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Writings > Short Story > Thriller

Karma

Previous short story:
A Brief Rendezvous
Next short story:
Home Ground

'To Jack, my muse of the moment.' 

****

          Hanna noticed the man by the busy motorway that day. He looked somewhat flustered and in distress. It was on the busy Damansara-Puchong motorway just after the tollbooth. There should have been nothing particularly unusual about the scenario; after all it was common to see cars parked by the motorway after the toll. At times people used the area as an emergency stop or even as a quick meeting point between drivers from different vehicles. However, there was something different about this worried looking man by the roadside. It was possibly the way he had sort of jumped out of the Honda as if his posterior was on fire. She smiled to herself as she witnessed this amusing scenario until she realised she recognised this man. ‘Hang on,’ she thought to herself. ‘That’s Redzuan from work.’ Hanna’s brakes screeched to a halt and she hurriedly pulled over to the side, glanced into her rear view mirror and reversed her grey Satria closer to Redzuan’s. She got out and approached Redzuan. By now, Redzuan was pacing round and round his car as if he were performing a sacred ritual. He looked pale and was sweating profusely. Tiny rivulets of sweat had appeared on his fair forehead and his dark brown hair glistened with perspiration under the increasing heat of the morning sun. There was no doubt about it. Redzuan was a good looking man. Like love struck bees to killer sweet honey; he seemed to possess this irresistable aura about him that drew women and even some men to him. However, this morning he looked far from desirable. In fact, he looked somewhat demented as he kept muttering to himself “I don’t believe this. I just don’t believe it…”

“Don’t believe what, Redzuan?” Hanna ventured.

Redzuan had not realised Hanna was there. Hanna was puzzled. She turned to look at what Redzuan was staring at. A small package on the backseat of his car. Hanna surveyed the car. She detected the back window of his passenger seat was slightly open and there was some movement in the front passenger seat of Redzuan’s car. He clumsily rummaged his pockets and handed a damp and rather creased piece of paper over to Hanna. She quickly reviewed its contents. Everything fell into place. Hanna took a deep breath and let out a small sigh. “I think you should call for help.”

****

“Hey beb, how about some tea with me today?” said the voice over the line.

“Tea?”

“Yeah tea. You know, the stuff you soak in hot water then drink. What’s with you these days? You work way too hard. All work and no play makes Hanna a dull girl.”

“You’re one to talk. I tengok you lebih melayan eyebag banyak dari teabag. It’s you that should give yourself  a break once in a while.”

“OK. Fine, fine. You win. Just shut up and let’s meet.”

Farah hung up and proceeded to wait for Hanna at a nearby mamak stall. Hanna arrived shortly after and they sat quietly sipping their glasses of piping hot teh tarik.

“At least I get out, Farah. You; I can’t say the same for you.”

Farah made no comment. Yes, they were good friends and kept in touch regularly but she had to admit she did not tell Hanna about everything going on in her life.

“ So, you ada gi mana tak or should I say where have you been recently?”

Hanna sat back, smiled and threw her hands up in the air.

 “Ah, it was wonderful. So romantic, so moving.”

“You seeing someone ke?”

Hanna stopped making sweeping gestures in mid-air and turned to look at Farah.

“I was talking about My Fair Lady.”

“Oh.”

Farah had never been crazy about theatre but she allowed Hanna to ramble on. Her thoughts drifted away to last week’s incident. The week she suspected.

“Farah! You dengar tak ni?” Hanna looked annoyed. “You know, Riz tu a nice guy tapi dia jarang buat benda macam ni so it was very generous of him.”

“What? Erm, who’s Riz? I thought you said you weren’t seeing anyone.” asked Farah. “I’m not. Riz is just a friend at work.”

“Riz? Nama apa tu? Short for Rizalman? Shahrizal? Rizaldo?”

 “No. Redzuan.”

Farah went silent.

“Redzuan apa?” Farah asked quietly.

“Hey, why the interest? Redzuan Imran. Redzuan Iskandar Imran, to be precise. Ladies man.”

Hanna stuck her tongue out. Farah cast her eyes downward and  downed the last strains of tea quickly.

****

          The weeks that followed were a hive of activity. Hanna became busy working with Redzuan and the rest of the team members in delivering the requirements for each stage of the Maple account as efficiently and as economically as possible. The two of them worked well together, professional yet amicable; perhaps that was why Redzuan wanted Hanna on his team in the first place. He needed a co-worker that could get the job done. Not some spaced out colleague with ogling Shrek eyes. Hanna was gathering her belongings as Redzuan approached her from behind.

“What would I do without you, Hanna? You’re one of a kind,” praised Redzuan.

Hanna smiled slyly.

“Never at a loss with laying on the compliments, are you? Kinda heavily too, don’t you think?” Hanna retorted.

“Come on, I was being honest. Give me a bit more credit, would you?”

Hanna looked quizzically at Redzuan, waiting for him to finish.

“What?”

He slapped himself on the forehead. Fine. So he did indulge with his gift of the proverbial gab here and there. And yes, he was aware of the adage ‘Women buy into what they hear, men, what they see.’ And yes, it did have the desired effect on women but it wasn’t like it was a crime or anything.

“You know, I’ve worked with you for a few years now as a colleague and recently as a friend. It just so happens that I’m a woman and it just so happens that I know when to take you seriously and when not to. Has it ever occurred to you that not all women are like that?”

“Hanna, I only date women who are intelligent and sensible enough to understand the situation. A man like me does not have time for a serious commitment.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’re only twenty-four, for God’s sake. Way too young and riding the wave as they say for matters of the heart. I was just a giving a word of caution, that’s all.”

Hanna gave him a casual salute and made her way for the door.

****

          Farah had her nose in the morning’s papers. Her other hand clutched the mug of hot tea and her thoughts were deep at work. The rap on the front door jolted her out of her concentration. She got up and parted the curtains to see who was at the door.

“Oh. You.”

“Well, you weren’t expecting some gorgeous Greek god to sweep you off your feet now, were you? Considering you don’t make it a point to get out much.”

Farah was not amused.

“Well, come in then.”

The breakfast table was laid with a small assortment of Malay kuih and a pot of tea.

“Help yourself.”

Farah went back to reading her paper. Hanna interrupted Farah.

“21st December: Today is not a good day for you. You will receive a lot of bad luck and miss the opportunity on the Year End Sale as you are stuck at home reading the horoscopes.”

Farah glared at Hanna.

“I takde mood hari ni, OK?”

Hanna studied Farah and fell silent. Farah had not been herself lately. She was never this sensitive nor this secretive. True, Farah had never been much of a talker compared to Hanna but of late she was unusually quiet, often lost in her thoughts.

“Farah, you depressed ke?”

Farah lifted her head out of the papers.

“Kalau ye pun, what’s it to you?”

“Just wondering. Not your normal self, I notice. That’s all.”

“Hmmph. Well, you’ve got generous colleague Riz at work to amuse and entertain you, haven’t you?”

“Come on la, Farah it was only one show in like ages. Anyway, bukannya you suka theatre pun.”

Farah ignored the comment and turned back to reading the paper. After a while, she lifted her dark head and spoke to Hanna.

“So does this Riz guy go out much?”

Hanna chuckled.

“You minat ke? Kalau you nak, I can give him a mention.”

Hanna winked and nudged Farah. Farah made a face.

“Eeee. Tak nak lah. Gross. No thanks.”

Farah went back to reading the paper. Hanna poured herself a mug of tea.

“So, out of curiosity, Riz ni selalu keluar ber-dating tak?”

Hanna paused to look at Farah before answering.

“Honestly, Farah nak kata I tahu how many women he entertains, yang tu cannot say la. But am pretty sure he has more than one.”

Farah grunted.

“Is that so?”

Hanna looked at Farah again.

“He’s a Scorpio, isn’t he?” she said, after a pause.

“If I’m not mistaken around November kut. Ye kut. How did you know that??”

Hanna was amazed. Farah stuck her tongue out.

“Well, you should know what with you taking the piss out of me and my witching ways.”

By now, Farah had Hanna’s full attention. Something was amiss.

****

          The late news could be heard clearly coming from the television in the spacious apartment. It was well furnished and neat. Farah let herself in.

“Everything alright, hon?”

“Yeah, fine. Felt a bit stuffy in here. Thought I’d get myself a drink at 7-E’s. Here. I got you one too.”

Farah handed over a chilled bottle of juice to Redzuan. He took the drink from her and pulled her to him. Farah bent over to kiss him.

“Love you, baby. You’re one of a kind. So thoughtful.” 

Farah smiled extremely pleasantly in response and watched as he sipped his drink to the last drop. She got up quietly and left him sleeping. That night the moon was hidden behind wispy grey clouds. The air was cool with a hint of moisture, typical to a tropical night. Farah moved stealthily amongst the shadows, her hair blowing in the soft breeze. She looked disenchanted but she felt determined. She avoided the street lights, darting away from the beams of oncoming cars. Her dark silhouette stopped in front of a black Honda. The procedure was quick and effortless. Unlock the car door. Open the back window ever so slightly. Drop package in from the window. Lock car door. Return to Redzuan The alarm bell jolted Redzuan out of his deep slumber. The telly was on and Farah’s arms were around him. She looked up at him sleepily.

“Morning, hon.”

Redzuan grabbed his watch lying by the coffee table.

“Shit! Is that the time?! I’m late.”

Redzuan got up and rushed to get ready.

“But honey, it’s the weekend. Where are you going?”

“Erm, I have an appointment. The client couldn’t make it during the week. Very important account,” he mumbled.

“Oh baby, you work so hard. Love you. Do be careful.”

“Love you too.”

He gave her a quick peck and shut the door behind him quickly. Farah looked on.

“We wouldn’t want anything erm, terribly disastrous to happen to you, hon,” she said under her breath.

She smiled to herself as she studied her fingers. She placed them gently over her belly and went back to sleep.

**** 

By now a small crowd had gathered round Redzuan’s Honda.

“You dun worry ah, sir.”

The man smiled pleasantly. Redzuan could only nod weakly in agreement. He was pallid and still in a state of shock over the morning’s incident. He had overslept; late for a lunch date with a very attractive consultant whom he had recently been ‘consulting’ a lot. Now, no lunch date in sight and to make matters worst his mobile was not working. It was a good thing that Hanna happened to spot him or he would have had to beg for help from a total stranger. He stood outside his car, amid the small crowd, in a daze, wondering how and why did this all happen.

“OK! OK! Got! Got!” yelled the man.

The crowd clapped but stood well away from him as he brandished a deadly looking black scorpion in the air. Redzuan felt sick.

“Are there any more?” he asked feebly.

“Ah, I think dat  all.”

The man looked down at the container which held another three live ones. He shook his head, somewhat bewildered at how they got into the car in the first place. However, he was too polite to ask. Redzuan thanked the man and paid him. Hanna was at a loss. Torn. That’s exactly how she felt. She should have known. Seen the signs. Hanna hesistated. In her hand she still clutched the paper Redzuan had handed over to her. In black cursive writing, it read:

Feel your venom,

Taste your bite,

Just so you know,

You reap what you sow.

****

Previous short story:
A Brief Rendezvous
Next short story:
Home Ground
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about the writer

Sal Safie

Miss-Stress by day, Miss-ion (to write) by night. Fave writer Roald Dahl for his twisted style and poet Lord Byron for his poking sarcasm.Pretty pleased with this site cos' it gives me the opportunity to experiment, I guess. Hope Kapasitor goes all the way...:D
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