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Monday, June 11, 2012

Mont Blanc And A Sip Of Wine


Alissa Milford stepped in the living room to arrange some fresh flowers in the vase; though nobody was visiting her but she liked everything in a particular fashion. She lived alone and managed her life really well; she kept herself occupied with work, reading and gardening. Intrigued by a single lady living alone in a big house, her elderly neighbour started observing her. As Alissa sat down on the steps of her house on a sultry summer day, Mr Caffery moved away from the window so she couldn’t spot him. As an old man who was new to this neighbourhood, he was certainly looking for excitement but not trouble. He opened the bottle of Merlot and poured himself some wine.

Unaware of her neighbour’s curiosity, Alissa spent the entire evening sitting outside. Mr Caffery secretly observed her. For Mr Caffery, she was a little strange, her movements properly scheduled and her life unbelievingly systematic. But she was also someone who occupied this retired man’s life in this new neighbourhood. The curiosity of knowing more about Alissa was taking a toll on Mr Caffery’s blood pressure and finally he went ahead to meet her on a very humid evening. Alissa welcomed him and invited him for a drink. They went to her living room and she brought some wine. Her house was neat and decorated mostly with books related to Computer and Art. Mr Caffery was pleased to meet a well read woman and asked if he could browse through her books. She happily nodded and even took him to her study, where she said, she spent most of her time.

The study was a mini library with books decked up neatly in wall to wall racks. The books were categorised into sections and a lovely painting adorned the only bare wall of the room. He strolled across each section and bent to have a close look at the book on the table; it was a recent best seller. He also spotted a Limited Edition Mont Blanc with ‘A’ engraved on it. He took the pen and rubbed his wrinkled fingers on the engraving.

‘So you also collect luxury pens?’ he asked without taking his eyes off it.

‘It’s a gift from one of my ex boyfriends,’ she said casually as if the gift has no value.

‘He must be really rich,’ he said and kept the pen on the table.

‘Rich and Boring! Would you mind another drink?’ she asked with a perfect smile.

Both relished the drink and talked about art; about Raphael, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso; about the evolution of modern art; about every single thing related to art. He was impressed with Alissa’s knowledge of art, she knew the strokes, the oils and she had an eye for detail. Mr Caffery was enjoying the evening, the drink and the lovely company. Alissa had so much to share; she invited Mr Caffery for dinner on Friday to which he politely and happily agreed.

On Friday night Mr Caffery came sharp at 7 and brought a bottle of wine. She prepared a light meal which they relished. They talked about everything from the harsh summer to the rising rate of unemployment. Alissa was very talkative and Mr Caffery was a very good listener. Both enjoyed the evening. After dinner, they went in the study with the bottle of wine Mr Caffery brought. She poured the wine in two glasses and they continued talking...

'You seem to read a lot about technology too, you worked with Software,’ he asked holding his glass and looking at the Technology section of the rack.

‘No, I was fascinated by hacking in my teens, I read for fun,’ she said sipping from her glass.

‘So you can hack a little bank if we both want to light up this evening,’ he quizzed her.

‘Sure! For fun we can even rob a big bank or a jewellery store,’ she played along.

‘Or someone’s house who happen to have a young son with loads of valuables,’ he said with a stern look.

She was shocked but couldn't move her body. The poison had started working; her limbs were numb and power of speech subdued. She stared at the old man in total disbelief, who took the Mont Blanc kept on the table in his hands, dipped it in wine and went to the painting that hung on the wall. He started scratching the painting with the wet pen exactly where the original painter signed it.

‘What are you doing? What is in this wine?’ she asked the old man who was busy working with the pen and painting.

He smiled when he saw the words 'Claude Monet.’  The painting was a ‘Monet’ stolen from his house seven years ago which was now repainted to hide its originality. Police failed to catch the thieves who they believed were known to the family. Robbers seemed to be technology experts who hacked the security system of the house and shot their only son Adrian, who came home when the robbers were about to leave. Mrs Caffery died of heart attack after hearing the death of their son and Mr Caffery was left alone. Alissa tried to reach the rack where she hid her pistol but her body refused. She could only look and speak.

‘How do you know all this?’ she fumbled.

‘I spotted the pen I gave Adrian on his 18th birthday, which he told me he gifted his girl friend who deserved it better, for she loved books,’ Mr Caffery said holding the pen really close to his heart.

‘I’m sorry, we never wanted to shoot him; he spotted me and it was too risky,’ she said and froze.

Mr Caffery tucked the pen in his pocket, took the painting off the wall and walked away...

*I’m learning the art of writing short stories, criticism is most welcome.

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171 comments:

  1. Brilliant plot and well woven!

    Cheers!!

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  2. Wow Saru. A gripping riveting mystery woven exquisitely. You are a master story teller !

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and for your comment Sir:)

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  3. What an interesting and gripping story. BTW, is this the same thing you were talking about - 'the time leap', a few days ago?

    Keep writing more. :D

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    1. No, that is another story. Thanks for reading Sheldon:)

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  4. Wow! From Poetry to short mysteries yaar.. This one was really amazing. And you revealed all the background ine one para!

    If these are sign of things to expect from your end, then I am damn sure ready for the next story! Let the game begin!

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    Replies
    1. Binu I am trying short stories first, lets see how much I can learn from here. Please point out if you feel something is lacking.:) Thanks for reading!

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  5. Totally gripping Saru. I dont think I blinked my eyes even once, till he walked away with the painting!

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    1. Thank you Jenny. I think you have actually grasped the finer details I have mentioned here.:)

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  6. Hey, you are writing like a master, not a starter...:) nice plot.....great narration...keep more coming.

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    1. Thank you. I am still learning, hope can do better with time:)

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  7. wow...it was a great piece of work...really gripping...like a 2 minute trailer of a thriller movie! :)...it could be adapted into an episode of star-bestseller :)
    Apt length for a short story too...also, as far as I can remember,I think your first work with non-Indian names and characters...that's a nice change

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    1. Thanks Prateek, I think you are a perfect audience for this kinda story. Now I think I shouldn't have started with Monets and Mont Blanc in my very first attempt. Anyways, it is a learning experience. Thanks for reading:)

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  8. Btw, in a line, in the para right above the wine glass image, shouldn't it be --->She was shocked but could "NOT" move her body?

    I think it's a little typo or I am misinterpreting it.

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    1. Thanks for pointing it out, it was a typing mistake:)

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  9. I have no words to describe your work. I can just say that it is superbly fantastic and fabulous. Keep going . . . .

    Ashwini

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  10. Wow...could not stop in between while reading...

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    1. Glad to know that the story kept you hooked. Thanks for reading dear:)

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  11. Wow that was a surprise for sure...I thought u were a good poet until now. :)

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    Replies
    1. I was thinking of writing in a different genre from a very long time and took a risk with this story. Glad to know that you liked it:)

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  12. and now you write stories toooooooooo amazing :) wow


    Bikram's

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    Replies
    1. I try to, lets see how much justice I can with it in the future.:)

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  13. Good story! Could have been a little longer though :)

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    1. I'll keep your suggestion in mind while writing the next one. Thanks for reading this...:)

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  14. Nice plot, Saru. The narration was engaging throughout. But we could get that intriguing mystery feel only when the hacking discussion came up. On the whole, you surprised us! :):):) Way to go! :) And I simply loved the title!

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    1. I thought we could bring the twist only when we take a sharp turn of events in between the story. Lets see how can I work with the points you mentioned in my next write up. Thanks for your valuable suggestions. And even I loved the title:)

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  15. Not bad at all! The end was quite good.

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  16. Short and gripping...just the way I like 'em! :)

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    1. Thank you Shreya, good to know that we have similar tastes in stories.:)

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  17. What criticism Saru!
    It's a short, crisp and totally edgy read...Go for it girl-short stories like your poetic brilliance is so you:-)

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    1. Thanks Suruchi, glad you liked it. :) :) :)

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  18. Hi Saru! :)
    Interesting indeed!
    I must say you are going too good in writing short stories.The best thing was I read each of the line with eagerness :D

    Keep Writing dear! :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Simran,

      Thanks, your comment is really encouraging. Good to know that the story kept you hooked.

      Keep Sharing,
      Saru:)

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  19. Oh wow - this is chilling and utterly brilliant!

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  20. Saru..... :) :) hugs..

    this is CLASSY! Loved it!

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  21. I really liked it, Saru. It was very well narrated, had great flow and rhythm and kept the suspense up.
    But what surprised me was how did the old man carry potent poison along with him? Why was he anxious to see her? How did he know, know before he even saw the pen?

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    Replies
    1. Bhavana, he mixed the poison in the wine which was from his collection. He was anxious because he was a retired fellow in a new neighborhood and Alissa caught his interest and attention as her moments were very systematic. No, I wrote it clearly he knew only when he spotted the pen and his son told him that he gifted the pen to his girl friend who was a book lover.

      Hope I cleared all your doubts. Thanks for reading dear:)

      Delete
  22. Mind blowing...!!!
    baap re..from now onwards I'll make sure that there's no marked pen left at my study.. :)
    I really liked the very straight way how you told the story.

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    1. Thanks Dip, I was very apprehensive of your reaction. Glad you liked the mystery :)

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  23. Woww… Saru. I must tell that was brilliant and that was perfect. I thought I was in for a romantic story and half way through got the shock of my life. And then I went back and read it again. You weaved it so beautifully. I rarely come across a thriller/mystery that is so subtle, elegant and rich. You must most certainly write more in this genre. :)

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    1. Raj, coming from you it means a lot. I hope I can live up to the expectation next time I write a story. Thanks for your feedback:)

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  24. I am learner to read such stories.
    You have made a nice attempt.Interaction
    between Alissa and Caffery is strange and
    full of suspense.

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    1. Thank you Sir, please point out something which you feel is wrong:)

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    2. Ok,Saru.
      I read the story again.
      What I feel is lacking, is the fast growing of
      relationship to drink and dinner in just two meetings.
      As per the criminal history of Alissa,she must be a
      suspicious person.The positive traits of keeping
      the things in order,gardening,maintaining the library etc. don't match much with her criminal character.
      On the other hand,Caffery is too much suspicious since
      beginning as if he was having prior doubts about Alissa.

      Please,don't mind,these are my observations only as a reader.May be wrong.

      As a reader I would like the justification of events according to the projection of characters.

      Delete
    3. Sir, about the relationship, that is why I chose American characters, here relationships are like this. As far as criminal behavior is concerned if you read about criminals some are very well behaved. I can't recall the name but the FBI officer who duped American Government for the longest time was very well behaved, used to church without a miss and was loved by all. About Caffery suspicion he was inquisitive as she was very systematic, he was retired, new to this neighborhood, may be I could have used better words.

      Thanks for this feedback, now I will think from your perspective as well while writing my next story. I truly appreciate your gesture :)

      Delete
  25. Fantastic. Reading suspense stories has its own taste.

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    1. Right, in fact suspense is my favorite genre. Thanks for reading Ashish!

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  26. superb....you really kept the suspense till the end!!

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  27. i read through the whole post- glued to every word. I think its one of your best pieces i've read till date. Very stylish, very gripping and interesting. Fitting piece for a theatre act.

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    1. Thank you Madhusha for an inspiring comment. Now I am all charged up to write another thriller. :)

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  28. I'd say i expected more when i started, since it's you and i have always been a fan of your works. But you also told that you're just starting in this genre, so for a starter i was like "Whoa!!" commendable. I mean, someone like me can't even write something half good as this, but i can say that with time, when you'll probably be writing a book on the same thing, it will be one hell of a story! :)

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    1. Thanks Shubham, I am still learning and will work hard on the finer points. Lets see where it goes from here:) *Keeping my fingers crossed*

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  29. I loved your plot a lot. It is worth to get a huge applause from all as it happened above. As a sincere reader of yours, I expect a a different plot from you, Saru, hoping and wishing that you will satisfy me in your next post..

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    1. SIS, what exactly you mean by different? I am little confused here as you said 'you loved the plot' and then you said 'you expected a different plot. Do you mean something else? On a lighter note, we are weaving a mystery in this comment:)

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    2. I loved the plot but I expect a different plots from you, different mystery, why just murder? :-) Think...

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    3. Oh OK! I will try but I mixed Art theft with it. Anyways, hope you will my next story!

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  30. A different attempt...held my interest.

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  31. Are you serious that you are learning to write a strory ?. This story is written by some one who know how to write stories dear .Its awesome.Its really awesome.You have proved that you are good, not only at writing poems but stories as well.Each post written by you is entirely different.Keep up the spirit.Will wait for your next post on next monday :)

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    1. Thanks a lot dear, as I always say, there is nothing better than your friends supporting you.:)

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  32. I stay away from long posts, but this was so easy to read. A very good attempt indeed. Loved the plot!

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  33. Indeed a Transport can run in both directions..a road or track!
    Enjoyed to watch the drive Saru.:) Carry on.

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  34. that's a praise worthy attempt Saru.I enjoyed reading the story very much..

    Keep up the good work.god bless! :)

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    1. Thank you dear, I hope I can do better next time:)

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  35. Saru, I like the plot, the flow and the suspense. Since you've asked for crit, with the very little exposure/knowledge I have, here are the few issues I could find. I felt there where lots of open ends almost in every phase of the story. The intro was slightly inadequate and clumpsy. The conversations, for eg 'I spotted the pen I gave Adrian....' are pretty long and sounds artificial. But as a whole this is a brilliant and unique piece of work. Keep writing more.

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    1. Leo, about the phrases I think I could have made them little edgy. 'Open end' is the style required for suspense, Isn't it? We go in details in novels. About the length of the introduction, I think in a short story, it is very difficult to go in details, you have a scene or two and you try to complete the whole story in it. I will see what I can do about that in my next story since you pointed it. I agree with the conversation you mentioned. It certainly looks artificial. But one thing with so many things you pointed, how can you say it's brilliant. Anyways, I am thankful to you for this comment. I need and appreciate your feedback:)

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  36. Wow.. This is brilliant.. None can guess that you are a starter.. I know that you weren't so much into fiction writing but now you have even started to weave the magic in fictions :) I am enjoying to see this evolution Saru di:)

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    1. Thank you Sonia and I hope you will also plunge into writing fictions:)

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  37. this is wonderful! very very well written. suspenseful too! great job.

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  38. This is done so well Saru. I think you have progressed from your last write and you can take up more challenges now. Great Write !

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  39. i happened to come accross your blog by chance.. I must say, the way you have put it, i read word by word without taking my eyes off.. i loved it.. it had a different unexpected ending too.. verrry nice.. i am definitely going to read the rest of your posts.. :D

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    1. You have done it, I think you have read most of the poems on this blog. Thank you Dipthi for gracing this blog with your presence.:)

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  40. WOW! What a gripping short story. You are too humble when you say, you are still learning the art of writing short stories, because this is just brilliant. I want to read more of your short stories, Saru. I love your poems but I am getting to see a different side of you in these fictional short stories. :)

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    1. I hope I could better with time. Thanks for having faith in me. :)

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  41. awesome plot...................really u got one helluva of imagination...carry on the good work , want to read many more such lovely stories :)

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  42. Mind blowing Saru. Twist in the tale was gripping. Amazing work. keep writing. Brilliant work.

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  43. Saru,
    You should continue writing fiction. This story was superb:) It seems like it comes from a seasoned fiction writer:) Noir/Suspense writing is my favourite genre and this was just the story needed when it is raining heavily outside my window:)) I used to write fiction once upon a time, and reading your story is kind of inspiring me to get back to it.
    Let's see how it goes.

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    1. Nimish,

      You should write fictions and I bet you are good at it as most of your photographs narrates a story. If you can narrate a story in a shot, wonder what you can do in words. Coming to my story, I feel I have to brush up the finer points. I will write more often to learn the skill. Thanks for an inspiring comment:)

      Saru:)

      Delete
  44. That was like watching a thriller !! Fantastic narration..!! I guess, Monet's landscape was actually stolen some years back...but, repainting Monet signature with 'Claude Monet' was too good :) Great imagery...kudos Saru!

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    1. No actually the original Monet was repainted to hide the originality. Glad that you liked the narration. Thanks for reading Ma'am.:)

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  45. Suspense movies and stories are always fascinating...they keep engage readers mind till end..:) nice..

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  46. A fascinating story and well invested time on a holidayto read this:) Saru, you are really versatile!

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    1. Thank you Sir and please point out if you feel something is wrong/can be worked upon.:)

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  47. nice and tight, beautifully written saru. clicked through the fiction tag and was surprised, pleasantly, since i identified your work entirely with poetry. lovely work.

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  48. Saru you are not learning,you are already a master of story telling,it is a perfect piece with an unexpected climax.

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    1. Thank you so much Ma'am, coming from you it means a lot:)

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  49. Simply superb.,..Till the last para had no idea where this was heading to...And thats a sign of absolutely fantastic piece of fiction. :)

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  50. Congratulations! You are on my list of recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award. You may want to check out how this works and whether I had anything nice to say about you at the award post at:
    http://svsaibaba.blogspot.in/2012/06/versatile-blogger-award200-postings-and.html

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  51. Superb!!! With this peace of work it doesn't seem like you are learning... you are the master of it!!! Here is something for you
    http://mymindtales.blogspot.com/2012/06/some-awesome-bloggers.html

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  52. I do not know what to make of the comments really and I see you have not replied either. I guess you know that it isn't brilliant as most of the folks are saying, do not know if to impress or whatever. I like what Alka mentioned. I had to glance through the comments to see if people care to speak.

    Anyway.

    - Wine. Too many times used. I at a point got annoyed.
    - Story, a good story after getting annoyed, and since I had promised to read I continued, I liked the way you progressed.
    - Good narration but something is missing.

    Tell me, were you happy about this one?

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    1. Chintan, wine is the main object, Can't help that. What is missing - I think it's the editing. I need to edit the story more. About me being happy, you know as a writer, you are very rarely happy with your work. You always feel you can do something better. About the comments, I have a simple rule now; read, learn and evolve.

      Thanks for reading:)

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  53. Very nice flow to the story, could have been longer and more layered. The plot is gripping.

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    1. I think layering can be done, thanks for the suggestion Ram and for reading:)

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  54. simply brilliant attempt saru ...

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  55. Sorry, can't make a comment as you have invited criticism and I have lots of praise!
    ...on a serious note it's brilliant Saru, looks like from a master's pen, not a learner's attempt:)

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    1. Thank you so much Sir and I know I can take your words very seriously as you know a lot about Art.:)

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  56. No Doubt story is different and unique but at the same time I somehow agree with Chintan.
    Cheers!!

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    1. On what points you agree with Chintan? About the 'wine' and 'something missing' I explained. If you feel something else, let me know, I would love to work on that. Thanks for reading:)

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  57. Criticism??? Are you kidding me? This was almost like a novel. Everything in this article only suggests that we may have a good series of books coming up soon :)

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    1. Thank you Haritha, glad that you feel I can come up with a book:)

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  58. too good..just came across while passing time n couldnt take my eyes off after reading 2 - 3 lines! brilliant!

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  59. brilliant Saru .. keep it coming !

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  60. It was engaging..
    not qualified enough to comment on quality, but i enjoyed :)

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    1. That's more than enough Jyoti, if you enjoyed it, my job as a writer is done. Thanks for reading dear:)

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  61. Hey that was a good story. You surprised us.:)

    I'm wondering if the man could have seen the painting from his house. (like maybe at night when the lights were on) :)

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    1. No dear, she repainted it to hide the Monet. That's the trick thieves use to hide it from naked eyes. Hope I cleared your doubts. Thanks for reading:)

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  62. good one ! r u sure u r just a beginner; ROCK ON !

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    1. I am and delighted to know that you like my work. Thanks Priya:)

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  63. Like the wine, this is a real good short story having the crafts of an excellent writer.

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  64. If positive criticism is what you are looking for, then I must commend you for I have none to make, except that the turn was too sharp and sudden. But that is how the poison was supposed to work.


    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. I'm really happy that you liked it. Thanks Anshul:)

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  65. I was expecting Mr. Caffrey to strangle her to death. Which would have been more dramatic. Very well written. :)

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    1. I will bring the drama in my next story since you have provided the inputs. Thanks for reading Mani:)

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  66. Hi Saru,

    Well, you have raised your bar so high with your poems, that somehow the story, I feel, fell a little short of it. Actually I read so many books on different genres, that is why, probably, the story did not surprise me, or say filled me with that pure glee when I read your poems.

    I liked the narration part, but the build up, I think, was a little fast, may be, you did not wanted it to be too long. The suspense, I think, should be built in a layered manner, revealing bit by bit, and keeping the interest level of the reader throughout. As the story, is not very long, I do not see anyone loosing interest in the narration very soon, but somehow, the suspense wavers off.

    I hope, you do not mind me saying so much and I hope the other readers have also given you positive feed backs.

    A good attempt, I will say, but do not have the magic, which we have come to expect from you.:)

    Kunal K Malviya

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    1. Hi Kunal,

      First I would like to thank you for an honest feedback. I know this story could be edited more and could be more layered. As I am learning the art, I would surely try to brush up the rough edges and a comment like yours would help me in doing that.

      Also I don't mind your comment, in fact I loved it. It's a source of inspiration to do better and I hope with time I could create some magic in my stories as well.

      Truly indebted to you for this comment.

      Thanks,
      Saru :)

      Delete
  67. For a starter this story was interesting enough to hold the attention. Some points though:
    - May be you can use Indian names just to make the readers connect more with the story.
    - I didn't exactly understand this line as to what you wanted to convey, "As an old man who was new to this neighbourhood, he was certainly looking for excitement but not trouble."..??
    - Generally as we see in movies, a bottle of wine will be a sealed one and the same will be opened once both of them are ready to have it. But in this case since the poison was already in the wine (assuming it was already opened, correct me if I am wrong), it kind of creates a doubt as happened with me.

    Was this worth reading, oh yes and I am sure you will only get better. I agree with what Chintan has mentioned above wrt you not replying to peoples comments, even though you are reading it, a kind of impression might be created in people's minds as to whether you are reading their comments or not.

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't use Wine, Monet and Mont Blanc in an Indian setup. It would look very odd, don't you think so? I meant, he was looking for passing time as a retired old man but not trouble of getting caught in an embarrassing situation where Alissa spots him while peeking/spying on her. You must have seen a fresh bottle of wine/champagne, generally if you bring some old wine from your collection it is opened. Wine is something which gets better with age and older wines are more expensive, some fetching $300000 for a bottle.

      About replying on comments, you know I was busy working with the book which is releasing this month. I apologize for that. :)

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    2. With respect using of Indian names, I was referring to the names of the characters, I should have specified I guess...:) About wine, I seriously don't know much about and yes the more older the wine is the more costlier it is, had seen it on TV. Thanks for that wine info. It's ok re no need to apologize for that, the book writing thing didn't flash to me..:)

      Btw, was surprised to see you replying to all the comments within one day, that was pretty fast..:)

      Delete
    3. Yes you can't use Indian names here. Have you seen Indians behaving like this? I think that would be too much of a creative liberty, don't you think so? And I reply to comments once or twice a week. :) And on those days I reply to all the comments:)

      Delete
  68. It's nicely written and well-conceived, although I think you should edit it more and remove the redundancies. It will make for tighter writing. For example: He opened a bottle of Merlot and pour himself some wine. As soon as I read Merlot, I imagine red wine. When my eyes go over the second part of that sentence, they get no new information. You're better off with: He opened a bottle of Merlot and poured himself a glass—or something like that.
    Comb through your writing to make sure that each word brings meaning to the text. If all it does is weakly qualify another word, remove it.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you that I need to work on my editing. Regarding the sentence, I feel when someone opens a Merlot he will pour in wine in the glass. Merlot is nothing but wine, so why we will have a confusion. Also the style where we write everything in clear lines is outdated. Don't you agree? We presume our readers are smart and we can give them some room.

      Thanks for reading and for a lovely suggestion on editing.:)

      Delete
  69. Revenge tastes best when it is cold. NIcely written Saru. I liked the plot and the way it was narrated :-)

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  70. Saru-jee,

    I have only one thing to say - You should write more of such stories! Like many of your readers pointed out - you really surprised us at the end! I love fictions, short stories... And I really liked this one :) Way to go...

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    1. Thank you Sunil, I want to write more of these and these days I'm trying to refine my art. Hope you will like my upcoming stories as well.:)

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  71. Mam, Fabulous Mystery Work and the way you described her place was sketching the clear images....

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    1. Glad you liked it Saurabh:) Thanks for reading!

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  72. Very intriguing till the end. Wish it was a little longer, the suspense was built up in a gripping manner :).

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    1. I'll try to write a longer one next time. I am learning the art of writing stories and I have to adapt the layering in my work. Thanks for reading and your valuable comment.

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  73. This is brilliant...i totally fell for it! very well articulated...keep writing!

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  74. Hi...this brought back pleasant memories from last year. This was probably among the first blog posts that I read when I started my blogging journey.
    This was a great read then and it's a great read still! :)

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    1. Thrilled to read your feedback Rickie. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  75. This was brilliant - kept me guessing to the end.

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