London calling

Ravi was fed up as the Chief Correspondent of ‘Bright Times of India’ newspaper at Surat. Reporting about the latest trends in the Diamond and Textile sector and the Municipal Corporation, all these years had become very monotonous. He was looking for a change and he finally found his break. 

It was a Friday afternoon when he received a letter from the London office of the Bright Times of India.  He was offered the role of Foreign Correspondent, based in London. He danced with joy and prepared for the big move. He liked his new office very much. His colleagues were friendly, and the work culture was very relaxed. 

 

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Samuel Clooney

Samuel Clooney, a London-based writer, was a big hit internationally. He wrote thrillers and his most popular work was a series of novels on a fictional character called Dr. Gabriel North. Dr. North was a psychopath and a serial killer. It was rumoured that Samuel Clooney was in the process of writing his third Dr. North book. Given the big fan base of Clooney in India, Ravi was asked by the newspaper to try and interview him.

His first international assignment was indeed interesting. It was very different from interviewing the boring diamond merchants and trade specialists. He took tremendous effort to gather information about the much talked about writer. 

He learnt that Clooney was Scottish and had very humble beginnings. His father was a peasant. As a little boy he dreamt of coming to London and making it big.  He had arranged little money and had come to London. He continued his study and graduated. After he graduated, he did some odd jobs, working in restaurants and shops, while writing on the side. 

His first published book, “North Identity” was a bestseller. So was his second book, “North Supremacy”, which actually sold more copies than the first one had. Those books sold like hot cakes! Samuel Clooney earned a lot of money from the book royalties. The son of the poor Scottish peasant bought a huge mansion in Purley, outside London. Purley was an idyllic village outside the busy city, with huge houses and woods. It was as if someone had painted a scene from one of his novels.

 

The house in Purley

At Purley, Sam’s immediate neighbour was an extremely beautiful woman called Angela Stewart. A devout Catholic, Angela would visit the church every Sunday to attend the Mass. Clooney saw Angela the first time in the backyard trying to rescue a bird that was stuck in the hedges. The little creature seemed to have broken its right wing and Angela was very patiently disentangling it from the hedge. Clooney offered to help and together they rescued the bird from its plight and took it to the animal hospital. It was love at first sight! 

Over time, Clooney learnt more about Angela. She worked as a cashier in a shop and worked with numerous charities. Her late parents were very rich, and she had inherited their huge house in Purley. Angela had been married early to an entrepreneur, but he had left her. She was a very kind soul, who had been through a lot at a very young age – first the death of her parents, then her husband abandoning her. She seemed to believe that God was testing her. She lived alone in the huge mansion that her parents had left behind. 

After three months of courtship, Clooney asked Angela to marry him and she said yes on one condition – after the wedding, she would donate all her family wealth to charity, which meant they would have to live off Sam’s wealth and earnings. Sam considered this an unusual request, but it also made him very happy. His wife-to-be was the most selfless individual he had ever met – he was so lucky! 

With a lot of money from Sam’s book earnings, they lived a life of luxury. Life went on smoothly. Angela believed that God’s tests had concluded.   

Now the devout and religious Angela hadn’t read any of Clooney’s works yet. She preferred the classics and wasn’t a big fan of modern thrillers, the only genre that Clooney contributed to. One morning while pouring him tea, she asked, “Sam what is your next book about?”

“It’s the third book of the Dr. North series”, Sam responded. “Why don’t you read my books for a change? You would get a much-needed respite from your Mr. Darcy nonsense. You can be in the company of Dr. North while I’m away in Kent for the rest of the week”, said Sam with a smile. “Don’t you make fun of Fitzwilliam, darling. Mr. North will never, ever measure up to him”, retorted Angela. 

But this conversation left Angela intrigued. After she had emptied the kettle of boiling water into the tea pot, she settled into the recliner facing their beautiful garden and started reading the first book from Clooney’s series. She flipped page after page, deeply engrossed. 

 

The Doctor

Dr. North, Angela learnt, came from a rich background. He had wealthy parents, who rubbed shoulders with British royalty. His family owned factories, transportation establishments and farms all over England. Gabriel was the only child of his parents. Since a very young age, he was drawn to science. He would build models, run experiments not only on the pets but also on himself. There were numerous cuts and scrapes in his body from all the blood he had drawn to test the levels of various agents that Angela hadn’t even heard of before. 

The family servants would often find mutilated dead bodies of animals around the family estate. They would hurriedly bury these bodies knowing it was master Gabriel’s doing. Lord North, Gabriel’s father, became aware of these developments and issued a stern warning to his son to stop these experiments. He was worried that his son was developing into some kind of a psychopath. Soon he was sent off to a boarding school. 

Gabriel was a smart child and excelled in academics. He continued his keen interest in the sciences. He went on to university, followed by a PhD in the field of surgical improvements. He won the plaudits of the scientific community for the advanced research he had done in the field of human anatomy. Everyone in the scientific community was amazed at the precision of his predictions on treatments on human organs based on tests performed on animals – a rare skill that left the scientific community bewildered. They hailed him as a hero, whose brilliant research would lead the way for many innovations in the field of surgery hence saving thousands of lives all over the world.

But Dr. North actually ran experimental treatments on human subjects and killed them after the experiments. He lied in his articles that he experimented on animals. He would remove his victims’ internal organs to eliminate any evidence of the experimentation. That was the ugly secret to his success. Clooney’s books would go into great detail into how Dr. North planned his experiments, identified victims, executed these experiments and finally got rid of this evidence. 

Dr. North’s victims were mostly homeless people in the streets of England who wouldn’t be missed by anyone. The books would also make a mockery of the Scotland Yard and how they never managed to catch Dr. North. They would attribute so many dead people turned up on the streets to gang violence and robberies. This element would bring some comic relief to the otherwise serious narrative. 

Clooney excelled at convincing his readers that Dr. North was a hero who was rapidly contributing to advancement of science and saving thousands of lives. Of course, all these came at the cost of few undesirable human lives, Clooney’s narrative would argue. He would establish the victims as burdens to the society – addicts, criminals and offenders hence justifying to his readers why their deaths didn’t really matter.

 

Angela’s dilemma 

Angela was almost at the end of the first book. She read it out aloud. “The dirty body of the drug addict lay on the operating table. Dr. Gabriel North held the glittering knife. He cut open the man’s chest and took out his heart. He put it in a plastic bag. This would remove traces of the beta compound that had been administered to him. He stitched the cut and walked out putting the plastic bag in his apron pocket. He would run more tests on the subject’s heart later. First he had to dislodge the rest of the patient’s body in.. “

She couldn’t read anymore. Angela shuddered in disgust. How could he describe these heinous crimes in such detail! Where did he get his inspiration from? All these questions burdened her innocent mind. Did she really know this man she was married to?

Angela proceeded to the bed room with trembling legs. As a devout God-fearing woman, she thought the writing was unethical. Negative impact would be there on the society. 

Sam looked a nice person. How could he think such of such horrible things! She had been fooled second time in choosing a husband. Last time it was David. David was an opportunist. He always looked for easy ways to make money. He didn’t believe in God. He didn’t like Angela’s prayers and meditation. He mocked her faith in God. He wanted to use Angela’s family money to open a gambling center to make more money. A gambling center in Purley would destroy the society. It could lead the Church-going society on Satan’s path. She had agreed to many of David’s unreasonable requests in the past, but this was something she was dead against. She didn’t budge and refused to sign on any cheques despite all kinds of requests and persuasion. David had then disappeared from her life.  

She returned from her thoughts about David. She was still haunted by questions about how her husband was so thorough in describing criminal acts in such great detail, as if he was there when these acts transpired. “Was she being too harsh about Sam? It’s just fiction, after all.”, she thought. “But why did he justify Dr. North’s acts? Did he know someone like Dr. North? Perhaps he is Dr. North himself!” 

Her heart sank and she collapsed on her bed. Meanwhile, Sam was having dinner with associates from his publishing house in Kent.

 

The appointment

The ringing phone woke up Angela the following morning. “Hello?”, she asked.

 “This is Ravi Patel from the Bright Times of India. I’m calling to request Mr. Samuel Clooney’s time for an interview about his star character Dr. North.”, chimed in Ravi.

“He’s not here at the moment. I’ll pass on your message to him”, responded Angela, sounding like she was in a hurry. 

“Of sure. Thank you. May I know who I’m speaking to?”, carried on Ravi.

“This is Angela, Sam’s wife.”, said she, nonchalantly. 

“Oh.. nice speaking to you. It would be great if I could get your inputs too on what it is like to be married to the man who created Dr. North, who is such a hit, the world over”, Ravi tried his luck. 

“A hit! That cold blooded killer! He wants to play God and control life and death?”, thundered Angela, who was still shaken from her thoughts last night. 

“You don’t think your husband created a role model?”, Ravi pressured her further.

“No! I most certainly do not. Dr. North is an abomination.”, she almost screamed. “Oh, What has Sam do…! Not again.. First David, now Sam.. why do they all turn.. I don’t know what to do.. Who do I speak to..”, she tried to speak in between her tears.

“Oh, I’m so sorry Angela”, Ravi felt responsible for Angela’s emotional outburst. “Looks like it would be nice for you to talk to someone. I’m happy to meet you to talk, if that helps”, Ravi volunteered. 

“Would you, really?”, Angela asked, sobbing.

Later that day, Ravi and Angela met at a coffeeshop. For some strange reason, she found great comfort in confiding in this total stranger, from a different country, over the doubts she had about her husband. Ravi reasoned that Clooney was a good writer and like all good writers, he must have done a lot of research which explains why he was so good at explaining the moves of a serial killer. Angela wasn’t convinced. Ravi offered to use his interview with Clooney to find out more. Angela liked this idea. 

“Sam is returning tomorrow morning. He doesn’t have any commitments till the afternoon. Why don’t you come by at 11 am for the interview?”, Angela suggested. 

Ravi nodded in agreement. 

 

Homecoming

The following day, Sam arrived from Kent. Angela opened the door for him. Sam was elated. “I have amazing news. The Publisher retained me for 5 more books in the Dr. North series.”, he announced. 

Angela was mortified. “5 more books about that monster who goes around killing people in the name of Science. Sam, we go to the house of God every Sunday. How can you write about such ungodly things? You have to stop glorifying the devil!”. 

“Honey, are you serious?”, Sam asked surprised. 

“Yes, I’m dead serious.”, Angela responded angrily. 

“I’ll keep writing about Dr. North – you will have to deal with it. I don’t care if he is the devil. That devil pays for this our expensive sustenance because you gave away all your wealth to charity. Now cool down and bring us some tea. Enough with this nonsense already.”, Sam ended the conversation. He was furious. 

 

The final chapter

Sam was pacing around the room furiously. He opened the front door to strom outside the house, but then thought of something else and decided to stay back. Angela arrived with the tea pot. Neither of them spoke a word. Sam sipped on the tea. Finally, Angela broke the silence. “A reporter will arrive at 11 am today to interview you. You can use this opportunity to announce that you will no longer write about Dr. North.”, she said.

“Woman, are you insane”, Sam drove into a fit of rage. “I would not do anything like that. Send away the reporter”. 

“Suit yourself. May God bless your soul”, Angela said calmly, sipping into her tea. 

The poison took effect they both convulsed to their deaths. 

When Ravi arrived, he found the front door open. On entering inside, he found the lifeless bodies of Sam and Angela.  

A month later, the Bright Times of India carried a half page investigation report on the death of the writer and his wife. Angela, the report revealed had killed her parents and later her first husband David. She was psychologically troubled, and rage triggered her psychopathic behavior. When her parents had decided to separate, she had killed them both in rage. Later, David and then Sam. The report was titled “Samuel Clooney met his Dr. North”

*****

==>This is an entry for Artales-17, #DrNorth, an ArtoonsInn writing event.

Check the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/artales17/
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Struggled and Soared “stories of courageous women of India”. A non-fiction that talks about the women that reflect the spirit of India – an invincible spirit to be free! Dr North till July 31stIt is the story of four Indian women who have one thing in common –courage to follow their heart and do what they felt right. Reading this book would be like taking a much needed break from the false propaganda and information that you are surrounded with on digital media. This is just the right book that will give your mind freedom to be yourself and an invaluable inspiration as well as meaning to life. The author has done full justice while accounting the life of all inspirational women from India’s past and present. We recommend this book for those who love to read well-researched works.

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Vipil Written by Vipin Chopal

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Charulata Panigrahi’s story’s cover pic courtesy: Christopher Jolly

 

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