Today I am very pleased and proud to publish the first short story of a very promising young writer, Lixian Ng. I looked carefully at her newly started book blog and found her tastes impeccable. I look forward to following her blog and her writings. I hope you will enjoy this story as much as I did.
I thought she would never leave was the first thing that crossed my mind as I closed my bedroom door. I wanted to be alone, but no one understood that, especially Honda or Mom. So I left my room and hung out in the backyard. At that time Honda was gone, and mother was always checking up on me, Honda wasn't around to annoy me anymore or make me feel like a real human. Honda was a freak and I was anti-social, a perfect combination. Jaime Honda preferred to be called by his surname; he had nervous twitches such as constant drumming on tables and rapid eye blinking. Jaime was born in Hawaii and came to Florida when he was five, he met me and we became the freak pair. The guy looked like a surfer but he would never go near water, he had long hair tied in a ponytail and occasionally wore an aloha shirt, he even had a ukulele but one day he spazzed out and broke it, smashing it against a TV screen. Since he was Japanese, he would spend half of his summer over at his grandma's house in Japan and he would visit his cousins in Hawaii.
I was originally from Mexico, and I remembered hating it there, my family was from a poor part of Mexico and we were constantly searching for food and kicking gangsters in the faces. Don't worry, not all parts of Mexico are like that, I just came from a fracked up part. I hated bachata, hated social events that required loud music, tequila, and erratic dancing that usually resulted from the liquor, Amadeo Marquez, which was me, was an anti-social, freak according to my mom. She also hated the way I looked, she claimed that I was too skinny, and my wild curly hair drove her insane, but I would rather look like a 80s rock star than a rapper. My mom used to say that I looked like an alpaca.
Nobody in my family liked me, because I was boring and queer, so I locked myself in my room, playing video games, writing lame poetry, and reading depressing novels. My favorite novel of all time was A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, because I believed that people who tormented the weak will get their medicine, and they will be tormented by this cure and they will learn their lesson. They will probably go back to their evil ways and then realize, ‘Wow, I’m truly a vile, prick and I should stop participating in these wicked, little activities and do some good.”. I digress though, my mother always said that I was devoid of emotion, which was true, I had a monotone speaking voice, and made no expressions on my face. One of my cousins claimed that I was a Mexican boy version of Wednesday Adams. My mother claimed I had no empathy, which was also true, I’d said hurtful things to my family members and other people, and felt no remorse. Such as that time when I called my mom a lame horse when she dropped my old laptop down the stairs and the screen broke off. So my psychologist diagnosed me as an Aspie or someone with Aspergers syndrome, due to my high IQ and inability to understand others. I often had to force myself to look people in the eyes. My mom was hoping that my diagnosis was “anti-social, psychotic weirdo, Mexican Charles Manson”. Enough about me though.
Honda was my only friend, he will always be my best friend, I hate to say it because he drove me crazy with fear, because of his tics. He was the only one that understood me though;he tolerated my crazy brain, because he had a crazy brain too. I would choose him over my family any day., I remembered the day he came over to my house one afternoon and burst through my room door to find me huddled in a corner with my laptop. He knew that I was having a bad day, he always knew, that was his best skill. I was reading information about Franz Kafka on Wikipedia.
“Amadeo, what’s up?” He greeted me in his usual high pitched, happy-go-lucky voice. His rapid, blinking tic started up as he looked me in the eyes.
“Nothing,” I told him. A smile formed across his face as I stared back at him, as if he knew that my mood was spoiled rotten.
“Are you sure there’s nothing? There’s probably a whole list. You want me to write it?”
“Go right ahead.”
I was too busy reading my laptop screen to care. He took a pen out of the breast pocket of his aloha shirt and ripped out a piece of loose leaf, out of a stray binder on top of my dresser. Before he could write, he continued to blink rapidly and started tapping the pen on my floor; he then shook his head like a dog shaking off the excess water and started writing.
“Okay, 1. You hate school, especially high school. 2. You hate your gym teacher. 3. Your mom made fun of your hair and forced you to eat a whole platter of rice and fried chicken to fatten you. 4. You wish bloody hell on Jennifer Vargas and Chad Muller,” He announced out loud as he wrote out every annoyance on the paper.
“Everything is correct,” I told him.
He crumpled up the paper and threw it in the garbage; it bounced off the rim and rolled into the hallway. He crawled into the corner with me, with his wide grin and his blinky eyes.
“Amadeo, you can’t let everything put you down. You gotta keep walking and keep your head up. Let the sun smile on you; don’t let those things bury you into the ground.”
“Jennifer and Chad torment me on a daily basis and I don’t let it get to me.”
Honda was obviously insane, he was able to deal with Jennifer’s shallow, degrading comments and he also dealt with Chad’s daily stomach punch. Jennifer and Chad were the most powerful people in Florida high school, and Jen’s father was the principal and he believed his daughter was an angel sent from heaven.
“Honda, you’re a crazy son of a Christmas tree.”
“You came up with another word to replace a curse word? Technically, you’re still cursing because you’re making a reference to it.”
“Says the one who refuses to eat fish because he thinks fishies are his best friends.”
Honda was obsessed with sea creatures, he owned a tank of Koi fish, had stuffed dolls of dolphins, and a keychain of a toy Koi fish. He never ate fish despite being Japanese, that meant sushi, sashimi, and fish cakes are friends of the devil.
I was getting bored and Honda poked me in the ribs multiple times and drummed on my night table with a pencil. Then he started poking me in the face and I decided it was time to go outside and keep him busy.
“Honda, can you please mow the lawn?”
He paused his activity, left my room like an obedient dog and I heard my father yelp in fear as Honda raced across the garden to retrieve the lawnmower in the shed. My poor Dad was watering the plants, a past time that he enjoyed during the warm months, I later found out that Honda almost ran him over with the lawn mower. Luckily, my friend remembered to open the backyard door instead of ripping through the delicate screen that kept the bugs away. That washow Honda and I hung out, we stayed indoors and talked, and then we would go outside, and help Dad tend the garden, then we would play basketball with each other. Now those days were over, instead I would just sit in the lawn chair and watch the sun go down in the late afternoon, painting the sky pink and orange.
Honda and I were seniors; we were single and didn’t really care. I never had interest in the opposite sex or the same sex as me, honestly though, I probably would be attracted to anyone, but nobody had a heart or a mind. So Honda and I went to prom together, as a best friend couple. I remember the day before prom; Honda and I were sitting together playing cards, a game of Go Fish. After repeating the words, Go Fish, for 10 minutes, he finally started a conversation.
“Jen and Chad are prom couple, what should we do?” Honda asked.
“Nothing, we should just sit and laugh.”
“Are you excited for prom?”
“Of course not.”
“I’m not either; I have a bad feeling about it.”
Honda always had a bad feeling about something; he even had bad feelings that his cat was going to die. That never happened though.
“We should do a prank. We could leave high school feeling good that we ruined the prom couple’s party,” I tell him.
“Maybe we should.”
The next day, it was prom, at 5:00PM, and everyone was already drunk on their fake fun. I wore a black tuxedo and slicked back my curls with the most powerful pomade I could find. Honda had his hair tied neatly in a sleek ponytail and wore a yellow tuxedo with a blue tie, don’t ask why, he said that his father wore it when he got married. While everyone was dancing to the horrible Top 40, we sat at a table munching on Doritos; we claimed the bowl for ourselves. Since Jennifer’s favorite color was pink and purple, the whole entire school gym was pink and purple, including the tables and the decorations. Before the prom even started, she walked on stage and grabbed the microphone and claimed she was the best dressed and the most beautiful, everyone else was apparently ugly and unlovable.
“So what’s going to be our prom prank, Honda?”
“Hijack the DJ,” Honda said in between bites of Doritos.
“Sounds like a decent plan.”
We waited it out a little bit. The music was starting to get faster and everyone was dancing more idiotically and some of the girls looked drunk and the boys looked like they were high on the music. I’m not sure where the alcohol came from, but I assumed Chad provided it. Jennifer was a green-eyed model with black hair, so her looks gave her the privilege for everything. She could even blow up the gym and everyone would cheer for her. She wore a short, puffy, pink dress with a golden crown on her head. Chad looked like every other guy and he wore a pink tuxedo for her. He was the DJ and he was playing Katy Perry’s “Firework”, an abomination to my ears.
We waited for the crowd to slow down a bit. We wanted to play some wacky music that will scare everyone. We just had to distract Chad. So we left the table and squeezed through the crowd, the dancing became less upbeat when Chad started playing Christina Perri’s “Jar ofHearts”. The DJ was on top of a stage that was decorated with pink flowers and hearts, there was a staircase leading to the stage, so we snuck up onto the stage. Everybody was too busy gazing into each other’s eyes, we were so unpopular that if somebody shot us, nobody would notice. Honda had the bowl of Doritos with him and he was still shoving chips into his mouth. I crept up behind Chad and tapped him on his shoulder. He flinched and turned around; he took off his DJ headphones and asked:
“The hell are you doing?” he yelled.
“Oh, sorry dude, I feel bad that you’re working here.”
“What are you talking about freak? This is my job, I do this all the time, I get paid 10 gram,” Chad bragged.
“Oh sure,” I mumbled.
“What did you say!?”
Honda walked up to him and offered him Doritos.
“Oh thanks weirdo. That suit’s ugly by the way,” Chad told Honda, who didn’t seem to be offended.
I snuck onto Chad’s laptop and scrolled through the playlists. I took out my Ipod from my suit jacket pocket and selected Dirge, an album by a Singaporean, grindcore band named Wormrot. I found a USB cord for the Ipod connected to the laptop and plugged it in. I started off with the first track and pushed the volume up to 100. A heavy, sound wave of grindy, metallically, metalmusic that gave you the sense of doom, thanks to the guitarist, filled the room and the vocalist angrily yelled and growled a sentence or two of all the anger that was bottled up inside of him. The drummer slammed away with a catchy rhythm despite the singer’s growls and barks of malevolence. They actually sounded like they were having fun or I imagined that they were.
“Dude, what the hell are you doing!?” Chad screamed in my ear. Some guys were head banging, some girls were cupping their ears and running, some guys were trying to comfort their girlfriends. It only took a few minutes for this silly prank to spiral out of control when I turned around to find Honda with a bloody nose.
I rushed over to Honda and grabbed him by the hand so we could escape to the bathroom. My friend was wounded and we ran as fast as possible, it was miracle we didn’t fall on the way. As we squeezed through the crowd of confused seniors, I heard Jennifer calling for Chad in her ear-grating, nasal voice. I was probably the only guy in my school who never found Jennifer hot or sexy, I saw here as an underling, trash. We ran into the bathroom and slammed the door behind us, and a loud thud followed after, meaning Chad the nimrod ran into it. Honda was crying as I wiped the blood off his face with a paper towel. I had never seen him so upset before in my life, and it made my stomach queasy.
“We were just talking about chips and cartoons,” He said in between sobs. H was rocking back and forth in such a rhythmic motion that he reminded me of a metronome.
“I know, and I did the prank and instead of punching me, he punches you.”
“This is so bad. My head hurts, I see stars, I feel like I got hit by a brick.”
“What do you mean? He hit you more than once?”
“Yeah, punch me right on the temples, then my nose. It hurts so much, my head is too sensitive.”
“You’ll be ok.”
That wasn’t the best thing to say, those words are never true.
A song by Rihanna was playing and we hoped that Chad didn’t see us as we left. I could hear Jennifer talking to her boyfriend, saying that Honda was ‘retarded’ and I was alowlife, and that Chad shouldn’t worry because we were nothing. In the parking lot, we searched for our car and when I pulled out my keys, I heard a guy yell out a gay slur or some sort of slang insult, I don’t remember. That thing that I hated about my high school, everyone was a carbon copy of an antagonist in a high school drama TV show. I heard Honda yell out my name and turned around to find him wrestling with some guy in the middle of the parking lot. I ran awayfrom the car, jumped and managed to do some weird, air kick like in the kung fu movies. The guy was in the middle of slamming Honda’s head into the ground, but I kicked him in the face and he ran away to his mommy or Chad.
“Get in the car Honda,” I calmly whisper to him.
He responded with a grunt, whine, or a sob I wasn’t sure.
When we got home, my mom screeched as we came through the door and the light of the kitchen revealed Honda’s blood stained yellow suit. We ate a dinner, rice, beans, and pork chops. We showered and sat together in my bedroom. Honda called his mom on his cell phone and told her he was sleeping over at my house. Since we couldn’t keep our eyes open while we talked, I pulled out the air mattress from the attic and quitted the day. All through the night I twisted and turned in bed and finally fell asleep at 1: 00 AM to have a nightmare of the prom, Honda getting beaten, and later finding him unconscious in the bathroom, in a pool of blood.
After running out of my school with Honda’s body in my arms, I woke up and the morning sun rays blinded me. A great wave of dread filled me and something in the back of my mind was telling me that something absolutely horrible had happened. The only thing that could calm me was the voice of Honda.
“Hey, good morning bud,” I said out loud as I rubbed the sleepiness out of my eyes.
“How are you feeling? Does your head hurt? The prank was so stupid.”
Silence was the response.
I leapt out of my bed and patted Honda’s belly. He didn’t even budge. I paused and listened to my surroundings, I heard my mom and dad snoring in the bedroom next door. I noticed that Honda’s mouth wasn’t open; he usually snored and slept with his mouth agape. There was no sound of breathing coming through his nostrils. I placed my head on his chest, there was no beating and I held his hand, it was cold and it sent shivers down my spine.
I still remember that exact moment, when I laid there, with my head on his chest, holding his hand, tears welled up in my eyes and I sobbed quietly, not wanting to wake my parents, to spend time with him alone before they took his body away. I heard the toilet flush and my father walking out, he passed my room and noticed me crying. They joined, and cried together for a good hour or so and I was wailing the loudest, and if Honda was alive, he would be trying to comfort me by telling me a joke about fish or giving me one of his lectures about happiness, while his eyelids were constantly blinking away. When his parents found out, they were devastated and his father broke a vase, his mother prayed while she mourned. We found out later that he died from head trauma, and that Honda had a lot of health problems he never told me about, like how he was born with brain damage and had seizures when he was small. Honda was cremated in Japan and every summer I would visit and talk to his grave, and leave a bowl of apples, because he loved fruit.
I’m sorry for this depressing story, but it was the only way I could cope. Even now, I still sit in my backyard on the lawn chair and stare at the sun going down, thinking about Honda. My father would be mowing the lawn and he mentioned that Honda was excellent at it and wished he was still here. I nodded at him in response and watched the sun with a cup of lemonade in my hand, I sipped it. The only thing that went through my mind was the image of my friend’s face when he told me not to let things bury me in the ground. All I could say to myself on that day on the lawn chair was, I miss you and you will always be my ray of the sun, smiling at me. Sweet dreams and goodbye, Honda.