“Hello, Sir. May I come in?”.
“Arghh. You again? What do you want this time? Can’t you youngsters just understand what it means to keep away?”, growled the old man sipping his red wine. Mr. Brent was never fond of people disturbing him during his evenings. “I’ve come as a client sir”, She said fanning out a bunch of handwritten parchments. “Wanted to get these printed. Do we have enough space for these in tomorrow’s columns?”.
“$10 per snippet for whatever the hell these things are”. The old man never cared what was printed in his newspaper if he got paid for it.
“But sir, as an employee, I am entitled to a discount of…”
“You are entitled to nothing, you little piece of shit. It’s $10 or you go to the Guardian.”
“No no no. It’s important that these are published in our newspaper and tomorrow”, trying to frantically save the situation. The old man attempted a sardonic smile. “Good. I’ll hand them over to McCain.”
The old man lifted the pieces and unconsciously glanced at what was written on them. Some of the parchments had photographs neatly stapled onto them. His eyes caught something strange. His face grew pale. Petrified, he asked, “What are…”
“Seat number 3, elite ride on the jumbo roller coaster”, said Antony showing his ticket to the checker. It was a perfect day for an adventurous trip to the amusement park. Clear sky, cool breeze and a free pass to the costliest ride in the park. “Sure sir. You don’t need to stand in the queue. The car seats only 3 and we will start once all the riders arrive”, the ticket checker didn’t look up from her booth. It had been a busy day but very few could afford the elite ride.
Antony strolled through the slender wooden passage to get into the car. Only one rider had arrived and was fastening his seatbelt. Antony tried to pull open the metal door but it wouldn’t budge. Seeing Antony pull unnecessarily, the rider sitting inside popped the latch. The door flew and hit Antony hard in the chest. “Ughhh”. Hard enough to make him wail. “Hey man, are you alright?”, the man unfastened his belt quickly to talk to a whimpering Antony. “You idiot! I think I hit my sternum”, he gave an agonizing cry. “I hope it’s not too serious.” “I think… umm… I should be fine”, said Anthony as he rubbed his thumb on his chest. His thumb applying slightly more pressure than what his injured bone could handle at this moment. “Ughhhh”
“Are you alright?”
“Dad, are you alright? Say something”. 14-year old Ana was in tears as she saw her dad struggle with Asthma. “I think it’s the weather. It hasn’t stopped raining in the past 3 days.” Ana rushed her dad to the nearest hospital. His face had turned purple due to the lack of oxygen his lungs received.
“Doctor… Doctor, please save my dad”, she shrieked, as she barged into the doctor’s cabin pleading him to save her father. The doctor stood up pulling his sleeves back. It was as if he wanted to flash his shiny Rolex. He looked at the girl’s tattered clothes and realized that this treatment isn’t going to be paid for. “You’ve come to the right place, child. I do specialize in chest-related ailments. But you know…”, the doctor inched closer to Ana. He looked straight into her wet eyes and whispered to her, “these treatments cost a lot. And I don’t do charity.”
Ana kept begging, “Please”, barely able to speak now. “Security, throw this child and Thanos out. And if I see anyone like this enter the hospital again, I’ll make sure you guys don’t survive my snap.” The scared, helpless guards dragged Ana and her dad out. As she stood at the hospital gates, under the heavy rainfall, her father breathed his last.
The doctor usually parked his car in the alley right beside the hospital. He entered the silent alley, unbeknownst to the fact that someone had been following him all along. “Your money and the keys… NOW!”, he yelled. He was twice as wide as him and held a gun at a 10-point distance. “The watch too… C’mon, quickly”, he screamed at him. “No no no, I’ve earned this…” SNAP! The robber pulled the trigger. The doctor fell head first on his car bonnet. His medical coat slashed in the center, blood spraying across his windshield. A small note stuck on the windshield slid right before him. “In your hour of need, when you taste the blame, hope you taste the flavor of greed -Ana.”
A gold medalist in his university and one of the best doctors in New York lost his life after a robber shot him straight in his heart. His friends from college remember him as one of the smartest fellows they had ever met and someone who never had malice in his heart. He is survived by his wife and a daughter. He was 32.
“Can my son take the ride instead of me?”
The ticket checker leaned forward from her desk to look at a 6-year-old kid staring at her puppy-eyed. “Aww. I really wish I could do it sir, but the ride is only limited to the ticket holders and it has your name on it.” “Can I get another seat in the same car? I could pay a little to…”, the kid’s father tried to negotiate. “No, sir. I am sorry. The rules don’t allow me to do that. You should take the ride yourself, sir. You deserve it!”, she replied. “You deserve it, Dad”, the kid spoke with a big smile on his face. He got down on one knee to speak to the 3-foot-tall, already maturing son of his. “You stay close to your mom, okay?”.
“Let the party begin”, he smirked as he started to stroll towards the car. The ticket checker, smiled at the kid and handed him an ice-cream asking, “Kid, what do you want to become when you grow up?”
“A Reporter… sir.” “I want to become a journalist. I have always wanted to write”, Ana was quick to answer. You could see the glitter in her eyes whenever she spoke about her desire to become a journalist. “So, what brings you here, child?”, the clerk asked. Not a lot of interesting things happened every day in this old government office. “I had sent some of my articles to the Malcolm Gladwell foundation. They absolutely loved them. They have agreed to fund my journalism education at the Harvard University, starting this fall. I thought that the letter came in earlier…”, her excitement echoing off the old walls. The telephone on the clerk’s table rang interrupting Ana. “Yes, sir. Okay, I’ll send her in”. “Mr. Henly will see you now Ms. Ana. All the best”, he gave her a fatherly smile.
An overwhelming stench of tobacco tickled her nose as she entered the room. Mr. Henly sat on his chair smoking a cigar, as usual. He pointed towards an envelope as Ana entered the room. She excitedly opened the envelope to find a cheque. It showed an amount of $200. For a second Ana thought that she missed reading a few zeroes. “Wait… what? I thought the Gladwell foundation agreed to fund my entire education. They promised me $60,000, this is not even…”. Henly looked up towards her and said, “This is all we received”, his words deceiving what his eyes portrayed. Ana could see her dreams crashing in front of her. The government office was infamous for their corruption scandals, but not in her wildest dreams, she thought they would be eating off a student’s grant.
Ana ran outside, swinging the door as hard as she could. She thought she didn’t have enough strength to move the door, but a loud thud that followed convinced her. Ana started to hear people murmuring behind her as she rushed out. She turned back and noticed that the door had hardly moved. Everyone was running into Mr. Henly’s office.
Mr. Robert Henly, the minister of state for education, had a fatal heart attack while he was at work. His untimely demise has left his family and friends devastated. His years of loyal service, moral practices and his efforts in promoting education in the state will be always remembered. He was 44.
“So, what do you?”, asked Mustafa. He had been looking at Ana for quite some time now. Ana simply smiled as she looked into his blue eyes. “I am studying journalism at Boston University. How about you?” “I am a mechanical engineer. I work at Spacy’s”, he replied.
It didn’t take long for Mustafa to waltz in and steal Ana’s heart. Settling for BU instead of Harvard, she tried to fill her emptiness through him. She looked for him everywhere. Her world started to revolve around him. She often glanced at him from the side at times, sneaking a peak and he would simply smile, raising his eyebrow, as if he was trying to ask her a question. Ana would try hard to curb the overpowering emotions she felt for him. She felt that her heart would burst because of all the things she wanted to say to him and she had been feeling since they met.
Ana’s dreams were realized the day Mustafa proposed to her and they got together. But once the flowery time of their fleeting love affair came to a halt, she wished her dream never came true. Mustafa was the one for her, but it wasn’t true for him. He kept her twisted in knots and made her go through an emotional trauma, too much for a 22-year-old to handle. Ana would try hard to curb the overpowering emotions she felt for him. He gave her an important lesson on how she should be choosing the people she trusted more wisely. “My first memories of hell”, she often described it. He made her realize that the world isn’t as nice as she’d always thought it to be. However bad the things were, she still tried to hold it together.
Her world shook when she got to know that Mustafa was already married back in Mexico. Furious, she rushed to his place to end things with him for once and for all. When she reached his house, she saw policemen patrolling the area. “No, no, no…”, Ana tried to run inside the house to take a look. The police stopped her.
“Where do you want to go?”
“Umm… the elite ride on the jumbo coaster? I have a ticket for the same. Here.” The ticket checker punched the ticket and let him enter the narrow passageway. “Enjoy your ride, sir”
“You really loved him, didn’t you?”, asked Kristen. She had been Ana’s best friend since her 8th grade. She worked as a nurse and had the amazing ability to nurse each of Ana’s wounds, physical or psychological. “I did, but it all kind of went down, once I really got to know about him.” She showed her a small newspaper snippet that she had cut.
Mustafa Thomas, an engineer at Spacy’s was found brutally murdered in his residence. The police have arrested his girlfriend, Mia Malkova for attacking him with a knife. Mustafa had accused Mia of having extra-marital affairs in a police report submitted hours before his murder. He was a jolly fellow and was loved by all. He died at a young age of 28.
“So, he was cheating on his wife and on you as well with a third person! Wow! I am really happy you got out of it, though in a nasty way”, she said, giving Ana a tight side-hug. “He really messed me up. I have started to look at every new relationship with suspicion”, her eyes welled.
“It’s okay. I heard you got a great promotion at your new job. Congratulations on becoming a junior editor now”, she just knew how to cheer her up. “Yeah, it’s good, but my boss is an absolute jerk. I don’t see myself rising up the ladder.”
“Hey, Kristen… I need some help”, she asked in a serious tone. “Anything for you, darling!”
“The ride is already full! Should I take it on the next turn?”, he shouted as soon as he reached the entrance. The car had a fat old man and two young men sitting inside and waiting for the ride to start. “Just a second sir, let me check”, the ticket checker ran inside quickly. He large green cap hiding her beautiful face.
“Mr. Vernon, could you please take the next ride? These gentlemen have booked the current slot.”, she announced. The old man looked happy that he didn’t have to walk back the passageway without taking the ride. “Why couldn’t you tell me earlier?”, vexed, he got out of the car. “Please sir”, she signaled the final customer to enter the car.
“Vernon! How have you been? Never saw you since your internship back at Spacy’s!”, he asked. “I am great sir. Enjoy your ride. I’ll catch you in a while”, he said as he stepped out of the car.
He sat in the vacant seat and fastened his seat belt. His blue eyes scanning the faces of his fellow travelers. “Hi, aren’t you Mr. Henly, the minister of education of state?”, he asked. “Yes, I am. How do you know me?”, Mr. Henly looked startled.
Even though he was a minister who had stayed in his cabin for the last 20 years, the common public rarely knew him. “Umm… This is weird. But my ex…friend really hated you, man. She spoke about corruption in your office”, passing a snide remark. “Maybe your friend came in for a donation. I really don’t believe in charity if you are not talented enough”, the cigar smell filled the small cabin. The car started.
“That, I agree”, replied Antony, pulling his sleeves back to flash his watch. “I think we share a common opinion here. Just that, I don’t believe in charity even if you are talented”, Antony smirked. “Dr. Antony Hopkins. I am an ENT specialist, have a hospital near the road. Did your ex talk about me too?”, always trying to be a smartass. Mr. Henly and Antony shared a laugh but Mustafa looked like he was deep in thought. “Actually, she did…”
The car reached its highest point. They often paused for a moment to let the riders enjoy the view before it sped at a 100 mph. The ride maintainer was supposed to pull the lever to start the ride.
“How did you guys get tickets for this ride?”, a terrified Henly asked. “My nurse told me I got it for free from some medical agent”, replied Antony. “I got it at Spacy’s. It was in a newspaper there”, his face turned white. “A student gave it to me”, answered Henly. “So, none of us really brought the tickets to this ride? We need to get out… Now!”
“Stop it! Stop it now!”, they started to shout. Their sounds buried in hundreds of rides around them. “Looks like they are already enjoying”, said the ticket checker and pulled the lever, smiling at the maintainer.
“What are these, Ana”, asked the old man. “Obituaries, sir. Could I have them printed in tomorrow’s paper?” Mr. Brent started to check the content of the parchments. His eyes lit upon seeing a recognizable name. “This is Mr. Henly, isn’t it? How do you have his obituary, when he died just 20 minutes ago and you have been waiting here for the last one hour?”
“I dreamt about them dying, okay? Can you please stop asking questions and get them printed tomorrow?”, she asked sternly. Mr. Brent nodded. He was scared and in awe at the same time. Ana started to leave.
“Oh! How forgetful of me! I forgot to give you this one”, she said as she handed another piece of paper to him.
Mr. Chris Brent, senior editor of the New Yorker was found dead in his office. Police suspect that his red wine had been poisoned, though the real cause of death is still unknown. His memories will be eternal in the numerous articles he has written about workplace equality and gender biases in the country. He would be deeply missed. He was 57.