Stayin’ Alive

Andrew Scott sat on a gilded chair wearing the crown jewels, posing for the Scotland Yard with his signature psychopath-smile. Seconds later he was lying on the ground with the back of his head blown off, while grey coats surrounded him, murmuring “There has been another one- the Bank of England.”

A sudden ringing jars my sense, a sing song voice crying “wrong day to diee” while the Beejees crooned incessantly “oh oh oh oh stayin’ alive.”
I desperately pinched myself in my sleep, grasping at the straws of consciousness and pulling myself awake. The shock of starting awake when you hadn’t realised you had fallen asleep in the first place left me staring stupidly at nothing in particular for a full minute. A side of my body had frozen from the gravity-defying position in which I had fallen asleep, and my leg cramped and spasmed, flinging my laptop straight to the floor.

My unfocussed gaze fixed on the verandah overlooking the street, registering a bloody joker-esque smile on a hideously disfigured face that hung midair at level with my third storey house.

I shook my head, blinking hurriedly as I scrambled to the edge of the bed, retrieving the laptop from where it lay weeping on the floor. BBC Sherlock reruns were getting the best of me.

Now, my room has a singularly large double bed, which sprawls over the majority of the room  like an overly pampered cat. Stark opposite to the bed is the afore mentioned verandah which very helpfully blasts my eyes with chilly wind and laser-like beams of sunlight every bloody morning.

As I dragged the laptop up to my bed, my gaze caught the man hamstrung on the tv-lines and cables grinning grotesquely at me.

So I wasn’t hallucinating.

I stumbled out to the balcony in my inadequate nightclothes, too fascinated to be disgusted by this sudden anomaly outside my window.

The cable lines that danced around the lamposts in squiggly tangles were directly at level with my floor, and someone had tossed a body on this makeshift net.

Except that, they had very helpfully hacked at his body so that blood congealed and dropped down the wires that were straining under the weight of a human.
This man, or whatever remained of him was barely recognisable, and as I discovered as soon as a gust of wind blew in my direction, smelled bloody awful.
Like a butchers slab, except there was no fur and baying of cattle.

The thought of baying brought my attention to the crowd that that gathered below, pointing excitedly at this terrible tight-rope walker who had chosen to entertain everyone’s Sunday morning bazaar.

As I waved at one of the neighbour’s boys to whom I taught chemistry, and who was very busy digging his nose, contemplating whether I should go down; there was a horrible snap.

The whole talkative crowd of onlookers hushed, and everyone watched with a morbid sense of awe as the cables tore under the weight of the man, and the body fell in slow motion to the dirty street below.

It landed on its head, with a sickening crunch like an eggshell cracking. There were screams, and a few of the people ran away. The boy who was digging his nose retched all over the dead man’s slippered foot.

What on earth was happening.
I hurried downstairs, only pausing to grab a stole because nobody forgets an eighteen year old girl leaving her house in just her nightclothes in my locality, even if there is a dead body on the street.
I recognised the middle aged father of the boy I taught, and inquired of him what had happened. He scratched his balding head and addressed his answer to my religiously hidden breasts.  “Robbery, in Mrs Sharma’s house. Everyone thinks that is the robber, (he waved at the body lying in the street, his eyes still fixed on my chest)  if I see Mr Sharma, I will know more.”

Repressing my urge to turn away in the middle of his speech, I forced a smile and hurried onto find someone who wasn’t a middle-aged misogynist in a midlife crisis.
Turns out nobody knew who that was, since the only source of information was unreliable. Mrs Sharma, with her saari tucked in her petticoat was declaring vehemently that the corpse before us was that of the robber who had the audacity of breaking open their wardrobe and stealing all her wedding jewelry.
“I bet his pockets still have the diamond ring my father gave me as blessing.” She said, almost itching to search the mutilated flesh heap that was now attracting flies.

Someone with a little sense was holding her back, the police had been called two hours back it seemed, so were due any minute.

Someone inquired of the high-pitched victim- of-robbery about the whereabouts of her husband. The potbellied math professor was conspicuously absent at such an unbecoming display of his wife’s ire.

She shrugged the question off first, and then slowly her face began to pale.
I looked at the corpse, people were avoiding glancing at the congealed mass of flesh,bones and intestines, and a pair of yellow slippers that stuck ridiculously out of a vomit- covered leg.

Wait a minute.

I ask the lady beside me, who was furiously chewing paan and examining the body of this unfortunate perpetrator with unflinching apathy “why was the robber wearing slippers?”

Just then, the welcoming sound of sirens filled the air, and Mrs Sharma, who had gone deathly pale broke into sobs, pointing maniacally at the body lying face down in the asphalt, covered in blood and gore  except for a yellow slipper.

“That’s my husband’s shoe!” She screamed.

In the frenzy that followed, I withdrew to a corner, watching the paramedics hoist the body of our poor neighbour while the women beat their breasts and tore their hair. It seems like the maths professor had been a distraction for the thief to escape.

The little boy who had waved at me tugged at the end of my stole as I stared in fascinated horror at the macabre scene before me. “How did the man reach the cables, Didi?”
I batted him away, absently informing him that some thieves could walk on cables and jump over roof-tops.

I glanced up, disquieted at the proximity of the scene of crime to my open verandah.
The crowd began to disperse after the police had left, and I trudged up the stairs, ignoring the irritation in my head that I was missing something important.
As I walked back to the room, kicking the door shut with my feet and yanking off the bothersome stole, I froze. There was a young man in back jeans casually tossing a heavy necklace whilst lounging on my bed.

On seeing me, he gave a full smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, a long machete lay on my gutted pillow, he had probably cleaned his weapon on it.

With a wink and a laugh, he crooned my alarm tone
“staayin’ alive?’


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