There is something that one needs to know before one plunges into the story of Samuel Clooney. Samuel was a writer of considerable fame. He had spent a great part of his life writing travelogues, romances and some historical stuff. He was a mild mannered man of diminutive stature, a pug nose, twinkling eyes and a gentle sense of humour. He had been married for the last forty two years to a lady, who had at some point in time, been a gentle soul with a soft, mellifluous voice. Life with an absent minded writer – husband had caused her to turn into something of a virago. Well, that wasn’t all. One fine day, she had come storming into his study because a cockroach had invaded her kitchen. He refused to kill it and that proved to be the turning point in his life. She delivered a historic harangue, accusing him of living in an ivory tower, of being lily-livered and of feeding the world with silly romantic jargon that a gullible public was lapping up mindlessly. She then threw before him, the greatest of challenges. She dared him to write a novel along some creepy or spooky lines. As an afterthought, she added that he could write about a psychopath. She wasn’t a very learned lady but she had overheard the word being used at a recent family gathering and quite liked the sound of it. So psychopath it was.
“Let me see if you can write something about that,” she hollered. “And if you can’t, you better give up writing and pay attention to the home front.”
He stared at her, aghast. He knew she had a vitriolic temper but he had never quite expected her to dictate to him the contents of his next novel. He shook his head in bewilderment and returned to the book he was reading.
And that my dear readers, is how Dr Gabriel North was born – a charming, suave gentleman with a doctorate in the study of female psychology. Counselling distressed women was his profession: killing them, his fetish. He did it in a most refined way. After a couple of visits, his clients would end up being enamoured by his charm and attractive looks. He would then serve them his specially brewed coffee in his plush apartment. Weeks later, their emaciated bodies would be discovered in some odd place, flat on their stomachs, with their hands tied behind their backs. There would be no visible sign of injury. The manner in which they were killed was very simple. They were tied, gagged, blindfolded and starved. One needn’t think too deeply to find out what had triggered off the storyline.
Samuel hurried down the road, pleased as punch. He had just let the lady of the house know who was the boss. She had asked him to pick up some groceries on his way home after his walk. He had looked at her quizzically, with an eyebrow raised and pointed out to the third volume of the Dr North series, lying on the table . “Celebrity writers do not shop for groceries,” he announced airily and turning on his heels, walked out of the room.
The morning was bright and sunny with a little nip in the air. He merrily swung his arms and walked down the sidewalk, humming a tune. He was a rich man. Dr North had received a resounding welcome, right across the globe and readers were panting for more. The sales of all three books in the series had skyrocketed to preposterous heights and the moolah was pouring in from all corners.
The phone beeped. He paused to take a look. That is when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. He swerved around. A very sophisticated lady, in her mid fifties towered over him. Thin lips , painted in vivid red, arched eyebrows with heavily mascaraed eyes , a high nose bridge and the gentle fragrance of lavender greeted him. Never in his 64 years of existence had an attractive lady approached him. The Mrs should see him now, he grinned to himself.
“May I help you ?” he asked interestedly.
Now there is something that all men are taught from a very early age but fail to actually practice in life. They are taught never to talk to strangers. A few men like Samuel Clooney who are usually obedient by nature, too become victims of selective amnesia and tend to forget certain childhood lessons. A single faux pas on his part sent him catapulting towards doom.
The next few minutes were heady and glorious as he basked in the attention of the charming lady who was gushing over his novels. Quite naturally, when she invited him over to her apartment for some coffee, he just could not refuse. Neither could he tell her that the Mrs only let him have Horlicks as coffee gave him gripes.
As he climbed up the stairs to her apartment, he tripped. That should have warned him. Minutes later, he was led into a spacious, well lit room with French windows that overlooked the street below. As he sank into the sofa with its soft, faux shearling fabric cover, a feeling of bliss overtook him and he smiled idiotically at her. She disappeared into the kitchen and emerged barely five minutes later with a tray. She set it down delicately on the coffee table, crossed her legs and set about pouring the dark brown liquid into a cup. He watched her movements, completely bewitched. Two cubes of sugar were dropped in and tossed around till they vanished. She then held out his cup and he took it, careful not to let his fingers touch hers. The coffee was delicious and ever so sweet. He sipped it noisily, as was his habit, and swirled the liquid in his mouth before allowing it to glide down his throat . She continued to talk effusively, and he allowed his eyelids to droop a little. The sound of her gentle voice ebbed and flowed, filling his senses. She moved over to his side and ran her fingers through his scanty hair. He sighed and allowed himself to drift into dreamy silence.
A whack on his head is what jerked him from sleep. He looked around, bewildered and disoriented. He looked up, blinked a little and saw her tall frame looming over him,
“What … what … why ?” he blurted out.
She smiled at him sweetly. “Let me just wind this rope around you. Could you shift a little?”
A sudden pang of fear overtook him. “But why?”
“Just like that”, she laughed, as she pinned him down and tied him to his seat. She then lifted a scarf. “Let’s play hide and seek,” she giggled. “I hide, you seek.”
She gently placed the scarf over his eyes and knotted it up at the back.
“Now we are good to go,” she announced.
Another whack landed on his head when he started to protest. “You are way too talkative,” she scolded.
When he opened his mouth yet again, she bent down and whispered into his ear,”Now , don’t get me angry. I bite.” She giggled loudly.
“Just tell me who you are,” he whimpered.
“Gaby,” she replied.
“I don’t know of any Gaby,” he said tearfully. “Why are you doing this to me ? I want to go home. My wife will be waiting,”
“Don’t be such a nincompoop,” she said. A tinge of impatience had crept into her voice.
“So you want to know who or what I am ? Right ? Well, I am Gaby. You turned me into Gabriel North – that silly misogynist – that pathetic piece of human flesh with the brain of an amoeba. But I am actually Gaby Southey . And I hate men .
“You hate me too?” he looked at her tearfully.
“Ah well,” she shrugged.”I guess you are just an over pampered idiot.”
He was quite affronted but the fact that she had not expressed hatred towards him was a wee bit heartening for him. Her transformation from an angel to an evil, diabolic psychopath was itself , hard to digest. He had to be content with small mercies.
“I hate the smart alecks,” she continued thoughtfully,” the ones who think they are God’s gift to women. You know the ones I am talking about, right ? You have gone to town describing them in those ridiculous romances that you used to write. Horrendous tales, they were, of handsome knights in shining armour rushing to rescue damsels in distress. Eeks. I should technically kill you for writing those kinds of novels, but then, I won’t. I only look out for handsome, heartless brutes who dupe women. I abhor them. You are quite a sweetheart actually.”
He wasn’t sure how to respond. His arms were hurting and a dull ache had settled around his forehead. Migraine. Coffee had that effect on him . The emotional exertion of the past half hour had aggravated it.
“Can I go home?” he asked in a shaky voice. “My wife will be worried.”
She gave an exasperated sigh. “You are such a namby pamby creature. No wonder, your wife is fed up of you. This is the first time I am sitting with a man who I do not want to kill and all he thinks of is going home. We could be friends, you know?”
“How do you know that?” he asked sharply.
“What ?”, she asked .
“How do you know that my wife is fed up of me?”
She burst out laughing. “I know everything about you, Don’t ask me how. How did you get to know about me?”
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Well I did some research and came across this story about a woman who killed men.,” he said defensively. “And since I was annoyed with my wife, I decided to change her into a man who killed women. I didn’t know it was about you,” he added. “Not that I want my wife murdered,” he chuckled. “She is a darling. I would be lost without her.”
“Ah well,” she replied nonchalantly. “Not that it really matters. I just wanted to know more about you. You have made your pile at my expense. I needed to see what kind of a chap you are. Anyway. You run along. Your wife must be waiting for you.”
“I doubt I can run,” he said sarcastically.
She laughed and proceeded to untie him. He rose and stretched.
“Well, Ms Gaby Southey, I can’t exactly claim that it was a pleasure meeting you. But I do wish you well. I hope you overcome your hatred of men someday. Have a good day.”
She smiled as he walked towards the door. He looked back at her, smiled a little and walked out.
He reached the street and paused for a moment in contemplation. Absentmindedly, he looked up at the large French window overlooking the street. Dr Gabriel North stood there , looking down at him with deep penetrating eyes, a slight smile playing on his lips. He was the spitting image of the character on the cover pages of all the three novels. Samuel Clooney gasped in horror and took to his heels. He ran like a man possessed, till he reached the front door of his house.
“You back?” his wife looked up from her knitting.
He did not answer. He rushed to his room and collapsed into his armchair, panting for breath.
The phone beeped. A message flashed across the screen –
“It was great catching up with you today. I spared you though. After all, you have made me famous. Besides, it is more fun, killing women.”
Photo by Meelimello
==>This is an entry for Artales-17, #DrNorth, an ArtoonsInn writing event.
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