A UNIQUE SHORT STORY THAT I PUBLISHED IN STORYMIRROR.COM
70-year-old Sudhakar and his companion, Arasu (55), were busy sipping their tea outside a petty tea-shop in Salem, Tamil Nadu. Loud music blared on the radio meant for entertaining the customers.
Sudhakar said,” Gone are the days of sweet and melodious songs. Just listen to the stupid radio. The songs are too loud and meaningless. They sound like cats and dogs fighting with each other.” Arasu laughed and replied,” Well said, Anna. Nowadays, youngsters prefer listening to these kinds of songs. Let’s discuss something else.” They loved gossiping. They shared news concerning their friends and neighbors with a bit of exaggeration. Arasu had a sudden urge to empty his bladder. He asked Sudhakar to wait for him. Arasu came back after ten minutes. He was shocked when he saw Sudhakar lying dead. Blood oozed out from his head, as his white hair turned red. He shouted for help as a small crowd gathered around him. The tea stall owner rushed towards the crime scene. He called the police immediately.
Inspector Pandian arrived within 15 minutes. He surveyed the crime scene and proceeded to interview Arasu and the tea stall owner. ” When did you see him alive for the last time?” he asked Arasu. The latter answered,” Sudhakar Anna and I were having tea at 4 PM. Then I went to attend nature’s call. When I came back after ten minutes, I found his corpse with the skull broken.” One of the constables kept jotting down the notes. Pandian continued his probing,” Who do you think might have killed him?”
Arasu answered,” I can’t think of anyone wanting to harm a poor old man.”
The inspector now focussed his attention on the tea stall owner called Muthu. ” What do you know about the murder victim?” he probed,” Did you see anything suspicious?” Muthu replied,” Sudhakar was my regular customer. He and Arasu would come here every day at tea-time. I can’t think of any enemy as such, but his habit of gossiping might have landed him in trouble. However, I didn’t see or hear anything, because of the loud music, and attending to my customers.” Inspector Pandian appeared to be flustered. ” How is it possible?” he scratched his head,” No one saw or heard anything. Yet, a senior citizen gets murdered in broad daylight.”
The constables stood silently, not knowing how to react. Pandian started scanning the crime scene for a possible clue. There was no sign of any kind of struggle or even a murder weapon. An ambulance arrived shortly. Inspector sent the body for post-mortem. He asked Arasu about Sudhakar’s family. The latter told him that Sudhakar’s family had perished in a tragic car accident more than four years ago. The inspector shook his head feeling, sorry for the departed soul.
He left the place with his constables. A couple of days later, the inspector received the post-mortem report. Sudhakar had died due to a fracture in the skull. The report mentioned nothing to indicate any sign of murder. There were no fingerprints at all. The case baffled Inspector Pandian. He kept mulling over his preliminary investigation with Muthu and Arasu. He sent his men in search of clues. They reported failure on their return.
Three days later, another dead body turned up on the same spot. This time, it was a 46-year-old woman. Panic gripped the entire area. Inspector Pandian arrived with his team and examined the body. Her purse lay beside her. He picked it up and saw that all the items were intact. The motive behind the murder was not money. He took out her mobile from the purse and dialed her husband’s number. He informed the latter about his wife’s death. He asked him to come to Salem immediately to complete all the formalities. The husband of the deceased wept like a toddler.
The inspector sent the body for post-mortem. This case was getting complicated. His investigation yielded no results. Everyone, including Muthu, gave him the same response. Pandian’s frustration over the lack of clues crossed its limits. He thought of resigning from his job, but his self-respect prevented him from taking such an action.
Two deaths in five days created an uproar. Rumors of a serial killer became the talk of the town. Who was the invisible cold-blooded murderer? Why did he target weak people?
Inspector Pandian pondered over these questions after reading the daily newspaper. He needed a breakthrough in this case. He called sub-inspector Mukundan and said,” I want you to keep a close watch on the area surrounding Muthu’s tea stall. I need an exclusive report on your discovery.” Mukundan nodded and saluted him before proceeding towards the crime scene.
The sub-inspector reached Muthu’s tea stall after lunch. Instead of donning his Khaki Uniform, he dressed up casually to mingle with the localities. He went to check the supposed crime scene.
Suddenly, the sky became overcast with dark clouds. A sudden gust of wind blew over. Thump! Thump! Mukundan jumped out in surprise as he heard these sounds. He had been too engrossed in examining the ground where Sudhakar and the woman lay dead. He had a hearty laugh when he discovered two coconuts. He saw a tall coconut palm gently swaying to and fro, as the breeze continued to blow. He asked Muthu about the climatic condition on both the occasions of murders. The latter answered that it was cloudy and windy.
Mukundan laughed uncontrollably. Muthu appeared to be puzzled. He thought that some evil spirit had possessed his body. ” What happened, Sir?” asked Muthu,” Are you alright?”
Mukundan’s laughter finally stopped. He wiped away the tears in his eyes before responding. He said,” Muthu, Sometimes the simplest of cases leave us baffled. We search for answers everywhere, but fail to spot them, even if they stare at us directly. I feel sorry for the victims. Sudhakar and the woman died after the overripe coconuts dropped on their heads. We did not even consider the possibility of an accident. Now that the case is closed, you can fearlessly operate your tea-kiosk.” They shook hands with each other. Mukundan called Pandian and updated his discovery. Someone had already removed the coconuts that killed the victims. Pandian appreciated Mukundan for solving the case in no time. He laughed at himself for ignoring the coconut tree.
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