n a World of Fools
I was mad.
Still, I should have slowed down or, at least, watched the road.
But I kept pumping the pedals of my bike. There was just this need in me to have an outlet for my anger. I found it, so I kept at it. The next thing I know, I was airborne, but that only lasted for a fraction of a second. I found myself sprawled on the ground, my head throbbing in pain, and frustrated to the point of tears. Nothing seemed to be going my way today.
I pushed myself off the ground, and my eyes landed on the two entangled bikes beside me, one of them mine. When my eyes drifted to the guy on the other side of the bikes, I felt fury spread through my body. I was livid. I quickly stood up, shoved the bikes aside, and pulled the kid up with his t-shirt. I drove a fist into his stomach, and he crumpled to the ground while I pummeled him with blind anger-driven punches. Just when I felt myself beginning to wind down, I felt something hit my face hard. It stopped me only for a moment, but the further it infuriated me. I lunged at the kid with a snarl and threw punches for all I was worth, not minding the ones I was taking.
“HEY!” someone shouted from behind me. Then, there was a sound of a slamming of a car door.
My opponent seemed to pause in mid-punch, but my fist continued on its way. It was too late when he noticed, and he staggered back at the force of my punch.
“HEY!” came the shout again. This time, it was closer. In fact, it made me flinch, but it was enough to shake me and make me come to my senses and see who it was I was fighting with. It was Jase. My eyes bulged at the same time my stomach dropped, but I didn’t have enough time to wallow in the sudden swirl of emotions within me.
I felt myself being harshly pulled back by the neck of my t-shirt. I looked up and saw the face of my cousin—my cousin, the cop. He was also pulling Jase back by the neck of his t-shirt. “Got a call a few minutes ago,” he said, looking both of us over, “Said there were two kids trying to kill each other ‘round here. You haven’t seen them, have you?”
“Sure,” I muttered sadly. “I passed by them. They’re there, just up the road.”
Eric sighed. “It really wasn’t a question, Andrew.”
“Are you going to arrest me?” Jase asked. “I was just defending myself.” The frightened look on his face depressed me even further. I just couldn’t believe that rage had made me so blinded. So, so blinded.
“Not really. But I need you two to come with me,” Eric said, loosening his grip on our t-shirts. “You’re not gonna run, right?”
I almost chuckled because it was clear, by the tone of his voice, that something would happen to us if we do run and we’re not going to like it. But I was just so—I don’t know—depressed? Mad? I guess, it was kind of a mixture of both, and feeling guilty and ashamed that I had dragged Jase down with me, I couldn’t bring myself to laugh at Eric’s humor.
He led Jase and me to his SUV, the one with “Southern Police District” emblazoned on both sides, and handed Jase a box of Kleenex. “Wipe your face,” he said. “It’s a bloody mess.” He went to get our bikes, which he both strapped on the rack on the roof, and then climbed in the driver seat. He sighed and looked at us through the rearview mirror before turning the ignition on. “Should’ve dragged Jase somewhere no one’d see you. You know better than that, Andrew. What’s next? I’m not going to find you having sex in broad daylight soon, am I?”
I glanced at Jase nervously, wondering what he was thinking, and shot Eric a glare. “Not funny. Shut up,” I told him. You must’ve flushed your humor down the toilet this morning, I almost added.
He furrowed his eyebrows before looking at me through the rearview mirror and seemed to understand that his humor wasn’t appreciated at the moment. I watched as guilt, though little, washed over his face. “Sorry,” he mouthed, and the vehicle started moving.
When I looked at Jase, he was facing the window, his back to me. I couldn’t seem to gather the courage to open my mouth and apologize to him. I wonder how I could ever. I whipped my head fast toward my window when I saw him about to look at me. I can’t help but sigh.
“Well, guys,” Eric said, as we passed by the police station, “I guess, this is the part where I tell you that there wasn’t any call about two kids trying to kill each other.”
Jase suddenly looked alarmed. And I can’t blame him. I mean, if he has a cousin, who’s also a policeman, and I suddenly find myself alone with both of them after a fight with Jase, I’ll definitely be afraid.
“Where are we going?” I asked, a little relieved, now that I knew we weren’t going to the police station.
“To my apartment,” Eric replied. “I was on my way there to eat lunch when I saw you two. I figured I’d stop the fight and take you two to clean up. So relax a little, Jase. No one’s going to hurt you. Were you on your way somewhere or did you just meet up with Drew to fight?”
Being reminded of why he was with us in the first place, Jase glared at me. I couldn’t do anything but look down at my hands in shame. I only wish I knew how I could make him forgive me. I’d do anything.
Finally, Jase turned his attention to Eric. “I was on my way to the mall.”
“Sorry,” I muttered, but I doubt if anyone heard me. It didn’t even reach my own ears.
By the time we reached Eric’s apartment, both he and Jase already seemed to be comfortable with each other. They had already gone through a bunch of subjects and, a couple of times, even broke out into laughter. They never did make an effort to include me because, I think, it was obvious that I was feeling miserable. Jase, though, seemed to have moved on from what happened between us already, which really didn’t surprise me. I’ve always known him to be really good at ignoring things he doesn’t want to deal with.
Unfortunately, that included me.
I just hope that he really had moved on already, that he doesn’t hold grudges. At least, not much. That way, saying sorry wouldn’t be too hard.
“Jase, why don’t you clean up first in the bathroom? It’s the door on your right before you reach the kitchen,” Eric said, the moment we were inside the apartment. He looked at me then, while I squirmed and looked at anything but his eyes. He sighed. “I’ll call McD’s.”
I channel surfed, waiting for Jase to finish up in the bathroom. And he took a pretty long time, not that I don’t understand. I did mess him up, after all, if his previously bleeding nose was any indication. But he still looked as good as ever, even with the bruises and all. I wonder how those would go over with his dad. Or his mom. Shit, if they decide to storm my house when they see Jase later, I know I totally deserve it. They won’t, though, because they’re preachers, both of them. But you just have to wonder what they’d do. They’d probably pray for fire and brimstone to rain on my house.
Not an entirely bad thing at the moment though.
Looking at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t believe that I look worse than Jase. Maybe it’s the ego talking, but I’m absolutely sure I got in more punches than he did. Well, at least, I think I look worse. Jase only has this one bruise right on his left eye, while after cleaning up, I have this bruise that bridged my nose and right eye and a swollen lower lip, plus some redness on some parts of my face.
They were in the living room, already eating, when I made my way out of the bathroom. In fact, Jase was almost done with his food—a quarter pounder, french fries, and Coke—and when I joined them, he shoved the last bite of his burger into his mouth and stood up from the couch with his Coke in hand. “Thanks for the bite, Eric,” he said, grinning, grinning so big that I had to sit down or collapse on the floor. I had never really seen him with a grin up close before. Still, I didn’t look at his eyes. I couldn’t.
“Anytime, Jase,” Eric told him. “By the way, I checked, and there was nothing wrong with the bikes. So you can still use yours to go the mall if you’re still planning to do that.”
“Yeah, I’m still going there.... Um, see you around, hey.”
“Watch the road,” Eric called out, laughing, and Jase was gone.
He had totally ignored me.
I sighed. Involuntarily. Which earned a look from Eric. He would ask, of course, why I was fighting, where I was supposed to go, what I was doing outside at this time of the day, things like that. It’s just natural, after all. He would think that I’d give evasive answers. I think that this time, he would be biting more than he can chew. He decided to finish up his lunch, though, before interrogating me, and by that time, I was halfway through my french fries.
“So, why Jase?” he asked, which really caught me off-guard because I haven’t thought about it, and then he said with just enough derision, “The guy’s smaller than you if you didn’t notice.”
I groaned immediately in reply, and rubbing my face with my hands because of shame, I told him, “I don’t know. Wrong place, wrong time, I guess. Man, it was... fucked up. Absolutely fucked up! I didn’t even know it was him until you were pulling me away from him. I was just biking around, and suddenly, I’m on the ground with a monster headache, and it was all this kid’s fault. Then, you were pulling me by my t-shirt, and I saw that it was Jase. I just... fuck! I don’t know how I could’ve done that.”
“What were you doing outside anyway? It’s lunch time.”
“I had a fight, a big one, with Mom and Dad.” I inhaled deeply then. And though I knew it was all in my mind, I still felt this grip of pain tighten around my chest. “We’re moving.”
My eyes widened. In fact, I nearly slapped him. “What do you mean ‘so’?” I snarled. “We’re not just moving. We’re moving to Canada! To the other side of the fucking globe! How could they do this to me?”
“Hey, hey, calm down, Andrew,” Eric said, moving to sit beside me. “Did they say when?”
“Well, not exactly, but they said before this year ends—”
“Wait,” he interrupted, “You ran out of your parents, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I said, not sheepishly but defiantly, but he was already lifting the phone from its cradle and dialing our number. I scowled at him, but he just rolled his eyes. I sighed in defeat and concentrated on my food while he talked to, I assumed, my dad, and when they finished talking, Eric just stood up and went to the bathroom. When he returned, I was already done eating.
“Look,” he started to say before taking a deep breath. “I don’t know what to say to you, Drew, to make you feel better.”
“There’s nothing you can say to make me feel better,” I muttered.
He sighed. “I know.”
“You could convince my parents to just leave me behind. You know, let me live with you or anyone who wants to take me in,” I said, just brimming with false hope.
“It won’t work, Andrew. They’re your parents, and you’re only, well almost, sixteen years old.”
“Yeah... almost sixteen years old.” I sighed and shook my head. There would be plenty of time for me to think of a solution, or, if there would be none, prepare myself to fly to Canada. Right now, though, Jase wouldn’t get out of my head, and I know I’d never be able to live peacefully if I leave the country without his forgiveness.
I took a deep breath. “How, uh, how were you able to get Jase to be, uh, comfortable with you?” I asked Eric.
“Well, I didn’t do anything special, if that’s what you’re asking,” he replied, eyeing me curiously. “I just started talking to him, and that’s it.”
“Weird. He doesn’t talk to us anymore, you know. Even to Philip, and I know they were best friends before high school. We bump into him and he doesn’t even seem to recognize us. It’s just... what happened, you know? I know he and Philip had a fight back then, but I don’t understand why he just turned into a recluse.”
“And you’re thinking about all this because?”
“How can I make him forgive me?” I asked, on the verge of blushing.
“You approach him, and ask him to.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be that simple with Jase. And thinking of his parents makes me nervous. What if they punish him because he had been fighting? He’s gonna hate me even more.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Your life’s very miserable,” Eric said, rolling his eyes. “Andrew, calm down, okay? All you need to do is talk to him and explain to him why everything happened.”
“Okay,” I said, even though inside, I already gave up. What I mean is, I already gave up asking Eric for suggestions. These grown-ups seemed to think that everything’s so simple.
“So I assume that you took out your anger on someone else,” Dad said, the moment he saw me, which was when I came in through the front door. “Anything hurt?”
“Just my heart,” I said, almost bursting into laughter. Talk about a perfect opening line.
He sighed, which, I know, is something he does when he doesn’t know what to say. One point for me. “Andy—”
“Grrr,” I fake-growled.
“Right, it’s either Andrew or Drew,” he said, sighing again. “Seriously, does anything hurt?”
“No, Dad. And seriously, my heart does hurt.”
I sat down beside my dad, and he immediately put an arm around my shoulders while I leaned on him. We’ve always had a comfortable relationship, like friends actually. No matter where we are, the moment we sit together, this is the position we always end up in. My mom is another story though, I mean, in the like-friends thing, probably because she’s almost ten years older than Dad, which is something I always kid about with him when Mom’s not around. Or, it could be that she just likes being more of a mother. But Dad, he’s my best friend. He doesn’t know that, of course.
“So, Dad, tell me again why we need to move to Canada,” I said, and I didn’t need to look to know he rolled his eyes.
“Well, since you put it that way, we don’t need to move to Canada, but we do want to and we can.”
“Yeah, we, as in you and mom,” I grumbled.
“And we happen to want to bring our son with us.”
“And your son happens to want to stay.”
“But he has no choice. Period.” I pouted while he chuckled and ruffled my hair. “I don’t understand why you don’t want to live there, Andrew. It won’t be summer there all year long—”
“You’re going to hate the weather there, Dad, when you grow old.”
He chuckled at my comment. “How about the schools? Jobs? You also have to think about those. I don’t see any improvement in our country when it comes to education, neither in job opportunities.”
“Dad, I’m not supposed to think about that yet. But maybe when I get to be your age.”
“Which is?” he asked, and I knew he was grinning because he knew what I was going to say next.
“Ten years younger than mom. Where is she, by the way?”
“She’s shopping, probably buying Eric something because he managed to cool your hot head down.”
“Funny, Dad,” I said, scowling. I had wanted to hold on to my anger, but I found that I couldn’t, the moment I was alone with my Dad. I doubt it was Eric that cooled me down. It was probably the bike trip from his apartment to my house. “I’m going to be a lot of trouble these next days until you change your mind. By the time we leave the Philippines, you’ll feel ten years older than mom.”
“Bring it on, kid.”
Unable to think of anything else to say, I stayed silent, relaxing against my dad. It’s usually the sign that we have already worked out our problems. This time though, we had agreed to disagree, not our first time, but definitely our most serious disagreement so far. I just couldn’t understand how they could expect me to just give up my life here, pack up, and start a new life in Canada. It wasn’t like there was something I need to run away from. Neither was there something I absolutely abhor in this place. So it won’t be easy. And I couldn’t get how they think it would be.
We continued to watch The Bourne Identity, which was what my dad was watching when I arrived, only speaking to comment on the fight scenes, especially the one where Matt Damon used a pen. That was really cool! And the car chase was awesome too! I’ve seen the movie a lot of times, and the effect it has on me still hasn’t worn off.
When we were already halfway through The Bourne Supremacy, Mom finally arrived, so Dad decided to pause the movie to help her with the bags of grocery. I hung back and waited for them in the kitchen.
“Oh,” Mom said, when she saw me. “You’re already here.” Then, she looked at my dad as if to ask if everything’s okay. He only shrugged. “You’re okay, aren’t you? Does anything hurt?” she asked me, peering at the one bruise on my face. I winced when she touched my puffy lower lip.
“Nothing hurts, Mom. Really. Just my heart,” I said, but this time, I laughed.
“I forgot to warn you about that,” Dad told Mom, shaking his head. “You walked right into his trap.”
“Well, if he’s making jokes already, then I guess I have to take Eric out for dinner some time,” Mom replied.
“Oh, please,” I said, snorting, “He did nothing.”
Mom grinned, then asked what Dad forgot to ask me. “Who’s the other guy?”
I looked away before I could stop myself. “It was Jase, Mom.”
There was only one Jase that my parents knew of, and it’s because he used to come here a lot with Philip before. In fact, my parents like him a lot, and wouldn’t you know it, he talks to them too. They always tell me that Jase says hi, but when I tell him hi in person, he just looks at me and gives me a tight smile. It’s almost like he doesn’t even see me there. But my parents, he talks to them a lot, which is why I couldn’t be sure if they understand my situation with him.
There was no more mention of Jase again after that though, other than being told to apologize to him—and there it was again, the just-simply-tell-him-sorry thing. My dad and I went back to watching Supremacy, while Mom “refreshed” herself in their room. She had brought take-outs for dinner, and it was decided that we’d eat after finishing the movie. I was a bit suspicious of her though. She said that she’d just refresh herself, but the way I knew her, I wasn’t really sure that’d be all.
Dinner was bribery. At least, that was what I assumed. I think, Mom thought I was still mad, so she bought that hot and spicy roasted chicken that I absolutely love with all of my teenage heart. Throughout dinner though, I did my best to eat as nonchalantly as I could. After all, there were still grudges to hold and some convincing to do. The parents kept looking at me like they expected me to say something—I don’t know—about the dinner? Or was it the decision to move to Canada? The fight with Jase? I couldn’t figure them out.
Dessert was even better: chocolate ice cream. In fact, I almost blurted out something about fighting more often, but I knew Mom wouldn’t like that. I also knew that she would figure out, if she hadn’t already, that the food had done its job on me, which is to soften me up. And by the time the table was cleared, inside, I was already a happy camper, though still with a tiny bit of irremovable—at the moment—chip on my shoulder. I also knew that a food-induced euphoria would only last until the next hunger pang. I did thank my parents for dinner.
I climbed the stairs to my room, ignoring the temptation to talk with my parents again about moving. I absolutely knew anyway that there’s nothing I can do, but it wouldn’t hurt to try, right?
Besides, I had other things in mind. Or person, rather.
Before today, the last time I talked to Jase—which was when I said hey and he smiled at me before walking away—was probably a month ago. No matter what I try, I couldn’t remember when. I just knew that he smiled and then walked away. I had never really asked Philip about why they had a falling out, one that looks like it’s going to go on forever. It always bugged the hell out of me because, one, Jase was my friend before he decided not to talk to me anymore and, two, I just really liked knowing things, even things that don’t concern me. Thing is, most of the time, Philip would get a bitter look on his face every time Jase is mentioned. The other times, he’d be just plain sad. If only Jase would stick around when I try to talk to him, then maybe I could try and get to the bottom of it all.
There’s this plan formulating in my head, about cornering Jase and pleading my case. I could also stalk him around, but that plan really makes me nervous. I also wouldn’t want to bug him and make him hate me more. I had tried emailing him and sending him IM’s when I see him online, but he never replied. Nobody knew his number, or if he even had one. It was a silent agreement between the gang that there would be no way we’d be calling his house phone. No way.
Still, I can’t help but hear the ticking of the clock. I have no idea how much time I have between now and whenever it is we leave for Canada, but there’s no way I would leave without a closure from him, or even just his forgiveness. He makes me feel so unsettled inside.
I was lying on my bed, making up another useless plan to talk to Jase when my door opened and in walked Philip. He was smiling.
“Drew, hey, your mom told me to—shit! What happened to you?”
He saw my face, I guess.
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