A day for incongruous sights

The future is dark and it comes with teeth, so careful where you step: these were the words said to Gautam by his friend Sunny when they were lying on the Shanghumugham beach last night, their brain an intoxicated jelly-thanks to all the alcohol consumed in the preceding hours. The sky was starless and the sound of the waves crashing into the shore could be imagined as that  of the breathing of a dangerous beast yet to be defined by science.

When Sunny said the words, Gautam had simply laughed. For he knew that Sunny wasn’t the type to say philosophical stuff if his life depended on it, unless he were drunk.

And last night, they got drunk because of Gautam’s interview today. “It’s good luck to drink on the night before an interview- that’s how I got my job!” Sunny had said, raising the glass of rum, sitting in the dimly lit bar- the one where they went whenever they drank because they sold beef double fry at the lowly price of Rs.50 per plate.

And they both agreed that there was nothing in the world better than a plate of beef double fry, unless it’s liquor with beef double fry.

Sunny worked as a welder at an automobile service centre-a job which in his own words was “ a pain in the eyes and a strain on the head!”

If that’s the kind of job you get with the luck of drinking, I wonder if I really want that, Gautam had thought but refrained from saying it  out loud. He didn’t wish to hurt his friend’s sentiment. Also, Sunny was the one who settled the bill at the bar.

Now, sitting in the bus that inched along the road in front of the Secretariat which was filled with traffic, the words of his friend came rushing to his mind.

And this time too, he smiled.

**

The place of interview was on the third floor of a decrepit looking building tucked away on a lane opposite to the Kailari theatre.

After getting down at the Thampanoor bus station, Gautam had walked the distance which took him some 15 minutes to cover. It was rare for the weather in Trivandrum to be clement anymore-it was as though winter was a boon too precious for the city ever since global warming began to warm things too much.

And Gautam was thankful that this day was one of the rarer days on that respect.

He was planning to catch a movie after the interview- if he were to manage to get both the movie and lunch done with whatever money he had, he would have no option but to walk to the movies, and the back towards the bus station. He prayed that the sky would remain overcast for a long time yet.

The decrepit building was not so welcome though. This was the first time that he was attending an interview and it would have been easier to consider a building of better upkeep as auspicious.

“Might as well celebrate Onam with whatever you have!” muttering so, he began to climb the stairs of the elevator-less building. A board marked with paan stains and overcome with dust had given him the information that the office was on the third floor-something which made Gautam curse under his breath-he had smoked too much last night and was feeling it in his chest. “Might as well celebrate Onam with whatever you have!” he repeated as he reached the landing after the final flight of stairs before the office.

He took a moment or two to catch his breath before entering the office. But as he pushed the glass door open and entered, he found himself in a giant hall- the size of half a football field which was mostly empty. A few thermocol panels were missing from the false ceiling and the painting on the walls were faded so much that he felt sad to even look at them.

He was beginning to think that he might have walked into the wrong door when someone called out, “Hi!”

He looked to the source of the voice- a thin young man with a long mustache which was an overkill on his emaciated face- at least, Gautam thought so.

He was dressed impeccably in an executive manner-checkered shirt tucked into corduroy pants, and when he walked the clack clack clack of the amazingly polished shoes reverberated within the large empty hall. The meticulous manner of his dressing made Gautam feel self-conscioius. He had turned up for the interview in nothing but a shirt and a pair of jeans, and sandals which have seen better days.

“Are you here for the interview?” the man said with the friendliest smile that Gautam has ever seen on anyone’s face. The kind of smile a salesman would give, thought Gautam.

“Yes”

Without covering the entire distance to Gautam, the man beckoned him, “Come on, then!”

Gautam followed him to a small cabin at a corner of the hall- which was where the man came from. The cabin, by the look of it was a storeroom or a closet where you kept brooms and such-at least that was the original purpose. But Gautam had a feeling it was being used as a make-shift office these days.

As if suspecting what was on his mind, the thin man said, “We just moved to this office. Our previous office was at Shasthamangalam. We have to do a bit of renovation here yet..” he waved a hand in the air.

Before they got to the cabin, it’s door slid open and out came another man who like the thin man was too well dressed to be taking life casually. He waved to the thin man.

The latter asked, “Where are you covering today?”

“Jagathy, and some parts of Vattiyoorkavu if possible,” replied the man, tugging on the straps of the black backpack on his shoulders.

The thin man nodded, his smile broadened as though someone just told him that God has come down to earth and proclaimed that nobody will have to work anymore- he would provide for all. And no more diseases either.

“All the best,” the thin man shook hands with the one who was about to leave to Jagathy. Presently, out of the cabin came another man- a young chap, really. He must be around my age, thinks Gautam. They exchange a nervous smile.

The man with the backpack gestures to the young man and the latter follows him out, the echo of their footsteps still reverberating as Gautam entered the cabin with the thin man.

The cabin was sparse. Except for a small lacquered table and a couple of plastic chairs, there wasn’t much. Black bags- the kind of which was on the back of the man to Jagathy were neatly placed in a row, leaning against the wall. It reminded Gautam of the way hockey sticks were stacked against the wall during the half time of a match in the locker room. Gautam used to play for the local sports club.

Behind the table sat a middle-aged man who beamed at Gautam as soon as he walked in. Like the thin man, he too was impeccably dressed though the sleeves were pushed up on his hands.

“Please be seated,” he pointed to one of the plastic chairs.

The man didn’t beat around the bush. He introduced himself as the “Senior Manager”(whatever that means, thought Gautam).

He said that he was glad that Gautam-such an “energetic looking young man” had turned up for the salesman’s interview.(Gautam thought with the description, he was making fun of him). The man explained that before he could take the test, he would like Gautam to spend a day “in the field,” “as an observer,” to see “how things actually work.”

For this reason, he would have to spend the day with the thin man-whom he introduced as Cherian. Cherian was “going to cover the Nanthencode area today.”

There goes my movie plan!, thought Gautam.

All the same, he was glad for the opportunity- at least, he would get to see how it’s actually like to be a door-to-door salesman.

**

By the time they got down from the bus at Nanthencode junction, it was past eleven. And as soon as they got there, Cherian said, “I am starving! I didn’t have any breakfast!” and pushed right off towards the first restaurant that his eyes fell on. Gautam tagged along, looking around the small junction. He has never been in this part of the city before even though he stayed not more than a few kilometers away-at Pattom.

“So, what made you decide to try fora job? I heard that you were doing your diploma?” said Cheriyan as he chewed on the appam and kadlacurry which he had ordered. Gautam-who had had breakfast in the morning settled for just a tea.

“I joined the diploma course thinking that I would be able to finish it. But in the second year, I realized that it’s not for me- it’s just too hard!” Gautam was surprised at the ease with which he could talk about such things to a virtual stranger.

Cheriyan smiled good-naturedly. “Yeah, studies can be really hard,” he said. “I know what you are talking about. I used to hate studying-which was one of the main reasons why right after the 10th standard, I joined a seminary”

“You were in a seminary!” exclaimed Gautam. “Then how come you are here?”

His friend Sunny had an uncle who was a priest. He had met him once at his friend’s place- a somber looking man who spoke about the seminary where he learned and the Church as parts of heaven on earth.

Dipping a slice of appam into the curry-filled steel bowl, Cheriyan said, “Well, I found that there is a difference between doing god’s bidding and doing the bidding of god’s so called servants.”

Gautam wasn’t really sure if he understood what Cheriyan implied. But he didn’t press the matter, seeing how Cheriyan’s face suddenly went somber, as if from the glimpse of some bad memory in his mind. The short time he had spent with Cheriyan so far has been enough to understand that he was a cheerful person by nature. And he preferred the cheerfulness to remain. (After the movie plan having gone down the drain, god only knows that he didn’t want to spend the entire day with a sad fellow).

So, to change the topic as much as to learn more about the job he might take up, he asked, “So, how does our business work?”

Cheriyan looked up, and once he began explaining how the business worked, the cheerfulness was back in his voice. More than cheerful, he was rather exuberant. “The book that we sell costs around 2000 rupees in the market. Now, Supriya distributors doesn’t spend money on advertising. Instead, they appoint salespeople like us who cost way less than advertising on television and through the internet. Which means we can sell the same book for lesser prices.”

“How lesser are we talking about?”

“Depends. The usual rate we give out the book is Rs. 600. But if it’s a bigger household that we are visiting, and if there are kids in the house, we might go aggressive with the price,” Cheriyan said, finishing the last of the appam pieces.

“Why kids?”

“Oh, our product is a book. How silly of me not to have mentioned it yet! It’s a picture encyclopedia.” He pulled out a hard bound volume out of the black bag he was equipped with. He pushed the book towards Gautam and ordered a tea for himself, asking, “Would you like another tea?”

Gautam shook his head but observed keenly the cover of the book which showed colorful pictures of birds, dinosaurs, Sir George Washington and the Roman Coliseum among other things. Flipping through the pages of the book, it became evident to him that it was of a good quality- at least, the pictures and the paper were. As for the writing, the book was in English and Gautam’s knowledge of the language was only functional.

**

The first home they visited was between the Nanthencode junction and the Devaswam Board Jn. A board on the gate said “Beware of dogs.” Just like the decrepit building that housed the office of Supriya Distributors, this sign too came across as less than auspicious to Gautam.

“Oh, here is the switch!” Cheriyan pressed the lone switch on the wall that bordered the gate, the one above which was stenciled the word, “Bell.” The paint had begun to flake from the lettering.

The front door to the house opened after the second bell.

It was a woman who opened the door; she looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties. She had a towel wrapped around her hair-she had just come out of the showers, water drops made her nightie cling to her body. The house was some 20 yards away from the gate but even from this distance, the two young men could make out that the woman was beautiful.

When she gestured them to come in, Cheriyan opened the gate with just the briefest of hesitations, his eyes searching for a dog that might come rushing at them.

But nothing of the sort happened. Cheriyan, who had a book held behind him pressed against the backpack smiled and said in a clear and pleasant voice, “Good morning, madam!” And when the woman reciprocated with a good morning of her own- her voice, Gautam noticed didn’t match the beauty of her physical appearance.

Cheriyan soon started explaining how the book they were selling was one that held verified information about “anything under the sun” and how such a book would potentially change the reader’s life forever(he didn’t explain how exactly it would change one’s life though). The woman, who stood on the porch with one hand on a pillar listened politely to everything that Cheriyan said. But once he brought out the wad of bill receipts and began to write the woman’s name(It was a sales tactic as Gautam was to later learn), the woman told him that she wasn’t interested.

“Maybe some other time,” she said.

“But madam, the book is available from us only for a short period of time- in fact, only for another month, and this is the last day any of us will be covering this area,” he added.

But the woman was not to be coerced, repeating that she wasn’t interested at the moment, though this time it was said in a slightly higher tone.

As they walked out of the gate, they heard a dog barking from somewhere in the compound that they were exiting.

Gautam’s mind was still the woman’s nipple pressed against the thin wet fabric of the nightie. His cock refused to slumber even as he walked.

**

He was brought out from the reverie by Cheriyan’s words. “She was something, wasn’t it?”

He went on as though Gautam assented though the latter had remained silent(aside from a stiff member, Gautam found that he also had a dry throat). “You must have heard how salesmen get lucky sometimes-about how at times they would visit a house where a lone woman would be staying, an attractive woman who would be under the heat and invite them in. A woman, perhaps much like the one we just saw.”

Gautam looked up to see Cheriyan smiling at him.

“Is that true?” Gautm asked, “Does it happen like that?”

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” said Gautam, thinking about making love to the woman they just saw. He remembered how a drop of water rolled down through her forehead. He imagined the same drop of water rolling down her breast.

“It is true, Gautam,” said Cheriyan. “I know of two colleagues of mine who got lucky like that just in the last month!”

If this information was meant to entice Gautam to the job(listed under the “perks” category) he was being successful. But of course, Gautam was not going to tell him that. He was too well brought up for that.

The second house that the duo visited though wasn’t inhabited by a luscious young woman. Rather, it was someone on the other end of the spectrum who greeted them at the door- a frail old woman with a pair of ‘soda-bottle glasses’ and black pockmarks on her face like  ridges left behind on a battle field by exploding bombs.

Cheriyan brought the book from behind him like doing a magic trick(“Never show the book before you have established a rapport with the client-they will turn you away if you see you are a book salesman!” he had told Gautam). The old woman looked at it with interest as Cheriyan flipped through the pages, inviting her attention to the quality of the pages and the images.

She called out to someone. A young boy-shouldn’t be more than 10 years, came running out of the house.

“Would this book be useful for you?” the woman asked him. The boy, running a finger under the strap of his vest took just a minute to come to a decision, a minute in which he studied the book so intensely that he could bore a hole through the pages.

“Yes,” he said resolutely, folding the book and holding it pressed close to his body.

Smiling broadly, Cheriyan said, “No, monu, that is for display purposes, I will give you a fresh volume.” He brought out another volume- this one in sealed packet and handed the book to the child in exchange for the other one.

The child looked at the book and then up at the two visitors. He smiled-a dimple formed on his cheek.

Gautam decided that he would take up this job.

**

“Usually, you don’t get your first sales of the day until you visit the 10th house or so. My own average is the 8th house-which is only slightly better than the industry average, I think.” Cheriyan spoke in the most enthusiastic of tones. “I guess you are a lucky charm!”

“I hope so!” said Gautam.

They both laughed though no great joke was made. They were simply two young men who were happy in this world, at least for the time being. They were walking through a desolate stretch of road, desolate but by no means ugly. On the contrary, the tall pine trees which lined one side of the street and the canopy which stretched from the trees on the opposite side gave the place a fairytale-like quality which appealed to Gautam a lot-unlike his friends, he wasn’t a film lover but whenever he saw a movie, it was a Hollywood fantasy flick. Even though he didn’t understand the words all the time, he liked such movies especially for the imagined landscapes which were always so full of trees.

“Why are there so few houses around here?”

Cheriyan informed him that the road they were passing through was near the Cliff House- the official residence of the Chief Minister. “I reckon some of the roads around here are devoid of habitation because of security reasons.”

Gautam wasn’t sure that he agreed completely with Cheriyan’s opinion- it’s not like terrorists and people of that sort would take up residence around such bungalows so that they could harm persons of significance.

Nonetheless, he didn’t let his mind dwell too much on it- he was just enjoying the walk. The sun had come out but thanks to the canopy-which at places looked like twisted arms and limbs of humans, they walked mostly in the shadows.

And soon, they reached places with houses again. Unfortunately for them, their luck didn’t hold out for long since one after the other, they met with people who simply weren’t interested in the picture encyclopedia. Some people even slammed their doors at their faces. Since it was Cheriyan who was always at the front, Gautam was largely protected from this door slamming – but that’s not to say that he wasn’t affected by it.

“What sort of people are these? I wonder if these are even people! More like monsters!” he muttered angrily after one such incident.

Cheriyan, on the other hand took all of it in its stride. In fact, whenever someone behaved arrogantly with them he got even more enthusiastic than before. It was as though he was proclaiming, “Nothing in the world could be a hurdle on this salesman’s path!”

Gautam too got invigorated by this spirit of Cheriyan’s .He hadn’t known that a salesman’s job would be so ‘soldierly’- having to push through in the face of bullets that came their way: the bullets in this case being made of words and gestures and not metal, the wounds blooming more on the psyche than the body-but wounds all the same.

But by the time they were having lunch, they still had sold just a single book. “I guess this day is turning out to be really bad, right?” said Gautam. He had thought that, out of politeness, he would eat just a single serving of the rice but once he started having it, he ended up asking for more, eventually having three servings with a fish curry and a double omelet. And the food at the restaurant wasn’t all that great either.

Gautam was discovering just how much of an appetite walking can bring you.

“Take heart. The day is not over until it is over,” Cheriyan said in a deep voice like he was proclaiming something of mystical significance.

After lunch, Cheriyan had a smoke while Gautam-who felt his chest constricted still from all the smoking he did under the moon last night, settled for just a soda. “Whenever I smoke, I think of freedom, “ Cheriyan said, blowing a ring of smoke into the air. “You cannot smoke in the seminary, of course. In fact, they were so strict about it that once when the head-priest caught one of us smoking in the bathroom, they had the boy lashed one hundred times. The poor boy couldn’t sleep on his back for a week.”

“You are kidding me!”

Cheriyan looked at him with an expression that said,’ Would I ever kid you?’

“It’s better to die in freedom than live like that,” said Chriyan before taking the next puff from the smoke stick that could kill anyone.

**

The future is dark and it has teeth-so careful where you step: his friend Sunny’s words came to Gautam’s mind as the duo approached their first house post-lunch.

Maybe it was the lone leafless tree which stood right in  front of the two storey house which gave it a slightly ominous look- particularly considering the fact that all the surrounding trees were sporting the lushest green.

Or maybe it was the fact that the house was at the very end of a lane with a brick wall on which was written with chalk – Dead End(as if the wall wasn’t enough of a sign) that was the reason for the ominousness. The house shared the wall with the  neighboring zoological museum and Gautam could hear the sound of monkeys chirping- a sound that busted whatever dark thoughts were in his mind with the ease of a sharp-edged knife slicing through butter.

There was no beware of dogs sign, so Cheriyan opened the gate and walked in, Gautam following. Once they reached the front door which remained close, Cheriyan said, “Do you want to try?”

Gautam couldn’t say he was prepared for this-he was here to observe and learn, at least that’s what he was told.

But then again, might as well experience what it’s like.

“Okay.” He collected the book from Cheriyan. The latter patted him on the back, saying, “You will do good”. Gautamas he felt his heart beat rising and a cold sweat break out on his forehead.

Cheriyan pressed the calling bell switch. No sooner had he done so than the front door opened- almost as though someone was standing just behind the door, waiting for a sign for him to open the door.

For her, actually. For it was a woman who opened the door, a short pale skinned lady who smiled at them politely, an enquiring look on her face, a hand held the door knob still, as if she was ready to shut the door at the slightest sign of trouble.

A rather understandable precaution given how her closest neighbors seemed to be apes and not humans, thought Gautam.

He was waiting for Cheriyan to break the silence when the weight of the book in his hand reminded him that he has to do the talking this time. Taking his cue from Cheriyan, he held the book behind him. He felt the book slipping what with the sweat which has suddenly formed on the surface of his palms.

But once he started talking, the nervousness began to abate. By this point he had heard Cheriyan speak enough number of times to be able to detail the merits of the book competently. Surely, he faltered every now and then but by the time he came to a close, he was sure that he had done a reasonably good job.

The woman didn’t interject at any point, just kept nodding her head and looking at the pages whenever Gautam pointed something out to her. He had given the book to her, allowing her to feel the quality of the pages between her fingers, to take a closer look at the images and the descriptions. He showed her how easy the indexing method in the book was.

After listening to all he had to say, the woman invited them to take seats at the wicker chairs on the porch- there were exactly three of these-somewhat dust laden but in good conditions.

“Let me take a closer look at these pages meanwhile” she said.

There was nothing for the young men to do but comply with the prospective client’s wishe. As the woman sat going through the pages of her book, a frown creasing her forehead with the effort of concentrating, Gautam found his eyes straying up her face multiple times, thinking of that lady whose wet clothes showed her nipple through, whom they saw earlier in the day.

This woman wasn’t nearly as attractive as the other one. She has a face the kind of which you would see once and forget about it in ten minutes. Also,this woman carried herself in the most dignified of manners, placing the book on her lap and looking down at it intently, the neckline of her nightie never lower than a couple of centimeters beneath her neck-never close to her cleavage. Her hair fell down to cover the two tiny bumps of her breasts-whether that was intentional or not, Gautam wasn’t sure.

But she certainly appeared to be alone in the house-she hasn’t called anyone to come take a look at the book. And a woman alone gives rise to ideas-ideas Gautam couldn’t help but entertain in his mind.

Sitting there in the porch of the lady’s house overlooked by a leafless tree, Gautam wondered if the proclivity to think of chaste women in less-than-dignified-manner is a collateral damage of working as a travelling salesman.

The woman broke the silence by saying, “It’s too hot, isn’t it? Would you guys mind sitting inside? I don’t think I can take the heat for long.”

The fact was that it was hot but not that hot. The clouds which had hinted at a rain later in the day had long dispersed, giving the sun a freeway to shower its rays on everything below.

But I wouldn’t know how hot it is, thought Gautam. I have been out there in the sun for long.

Smiling politely at the lady, he walked in to the house along with Cheriyan. As soon as they got in, she closed the door. After hours in the sun, the cool wind of the AC felt like heaven.

Perhaps it was rather hot outside after all, thought Gautam as he took a seat on the sofa  the woman indicated.

“Would you guys like some lemonade?” Before either of them could say anything, she added, “You poor things, I can see how you are sweating.”

And here, for the first time since they met her, the woman did something that’s perhaps not becoming of a chaste woman. She looked both the men up and down, letting her eyes linger on places where sweat showed- the forehead and the neck, the place on Gautam’s shirt around his armpits.

Without another word, she disappeared into a door, her hips swaying suggestively as she walked away from the salesmen.

“What was that?” whispered Gautam as soon as she was out of sight.

Cheriyan just shrugged, though he looked back at the open door into which the woman had gone, a look of expectation in his eyes.

Gautam looked up to see a giant chandelier hanging from the roof-instead of bulbs, it had candles on it- it was an antique piece, surely expensive. The showcase that was above the television was also filled with expensive looking objects- statuettes of bronze and porcelain and china, possibly antique.

The woman was somewhere in her early twenties, as far as Gautam could judge, definitely not more than twenty five.

He has never ever heard of anyone of that age having an affection for antiques.

Maybe it’s her father who is the antique collector(But there were no pictures of anyone that he could see.). That was what Gautam was thinking when the woman came back-this time with a tray with two glasses of lemon juice on it. The way a cold drop made its way down the side of the glass made Gautam thirsty.

The woman bend down in front of them as she settled the tray on the teapoe, beside the encyclopedia. she had left there. The top most button of her nightie was undone. From what Gautam could see, the woman’s breasts weren’t as petit as he had imagined them to be.

“Please, enjoy it!”

It took a moment or two for Gautam to realize that the woman was referring to the lime juice.

Taking the picture encyclopedia from the tea poe, she settled down on a seat adjacent to them. She leaned back as though willing herself to disappear into the back of the seat, her breasts straining against the fabric of her cloth.

She stretched her leg, breathing audibly. The hem of her nightie now came up above the knee, exposing skin the whiteness of which was as beautiful as the silver of moonlight, or so it felt  to Gautam.

He looked at Cheriyan out of the corner of his eye. Cheriyan was usually very talkative around prospective customers-keeping them engaged by asking the right questions at the right time and revealing just the right amount of information about the publishers-even when the other wasn’t asking. But he remained silent now, the gulping sounds he made as he drank the juice the only noise coming from his direction.

Gautam remembered him telling earlier how he had a girlfriend whom he was going to marry next year-once her studies were over. Cheriyan had said that he wouldn’t fall for any woman – ‘not because I am a decent gentleman but for my girlfriend’s sake, who is always in my heart.’

But seeing the way he was looking at the woman, Gautam felt certain that it wasn’t his girlfriend whom Cherian had in his heart at this moment.

The woman slowly lowered the book and after shutting it on her lap, placed it on the tea poe.

Smiling sensuously, alternating her looks between the two men, she said, “I must be candid now. Usually, when salesmen say great things about their products, they are just exaggerating. But not so in your case. I am extremely pleased with this book, and I am willing to pay for it. But not with money but with my body.”

Wha-!

An exclamation almost left Gautam’s mouth when she stood up and walked past him towards Cheriyan who sat to his left on the sofa. She took her nightie off, pulling it over her head to reveal a pale white body, beautiful in its contours. She was wearing a pink bra but no panties-a small v shaped shrub adorned her nether regions.

“Take me!” A command more than a request.

If there was any thought about his girlfriend who would soon be his wife, Cheriyan didn’t let it stand between him and this lust-encrusted woman who stood breathing heavily. In no time, the clothes were off of his body and the last thread had disappeared from hers too.

They were going at it on the sofa as Gautam watched, feeling understandably dejected.

He involuntarily ran a finger along the sprinkle of moustache that wasn’t yet a proper growth under his nose. The five or six years that divided him from Cheriyan now came to the latter’s advantage. And much as he hated to admit it, Cheriyan’s dick was a few inches longer than his own. Maybe women have a way of telling such things by just looking at a man.

He gazed, almost hypnotically, how the flesh on the woman’s buttocks rippled with each thrust that Cheriyan made inside her vagina.

Much to his delight, the woman now looked up and with a naughty smile, said, “Are you going to just look, or you want to join in?”

This wasn’t the kind of situation for which anything had prepared him- neither the lessons at the Polytechnic nor the lewd jokes that his friends make when they got drunk would answer the simple question of “What should I do now?”

But of course, there is a greater teacher in these situations- the only one whose lessons come through- mother nature.

And instinct told him to take possession of the woman from behind. Never mind the nervousness which made him tremble from head to toe, never mind the worries about premature ejaculation- all he could think about was getting his cock up that ass creak and humping her till the end of time.

The sound of the woman’s moaning filled the entire hall.

For someone who was experiencing acute nervousness, Gautam moved really fast-getting out of his clothes and beginning to experience sex for the first time in his life -Cupid would have been real proud.

A few moments of immense pleasure and he heard Cheriyan-who had his dick in the woman’s main block moaned, mirroring the pleasure that Gautam was feeling.

‘Or is it I who am moaning?’ he wondered. He had closed his eyes at some point and now he opened them. He heard the moan again and this time he ascertained that it was coming from Cheriyan.

This time, another fact too struck him- it wasn’t a moan of pleasure but one of pain.

It would take Gautam a few moments more to realize what exactly happened- that two clawed hands had protruded from within the woman’s body, two round patches of flesh flapping open like windows through which the clawed hands reached out and struck deep into Cheriyan’s chest where the hands twisted, breaking the ribcage and reaching into his heart. One of the hands plucked the heart out.

Cheriyan was creaming still- who said the body is inanimate without the heart? Life animates the body still- at least for a while more.

But even before he realized what exactly happened, Gautam had a feeling that something was wrong- there was something wrong about the way the woman’s body twisted around beneath him- as though bones were not a precondition of her existence but something that can be manipulated-something which was put there as an after-thought, just to give her the semblance of being human.

These thoughts were running through his brain when he realized that what twisted around beneath him wasn’t the woman’s body but her head- a full 180 degree. And now she looked at him and grinned: a sure shot sign if ever there was one for him to pull out of her and put as much distance between them.

Which he did. One moment he was in her, moaning with pleasure, the next he was standing near the open door at the end of the hall-the same one into which she had earlier disappeared when she went to get the lemon juice.

The woman slowly rose from her crouched position on the sofa- and with her head still turned around in that most unnatural fashion, opened her mouth. Gautam thought that she was going to scream but something else happened: long sharp edged teeth pulled down to cover her existing set of (normal) teeth.

A deep rumble rose from within her throat- the sound that a wild animal may give as a prelude to a fight with another wild animal.

But it was no wild animal that she was looking at. It was a poor young chap at the day of his first ever job interview.

Gautam felt a warmth spreading across the side of his thigh and realized he was literally pissing himself. The woman-if she could be called that, didn’t look like she notices.

Thin reddish criss crosses appeared subcutaneously as her body turned even paler. The tall glass window behind the sofas-possibly the only source of natural light in the entire hall was veiled with the thickest curtain Gautam has ever seen in life. The relative darkness this caused made the paleness of her skin even more pronounced.

With another rumble-this one louder, the woman raised her hands-which now had curved ebony colored claws instead of nails and leaped towards him.

Gautam ran up the flight of stairs to his left- the decision wasn’t conscious but one that was brought about by necessity-he simply didn’t have the time to turn around and run inside past the open door behind him.

Without stopping to turn around and looking, he climbed the stairs. By the time he reached the first landing, the woman had pounced on to the railing, just a few feet behind him. He now took the second and shorter flight of stairs that led him to another landing-to the right of which was a door. Letting out a screech the woman pounced onto the higher railing and reached out to him. But before she could close her hand on his arm, Gautam

opened the door and got into a room which was as dark as the hall below. He closed the door but that didn’t prevent the woman from beating on it hard from the other side.

The room was low-roofed and the pounding sound the woman made on the door reverberated around the small space. To make things worse, there was an awful stench in the room the center part of which was taken up by a bed- neatly made with a mosquito net protecting it.

Bang!Bang! Bang! The woman’s fists beat against the door with such intensity that the door shook, threatening to come off at its hinges. With much difficulty, Gautam pulled the bed towards the door and barricaded the way in.

As though sensing this, the woman began pounding louder, her fist on the door stronger, her screeched becoming more blood curdling by the moment.

His chest rising and falling to the unnatural rhythm of his rapid breathing, feeling a cold which wasn’t all because of the fact that he was stark naked-his erection long shriveled, Gautan looked around in panic for a way out.

And saw what he found was a most incongruous sight on a day for incongruous sights.

For there, stacked on a corner of the room were skin-peeled off human torsos and bundled together, tied with a length of blue twine. It was where the smell was coming from-smell that was a lot like the stench that wafted off pressed rubber.

The skin was preserved by some means, Gautam was sure, and as he walked towards it, impelled by a dark curiosity he saw that just beside the stack of skin, on the ground were a few glass jars filled with dried molars, teeth and even a few dried eyes- the kind of things that you might find in an illustrated children’s book on witches, and the kind of things that looked so out of place in this room which looked a lot like a typical middle class room-with a wardrobe and a table with a laptop and a globe-the kind which lights up from within.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!  and the door creaked audibly, making him turn around, and panic some more.

He wished he had his mobile phone with him-he could have called the cops, or his friend Sunny to come and help him out of his predicament.

He looked around the room to see if there was a phone lying somewhere, even opening the wardrobe. But nothing except women’s clothes could be found.

“God!” he shouted, running a hand on his hair.

God, if he existed answered by showing him the door at the far end of the room- in his panic he had failed to notice it before.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Creeek!

Soon as his eyes fell on it, he ran to the door. The key was in the handle and he found that the door wasn’t locked. Pulling the handle down, he tugged on the door but it wouldn’t give- it appeared that it’s been quite a while since the door has been opened. He tried again with all his might and this time,  the door came open, letting in a flood of light.

Gautam gasped-with relief at the prospect of escape. The door opened to a balcony.

The woman banged harder than ever before. Gautam was sure that he didn’t have much time now-that door wouldn’t hold for long whatever the woman was, she was strong. Damn strong.

Gautam wouldn’t say that he was the best of the problem solvers in the world-the hardship with which he used to solve the mechanical engineering problems in his polytechnic days was proof enough. But one fundamental fact about human beings is that we can do incredible things when we are under serious stress.

In Gautam’s case, the incredible thing happened to be connecting the dots to see an escape plan.

One look down from the balcony had convinced him that simply jumping off would just result in a few broken bones- the car porch down was paved with marbles. And there was no space on the steep vertical incline of the house’s exterior to give him any foothold, so climbing down was a wish rather than a plan.

And as for going down the way he had taken-the stairs, well, the escalating noise the woman made on the door was answer enough for that.

Which left just one option.

And now the door gave way, in fact the upper half of the door came apart in splinters as the woman finally punched her way through, jumping on to the bed, taking the mosquito net down with her.

The option was to run to the corner of the room, grab the stack of skin and run back to the balcony-a maneuver which Gautam found took him far longer than he anticipated, long enough for the woman to cover the distance between the bed and the door to the balcony.

He could now feel her breath on the back of his neck.

He wasn’t interested in finding out how it felt like on even closer quarters.

So, clutching the stack of skin to his chest like his life depended in it-which it certainly did, he jumped. The woman’s claws grazed the skin on his back as his body swiveled out of her reach. He long wail of penetrated his ears as he fell down the distance from the balcony to the car porch.

As he expected, the bundle of skin broke his fall. But unlike his expectations, it wasn’t a painless fall. Not completely. The air was completely ousted out of his lungs and his ribs hurt when he bounced off the skin stack and fell face down on the marble floor. His dick was crushed under the weight of his thigh.

When he turned around, he looked down and was relieved to see that, notwithstanding the pain no visible damage was incurred where it was most important not to have any damage.

The woman’s screech made him look up. She stood at the balcony, fixing him with an angry stare, rage etched on every inch of her face. If that anger had a physical force, it could crush him under its skin like a worm.

But the anger was not all directed at him-part of the anger was also at the fact that when she grabbed the railing, the back of her hand burnt. The sun was on the descent and the rays had begun to reach that balcony, the first of which made the steel of the railing glint sharply.

Gautam was glad to see that the thing couldn’t come out in the sunlight- he himself was lying in a pool of it.

After what felt like so long a time , he was beginning to feel triumphant.

He felt sad at the thought of Cheriyan. Sure, the guy was ready to cheat on his girlfriend when the woman offered him her cunt.

But that shouldn’t be punishable with death-definitely not of this kind.

With aching knees, he stood up. Running the dust off his back, he looked straight in to the woman’s eyes(she was fuming, as though spewing venom).And just as they do in the Hollywood films, he raised a middle finger at her.

He didn’t know what the woman was- a witch or a demon or something in between.

All he knew for certain was that he didn’t want to be a salesman anymore.

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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