“Muaahhhh,” Varun kissed Vivek. Varun was Aunt’s younger son, ten years old. He couldn’t get any dumber. He thought that he knew everything; he often tried to make a fool out of his own mother in front of all the students. His best friends were Beas and Mae, two dumb but much more intelligent kids than Varun. He was short, dark with crew cut hair.
Vivek was Varun’s older brother, and the older jerk. He used to flirt with the college girls who used to attend Aunt’s and the girls used to flirt with him. It was a give and take deal. He was tall, dark and handsome. He had side burns which he though was cool. He was a football freak and would watch English Premier League matches till late at night. He was also a music enthusiast, he loved rock music. All the students admired him, except for Rikki and Nathaniel. He was the apple of Aunt’s eyes and he accompanied her to all the public places.
“Varun, let go of your brother,” Aunt said “you have to study French now.”
“Yeah, go Varun and make me some French toast,” Nathaniel said teasingly.
“Mooooooommm!” Varun wailed like a sissy.
“Did you meet Neela the day before yesterday?” Aunt asked Rikki, flipping through a book, not looking up.
Rikki immediately tried to cover up. “No, no, Aunt. We decided to give and go home. We didn’t meet her.”
“That’s strange,” said Aunt, looking up “Neela said she met the two of you.”
Rikki and Nathaniel exchanged a glance.
“Ummm, we did seem to notice her at the florist,” Nathaniel said, trying to put is as casually as possible. He looked at Rikki who was hysterically gesturing a skull and a cross to him.
“At the florist!” Aunt exclaimed, dropping her book onto the floor.
Nathaniel swallowed. “Yes, um, she was buying flowers for err…her date.”
This time Aunt nearly fell off her chair. “Neela! Neela…is dating?” she said, spluttering. All the students burst out laughing.
“And may I ask you, what were YOU doing there?” Aunt asked.
Nathaniel glanced at Rikki who was now gesturing the cross and skull and jumping at the same time.
“I was err…buying flowers…for my date.”
This time the students doubled up laughing.
Rikki slapped his hand on his forehead. Aunt looked at Nathaniel with anger. Everyone knew she had forbidden each student from dating so that they could concentrate on better things and their minds could develop further for a more mature relationship. No one listened to her.
Everyone fell silent as Aunt once again started explaining everything about dating from head to toe. It was a good time-killer and no one had to study.
“Let’s check for work at Neela’s office,” Nathaniel suggested.
“Yeah, let’s do it.”
Neela wasn’t walking around or sulking in the office like she really does. Instead, she was seated in her ‘high chair’ and was lost deep in thoughts, troublesome thoughts.
“Hi,” Rikki said waving a hand in front of her. The boys sat down, not saying anything. They didn’t want to disturb Neela while she was lost in thoughts. It took her five long minutes before she realized the presence of the two condemnable teenagers.
“Hoo!” she shouted, jumping in her chair and adjusting her glasses.
“What were you thinking?” Nathaniel asked.
“Oh…um…I was just wondering which brand of underwear to buy next.”
“What?” Rikki exclaimed. “You are lying!”
Neela sighed. “You guys know it, right?”
The boys nodded vigorously.
“A startling case was reported today. It’s horrible; I don’t know what to say. And, on top of that, nearly all the detective agencies of the city are on it. It looks like we’re in some hot competition.
“The mystery as it goes…is about a bunch of cops who are missing.”
“This is real tough. Plus I think it’s going to get a lot of media coverage too. But how did the cops disappear? And where are they? We have to find out.”
Neela sat up suddenly, glaring at the boys. “I know it’ll get a lot of coverage. Now the two of you, I want you to stay out of this. I thought it was my duty to tell you about this case as you are my assistants. But there is no solving this mystery.”
“You mean, we are not taking part in this mystery?”
“Wrong. The two of you are not taking part in this mystery. I am. Not get out, both of you, go home and study. I have a lot of thinking to do.”
“Psst…take a look,” Shanty whispered to Sidney. Everybody looked up from their books to stare at the two. It seems that he was pointing to the bed sheet rather than what people suspected him to be doing.
There was Mickey Mouse on the bed sheet. Aunt looked at it and said “This I from Varun’s childhood. He used to wet it a lot.”
Shanty and Sidney got up and ran out. Aunt’s phone started ringing at the exact moment.
“Hello, who is this? Nathaniel’s dad? Sure, I’ll give the phone to him.”
Aunt handed the phone to Nathaniel.
“Yes dad!” Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel’s expression turned stonier as the seconds passed by.
“Yes dad, umm,” Nathaniel said, and suddenly started noting something down furiously in his notebook, “5, Park Avenue, underground. Storage racks? Okay. Yeah, I’ll inform Rikki about that. Bye.”
“What’s up?” Aunt asked.
“It was…err...my dad,” Nathaniel said, sweating a bit now, “he has called me, along with Rikki.”
“Why?” Aunt asked, curious, “you have to finish that work I gave you, right?”
“Yes, we’ll do it later. My cat is vomiting.”
“Your cat? Can’t your cat wait?”
“No…I am so attached to it. And I need Rikki’s support too.”
“So what was the address you noted down?”
“That is where it did that.”
“Okay…but I’ve got my eyes on you!”
Nathaniel ran out to the parking lot.
“What’s the hurry? It’s Neela isn’t it?” Rikki asked.
“Yes, she said not to tell Aunt anything about it. Dude, she’s in trouble!”
“What’s wrong?” Rikki asked as they pedaled furiously on the road.
“I don’t know. She didn’t disclose anything. I don’t know what she is getting us into.”
The rest of the way passed in grim silence. As they approached Park Avenue, they decided to hide their bicycles some distance away and cover the distance on foot. They didn’t want to enter a suspected criminal hideout with a bang.
The two tiptoed towards 5, Park Avenue. It turned out to be a big two-storey house. Sure enough, a downward path lead to a secluded underground location.
It looked like a big garage, maybe containing ten cars or more. And though the house looked well maintained, the garage doors were covered inn thick rust.
Rikki knelt down to take a look inside through the crack between the ground and the garage door.
“I can’t see a thing. But I think I do hear voices.”
The two stared at each other for a long time.
“What kind of voices?” Nathaniel asked.
“I don’t know. Human voices.”
“There must be another way inside this place,” Nathaniel suggested.
“But do you think it would be safe?”
The two slowly crept inside the lawn; the gates were left wide open. They crept to the back of the house.
“Look there,” Rikki said excitedly, pointing towards a rusted door “there is a back door too!”
“Yeah dude; and it’s open too!” Nathaniel said with doom in his voice.
The two quickly jumped into a bush.
“Now I hear voices too,” Nathaniel said.
Rikki nodded. “It sounds like someone is getting a thrashing!”
“Lets’ go, I want to check on this?” Nathaniel said, getting up slowly.
“Are you nuts? Shouldn’t we call the police?”
“Maybe later, now we can’t really tell what’s going on inside and you should never leave your job incomplete. I think Neela is in there.”
Rikki sighed, deciding to accompany Nathaniel.
They crept up slowly towards the door, their ears wide open to any kind of sounds.
Neela cry came jolting from the garage. She seemed like in pain.
The two exchanged a worried glance but didn’t turn back.
Rikki decided to take a look inside. He bent towards the door, peeking in reluctantly.
“What is it?” Nathaniel asked in a whisper.
“You won’t believe this dude,” Rikki said, his voice barely audible.
Nathaniel swallowed hard and looked inside. His knees started to feel rubbery at the sight.
Neela was beating the living daylights out of three full grown, muscular men, her face screwed in hysteria.
“Err…Neela do you need help?”
Neela stopped strangling one of the incapacitated men to stare at the boys “What are you two doing here?”
“You called us here,” Nathaniel reasoned.
“Idiots! I was about to escape but now you spoilt everything,” Neela screamed, not bothering to maintain silence in the hideout. She ran towards them, her sari slightly lifted up by her hand, which made it easier for her to run.
“Let’s hide,” she said, glaring at the two boys.
“But shouldn’t we run? What’s the point of waiting for more gangsters to arrive?”
“No, we will wait. There is something, I’ll tell you two about it later, but for now we hide behind that car,” Neela said, pointing towards a black BMW. The car was the only car left in the hideout, parked in the corner.
“Cool,” Rikki said, nodding his head in approval “we can escape in this car!”
The three quickly jumped behind the car. The three goons who Neela had beaten up started stirring.
“What was that about?” the first one, a tall guy with long hair asked.
“We got beaten up by a woman…No a man…No, I mean I don’t who it was,” the second one, a short, fat guy said, sounding dazed. Neela had picked him up and slammed him onto the floor.
Neela squirmed with anger upon being referred to as an ‘it’.
“I don’t know what kind of creature that was!” the first one echoed.
“Did you look at those eyes?” the second on asked in horror. The third one sat quiet, rubbing his chest.
“Let’s get the hell out of here!” the first one suggested.
“But how?” the third one spoke for the first time in a gruff voice. “I don’t think I can walk straight!”
“We have the car,” the third one said, gesturing towards the black BMW.
Rikki, Nathaniel and Neela froze, not daring to budge an inch.
“If I beat them up again, I will be arrested myself,” Neela whispered fearfully.
“Let’s get the hell out of here!” the first one declared, brandishing out a key.
The three held their breaths as the goons limped towards the car. The first one was about to insert the key but at that moment, three huge, black vans burst into the hideout.
The goons looked at the vans and groaned; it obviously spelled trouble for them.
The vans screeched to a halt in a dramatic style and several men jumped out. One of them looked like their leader.
On contrary to opinions that goons look huge and rough, the man looked like he was on a diet, there wasn’t much muscle to him but he looked handsome. He was sharply dressed with light colored shades resting on his keen eyes.
He glared at the men around him, inspecting each of them; his eyes seemingly criticized each and everything that came into his sight.
“What’s going on?” he asked in a sharp but controlled voice.
The three criminals scented the danger in his voice, they huddled together. “We had some intruders here sir. But we…um…managed to fight them off.”
“Who were they?” The leader asked.
“There were four men.”
“Four!” the leader exclaimed, enraged.
“He is lying sir, it was just one.”
“But he was muscular and powerful and-”
“Let me get this straight,” the leader said, interrupting, “you three were beaten up by a man and you let him escape.”
The leader held up his hand. Everyone fell silent. “I don’t want to see you again,” he told the three.
The failed criminals were then dragged into a van and driven off.
“Will they be killed?” one of the men asked in a worried voice.
“No, they will be blindfolded and dropped home,” the leader said.
“You remember the time chief, you had sent VD to drop some men off?” a man asked, laughing out loud.
“You watch your mouth!” a man, presumably ‘VD’ growled.
A small fight ensued which distracted everyone. This gave our three heroes some time to discuss strategy and make plans.
“I know this man!” Neela said through her teeth. “This is The Goon, the famous international criminal. Or should I say infamous? Well, it doesn’t matter. Anyways, now I know who is behind the mystery of the missing cops. We should be able to reach a conclusion soon. Our only problem is escape.”
“Yes, how do we do it?” Rikki asked.
“Let’s see…we’ll think about it later,” Neela said, dismissing the discussion. She seemed to be enjoying the scandal.
The Goon raised his hand again and everyone fell silent.
“I see three set of feet down there,” he said pointing towards exposed floor below the car. “Let’s see who this is. This should be fun!”
Our three heroes trembled as men swarmed around the car. The Goon came in walking through the sea of criminals.
The Goon’s smile immediately turned sour when his eyes fell on Neela.
“You again? I though I got rid of you! You keep coming back; I’ll get rid of you once and for all. And you have managed to involve two young guys too!”
“Goon!” Neela hissed with venom in her voice. “You’ll never get me Goon. Not in this lifetime!”
“Maybe not in this one, maybe the next lifetime, but I’ll never leave you alone until I am avenged!”
“Go ahead!” Neela declared, her head held high. “I’ll never give in to you!”
The Goon laughed. “You think I’ll use violence, don’t you? You are wrong! I’m going to test some…drugs on you. Hope they make you feel good.”
“No!” Neela said, clapping her face to her mouth. Nathaniel was too afraid to say anything.
“I would like to try some drugs!” Rikki said.
Every eye on the room stared at him. The Goon burst out laughing.
“Poor fool! He doesn’t know what he is getting into! VD, bring the syringes.”
Two strong hands grabbed Rikki and soon VD was beside him. VD rolled Rikki’s sleeves up, preparing his hand for the injection. At first it was quite painful but it soon dissolved into a strange numbness.
“What was it?” The Goon asked, interested.
“Truth serum,” VD said, taking pride.
“This should be interesting, so Rikki, what is your aim in life?”
People turned to stare at The Goon for asking a very boring question and presumably wasting the truth serum.
“I intend on taking sexually enhancing drugs and sleep with your girlfriend, Goon,” Rikki said with no humor in his voice.
The Goon fell silent, taken aback. Neela and Nathaniel looked on helplessly.
“WHAT DID YOU SAY? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOURSELF?” Goon bellowed.
“I think me, being a superior being than you physically and mentally can make you bankrupt and kick your ass in a single day!” Rikki said earnestly.
Blood rushed to The Goon’s face, he started trembling with anger.
“GET HIM OUT OF HERE!”
“That’s right Goon. We all will get out of here because…I just called up the cops,” Neela said, waving her cell phone in front of The Goon’s face teasingly.
The Goon looked on in horror. “I thought the cops were missing.”
“That’s right, the cops WERE missing. Not now!”
“Hands up, all of you, come out on foot!” a familiar voice echoed into the hideout.
“Chief Baboon!” Nathaniel exclaimed.
“Who is he?” Rikki asked.
“He is a legendary policeman, one of the best. He keeps detectives at bay because his mind is very sharp and he solves every mystery in a very short period of time…alone…”
Our three heroes walked confidently outside the hideout.
“I respected Baboon,” Neela said, “until two days ago. You know where the policemen were? Holidaying in the Alps! Outrageous! The Goon, being the ultimate opportunist, planned smuggling of drugs. He blackmailed a lonely widow to get her basement…or whatever you can call it…cleaned up and ready for banned drugs. He kept three men as his watchdogs whom I…beat up. His plan is foiled now.”
“Not so soon!” The Goon’s voice wafted from somewhere above. He was standing on a ledge, dangerously hanging from there.
“You can never fool me…because…I am The Goon!” he shouted, drawing out a black mask. He put it on and jumped down, evading the policemen diving at him and disappeared along the road.
“He is also The Drama Queen,” Nathaniel said.
“Another mystery solved…” Neela said as the three walked home as the darkness settled in.
“And I give you the entire credit foe this,” Rikki said.
“One thing is certain, you are not lying,” Neela said, smiling. “And because of that, you are not getting your fees for this time. And stop staring at me like that you two and start preparing for the next dilemma.”