THE MYSTERY OF THE BANK BLOODBATH
A nonsense story in three flats
Nothing ever really happened in the village of Sastapur so the incident at the bank came as a nasty shock.
If you’re wondering where Sastapur was, It lay exactly north of the south- west and precisely at the west-eastern corner of central India. It wasn’t on the map so the people there were sure that they were actually foreigners but didn’t know it yet.
They were a peace-loving, water-drinking and air-breathing populace. Most of them had never worked a day because they only went to work at night. It was indeed the sleepiest hamlet in the country.
Which is why inspector Innish Pectaar woke up with a start when, in the heat of the noon, the phone began to suddenly ring in the dark and gloomy Police Station.
“Bring! Bring!” went the phone.
The inspector sat and remembered all the things that his wife had told him to bring. It also reminded him of something else but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
So he decided to put his hand on it.
He picked up the phone.
“Hello, inspector Innish?” said an excited voice on the other end.
“Yeeess,” intoned the Inspector, trying to sound deep and imposing.
“Come quickly sir, there’s been a murder.”
“Where?” cried Innish in a high-pitched, hysterical voice.
“In the bank, sir. Near the lockers. Please hurry.”
Innish put the phone down and thought deeply. Mmm…. . Near the lockers, huh? Too close for comfort.
He took one set off. It was too hot to wear two clothes for comfort.
In all its history of thirty seven years, the bank had never been a part of a crime scene before. It set him thinking.
The Central Bank of Sastapur was one of three banks that were the pride of the village. it was called the Central Bank because it lay right in the centre - between the two sides of the river Hooly (the only river that flowed through the village) hanging precariously on a bridge made of cheap wood.
The river had the other two banks.
In truth, these were the best banks in the state. Whatever mud the river deposited into them, they gave back with interest.
The river Hooly was famously known as the Red River.
There was a deep and dark secret behind this.
Only one man knew this secret.
And that man was dead.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -
If there was anything else you wanted to know about the history of the river, you would have to meet Old Man Moss. He was the oldest man in the village. The moss on him was even older.
Old Man Moss claimed that the river was called “Red” because the villagers had heard that China had a yellow river and they had to call their river some colour or the other.
So much for that secret.
Moss recounted how many years ago, a young woman had jumped into the river to commit suicide. A gallant young man had plunged in after her to save her.
“Help, Help!” he cried “I can’t swim”. Instantly, the girl came forward and (being an expert swimmer) saved him and they instantly fell in love.
But not with each other. People who were watching in the bushes said “Wow”. Both these people had a thing about people who said “wow” in bushes so they instantly fell in love with those other people, married them and had many great grandchildren.
But all that was in the past. Innish quickly switched back from monochrome to colour.
He had a job to do. He could see he had a long day ahead of him because he always wore telescopic spectacles. He stood up and toddled to the bank.
Innish arrived at the bank with his trusted constable and was greeted by the Manager, Mr. Mistry.
“So glad you’re here, sir,” he said, leading him to the lockers where there was an ominous pool of blood on the floor.
The inspector took one look at the spot and said:
“I must take another look at the spot.”
He fished out his magnifying glass and took a good look through it. Suddenly his eyes began to burn. It was the sun. He quickly turned and looked downwards.
“Who was killed here?” he asked intelligently.
“We think it’s the bank’s receptionist sir, Miss Mahila Stree. She’s been missing ever since,” replied the manager.
“I can see her toes” commented Innish through the magnifying glass through which his eye looked like an enormous goldfish bowl.
“But the body’s missing, sir,” said the manager.
Innish removed the glass and noticed that he was looking at his own foot peeping out from his torn teddy bear cutey booties.
“Are any of the lockers broken into?”
“Yes sir. Two of them,” replied the manager.
The Inspector turned towards the Manager.
But the Manager had turned towards the constable.
The constable had turned towards the door.
So Innish decided to stop turning and said, “We must organize a manhunt for the missing woman.”
At that moment the constable came bouncing in with three rough-looking toughs.
“Sir, sir. I just found these three fellows escaping from the scene of the slime!”
“From the scene of the crime, you mean,” corrected Innish.
“No, sir. Scene of the Slime*. They were crawling out of the gutters. They’re so slimy they almost slipped out of my hands”
Innish shrank back in disgust at their putrid effervescence. He told the constable “Arrest them! Throw them behind bars!”
“This time I’m not going to let them go,” said the constable, putting on their cuffs with a determined look, “I almost missed . . . . chhhooo,” he sneezed, reacting allergically to the guttural fumes.
“You mean you almost missed three,” corrected Innish.
“Miss Stree? You mean you found her?” asked the constable excitedly.
“No, no,” clarified Innish, “’Missed three’, you idiot.”
“I’m not Mistry, this guy’s Mistry,” said the constable, hurtfully pointing to the Manager.
“Arrest them all!” shouted Innish in exasperation.
They promptly arrested the Bank Manager and a few by standers.
“But where is Miss Stree?” asked someone.
“That, is a mystery,” replied Innish, “Oh What a mystery!”
“Yes? Did you call me?” asked Mr. Mistry “ And how did you know my name was Water Mistry?”
Innish gave up and walked out of the bank.
It was a bright and sunny morning and the bluebirds were chirping deep inside the leafy trees so that people wouldn’t throw stones at them for singing off key.
They were actually sparrows but they had become blue because of singing so hard.
The glistening dew drops shone on the leaves and flowers bloomed on long stalky bloomers. The sunlight streamed into peoples windows and gave them a sense of joy and happiness.
But all this was elsewhere.
In Sastapur it was a dark and dreary morning and the sun struggled to limp its way up to the sky. The people of the village being misers, refused to spend any money on growing trees and flowers. They were so stingy, even the birds of the village sang “cheap, cheap.”
It was the day of the trial.
People gathered in the courtroom, eagerly awaiting the judge to come in.
Sastapur had only one Judge and that Judge was Mental. Judge D. Etri Mental had a track record of never having made a wrong judgement in his life. This was his first case.
People always came to him for advice because no matter where he was, and what he did, he was always JudgeMental. He was actually only a part time judge. He was better known as the village plumber.
The Bank Manager’s Lawyer introduced himself to his client: “Hi. I’m Ben Golly.”
“Oh,” said the Manager, “I’m Bengali too.”
“No, no,” explained the lawyer, “You don’t understand. I’m a Gujarati but my name is Ben Golly.”
Mr. Mistry nodded sympathetically. “I understand,” he assured him, “I’ve got a similar problem. I have a Gujarati name but I’m actually from Bengal.”
Ben tried to clarify again, but at that moment, the judge entered and the bailiff called out, “All Rise.”
Everybody stood up.
Even the Sun rose.
Judge Mental sat down. Then he noticed the chair. So he got up and sat on the chair.
“Bring in the first witness.” He ordered.
Mr. Mistry took the stand.
The lawyer walked up to him and yelled, “Mr. Mistry, do you claim to be the Bank manager?”
“Yes,” said Mistry.
“What did you see when you walked into the bank on morning of the day before yesterday?”
“Nothing at all.”
“Why couldn’t you see anything?” asked Ben exasperatedly.
“I always walk into the bank with my eyes closed.” answered Mistry.
Ben began to pull at his hair in frustration.
“okay, so what did you see after you opened your eyes.”
“Because the lights were out.”
Ben had a few strands of hair left so he promptly pulled them out.
“After I switched the lights on, I saw a body lying in a pool of blood near the lockers,” added Mistry.
The case, finally making progress, the lawyer decided to question further: “Whose body was it?”
“I recognized it as the bank’s receptionist, Miss Mahila Stree.”
“Where is the body now?”
“Nobody knows. It’s disappeared.”
The judge(having no other pipes to clean) cleared his throat and said, “Bring in the next witness.”
“There are no other witnesses, your Honour,” said the lawyer.
“Then how do we find out who committed the murder?” asked the Judge, having no experience of court procedures except for fitting the toilets when it had first been built.
They hit upon a plan. The lawyer then called every one of the villagers and asked them to prove where they were at the time of the murder.
Everybody had a legitimate alibi.
Except the Judge.
So Innish promptly arrested him, put him in cuffs and began to drag him towards the door.
“Stop! Stop!” cried the judge, flailing his arms like a faucet gone wild, “Stop or I’ll never fix your flushes again!”
At that moment the doors opened. In walked Miss Mahila Stree.
Everyone was surprocked, dumbgasted and flabberfounded.
Miss Stree took the stand.
“Miss Stree, you are alive!” exclaimed Ben Golly.
“Of course,” agreed she.
“But you were found lying in a pool of blood next to the bank lockers.”
“Oh Yes. I fell asleep while washing my face.” She clarified.
“Washing your face? In the locker room? ” the lawyer asked in amazement.
“Right,” she replied, “I always use blood,” she said shyly “It brings colour to my cheeks, you know.”
“Blood?!!” asked the Judge, utterly horrified.
“Your honour,” she said defiantly, “its the only thing available to me so don’t look at me with those bloodshot eyes.”
“What do you mean?” asked Ben in bewilderment.
Mahila looked around momentarily and understood the confusion. She turned to the judge with a patient smile.
“Don’t you know, your honour? The central bank is a blood bank.”
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