Saturday, September 3, 2011

Crab Mentality (Part 10)

June 7, 2010 (9pm)
  Chalano stood against the wall of his bedroom as his mind wandered back to year 2007 ….
   He was sitting on the passenger seat of a white Toyota Avanza. Cole was driving; it was the car of Cole’s father. They sped through the streets of 4th Project Town. The night was like a ghostly fog before them. The rest of the gang was at the backseats, guarding the dogs.
   It wasn’t normal in the neighborhood for cars to go speeding in the night while everyone was asleep. There were no people in sight, but the dogs noticed. And they really wanted the dogs to notice. Dogs came out from every house that they passed, barking at their car. The back door of the car was open, and all that the gangsters had to do was grab one dog. Its companions usually ran after them once they got hold of one dog. The strong gangsters threw the dogs into a huge cage at the back compartment of the car, and Cole drove on for the next house. Nobody noticed. As the youngest member of the gang at twelve, Chalano remained on the passenger seat; they just brought him along. By the time that they reached their secret meeting place in the forest, they’d caught more than ten dogs.
   The other members of the gang had gone to the other side of the town with another car. They met at the forest to count the dogs that they had caught. They piled up the cages in the middle of the forest.
   Chalano had been a member for only a few weeks, but the other gangsters said that it was their anniversary.  They stood around the cages to admire their work. The dogs were barking. It was how Cole planned to celebrate the first year anniversary of the gang called “Coal.” Chalano was happy to be a part of it. He was grateful about being with these people. Cole told him to do his task. Chalano had the match. And he lit it to show everyone that he could be as tough as them. He set the cages on fire. The screams. Yes, the screams.
   They still haunted him. The gangsters had called it “fireworks,” and Cole had admired it so much. But there was something within Chalano that didn’t like it. It was wrong, wrong. Wrong. He had quietly left early that night, and, in the morning, he spoke to Cole to say that he was going to quit the gang.  Cole did not complain. He let Chalano go. Chalano had the feeling that Cole just felt good about getting Chalano out of the gang, because he never really trusted Chalano
    Chalano  left the gang, and he transferred to a high school in Citrus Town for his sophomore year. But his memory of that night never left him. It kept haunting him through the years in the form of nightmares.
    He kept his past with the gang secret. Nobody else knew about it, not even his mother. The gang later became notorious in the neighborhood after they changed their name to Adhesive Gang. The Adhesive took money from banks by putting a strong form of glue on ATMs. Chalano never spoke up. Actually, knowing what had become of his former gang made him shut up even more. Later, the police caught the Adhesive Gang, including Cole. Nobody knew that Chalano knew those gangsters, and he remained quiet about it. But his nightmares didn’t.
    Now, he stood against the wall as he felt himself fill up with a deep feeling of regret. He always got this feeling whenever he got those nightmares. All that he had wanted was to be with the tough kids to keep bullies from going after him. He had had no plan to kill. It was too late when he realized what he had done. They kept haunting him. He walked to his bed, and lay down. He pulled the blue blanket over him until it covered the lower part of his face. There was something about killing those dogs that disturbed him so much. It felt so bad to take a life, even if it was just a dog. It was a living being that had feelings. He was so hurt about taking the lives of some of the most loving, loyal animals ever known. “Dirt is better than sin. You can wash away all the dirt from your skin, but you cannot remove sin. It remains in your soul forever,” his mother once told him. There was this heavy feeling that he carried within him every day, every minute. That was why he joined the Youth Council, he was hoping to pay for his deed in some way. But he knew what he'd done. You are a killer, Chalano. You have taken the lives of beings who had done no wrong to you. His face turned into a grimace, and he buried his head into his white, soft pillow. He didn’t want to think about it anymore. Denying the guilt was the most stubborn thing that he could do, but it was so strong, that he had to shut it out. The night was quiet, and he tried his best to sleep. But he could still hear their screams within him.   
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