The old man opened the door and turned his back to the young guest, expecting him to walk in behind him. The two security guards who frisked him, were walking away.
They sat in the living room. The old man stared at the younger guy who fidgeted for a few seconds, smiling nervously.
“Relax. Some water?” The older man asked and rose to get it.
A few minutes later, the younger guy looked better.
“Good. Let’s begin. Let’s start with your name.”
“Vivek,” the octogenarian said, like he recognized that name from some place. But he remained quiet after that.
“Sir, you’ve been in exile for almost 15 years now. Do you still feel you have enemies who’d care to come after you?”
“Should that be your first question? You don’t beat about the bush, do you? I like that,” The older man said, chuckling.
Vivek laughed nervously. “No sir..I’m…guess I’m just a little excited to see you.”
“Excuse me, sir?”
“Why a story about me? There’s so much happening in the country today. I’m just a retired hit man.”
“Sir, the fact is, along with doing a story about the underworld, I’m also doing…uh, research about the has-beens. I mean..not you, of course. I mean, you’re retired and all, but..see you still command that security. In political circles, you’re a respected man. Nobody can enter this house…”
“You did..” the old lion said, his voice almost a growl. He smiled.
Vivek didn’t know how to respond to that one. “Well, sir..I’m just a journalist. Well, anyway tell me sir. After you and Kukku fell out of ..”
The old man stiffened. “Who?”
“Kuk…umm, Desai, sir. Your arch enemy. After you two fell out, did you ever worry that he’d come after you some day?”
The senior man shifted, just a bit, his hand relaxed under the cushion. “Not worry. There’s not much to worry. I’m on my way to the grave anyway. Hmm?” He laughed.
Vivek laughed like a little school boy. “Well, yes, sir..”
Now the old man looked hard at him. “I don’t worry, Mr. Vivek. I’ve never worried.”
The air grew just a wee bit thicker as the old man’s hand came out from under the cushion swiftly and emerged with a small pistol, a silencer attached to it.
What followed, happened in a fraction of a second.
Two quick shots. Short and sharp. Vivek’s body fell back, two button-like holes in his forehead.
The old man shook his head and rubbed his nose. He groaned, his voice almost sad.
Vivek’s cell rang just then.
“Hello? Vivek? Is it done?” The voice on the other end asked enthusiastically.
“Hello…Kukku,” the old man said softly, stressing on his name.
“Shit,” Desai said on the other end.
“How’re you Kukku?”
“Expected something more from you, son. I’m disappointed.”
“I..I just wanted to know how you are, Dada..really, I..”
“I’m just old, Kukku. Not stupid.”
“How did you…” Desai asked.
“Your name, Kukku. Far as I know, but for the fraternity, nobody outside knows you by that name, right? Your boy made the mistake of addressing you as Kukku. You forgot to mention that little detail to him.”
“Your protégé’s body will be delivered to you. Don’t bother coming for him.”
“Next time, I’m hoping you come up with something better. If I’m still alive, that is.”
He hung up and threw the cell phone on the youngster’s body.