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Sunday, April 19, 2009


One day at the beach
2 second eye contact
3 semi-witty attempts to start a conversation
4 involuntary spasms while asking her out
5 hours talking on a park bench
6 red Rosebuds
7 km. stroll along the seashore
8 on 10 on the happiness scale - holding hands for the first time
9 sleepless hours
10 egoistic thoughts of pretending hard to get
11 treacherous steps to her doorway
12 skipped heart beats
13 seconds of lip contact
14 minutes exchanging awkward apologies
15 whacky reasons why we could still be friends
16 classes of Analytical Philosophy together as 'friends'
17 coffees on-the-go, discussing existentialism
18 minutes of unconsciousness
19 drops of tears
20 days of recluse
21 mile drive to hospital
22x22 inch glass window of the ICU
21 endless hours in surgery
20 silent prayers
19 hours of nervous pacing and nail biting finally pays off
18 anxious breaths before her first words
17 day stay at the hospital
16 favorite songs on the Mix CD
15 Pizza nights with Chicken Soup for the Soul
14 different kinds of sea shells
13 freckles resembling a constellation
12 hours of Stanley Kubrick special
11 unpleasant side-effects of radiation
10 on 10 on the happiness scale - the person you love comes back from the brink of death
9 fleeting minutes of arms wrapped around each other
8 days of sunshine and rainbows on the Galapagos
7 hours on our toes with Nickelback at The O2
6 pints of slurred speech, impaired balance and euphoria at the Oktoberfest
5 floors of making out in the elevator
4 padlocks on the Ponte Vecchio
3 course meal at Pierre Gagnaire
2 free souls in the rarified atmosphere
Six and a half billion souls on this planet, all you need is One

.......When words are hard to come by, you take refuge in numbers.


"Eyes. Black, brown, hazel, green and my personal favorite – blue. I could look at the bright yellow sun longer than I could look into the eyes of any beautiful girl. I cannot begin to explain how much I disliked this incompetency of mine, especially when it came to her. Ash! The first time I saw her, I couldn't take my eyes off her. I had never seen anyone walk the Physics lab hallway with that kind of grace. White Punjabi suit and Jeans never looked so beautiful on anyone before. Her chestnut skin was perfectly complemented with her long brown silky hair that swirled gently in the breeze. Her face portrayed a strange mix of perplexity and confidence simultaneously. My eyes were glued on her and I was registering each and every move of hers with the strictest attention to detail. It wasn't until she was inches from me that our eyes met. It was a nano-second eye contact which was followed by some cold sweating."

Sara had a smile on her face and she was looking intently at me. I couldn't say if she was amused or touched. I was kind of uncomfortable after the rather descriptive monologue about my first serious crush and I could not look at Sara. We were at a local Barista café. We were sitting a 2-seater table at the corner, right next to a transparent glass wall. It was the usual Barista, buzzing with a crowd within the age group of 15 to 25.

'Go on..' Sara asserted with curiosity.

'Nah..' I was being coy like a 7 year old girl.

'So, how long did you guys go out?' inquired Sara.

'Umm… like for 0 days. I didn't even have the nerves to talk to her, forget asking her out.' I replied with a hint of smile, trying to hide my obvious discomfort. I mean how stupid could I be, describing my first serious crush in such detail to someone I hoped to date soon.

'Really?' asked Sara with surprise.

'Why would that sound surprising to you?' I asked inquisitively.

'It's just that, it seemed that you really liked her. I mean the way you described her, it was as if that moment was burnt on your brain.'

I couldn't help but giggle at her comment. She too burst out laughing.

'Either you liked her crazy or you have your way with words.'

'When you develop an infatuation for someone, you tend to gauge that person with the best things you can think of. Then it's just a matter of giving your thoughts a language.'

'You sure it was just an infatuation?'

'Yeah. I am pretty sure it was.'

Sara smiled. We both had a few sips of coffee. Sara seemed lost, staring at the traffic outside the glass walls.

'I wish someone would notice and describe me that way.' She chuckled. 'Was that too self-centered?'

I looked at her, straight into her eyes this time.

"You are beautiful and not in a contemporary way. I mean, your beauty is like abstraction, it really can't be compared with anyone or anything. Your eyes are dark black, with a brownish tinge near the center, giving them a vortex like quality. Whenever I look into them, they take me places. Places I love. When you move, your black lustrous hair moves along and your slender neckline is visible and your hands sway, and all this happens in such unison that it feels like a figure skater performing at the tunes of a symphony orchestra. When you speak, you exude the kind of confidence that could change the world and what's really great is that you speak your mind without an ounce of selfishness. Sometimes your words sound like unheard lyrics."

Sara was staring right back at me, speechless. The couple at the other table had overheard my little confession and they too were staring at us.

'Now you got me blushing' she said grabbing a paper napkin and spilling the remaining coffee in her cup in the process. She was obviously a little nervous with my unexpected flurry of remarks.

'I was just trying to fulfill your wish. I hope I did a good job.'

I was surprised with myself and the sudden commotion of confidence in me.

'That.. That was very impressive. Thank you.'

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Conversation

Kevin: Alright! lets get you ready. So, this is your harness. It will save your life - change your life. Most importantly, it will keep you and your (para)chute connected, which is a very good thing. Seperate from the boat - you float down. Seperate from the chute - splash - very bad day - I lose my job - you lose a healthy body. Nobody wants that, right? [grins]

Vince: Okay, what's your name again? ......Kevin, right? Okay, Kevin, where is the guy who was para-sailing some time back?

Kevin turns around, gazes into the sea.... looks little worried since he can't see his para-sailing boat....... with a customer attached to it.

Kevin: I am gonna be right back.

After sometime Kevin returns. Vince is all tied up to the chute, ready to take-off.

Kevin: Alright. Okay. So, you ready?

Vince: Did you find your customer?

Kevin: Not yet, but we will. Tide's coming in. So that's not gonna be a problem.

Vince looks at him with little surprise.

Kevin: Anyways. So, the boat's gonna take off and the line is gonna get pulled like a flash - "sshwoosh". It's gonna snap straight. You're gonna feel it, alright. Harness is gonna pull you right up. You will be right up, in a flash.

Hearing this, Vince checks the knots again.

Kevin: Okay, we use thumb signal. Thumbs-down: It will bring you down. Thumbs-up: High ride! You get scared when you are up there, something goes wrong - just scream like a little girl, ......... we can't hear you anyways. I am just kiddin man, we can hear you........ No we cant! Ahem!

Kevin: Okay, if you get into any trouble, for real. You need to pull this handle. That's gonna release you. Hold on to the chute and float down to the water. You afraid of sharks?
After a slight pause....
I am just kiddin man!! I am just kidding. Just trying to get you relax.
No seriously, the sound of you hitting the water will scare the sharks away anyways.

Kevin continues the instructions...

Kevin: Oh yeah, when you hit the water and if you are conscious what you wanna do is get out of the harness as quickly as possible, because the weight of that is gonna pull you down to the ocean bed. We will eventually find you, but it's a long shot.

Kevin: So, you ready?

Vince: Ready? Yeah! Yeah! I am ready........ for a hamburger... Maybe a cold bear. Thanks a lot man.

Vince unties the harness and leaves...

Kevin: What? You don't wanna do this? C'mon dude!! Its fun!

As Vince is walking along the beach, he selects a pair of foot-prints among several others and starts walking, steping exactly on that pair of foot-prints. Coincidently they take him in the direction of 'Beach-Cafe'.

Vince reaches the cafe and takes a seat.

Susan: You know, those foot-prints you were tracing, those were mine.

Vince: Now you wouldn't give me your phone number. So, I had to do 'something' to find you.

They both stare at each other for sometime and then start smiling.

Susan: That's quite a pick-up line.

Vince: Technically, that wasn't a pick-up line, since you were the one who started the conversation.

Susan: Right! [Smiles]. I just noticed how you were matching your footsteps with the one's on the sand and I got a tip for you. Come here at around 4:30-5:00 in the morning and there would be a lot less foot-prints to pick from. And boy! They can take you places.

Vince: Seems I am not the only one who is a connoisseur of .......... strange markings on sand.

Susan: [Smiles] Yeah, I like doing that too.

Vince: I mean, I like it too, but I wouldn't waste like 3 hours of sleep over it.

Susan: I like jogging early......... bit too early I guess.

Vince: You stay nearby?

Susan: Not that easy, James Bond.

Vince: James Bond?

Susan: Your accent. It seems Irish. Like Pierce Brosnan.

Vince: [Smiles] It isn't exactly Irish. It's Welsh. Like Sean Connery, the other James Bond. Oh, and the name is Vince...... Vincent.

Susan: Alright.

Vince: You know, this is the place where you give me your name.

Susan: [smiles] It's Susan.

Vince: So Susan, may I join you......... at your table? It's rather inconvenient talking at the top of my voice, while the creepy old chinaman keeps staring at me, confused whether I am talking to you or him.

Vince joins Susan at her table.

Vince: Okay Susan, you won't give me you last name, you won't tell me if you stay in this neighbourhood...

Susan: [interrupting] Hey, you didn't give me your last name either.

Vince: [Smiles] Right! Ok. So, let's stop acting like undercover government agents and covert assassins. Tell me something about what you do?

Susan: [Smiles] You know, I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you.

Vince: Hmmm... seems worth the risk. Go ahead, enlighten me.

Susan: Well, I work for the Green Cross. It's an environmental organization. We work on different environmental issues from clean water to disarmament of chemical weapons. You know, the international laws dealing with environment.

Vince: So, what do you do for them?

Susan: Uhm, different things. Like last year I was in India working on a water treatment plant.

Vince: Really? Wow!

Susan: Yeah, well the cotton industry there is a major source of pollution. So..

Vince: This...... This is really awesome. You know, like you are actually 'doing' something. I mean, most people, myself included, we just bitch about how the developed countries are consuming all the world's resources, SUVs should be banned, Global warming is real and blah blah. And here you are, actually doing something.

Susan: I know. Actually that's how I got into the Green Cross. I became really tired having those endless conversations with my friends about how the world is falling to pieces. So that's when I decided what I really wanted to do. I wanted to fix things.

Vince: You know, but somehow I have this alternate notion about this 'world is falling to pieces' theory. I mean sometimes I actually feel that things might be getting better.

Susan: Better? How are things getting better? How could you possible think that? Well, NewsFlash - The world is a big mess right now!

Vince: I know, I know. But, all I am saying is that... is that, there is more awareness now. People are going to fight back, now that we know our enemy. You know, like we are evolving or something. We have the maturity to tackle this. Ok ok, let me give you an example here; ten years ago... I was healthier and stronger, but I was racked with insecurity and ignorance. Now, I am older, my problems are deeper, but I am.... I am more equipped to handle them.

Susan: [Smiles] So what are your problems?

Vince: [looks into Susan's eyes] Right now, I don't have any.

Susan: [hesitantly]So....... You wanna order something?

Vince: Yeah, your scrambled eggs look nice. I think I would have those as well.

Vince: So, did you always wanted to become an environmental activist?

Susan: No, not exactly. I mean, I did my majors in political science. My dad wanted me to work for the government and ultimately become a Senator. But I saw that dream crumble years ago.

Susan: I still remember having those converations with my dad. You know, like when I was a kid, my dad used to ask me what I wanted to be and I would say a writer - he used to say 'journalist'. I would say, I wanted to build a refuge for stray dogs and he would say 'Veterinarian'. I would say I wanted to be a stage actress and he would say 'TV News Reader'. It was this constant conversion of my fanciful ambitions into these practical, money-making ventures.

Vincent: Yeah, I mean childhood for me wasn't exactly a joyride. But somehow I managed only to remember the blissful moments and shut the depressing ones in my closet.

Susan: I guess it's a pretty big closet you got there. I mean, is that why you are kinda reserved? You haven't told me anything about yourself. Apart from your name and that you are Welsh.

Vincent: Oh! So you noticed. [Smiles]

Vincent: Well, there isn't much to tell about me. Just another consultant trying to climb up the corporate ladder. Our company just got listed in the NYSE and that's why I am here.......... here in New York. And since my chauffeur only knew Coney Island when asked about beaches, I am here sipping latte with you.

Susan: First time in New York?

Vincent: Yeah! Not much of a traveler.

Susan: But, of course you have seen most of Europe, right?

Vincent: Not really. I mean I have been to almost all the major cities. But that hardly counts. Just fly-in, do my job, fly-out. Strictly business.

Susan: That's sad.

Vincent: I know. I know. But, I have my share of happy European memories. I remember as a teenager I went to Warsaw once, when it was still a strict communist regime. The city was very gloomy and gray. TV was in another language and I had all teh time to myself. Just walking around and thinking. After about two weeks I realised that I had spent all this time away from most of my habits. My brain felt at rest, free from the consuming frenzy. It was like a natural high. It's been a while since I have felt so peaceful inside.

Vincent: And now,..... now I think I am so dissatisfied with everything. You know, like always trying to better my situation. I satisfy one desire and it just agitates another one. It's like I am never happy.

Susan: See, now not being happy is good too. I mean imagine that a person is happy and laughing all the time. Very soon he would be dead with cerebral aneurism or something.

They both start laughing loudly.

Susan: You know, I should get going now.

Susan stands up and gathers her stuff, ready to leave.

Vincent: Where do you have to go? I mean it's saturday.

Susan: I have this important meeting-cum-lunch. It was nice talking to you Vincent.

Vincent: So, thats it? I thought we hit a node here.

Susan: Listen, You seem like a great guy. But, I am passing through some difficult times right now and I can't really get into any....... You know what I mean, right?

Vincent stands up.

Vincent: Susan, you may not know this about me, but I get bold like once every five years. And today is my day. So, if you are seeing someone - fine, if you are dealing with some loss - my sympathies. But since today is my day, I am going to tell you when and where we are going to have dinner together and you are going to show up.

Susan stares at him and can't help smiling.

Vincent: Tonight, 7:30, the lobby of Waldorf-Astoria. Don't be late. And yeah, have fun at the meeting-cum-lunch.

Vincent turns around and leaves. Susan watches Vincent leave and continues smiling.

End of part I. Hopefully, there would be a part II.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lesotho Promise: Houdini

Part III of the Trilogy (Scroll down for Part I and II)

Gradski: Tell me what you have on Springer.
Sergei: There is a van, parked all the time, at about 400 meters from the entrance gate. It belongs to the ‘Feds’. All his phones are tapped, even his cellphone. Not a single word goes un-intercepted. With a robbery this big, I am sure the NSA has him on a satellite, whenever he is out in the open. He gets out of his house at 8:30 am. The van doesn’t follow him, there is another SUV that follows him to office. The van stays put at his residence. He reaches office at around 9:00 am. His workstation at the office is under surveillance and he knows it. The security at Chrome Securities has been doubled after the incident. The place still has FBI officials going through their records. Besides, every single inch of the office is monitored through video cameras….

Gradski [interrupting]: Just tell me if you can reach him?
Sergei: That would be very difficult, without getting noticed. And even if we did get through to him, there is nothing much we can do about threatening him. No known family, no relatives.
Gradski: I know that. What about the time he is alone outside his house? Jogging, golfing, bars, any public place where we could get to him without getting noticed.
Sergei: Since the robbery, he doesn’t get out of that house, other than for work. He knows that his life is in danger. I don’t think he would be getting back to those leisurely activities any time soon.
Gradski: Damn it!!!......... Get me Jack.

They call Jack to their hide-out.

Jack: What is it?
Gradski: I want you to make an arrangement for me. I want you to set-up a meeting for me with someone who is under constant surveillance of the FBI and I want this to be done
Jack: Who is it?
Gradski: Eric Springer, chief engineer of Chrome Securities and a possible suspect for the FBI.
Jack: Did he really steal the diamond? Did he betray you?
Gradski: Just do as I told you to.
Jack: You must be already aware that he is a suspect, which means he is under constant surveillance. So getting him off-the-radar of the FBI and setting up a meeting is rather impossible. But, I could easily deliver your message to him and get back to you with his reply. But I need to know what happened. By the way, I hope our deal still stands.
Gradski: Fine. Sadusky will brief you with the details. As far as the deal is concerned. You will have the remaining money, when we have the diamond.

Sadusky tells Jack everything that happened; how they stole the diamond and how Springer betrayed them. Sadusky then tells Jack to threaten Springer on behalf of the Gradski and get that diamond from him by any means possible.

Jack goes to meet Springer, under the pretext of asking some questions about the robbery.

Jack: Hello Mr. Springer. I am detective Jack Carter, with the FBI.
Springer: Look, I have already told you guys everything I knew. I have nothing more to say. I even passed all the polygraphs and other tests they asked me to.
Jack: Mr. Springer, both you and I know how easy it is to fool those tests........... Especially for someone like you.
Springer: What is that supposed to mean?
Jack: Does the name Gradski strike something?
Springer: Never heard that name before.
Jack: That’s a shame, since I am supposed to kill you, for him. Too bad, you won’t even know who you died for.
Springer: You can’t do that. I am under constant FBI surveillance.
Jack: You have no idea how deep this runs Mr. Springer. What makes you so sure that the guys in that van outside are not involved in this?

People dying, evidence getting tampered, forging lies, these are things that don’t just happen. We make them happen Mr. Springer. And trust me when I say, we are exceedingly good at it.
Springer: I had no idea Gradski had moles inside the FBI.
Jack: Now you do. So let’s talk business, shall we?
Springer: I can’t give up the diamond so easily. I want my ‘cut’, what I was promised before by Gradski.
Jack: Good, now that remember everything about the diamond, lets forget about Gradski.
Springer: What do you mean?
Jack: You are an intelligent man, Mr. Springer. You know exactly what I mean. Do you think Gradski would forgive you once he gets the diamond? You know how these Russians are.
They will hunt you down at the first chance they get. And from the rate at which the case is turning cold, that chance might be a little too sooner than you suspect, right when the FBI surveillance stops.
Springer: What do you want me to do?
Jack: I was working for Gradski for money. Now that he is not in possession of the Diamond, I don’t expect him to pay me. So here is the deal; I take out Gradski for you, you give me the location of the diamond. I set-up the sale of the diamond and we split the money 50-50.
Springer: It’s a very dangerous game you are playing Mr. Carter.
Jack: I have been playing these games since ages, Mr. Springer.
Springer: Okay, but, I will give the location of the diamond to the buyers directly and personally, once the money is wired into my account. I wouldn’t risk giving the diamond to you.
Jack: Fair enough. I will get back to you after I take Gradski out of the equation.

In the following couple of weeks, through a series of tactical field operations, a number of hide-outs of the Russian Mob were demolished. Jack wasn’t officially involved in any of this, but he was the one who tipped off the DEA and FBI about the Russian hide-out he knew about. One hide-out let to the exposure of a number of others. Stash worth millions was impounded. Gradski was forced to leave the country withour his Diamond.

A week after Gradski leaves the country, Jack gets in touch with Springer…

Jack: I have a buyer for the stone.
Springer: How much is he willing to pay?
Jack: 4 million. His name is Jung Won, the famous North Korean warlord. I have scheduled the deal next Friday, 9:00 pm. Take down the address, the second exit on K Street, right after the Whitehurst junction. There is an abandoned warehouse around 2 miles along the road.
Springer: Ya, I know that warehouse. But what about the ‘Feds’ following me?
Jack: They are taking off surveillance on Monday. So don’t worry about them.
Springer: Okay, see you on Friday.
Jack: And don’t act smart this time. No fake stones. These guys know what they are dealing with. You screw-up and we die. Understood?
Springer: Don’t worry. I just want my 2 million and no trouble.

6 months later… [David Mills is in his office at FBI Headquarters, Washington].

David: Martha, could you call up Sandra Carter, wife of Jack Carter……… widow of Jack Carter and connect her to my phone. I want to invite her to the Memorial Day Ceremony.
If it wasn’t for Jack, we wouldn’t be receiving awards from the Secretary of State for recovering that Diamond.
Martha: Sure Sir.

After about an hour or so.

Martha: The Department of Justice just called for that conference and yes, I tried calling Martha Carter, but the given number has been disconnected for almost a month now.
David: You sure about that?
Martha: Yes Sir.
David: Okay, send Durham to her home and tell him to get back to me with the details.

After about a month, Sandra Carter is still untraceable. None of her friends or relatives has a clue.

David: How can she disappear all of a sudden, she is suffering from Leukemia for Christ sakes!
Durham: What do you want me to do, Sir?

David seems lost in thoughts for a while… Suddenly his jaw drops with astonishment.

David: Durham, dig up Jack Carter’s grave. Get his dental records, DNA records, everything and anything you can, to identify whether it’s actually Jack Carter’s body that was buried in that grave.

So, what exactly happened on the day of the deal with the North Koreans?

Friday, 9:00 pm. At the warehouse, Jung Won and his two men meet Springer. Jack is already present.

Jung Won: Hello, Mr. Springer. Have you brought what we need?
Springer: No. I don’t have it with me. You wire the money to my account. I confirm the transfer. Then I give you the location of the stone. Once your men retrive the stone, we can all go home rich.
Jung Won: Sounds good.

Springer and Jack give their account numbers to one of Jung Won’s men and the money is transferred. Springer and Jack verify the money in their accounts.

Springer: Locker 24, Union Station. Combination: 314. You will get what you want.

Jung Won’s man leaves to collect the stone and after 20 minutes calls him back, confirming he found the diamond.

Springer: Well, now that everyone has what they wanted, I think we are done here.
Jack: One last thing…

Jack shoots Springer. Springer falls on the ground, bleeding profusely.

Springer: What was that for?
Jack: Sshhh….. Don’t stress yourself. The blood's almost black, that means the bullet's in your liver. You have about 20 minutes to live. If the pain gets to be too much, you can take your hand away. Then you'll be dead in 5 minutes. But I suggest you try to live as long as you can. Maybe I will tell what this is all about.

Jack: This is not the North Korean warlord Jung Won. I am sure you must have done your research before coming here, but I bet you couldn’t find of picture of Jung Won. This is Officer Nick Chen with the D.C. Police. Japanese by origin and speaks Korean fluently, but he is a US citizen. Same is the case with other two officials who posed as his associates; both are US government officials, but right now they are off-duty, working for me. The money transfer you just saw wasn’t real, thanks to agent Danny Gang here, who is a computer analyst with the NSA. He can make numbers disappear from any account with a twitch of his finger. The money transfer you saw was a classic decoy, Springer. The money did make it to your account but just for a couple of minutes. That’s all you need to know. Now let’s get you back home, shall we? We have a lot of work to do.

After they reach Springer’s home…

Springer is already dead. They setup the house so that it looks as if a shoot-out occurred there; they fire bullets on the walls with Jack’s gun and the revolver that Springer owned.

Then Jack calls 911, using Springer’s cellphone, posing as Springer and tells them about a break-in at his house and attempt on his life.

He then calls his fellow agent, Det. David Mills who was still working on the Diamond trail and tells him to come to Springer’s house, saying he got a possible lead on the diamond trail, since Springer called 911 regarding an attempt on his life.

In Springer’s living room….

Jack: Nick, where is Doc.?
Doc: Right here, Jack.
Jack: Okay, you ready?
Doc: I can never be ready for something like this.
Jack: Relax Doc. We have been over this. Don’t worry. It will be fine. Just be prepared in the ambulance. Make sure the pulse stops and remains so, till they carry me into the ambulance.

Doc. injects Jack with a syringe filled with high dosage of a banned negative inotrope.
Negative inotropic agents weaken the force of muscular contractions. In this case, the target muscle was Jack's heart.

Doc: You will become unconscious after 7-8 minutes from now. This drug would start functioning approximately after 10-12 minutes and within 15 minutes your heart would stop beating. Now listen carefully , this is very important; right after Det. Mills checks your pulse and confirms that you are indeed dead, officer Chen will obscurely inject you with Digoxin. That should help us revive you once you are in the ambulance. But I am telling you Jack, this is very risky. There is a very high probability that you might not make it.

Jack: Relax Doc. We will make it through. I trust you. Nick, you ready?

Nick then stabs Jack with a special type of pointed tool that is sterlized, on the left side of his stomach and removes it. Jack starts bleeding. They fabricate the wound, so that it looks exactly like a bullet wound. After a few minutes he is unconscious. The crime scene is ready as they wanted.

In a few minutes, the Police reach, followed shortly by Det. David Mills.

David: Detective David Mills, FBI. Where is Detective Carter?

D.C. Police Officer (Nick Chen): Please come with me Sir.

Nick tells David that possibly Springer and Jack got into a fight and that is how they shot each other. David tells Nick to get back to get the forensics report ASAP to him.

After David leaves, Nick hurries Jack into the ambulance. Doc is waiting inside with all the equipments required for CPR and a syringe full of Atropine. After much struggle with the CPR and electric shocks and a couple of syringes filled with drugs, Jack's heartbeat returns to normal. Jack, Doc. and Nick are in the ambulance.

Jack: Thank you Doc.
Doc: Thank the Atropine, not me.
Jack: Nick did you tell David, what I told you to?
Nick: Yes. I did. But who is this Sarah Tops?
Jack: Forget about it now. You will know in a few days. Is my new passport ready?
Nick: Yes it is. You ticket for tomorrow is confirmed for day after tomorrow. But you sure you want to fly so early. You should take some rest.
Jack: I would have got out of the country today itself. But I got to do something before I leave. I got to visit the ‘National Museum of Natural History’ tomorrow.

David and Jack worked pretty closely on the Lesotho Promise robbery case. And David had told Jack how his son Nathan was constantly pressing him to visit the ‘National Museum of Natural History’. Jack never wanted to steal diamond. The Heist wasn’t about the money for Jack, it was about getting away clean, from his past. He had all the money he needed from Gomez, Klansky and many more crooks he snitched.

The Officials and Doc (Doctor Reid, he was with the forensics department in the FBI) who assisted him in ripping off Springer were very good friends with Jack and at one point or the other in their life, Jack had helped them in some big way and they owed him for his help. Jack trusted them with his life, literally.

As for the dead body of Jack, it was Doctor Reid who performed autopsy on an unclaimed dead-body, and that same body was buried at the cemetery, under Jack Carter’s tomb-stone.
With Det. David Mills personally being a witness to Jack’s death, no one would probe into his death further.

About a month later, David found the Diamond in the skeleton of a dinosaur called ‘Tri-Cera-Tops’, at the National Museum of Natural History, where Jack had hidden it, before he disappeared......... pulling off a Houdini. He somehow managed to get his suffering wife out of the country to take care of her. Her disappearance led Det. David Mills to suspect that Jack is still alive, because his death enquiry was completely over-shadowed with the Lesotho Promise trail.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lesotho Promise: The Heist

Part II of the Trilogy (Scroll down for Part I)

Sadusky: Well, we have the usual; guards and video monitors. Then, there’s an inch of bulletproof glass, beyond which is an army of sensors and heat monitors that will go off if someone gets too close even with a high fever.
Gradski: We have Sergei for those. Electronics is not a problem.
Sadusky: I never said it was a problem. But wait till you hear the whole thing. The room has two-feet-thick concrete, steel-plated walls, same goes for the ceiling and the floor. The door is solid steel, a foot thick and happens to be locked with a 128-bit encryption code that changes every minute, coupled with biometric access-denial systems. Every guard has a trigger to the emergency alarm with him and once it’s triggered, the response time of the secondary unit is approximately 10 minutes.

Sadusky: We can hack into the surveillance feed from the cameras and corrupt it, but it’s useless if we can’t get into that room. I need you to understand the gravity of the situation. Breaking into something like this requires very comprehensive planning, with like a dozen contingency plans.
Gradski: We did the job in Naples. It was more secured than this.
Sadusky: Naples was different and we planned for 4 months before the job. Right now, we don’t have time for that. Face it Gradski, we need more people on the inside.
Gradski [takes a deep breath]: Who do you suggest?

Meanwhile, somewhere in the dark alleys of Georgetown, Washington, D.C....

Jack: Gomez, listen to me. I will get you the money. You don’t need to do this. Give me 48 hours.
Gomez: What’s gonna happen in 48 hours, amigo? You have been pulling this off for almost 2 months now. I need my money now!
Jack: I don’t have it now! But I swear I can get you the money in 48 hours.
Gomez: How?
Jack: The DEA(Drug Enforcement Adminstration) just got hold of a consignment that belonged to Russian mob. Stash worth a couple of million at least.
Gomez: What about it?
Jack: You know my buddy Ian in the DEA, right? He is handling the transfer of the stash. You know how these transfers work. The real worth of the stash is calculated after the transfer of the stash to the DEA office. A few thousand worth of stash gets misplaced. No one notices. Easy money!
Gomez: I am done taking crap from you.
Jack: Gomez stop! Think! What worth am I to you dead? Give me 48 hours and I will get you your money. You know you can always track me down later and kill me if I don’t get your money.
Gomez: You screw up this time, and I will paint this wall with your brain.

Gomez lets Jack go with a time frame of 2 days. Before Jack can call Ian, he gets a call from Ian…

Jack: I was just about to call you. It’s urgent.
Ian: I have something for you that’s far more important than whatever you have for me. Back entrance of the RFK stadium, in 20 minutes. Don’t be late.

Jack meets Ian….

Jack: What is it Ian?
Ian: They got to me.
Jack: Who?
Ian: The Russians.
Jack: What? You can’t let them take the stash man! I am counting on it for my life!
Ian: It’s not the stash. It’s something much bigger and they want you.
Jack: What? Why would they want me? What did you tell them Ian?
Ian: Nothing man. They knew I am good friends with you. They just want to talk to you.
Jack: I am not going to talk to those sons of…. You listen to me, get back in your car and go home.
Ian: Too late for that Jack. They are already here.
Jack: Ian, you son of a gun!! God darn it!!

Jack turns around and finds Sadusky and a couple of his goons standing behind him…

Sadusky: We just want to talk Mr. Carter. It might just save your life. Will you be kind enough to accompany me?

Jack is left with no other choice. Sadusky and Jack leave for the Russian hide-out in a van.

Jack: What do you want from me?
Sadusky: We need a small help from you. We need you to provide us information about an investigation that your agency will undertake in a few days.
Jack: You want me to be a mole. Do you realize what that means….. A mole inside the FBI. I would never do that.
Sadusky: Relax Mr. Carter! You will get your reward for this. Calm down and think about it. You can make them all go away….. Gomez, Klansky and all the other crooks who want to slit your throat, because you owe them money. We will even pay-off Gomez for you.
Jack: Seems like you have done your homework. But even if I agree, I cannot just interfere with any investigation that is not under my jurisdiction.
Sadusky: It will be under your jurisdiction, believe me.
Jack: What exactly do I have to do?
Sadusky: You have to inform us about every single detail, every single lead that the FBI has about a certain robbery.
Jack: Robbery? What are you guys planning to steal?

Sadusky throws a photo in front of Jack…

Jack: A Diamond?
Sadusky: The Lesotho Promise.

Jack: That’s a big stone. But why would I be assigned to this case. I am a detective in the FBI. I don’t work on jewellery thefts.

Sadusky: The stone is owned by a South African Corporation. It is being brought to Washington for an exhibition-cum-sale event, as a part of the new US - South African trade agreement. It is on display at the 'National Museum of African Art' at the National Mall. It’s not just a 20 million dollar stone; it’s a sign of South African trust. And when it disappears, it would be your country’s honor that would be at stake. So believe me when I say, your department would be the one handling this investigation.

Jack: Even if you do steal this stone, don’t forget, you are in Washington. The FBI headquarters at Pennsylvania Avenue is at stone’s throw from here. Within minutes the whole city would be swamped with officials. You can’t get away with this.

Sadusky: That is exactly why we need you Mr. Carter. Oh! Before we carry on with the details of your new assignment, how is your wife, Mr. Carter? I hear blood transfusions cost a fortune.

A week later, Gradski and his team go through the final plan…

Gradski: Sergei, do you have all the equipments you need to get into the surveillance feed from the cameras and hack into their systems?
Sergei: Yes, but the fail-safe mechanism would allow me to control the cameras and sensors for just over 20 seconds.
Gradski: That’s more than enough. Isn’t it Mr. Springer?

Springer: I… I don’t know. I will try my best.
Gradski: Mr. Springer, no one cares about your 'best'. I want you to replace that stone within those 20 seconds. Let me explain you how this works. You need to move around the glass windoa for around 20 seconds, examining the sensors, in such a way that we can create a loop-back recording for that duration. This loop-back would be played on the monitoring screens of the museum guards during the time when you swap the diamonds. So while you are swapping the stones, it would appear on the cameras that you are still checking the sensors. The motion sensors would also be down during this time. We would be in complete 2-way, audio-visual contact with you all the time during the operation. So, you need not worry. We will guide you through, just in case you try to do something ‘stupid’.

Springer: What about the guard at the door? What do I tell him?
Gradski: Tomorrow, during visiting hours, my men would purposely trigger the heat sensors a couple of times. This would result in a complain to be filed in Chrome Securities to check the sensors. I hope you have been working closely with your lead technician lately, as was instructed to you. As you are already aware, your lead technician and his crew would be in New York City tomorrow. Testing the sensors comes under your domain so you would be the obvious choice to check them.

Gradski: The Corporation you work for; Chrome Securities is responsible for the Security of all the museums and galleries in the National Mall. Is that correct, Mr Springer?
Springer: Yes.
Gradski: Good. So, when you get the real stone, I want you to go to the National Museum of Natural History, which is close to the National Museum of African Art. You will then go to the 1st floor water-cooler. There is a small niche, at the back, on the left bottom corner of the water cooler. You will keep the stone there. Here is a picture of the water-cooler. It’s needless to say that we will be watching and hearing you all along Mr. Springer. Don’t grow a brain.

Springer: I would have a special clearance for the African Art museum, where the diamond is, but how do I get inside the Natural History museum at 8 o’clock in the night?
Gradski: You are a Chief Engineer of the company that designed the Security of this museum. I am sure you can think of a reason. And do not worry, Sergei here would erase all records of your visit to the Natural History Museum, where you will temporarily hide the diamond, until we pick it up tomorrow. All you have to do is get inside, do your job and get out without raising any eyebrows of the guards present.

Springer: But, why wouldn’t I be the prime suspect after the robbery.
Gradski: Relax Mr. Springer. There would be not a single trail of your involvement in any of this, I assure you that. We have taken every step to protect you from the suspicion and expect you to do the same for us. Once we get the stone, the transfer would be made into the new anonymous account created at the bank in Cayman Islands. Sergei would provide you the User ID and password for the same. Remember, no suspicious activities till we get out of this country safely.
Gradski: Sadusky, give Mr. Springer the fake stone. In less than 48 hours you are going to be filthy rich. Goodluck and Godspeed Mr. Springer.

Next day, at 11:00 pm in the night, it’s all over the News. The Lesotho Promise has been stolen. But there is no mention anywhere about a fake stone being found in its place. Reports said that it just vanished. One moment it was there in the video cameras and next moment it disappears into thin air…….. literally, it disappeared into thin air. That’s because that fake stone was no stone. It was a special compound prepared using camphor. Camphor has unique properties, it looks crystalline; add the correct ingredients and you can make it shiny and reflective, almost like a diamond. It's sublime
; a little heat and it evaporates into thin air. There was a small battery powered heater inside the crystal. Sadusky switched ON the heater through a remote transmitter at 10:30 pm. and that’s exactly when the diamond disappeared. It was a very good plan and exceptionally well executed. But it wasn’t over. They were going to be chased by the elite in the field of investigation. Springer was grilled for 24 straight hours by the FBI. But the Russians were really good at covering tracks. Springer was released, but was prohibited from leaving the country and was under 24x7 surveillance.

But the plan didn’t turn out as perfect as Gradski thought it would. Everything went as per the plan, except for one small hiccup; the stone that Gradski’s men recovered from the back of the water-cooler at the Natural History Museum turned out to be fake! As it appears, Gradski wasn’t the only one with a fake stone. Springer had a fake diamond too; a dummy piece he got from Chrome Securities. Chrome Securities had many dummies to test the motion sensors and other aspects of security. So, when Gradski and his team are watching Springer hide the diamond behind the water cooler, little did they suspect that Springer had managed to foil his master plan with a much simpler one. Gradski realized his mistake; for someone to be a chief engineer in a multinational corporation, Springer lacked confidence and was nervous all the time. Springer pulled off the nervous-engineer-lacking-confidence with much finesse and managed to fool everyone till they realized how confident and clever he was.

Now Springer was constantly under the surveillance of the FBI, that meant two things; he had hidden the diamond some place other than his home and the secondly, there was no way Gradski could extract the location of the diamond from him, without catching the attention of the FBI. Springer had pulled off a rabbit out of the hat and Gradski could just look at it with disgust.
But Gradski was always prepared for failure. That's why he had got hold of Jack; his contingency plan.

To be continued..........

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lesotho Promise

Tracy: Hey! you are early today.
David[smiles]: Save the sarcasm, Wifey! Is Nathan asleep?
Tracy: Yes. He waited for you till 11:30.
David: Ohh! I am so sorry. I completely forgot. I was about to leave early for home, to take him to the museum and then something urgent came up and I completely forgot.
Tracy: It's alright. He knows your inability to remember stuff. So Detective Mills, what mystery did you solve today?
David: Well.... other than discovering my inability to remember stuff and how sarcastic you have become, nothing special.
Tracy: Oh, so this isn't special....

Tracy switches on the TV.

News reporter: The 'Lesotho Promise' is a 603 carat diamond stone. The South African Diamond Corporation, expected to sell the diamond for more than 20 million dollars at an exhibition held at the 'National Museum of African Art' here in Washington, before it was stolen.

David: Since when do you follow the News?
Tracy: Since the day I married a detective from the FBI.
David: They assigned me to this case few hours ago. Now I am one of the lead detectives on the biggest robbery of the decade.
Tracy: Which means you are the dad who wont be seeing his son until the case is solved.
David: Tracy, come on!! Its just a matter of days. And I promise we will take that museum tour together.

David: But why would he want to go that stupid museum anyways? Why not the Star Wars Premier or the NBA playoffs? It's like he has got all your genes and none of mine.
Tracy: Ok Ok. Lets argue at the dinner table, shall we? I am starving.

Next Day, FBI headquarters, Washington, D.C.

David: Durham, did NSA send over those satellite recordings of the crime scene?
Durham: Yes Sir, they are on the shared drive, where you had asked.
David: Good. Inform everyone, Conference Room B in 5 minutes.

David[talking to his team]: As everyone is aware, last night at around 2230 a mammoth diamond, the Lesotho Promise was stolen from the National Museum of African Art. I am ashamed enough to say that no suspects have been identified so far. Our best guess is, there was someone on the inside, because this place housed a security system that could rival most missile silos. And breaching it ain't no one-man-job. Now, it is needless to say that how crucial it is to obtain this stone back. Not just because it's worth more than the Statue of Liberty, but because it's a question of National Pride. The stone belonged to the South African Diamond Corp. It's obvious that the political repercussions are going to be immense. The Director has already been breathing down my neck. So, lets stop wasting time here and get that damn stone back!

Det. David Mills and Det. Jack Carter discussing the case in Jack's office...

Jack: These satellite recordings are totally inconclusive. There is no recording of the Art Museum for like 25 minutes during which the robbery occured.
David: Oh Come on now!! What are the chances of a satellite hovering over D.C. at that exact moment!
Jack: What about Chatter? Anything there?
David: Nope. We cant expect robberies to be monitored through Chatter. And this doesn't look like a terrorist activity anyways.

David: Relax. I am pretty sure something would come up from the huge interrogation being carried out. Phew! 212 possible suspects. Largest one I have ever seen.
Jack: How are we doing there?
David: Nothing conclusive so far. The security guards at the time of the robbery are being grilled pretty severely though.
Jack: When are you leaving for the crime scene? I will accompany you.
David: Let's go.

About a month later....

Tracy: Hey, You okay, honey?
David: Yeah!
Tracy: What's wrong?
David: Nothing................. Well, it's that darn diamond theft. All leads have exhausted. I am just unable to figure out where it disappeared. Its been like a month now and still not a single suspect or clue. How can a stone so precious disappear in thin air? Every major agency across the globe is on alert. But still.....

David gets a call from Jack ....

David: Hi Jack!
Jack: David I got a lead. You remember Springer?
David: Yeah! He is the chief engineer of Chrome Securities. The Company that setup the security for the Lesotho exhibition.
Jack: Yes. He just called 911 and reported a break-in into his house and an attempt on his life. I am on my way to his place.
David: Give me the address. I will be there in a few minutes.

David arrives at the address...

David: Det. David Mills, FBI. Where is Det. Carter?
D.C. Police Officer: Please come with me Sir.

David is shocked to see Carter's body lying on the floor. He is already dead. Springer's body is lying at some distance.
Most of the furniture is broken, suggesting a brawl and quite a few gunshots on the wall. Both Jack and Springer have guns lying beside their bodies.

D.C. Police Officer: It seems the gunshots were from their respective guns, suggesting they killed each other. Det. Carter reached here before we could. He was tipped of by an insider inside the D.C. Police Department. I think he was suspicious of Mr. Springer and was monitoring him. Det. Carter was still alive when we reached.
David: I want a full forensics report tomorrow morning, on my desk.
D.C. Police Officer: Yes Sir. One more thing Sir, Det. Carter was saying something about a Sarah Tops in his final moments.
David: What? What exactly did he say?
D.C. Police Officer: His voice was very low and I could not make out the sentence. But his last words were 'Try Sarah Tops'.
David: Try Sarah Tops? Are you sure Officer?

D.C. Police Officer: Yes Sir. I am sure he said that.

David: Is there anything else that you could make out from what he was trying to say.
D.C. Police Officer: No Sir, that's all I could make out.
David: Thank you Officer.

Whoever this Sarah Tops is or was, quite possible could lead to the diamond or maybe even had the diamond. Jack would not kill a key suspect unless he had no other choice and unless he had got the information he needed. David runs the name across all databases of all known agencies, but nothing comes up. No reference to any Sarah Tops. Springer's profile and accounts were already verified during the investigation. A re-check does not provide anything conclusive. He had covered his tracks well. The case runs cold again.

About a month later.....

David: Hey kiddo! you ready?
Nathan: Yess!
David: Excited?
Nathan: Hmm.. not really, given that we are 2 months late for it.
David: Oh come on now!! You know I was busy? Dont you?
Nathan: Yes Dad.
David: Ok, now lets go before they dont allow us in.

They leave to visit the 'National Museum of Natural History'. As David parks his car, he gets a little pensive.
The National Museum of Natural History is right in front of the National Museum of African Art, from where the Lesotho Promise was stolen. These two museums, along with several others are a part of the 'National Mall' in Washington D.C.
The museum's collections total over 125 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts. It's main attraction being the remains of dinosaurs.

As David and Nathan are taking the tour. David suddenly notices something. He stops and stands still, staring at a 10-meter long dinosaur skeleton. There is a bright reflection falling straight into David's eye. The tag of the dinosaur says 'Triceratops'.

A tribute to my favorite story since like the fifth grade. Hope the modifications in the storyline weren't a letdown.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Today is the day I die - Part I

George: So how is it gonna happen?
Doc: Uh... There's a latent period where you'll be mostly asymptomatic, even in the most extreme cases. It can last a while.
George[sarcastically]: Whats "a while"?
Doc: Uh... well, upto 8 to 10 hours. Maybe..maybe longer. But....your radiation level is about 40 to 45 Sv. Theoretically, you should...... you should be dead any minute. But.. But there was this Canadian guy who survived 9 days after acute exposure in 1940s. So, I mean....
George: Lets cut to the chase Doc. [brief silence] HOW IS IT GONNA HAPPEN?
Doc: Well.......... the symptoms would get more acute with time. In the later stages your hair will start to fall out.
George: I am used to that.
Doc: You'll start to manifest gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, skin lesions, bleeding from the mouth and the nose. Your mental functioning will begin to deteriorate and uh.. you'll lapse into a coma…
George[interrupting]: Ok Doc. Gotcha![winks and starts walking away]
Doc: Sir......... Sir, please get back here I need to run few more tests on you.
George: Get back to the others Doc. They need you.

I am special agent George Mason and today is the day I die.

Almost 18 hours earlier we got a lead from The Mossad about a possible terrorist threat in Manhattan. Statiscally speaking, the FBI receives around 12 thousand tips on possible terrorist activities per week, almost all of which are false. But this was different, it was re-affirmed by Langley and Ft. Meade. A nuclear bomb was going to be detonated on US soil and Manhattan was the target. 20 square miles that extended vertically to an inconceivable extent with its skyscrapers, sprawling with a population of more than 1.5 million, Manhattan was absolutely clueless about what was about to hit it. Sept-11 seemed like a mere trailer, the blockbuster was here. It was confirmed by intelligence that it was a Dirty Bomb. Dirty bombs are much easier to prepare by laying hands on waste from a nuclear reactor or from a good cancer treatment hospital. Laying hands on a tactical nuclear warhead of US origin or sneaking one into a metropolitan city from outside was practically impossible. The US of A is renowned for spying, monitoring and eavesdropping. Today was the day to prove to the world how good we really are at it. We were depending majorly on NSA (read ECHELON) to take us safely through the day.

The information of the bomb scare was kept from the media and the public for reasons pretty obvious. As they say, A person is intelligent but the crowd isnt. It was a normal Wednesday for the locals; traffic on the Eight Avenue, tourists clicking photgraphs at Times square. As my vehicle passed 1 Times Square, the frigging Jumbotron was playing a video that said 'Viva NYC'. Too much of an irony I would say.
Within a few hours, there was a major development. Suspicious activities and vehicles were reported from the Midtown. Suspicious enough to send 2 NEST teams and all the FBI and SWAT teams in a 10-block radius. Midtown was the perfect spot to strike. Its the busiest single commercial district in the United States. On any given weekday, more than 700,000 people work in the hundreds of offices there. Empire State, UN Headquarters, Madison Square Garden, Times Square are just a few of the dozens of landmarks in Midtown.

A terrorist dirty bomb is unlikely to cause many deaths. I mean its just normal explosive mixed with radioactive material, but given our present scenario, the head-count was very close to a million. We didn't know much about the composition of the bomb, so playing with numbers was a little too pre-mature. But certain things were for sure; people who come directly in contact with the radiation would suffer damages, including death for severe exposure. Long term effects include a variety of things from cancer to genetic disorders. The wind would spread the Nuclear Fallout, contaminating the surroudings, depending on the direction and speed of the wind. The decontamination of the affected area requires considerable time and expense, rendering affected areas partly or fully unusable for months. The terrorists had done their homework.

The NSA confirmed that bomb was in the UN headquarters. Worst possible place to look for it. The site of the UN headquarters has extraterritoriality status, typical of embassies. This affects some law enforcement where UN rules override the laws of New York City. This would lead to many incidence of the FBI colliding with UN officials over matters of jurisdiction. The more they argue over formalities, the slimmer the chances get of finding the bomb and diffusing it before it goes off. In a matter of minutes the building was swamped with NEST officials. By this time the media had sniffed that something big was cooking. The President declared DEFCON 2. The whole of Manhattan was in chaos. People trying to get out of the city led to traffic jams everywhere. The nightmare had just begun.

Today is the day I die - Part II

Riggs: Sir, the threat has been eliminated. Unit 6 just radio'ed from UN headquarters that the bomb has been diffused.
George: What the...... So soon? How? I mean just 5 minutes ago I went to take a piss, fearing it would be the last one I take and here you are, telling me they diffused the frigging bomb.
Riggs: Sir, you have been in the rest room for the almost 30 mins.
George: Ahem..... Give me that radio!
George: Unit 6, this is Special Agent Mason from Unit 2. How do we proceed from here?
Unit 6: Hold your position Agent Mason, until you get further instructions.

George[putting a cigarette in his mouth]: Got a light, Riggs?
Riggs: Sir, this is no-smoking zone.
George: What do you think I am? Illiterate? ............. I can read the frigging sign!

Lights his cigarette...

George: No-smoking zone, huh? Tell that to the terrorists who were about to smoke whole of Manhattan.

I was at 8 Broad Street, the New York Stock Exchange(NYSE) building. The FBI had appointed special agents at every major building in Lower Manhattan. It was all over the TV; how our brave(read lucky) boys had averted the deadliest threat that the country had ever faced. The UN building was the crime scene and forensics and NEST teams were trying to figure out the source of this bomb. The President addressed the nation and the chaos calmed down to some extent. The man-hunt was still on for the culprits.

Meanwhile the trading at NYSE had not stopped. The market experienced a major setback after the threat was declared. But now that the city had overcome the ordeal, it was expected to bounce back. The trading floor is located at 11 Wall Street. Five mammoth rooms overflowing with traders and stock enthusiasts dealing in hundreds of billions. They say the NYSE has a global capitalization that surpasses even the GDP of USA. As the market was about to close, the increase in flow of people in and out of the building was making the entrance crowded. I noticed a crowd gather right in front of the building. I asked Riggs to enquire what was going on. As the crowd dispersed I saw Riggs carrying a beautiful blonde in his arms and a guard pushing a baby pram, walking towards me. She was unconscious and the baby wont stop crying. We called 911 but with all the traffic around they wouldn't be reaching soon. After sprinkling water on her, she came to her senses. Riggs interrogated her. She claimed to be the babysitter. Her ID and SSN confirmed her claim. She was asked to wait in the lobby till the paramedics arrived. Everything was smooth again, except the fact that the darn baby wouldn't let go of my hand. I switched on my cellphone to find 9 missed calls from Sherry. I called her back.

George: Hey, whats the matter?
Sherry: The nuclear bomb, thats the matter. Where were you? I couldn't reach you on your cell.
George: Yeah, it was switched off.
Sherry[shouting]: Switched off!!! Do you realize how worried I was.
George: Sherry, Calm Down!
Sherry: You didn't have the courtesy to call me and say that you were alright.
George: Whats the matter with you? I am a Federal agent. I have a job to do. An important job, other than help you make babies! You know what, I dont need to give you an
explanation, because in less than a week we would be officially divorced. [Hangs Up]

George: Riggs, wheres the babysitter?
Riggs: She went to the restroom Sir.
George: Okay. Call up 911 and find out when the paramedics would be here. I got better work to do than help babysit.

10 mins. later...

George: Riggs, where is the darn babysitter?
Riggs: I will go check sir.
George: Yeah, you do that.

I stood there staring at the baby in the pram, it just hit me and I realised what had happened.....

Riggs: Sir.......
George[completes his sentence]: the babysitter is gone.

The width of the pram was more than the width of the metal detector gateway. The pram was not passed through the metal detectors.
There were no NEST teams in Lower Manhattan, given the vastness of the UN headquarters all the NEST teams were deployed to scan the UN building.
Why would the security guards check a baby when the babysitter is that beautiful and unconscious.
This was the plan all along. They knew that the bomb would be found and diffused in time. But they also knew that once the bomb is found, no matter how strict the surveillance is, it is bound to get complacent and develop a slack. The news of the bomb was spread by the same terrorist group. But everyone was told that there is only one bomb.

I lifted the baby, uncovered the pram and there it was. The second bomb. We were briefed by NEST personnel early morning where they displayed photographs and designs of nuclear devices and dirty bombs. This was definitely a dirty bomb.

George: Call NEST team now!

Riggs gets on the radio and informs NEST team.

George: They would never make it on time. Roads are blocked. There isn't a helipad nearby to land a chopper. I gotta get this thing out of here.
George: Riggs, which one is closer? North River or East River?
Riggs: I.. I am not sure sir.
George: Damn it Riggs!!................... Anyways, I am going for North River. I want you to call Harbor Patrol and tell them to intercept me along 23rd Street ASAP. Tell them what I am carrying, they will know what to do.
George: Dont think! Just pick up the frigging phone and DO IT!

I carried the bomb in a car and made sure that no one accompanied me. As I was honking my car continuously to clear the way, it hit me that I could die any moment. I almost hit the brakes and felt like running away. In spite of knowing the fact that since it was a nuclear device, I would die anyway. Never before in my life was I this scared. And I wasn't even a big fan of my life. The bomb didn't even have a timer, all I could hear was a beep, which got louder and faster with time. It was right there, on the adjacent seat, staring at me, as if it was about consume me. After the longest 15 minutes of my life, I reached the river where Harbor Patrol got me rid of the deadly parcel. They had everything ready to drown the bomb and fortunately it didn't go off until it was deep in the river.

As it is with most dirty bombs, this one too was leaking radiation. The NEST team reached the North river, so did Riggs and my team at the NYSE. I was the stupid one to carry the bomb and hence had maximum exposure. Somehow, I couldn't help but think about the baby.

A Doctor started examining me for the radiation levels, as he went through the readings on his device for my exposure level, his face went pale. I knew the whole story right away.

George: Hey Doc, there was a baby at the scene. Send someone and find that baby and make sure its ok.
Doc: The baby is right here, your team got the baby here for check-up as well. And.........its a 'she' by the way.
George: How is she?
Doc[reluctant to answer]: She was exposed for a considerable amount of time and was in close proximity as well. She won't make it.

I never liked babies, to the extent that I didn't even want one with the woman I love. I was about to divorce my wife because she wanted a baby and I didn't.
And here I was, tears flowing down my eyes for a baby who I barely knew for few minutes. It was all so clear to me. I was this whole new, transformed person....... who was about to die in few hours.

After the Doc was done with all the tests....

George: So how is it gonna happen?
Doc: Uh... There's a latent period where you'll be mostly asymptomatic, even in the most extreme cases. It can last a while.

Here I am waiting for my death. I am not scared to die. Who wouldn't want to get rid of a life like mine. But there was this one thing that I had to do. I had to apologize to the
single good thing in my life, Sherry.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Date

Someone: Ok people, lets start the brainstorming on how to keep the mosquitoes at bay from our Library. As funny as it may sound, its a cumbersome problem. And yes, its for real!

Taylor!.......Taylorr!! Would it sound rude if I said, I think its a total waste of time that I am here. I would rather try and convince my roommate to accompany me for pedicures tomorrow, than be here.

Someone: [long pause..... followed by a fake smile] No. Not at all.

Liz: Awesome! [Gets up from the chair. Elegantly tucks those lovely curls behind her ears. Puts her handbag on her shoulders and takes 18 graceful steps before vanishing behind a slamming door!]

Me: [thinking] Have I ever noticed anything that intricately before? Focus on the blood sucking mosquitoes, John!

Oh! by the way, that Someone is 'Taylor'. Now I remember! I sat through the entire Freedom-from-Mosquitoes brainstorming session. But those aforementioned lines are the only things I remember from the session. Apparently, my brain just responds to just one keyword lately, Liz! And before you think of the 4-letter word, stop right there! Instead its a 5-letter word....... PHASE. Atleast thats what Enrique says in one of his songs.

I like girls. We all do, right since we were monkeys we do. All the more reason to believe this is a Phase. But what should I do about the subtle signs that go against my whole 'Phase theory'.
I always hate it inside the elevator. Feels like you are on an inter-galactical journey on foot. But when she is standing next to me, the darn thing flies faster than a rocket. Talk about Theory or Relativity!
All of a sudden I am hovering over the 'Love and Romance' section at the video rentals.
Couples sucking on straws from the same glass of Fruit-Punch doesnt seem like a cheesy way to save money anymore.
Archies and Hallmarks, not so meaningless afterall.

That reminds me, lets talk something meaningful here. Something that might actually help me get out of this 'situation' I have at hand. But seriously, do I stand a chance? I mean its Liz for Christ sakes. 'Elizabeth Skarbek' aka Liz aka Beth aka Lizzie aka Eliza. I cant even give her a nickname once we are going out. Everythings already taken. Focus dumbo! Lets postpone the day-dreaming. Shakespeare - Whats there in a name, remember? Well, she is the most famous person in college, also the Student-body president and cheerleader team captain. All in all, the most unachievable girl around. There you go, I said it. Unachievable. End of discussion. 'Moving on' Phase has officially begun.

But what if I do actually have a shot. I mean, we do talk at times and there is always the occasional nanosecond eye-contact that ends with a smile from her. Some famous scientist-slash-philosopher had said some 200 years ago, 'Its better to know than wonder'. I think it applies here. Okie then, I am gonna do it. I am gonna ask her out.

I dont know how I am gonna do it but I gotta find my helmet first and get some arm and shin guards. I could always outrun her, incase theres a chase sequence. So thats covered. Ok John, enough with the contingency plan. Be spontaneous. Evolve. Let the chips fall where they may. I should practise a bit in front of the mirror. Always helps.

2 years later.

Around 10:00 pm. Tom and John talking over a couple of beer at John's apartment.

Tom: Yeah? I was a dork back then, huh? Remember the time when you asked Liz out?

John: Dude! that was like a million and a half years ago.

Tom: Yeah Right! You were so stupid. I mean you ask her out on a date for the Halloween Dance Party. She says YES. Liz says YES to you!! And just when we think there is no possible way that you could screw this up, you dress up as 'Nazi soldier' for the dance party and arrive at her doorstep! How could you do that man? How could you not know she is Jewish.

I have no idea how it just didn't occur to me man. I was so overwhelmed that I just didnt figure it out. I mean 'Skarbek' did sound Jewish. Man! what are the odds of getting ditched on your first date like that. I was stupid, so very frigging stupid!

Liz: [entering the apartment]
'Was'........ what you mean 'was stupid'. You are stupid. And forgetful and weird and your life is a mess just like this house of yours.

John: 'Yours'....... what you mean 'house of yours'. Its ours!

Liz: [kisses John] Hi Tom. Long time, how have you been?
[to John]
Oh! before I forget, did you call up the plumber?

I was just about to do that after this beer.

Liz: And the gas bills............ Let me guess, you were going to pay those too, after this beer.

John: Ooo! How well you know me!

Fade Away....................