Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crab Mentality (Part 34)

June 30, 2010 (5pm)
“You go to the gate,” Chalano said. “I’ll go inside to look for him on my own.”
“No ---“
Kim couldn’t complain anymore as he watched Chalano run farther and farther away. Chalano ran through the thinning smoke, staying away from the flames and dodging the falling debris. Everything was dark, except the blazes. At that moment, he knew what it felt like to be one of those dogs that he’d burned 3 years ago. It was like looking into a picture of smoke that had a frame of flames. The only difference was that he could run. The air smelled of charcoal, smoke and an unrecognizable chemical. Many of the buildings of the school had collapsed, and the others were still collapsing. A few buildings were still standing, but they were very incomplete. It was as if all that was left of the school was its skeleton. He hurried to the room where they last saw the arsonist. The room was empty. The auditorium had fallen down, but the stairs that led from it was still whole. Chalano ran up the stairs in search for Cole.
“So you came to join me,” John said as he stood on the burning second floor. No. It wasn’t John. It was Cole, who had John’s appearance. Kim was right; Cole did turn into anyone who he burned. He walked into a room, which used to be Chalano’s classroom during first year. He put his gloved left hand into his pocket, and stepped into the flames. It was John’s hair, John’s face, but not John’s behavior. Master was right; the arsonist didn’t burn. Seeing the fear on Chalano’s face, Cole snickered, and said, “Missing your friend, huh?”
“You’re wrong,” Chalano declared. “I did not go here to join you. I came here to stop you. Just stop this. Surrender. Be like me, and turn good.”
“Nah, you don’t stop doing what you love doing. It’s totally fun to be anyone; that’s the best part of my hobby,” Cole said with a smile as he walked out of the flames. “I believe that so many guys envied him. I can imagine how much they wanted to be John Paolo Ontagio. I say, It’s hot to be John! Literally.”
Cole’s laughter could be heard through the flames and charcoal. “You don’t stop doing what you love doing, as long as it doesn’t hurt others,” Chalano said. “People have been dying, and homes have been burning. Aren’t you concerned about anyone? I’ll let you go now if you promise me that you’ll never do this again. We used to be friends, Cole, and we were schoolmates. You can move to another city, find a job, or something.”
“Why shall I stop what I love doing only because of OTHER people? This doesn’t hurt me, and it won’t kill me. Other people are not me, and I don’t care about them. I don’t let anyone make me do things. I do what I want to do!”
“You’re not at all concerned?! You ---“
“What makes you think that you can fool me? You’ll report me to the police. Shame on you, Charlie. No one in this place is as dishonest as you. You’re playing an undercover cop, and negotiating with me for the sake of more than a hundred innocent lives. All of them know that you’re here, but, when nobody knew where you were 3 years ago, you didn’t hesitate to burn 30-plus dogs alive. You’ve always been two-faced, traitor!”
“You told me to burn the dogs, and ---“
“That’s not what I told the police,” Cole interrupted, shaking his head. “What if the police found evidence against you?”
“You lied?! What did I do wrong that was without your guidance? I was just an innocent kid who only wanted to have friends. I quit right after that. How dare you tell them that I did something wrong, and never tell them that you told me to do it!”
“You were not innocent. It wasn’t my fault that you did you what you were told to do. It meant that evil had been in you. It doesn’t matter who told you to do it; what matters is that you did it. So you quit? You can’t quit. You will never get out of this, Charlie. ‘Once a crook, always a crook.’ Don’t feel so clean, because you’re not clean. You’re still a gangster in my gang. I am still your superior, and I still tell you what to do. Stop turning your back on us. You’re still one of us.”
Chalano didn’t know what to say. The crabs were probably right; no one among them was supposed to be in a better position.
“Uh-oh. You’re not going to do this. I’ve been listening to the two of you,” Kim said as he walked from behind one of the shelves. He jumped like he was so light, and kicked Cole on the chest. Cole almost fell, but he remained standing. Cole kept moving backward to avoid Kim’s kicks as Kim advanced, saying, “I’m not saying that Chalano did nothing wrong, but have you heard of the law ‘Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor’? Chalano was a minor, and he’s still a minor. Whatever he did, you are responsible for it. What matters is that you told him to do it. You were intentionally being a bad example to him. Got it?”
He hit Cole. Cole fell to the ground. “So stop saying ‘It wasn’t my fault.’ Stop telling my friend that he’s still one of you. There’s no such thing. Whoever he chooses to be is none of your business.”
Cole grabbed Kim’s foot. He tried to twist Kim’s ankle, but Kim suddenly punched his eye. He let go of Kim’s foot, and Kim moved to punch Cole’s other eye. Cole suddenly avoided the hit, and Kim accidentally fell to the ground. Cole quickly stood up, grabbed Kim’s arms from behind, and held them. “Why don’t you learn to shut up that noisy mouth, huh? It doesn’t make sense,” Cole growled. “Since you never made sense anyway.”
With his head pressed to the floor, Kim mocked, “So you’re gonna burn me? Think about it; it ain’t fun to look Chinese.”
“No, I won’t burn you,” Cole said as he made sure that Chalano wasn’t doing anything to help Kim. “I will give you two a hard time, especially you. You, the nerd who hacked into my computer. You think that you’re so smart?”
“Yeah, I really think that I’m so smart. I know that you will burn me. You will look Chinese, but it won’t be great because you’re not smart. I can deal with people who think that I’m Chinese even though I’m actually Taiwanese. You can’t deal with what people think of you.  You secretly want to be liked, to be sent an email by a babe, and to be loved by that babe. You were obviously dreaming of meeting someone who would fulfill your fantasies, but she turned out to be just a byte.”
Cole couldn’t stand it anymore. “Smart retard,” he yelled as he dragged Kim out of the room, and threw him out of the balcony.
“No,” Chalano shouted as he ran to the balcony. There was a loud crack. The burning balcony gave way, and it broke into pieces. Chalano fell down with the debris. He hit a pile of coal. He began walking, crawling, or whichever way just to get to his friend.
He found Kim lying on burned debris. “Kim,” he asked. “Are you alright?”
“My back … hit a burning door,” Kim said. “But I’m fine now. I provoked him to throw me out, because he was just going to use me to control you. He doesn’t care about me, but he cares about you. I think that he doesn’t really want to kill you; if only you wouldn’t make him mad. You can stop him, but, please, use your good judgment this time. Okay?”
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