Book: Anti Social Network

Previous: Chapter 23
Next: Chapter 25

SuperTrance Nightclub. The name pierced Virkar’s grogginess, making him sit up with a jerk. He had been tossing and turning in bed for some time when the name had suddenly popped into his mind. Reaching for his cell phone on the bedside table, he checked the time and, to his surprise, saw that it was only 11 p.m. What am I doing in bed so early?

Suddenly, it all came back. He had left Akhbir’s apartment in Byculla with some members of the Cyber Crime Cell. They had taken all the computer equipment to their office at the Crime Branch Headquarters. Frustrated after a fruitless discussion with the officer-in-charge who had told him to leave everything in their hands and not to interfere while they went about examining Akhbir’s computer, Virkar was tempted again to ask them to allow Richard to assist them. At the last minute, though, he decided against it as he realized that he would open a can of worms by declaring his association with a teenager who nursed a cocaine habit and a penchant for hacking.

Now, as he stared at Naina’s soft, sleeping body on the bed next to him, he remembered how he had headed straight for Naina’s apartment and rushed into her willing arms. They had made love and he had fallen into a fitful sleep, only to be woken by the sudden thought of the visiting card. The fact that he had found the visiting card of a nightclub near the garbage chute outside Akhbir’s apartment somehow seemed relevant. In all probability it had fallen out from somebody else’s garbage bag but he just couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Virkar tossed about in bed for another five minutes and then cast a glance at the sleeping Naina. Making as little sound as he could, he reached for his clothes that were lying on the ground beside the bed. He sifted through his pockets and luckily found the half-crumpled card. Using the light from his cell phone, he read and reread the name Philo Garlosa a few times, trying to remember if he knew that name from somewhere. He flipped the card and saw that the address was printed on the back. The Super Trance nightclub was a part of the old Sahyadhri Cloth Mill situated close to Deepak Talkies in Lower Parel.

He hesitated for a few more seconds then dialled the club’s phone number printed on the card. After a couple of rings, a voice answered his call, ‘SuperTrance.’

‘This is Inspector Virkar from the Crime Branch. Is there any problem there?’

The voice on the other side replied, ‘Sir, it’s only a few minutes past eleven. We are allowed to operate until 1 a.m.’

Virkar immediately changed his tone. ‘No, I did not mean that kind of a problem. I was wondering if you’ve seen any suspicious-looking characters there.’

The voice did not answer for a few seconds and then replied curtly, ‘Sir, most of our customers are from good families. If you like, you can check with ACP Shahane of Zone-III. Shall I give you his phone number?’

‘No thanks,’ sighed Virkar, ‘it’s okay.’ He hung up. It’s no use talking to this stupid man, he thinks I want to extort money from him, which is why he’s dropping names. But the question that was nagging him popped back into his mind. If the card wasn’t Akhbir’s, then why did he have it? Who is Philo Garlosa? Virkar felt like a drowning man, clutching for straws. Should I call someone from the Crime Branch and send him to enquire about Philo Garlosa? Virkar realized that if he were to rush into the nightclub with a drawn gun, he would spark off panic and create a situation that could take a very bad turn. Making up his mind, he redialled the number.

‘Can I speak to Mr Philo Garlosa?’ he asked when the call was picked up.

‘Philo is not a “Mister”; she’s a “Miss” and she’s busy right now,’ the voice said brusquely.

Virkar put down the phone. How was this girl Philo connected to Sagarika? He glanced at the address again—from Naina’s apartment in King’s Circle, it was just about ten minutes away at that time of the night.

He grabbed his clothes and pulled them on, making as little noise as he could so as to not wake Naina. He was about to rush out of the flat when a question popped into his mind: Why am I going there? Virkar felt a little sheepish for not having asked himself this earlier, realizing that perhaps it was his sleep-deprived state that had led to this knee-jerk reaction. He realized that there was only one way he could do this—he needed a trusted pair of eyes and ears inside the nightclub, eyes and ears that would relay information to him outside. He glanced again at the sleeping Naina, knowing that he would have to drag her into this potentially dangerous situation. But he had no choice and, in any case, Naina had made herself an integral part of this investigation and there was no turning back now. He reached out and shook her shoulder, trying to convey urgency through his touch. But it was only after she had mounted the Bullet and Virkar had touched 130 kmph that he began to go over his plan with her.

Previous: Chapter 23
Next: Chapter 25