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There was a level of sophistication with which he handled last night’s catastrophes. Or so he thought. His mother would probably not agree. Some incidents required less class and more action. The high road was one she didn’t approve of. She preferred an active reaction. But he demanded her to remain silent and ignore her instincts.

This catastrophe in particular was one he felt he handled well. His neighbour had been found dead. The kinda dead that no one knew how. The body had decomposed and the stink could have made an elephant faint. But everyone assumed that some skunks had wandered in. No one could believe the real story. Richa had come home from a work trip of a week to be greeted with the odour. The man of the house was found with mysterious green marks on his face, dead on the couch. The wife, Richa, banged our door down in fright. We called the police and informed them of the situation. Richa was being questioned next door while he hid in his house.

His mother wished for him to go and prod the police. Or even help Richa by comforting her. But his reaction was nonchalant. He needed to be calm, relaxed and continue to be uninterested.

Hours later, his hiatus was interrupted with a knock on his back door. Richa needed some company. First we sat in my living room for half an hour. I couldn’t handle an outburst, physical or verbal. So without a word exchanged, I brought a bottle of Jack Daniels to the table. We drank eight neat shots of whiskey in silence. She needed to calm herself; I needed it to stay calm. We sat in silence after that for another hour. She didn’t seem like she wanted to discuss what the police said or discovered. Finally, she leaned in and whispered, “Good riddance.”

I poured only myself another large shot. I didn’t respond.

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