THE CLEAN-LIVING DEAD

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NOT ONE; TWO COUPLES

"Eh Neha? Neha!!"
she heard Aneeldeep calling.
"Where did you go?" asked Aneeldeep, smiling.
"I was just... checking around" she said, plastering a fake smile. Just then, Amoli came back with a new layer of lipstick.
"You got tequila shots? It's bad!" said Amoli.
"Ok,...what about.. scotch! I love that!" said Neha.
"But you don't drink much right!?" said Amoli.
"I'm trying....to forget my grief!" she said.
"What?" asked Amoli.
"Look behind" she said sadly.
"Is that Umed?" asked a stunned Aneeldeep.
"Yes...with another girl" said Neha. She lifted the tequila shots one by one and gulped them down.
"What are you doing Maddy! You are drinking in depression?!" screamed Aneeldeep.
"So what?" drowsily replied Neha as she talked whatever came to her tequila filled mind.
"Who's that girl?" asked Amoli.
"That Manasvi! She doesn't deserve being with him! He's mine! Umed is MINE!!" screamed Neha. Amoli and Aneeldeep looked shocked. Manasvi? Wasn't she the suspect?
"What the---" Aneeldeep was interrupted by Neha's wicked smile.
"What if we kill Manasvi? Let's kill her huh!?" said Neha as she fell back and forth.
"What are you saying in drowsiness?? We will get stuck into a case!" said Amoli.
"Sir your scotch" said the bartender who came from behind. Neha snatched it and ran away, knowing that her friends won't let her drink it.
"Eh!! Come back Neha!" screamed Aneeldeep as he and Amoli ran behind her. She went into the ladies toilet.
"You go behind her, I can't come in. Get the scotch without her opening it and I'll surprise you today!" he said as he ran back before she could reply.
"Eh Neha! Open the door! You're acting silly!" she screamed as she banged the doors one by one. Still, there was no reply. Amoli heard the sound of bottle opening from the last bathroom.
"Neha come out, I know you're in there!! Don't open it! You'll die re!!" she screamed as she continued banging the door.
"Oh you got to know?? Wow!" she laughed, drinking up.
"Do you really like Umed?" asked Amoli.
"Yes,....but not anymore!" she said.
"Then why didn't you tell him then?" she asked.
"I wasn't shy" she said.
"Then why?" she asked.
"I was scared" she said. There was a long pause.
"Aesha will be shameful to have a friend who drinks in here instead of searching for the killer who devoured her" said Amoli as she was about to leave. Just then, after a second of pindrop silence, the door unbolted. Neha came, her steps here and there. She dropped the bottle and glass shattered. It was half empty by then.
"Are you mad? You'll die!" scolded Amoli as she lifted Neha up.
"I love Aesha" she said.
"We all love her" she replied. Amoli hugged Neha and teary eyed, they came out.
"Did you get the scotch" asked an eager Aneeldeep.
"Let go of the scotch! She drank half and dropped it. She's drunk fully now!" she said.
"They all sat there and Neha was not awake.
"Ok, I'm bored. Let's go home now. We'll take her to your house and for tonight, she will stay. You call auntie and inform her" said Aneeldeep. Amoli nodded.
"She loved Umed and I bet she still does" said Amoli.
"She's......angry. Not sad but angry" he said.
"I think Umed is involved in this case....or else....why Manasvi?" said Amoli.
"Maybe yes.....maybe no...we don't know! We need to investigate...before someone else dies" said Aneeldeep.
"Wait....how did Manasvi even come out of the department??" asked Amoli. They all forgot in the excitement.
"I know,....only anyone can escape at night in our department. So maybe the security were involved in this! We were so engrossed in ourselves that we didn't consider anything" said Aneeldeep as he stood up.
"Where are you going?" asked Amoli.
"I forgot to tell you that my mom and dad are visiting here from Delhi. I need to leave. Bye!" he said as he left. Amoli was left with a sleeping Neha.

"Madam, please, you are to pay the bill. We are closing early today!" said the bartender. Amoli went to the counter to pay.
"Oh shit! I forgot my purse! Aneeldeep left me in a mess!" she said to herself.
"What's wrong ma'am?" he asked.
"Uhh.... actually I'll be back in 30 minutes. My friend is still here. I'll get the cash!" she said as she rushed after seeing the man nod.

Meanwhile, Neha was still sleeping. Then, someone accidentally knocked a glass of water onto her, which made her jump up awake, but still drowsy with red eyes.
"Who is this" asked Neha in a low voice. The person who knocked the water slipped away silently. Neha didn't notice that person, but she blindly went and went back until she saw Manasvi and Umed again. That stopped her. She started eavesdropping:

"What else baby?"
"Nothing baby. I'll go to the top floor. We'll get more privacy. Come after paying the bill, ok?"
"Sure"

Neha's brain was still working. It was poisoned by the sequence of events. She saw Umed talking friendly to the bartender and Manasvi left upstairs. She stared in dismay.
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