The man in the bandaged arm sat quietly at the back of the cafe, as a harmless fly to anybody. As he sipped on his coffee from the cup in his right hand, he turned the page of the newspaper he was using as a cover; to hide from the unfortunately smart and alert police officer in front of him.
The young officer’s eyes never left him, although at first glance, nobody would’ve guessed that she was keeping an eye on him. She ate her vanilla cupcake albeit without any frosting, and gulped down what remained in the cup of coffee. She had to make a move so that the criminal would also get out from the cafe. It had been more than forty five minutes since both were sitting idle.
The criminal, who went by the pet name of Hoda, wasn’t that dumb to not predict her move. In fact, he was waiting for her to get out so that he could make his next move. He left the remaining coffee, put in some currency notes as a tip and moved briskly into the kitchen when he was sure that the officer was out of sight.
He walked through the hot kitchen at a steady speed, and when one of the cooks asked him who he was, he said he was from the electricity board and ducked down. His speed increased as he reached the back door of the cafe.
As he pushed the door open and stepped out, he sensed someone standing next to him and cursed under his breath. Okay, maybe he was dumb enough to not know that his tricks were becoming outdated.
However, he wasn’t going to let go of himself so easily. He saw a hideous pipe-hose lying on the ground, and quickly picked it up and drew the angle towards her face, getting enough time to run away from the cafe.
Officer Jessie blew a frustrated whistle as she saw Hoda run away from her, again. Spitting some of the water that got into her mouth, she wiped her eyes into her upper arm and went after him.
She knew that Hoda was covered by two of her men from either sides, but she wouldn’t let them get hold of him. For two and a half years, Officer Jessie had been working through leads that led to a dead end. Less than a month ago, there was another robbery at a high-end jewellery shop; but this time, the culprit had made a mistake.
Hoda had his way of doing things. He had never changed his MO even once during the five years that he robbed; and he never stayed at one place when he finished one of his jobs. He liked his earnings all for himself, so he tried to avoid entering into partnerships with anybody as he shifted from one city to another. However, two months ago, he was in an old, battered casino-of-sorts, when he overheard some lowlife thugs talking about the Jewel of the Ganges.
Immediately, his mind began formulating a plan for getting hold of the pristine Jewel. All he wanted was a loyal accomplice, and boy did he knew how to recruit one.
At present, as he ran for his life from the determined Officer Jessie, he regretted ever coming across his loyal accomplice. He was running from the cops on his own, whereas the other one must have left the state even before the day had begun.
Hoda was getting old; he had to stop for taking in a breath of air every five minutes. This was slowing him down, and if he wanted to stay away from the clutches of the police, he had to find a way to stay somewhere hidden until he wasn’t on the daily news anymore.
As he leaned against a building wall, catching up some breath, he peeked from the side of the wall to see if Officer Jessie had managed to keep up. He knew that her two men would be with her even if she wanted everyone to believe that she alone was enough for tackling a person like him. He smiled, thinking about how they would be proved wrong once he moved on to part B of his plan.
Officer Jessie wasn’t out of breath, though. The youngest female in the history of her police station, she was full of the youthful enthusiasm that the ancient station was badly in need of. However, her main aim of joining the force was to catch this notorious thief, thug, by whatever noun you call him. Hoda. Why, nobody knew. There were rumours that her once rich family had been robbed by him, some said that her family was dead because of him. But none of that was true. She was simply fascinated by him, by the way he worked towards his immoral goal. And that’s why she made him as her goal, thereby joining the academy and moving closer to her goal.
She looked at the three roads in front of her. Her gut said that he was too old to be running anymore, but she didn’t want to risk it. After she phoned in another search team of four to scour the area, she informed her two men to look into the two roads each to her sides. She took the straight one ahead for herself.
“Where the heck are you hiding, Hoda,” she said to herself rather thoughtfully, imagining what she would do if she were an old woman trying to run away from the cops. She’d stay in a small hotel, but that was too risky if the police had already circulated your photos to every eatery and lodging in town. A trusted friend or confidante might be more possible, Officer Jessie decided, but that would make her job even more difficult and her current chase would be gone in vain.
As she was gathering her thoughts, on the opposite side of the road, she saw the faint lining of somebody’s fingers before they vanished. “I hope I’m not hallucinating,” she said, and she wasn’t for sure, as Hoda was in fact behind those walls.
But when she reached those walls, he was again nowhere to be seen.
Officer Jessie found the situation similar to what happened the last time. And the three times before the last one. She picked up the penguin shaped dustbin in front of her and threw it with such an aggression, that a second floor window opened up and a small head peered out.
“You Officer Jessie?” the lady asked. She didn’t need any confirmation though, as it wasn’t nobody’s business to come and take a small walk behind the alleyway of the oldest buildings of the town.
“I’m sure this is for you,” she said and dropped a small box on to the ground for her. Before Officer Jessie could say anything, the window was shut tightly, signalling that no intrusion would be tolerated.
The box was not too fancy—it could have been easily bought at a convenience store. A piece of paper containing a date and time was found, along with the world-famous words inscribed in felt:
Catch me if you can.
As the traffic came to a halt for the red signal, Officer Jessie and her men were standing by. The red coloured cargo truck's driver whistled a smooth, old, folk song and as he passed by the officers on the green light, he tipped his cap to the youngest officer of the Academy and gave an almost invisible wink before speeding away.