Off The Field

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Tak 19 : Mr. Peter's Ambitions

"You know what, kid? You have a bright future", said Mr. Peter, sarcastically, patting the young all-rounder's back. There was a sense of fake pride on his face.

"Stop acting like we're in the team dressing room and hand me over my advance. This time I want double", Sudhanshu replied in a commanding tone. The usually shy Sudhanshu was only a cover for the rest of the world. It was the real him standing in Mr. Peter's room. It was a secret only the coach, a few bookies and Sudhanshu himself knew. Fame and money was the only source of inspiration that drew Sudhanshu to international cricket, pretty much opposed to the norm.

"You're greedy", Mr. Peter said, while opening his closet. He took out a bundle and handed it over to Sudhansu. "Count it"

"I trust you... Sir" Sudhanshu replied with a smile, stressing upon the last word.

"What did you just say, Sir?" Mr. Peter asked rhetorically, whilst giving out a chuckle.

"Let The Boss know, I must get my full payment as soon as the semi-final is done", Sudhanshu instructed.

"Semi-final? You were getting the rest of the money after the tournament ends, right?" Mr. Peter enquired.

"Ohh really? What are the chances of India playing the finals? We're not setting up entire matches, Mr. Peter. What if you people back off? I'll loose on some big bucks. I not risking that", Sidhanshu argued.

"Okay. Okay. I'll arrange that. Now, take this and get away before somebody comes over", Mr. Peter retorted, annoyingly.

"Okay, but you remember your promise right? You all are taking me to Australia for the full tour this year. That's for keeping your cover, Mr. Loyal Coach",

"Don't worry. The Boss needs you more than you need the Indian Test cap. I know what I have to say to those selectors during team selection", Mr. Peter assured.

"See you down stairs, then", Sudhanshu said, keeping the bundle safely in his kitbag. That was the safest place for him to hide his greed. He lifted the bag and left Mr. Peter's room checking his wristwatch which ticked to 10:30 am.

After a few minutes, Mr. Peter received a call from the team manager, while he was packing his bags.

"Hey, buddy. What's up?" Mr Peter questioned in his usual polite tone.

"Pri and the captain haven't returned from the park, I saw them leaving the hotel earlier in the morning, it's just an hour left before we check out and leave for the airport. What should I do?" the manager explained.

"Don't worry. They're the senior most amongst the team. You just wrap up the breakfast and make other arrangements. I am sure they'll make it to the team bus on time", the Coach explained and hung up the call.

Mr. Peter knew exactly why Rehaan was missing, but what about Priyansh? He was clueless is to why Priyansh had accompanied Rehaan.

"Something's wrong for sure", he thought to himself. He took out his spare phone and quickly dialed a number.

"Hello, who's this?" the receiver asked.

"Peter Hamilton here", the Coach replied in a stressed voice.

"I have told you, don't call me, the cops have been constantly behind me. Ask my Assistant with whatever you want", the receiver responded in a low voice.

"I am sure something's wrong, Priyansh has accompanied Rehaan to the park to get his payment for the previous match. It's been an hour, I guess. They haven't returned yet. Contact that idiotic Assistant of yours, there's something seriously wrong", Mr. Peter explained the person on the other side.

"All this behind your back? There's a reason I pay you? Get this mess cleared. I'll try to contact my Assistant" the receiver shouted over the phone and hung up.

"Who's Assistant?", Rehaan asked, tightening the grip on the gun.

"Let's say, umm... The climate looks great today", their capture replied.

Priyansh punched him on the face and then caught him by his neck with the knife. "Stick to the point or you know, we both have temper issues!" He threatened.

"The underworld knows him as, The Boss", their capture replied proudly.

"And, will you let us know exactly what the rest of the world calls him?" Priyansh asked sarcastically.

"No. You both better kill me. As it is, the man I am talking about, will not spare me if he gets to know, you both know about him", the man explained innocently.

"I am pretty sure, if there is somebody who can take us to the culprit, it's him, he probably knows this man pretty well", Rehaan said, looking towards Priyansh.

"You're correct Rehaan. Now, does that mean...", Priyansh stopped.

"Yes. That means, YOU, cannot kill me", their capture completed the sentence and slowly moved Priyansh's hand over his neck.

"I have an offer", Rehaan said, still pointing his gun towards the man.

"What offer Mr. Captain?" Their capture asked.

They were interrupted by a knock on the window. Mr. Peter was standing in front of the car's window, with his phone in his hands, as if he was trying to click a photograph from the camera of it. Rehaan and Priyansh decided to get out of the car. Priyansh let go off their capture's neck. He started coughing out of relief, as the trio stepped out of the car. As soon as they were out, the Coach took a photograph on his phone.

"‘Breaking News! Flamboyant Indian Team Captain, Rehaan and Ace Opening Batsman, Priyansh spotted with a bookie in New Delhi, days before the semi-final'", Mr. Peter said, showing the photograph to the trio in front of him, "This will be on the front page of the newspapers on the proceeding day of the final. May I read any further?" he questioned with a chuckle. Rehaan and Priyansh just tried to think of words to fight Mr. Peter and clear this mess at once.

"The silence suggests I must. 'Mr. Peter spotted them at the park, just a day before they were to fly to Dharamshala for the crucial semi-final. He reported to the ACC, and an investigation followed up the complaint. The ACC found them guilty and arrested them, the case has been referred to the International Cricket Board. Now, it's upto to the International body to decide the next course of action' I get overnight stardom, my Coaching contract gets extended. You both are behind the bars. Sudhanshu is appointed the new captain. The Boss aka Aatish earns heavy profits. Everything is precisely planned, you both", threatened Mr. Peter, and started smiling. Rehaan and Priyansh had nothing to say. The Boss' Assistant was rejoicing in the silence which defined the victory of greed, betrayal and corruption…

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