1 of the 11

In relation to my earlier story, “The Boss”



The meadows were lush green, freshly kissed by the morning dew, leaving behind a glow that pleased Lenny’s senses. The sun had taken a break from a long, heralded assault throughout the year, and had given way to the cool breeze that carried the congenial rains on its back.

The visibility had taken a hit, the hills on the far end of the picturesque sight had vanished behind the thick curtain of rains, embellishing the view from his window, remarkably better. Lenny liked the hills, but he liked the misty curtain and the magical sleight of water and sun and wind even better. The other side of the coin got darker as the front got better. Tony and Alena did not permit him to go out into the world, deemed to be dangerous, that could swallow him up leaving no trace behind. Lenny obeyed their stringency until he was not young anymore, and developed a brain of his own.

He wanted to go out, he wanted to sit under the sun, soak up the brightness and find out if he can fly like the Superman. He wanted to get drenched in the rain, and learn if he can grow tall and green like the trees that adorned the yard outside. He wanted to climb the mountains, to know if he can really see the world from the top of it. He wanted to get to the top of the Klate City Tower and find out if it is taller or shorter than those faraway hills. All the places he wanted to go were spread across the city – the city he had seen from the backseat of their car. Isolation, lonesomeness and solitude, if compensated with an optimistic environment within his house, would probably have helped his mental health, or that he believed. However, the dark side of the coin was darker for him.

The reason what brought them to a decision of living away from the world, eluded him. All he was told was that “it is not safe for you, out there.” A house, far from the crowd, far from the society allowed seclusion to seep into him, and it carried gloom along with it.

On his eleventh birthday, Lenny decided to pull up the creaky wooden plank from the centre of the floor in his room. He had done this several times before, but with a hollow objective. The plank was loosely fit, and he knew it. His parents had never noticed it, and Lenny did not bother to apprise them. This time, his desperation assigned an objective to lifting up the plank. A shovel from the garage struck the soil beneath, with a glorious ambition.


“I am doing my job.” Tony asserted in a blaring tone so loud, shattering the windows around him in the dining hall. An army of sweat beads started marching down his balding forehead as his head was shaking uncontrollably under the weight of the anger that he felt within him. His fingers had curled into a balled fist, so hard that it could have broken the wooden dining table beneath his hands. Alena was worried more for the table, than for the anger, and she owed the nonchalance to the frequency at which he used to be a bear with a sore head.

“Stop being up in arms about this article, Tony!” Alena was ready with a catalysing tone, aiming to moderate the rising temper. “It is the Boss you are writing about. As it is, he is unpopular for taking several lives! Why are you so stiff-necked about wanting our little Lenny dead?”

The army paraded in a straight line, dripping itself from the furrows of Tony’s forehead. He banged the table, blowing off a gasket upon the mentioning of their offspring. He stood up at the table, leaving the food half-eaten, and dug his hand in his pocket. He slammed a roll of colourful bills on the table. “Who do you think I bring this for? Your ugly face?”

“Stop yelling for crying out loud!” Alena spoke up with a repressed grunt, spending most of her vigour in suppressing the indignation. “You will scare Lenny!”

Moments passed by when nobody spoke. The air surrounding the two found rest. “Listen, Alena,” spoke Tony with a voice with an unimaginable tenderness. “I am a reporter for the GNV News. The best channel in the country. It is a new assignment, and I cannot produce conventional news. In order to make a name and rise up through the ranks, they expect golden eggs. If I am to bring them the commonplace news about robberies and rape, I will remain indistinguishable, and if I remain indistinguishable, who is to bring food on this table, and who is to bring money for Lenny’s tuition?

“The Boss has his hands in the nastiest of businesses, and the network that he has built in Klate is the reason why Lenny is locked up like this. We don’t let him go to school by himself. We don’t let him meet his friends, if he has been able to make any. We don’t let him be by himself anywhere, anytime. I mean, how could we, Alena? Do you think we want this life for our kid? Soon, he will be grown enough to leave us. Do you think I want him to face the world for the first time at that age and not now? Boss crawls up under my skin, and stings me hard! I hate that son of a bitch and I will take him down, and I have a lot of material against him. One publication, and he will be out of Klate. We will be free.”

Alena felt a pang of fury along with Tony, but she stayed calm. Fire does not fight fire. Water does. She admittedly nodded. His heart, his intent was her weakness, and she deliberately gave in. Another side of her worried if they were slightly too paranoid about Lenny’s safety. She was also bothered by the fact that Lenny stopped protesting against locking him up in the house. He will understand when the time comes, she told herself.

“You got to be safe, Tony. You got to be safe for Lenny, and for me. For us, please don’t poke the dormant snake. Kill it while it is asleep.”

“Boss is no ordinary snake, Alena. He is a goddamn dragon.” Tony replied with a faint smile. “And he never sleeps.”

“You are not helping my anxiety.”

“Gun is in bedside drawer. Shoot that son of a bitch in his face, if it helps you.”

Lenny overheard the conversation, and quietly slid back into his room.

Months passed by. Night before the day when Tony planned to publish the article, a tingling sense of disquiet percolated his skin. A fusion of fear and ambition had rendered his heart shaking and his hands steady. “We are one day away from the news, Alena. One day.”

Alena was far more scared than Tony was, but his composure was contagious.

“I have booked the tickets for a faraway land. We will fly away tomorrow. Far, so far that the Boss will never be able to find us, in case he survives the media.”

Alena nodded, and reacted to the sound of the bell that chimed across every corner of the house. One man, in a dapper blue suit stood at the door, his tie a shimmering black, his shirt a sparkling white.

“What can I do for you?”

“Let us in.”

The cold voice delivered a chill to Alena, and the intruder barged in, making way for the man in a bright white suit, and a golden chain. The girth of the man was colossal, just able to walk in through the width of the door. His head was rich with hair, as white as the suit itself.


He settled on the sofa, central to the room, facing the TV set directly. Tony protected Alena behind him, and stood at the corner of the room, next to the TV.

“What are you so afraid of, Mr. Neak? It seems like you did something wrong.” The chill in his voice was notably dreadful. Alena had Lenny in her mind, and she was shivering with fear – raw, pure, unadulterated fear. “Have you done anything wrong?”

Tony tried to pull out his phone from the trouser pocket.

“I presupposed you for a smarter person, Mr. Neak. You disappoint me.”

“What do you want?”

“You know well what I am here for. Your investigation is the reason I am here. In a way, you have invited me here, Mr. Neak. You called me here, today, among your beloved wife, your charming son. Would you not introduce me to them?”

“Dare you touch Lenny, you cold-hearted faggot!” The repressed anger blew up her top, and she verbally charged the Boss.

“Ooo, that anger! Don’t you find it attractive?” Boss asked his henchman, who loyally stood by his side.

“Not really, sir.”

“Then kill her.”

In a fraction of a second, a bullet split Alena’s head open, hot dark blood oozing out, running across her cold skin. She slumped onto the floor next to Tony, who stood there, helpless. He would have felt a burden of guilt, that his wife was dead, next to him, who had warned him of this, but his ambition had blinded his want for a safe and happy family. But, before the guilt began to settle in, another bullet spit cut through his chest, and another right next to the first one, and Tony’s eyes, wide and afraid, slowly saw only blackness – blackness of Boss’ filth.

“Which number were these?”

“10 and 11, sir,” the henchman replied.

“Good. I do not wish to make a 12 tonight. 11 kills a day is good. On target.”

The henchman took care of the bodies, as the Boss walked across the rooms, to find Lenny. Unlocking the door at the far end in the house, Lenny stood in the middle of the room, his hand steady as those hills he dreamt of. A gun held in his hands, pointed at the Boss, who laughed, and discredited Lenny of his ability to be able to pull the trigger.

“If you kill me little boy, a very evil man is outside, who is going to take you away and hurt you severely.”

“Only if he catches me, you bastard.”

The smile vanished off his face, and in a moment came a painful drill in his belly. His fingers that held the wound were stained with blood, that did not cease to stop. Another fire, and another blood leak.

“You’re my 1st of the 11,” Lenny spat. “And now, I am the Boss.” Lenny grunted, unleashing his wrath.

He pulled up the plank that he was standing on, and made way along the extremely narrow tunnels that he had carved over the months. Several bifurcations underneath had led the way to different places that he dreamed of going to. One to the meadows, one to the vicinity of the TV tower, one to the hills, and so on. He crawled towards his dreams, he crawled to stand up on those hills. He chose a path, that the pursuer could not find, and the Boss was still alive, except that he was younger, and driven by a disparate ambition.

The Tenth Parachute

Inspector Svent Freemont peered through his cabin window, with a hot cup of coffee in his hand, and allowed himself the simple pleasure of getting soaked in the morning sun. An unusually free morning was something he did not know that he missed until today. His schedule was wrapped around with cases of burglary, murder or fraud every day, but today, he looked through the vastness of the green field outside his window that stretched till very far, under the endless blue skies.

“These green plains take me back to a case from some years old, Willy,” Freemont said knowing that Willy was at the table too, behind him, enjoying the warmth of the free morning himself.

“Does it, sir? What was it about?” Willy was excited, as he always is when Freemont opens up the interesting cases he has dealt with.

“It was a case of the unbuckled parachute”

Willy was perplexed. “An unbuckled parachute? As stimulating as it sounds, how did it go, Inspector?”

Freemont had a faint smile on his yellow-washed face. “It went very well, Willy. Since you seem to be willing to hear, here goes it. Nearly four years ago, in the plains of Famtown, about twenty kilometers off the state highway that ran between here and Dunyap, there was a special team of our military that was training ten of its finest soldiers for night rescues. This training included of flying in the murky sky, diving onto the Famtown plains with a parachute, and performing several other tasks in the blinding night.”

“And one of the parachutes was tinkered with!” Willy exclaimed with a slightly unrepressed horror.

“Yes, one of the parachutes was messed with, and it caused Greg Munk an untimely and horrifying death. When I was at the crime scene, there was the head of the training, Lt. Richard Humes, the nine other soldiers, shaken at the belief that it could have been them, and a few other men from the neighbourhood, some shocked, some nonchalant.”

“I would place my bets on one of the other soldiers. At times, jealousy can make one do what passion cannot.”

“Rightly said, Willy. Although, a good detective must not jump to conclusions so soon. I began with my investigations with the Lieutenant in a small building where the soldiers had put up along with Lt. Richard Humes. The soldiers grieved, but the Lieutenant was stern in his appearance. Hands held at his back, his strictly stiff posture made him stand out among all others. There was a very worrying frown on his face, made his furry white eyebrows meet and form creases on his forehead.”

“The pain of oppressive accountability must be eating him up,” said Willy as soon as Freemont paused from his narration for a sip from his coffee.

“It did, but he acted otherwise,” replied Freemont immediately as if imposing his personal respect for the man. “He silenced the grieving of the other nine soldiers by making them believe that this was the time to show resolve and courage; not to mourn. There will be a right time to lament for the loss, which is not in the present day. Today, we endure with the training.”

“Our military needs men like him.” Willy felt respect for Lt. Humes and had goose bumps as he expressed his respect for the man, who stood as a pillar for the country’s defense.

“Upon further investigation,” Freemont continued, unaffected by Willy’s comments. “Lt. Humes happened to mention Tom Bailey, an ex-military, who was let go from the special team due to budget cuts. Tom had strived his way up to the position, where he deserved to be among the ten, but he did not make it. He was agitated, and in fury, he quit the military altogether, and hopped on a mission to defame the special team. He had three years of experience in the military, had a knowledge of parachutes, and did not hold a positive feeling for the special team. What would you do next, Willy? On whom would you fix your eyes on?”

“Clearly, Tom is on the top of my list.” Willy said with growing excitement.

Freemont eventually turned away from the sun, and now faced Willy. Freemont’s involvement in the narration was now to its maximum and it was evident from his voice. “But, Tom was innocent.”

Willy had a growing smile on his face. He felt like he was a kid again. “How did you come to that conclusion?”

“Chiefly, because I know who did it. However, upon questioning Tom, he turned out to be a proud ex-military who would sever a head rather than killing someone passively. His case against the special team was unfairly dismissed by the court, and the injustice on him was sound. Nevertheless, as a man of honour, he admitted the he would have done better than chopping off a buckle from the parachute. I did not rule him out completely, yet. Not until the case was closed.”

“So, the murderer, whoever it was, did not care about which one of the ten died. It indeed could have been any of the ten!” Willy was moved at the thought of having escaped death so closely. “How innocent were the other nine soldiers?”

“On the other day, the nine soldiers were in the woods, training on military strategy. It was hide-n-seek but on a more serious level. If you were sought on the real playground, you could die.” Freemont took the last sip from his coffee, and placed the cup on the wooden table. “And in that hide-n-seek, a loud burst of a bullet shot came in from the woods, and shot one of the remaining nine down. A woman soldier, with whom Lt. Humes had a semi-secret relationship with. The team knew, but none others.”

Willy was horrified. “And then, there were eight.” Agatha Christie’s mystery thrilled Willy every time he read her books. This was happening in real.

“Eight.” Freemont took a pause. “On the bright side, this time, I had a lead that I could pursue. Not one, but two leads, in same day. As the forensics were analyzing the bullet from the soldier’s body all night, Lt. Humes was next on the death list. A bomb was found under the bed of Lt. Humes and when he woke up to find his slippers from underneath the bed, he took notice of the bomb. It had an hour to go. Such luck!”

“This keeps getting better. I would like to move my bet to one of the eight soldiers, now! That soldier killed two colleagues and now the head of their training. It is clear as a whistle!”

“Only if were so simple, Willy,” replied Svent with a smile on his face. He continued. “The bomb was defused on time, and Lt. Humes was under a tighter security for the entire night. Now, is when it starts to get interesting, Willy. Hold on to your socks.”

Willy moved slightly on his chair, and he leaned forward bringing his keen ears forward.

“The bullet information led me to one of the men from the neighbourhood who was at the crime scene on the day one. It was not very easy to catch the owner of the gun, but I had no alternative but to find him. Nevertheless, I had no clue why he would kill the soldiers. I had not the slightest idea on his motive, and thus, I brought him in for questioning. He was a bartender from the nearby bar, where the soldiers usually frequented, and Lt. Humes was there once, too, as claimed by one of the soldiers.”

“But why would a bartender…” Willy was lost in the complications of the case.

“Lt. Humes asked me the same. I knew exactly how to bring the truth on the front page.”

Willy could not wait till he got to the end of this story. His impatience was ever-growing.

“With Lt. Humes, the bartender and me in a locked room, the bartender was interrogated oppressively by the both to break him down. He did not. He was shocked at the allegation as well as at the idea of him being brought in. Since he did not budge, I took out my bag, and unpacked the same bomb that was found under Lt. Humes’ bed and placed it on the table. I knew the bartender would rather defuse the bomb than die, so I ticked the bomb on and timed it to ten seconds.”

“Unbelievable! You risked your life to prove the bartender guilty!” Willy widened his eyes in shock and at the courage that Freemont had shown for his duty.

“Ten seconds, Willy. Ten seconds. The bartender was horrified, and he quailed in the corner of the room, shocked and sweaty. Seven seconds. He was shouting for help and at five seconds he had given up.”

“Did he defuse it in mere five seconds?”

“It took him less than two seconds, but it was not the bartender who did it.”

Willy froze. “It was Lt. Humes all along?” He could not believe what he was hearing. “But…why?”

Willy’s shock brought Svent an even bigger smile. “Turns out, that the first kill, Greg Munk, was only to confuse the investigation.” He let the words sink in. “He was after the second kill, the woman named Martha Neef. She had threatened to charge him with sexual assault if he did not promote her, which Lt. Humes could not. Instead of having his decades-old career jeopardized, coupled with disrespect and hatred, he thought of solving the problem by eliminating it, rather than facing it. Juvenile criminals, I’d say.”

“And, he placed the bomb under his bed to throw off the lead from him, framing himself as a victim.” Willy was at a loss of words, but he felt the brilliance of Freemont’s mind strongly and rightly. “Impressive, inspector.”

Then the lonely phone at the table rang and Willy picked it up immediately. It was a time for a new adventure with Svent Freemont.

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