Friday, August 12, 2016

Chapter 6

Traveling Through Town

Raahi drove like a madman, wildly beeping his horn every few seconds while buzzing through the narrow, winding passages that barely passed for streets in this section of Delhi leaving blue/black clouds of smoke in his wake. Jace had some tough assignments and ridden in many forms of conveyances in his long career but this taxi ride would challenge the best of them for top honors as wildest ride ever.

Jace held on with both hands tying to keep some semblance of balance while juggling his baggage in the back seat. He should have dropped them off at the company hotel, but he made the mistake of telling Raahi he was in a hurry. Raahi was a good taxi driver all right, but only because he didn’t run over anybody on the roads.

They arrived at the home of the boy who worked at Elect-Co and had reportedly stolen the working pages and was using the credit card numbers to purchase things for his family over his home computer.  Jace looked at the outside of the dingy place and was sure he would not be sitting down in there. No telling what he would be sitting in.  He knocked at the door, while Raahi stood to his left and slightly behind him to serve as interpreter in case they spoke no English.

Interviewing Mother

A middle aged woman answered the door, dressed in a traditional sari with an all black shawl draped over her head. She put her hands together, prayerfully and quietly spoke through her missing front teeth, “Namaste.  May I help you?”

Jace replied likewise. It was a nice custom to be greeted in such a manner. He was also glad she spoke English and since he still wasn’t sure about Raahi, Jace asked him to wait in the taxi. Besides, someone had to watch his luggage in this neighborhood.  Raahi looked a bit rejected, but did so.

The woman motioned for him to come inside and sit.  “Would you care for some tea, sir?”  She could see he was American and surmised that this was about her son and his involvement with the American computer company, Elect-Co.

As poor as she seemed, she still had social graces. Jace replied, “No, thank-you, ma’am.  I would not trouble you for my comfort.”  The room was surprisingly clean, so he sat down. He looked around the small three room dwelling to see several signs of new purchases, but they were all small items and feminine in nature. No doubt gifts purchased for her by a loving son, that is, except for the brand new computer that sat on a small table in the corner of the room. Nothing else in the room looked either out of place or out of the ordinary, given the circumstances.

Jace began, “We are very sorry that your son was killed. We are working very hard to find out who is responsible for the terrorist attack on the office building and will bring them to justice just as ..

The lady interrupted, “My son was not killed in the explosion, sir. He was stabbed 11 times in the streets as he walked home from work the night before the explosion took place. The police say they are investigating also, but because we are poor, the police do not seem to want to find anyone.”

This information took the wind right out of his sails. Jace really thought he might be onto something. Perhaps he was. “Oh, I did not know that he died in that way. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. “  He stood up and walked over to a shiny new, hand-painted ceramic figure, gently picked it up and asked, “Is this a gift from your son?”

“Yes, it is. It is the representation of our Hindu God, “Vishnu”. He is the preserver and sustainer of life, the principles of order, righteousness and truth. We pray to him daily. Now that my son is gone … “ tears began to well-up in her sad, dark brown eyes … “I do not know how I will survive. We pray that Vishnu will help us in some way.”

Jace was now in an ethical bind. He should respect this grief stricken woman and just leave, but he had to ask about the working pages. This was his only real lead. “Ma’am, I have to ask you just one more question. Did your son ever bring any of his worksheets home to work at his computer here?”

“I do not know, sir, but these are his things. If you are careful, you may look through them if you think it will help.” She motioned to a small carved wooden box, the size of a cigar box - the kind you find in America, hand-made in India. Among his coins and a few other small things was a pocket notebook. Inside it was a folded-up, single sheet of paper listing twenty-five, American-type names and what appeared to credit card numbers.

Jace motioned upwards with the paper in his hand and asked, “May I have this?”

The woman looked at the type-written list and said, “This does not belong to my son. If this paper can help you find who murdered him, please take it with you.”

“Thank-you“, Jace responded. Now he was ready to leave, but he had to do something first. He knew that this proud woman would not accept charity so he simply reached into his pocket and withdrew a paper bundle of Indian Rupees and gave it all to the woman with both hands. It amounted to 5,000 Rupees, but that was only $100.00 in U.S. dollars. “This is the money that we owe your son for his last day at work. He always did very well. You should be proud of him.”  She smiled through moist eyes, but could say nothing. It was the very least Jace could do.  Sure it was a little white lie, but who did it really hurt?

Oh, yeah. Raahi! He would have to be paid somehow. That was all the Indian currency Jace had. No sweat. He had to go back to the company store anyway. He could get more cash and fax the work-sheet to Langley. It was now the night shift there again and Supervisor, Ray would have to be let into the loop. He needed more help. This was something solid to go on and the director had to be told.

Now, where was this mysterious Russian agent I was supposed to meet and how would we locate each other in the fifth largest city in the world with a population 18 million people?

>>>> Chapter 7 >>

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