I will never forget that day. It was the most horrible day of my life, but it was also the day I realised that I really had a true friend. It happened fifteen years ago, while I was still a student in high school. This is how it happened…
“Hey, James! What’s with you? You’ve been daydreaming the whole day. Come on tell me, which fine young lady stole your heart?” I pounced on him in a playful manner.
“Hey, man! Cut it out!” he replied.
“It’s your parents again isn’t it? Come on, James. You can’t let it get to you. You’ve got to focus on your studies. That’s your only hope,” I tried my best to console him.
James was an only child. For years, he has been living in negligence and lack of affection. His mother was never motherly towards him. His father was a drunken. James spends his time at home doing all the housework, from the cooking to all the washing and cleaning up. On top of that, he also works part time in a fast-food outlet during the weekends. He is forced to work because his father is an odd-job worker. Due to his drinking, he could hardly keep a job for more than a fortnight.
Things were going from bad to worse for James. He used to be one of the top students but now, due to all the work he was doing at home and during the weekends, his studies has been dropping. I wasn’t surprised because it was impossible for James to study. His time is really packed with hard work. By the time he finishes all the house work, he will be too tired to do any studying. I often helped him with his school work but that was not enough.
“Come on, let’s get home. If I’m late, Mom will be angry and she will punish me with more work. I really feel like a servant,” James said in an undertone.
“James, don’t say that. They are still your parents. Maybe things will be better for you and your family later on,” I tried to console him.
“They can’t be my real parents. I must be adopted. No mother will treat her own child the way my mother treats me. She is angry with me all the time. Everything I do is wrong for her. That’s nothing I do that pleases her. Nothing at all.”
“For heaven’s sake, James. We’ve had this conversation before. Your mother must be under a lot of pressure. Just think. Your dad does not have a permanent job. They are short of money. Your dad on the other hand must be drinking due to pressure. It’s not easy to be the head of the house, you know.”
We kept walking. In an attempt to cheer James up, I changed the conversation topic. After ten minutes or so, we reached our houses. Both James and I have been neighbours since we were in kindergarten. I still remember how James used to sit at the corner of the class with bruises all over his body. How sorry we used to feel for him during those times! Some people were just less fortunate than others. I was snapped out of recounting my old memories by the sound of two raised voices.
“Exactly what do you expect me to do? The money was with me one moment and then that good for nothing husband of mine goes and spends it,” we heard James’s mother shout.
“Maybe you just misplaced it. Try to look for it again. Maybe you overlooked some corners. Anyway, it’s not the money that’s important. We can always trick those dopes into paying us more money…addicts will do anything to get these drugs. Hahahaha…” a man answered.
Both James and I stopped in our tracks. This was not the voice of James’s father. I had never heard his voice before. The astounded look on James face told me that he too was unfamiliar with this man. Or maybe, the term ‘addicts’ and ‘drugs’ is the cause of his reaction. I never knew which was the reason as before I could say anything, James marched up to his house and slammed the door open.
“What’s happening here? Who are you? What are you doing in my house?” I heard James roaring in anger.
“Oh, look who’s back. I told you he’s a nuisance. Young man, this is not your house. It will never be your house. Get out of here,” his mother roared back.
I had a very bad feeling. I do not trust the man and I was worried about James’s safety. Thus I made my way into the house just in time to see a big-build, aggressive looking man, smacking James and throwing him to the floor. Without thinking, I plunged onto the man. My attack did cause him to fall but it caused no further injuries. In no time at all, the man was up again and this time, I was the one thrown to the floor.
“I have no time for games boys. Time to say goodbye,” the man told us.
“Mom, you can’t let him do this to us,” James pleaded with his mom.
I noticed that James’s head was bleeding severely and his nose seems to be broken. The man’s throw has caused me a sprained elbow and my head was really hurting. I turn to have a better look at the man. I panicked. He has a gun with him. And he was reaching for it.
“From the moment your father brought you into this house, you have been nothing but a nuisance. You are not even my own. It was all your father’s idea to create what he called ‘our perfect little family’. But I never wanted a child! Not my own, and definitely not other’s!” the words of James’s mother was piercing through me. Even I was upset, I could not imagine how James was feeling.
I did not have much time to wonder. The man was walking towards James. I put out my leg and made him tripped. Then, James’s mother, Mrs. Malfoy, threw a chair at me. I ducked it with only a moment to spare. I took a broken piece of wood from the floor and used it to smack the man’s head. Although I hit him with all my might, he was still conscious. However, I managed to kick the gun out of the man’s hand. This was a mistake. Instead of kicking it, I should have taken it from him. But I was in no state to use a gun, I was ruled by panic.
I dashed to help James up to his feet. Mrs. Malfoy went over to help the man up. Then, there was a bang. The man had tried to shoot one of us but he missed. Within a split second he aimed his second shot straight at my chest but I was saved. James had pushed me out of harm’s way. He took the bullet for me.
Although it has been fifteen years, I can still hear the sound of the gunshots. One after another. The neighbours had called the police. And the police arrived in time to catch both the man and Mrs. Malfoy. However, the paramedics failed to save James. Even before they arrived, James was already dead. I’m alive today because James saved me that day. All I can do to stop myself from crying is to imagine James, my fallen warrior, living a wonderful life in paradise.