[eyes opening slowly]
“Where am I? “.
“ You are in the hospital Ellie. Welcome back! “.
“Oh! Ken, it’s you but why am I here…… I remember being shot in the arm and then….. “..
“ And then you went unconscious… So I bought you here….maybe it was because you lost too much blood”.
“ Oh!…. Thank you ken! For bringing me here”.
“ Nah! It’s all right… Don’t worry yourself… Just stay in your bed and rest. “
[A nurse walks in]
“ Miss Ellie, how are you feeling now? “
“I am ok now…….. But how early can I get out of here? “.
“Well! You have to stay here for at least 3 more days… Although your injuries weren’t severe due to your current body situation, we would like to monitor you for few more days… “.
“ It’s ok doctor, I am fine…… Just let me off by evening and I will be fine… As it is I don’t have enough money to pay for the bills and other stuff “. Ellie said with a smile full of sadness and hopelessness.
“ It’s ok. Keep her here for as long as she gets well.<addressing Ellie> Besides, you don’t need to worry about the expenses. I have lots of money as my savings, give it back when you have it”. Said Ken.
“ No, it’s alright… I will be fine “.
“ You better listen to your boyfriend miss……. Besides if you don’t take care of yourself… Your health will keep deteriorating. “
[ Ellie with his face all red from embarrassment] “ He is not my boyfriend nurse… Besides, I wish he would have been mine”.
“ Not happening Miss!.” “ Nurse, what is her current situation which you were saying about earlier?. “
“Miss Ellie has been suffering from acute blood cancer from past 8 months and if she doesn’t start her treatment should won’t live for long”.
From the start of the whole robbery event, Ken didn’t show any expressions on his face. It seemed like he didn’t feel any emotion or anything of that sort. But it was only here that he seemed a bit concerned although that concern wasn’t seen on his face.
“ Nurse, start her treatment as soon as possible. All the bills will be paid beforehand only”.
“ What!… No Ken… I can’t take money from you……. Besides I am saving money for the treatment and I am sure to save enough by the end of 2 years “.
“ Ya! Ya!….. If you are confident of saving that much in two years then pay me back whenever you have the amount “.
“Oh! You don’t have to pay the full amount just now. You will already be notified when the amount is needed.” Said the nurse, interrupting the conversation between Ken and Ellie.
“ Now then, I’ll be leaving Ellie….. Rest as much as possible and get well soon! “.
Saying that Ken left the hospital, smoking a cigarette in his mouth with both his hands in his jacket. San Diego, a city of the Californian state of the United States wasn’t the one which Ken would have chosen if he had a choice. The unending streets of the city bordered by the long unplastered multi-storeyed buildings seemed too monotonous and boring to Ken.
As Ken was slowly walking along the streets of the city, one of Ken’s acquaintances came walking from behind calling him out on the busy roads of the city.
“ Hey! Ken where are you heading”.
“ Just to my apartment. What about you Ak? “.
“ Just wandering off the streets the city….. Want to go for a drink? “.
“ No, I think I’ll pass…… By the way, how is your comic book store going? “.
Ken, who considered the city monotonous and boring, was completely unaware of the fact that his way if talking, his clothes, his lifestyle was perfectly in sync with that of the city men. Probably it was because of the people with whom he interacted and the surroundings under which he lived.
Akins or better liked to be called Ak, was a middle-aged American who was just about the height of Ken. He was blonde, had brown eyes and was a little brown by complexion. He wasn’t very rich and earned a decent amount from the comic book store which he ran.
He met Ken in his store as Ken was really into comics and was a regular customer of the store. Ak, being the owner, usually gave suggestions to Ken and since then they became very good friends (although Ken considers him as an acquaintance only).
Having a chit-chat both of them walked down the streets of San Diego. With the advent of the winter season, the temperature of the city started to take a dip. The rows of tall green trees which always add warmness to the surroundings were now seemed to be shiver because of the gentle chilly breeze.
The shimmering windows of the monotonous buildings which always reflected the affability of the people of the city, were now white and seemed to have an icy texture to them.
“ How’s is everything between you and the hot purple head lady working with you? “ said Ak with a wink to Ken.
“ We didn’t have anything in the first place… We both are just colleagues “ said Ken with the same poker look which he always had on his face.
“Oh! Come on, at least blush a bit while saying that” Ak uttered with disappointment as he gave a friendly whack on Ken’s back.
“ Have you heard about the game about which everyone is fussing around? “.
“ Ya, I came to know about it today only, “ said Ken throwing the end of his burned-out cigarette in the dustbin.
“ The concept seems quite interesting… Wanna participate? “.
“ Nah! Not interested… Plus I don’t trust the company regarding the gameplay and the transparency with the rules.. “.
“ They said that they will be very strict with that. “.
“ Ya! Ya… Whatever! “.
[ Walking down, they came across a building which was covered with a huge poster of the game. In front of the building was a registration booth which had a beautiful attendant.]
“ Welcome sir, we are accepting registrations for the gaming contest, which our company recently announced,“ said the lady at the booth.
“ No sorry, we are not interested “ said Ken.
“No, we are not missing this Ken, <addressing the lady at the booth> what are the procedures?” Ak prompted staring towards Ken as if he was asking ken to keep his mouth shut.
“Not much sir, just register yourself here and go inside the building, where you will have to pass a small physical test and that’s it. “ said the attending lady.
“ Hey what are you doing, I am not interested at all, if you are interested then go on yourself…… I am not coming.. “.
“ Come on Ken! Give it a try atleast, just think about the money you will get if you win the competition. You only said that you volunteered to pay the bill for Ellie’s treatment and if you win this competition, you will get all the money which is required! “.
Ken stood there for a moment calculating the money he had and how much will require, then snapping out of his zone, he prompted, “Nah! I have the money which will be required to initiate the treatment and as the treatment will proceed, I will have enough to provide for the bills.” [although he wasn’t quite sure of it when he said that]
“Oh! Come on ken…… How much of a jerk could you be…… Ok! I’ll give you a free subscription to any comic book which you like, fine!.”
“ Umm!… Ok, now you are talking sir… I guess I’ll give it a try “ replied ken with a grin and a slight happiness in his voice.
“Uff! ….. Finally the great Ken Hoshi…. agreed to something”.
“ Ya! Ya… Whatever! “.