(Oh, Eccentric, You) – part one
The tallest boy reached down and scooped up a handful of dirt. From the corner of my eye I watched as he slowly rose and began to move behind the rest of his chanting and prodding friends. The leader stared me dead in the eye. His name was Dexter Villarosa, but he was known almost infamously as Stan.
“You little tae; Ako pagpunta sa saktan ka!” he said. I did not move. “You’re going to remember this one.” As Stan took a quick step forward and began to pull back his right arm to bust me across the face a cloud of brown mist suddenly spilled into my sight. It burned my eyes. I reached quickly for my cousin, Bobby, who had be standing next to me. He was not there, and as soon as I realized a pile of boys were already on top of him I felt a crack blast across my lower lip. Within seconds Stan and the tallest boy, both of whom were my classmates during last year’s term but were held back a level because of poor grades, had tackled me to the floor. I kicked and swung at everything that moved, but when they struck me I did not scream. In fact, I did not even make a sound. I learned to fight at an early age from my older brother, and one of the things that I always remembered him saying was that making noises in fist fights only made you sound weak. But even more, not making a noise made you seem mysterious and unpredictable.
To be honest, I was more preoccupied with the thought of Bobby getting hurt than with my own fight. When I got a chance to smear some of the dirt from my eyes I peered over at him and saw him plant a foot into the gut of one of the boys. The kid screamed and fell backward. Just then the tallest boy kicked me hard in the ribs and I let out the kind of scream you release several seconds after you realize you have just broken your leg. It was bloody, and I could not help but to continue to scream. Stan and the tallest boy stepped back and looked at each other. Bobby’s perpetrators did the same. Everything was swirling around me. I held my hands like a wall over my ribs, and when I gently touched them pain shot up through my bones like nails through my hands. Bobby crawled over to me.
“Steebie, are you okay? What’s wrong–what happened?” His voice was shrill and it quivered at the end of each question. His lips were practically spilling blood down his face and his hair was matted and dirty. I could tell he had taken the beating of his life. My screams grew less frequent when I saw Stan and the gang running the other direction, back toward the schoolhouse and through the trees behind them. I lay, moaning.
“Steebie, where are you hurt? Do you want me to call auntie? Ano ang dapat kong gawin?”
“Get the doctor. I think I need a—ow!” I tried to turn over and I bit down hard on my lip to keep from screaming loudly again.
“Okay, okay. I be right back. I’ll get all of the doctors in Manilla, and the police too! Just stay there, Steebie!” Bobby ran off and I suddenly felt really alone. Tears were running down my cheeks from the pain and I tried not to move, not even to breathe, except if I needed to, and when I did I felt the bitter pain run through my bones.
In the wake of my inhibition, as I lay upon my back twenty feet from the cargo rail line in the alley behind my childhood schoolhouse, feeling the sun beat heavily upon my forehead and arms, I thought about shapes. I thought about how circles, triangles, and squares can be blended together to create images, and how every image, in two and three dimensions, can be reduced back down to simple shapes. In that moment I realized, at a core and fundamental level, how beautifully necessary, and even imprinted into our world they are. Like dirt, and air, and water, shapes have always existed, even before humans were around to see them. As long as something physical has existed, there has been shapes. I was pleased at this. Just then my head began to ache. My heart continued to race, and I was getting really thirsty when, suddenly, it all went black.