The Scorpio Man

It’s quarter to eight on Saturday, 20 August. With the magical sunset and the darkness encroaching, Jane, a sick old woman had nothing exciting to do but to sit back on the window side, and aimlessly look at the quiet street from her condominium at the corner avenue. Too used to the sight of a calm and dull street, the sudden light from an approaching car strained the eyes of the poor frail woman. The car pulls over just in front of her block and a man who looked familiar to her got down with a small red-jacketed book. Jane’s pupil dilated on seeing the book in his hand. Seeming to wait for someone important, the man looked at his pocket watch hastily a couple of times. After a brief conversation with a passer-by, seemingly to check the correct address, the man hastily crossed the road, putting the red book back into his pocket. Noticing the book dropping from his overcoat as he was rushing, Jane rushed to the entrance. By the time she could gather herself up from the armchair and make her way through all those stairs and corridors, the car had left. There was no book on the street, but her aged eyes caught hold of the sight of a glittering ring with a unique cross embossed.

 

 

Years before, Jane used to be a nun, and one day police found her hair samples at a crime scene in the chapel where the dead victim’s abdomen was carved with a Libra zodiac sign. With seven previous murders all involving some form of zodiac carved on the victim’s body, the police had no clue but the fact that the signs on the cadavers did match the zodiac of the respective victims. Poor Jane happened to be the only suspect in the notorious ‘zodiac’ serial killings. Since Jane had sudden memory breakdowns resulting from dissociative amnesia she was suffering, police had the case handled by a trauma centre, where Dr Vikash, a very accomplished psychiatrist was assigned to record statements from the suspect. Dr Vikash somehow felt that Jane was guilty, that he did not present to the police the recording in which Jane said, “In a red-jacketed book I remember… I never went to chapel that day…in that book I had my train tickets…”. Vikash thought she was lying and hid her statements so as to expedite the case.

 

The next day, August 21, Jane’s personal psychiatrist Dr Prakash visited her on his daily sessions. Jane remembered that it was his ring and having noticed him today without his ring, Jane thought it was he whom she saw the previous day. There were talks about a fledgling young detective Ramesh; Jane approached him with the ring thinking he might be of some help in tracing the alibi in the red book. As she entered his office, she again had a memory breakdown all she saw was a man reading Linda Goodman’s sun sign book with the page 309, “The Scorpio Man” open. Ramesh did not know who she was and now neither did she. She cracked her brain hard to remember why she went there. Next day, as she remembered everything, she jotted it down on to a parchment and gave it along with the ring to Ramesh.

 

 

Ramesh found nothing interesting in the case, except for the fact that it was the old woman the police took for a serial killer and was contemplating on what the perpetrator wanted to say with those zodiac signs. Ramesh was good in making incognito appearances as his case demanded. And now he did the same to Dr Prakash and spoke of the unique ring’s story as he met him in a pub. Prakash looking astonished said, “There are only two such rings…that our father made for us. Where did you get it?”

“Us?” asked Ramesh.

“Yes. To me and my brother. It must be my brother’s as I have mine” and showed him his ring.

“And your brother is?”

“He is Dr Vikash…uh…now give it to me, let me hand it over to…?”

Ramesh never gave him the ring but now thought of doing the same drama with Vikash, where he noticed Vikash and Prakash were twins. Ramesh always had his way of doing groundwork where Suresh, a friend of his does the job. Ever heard of a guy who calls a guy who calls a guy…? and that is Suresh. After finding Prakash and Vikash were twins, Ramesh understands why the old lady always thought Prakash to be Vikash. As Ramesh recited the words from the parchment to Vikash, he noticed trepidation in his eyes. Vikash had no clue who he was and drove away from him without a reply. Suresh blocked him at the corner avenue. Ramesh came all his way running and called the police. News hailed him as “Ramesh Holmes” and there was nothing mysterious anymore until he noticed Vikash had his ring in a chain to his neck as the police took him. Vikash was sued for withholding an evidence.

 

Ramesh still had the ring with him. “A third ring? But…whose would be that?”

 

Puzzled enough for the day, he thought of meeting Prakash to ask if there any other ring with that cross.

Prakash was depressed with the misfortune of his brother but still came there for his session to Jane’s that morning. Jane said in her own Catholic tone, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Mathew 5:4) and gave him a glass of wine. The wine tasted so good with the comforting words from a pious lady. He returned home as he felt everything happening around him was odd. Thinking and thinking of what and how it could be, he was tired and bored, on top of his killing depression. By mid-day, Jane visited Prakash where she found him lying paralysed. He remained there sullen until she showed her purse full of rings, all with the unique cross embossment. As he was looking puzzled at her, she took a paper, scribbled something on it, folded it and dropped it in the purse she gave him. “tetrodotoxin…it was…tasted great eh? so…Au Revoir doctor”, she said and left.

 

That evening when Ramesh went to meet Prakash to discuss the ring case, he found him dead, paralysed but there was a strange mixture of shock and surprise on his face. He took the purse left at his hand and called the police. The police reported it was a suicide due to depression. Ramesh opened the purse only to see it full of the-no-longer-unique rings and a folded paper with a note written by the lady. Almost everything came to light when he read that note and sweat rolled down his forehead.

 

Hours later, the police came to know of another zodiac incident. As they rushed to the spot, there lied the deceased detective with the Scorpio sign on his forehead and a folded note in his hands. The last thing the detective read before he died was the note on that piece of paper which read, “You are ‘The Scorpio Man’. Aren’t you?”

 

Written by: Sai Sudharshan, Second Year, Automobile Engineering.

 

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