RedPaper.in – Short Story
By: Nidheesh Samant | RedPaper.in
I shifted in my seat. It was too plush for my liking. This was one of the reasons I did not like the theater. I would take a nice wooden chair over these four legged pillows, any day. I looked around. The theater was an example of good interior designing, very aesthetic indeed. The ceiling was especially pretty, with a mural painted across it. It showed the illusion of the ceiling being supported by the theater boxes. The theater boxes were reserved for VIPs. I could see that every box was occupied by people of importance – politicians, actors, tycoons, and so on. But, one of the boxes was empty. Incidentally, that was the box I was interested in. Rather, I was interested in the person for whom that box was reserved for, he was my target.
I don’t know what was more frustrating, being given this mission on my off-day, or waiting for my target to make an appearance while I was forced to endure the tortures of theater. I had never wanted the mission. I preferred never drawing attention to myself. So, I never made appearances in crowded places or social gatherings. But, the orders had come from the highest authority and were a high priority. I simply could not refuse. I checked my watch. My target should have been here by now. It was unlikely that my source had made a mistake. Maybe, my target had decided against coming for theater. I realized I had been staring at the box for a couple of minutes now. I quickly focused back on the debacle taking place on the stage, lest someone suspect my motives. After watching the appalling performance for a few minutes, I heard faint whispers around me. I looked at the empty box and smiled to myself. The box was not empty anymore. My target had arrived.
Now, I only had to wait for the right moment. I could not stand up in the middle of a performance and walk out. It would draw too much attention of not only the patrons, but also the theater security. I waited. I tried to keep my tapping feet in check, but there was no other way to express the irritation I was feeling right now. After around twenty minutes of agonizing acting and deplorable dialogue, the theater went dark. This was my chance. The stage needed to be reset for the next scene and that meant the theater would be dark for approximately five minutes. Enough time to reach the exit. I hurried through the narrow rows of seats, made narrower by viewers wanting to stretch their legs and sit. After a few stomps and minor bumps, I made it to the side exit, all in good time. The lights came back on, just as I closed the door behind me.
I made my way up the staircase leading to the first floor. I sneaked past the dozing theater guards and made my way to the target box. I could see two burly bodyguards standing guard outside the box. I approached confidently with measured steps. As I neared them, I nodded to the guard on the left and he nodded back. He tapped the other guard on the shoulder and they both walked past me towards the washroom. I drew a deep breath and exhaled before I pushed aside the curtain gently, and entered the box. There was my target, sitting with my back against me. He seemed to be bored of the performance as well. It was time to put him out of his misery. I put my hand inside my jacket, getting a good grip on the contents therein. I called out to him.
He turned to look at me. He looked much older in person. But, the legendary beard was indeed quite well maintained. He looked at me nervously.
I removed the hand from my pocket as I approached him.
“Sir, my girlfriend is a huge fan of yours. Could you please give me an autograph?”
I passed the diary and pen to him. He stared at me for a second and then complied with my request.