I decided to put on my best dress that night. And I decided to head out to the bar, alone. The frustration and the resulting stress that the day had caused me, was going to be hard to shake off. As I put my favorite red lip color, and adjusted my impossible-to-manage curly hair, she stood there in disbelief.
“Are you sure?”, my roommate asked me again. I knew she absolutely didn’t trust my self-handling capabilities after I had managed to fall down the stairs, burnt my hand while cooking, and dashed into a car all in the same day. This case was taking a toll on me, literally.
“Yes, I need some time alone.”
“Did you and Mr. Hotshot have a fight again?”
“No. The story that I am working on is getting me no where. It is eating me inside out. And I really need some beer tonight. Maybe a few more than usual. Don’t worry, I am right across the street. And if I get into yet another mess, you know, as a dessert for the day, I won’t hesitate to call you. I don’t think I can handle anymore drama.”
And before she could say more, I had stormed out.
I really needed some alcohol, and I needed it quick.
As I walked into Olives, the newest bar that had opened up in the neighborhood, there was the usual eyebrow-lifting, and elbow-poking. A girl in a little black dress is reason enough for the men in our town to lift their eyebrows. Anyway, I didn’t have time to pay attention to them. I headed straight to the bar, and ordered the usual.
Cute bartender. But I couldn’t concentrate on him either. I looked across the bar. Few groups of friends jug-chugging their towers, few stags ogling at the girls, and other few busy watching the game. A couple in the corner caught my attention. The holding of hands, the shy smiles, the laughs in their conversations, the feeding each other … Me and Mr. Hotshot used to be like that once. I missed that, and I missed him. But our jobs were keeping us too busy these days. We had not seen each other in almost a week. Once I get this story done, I thought.
Soon … I was lost in my thoughts.
Was he telling me the truth?
Was he really innocent?
Was he being punished for nothing?
Were all those witnesses just making up stories?
As I started sipping my third pint …
“May I have the pleasure of sitting with you, young lady?” a shaky voice asked me.
The smell had reached me even before his voice. And before I opened my mouth to say no, “Trust me, you don’t want to say no to me, journalist saahiba (Hindi for Ma’m)”, he said with a smirk.
“Problem, miss?”, asked the manager. “No. No. He is a friend of mine.”
“I know what the truth is. And I think you would want to follow me, if you want to save him.”
Hurriedly, I paid the bill, and the minute I looked back, he was gone.
Wondering, where he had vanished, I walked as fast as my Manolo Blahniks allowed me to. A late winter night that it was, there was no man on the street, and no sign of my strange friend either.
What the fuck just happened out there?
Who was he?
How did he know I was a journalist?
How did he know about the story I was working on?
And what all was he going to tell?
I looked at the watch. It was half past 10. I decided it would only be wise to go home. Hugging myself, I approached our building. And there he was again, dropping something in my mail box.This time I decided to ditch the shoes .
“Hey, wait!” I shouted.
And just like that, he was gone again.
The next morning, my newspaper was filled with evidence that the man whose story I was working on, the man falsely convicted for a blast which had killed 17 people a year back … was innocent.
Thus, was the story of the truth.