As he drove his mustang through the twining lanes of the town, he could feel the festive spirit penetrating through the windows. Christmas was round the corner, and the usually gentle and quiet street became the cynosure of emotions . Shopkeepers were busy pulling down old posters and replacing them with new ones , while bakeries were busy updating their special menus .
Had it been a typical day, Regis, in his yellow jumpers would have been sitting in the swiveling chair of the Coffee House , sipping on his imported Colombian Coffee , while catching up with the news fresh from the stock market . But, today was different…..
After a short drive , Regis found himself standing in front of the Church Entrance , dressed in his best suit ,with neatly gelled auburn hair . He wore shoes imported from Italy , and in his hands was thrust a huge parcel , gift wrapped in a bright red sheet . Today was his office mate Riley’s wedding.
He was just about to enter the Church. But something stopped him .
It was a woman’s laughter. It was the same laughter , filled with hope , happiness and sunshine , he had fallen in love with , five months ago . Feeling squeamish inside , he hurried towards the corner of the Church Garden . On the bridge that separated the Church from the lake stood a couple. From the look in their eyes it was evident that they were star struck in love . Regis started perspiring. The woman on the bridge and the woman of his dreams seemed to mirror each other …..
Swallowing his saliva hard , he opened his mouth to utter her name , while his heart immersed with fear , hoped that the name would not bring about a turn in her head . “Sadie? Is that you ?…….” .
Upon hearing her name , her head spun with utmost agility . Regis wanted to recede into denial , but the harshness of what stood in front of him did not oblige . Sadie Warwick , the woman of his dreams , the woman who had turned down his invitation to accompany him to the very same wedding , was in front of him , arm-in-arm with a complete stranger . Ignorance was written all over her face. After giving Regis a fleeting glance , she spun on her heels and left with the stranger .
Emotions ran amok through Regis’ insides . He wanted to scream , bang his head and bash things , all at the same time . Weighed by the profuse intensity of disappointment , he slowly walked back to the Church , with his head hung low .
The Church was brightly decorated with roses and chrysanthemums . The seats were decked with red satin , sequined with artificial dahlias , while the floor was adorned by a beautiful red carpet . Even more beautiful was the wedding ceremony . While the Church was filled with “ Awws…..” when the groom planted a kiss on the bride’s cheek , tears rolled down Regis’ eyes . He had dreamt and fantasised about his future with Sadie. But now , all of it was just smoke and no fire .
Sadie had been his world. He had lost his parents and his sister due to a horrific plane crash two years ago. If that was not tragic enough , hot in heels came the recession as well, costing Regis his dream job of a financial broker with the Larson Bros . Within two weeks, he was on the streets , with no home , no job and no family .
It was while working as a deliveryman at a bakery that he met Sadie. She sympathized with him , and he grew close to her . She was the only splash of paint on the canvas of his dull , boring life . Now even that color faded to reveal an ugly ink blot .
He sat at one corner, brooding . Overcome with rage , he grabbed the newspaper and flung it against the Church Wall . But before he could plan a further assault , the headlines thrived on his attention .
“Human Trafficker Rufus Kay escapes from the Sado Central Prison : Yet another successful escape. Is the Police Hibernating ? …”
The picture of Rufus Kay choked Regis to the extent that he had to rip his tie off . Kay was the stranger with whom he had seen Sadie . Given Kay’s uncanny penchant for young women , Regis knew that Sadie had walked into the lion’s den .
Regis was no sprinter. Yet , alarmed by the brevity of what lay ahead , he ran wildly about the Church grounds , looking at every place imaginable . Frustration mounted on his temples , and his fists hardened with rage . Just then , he slipped . Not because of the watered grass , but because of an object , covered in a plastic zip pouch. Picking it up out of curiosity , in the packet he found mangled remains of Sadie’s cell phone….
Fear raced through the nerves of his body. Sadie was in great danger. Now , what was he to do ?
He had given up all hopes. But then , a brilliant idea began to materialize . Rufus Kay may have destroyed Sadie’s phone. But the odds are that his phone is still active. Getting hold of a human trafficker’s number was like knowing the secrets of the FBI. ….. Did Regis Ayers really stand a chance ??
From the corner of his eye , he caught Riley’s brother leaving the Church . In his hands was the guest list. The Guest List !!! . Surely , didn’t he hear Sadie refer to Rufus as Raymond ? Maybe , the so-called Raymond’s number was on that list . He ran towards Riley’s brother , and snatched the list . Scanning it , he found the name Raymond Lock listed on it .
Regis’ hand could barely stop shaking while his fingers hastily punched the number on to the tracking software. Please Work. Please Work. Within five seconds , the location flashed on his mobile screen : St. Antonio’s Church , McKay Street . He was here somewhere in the perimeter of the Grounds !!
But , where ?
Regis ransacked through the facts in his brain. Did he miss any place ? Navigating through the Church in his mind , he found the locked cellar . Of Course ! He had skipped the cellar , due to the shiny lock on the front door . Regis was back in action….
Meanwhile , at the Cellar …
Sadie struggled to breathe. Her mouth was stuffed with a towel , and her wrists were tied to the chair . She looked around. She had to escape . With all her might , she coughed the towel out of her mouth . She was all set to scream . But then , her attacker appeared on the scene . His features were hardened with malice , and his eyes glared at her with hate . In his view , she was an insect to be crushed , to be destroyed . The pistol in his hand was pointed dangerously at her .
Just then , the door in the wall opposite to her blasted open , to reveal a heavily perspiring Regis . Stunned by the opening of the door , Rufus Kay was about to turn….
Regis sensed the situation. And just like any protective boyfriend, he ran forward and pinned Rufus to the ground , causing both of them to plunge headlong . But it was too late. Rufus had already pulled the trigger .
The bullet pierced through Sadie’s forehead , and came out , throttling through her skull . The chair to which her body had been tied , crashed to the ground . Regis grew weak. Overpowered by Rufus , Regis was sent crashing to the wall , and Rufus escaped through the broken window . Nothing mattered anymore to Regis. Sadie Warwick had been murdered …..
Hearing the gun shot , the Church Father had called the police . The usual frenzy of media , interrogation by the police etc.. followed. It was near midnight .
Regis walked back slowly . He was engulfed by the same emptiness that he felt after the death of his parents and sister . He held himself responsible for Sadie’s death. Had he not pinned Rufus , Sadie might have had a second chance at life .
Outside his favorite Coffee Shop was hung a white board with a quote :
“ At times , your attachment can be lethal for your loved ones ….” .
© Shivani Pillai, 2018. All rights reserved.