All this is off the record.”
“How can I be sure?” he puffed away, without even looking at me.
I was stumped. This was the first ever big assignment I had obtained, and this was the first time ever that I had ever confronted someone so out rightly frank, who was two steps of such a smart person as me. And yet, that bitterness in him reflected everywhere, in everything he did. I was staring at him to figure him out, and yet, an understanding of him eluded me. Why?
“To be honest, even I don’t trust myself now. The hunger for fame in this profession keeps gnawing at my conscience the way termites eat up wood; it is only the hollow framework that keeps standing at the end of it. But let me assure you, some of it has still not been eaten up, so take my word for it,” saying which I smoked another puff.
Maher looked at the empty space along the walls in front of us. He was thinking something for sure, but his shields allowed non to look through him. Then, all of a sudden, he spoke up.
“What do you know about Ernst Stanley?”
“You mean the culprit who died in the flood?” I asked, totally surprised at this question. What was going on in Maher’s mind?
“Yeah, that’s him alright. But tell me, how did you come onto that conclusion?”
“Well,” I began, “I was trying to get a background on you before coming in for the interview the other day. I went through the old archives of our papers, searching about you, when that interesting murder case that took place fifteen years ago came to my attention. And that’s how I managed to get a grip of that story.”
“What made you think it could be him?”
“Well, you never found his body, did you? Absence of a body could well mean that he had survived the dreadful flood that mad e you who you are today,” I chose to taunt him, to which he decided not to respond at all. Is he human at all?
Maher was lost in thought, and did not speak a word out of that. The tension however, was too much to bear for me, and I was relieved when my editor called me on my cell.
“Thank God you called,” I spoke in an exasperated manner, walking away from Maher, “Could you not have given me a more fucking stupid assignment than this, huh? You had rapped on about my big break in the office, and what am I stuck with now? An asshole of a detective who doesn’t speak! A witness who cannot speak! Goddamn your big break! Screw you and your big assignment!”
“Relax,” a strange voice spoke from across the phone that stunned me for a moment. I had never heard this voice before. “Who the hell is this?” I demanded.
“Relax Ms. Samantha Young. You are exerting yourself too much. Did I forget to tell you that your editor is dead?”
“Dead?” I shrieked, only to hear Maher’s footsteps coming towards me. “Who are you? And what the hell did you do to my boss?”
“Chill, Ms Young. Did I tell you, by the way, that he died a horrid death? I’m extremely sorry, that must have slipped out of my mind. Now print this.”
“By the way, thank Maher on my behalf. He did me a good favour by letting loose of me in that current fifteen years ago, but I am not going to repay it to him.”

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