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Alcohol Fever

to be continued from last week

"I think I found the actual crime scene. The carpet residue and the glitter are a visual match. By the way, just out of curiosity, was there anything at all, and I mean anything, connecting the victim, with the initials R.F? I found a handkerchief outside the victim's window with the same initials stitched onto it."

The volume of the music began to escalate, and the drum beats literally banged a steel rod against my ears.
"Do you hear that?" I cried into the phone.

"Loud and clear," she said. I turned around, and saw her standing behind me, with a smile on her face. "Those encrypted messages I was talking about, were all from the same address, with the initials R.F recorded as the name tag."

She put the phone away, walked up to me, and enlightened me on the nature of the encrypted messages. I pointed towards a door on the far end of the long dark hall we were standing in, and said, "Does that look familiar to you?"

We knocked on the door labeled R.F; someone opened it, peeked through the opening, and said, "The party area's back there, dude. This region is off limits. So why don't you take your babe, pop some booze, and have a good timeback there." The guy was using "back there" too many times he was definitely hiding something. I smiled, lifted my badge, and showed him who I was. He stuttered with nervous anxiety, and inquired what the matter was; three or four voices spoke out in the background, as I went past him into the room.

The room was a relatively stylized one, of average size, with glass doors behind one of the walls, leading to the backyard. There was the same smell of sour alcohol, which I had smelt at the victim's house, and the tables were topped with at least a dozen types of hooch. The guys present in the room looked like the type fit for fraternity tagged jackets, cocky expressions, and a sense of "damn-care." I quietly asked Sarah to check the trash bin, when…
"You can't come in here like this and start vandalizing my property. Wait till my dad hears of this, he'll have you…" said the guy who had opened the door.

"What? No more threats?" I said, "We have a warrant Mr. Cross. I'll leave you with a copy of it just so you don't call your father, and have my butt kicked out of the PD. Okay?" He didn't move. The only movement evident was in his eyes. I walked over to one of the seated junkies, and asked, "Other than a whole lot of booze what were you guys having?"

"Creamed crabs," Sarah answered, walking out of the toilet. "The outer bin was clean, so I checked out the one in the bathroom it's the same type."

"Thank you Sarah. Now…" I was suddenly interrupted by a very loud sneeze, followed by a long, disturbing sniffing sound. I turned my head, and asked the sneezer, "Need a hanky?" He didn't say anything, but I took out my handkerchief, and handed it to him, all the same. He took it with shaky hands, blew into it, and proposed to hand it back. I took it, and put it into my evidence bag, watched him look on in anxious silence, glanced around once, and addressed the pack, "All right, here is what we are going to do. The first person to spill the beans regarding the matter that I'm about to speak on, gets to make a deal. How many of you know Greg Robson?"

Nobody said anything. "Oh, so it's a fraternity thing all for one and one for all. That's nice, but when it gets ugly, when there's a murder involved, things tend to change, even constitutions." Their faces turned pale. Suddenly, I noticed horror in the eyes of most of them; shock had hit them straight in the gut. "Greg Robson is dead. Will somebody tell me what happened here? Or…"

"How do you even know he was here?" Cross inquired, in reckless cockiness.

"Well, first of all, he had glitter on his shoes, and red carpet residue on his sole. His e-mail inbox was filled with messages regarding this party, and about the fraternity. Encryption or no encryption, you can't fool the law. Do you know what killed Greg? The creamed crab, which you dumped into the trash bin, killed him. I don't think any of you knew he was allergic, actually, chronically allergic to crabs. The alcohol you guys dumped on his body messed up the floor, and left stains on his shirt. Our lab examined the liquor stains, and gave me a list; the list matches the ones present on your table. I'm guessing, you cleaned the floor up with that mop over there," I pointed to a mop resting by the corner of the room, "I'm sure the mop and Greg's shirt will tell me part of the story. But I want to know the rest from you. Anybody care to tell me? Okay. Let me tell what I already know -- The crabs wouldn't have killed him if you hadn't poured so much liquor down his throat. Together with his anxiety, anger, and pain - the alcohol catalyzed the allergies, and made it lethal. Eventually, his body heated up, a high fever developed, and his metabolism began to break down. The coroner said, some of the symptoms were similar to a stroke: renal failure, cerebral edema and a whole lot more," I said. "Excuse me,"

I walked out, and sauntered over to the garage, in which, rested a black pickup truck. I switched on the lights, and found the object, that confirmed my story. I walked back into the house, and called Jerry and asked him to send down a police truck. I gave him the address, and he asked me to wait, while he made the arrangements. Then I hung up. I told the pact that, if one them didn't cough up the truth, it'd be beaten out of them in jail. I informed them about the rusty ladder I had found in the truck, then turned towards the sneezer, took out the handkerchief I had recovered outside the Robson's household, and said, "Does this look familiar?"

The guy flushed. Sarah finally came forward and said, "That piece of evidence puts you at the crime scene. Care to explain that?" The guy didn't utter a word, stayed as calm as possible, answered in a timid voice, "I don't know," and looked down.

"Either way, you are all under arrest on the charges of second degree murder," I told them, and waited for one of them to break, "unless one of you can give me enough reason to reevaluate my theory, I see all you fraternity boys in prison cells, until the time you are fifty."

"I'll talk," said a nervous looking redhead guy, who had been sitting in the corner, all the while, "I'll tell you what happened. If it's the truth, can I walk?"
"You get to make a deal," I said.

"Okay," he said edgily. Ignoring the constant
discouragement of his fraternity pact, he finally began the tall tale of how he and his friends invited Greg Robson to the party, how happy Greg was at receiving an opportunity to join a fraternity such as the R.F, how weak Greg was, and how they decided to toughen him up, the way they stuffed the creamed crabs down his throat even after he begged them not to, how the rest of them held poor Greg down, while Cross and Sheffield (the sneezer) poured the booze down his windpipe, how they bathed him with alcohol, carried him down to the garage, drove him to his house, and laid him down in his room, to make it look like he had just passed out.
I shook my head and sighed.

"His father told us to do it," Sheffield cried out.
I turned around, "What?"
"He came over here yesterday evening, and asked us to go rough on Greg when he came over. He said he was ashamed of his son - that he was a top sportsman back in his day, and regretted the fact his own son was such a slacker. He asked us to toughen him up. He even paid us 50 bucks to do it."

I didn't say anything.
"I'm speaking the truth; brotherhood or no brotherhood, everyone here will testify to the same thing, because it is the truth."

Everyone in the room slowly nodded their guilt stricken faces, as Jerry walked in with his squad, and started arresting them. I walked out of the scene, and strolled over to my car, got in, waited for Sarah to get in, and when she did, drove straight to the hotel Greg's parents were staying at. It was late, about 2:30 in the morning, but I didn't care.

A police car escorted us to the hotel. I asked the officers to wait outside, while we spoke to the parents. Sarah's knock was answered by the mother, Marlene Robson, who let us into the room. We walked inside, and I asked both the parents, to sit down. I took a deep breath, and asked Sarah to explain what had happened to their son, Greg. Sarah talked slowly, but informatively, and explained the whole scenario. When his involvement was mentioned, the father broke into a fountain of tears, and began cursing himself in the most sordid fashion, "I grounded him, because I didn't want him to go there. After I came out of Yuri Cross's house yesterday, I felt so guilty, that I intentionally grounded Greg, and told him explicitly not to go near the Cross residence," he began sobbing again, "but he didn't listen to me. And now he is dead, all because of me…"

The mother kept weeping, until the officers entered, and took the father into their custody.

I walked out of the hotel room, and got into the elevator with Sarah. We were both silent for a while, then suddenly, she asked, "Do you always work like this?"
"Like what?"

"Like bluff all the time. We still don't have a warrant, but you told the fraternity boys that we did. You further told them that you have a list of alcohols. Now I'm asking… what list? Oh, and another thing, you rode totally on speculation, when you showed the sneezer -- the handkerchief. So, I ask again, do you always work like this?"

"Well I can tell you all about it over dinner tonight, but you already have a date… so…"

She smiled, then laughed for a while, walked out of the elevator, and just kept walking. When I caught up with her, at the lobby exit, she turned to me, and said, "The guy you saw wasn't my boyfriend. He is my drama colleague we do Greek plays all the time the ones with lots of you know…"

made my eyebrows dance a little bit, "Human contact?"
She blushed.

"I asked him to do that little episode with me at the lab -- the one which ticked you off so much, just to cause the reaction that it did," she smilingly said.

"It so did not tick me off," I told her, smiling as well, "How does 6:30 sound?"
"Perfect," she said; smiled, walked out of the hotel, called a taxi, and left.
I looked up towards the heavens and smiled.

The only thing that separates us from the animals -- is the fact that we can think, reason, and deduce. It is this quality of a few people that brought Greg Robson's killers to justice. And it took Greg Robson's death, to make a -- tired, 25 year old, private detective -- realize… how important he was to the helpless, the needy, the powerless, the dead, the undead, the rich, the healthy, the sick, the old, the young, everyone -- in their struggle to find justice, in a society ruled by fear… in a world which does not care…

My train was back on its rails My life was back on its track what's the difference? There isn't any. It's a metaphor…
It is things like this that makes life so interesting…

By Mehzeb Rahman Chowdhury


I read from an article in last week's RS, that one good way to pass time in this hungry month of Ramadan is by reading something. Well reading can be a lot more interesting if it comes along with some laughter and amusement. And there is one magazine, which has been giving us this opportunity for over 25 years now (they proudly mention nowadays, "prokashonar pocheeeeeesh bochhor"). I am talking, of course, about the ever lovable and laughable magazine Unmad.

You could recognize the magazine by its very front page by seeing one of the most popular cartoon characters in our country today Unmad Bhai, smiling with his two enormous teeth and round nerdish spectacles. In this Eid special edition, Unmad has a lot of laughter to contribute to its die-hard fans (or more like die-hard Unmads). It kicks off with the Unmad's version of Eid Special (written as Spatial in Bangla) Fashion Show with some hilarious display of clothes. The models included Nasiruddin Hojja, Motabbirer Kagu (Motabbir's Uncle), and Unmad himself. But when Unmad comes on stage, the first female model appears, and poor Unmad Bhai gets no attention.

There were also other regular features like "Awul Foul"(Crap), "Poridortion"(Reporting Feature showing Unmad in various places); an article by Muhammad Zafar Iqbal; "Unmad Pathok Forum"(Unmad Reader's Forum); and a number of other cartoons. In the Poridortion, Unmad Bhai goes to a shopping mall where he points out that there are seventeen 'malls' (he put extra stress on that word) from Science Laboratory to Dhanmondi 27. Then a guy from his back points out that the eighteenth 'mall' was built, pointing towards his little baby who had just done a holy job.

After that, Unmad Bhai goes on to ask a lady: "Apa, eibar Eid e ki kinlen?" (What did you buy for this Eid?)
The reply comes: "Ei Eid maney? Amar goto Eid er shopping ekhon porjonto shesh hoy ni..." (How come you're asking about this Eid? I still haven't finished shopping for the previous Eid).

Other articles included "Kiuki Sas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi The Unmad Version", and "The Various Uses of Over Bridge", which suggested ideas like Heavy Truck racing, spitting contests, sliding for kids, etc. on the highways. There is also the regular Munshi Mia based article, a guy with funny Bangla accent who speaks a load of crap about his past. The feature about the dialogues of heroes and villains in Bangla cinema was good which tried to convince that villains are actually nicer than heroes.

On the whole, this version of Unmad lived up to its expectations in every ways. It will indeed be an exciting experience for those who did not read Unmad yet (the people with normal mind), and also for the ever-sincere Unmad fans (the abnormal ones).

By Azhar Chowdhury






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