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#RubyIyer: BOMBAY SHORTS 20 – ‘Stings like a Queen Bee’

Previously: Ruby Iyer is pushed in front of a local train in Bombay, and wakes up with super powers. Now, as Bombay Vigilante, she is trying to find her new identity. But life insists on throwing her a curve ball, when she meets an attractive cop.

– Stings like a Queen Bee –

At the handsome gothic style building, which served as the headquarters of Bombay Police in the Fort area of the city, Vikram ran up the steps, towards the small room that served at his office.

As he passed by his deputy’s desk, he couldn’t stop himself from glancing at the wide computer screen to which the man was glued.  Hearing him whistle the anthem song from Top Gun, as he was habitually prone to do, a grin broke out on Vikram’s face.

Kumar was no doubt slacking off, surfing the Internet: probably on a dating site. About to tell him off, something familiar about the play of images on screen made Vikram lean closer. It was a YouTube clip of Bombay Vigilante saving Amit.

“Yeh Bambai Vigilunt hai kaun?” Kumar asked no one in particular as he patted his belly which protruded in that just-eaten, post-lunch, about to tip-into a-siesta-fashion. He was the epitome of that twenty-five fading to thirty-five-year-old Indian male.

Intrigued, Vikram leaned over Kumar’s shoulder, to peer at the computer screen, only to have a whiff of coconut oil gone rancid—which his deputy generously applied to his hair—making him wince and pull back. “Bombay VigilANte” he said aloud, correcting Kumar’s pronunciation.

He was going to have to have to tell Ruby about rethinking that name.

“Sir!” Kumar snapped to attention.

“At ease, Kumar” Vikram said mildly. “I have told you before, I don’t believe in these fake gestures. Now if you really respected me, you would focus a little more on the job at hand.”

“Sir!” An at ease Kumar ventured a question “do you know Bombay Vigi-lun—uh! I mean VigilANTe, sirjee?”

“What?” Had he been thinking aloud? “Whatever gave you that idea?” He eyed his junior with suspicion.

“No, uh! Sir” Kumar stuttered: “its just that you corrected my pronunciation… aur ah!” He cleared his throat “Sirjee, you were there at the scene of the rescue.”

Vikram followed Kumar’s darting eyes back to the computer screen. Sure enough, there he was resuscitating the poor guy who had jumped from the bridge; he could just about see the bright red of Ruby’s—no Bombay Vigilante’s—helmet as she treaded water, before diving back into the depths.

The camera zoomed in on his face; close enough to show the worry clouding his forehead as she disappeared under the waves. Then, just as he made to dive behind her the footage cut off.

He let out a soft breath of relief: “no, I have no idea who that is.” He said brusquely,  “make sure you follow up on the progress of that man—“ he gestured with his chin to the screen, where the now frozen, grainy profile of his face mocked him back.

“Sir, you?” Kumar burst out.

“No, not me!” Losing patience, he raised his eyebrows, his voice dropping a few degrees in what his deputy often referred to as his Iceman impersonation: “him, the jumper—Amit, that was his name, I don’t know his surname.”

“Yessir!” Kumar saluted him smartly.

“And, Kumar!”

“Sir?”

Vikram patted his rounded belly “whistling the Top Gun tune, does not make you a fighter pilot… thoda, you have to get into shape too.  Pehle, yeh chai mein shakkar kum karo!”

“Kya! Chai bina shakkar?” Kumar looked stricken as if he had just lost his best friend.

“Yep! Aisa bhi hota hai!” With a sudden smile lighting up his face, so that Kumar blinked at the unexpected humour in his eyes, Vikram picked up the pen lying on Kumar’s table and twirling it, walked through the old fashioned swinging wooden doors to his desk, to boot up his Mac.

“Vilaayat se pad likh ke, na jaane yeh yahan kya raha hai!” Kumar muttered before settling down at his desk to once more whistle his version of the Top Gun anthem.

***

The HTC phone’s screen lit up, vibrating even as it spat out a ringtone similar to the mewling of a cat, in short quick bursts, startling Kit-Cat who hissed back in anger. 

Picking him up by the scruff of his neck, the Hand draped him over his shoulders, in the manner of a brown pelt of fur intended to shield him from the icy blast of the air-conditioning vent above the computer table.

“Hello! Madam Honeyji?” He answered the phone in his American accented Hindi: “Nahin, bus tayariyan sab ho gayi hain.

Just needed a little more time to work out the kinks in my suit. That’s all!” He listened to the voice at the other end, then giggled – sounding more like the twenty-one year old boy he was.

“No, no!” He stroked Kit-Cat, “I am totally confident, it will work this time. I will try it out first… on her idiot of a friend. A test run with the cub, before I go after the lioness.”

He listened, before hastening to add: “nahin, nahin, arre! I promise to bring her to you alive. Her secret will be yours. You will be stronger, more powerful than her I promise!”

He nodded. “Jee! You just have my reward ready… Okay. Done!”

Disconnecting, he placed his phone face down on the table. Getting to his feet he placed the now restive Kit-Cat on the floor, who took his usual route of first leaping onto the table, then to the top of the cupboard, where illuminated by the light from the floor lamp, he began washing himself.

“Not long now Kit-Cat, get ready to get famous. Floats like a butterfly, stings like a Queen bee.” He made a gesture as if cutting the air with the palm of his hand face down. “Move over Mohammed Ali, this is now, me!”

– to be continued

Laxmi Hariharan is a kindle bestselling author. Find her on Facebook. Click here for more Ruby Iyer episodes.

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