Vince gulped down one more neat shot of Vodka. On Sunday, he was awake early, sitting in his study and looking up the news feed on face-book. Law book filled cupboards surrounded him. The Vodka bottle lay next to him. His throat burned now, and he quickly guzzled some water to pacify it. He was feeling ‘bliss’ as his mind floated merrily.
Except for greying hair at the temples, Vince didn’t look at all forty-seven. Fiona, his daughter, lay sound asleep in the next room. His intermittently flashing reverie led him ten years back, when his wife Valeri had walked out leaving Fiona. Now Fiona was in college, nearly nineteen and looking ravishingly beautiful with shining black hair and fine, olive features.
“Dad! As a criminal lawyer who has dealt with the most hardcore culprits, what is your motto in life?” Fiona had once asked, Vince recalled.
“Though a hundred guilty criminals be set free, no innocent person should be punished.” Vince carefully worded his answer.
In their dainty house in Auckland’s sleepy suburb, the soft morning light slowly streamed in.
“Dad! You’ve been drinking again in the morning. I wanted you to take me downtown, to my friend’s apartment to get some notes. You know I can drive but don’t have a license and you can’t ‘drink and drive’.”
“Don’t worry, dear, we’ll make it a quick trip,” Vince said dismissively.
The traffic was a little heavier than expected in Auckland CBD for a lazy Sunday. Fiona drove confidently and their car was picking up speed. “Slow! You don’t have a license.” Barely were the words out of Vince’s mouth, than a SUV parked on the left backed out almost hitting their car. Fiona braked hard. A speeding Sedan from oncoming traffic hit the SUV.
“You, moron!” The SUV driver shrieked at the Sedan driver as he got out.
“You, son of a bitch!” the Sedan driver furiously retorted.
Curious people started gathering. Vince briskly beckoned Fiona to get out and he changed seats with her.The rain came down in torrents blurring the view. A strong smell of petrol and smoke was in the air.
The SUV driver rapidly reversed his car, started again and banged more forcefully into the Sedan. Vince swiftly reversed their car and made for the alley on the left. As he reversed the car his eyes fell on a body. It was two bodies lying on the road. A man and what seemed a child. They seemed crushed and covered in blood. It was now pouring heavily and a spectator crowd was collecting.
“They couldn’t have been hit by us,” Fiona sharply snapped. “We would have felt them.”
“Don’t worry, we didn’t do it!” was all Vince said, as he drove onto the motorway to go back home. It would be the next day before he realized what was in store for them: charges of drink driving, recklessly driving without license, manslaughter and much more.
Vince was sure someone had framed him and he wondered why. It had created havoc. But more was to come.
Writing order: Hemali Ajmera (Ind), Vatsal Shah (Ind), Joe Labrum (USA), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus), Donna McTavish (NZ), Tulika Saha (Ind) Suraya Dewing (NZ), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Angela Shaw (NZ), Sumanda Maritz (S. Africa)