This story is very dear to me, since this was the first story of mine that was ever published (in a regional magazine called Young Times). The reason I'm called a budding author today, is because of this story. Not great in literary merit, I agree, but irreplaceable in emotional value. Let me know what you think about it....
?Excuse me sir. Would you like anything to drink?? asked the airhostess. I was sleeping and in a sleepy mood shook my head to indicate no. However, the man who was sitting next to me asked for the orange juice. I turned my head a little to see who it was, but the whole airplane was dark. Every one was sleeping, except for us. I was flying from Paris to Los Angeles. It was a seven-hour journey with two stops, one at Amsterdam (half an hour) and another one at New York (Three Hours). The man started talking to me. Although I pretended to be asleep, I soon found out that the man was keen on talking. ?Cant he go and talk to the air hostess?? I thought. Nevertheless, I listened. The conversation quickly became about Baseball. Although I was a businessperson, I had a liking for The NEW York Yankees. The man asked me who would win in the match between New York Yankees and Boston Red Socks. I told him that for sure New York Yankees would win. He started to dispute that, and within minutes asked if I dared to bet.
Although I was offended, I betted him, 50 dollars. He raised it to 100. I then went to sleep. The man, however, got up and walked towards the toilet?
Half an hour later, the man and I ate our dinner. While eating, I was wondering about the baseball match when the man again engaged me in conversation. ?Now, what bet does he want? I thought, slightly annoyed. He talked about the market condition and finally ended by saying that the Day would end with the NASDAQ losing 6 percent. I could not resist challenging him. I told him that due to Hurricane Katrina, NASDAQ would go down by 10 percent. ?Any common man would know that? I thought. The man challenged me and once again, I bet 200 dollars that NASDAQ would go down by 10 percent.
I put on my headphone and waited for the in-flight movie to start. The man got up moved towards the toilet. ?The fellow has grown attached to the toilet,? I thought. For the next two hours, I did not see the man. After the movie finished, he came back. I was bewildered and asked him if he had spent two hours in the toilet. He laughed and said ?No, of course not. I just talked to a few of my friends who are on this flight. I asked if I should exchange my seat for his friend?s (so that the fellow would leave me in peace) but before long, the conversation was about Movies. ?You know, Brad Pitt must be sad that he hasn?t got a movie to act in? he said. I sensed another bet coming up, and after informing him that Brad Pitt had not one, but three movies in the making, boldly said that I would challenge him 300 dollars for a bet. He agreed, and I felt mischievously happy. I had a friend who had a friend whose cousin was the Agent of Brad Pitt, and he assured me that Pitt was working on three movies.
I felt that I needed a few hundred dollars from this fellow and happily listened to some music. The man however, went to talk to some of his friends.
Soon, the plane landed in Amsterdam, and the man came back from his chatting, looking excited. When I asked what he was so excited about, he said that the latest addition of TIME, WALL STREET JOURNAL, and SPORT STAR was to be gotten from Amsterdam. He went up to the front of the plane and took the magazines and came back (he had by now made it a habit to walk around the plane as though it was his own house)
He opened SPORT STAR, and I lost 100 dollars. The New York Yankees had lost, the magazine said, badly. Then he opened WALL STREET JOURNAL and again I was surprised to know that NASDAQ had only gone down by 5 percent. Grudgingly I flung the 200 dollars at him. Then he opened TIME magazine, and I was so surprised that I let out a gasp. Brad Pitt had not gotten any part in a movie. Still shocked, I took out the last few dollars from my wallet and handed it to the man. He happily put it into his pocket and got up. For the next hour, I bitterly cursed my luck. ?Why did every thing happen to me?? I thought. I had lost 600 dollars.
When the plane was about to land at New York (Where every one would have to go to the Transit section to wait for the next flight) the man came back. I was bewildered when I saw him counting hundreds of dollars. I tried to ask him where he had gotten it from, but he merely smiled.
The plane landed, and the man raced to be the first to reach the airport.
I was walking towards the Transit area when I noticed a few magazines. Suddenly I stopped. Something had just caught my eye. I quickly grabbed TIME, WALL STREET JOURNAL, and SPORT STAR and did not pay (I did not have any cash with me). I quickly read the main news: INTERVIEW WITH THE YANKEES, WINNERS OF THE 2005 BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP, ECONOMY UPSET AS NASDAQ FALLS 20 PERCENT, BRAD ENJOYS THREE MOVIES.
I could not understand what was going on. The magazine, which the man had, said that none of these were true (and as a result, I had to pay 600 dollars). I quickly walked towards the transit area to find the man.
After searching the transit area, I still could not find the man. I asked an airhostess if she had seen him. She replied that the man had left the airport. I then asked if there were any more magazines of TIME, WALL STREET JOURNAL, and SPORT STAR in the airplane. The airhostess looked surprised and said, ?We only have the old issues of these magazines. Our planes don?t stock them when we are on a transit flight sir?
I sat down on a chair in the transit area. My head was about to burst. I did not know what was going on. The Yankees had won, NASDAQ had gone down (not that he was happy about it) and Pitt had gotten three roles. Then why did the magazines in the flight write false news? In addition, there actually were not any magazines in the flight (except for the old ones) that could only mean one thing?
My thoughts were interrupted. Men were fighting. Some were saying, ?Yankees won? while others argued ?Boston?s won?. As I had a reputation for solving problems, I asked them what the matter was. One of them said, ?Look, a guy asked us if we wanted to bet who would win the Yankee-Socks match. We betted and the guy took down our names-??How many were there?? I asked, not feeling easy. ?Well, about twelve. The guy took the betting from almost every one in the plane. About hundred of them? I was shocked. ?Well then, the guy brought magazines and proved to us that Yankees lost, and collected money. Lots of money. But we find out that the Yankees did win-?the man was interrupted by another man who said,? No the Boston?s won? and so the fight started again. I interrupted them and said,? You are not going to like it, but that guy cheated you. The magazine he showed you was a fake. He made duplicate copies of the magazines, and then betted. And how much did he get?? A man said,? He took about hundred from each of us?
That night, as I lay in my bed in my apartment in Los Angeles, I thought over all that had happened. The man (whose name I do not know) had cheated every one of 100 dollars. It all added up. He never introduced himself, and got away with Ten thousand dollars. Ten thousand dollars. The flight only cost 5000 dollars... The man must make a couple of hundreds every month.?
I remembered that I had not informed any one about this cheat. Not even the Airport Police or my friends. My worry changed into joy as I thought, ?The man took 600 dollars from. Let him take 600 dollars from another man.? With that happy thought, I went to sleep.