“So tell me more about what happened at the plaza?” The question was accompanied with a deep stern gaze. His honey coloured eyes could see through the veil she casted on her mind. His eyes searched for answers. Hers made attempts to hide those answers. But silence and patience had already exchanged vows in his head. His curious gaze was accompanied with a tint of compassion. The softness in her black eyes blinded him. How could she resemble her so much? Almost the same heart shaped face with a pointed nose… almost similar almond shaped black eyes and those lips like the colour of ripe figs! There can never be any woman like her. Definitely not the one sitting in front of me right now. My past cannot haunt me today, he said to himself.
The smell of toasted bread dispersed in the air. It brought him back to his interrogation room. His present. The kitchen of his apartment. The white walls allowed the subjects of his interrogation to speak the truth..this is what he believed in. These walls distracted them from dishonesty. A silly superstition but worked for him.
Amidst the zest to find the real criminal, he wondered if these white walls would help him today to look at her with neutrality. Maybe I should paint them black, that might allow me to be neutral, he thought whilst spreading butter on his toasted bread. This was his ritual, to offer bread and butter. He placed two slices of bread on a plate and poured hot cinnamon black tea in his glass mug.
“I cannot face her with such vulnerability”, thought Mr.Redwood.
“How could I question her when my own heart is at war with my mind!”
He forced down a glass of lukewarm lemon water to ease his anxiety. Took the plate of toasted bread and butter and walked towards the dining table. He stared into her eyes to proclaim his command, he observed a flinch in her composure.
“Have some bread and butter,” he offered.
She gave him an unsettling look.
Hide and seek is what they played for a while until the tension in the air was disturbed by a knock on the door.
He left his seat and walked towards the door to open it. He saw a man in a grey coat. He was tall enough to reach the ceiling fan. The grey of his coat was complemented with jet black shoes. His steps sounded like the hooves of a horse as he entered the house. A sharp wound on his left cheek caused an uneasiness in her heart. As if there was a story behind the wound. A fresh yet unspoken story.
He came along with a familiar vibe but an unfamiliar face. His eyes spoke, before he opened his mouth. He had a lot to say, but would it be the truth?
He studied the man, his voice, his eyes and of course his wound. The dried brown blood exposed to his inquisitive eyes. He studied his shoes and the sound they made. The man was too detailed..many things happening all at once. Surmising all of them in one direction could in itself be misleading. Is he doing this on purpose to hide his real identity? What if he’s hiding a gun right now in his coat?
“Your good name sir?”
“Mr.Owls”. Said the new man.
“You seem new in this town.”
Oh and what a town it was. Small as a village and yet everyone called it a town. A town full of peach coloured roofs and walls painted in sea blue. Moss grew on it’s cobalt coloured streets, black lampposts and under the bridges and over the bridges, there was moss everywhere!! It was an aloof and damp town. Women hardly smiled here and men always complained about the tasteless fish found in its rivers. Children played all day long…along the streets..on the streets..along the cold black waters of the river…but never inside those waters. A folklore said, deep inside this river lies a bizarre world of giant blue eyed turtles. Some say those are hungry turtles..ready to gobble down anything that comes on their way.
“Yes I’m quite new here, but I have become familiar with the people of this town, I run a poultry farm here. Here’s my card”.
Mr.Redwood read the card carefully. “Best eggs in the town. Cheap prices!! Contact…”
“I have some news for you. I was present at the plaza last Sunday morning at 6:30 am. I was standing right behind the bus stop..I saw clearly what happened.” Said Mr.Owls.
“Okay go ahead,” said Mr. Redwood.
Meanwhile, she still sat there on the crooked chair with her heart beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was keenly observing the dynamics between the two men. Men with a cause. Each has their selfish reason to be present in the room. She was keen to find out who would lie better.
“The children were playing around the lampposts and on the streets. There were five of them…three girls and two boys. All aged between seven and eleven years old. It was a merry day. Not an usual sight in this town, to see children singing spring songs. For some vain reasons, the parents of this town would better raise their offspring as robots than humans.”
“I object,” she interrupted.
“Yes Miss.Greysmile, we shall hear your objections but first I would like to hear what Mr.Owls has got to say.”
“Why do you think so?”
“Well it’s quite evident, have you ever seen any child playing around the river?”
“We fear for their safety”, stated Mrs. Greysmile.
“I’m sorry to object to Mrs.Greysmile, if it’s only about their safety, parents could keep a watch on them. Have you seen the banks of the river? They are barricaded with the sharpest barb hooks available in the country.”
“And they aren’t any normal fish hooks, those have been bound by a strong spell!!” exclaimed Mrs. Greysmile.
“Spell?”, asked Mr.Redwood.
“Yes a spell, the people of this town are cursed by the wrath of an underwater goddess, called Lima. A thousand years ago our ancestors once tried to hunt the largest turtle swimming in this river. But that turtle happened to be Lima’s pet. Our ancestors did not know this turtle was her pet, they pleaded for mercy and yet she cursed them…”
“Umm..Mrs.Greysmile, these folklores..” Mr.Owls tried to interrupt her.
“Aren’t a joke!” She asserted.
She continued, “This town isn’t like the other ones around. Strangers often come here with their own interpretations but no one can deny the truth. The story is real. The river nurtures monstrous creatures inside her belly. The river is hungry for young and pure blood. The prophecy shall come true.. Lima’s monstrous turtle will devour those little kids…”
“Stooop itttt” said Mr.Redwood.
“This is my house and only the truth shall come out of your mouths here. No lies, no prophecies..and Mrs.Greysmile…maybe I should remind you the reason for calling you here…your husband is missing from the same day. Is he trying to hunt down that turtle of your dreams or…Or is he the bloodthirsty turtle?”
Mr.Redwood couldn’t believe his words. He got carried away by an array of emotions. He was turning fearless, which also meant he was thinking less. Her enigma no more disarmed his impartiality.
Mr.Redwood drank his hot cinnamon black tea, which had turned cold by then. Silence spread it’s wings across the room, engulfing all the three of them under the umbrella of suspicion. He turned to Mr.Owls and said,
“You were saying something…you saw something…”
Mr.Owls gave a glance to Mrs.Greysmile and said. Fear mounted over Mrs.Greysmile’s rebellious heart.
“I saw Mr.Greysmile…walking along the river banks…”
“Liar”, she shouted at once and threw the butter knife in Owls’s direction.
“If he’s lying, then should I believe in your monstrous turtle and the mysterious goddess prophecy?” Mr.Redwood smirked.
“Your beliefs don’t affect the truth”
“Truth is what the evidence says.”
“And what is your evidence? This stranger who’s been selling chickens in the town or someone who’s been living here for generations..whom would you believe Mr.Redwood?”
“I believe no one, I’ll go to the river myself and witness with my own eyes.”
“You are taking a risk with your life..”
“Well I’m sure my life shouldn’t be of your concern Mrs.Greysmile and it the kids this turtle demands, hence it wouldn’t be bothered by my arrival.”
Fool she said to herself. But this Owls, he is a wise man. In an instant he changed his plans. Mrs.Greysmile was sure he came here with a different plan in his mind but decided to change it the moment he heard her husband’s name. But where is her husband? She must find out before Mr.Redwood finds out about him.
“I’ll come with you to the river.”
Mrs.Greysmile said instantly.
“You should think once..” warned Mr.Redwood.
At that moment Mr.Owls was in the spectator’s chair. He was the one observing the dynamics between the two. Carefully measuring their energies. Carefully measuring their breathing patterns. Trying to get a hold of Mrs.Greysmile’s mind, all he could deduce was, Mr.Redwood was anyways risking his life.