Here is another 365 word crime story. Anyone joining in?

 ZAHEER’S DREAMS (365)

Zaheer collapsed onto the narrow bed, his life in ruins. He didn’t expect to sleep. He hadn’t slept properly for weeks; tossing, turning, worrying and waking exhausted to plod through another failure of a day. At first the flames leapt around him as they had in the kitchen; but then he was free of them and floating towards a large luxury hotel; to work he thought. But no; there was a reception and he was guest of honour. The restaurant guide had judged him FUSION CHEF OF THE YEAR. People surrounded him in fake kisses, champagne bubbles and envious congratulations. He was making a speech. ‘I did not meet my great grandfather. He was never spoken of in our home in Goa. But I discovered he was Portuguese. Apart from a few buildings the Portuguese heritage has gone from Goa; but I carried the fusion of Indian and European in my blood and when I went to catering college in Clapham I was determined to express it.’ Now he was surrounded by attractive women. But they were moving away from him, their noses in the air. He was being shunned by everyone now. He knew he should be ashamed of his failure. Mia was standing just out of reach. Was she retreating in horror? Was she struggling to rush to his side? Then Zaheer was crouching and his uncle was standing over him with the flaming stick. Zaheer awoke. ‘Visitor for you at eleven,’ the prison officer snarled. Reality crowded in on Zaheer now; the two year sentence; the family pressure to open the traditional Indian restaurant; the weekly losses; his uncle’s insistence that a well planned insurance claim was the only way to repay the family. Mia was his visitor. The family had organised his bride too. But she hadn’t given up on him, unless she had come to tell him she was returning to Mumbai. ‘My cousin has a business degree.’ Mia said. He knows towns that have no fusion restaurant. We can start again. ’ Then she fades and Zaheer wakes. He realises that until parole he is powerless; but is free from nagging worry. He can sleep in peace and dream.

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