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Short-Story Lamb And The Lioness   by: Ram Gopal   
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Location: Smoking Chamber, Singapore Airport

I notice heads turning and eyes focused behind me. I look over my shoulder and spot her. She just entered the room. She is around 27 and extremely pretty. Probably she drove to airport straight from a business meeting. She dresses formally. I start with the feet and work my way up. Her leather shoes are closed- toe type with medium heels. She wears a pinstriped black coat with cuffs over black trousers and a white shirt. A simple but stunning string of pearls surrounds her slender neck. If she can invoke such attraction in formal dress in a party wear I guess she’d cause a riot. I imagine her in an evening dress .I forget to breathe for few seconds.

My head moves slowly following her graceful movements till she sits in the chair left to me. I get a noseful of Escada fragrance as she passes by. I feel disappointed that she doesn’t sit in the opposite row. I begin to watch her through corners of my eyes.

She places her hand luggage, a sleek Samsonite Attaché between the chairs and lights a Virginia Slims. I look at the Attaché and notice the business card inserted into the address tag. It says Rebecca Solomon, Attorney, PA. Whew! I feel great as I’m a legal guy myself and striking the conversation would be easy. I light my second cigarette as a ruse to remain in the room and begin to think for a suitable opening dialogue but she takes just five to six puffs and starts to leave. I manage to remain seated and not follow her. I feel despondent if not devastated.

In few minutes I start strolling aimlessly. Singapore airport is easily one of the finest airports I’ve seen but I feel exasperated at thought of spending six more hours before I catch my connection flight to Japan. I curse my travel agent.

I notice a big hall with a brass nameplate, which says ‘eKoisks’ and go in .I check my mails and send a reply or two. Escada fragrance envelops me for second time in last few minutes. I turn to my right and see Rebecca settling in the next kiosk. I watch as long as I can before her face disappears behind the wooden separator. Like full moon behind a dark cloud.

I push my chair backwards and open my briefcase keeping it in my lap not that I need something in it but now I can watch the outline of Rebecca’s face. I admire her hair for a while and then I notice that she’s chatting in yahoo chat room.

A devilish idea hits me. The more I think about it the more I get tempted. I strain my eyes but figure out that her screen name is ‘SweetAngel28’ and that she is in the chat room ‘NetFriends’ under the category ‘Family and Friends’. I log on to yahoo messenger, select the screen name as ‘ChicagoBaron’ and enter the same chatroom. I send her a private message

ChicagoBaron: Hi. SweetAngel28: Hi. ChicagoBaron: Long time no see. Where ya been hiding? SweetAngel28: I’m sorry I don’t remember you. Who is this? ChicagoBaron: Your amnesia is fake! I guess you are still angry with me. SweetAngel28: Why should I be? ChicagoBaron: Trust me, I regret the incident as much as ya do. So gimme a break. SweetAngel28: Sheesh.What incident? ChicagoBaron: Beach…. Slap…. Ring a bell? SweetAngel28: Nope ChicagoBaron: That night moon was radiant and breeze was gentle. We met on the beach. I looked into your large, luminous, drownable-in eyes and ya smiled. Remember now? SweetAngel28: So what is it? ChicagoBaron: what? SweetAngel28: Cocaine, morphine or brownsugar? What you high on? ChicagoBaron: Love SweetAngel28: huh. Your imagination is very fertile so I’ll let you complete your story. We had the beach part covered. What about the slap? ChicagoBaron: We talked for a while and when I tried to run my finger on your sweet, delicate and absolutely kissable lips you slapped me. SweetAngel28: I am so happy that I slapped you in that imaginary meeting of ours. I only wish the slap were real. ChicagoBaron: How can ya be so stone hearted! I shaped my love into a perfect rose and gave it to ya. You are crushing it under your feet. That’s monstrous. SweetAngel28: lol. You are a nut. ChicagoBaron: Don’t laugh. It puts me I grave danger. SweetAngel28: What? ChicagoBaron: Every time ya smile or laugh my heart skips a beat and if it skips too many I may die young. SweetAngel28: lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol…Are you dead yet? ChicagoBaron: I am gasping for breath. Ya urgently need to give me a CPR. SweetAngel28: My uncle is an expert in mouth-to-mouth method of resuscitation. I am sending him. ChicagoBaron: Thanks but no. I am already feeling better now. Stop the uncle! SweetAngel28: ha ha. Then stop pretending as if you know me. ChicagoBaron: I know you as clearly as lines on my palm. SweetAngel28: Get a grip. You got the wrong person. ChicagoBaron: No way .We met before SweetAngel28: Online? ChicagoBaron: In real life. SweetAngel28: Really? When was that? ChicagoBaron: Six weeks back. SweetAngel28: Do you have a name? ChicagoBaron: David. SweetAngel28: I dunno any David. ChicagoBaron: Did you inspire the song – ‘Quit playing games with my heart’? SweetAngel28: Time to slap a ignore sticker on your face ChicagoBaron: Go ahead Rebecca. Make my day.

This takes her by total surprise. I can feel her mind racing wildly. It takes almost half a minute for her to come back.

SweetAngel28: Is that you Dale? ChicagoBaron: Nope. I don’t think you ever slapped Dale. SweetAngel28: Clue me in. How did you know my name? Who are you? Many dunno both my regular screen name and real name. ChicagoBaron: I am one of those few. SweetAngel28: Jeff? ChicagoBaron: Nope. SweetAngel28: Who? ChicagoBaron: We never met before. I just guessed. SweetAngel28: I don’t believe you. How could you choose Rebecca out of all names? ChicagoBaron: If I reveal the truth you’d think I am a big joke. SweetAngel28: No I won’t ChicagoBaron: I have been practicing ESP for last six years. SweetAngel28: ESP as in Extra Sensory Perception? ChicagoBaron: Exactly. SweetAngel28: Now are you going to say that you are telepathic? ChicagoBaron: Telepathy is more like two-way traffic. Two minds communicating with each other. I am more of what they call clairvoyant. My mind can receive information with out any external help through paranormal phenomena. SweetAngel28: Do you think I am so dumb to believe you? ChicagoBaron: See …Didn’t I say that you wouldn’t believe? SweetAngel28: Who are you? When I find out I’m gonna kill you. First let me call your bluff. What else you know? ChicagoBaron: Many things. For example I can sense that your hair is black and long. Shimmering like wild silk it flows down over your shoulders like a turbulent river easily reaching your waist.

Again she is surprised but she is smart and recovers fast.

SweetAngel28: Nope. I’m blonde and I crop my very short hair. ChicagoBaron: No way SweetAngel28: Take a hint. You got the wrong person. ChicagoBaron: Actually if I close my eyes and concentrate I can picture you. Why don’t you accept it? ESP is a science not a hoax. SweetAngel28: You see too many films. ChicagoBaron: Haven’t you heard the phrase ‘Liar Liar Pants on fire’? So don’t lie specially when you are wearing one. SweetAngel28: I am in a skirt. I decide to go for the kill. ChicagoBaron: You are dressed formally. The pearls you are wearing are almost as perfect as your perfect front teeth though they do not sparkle as much. I see faint outline of Virginia Slims Pack and a lighter on the armrest of the chair ya sitting in.

She is now totally shocked and springs up on her feet. Something hits her but I am ready for her next move. I quickly minimize the chat window and start composing a mail, which I am never going to send. First she moves to her right and then she comes back to the left stopping at each kiosk. I feel her presence behind me. I am sure she is watching at my screen over my shoulder to see if I am typing into yahoo messenger. She walks back and slowly settles in her chair in daze. Something tells me that it is time to end this game. I restore my messenger and type in.

ChicagoBaron: I think it is time to put an end to this silly game I am playing. SweetAngel28: Yes it is. ChicagoBaron: I am really scared how ya gonna react if I spill the beans. Would you be a sport and forgive me if I tell you the truth? SweetAngel28: Yes I would. Now speak out. I am going crazy. ChicagoBaron: I am sitting next to you just a couple of feet away on the left. I don’t dare to look at her. How Could I? I bend my head and study my shoes. I hear her say, “Who are you?” I manage to look at her and if looks can kill I’d be dead. “I am really sorry.” I blurt out. “First tell me who the heck are you and how you know my name”, she demands. “I saw you in the smoking area an hour back”, I pause. “And?” she asks impatiently. I show her the address tag of her Attaché “I saw you were chatting and I was bored and…”, My voice trails off. Everything becomes clear to her. “You have no right to do this to me. You are a jerk.” she says angrily.

It is not lost on me that we both are legal birds.

I slowly rise from my chair and say dramatically as if I am being prosecuted for a capital crime and prosecution has proved beyond doubt that I committed it, “I am ashamed of what I did .I plead guilty your honor”.

“If I were a judge I would give you a five year sentence”, she says. I see that her anger has subsided and she is quite relieved to have the riddle solved. May be she is still angry but at least she wont slap me.

I decide to take a terrible chance. It can go either way. Make or Break.“Your honor if you are going to imprison in me in your arms I strongly appeal to change the five-year term to a life-term”, I say still with a sad look. “Incorrigible. Aren’t you?”, she shakes her head in mock disgust but I see smile on edges of her lips which she tries to suppress. I grin for the first time and say,“ Sorry for pulling a fast one.” “Where you heading to?”, she asks me. “Narita, Japan and I have five more wretched hours to kill to catch my connection flight”, I sigh “ I don’t believe a word of you. Not anymore”. She pulls out the Thomas cook envelope from my pocket. She looks at the boarding pass and says, “ Is this coincidence?” “ You too to Narita?”, I ask delighted. “Yup” she confirms. “ It is not coincidence. Not at all” I say firmly. She looks quizzically. “Its destiny.” I say. “ Yeah? What do you think is in store?”, She asks. “ I always believed that anything is possible”, I say. “Sure… including a hard hitting slap” she says and breaks into a smile.

She is just a foot away and I feel mesmerized as her smile dazzles me. I cannot help but stare.

She waves her hand over my face and says” what ya gaping at? Let’s go have some dinner. We need to talk”.

I wax poetic on her smile but she doesn’t blush.

Instead she grins and says, “Bruce, I think Ed Wilson will find all this hilarious”. I flinch.

How the hell did she know that my name and she knows Ed Wilson? “ Ed Wilson!” I gasp. “Yep, Its Mark my deputy who requested Ed for a suitable candidate to assist him”.

She pauses and points to my business card inserted in the address tag of my briefcase. “I vaguely remembered your name but to be sure I came out of the smoking area to talk to Ed but when I came back you were gone. I again saw you here and before I can say something the Chicago Baron yanks me ”. She reveals with great satisfaction.

Ed Wilson is my boss who dispatched me to Japan in a hurry saying that I’d work for Mark Tony. He also sang praises about Mark’s boss who he want on to say that is younger than both Mark and I but promised that I’d have a rewarding experience as she has a razor-sharp brain and is marvelous trial lawyer.

That makes her my boss’s boss! My knees give away. I shatter and collapse into my chair. Like a glass pane hit by a bullet.

“Why don’t we discuss the case over the dinner?” she suggests.

I mumble something. She starts to walk. Like a lioness. I follow her. Like a lamb.

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