Eating away the beauty of United States – Child Sexual Abuse

A few months back, i shared post on Cyber Bullying – The ugly world of Social Media and yesterday Mr.Theodore Jerome Cohen emailed me after landing on my blog during his research. There have been many updates after the last draft i posted and i am glad that Mr. Cohen, an engineer and scientist for more than forty-five years, an investor for more than fifty years and most recently, has focused on investigating and reporting on corruption in US financial institutions and agencies of the US government, shared some of his latest insights on the case.

FORWARD

“For a modern society, the statistics on child sexual abuse in the United States not only are staggering but also abhorrent. According to the US Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW),[1] 33% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17. Importantly, 82% of all juvenile victims of sexual abuse are female, with about one in five female high school students reporting physical and/or sexual abuse by a dating partner. Even more distressing is the fact that teens 16 to 19 years of age were three-and-one-half times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
 
Anyone who has followed the day-to-day news in the US and Canada should not be surprised by these statistics. The media has put real names to the numbers . . . names such as Daisy Colemen of Maryville, Missouri, who, after accusing a high school senior of sexual assault and was bullied, was hospitalized after a suicide attempt Or Rehtaeh Parsons from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who after allegedly being gang-raped and bullied, was hospitalized after she tried to hang herself on April 4, 2013. She was taken off life support three days later. Colman and Parsons were not alone. According to Suicide.org, numerous rape victims have suicidal thoughts; many die by suicide.[2]
 
Nor do the living escape their tormenters. With 90% of teens and young adults online, the potential for abuse is significant, especially with the greater majority of those having a profile on a social network. In fact, nearly 80% of teens send and receive photos and videos online, some almost certainly pornographic. Nude selfies are not uncommon, with revenge porn—defined as sexually explicit media that are publicly shared online without the consent of the pictured individual[3]—becoming increasingly common. The Internet always was a dangerous neighborhood; with time it has become more so, and more toxic, as well.
 
I don’t know if child sexual abuse has yet reached what the US and other health authorities might consider ‘epidemic proportions.’ But I do know I am seeing an increasing number of cases in the newspaper, on television, and on the Internet, among other media, where young women are assaulted and raped, are subsequently harassed, and bullied by their attackers and/or peers, and in some cases, are driven to suicide. And the pity of it is, for many of these victims, there is no justice.
This novel is an attempt to shine a spotlight on the problem of teen rape.
 
Though many may see it as another Detective Louis Martelli, NYPD ‘ripped from the headlines’ mystery/thriller, know it is fiction through and through . . . the characters, the crimes, the dialogue, everything. It’s a fabrication. But still, this is an important story if for no other reason than to raise awareness of a scourge that is harming our children, the most precious part of our lives.”
Theodore Jerome Cohen
March 1, 2014

[1] http://www.nsopr.gov/en/Education/FactsMythsStatistics?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 [See this reference for additional references to the statistics cited.]

[2] http://www.suicide.org/rape-victims-prone-to-suicide.html

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revenge_porn

NIGHT SHADOWS Night Shadows
When a wealthy Wall Street commodity futures trader is found dead in his townhouse of an apparent drug overdose, Deputy Coroner Michael Antonetti, NYPD, is suspicious. Antonetti tells Detective Louis Martelli he suspects what appears to be a suicide may in fact be murder. After a similar case is discovered involving a former friend of the Wall Street trader who played on the same high school football team almost twenty years earlier, Martelli is convinced he is dealing with someone bent on revenge. But the two teammates who ostensibly committed suicide were part of an elite three-man squad known as The Flying Horsemen. This convinces Martelli there will be a third victim. But who might it be, and could the killings have anything to do with the rape and suicide of some of the men’s former high school classmates? The answers will be found in this mystery/thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

The book was released on March 20, 2014, and has received a number of 5-STAR reviews

Grab a copy here
Reviews
About Dr. Cohen and his Books

From December 1961 through early March 1962, Dr. Cohen participated in the 16th Chilean Expedition to the Antarctic. The US Board of Geographic Names in October, 1964, named the geographical feature Cohen Islands, located at 63° 18′ S. latitude, 57° 53′ W. longitude in the Cape Legoupil area, Antarctica, in his honor. Dr. Cohen’s Antarctic Murders Trilogy describes what happened following a robbery of the Banco Central de Chile in Talcahuano in May, 1960. The robbery and the events that took place primarily between May 1960 and March 1962, are described in Frozen in Time: Murder at the Bottom of the World (Book I). Unfinished Business: Pursuit of an Antarctic Killer (Book II) reveals the events that unfolded between March 1962 and March 1965. End Game: Irrational Acts, Tragic Consequences (Book III) takes place in 1965 and resolves most, but not all, of the issues raised in the series.

Dr. Cohen’s first novel, Full Circle: A Dream Denied, A Vision Fulfilled, which is based on his life as a violinist, was published in 2009. Dr. Cohen at one time was a violinist with the Bryn Athyn (PA) Orchestra and particularly enjoys the music of Gustav Mahler.

Finally, Dr. Cohen has published more than 400 papers, articles, columns, essays, and interviews, and is a co-author of The NEW Shortwave Propagation Handbook (from CQ Communications).

Dr. Cohen served in the US Army Corps of Engineers from March 1966 through March 1968, leaving the service with the rank of Captain.

A Fairytale

doll

 

 

 

 

 

Trees were green, flowers bloom

Lily was shining, standing on the shore

Amber blue dress, Lilac eyes

Shiny hands, with pink hue cheeks

Lily was shining, beautiful As ever

Waiting for the prince, to come there forever

Trees were green, flowers bloom

Weathers change, with a smile so cute

Lily was shining, cuddling her pet

Curly hair, bouncing back again

Weather was dark, Lily was scared

A giant came, from his den

Prince was nowhere, Lily kept waiting

Giant was growling, Lily was fainting

Lily lost the shining, she was sad

Her wait had ended, no prince till the end

There was a “crack”, standing was the prince

Lily was shining, back in his arms

Giant was killed, with a little diamond sword

 

Constant Change

kruti 1

People and seasons

Have something in common

They stay for a while

And change their style

It hurts, it bothers

It tears me apart

Sweet talks, long calls

Rude replies, long wait

Change is bad

Change is fearful

It creates a challenge

A change in attitude

You changed your path

You chose the trend

I waited there

Till the end

I will never forget

I will always remember

Amidst the laughter

You made me cry

You came in my life

You made me happy

You called me a princess

Deluding me in stress

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

 

 

 

The Shipwreck

shipwreck

I look at those wrecks

Full of cracks

Once ruled the ocean

Lies in the trash

A shinny iron anchor

Now rusty and old

It once graced the ship

Now lie as debris

Long back in time

It carried the king

Full of people

Princess and her friends

Once loved by all

Now has no friends

I look at those wrecks

I think to myself

Are we like those wrecks?

When time almost ends

I look at the ocean

Deep blue water

It once clasped the ship

Slowly gulping it

Are we like the ship?

Happy while we are young

No one to remember

When the days about to border

 

 

 

 

 

Birth

photo(1)

 

There are her little eyes upon you

She is watching you day and night

There are her little ears upon you

Taking  in every word you say

There are her little hands upon you

Eager to do anything you do

And a little girl

Dreaming of a day

She will be like you

 

Found it written in a heart shaped paper lying in the bottom of my drawer, must be few years old

 

She chose to shine in the eternity – A short story

girl

Morning was different when she woke up, she looked at the sunlight on her quilt and touched it softly. Her customer had left and she lay there alone and naked. When she got out of the bed, she caught her reflection in the mirror and paused looking at her nude body. She saw the whole of herself and felt contended.

This was her routine, she danced, and then was placed on a bid for customers to price her. The one paying the maximum amount got a night with her. Rani had her own rules. She never went to their places or a hotel, instead she wanted them to stay with her in the room she allotted at Pinky’s bar. Considering her attractiveness, most of them agreed and those who dint were sent away. She took out a little pink bottle from her closet. A man she slept with last night had traded the bottle in return of free sex. She took a little amount from it and placed it in her mouth. She smiled to herself.

The mirror covered with every possible color decoration, as if painted by a rainbow, was emancipating a beautiful reflection. Over all appeal of the place was gaudy. Dark colors, brighter shades, and shiny things were hanging here and there. Lemon yellow walls with circles of different colors looked as if painted by a small child fond of colors. Decorative pieces were hanging from the windows, moving slowly with the breeze, making a little tingling sound. A look outside the window can blind anyone’s eye with those colorful blinking lights and flashy advertisements.

Rani was dressed equally colorful in pink lehenga paired with a hot pink blouse and a green duppatta. She was 18 years old and was the most desired dancer at Pinky’s Dance Bar. She had been dancing at that awful place from past 2 years. Rani never glanced at the mirror, she despised her reflection in there, but today was different. She walked slowly towards the mirror and saw herself, and saw her body, darkly painted lips and big eyes with hint of tears in it. Rani was a beautiful North Indian girl with big dark eyes and slightly tangoed but flawless skin with black shinny hair flowing freely till the waist. Her smile was serene and beautiful with rosy pink lips as if colored by the morning sun. No one ever saw her smiling in those two years. Her deep expressive eyes were so beautiful that, none of the men, who came to see her dance, were concerned with her smile. They liked her body, sleek, slender, and slim with small exquisite breasts and perfect curves in the right places.

Rani walked towards the little raised floor created for her to dance while the lusty men looked at her with so much ardour and sexual appetite as if they were yearning for her since ages. She felt naked while fully clothed amongst this crowd. She was a little sheep left amongst a bunch of wolf to pound on. As she walked in to the dusky, dingy, and dank place, she could hear somnolent buzz of people drooling at her. She could see the crowd like the waves of ocean.

She remembered the “Naintara Beach” where her Daddy used to take her for long strolls. They made sand castles and sat there looking at sea for hours. She was the apple of his eyes. Her daddy had no money and Rani was fond of making sand castles. He took money as a loan from friends but got her the sand sculpture making toys so that she could enjoy the beach better. Rani was his little adorable princess. He called her “Gudiya”.

The smell of smoke and sweat entered her nostrils and brought her back to the reality. The club was filled with people of all age groups. She had to go through the worst to get Pinky, her bar owner, the share of money. She was a slave to her master and she had to do as the master says to avoid the worst consequences.

Two years back when Rani was brought in the world of Rankapur, a high end prostitution city, by a bunch of men who bought her from a women. Pinky was the owner of Pinky’s bar. She was a pimp with powers who literally ruled the Rankapur area. Girls were brought in forcefully from various parts of country and the neighboring countries. They were traded here like cows and buffaloes, literally stacked in big trucks and then showing them to the potential customers. At this place, age does not matter, female of any age from 3 years to 75 years were sold. Infants are sometimes brought in stolen, and sold to the pimps like Pinky, who raise them to push in this dirty business.

Rani looked around, even after two years she was scared of this crowd. Many came forward to touch her breast and some would even press it. Some would lift her lehenga and she had to continue dancing between them. The bar was made for fun and enjoyment and Rani was the toy for those customers who paid a heavy entry fee to see her dance. They had every right to touch her. If she stopped for more than a minute, a big, strong, black men would throw a frowning glare from distance and signal her to continue. Like every girl, Rani was brought here against her wishes and will. She opposed the system in the beginning, and pinky kept her starving for days. She cried, banged her head, and even tried to run away, but eventually gave up. She was raped by Pinky’s special men who were used to handling such girls. Pinky handed over stubborn girls to Abdul and Javed and they kept the assigned girls for a period of 15-20 days, repeatedly raping them until they are used to it. Pinky treated her girls well, but they had to get used to the fact and accept the new truth of their life. If they did, she would keep them the happiest. Satisfy one customer per day and get her money, and the girls were free to do whatever they like for the rest of the day. None of them tried to run, they were watched all the time. A girl once tried running and even succeeded but Pinky’s men found her and she was burned alive. Till date, her name sets an example for the rest of the girls to know the consequences of running away. No family, no children, no one to love them, and Sex all the time was their new life. India is a country where literacy rate is far below compared to the rest of the world, and to lure poor and uneducated girls in this business was an easy job.

Rani started dancing without looking up and the men started whistling and throwing currencies. As a 10 rupee note landed on her hand, she looked at it and remembered the days when they went out to eat 10 rs Pani Puri at ram bhai’s stall. She loved pani puri and every alternate days her daddy took her out to have it. Rani’s mother died when she was two years old and Rani was raised by her father. He loved her and she was his pride. He sent rani to a school saving all his money. Rani was a bright child and she loved studies. She wanted to be a teacher someday.

“Hey rani, how about a night with me”

“Rani come warm up my bed sweetheart”

She could hear all types of dirty comments. She did not look up and continued dancing. Rani’s father re-married two years back. The new mother was no good. Rani always thought of her as a selfish and greedy women. Raini’s father met an accident at the construction site he worked for and died. When Rani’s new mother found out that all the savings were used for rani’s education she got furious. She wanted money and with the death of her father there was no one to earn it. She eventually sold Rani to a group of men who found her attractive. She got a good price for her. Before selling her, those men wanted to enjoy their reward. They were four of them and each one kept rani for two days for their own personal enjoyment. Rani was just sixteen and was unable to fight them back. Pinky bought Rani at a high price. She was attractive and Pinky was sure to fetch a good amount using her. She was her fruitful investment. Rani was loved by everyone at the first sight. Soon she was a desired prostitute in Rankapur fetching pinky a high price each passing day.

Rani’s eyes were now adjusted to the imminent darkness that surrounded the place. For the first time she saw in to the eyes of people watching her. She smiled. Pinky found it strange, Rani had not smiled in over two years. She started dancing with joy. The men were enjoying it but Pinky was certain something was wrong. She signaled her men to check on her. The black men standing in the corner started walking towards the stage. Rani saw him coming and she had a bigger smile on her face. By the time the men reached her lights were going out of her eyes. He saw drops of blood coming out of her mouth. Rani had consumed poison, her lips were blue and she was breathing heavily. She had a strange smile on her lips. Pinky came running there and found her twitched. She was looking at her in a constant stare with a soft smile. Rani was going away, she could here faint sounds of panic in the bar. People were running, pinky was shouting for an ambulance and then it all went blank. It was a moment of eternal peace for her. She died the day she was sold and was a living dead satisfying hungry souls. It was her time to gain the final freedom. She was free and no one can catch her ever after.

I think of you

I-am-waiting-for-you-only

I think of you

And here i smile

You are not here

You make me smile

Far away

Across the ocean

A beautiful little soul

Stealing my heart

A thorny road

A deep ocean

I want to run

If only I can swim

Water is a monster

Making me faint

Hiding my phobia

Is all I can do

I think of you

And I see a life

It has my rules

It has your love

I dreamed of a life

I never got delight

I did as I wished

And I landed in a cage

I think of you

And I see your hands

Your big strong fingers

Which can fit my little’s

I think of you

And I wonder to myself

We are so different

Yet so alike

Out fates are twisted

Our journeys so mystifying

You are east, i am west

And we never met, that’s for the rest

(Written on 12th April 2014, copied from my diary)

 

 

 

 

A Boy with Blue Eyes

TrueLoveCannotBeFound

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are a picture

Oh! So beautiful

The ocean blue eyes

So deep to dive

You may look rusty

Filled with honesty

Miles apart I feel

A knight in the golden sky

I cannot have you in my arms

So I let you slip away

If only I had a time machine

To go back in time

Changing all my regrets

Making it better than the best

I still love you

A secret forever

I will love you always

Like the sun loving moon

They cannot be together

But the love will bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fateful Sunday – A Short Story

girl

2014

Scorching sun was getting harsh with its light projected right on her face and a bead of sweat dripping down her forehead sacrificing itself to her cotton top damped with sweat. She lethargically fanned herself with a piece of paper in hope of some respite from the rising temperatures. Thick air with humidity and moisture had their presence like a swimming pool through which she could easily swim. She waited for her AC repair man to fix the unit of air-condition.

Veronica had her stuff scattered here and there. Camera lenses, negatives, some sketches and a cup of coffee. Being a photographer, she had morning assignments when sun is light and the light is bright. It was a busy day; Veronica pushed her blonde curls back and let them drop onto her neck. She was a beautiful photographer in every sense with big brown eyes and creamiest skin. She was tall and slim. Her lips were the color of morning sun and there was no reason for David to have not fallen in love with her. With a pencil in her mouth, she was trying to look at some pictures while marking something on it. She grabbed her cup of cold coffee. It was her favorite mug, David gifted her 2 months back with “world’s greatest babe” inscribed on it. The sweat and humidity was making work difficult for her. She restlessly looked up to have a quick glance at her watch.

The place looked different. For a moment she was appalled looking around at the strange yellow walls. How did she come here? She was working on her photographs and suddenly this place? She closed her eyes and opened it, but it was the same place.

“What the fuck is wrong with me” she murmured to herself and looked at her pictures once again. They were still there.

Did David drop me here??

Did he tell me something??

Why don’t I remember anything??

Gathering all her courage she stood up to explore the place. Veronica often got urbex photography assignments. She went to remote, creepy places to have a perfect shot. In a way, she was not as scared as any other girl could have been, but was confused. For a moment she thought of getting affected by some disease which make people forget things.

It was a beautiful house but covered in dust.

“Someone left the place in hurry” was her first thought.

Half-filled glasses still lay on the table and food containers had the remaining amount of food in it for lizards, ants and spiders to feast on it. The bathrooms had half-filled buckets with frogs swimming inside having their own pool party and there in the passage she saw a beautiful painting that adorned the wall.

“But wait a minute, why was it hanging there?? The wall face another wall, so in a way, no one could see the painting”

“Strange house” she thought to herself

It was an oil canvas painting with a couple that seem completely in love. The lady was beautiful blonde with blue eyes and she wore a beautiful and quite a unique outfit. Nor the people, nor the clothes looked vintage and everything was of this era itself. For some reason Veronica thought the men looked much like David. She was staring at the picture when she heard a noise from the adjoining room. The house was filled with a strong pungent smell. Things had dust on it but were not rusting. The place was old, but not very old. Veronica moved in the direction of the noise. Confused with the tricks that her brain was played with her, she took a step forward.

It was a big room with a twin bed in center and closet on one side. There lay a rocking chair at the far end near the window. It was moving lightly as if someone was sitting on it. The chair faced an open glass with deserted roads outiside. The sky was blue indicating morning.

“Anybody there” Veronica was now getting butterflies in her stomach. Something was strange about the place. She failed to get positive vibes and wanted to run but her instincts told her a different story, as if some supernatural power is asking her to stay back. Suddenly, she heard a voice and her attention drifted towards the location

“Veronica, how are you?”

Veronica had not heard the voice before.

How did she know her name?

Who was she?

Veronica had many questions when again the voice started addressing her. It was a female voice, kind of sweet with sadness it.

“David is not a nice man”

“Excuse me”

“He is a killer, he will kill you one day”

“Who are you, why don’t you face me”

“Facing you is not important Veronica; I am here to warn you”

“Warn me?”

“David will rob you, David will kill you”

A familiar breath moved closer to her face and Veronica could smell David getting closer to her. She opened her eyes and found herself in her bedroom, snuggled in David’s arms. Her face was drained of color as she continued staring at him.

“Whats wrong hun?”

“Nothing” she forced a smile on her face. She decided to keep mum. After all dreams are dreams. Everyone has a bad dream and there is nothing to worry about it. She comforted herself that it was just a dream, and that she could have not got a person better than David. Though he had no job, David was a rich man.

David and Veronica met at a local bar in 2012. While David was sitting with a friend at the corner of the bar with a glass of whisky in his hands, watching people dance, his eyes fell on a beautiful girl in violet dress with luscious bouncing curls and most adorable brown eyes. Her white skin had the color of clean creamy macaroni right before you put some cheese on it. Veronica looked beautiful and David had his eyes on her. He followed her across the party and finally got an opportunity he was looking for. He asked his friend to give her a little push, her 3 inch long stellates were sure to make her tumble and this is what David wanted. He wanted to catch her fall.

He was a true charmer and never failed to impress anyone. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with a mop of dark burgundy hair and heavy, thick defined brows that were equipoised by a boyish grin. Looking in to his eyes, one can find the colors of ocean. He had blue eyes with a charming smile. His planned worked well. Veronica got pushed, and was about to fall unable to balance herself, while David was ready to catch her. She landed right in to his arms. She thanked him and this is how they started talking. Soon they were communicating on the phone and few weeks later, they started dating. 6 months back Veronica shifted with David in his new house.

The new baronial house was a true beauty with numerous glass windows from where the blue sky with clouds can be seen, just like a heaven kissed view and wire fencing bordering the property. The entry was a large door that could accumulate a whole family of elephants. It further opened to a foyer with a vast curving staircase that probably went to heaven. Polished banister curved up leading to a brilliantly designed bedroom. The clean white walls had modern art paintings artistically arranged on the wall. A round bed lay in the center with sliding closets opposite to it. Thin green shag carpet embraced the floor.

Veronica had a dream which seem almost like reality. She was still engrossed within her thoughts when a strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee entered her nostrils.

“Here’s your coffee” David was smiling like a little kid surprising his mom with a handmade birthday card.

For a moment she forgot her dream and smiled back. She held her cup of coffee and the mug reminded her of the dream again. She looked at the words inscribed. She closed her eyes for a moment.

“So it’s my day today” David planted a kiss on her cheeks. It was Sunday, the only day when veronica was off the work and spent some time with him.

“Yes sweetheart”

“So let’s go for a movie”

“As you say”

“Where should we go? Alexis is the nearest”

“Ok”

“We will grab a bite at Uncle Petty’s and then head for the movie”

“Sounds cool”

“Ok, you get ready, I will check the garden till then”

“David, is the air-condition working in the living room?”

“NO!! I am trying to figure out the problem since morning, you knew about it?”

“mmmm, I had tried it in the night”, She hadn’t.

“It might be a coincidence veronica” she thought to herself.

She wore a yellow shirt with blue shorts that went down her knees. With pearls in her ears and her favorite MG watch on her wrist, she looked perfect. Climbing down, she found David in the gardens checking on some flowers. He was ready and waiting for her. She grabbed her ankle sandals and they jumped in the car. It was 11 am and Veronica was hungry. They had a burger with coke and some brownie at Uncle Patty’s and headed towards Alexis, a city cinema where the movies featured.

They resided in New York, where people jammed streets to have their share of extraordinary fun and astonishment. Life is sweet and simple in New York, with walking more prominent than driving, blocking most of the roads. They passed through the Times Square, which looked as colorful as a rainbow in the morning light. As they were nearing Alexis, on the right side of the road, a strange little house at the corner of a street caught veronica’s eyes. It looked similar to the house in her dream. She watched it till it was out of the sight.

She decided to check on it later on. It was evening when they got out and David had some work, he dropped Veronica home. He never took her for his personal work. Veronica had asked once or twice about it but ended up fcing David’s anger. They had a clean policy of not interfering in each other’s work. David never asked her where she went and in-turn she was supposed to keep quite.

“This was the right time to check the house” Veronica thought to herself. Soon David left and once he was out of sight she left the house in her own car.

From far end, the house looked pretty. It was built in red lyons and sandstones. She gazed across the property. An awful looking picket fence surrounded it. Though the city silvered by the sun, the place looked dead as if it has been freezing from 100 winters within that secluded location. She saw a big golden lock on the door. She headed towards a rusty old abandoned mailbox which was partially visible and partially hidden by tall trees. There were dirty bushes and brambles against the door.

“To tress pass a property is considered a crime” she thought to herself.

Suddenly, her eyes feel on the lock, she looked closely at the door and found the golden lock partially opened. It was just hanging there like a precious thing kept in museum.

“I can easily peep inside, and put it back, just the way it was”

Veronica entered the house carefully removing the lock and placing it in her bag. Green slimes covered the wall. As she moved inside she was taken aback. It was the same place. It looked more clean in her dream but this was awfully dirty. The roof had some of its shingles missing, the wall were cracked and weathered. Someone indeed left the place in hurry just like her dream. Things inside looked frozen in time. The glasses at its original location, a piano lay in the foyer with some notes still clipped to it.

“The owners never got a chance to pack” thought Veronica.

She was searching for the room she saw in her dream and the lady, who was she. Her eyes cornered a spider web with a spider hanging from it eating its prey and giving her a sick feeling. Something was strange about this place. The air was cold and damp inside. She looked here and there and was trying to explore the property filled with dust and half broken things.

“It’s the same painting” She exclaimed standing in front of it. The location of the picture was indeed strange. It was hanged in the passage where no one could see it. Why would anyone hang such a beautiful picture here?

She walked further and found the room. It had the same glass wall and rocking chair. The glass wall was dirty and almost opaque. The room was misty, muddy and smoky. Her heart was beating so loud that she could actually hear it pounding. She took baby steps towards the chair. It was still and the room had dead silence. A step more and she could see the chair.

A knife lay on the chair. Her face which had drained all colors was relieved seeing no one on it, she expected a ghost. She took the knife in her hands to examine it closely. It had some black dried liquid on it. She kept it back. There was a twin bed in the center of the room and a closet in a corner. Veronica moved towards the closet and tried opening it.

“Crack” it opened with a strange sound. Female dresses were neatly hanged in there. They all looked beautiful and expensive.

“This lady was indeed a fashionista” she thought to herself.

Suddenly a small photograph that was placed on the side of the closet caught her attention, She held it close to herself

“no no no, this is not possible” agitated and confused, she started sweating and felt a pain in her chest. Suddenly she felt light headed and she glanced back at the picture one more time. It was a lady with David and this was not a painting. It was a clicked photograph.
When they met 6 months back David had mentioned himself as single. He never mentioned having a girl friend or a wife. Veronica was not sure who the lady was. She felt empty inside. She could feel dread slowly creeping in her gut.

“thuttt” A book fell on the ground.

It must be on the top of that cupboard, how it fell, in the absence of wind was a mystery. She picked it up. The smell of those dusty pages reminded her of reminiscent of candlelit libraries on snowy nights. It smelled sweet, with a hint of glue, and a little musty. Veronica could sense a rank odor with no physical presence and she turned around to find no one.

“A little bit of me – by Christina” Veronica read the cover of the book.

It looked more like a personal diary. It was self-made using hand-made paper and had some great designs and colors on it. It was more of a work from a creative person. The book was divide din several section, one of them read “DAVID”. Flipping open the section, she read it line by line, and surrealistic feeling surrounded her. With her eyes still on the pages she took a step back and sat on the corner of the dirt covered bed.

“I met David today, he invited me for a coffee after the school, I think David likes me”

“David and I are dating, omg, I am so happy, life is beautiful”

“I won the first prize in costume designing, my dream of becoming a dress designer is stronger now”

Veronica turned the page

“Mom caught me talking to David, I don’t know what will happen when the dad arrives”

“Dad said he liked David, I am so happy, David is coming home for dinner”

She turned the page again

“David proposed me for marriage and guess what I said ‘yes’”

“I and David are shifting to New York, Dad bought us a house”

“I got a job in leading fashion house, life can’t be better than this”

Veronica had tears in her eyes.

“I think I will quit my job, David needs me”

“I left my job, but David isn’t working either, he needs my support, he will find a job soon”

“David does not speak properly, he want me to work and earn”

There was page with a picture of Christina and David on their wedding day. It was the same person with who she lived. Suddenly everything seemed alienated. David seemed like a stranger. She turned the page.

“I think David is cheating on me, my friend Lucy saw David with a girl in the coffee shop”

“Even Peter found David with someone at the restaurant”

“David seems strange this days, he behaves rude, should I call dad?”

“I am tired running the house on my daddy’s money. Daddy gave me those money for opening up my boutique, what will daddy think of me when he would find out that Davis is using them all”

And the book ended. The last message was dated “12/6/2012”. A year and a half had passed away. What happened to Christina? Where was she?

Veronica started searching the house again, in a hope to find some clues. She found a bottle of perfume, some love letters indicating David’s writing and few more photographs. She found an old telephone diary from the same closet. It had a number with “mom” scribbled inside. Veronica took out her cellphone to dial the number. It was ringing

“Hello”

“Hello, can I speak to Christina?”

“Christina???? Who are you?”

“mam I am her friend from school days, we were not in touch from 5 years, I found this number after a great difficulty”

“Oh dear, Christina passed away in December last to last year” and the women on the line started crying

“I am so sorry mam, can I ask, what happened to her?”

“It’s a terrible story dear, a fateful day that took away our daughter. She went missing ad non one could find her. Her husband called us that Christina is missing, police tried everything and finally Christina was declared dead, she just vanished”

“I am so sorry to hear that, god bless you”

“Thank you dear”

And the line went dead.

Veronica looked at her watch, it was the time for David to return. She wanted to settle her sore with David. She took the diary with her and even the photographs and placed it carefully in her bag. She got her camera and clicked few pictures of the place to look at it later on and carefully made her way out of the room towards the door. Suddenly a big noise from inside the house halted her way. It was like something just fell on the ground. Veronica ran inside and found the painting of Christina and David lying on the ground with its glass broken and shattered in thousand pieces. She looked at the blank space on the wall from where it came down and something caught her attention.

The color of the wall with Painting was somewhat different than rest of the wall. It looked painted later on. Also the wall look dismembered. Someone had tried to do something with it or might have done something to it.

“Was it a sign that something present inside this house is trying to tell me?” Veronica thought to herself.

She looked around and found and old iron rod lying in the corner. Picking it up, she looked at it closely. It had a pointed end with some wall residues on it. Someone has used the same iron rod to temper the wall. She started banging the rod against the wall. It required great strength and she was trying her best. Negative thoughts were coming back again and again. At a point she stopped, but then started again thinking about Christina. She hoped a secret passage behind the wall and may be Christina was there hidden from the world.

 

Finally the bricks came out. She digged a little bit and suddenly a hand was visible. It was a spine chilling sight. She saw a ring on the finger and quickly took out the snaps she had just placed inside her bag. The ring was familiar, she had just seen it. She checked Christina in the pictures and her worst nightmare was true, it was her.

Veronica felt betrayed. A deep seeded feeling was growing inside her. She was in a state of inconceivable thoughts with no way of connecting words spoken. Her face grimaced and her eyes tightened. She called Christina’s mom once again along with the police.

A day filled with drama, a fateful Sunday that changed Veronica’s life forever. She had survived a maniac. She never knew she was trapped. Her story was difficult to be believed, ghosts and spirits do not exist in normal world, but based on the proof, the diary and the pictures, David was arrested. Christina’s parents were in a state of shock. Her father regretted his decision of giving his only daughter in the hands of a monster. Christina never said anything to anybody. She was lonely and David made her even lonelier. Veronica sympathized with her imagining all the horror she might have gone through. For her, it was an intense pain, a feeling of shock and sympathy at the same time.

It wasn’t easy for the officers to make David confess the crime. But he did. It took them two weeks and finally David opened his mouth. He never loved Christina, he loved her money. He married her for the money and soon was tired of her. Christina was expecting too much from him. She wanted to have a baby. David meanwhile had fallen in love with Veronica and wanted to have a life with her. He knew well that leaving Christina would meant leaving behind all her money. Veronica would never want to be with a broke. He planned a murder. He killed his own wife stabbing her to death.

Veronica was dumbfounded. She would have to live with a notion of “being responsible for someone’s death” She never communicated the method of killing to Christina’s parents. They were old and already in grief. She moved out of David’s house and decided never to see his face again. Attending a few court hearing she ensured that David would rot in hell, may be that way Christina would forgive her. A death sentence was inflicted upon David. The same day, Veronica visited the house where Christina’s body was found with no flesh on it. She apologized, she felt Christina’s presence around her and found a note with “I forgive you” inside the house. Her lips curved in a soft smile, she left the house, never to return again.

For Veronica, the day started with hugs and kisses and ended with bidding a final good bye.