To-Let

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 19, 2017

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Submitted: May 19, 2017

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It was a pleasant monsoon evening, rainless one with soft moist breeze; the setting sun wasn't visible through the clouds but was illuminating the sky into purple and pink.  A short slender boy wearing an orange hood was walking by the street. He had a big bag pack hanging from his shoulders, seemingly bigger than a boy of his stature could carry.

 

"Yes Ma, I visited the campus..."

 

"Ya, it's fine... Looked better in the prospectus though..."

 

"No, they're saying it will take another week to make arrangements... I've called a friend he'll pick me up in an hour. By the time I'll look for some hostel close to college..."

 

"No, I can't stay with him, he lives really far..."

 

"Hello... Hello..."

 

The call got disconnected. The boy checked his phone for network coverage. It was nil. He took a deep breath and kept the phone inside his pocket. As he looked up, his attention was caught by a sign board on the fence of a house across the street. It read 'to-let for students'. The house looked new or maybe it was freshly painted. The boy crossed the street. As he moved towards the gate he could hear the rattling of motor from the house. He peeped from over the gate and saw a middle aged, tall, attractive woman mowing the lawn. The front yard was beautifully decorated with flowers and ornamental bushes planted by the sides of the lawn. The house looked neat and well maintained from the outside, or probably it was new.

 

"Hello ma'am," the boy said. The woman continued to mow the lawn. The boy cleared his throat and this time was a bit louder. "Hello ma'am..."

 

"Ooh hello dear," replied the lady. "Please come inside."

 

The boy opened the gate and walked towards the lady. She was wearing a white floral dress that reached her knees. She had short brunette hair. Her hands looked muscular while she held the mower. Her body looked athletic just like an old sports veteran. The lady continued mowing as the boy approached her.

 

"I was just passing by and saw this sign board. Is there any room available for a week? It can take more than a week, I'm not really sure." The boy uttered trying to cut through the rattling of motor.

 

The lady turned off the mower, had a good look at the boy and replied, "Yes dear I know... Boys and girls generally come during this time of the year. The college hostel isn't big enough and I don't even want to start with the ragging stories I keep hearing, but I'm afraid I'm looking to let out for longer term."

 

"Ragging stories... Are they that bad?" The boy asked.

 

"I don't really know; keep hearing them from the boys and girls who come by. Some stories are just blown out of proportion, some are may be true, or at least few parts are but you don't have to worry. You might survive."

The lady gave a pleasant smile to the boy. She started walking towards the entrance door of the house.

 

"I think I'll let you in for a week. I won't get any tenant this early, plus you're a nice handsome boy and who knows, you may change your mind after your stay."

 

The boy looked relieved. The kind of short relief you get when one of the many boxes on your checklist gets ticked. He entered the house behind the lady. The house was beautifully decorated. An antique chandelier hung from the ceiling and walls painted in caramel colour. The beige velvet couches and brown silk curtains made the living area look all the more royal. The place was full of antiques. The kind one gets to see only in the museums. As the sun was starting to set, the lady switched on the lights. The boy looked at a huge painting of a man holding a double barrel rifle and his leg planted on a dead tiger’s head, hung at the centre of the wall with lights focussed on it.

 

"Nice painting," said the boy.

 

"He's my dad," said the lady, while washing her hands. "He was the best hunter I ever met. And believe me I have met many. I was little when he used to take me on his hunting trips; wonderful days of my life. How bad that such a sport has become so rare and mostly banned. Will you have tea?"

 

"No ma'am. Thank you." The boy replied.

 

The lady while preparing her evening tea said "Humans hunted long before farming came. We made weapons to fill our stomachs. We mastered the art of hunting for centuries. Most of the inventions happened because we had to fill our stomachs with that wild boar which ran faster than us, was stronger than us and was tastier than us."

 

"You don't know that..." The boy chuckled while he said. Lady gave her a sharp annoyed look.

 

"Sorry for interrupting."

 

"Won't you like to have a look at your room," the lady said.

 

"Yes, but I am waiting for my friend's call. He was to pick me up." The boy checked his phone. Network still showed no coverage. He tried calling but the call didn't connect.

 

"Can I use your phone? I am not being able to make any calls." Boy asked the lady.

 

"Yes of course." The lady showed him the way to a table on which an antique landline phone was placed. The boy picked up the phone while gazing at the parrot inside the golden cage. He dialled the number but call got disconnected after two rings. He tried again, and again the call disconnected.

 

“He is hanging up the call," the boy said while the lady was sipping on her tea.

 

“Unknown numbers; you don't want to pick those do you?” Said the lady.

 

"If you don't mind, I was wondering the parrot in that cage is very still." said the boy.

 

"Would you like to have a look? Come I'll show."

 

The lady held his hand and walked him to the parrot. She held his hand by the fingers and guided towards the cage. The boy was nervous. It was the kind of nervousness that takes you over when a strange attractive woman holds your hand and makes you follow her, even if she is decades older to you. "Go on... Touch it". The boy slid his fingers from between the cage bars and touched the parrot.

 

"It's dead". The boy with his eyes widened, looked at the lady.

 

"No, it's taxidermised", Said the lady. The boy looked confused.

 

"The inside of the dead animal is removed. And the skin is stuffed to make it look real." The lady told him.

 

"Oh... It looks very real. You did it yourself?" The boy asked.

 

"Yes. My dad taught me... Come I'll show you your room."

 

The boy followed the lady to the stairs. The walls of the stairs were full of mounted heads of different animals; deer, wild boar, wolf and different weapons in between. There were guns, swords, spears and knives. After reaching the first floor, there the boy saw with amusement, the magnificent tiger's head.

 

The lady turned and smiled at him. “Here’s the door to your room. Washroom is across the passage. You can have a good look, freshen up and then we can discuss the rent.” The lady said and climbed down the stairs.

 

“What a lady she is. Seems to be living by herself; looks strong, loves hunting and also knows how to taxi... taxideo..., well whatever it is but it is unique. Everything topped with such a lovely face and a bright smile. Do hell with the hostel, I’m definitely staying here...” With a wide grin the boy thought to himself and entered the room. He placed his bag pack on the floor. He saw a boy meditating on the mat just in front of the bed. And there was another at study table with plugged in ear phones.

 

“Hey guys... I thought I was the first tenant.” The boy said and started unpacking his bag. “The lady seems to be really nice. Strange she didn’t tell me the room was on sharing.” The boy didn’t get any reply. He moved towards the guy at the study table while looking closely at the one meditating. He placed his hand on his shoulder. His eyes widened, his forehead oozed of sweat and his hands trembled.

He heard lady shouting from downstairs.

“Son, have you chosen your spot? If not better make it fast. You don’t have much time.”

 

END


© Copyright 2017 Bali. All rights reserved.

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