Saturday, April 21, 2012

Crab Mentality (Part 24)

June 25, 2010 (3:30pm)
                Students were hurrying through the halls and corridors. Douglas might be hungry, and Chalano hurried through the crowd of students in the warm afternoon. It was difficult to quickly get through the crowd, so he took the short cut at the back of the auditorium.
                He walked quickly through the long, empty corridor that led to the parking lot of the school.
                “There goes the jerk,” said a male voice, and someone hit Chalano’s head from behind.
                Chalano almost lost his balance, but he managed to remain on his feet. He started to run to the parking lot, screaming, “Help!”
                The two bullies caught up with him. They were John’s friends. The smaller one grabbed Chalano’s bag. The small bully opened the bag, and held it upside-down as the bigger bully restrained Chalano. The contents of the bag, including the pages from Chalano’s manuscript, fell to the ground.
   “Don’t take my books,” Chalano begged.
                The small bully took the manuscript, and said, “You want this?”
                “Yes, give it back,” Chalano said, reaching for it.
                The small bully suddenly pulled the manuscript away just when Chalano was about to touch it. “No, it’s not yours anymore,” the small guy mocked, and the two bullies laughed.
                “Stop it.”
                It was John. He went out of the backstage, and walked toward them. The two bullies kept laughing, and the smaller one threw the manuscript at Chalano’s face. John walked faster, and angrily grabbed the small guy by the shirt. “I said stop it!”
                John violently pushed the small bully, and he fell to the ground. The little guy stuttered, “B-but I-I thought that he was our enemy.”
                “When I say ‘stop,’ stop! I’m in a bad mood today,” John said, and then he looked at the guy who was holding Chalano. “Louis, let him go! You two get out of here! Enough talk?!”
                Louis let go of Chalano, and the two bullies hurried out of the corridor in fright as John bent down to collect Chalano’s school things from the ground. As he put the manuscript and books back into the bag, he asked Chalano, “What did Rella tell you when she spoke to you and your friend on June 9?”
                “She told us that we were welcome to join the stage play.”
                John stood up, and handed the bag to Chalano.
                Chalano took the bag, thinking, John is in a real bad mood, so I’d better RUN!
                Before Chalano could escape, John suddenly said, “Would you accept my apologies for all of the bad things that I did to you and your friend?”
                John extended his right hand to Chalano. Chalano didn’t trust him, but he’d always wanted John to just admit his bad deeds. He’d never known John as a traitor, since it was the first moment that John tried to befriend him.
                John asked, “Friends?”
                John’s hand remained extended for some awkward minutes without getting any response.
                “Okay,” Chalano reluctantly said, and shook hands with John.
                They walked out of the back of the auditorium, and into the parking lot. “She was a good person,” John said, as if talking to himself. “Talented, kind, and optimistic. She was one of the best people that I ever met. If someone could kill an admirable person like Rella, then he must be crazy.”
                Most of the other students had gone home, and the whole campus was quiet. Rays of the afternoon sun slanted toward the buildings and trees around them, making a golden glow in the surroundings that gently reflected on John’s brown eyes. The eyes that used to glare at Chalano were suddenly very sad. “All of us are doomed,” John said. “The police aren’t fast enough. We could get killed one-by-one.  Any one of us might be next.”
                They walked toward the cafeteria. John looked to the ground, his tanned face sad and worried. Broad-shouldered, and standing at 5’7, he was a lot taller than Chalano. The breezes were blowing on his wavy hair. Indeed, John was too charismatic for someone his age. Despite his good looks, John had always been single, which made a good example to his peers during a time when teenagers were starting to have girlfriends or boyfriends. To someone like Chalano, it was easy to hate John. He was the boy who, in spite of his usually bad conduct, the girls liked. That afternoon, though, John was changing.
                “People fight each other only because they think that they have long lives ahead of them,” John said. “If life is so short, it would be better to be friends instead, right?”
                “Right.”
                John bit his lip. He abruptly stopped. He said, “I’ve began to believe that it’s better to live a short life of being good, than die knowing that you wasted your chance. The killer doesn’t choose. He kills anyone. I think that he’s been here. If you die tonight, how would you like people to remember you?”
                “I wouldn’t think of that because it would be like inviting that kind of thing.”
                John smiled. “If that’s your belief, then go with it. I wouldn’t change it. As for me, it’s important to prepare for one’s death, because it comes anytime.”
                “Okay.”
                John suddenly said, “I saw your manuscript for the contest when I fixed your bag. Well, I won’t join the contest for this year. Yes, it’s our final year. They say, ‘Save the best for last.’ But I’d rather focus on the subjects, especially now that Emma got elected as the new class president.”
                “Okay.”
                “Alright, you may go.”
                Chalano walked to the school gate. He couldn’t believe what just happened. John became friends with him, and he wouldn’t be in the writing contest. So Chalano had better chances of winning that contest! He wanted to look back to John to confirm to himself that it really happened, but he hurried out of the gate before John could change his mind.
                John stood in the middle of the campus. Another good deed for this day, he thought as he looked at the school buildings. It was better than being the leader who always feared that someone would ruin his authority. He walked back to the auditorium.
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