Sunday, July 31, 2005

16. Contingency

16. Contingency

The plan was simple. Too simple perhaps or maybe too complicated, Aamir had no way of knowing. I am a financial analyst; he kept telling himself, not an assassin. He had no way of knowing what the contingency planning was when you wanted to lure someone to their own death. Shahnawaz however was a bit more articulate in the art of plotting deception. Or at least seemed so compared to Aamir. In any event, everything hinged on the captain. Shahnawaz was the wild card here, both the contingency and the insurance against all other contingencies. The plan depended heavily on how well in command of his wits he could stay when the time came. Aamir had no reason to trust him, but he had no option but to count on him. There was no way that he could do it alone. He needed Shahnawaz. He had to hope that Shahnawaz needed him to.

They went up to the rest house to get an idea of the lay of the land. It lay nestled between a small forest of pine and birch trees with a dirt track leading to it from the main road. It was isolated all right, no other building for miles around. Not even any nomads pitching camp in the vicinity. She could scream till the end of the world and no one would hear her, Aamir thought, adding further fuel to the rage inside him thinking of what Nida would have had to suffer. He had to remind himself that if they failed, there would be nothing stopping Ayaz from going after her… exacting his own revenge. He had no idea of the extent of the major’s lunacy but was unwilling to put any act beyond him. This wasn’t just vengeance any more… Nida’s life hung in the balance. .

They got back to Aamir’s cabin in the afternoon. Both men solemn, finely freed of the ghosts of the past haunting their minds, they were now occupied by what lay ahead. For all they knew, they could be the ones to die tonight. But neither one of them seemed to care too much about it. Their focus was solely on one man.

The parted at the door just as it began to snow again.

Darkness fell.

The lights came on in the Major’s house. He sat in the little room where he had made his drunken confession. He sat nursing another glass full of scotch wondering why the girl from the market hadn’t called. He was angry now. Fuming. So when Shahnawaz entered the room he almost ran back out.

But he had made up his mind when he had gone over their plan outside the rest house. He knew what he had to do.

“I need to talk to you, Sir” He began, trying desperately to hide the nervousness in his voice.

“So talk.” Ayaz responded still unable to erase Nida’s body spread before him from his mind.

“It’s about… the girl…”

“What girl?” He sat up hoping that he was here to tell him that she was outside waiting to see him.

“Rida.” He almost choked on her name.

Aamir strode up to the brick house of horrors, bathed in the snow that had been falling all evening. It was almost ten and he had had enough of the misgivings about the plan eating at his resolve. There was no turning back.

He rang the bell and was almost surprised to see Shahnawaz answer. They looked at each other for a fleeting second, weary of seeming familiar, gave a curt nod to each other and went their ways. Aamir inside to see Ayaz, Shahnawaz outside to follow his latest instructions.

Aamir was ushered into the same room where he had uncovered the truth. The beautiful furniture was forever soaked in her blood as far as he was concerned, but he braved his neurosis and greeted Ayaz with a smile.

“Ah.. Mr Aamir Khan, I was wondering when you would show up.” Ayaz began, slurring from all the alcohol in his system. “So tell me, did you manage to find anyone worthy of your libido in our little valley?”

This was the moment of truth, he had to lie with as much conviction as he could muster or else he would be dead and no one would know and Nida would be jumping off a cliff tomorrow. He braced himself, went back into the spirit of the man he had portrayed himself as the night before and began to laugh.

“Major Sahib… I have found not only the girl of my dreams but also that your reputation is by no means undeserved.”

“Well well, so the locals have been spilling the beans again? You just tell me who said what and I will see to it that they never say another word to another soul again..” The anger in his voice almost set Aamir vacillating. But he relented and continued.

“No no, the locals are as much under your power as the women under your charms. It’s not the locals but this nubile young girl that I found my self unable to resist who attested to your omnipresence and omniscience in these parts of the world.” He wondered if he had gone overboard with the flattery, but the frown turned into a smile on his enemy’s face and Aamir breathed a little easier knowing for certain now how well he had gauged the ego maniacal mad man.

“You bring high praise, my friend of a friend. Who pray tell may this beauty be?” He asked suddenly seeming animated.

“Oh just this girl I ran into at the market. Barely out of her teens…so luscious that I would just as soon drink her as fuck her.” He began trying desperately to sound like someone as perverted as Ayaz himself. “But in my attempts to woo my way into her pants, I instead ended up playing messenger from her to you.”

Ayaz set up and the sudden burst of excitement in his eyes told Aamir that he had his attention. He went on…

“She mentioned you, the great Major and I admitted my friendship with you hoping to put her at ease, but it became painfully apparent that after seeing you, she couldn’t bring herself to be interested in anyone else.” He got up to make himself a drink, hoping to irritate Ayaz a little with the delay. Came back, took a sip, and began to tell the rest of his lie “Turns out, she had been wondering if getting in touch with you at the base would be prudent… she was worried about what the people would think,” He laughed here for effect, and Ayaz joined in. Aamir sat back and began sipping at his drink as if there was nothing more to tell.

“Well? Go on then?” Ayaz said getting up, clearly agitated.

“There is a price… for the information, you know.”

Ayaz smiled, a smile that Aamir couldn’t understand. He sat back down, leaned over, placed a hand on his knee and said,

“You are in no position to be negotiating here… I can get her whenever I want her.”

Unperturbed, convinced that he had Ayaz eating out of his hand, Aamir pushed his hand away

“You can, but tonight… you will still be jacking off”

Ayaz burst out laughing, slapped Aamir on the thigh, clearly entertained.

“You’re not as stupid as you look, Aamir Khan” Laughter getting louder. “Very well then what’s your price?”

Serious as a statue, Aamir looked him straight in the eyes “I want in.”

Ayaz, rasied an eye brow prompting Aamir to explain.

“ I want her. I want in. Tonight. I want her.”

Ayaz sat still for a few moments, took a sip, and pursed his lips as if considering surrender.

“After me… if there’s anything left” He replied.

“Done” Aamir replied quickly as if unwilling to bargain over Nida anymore. With every sentence he spoke, his hatred for the Major rose. He became more and more at peace with what he was going to do. It took all his efforts just to keep the disgust from showing on his face.

“Done… what’s the message?”

“She said to tell you that she will make it to the rest house… by mid-night” He replied looking at his watch… 10.30, 40 minutes to get there… it was too soon. Too soon to tell him. He had to buy more time. So before Ayaz could reply, he started off again. “She said she will be alone but will be guided by some local she befriended here. She said to stay by the main road and wait for her to signal from the main porch “

“She told you all this?” Ayaz said narrowing his eyes as if suspicious

“Well she figured I was the only way of getting to you, I tell you, she looks primed for a good night. She probably won’t even complain when you do her, but we should take some booze at least to numb her for my turn.” He replied quickly, trying to get Ayaz’s mind back to the sex.

“Of course. Of course, booze and some rohypnol… it’s more fun when they don’t know what hit them” He said grinning. “We should get going… it’s a long way from here. Wouldn’t want to keep her waiting” He got up.

“Wait!’ Aamir nearly yelled. He couldn’t tell him that he knew how long it would take to get to the rest house, but he had to make sure that Shahnawaz had had enough time to get there. But he was running out of ideas. “Let me… finish my drink first.”

“AAh you can drink on the way, let’s go.” Ayaz said, grabbing a couple of bottles from his liquor cabinet.

He had no option now, he had to go. He would have to hope that he could tackle Ayaz on his own, or at least be able to wait till Shahnawaz got there. Apprehension sneaking its way past illusive bravado, Aamir got up and followed Ayaz out the door.

The got there in an hour. Driving slow, on account of the snow fall allowed only a 20 minute extension. Still at least 15 minutes before Shahnawaz was supposed to get there according to their plan. They had a small bar resting on the back seat… along with a roll of duct tape and bottle of rohypnol and a pair of binoculars.

“What do we tell her… why am I here?” Aamir began trying to take his mind off the vision of his wife popping into his mind… Duct tape and rohypnol… the instruments of his evil lying casually on his back seat waiting to claim another victim.

“I go alone. You come in after 20 odd minutes… you like to watch?” He said peering through the darkness to see any signs of life around the dark building standing 20 yards away. “If you don’t, come in after an hour. I should be done with round one by then… then you can have a go…I like to watch.”

Aamir found it hard to believe that any man could be this depraved. All of a sudden he didn’t care about Shahnawaz being there, he just wanted him dead. No, not dead. He wanted him in pain. As much pain as he could possibly bear without dying so he would know what his wife had gone through in feeding his insanity. He couldn’t pretend anymore. The anger over took fear and there was nothing left within him besides the need for atonement. He handed him the binoculars, indicating his own perverted hope of the victim having arrived early…

“Oh yeah… this will be easier on the eyes.” Ayaz said focusing out the window at the door to the rest house turning his back to Aamir. “You know, she looks just like the last one” He began, swept away again by scotch fueled memories. “The same face, the same boobs… only the eyes are a little different. It will be like fucking her all over again. And you know how I feel about her.“ He licked his lips and nudged Aamir with his elbow. “You’re my good luck charm man… I tell you about my favorite fuck who went and offed herself, and like a miracle, her sister walks into my life. I though this kinda stuff only happened in the movies you know. But you come in and bring her back from the dead. Waah. WAAH!”

Aamir couldn’t believe his ears. His mind abuzz with Rida’s screams he almost didn’t catch the madness in his words. He went on all the while keeping his eyes on the rest house. “I can’t just imagine what I’m gonna do to her, its turning me on just thinking about it. It’s like getting to make love to a six odd years younger Rida….”

Aamir lost it then. Her name mentioned in his voice acted like the catalyst to the fury bubbling inside him. He lost all comprehension of the odds stacked up against him and a logical course of action, and reached in the side pocket of his door for the gun Shahnawaz had stashed there. He grabbed it in his hand by the barrel and in one wild swing turned around to smash the metal handle into Ayaz’s Skull.

If only he hadn’t said her name. If only Aamir’s restrained anger hadn’t contorted into blind rage which led him to abandon all resolve, he might have been alarmed. He might have noticed that once Ayaz said her name, he stopped talking. As If in waiting for a reaction… as if waiting for an opportunity to make his move.

He parried Aamir’s strike with one hand, and with the other brought the binoculars crashing down on his face.

The last thing Aamir saw before passing out was his own blood pouring past his eyes.

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