“For the last time Miss Rupa, did you or did you not set your own book launch on fire?” the police officer said.
“No, I mean, yes. I mean I didn’t mean to set it on fire…I mean I wanted to, but not so much fire, you know. Just a little…not enough to really burn anyone.” Rupa wrung her hands staring at the smoldering remains of the auditorium.
“Wow, you are at a loss for words. Normally, you are so eloquent in your speeches and your books. Big fan by the way…” the officer touched his hat and smiled at Rupa.
She tried to smile back but was distracted as the paramedics rolled out a few more people on stretchers.
“So far, no one has been seriously injured” The police officer tried to sound reassuring, “But there will be an investigation into the matter. It is best for you to be honest with us…”
“I guess…” Rupa sighed.
“You are an arsonist aren’t you?” The police officer’s eyes lit up, “ that has to be it! That is why there are so many references to fire in all your books. That is why your protagonist is “Fight fire with fire” was an arsonist.” The police officer’s brow shot up, “My favorite author is an arsonist.”
“What? No. I mean now that you say it I do seem to use a lot of fire in my writing. I wonder why? I will have to talk to my therapist about it. But no, I am not an arsonist. Let me tell you the whole story” Rupa said.
“ooh, Rupa Khan herself is going to tell me a story! Best day ever. Please start at the beginning and don’t leave any details out.” The police officer sat down on the hood of his police car and invited Rupa to sit on the opposite car.
“ It all started around two weeks ago. I am going through a writer’s block right now. You would know if you follow me on Instagram…”
“but of course, I do. But the block is justified I think. You painted your female firefighter into such a tight spot. Will she fall in love with the God of fire? Will she betray her profession and passion, or will she fall for him? But how can she not? He is so smoldering hot…”
“Exactly right? Oh my God, you like get me…I can’t tell how my editor is…he just doesn’t get it…” Rupa said.
“Yes, oh but I am eagerly waiting for the sequel for “setting fire to water…” the police officer said.
“You and me both” Rupa laughed, “ so I had a typical day where I couldn’t write anything and was just lying around watching TV, you know, me #couchpotato. When I see this ad on naaptol, for something called “Liar, liar pants of fire” so it is a small spray bottle and you can spray the liquid on people’s pants and if they tell a lie, well their pants would be on fire, the name is pretty self-explanatory.” Rupa said.
“ How would that work?” The officer said.
“Oh, I don’t know, quantum deception detection or some much modern tech. Anyways I think to myself, I should try this on my boyfriend. It might lead to a good story, if not at least an Instagram story….whatever, so I ordered one.”
“Ooh, did it work?” The officer sat up straighter.
“so I sprayed it all over my boyfriend’s favorite jeans just before we were about to go out on a date. Just when we were about to leave, I asked him, “Honey, do I look fat in these jeans?” It took him a whole minute to realize that his left ass cheek was on fire.” Rupa laughed.
When we were out in the restaurant I said to him, “ sweetheart, you remember our first date right? You remember what I wore for you that day.” He launched into a whole story about what sexy dress I wore that day before realizing his crotch was on fire…”
“Ooh, you should definitely write a story about this…” the police officer clapped his hands.
“And when the desserts arrived, I asked him, ‘darling when we are doing it, you imagine me and only me right?
“Oh damn…” the police officer said.
“So the waiters at the restaurant had to use a fire extinguisher on him. And we got the food for free because they believed there was something wrong with their restaurant. As for the boyfriend, he is doing perfectly fine, not scarred or anything, definitely very scared to lie to me though…” Rupa gave a guilty smile.
“I definitely have to get some of this ‘liar, liar, pants on fire spray’” the officer thought to himself, “But how did it lead to this?” He pointed to the smoldering auditorium.
Rupa sighed, “ Well, you know how boring book launches can get. There is the usual speeches from the idiot that the publishing house sends over, the seasons famous blogger to give him inputs, maybe an editor of some rundown magazine, and then I have to read an excerpt from the book. It’s a royal yawn fest. So I thought to myself why don’t heat things up a bit, you know, not necessarily literally. I ordered several of the those ‘liar, liar’ sprays from the TV. I sprayed all the seat in the auditorium with the spray.”
“ What were you thinking” the police officer sounded curious.
“I knew there would be a lot of false praise and adulation thrown my way. They would say things like how I was the queen of romance, the empress of erotica. And I know that is not what these people think. I know what my editor and publishing house think of my writing. So, I thought it would be fun to see their pants on fire each time they paid me a compliment they didn’t mean…” Rupa stared nervously at the smoke rising from the building.
“There are people who don’t like your writing? Who? You are the most honest writer I have ever read.” the police officer sounded offended.
“Thank you…it’s fan like you that keep me going. But a lot of these pretentious people, just love to hate my writing. But, I had made the necessary arrangements, there were fire extinguishers to take care if things go out of hand.” Rupa sighed.
“I forgot that election season is upon us. My editor decided to attend the book launch himself and he invited or was forced to invite the local MLA, a self-proclaimed writer, and critic. And that’s where things went downhill. My editor went on this long rant about how my writing is important because it has introduced a lot of youngsters to reading in English. We extinguished all the fire extinguishers then. Then the MLA began his speech, about how he is a bastion of culture and literature. About how he has read all my books and believes they are the cornerstone of a new cultural movement. Then he went on to talk about how important education was to his political career. And then this happened…” they both looked at the people being wheeled out of the auditorium.
“Well it makes for a great story, I guess?” The police officer said.
“Am I going to jail?” Rupa gulped hard.
“Not sure yet,” the police officer smiled, “ but look at the bright side…nothing like a trip to the jail to set your imagination on fire. Looking forward to the sequel” he tipped his hat and walked towards his colleagues.
“Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Rupa scowled at him.
[Image credit: dailyquestionablechoices.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/liar_liar_pants_on_fire.jpg?w=611&resize=349%2C262]