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Extract from “The Book of the Unexplained”.
The old man was the first to be ‘corrupted’; it was an experiment the visitors were willing to attempt. It failed, the corruption however was easy. The visitors had knowledge of the fact that man could be easily corrupted. Maybe they took that saying a little too literally and they never tried it on the female of the species. That was too large an error.
E.L.Somu was at his usual corner at ‘The Honest Bookseller Co’ a not so fitting name to a shop which now predominantly dealt with watch service and paper plate sales. The books had receded to the other end of the shop, then end which had an undusted corner which could accommodate an antique stool on which rested the mind and body of pulp writer E.L.Somu.
Maran was late for the unofficial appointment; he was only late because it was unofficial. For an officer who was working in 21st century Madras, Maran was moderately honest but he still had those guilty gulps when he looked at his vintage BSA A7, it was one of the many reasons he never shows it around as much as he should. Nights, he spent thinking whether he should give it away to some charity, but only her beauty prevented him from doing it, also it was cool for a detective to own a vintage vehicle and he had known many heroes who had such beauties. She, now rested in his backyard silent, but clean.
Through the glass panes of the bookshop, he located his brother the writer flipping through pages and having the familiar expression, that everything in other books had been stolen from his brain. Maran chuckled, technically they were not brothers. They did not share any parent, but had grown up in the same household. Their back-story would have made an interesting premise to a Tamil movie, but nobody was interested in making interesting movies anymore.
The same balding man still operated the door, but this time he had lost one or two of his front teeth, the man saluted Maran in the same bad way and smiled in a manner which would narrate his poverty to even the most uncaring of observers. Maran smiled back in the same way and quietly enquiring about the man’s school going daughter while he passed the dirt accumulated shelves of stuff nobody has ever wanted to buy for the past many years.
There sat Somu with his eyes fixed into whatever he was reading, pierced the black and white as it were subatomic particles, he then looked up at his brother. They did not exchange pleasantries.
“A man once gave me good career advice, never write books into chapters while you are at it, in the end just put the interesting bits in the last page; so that you don’t need to bother much about content”
“I assume you never followed that advice” said Maran while leaning on to look what book his brother was reading. It was about the small savings scheme for farmers brought out by the government in the seventies.
“I tried, I really did but sometime through the whole painful exercise I thought I was being out of character! Somu never follows advice, Somu just writes. Just puts word to paper”
“I’m sure the Gyanpith committee would look into that angle as well” Maran chided. They both laughed, only Somu did it with half concealed contempt.
“If some common man gets a call from his brother, he fears. He is afraid if his brother might ask him for extra money, tell tales about the house rent being paid or a whore’s fee left unsettled, but Detective Inspector Maran does not fear, he responds immediately by coming. That is some sort of honor”
“I know you don’t need money, at least not now and you know that I can’t afford to lend you any. Now what is it, this time?”
“Aliens, Maran aliens! They must be here somewhere or they must be as intelligent as they are shown in those Hollywood films I used to see from time to time” Somu began on his drawn out rant while Maran sighed. Sensing his brother’s minute irritation he decided to slow down and said.
“Stop it will you, already half of this state think and I’m mad. Not that I am complaining, sources tell me that it is only because of the supposed madness my books sell. So you are the only channel to which I can address my problems with some amount of seriousness, so listen”
“Umm…simply because your problems aren’t what normal people have, that should tell you about finding solutions to those. Why don’t you tell your wife?”
“She is too young”
“She is thirty, which is twenty years away from young!”
“Maran, if only you would get married you would understand”
“A good detective never gets married” Maran said as he pulled out another stool and with palms on his dusty black pants.
“That’s not even your line” Somu smiled.