The mobile was ringing. He rushed out of the bathroom, all dripping wet, wrapped in a towel to attend the call. Checking the screen, he said to himself, “Guessed it”
“Good morning Sir”, he answered and stood in rapt attention listening to the other side.
“Yes, Sir. I was waiting for your call. Will be in the Beat Office by 10”, he replied, checking the time on the wall clock which showed 9:15 am.
He rushed through his morning routine, dressed up and left the house. Dodging the traffic and meandering to sneak out, he was thinking about the news that had rocked the busy town.
Four murders within a fortnight was something that had played on the nerves of the city It had evoked surprise in his mind and felt challenged by the mystery, for he was a young and budding private detective. He had to his credit, successful handling of a handful of high profile, complicated murder and robbery cases till date.
Reaching the beat office, he headed straight to the police officer’s cabin.
“Morning Arjun. As you might be aware, 4 murders were committed in the last fifteen days. Here are the files. There is growing fear among the people that the town has turned lawless. So far, we couldn’t find any traces of involvement of the history sheeters nor it seems to be any handiwork of known gangs. Leave it to you now. Don’t disappoint me. Time is running out for us”, briefed the officer.
“I want to visit the site Sir. And also need the officer who did the Panchanama in all the cases”, requested Arjun.
“Granted”, replied the officer. “While you study the files, I will arrange for it”, he continued.
Arjun got up and sat near a table in the far corner where there was less hustle and bustle. Flipping through the pages of the case file and photographs, he made some notes in his diary.
‘All the victims are female and in the age group of 25+’, he reflected. “All stayed alone in housing societies that have no CCTV nor the security guards. But there doesn’t seem to be any link as to they knew each other, going by their localities, professions, or the social media accounts. Except for the strangling marks of rope on the neck. Cause of death in the previous three cases…asphyxiation’, he noted.
He kept the photographs of the victims on the table. Every snap had a tell a tale sign of struggle with the killer. All snaps had a clear indication of the presence of unpacked grocery items. Either the wallet or the mobile was found near the dead body, indicating the motive being something else than theft. The houses of the victims also were untouched indicating the case not being that of robbery.
“Grocery items”, he mumbled to himself as he jotted it in a digital diary.as he pored over the pictures again.
“Excuse me, Arjun Sir. How may I help you? Sir has asked me to report to you”, said constable Divakar, standing next to him.
“Constable Divakar. Glad to see you. Have a seat”, said Arjun pulling a chair for him.
“I need just a few things from you. Did you observe anything peculiar at the sites?”, asked Arjun, narrowing his brows.
“Sir, there was one thing which I noticed at every murder spot. Rather I smelled it”
“Sir, the room where the crime took place had a strong smell trail of the deodorant. It smelled the same at every crime scene”, supplied Divakar
“That’s interesting. Thanks Divakar, you gave me one more loose thread that ties all the victims”.
“Arjun Sir, let me know when you are ready to visit the site”, said Divakar as he left.
Arjun scanned the mobile records of the victims one more time. He checked the mobiles of the victims as well.
“Modern ways of urban busy lives”, he mumbled after checking the activities of all the victims on their mobile phones, as he got up to visit the site with Divakar.
Once at the site, which was a small studio, as he cautiously looked around, he spotted the freshly bought grocery, lying unpacked, on the alleyway table. There was a distinct smell of the strong scent too.
Reaching the beat office after scrutinizing the scene closely, he dialed the head office of ‘GrocerAtDoor’, an urban daily needs supply portal, from where all the four victims had ordered the grocery items. He requested for records of delivery to four victims.
He contacted the mobile service provider to send the details of the whereabouts of a particular number that was another common thread. Cross-checking the data he whistled, as the slanting rays of the dying Sun were fading at the horizon.
“Got the culprit, sir. Albit right now on paper”, he stated as he went to the cabin of Beat Office head. “Need your permission to arrest and interrogate this suspect”, said Arjun pointing to the conclusion he has drawn from all the records.
“Good job. Granted” said the officer satisfactorily after learning the details from Arjun.
They had no time to waste for the night of uneas to pass by. Two teams of police men in plain clothes reached near the address of the suspect which was acquired from the GrocerAtDoor. It was little away from the town and had many low rise apartments. There was not much sign of activity in the area as it was close to mid night. Ringing the bell the inspector stood cautiously at the door with two constables on sides little away. There was an uneasy silence. He rang the bell again and this time the door was opened by a man who was still rubbing his eyes and looked puzzled.
Before he could ask anything, the inspector and the two constables entered his house and presented their identity cards. The man of the house had no fear in his eyes but flashed a wicked puzzling smile. There was no one in the house other than him.
He was asked several questions by the inspector for which he had incoherent answers and was elusive. One of the constables who was searching the house in the mean time, found a stock of deodorant of a particular type with strong smell, in the bedroom. A rope was also found near his GrocerAtDoor uniform in the cupboard.
The inspector then arrested him and brought him to the police station. Once in the lock-up and after intense rounds of interrogation, Dhiraj, the suspect spoke up without any remorse.
“I strangled them all. They need not be alive”
“Their breath had a foul smell. I now have finished their problem by spraying them with xtra strong deodorant. They will not have bad breath issues anymore”, replied Dhiraj looking content with what he did.
It was later revealed that Dhiraj was dejected as his girlfriend had refused to accept his marriage proposal on account of the foul smell of his breath. Losing his sanity over this, he went on a killing spree. Whoever he felt had the bad breath, especially the girls in the age bracket of his girlfriends, while he delivered the consignments as part of his job, a job of delivery boy at GrocerAtDoor, was laid to rest.
Referring him to the mental hospital, the case was marked as resolved with the remark “Xtra strange case with xtra strong trail of scent”