Girls! The only good thing God has ever made.
It seems like no matter what they do, one look at their innocent faces and you can push through the deepest layers of hell.
When such pretty faces and innocent hearts exist, how was one to contain himself with just one trout, when there were so many whales and sharks to be caught?
They call me a ladies’ man. And why wouldn’t they? With all these pretty faces around, why would I restrict myself to just one? So for me, it was a new catch every day.
I never fell in love. Love was the most over-rated nonsense. I mean, who can dedicate their entire life to just one person, right?
I could focus only on two things- gym and girls. The easiest way to catch prey (read: girl) is to show off your well-built body. They will run towards you as bees fly towards nectar.
Chitra was just more of the same. Pretty eyes, soft lips, and a tiny mole near her eyes, already made me lose my mind. She kept on saying that she loved me and I kept on pretending that I liked her too. But once I got bored of her, I had a hard time getting her off my charm. I heard she still yearns for me. But it’s been a long time since I received a clingy text from that girl. Nobody knows where she disappeared.
Parul, Mitya, Tanya, were all my prey, once upon a time. But they too had a hard time getting over me. The pattern was the same- cry, text, abuse, disappear.
The gym was the only place where I felt at peace. It seemed like all my worries were forgotten whenever I started working out.
That place was always filled with different characters living their own stories. Some were the protagonists, while others, mere supporting roles in every story.
“Manan, watch out!” my trainer screamed at someone. Lost in my own sweet thoughts, I’d failed to notice a rather thin fellow falling off a treadmill, almost about to crash into me. Instinct made me grab him before he could hurt either of us.
“Easy there, Champ.”
“S..s..sorry. I don’t k..k..know how to o..operate the treadmill. Please f..f..forgive me!”
Listening to him stutter like a little kid made me almost laugh at his boyish face.
“Chill mate. Relax. We’re both lucky that none of us got hurt. Anyway, be careful. See you later.”
The little fellow was interesting. Leaving him to his own device, I hurried to the changing room. Today it was time to catch a new prey, Sandy.
We were supposed to meet at my usual hunting spot- The LeShan Bistro. LeShan Bistro was one of my favorite places around town. I remember how Dad would bring me here every Sunday after football practice. It was the one place Mum loved and was the last connection we had with her, since her death.
I reached the bistro on time. Having met Sandy on social media, I was excited to meet her. It seemed like this was the first time I’d spoken to a girl and she hadn’t fallen head-over-heels in love with me. That just made me want to meet her and make her fall for me even more.
We had planned to meet at 5 pm. I reached the venue, ordered some appetizers, and waited for her patiently. As I slowly devoured the chicken pieces, I imagined how I would devour Sandy later that night.
Two hours passed by, but she didn’t walk through that door. Dejected and angry, I left the bistro, took my bike, bought a pack of cigarettes, and allowed the road to take me to a place where I could vent my frustration.
Hardly had I started, when I received a phone call. That call almost made me lose my balance.
“Mr. Ohan Mitra, please report to Safdarjung police station immediately. We have found your friend, Chitra Ahuja, and we need to talk to you.”
Chitra was in a police station? But why did they call me and not her parents or friends? And what did I have to do with her now?
Not wasting any more time, I decided to find out the answer for myself.
It took me almost forty-five minutes to get to the station. On reaching, I gave my full name to one of the police constables, sitting near the entrance.
Hearing it, he immediately grasped my hand and took me to the inspector in charge.
The words which came out of his mouth next pulled the rug from under my feet.
“Mr. Ohan, we have found your friend Chitra’s body in an old abandoned car on the highway. Knowing that you were the last person she contacted, you are our prime suspect. You will have to give us your statement, and stay here till our investigation is over.”
My legs started shaking. Yes, I was a playboy, but definitely not a murderer. Thankfully, I was granted one phone call and, obviously, I called Dad. He was there in two hours, with the bail papers.
The ride home was a painfully silent one. Dad didn’t ask me anything, he did not utter a single word. I had disappointed him to the fullest.
But the major problem was that I was being implicated on the charges of a murder which, never mind committing, I couldn’t even dream of.
That night as Dad and Alisha, Dad’s new wife were discussing how to handle my matter, I slowly retreated to my room. I hated being in the same room as Dad’s new wife and their young son, Ansh. They were a constant reminder of how I was always incomplete. Even though to the world outside we were a wholesome family, the truth was that I had never been able to accept this decision of his. How could he do such a thing to my mother, whom he claimed to have loved more than life itself?
My room was a safe haven. It could be mine. I didn’t have to worry about anyone or anything else. It’d been a long day. I drifted off into a deep slumber. But barely had I closed my eyes when I heard a slight tap on my window. Instinctively, I turned on the lights of the room and before I could react, I saw a figure disappear. Blaming it on my exhausted mind, I deduced that it was all but a figure of my imagination.
The next day, Dad was about to take me to one of his lawyer friends. Since we were scheduled to meet him at 4 p.m., I decided to go to the gym and work out all the stress. Just as I entered the building, I saw the lean fellow from the day before, falling down the stairs this time. As I helped him get up I couldn’t help but smirk.
“The way you fall every time I see you, I am shocked how you haven’t already broken at least half of your bones.”
“S..s..sorry. I happened to slip. And t..t..thank you for helping me again.”
“No worries. By the way, I am Ohan.”
He slowly shook my hand.
That day after an hour of working out, as I was about to head back home, I saw Manan, struggling to walk.
“Hey, come on, I will drop you home.”
“It’s alright. My home is twenty minutes away, I will w..w..walk home.”
“With those chicken legs of yours, I wouldn’t risk leaving you alone.”
His house was at least forty minutes away. After dropping him, I was about to go my way, but Manan stopped me.
“At least let me get you a cup of coffee. You did c..c..come a long way f..f..for me.”
“Okay, but make it quick. I kind of have another appointment.”
His home was quite messy. It looked like there had been a brawl here last night. Imagining this skimpy fellow making love to a woman here, made me want to burst out laughing.
“W..w..wait here. I will be back in a minute with cookies.”
I smiled at him while watching him disappear behind the same front door through which we had entered. Not wanting to sit in one place, I decided to check out his house. The kitchen, the bedroom, and finally the guest room.
Entering his guest room made my head spin. This room was filled with pictures of only one person- me.
I lost my mind. I had no idea who this guy even was until yesterday, and yet somehow he had pictures of me as a toddler. As I was about to turn to ask Manan a few questions, I heard something shuffling underneath the bed.
As I opened the diwan, I was shocked beyond words. Trapped underneath it was none other than Sandy. She looked like she’d been drugged. I’d barely managed to get her out when my next discovery almost made me faint.
Lying below, were the corpses of Tanya and Mitya, their throats slit clean. Their bodies were well preserved. Anyone who didn’t see the slit at the base of their necks would presume that they were simply sleeping.
I fell to my knees. My mind was blank. I had no idea what was happening. Sandy was starting to regain her consciousness; she began struggling to get loose. I noticed that her hands were tied with barbed wire, making it impossible to struggle without cutting open her wrists.
Such barbarity, from a guy like Manan? But the real question was why would he do this? How did he know me? How did he know these girls? And above all, why did he kill them?
My head was throbbing from the rush of blood. It wasn’t long before I realized that not only was I sweating in horror, but seeing the dead bodies had also made me wet my pants like a toddler. As I stared blankly around the room, trying to take in all the morbid revelations, I discovered a board covered with cobwebs of red threads and pins. I dragged myself to it. To my horror, it laid out all my life’s intricacies like a neat banquet for the maniac. From the time I woke up to the time I left home, every pedantic little detail.
In one corner, there was a note.
If you are reading this, it means you have found me. The real me. Now that there is no turning back, I have only one thing to confess.
I love you.
So it’s time that I make you mine forever.
Your only love,
Before I could even begin to contemplate the meaning of that last sentence, I felt a breath down my neck, whispering in my ears,
“So it’s game over, love!”
Written by: Rituparna Mazumdar