My father who is working as a nurse at that time, he went to the brother’s house, possibly with my grandfather. Makes a talk of peace, after explaining the situation about me protecting my brother.
The next day, I went to the unfinished house. I went there and planned to wait for Richard. And there he was, sitting on cement bricks with a thick pad of cotton covered with medical tape on his forehead, staring down. Not as the menacing kid as I thought he was. This time, he is more humble, and I felt sorry for throwing the stone at him. Maybe I should have stood on my own feet and exchanged punches with him. Being punched in the face at this time, from an adult is nothing new to me. But from a little kid, I am sure it could be just a baby’s touch.
I was still a child, had the wonders of heroic kung-fu stances as a glamorous fantasy coming out to realities. Unfortunately, it just didn’t come out right, and it’s gruesome and full of anger. As well as complete of sadness, even for vengeance. Except in movies or comic books. Even on the local radio stations; there are mostly dramas, but they have actions too. Lots of the adults in the barrios used to fall asleep listening to them in their patios in the afternoon. Mind as well keep it that way, I supposed. I heard then, prisoners practice tattoos on your skin as a humiliation. To me, that was too scary. But as an adult, a real glamorous thing.
My grandfather told me to say, “I am sorry.” I said to Richard.
Then his brother shows up with his BMX, and he didn’t say anything. Just a nod and a gesture of respect. After this, I can’t remember.
What I do remember is that I ended up watching Television at their house on weekdays during school summer breaks. Their house became a social hangout for most of us kids from the same barrio. Nestor and I were the frequent guests. I pretty much explore everything in the house, but never the upstairs. Junior shows his knives collection once, and I do remember a glimpse of a little girl. He tells me she’s her little sister. But I never met her the third sibling. She’s always away with her folks.
Once in a while, Junior takes me on a ride with his BMX, there are two long poles at the back wheel. And I stand by it. Son of a gun, this is one crazy kid. I was like a camera, and I am the only one who could see the footages. Once again, a roller-coaster ride. To him, is just an ordinary day.
Then I came to realize; I think their parents abandoned them. Skinnier than usual, clothes of long days unwashed, both brothers came to our house on one occasion. At this time, we pretty much sold most of everything that we have to get to another place. To my surprise, I thought they had more than we do. They were both begging for the fruit of the plant that grows in front of our house.
“Can we please have some fruits from your tree?” Junior asks my grandfather. And my eyes to their eyes and I can’t believe the transitions that are happening. “My brother and I are hungry,” he added.
We are hungry too I thought.
“All yours,” the old man said.
To be honest with you, I don’t remember the very first time I fought. This one just stood out. I don’t remember the actual fight as an adult either. I think we are all always fighting and always been. Every single cell in our body is always constantly fighting even without knowing. I have to be more careful, stroke has already knocked me down, but thankfully I stood up again. Other than grateful to be alive, writing is the high reward.
Few more years that pass, I already passed the age of eighteen, when a relative returned from the Philippines. In the background, I could hear the telephone conversation with the folks. Junior has died. I ask how? And the news I get was that he was left for dead behind the big church, next to a hospital. An unknown assailant stabbed him. The news of how he died slowly unfold over time, that he was alive with his wound from evening till morning, then he died. I miss the two brothers, and I am sad it ended cold for Junior.