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Two Spades

“Three No Trumps,” Pat said, and I passed. I was sure the contract would fail unless the diamond broke. As expected, they did not break, and we went three down.

“Don’t break your heart over diamonds,” Pat said and stood. Alan added up the score and asked our team to fork out ten grand. Patricia took out her purse and paid 20K. As my guests stood to leave, one of my servants arrived, stood half bent, and announced, “One gentleman to see you, sir.”

I had neither time nor the inclination to receive a guest at such godforsaken hour in the night, especially after three large pegs of the most beautiful single malt Scotch and a good game of bridge with my close circle of friends. I did not want to show up as an arrogant nouveau rich before folks, especially my partner Pat. Todd leaned back in the chair and lit his cigar. “Send him in,” I ordered and asked the servant to fill another round. Patricia ordered some more snacks.

I scanned the beach and the sea and found few takers for the pleasant weather. Our city, a popular tourist destination mainly for the long beach and shallow waters extending for miles, is a beautiful sight, and I enjoyed watching the swimmers, boats, and various craft from my balcony in the waterfront house. My house or villa, as some call it, is the best landmark for its beauty. It has everything one can ask for, and so do I, all due to my father, who had the luck of winning the phenomenal Power Ball jackpot all by himself and drinking to his heart’s content and meeting his maker at an early age.

Except for the fortune my father left for me, I have nothing to write home about. I am now a ruffian turned filthy rich, and I enjoy my life using moderation to avoid meeting a fate like my father’s. I have a fancy for movies and books about crime, especially murder, and imagine myself as a detective, much to the chagrin of Pat, my best friend and the top cop of the city. While he and I graduated from the same school, I never felt upset about being the laggard. We formed a strange combination, but some chemistry unknown to both of us worked and kept us together. He worked hard and climbed the rungs swift to be the Police Commissioner. He earned the reputation as a dedicated PC, except for his association with me.

Our circle of friends is limited, five to be precise, and we meet regularly. The four of us had many things in common: wealth we did not earn, spacious villas, passion for golf, glamorous women, an extensive library of whodunit books, and above all, love for detective work. Every evening we sat on the balcony watching the pretty women on the beach and conjuring tales of intrigue and murder involving them. We discussed psychology at length, for we firmly believed each crime would have a strong motive and found it would solve any case of crime, especially murder. Pat joined us at the weekends to play bridge. He always laughed and called us by the names of the famous detectives in literature. I am Sherlock being the richest and craziest of the group.

Pat is nobody’s fool and has always humored us to discuss the severe cases in the city. He would present the case giving all details his staff furnished and ask us to apply our minds to it. We took it as a challenge and provided the solution with consummate ease. No wonder our city is the greatest for solving crimes, and Pat is the top cop of the state. He figured solving a murder or staging a Vienna coup, requiring fine finesse.

The visitor entered and started, “I’m Stan from Philadelphia. First, let me congratulate you on the good fortune you inherited. I’m also sorry about your father’s demise. From what I hear, I don’t suppose you miss him.”

“Never mind, my father. What brings you to my stoop?” I said, keeping my raising temper under control.

“See John; I hope you don’t mind me calling you by your first name; I am your brother. Don’t look surprised as I never knew about this until the last week. The whole town told me your father abandoned my mother, leaving no trace of himself.”

“You must be fibbing. What was my dad doing in Philadelphia?”

“He was a lumberjack and fond of boozing. He lost his job and had nothing to support a family. He left us in distress. Soon my mother died, and I grew up in foster homes. Now I am a carpenter trying to make a life of my own, but it has not been generous to me. My son is autistic, and my daughter needs a kidney transplant I cannot pay. I didn’t want to come to you for any aid, but my townfolk pressed me to go and stake a claim in the prize money,” he paused for breath.

I scrutinized the visitor this time. His abject poverty showed. Although I had no intention of parting any part of my fortune, I felt the pity I never thought I had. It could be the whiskey I had during the night or my buddies for whom I wanted to show I was a gentleman.

Watching the change in my demeanor, the visitor continued, “I must be six years older than you. I should have more claim to our father’s fortune.” He took a step forward, helped himself to drink on the table, and said, “Aah, all this could have been mine.”

Now I did not want him to take advantage of my kindness. I changed my attitude. “It’s alright. So many have come and staked their claims. Do you have any proof? Marriage certificate of your mother or some evidence that will stand in a court of law? I can help your son and daughter, but that’s it and nothing more.”

“I understand any DNA test carried out can establish my parentage. When I prove I am your father’s first son, you cannot deny my claim for the lion’s share.”

“Don’t jump the gun, mister. It looks like I screwed it up when I asked you to come in.”

Patricia, the most beautiful woman I knew, also lost her cool. “What makes you so sure of yourself? If your father sired you, he would have thought of you and called you to give some part of the bonanza he had won. Since he didn’t even know you, I can’t believe you’re anything but a liar. Staking claim, my foot! The nerve, “she said and left the room stomping her feet.

“He is an imposter and has no right to demand a share. Now he wants the lion’s share. Call the guards and throw him out,” Alan said.

“Let’s go inside and talk it over calmly,” Pat said and led the way to the main living room. His voice and manner commanded instant respect, and we all followed him.

“Look, if he goes to the court and shows DNA evidence, you will be hard-pressed to deny him a substantial share. I, too, think he is fibbing as your dad never thought of him even for a day. Let’s ask him to go and get the DNA evidence. I believe we will be ill-advised to throw him out.” Pat spoke as if he were delivering a judgment.

We nodded our heads and marched out to the patio. I told the guy, “Look, you get the DNA done, and let’s get the result. I’ll think of the next step after the test. Go get it,” I said and dismissed him.

“Thanks, bro. I’m sure I can convince the courts I’m the first son of our father and have a claim for a share. Wish me luck and ciao,” he said and walked away in strides that showed optimism.

“OK, let’s wait for the result and keep calm till then,” Pat said and left. The others had no comment.

The following weekend we were playing bridge again. This time Pat was my opponent. “Four hearts,” he bid, and promptly Alan doubled. “Redoubled,” said Pat. Then we heard a shot followed by another chance in a far corner of the villa.

We rushed to the spot and found Stan killed in a pool of blood. He looked dead beyond any doubt as he seemed to have got the bullet bang in the middle of his chest. Patricia dressed in a beautiful crimson velvet dress lay in a corner a few feet away from Stan. She was moaning and clutching her left shoulder. “Call 911,” Pat ordered and proceeded to aid her.

“Come on Sherlock, solve this mystery,” Pat told me.

I rushed to my partner and asked her, “What the hell have you done?”

“That’s no way to solve the murder case,” Pat said.

“I wish I’d been there earlier. It might have made all the difference. So, all I can tell you is why Stan was murdered.”

“What do you mean? “the group asked in one voice.

“I’ve been monitoring the case of Stan for the last week. I had a suspicion Patricia did not like my idea of giving any money to Stan. I had no intention anyway. Had she asked me, I would have told her in no uncertain terms my determination to shut out Stan. I could have stopped her from taking any action and not shooting Stan. “I said. Patricia, although groaning in pain, nodded her head.

“So, all I can say now is Patricia had shot Stan under the wrong impression she was going to lose a significant share herself. Turning to Patricia, I asked her,” where did you get the gun, and how did you get shot?”

“First, the DNA results arrived and showed Stan was telling the truth. Knowing you as a kind fellow, I was sure you’d give away a significant share to Stan. Wanting to stop it all costs, I picked up your gun from the study and shot him. I got him in the first shot and pumped a few more.”

“Why did you get hurt?” I asked simply out of curiosity.

“Stan was quick. As he fell, he pulled his gun from the trousers and shot me. Luckily, I got hit on the shoulder. I’ll live for another few years.”

Meanwhile, the ambulance came, and the paramedics took away Patricia to the hospital. The cops carried out their tasks and took away the dead body of Stan.

I kept a Stoic silence and acted the part of a man deeply hurt at the sight of his beloved, badly bleeding, and his only brother dead.

I got myself a drink and lit a cigar before reflecting. For the last few months, Patricia had been overactive and scheming to do away with me and to possess the entire estate. She couldn’t have known my trusted assistants regularly posted me about her plans and intentions. I kept the pistol in the study to attract the attention of Patricia and to eliminate Stan. I was playing bridge with Pat, the top cop, and had the perfect alibi. My gun did the job, and my woman getting too big for her boots got her due. I am positive she would not trouble me further, at least not until she comes out of the cooler.

Of course, I will be generous to a fault towards Stan’s children. I am a compassionate man, after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RAMARAO Garimella

A retired Commander of the Indian Navy and a Master Mariner for 18 years. A writer with several articles and short stories published in Indian newspapers and magazines. A writer with more than 700 blogs (400 in Sulekha, 150 in fanstory.com and 150 in wikinut.com). I have seven books published, including one children's book for American children. I am the first Indian to publish a children's book for American children published in the USA. The second is due shortly. For details please visit my website www.gvramarao.com.
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Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao
1 year ago

Enjoyed the narrative here Gv. Keep them coming.

bakshink
bakshink
1 year ago

Brilliant indeed. The name Sherlock, given by Pat was so apt, that none except Sherlock could have filled the boots of the protagonist. Flawless narration and plot. Thanks for coming. Keep them coming 🙂

Subramanian Thalayur Ratnam
Subramanian Thalayur Ratnam
1 year ago

Hats off My dear Ramarao Garu…. Glad to read your impeachable flow of words here. You are unique in narrating any type of stories. I Thank our friend Navneet Kumar Bakshi ji here for providing the platform here to get back those golden days. Hope to see more from your desk…. Subbu

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