THE STRAY PART 2
Dear Readers and Listeners, here's the second and concluding part of the story about the stray. I am truly touched by your support for my creative endeavors and hope to continue to entertain you with my stories. Do become a member of this site if you haven't done so already and subscribe to my mailing list. By doing so, you can help me immensely to grow as a writer and a podcaster. Take care and enjoy the story.
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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.
HOST TALK 00:00:47
Hello and welcome to OBSCURUS. My name is Biswajit Banerjee, and I am your host for the show. Today I will narrate the second and the concluding part of the story about the businessman who is not very fond of dogs.
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Okay, now, let’s move on to the story. The visitors from Syed Enterprises visit Peter’s home. But the money Peter is supposed to give them has disappeared from the cupboard. Who committed the theft? The dog? How’s that possible? Come, let’s find out.
THE STRAY PART 2 00:03:40
Written and Performed by Biswajit Banerjee
"Can't you see the leash on Blaze? Someone might have sneaked in while you were in the washroom."
"Shut up, Amelia. Don't utter rubbish. I checked the cupboard about half an hour back; the bag was right here."
"Could these people ... I mean Mr. Syed or his associates ..."
"Are you crazy? Since the time they moved in, they have been in the living room. How could one of them remove the money? And they are rich and respectable people. None of them would do something so disgusting."
"Did you, by any chance ..."
"No, Amelia. I didn't remove the bag ... does that register in your gray matter? What do I tell these people now? They will not keep me as a partner anymore."
They looked around the place. The cash was gone!
For a minute after Peter told the visitors about the disappearance of the bag of cash from the cupboard, there was complete silence.
Then Mr. Syed said, "So, the bag of cash has gone for a picnic, you are telling me?"
"Well, it may sound strange, but the bag simply vanished, Mr. Syed. I am sorry."
"What do you mean by 'you are sorry?' If you didn't wish to team up with us, why didn't you tell us right at the start when we approached you? The dirty game of pretenses and drama you played with us will not help you, Mr. Jones. It is going to cost you dear."
"But Mr. Syed, I am not telling lies. Believe me, the money disappeared from the cupboard."
"Enough, you are testing my patience."
"Well, I don't know how to win your trust, but I am not telling lies, Mr. Syed."
"Mr. Jones," Mr. Taylor said, "you are only making things worse by persisting with the lies."
"Wait and watch, Mr. Jones, I will destroy your career." Mr. Syed got up from the sofa.
"What you did is unforgivable," Farhan said, "nobody messes with Syed Enterprises."
"I am sorry, but it is not my mistake."
"Shut up now, and don't say another word." Mr. Syed's eyes had turned red with anger.
At that moment, Blaze ran into the living room, barking and snarling. In a flash, the pup jumped at Mr. Syed's feet.
"Aaaah, Aaah, Aaah!" Mr. Syed's legs began to shake as he screamed.
"Stop it, Blaze, leave him alone," Amelia shouted.
"Don't do that, you damn pup."
It took Mr. Taylor and Farhan a good deal of effort to push the dog away. As they walked towards the door, Mr. Syed said, "I will never forget what you did today, Mr. Jones. You will pay for this."
After they moved out of the door, Blaze moved close to Peter, wagging his tail.
"Monster." Peter slapped the dog.
Startled, Blaze began to growl and moved away from him. With quick steps, Peter approached him and landed another forceful slap on his neck. And then, he kicked him twice. The pup fell on the floor and whined.
"Don't do that, Peter, please." Amelia began to cry.
Arthur walked into the room.
"Paappaaa hit puppppppieee."
"For God's sake, don't hit the dog anymore."
"You put a leash on him, didn't you?"
"And the leash was fixed to the wall?"
"Then how did he free himself?"
"Is he a demon or something?"
"What are you saying, Peter? He's just a pup."
"Looks like the leash cannot hold him. This dog can get free at will. First, he freed himself to remove the money, and then he released himself to attack Mr. Syed."
"A pup cannot get free at will, Peter."
"This is not a pup but a demon. And this demon spoiled my career. But more than the dog, you are responsible for whatever happened today, Amelia. I will never forgive you for doing what you did to my business prospects."
The next thirty days or so witnessed the most terrible drop in Peter's entrepreneurial career. With his client base constantly thinning, Peter couldn't pay many of his loan installments.
"It's all happening because of you and your damn new son," Peter said one day after another client dissociated himself from him.
Amelia, who sat on the sofa holding the pup, said, "Don't blame us, Peter — all this is being engineered by the sheik — the man called Zakir Syed."
"It is that lousy dog on your lap that removed the money from the cupboard and then pounced on Zakir Syed."
"Shut up; the demon on your lap destroyed my business."
At that instant, a news report played on the television. It was about the latest business successes of Syed Enterprises. Mr. Zakir Syed and two of his investment partners spoke on how they made huge gains from their latest investments in the estates business and cryptocurrencies.
Peter looked at the television, gritted his teeth, and said, "I could have been where those investing partners of Syed Enterprises are. Instead, I am right here before you ... on my way to becoming bankrupt."
The business plummeted further. Several loan payment reminders filled the mailbox, and Peter was running out of options.
By now, his client base was almost non-existent.
Left with no choice, Peter called up Mr. Syed.
"How dare you call me, Mr. Jones?"
"Please don't do this to me, Mr. Syed. Most of my clients aren't willing to work with me anymore."
"Of course, they aren't willing to work with you. No one should work with a characterless man like you, Mr. Jones."
"But they left me because your firm asked them to do so."
"Right, I made them good offers on the condition they wouldn't give business to you. Didn't I say you would pay for messing with my associates and me?"
"Please don't destroy my business, Mr. Syed. Spare a thought for my family."
"No, Mr. Jones. This is your punishment. Face it."
"But I apologized to you. What more can I do?"
"Nothing you do now is going to help you, Mr. Jones — you are finished."
Mr. Zakir Syed hung up.
"Is he not willing to help us?"
With tears welling up in his eyes, Peter moved his head.
About a fortnight later, a boy delivered two legal notices to Peter. Both were from a panel advocate of the lending bank — Peter was being sued for not paying his installments which amounted to a breach of contract.
"It is all over for us, Amelia. Zakir Syed has destroyed us."
After glancing through the notices, Amelia said, "Is there nothing we can do?"
"Yes, we can, Amelia — let us all die. Maybe I can arrange money to buy poison."
"Oh, Peter, don't say that ... please."
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she placed a hand on her husband's shoulder.
"Muuummmmiiiieee cryiiiiinggggg," Arthur said.
Like a lightning bolt, Blaze ran into the living room and jumped into Peter's lap.
"What the hell! What does the demon want now?"
In the next moment, the pup rushed at the television stand and nudged it with his nose.
"This is a real monster, I tell you."
"Wait a moment, Peter — Blaze is trying to draw our attention to the news report on the television."
'Biggest Financial Fraud of the Decade' — the headline moved across the television screen. The pictures of Zakir Syed, David Taylor, Farhan, and others filled the screen.
"Unmute the TV," Peter said.
Amelia picked up the remote and unmuted the television.
With a montage of policemen pushing Syed, Taylor, Farhan, and others into a police van, investigations being conducted by sleuths in the office of Syed Enterprises, the façade of the building of the Court of the District Judge where the charged people would be tried, the police personnel talking to the investment partners of the firm, and other visuals running in the background, they heard the voice-over of the news anchor.
"Massive frauds by one of the biggest companies in the continent has shocked the nation. The preliminary investigation report has revealed that the country's Central Bank was monitoring the affairs of Syed Enterprises without the knowledge of the company's board. After months of scrutiny, the bank found that Zakir Syed's company had a lot to do with money laundering. The Central Bank has filed a case against Syed, his associates, and fellow investors."
"Did you hear that, Peter?"
"Ummm .... yes ... yes, I did."
"Baaaaad maaaan." Arthur pointed at the television.
"Even he understands what the report is all about."
Before Peter could respond to Amelia's words, the pup tugged at Peter's pajama.
"Pupppp puuullllling paaaapaaaa."
"What is the pup up to?"
"Peter, I think he wants to take you somewhere. Follow him."
When Peter got up, the pup ran into the bedroom. Peter and Amelia followed him. Blaze climbed on the bed and jumped on it repeatedly.
"What does he want, Amelia?"
"Maybe we should look into the storage space of the bed."
The pup moved out of the bed, and they opened the storage space. For a while, Peter couldn't believe his eyes. Amid the cushions and covers in the space lay the bag with cash! Peter pulled it out and opened it. The money was intact.
Blaze barked and literally danced on the floor. After watching the pup's frenzy for some time, Peter picked him up and patted him on the back. Tears emerged in the corners of his eyes.
"Thank you, Blaze. And I am so sorry for what I did to you the other day. All along, you have been trying to help me. You saved me from falling into the trap Zakir Syed and his associates laid for me. Oh, you are such a darling." Peter kissed the pup on its head.
"Peter, this is unbelievable. Blaze saved us from all the trouble."
"Indeed, Blaze saved us from all the trouble. If I had teamed up with Syed Enterprises, perhaps the police would have apprehended me as well. At this moment, I might have been sitting in their interrogation room, giving answers to their questions."
"But you did commit to joining hands with them. All the records are available in the mail. Do you think the police can still question you about your dealings with those criminals?"
"Well, they may, Amelia. But I am sure no harm will come on me. The online records, I guess, are clear indicators that I was unaware of the games Syed Enterprises had been playing. Even if I had teamed up with them, the police wouldn't suspect me of money laundering, I guess. They would decipher the truth sooner or later — my dealings with Syed Enterprises and the online stuff would be clear pointers to my innocence. But I would lose all the money. And the police would surely rob me of my peace for a long time. Besides, involvement with Syed Enterprises would also tarnish my image as a young businessman. This pup saved me from all that trouble."
The police did come to their house for interrogation for several days. They looked into all the transactions that Peter was supposed to make with Syed Enterprises but found no evidence to suggest Peter's involvement in any of Zakir Syed's illegal activities.
Meanwhile, Peter used the cash to pay the installments that had fallen due to the lending bank. The bank did not press on with the legal matter, and Peter escaped what could be the most humiliating experience of his life.
Over the next six months, things brightened up beyond his expectations. The money flow improved, and so did his credibility in the market. Peter prepaid his loans and still enjoyed a healthy bank balance. So, it was time for a vacation!
In the beautiful green valley, in the heart of the hilly countryside, at the base of the mountains, they found an inn that looked like it had been designed for royalty. They checked in under the care of the friendly staff. The entire area was partitioned by the wide lanes, spanned by beautiful canopies of trees and wild grass. What an excellent location for holidaying — the inn was in the center of the rich greenery overlooking the cascading brooks and lands with flowering shrubs playing games with the gentle zephyrs.
Two days into the vacation, they went for a small stroll into the lush valley. It was almost evening, and they walked along a steep path. Peter carried Arthur in his arms. Blaze followed them, nimbly jumping over the small bushes.
"What wonderful days these are, Peter! These are, for sure, the most joyous moments of my life.
"Even I have never been so happy. Arthur and Blaze are enjoying it too. This place is like a paradise."
"Yes, but the inn is quite expensive."
"Doesn't matter; our bank balance is healthy now. And I expect the account to swell further."
"We should visit this place every summer."
"If your business goes up like this, we can afford to do that."
"Things have started looking up because of …"
"Your new son, of course — Blaze. If he had not been there, I might have been in jail now."
"Call him 'our new son.'"
"Correct — our new son. But he is still a mystery!"
"Are you saying so because we can't tell how he understood Zakir Syed and his associates to be bad men even before meeting them, and how he removed the bag from the cupboard to the storage space of the bed despite my putting a leash on him?"
"Yes, Amelia. I have no clue how he got himself unleashed, opened the cupboard door, took the bag of cash out of it, and opened the storage space to place the bag in it. Can you imagine a dog doing all this by himself?"
"Of course not."
Later in the evening, Peter and Amelia relaxed on the sofa of the hotel suite enjoying hot coffee. Arthur was playing on the floor with a toy train, and Blaze was leashed to a table. After a while, when the little boy got bored with the train, he got up and went close to Blaze. He released the dog and then opened the suite's wardrobe. The little boy now picked up his mother's handbag and gave it to Blaze who held it tight with his teeth. Turning around, Arthur examined the large bed with the storage space and slowly walked up to it. Those little hands were strong enough to open the space for storage. Blaze dropped the bag into the space, and Arthur closed it.
So, most unexpectedly, the mystery now stood unfolded.
"Oh, so, that's how it happened," Amelia said.
"The two of them worked together."
After a minute's silence, Amelia said, "The strangest thing is they understood Syed and his associates were evil men."
"Both knew right from wrong. Arthur and Blaze teamed up to save my business."
"I can't believe this."
"Amelia, you read about dogs being more intuitive than humans. By any chance, did you also read about children being more intuitive than adults?"
"The movies project them to be very intuitive. And I guess some experts have written articles on this subject, though I haven't read any of them. Now, I guess, we don't need to watch movies or read articles to tell children could be more intuitive than adults and do incredible things."
"One mystery leads to another. Why did they just enact what they did the other day? Did they do it to clear the clouds of confusion from our minds? Is the duo so intelligent?"
Arthur smiled as if mocking the wisdom of his parents and the adults in general. And Blaze barked and jumped — perhaps this was his own unique way of mocking the world of human adults!
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!