Blood Money (chapters twenty nine and thirty.)
Malik sat patiently, monitoring the apartment across the street. His contact, a fellow SSP sympathiser, after recognising Mukhtar and Rasheed, had called his one-time comrades in Pakistan. The contact had unwisely questioned Malik as to why he had not arrived in New York earlier. A powerful slap across his face ended the conversation.
Malik had been assured that Mukhtar and Rasheed were not at this time occupying the premises, and so he waited, sipping oodles of hot, sweet tea to fend off the sleep. It was now mid-afternoon and the assassin had kept up his vigilance since the early hours of the morning. His contact had volunteered to relieve him, but his offer was dismissed, such was Malik’s distrust of his incompetent colleagues.
Two patrol cars and an unmarked van pulled up outside the apartment opposite, and Malik cupped his hands over his eyes, the low sun making his visibility difficult. He watched as a uniformed police officer approached the apartment, accompanied by two men wearing suits. A squad of armed policemen vacated the van and squatted, their weapons aimed towards the apartment. The man bringing up the rear, Malik recognised. “De Vries!”
“You know him?” asked the contact.
“He works for Interpol... How did he find the address so quickly?”
Malik heard the cocking of the bolt from behind and turned to see the contact, armed with a sniper’s rifle.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“We can take them.”
Malik glared at his comrade. “Put the fucking rifle down, you imbecile.... De Vries will lead me to the traitors.”
Across the street, a wiry, middle-aged, white-bearded man answered the door and sneered at the sight of the uniform. It was the detective who spoke. “Do you have a Mukhtar Ahmed and a Rasheed Ali staying at these premises?”
“What is this?” quizzed the bemused man.
The detective gave the signal and the armed policemen advanced, barging their way into the premises. De Vries pulled the house owner to one side.
“Where are they, Mr...?”
“Rasheed. Yes, Ali is my nephew. What is happening here?”
De Vries detected that this man was sincere, and therefore posed no threat to him. “Your nephew and his friend are in serious trouble, Mr Rasheed.”
A young Asian man was struggling with several of the armed policemen, screaming profanities at them.
“Let him go,” ordered De Vries. “He isn’t one of them.”
“Serious trouble, you said?” asked Mr Rasheed.
“Armed robbery, and most probably murder... When was the last time you saw them?”
The man looked visibly shocked. “Yesterday... Yesterday morning... Ali told me that he was here to visit me... What proof do you have that...”
“Are you expecting them back?”
“I assume they have a car?”
“My son lent them his.”
“Please give the details to this officer.”
De Vries wandered across to where the angry young man was sitting. “You okay?”
“Fuck off, cop.”
The smiling Dutchman sat beside him. “Have you any idea where your cousin is?”
“And you think I would tell you if I did know?”
De Vries lit up a cigarette and offered one to the youth.
“I don’t smoke.”
“Good for you... What is your name?”
“Well, Farooq, do you know that your cousin and his friend are involved with Sipah-e-Sahaba?”
Farooq’s eyes lit up. “That’s bullshit.”
“Why would I lie to you? I suppose you’ve heard of numerous atrocities involving SSP, and I’m certain that many of your friends in Pakistan have been killed or maimed due to their operations.”
“You’re wasting your time, cop. I don’t know where they are.”
Across the street, Malik smiled, looking down the sights of the sniper rifle at De Vries, who was clearly visible through the window. “Not yet, De Vries, not yet. You will perish as your slut perished. In the name of Allah, I swear it.”
The afternoon mist drifting in from the East River, enveloped the Volkswagen, which was parked across from Brooklyn Bridge. Situated amongst the weathered warehouses and the disused rail tracks, Schofield had chosen his strategic ground carefully. The added security of the mist was, he reckoned, an asset rather than a hindrance.
He fought back the urge to slumber, his eyes so heavy after a long night without sleep. Even though Mukhtar was securely tied up in the back seat, Schofield displayed ultra caution in warding off the fatigue.
Schofield acknowledged that he had shown gross incompetence in his profession. Never before had he alleged that he was the most proficient private investigator on the planet, but to retain possession of his cell phone was downright stupid. Before setting off for his destination, Schofield had purchased a new phone, and had set up the rendezvous with Rasheed.
The Englishman checked his wristwatch before turning to Mukhtar. “It’s almost time, my friend. Just as a precaution, I’m going to leave you here alone, but don’t worry; I’ll be close by.”
Schofield loaded his weapon and left the vehicle. He walked with purpose towards a disused warehouse and proceeded to climb the rusty ladder that was hanging from the side of the building. The air was cold and damp, and only the sound of squawking seagulls and a far off foghorn, testified that mankind had not become extinct.
Schofield lay on the cold concrete roof and could barely make out the Volkswagen. The droning of an engine stimulated him, and he cradled his weapon with more urgency. The headlights of the approaching vehicle appeared through the gloom, and Schofield recognised the car as the red Toyota that his adversaries had driven to Coney Island Park.
The Toyota parked in front of the Volkswagen and the driver switched off the engine. Rasheed sat motionless for a few minutes before leaving his vehicle. He walked cautiously towards the Volkswagen, and realising that Schofield was not behind the steering wheel, he peered into the mist.
“Okay, Schofield, so now what? I’ve kept my end of the bargain.”
Schofield remained silent. He pointed his pistol at Rasheed, listening carefully for any signs of intruders. Once satisfied, he issued his order. “Carry the money to my car, and remember, I can see your every move and will not hesitate to shoot you.”
Rasheed looked towards the derelict warehouse and squinted. “First of all, release Mukhtar.”
Schofield slowly got to his feet and proceeded to descend the ladder; his weapon still trained on his quarry. He approached the Asian.
“I trust you’ve come alone?”
“Of course. Now release Mukhtar.”
“You don’t make demands, my friend,” threatened Schofield, who showed off his Glock 17. Carry the money to my car and I’ll release Mukhtar. Now, stop fucking about, because I’m freezing my balls off here.”
Reluctantly, Rasheed strolled towards his vehicle and opened the boot. He removed two suitcases and carried them towards Schofield, placing them at his feet.
“Now step back and put your hands on your head,” demanded Schofield. He squatted down, placed his pistol on the ground and opened one of the suitcases. He grinned like a schoolboy who had been locked in a tuck shop, and fondled the wads of notes. “So this is what a million looks like.”
He quickly checked the contents of the other suitcase before straightening up. “I trust it’s all there. It appears our business has been concluded, gentlemen. You can release your mate now.”
Still covering Rasheed, Schofield watched him untying his friend. The two Asian men regarded him with hostile eyes, as they made their way to their car.
“Remember,” spluttered Mukhtar pointing his finger. “Remember that I know where your sister lives. If you break your word and betray us to either SSP or O’Hara, then it will not be so good for her.”
Schofield scowled. “If they catch up with you, it won’t be because I’ve told them. I have what I want and have no reason to betray you. Godspeed, gentlemen, and my advice to you is to leave America.”
Several headlights emerged from the mist and loud sirens interrupted the inhospitable banter. Through a mega horn, the words reached the trio.
“This is the police. Lay down your weapons and lie on the ground with your hands behind your head. I repeat, lay down your weapons and lie on the ground with your hands behind your head.”
Schofield bundled the suitcases into the boot of his car before scrambling behind the wheel. He started the engine and accelerated forward, the screech of the wheels dying out the police sirens. He checked his mirror to see Mukhtar and Rasheed had followed his evasive procedure.
The Volkswagen sped along the cobbled road, the headlights having little impact against the thickening mist. Schofield gasped, when seeing two patrol cars parked side by side and blocking his approach. He put his foot down and braced himself for the imminent collision.
The Volkswagen rammed between the two patrol cars and they parted enough for Schofield to manoeuvre his car through the gap. He lost control for a moment and swerved into an oil barrel, that conveniently spilled its contents in his wake.
Rasheed, who was driving the Toyota, lost control of his vehicle and it skidded sideways rapidly, crashing through the flimsy chain fencing that skirted the river. The Toyota plunged into the depths of the murky river, the following patrol cars helpless to assist the fugitives.
Schofield was now driving speedily, meandering along the secluded industrial estate road. He was unable to see the following police cars, but the sirens warned him that they were giving chase. He turned off, heading left down a sheltered road, bordered by warehouses and depots. He narrowly avoided workmen, who were loading their wares from a wagon.
The excessive speed he was driving caused him to hit a taxi cab that was parked by an office block. Schofield was unhurt, but badly shaken. He clambered out from the damaged vehicle and quickly offloaded the suitcases. Struggling to carry them, he placed the suitcases on the ground and pointed his pistol at the shocked taxi driver.
“Get out! Out of the fucking car now!”
The black driver obeyed and held his hands in the air. “Cool it, man, I’m getting out.”
The two men heard, but could not see the police cars passing by and missing the turn off.
“Help me with the cases,” threatened Schofield. “Open your boot.”
“Trunk, boot, whatever. Open your fucking trunk.”
After loading the suitcases, Schofield climbed into the back seat and motioned for the driver to sit behind the wheel.
“Where to, man?”
“I don’t know, just fucking drive.”
Schofield sprawled across the back seat, his weapon trained on the flustered driver. They passed another couple of speeding police cars and Schofield peered through the back window at their departure.
“Look, mister, I’ve got a pregnant wife and four kids. Take my money, the car, whatever, but please don’t...”
“Shut up. Do as I say and I won’t harm you. Just keep driving, okay?”
De Vries stood at the edge of the river and peered into the gloom. The Toyota had plunged into the depths of the river, the eerie mist fitting for the watery grave. De Vries was joined by a police captain.
“Mukhtar and Rasheed?”
“It appears so, Captain. There were definitely two men inside the vehicle.”
“And the other car?”
De Vries shrugged his shoulders and lit up a cigarette, letting out a loud cough. “I don’t know. Have your boys caught up with him?”
“No, not yet, but we will... Poor bastards; they stood no chance. The river is especially deep here. If they didn’t drown, then they most certainly will die of hypothermia.”
De Vries squatted down and coughed again. He flicked his cigarette into the river. “Captain, I want divers here as soon as possible... This river has a strong current does it not?”
“That’s right, but that vehicle is not going anywhere.”
The Dutch detective wandered a little way along the riverbank. He shined his torch into the gloom, his beam merging with the others, like fireflies at midnight. He listened for any movement in the river, but there was none.
Malik had followed the police patrol at a safe distance and had witnessed the activities. After the Toyota had plunged into the river, he had climbed over the fence and watched the proceedings. Even though visibility was very poor, he could determine the strong current of the river. He returned to his rented Chevrolet Cavalier and drove slowly downstream, stopping at a disused pier. After removing his pistol and torch from his glove compartment, he left the vehicle and perched on a rock, overlooking the pier. The cold, biting wind bothered him not, as he kept vigilance on the foreboding river.
After ten minutes, he heard the movement of water. He squinted, attempting to distinguish the looming shape drifting slowly towards the pier. Someone emerged from the river and struggled to scale the fragile structure. Malik waited and watched the swimmer running towards him. He shone his torch into the man’s face and aimed his weapon.
“Mukhtar is it, or perhaps Rasheed?”
The shivering man was standing with his arms folded, his teeth chattering rapidly. He stared curiously at the tall man with the shaven head. “W...W...Who are you?”
“Do you see this weapon of destruction that I hold? Well, this can blow a hole in you as big as a football, so I think it would be most wise if you answered my questions.”
“And your friend?”
“He never made it.”
Mukhtar, by now was shivering violently, his lips blue and his skin covered with goose bumps.
“Get into my car.”
Mukhtar did as he was told and was joined by Malik, who sat beside him in the driver’s seat. The killer reached over the back seat for a length of rope.
“Now, I’m going to tie you up. Of course, that means that I’ll have to give up my weapon, but I warn you, that any show of defiance will result in me breaking your neck in two. Do I make myself clear?”
Mukhtar nodded. “I’m fucking freezing. At least let me get out of these wet clothes.”
Malik nodded, his black eyes regarding his captor with contempt. He scratched his bald pate. “Okay, but I have no dry clothes.”
“The heater,” urged Mukhtar. “At least turn on the fucking heater.”
Malik smiled and watched as his victim undressed. His eyes focused on Mukhtar’s manhood, his devoted attentiveness seemingly sexually motivated.
Malik tied up the naked man and drove away, hoping to avoid any roadblocks that had been set up. He felt the eyes of Mukhtar burning into him.
“You’re from Sipah-e-Sahaba, aren’t you?”
Again, Malik smiled. “You betrayed your faith for material gain. Your greed has alienated you against Allah.”
They drove in silence, until they reached their destination; a shabby, unimpressive farmhouse. The car was parked out of sight, inside a stone garage with half the roof missing.
Mukhtar was ushered from the car and a rancid odour overcame him. The source of the stench soon became apparent with the appearance of a corpse, bloody and bloated, a red hole adorning the forehead of the old man.
Malik forced his captive over to a sturdy workbench and proceeded to untie him. He urged Mukhtar to stoop over the bench and placed one of his hands towards a vice.
“No! What are you doing?”
The assassin swiped the protesting man across the head with the butt of his pistol. “Do not struggle, traitor. It will be better for you if you cooperate.”
Malik tightened the vice so that it gripped Mukhtar’s wrist securely, causing him to scream. The killer seized the other wrist and warded off Mukhtar’s vain struggle, securing his wrist in another vice, conveniently situated within arms length. The crushing of bones was audible as the manic torturer tightened the vice.
“Please, nooo. I’ll do anything, please.”
Malik grinned at the pathetic sight of the naked man, stooped over the workbench. He casually ambled to the front of the bench to taunt his hostage.
“Now, we can do this two ways... Tell me where the money is, and if I believe you, then your suffering will be minimal. If however you hold out or lie to me, then I’ll crush your wrists before killing you... You see, I am a reasonable man.”
“I...I...I do not have the money... Well, not all of it.”
Malik gritted his teeth and tightened the vice on Mukhtar’s left wrist.
“Aaah! Mercy! Mercy!”
Malik stooped down and placed his face inches from Mukhtar’s. “You were saying?”
“It’s true... Schofield has the money.”
“Yes, Sam Chaplin’s brother in law.”
Malik seemed bemused by the mention of the names. “Who are these men?”
Mukhtar grimaced, saliva dripping from his crooked mouth. “Chaplin and Schofield planned to rob O’Hara himself.”
Malik raised his eyebrows. “Ah, now O’Hara I’ve heard of... So where can I find these men?”
“Chaplin is dead... Schofield blackmailed us of one million pounds.”
“And the other two million?”
“Peebles banked his; well most of it anyway. Schofield relieved him of some of it.”
“I’m an intelligent man, and I still estimate a deficit of one million pounds,” groaned Malik.
Mukhtar hesitated and Malik reached for the vice.
“No! Wait! The money is hidden beneath the floorboards in the loft of Rasheed’s uncle. The address is...”
“I know where he lives... Does anyone else know about the money?“
Malik studied the face of the pained man. “I believe you... And this Schofield? Where can I find him?”
Mukhtar was now breathing heavily, his eyes unable to distract from the corpse of the old man. “I swear, I don’t know. We handed over the money and then the police turned up.”
“What car was he driving?”
“A Volkswagen. Yes, it was a white Volkswagen.”
“And you have no idea where I can find him?”
Mukhtar shook his head. His frightened eyes followed the trail of Malik, who departed through the door adjoining the farmhouse. The helpless man attempted to wrestle his wrists free from the vice, but the pain was excruciating.
Malik reappeared, holding a large hacksaw.
“W...W...What are you going to do?” asked Mukhtar. “I’ve told you all I know. Please let me go. I’ll tell nobody of your existence, I swear.”
The black-eyed man smiled. “You swear to who, Ahmed? You have betrayed your faith and therefore have no religion.”
Malik touched the blade of the hacksaw with his index finger. “Ooh, that’s sharp. Good.”
“What are you going to do?”
Malik assumed a passive look of meditation and began to rant. “Those who disbelieve, and die while they are disbelievers; on them is the curse of Allah and of angels and of men combined.”
Mukhtar was now struggling more aggressively.
“I am going to carry out the law as it is written, Ahmed. You stole, and you do, I assume know the penalty for stealing?”
“Please. I’ll do anything... It was Rasheed who corrupted me. I am faithful to Allah and to.. ahhhhh!”
Malik seized the wrist of his adversary and held the hacksaw against it. He proceeded to thrust away, the sound of breaking bones failing to unnerve him. Blood spurted from the wound, the loud agonising screaming unheard by outsiders. Malik had chosen his execution chamber well.
The bloody hand fell to the ground; the screaming now ceased, with Mukhtar now in a trance-like state. Malik was stringent in his duty, working his blade against the other wrist. The killer finally stepped back and admired his handiwork; his face perspiring, etched with splashes of blood.
“There, it is done.”
Mukhtar lay motionless, stretched across the bench, whimpering and staring into nothingness. Helplessly, he sensed the flow of blood leaving his body.
Malik placidly left his victim alone and returned to the farmhouse to clean up. On his return, Mukhtar’s death did neither surprise nor matter to him. After dowsing the building with petrol, Malik tossed a match onto the dry straw.
He drove away without looking back; his task was complete.
Three days had passed since the death of Mukhtar and Rasheed. Jessica was seated behind the counter of the café, reading a magazine. It was mid morning and the hungry truckers and building workers had departed. She heard the door of the shop open and lifted her eyes, to see a man, wearing sunglasses and a grey baseball cap enter the premises. The man wore a brown, leather bomber jacket and denim jeans.
Jessica put down her magazine and prepared to greet the customer. “What’ll it be, buddy?”
Schofield removed his sunglasses. His face was unshaven and his eyes heavy. “Well, I wouldn’t say no to a plate of your delicious bacon and eggs.”
“You! You bastard. My car is...”
“Shhh, Jessica,” insisted Schofield, who glanced over his shoulder to see a lone diner. “Can we speak somewhere more private?”
Jessica motioned with her head for him to follow her behind the counter and into the kitchen. Judging by her red, stained eyes, she had slept little the last couple of nights.
“Jessie, I know what you must think of me, but...”
“Do you? Do you really? You see, I don’t think of you, Dean. You saunter into my life and charm me with your wonderful English accent, screw me, and then bring an armed robber to my home. Then you leave me and write off my car. What I think of you can only be delivered in a less than ladylike manner. In fact, I’m fucking pissed off, Dean. Pissed off big time.”
“How did you know he was an armed robber?”
“After you trashed my car, I had a visit from the cops. Some dishy Dutch guy was so interested in you. He told me what type of person you are. Yes, he told me that the money you claimed was stolen from you, wasn’t yours after all. He spelt it out clear to me. You’re a thief, Dean, and you used me.”
“I have my reasons for doing what I’m doing, but I haven’t time to explain... I just wanted to say sorry. I never meant you to be hurt.”
“Shit, my heart is bleeding, not!.. The cops may still be watching me.”
Schofield placed some keys on the table.
“What’s this?” asked the curious waitress.
“I’ve bought you a little gift. It’s outside. Please forgive me, Jessie.”
“I don’t want your gifts; don’t you understand? How many people have died over your precious money?”
“Please, take it. Admittedly, the money has always had blood on it, even before it was stolen. O’Hara is no choirboy. If the money is returned to him, no doubt it will be used to buy arms for his terrorist chums. This is a cruel world, Jessie, and you’ve got to accept any charitable donations that come your way, no matter how immoral it may seem. If things had turned out different, then there’s no way that I would have let you go. I think I love you, but perhaps it’s best if I walk out of your life.”
Schofield leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. “Goodbye, Jessie.”
Jessica returned to the counter with tears streaming down her eyes. She clutched the car keys and looked in the direction of the trucker, who was oblivious to her, as he tucked into his breakfast. She walked slowly towards the exit and smiled, fixing her eyes on a brand new white Volkswagen.
“I’ll be gone two minutes, Bobby. Help yourself to coffee.”
The tearful waitress clambered into the driving seat of the car and closed her eyes. “Oh, Dean, you bastard,” she mouthed. “Why?”
Her eyes were attracted to a note, pinned on the glove compartment. It read, ENJOY!
Jessica reluctantly opened up the glove compartment and removed a large envelope. Her mouth was agape and her hands trembled, as she took in the thick wad of dollar notes. In her hands, she held eighty thousand dollars.
Farooq thanked his friend’s father and left the vehicle, grateful for the lift back from the bowling alley. The sixteen-year old ran through the downpour, towards his home. On entering the apartment, he sensed something was different. The pungent aroma of spices was absent, and it was Wednesday. Ever since his mother had passed away some three years ago, his father had assumed the position of a gourmet, insisting that he cooked the most delicious curries in New York.
Farooq hung his jacket on the stand and headed for the kitchen, where he expected to find his father, labouring over another of his spicy concoctions. He heard movement from upstairs and resisted the temptation to shout out. His father was a creature of habit and was stringent in his culinary procedures, and this practice had been abandoned, but why? Perhaps the death of his nephew, Rasheed Ali had contributed towards his state of mind..
The teenager slowly ascended the staircase, leading to the loft. He halted momentarily, again hearing the sound of someone foraging in the loft. After reaching the landing, he focused on the stepladders that led to the open hatch.
Farooq gripped the ladder and proceeded to climb. He heard the sound of banging, cautiously climbed onto the next rung, and peered into the semi darkness. The musty stench was fitting for such a morose room. The skylight let in little light and the ferociousness of the rainfall ricocheted off the soiled glass. The loft was rarely used, and his father deemed it a waste of money to illuminate it.
Farooq looked towards the source of the noise and saw someone on his knees, prizing the floorboards from their joists. The darkened, obscure shape lying in the corner, amid the cobwebs unsettled Farooq. He had not noticed the bundle there before.
The kneeling man now rose to his feet and removed two holdalls from beneath the floorboards. The beam of his torch fell upon the mysterious bundle and Farooq froze with fear. He trembled and fought back the urge to vomit. His father lay on his side, his lifeless eyes still open, his tongue protruding from between his lips.
Farooq sobbed uncontrollably and Malik turned aggressively towards the intruder. The killer reached for his hammer and paced towards the hatch. Farooq scrambled down the stepladder and instinctively pulled it away. He saw the legs of Malik dangling, and then the angry scowl etched on the killer’s face. No words were exchanged; with both parties realising the meaningless of vocabulary.
The frightened youngster bounded down the staircase and heard the loud thud as Malik leapt from the loft. Almost wrenching the front door from its hinges, Farooq fled the apartment and sprinted through the rain. His shouts for help were either ignored or not heard. Looking behind, he could see that the killer was following, his stride long and his progress swift.
Farooq ran into the road, attempting to wave down an incoming car. The vehicle swerved and the driver ignored the youth. Deciding that he could not outrun his pursuer, Farooq entered a jewellers and approached the owner, who was situated behind the counter.
The elderly, Jewish jeweller reached below his counter and brandished a baseball bat. “You want to rob me do you? You leave my shop now, thief.”
“No, no,” pleaded Farooq, who was fighting for breath, with one eye on the door. “You must help me. He’s killed my...”
The door opened and Malik appeared, his face displaying anger and his black eyes menacing.
The jeweller was confused. He stepped from behind his counter, waving his baseball bat. “I’m going to call the police.”
Farooq held his hand out towards the old man, who swung his bat at him, connecting powerfully with his shoulder.
“Fuck! Listen to me! This man killed my father!”
“Is this true?” The jeweller backed away and reached for his telephone.
Malik withdrew his pistol from his waistband and shook his head. He shot the man between the eyes. Farooq gasped, as he was covered by blood and mucus. Instinctively, he picked up the baseball bat.
Malik smiled. “Son of a treacherous bastard, you will meet the same fate as your father.” The assassin took aim and pulled on the trigger. Farooq closed his eyes and heard the click. Again, Malik squeezed the trigger, but with the same result. The angry killer replaced his weapon in his waistband and advanced. “Perhaps it is Allah’s wish that you live, but I don’t think so.”
The shop door swung open and an elderly lady surveyed the horror. “Amos! What have you done to my husband?”
The momentary glance that Malik afforded the woman was all that Farooq needed. He charged at his father’s killer and swung the baseball bat at his head, connecting with a loud crack. Malik lunged backwards and again Farooq took aim, this time delivering a blow to the side of his face.
Malik lay on his back, dazed with blood pouring from the wound to his head. The old woman screamed and Farooq’s manic eyes focused on her. “Shut up! Shut the fuck up!”
Malik attempted to wipe the blood from his eyes and tried to get to his feet. Farooq swung his club yet again, and grinned in the face of the bewildered man as the blow to the head was delivered.
The teenager crouched down and studied the bloody face of his victim. Even through the mask of blood, he could distinguish the black, evil eyes. Malik was now breathing heavily, his futile efforts unable to muster enough strength to lift him from his prone position.
Farooq ignored the slamming of the door. “Who are you?”
Malik’s vision was blurred, his speech incapacitated.
“You come to my home and kill my father... If perhaps you knew who I was, then none of this would have happened... My cousin is a warrior of Sipah-e-Sahaba. Yes, I thought that would catch your attention... I too have ambitions to join my cousin and to fight for the cause.”
Malik attempted to sit up. His mouth opened, displaying his bloody teeth, but no words were forthcoming.
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth my father used to say,” whispered Farooq. “It is our written law.”
Malik spluttered, and his attacker swore that he smiled as he rose up to finish off his gruesome act. With all of his effort, Farooq swung at the killer, and the blow was fatal.
Tossing the baseball bat to the ground, Farooq left the jewellers and welcomed the cooling rain. In a daze, he walked back towards his apartment, ignoring the neighbours who had now gathered across the street.
Farooq climbed his staircase, confused and trembling. What had just occurred was surely a delusion. Many times, he had appeared as a hero in his dreams, each time succeeding as the victorious champion. Somewhere in his unconscious mind, he had seen his father’s killer before; possibly in a dream.
He scaled the stepladder and paced incoherently towards the body of his father. He fell to his knees and embraced him, crying uncontrollably. The sound of police sirens reached him, as his tear-filled eyes looked towards the two holdalls that his father had died for. Reluctantly, Farooq released his father and crawled towards the holdalls. He pulled open the zip and gazed disbelievingly at the bundles of one hundred dollar notes.
For two minutes, he sat, fondling the money and occasionally glancing at his father’s corpse. “Was all of this money really worth the lives of two men,” he asked himself. He left the loft, casually poured himself a glass of milk, and awaited the arrival of the police.