SHORT STORY – 20 MINUTES READ
It was a chilly winter morning of December 2014 when David’s father couldn’t find his gloves and came to his son’s room to get it from his drawer. He opened the cupboard and at the back of the drawer, he found a 9mm pistol and was startled. He couldn’t process the fact why his son had a gun.
‘David, come here’ yelled Anthony.
‘Just a minute’, responded David, who dozed off on the sofa, sobbing.
David came to his room and halted. He felt the chills in his spine seeing his father holding the gun. His face turned white and he started trembling. He didn’t know what to explain to his dad why there was a gun randomly lying in his drawer.
He felt an immediate regret that he should have kept the gun in a better place.
‘What the hell is this? Whose gun is this? Is this yours? Why do you have it?’ screamed Anthony on top of his voice with continuous questions, seeking an explanation.
‘What were you doing in my room, dad?’ asked David because his dad rarely enters his room.
‘Don’t you dare question me when I’m asking you a question’
‘This is not mine, dad. I don’t know how it came here.’ muttered David without even giving a thought, turning his head down and shivering continuously.
‘Then how come I found this in your drawer?’
‘It’s just for our protection”, said David, pointing towards a 9mm gun in his father’s hand.
‘Our protection?’ asked his father, ‘what do we need protection from, you clown?’ confused and anguished.
David was 17, bashful, and academically eminent when his dad chose to move to the capital for better opportunities and clients for his business. When he came to Delhi in 2009, adapting to the city’s lifestyle wasn’t smooth for him, given the fact that he was born in a small town in South India called Ulundurpet.
He was born in a holy catholic family and having a god loyal father didn’t go so well for David as Anthony spent most of his time either in the church or looking after his business. David was neglected for the good part of his childhood. His grades were the only point of validation from his father and that’s what he also really wanted of him.
Things got graver for him when David lost his mother in 2010 due to a cardiac arrest, leaving him and his father shivered into pieces.
Anthony was unable to function well due to his wife’s death and had a big loss in his business when a deal didn’t go through, even after he had put most of his life savings. So, he was emotionally unstable already. Later, he was financially unstable too. He started drinking every day until he passed out on the sofa in front of the TV.
Due to this, David, now 22, who was dependent on his father, took command of everything. He was the one who used to take care of his dad. He realized, that his father is not like a superhero which he used to keep on a pedestal, who can deal with every situation and fight with a strong face. He’s a human being with sentiments, blemishes, and insecurities.
David dropped his studies and was desperate to look for a job. He applied at several places but all efforts in vain.
That’s when he came across a brochure on an empty street of West Delhi that read “Pacific International Pvt Ltd, earn ₹55,000 per month, no experience needed, Requirement – Proficient English and Microsoft excel’, which sounded sketchy on the surface because no company pays this much amount for such basic requirements but he decided to give it a shot anyway.
The next day, he reached the place, which was an aged building, and didn’t seem like a spot where someone would set up an office. He entered the building and after taking 4 flights of stairs, he reached the office that read “Pacific International Pvt Ltd.”
He reached the reception and was greeted with a friendly ‘good morning’ by a charming receptionist who was not more than 27 years old. He said ‘I’m here to meet Mr. Avi, I have an interview with him for the post of credit card calling executive.’
to which she replied ‘Yes, Mr. David, Mr. Avi is expecting you, please go straight down the hall and on the right side, in the conference room, you’ll find him’
The office was a contrast to what the building looked like. It was a well-lit, well-kept office with not much staff.
He entered the room and met Avi. They shook hands.
‘Good morning’, said David
‘Good morning, please have a seat.’
‘So, where did you get to know about our company?’
‘I saw your brochure on the street lamp in West Delhi.’
‘Okay, so, tell me about yourself.’
‘Well, I have finished my schooling but dropped out of college due to personal reasons. I have all the skills required for this job. I’ll be an excellent candidate for this post.’
‘You’re going to be a trainee for the first month and if your performance would be up to the mark, we’ll hire you permanently.’
David thought a little but said yes for the job and decided to join immediately.
He started as a trainee and was being trained by Avi only, as the office was low on staff. Avi was observing his potential.
When his 15 days of theoretical training was over, David started to call the potential customers. Generally, people used to hang up the call immediately. That didn’t happen when he called, he had his own way of talking to people and he sold more cards to people than expected. Avi was impressed and observed him for whole 15 days of his training period.
After the completion of his first month, Avi called him into his cabin.
‘I’m going to tell you something and I want you to listen carefully. We operate 2 sorts of business. One is where we issue new credit cards to people which you’re aware of. And the other one where we run credit card scams.
David was shocked and kept looking at Avi with eyes wide open.
The company was pretty good at what they did. It has been 5 years since Avi set up the company. He always managed to keep a low profile and never got entangled.
Avi, a 34-year-old tall guy with a pointy long beard and a heavy voice said ‘I hope you know what you’ll getting into. No need to be scared of the cops, I’m in this business from 5 years and everything is good as you can see. You’ll be earning a lot more than promised, so, the choice is yours.’
With his big blue eyes and confidence, Avi convinced David that what he was going into was dangerous but worthy enough. Still, he gave him 3 days to decide if he wants to work or not.
David had 3 wakeful nights and a predicament. On one hand, he had his morals and values, on the other hand, he could single-handedly improve the circumstances of his family, financially.
After having a mental battle between his needs and his morals, he chose to join the company. He lied to his father about his job who wondered which company was paying a college dropout such a good salary. He told him that he works in an insurance firm which works for international clients and are need of good English speakers.
His dad wanted to suspect but he was relieved that he was bringing money home, so he didn’t give it much thought. That night, while having his last glass of whiskey before he would doze off; he said “go-go-good work my son, make me proud” and continued watching random sports on television.
David worked on a night shift, so he left for his job at 9 pm and return at 7 in the morning. It was challenging for him to adapt to these modifications initially but he got used to it.
After retrieving stolen card information, calling hundreds of people all over North America and Europe, he got to know the vast size of the 2 continents and how easily people can be duped. They were stealing a lot of data and never left a mark behind. Their custom-built software and a click of a button modified the location of the caller and nobody could track them.
After completion of the first month, when he got his first payroll, he felt great and sinister at the same time. Firstly, he bought his dad a new phone, who was using a 6 years old phone with a cracked screen. So, he called his dad and said ‘hey dad, be ready by 8, we’ll go for dinner’
‘But I’ve already cooked’
‘We’ll eat that tomorrow. Today, it’s my treat’
‘Okay, sure’ said Anthony, excitedly.
He picked his dad up and took him to an extravagant restaurant to which none of them had been to in many years. David gave Anthony the new phone he bought. He cried a little and hugged David. It was a heartfelt moment for the duo.
David got pretty good at his job within 3 months and Avi was delighted with him. Usually, they would steal hundreds if not thousands of dollars and euros to keep a low profile and not to ring any bells.
But one an unusual evening, David called a number in Poland, it was some spoilt brat kid named Aleksander who was the only son of a millionaire businessman. David and Avi stole a whopping 4,45,980 Polish Zloty (almost €100,000) from his card and left no trace behind. They were pretty psyched up by this, having no idea their life is about to rotate.
Aleksander lived in Warsaw, was 25, short, grew a patchy beard, and was kind of an asshole. He used to drink, do drugs all night, sleep all day, and visit different countries during the weekend on his private jet. When he got to know that someone stole his money, he decided to track them.
For him, the money didn’t matter much, but he wanted to go on an adventure and see if he can find and teach them a lesson. He used to do this for enjoyment, quite often.
David was enjoying the time of his life. he bought a new car; renovated his home and started going out almost every day with Avi. They had a favorite club where they used to go to South Delhi.
2 weeks later, in the club where David and Avi used to hang out, David was there alone sipping his beer, when Aleksander and his 8 bodyguards reached the club and started enquiring about David. When the guards stopped them from entering as they all carried guns, havoc started at the club.
David was puzzled about what was happening. He tried to figure out when he heard a guy roaring in a Polish accent, ‘wheere are youu David?” and that’s when he realized that he was having a pretty great life because of Aleksander’s money only.
He started to run towards the backdoor where his car was parked and that’s when one of the bodyguards noticed him and fired a shot at him. Bullet just missed his head and almost touched his ear.
He ran for his life; all the bodyguards and Aleksander ran behind him. Millions of thoughts running through his mind, ‘how did these guys find me? How come they reached India so early? How did they know I was here?’
He sat in his car and began to drive as fast as he could. Several shots fired at his car but David dodged them and somehow saved himself. His heart pounding so fast that he could feel it. Instead of going to his place, he reached Avi’s house to seek relief and check on him if he was alright.
He reached his place. Avi lived on the ground floor so he rang the bell, but nobody responded. That’s when he saw that the gate was already open. David got even more terrified. He entered the house and it was mayhem. He screamed, “Avi, where are you?”. Nobody answered. He examined the bathroom, the kitchen and when he entered the bedroom, he found him dead on his bed with his back showing, several shots fired at him and his hands reaching the dresser of a cabinet where there was probably a gun.
He broke down there and then only. Sobbing and terrified. Having an existential crisis about the fact that his friend is dead. He lost his senses and was not even able to stand.
He decided to go underground the next day. Nobody knew his house address because he never put the right one in his resume knowing he was applying for a sketchy job. He took his handkerchief and wrapped it on his hand, opened the dresser and there was a gun, and, he took it.
He knew that the Polish people were not after him so he reached his house, stunned and safely. On his way home, he wondered how did the polish guys get to know the exact club where he was.
Nobody knew apart from Avi. That’s when he figured out, Avi jeopardized him. David felt deceived but he knew it was a superficial job and he couldn’t trust anyone. But David thought they were best friends and the fact that he gave them the address of the club was agitating for him.
He reached home and carelessly just put the gun in his cupboard at the back of a drawer without his father regarding anything. He went to the living room to take a drink from his dad’s bottle who, surprisingly, slept early that day.
He tried to drink the horror away but it kept coming to him. He was reflecting on his actions, how he chose money over his morals, and how hopeless he was now. He realized that he won’t be able to stay happy with the stolen money and the honeymoon phase was over. He decided to leave Delhi the next morning.
The morning after, Anthony entered his room to get the gloves when he couldn’t find his own, opened the drawer and that’s when he found the gun.
There was a heated argument and then David told him that the gun was for their protection, which left his father confused.
Later, David told his father everything and Anthony just sat and started crying, heavily. He slapped David several times and started to break things and screamed, ‘so all of this is not your hard-earned money! You’re a trickster!’
David tried to calm his father down and told him that if they wouldn’t leave ASAP, they might be killed to which Anthony answered, ‘you deserve to die’.
‘Don’t say things like that, dad. We are in a pretty critical situation and we have to leave! NOW.’
David knew that Aleksander won’t be able to reach his house but still he wanted to leave the city.
They both grasped the valuables and fled Delhi in the car to their old town, Ulundurpet. It was a quiet journey but 4 days later, they reached their town. They lived in a hotel for a few days. Anthony decided that he doesn’t want to stay with David anymore and he decided to cut all ties with him.
Time flew and 6 months later, Anthony set up a business in Tamil Nadu from the money he saved, but he never spoke to David again.
Aleksander’s adventure in India was over. He was happy that he got to kill at least one of the partners who stole his money. He calmly flew back to Warsaw and continued his dad sponsored; cocaine led life.
David moved to Goa and opened a small café from whatever money he earned in Delhi. It was a success and he got highlighted in several local magazines, which promoted his café even more.
He visited his dad every once in a while, but Anthony never talked to him. He loved his father and wanted to keep him financially well off. Sometimes he sent his people to Tamil Nadu to do business with his dad and give him big orders to keep his business always in profit.
One night, at 3 in the morning, David looked at a deep wound on his arms which he got in the club that day when he tried to flee through the back door, which reminds him of his past. He tries to make peace with it every day, but he knows, it’s going to stay with him, forever.