John Doe

It wasn’t just the murder, he decided. Everything else seemed to have conspired to ruin his day. Even the cat. “Shoooh!” he cried, but the cat ignored him and continued to stare at the bloodied mess on the floor, then looked at him and purred as if to ask, “Well, What now?”

“You have any ideas?” he hissed at the cat. The feline didn’t seem to have any good ideas either, so it turned away, and thoughtfully walked to a corner taking its place next to a shattered vase.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he thought. “Not on my off day, I get only one day in a week for god’s sake.” The cat nodded in agreement and made that stupid noise that cat’s make when they have nothing better to do, which irritated him more.

He cursed the cat again and it just stretched its neck, yawned and went right back to ignoring him. A decidedly wisely look came upon its furry face as if it was chewing on the messy problem slumped on the floor.

Now the thing with a mess is it can be cleaned up, provided you wanted to. He remembered reading something to that effect somewhere back in the days when he read to relax instead of smoking up.

Meanwhile, the blood-soaked problem on the floor was silently crying out for his attention, and increasingly he was finding it difficult to ignore it anymore.

Even the cat was restless. It got up to take a closer look at the crisis at hand and slowly lowered itself next to it, whiskers quivering with what seemed to be anticipation.

The bright noon sun peeping through the curtains, finally shook him out of his reverie. He really needed to do something about the mess. So off he went looking for a beer in the fridge.

The long swig on an empty stomach jolted him, and cleared his mind, sort of. But he was still holding the beer bottle and had to finish that first. Besides, he needed to think some more. He blinked several times in the hope of seeing the mess on the floor disappear on its own leaving behind just the empty beer bottles, newspapers and cigarette butts lying about as usual.

“He could have just let me win, stupid bugger,” the man muttered angrily to no one in particular, but the cat nodded all the same.

He felt sad though. They were friends for a long time and he was a constant companion where ever he went. Even in office. In fact, he was his only friend. And now even he is dead. People around him just die, he often wondered if that was strange.

At the back of his mind he always knew that his friend was better than him in everything and secretly hated him for it. “He always got the girl even when I spoke to her first. Even in office, on rare occasions when the boss liked my work he took the credit. And when something went wrong the boss never believed that he fiddled with it and introduced the errors. Good riddance. I don’t even want to talk about the other times when he made me look stupid.”

The man felt dumb whining about his friend’s meanness to the cat who seemed to be giving a sympathetic hearing, occasionally twitching his whiskers in agreement.

He was looking at the cat indulgently when a thought popped into his head, could it be this cat, which is not even his cat that is behind all this? And he shot a menacing look at the animal. This time the feline didn’t ignore the threat and moved swiftly just as the empty beer bottle crashed at the place it was perched till a moment ago. The cat was giving him a wary look now, ready to leap again, just in case.

“Damn! More mess. I should just burn this place down,” he thought. “Yeah!” The idea appealed to him and his eyes lit up.

——–

The man woke up to a stench of burnt flesh, feeling very thirsty. He tried to look around and felt stabs of pain all over his body as he tried to move. “Where am I?” he thought as his eyes took in the sight of what looked like a hospital ward.

The attending nurse came rushing seeing the John Doe move for the first time in two days. “Can’t you hear? Give me some water,” he cried at the top of his voice. But the nurse seemed not to hear and kept leaning closer.

It was then that horror struck. Through the corner of his eyes he saw his friend standing, petting a cat and sporting a mysterious smile. “He should be dead,” the man cried out in horror, “why’s he here, and that cat, that cat…” A weary calm descended on him as the room grew darker. He closed his eyes and wondered if he was dying.

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An unfinished tale…

Most wives are married to their husbands. Mine is married to my money. Well, that’s not a complaint really, just a statement, or an observation if you like.

The funny part is I like her and even loved her once. But that was before, when we were just friends. Then we fell in love and got married.

Now I just like her. Mostly because she is so honest about her intentions I mean she doesn’t say it in so many words, but makes it very clear. Of course she makes it a point to say how much she loves me but I think we both know what she means. Told you, she loves my money!

Again, I’m not complaining, just stating a fact.

It’s good in a way you know you need someone to spend your money. So I let her do what she does best and I do what I do best – tell stories. How do you think I made all this money?

But I’ll let you in on a secret – I feel no ownership for this money, because I don’t have to sweat for it. All I do is sit at home in my air-conditioned cubicle and jab away at the keyboard of my computer. And the AC is as you know meant to keep you from sweating. So no sweat and a lot of money!

People tell me that writing stories and novels must be such a demanding exercise. Not many people can do it. I tell them “Yeah I am kind of lucky. Not many people can make so much money just by writing.” Although, I bet there must be many people who can write, and much better than those like me who make money out of their writing.

Contrary to what people say, what I do is not demanding at all. Sometimes I feel like a typist who’s taking notes from someone. I feel like a real ghostwriter – someone who takes notes from a ghost. I like to think that the ghost who dictates the stories is not the spirit of a successful writer, but someone who never managed to get hold of a publisher. So I am his (it could be her as well) medium through which this person, the ghost I mean, is telling his untold stories.

Good for him and good for me. It would have been quite a strain on my brain if I had to think up all that I have ever written.

It’s not that I never thought up anything. There are times when this ghost writer goes through a block and clams up. Then I have to put on my thinking cap and I do sometimes come up with nice lines but that is nothing really. That’s just filling in the blanks. And I can’t do that for long because soon my mind is blank and aching and I am left staring at the blank computer screen. Then I go back to waiting for the good ghost to start thinking for me again.

Wait, I think my wife has come back, home I mean. And boy she looks loaded, with expensive-looking stuff of course, after all she was away the whole day, shopping I assume. By the way did I tell you that my wife used to be very pretty? Well, my friends say so and even strangers seem to say it with their eyes that she still is.

But anyway she’ll walk in now, give me a hug from behind and say something as inane as: “I got this most amazing pair of shoes, it’s lovely and costs almost nothing!” And I would say “I am sure” with the minutest hint of sarcasm, which rarely goes undetected.

She’s a brain and a half, an exquisitely smart woman who left me for my money. Sometimes I wonder why she pretends to be dumb saying all these inane, stupid things. Guess she tries to provoke me into reacting.

“Yes baby you were saying?” “Nothing” she says.

Now this word, isn’t it like a transparent glass wall which you realize is there only after you’ve banged your nose against it? By now I have understood that when a woman says nothing it means there’s something and that something she’ll expect you to figure out. How? That’s your problem and you’re damned if you don’t.

“So what else did you buy just the shoes?” I ask in a rather lame attempt to peep around the “nothing” to see if there’s something. But it’s not the right time it seems.

My wife has gone to cool off. She stomped out saying a lot of things and the gist of which is I am a downright insensitive person and that I don’t care about her anymore. Which is true – I really don’t care about her but I take offense to being called insensitive because I am not. I am very sensitive and take it personally if someone calls me insensitive.

Sometimes I really feel I should put an end to this. But like I said I used to love her.

Today is my wife’s funeral. Sad day. It’s raining like crazy and her relatives are still crying. Even the heavens are sad over this untimely death, they are saying. I had to agree with them because I got this sneaky feeling that they are eyeing me with suspicion.

Disclaimer:- Wrote this nearly an year ago in a state of absolute drunkenness in the middle of the night then forgot all about it till I found it on my laptop while deleting old files some days back. This “Unfinished tale” has nothing to do with any person living or dead, least of all me!