Monsoon had finally hit New Delhi. The previous day had experienced bountiful downpour, and today’s waterworks were already underway as a drizzle drubbed softly on windows and rooftops. A young fellow rejoiced in the weather outside on the street, but Ranjit was downcast because he was under the weather.

When the bell rang, Ranjit walked to the door with heavy steps and a sullen face. He was greeted by Bhavna, who had a similar disposition. They exchanged tired smiles as she walked in and put her hand on his forehead.

“You’re hot!”

“So say the ladies.” Bhavna transferred her hand from his forehead to hers and sighed. When she saw a cheeky smile on his dreary face with bleary eyes, she chuckled. She walked him to his bed and wrung out a cold washcloth in the kitchen. On entering his room she noticed Ranjit’s eyes were fixed on the bag she’d put by the window.

“Long night?” he asked. She handled the bag and thrust it under his bed.

“I’m sorry. I forget that not everyone’s used to seeing sniper rifles.”

“I doubt anyone is. You’d be out of work otherwise.”

She smiled and kissed his forehead before applying the washcloth. “Try to get some sleep. You look like you need it.”

“So do you.”

“True. But I need to put you to sleep first.”

“Not the kind of phrase I’d like to hear from a contract killer!”

A cool breeze wafted into the room and she got into the covers with him. As the rain fell rhythmically, they shared a comfortable silence, and time flew by with the breeze.

The loud buzz of the doorbell woke Ranjit. He saw Bhavna’s head rocking back and forth as it rested on her hand. He got up.

“The rain has no intention of letting up!” The maid entered in her usual hasty manner.

He forced his eyes to remain open for the thirty minutes she spent cleaning the rooms and doing the dishes. He shut the door, laid Bhavna down, closed his eyes, and hoped he could sleep undisturbed.

The bell rang.

“Here, your ironed clothes.”

Ranjit took the bundle from the launder. He shut the door, got into bed. He’d just gotten hold of sleep and it was threatening to leave him stranded again.

When the bell rang, Ranjit walked to the door with heavy steps and a grumpy face.

“You registered a complaint?” Ranjit sighed and led the electrician to Vipin’s room. His furrowed brow was damp with sweat as he watched the electrician inspect the ceiling fan and the regulator.

He shut the door, walked to his room, got into bed. He watched incredulously how Bhavna continued sleeping undisturbed. His first thought was: she must be really tired. His second thought was: aren’t contract killers supposed to be light sleepers?

When he heard the loud buzz of the bell, he had half a mind to reach for the bag under the bed and go guns blazing.

“Hi, I was hoping to get a couple minutes of your time. I have this incredible set of—“

“If you don’t walk away this instant, I’ll give you a set,” Ranjit said to the salesman.

“A set of what?”

“Black eyes.”

Ranjit always had the uncanny ability of making his baby-face look unnerving when he chose. The salesman shut the door for him.

Before returning to bed, Ranjit fetched the lock and put it over the latch on the other side of the door. He hoped anyone else braving the rain to torment him would think it locked.

He got into bed. The bell didn’t ring, but he heard someone fumbling with the lock.

Anger, paranoia, and sleeplessness drove him to reach for the gun and stand in wait for whoever was trying to play burglar. It was dark outside, but only on account of the tenebrous sky. Stupid soon-to-be-dead burglar!

The lock fumbling stopped, but the bell rang. Ranjit screamed and opened the door with the rifle equipped.

Vipin’s eyes fell straight on the muzzle and he shrieked in shock as he fell.

“That girlfriend of yours sure is a bad influence!”

Ranjit sighed and apologized. He helped him up, shut the door, and walked to his room. His room’s door creaked as he pushed it close.

“Jeez, that’s one noisy door. No wonder you had trouble sleeping last night!”

Ranjit was at a loss for words as Bhavna rubbed her eyes and yawned.

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