THE STRAY PART 1
Hello Dear Readers and Listeners; if you are a dog lover, you will indeed find this tale interesting. I hope to keep writing and podcasting thought-provoking and entertaining stories just for you. You could support me by joining this website as a member and signing up for my mailing list. These are festive seasons. I wish my readers and listeners the world over Happy Durga Puja and Navratras. Take care and enjoy the story.
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INTRO 00:00:00 Welcome to OBSCURUS, your weekly dose of paranormal fiction. Every Wednesday OBSCURUS features new short stories and serialized novels written by novelist, screenwriter, and voice-over artist Biswajit Banerjee. The realm of the paranormal stretches far beyond the usual horror story. So, while you will get to listen to lots of ghost stories on this podcast, there will also be many tales of lesser-known paranormal themes. To get us started, here's your host Biswajit Banerjee.
Hello and welcome to OBSCURUS. I am Biswajit Banerjee, your host for this show. Do you love dogs? Most of you, I am sure, do. Today I will narrate part one of a two-part story about a businessman who is not too fond of dogs.
Well, that will be in a while. Before the story, I would like to request my readers and listeners to visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com and become members. You will find information about all my creative pursuits on the website.
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Time for the story now – A pup follows Peter, Amelia, and their son Arthur from the market to their ground floor apartment. He becomes a part of their family though Peter is not too fond of him. Mysterious events follow in the household. Is the pup responsible? Come, let's find out.
THE STRAY PART 1 00:03:51
Written and Performed by Biswajit Banerjee
A dog, probably eight or ten months old, followed them from the market to the ground floor apartment.
"Hey, can we keep him?" Amelia asked.
"Certainly not; we already have too many problems to deal with," Peter replied.
"Look at him; isn't he cute? And he is also hungry."
"What's wrong with you? Keeping a dog is difficult. The expenses will shoot up."
Peter unlocked the entrance door.
"We can manage the expenses. Please, Peter, don't say no."
"Ahhh puupiie," the child in Amelia's Arms pointed at the puppy.
"Did you hear that? Arthur also likes the dog."
"Get in, Amelia. Enough is enough."
"Puupiie." Arthur's eyes sparkled.
"Arthur likes the puppy, and I too like the puppy. So, we are in the majority. We are keeping him — that's final."
"It is hard to believe you can act so immature."
"And it is hard to believe you are so insensitive to the mood of the family."
Amelia stomped into the apartment, and before Peter could move in and shut the door, the puppy, too, ran into the house.
"Looks like destiny just added more trouble to my life," Peter whispered to himself.
"Thank you so much for keeping the dog," Amelia said as she snuggled with the puppy on the couch.
"Well, I didn't keep him; he kept himself."
"Oh yes, I know, he just ran in, didn't he?"
"At least you didn't drive him out. Thanks for that."
"Well, if you ..."
"Though I am averse to keeping pets, if you did want a dog, we could buy one of a good breed. Why keep a stray?"
"Oh, come on, every dog is cute, and I don't understand why the so-called stray dogs should be held any less important than those you call the dogs of good breeds. A street dog doesn't deserve a home any less than an Alsatian, or a bulldog, for example."
Arthur moved close to the puppy and patted his back.
"They seem to share a beautiful bond, don't you think so, Peter?"
"Whatever — if the stray makes you happy, let it be so."
"Don't call him a stray. We need to give the pup a name — how about Blaze?"
Peter got up from the sofa. "Name him Blaze, Craze, or whatever — I am not interested."
"Certain things need to be ordered from the market."
"What things? We have already made several purchases today."
"Oh, Darling, we need to get a few things for Blaze."
"For the stray, you mean?"
"You won't call him 'the stray' anymore, understood?"
"All right. What do I need to get for your new son?"
"Oh, that sounds better. Okay, you got to purchase a puppy crate and a dog bed ... those things are essential. We would also need deodorizers, a comb and a brush, dog toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, stain removers, a dog tag, and a leash though I won't use the leash too much."
"Okay, so, several hundreds of pounds will go down the drain now."
"Shut up, Peter. He is your son, too."
A helpless expression formed on Peter's face.
The business meeting with Mr. Zakir Syed and Mr. David Taylor was scheduled for 2 p.m. Peter got late by half an hour.
"I am very sorry, Mr. Syed. Sorry, Mr. Taylor."
"Mr. Jones," Zakir said, "ours is a new partnership, and if things go this way ..."
"But this is the only time I got late, Mr. Syed. You would appreciate, I am quite punctual."
"Well, Mr. Jones," David said, "rather you should appreciate that for Syed Enterprises, nothing is more important than punctuality. Because you got late, Mr. Syed had to cancel an important meeting at 3 p.m."
"Sorry about that, but it all happened due to a traffic jam."
"Excuses are unacceptable, Mr. Jones. Perhaps we should reconsider entering into a partnership with you," Mr. Syed said, adjusting his skull cap.
"Please don't say that, Mr. Syed. This won't happen again, I assure you."
David leaned forward and said, "Mr. Jones, your contribution to the project is only going to be to the tune of 20 percent of the total budget. The rest of the required capital will be invested by Syed Enterprises. This project, I am sure you understand, will make huge profits. Dozens of investors are queuing up to become our partners for this enterprise. Mr. Syed chose you to become our partner for this work because he liked your disciplined approach to business. Now, he doubts if you are as disciplined as we thought you are."
"Mr. Taylor, I said sorry."
"Are you serious about teaming with us in this project, Mr. Jones?" Mr. Syed asked.
"Of course, Mr. Syed. It is a huge opportunity for me."
"In that case, you must value time."
"I always value time, Mr. Syed. What happened today was ..."
"Yes, we know," David said, "you mentioned a traffic jam."
"Henceforth, make allowances for jams and other possible impediments to ensure we do things on time, Mr. Jones. I will give you one more opportunity."
"Thanks, Mr. Syed."
"Now, let's discuss the other important issue — we checked the business account details of the project, Mr. Jones. We found you are yet to transfer your share of the capital to the project account."
"I will need some more time."
"Are you suggesting you don't have the money with you?"
"Not at the moment, but I will arrange the money soon."
"My God, so, the money is not in your kitty now."
"Well, it will come to me soon."
"Perhaps in a week."
"Okay, but a week would mean a week."
"Yes, I understand."
"But more important than the money is discipline, especially valuing time. I hope you understand that?"
"Yes, Mr. Syed, I do."
"Another thing I hate is lies, Mr. Jones."
"My assistant, Farhan, travels the same road that connects your home to this office, Mr. Jones. And Farhan has to travel that road several times during the day. Minutes before you arrived, Farhan returned to this place after finishing certain formalities at the customs office about our consignments. He didn't report any traffic jam on that road."
"Say no more, Mr. Jones. All I request is some discipline and truthfulness on your part."
As Peter walked out of the conference room of Syed Enterprises, he cursed Blaze. "Damn creature, why doesn't he die?" Of course, the reason for getting late wasn't a traffic jam; it was Blaze. He and Amelia took Blaze to the vet for what looked like a stomach infection in the early afternoon. They spent more than an hour in the clinic as the vet did a detailed examination of the pup. Well, getting late was inevitable.
"Pappppa anggggry," Arthur remarked.
"Shhhhh," Amelia placed a finger on her lips.
"If I miss this opportunity, only you and your new son will be responsible," Peter said.
"Please relax; taking the dog to the clinic was also important."
"Important, my foot. The dog is more important than my business — is that what you think?"
"Calm down, Peter."
"And if it was so important to take him to the vet, you could have done it alone. Why did you drag me into this?"
"Peter, I couldn't have dealt with Arthur and Blaze all by myself, could I?"
"But we could keep the visit for tomorrow."
"Deferring the visit could aggravate Blaze's infection. The vet said the infection was severe and needed immediate medical attention."
"To get him timely medical attention, I had to take all the embarrassment at the meeting."
"Don't you think they are being unfair to you, Peter? Okay, you got late, but you are making a substantial investment in the project."
"Look, this is a project that is bound to yield profits. Every investor knows it. Hundreds of people are looking for an opportunity to partner with Syed Enterprises."
"That doesn't give Mr. Syed and his associates the right to insult you, Peter."
"There's no dearth of investors willing to do business with them. And that gives them a vantage position in the business. So, they can afford to be rude to me."
"I find this gamut of affairs strange."
"Well, perhaps it is strange, but stranger is your obsession with the stray," Peter said and walked toward the door."
"Don't call him a stray."
"Oh, sorry, your new son, I mean."
A couple of days later, around 10 p.m., Peter received a call.
"Who's calling you at this hour?" Amelia, lying next to Peter, said.
"This is not a call from a saved number."
"Then don't take the call."
"What if it is a business call? Maybe a new client wants to talk."
"Okay, then perhaps you should take it."
"Hello." Peter accepted the call.
"Hello Mr. Jones, how are you?"
"Oh, Mr. Syed. It seems you have changed your number."
"Indeed, this is my new mobile number."
"Well, fine; I will save it."
"Yes, save it, but what about the money, Mr. Jones?"
"I spoke to my sources. The money will become available to me tomorrow, and …"
Peter couldn't finish the sentence. Blaze woke up, moved out of the pup bed, and started barking, howling, and scratching the door.
"What is wrong with you, Blaze?" Amelia asked and hurriedly went to attend to the pup.
"I hear a dog in the background," Mr. Syed said from the other side.
"Yes, our pup is making noises."
"Oh, a pet?"
"Umm-hmm. So, tell me now — when will you transfer the money to the project account?"
"Maybe in another two days, Mr. Syed."
"Why in two days? A while back, you said the money would become available to you tomorrow."
"Correct, but the money is coming to me in the form of cash. The client who's going to give me the money is not willing to send it to my account."
"No problem, you can give us cash."
"Don't worry, Mr. Jones; we will sign a receipt for you. Syed Enterprises is a big concern; we don't cheat people for such small amounts of money."
"If cash works with you, I am fine with it. I will come to your office around 2.30 p.m. tomorrow with the cash."
"Rather, David, Farhan, and I will come over to your place to collect the cash in the afternoon."
"You will be coming to my place?"
"Yes, is there a problem with our coming?"
"Not at all; you are most welcome."
"Bye, Mr. Jones."
"Bye, Mr. Syed."
Amelia calmed the pup and led him to his bed.
"Who was it? Mr. Syed?" She asked, moving back into the bed.
Peter briefly told her what Mr. Syed said.
"A strange man. Why is he so desperate so as to be willing to take the money in cash?"
"The concern needs to make the investment immediately."
"The need is so immediate?"
Blaze started barking again.
"What's up with your new son?"
"Perhaps he is unhappy about …"
"Unhappy about what?"
"Do you know dogs possess a high degree of intuition? A while back, I read in a magazine that dogs can sense who is and who is not a good human — scientific research proves this idea."
"Well, I can sense what you are trying to say?"
"If you think I mean Blaze received bad vibrations from Mr. Syed, then ... then ... you are absolutely right."
"Ridiculous things you say at times, Amelia. How can Blaze receive bad vibrations from Mr. Syed? The pup never met the man. Are you suggesting he got bad vibrations through the phone?"
"What! You really think so!"
"Perhaps the very mention of Mr. Syed irritated him."
"So, the name irritated him, you think."
"Could be the name, could be the man behind that name!"
"Fantastic! So, your new son can now read the psyches of the people on the other side of the mobile phone."
"I just told you dogs are ..."
"Oh, yes, I know Amelia — dogs are intuitive creatures. And this dog, in particular, is so intuitive that he can sense the characters of people even when they are on the other side of a phone."
"It is possible Blaze's sense of intuition is much higher than other dogs."
"Can we sleep now, Amelia? Enough is enough."
The client arrived around 10 a.m. and with him the cash. Peter was delighted he would now be able to keep his promise to Mr. Syed.
With Blaze on a tight leash in the bedroom, Peter received Mr. Syed, Mr. Taylor, and their associate Farhan. Shortly after Amelia had served tea and snacks to them, Mr. Syed came straight to the point.
"Is the money ready?"
"Bring it. We will complete the investment formalities today itself."
Peter got up with his cup still half-filled with tea.
"Finish your tea first," Amelia said.
"Your wife is right, Mr. Jones; you should finish drinking your tea first," Mr. Syed said, chewing potato chips.
"I guess they are in a hurry, Amelia," Peter said, "let me get the cash."
"Come on, Peter," Amelia responded, "I guess they are not in such hurry so as not to allow you to drink your tea."
"Finish it, finish it." Farhan nodded.
Peter sat down on the sofa again and began to drink his tea.
"How excited you must be about the partnership!" Mr. Taylor remarked.
"Of course, I see this as a landmark in my career as an investor."
"Rest assured, the results will be great," Mr. Syed said.
After finishing his tea, Peter smiled and said, "Give me a minute; I will be back with the cash."
A shock wave moved through Peter when he opened the cupboard in the bedroom. The bag with cash was not there!
"Amelia," Peter called out.
"What's the matter?" Amelia walked into the room.
"Where's the money?"
"It should be where you kept it."
"The money isn't here."
"Impossible." Amelia shook her head.
"Take a look for yourself."
After checking through the stuff in the cupboard, she said, "I can't believe this."
The pup began to bark.
"This damn creature must be responsible."
"Blaze didn't do anything, Peter? For sure, he didn't open the cupboard and take the money."
"Then who removed the money? An invisible thief?"
Well, Friends, that's all we have for today. The next episode will feature the second and concluding part of the tale. Catch up with you then.
Thanks for listening to OBSCURUS. If you like what you heard, please subscribe and visit biswajitbanerjee.com for more information about Biswajit's books, movies, documentaries, and other creative pursuits. We shall see you next Wednesday with another episode of OBSCURUS. Till then, take care!