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The Man with the Black Umbrella (Version 2)

Disclaimer : I'm a huge KPop fan and you will come across names and photographs of KPop idols in most of my stories. They are my muse and inspiration in so many ways. The incidents and characters are fictional and have no resemblance to any K pop idol in any manner.

"Is the goblin crying today?" Laila asked her roommate Alia.

Alia(face palms)- Oh God! You and your K Drama obsession!

Laila was a complete crazy K drama addict! She could binge watch an entire series at a go! The most recent one being Goblin. In this drama, the protagonist is actually a 800 and something year old goblin and his best friend is a Grim Reaper! !Alia also liked k dramas but wasn't as crazy as her roomie and bestie Laila.

Alia is the pragmatic, practical, realist, cleanliness freak, meticulous and punctual. Laila was exactly the opposite and a diehard romantic to boot! Alia was younger in age but Laila was a big baby! The worst part is Alia loved her to bits and pampered her a lot because Laila was too adorable and endearing.

Laila- Alia, I feel sad.... I wish the goblin would stop crying! I want to go out!

Alia- So what's stopping you?

Alia regretted those words the moment she uttered them! Laila was out of the door, dancing in the rain and jumping in puddles before Alia could put on her raincoat and her Wellingtons!

"This crazy lunatic! If I didn't love you so much, I would wring your pretty neck! Aargh! " Alia was screaming as she came out with a raincoat for Laila, who was dancing away. Alia laughed her crazy friend.The girls were having a blast!

What they didn't know was that someone was watching them from the shadows, camouflaged in black clothes and holding a big black umbrella. A sudden ray of light fell on the hidden figure and Alia saw someone watching them.

By the time she cleaned her glasses and looked again, the figure was gone and the bench was empty.

"That's strange! Who was that? " Alia wondered as she pulled Laila back into the house with all her might. They had a quick dinner of chicken noodle soup with vegetables. After dinner, Alia washed the bowls and cleaned the kitchen. By the time she came to bed, Laila was already asleep!

Morning dawned misty and cloudy. It was still raining. Laila and Alia worked part time in a salon cum spa which was close by. It was time to wake lazy Laila up! As Laila dragged her feet to the washroom, Alia went to the kitchen to make coffee and cook some breakfast. Within an hour the two girls were on their way to the salon.

Alia glanced at the bench as if on cue, noticing a man fully clad in black, holding a black umbrella. From a distance she couldn't make out much except that he was clearly, looking straight at them. Alia didn't stop. She urged Laila to move faster, feeling safe only once they were inside the salon.

On their way back, Alia saw him again. She was a bit scared and frantically pushed Laila inside and banged the door shut. As the rain pelted against the window pane, Alia saw the man with the umbrella still sitting on the bench looking at their house. She distracted Alia with some K Drama suggestions and kept casting furtive glances outside. Finally, the man was nowhere to be seen.... Alia waited for some more time before dragging Laila to bed. They had a working day tomorrow !

The man with the black umbrella was a fixture on that bench. Laila was blissfully unaware of anything around her but Alia always noticed him watching them from afar. It's been a week now and his creepy behaviour is freaking Alia out!

Today, she had decided to confront him once and for all! As usual she spotted the man on the bench. She sent Laila home and walked towards him. As she got closer, she looked back at their flat; it was clearly visible from where she was standing. Which means the pervert had a fantastic view of them dancing in the rain on the terrace! He's had it today!

As she reached closer to the bench, the man took out a white folded stick which visually impaired people use. He tried to open the stick but couldn't. It fell from his hands and he went down on his knees trying to touch it.

Alia had a lump in her throat and tears streaming from her eyes as she knelt down and fetched the stick. She helped him get up and sit back on the bench, handing him the stick. He thanked her politely in a deep voice which touched her soul. She was so overcome with guilt that she started crying. A clean white handkerchief was offered by a gloved hand and she thanked him.

As she wiped her eyes, she looked at him. He must be in his 40s maybe, messy salt n pepper hair, a well work woollen coat and gloves. She felt awful for having judged him so harshly without knowing a thing about him! He looked miserable enough without her adding to it!

"Are you alright, Miss? Why are you crying? He asked.

Alia- No, I'm alright.....

Alia was feeling dizzy and tried to dial a number as she noticed a black Benz( which she always thought was a cab!!!🙄) stop and a man came out.

"Doc, you are here so soon?" The man with the umbrella said as he climbed into the car. Alia had goosebumps as she heard a deep voice from the car,"What about her friend?"

Doc- She is already home Charles.

Before Alia could run away, a familiar white handkerchief was pressed to her nose and she lost consciousness completely.

Alia opened her groggy eyes. Her head throbbed painfully as she tried to focus. She was in an unfamiliar room. An expensive hotel suite probably, judging by the interiors, or a rich man's house!

Doc- Oh! You are up? Good..... evening! You were cold out for more than a day! You had us worried Miss! Charles, she is up!

Alia's eyes were like saucers as the man with the black umbrella walked in. There was no umbrella today, but he was walking without his white stick in front of him. He looked straight at her.

Alia- You can see? You fraud!

Doc- No, he pretends to be blind but he isn't! He sits on that bench everyday waiting to see you.

Alia- What do you mean??? And why should he wait to see me?

Doc- Oh, you met his blind alter ego today because he wanted to use your sympathy to get to know you!

Shivering with fear and the cold, Alia looked at Charles with her eyes wide open.

Charles- Hi pretty girl !

Alia felt her skin crawl as Charles came closer and touched her cheek softly with a gloved hand.

Doc- Quit scaring her Charles! She needs to be treated with love not roughness!

Charles' fingers tightened around her chin as he jerked her face up to meet his eyes. Alia gulped in fear as she looked into those black eyes- so sinister and menacing.....

In a moment the look softened and his grip on her chin loosened, as he smiled and said," I hope Charles didn't hurt you! I'm Dean, sweetheart! He is angry because he can't see you like I can! Remember when I visited your salon about a week back? Wait...."

Dean/ Charles combed his hair neatly with a comb and put on a smart pair of glasses. He quickly went inside his room and changed into a pair of blue jeans and a tee. The transformation was instant as recognition flickered in Alia's eyes.

Alia- Oh! It's you? Of course I remember you! I styled your hair that day and you had asked for my number! But I clearly refused.... Did you follow me home? You are pathetic!

Dean/Charles- Hold it beautiful! Now that you remember, I'll continue the story. So, I came home and told Charles about you. He went crazy when I described your beauty and wanted to see you! I laughed at him and he took offence! He wanted you by hook or crook! So he overpowered me and asked Doc to drop him at the park. Doc here helped Charles to find a good spot to keep an eye on you. I must appreciate Charles for his patience! He waited a whole week for you to notice him and respond! And you, lovely lady fell right into the trap! So Charles and Doc brought you home so he could tell you how much he loves you and desires you!

Alia- Get away from me! Where is Laila? You said she is home.... Where is she? If you lay even a finger on her, I will kill you!

Doc- Chill babe! Your bestie is sleeping in my room like a baby! I swear I didn't touch her! And Dean/ Charles here is only interested in you!!

Suddenly the doorbell rang. Doc peeped out of the peephole and saw a young man dressed in black, standing outside. He was alone.

Doc opened the door but literally flew through the air as he was kicked by a long muscular leg. He landed on the glass top table and screamed in agony.

Dean/ Charles was too late to react as a uniformed cops handcuffed him and helped Doc into a stretcher.

Alia had the biggest smile as she saw the young dashing boy. He quickly came to her and hugged her tight.

Alia- Oh Jeon! You came! I was so scared! Laila is inside that room!

Detective Jeon- Come on sis! I bugged both your phones and put all those cctv cameras in your house for a reason! You better not let your guard down like this again!

Alia- I was so dizzy when I pressed the speed dial, I didn't even know if the call got through! Oh my baby brother! I'm so happy to see you!

Jeon- Not as happy and relieved as I am! When I got your call, I could hear these men talking and realised you and Laila were in danger! But they had already kidnapped Laila before I could reach her! However, the cctv footage was enough to nail the guy who opened the door! Then your phone tracker led me here. I thought I had lost you!

Alia- Well, had they known the great Detective Jeon is my brother, I don't think they would have messed with me! You remember that 'beach boy Uncle' I told you about? He is the one who brought me here! Ugh! He makes my flesh crawl!

Jeon laughed as he saw a sleepy Laila coming out of the bedroom. He drove the girls back to their flat and waited as they freshened up. Jeon had already called his friend Jin to prepare a feast as the ladies would be there soon. A dose of Jin (pun intended) is all you need when you need a good laugh!

Laila was shocked to hear what had transpired in the past 24 hours while she was happily sleeping! Alia and Laila were looking forward to a few hours of complete unwinding with Jin and his customised cocktails!

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