THE HUNDREDTH AVENUE
(Gothic tale )
It was the dark and cold night. Irrefutable blizzards were doing rounds the city. Above in the sky , there was full spherical ,white moon scattering it’s milky beams. The road was empty. Streets were devoid of any living entity. Constable Nicholas had just come to square from police yard in his police van. He killed his van and alight from vehicle too see any untoward activity for which he was on the duty. No druggies , no drunkards , no thieves , no wanderer , nothing he explored. He covered his arms in his leather coat uniform to warm up. He exhaled and circle of white cloud wavered in cold surrounding from the gaping of his mouth. Generally , his colleague cum driver cum constable Nathaniel always accompanied him as night watchman for that certain area of the city as assigned by the department of police. But today he was not with him. His marriage was on rock due to night shifts. So he had taken one chance to save his marriage.
Constable Nicholas again searched cross roads and streets with observing eyes. Yellowish light of halogen tubes had made all the things yellow. Buildings looked yellow , pavements looked yellow, streets were flooded with yellowish light. Parked vehicles looked yellow. Even teeth and eyes of Nicholas looked yellow.
Sounds of chirping crickets and dancing of insects around the halo of night street lights were only seen. At that time wireless hand set abuzzed in the police van . Nicholas opened the middle door of the police van . He picked up the hand set. One thick and raw voice of Mr. Gorden , a police writer , encrusted the thin cold environment of the square –
“At the southern part of the city , near Dominican Church, behind the Ravinal meadows , one Crystal Apartment is there before the Crate valley. From that apartment some one called from one hundredth Avenue. He needs some help. I have given him your mobile number. So he will contact you. As well as I have forwarded his mobile number and name to you also. It is better you reach there immediately. Over. “
“ Okay..over..” – responded Nicholas. Before that he has had scribbled the address in his small pocket diary. He put back hand set on its proper place and closed the middle door of the van. At the same time his cell phone rang. It was an unknown number. He took the phone.
“Is it constable Nicholas ? ” –A gruffly voice asked. Yes , it’s me , constable Nicholas speaking. How can I help you ? ” . Questioned Nicholas on the opposite side.
“Oh… Constable. I am Mr. Douglas. Mr. Douglas Wizzybi. I am speaking from Crystal Apartment that of hundredth Avenue. I am octogenarian. And now single.
My wife was dead ten years ago. You have to come to our Apartment , let me give you my address. …”.
But before he tried to tell his address , Nicholas cut him short –
“ Mr. Douglas , I have your address. So don’t worry. I will reach there in no time. Only describe me your problem. “
From the next end gruffly voice felt relieved. He said – “As I have told you, I stay here alone. Tonight , in our community hall there is grand party and dancing with music going on. Whole lot of people gathered together here. It’s nearly twelve o'clock now. This community hall is beneath my highest flat. Due to great noise and hustle and bustle I can’t sleep. So, please, do come and stop the organisers that they put an end to this vociferous dancing party. You know I am an octogenarian. And I have insomnia. As well as stomach problem. And…. ”
But before he went on his narrative about his infirmities more , Nicholas asked –
“Okay Sir , I am on the way . Please tell me the name of one of your organizers. ”
-“His name is Richmond. Richmond Grave. ”
After putting off the cell , Nicholas started his van and headed for that venue penetrating the city. Snow was drift ing in small specks all the way. At the end of Ravinal meadows , there was one big billboard illuminated , and Nicholas read – Crystal Apartment . Below that name written in bold big letters – 1 to 99 Avenues. Constable Nicholas entered in that area. He searched for hundredth numbered Avenue. But could not find it. When police van reached at 99th Avenue , there Nicholas heard a great noise of music and laughing and cheering from the community hall. After finding community hall Nicholas didn’t care for hundredth Avenue. He decided to set out for community hall. One guard was there at the door of big community hall. Nicholas checked his own weapon before he came out of the van . Seeing the police in uniform , guard stood up throwing in dustbin the wad of his cigarette. He was thin and lean. He was so thin that he looked like skeleton. Nicholas wondered , how a guard would be that much of thin stature! He had big blue dull eyes. There were many creases on his cheeks and on his forehead.
The guard politely asked him –“ May I help you Sir ?!”
Nicholas saw straight in his dull blue eyes and said –“ I want to meet Mr. Richmond Grave. Tell him I come from Cleav yard police department. It’s urgent ! ”
--“Yes Sir. Please come into the office of community hall . I would call him , he is there in the party. ”
After saying thus the guard drew him towards the main office. Nicholas seated in the office. It was warm in the office. Within a minute one sturdy and thick man came.
He greeted Nicholas with a smile. Both shook their hands. He took his seat opposite to constable in-between large table. He said –
“I am Richmond Grave. President of this Crystal Apartment . What on earth lead you to our place Sir ? ”
Nicholas answered in stormy tone – “Your cacophonous party brought me down here Mr . Richmond. What is the reason that the people of your whole Apartment gathered here and have been creating this ear splitting sounds ? Do you know that you can’t raise sound over certain decibels without the permission from the authority ? And if someone can’t sleep due to this party , then it would be an offence. !”
That guard came in office with glass of beer in his hand . He placed drink before constable on the table. Then he departed. Richmond's face was serious now. But his bulging eyes were full of wisdom. His chubby cheeks were pink and cheerful. He answered with great care –
“Yes Sir. We know every rules and regulations. We are disciplined and law abiding citizens of this city. We have arranged this party with the full concern of every member and family of the Crystal Apartment. We are celebrating our New Moon festival . ”
After saying this he drew out one paper from the drawer of the table. He produced that paper before Nicholas. And uttered –
“This is the permission letter we got from district magistrate for today’s grand party for New Moon celebrations. ”
Nicholas sipped the glass and read that permission letter carefully. He read every word of that granted description. Then said –“ Mr. Richmond , it’s okay. Permission is for ten pm to twelve thirty am as I can read here. Now this time is nearly up. And it’s written that if someone objected then you should close it. So according to my knowledge one person objected over this cacophony. So it is better you order your people to put it off. ”
“Yes Sir ! ” – Richmond agreed. He beat the bell. Guard appeared. He harshly ordered –
“Tell the people to put off the music and stop the party. Our time is over. Everyone must go to there abode now. And yes , you make sure every doors closed and no one must be there in the hall . Do you get it ? ”
--” Yes Boss ! ”—Answered the lean guard and he went away.
Next minute music system closed off. Every sounds died down.
Nichols felt relieved. He asked for a copy of permission letter to Richmond , which Richmond scanned eagerly and gave it to him . He was very pleased . With a smile on his face he stood up and told to Richmond –
“Thank You Mr. Richmond . But by the way let me ask you one question , where is this hundredth Avenue ? And why you have not denoted this hundredth Avenue on your billboard ? It is written only 1 to 99 Avenue outside this Crystal Apartment ! It’s amazing..no..no..not amazing but misleading. ! ”
Richmond Grave also stood up from his chair with his heavy body. He answered apathetically –
“You are very right Sir. When this Crystal Apartment came into existence , there were only ninety nine Avenues there. But prior one year we started expansion and added into it the hundredth Avenue. The last month we accomplished the building and have completed the work . And only one family have arrived in hundredth Avenue. Although I should not say one family , I should say one person arrived to stay in this hundredth Avenue. And his name is Mr. Douglas Wizzybi. Even , I am also planning to shift my home to hundredth Avenue. We have newly appointed special guard to hundredth Avenue. His name is Mr. Michael Apparti , the person who gave you drink. ”--“Okay. Thank you Mr. Richmond for co-operating . Nice to see you. Good night .” Bade Nicholas and departed from the office of Crystal Apartment. As he reached to his van , he thought about to meet Mr. Douglas Wizziby at hundredth Avenue. So he put out his cell phone from his pocket and dialled from recent calls logs.
--“The number you have dialled is out of your reach. Try after some time .”—a lady’s voice reverberated .
He must be asleep , his problem is solved –thought Nicholas and returned .
The next night constable Nathaniel joined constable Nicholas at cross roads of square.
-- “ So you saved your marriage , dude ? ” Asked Nicholas.
-- “Yes , definitely. We both are a happy couple now. ”
Nathaniel replied joyfully. Then he asked to Nicholas –“Tell me how was your yester night ? ”
--” Oh , it was monotonous and routine. I have filed a letter of permission in the file for the grand party at Crystal Avenue , that file is in the van . ”
Nathaniel took out the file and searched for the permission letter.
--“Where is it ? Have not you really filed the letter in this file ? ”
--”Yes , the very first page of the file is that letter !” –astonishingly replied Nicholas. He took the file in his hand and reproachfully observed into the first page.
The page was totally blank , and as white as the snow. Nicholas surprised without bound.
--“This was the letter. I had read every words of it. And that order by District Magistrate to approve the ceremony of New Moon 10:00 pm to 12:30 am. Oh , now it is totally blank. Where all the carbon alphabets had gone ? There is something amiss ! ”
--“What amiss ? ” – Nathaniel counter questioned.
Hastily he spoke ---
--“Let us go there ,Crystal Avenue, and find. Drive the van . ”
They both hurriedly drove towards the end part of the city.
They reached there , and stopped the van at the signboard of 99th Avenue , parked their police van in front of community hall. One heavily built guard was standing there. He was not the guard ofthe previous night. Shift duties might have changed –thought Nicholas in his mind. Guard came near to them . Nicholas asked ---“Where is your President , Mr. Richmond Grave ? ”
Listening these words , guard was deplorably amazed. His pink fat cheeks have Blackened. With a fear in his
heart he replied --- “ I am afraid Sir. He was died of heart attack yesterday. Do not you know that ? ”
Eyes of Nicholas circled wide open. His blood turned cold as an ice. But he asked with stuttering lips –“And where is that newly appointed guard of your hundredth
Avenue , which one is slim and lean and thin and like a skeleton, whose name is Mr. Michael Apparti ?! ”
Guard amused , his bewilderment increased. He answered hesitatingly ---“ I am afraid Sir ! Michael is no more . He died of tuberculosis two months ago . And we have no hundredth Avenue in this Crystal Apartment. We have only one to ninety nine Avenues in Crystal Apartment. ”
Nicholas's face fell down. He could not believe his ears and eyes. Fatty guard added –”After this ninety ninth Avenue , there is dead end Sir ! Behind it there is great valley . And ravine is very deep. We have no space for hundredth Avenue. Come with me Sir. Let me take both of you there. You must see with your own eyes. ”
So both constables walked behind the guard. Meanwhile Nicholas asked to the guard –” But there was New Moon grand party yester night . Is it not that so ? ”
Guard stopped and with tearful eyes he said –“It was not the grand party. It was obituary ceremony of New Moon to our beloved President Mr. Richmond Grave. "
Nathaniel chuckled and reprehensibly said–“So you buried Mr. Richmond Grave. And the Grave is in a grave now. Snorting peacefully. Earth to earth and dust to dust !” There was great anger in the very eyes of Nicholas. He reprimanded Nathaniel silently. Nathaniel
understood his command and walked slowly behind the guard with
crestfallen countenance. As they were going behind the community hall , halogen light faded away. But it was not total darkness. Due to full moon that night , they could see the glitterings and glossiness of paver blocks. Nicholas asked the guard from his back –“And where this Mr. Douglas Wizzybi lives ? ”
Guard suddenly turned around. In the moon light both constables could see the bitterness on his face . He stopped and asked very acerbically –“Sir , why are you asking me questions pertaining to deceased persons this odious night ? ”
Then he turned again and started towards the end road of ninety ninth Avenue. He replied as he walked –“Mr. Douglas Wizzybi lives now in abyss of darkness , because he committed suicide after murder of his one and only daughter Miss Rubi Wizzybi. ”
At the dead end guard stopped. Below there was a deep dark valley. Rugged ravines and flinted boulders were seen in the Crate valley spread out all over that slippery
area. From the summit of the cliff both constables looked down.
Guard added in a whispering voice –“Mr. Douglas had jumped off from his terrace of the highest flat of ninety ninth Avenue into this ravine on the New Moon
night five years ago . He was President of Crystal Avenue then . But it is said that he makes a phone calls to anyone every New Moon night . ”
Constable Nicholas was frozen at every limbs when he heard this. But his eyes were darting in the darkness of the deep ravine.
BHARUCH , GUJARAT , INDIA.
Thank you for reading!