There were four of us at the bar that night. The table was laid with a delicious meal kept in front of us, when this beautiful centipede arrived at the table and laid itself. I instantly caged it using a glass by the virtue of my fast reflexes, and then put it at the centre of the table. Silent C looked on, Mighty M started bursting his knuckles, Johnny B, in his usual self, picked up a fork and slowly started inching towards the centre, and by then, I (the one that cannot be named) had already started filling up my stomach.
The Five Minutes
I kept on gorging while the centipede was kept upside down. M was almost asleep and as for C, he kept on jotting down points, the specifics of which I don’t remember. In the meantime, Johnny had accumulated everything right from tweezers to forceps and it was time, time for a doctor who could never reach med school to perform one of his more serious operations in life, sadly in this case the patient would never leave the hospital bed.
Two wings out, and then Silent C suddenly threw down his copy and gasped, “We’re dead”. Mighty M woke up to this and said, “We’ve done nothing wrong”. “No, no……”, and suddenly fell unconscious flat to the ground. I rushed down, sprayed water all over him, but nothing happened. His senses fell flat. “It could be one of his fits”, M said. “Yes, true”, I nodded back to him.
Four wings were out, the throbbing subsided. Life is weird, it never gives up. It would somehow persist and make you keep believing that there is something more out there and that you should live for that. Mighty M was still keeping a keen watch over C’s unconsciousness. I had been getting unwarranted vibes of panic, and with each pint of pain injected into that tiny life my fear was rising exponentially. As for C, he was still wriggling down on the floor, both I and M were waiting for his eyelids to open.
Twenty minutes were out, and death was about to be handed over when I stopped Johnny. “John, wait C has something to say to us”, he kept his surgical tools on the table and flashed towards C. “Do you remember the van? We had for the heist”. “Yes, every part of it, I said”. “Do you remember the signs inside the van?”, “We had none”, I retorted. “Yes, but the one in which we came back”. “Oh fuck, I remember”. I had squashed a little tiny butterfly on the panel which read, ‘You’re free now’. The heist had been in jeopardy all the time and we had been set up and soon all around sirens started ringing.
The panic button was pressed, and the reaction mechanisms were too rapid. Police sirens encompassed all our eardrums. Johnny kept the centipede aside and started to take all the guns out. Serving another term was no option for Johnny, Either he escaped or he got shot and escaped or he got shot, were the three options in front of Johnny. C, being the calmer one amongst us, said, “Let’s surrender”. Somehow, in that heat of the moment all of us seemed to agree with C, for life is better than death any day, and we surrendered.
“Finally fellas”, Goodyear said. Handcuffing us was probably the single greatest achievement in his life. Just before leaving, Johnny said, “I have one last thing to do before I go, Can I?” Goodyear nodded and with two guns pointed at his temple and his neck, Johnny went ahead to finish his final step in his operation. And as soon as he held out the fork and cemented his final blow, two bullets went straight through his head. “I thought he was trying to escape by angling his arms”, the guard said. C, M and I gazed at each other and with this gaze, a fume of warm blood gushed through our veins. Handcuffed resistance is not good for combat, they said and thus soon our futile attempt ended.
With four men out and three officers wounded, I could sense Goodyear’s satisfaction, his intrinsic hoot. Visions appeared, delirium kicked in. I could smell Goodyear but my body refused to move. Goodyear rubbed his fingers across my face, closed my eyes with his kerchief and whispered in my ear, “Fate always finds a way to fuck you, my friend. Goodbye”.
TICK TOCK ENDS.
Photography By: Sarthak Dubey