Right Hand Man – Chapter 4

Read earlier chapters:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

The staircase creaked under the weight of the big Detective Sergeant. Fatty let Goon lead the way, making no attempt to force the pace. Three floors up, Fatty cleared his throat and said, “Hang on a minute, chief, I just want to make sure which floor she’s on.”

Goon heaved himself up to the landing and turned to face Fatty. He leaned back against the wall and waited for Fatty to come up to him. Fatty took his notebook out of this pocket and flicked through the pages.

“Where did it go, now. Let me see.”

He flipped through the pages, going back and forth.

“Ah, yes. Here we are. Mrs Miller, Apartment 605. ”

He looked up to see Goon watching him.

“You ok, chief?”

Goon grunted and motioned him up the stairs. Fatty stepped past Goon and as he did so he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“Thanks,” said Goon.

Fatty started up the stairs and Goon followed. Wordlessly, they continued the climb. On the fourth floor the carpet that had lain threadbare on the steps completely disappeared. Bare unpolished, deeply scarred wood scraped under the soles of the two policemen mounting their challenge upon the sixth floor. Fatty waited for Goon to join him at the landing of the sixth floor.

“Well, here we are, boss. Mrs Miller is down the corridor, I think.”

Goon took a big blue hanky out of his pocket and mopped his brow and neck. Fatty walked along the doors and stopped at the third door on the right.

“605 it is.”

He waited for Goon to join him and on his nod, he rapped his knuckles on the door. There came the sound of of a door squeaking softly. Down at the end of the corridor, a door opened slightly and a pair of eyes peered at the two policemen.

“Curiosity, chief, is the leading symptom of neighborliness”, said Fatty. He knocked on the door of 605 again.

Shuffling, scraping noises indicated that some life existed inside. The door opened a crack and a wizened old face looked out at them.

“Yes? Who may you be?” Her voice was surprising strongly.

“It’s the police, ma’am. Is Mrs Miller home?”, said Fatty.

Down the corridor the door that was ajar closed suddenly.

“Ah yes. I’m Mrs Miller. Come in then. You took your time getting here.”

Fatty waited for Goon to enter before following him in. He shut the door behind him.

“This is Detective Sergeant Goon, ma’am, and I’m Constable Trotteville.”

“So young. What is your name, Constable? I shall call you Jimmy.”

“My name is Freddie, ma’am. But you can call me Jimmy, if you wish.”

“If your name is Freddie, I will call you Freddie, not Jimmy.”

Goon cleared his throat with a deep rumbling, rasping growl.

“Now look here, Mrs Miller”, he started.

“Tea, Mr Goon, I think you’ll like my tea. And some biscuits for Jimmy, yes?”

She bustled out into the kitchen. Goon looked at Fatty, who shrugged.

“Let me help you, ma’am”, he called out as he walked into the kitchen.

Goon looked around the room, noting  the faded upholstery, the neatly arranged pieces of china. He walked over to a side table that held a family of dogs. White with little brown patches, the dogs shared the same misshapen ears and bushy tails. On the walls were framed paintings with fields of sage, gardens aglow with flowers or valleys basking under blue skies. Little bits of cheer in a decidedly threadbare room. On a console table stood two photographs in silver frames. One had a handsome young man in a military uniform, with a glint in his eyes, a handlebar moustache adorning his upper lip. The other showed a couple, smiling and in love.

“Tempests, ma’am, that is wonderful! I have always wondered what it would have been like to fly one.”

Fatty entered, wearing a starched white apron and carrying a tray on which was a teapot under a tea-cozy, three cups and saucers and a creamer.

“On the table there, dear”, right there. And you sit here in this chair. Mr Goon can sit here in George’s chair”

Goon sat down gingerly, after a slight hesitation and watched Mrs Miller pour out the tea. Fatty took off his apron and folded it neatly. He sat down with the folded apron on his knee and took the cup and saucer offered to him.

“Thank you, ma’am”, he said, “this smells lovely. Just like tea should. It’s not easy to get good tea, is it, Mr Goon?”

“Uh, no. Ma’am, can we ask you..”, he tailed off as Mrs Miller cut him off.

“All in good time, my good man. Tea isn’t something to be ignored.”

“Mrs Miller, you have a lovely flat. This furniture is really nice. You don’t get this kind of quality anymore. Have you always had this?”, said Fatty, peering at her over his cup.

“Oh yes. George would not buy just any old thing. He had a good eye for furniture. He liked solid well built things. He had a great deal of trouble with salespeople who tried to sell him cheap things. He would rather go without, than buy anything that wouldn’t last. He could tell, you see. George could.”

“So you must have lived here a long time, then.”

“Thirty years, Freddie. Thirty lovely years. George and I moved here when he got the job at the sewing machine factory. He was good with his hands. When he was in the RAF, he liked to work with the aircraft technicians.”

Goon cleared his throat and looked at Fatty.

“Uh, Mrs Miller, you know, we’re policemen and we’re here in response to your call.”

“Yes. I know, Freddie, my boy. If you’ve finished your tea, I’ll tell you why I called.”

Goon put his cup away and said “Please tell us, ma’am.”

“Well, it’s really quite simple. Some one is trying to kill me.”


A Couple of Choices – Free Sample

As you know, by now, I wrote a book. Which isn’t quite the same thing as “I had okra masala for lunch”. Nothing is! It is, however, quite an achievement of sorts, I’m told. In any case, it’s there on Amazon to be admired, mocked, bought, read and otherwise digested.

So far, the reviews have been positive. In my helpful way, I provide a sample.

  • I like the style of narration – a play format. No over-boarding on the descriptions. Just what is necessary to set the mood of the characters.
  • I often wondered what if a couple don’t get a divorce and yet live separate lives? Will they ever get back when they are older and are mature to mend their relationship (for whatever reasons that prompted the initial separation), and this story poignantly answers my questions.
  • The characters were etched with perfection.
  • Editing and narration were quite smooth.
  • Enjoyed the subtle humor along the story.
  • “When you make choices, you make choices based on data available. What was the data? Let’s assemble the data.” Now that is pure Ajesh 🙂I’m really enjoying the book!
  • Really really liked your book! Its a wonderful short read and i think it was so perfect in the “Play”format. Guys do read this one! Its a book about relationships,about choices made, about life. One of my favourite lines from the book “Life is about having the people you love and the people who love you around you. Life is about them. And you.Together” Ajesh Sharma am looking forward to your next one..and all the very best for “A Couple of Choices”

Of course, there was one person who did not like it.

“Knowing your writing a bit, I was expecting more. You could have done a lot better”

I’m chalking that one up as a positive endorsement of my writing…. ( take it where you can get it, is my motto.)

On Goodreads, I have a single 5.0 rating for the book.

All in all, a fairly quiet yet positive start

Almost unanimously, people have praised the cover. If we were to judge the book by it’s cover, this book is definitely worth reading. And you can read it by paying the fee, ( nominal, about the cost of a cup of Starbucks coffee – basic, no frills!! ).

Or you can read a free sample. yes. FREE! Click the link below.


A Couple of Choices – The Big Release


Well, it’s out there now. Go to Amazon and search for “Ajesh Sharma” or “A Couple of Choices”. It’s my book. On Amazon.

Buy it, even if it’s only me recommending it. Have I ever let you down? Ok, so you had to wade through my recipes to get to the juicy bits, and you had to put up with my very long-winded articles. But be that as it may, this is a short book. Easy reading. Only about 20 of my usual blog posts.

Plus there are no prosy descriptions of clouds, trees, cliffs and seas. The kind of poetic stuff that usually slows you down in your reading. You know that’s true!

Yes. I guarantee it. It is full of dialogues. People saying things to each other. That’s it! What could be simpler?

The Final Reason

A few months ago, you folks took part in a poll, to help me decide how to end the play. Check out the poll here( Digression Alert #1: Wow, that ages ago! In May, 2017! I really am a lazy chap, aren’t I? )

Compare your vote with the the ending I have provided. Prepare to exult or not at achieving the ending you desired!

Go ahead – click your way to Amazon and get your copy of the greatest thing since my breakfast today of honey nut cheerios. See link below.

A Couple of Choices

I’m still here. Been busy as a bee. And I need your help. But before we get to that… we have to digress a bit.

<Digression Alert: But why are bees always represented as being busy? Why not busy as an ant? Have you ever seen an ant lying around goofing off? No, right? But bees get all the credit for being busy, when, in fact, all they do is buzz around, pollinating flowers. Well, I guess they give us honey for my toasted English muffins. And of course, the thought that if we get rid of the bees, we’d have only twenty years to live before we die of starvation and cannibalism gives us pause.>

I know, you love those Digression Alerts! Nobody else alerts you like SloWord does. How absolutely darling we are here at SloWord. But now folks, we have to tell you why we’ve been busy. Busier than a hibernating bear. Busier than a Punjabi Pasta. Busier than a Bollywood dream sequence. Busier than… you get the idea, right? I’ve been busy.

Why have I been busy? Let’s consider the facts.

  1. I wake up at the crack of dawn.
  2. I undergo the usual morning ablutions plus additional special ceremonies to maintain the facade.
  3. I climb up and down flights of stairs carrying a bag.
  4. I catch commuter trains by the skin of my teeth, throwing them this way and that. ( Yes. I’m kidding. )
  5. I climb up and down steep, dangerous stairs among a crowd of other death marchers.
  6. I walk 12.785647 minutes to work.
  7. I drag a wheeled bag behind me as I cross streets, dodge other pedestrians.
  8. I undergo severe stress testing all day surviving on a single cup of dark roast coffee.
  9. I walk 12.785647 minutes to the station.
  10. I climb the steepest, narrowest stairs to the train platform.
  11. I ride home on the train.
  12. I stare at the ceiling for 3.986643 hours
  13. I repeat steps 1-10 the next day.
  14. I teach for 4.4637 hours on Saturday afternoons.
  15. I stare at chores for 12.5857 hours on Sunday.
  16. I go back to step 1.

Notice, what’s missing from that list? Exactly! No writing time. No time for you. No time for pandering to the polity that politely passes-up the possible pleasure of perusing posts such as this. In the interest of fairness and full disclosure I should mention that I have exaggerated a bit. It doesn’t actually take 12.785647 to walk between the station and work. It’s only 11.9863 minutes.

I’m hoping that my disarming honesty will charm you into wastin… I mean, indulging me a little.

For I have an announcement to make. Very soon now, you will be able to look for this on Amazon.

(c) Ajesh Sharma

Yes. True fact! I cannot tell a lie. I wrote a play and it will be available on Amazon as an e-book very soon.

How soon, you ask? Soon. As soon as I can read each stage direction and edit and re-edit for the 45th time.

What’s it about?

Ok. This is how it goes. Alex and Phyllis are estranged, middle-aged couple, who have never divorced. He moved away to the other end of the country. Ten years have gone by. They have two children. Mark is now married. Andrea is engaged and is planning her wedding. Phyllis calls Alex to say she is coming to visit him. The curtain goes up as he prepares for her arrival. What happens next? Do they resolve their differences? What do the kids think of all this? What about Linda, Alex’s agent?

And what happens at the end? You can help me decide. Vote below and tell me what you think happens when the curtain falls. Gives me your best guesses and wildest endings!


Right Hand Man – Chapter 3

The heavy black car eased slowly down the street. Fatty craned his neck left and right to inspect the houses as he steered the car. Beside him, Goon sat impassively in the passenger seat.

“Not the most upscale neighborhood, Chief.”, remarked Fatty.

“Don’t call me chief.”, Goon stared straight ahead.

“Ok, Boss!”

“And don’t call me Boss.”

Fatty looked over at him. Goon stared ahead, his face expressionless. Fatty refused to turn away until Goon shifted and shot a quick glance at him.

“Ok, Chief. Where are we now? The building should be here somewhere.”

“Turn right, up ahead, not the next one, the one after that. It should be just around the corner.”

Fatty drove the car up to the corner and made a careful turn, coming to a stop just short of a set of steps leading up to a double door. Goon promptly undid his seat belt with a sigh. For a moment the two of them sat and peered at the entrance to the block of flats. The wood of the door had long ago lost its polish. Years of neglect and weather had stripped the veneer off the surface, with worn spots around the handle showing the lack of care. The glass on the left hand pane had a large long crack running from the top left to the bottom right where it ended in a splatter of shattered glass. Two small slivers were missing. The brass door handles hadn’t seen any polish for a while. The grime and dust of the ages had dulled the metal into a filthy finish.

They stepped out of the car, Goon heaving himself out with a whooshing grunt and inspected the building and the street in which they stood. The building was eight stories tall. The windows on the right hand side of the sixth floor were the only ones that were shut. They were also the only ones that were not in a state of abject neglect. On the 7th floor directly above the good windows, the window on the left was actually hanging by one hinge with the glass panes were missing.

Goon made a grunting noise. Fatty looked at him.

“You say something, Chief?”

Goon cleared his throat in a rasping, rumbling manner and spoke.

“Doesn’t look like anyone looks after the building. Are you sure this is the right address.?”

Fatty took out his notebook and flipped over the pages. He nodded.

“Yep, this is the place alright. I wonder why it hasn’t been condemned yet.”

Down the street, a group of children were sitting on the steps of another building, one that looked only marginally better maintained.

“What’s wrong with those kids? “, Goon muttered.

There was definitely something odd about the group. For one, they were not playing or talking. There was no movement from them. They just turned and stared at the two policemen with unflinching stares. The tallest of them was also the skinniest. He looked like an elongated ten year old. For a few moments both groups stared at each other. Then, casually and slowly, the skinny young man walked towards Goon and Fatty. Fatty sensed rather than saw Goon stiffen next to him. The rest of the group of children followed their leader, staying a step or two behind him.

The thin boy walked up to the car and slowly ran his hand over the bonnet. He peered into the car, ignoring both men with insolent and exaggerated deliberation. The rest of his gang stopped short of the car, watching warily as the gang leader sauntered up to Fatty, looked him up and down and stopped at Goon.

“What’s the matter, laddie?”, Goon was at his growliest best, “you never see a car before?”

The youth didn’t answer, but just stared at him. Goon stared right back.

“You’re cops.”

“Yes. And you better watch it. You don’t want to be arrested for vagrancy and loitering.”

“What you here for?”

“None of your business, laddie. You just clear orf now, see?”

“You here to see the old hag? She’s batty.”

“I’m going to give you 30 seconds to clear orf before I arrest the whole lot of you for impeding an officer in the conduct of his duty.”

The youth took a step back and looked from Goon to Fatty and back again.

“Which one of you is in charge?”

Fatty said, “Now, look here, kid..”

Goon cut him off. He stepped toward the boy and his thick finger stopped 3 inches from the gang leader’s chest.

“You! Step away! You want me to arrest you for obstructing the law?”

Goon’s voice was firm and loud. His neck was thrust forward in a pugnacious display of authority. For a moment the big Detective Sergeant and the young boy stood frozen. Goon, a big giant, towered over the skinny lad. Fatty stepped towards the gang, who scattered and hastily beat a retreat. Goon and the gang leader were still staring at each other. Finally, the boy turned slowly on his heel and walked back to his gang, who had taken up station again at the original spot. They watched sullenly as Goon stood watching them. Then he turned and stumped up the stairs. Fatty followed, with his head turned to watch the kids.

Goon stopped at the door and asked “What’s the name of the lady?”

“Mrs. Miller. Been in the same flat for 54 years, she says. Must be in her 80s I think.”

Goon opened the door and stepped into a dark foyer. One lonely electric bulb hung from a wire high up in the ceiling, giving off just enough light to show the old oak staircase. Worn and creaky, one or two spindles missing, a couple cracked.

Goon looked up and asked “Which floor?”

“Sixth, I’m afraid, Chief. You’ll do fine. Take your time.”

“Don’t patronize me, young man!”

“Sorry Chief! Shall we go up and meet the lovely Mrs Miller?

Goon sighed and started up the stairs, with Fatty behind.

Right Hand Man – Chapter 2

<Looking for Chapter 1? Click this.>

Fatty walked in to the office to see Goon already there.

“Good morning, Chief! You’re up early!”, he said.

Goon gave a grunt and waved him over to his desk.

“This computer thing is very confusing”.

“Oh, it just needs getting used to. Give it a week and you’ll be teaching me tricks”, laughed Fatty.

Goon gave him a look.

“You’ve grown up. Become more of a Continue reading “Right Hand Man – Chapter 2”

Right Hand Man – Chapter 1

English: London
English: London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The phone rang and Goon picked it up.

“Detective Sergeant Goon? This is Gwen from Superintendent Johns’ office. The Super would like to meet you at 11 today. Would you please come around to my office around by 10:55. The Super does not like to be kept waiting. Thanks”

Goon replaced the phone and shifted uneasily in Continue reading “Right Hand Man – Chapter 1”

The Angler on the Credit

<I met a fisherman on a cold autumn evening by the river side. I was preparing to leave and he was just settling in for a night of fishing. We got talking. His story was very simple. He was a taxi driver, uprooted from his native Bangladesh and transplanted thousands of miles away in chilly Canada. This is his story.>

Serenity. Original Photo (c) Ajesh Sharma
Serenity. Original Photo (c) Ajesh Sharma

It hadn’t always been thus, but Farook was happy now. He hadn’t been happy in the past, back when he lived with his mother, father and his younger sister and brother. He knew that now. Old enough to go on the daily fishing trip with his father, the fishing trip that cut his hands and wore out his muscles, the fishing trip that gave them their daily meagre earnings, Farook had known hunger and hard work. He’d been Continue reading “The Angler on the Credit”