The Grip of Infamy, Episode 3. Serialised Story by R. Sittamparam
Thana’s left shoulder was bleeding badly, the bullet having carved out a deep wound on the upper curve of the deltoid muscle. The top part of the shoulder blade was also chipped by the bullet’s passage. Despite the biting pain, the rush of sheer anger from his bruised ego made him push open the left passenger door and clamber out with his pistol pointed. He staggered over to the body of his rear outrider and threw a kick at it.
‘Useless scum. Can’t rely on this shit for anything. You should have eyes at the back of your head scum! This is all your fault,” he shouted giving the body another kick.
Thiagu who had a moment ago checked the youth’s pulse and found him dead, watched Thana’s actions with disgust while thinking: No respect for the dead, besides he’s on our side and died for us. How ungrateful. Anyway what can you expect from Saitanthana?
Saitanthana was the name Thana’s childhood friends had given him for his dastardly deed of stringing up stray kittens or puppies and delighting in watching them die – to vent his anger – every time he received a beating from his drunken father, his mother or elder siblings.
Residents of nearby houses at the scene of crime were peeping from their slightly open doors and windows to ascertain that whatever happened there – knowing well gunshots were fired – was over and would not pose a danger to their families.
Controlling his frustration, Thiagu spoke calmly to Thana, “The ambulance will be here soon ‘bang. Sarath is still alive and Sam has a broken leg and you need treatment as well. I called our boys and they are rushing here now.”
Swearing to himself Thana walked over to a garden stool below a tree outside an old house nearby and sat down letting out a grunt. The owner of the house was at the front door although the middle aged man dressed only in a sarong could be seen carefully positioning himself in a slight crouch such that Thana could not see him. Part of the head of a woman with greying hair could be seen peeping with enlarged eyes from the left hand side of the man’s billowing belly.
The roaring of motorcycles and 4 wheel drives were heard followed by screeching brakes. Thana’s boys rushed to the scene and about 10 youths formed a ring around the BMW and the fallen outriders while Anthony and two others rushed to Thana’s side.
Seconds later two police patrol cars arrived, each coming from opposite directions, their sirens screaming. This was followed by a police forensic department team in a grey 4 wheel drive vehicle and two ambulances that stopped in front of the BMW.
Still the residents did not venture out of their houses. Although this was the first such incident in the area, the daily newspapers had been peppered with a regular dose of stories of hitman styled killings occurring frequently in the Kuala Lumpur city and other major cities in the country. City folks had also been living in fear of falling victim to snatch thieves, robbers and house break-ins. The Indian community was further gripped by a phobia of criminals and corrupt cops heavily influenced by the slew of Tamil movies featuring super heroes battling evil crime lords who were generally in cahoots with political leaders and government administrators including the police.
Thana and the injured men were rushed off in the two ambulances while the forensic team continued their work in the area where the rear outrider, Guru’s corpse lay. Initial findings indicated he had died instantly from a deep slash at the back of his neck.
In the ambulance Thana received a call from Asha whose shrieks of panic could be heard by the nurse attending him and the driver and attendant in the front as if the mobile phone was on speaker mode.
“What has happened to you? Didn’t I tell you not to directly deal with your people. Why did you have to go meet them in public like that? Do you want me to become a widow so young?”
Thana whispered into the phone: “Dear, just calm down. I’m ok. I’ll explain everything once I get home. Just look after the children and stay put at home. Everything is under control. I can’t talk to you now, please understand.”
Switching off the phone he slipped it into his trouser pocket after removing his revolver there which he hid under the cloth cover of the stretcher he was lying on as the nurse turned the other way.
Within minutes, the ambulance arrived at the general hospital emergency department. As his stretcher was carried out of the ambulance, his alert eyes caught sight of a press photographer and video cameraman focussed on him. His heart sank. He could handle the hired killers who were targeting him and rival gangs trying to undermine his dominance of the city’s underworld but not the media. He dreaded facing the media especially the alternative media who were forever probing his shady past and underworld links.
Thana wished he could handle the media personnel especially ace journalists Thangappan of Clean Malaysia and the team of Lim and Rashid from The People’s Voice, the way he would exterminate his enemies in the underworld: with a bullet to their head.