I woke up with a loud smashing noise of glass and rushed towards the window. Everything looked so tiny from the twentieth floor of Hotel Grand Plaza. The crowd gathered on the ground floor, where someone had fallen hard on the rooftop of the car, facing downwards. I looked at the time on my smartphone. It was 2.30 a.m.
I opened the door of my room and ran towards the lift when I saw a man dressed in a black coat and a hat. The collar of the black coat had a weird-looking button of a Scorpio. He was running down the staircase furiously. His ring finger had a deep cut, and hence the blood droplets were dripping on the stairs.
He looked at me and placed his index finger on his lips, indicating me to be quiet. I immediately looked the other way, and he continued using the staircase. My inner self was not happy with this.
"I should have stopped him," I grumbled under my breath.
The lift doors opened, and I entered. It took me less than three minutes to reach the ground floor. I ran to see who fell. There was chaos everywhere with the police officers and ambulance around. There was a stretcher placed on the ground with the dead body kept on it. The Police officers stood there, attentively near to the car.
I stepped ahead to glance at the body. I noticed the face got damaged from one side due to the fall. I moved to another side. There were multiple injuries on the body and the face. It implies that the man on the staircase was a murderer, and I let him go free. I was feeling sad that I didn't stop him. I was deep in my thoughts when something flashed in my eyes, and I looked towards the car tire. It was a red sapphire ring.
I slowly walked towards it, saving myself from the eyes of everyone, and dropped my ring first. Then, I bent down to pick up both the finger rings. I knew it was an important clue and left the crime scene quickly before anyone sees me.
I walked up to my room in a gloomy mood. I was angry with myself since I let the murderer walk away freely. My heart was beating faster in a rhythm, pleading to get the killer arrested. But before that, I should know everything about the victim and the ring and their connections.
The biggest question is to start from where?
My mobile phone beeped, "Catch me if you can."
I was startled by the message and wondered, why me? Why he has to message me and challenge me? I had no connection with the dead, neither with him. Then why me?
My first instinct asked me to report it to cops, let them handle it. I looked at the sapphire red ring, wondering what's the connection. I got up from the bed and looked down on the ground floor. Ambulance left with the dead body, and the cops were still questioning everyone around. The entire hotel staff and hotel management were on their radar.
"Will they question the guests too," I wondered.
"Should I check out and move to another hotel?"
"No bad idea. The cops will doubt that I am the murderer. I should stay here. It's safe, I suppose." I was thinking hard as I walked in my room to and fro.
"The actual murderer will not dare entering the hotel to meet me in the presence of the cops. It sounds good." I laid on the bed, holding the ring in my hand and staring at it continuously. It recalled me when the murderer saw me. His eyes were intense as if piercing within me.
"Do I know him? Have I seen him before? How he knows me?" All the questions kept on circling on my mind until I dozed off. In the morning, I woke up with a knock at my door. I opened the door and found cops standing at my door.
"Yes," I said.
"Good morning Mam. We are investigating the suicide that took place today early morning. We have a few questions to ask, shall we?" said one of them out of two cops.
"Suicide!" I looked at Vinod, the manager, with a questioning face.
Vinod said, " Madam, it is just a formality. I request you to co-operate. He was Mr. Mehta, the owner of this hotel."
"Oh. Ok. Come in," I said to the cops and opened the entire door to let them in along with the manager.
They sat on the chairs available in the room placed on two sides of the center table. I cleared the bed and made a place for me to sit facing them.
"You may ask whatever you want," I spoke first.
"Madam, Your name?" asked the cop.
"Arpita Rane," I replied.
"Ok, Miss Rane, where were you today early morning between 1.30 a.m. to 3.00 a.m.?"
"So, you are not aware of what happened today, early morning?"
"No. I know. Someone fell from the hotel terrace."
"How you know about this when you were sleeping?"
"I woke up with glass smashing noise."
"Ok. Miss Rane, you could have said this clearly when we asked the first question. I request you to please co-operate."
"Ok, Sir. Sorry."
"So please, explain to me what happened when you woke up with the noise?"
"I walked towards the window and looked down. I saw a lot of people gathered around a car, and a man lay on the car rooftop head facing downwards."
"So, in that case. you haven't seen anyone walking upstairs before the jump?"
"No, Sir. I only woke up after the jump. To know more about it, I stepped out of my room and reached the ground floor," I replied, purposely missing out on the details where I saw the murderer on the staircase. I know they will find out, some, or the other way after checking CCTV footage, maybe. But I decided not to reveal anything that is against me.
"Ok, Madam, I think we should be leaving now," said the cop, and they got up to walk out of the door. I followed them.
Another cop turned suddenly and said, "Ohh, by the way, wanted to know if you used an elevator or staircase to come to the ground floor?"
"An elevator. Why?"
"No. Just for record purpose," said the cop.
"We wanted to know if you saw anyone coming down from the stairs since your floor is immediately below the rooftop terrace, and this is the only room occupied on the floor," replied another cop.
"Ok. Sir, why don't you check CCTV footage?"
"There's nothing on CCTV. someone already cleaned it."
"Ok. That's shocking!" I said.
"Yes, that is why we are looking for any evidence, in case it is a murder. I hope you will co-operate."
I dressed up and entered the elevator to move down ways. On the 12th floor, two hotel waiters entered the lift.
"Do you think it is a suicide, as cops are claiming?" said one of them.
"I think so. What else can it be?" said the other.
"I think they are right. Mr. Mehta might be into huge debts?"
The doors of the lift opened, and we walked out. My inner self was cursing me for hiding important information from cops. I convinced myself to stay with whatever I said. I was thinking about the ring that I wore last night on my right-hand finger, which I shouldn't be wearing. So careless of me!
I reached the reception desk.
"Yes, Mam, how can I help you?"
"I am stepping out for some time. Clean my room, please?"
I handed him the keys and said, "Did the cops found the killer?"
"Mam, it is a clear case of suicide, so how can we have a killer!"
"Oh, Ok. I will get going then."I said smilingly. Something suddenly struck me while I was nervously fidgeting ring, and quickly moved out and stopped the taxi. I sat inside and removed the red sapphire ring from my finger.
"Why the hell I didn't notice it then? How can I be such a dumb?"
I was cursing myself for my stupidity. I missed seeing that the ring was of a smaller size, which can easily fit in a lady's finger. It also means that it doesn't belong to the dead. It belongs to the murderer, and the murderer is a female and not male, and she is someone from the hotel. She also cleared all the CCTV footage.
"Oh, my God!" I sighed, holding my head in my palms.
"That person might have held her hand in the failed attempt to save himself, and while falling, he had this ring pulled out, and therefore the ring fell on the ground almost near to him when he hit on the car." I was thinking aloud in the taxi.
"All this now makes sense why she texted me. Maybe she had seen me picking up the ring."
"Did I land myself into a big pit of shit?" I said when my mobile phone beeped again. It was the message from her, "What did the cops say?"
I was thinking about what to reply to her? I texted back, "Why are you texting me?"
After a few minutes, the mobile phone beeped again, "The ring which is close to my heart is with you, and I cannot let it go."
"Oh, so you want it back?"
"Yes," came the prompt reply.
"Then, meet me at a crowded place, and I will handover it to you."
A quick reply received, "Naah. Not at a crowded place!"
My eyes opened wide in shock. "What is Miss murderer planning now? Is it to clear the eyewitness and take away the only evidence from me?"
'No. I cannot let it happen.' I thought about it and texted her, "Let's meet at the crime spot at the terrace?"
My heart started beating faster than usual as I hoped and prayed to the Lord almighty that she agrees to it, and fell into the trap.
Yes, she agreed. I high fived myself and gave a tap at the back.
My plan was simple. I will not stand anywhere near the walls of the terrace so that the lady murderer doesn't push me too. I decided to carry a sharp knife for my safety. I was fully aware of how to use a sharp knife as a self-defense technique. I will talk to her and get to know the reason why she did this, record the entire confession. I also planned to see her face. I know pretty sure she will cover her face with a scarf but very cleverly, I will get the scarf removed.
Since we will be on the hotel terrace, she cannot escape. I went to a local store and picked up a sharp-big knife, mainly used to slice the meat. We were to meet at 8.00 p.m, and I was desperately walking to and fro in my room since 6.30 p.m.
At 7.00 p.m, I decided to go to the terrace and check everything before she arrives. I should have an escape route too. I used the staircase to reach the rooftop of the hotel. It was dark around. There was a yellow color ribbon tied, separating the crime scene. In bold letters, 'CRIME SCENE. DO NOT ENTER' was written on it.
Just then, I saw a shadow walking out from the crime scene. I was shocked, and the person in front of me seemed to be in greater shock than me. He was Vinod, the hotel manager. I wasn't expecting him to be there at this hour, but in the end, he is the manager of the hotel and can roam everywhere. I am the one who shouldn't be at the place where I was standing.
"Hello," I said.
"Ohh, Hi," he replied in shock.
"Are you aware that you cannot enter the crime scene?"
"Yes. I know, but I took permission from the cops. Few hotel supplies, stored on the other side of the rooftop, I came to collect them."
"Ok. So, where are the supplies? I don't see anything around?" I questioned.
He moved frenzy and said, "I didn't find it here. I... think... I should search downstairs. See you around. Bye."
I bid him bye and looked at the time immediately. It was 7.15 p.m. I still have 45 minutes to look around for more evidence. I walked towards the sidewalls of the rooftop and peeped down. It looked scary, standing on the 21st floor. The average height of the wall was 5 feet. I switched on my mobile torch. I prayed that the murderer should be late so that I have enough time to collect evidence.
The torchlight fell on some metal piece as it glittered in the light on the other side of the rooftop. It wasn't the crime scene area. I had my hand gloves on and quickly grabbed it. It was a small gold plated metal piece, the one with which we lock the wristwatch. I carefully wrapped it in a piece of paper and slid it into my jeans pocket.
I wondered, "I have seen it somewhere."
I then looked at the time, 7.57 p.m. I quickly came to the center of the rooftop and stood looking here and there.
'So you are punctual too." a voice diverted my attention.
I quickly removed the gloves, slid it into the denim jacket, turned around, and saw her standing. I said smilingly, "You are punctual too."
She had a scarf around her face, and only her eyes were visible. It was blue eyes. I looked at her. She wore lenses and had eye makeup to hide her original eyes.
"Yes. Now give me my ring."
"Not so quick, Miss murderer."
"What do you mean?" She was perplexed.
"I mean, I really want to know why you murdered him? What for?"
"Do you think I am dumb to confess here everything?"
"Then you won't have your ring."
"You cannot prove anything with that ring."
"I can prove it, maybe not with the ring alone but with this," I said and removed the metal piece from the pocket to show her.
She was shocked to see it and recognized it quickly. She was about to leap towards me when I removed my big knife and screamed, "Stop! Tell me what happened that early morning and I shall give you what rightfully belongs to you."
"You are wasting your time. Give it to me. You won't be able to leave this rooftop."
She was right. The staircase was the only way to exit.
"Who says I want to leave the rooftop. I just want these pieces of evidence to reach the cops, and then they will come here to arrest you and your partner. The cops are standing on the ground floor."
"Yes, I know you were not alone here. You had a partner in crime."
"How can you say this?" she asked confusingly.
"Looking at your physic, I am sure you cannot alone push him down. You had a helping hand. The victim was not tall enough to fall on his own. His height seemed around 5.7'."
"Clever enough. Now give it to me, or else I will have to snatch it from you," a voice of a male person distracted my mind.
"Ohh, it's you, Mr. Manager, I doubted your presence at the rooftop earlier this evening, and it was clear that you had something to do with this murder when I found this metal piece. I know it's part of your wristwatch, and you came here searching for it."
"Brilliant, Miss Arpita. You solved the case. Congrats," he said mockingly. "Now, give everything here."
"Not so quick, Mr. Vinod. Why you murdered him?" I asked, looking at both of them. They were scared to reveal anything.
"Answer me," I shouted this time a little louder.
"Because he was my husband and came to know that I had an affair with Vinod," she said.
"He wanted to divorce her and...," Vinod started speaking.
"and you do not want to divorce. Hence you killed your husband!"
"No. It was an accident. We were on the rooftop. I was trying to convince my husband to take me back into his life and not to remove Vinod from the job. But my husband was adamant," said she.
"So you pushed him down?"
"Not me, He pushed him down," she said and pointed towards Vinod.
I was shocked but continued communicating, "You saw me at the staircase and near the car too, taking the ring. It clears that you got my mobile number from the register at the reception desk with my contact details."
"Correct," she said, and both nodded.
"Inspector, please step in. The case is now solved. Here are your culprits. They have confessed their crime. Arrest them." I said.
Both looked up and saw six officers appearing from behind the water tank, holding a voice recorder of their confession.
They were angry with me. Vinod ran towards me to push me down when one of the cops intervened to stop him.
Mrs. Mehta and Vinod, the manager, was standing handcuffed. The scarf covering Mrs. Mehta's face dropped down. It clicked to me immediately that she stood near to the car when I was picking the ring.
"Thank You, Arpita." said the senior Inspector. "Your plan was brilliant, and we have our culprits. You should have your detective agency and help the cops like us to nab the culprits."
"I will never forget this. I will teach you a lesson," Vinod shouted in anger as the officer was taking him away. "Did you hear that?"
He kept on staring at me. I smiled and said, "Catch me if you can."