I Killed Sanjay Gidwani

August 28, 2008

    One of my critics once said that I was so unread and so insignificant as a writer that I could confess to murder in print, and no one would notice or care.

    Well, there’s only one way to find out.

    In 1995 I helped my landlord kill a tenant who refused to pay his rent, and we disposed of his body.  His name was Sanjay Gidwani (a.k.a. Samir Gidwani), and he lived next door to me.

    Gidwani was a hard-core con artist.  He moved in, paid rent for a couple of months, and then simply stopped paying.  He knew that under Ontario’s housing laws the landlord would have to give him an eviction notice, after which it would take three months to evict him.  So he would get three months rent-free and would probably leave the day before the sheriff arrived.

    The landlords were Yugoslavian — the parents and their two grown sons.  Decent people.  They didn’t deserve to get screwed.

    “What can we do?  The law protects the tenant.  It’s politics,” said Mike, the older son, as we were talking it over in the basement.  “We’re going to lose two thousand dollars altogether when you add in the sheriff’s fee.”

    “Well, it makes me mad.  I have to pay rent, and he gets three free months.”

    “I know. It sucks.  But it’s worse for us because it’s a real loss of money.”

    We were the only ones in the basement at the moment.  The family had another building to look after as well, so they were at one place or another but not according to any rigid schedule.  The younger son, Peter, had a regular job, but he would come to my building from 4:30 to 6:00.

    I said to Mike, “We should beat the crap out of the guy.”

    “My mother would have a heart attack.  In the old days my father would have thrown the guy out physically, but my parents are getting old, and they don’t want confrontation.  And you know Peter’s a marshmallow.”

    My eyes were wandering over all the old junk.  The basement was like a museum.  It had a human presence, and I liked it.  I was staring at a sharp letter opener, and a thought came to me.

    “We could kill him,” I said.

    “What do you mean?”

    “I mean the two of us could kill the guy and dispose of the body when nobody else was around.  They’d never know.”

    Mike laughed.  “Are you serious?”

    “Sure.  That guy has no roots.  He could be in the country illegally.  No one’s going to come looking for him.  And besides, he doesn’t deserve to live.  A guy like that is a full-time crook.  His whole life is about ripping people off.”

    “We couldn’t get away with murder.”

    “Listen,” I said, leaning closer.  “I’m the smartest tenant you ever had.  I have an I.Q. over 150.  I graduated from the University of Michigan when I was twenty.  Bachelor of Science.  Plenty of people stupider than me have gotten away with murder.  If I think of a plan, it will work.”

    Mike sat back in his chair, hands gripping the arm rests.  He looked up at the ceiling.  His eyes were narrowed in thought.  After a minute, he said, “Okay.  But only if you absolutely guarantee that we’ll get away with it.”

    “We will.”

    And I came up with an excellent plan.

    The most important thing was to decide where we would dispose of the body.  When gangsters killed somebody in this city, they would either bury the body at a construction site or dump it into the harbour at the foot of Cherry St.  But we didn’t have any access to a construction site, and I didn’t like the harbour.  Instead, Mike would scout around the suburbs and find an undeveloped lot with a “For Sale” sign on it — a lot covered with tall grass.  Plan B was a second, similar site.

    We would kill Gidwani in his apartment on a weekday afternoon, when the other tenants were working.  Mike would be the only family member at the building.  He would get a trunk and bring it up to my apartment in advance. (Gidwani was small enough to fit into a trunk.)  I’d be home listening through the wall to make sure Gidwani was home.  Then I’d ring down to the basement, and Mike would come up and knock on Gidwani’s door.  He’d want to talk to him on some pretext.  When Gidwani opened the door, Mike, who was very strong, would push his way in, with me right behind.

    Now, I won’t pretend that I was cool about it.  I was so nervous I had to take a tranq.  And the whole business proved to be very clumsy. The guy was fighting and yelling, and we were trying to pin him down so I could choke him.  It must have taken ten minutes of choking before he was dead. The last words he uttered were “I’ll pay!”

    We had to destroy all of Gidwani’s I.D. and plastic.  I took care of that.  I also kept his keys.  Mike got whatever money was in his wallet.

    We brought in the trunk, wrapped the body in an old blanket, and jammed it into the trunk.  Then we took the trunk next door to my apartment, where it would stay until late in the evening.  Mike went back downstairs.  He would go home at his usual time and then come back here around 9 p.m., when it was dark.

    When Mike returned, he parked his pick-up at the foot of the fire escape and then came up to help me carry the trunk.  If someone saw us coming out of my apartment, it would mean nothing, which is why we kept the trunk in my place instead of Gidwani’s.  Carrying it down three flights of narrow stairs (classic Victorian architecture!) was a bitch.  But we did manage it, with the last flight being out on the fire escape.  And no one saw us.  And even if they had seen us, they were all foreigners and deaf, dumb, and blind, if you get my drift.

    We got the trunk onto the back of the pick-up and then headed out to the suburbs.  I won’t say where, except that it was roughly northeast of the city, in an area with a lot of farmland and narrow dirt roads.  Mike had marked his map, and I navigated for him.

    The disposal site was perfect — a large piece of acreage overgrown with tall grass, with a bunch of trees and a dilapidated shed about twelve feet by six feet.  We drove up the access path and parked next to the shed.

    There was nobody around, and we probably couldn’t be seen, but just to play it safe, we killed the lights and just used a flashlight.  We carried the trunk into the shed and dumped the body on the floor.

    “Leave the blanket or take it back?” asked Mike.

    “Take it back.  You’ll wash it tomorrow.”

    We put the trunk back on the truck and drove back to the building.

    There was no way the police would ever identify the body.  Nobody would report Gidwani missing.   

    “I’ve got his keys, and I’ll retrieve his mail every day.  I have a feeling we’ll find out a few things,” I said to Mike.  “Now, we’re going to do absolutely nothing for one week, understand?”

    “Right.”

    “Next week I’ll tell your parents that Gidwani’s apartment has been quiet and I think he’s gone.  I’ll suggest to them that they check on him.”

    “Yeah, but they’re going to find all his stuff there.”

    “Doesn’t matter.  The guy packed one suitcase and sneaked out, get it?  Whatever he left behind was stuff he never paid for anyway.”

    “But why would he leave early?”

    “Who cares?  He’s gone.  Your parents are landlords, not detectives.”

    Mike laughed.  “You’re some guy, you know that?  You really figured this out.”

    “I told you I would.”

    And things worked out exactly as I expected.  When the old folks came up to check the apartment, Mike’s mother opened the fridge and smelled the container of milk.  It had gone sour.

    “That proves he left,” I said.

    “What are we going to do with all this stuff?” asked Mike’s father.

    “Keep it or throw it out.  It doesn’t matter.”

    “You want to keep something?”

    “He’s got nothing I need.”

    So the place was emptied, cleaned up, and rented to somebody else.  Peter, the marshmallow, said, “I hope that guy doesn’t come back and sue us for throwing his stuff out.”

    “Yeah, right.” I said.

    As I had predicted to Mike, nobody ever came looking for Gidwani. 

    Mail continued to arrive for him, and the new tenant simply left it on top of the mailboxes, and I swiped it.  All of the mail I collected confirmed my worst suspicions about the guy.  He had applied to Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, but he never intended to go.  He merely used the acceptance letter to get a $14,000 student loan from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, plus a $2,000 personal loan.  He had two cell phone accounts with Rogers — one as Sanjay Gidwani and one as Samir Gidwani.  He got a good deal with a lot of free minutes, which he used up. He made small payments initially and then stopped paying.  Rogers was sending him notices about his accounts, but they probably wouldn’t cut him off for several months.  Gidwani had also stiffed the Hudson Bay and Canadian Tire.  A collection agency was sending him letters, but that was all they’d ever do.  Nobody chases after a debtor any more.  Companies just write off the loss.  CIBC is like every other Canadian bank.  They would just write off the $16,000.  To the guys on Bay St. it’s just an accounting entry, not their own money.

    Gidwani also had a mutual fund account with Toronto-Dominion Bank with a total of about $100.  I believe he was merely using it to get credit elsewhere.  TD continued to send him regular statements for ten years, even though I kept returning their envelopes, marked “MOVED. NOT FORWARDABLE. RETURN TO SENDER.”  Stupid bank.

    There are a lot of Sanjay Gidwanis in this world — rotten bastards who have gotten away with shit all their lives because nobody ever had the nerve to smash their heads against a wall.  Whatever society tolerates, it gets more of, get it?  What we need is a lot less tolerance, and liberals be damned!

    Am I a bad guy?  No.  Gidwani was the bad guy.  He got what he deserved.

    And as for my critic, he can go fuck himself.

    Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

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    This story may be true, or it may be fictitious.  I refuse to say.  But I’ve been wanting to tell it for a long time, so here it is.

    Many years ago I worked for a company that had stock trading on a stock exchange.  It may have been in the U.S. or Canada, but for the sake of the story, I will say the U.S.

    This company was doing excellent business and found itself sitting on a lot of cash.  As a rule, companies don’t like to sit on piles of cash.  Cash is working capital, and they want to do something with it.  The President called a meeting to discuss this very matter, and I happened to be at the meeting.

    “We have a number of choices,” said the President.  “We can buy back shares for cancellation.  We can raise the dividend.  We can acquire another company.  We can invest new capital to expand the business.  Or we can park the money in T-bills indefinitely.”

    “My first choice would be to buy back shares,” said one of the others.  “Except that the stock price is pretty high right now.  And if we announced a buyback, it would go even higher.  So I don’t know if that works for us.”

    “I agree with you,” said the President.  “I would love to buy back shares, but I’d prefer to see the stock twenty percent lower.” 

    I rarely spoke at meetings, but this time I did.  “So the trick would be to make the stock go down — at least temporarily — so you could buy it back on the cheap.”

    The others laughed because they thought I was joking.

    The President said, “And how would you do that?  Without violating any securities regulations, that is.”

    “There is a way, if you want to hear it,” I said.

    “We’re all ears,” said the President, smiling skeptically.

    And here was the plan: the company would hire a shredding truck to come to the building at midnight.  They would keep the truck on the property for two or three hours but would only be shredding some waste paper of no importance.  Someone would either have to see the truck on our property or at least find out about it in order for the rumor mill to get going.  Now, it was possible someone might see it, because there were a few smart guys out there who would follow a shredding truck.  But to make sure the word got out, I would drive by the property and take photos.  The photos would be sent anonymously to several business reporters, as well as an outfit that did research for short-sellers — i.e., digging up dirt on companies in trouble.  Then we would wait for the phones to ring.

    The Chief Financial Officer was to leave two days after I mailed the photos.  He was to take an unscheduled vacation for two weeks and not tell us where he was going.  He was literally to be out of touch.  Cell phones had not been invented yet.

    The President chuckled and looked around the table.  Everyone else chuckled in sympathy.  Then he suddenly looked serious and said, “That could actually work.”  All the chuckling stopped.  “I’m going to think about it,” he said.

    He thought it over for a week and then decided to do it.

    The shredders came, shredded some paper, and then sat around having coffee and playing euchre with the night crew.  They thought it was odd, but they were told their time had been paid for and not to worry about it.

    I took pictures, got them developed, and mailed them out.

    Somebody took the bait.  No one who hadn’t been at the meeting had been told about the shredding truck, so when the calls started coming in, the secretaries and assistants could say honestly they knew nothing about it.  And the night crew wasn’t around in the daytime.  The President, playing his role perfectly, calmly told callers that the shredding truck had only shredded routine scrap.  Then why call them at midnight?  So they could get in and out of the parking lot easily! 

    The callers then asked to speak to the CFO.  They were told he was on an unscheduled vacation, but nobody knew where.  It was true, but who would believe such a thing?

    Now the rumor mill was churning in overdrive.  There was undoubtedly some big trouble at the company, incriminating documents had been destroyed, and the CFO was involved!  The more the President denied that there was anything wrong, the more convinced the rumor-mongers were that there was.  The business media were now generally alerted, and the stock started to drop.  In five trading days it was down 27%, and the CFO was still not back.

    The company was buying back its stock on the open market, and the President told the inquiring media that the company was merely supporting its stock in the face of false rumors.  No insiders had sold, he pointed out.  But that didn’t satisfy the short-sellers or those who were dumping out of fear.

    The SEC asked the company for an explanation for the sudden drop in the stock, and the President replied truthfully that it was because of false rumors, nothing more.

    Normally, when a company intends to buy back a large amount of its shares for cancellation, it is supposed to make what is called a “normal course issuer bid.”  But we hadn’t done that.  So if we cancelled the shares as we bought them, the SEC might have something to say about it later.  My suggestion to the President was that we simply return the shares to the treasury and sit on them.  Then after a year or so, we could cancel them because we didn’t need them.  What could the SEC say?  Nothing.

    The mystery of the shredding truck and the absent CFO might never be explained to anyone’s satisfaction, but eventually the market would cease to care about it, and the stock would recover.   After all, there was no change in the company’s business.  The SEC could sniff the air all they wanted, but they would have nothing on us,  because nobody had told any lies or violated any securities regulations.

    The company saved millions of dollars on all the shares it bought back and eventually cancelled.  But did I get a big bonus for my brilliant scheme?  “Oh, no, we couldn’t do that,” said the President.  “It might arouse suspicion.  However, I will take you to dinner.”

    Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com