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Babu walked out of Hegde’s house and got into a car. As they drove out, he pulled out his mobile.
He had to wait a few rings. “Mallik. Where the fuck are you? Do you know what has just happened?”
He heard what Mallik had to say.
“Yes..I know, but Chandru double-crossed us. I…”
He grit his teeth, and then gripped the mobile tight. “Look man, you’ve got to believe me, I’m telling you. Chandru just got greedy. How was I supposed to know..? Yes..yes. Very much. The deal is still on, I give you my personal guarantee. And I need to get that bag, else Hegde will not spare me. The parcel has to be delivered at the earliest. Do what you want. But do it quick.”
He disconnected and slapped his hand on the dashboard. “Bloody hell”.
Superintendent of highway police, Dinakar, spoke at a press conference and announced that DoSP Vikram Shetty would be handling the accident case, and that sufficient progress had been made in the case.
“Sir, there have been rumours that Chandrakanth did not die of an accident, but it was a set-up, made to look like an accident. Is it true?”
Dinakar cleared his throat. “See, we are investigating the cause behind the accident, and all the reports will be collected in due time. We cannot just go with hearsay. At this moment, I can only tell that.”
Another journalist raised her hand. Dinakar nodded and from then on went on to answer some more general questions.
Vikram Shetty was waiting outside when the police officers and journalists walked out of the conference.
He sat with Dinakar in his car, as it pulled out of the venue.
Dinakar took off his cap and relaxed. “So?” He smiled at the younger officer.
“Why this case, sir?” Vikram asked.
“Well, you know how it is – when I get a request from higher up, and they want a thorough investigation, I have no choice but to think of you.”
“I know, Vikram – you don’t like highway in the first place. But see, this is the time to prove it and get back to crime. Right?” The older officer spoke gently, like Vikram were his son. The two had developed a special rapport in the last two years, when Vikram had been transferred here. He knew Vikram’s potential, and a case like this was a good opportunity.
“You know how these politicians are, right? It never stops at one thing. So, you might open a Pandora’s box, who knows? It’s your time.” He smiled. Vikram smiled wryly too.
A couple of days later, Swaroop Hegde sat on the balcony with Babu and Devi Prasad. Hegde and Prasad were a little drunk already, but Babu hadn’t touched his glass. Hegde appeared sad.
“Bloody rat. I trusted him so much. I even gave him so many things in life. And this is how he repays me.” Hegde poured himself another one and looked at Devi Prasad.
“But, you know – it’s a good thing that accident happened. The son-of-a-bitch got what he deserved,” Deviprasad said.
Babu remained silent. Hegde sensed his discomfort and looked at him.
“Don’t worry, son. These things happen in this business. That money might be as good as gone. Who knows, some villager who arrived at the scene first might have taken it. But..Babu..I need Malleshwar’s head. At any cost. This time round, make sure things go right…” Hegde said, his voice slurring. He then straightened up to say something very important.
Thup. Thup. Two slugs entered Hegde, one on the chest, and one on his face, piercing his right eye and entering his skull.
Hegde’s head fell back and he slid off the reclining chair, a dark red stain spreading fast on his white kurtha. Devi Prasad and Babu looked on for a moment, not sure they saw what they did. Then Babu rose and shouted orders to his men outside. There was pandemonium.
Two crosses away, on top of a high rise that was still under construction, Siddharth made a phone call.
“The job’s done."
To be continued...