In the Name of Friendship

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Chapter 24: Traitor

Aiman was standing in front of the robbers’ den. It was an abandoned building on the outskirts of the city. The robbers discovered it one year after Aiman joined them. Since no one claimed on the building, those four robbers finally declared it to be their den.

There were three cars parked in the front yard, indicating that Aiman’s friends were here. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply before walking into the building.

“There you are at last!” Prama exclaimed as he saw Aiman making his way towards them.

Reza and Putra who were watching the news on the TV swivelled around to face him.

“You know, Bro,” Prama added, “when you did not turn up in our den yesterday, we thought you were nabbed by the police.”

Little did they know that they guessed right. Aiman did get picked up by the police. He was lucky that the police who collared him was Shinta. Otherwise, he would end up in the nick by now.

“Where have you been, man?” Putra asked anxiously, “We’ve been looking for you everywhere. I also tried to call you but I couldn’t get through.”

“I’m sorry to have worried you, Guys. Something urgent came up yesterday, so I couldn’t make it to our den,” Aiman made up an excuse.

“Forget it! The important thing is you’re all right now,” Reza said.

“Um, Guys, I have something to tell you,” Aiman said.

“OK, shoot!” said Putra.

“I... I... I want to quit,” Aiman said hesitantly.

“What do you mean?” asked Reza in bewilderment.

“I want to quit as a robber,” Aiman told them.

“What are you talking about, Aiman? Why do you suddenly say that you want to stop being a robber?” Prama demanded.

“It’s very complicated, but I just want you to know that I don’t want to be a robber anymore and that’s flat!” Aiman stated.

“Wait, Aiman! May I ask why you took that decision?” Putra enquired.

“I’ve just realized that what we have been doing all this time is a mistake. That’s why I decided to stop being a robber,” Aiman explained.

Prama’d got him by the collar. “No, Aiman. You can’t quit as a robber! Do you hear me?”

“Don’t worry, Guys! Even though I am no longer a member of the robbers, I swear I won’t split on you,” Aiman promised.

“That’s not what we’re worrying about. We can trust you not to squeal on us. But the problem is we don’t like the idea of you leaving us,” Reza said.

“Yeah. Why do you want to leave us? I thought we are friends. Do our years together mean nothing for you, Aiman?” Putra questioned.

“I am sorry, Guys,” Aiman apologized, “All of you will always be my best friends forever. But it’s just that I can’t be a robber anymore. It’s a big mistake, Guys. From this day forth, I want to go straight, and I hope you will do the same as me.”

Before his friends could give a response, off Aiman went without so much as a goodbye.

“Aiman?”

Aiman stopped dead in his tracks when he heard a feminine voice calling his name. He whirled around and was taken aback to see Shinta standing only a few feet away from him.

Aiman marched over to Shinta and asked, “Shinta, what are you doing here?”

“I’m here to see you, Aiman,” Shinta answered.

“But how could you know I am here?” Aiman inquired in bewilderment.

“Actually, I intended to come over to your house. But on my way there, I saw you going somewhere by your car. So I decided to follow you here,” Shinta elaborated.

“Why do you stalk me like that, Shinta?” Aiman queried, sounded irritated.

“I just want to make sure that you keep your word to stop being a robber, Aiman,” she replied frankly.

Her answered agitated Aiman. “So you don’t believe me?”

“No, no, no.” Shinta shook her head from side to side. “I trust you not to go back on your word. But—”

“Look, Shinta!” Aiman cut her off, “You know perfectly well that I am a man of his word. Once I have promised to do something, I’ll always stick to my word. So why do you still doubt me like that?

“No Aiman, I—”

“TRAITOR!!!” Reza hollered as he pushed Aiman over.

“Aiman!” Shinta shrieked worriedly. She hurried to his side and lastly helped him to his feet.

“So she is your reason to quit?” Prama pointed at Shinta furiously.

“What are you talking about?” Aiman inquired, playing dumb.

Putra retorted angrily, “We know who she is. We saw her in the jewellery store yesterday. She’s a cop, isn’t she?”

“Yes, Shinta is a cop,” Aiman admitted, “but she’s my best friend too, Guys. She—”

Before Aiman could finish his sentence, Prama butted in, “How could you betray us by splitting on us to that policewoman, Aiman?!”

“No, I have never squealed on you to anybody,” Aiman refuted.

“Bullshit! You must have colluded with that policewoman to arrest us, right?” Reza accused.

“No, Shinta is here only to meet me, not to arrest anyone,” Aiman tried to convince his friends.

“Oh it is apparent that you have fallen for your so-called best friend’s trick, Aiman,” Prama sneered, “Don’t you realize that she only uses you as a bait to lure us out? That cop is laying a trap for capturing us.”

“No, I believe Shinta will never do that,” Aiman rebutted.

“If I were you, I would not place too much trust in that policewoman, Aiman,” Putra advised. “Sooner or later, I’m sure she will eventually betray your trust.”

Aiman pondered over his friends’ words. Could they be right about Shinta? He realized that he had ever betrayed Shinta’s trust over and over again. So it was understandable if she wanted to avenge herself on him by turning him and his friends over to the police.

Aiman shoved the thought to the back of his mind. He knew Shinta perfectly well. She was not the type to be revengeful. The proof was Shinta still could find it in her heart to forgive him even after everything that he had done to her.

“No, I have never known Shinta to betray a confidence. No matter what you say, I will always trust her,” Aiman emphasized.

“Why do you keep defending that policewoman?” Reza enquired vehemently.

“Because she is my best friend,” Aiman rejoined.

“Oh I see! So you regard that policewoman as your best friend, but you don’t consider us as your friends?” Prama accused.

“It’s not what I meant, Guys. I—”

“Now you must choose, Aiman!” Reza interjected, “Do you choose her or us?” He pointed at Shinta then to himself and his friends.

Aiman thought for a bit before answering, “All of you are my friends. How can I choose one over the other?”

“Fine. If that’s your choice, it means we are not friends anymore,” Putra affirmed.

“But guys—”

Aiman tried to explain, but he was interrupted when Prama shot out his right arm to punch him. Fortunately, Reza caught hold of Prama’s arm before he could land a punch on Aiman’s face.

Prama glowered at Reza for stopping him.

Reza shook his head in disapproval. “No, Prama! Don’t!”

Prama shook Reza off, and then he bellowed at Aiman, “START NOW ON, BETWEEN YOU AND WE END!”

Aiman was just about to give a response, but Putra barged in, “Let’s go, Guys!”

Prama, Reza, and Putra finally walked off.

“Guys, wait!” Aiman intended to run after his friends, but Shinta grabbed his arm, holding him back.

“No, Aiman! Don’t come after them!” Shinta forbade, “They’re still furious with you. I’m afraid they will try to hurt you again.”

Aiman tried to wriggle free, but she tightened her clutch on him. “Get off me, Shinta! I have to explain to them that I have never chosen you over them. You and they are my friends. All of you are so important in my life.”

“I understand that you have to explain everything to them, Aiman. But I think you should wait until they’ve cooled down a little. It’s useless meeting them now. I’m sure they’ll never listen to you,” Shinta suggested.

Aiman ran his fingers through his hair frustratedly. “You’re right, Shinta.”

There was a long silence between them before Aiman spoke, “Shinta, please promise not to tell on my friends! Because if you expose their identities, my cover will be blown too. Not only that, it will also be revealed that you have covered for the robbers.”

It was honestly a promise that was hard to keep. Aiman’s friends were criminals. How could Shinta sit by and watch them committing crimes? But Aiman was right. If she turned his friends in to the police, they would apprehended Aiman too. And it would eventually be revealed that she had helped Aiman escape.

“Okay, Aiman, I promise I won’t tip off the police about your friends,” Shinta avowed.

Aiman put his arms around Shinta. “Thank you so much, Shinta. You’re the best of friend I have ever had in the whole universe.”

Shinta hugged him back. “Never mind, Aiman.”

Once they pulled away, Aiman said, “Okay, we ought to go home now; it’s getting late.”

“Okay,” Shinta responded.

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