Day 1: Planning Revenge
Later that afternoon, Gar called his neighborhood friends in front of their house, which was surrounded by a wooden fence with bits of rusting barbed wire. There was a lush, rich star apple tree in the garden and they all gathered there under its broad and refreshing shade, their ears primed for anything that came next. Gar already harvested whatever he could from the tree in advance; he treated his friends to helpings of fresh fruit.
At the back of his mind, he knew that they must do something to reclaim their street cred and avenge his brother.
Without delay, Gar started the conversation.
“Something just happened.”
He paused for a while.
“The Alley Boys bullied Aldrin. Dre, we need a plan to deal with these dumb guys.”
After another pause, Gar added, “While it is true that they allow us to use the basketball court freely, they do not allow us to move around – as if they were the owners of that place!”
“So someone from our neighborhood got punched down again? And our small brother got the bad end of it?” asked Nando, who was Gar and Aldrin’s elder brother. While asking these, Nando leisurely eats mango from a bowl; their family harvests mangoes every day.
“Yeah, our brother just got wrecked by the Alley Boys,” answered Gar.
“Woah, seriously?” asked Richie, a small kid who came from a family that just went into the neighborhood a couple of months ago. He is quite thin; he likes running around and he even plays for the school’s athletics team despite his young age. In a few years’ time, he might become one of the province’s top young prospects; however, those days are still far away.
After a couple of comments and violent reactions, Gar signaled his friends to go back to the topic. There was no time to waste.
“We can win if we plan well,” replied a lanky, tall child named Charles. He was also considered to be smart at school, though his friends know that he was just as smart when it comes to the ways of the street.
“What plan? Can’t you see that we are few here? If we want to go up against them, then we should have the numbers to do it!” retorted Michael, who was one of his younger brothers. He was chubby and had brown eyes. In addition, he was also one of Charles’s best friends; they always hanged out together at school and usually played the same video games on the 900-in-1 cartridge that Charles plays on his family computer.
Yet, Michael knew that it would be their first time fighting an actual street group.
“Don’t get me wrong, bro, but we’re going up against a group of kids who are well-known in Santa Marcella for their savage ways.”
Even though Charles didn’t like to punch first, he went into a lot of fistfights with various people from different neighborhoods – everyone his age seemed to underestimate his thirst for a fight.He always claimed to his parents that he has done it in self-defense, which was true for the most part; there were a couple of times when he actually struck first, ensuring that the other guy never got a chance to hit back. Charles hated people who underestimate him, in addition to eating vegetables.
“Here’s one idea we can all use.”
“Ok, tell us, genius,” said Gar, who looked uncertain about Charles’s plan.
After a bit of a pause, Charles asked, “Any pieces of bamboo or wood you can find around?”
Tom, one of Gar’s younger brothers and Charles’s classmates at school, just came in. He asked, “What will you do with them?”
To everyone’s surprise, Charles had a quick reply.
“We can make swords and poles out of them. If we have paper cartons, we can make shields out of them. In fact, if we could spare a couple of nails or find some plywood, we can also have sturdy shields, like the ones they use in the movies! We can also use slingshots to fight them; you all already know how to do them anyway. I have one rubber cover that can be used as a shield, along with a long wooden pole. I am ready to join you.”
Looking around, Charles pointed out a fact.
“I am pretty sure they have most, if not all of those items by now. Did you forget that they are the most warlike group in our streets?”
Then, all of them just argued with each other as they quickly decided to dismiss Charles’s suggestion. However, they couldn’t agree on their next course of action.
“How about beating their big numbers?” asked Richie.
“It will be useless if we do not have plans or weapons,” chimed Berto, who was one of Gar’s good friends from the neighborhood.
“What are you talking about? You don’t know how a turf war works, you’ve always been studying and staying at home!” answered a kid named Luis.
Charles quickly replied, “Yeah, yeah!”
Finally, when he had enough, Gar bellowed, “Shush! Charles, tell us the rest of your plan.”
“Richie, Aries, Luis, Tom and Berto, you get short sticks and swords and wrap cloths around our faces and left hands. We will strike their storage tomorrow early in the morning, while they are busy watching Voltes 5 or whatever is the latest anime show in the TV.”
“What the heck? This very evening?” commented Aries, who was one of Charles’s best friends.
Berto also interjected, “Are you mad?”
“Yes, I am mad. If we are going to do something about this bullying thing, then we should also be mad.”
Finally, Tom said something once again. He was silent all throughout this time.
“But Charles, you don’t know anything about fighting!”
Charles paused and then said the following, “Oh, so how about those fistfights we had with each other?”
Although Charles was smart, he also knew how to fight dirty when needed. Tom and the rest of the neighborhood knows this well – Tom was knocked out and humiliated in public by Charles quite a number of times.
Aries just shrugged and said, “Okay, Charles. If this fails, screw you.”
“Trust me, we got this.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, Charles. We all saw that script elsewhere.”
Out of nowhere, two five-foot tall girls came to the meeting. Their faces possessed huge eyes and well-sculpted noses. Both of them had hair that reached until their shoulders; they were both carbon copies of each other.
Everyone was shocked to see them there. They’re not the kind of girls who like to get their hands dirty in a fight.
“Chacha! Linlin!” greeted Charles.
The two twins answered back in unison.
The only way to identify one from the other is through their slippers: Chacha always wears a pair of blue slippers, while Linlin dons a pair of reds.
“We are ready to help.”
Michael reacted dismissively; the contours of his white, round face clearly showing his disdain.
“How will you help? You can’t even carry a short wooden stick!”
Linlin slapped him in the face. It served as a solid reply to Michael’s insult.
Everyone laughed at the spectacle. Aldrin even muttered, “Served you right, kuya!”
Gar raised his right hand and the whole group became silent.
“Tomorrow early in the morning, we meet here. Let’s show those bullies how we fight!”
Everyone cheered in unison, before going back to their respective houses.