I had a set of spare keys to Sean's apartment that he had lent to me a couple of weeks back. Although I felt a little guilty using those keys, I thought I had no other option left but to do so. I had tried calling Lav nearly a dozen times but she had not answered her cellphone. To add to my anxiety, Sean's cell diverted me to his voice mail and Laura's network provider taunted me with a, "The number you are trying to call is currently switched off. Please try again later", in a sing-song voice which really got on my nerves.
Having had enough of technology, I decided to stop by Sean's apartment which was actually on my way to the Ryder's Cafe, where I worked as a short order cook. It was Sunday, but I had to collect my week's salary so I was not in any rush. I climbed the flights of stairs and knocked several times on the door to apartment 19. Hearing no response from inside, my panic grew tenfold and I tried again, this time louder than the last.
As time had passed by, my impatience and anguish had begun to grow, and I imagined Sean or Lav in some kind of trouble. What if they hadn't gotten back home alright? What if they had been mugged, or robbed, or hurt? What if....I had to mentally shake myself to stop my brain from going into overdrive with the negative scenarios.
And now, I stood in front of Sean's door, about to break and enter, although my legal acumen questioned this technical term. Was I breaking and entering if I had the keys to the apartment and those keys had been handed over to me by the owner himself? Naah, it couldn't be. But since he had not given them to me with the express wish that they be used in this manner, maybe it was. Maybe.....Shut up! Shut up Vikram. I yelled at myself mentally and concentrated on the job at hand.
I turned the key in the lock and watched the door swing inside noiselessly. Thanking half a dozen Gods and Goddesses that there were no bodies and such lying about, I crossed over the threshold and stepped inside the living room. There was nobody in sight but the apartment seemed to be in a mess. The sofa cushions were tossed about on the floor and a red-edged cloth of some kind seemed to lie behind the sofa. I walked towards it and leaned across to see more of the cloth.
The sight that met my eyes made me gasp. I guess I would have screamed had I not been shocked. Laura lay sprawled behind the sofa, covered by the red cloth. She seemed to be in intense pain, groaning and whimpering alternately. I crouched down beside her and put a hand to her head. She did not seem to be feverish but a moan escaped her lips. "Is that you Lav? Did you get me that water?", came a dry, crackling sound from her throat.
I chuckled to myself softly, realizing that Laura was not hurt or injured but just hungover from her partying last night. A wave of relief swept over me, loosening my shoulders and relaxing my mind. The others must be around here somewhere, I thought to myself and saw the door to Sean's bedroom ajar.
I moved towards the room and stepped inside, peeking to check if Sean was around. But the only sight that met my eyes was the large king-size bed with the crumpled sheets and the over shirt that Lav had been wearing last night. Sudden unrestricted thoughts crossed my mind, all of them unsavory and none of them reassuring.
A sense of grief blurred my gaze as I turned away from the sight of the bed and then stormed out of the room. Lav must be fine. In fact, I'm sure she'd be much better than fine. After all, she did spend the night in Sean's bed. I guess I was worried for no reason. Foolish! Foolish Vikram. Thinking that you'd find her and save her from your imaginary evils and be a hero in her eyes when she obviously craved for Sean. How wrong you were about him too. So wrong, and so naive, I thought to myself.
Even my own brain mocked me and I felt a sharp pain pierce through my heart as I closed the door to Sean's apartment behind me. I jumped down the stairwell, four steps at a time, running away from the sight which I knew would haunt me for a long time to come.