PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
Note: the bold letters indicate the inner thoughts.
Tuesday morning: another meaningless day in Central High.
During class hours, somewhere in the depths of school rest four boys who take pleasure on the soothing, yet hazardous, clutches of cigarettes. (Once taken as habit it’s hard to quit.) Two are on discussion concerning globally-recognized fighters, whether regards to boxing, wrestling, UFC, MMA, or even action stars and martial artists only seen in movies.
“I’m telling you man, Roy Jones is the greatest boxer of all time.” said the persistent young man named Ban, extinguishing his eroded Marlboro stick by the ground.
“What about Pacquiao?” Firo asks.
“He ain’t bad either.”
“Jackie Chan or Jet Li?” he asks again a different question.
“Bruce Lee.” Ban replies.
Firo nods to himself, seemingly convinced of his friend’s answer. He’d been interrogating Ban, like a prime suspect, from the time they’ve taken refuge behind the abundant gym, and all response given satisfied him. For the most part, both normally disagree on everything: food, celebrities, sexy stars, idols, bands, songs, scrambled or fried eggs, boxers or briefs, etc, but they eventually came into parallel terms on professional fighters.
As Firo takes the last puff of his cigarette Ban tosses him a coin, which he caught in reflex.
“That was the last stick, go buy another pack.” Ban orders casually, not looking at Firo.
Firo is seated with his back against the school border walls, legs folded, feet pressed on the floor, butt almost reaches the ground, and both arms rest on his knees. He swears, somehow pissed on how Ban ordered him.
“Why don’t you buy it yourself?” Firo says with a frown. “It’s your money anyway.”
“Exactly. It’s my money so be grateful and do the honor of buying, dumbass.”
Ban, who often pays for their cigarette expenses, is a high school drop-out wherein he spent two extra years as a senior (and still counting). He’s the eldest among the four and self-proclaimed as leader. For his fifth year stay in Central High he still refuses to graduate just to extend his pleasant time drifting throughout the school, allowing himself to feel at home as though the school itself is his own house, all the while faculty teachers longed to get rid of him. Many in the department recognize him as one of the few prominent figures that are commonly known for their immoral fame. Others dare not look into his eyes, for it shapes the evident quality of pure malice, but in fact, it is simply the natural sketch of his expression. His improper appearance could mistake him as an ex-con. A vine-like tattoo can be noticed on his right arm, both ears pierced with silver earrings, lengthy hair from behind somehow forms a spiky layout when drawn back by the white hair-band, compressing his long bangs atop which then exposes his forehead along with his sharp eyes and fearsome face.
Ban is laid resting on a worn mattress barely his size which Firo hasn’t the slightest idea where and when he managed to grab hold of. Ban is an extremely laidback person whose specialty is to sleep at any given moment, at any given site, provided the proper time to adjust, and often blurts out lines such as: ‘I don’t give a damn’.
“And besides, you ungrateful bitch,” Ban says, pausing for a moment to yawn. “Glok was the one buying the other time so– your turn.”
“Is that how it works? If that’s the case, I’d rather do the paying, and you guys do the buying.”
Firo clearly didn’t want to be ordered around for cigarette’s sake. He’s not much of a smoker anyway.
No one bothers answering to his implication. Firo gives his companions sidelong glances, expecting to receive blows of verbal attacks, but the three unconsciously take no notice of his remarks. He looks at Ban, still lying down with both hands placed under his head as replacement for a pillow, legs in cross position making himself look comfortable, and eyes set on the sky as if thinking of something deep. Then there’s Glok, who is leaned on a nearby tree holding his cell phone with profound entertainment, and close to him standing is Bucha, vacantly staring up at the same tree while clearing another large sized junk food on his hands. They’ve recently gone tired of playing card games, and now their in ‘nothing-to-do’ mode again.
Silence envelopes the place.
Firo lets out a sigh. “Nice talking.”
After hanging around with these guys for months, his familiarity should be at the level where reactions such as these are expected, but no, these guys are hard to read. Heck, sometimes he himself also functions the same, and to him, ‘random’ is now the best word in describing delinquents.
Firo gives in and accepts defeat. “All right, I’ll go.” he stands up.
Before Firo departs Bucha grabs his shoulder and hands him another coin. “Hey while you’re at it,” Bucha smiles with a silly face. “buy some candies for me.”
Firo looks at him in disgust. Candy again? Regardless of how this huge fat gorilla standing before him may appear like, whom kids may even consider the extent of being devoured on the spot by this beast-like human, the guy is actually friendly and childish when you get to know him better. Bucha is nearly the perfect example of what you call ‘gentle giant’. If only he could, in some way, tolerate the thrown name-calls and offensive mocks in relation to his enormous size, he would’ve been hundred percent harmless. Because he easily snaps when teased, like the time Firo accidentally called him boar. It was about two weeks ago when he instantly went berserk and tried to harm Firo. Luckily, his movements were too slow compared to Firo’s evasive maneuvers, but when he started to attack ferociously, Ban and Glok had to calm him down. The guys are well aware of Bucha’s psychological disorder.
Firo didn’t bother to argue and just snatches the coin. “How many?”
“As many as what that coin can buy.” Bucha takes another massive round of garlic flavored chips from his container and gobbles it all together. “I don’t want my breath stinking with this garlic smell,” he speaks while crunching audibly. “so make sure you buy the mint one.”
“Yeah-yeah.” Firo turns to Glok. “What about that ridiculous-looking person over there smiling like an idiot.”
Glok is aware that he’s the one being addressed. He simply glances at Firo’s direction and goes back onto his cell phone business.
“Okay then, I’m off.” Firo says.
Bucha smiled. “Many thanks!”
“Don’t give me that smile,” he says and points his index at Bucha. “because you’ll do the buying next time.” Firo heads off.
Firo is in motion of crossing an entire span of the huge campus, which would, on the other hand, benefit his legs to have a little exercise from all the slack it accumulated. He starts off behind the rundown gym, which is common ground for them, then out the main gate, to a small store nearby. All together he’ll walk at least half a mile considering the round trip. There are times, like the present occasion, when he despises the school’s vast domain. But often times he admires its architectural setup, he always thought the school is a perfect place to do Parkour. He would have loved to try if it weren’t for several obstacles, mainly the people that are scattered around.
Central High is the largest and most populated High School in the country and possibly the cheapest throughout the capital city, for it is only a public school. Its population revolves approximately or perhaps more than four thousand students; each year level has their own separate department with a maximum of forty people inside each class. The uniforms are somewhat simple, white polo shirt together with black pants for boys. And white long-sleeved blouse paired with light black, knee length, pleated skirt for girls. No blazers, no winter nor summer uniforms either. They can have on jackets, sweatshirts, or other personal clothing for cover when winter arrives, as long as the student’s bearing the proper attire underneath. And all are required to wear the school’s trademark necktie.
The main reason why there are enumerable enrollees for a school, which for years held an infamous status, is because ‘Major global economic crisis’ still takes place in this time of decade. Slowly but surely the world sinks, job opportunities decrease yet population increase. Anybody could get a glimpse of what the world might become several years from now. Finishing High School may not have the least possibility of attaining decent employment, so parents are anxious for their children’s future and intend to save funds ready for the college budget to come. Fortunately for them, Central High is most likely the suitable choice when conserving money. As a result, the school exceeded its maximum capacity, and due to many demands, the Mayor had organized a project that expanded its territory. The service isn’t that good compared to private schools, though, teachers nonetheless, still tend to properly guide and educate students despite numerous unruly individuals that are gathered in this notorious school. Well, of course not everybody is as bad as they come. To begin with, majority of the people came here to learn, it is still a school after all, in spite of its unsightly facade. But a huge population of students also rides along a huge number of delinquents.
Making his way to the school entrance, Firo notice a lot of students roaming all over the zone. It was already break time. On the surface, the school’s surrounding buildings and loaded lanes gives an impression of a busy city district. Slowly he glances to his left then to his right, observing each person he passes through. The area is like a market; here and there people talk and shout. Most students are gathered by groups of more or less five people, some are gossiping, some laughing, and he notice a group arguing. Two boys glaring at each other, exchanging foul words. It seem like words aren’t going to settle anything and the problem could later result to something physical. However, such event often happens in this disorderly place, so it’s nothing new for Firo.
A girl is powerlessly grabbing unto the other boy’s forearm, struggling to prevent a possible fist fight amongst the two, while another boy is in-between the raging youngsters, backing them away. The four seem to know one another.
Firo can’t help but stop for the meantime and see how things end up. A crowd starts to gather. The hostility of the two is about to hit the limit, at any given moment a fight is anticipated to erupt, and still no single person wants to voluntarily help the fragile girl and the solely mediator, instead, few starts to cheer, provoking them to fight. Firo somehow felt sympathy for the girl’s helplessness on urging her friends to reconcile. He wants to intervene, but in situations like this, where there are lots of spectators hungry for action, staying low is the rational decision than becoming an annoyance to the viewers. And besides, even if he managed in someway stop the fight, nothing will be resolved between the two. The fight is only a matter of sooner or later and it’ll be more appropriate to bring an early conclusion. And like most men do, Fist is the answer in solving inevitable disputes such as this.
The fight is on. The girl can’t help but let go of the boy’s arm, mediator is pushed aside, crowd cheering and shouting at the same time. Blow by blow both trade punches, aimlessly hitting anything they can manage to hit.
Without prior notice, one of them is put to his knees which may seem like he got caught on a vital spot. Normally, one would halt his attack and proclaim victory, but the other boy who’s still standing shows no mercy and continues to hammer his disabled opponent. The boy on his knees can’t do a thing except cover his face to prevent further damage being done. While the other one launches punch after punch until he lands a clean shot that makes his nemesis fall completely on the ground.
Knowing the outcome of the match, Firo skips out of the crowd, unsatisfied. He thought the fight would entertain him, if not, at least worth waste his time. Disappointingly, what he saw was a mere one-on-one brawl between amateurs. “Lame.” he mumbles to himself.
As he resumes walking, up ahead he sees the guard, Zack, rushing towards the crowd. “Too late.” says Firo as he passes by him.
“Better late than never.” responds the guard.
Since first-period, they were already gathered at an alley space in-between the old gymnasium’s side block and the school’s high boundary walls, located somewhere along the deepest corners of Central High, which they also like to call as ‘Backyard’. The school vicinity is big enough to find dozens of hiding places, but the Backyard remains as their favorite hangout quarter, because it happens to be the farthest from school civilization and is a very tranquil spot.
For them, ditching is as casual as attending. Firo brings in mind the last time he completed his entire class schedule for a single day, because he either goes to his morning class, then skips afternoon class, or vice versa. Whichever way, he simply goes to any subject whenever the mood strikes him, and right now he feels like going.
‘Slacking off will also tire you down.’ Second semester has just begun, and Firo thought it’d be nice to stay in class for a change, rather than pointlessly carry out what he and the guys had been doing for the last three days: hang around, smoke, play cards, or whatever random things that pops in their uncanny heads.
When did my life turn like this? Firo tries to recollect his early childhood. From what he could remember, growing up as a kid, being naughty was already a forte of his, nothing close to this present though. In the past he would pull pranks, point jokes on others, perform mischievous deeds, conspire with fellow boys his age; pretty much the wild type. Then again, all these immature actions were not in attempt to deliberately harm anyone. It was purely for the sake of fun and laughter.
In primary school he was at the most concerned and responsible for his academic status, and was actually good at various courses, mainly P.E. Firo’s athleticism gave merit to his wellbeing, people around even admired him. He used to climb trees, jump down ten steps from staircases, represent his class in sport festivals, and other activities that required the contribution of athletic.
It was in middle school when his point of view started to change bit by bit, until then he still considered himself decent compared to now. After graduation he got accepted in a prestigious High School and stayed there for almost two years. This turned out to be a bad decision. He couldn’t keep up with the residing students in aspects he thought was natural, felt like an unwanted guest that’d been brought there to agonize. Not that he was bullied or anything, but having able to observe their conceited faces and phony personalities just made him disgusted. First-class institutions were too excessive for him to accustom. He then artificially became an arrogant bastard, repelling all social contact with others. This arrogance lured in upperclassmen who sought superiority against him, then upon reaching sophomore year, from that time on, many fights kept coming unto him which inevitably led to his expulsion. He had to wait the next season before reentering back to his 2nd year, thus found admittance in Central High.
Without knowing, he went from naughty to notorious. His classmates fear his presence every time he appears, perhaps that’s the reason he skips class. But he really can’t criticize them for looking at him in a different manner, because it was his own misdoing that gave them the horrified impression. Still, that’s not the real cause of his behavior. Maybe if his father didn’t go abroad and left him living alone in their apartment he wouldn’t be as irresponsible as he is. Or was it Ban’s influential characteristics? Half of his thoughts convinced him that the school itself made him this way.
What the hell am I thinking? Blaming his father, his classmates, his friend, and even the god forsaken school. If there’s anyone at fault, it’s he himself that made him the low life that he is.
Nervousness and at the same time excitement were running through Misaki. If anything else, transferring to Central High was her main objective, but the place was a bit too rowdy from what she had imagined. Though, after finally convincing her mother to let her change school, there’s no room for uncertainties now. She came with the resolve of reaching her aspiration no matter what the cause, and it can’t be done anywhere other than Central High.
In the 3rd floor hallway, walking next to the teacher, Misaki could hear loud voices coming from some of the classrooms they pass by.
“Sorry for the noise.” the teacher says. “Students here are a bit energetic. In time you’ll get used to it.”
Misaki nods shyly.
“I’m your homeroom teacher Megumi Hideki by the way. People here call me Ms. H,” she pauses, trying to remember something. “uh, sorry, what was your name again?”
“Misaki… Misaki Nakahara.” she says “uhm, teacher, are the students here…” she hesitates a bit. “friendly?”
Ms. H gives a smile. “You don’t have to worry about your classmates, they’re not that bad. And besides, most of the trouble makers were placed under lower sections.” she continues. “There’s a single delinquent in class though.”
Misaki lowers her head, look down her feet with a somewhat disappointed figure. Not that bad? Delinquent in class?
She knew well enough that Central High was something like this, along with the prospect of being bullied or worst. She may have to undergo various difficulties if she wants to release her self from regrets. Her friend once told her that Central High has numerous bullies and its either she gets lucky not to be noticed or unlucky to be their favorite. Another friend told her to aim for a charming first impression to make them like her instead. At the very least she’ll try not to standout too much to avoid being targeted.
Ms. H notices her anxiety. “I told you, there’s no need to worry. If you got problems don’t hesitate to tell me and I’ll be willingly happy to help.” again, she gives her another smile, this time full of sincerity and guarantee.
That one smile made Misaki’s uneasiness considerably go away and manage to give her slight confidence. She is relieved to have Ms. Hideki as her homeroom teacher; a middle aged woman who’s probably in her late thirties. She believes that Ms. Hideki is one of the rare teachers who whole heartedly care for their student’s welfare.
Misaki smiles back with the same gentle face. “Thanks, Ms. H.”
Awhile later, the teacher stops at one of the classroom doors. Misaki follows.
“Well, here we are. This will be your room. Class II-5(2nd year; section 5)”
Ms. H grabs the handle of the door then checks back on Misaki. “Ready?” she asks.
Forget about the first impression and forget about not standing out. She decides to just be herself and hope for the best. After the sliding door is opened, she takes a deep breath and exhale, allowing herself to relax before making her way in. As they enter the room, the class noise somehow lessens when they saw an unfamiliar face. Ms. H proceeds to her table. Misaki calmly trails behind then stands along side the teacher.
The room interior is average like any other schools, private or public. It is spacious enough to walk through, back and front sliding doors, wall clock hang on the front wall, large plate-glass windows, banks of fluorescent lights line the ceiling along with two ceiling fans, chairs neatly arranged.
“Quiet down, you good for nothing little rascals!” commands the teacher with authority and her students obediently abide. “This lady here will be your new classmate.” her smile back on as she turns and gestures a ‘go ahead’ signal to Misaki.
Misaki has a short surprised face before she introduces herself. “Hello. My name’s Misaki Nakahara. Nice to meet you guys, I hope we can all get along.” she says with a brief smile then bites her lower lip.
A moment of silence occurs in the room. Some starts to murmur.
Out of the blue, a sudden shout comes out from a boy. “Yeehhaa! We finally got a cutie in class!”
“Hey Koba!” some girl snaps. “What do you mean by that?”
“What? You think you’re cute? Blaa, don’t make me laugh.”
“Why you little–”
Misaki giggles on that. The class laughs also. A little while later the room starts to generate noise again.
Another boy stands and shouts: “Misaki I love you already!”
Misaki is startled. Well, maybe she is cute like most people say, but to think a love confession could occur on her first day was completely out of the question, and so she just takes it as a joke. Well, it is probably a joke anyway.
Standing at front where people can easily set eyes on her, she starts to get timid, somehow feeling the glued stares of her classmates thoroughly examining her. She can also hear a few gossips, yet, the comments she’s overhearing weren’t particularly comments, on the contrary– compliments. “Take a look at her smooth skin.”, “she really is cute, isn’t she?”, “I wonder how she managed to get legs like that.”, “She must be having diets right?”, “her breasts aint’t bad at all.”
With those kinds of appraisals being thrown at her physical appearance, she starts to blush. Nervousness comes back to her, this time it has a little mixture of shyness. It looks like even if she decides not to standout, it’s impossible for her beauty to be disregarded. Again, she lowers her head, looks down, trying to hide her reddish face with her hair.
Misaki can easily hide her face due to her hairstyle that veil portions of her cheeks along with her jaws, yet still manage to slightly expose her little ears. Her short straight hair, which is above shoulder level, has irregular cuts in a very chic style, and bangs that are lined with her eyebrows.
Unlike most teenage girls nowadays who need heavy make-ups or beauty products to neatly present themselves, Misaki looks fairly attractive even without it. She carry the air of genuine femininity and tenderness with her white smooth skin which can endorse soap commercials, face of a heroine star, crystal childlike eyes that seem to speculate curiosity and innocence. Her standard height corresponds well with her body size, and with the perfectly matched uniform, one can shape out the magnificent outline of her figure. Misaki Nakahara is born with natural beauty, an immaculate being every boy dream to achieve.
“Alright, that’s enough, be nice to her ok?” Ms. H speaks then locates a seat for Misaki. “Anyway, you can take the empty chair at the back.” she points at the rear corner desk next to the window.
As Misaki walks her way through her classmates, boys warily stare at her. She can’t help but gaze away and just look forward towards her chair.
Two chairs are placed on each school desk; wide desks that can almost fit in three chairs, making it leave enough space for each individual to comfortably write through. She notice students are paired with the opposite gender, but it appears she’ll have to sit without a partner.
After taking her sit at the back corner beside the window, the girl sitting in her front turns and greets her with a smile.
“Hi there, I’m Sachi nice to meet you too.”
“Hello” she replies with a half smile.
After two periods she started to recognize several of the faces in her class. There was always someone blunt than the others who would introduce themselves and ask her questions about how she was liking Central High and other personal things. She tried to be diplomatic. Another girl sits at the empty chair beside her.
“Yo, what’s up Saki?” the freshly seated girl says cheerfully.
“I’m Tara,” she says. “I think you’ve heard this a few times already, but I want to hear it from you: What do you think of the school?”
“Well it’s not bad than what I first thought.” Misaki says. “I’m really relieved to see how friendly the people are. I was kinda worried I’d end up being a loner.”
Yes. It was precisely as what Ms. H had told her: there’s no need to worry. So far most classmates she encountered weren’t likely polite nor impolite, although still friendly and nice.
“This is only your first day though. Don’t get your hopes high yet.”
“Why’d you say that?” Misaki carefully studies her. Judging from the way she approached and her manner of speech: “Please don’t tell me your one of those bullies.” she says, as if pleading.
Tara laughs. “What?! Do I look like that?”
Misaki didn’t answer.
She stops laughing. “Now that’s rude.”
“Sorry, so your not?”
“No!” she denies flat. “If there’s anyone who’ll be doing the bullying, that’ll be the person sitting beside you.”
Misaki confusedly stares at her. “Uh… isn’t that you?”
“Not me, I mean the boy who’s supposed to be sitting here, the Bancho!” she smirks. “You’re unlucky for having that seat, you know.”
“Oh– I thought I was going to sit here alone.” Misaki says, taking no notice of the unlucky seat.
“Too bad huh?”
“No, not at all. It’s nice to have a seatmate.”
Tara slowly shakes her head, and lets out a sigh.
Ray, who has been sitting on the third desk in front of them, overhears their conversation and decides to butt in. “Hey Misaki,” he calls out. “you don’t know anything about Bancho, do you?”
“Nope” she says, shaking her head.
“Of course you don’t. Let me break it down to you.”
“Is he some kind of a bad guy?”
“I wouldn’t exactly call him bad, but he’s definitely not good.”
“Yeah you tell her Ray.” Tara says eagerly.
Who is this renowned Bancho? Misaki puzzled, curious to know about her seatmate. “Wait a minute, what’s Bancho? Is that his name?”
Ray transfers sitting onto the girls’ desk. “Well first off, Bancho is merely a terminology. It’s like this,” he begins to explain. “ever since you were in elementary, there was always someone in your class who acts boss-like right?” he resumes. “Well not particularly the boss… he’s like… someone who differs from the entire class. And you all think highly of him. Example: he’s the oldest, the tallest, the scariest, etc.”
“Ah– yeah I guess there was always someone like that.” Misaki says. “He’s not a bully though, right?” she hopefully asks.
Placing his thumb and index finger to his chin, Ray realized something. “Hmm… Now that you mention, so far I haven’t seen him purposely pick on someone– yet. But I’ve seen him in numerous fights though.”
“If it was just the fights, that’d be normal,” Tara adds “but I heard he even hit a girl and argued with a teacher, he also got connections to some of the senior delinquents. He’s a class-S delinquent I tell ya,” she gives Misaki a serious face. “So be careful not to upset him, Saki.”
Ray laughs. “Class-S delinquent!? Where’d you get that?”
Tara also laughs. “I know! Sounds corny right?”
This is no laughing matter for Misaki. Panic surface on her expression. Back in her elementary days she was a victim of the so-called bullying. If it hadn’t been for her sister who freed her from that curse, she would still be rotting inside her room without experiencing the passing of time. It was a dreaded situation she didn’t want to go through again. This guy must be dangerous, to the point he’d even hit a girl. She imagined the Bancho to be one of those nasty looking individuals she saw before entering the building. One glance at them and you’ll positively identify them as delinquents.
“Oh yeah, there’s more.” Ray remembers, lowering his voice. “You see that guy over there?” he carefully points out to someone at the front row, being cautious enough not to get noticed by him.
Misaki looks to where he pointed. It was a tough looking guy.
“That’s Sendo.” he says “If you look closely to his face you’ll notice a huge scar on the left part of his forehead.”
There really was a huge scar, huge enough to seem as if it was sliced by a blade.
“Bancho did that. Back then, Sendo was acting almighty like he’s some kinda big shot, not till Bancho stepped up and showed him who is boss. Oh boy, it was an instant fight then –“
“I remember that!” Tara breaks him off.
“Shh! Keep your voice down will ya.” he warns her by widening his eyes.
Tara pats her mouth apologetically. “Sorry, got carried a little.” she keeps her voice down. “It was an unforgettable scene, you see, with all those blood on his face. To be honest, I was scared myself. That was my first time seeing so much blood.”
Sitting silently, all the while reading a book, Sachi stands and rashly goes to their space, annoyed of what they are talking about.
“Knock it off guys!” she taps their desk with both hands that startles Ray, who sits on the desk. “From the looks of it, you two are the bullies. Scaring poor little Misaki like that.”
“Poor little Misaki? Look who’s talking.” Tara counters. “Sounds like you’re the bully, Chi. It’s not like we’re scaring her, right Saki?” she turns to Misaki.
One glance at her and they can obviously notice the fluids that are ready to burst out from the corner of her eyes. She’s on the verge of crying. Misaki tries desperate to hold them back. A single crawl of teardrop could later on result to a nonstop dripping of embarrassment. Here goes another mortifying moment in her life, exposing her weak side, her pathetic side. Her confidence to begin with was futile. This is just the way she is; emotionally weak, not to mention physically as well, the only thing she thinks she’s good at was study and cry.
Just when she was about to give in with her fear and pour her tears out, Sachi pulled her head towards her chest, holding Misaki and gently caressing her hair.
“Wow!” Tara amazed of what she’s seeing. “Way to go Sachi, you look like a mother.” she chuckles.
“Shut up and go back to your seat.”
“Well, the teacher will be arriving soon anyway.” As Tara walks to her chair, she looks back for an instant as if showing a hint of remorse.
“He-hey now, I got nothing to do with this, Tara started it.” Ray utters while shifting backward. “I’m going back to my seat now, see ya.”
It took a matter of seconds before Misaki could fully regain her composure. Thank goodness she managed to endure the urge of crying. It’d be ridiculous for simply being threatened by mere rumors concerning someone she has yet to even personally meet. The chances of her survival have become slim, or so she thought.
“I’m so pathetic…” Misaki speaks with a tiny voice. “Can you let go of me now?” she humbly asks.
“Don’t listen to them.” Sachi says, releasing Misaki from her arms. “They don’t know the real Bancho. They only see what they want to see.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll know soon enough.” she smiles.
Having encountered the sole gate, which acts as both entrance and exit, closed for the third straight time, Firo had to scale the eight-foot wall that separates the outside. To his relief, the perimeter walls at front were at equal height with the gate so makes it no trouble for him to climb, unlike the walls at the back that seemed unreachable. Before climbing he took position on a spot less detectable for others to see, angling himself at a corner behind trees, near the walls. It wasn’t difficult for him reaching the top due to his athletic ability. He’d hop and grab the pinnacle block, then effortlessly boost his way up with his arms and legs.
The convenient store was a minute walk away from where he descended. Time to time he’d stop by and buy his daily supplies before going home after school, thus established a friendly bond with the elderly owner. Whenever Firo purchases his needs, the old man would engage him dialogues involving memories of the past, which Firo had to abide to follow suit, and due to his regular visit, the small talks became a custom exchange between them. It irritates him a bit though, on hearing old people blabber about life experiences, but Firo takes caution to not offend or disrespect the old man, so he makes effort to flow along conversations, providing courteous replies and anticipated reactions.
“You know, son,” the old man starts, and Firo is already thinking for an answer. “ever wonder why in the ol’ days when condoms were yet to be invented, the population was steady. How come now that mankind had discovered condoms, population kept increasing?”
“Dunno, gramps, maybe because people nowadays have less moral values. I think T.V is to blame. You know how it influence kids, the things they see on screen affects their growth.”
The old man thinks this over. “I see… all the porn and stuff.”
“Yeah, nobody use condoms in pornos. Well, I’ll come by again, ol’ man.” he walks out the door.
After dropping down back to school grounds, Firo is later on dotted by someone. “I saw that.” a low pitched voice comes from behind.
Firo breaks his track and turns to glance upon an unwanted figure. Shit, it’s the guard. “Just my luck.”
Zack, one of the three sentry guards stationed covering the section, who restrains order and look out for any unlawful acts, (like the one Firo just did.) and are authorized to use force when circumstance permits. These guys are big, tough, muscular, and well experienced in many varieties of conflicts, personally hired by the City Mayor himself. Rumors say these Batista-looking machos were henchmen used by corrupt leaders. Sad to say, they are corrupt themselves, willingly bribed by money or cigarettes, most especially weeds. Nevertheless, these guards do their job with dedication when it comes down to significant matters, at very best. They only accept bribes if the offense committed was not much of a big deal.
“The only luck you got is bad luck.” the guard laughs teasingly. “I knew you’d climb again! Too bad, from now on the gate will be closed till dismissal time. So what you got for me kid?” he hands out his palm.
“Won’t you let me go just once, Zack?” Firo says.
“Cigarette is a small price to pay, don’t be stingy. Now give it, ten sticks.”
What the fuck, ten sticks. Considering how much of a smoker those three are, the remaining ones won’t last long, therefore he’ll be dragged again to buy another pack. He doesn’t plan to travel another half a mile just to satisfy those cigarette fiends of what they demand. No choice, no smokes for him this time. But hey, if he’s not going take his share, that gives him an additional motive to attend class.
“Here you go, you thief!”
Halfway through, walking with both hands tucked inside his pocket, in a foul mood, Firo spots two jerks having a fun time teasing a certain girl. Better yet, when he sees one of them grabbing her by the forearm, as if forcing his way through her, the impression struck him that this was an act of harassment, because judging by the girl’s face; she does not like it at all.
Just when he got robbed of his cigarettes, a filthy scene adds to his aggravation; catching sight of troublesome delinquents playing big makes him want to pound something. Wait, labeling them as delinquents don’t sound fit. These guys are just puny little punks who can’t prey on anyone other than girls or gays.
He still feels guilt for not lending aid for a desperate girl awhile back. But the condition then was unavoidable and he didn’t want to grab attention. This time it’s different. Lunch break has long been over and students start to lessen, each returning to their respective classrooms. Few still hang around, although he won’t care less if there’d be people watching. This type of situation doesn’t need any hesitations.
Coolly, Firo moves towards them, keeping the same pace and posture. He sees one punk notice his approach. He gives him a deep glare, without a doubt igniting hostility. The punk interprets this message clearly and also sends back the same frightful glare. That enough made Firo’s blood boil, and on impulse, sets his adrenaline pumping.
Five steps apart from each other, Firo takes out his hands and forms two fists, clutching them hard while still holding unto the punk’s eyes.
The punk is ready to commence an attack, however, before he could even initiate, Firo already lands a sharp right hand to his face. It was a thunderous strike which the punk didn’t see coming. The impact made a loud ‘thud’, like the sound of raw meat chopped by a butcher. The punk is immediately knocked down by a swift single blow, leaving his companion stunned and agitated.
“You prick!” the other punk throws a punch at Firo which he automatically dodged in sheer reflex by slightly shifting his upper body sideways. And together with the leaned movement of his left foot, he stooped forward to counter attack with two quick body punches: left hook to the rib followed by a short straight right on the stomach. This all happened within a fast second.
The punk is moaning in pain. He backs little away from Firo, barely standing up. “Ugh! Shit, shit!” he cursed and cursed, clinging both arms unto his abdomen “You bastard…” he grunts. “Do you know who we are? We’re members of Ge –”
Without a word, Firo grabs his head and knees him on the face. The punk is unable to finish his statement, for the solid hit has driven him unconscious.
“I don’t give a damn.” Firo says, fixing his necktie. He calmly walks away before a crowd gathers and a guard responds to the scene, leaving both boys on the ground and a girl speechless.
And just like that, two punks were instantly beaten.
Wait a minute. He chuckles.
Did he just say ‘I don’t give a damn’? Ironically he thought, without much conviction, that maybe it really was Ban’s influential characteristics.
As Firo returns to the Backyard, he right away tossed the pack of cigarettes to Glok, who is now doing steps of exercises. He too, seems aware of his body lacking physical exertion.
“What took you?” Glok throws him a suspicious look.
“Just minor circumstances.” Firo says nonchalantly. “I ran into Zack, he took ten this time.”
“Fuck you. You took it yourself.” Glok argues, checking how many sticks were left inside the pack.
Firo widely spreads his arms. “Search me.” he suggests.
“Then you must have finished them along the way.”
“You think I could finish that much in that amount of time?” Firo says. “Think again bird-brain.”
“I don’t believe you!” Glok says in a higher tone.
Among the three, Firo sees Glok as the war freak, a short tempered guy who gets angry on trivial things such as cigarettes. If Bucha is the friendly type, then Glok is the aggressive type. Frequent times had he witness him start inane arguments with simple matters involved, which later on result to fights. Needless to say, they ought to cover up for his hostile behavior; sort the mayhems he’d create and back him in seldom brawls. Although thankfully, he settles only on punks and posers who he thinks should deserve a beating or two. Glok never goes for the weak, which Firo approves too, because both share the same viewpoint. Perhaps that’s the main reason how they easily befriended each other even on their first meeting. But of course, Firo has a more reasonable sense than him.
Right now, if Firo was some random guy Glok’s been talking with, he wouldn’t be surprised if Glok suddenly charges and start unloading punches. Though as wild as Glok is, Firo is confident he wouldn’t dare go that far regardless of how many times they argue. Despite the way they interact, same with Ban and Bucha, each has a huge amount of respect for one another, not the diplomatic kind, but a mutual respect only carried amongst them.
“Listen, you guys can have it all. I’m not taking any.
“Well, you already had your share.” Glok protests. “You even had extras.”
“I’m gonna go to class.” Firo says, ignoring his comments.
“Yeah right, class huh?” Glok sneers as if hearing a bad joke. He puts a cigarette to his mouth and reaches out for his pockets in search of a lighter.
“Before I forget, where’s the big diesel?” Firo wonders, glancing around searching for Bucha.
Glok lights his cigarette and points at the same tree where he had leaned. Bucha is at the rear, holding the trunk in both hands, head tilt up at a branch with his mouth ajar. Firo approaches him and realize he was observing a nest of birds. In any case, Firo didn’t care and just gives him his damn candies or else he’ll be super late for class. Well its ‘better late than never’, he thought to himself, and immediately, Zack crossed his mind. He feels indebted to the bastard’s accidental good deeds, which made him avoid smoking and attend class, who even taught him a word of wisdom. As Firo makes his exit:
“THAT’S IT!” Ban says out loud, still holding the same position he had before Firo left. He quickly stood and calls for attention. The three pause to see what vital announcement their self-proclaimed leader has to offer.
“It took me a hard time deciding between Big and Power.” Ban speaks with enthusiasm. “From now on, we’ll be called– P4! Aka: Power Four!” he proudly declares.
As Firo expected: Random.
Bucha claps his hands. “Cool.”
“Grow up.” Glok says.
Noise was all around the room. As soon as the history teacher came he instantly left his things and gone out saying: “I’ll be right back, something urgent came up”. So they were told to self study for the moment.
Misaki is still shaken after another experienced terror arose from her temporary journey. It was at lunch break when she decided to roam around the campus, in hopes of bumping into him. To her surprise, she actually did, in a terrifying manner nevertheless with admirable means. She tried to call out his name, yet the event was too shocking for her to witness that it made her speechless. She didn’t get a clear vision of his face but without a doubt in her mind, it was definitely him. Fujimaru Toshiro saved her from two skirt-chasers. Eventually, all she managed to do was watch his back fade from afar.
She told Sachi what just happened and was surprised of her mother-like reaction. She was scolded like a child, to not wander around aimlessly by herself mainly because she’s new and pretty.
“If you want to sightsee, tell us first and we’ll accompany you.” Sachi says with a hint of frustration.
“Yeah I’ll be your tour guide.” Tara adds.
Misaki’s classmates are very protective of her. Koba, the funny man in class, said that he’ll beat up anyone who dares lay a hand on her. The guys would laugh at him, telling him to drink a lot of milk first. He’s even shorter than Misaki.
It didn’t take long for Misaki to fit in class II-5. She is well-liked by others, not just for the looks, but also for her gentle personality. She took up her confidence and bravely entered the room’s social interactions. As a result, she is now acknowledged as part of the class’ circle. Tara and Ray never mentioned anything of her weakness, nor did she feel awkward towards them. They would openly start conversations with Misaki, being familiar with her like a longtime classmate.
About forty minutes has gone by since the teacher left and noise was still everywhere, none were self studying, not even Misaki herself. She was also in the exploit of exchanging small talks while a supervisor is not in check. The room was like a festival inside, but not for long.
The front sliding door opens, expecting to see the teacher; it is Firo who enters the room. After that, every sound turns low.
For awhile people kept their voices to a minimum, being alarmed by the terrorizing presence of the Bancho.
“Yo Fujimaru! Good to have you back.” Koba outspokenly says to Firo, without second thoughts.
Firo nods reluctantly.
“It’s the Bancho.” Tara whispers to Misaki before moving out of the Bancho’s chair.
“Good luck.” Ray says, also moving away.
Yes it was luck. Misaki felt so fortunate to be in the same class as him, and how relieved is she to find out that her feared Bancho is actually Fujimaru Toshiro. She gazes at him clearly this time. He still has the same brushed up hair style but a few centimeters longer now, partially dyed blonde. His eyes have become rather… fearless, other than that, none has change of his fair skin and body.
Before she knew it, Firo was standing beside her. She almost disregarded the fact that both of them share the same desk and sits right next to each other.
“Hey you’re in my seat.” Firo says.
Misaki just blankly stares up at him, not knowing the proper response to give. Then she finally snaps out and says:
“Isn’t the girl supposed to sit on the left side?”
“I don’t care. I want to sit beside the window, so will you move aside.”
“Don’t be unreasonable.” she says.
Firo is about to say something, when the teacher suddenly slides in making sorry gestures to the class for being late. Firo discontinues and quietly sits down on the vacant chair beside.
“Well now, how nice of you kids to be quiet while I was away.” the old male teacher says. “I heard we got a transfer student, where is she?”
Misaki raises her hand and stands to greet the teacher, also introducing herself. Firo is dumbfounded. Up till now, he’s oblivious of the girl’s unfamiliarity, if she hadn’t introduced herself sooner, he never would have known. Firo have yet to fully recognize all the names and faces of his classmates, so he wasn’t able to assuredly distinguish Misaki from the rest.
As Misaki takes her sit, the old male teacher saw Firo for the first time in a long time.
“What’s this? The faculty informed me that there’ll only be one new student arriving.” he jokes around. “But I see another new face here.” he paused, pretending to wonder. “Who on earth might you be young man?”
“Very funny.” Firo says, not amused at all.
“I saw you going inside just before me, Mr. Toshiro, and didn’t see you here before I left. In other words, you’re fifty minutes late. I’m not accepting your attendance.”
Firo didn’t say anything.
“Miss Misaki, I presume you haven’t met our Fujimaru Toshiro here?” the teacher asks.
Misaki shakes her head. “No sir, but I believe we have a lot of time to know each other.”
The teacher sighs, sits to his desk, takes out a note book then began checking everyone’s attendance, when it was Firo’s turn to be called he skipped his name and went to the next. Once the teacher was done, with a few more minutes left before his hour ends, he grabbed his things and took his leave. After which comes a five minute break following each subject’s completion. And as usual, every one of those five minutes without a supervisor is filled with heavy chatters.
Firo sits in a laid-back style, one arm hooked behind the chair, the other rest flatly on the desk, and legs stretched out front. An absent doesn’t much take its toll. To him, attendance is like the pieces of rice that fall out from his plate while eating. Spending time in class is simply another option when boredom hits him. Not that he could socialize with the others well, even if he talks to them, like for instance ask questions, surely enough they would answer, but it’s more like they’re being forced to respond. Not that it matters, either way he prefers to be unnoticed and just observe people from behind, that itself can satisfy his time.
During those five minutes Misaki every so often gives Firo sidelong glances, looking for a chance to open a chat. The room is again noisy but not as loud as before, whiles the two sit there silently. At one time Firo turns to the window beside and by chance caught her gaze. Misaki then quickly looked away, trying to make it natural. Firo noticed this, and stared at her for the meantime, examining the ignorant newcomer sitting on his supposed to be only chair. He loves that spot and everybody in class knew.
From the chair he could freely gaze outside and obtain a clear view of the area below: the trees lined at the corner of the roads, where different types of people walk by; the bench chairs, where students hang around producing chatters and laughs; the two closely separate buildings at far west, where he could glimpse upon the sun setting in-between. Observation is one of his hobbies.
He continues to examine the girl. She looks decent enough, refined, innocent, and obviously pretty. The more he looks the more vague sense of memory linger back at him. For some reason he is familiarized with this unknown girl, however, he is quite positive he never had close relations to any female associates, and the name ‘Misaki Nakahara’ doesn’t ring a bell. He wonders if she already made contact with the gossip-girls around and has heard stories about him.
Misaki could somehow feel his eyes settled on her, and it makes her awkwardly insecure. She keeps her silence, afraid to glance toward Firo’s direction, thinking if she did something unusual for him to stare at her like that. Then she remembers calling him ‘unreasonable’. She was still fixing her thoughts when she said that. He can’t possible be angry on such trivial thing, she thought. After all, he really was being unreasonable. She clears her mind and tries to relax a little.
At first Firo plans to talk but then again choose not to. He’s not really sure what to say or what to talk about. On second thought, he decides to first ask her name, even though he heard the teacher mention ‘Misaki’. When he is about to open his mouth, the next teacher comes in and greets them, others greeting him back. This kills his urge to talk. Doesn’t matter, he thought, because like she said: “we have a lot of time to know each other”.
After that, he sat properly and listened to all lectures throughout the remaining subjects until school dismissed, without uttering a single word to anybody.
2012 I'm ready for you!
Looking for something deep.
wow.. past and present tense..
I'm back n'square again, so pm me anytime ^^
I like your topic about delinquents, cool and different
you should fix the tenses, but its good
school started again... but only 33 actual school days left!