Truth Or Fiction - You Decide

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
6 short stories where the reader decides whether it really happened or not.


In writing this book, I had to take special care not to mention names of identifiable places, things or people. As a result of this, some impact had to be sacrificed. However I feel that it is better to sacrifice this, then to hurt, shame or ridicule any person, thing or country, openly. Therefore please bear with me on this.


Whilst none of these stories can be verified for truth, all of these have been taken from various sources heard and collected over a period of time, personally.

Submitted: July 19, 2010

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Submitted: July 19, 2010

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1. The Case Of The Clever Pimp
 
1
 
The man was either demented or was just pretending to be one.
 
In a professionally conducted sting ray operation, he had been caught, carrying out a very high scale prostitution ring.
 
He was the chief of this ring, but this was no ordinary pimp. His clientage ranged from rich businessmen to the very wealthy, or at least that was what his modus operandi suggested. The stake out over the last few days had yielded evidence of clients arriving and going in flashy high-priced cars into a five-star hotel, in town.
 
It had all begun on a Saturday, two weeks back, when the CID headquarters had received a tip-off on the prostitution ring, by anonymous mail. A raid was immediately planned and a sting task force was set in motion. The hotel was monitored and the man apprehended with enough evidence for a conviction.
 
At the opportune time officers had raided the room and arrested the girl and the pimp, who had dropped her here, as he was leaving the hotel.
 
It was well planned and the raid had gone off well, but now, there was a problem. This man had refused to talk or answer any questions. He just kept repeating one sentence, namely that, he wanted to meet the Head of Prosecution within the next 48 hours and that he would only speak with him.
 
Chief Inspector Saeed, under whom this case was assigned, opened the scanty file, pertaining to this case, which was lying on his table. He quickly read through the details about the anonymous letter that had arrived at CID headquarters a few days back and the subsequent sting operation and its results.
 
Yesterday, the operation had gone into effect. No sooner than the man had entered the hotel, a team of plain clothes policemen had surrounded the hotel. Ten minutes later the man was arrested whilst leaving the hotel, whilst the girl was arrested with the client, in the room.
 
Quite simple and pretty ‘run of the mill’ affair, however, this fact, that it was a simple operation was bothering Saeed. From experience he knew that cases which were simple and flawless, were the ones which really turned out to be problematic in the end.
 
For starters, the girl arrested was a British citizen and was not a resident of this country. No big deal there.
 
Saeed knew in cases like this, she would be sentenced for a year in prison, and them let off, before serving her sentence, by a Presidential pardon, in the approaching Idd holidays.
 
It was always the whores, pimps and the petty thieves, criminals with less then a few months remaining in their sentences, which were freed at that time.
 
However, arresting a British or American citizen always induced trouble and hours of unnecessary work in this part of the world. Their embassy was very strong here, and come morning, they would be all over the police station after just one call, from this girl. Even then, the embassy would not outright interfere in the legal proceedings, no, they never did that, but the nuisance that they create once a prisoner is sentenced is unbelievable. The smallest excuse, be it in the form of the quality of food served in the prison, or medical facility offered, or even something as naïve as not allowing the prisoner a phone call daily, and the embassy starts screaming about Human Rights Abuse etc., with the International press having a field day running down the country and its system.  Already, the girl was demanding that she be allowed to contact her embassy.
 
Yet, even this, was not the real problem.
 
The main problem was the man, the pimp, Hanif.
 
Hanif, had repeatedly on interrogation just said one sentence.
 
“Get me the Chief of Prosecution, or be prepared to face the consequences.”
 
Saeed, had had his share of lunatics in the past, but something about Hanif, told him this was no crank, he was dealing with. He wondered why this man was so insistent and what the consequences were that he was babbling about. He sighed and asked that Hanif be brought over once more, for questioning.
 
When Hanif entered, he waved to a chair and when seated, Saeed proceeded to once again patiently question him about his crime and arrest.
 
Hanif in return, looked at Saeed stoically and once again repeated his request, that he be questioned by the Chief of Prosecution.
 
After trying almost for an hour, with no visible progress and making sure that this was the only thing that Hanif would ever speak, Saeed closed the file and told Hanif, that the next morning he would be referred to a prosecutor, not the Chief Prosecutor, but a prosecutor nevertheless.



2
 
Early next morning, after breakfast, all new inmates, Hanif including, were hand cuffed and taken to the Prosecution Department, next to the Court, in a mini van.
 
On arrival, the van went underground into a parking from where a roll-call ensured that all inmates were accounted for and then an individual police officer assigned to each inmate, to be taken to the respective prosecutor’s office, who was handling their cases.
 
Hanif entered his assigned Prosecutor’s office, with a lot of aplomb, waited for the handcuffs to be removed, and without being told to sit, just pulled, out a chair and promptly sat down. The air of confidence that he displayed even made Mohammed Al Balushi, the prosecutor, a little uneasy.
 
Balushi, snapped and told Hanif curtly, “This is not your home or a café that you can do as you like.”
 
“Do you have a choice?”
 
“I am warning you,” Balushi retorted, “any rudeness and impudence can and will be another case and extra time in jail for you.”
 
“Please save that crap for someone else, and let’s get down to business, which will be better for both of us and beneficial for you too.”
 
“Ok let’s do that” remarked a little fazed Balushi. “What’s your name, for the record?”
 
“No! No! You still do not get it. I will only answer questions from the ultimate Chief of this department. Are you that person? I do not think so. Can you tell me who you are?”
 
“I am the prosecutor assigned to your case, I am sure you know that” replied Balushi, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
 
“Ok and who is your superior?”
 
“The Department Head” said Balushi, now irritably.
 
“Good and who is above him?” queried Hanif exasperatingly.
 
At this Balushi lost his cool composure.
 
“You fool”, he shouted. “Who the hell do you think you are and am I here to question you or are you here to question me.”
 
Hanif shook his head resignedly. He removed the shoe from his right leg and lifting his foot on to the chair, the normal way that Arab men relax, settled into it more comfortably.
 
“My dear Balushi,” he replied, “You are just an unfortunate player in my scheme of things. Now do me a favor and thereby also yourself, and please get the Chief of Prosecution down here so that we can all finish this unpleasant matter and go about our own ways sooner than later.”
 
Oh! I see, and the Chief is supposed to be free to meet all inmates referred to prosecution,” snapped Balushi.
 
“No, but trust me this is one inmate he will be thankful he met.”
 
“And why would that be?” queried Balushi looking at him scornfully. “Are you some king, or even a relation to the ruler of this country?”
 
“Trust me, when this is over, I will be more important than that too, and please, where is your sense of hospitality, can we have some qawa (Arabic Coffee), my throat is dry?” replied Hanif.
 
Balushi lost all patience. The police officer who had accompanied Hanif to the prosecutor’s office looked bemused and strangely, Hanif was the only one in that room who looked calm and in control of the situation.
 
“Get this man out of this room” bellowed Balushi looking at police officer. He turned to Hanif and said, “You sir are going to prison for a long time, I promise.”
 
As the police officer started to respond to Balushi’s order, Hanif raised a hand gesturing him to stop.
 
“Let me give you a valuable tip. Never make a promise you cannot keep,” he calmly replied.
 
Saying so, Hanif stood up over Balushi’s table and picking up a pen and a piece of yellow post-it paper he wrote a telephone number on it.
 
The number was somewhere in U.K. and handing over the paper, Hanif said, “Please call this number now, because if there is any delay or if this number is not called today, then you, and only you will be responsible for the consequences.”
 
Poor Balushi, his face was red with anger; he did not know what to do. Never in his term of three and a half years had he ever encountered a prisoner with so much confidence and pluck.
 
Normally the prisoners who passed through this room were submissive and apologetic, specially the Asian ones. Some Arab ones like this Lebanese/British guy were arrogant, but, even they were never this arrogant or confident.
 
What was really the reason for all this arrogance, Balushi wondered?
 
Anyways, he was not about to lose face in front of this inmate, he would dismiss this maniac from his room and refer the case to the court, which was his job. Let the judge decide what and how to deal with this lunatic, he decided.
 
“Officer,” he barked back at the police officer, “I think I ordered that this man be taken from here.”
 
The police officer at this order sprang into action and immediately yanked Hanif up from his chair, gesturing that the meeting was over.
 
Hanif shook off the police officer’s grasp upon his shoulder with a shrug, and stood up calmly, holding his hands in front of him, he allowed himself to be handcuffed and walked towards the door.
 
“Mr. Balushi, I do not know if you have taken any note of what I have said, but I urge you to please be serious about our meeting, and call the number now, because consequences will really be dire if you don’t,” Hanif said at the door and left.
 
Balushi felt a chill creeping up his spine. He could not figure out whether the chill was from fear or from curiosity or from dealing with, what he now believed to be a completely stupid if not insane man.
 
He stared at the piece of paper for a long time, and then reasoned that maybe he should report this matter to his boss. Picking up the piece of paper he ventured out of the room.
 
3
 
Luckily, Mr. Ghanumi, Balushi’s boss, was in his cabin and not in court. Balushi entered and gave him the paper and told him of his experience of the morning.
 
Ghanumi was livid, when Balushi finished. He immediately called for the police officer outside his room and ordered that Hanif be bought back to him.
 
The police officer left in a hurry and after a few minutes was back with Hanif in tow.
 
Hanif sauntered into the room, like he had in Balushi’s office, waited for the handcuffs to be removed, went straight to the chair in front of Ghanumi, and sat down.
 
“I did not ask you to sit,” shouted Ghanumi from the corner of the room where he was standing next to a bookcase with a case file in one hand.
 
“Well you had better sit down too, because when I am finished chances are you may feel faint and lose all sense of feeling in your legs.”
 
Balushi shot a glance at Ghanumi, implicating with a look of ‘I told you so’.
 
“Mr. Hanif, who are you and where is this nonsensical behavior of yours leading to?” continued Ghanumi, when Hanif made no effort to stand. “I strongly urge that you cooperate with us and let us question you properly.”
 
“And I strongly urge, that you stop wasting your time and make that phone call now,” replied Hanif staring at the piece of paper in Ghanumi’s other hand on which he had written the number and given to Balushi.
 
“Why should we?” counter attacked Ghanumi.
 
“Because it will save you and your Department’s ass,” replied Hanif coolly.
 
“What do you mean?”
 
“What I mean is that, if what I say is not done within the next four hours then believe me the shit is going to hit the fan, and you and your assistant are going to be left standing below it,” said Hanif.
 
At this utter insolence, even Ghanumi was taken aback. To save face, however, he addressed Hanif and told him, “Ok, if I do what you say, do I have your word that you will fully cooperate with the investigation.”
 
“If you do what I say, maybe there will be no investigation,” replied Hanif.
 
“Ok let’s get this over with,” said Ghanumi disgustedly.
 
So saying he reached for the phone and called the UK number listed on the piece of paper.
 
After a few rings, the phone was answered by a man.
 
Ghanumi identified himself and was told that he had reached a Mr. Ross, representative of a large and reputed legal firm of lawyers and solicitors in London.
 
Ghanumi, was now wary, and gave Ross the name of Hanif.
 
“Oh yes”, said Ross, “I know him well, as a client, and how may I help him? Is he in some trouble?”
 
“You can say that, but unfortunately your jurisdiction does not apply here.”
 
“I am aware of that, but we are represented, and perfectly if I may add, in your part of the world with our partners,” replied Ross, not giving into Ghanumi’s rudeness and arrogance.
 
Hearing this Ghanumi was at a loss about what to say, so he turned to Hanif who signaled that the conversation be ended.
 
Ghanumi thanked Ross and informed him that he will be calling him soon regarding Hanif, and that he had just called to confirm that Hanif was represented by this firm.
 
He put down the receiver and looked at Hanif.
 
“What was all that about and what are you trying to establish here.”
 
“I am just trying to establish, at this time, that you are now aware that I am a client of a reputed legal firm in U.K. and perfectly able to defend my self. However knowing well how unjust the legal system in your country is, I have decided to go about things in a different manner and need your full cooperation in it.”
 
Ghanumi thought, Balushi is right. This man is crazy. We have his balls in our hands, in a perfect crime and this guy is talking about unjust legal systems and defense. He decided to finish with Hanif as soon as possible and throw him to the mercy of the judge. A smile crossed his face, thinking how the poor judge, whoever he may be, will deal with this lunatic in court.
 
“Having established that,” continued Hanif, interrupting Ghanumi’s thoughts, “I now will bother you to go outside and look for a Mr. Hamid Mazrooqi of Mazrooqi law firm, and escort him in here. You will find him waiting in the foyer just outside your office, or if you want I can call him on his mobile and ask him to join us in here.”
 
Ghanumi knew then, that this matter was far from over. He had two choices, one to play along with this man and see where all this led or throw him out now and refer the matter to court. He would have gone with the latter, but the clerk sitting in the corner was meticulously recording all the happenings in the room and Ghanumi knew that the judge could later on, in court, question him as to why he had not investigated this case closely.
 
Also Ghanumi was now equally intrigued as all in the room were, including Balushi, as to where all this was leading.
 
He told the police officer to go find Hamid and bring him in.
 
In a few moments Hamid made his entrance. He nodded to Hanif, and politely wished Ghanumi and Balushi.
 
Ghanumi waved him to the chair next to Hanif.
 
Hamid waited patiently for someone in the room to start speaking. Ghanumi took the lead and said, “We have reason to believe that you represent this man Hanif, here.”
 
“Yes, Hanif is a client but I do not represent him in any legal matters, I am here only to deliver an envelope if he instructs me to do so,” replied Hamid.
 
“Not yet,” immediately countered Hanif.
 
“So, what now?” queried Ghanumi sarcastically looking at Hanif?
 
“I will be shortly, giving you the envelope but I want to request you to please hand it over immediately to the Chief of Prosecution, and not open it yourself,” replied Hanif, for the first time showing some humility and respect by using the two adjectives “request” and “please” in one sentence.
 
Ghanumi rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Mr. Hanif, why this entire charade and what are you leading us all to,” he said.
 
“Trust me, I am not leading you into anything, nor is it my intention to play games with you. I have been requesting all this time to directly speak with the Chief, but no one seems to understand my request, and I assure you, that when all this is over, you will be glad you did not open the envelope and that you played along with me, through this charade, as you call it.”
 
He now asked Hamid to hand over the envelope to him.
 
Hamid opened his briefcase and took out a brown manila type envelope, the kind you use to transmit A4 size documents in. It was not bulky or heavy and was evident that it contained nothing more than a sheet or two of some document.
 
He put the envelope opposite Hanif.
 
Hanif picked up the envelope, looked at it closely, checked the seal at the back and when he was sure it had not been tampered with, thanked Hamid for his services and asked him to leave.
 
“Not so soon,” said Ghanumi. “I want to know for the record what is in this envelope and what your role is in all this, Mr. Hamid?”
 
Hanif began to speak, but Ghanumi silenced him with a raised finger and then pointed the same finger at Hamid.
 
“I was retained by this client around 3 years back to securely hold this single envelope, for a fee. It was delivered to me sealed and in its present condition. I was also told that this envelope was never to be opened and that on my client’s insistence be handed over to whom so ever he wishes it to be the receiver. That receiver is you, as indicated by my client now. I was told to be present here with the envelope for the next four days and await further instructions from my client, by a phone call yesterday from the police station lock-up, soon after his arrest. I have now done that, and my job is finished here, so please excuse me gentlemen, and I will go about my other duties.”
 
“And how much were you paid?” queried Ghanumi ignoring Hamid’s plea of being excused
 
“In all courts of the world that information is privileged,” said Hamid, “but here of course it is not, and therefore I will inform you that I was paid 8000 US Dollars, and before you ask me, I was paid in dollars and not the local currency. Five thousand dollars was my retainer fee and three thousand dollars were for delivering the envelope and waiting for a signal from my client to deliver it, for a period including but not exceeding five working days of this office.”
 
Saying so he got up signed the sheets pushed before him, of his statement so far prepared by the clerk, who was busy typing away the proceedings and drama unfolding in this room.
 
Hamid left the room, leaving a more perplexed and bewildered audience behind (all except one, dear Hanif).
 
After a few moments of silence, Hanif took the cue and began to speak. “Mr. Ghanumi, now I must once again request that without any further delay, the envelope lying before you reaches the topmost person in your office, as time is now running out, and believe me time is of the utmost importance here.”
 
Ghanumi sighed and shook his head in disbelief. What had started out as a normal day in his life had become a drama and all due to this lunatic sitting in front of him? “Not so soon,” he replied, “before I even consider involving the higher echelons of this office into your crazy schemes, I must know what is inside this envelope.”
 
Saying so, he picked up the envelope and began to feel it as if by touch he could get some inkling into its contents. This much he was certain it contained some hard cardboard type paper or documents written on stiff stationery in it. What was in it was the mystery, now completely consuming his curiosity?
 
Hanif, shrugged his shoulders, and replied, “Well if you are so desperate to know, open it, but I once again advice you that not doing so will be better for you, and you may soon thank me for this advice.”
 
Ghanumi, by now tired of Hanif and his power plays signaled the clerk who was taking all the notes, who promptly placed them in front of him. He pushed the notes to Hanif, who without even glancing at them just signed the papers and pushed them back to Ghanumi, indicating as if to say well now the ball’s in your court.
 
Ghanumi said, “Well Mr. Hanif, I will need some time to study all this before I come to any further decisions and so you may consider this meeting over for now. We will call you again if we need to get any further clarifications.”
 
“Do that,” remarked Hanif, “only, make sure you do it within the next four hours or it may be too late?”
 
“Well what is going to happen in four hours? Are you trying to threaten us into submissiveness, because if so, you cannot, we do not bow down to blackmailers? And what exactly is in this envelope,” said Ghanumi irritably.
 
“That’s for me to know and for your top boss to find out,” replied Hanif cheekily.
 
Ghanumi signaled to the police officer that the meeting was over and Hanif stood up got handcuffed and was led out of the prosecutor’s office.
 
Ghanumi waited till Hanif was out of the door and asked everyone including Balushi to leave. He then picked up the envelope.
 
“Should I open it or not,” he thought.
 
However so consuming and powerful is the human nature of curiosity, that even before he could answer that question, he found himself slitting open the envelope and glancing inside it in anticipation.
 
What he saw, when he emptied the envelope’s contents made him jump up with fear and snatching up the envelope and its paraphernalia, he literally ran out of the room, making his way to the Head of Prosecution floor and office. On his way up, Ghanumi was aware that he was now mentally wishing he had never opened this blasted envelope.
 
4
 
Years back, when Hanif had just started his prostitution ring back in London, he had got double lucky. This fate of luck, smiling on him twice within a period of a few months and consequently a bout of bad luck, had made him decide to expand his nefarious ring to this country.
 
Son of a migrant who after escaping the Lebanon Civil War from Beirut, with his family, and settling in London, Hanif’s father soon lost all his money in bad investments and was reduced to working on temporary odd jobs to support his wife and child.
 
At 17, when his father died, the responsibility fell on Hanif, to feed and keep the family fire running. He gave up schooling, - after all he could not afford the fees, even if there was any love of education in him, which sadly was not, - and joined a gang of lads working under a local Don and indulging in petty crimes like shop-lifting, pick pocketing, loan sharking, extortion and later on prostitution.
 
He soon advanced up the ranks in this nefarious organization and became one of the top agents of the Don. In a meeting he convinced the Don to expand his prostitution racket to a better segment of the local population. They rented a villa in the suburbs of London and started operating from there. Hanif was 23 at that time and was convinced he had found his dream profession.
 
The money was good, the girls were willing, and the customers happy and so everyone was satisfied.
 
Hanif started out at 200 pounds a night and was soon charging as much as 1000 pounds, and yet the business of ‘the lust of flesh’ was booming. What set Hanif apart from the other similar rackets operating in London at that time, was the girls, he used in the profession.
 
The girls were all from local universities who were lured into this sordid business because of problems, be it drugs, money, loans or simply the thrill of rebelling against the norms of society. With such young nubile hostesses, which Hanif’s, now ever-increasing goons base was picking up, there was no real dearth of customers and soon Hanif’s clientele grew from the well-to-do to the absolute wealthy.
 
During that time, he was approached by a man called Brian, who convinced him of a plan he had, and after consultation with his Godfather – the Don, Hanif put the plan into motion. This was when luck smiled on him, and that too twice, within a period of four months.
 
The first time it happened when one of Hanif’s numerous agents had introduced a client, a young teenaged wealthy lad, who was so satisfied with the service rendered, that he began to refer other wealthy friends from his University to the “Villa”.
 
One of these friends was a young VIP studying as a foreign student in the most reputed university in Britain.
 
The second time, that lucked smiled, was when that same VIP’s uncle a real big shot also visited the villa, although just by sheer chance.
 
Both customers were top-notch rich, paid well and were greatly satisfied with the services rendered. They also fit perfectly into Hanif’s and Brian’s plan, which at this stage was going great guns.
 
After smiling twice, luck decided to do a reversal on Hanif.
 
The Don, under whom he was operating his nefarious activities, got trapped in a sting operation and was killed in a shootout.
 
Without his support and without the power that came along with his support, Hanif realized that his money-making days in London were temporarily over, if not permanently.
 
The villa was closed down and business as Hanif knew it came to an end.
 
Of course by now, Hanif had stashed away a tidy sum of money and was not exactly starving. He also knew that there was a very good chance of his being picked up in the aftermath of the shootout for questioning and therefore made the decision of leaving London, albeit temporarily.
 
He decided to move his business to another country and after much deliberation decided on the country where today he was caught and facing possible jail time.
 
But Hanif was a clever man and had prepared himself well for just such a contingency.
 
5
 
At that very moment, when Hanif was striding confidently towards the lockup cell in the Prosecution building, Ghanumi was walking very slowly and with heavy steps in the long corridor culminating at the Chief of Prosecution’s office.
 
He entered the office and politely wishing the Chief’s secretary asked if he could see the Chief urgently. The secretary sensed Ghanumi’s tenseness and informed him that the Chief was out on some business but if he would wait she would inform him on his cell.
 
Ghanumi sat down on one of the luxurious sofas in the reception area all the while twitching nervously, whilst the secretary made the call.
 
Chief of Prosecution, Qubaisi, was out buying a gift for his latest wife, on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary, which was two days away. He was thinking of purchasing the latest Mercedes model for her as a surprise gift.
 
When the call came from his secretary, he was agitated and curtly replied; asking what was so important a matter that the secretary could not defer till his return. When the secretary informed him of Ghanumi’s visible distress and nervousness, Qubaisi asked, that Ghanumi be put on the line. The secretary politely obliged.
 
“Yes Ghanumi, tell me fast, what is the problem,” asked Qubaisi.
 
Ghanumi said, “Sir this is not something that I cannot discuss on the phone, I please humbly request that you personally come and hear what I have to say.” He added, “And Sir, please once again it is my humble request that you come now. What I want to discuss and show you is of tremendous importance.”
 
“Ghanumi, this had better be good,” said the Chief irritably.
 
“Yes Sir,” replied Ghanumi, at the same time thinking, that this is not really good but so horrible that the Chief will surely lose his senses when he sees for himself, what he has to show. Inwardly he felt relieved that soon he would pass this burden on to the Chief’s shoulder and walk away from all the madness this morning had suddenly thrown into his lap.
 
The Chief made his entrance exactly 38 minutes after the call, and in those 38 minutes Ghanumi had refused Qawa twice, inquired on Qubaisi’s return thrice and left the room to smoke four times.
 
When Qubaisi strode into his office, Ghanumi without even waiting to be told to enter, walked right in after him, and said, “Sir, this is something that you must see immediately.”
 
He placed the envelope, along with Hanif’s morning statement on Qubaisi’s huge but uncluttered desk.
 
The Chief picked up the statement and began to read it, but Ghanumi interrupted him and insisted that the contents of the envelope be examined first.
 
Qubaisi looked at him with a gaze that one would reserve for looking at raving idiots, but without saying anything more, picked up the envelope and gingerly removed the contents of it placing them on the desk.
 
What he now saw quickly drained the blood from his face. He jumped up from his chair and sprang away from his desk as if something repulsive had been suddenly placed before him.
 
And repulsive it was.
 
There lying on his desk were photographs, in all livid color, not only of the Crown Prince of the country, but also of his uncle, the next in hierarchy to rule the country.
 
The pictures were no doubt old and a little dated but there was absolutely no doubt, of the identities staring up from them at Qubaisi. The pictures depicted images of the two men having sex and the girls in the pictures (different ones) were definitely of European descent, and not some locals.
 
Qubaisi lifted the bottom of his dishdasha (the long flowing garment all Arabs traditionally wear), and started to wipe the sweat from his brow with the cloth (that Arabs traditionally wear under the dishdasha), some using it as a replacement for underwear.
 
Ghanumi inwardly smirked, glad that at last the ball had been passed from his court into someone else’s.
 
“Where is this man? And bring him in now,” barked Qubaisi
 
Ghanumi left in a hurry and quickly at times even trotting walked to the prison cell where Hanif was being held.
 
When Hanif was taken out, he was smiling, and Ghanumi stopped the police officer from handcuffing Hanif and gave orders to straight away start marching to the Chief’s office.
 
The last that the other inmates of the cell, saw of Hanif, was him waving goodbye whilst making a victorious “V” sign with the two fingers of his right hand. 
 
6
 
When Brian, had approached Hanif way back in London, his plan was to secretly film Hanif’s customers and then release those amateur videos on a pay-per-view adult website that he operated, on the internet. For this he was willing to offer Hanif 30% of all revenues generated. The eternally greedy Hanif, after consultation with the Don had agreed but demanded a 50-50 stake.
 
However, Hanif was greedy, but never stupid. He personally supervised and made sure that only those customers videos, who could never ever be assigned a name to were given to Brian, for release. Even that arrangement worked pretty well and there was no dearth of footage for Brian’s increasingly popular website.
 
All the other footage that Hanif knew was volatile and easily identifiable by the viewers, and could get them into trouble, he had kept, but securely locked away in a safe deposit box that he had rented in a bank in Switzerland.
 
This particular footage was what was about to save him today. Before leaving for this country 3 years back, Hanif had gone to Switzerland removed the two VHS tapes, from his well catalogued collection and had taken them back to his room at the hotel he stayed in.
 
On returning to London with his booty, he had contacted Brian, and in a meeting over dinner, he had offered Brian a lump sum of money and the promise of more money if he agreed to do his bidding. Upon hearing of his plans, Brian agreed.
 
The next day Brian, who was something of a computer geek and Hanif who was not a computer geek, met at Brian’s apartment and Brian in a couple of hours converted the VHS tapes into digital CD’s, and also proceeded to print selected scenes that Hanif asked to on photography paper.
 
Hanif then sealed the CD’s and the photos in different envelopes.
 
The next day, he visited Mr. Ross’s firm, on Oxford Street and after paying him a fee of 5000 pounds, retained him as custodian of one of the envelopes that contained the Cd’s.
 
He also handed over to Ross another envelope, this one smaller in size, the type one would use to post a letter, and instructed him, that when the right time came, Brian would request him to open the envelope and it would contain exact instructions on what Ross was to do with the bigger envelope.
 
Ross having routinely handled stranger requests from clients duly agreed.
 
Hanif then made arrangements to depart for the country, where he planned to start his new prostitution racket and business.
 
On arrival in this country, Hanif had immediately sourced out Hamid Mazrooqi and had given the other envelope to him along with the agreed 8000 dollars and his instructions.
 
7
 
Hanif now walked confidently into Qubaisi’s office along with a not so confident Ghanumi and a completely clueless police officer in tow.
 
Without waiting to be told, he once again sat down in front of Qubaisi and remarked, “at long last, thank God, we are making some progress.” Ghanumi standing behind him shrugged helplessly at Qubaisi.
 
“I presume, that you have seen the contents of the envelope I handed to Ghanumi,” continued Hanif.
 
“Yes and I demand that you immediately hand over all negatives and other photos that you have, or a fate worse than death awaits you,” barked Qubaisi.
 
“Hey man, are you plain stupid or do you think that I am one?” queried Hanif. “I hold the photos, I am in position here to ridicule you and your, so-called great leaders, and in spite of all that, you say that ‘YOU DEMAND’. What do you think? That I will just hand over my life into your hands, to do what you will with it. No I am not that stupid! If my demands are not met, I assure you these photos will be released and the world will know how hypocritical your leaders are, punishing businessmen like me for doing a business, whilst they themselves, secretly buy the goods from me.”
 
Qubaisi was at a loss of words.
 
Hanif continued, “Now listen to me and make a note of my two simple demands and then we can talk of the photos and their negatives and any other demeaning goods that I may possess. First of all, make arrangements to transfer 5,000,000 dollars, to an account that I specify to. I know this is hardly any princely sum for your kingdom, but I am not a greedy person and this amount is sufficient for my needs. Secondly, make sure a private jet is arranged for me to fly to a location that I will specify later on directly to the pilot. And oh yes, did I mention that you have a little under three hours to get all of this organized or you will have to be responsible for the consequences.”
 
“And what may that be?” asked Qubaisi with trepidation already knowing the answer.
 
“Nothing much, but if by my appointed time and at my appointed place I do not make an appearance then all this damming evidence will be released in as many as possible magazines and newspapers throughout the world and the internet too.”
 
“Oh so now you are blackmailing us to do your bidding” said Qubaisi.
 
“Tch! Tch!, not a pleasant word to use, I must say, but yes under the circumstances you may say that I am. Of course you can deny me all this but the key question here is, can you afford to pay the price.”
 
“I need to talk to some senior people so you will have to excuse us.”
 
“Talk to as many as you like, only do not take too much time or talk for very long, because as I see it you now have just about 2 hours left, after which things will be out of my control.”
 
“We need more time,” said Qubaisi bargaining.
 
“You don’t have it,” said Hanif unrelentingly.
 
“What guarantee do we have that when all this is over, we will get back all the original photographs and materials,” asked Ghanumi, who had been silent all this time.
 
Hanif looked at him, and said simply, “you don’t.”
 
“Even if we agree, remember we will still have the Interpol and all Security Agencies, looking for you. Therefore please don’t be stupid and turn yourself in,” pleaded Qubaisi.
 
“I’ll worry about that when the time comes, and I am sure you will do no such thing” said a confident Hanif, before continuing, “Now will you please go about starting the process to fulfill my demands, and as you are going to be running around quite a bit for the next two hours, I think I will stay here and wait for that qawa I have been asking for so long.”
 
Qubaisi retrieved the damned envelope from a drawer in his table and started to leave the room. The last thing he heard was a mocking Hanif asking Ghanumi if he could at last have that qawa now.
 
8
 
Time seemed to drag for Ghanumi, who kept looking at the wall clock in Qubaisi’s office every few minutes. He was visibly distressed and concerned, and Hanif was enjoying every moment of his discomfort. Ghanumi was also mentally wishing that he had never ever opened that dratted envelope and spied on its contents.
 
Qubaisi, having left his office, wasted no time and going straight to his car, drove briskly, towards one of the royal family palaces.
 
He dialed the Secretary of the Ruler’s uncle, whose palace he was driving to, and whose photos were lying next to him on the passenger seat, and asked him to arrange a meeting with his boss immediately, informing him that he was already on the way and it was a matter of extreme urgency.
 
Mentally, he uttered an expletive, cursing himself that as his ill luck would have it; this same uncle was on the photographs and his boss too. He was justifiably worried about the consequences of seeing these photographs would have on him and his department, and even feared a bit for his life.
 
Once at the palace doors, he was joined by a security guard waiting for him and guided to the East Wing, where the next ruler of the country, the man whose photos he was carrying was waiting for him.
 
“Sir, I need you to look at something very urgently, and in complete privacy,” said Qubaisi
 
His Majesty took the envelope and very carefully glanced inside. All he saw was some photographs, and raising his eyebrows as if to inquire, what, looked at Qubaisi.
 
Qubaisi gestured with a nod of his head towards a door, leading to another room, suggesting that the envelope be taken somewhere private and opened.
 
His Majesty left the room, only to come barging in moments later, his face livid and screaming, “who gave you this, where is he?”
 
Qubaisi approached him and in hushed tones explained the situation to him.
 
9
 
That is how, exactly 56 minutes since Qubaisi had left his office, he walked back into it, with His Majesty now accompanying him.
 
Ghanumi who was sitting next to Hanif immediately sprang up from the chair and bowed reverently to His Majesty.
 
His Majesty nodded at Ghanumi, and asked the police officer and another clerk who were in the room to leave them alone. Ghanumi he bade him to stay. Once they had gone, he said, “young man, you are in a lot of trouble, we do not acknowledge or entertain blackmailers in this place, now where are the originals to these photographs? Give them up and I assure you leniency in your prison term.”
 
Hanif looked at him stoically in the eye, and said, “I am in trouble, I know that, but remember; you are in worse trouble than me. Go ahead, throw me in jail, maybe even kill me secretly, but give up all hope of ever being a ruler of this country or even being associated with it in any way, because tomorrow morning you will be the laughing-stock of the entire world.”
 
“And what do you want in return of these?”
 
“My freedom, the money, a private jet and my laptop and briefcase,” said Hanif.
 
“If we agree, how will you guarantee the safe and complete return of all paraphernalia in your possession?”
 
“No, I am not returning anything, but I give you my word that this will be the last you will ever hear from me about this matter,” replied Hanif.
 
“Your word, that is of no use to me, I need all this back.”
 
“Sir, I am afraid you have no choice,” said Hanif. “The only guarantee that I have that you will not come after me once this is all over, with Interpol or some law enforcement agency, is this evidence, I hold, and that I will not compromise.”
 
He continued, “Mr. Qubaisi, I hope this answers your previous question. Now if we are all ready to make the deal, I suggest it be started working on immediately. After all there is hardly any time left and a lot of work to be done.” Hanif said this whilst pointedly looking at the ominously ticking wall clock in Qubaisi’s office.
 
“We need more time.”
 
“I am sorry but there is not much left, thanks to these two idiots here,” said Hanif looking at Ghanumi and Qubaisi. “However, start the proceedings immediately, and I am sure we can work out something.”
 
His Majesty knowing he was defeated, reached into his dishdasha and taking out his cell called the airport to get his plane ready and fuelled.
 
He then told Hanif, that he will have to return to his palace and get the money ready, especially since it was to be in dollars.
 
“No need,” said Hanif. “If you can call for my laptop, I will give you the account number of my account in Cayman Islands and you can transfer it there immediately. After all, the entire internet is a very useful tool of the age we live in and carrying cash is always so cumbersome and dangerous.”
 
His Majesty nodded at Qubaisi, indicating to do as Hanif bid.
 
Qubaisi left and returned almost immediately, with Hanif’s laptop and briefcase. When His Majesty inquired sarcastically, whether the laptop was lying outside the door, a wretched-looking Qubaisi explained, that it was in the possession of Hamid Mazrooqi a lawyer retained by Hanif, and who had handed it to him as he stepped out and this lawyer was waiting outside the office on Hanif’s instructions.
 
Meanwhile Hanif powered up his laptop and then wrote the account number on a piece of paper. His Majesty used Qubaisi’s office computer to make the transfer and so ten minutes later and with just about 6 minutes left for the ominous two hours that Hanif had kept badgering about, almost everything was completed.
 
Qubaisi was the one who remembered the phone calls Hanif was supposed to make. He reminded Hanif of them. He hoped that Hanif would start doing so immediately, not because he was keen to finish this matter, that he was, but because he knew that all calls from his office could be monitored and somewhere in the deep recess of his mind, he was still playing out to be a hero, and recover His Majesty’s money and thereby salvage some of his own reputation. At the same time getting this over-confident, pompous, disgusting man back in his clutches would be the ultimate reward. Ooh! What all he would do with him then.
 
“Oh very good Mr. Qubaisi indeed you are smart but no problem. You see there was no phone call to be made. Once the money has been transferred to my account, the person who holds all the originals will be informed, which by now I am sure it’s already done. His Majesty and his nephew have nothing more to fear from my side now that is unless I do not make an appearance at my colleague’s doorstep in the next 24 hours. So if you are thinking of doing anything heroic, don’t,” said Hanif, as if reading Qubaisi’s mind.
 
His Majesty’s cell rang and it was the airport informing him that his private Gulfstream jet was now ready and waiting.
 
He looked at Hanif and informed him it was time to go.
 
“Not yet, Sir, I have one final small request to be made, you see unlike the majority of employers in this country, I like to take care of my employees. I request that Miss Betty Brocket, the girl who was caught with me, accompany me on my trip out of this country. So please make arrangements to bring her to the airport now,” said Hanif in a requesting tone.
 
Qubaisi started to protest but His Majesty cut him off. “Do it,” he barked.
 
Hanif nodded approvingly then got up. He saluted His Majesty and extended his right hand towards Qubaisi to bid farewell. It was ignored. Ghanumi did the same.
 
His Majesty told Qubaisi to make arrangements for Hanif’s drive to the airport.
 
Just as Hanif was about to exit from the room His Majesty said, “Hanif you have been very smart but make sure that you stick to your side of the deal otherwise I may be ruined but I assure you that I will use all my power and money to trace you down and ruin you. I hope that is clear.”
 
Hanif nodded and turned to walk out the door.
 
“One more thing,” continued His Majesty, “I have kept my part of the deal, but one thing bothers me and that is, what if some misfortune befalls you between now and the time you meet your colleague at the appointed place tomorrow?”
 
Hanif turned once again looked directly at His Majesty twiddled his eyebrows and said only one word before walking out of the room.
 
“Pray.”
 
The Aftermath:
 


© Copyright 2017 Cyrus Tarmaster. All rights reserved.

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