Jiro and Cyndi found a temporary shelter around half past midnight. It was some abandoned house. Or so it seemed. It could possibly be one of those fun houses that the kids in this town built. No matter. As long as they had some sort of shelter.
Jiro made his routine round, inspecting every single space of the house, making sure there was no one around.
“Is it safe now?” Cyndi asked, her eyes had been watching his movements the whole while.
Jiro nodded. It was dark, but they were already trained since little for these circumstances. Jiro knew she could see him nod. He found a spot near the door to keep watch.
“How long do we have to stay here?” Cyndi continued with her series of questions.
“Until you’re ready,” Jiro answered, checking his gun.
“You mentioned a traitor earlier.” Cyndi was making her way toward him.
“Stand back,” He instructed, pointing toward the center of the room.
She stopped in her tracks. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“You don’t need to know that now.”
“If you don’t tell me, how would I know who’s the traitor?” That was not the real reason.
“The only thing you need to know now is to listen to me and follow my directions.”
Cyndi did not like his attitude. She needed to distract herself by talking. Why wasn’t he cooperating? She took another step forward, wanting to speak up again but wasn’t able to upon seeing his cold stare. She let out a sigh and settled down at a spot to her right.
Calvin and Joanne also found a hiding place inside a structure. Unlike Jiro and Cyndi’s place, this was ten times smaller. They were lucky it covered all sides, allowing them some sort of shelter.
“How many bullets do you have left?” Calvin asked when he shut the door behind him.
Joanne checked. “Three.”
Calvin took out some bullets and handed them to her before reloading his own gun. They did that in silence. Then she sat down at some ledge nearby. He was still standing at a spot across from her. It was hard moving around already. They were trying to make the best out of it as they waited for daylight. Calvin saw Joanne fumbling with the little gun in her hands. She tucked it inside her pouch by her belt a minute later.
“He can take care of himself,” Calvin assured her.
“How did you learn how to shoot like that?” It was his way to distract her from worrying.
Joanne smiled. “Who else?”
“Even if he knew he was breaking the rule?”
“I convinced him that it would be better if I knew. He wouldn’t have to worry as much.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Since I turned fifteen.”
“Is that why you always wear black since then?”
Joanne was surprised that he was paying attention. He was after all–like Sharon had said–someone who worked for Sharon’s father. He was only supposed to carry out his given orders and that was it. No questions asked. No meddling into other people’s matters. Why was he paying more attention to her than he should be?
Calvin finally realized Joanne was studying him closely. Too close. “What?”
Joanne shook her head. “Nothing. It’s funny that you’re actually more easygoing than the other two guys.”
“It’s already hard for you girls with all these fleeing scenes. Wouldn’t it be even more torturing to not have anything else to focus on?”
“You weren’t so eager to converse with Sharon earlier.”
“We were on the run.”
“Is that so?” She had on her teasing smile.
“Didn’t you say Sharon could drive anyone crazy?”
“Aren’t you supposed to call her Miss?”
“I don’t want to.”
“Does Uncle Hsiao know that you secretly like his daughter?”
Calvin had on his surprised expression. More like shocked. Bewildered. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Arguing with her constantly to get her attention.” Joanne was listing the points with her fingers for emphasis. “Not wanting to address her in formal terms.”
Calvin let out a laugh, shaking his head. “She’s just a pain. I don’t want to give her more authority than she already has on us.”
“I wonder if the others are as talkative as you.”
“Jiro will have to.”
“Why? Miss Cyndi is sweet, isn’t she?” He had remembered what Joanne said earlier.
“Only when she wants to. And I was trying to sabotage Sharon.”
“I thought you girls are like sisters.”
“Just because we’re close doesn’t mean I have to wait on Sharon hand and foot.”
“I guess Jiro will have to learn about Miss Cyndi’s sweet side?”
They laughed at the same time. Then they were on alert again. There were faint sounds coming from somewhere outside. They drew weapons again, waiting for the sound to come closer.
“Whatever happens, don’t separate,” Calvin whispered, his voice serious once again. “I don’t care if you shoot faster than me or not.”
“Got it,” Joanne replied.
They peeked through a crack in the door and saw some men surveying the location. It was obvious they were from the other gang.
“Ready?” Calvin asked a minute later.
“Yes,” Joanne returned.
The three men searching outside were coming even closer. If they did not make a move, they would end up being trapped in.
“On three…” Calvin prompted.
Joanne was more than ready. “Okay.”
They kicked the door out at the same time and advanced toward their enemy, firing their guns in warning before heading for the row of houses to the far right.
“Dodge!” Calvin yelled out seconds later.
They did not realize the others were waiting for them at the sides. Darkness was not an excuse to get careless.
“Reload!” Joanne yelled out seconds later. She had finished another round. She had one more before needing to use Jacky’s backup gun.
Calvin was delayed by the field of bullets coming his way but still kept an eye on Joanne. He caught up to her when the other side had to reload, grabbing onto her free hand and steering her toward a house several feet from them. They dodged behind that house and stopped all movements, waiting for the enemy to draw near. At the same time, they were on surveillance for other possible shelters.
“Watch out!” Calvin yelled out a minute later, shoving Joanne to one side.
Someone was on the roof of the house they were at. Calvin had seen it in time. Joanne made her move after recovering. The man fell to the ground with a thud, not moving at all.
“He’s dead?” Joanne asked, her voice shivering.
“Yeah,” Calvin answered.
Joanne never made any kills before. She only injured the opposing party. It was her promise to Jacky. He did not want her to be tainted by life’s cruel ways more than it was necessary. He did not want blood on her hands just like the rest of them. She was able to keep her promise, always attacking in defense. Yet this time, she had to break that promise in order to protect her protector. What was even worse was using the gun he had entrusted to her. Her shock only lasted for several seconds because it was interrupted by Calvin wincing. She switched her gun to her left hand and helped Calvin with her right. His left arm was still bleeding. She could almost hear the blood dripping down the rocks.
“Hang on,” She assured him, guiding him forward slowly in the dark.
They made their way cautiously across the storage lot, making sure no one was following them. They finally stopped at an actual house at the bend of the road fifteen minutes later. Joanne was still holding on tightly to Calvin’s wound, not wanting any more blood to seethe out. She found a handkerchief inside her pouch and wrapped his wound up after cleaning it carefully. It would have to do for the time being. They could get the others to look at his wound when they meet up with the rest of the gang.
Calvin could see tears brimming Joanne’s eyes while she was tending to his wound. He knew it was not because of the deepness of it. But because it was her first kill. He knew it was because of how she reacted when she realized what she’d done. He took hold of her shoulders when she was finished with her task. She stared up at him, her eyes still watery.
“Everything happened so fast,” He began. “It was either him or me. You had no choice.”
Joanne nodded, her head lowering again, struggling with herself. “I still shot him though.”
Calvin pulled her closer to him and let her cry into his shoulders. “You can count it as my shot then.”
Joanne knew he was just trying to reassure her. “I know now why Jacky ge doesn’t want to teach me in the first place.”
Calvin patted her shoulder, letting her cry until she no longer could.
They left the area after Joanne dried her face, heading toward their final destination.
Though Jiro had said that they would leave whenever Cyndi was ready but he did not pay any attention to her until he thought it was good. And that was when some early sunlight was seething through the window.
“Let’s go,” Jiro ordered, his tone the same authoritative one.
Cyndi had been pacing after the failed attempt of trying to start a conversation with Jiro. Now that he finally acknowledged her existence, she turned and followed him outside.
“Where are we going now?” Cyndi asked, shielding her eyes from the early sunlight.
“To join the others at the preplanned location, where else?”
Cyndi’s face was getting longer and longer by the second. She found no point in arguing with him. They made their way out toward the main roads, only using it as leverage. They soon turned into a side street, changing course whenever Jiro thought they had to.
© Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
Posted: Sunday, January 23rd, 2011