Exchanging Notes – A Short Story


Ted covered his ears with the blanket, as the clanking of pots and pans from the kitchen started. According to the WMS (Wife Mood Scale), the clanking pans indicated that she was very angry. The verbal assault would start soon.

He pulled his tired body out from the warm bed, and ambled to the bathroom to shower in peace, before he faced the tirade.

Breakfast was just two slices of bread with some cheese thrown in. They were struggling to make ends meet and his lassitude was not helping any.

His wife worked as a part time nanny and part time domestic help in a few houses, but with both of them in their sixties and no savings, things were not looking great.

He had arthritis and struggled with knee pain. So, he did not last too long in any job.

Today was Friday, and the local supermarket received goods from all its suppliers on Fridays, so extra hands to unload were always required. Ted usually managed to get there early and earn a few hours of pay from the unloading and wheeling.

His knees hurt as he walked to the supermarket. It took him a good twenty minutes to get there, but he was in good time and signed up for the day.

Around 11 a.m. they were given a tea break. As he went to the wash room and ambled to the vending machine, he saw someone waving in his direction. He walked over. The man was tall and thin, wearing faded jeans and a black t-shirt.

“What?” asked Ted.

“Need a quick favour. I am one of the truck drivers who’s brought in supplies. I need small change to buy cigarettes, could you get me change for $50 from the cashier. I will give you a pack of cigarettes in return. I would go myself, but I need to be here to supervise the unloading. Company rules, you know?” he said.

Ted hadn’t smoked in a long time. He suddenly ached for a smoke. The old woman had taken away all these simple pleasures from his life by keeping track of every single penny.

The truck driver gave him the $50. Ted nodded and walked towards the cash counter. He knew Jenny very well and winked at her as he joined the short queue. When he reached the counter, he asked her for change. She asked after his health and gave him five ten dollar notes.

He went back and gave it to the truck driver, who came back in a few minutes, thrust a cigarette pack in Ted’s hand and walked away.

Ted was very happy as he imagined how it would feel to smoke after such a long time.

In the evenings, usually peace reigned in Ted’s home, as the day’s tensions ebbed away and both husband and wife sat down in companionable silence, to watch the news and a couple of other programs that were available for free.

As they watched the local news, Ted’s heart nearly stopped, when he heard that the police had traced some counterfeit notes circulating in the town, and that they had hit upon the gang’s modus operandi –  they exchanged counterfeit notes for smaller change. The supermarket where Ted worked was mentioned. The report said that the police would soon start finger-printing workers at all these locations, to help them with the case.

Ted’s blood ran cold as he suddenly remembered that he had touched the note. There was another thing that had struck him as odd, when the driver had given him the $50 – he had been wearing a pair of gloves. Now it made complete sense.

Ted decided to be sick with unbearable knee pain for the next few days. Metal pots clanking in the kitchen and facing a 100 on the WMS was an infinitely better choice than spending time behind metal bars.

He braced himself.

Working Late – A Short Story


Naomi got off the elevator. She had her laptop bag with her, stuffed to overflowing with papers that needed to be looked at once she got back home. It was already 9 pm, and she didn’t really relish what the rest of the evening had in store for her. She had been travelling, and while she’d closed some good deals, what work she’d left behind, seemed to have been put into a multiplier machine.

She sighed as she walked out of the office building, hoping for a cab. Cabs were quite hard to come by at that late hour. She waited for ten minutes with no luck.

She decided to walk down to the train station. On the way, she saw an ATM, and decided to withdraw some cash, as she was running low. The whole road was deserted. She thought longingly of hot dinner followed by her favourite movie and the prospect of the weekend.

But no, it was only Monday, and the week stretched ahead without any end in sight.

She stood her laptop case on the ground, between her legs, as she extracted her wallet from the utter chaos inside her handbag.

This was one of those ATMs that was on the road; no booth attached to it. As she inserted her ATM card into the slot, she sensed, rather than saw someone behind her. She pushed her eyeballs as far as they would go, to see the person. She saw a black hoodie and blue jeans. She quickly withdrew the money, pressed ‘No’ for a printed receipt, picked up her bag and walked away as quickly as she dared, without making eye contact.

Just as she was about a 100 metres away, she heard footsteps echoing across the pavement. She turned; it was the same man, from the ATM.

She had to make a dash for it. He had seen her withdrawing cash. To run, she needed to get out of her high-heels, which she did. She broke into a run.She could hear her heart pumping and bellowing in her ear drums.The man called out as she ran.

Furtive glances showed that he was running as well.  She had read and seen so many things like this and knew she had to think smart. She  mentally ran through a list of the things she had in her handbag that could come in handy.

The roads continued to disappoint. There was not a soul in sight. Where was everbody? And finally, hurray! there was a Starbucks, glowing warmly, in the distance.

She invested all her energies into that last sprint to safety. A glance backwards showed that the man had slowed down.

She decided to bolt into Starbucks, and call the cops if required. She was completely out of breath as she opened the door at Starbucks. Totally drained out and relieved.

In just two minutes, the man opened the door too..! She gasped in shock. What would he do?

As she stood frozen, her mouth preparing to scream for help, he said, “Miss, you left your ATM card behind.”

Reverse Spooked


My son has just come back from school. He looks a little off-colour. He has his snack and runs down to play with his friends.

When he gets home, he still looks a little worried. I sit him down for a mom-son talk.

“Is everything ok?” I ask.

“I am scared”, he replies.

“Scared of what?” I ask.

“Today, in school, all the boys talked about an evil ghost called ‘Bloody Mary’. They have warned me that if I visit the bathroom after dark and look into the mirror, I will see her face and her scratch marks. Can I stay with you? I am terrified”, he replies.

I guffaw loudly and rubbish him saying, “Your friends are trying to fool you because this is April. ‘Bloody Mary’ is actually a cocktail, containing vodka and tomato juice. Don’t believe all these stories.”

I continue to smile as I remember such stories that went around when we were kids, but my son still looks  worried and afraid.

I try to calm him down and bring the iPad to show him what a Bloody Mary looks like.

So I sit next to him and type Bloody Mary on Google images.

I do a double take as I see horrible looking pictures of a ghost, blood dripping, hollow eyes…there are only a few pictures of the cocktail.

My son screams in fear, “See, I told you.”

I quickly close Google. I am working on damage control now. Sigh!