Monday, May 12, 2008

Question Time

Jim stared at the pitch black screen with the floating, tiny white writing. He had heard that Roman Polanski's name was mentioned in the credits somewhere as a "idea man". And he had to see, to make sure.

The lines rolled by. He tried not to remember what Roger McGrady (jib operator) or Timothy Speelding (lighting and compositing artist) did in the movie. Then suddenly, much to his satisfaction, it showed up.

"Larry Tellis - Ideaman."

Larry Tellis was of course the name Polanski used in such situations. Jim, looked at the screen smugly for one last time before he turned it off. He made a note of the recent discovery in the notebook he had by his side. Not bad, he thought for a SFX movie - hidden tributes to Casablanca and The Apartment, and a special appearance by Santana. And now Polanski's name to the credits. More than par for the course.

If he had people around him he would've said "Nice job, boys! A good day's work", but he was alone. And sleepy. And it was night. So he went turned out the light and went to bed. With the calm of a man who knew of a job well-done.


The alarm clock went off at the usual 7 am. Jim woke up. Stared at the paper, gulped some tea, showered and headed off to work. Pretty much a standard Junior-Analyst-at-a-major-investment-company morning. As he locked his 6th floor apartment door, Mrs.Abrams from next door said hello. Jim just smiled weakly in return. At least she didn't talk about his car today.

Exactly a week back, Jim had bought a pretty expensive car. It was in fact one of the most expensive cars money could buy - the new Gladeo S6 Platina, not something that should be in the possession of a 25 year old Finance executive. But, if you've just won a cool £1 million on a TV Quiz show, you do have a little bit of leeway to splurge on childhood fantasies. And so he did.

As he made his way to work, Jim recollected those final moments. He had just won £500,000 via what he thought was a really simple question (Which king was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine?) and the last question was about to just show up. No one before him had ever actually won the £1 million, and to everyone's surprise Jim had all of his lifelines unused. Waiting.

When the final question actually came up, it all turned out to be a bit anti-climatic. It was Entertainment of all topics and they asked him about a character played by an obscure Broadway actor that would be made famous later by another famous actor.("Poncho Man" and Steven Stallworth). Of course he knew that! It was in fact on the "do not ask again list" at his local pub quiz sessions. And he had won the million quid. Just like that.

It seemed awesome to think about all this as he strode along the M6, the Gladeo just purring along. He remembered feeling invincible. Omnipotent. Anything they threw at him he could answer. Just like that. As he pressed on the pedal and galloped along the motorway at 150 kph, nothing he felt could ever challenge him. Not a question or a query he could not find an answer to.

Suddenly the cellphone rang. It was Martha.

"Hi Jim. I really don't know how to say this, and I'm really sorry I'm saying it over the phone like this. But I really can't think of another way. Ermm.. I really don't think we should see each other anymore. I'm really, really sorry. Can you ever forgive me?"

And suddenly all his lifelines were gone, and he was penniless. Again. Just like that.



Blogger Ramanand said...

Good effort. Must confess that it read better the second time. I must ask why the prelude. I thought the rest of the story could have still stood on its legs had that not been there (or had been in more summarised form). What was the intention in beginning with that? just asking from a economy-is-better approach.

3:05 AM  

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