A Little Crime Story, Recounted in the First Person
Filed Under: Music & Film, Opinion | Posted: 10/09/2007 at 1:59PM
Comments | Region: Philippines
A Little Crime Story, Recounted in the First Person
By Marciano Paroy Jr.
# 32-B Quezon St., Pob. West
The approach was friendly.
Two young men, who were obviously on their way home, passed by the front gate of # 32-B Quezon St., Poblacion West where I was standing. I was waiting for a lady friend who just went back in to look for a much-needed Winston puff.
The exchange of nonsensical banter started. Is this your house? No, a friend lives here…from where are you? We live here in Poblacion West… you? I’m from Poblacion Centro… where do you go to school? Uhm… somewhere.
By now we were in front of # 34, when I realized I was still with my friend, and we have yet to go somewhere.
“I have yet to go somewhere with my friend… do you have a number by which I can contact you?” I asked, terminating the encounter.
“Sure. 09184225095,” the kid said.
The numbers were punched and a phone did ring. “I’ll get in touch then. See ya.”
And as I started to turn my back, the other guy, who had been silent all along, lunged forward – like a scene in the “Apocalypto” movie when a hunter charges towards a prey. I immediately found myself almost engulfed by his figure. It was then I felt something hard that threatened to scrape the back of my neck.
Something Cold, Made of Steel
Sharp. I felt it positioned at a slanted angle across the back of my neck. Initially startled at the cold steel that was grazing the fleshy region behind my ear, I looked at the kid wielding his tool of trade – and he said “Give it!” But as he hissed his command, and as I tried to stare right through his eyes, the weapon moved several notches higher. There was not even a moment of hesitation on his part. The knife sliced down my right ear in a split-second, and went on to slither down the right side of my nape. I did not even get to feel the pain that, now that I think about it, should have accompanied the blood that spurted out of the nicked earlobe and the flesh behind it.
The knife – or, rather, the hand that held the knife – moved so fast that the next thing I felt was the heavy thud at the back of my head, followed by a slitting motion – while his other hand was unrelentingly pulling the bag-strap that diagonally ran across my chest.
Bewildered. Confused. I started to push him back.
That second blow brought me to my senses – or what was remaining of my senses. I was being murdered! Damn it! I would die… but not this way, not like this, I thought. I mustered enough strength, knowing there was a succeeding onslaught.
As the swiftly moving kid got ready to butcher me one more time, I tried to grab the wrist that held the knife hastily descending. It was a desperate move, and I miscalculated the plunge. Instead – whack! – the knife lodged itself by the side of my left palm.
Up again did the knife go, leaving the wedge that formed at the side of my palm, now welling-up with blood. It was the same bloody palm that I used to shove him off. He lunged forward, and again I pushed him away, for this time the knife wasn’t raised.
It was then that I shouted for Carol’s help – one thing I should have done earlier.
The Prospective Friend That Ran Away
Carol, my lady friend, burst out of her gate. Startled, my attacker took off. But by then, his other companion – whom I was earlier having a nice conversation with – had long ago deserted him.
It was when my assailant struck me the second time that the other guy bolted and ran – despite a demand from my attacker, which I took to be a command for the other kid to help out in the carnage. I was faced with the terrifying possibility that I would be slaughtered by two kids building-up their list of victims they could brag later. With the other wielding the knife, while the other – for lack of an option – picking up, perhaps, a stone.
But he ran away.
I didn’t see him actually turn around and make a dash away from the bloodshed – I just heard the footsteps hastening to leave the scene. Theories I formulated later explain that the kid may have been shocked by the gory turnout of the supposedly amiable encounter. He may not have had the daring to join the fray. He simply chickened out.
Philosophy would dictate that he would end up reaping a better moral judgment. At the moment when evil ruled, he allowed one single humane ray to shine through and, by that light alone – in a flash – he chose to be detached from the atrocity.
And so he ran. Leaving his friend to finish the bloodbath.
Friends… What Would the World Be Without Them?
Carol took over from there. She was like a captain commandeering a ship. She got a tricycle to bring us to St. Luke’s where the attendant by the lobby shrieked in an unmanly manner when he saw blood cascading down my neck. Carol left me momentarily to run to the police station and, in what seemed to be mere seconds, returned with a blue police car, ready to bring me to the Provincial Hospital.
It was while lying on a steel bed at the Emergency Room did I start to look for that sign – that light that, it is said, only dying people could see. I waited for the movie-like rush of events that transpired in my insignificant life – in reverse.
But none of that flash of scenes before my eyes. No unseen power siphoning me out of the room. No mysterious light. I looked at the farthest end of the room, and all I could see were strange faces around me. And one newly arrived face stood out in particular.
He was glaring, I was sure of it, seemingly angry – whether directly at me or not, I still have not asked until now.
What followed was a series of blurry moments. I could sense the doctors knowing what to do with me, but only choosing to conspire with Carol and Daniel who, I could perceive from the back of my head, went this way and that way.
I no longer cared what was being done to my body. I no longer cared to know why a doctor seemed to be having a good time piercing my ears continually, or why another seemed to be having a difficult time at the back of my head, or why locks of hair were being cut.
They could have peered into my spinal cord and I couldn’t have cared less.
I only knew that – in that hazy band of doctors, nurses, attendants, and X-ray people jostling one another – there were two people in the room who genuinely cared.
When Policemen Sit By Your Bedside
When policemen sit by your bedside, it could either mean that you’re in trouble, or you’re the key to finding those who are in trouble. Memory from the previous night’s event was not that hard to recapitulate. No detail was left out and, definitely, no detail was inventively added – despite the uniformed men egging me to remember things that simply did not hold true. Or conjuring absurd angles.
Surely you know them? They were drunk, right? You had a lover’s quarrel? The other one got jealous, didn’t he? They’re your students settling a score, perhaps?
They’ve watched too many movies.
Clear and simple: I was standing by the wayside right outside my friend’s house when I ran into this pair; I chatted with one of them; the other simply did not like chatting; he wanted action; and I got it. So I ended up lying in a bed inside Room 234, with stitches running at the back of my head, across my ear, and through the side of my palm. That’s all there is to it.
I had to repeat, over and over, that I did not know my attacker and the other kid who had a bout with his conscience and ran prematurely.
Policemen are always well-meaning, though – when it comes to the quick solution of a crime. They are an unyielding bunch, really. Receiving flak now and then, always pressured by all sectors in the society. And so they keep appealing for a 100% cooperation from victims.
Much as I want to help our sincere law-enforcers, the only help I could probably extend is to point out the culprits in a police line-up.
But on a softer line, our policemen were very thorough in their questioning skills, covering everything. And they left me with wishes for a quick recovery. They barged in with their blank-faced stance, and they moved out in a gentle breeze. How touching.
The Healing Power of Friends Who Weep… and Scold
Second life. That’s the buzz statement all throughout September 2, Sunday as soon as family members, friends, and church fellows began to spill into my hospital room – with the guard coming in now and then to subtract some from the total number of well-wishers in the room.
Recuperation strictly calls for an undisturbed rest. Yet no one can deny the power that emanates from hands that touch, arms that hold and hug, and words that comfort – telling me that everything shall be all right, and that I shall get through this in no time at all.
Then they suddenly became scolding words. Funny. Friendship, I guess, can truly be experienced when we can be soothed and scolded right in the same sitting – in that order.
Through the years, Joon had always known how to bring out the tears – he knew I wanted to cry my heart out, and that my attempt to appear composed was fake and badly acted. And though I already unabashedly and silently cried with my back turned to Carol and Daniel as they guarded me to sleep in my room after all the stitches, I still needed a healthy lachrymal release – and Joon knowingly drew the tears out.
I was shaking. I learned later that my core group had to grapple with the realization that they almost lost a treasured friend. This is one of the unspoken areas of friendship – you never get to know the full extent of your importance until you’re almost lost. Now I am fully confident with the fact that, murdered or not, I hold a special place among my friends.
The continual parade of well-wishers can leave one overwhelmed – and as a Communication instructor, I found it easy to discern which ones were sincere and which ones were not – and there were none of the latter.
It is human touch that temporarily suspends the influx of negatively tinged emotions. And, for awhile, you would feel so much love around you that the medicines seem to take a secondary role to the recovery process.
At The End of the Day… The Family is There
Nothing can replace the refuge that is readily made available by one’s family. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets caught up in something that needs not any form of admonition, not a single word of a reminder, not a questioning mode – but the purest love and care, given unconditionally.
Families hate mourning, and coming from a family that has yet to struggle with the mourning for an loved one that we still can’t get over with, I know that my family was brimming with thankfulness as they saw me alive, in one piece.
Sisters and brothers are easier to deal with, for they are just like your friends – but a mother is a totally different matter. It was impossible to keep the thing hush-hush from her – and so I had to make her undergo a torment more painful than my own ordeal.
Cliché, yes, but I now understand that there is truly nothing more painful for a mother to bear than finding out that the life she brought into this world was snuffed out by someone else – or attempted to be snuffed out by someone else.
A mother does not have a ready reserve for such occurrences. And for putting her under such distress, I have nothing but guilt.
It is indeed comforting to know that, at the end of the day, the family’s fold is there to go home to.