I heard the door unlocking; it was the time to switch to plan B. I rushed to hide inside the bathroom.
Piercing through the silence of a winter night, I heard rapid footsteps approaching me. My heart popped up to my mouth.
The door opened and Yuuuaaaakkk!!!! He vomited right at my feet.
“What are you doing???” I could not help but yell.
He switched on the light.
“Who the hell are YOU?” He asked.
I swiftly pulled out a knife from the pocket, pressed the tiny button and, cluck, it popped out.
Pointing it to him, I said, “Raise your hands and move aside.”
He looked at me as if I told a joke, which was not even funny. It killed me inside.
Even with a knife in my hand, if I could not scare someone unarmed, I was doing something wrong, somewhere.
His eyes were red and hazy. His body was wobbling. With a grin, he stepped aside giving me way to move out of the bathroom.
Alertly, I came out. He followed me.
I had a knife, he had not. I was alert, he was not. Still, ironically, I was afraid, he was not.
‘What is wrong with me???’ I thought.
He held his head with both palms and quietly sat on the bed. I stood hoping this was just a dream; he would vanish in a snap of fingers and I will get back to the task.
“Again…. Who are you?” he asked with raised eyebrows.
“I…. I am a… umm… I am a thief.” I said with the forged confidence, which my tone did not complement; not even remotely.
“Ok.” He responded as if I were a leaf, not a thief.
“Thief! I am a thief. I am here to rob your apartment.” I pointed the knife to him trying to intimidate him.
“Ok. Go on. Take whatever you want. Do you want me to give you a hand?” He offered.
“Are you crazy? I am saying I am here to steal from you and you are offering me to help? You are nuts.”
“Look, whoever you are. I am too drunk to give a damn right now. In fact I am too drunk even to care about my life right now. Can you give me your knife please? I want to cut my vein.” With a flat face, he extended his wrist to me.
He seemed like a creepy man with a plan, or not, to counter me. It was for the best for me to sneak out before he silently called the police or something.
“Ok, I pity you. So I will not rob you. I am leaving. You don’t dare to call police, otherwise….” I extended my knife for the sake of it.
“Oh you are leaving? Why wouldn’t anyone be with me? Why? Am I that bad?” hardly able to keep his eyes open, he looked at me with a frowning face as if a little puppy couldn’t stand his master leaving for work in the morning.
He seemed to be in too much pain, physically and otherwise.
I came back, carefully kept the knife away and sat at a distance from him and said, “Dude, you seem to be smashed.”
“My head is exploding inside. I think I am going to pass out.” he lay back.
“Can I help? Let me make you some lemon tea. It will help get rid of your hangover” I said.
“Are you sure? Don’t you have some robbing to do?”
“That can wait.” I said with a smile.
“Thanks man. The lemons would be in the…”
“…in the fridge. I know. I had coffee and sandwich before you came. I have been through your kitchen.”
“Hunh!” He was surprised about how ‘at home’ I was at his home.
“Hey, can I ask you something?” I asked as he sipped the last of the lemon tea.
“You were going to be away for the whole weekend. How come you came back in half a day? You ruined my plan.” I groaned.
He stared at me with steadier eyes; lemon tea seemed to be working.
“What? My job also has some prerequisites.” I defended snooping on him.
“Yes. I went for the weekend. I had gone to the beach with my girlfriend. We were supposed to spend the magical romantic weekend together. We broke up instead.” He said and shrugged.
“Well, that explains your state.” I said.
“You know, she always does that. But this time, I am done with it. It is over.”
“Come on, couples fight and break up. And then, they patch up. That’s how it works. Right?” I said.
“Not with us. This was the first time we have split. And this is it. I am not going to call her. How can I call her after swearing not to see her ever again! That would not keep worth of my words or even my self esteem.” He said arrogantly.
“But what happened actually?” I dug a little.
“Well, nothing happened in particular. One thing lead to another, arguments turned into fight.”
“None of my business…. But…does she love you?” I asked.
“No. May be? I don’t know. And I don’t care.” He shied away from the truth.
“Did she want to break up?”
“I don’t know. May be she didn’t. But I remember breaking up for sure. And I will let it be that way. I am better off without her. I can be happy without her.” He said with the saddest smile I had ever seen.
His phone rang. ‘Cookie Calling…’ flashed on the screen. It must have been her calling to fix the hiccup. He ignored.
I said, “You know, there is this girl in my colony. I am in love with her since I can remember. But I can’t have her; not yet, at least.” I said. “I work as a clerk at a courier company during the day; I work very hard. But what I earn through that job is not good enough for me to even ask her to be with me; put her answer aside for an instant. And just to let you know, I am a graduate. I am not a full time thief. I need to do this to be close to a position to propose to her before it is too late. I know what I am doing is immoral. But I want to give my love a chance, anyhow. Everything is fair in…. you know?”
He stared at the “1 missed call” sign flashing in the phone.
“In the last half an hour, I can see that you care a great deal about her. No one would push himself to such a mess if he truly “wouldn’t care”. Look at yourself. You are thrashed. You look like someone who has lost everything he ever had.” I said pointing up and down to him.
He heard patiently.
I continued, “Look, I know I am nobody to give you an advice. But, never let your ego, or what you would like to call your self-esteem, obstruct you from having what others crave for. Value what you have and take good care of it. Ego is not worth owning, my friend. It kills your senses. With ego, you fight against yourself. You will end up defeating yourself either way. Don’t do it.”
“You are a clerk by the day, a thief by the night. Are you some counselor by the weekends or something?” he asked.
“Not yet. But I may think of it if my first case is a hit.” I winked.
“Come on, call her.” I tapped on the phone in his hand.
“I am not sure. After saying all the things that I told her, I can’t.”
“She called you first. Right? You wouldn’t even respond to her call. Any guy would like to be with a girl who is the first to extend a hand to patch up after a fight. I would love to be with a girl like her.” I said.
“Don’t dare!” He pointed his finger at me; it didn’t wobble anymore.
“See this is what I am talking about. You can’t imagine her with anyone else. You are possessive about her, a sign of love? So, why this drama? Just call her.”
“I can’t face her.”
“Ok, drop a voice message for her. Sounds doable?” I suggested. He agreed.
Five minutes since the voice message, his phone rang. His face lit up. It was her.
He picked up the call, but did not say a word. She said what she had to. He could not stop smiling.
“I love you too.” He said and hung up.
Without a word, he hugged me; as tight as he would have liked to hug her at that moment. I thanked god for stopping him just at the hug.
“Look, I run my own company. I am desperately looking for someone for our customer care department; someone who is a smooth talker. It would be an added pro if he is a part time detective, and preferably a thief too. Would you be interested? I could pay you enough for you to propose to her without robbing.” He smiled.
“Wow. Sure. Thanks. I will come to meet you formally at your office on Monday. I know where you work.” I presented another evidence of my significant spying skills as we shook hands.
“It is almost dawn. I think I should leave. You take rest, buddy.” I said as I put my knife back to my pocket.
“So, don’t you have some unfinished business here?” he signed towards the half opened wardrobe.
“I can finish it later, may be while you are away next weekend enjoying your unfinished business at the beach.” I winked. “And anyway, I have got more than what I came to steal tonight; a crazy friend and a handsome job.” I smiled as I walked towards the window.
“Hey, where are you going? The door is this way. Now, you seem to be high.” He grinned.
“The thief came in from here; he would go back from here.” I said proudly before hopping on to the window.
“Ok. But I would like to see my friend coming through the door, tomorrow; say at 8 in the evening? We’ll hang out.” he said.
I thumbed up and slid down the pipe.
A night that began with panic, ultimately dissolved in a pleasing morning. The night was a tunnel that connected pugna-city and feli-city.