The Shocker

by Rathin Bhattacharjee
23rd December 2021

The Shocker:
I was a coward. Friends bullied and relatives made fun of me. Naturally, I kept a low profile since mom’s painful end. I cried if I had a bruise while playing. I would have remained a coward if Rob didn’t come to my life that New Year’s Eve. I don’t feel shy in telling you how it all happened.

I’s sitting in the dim light of the bar, some soft music was playing like a promise from a distant land:
Come, let me love you,
Let me lie down beside you,
Let me drown in your laughter,
Let me die in your arms
I noticed then the huge, hefty man sitting all by himself, a half-finished Coke in hand. He had a brown leather jacket on. What caught my attention, besides his heavy build, was the glittering ring he had on his right ear. It glowed and told of immense power and pride.
It was nealy ten. Time to get back to my cage. I slowly clanged the empty can down. The waiter looked through the side window of the kitchen, scurried over to my table, snatching the fifty bucks note from my hand.
Scampering out the front door, I found two boys coming in, a little older than me, bending over the counter, saying something to the pretty receptionist. The lady reddened, her head bent. The squeaky one in the meantime, was looking around as if taking note of something mentally. The massive man, his eyes closed, seemed to be oblivious to everything but for the tune floating from the background.

I stepped out. The air outside was pregnant with the expectation of the impending snow. Though there was a street lamp somewhere, the alley was pitch dark, deserted. At least that’s what I thought till I found four young men, with the rogue in front, heading towards me. I got panicky. I turned my head back. The flirty boy was heading from the other end. It didn’t take me long to realize that they were street urchins, out for some fun on the New Gear’s Eve. All my limbs became numb. I felt thirsty and ran my tongue over my dry lips. Something was urging me desperately to flee but they had formed a circle around me.
“Hi, kiddy. This time is no fun without frens. Wanna join us?” slurred the pigeon-chested, bearded one facing me. He reeked of cheap drinks.
“Please let me go. I have no money, no nothing,” I stammered.
“ No worries. We are aware of that, pimp. What about that all glittery thing on your finger?”
“Oh, God! Save me,” I whispered to myself. I had totally forgotten about the ring given on my sixteenth birthday by my late mom. Dad loved me so much then until Jennifer came to his life.
I was shaking all over. Someone had come from the side by then and put an arm over my cold shoulder.
“Hey, girlie. Stop shaking. We won’t rape you or won’t we?”
I could feel tears welling up as by then he had put his hand down to the unmentionable.
“Please let me go. I promise not to come here any more,” I pleaded, quaking.
“We will make sure of that. Give me the ring,” the bearded one with a mean look, asked me.
What is wrong with my legs? What is wrong with my head? Why can’t I think properly? Oh,God, have mercy on me.
I could see mom on that day, looking as beautiful as ever. She called out to me standing in the middle of the drawing room, her arms wide open,“Dane, happy birthday once again, my son. We’re proud to have you on such a day. Lord be blessed for sending you to our lives. Oh! The glitter and glory of the day! I never felt happier when she held me tightly to her chest.

The devilish boy was hurting me, trying to force the ring out of my hand. I could see mom behind them, worried. I tried to jerk my hand free.
SMACK! I could feel my cheek stinging as my hand tried to shield the burning cheek from the excruciating pain.
“No, baby. Don’t try to act smart. You know, we can be very mean at times,” threatened one of them in a bemusing tone. I was crying from inside. Why does it always happen to me? I never tried to hurt a fly in my life? Why me then? I was finding it difficult to keep my legs steady. The creep had unzipped my pants by then looking all playful. He had by then, put his hand inside doing strange things. It was only then I broke into a hysterical sob.
I don’t know what exactly happened then. But I could hear my tormentor choking. He was literarily lifted off the ground. I looked around and was amazed to see through my blurry eyes the huge man with one hand lifting the naughty one up in the air. He had his other hand on the throat of the flirtatious one, his earring sparkling in the darkness. The group was nonplussed momentarily before the one farthest from us, took out what looked like a kitchen knife from his pocket. He came charging at my saviour. The massive man let go of my torturer just in time to prevent it doing any serious damage with the back of his hand. The knife struck something and fell off. The next moment blood was oozing out of the cut in his hand. The boy who had his collar still in the grip of the other hand, shook himself free, raised something and brought it down on the big man’s head. I still stood there like a spectator watching a thriller. The man slowly turned his head to the attacker. His face betrayed the pain. Blood was flowing around the earring robbing it of its glitter and shine. It started snowing then. All those pointed flakes dropping down, covering everything with dazzling brightness.
The big man was still holding his ground, swaying, looking dazed.
It was then I found the bearded lout looking at the boy with the knife, trying to convey a hidden message though his eyes. The lad nodded and spat noisily at the man. There was a murderous look in his eyes. He dashed towards the man as I saw Mom wrapped up in that glass box with the corners of her once lovely mouth still tinged with the blackish red blood of cancer. I looked down. The man was lying with blood flowing freely from the gaping wound in the belly.
Then something happened. I found the timid boy coming out of his shell, kicking the filthy boy with all might. The boy was unbelievably taken aback by the side kick. Next moment, we all could hear the siren coming from the street.

The first snow during the Eve of the new year was a blessing I long craved for.
Roberto and I are the best buddies now. He has invited me to celebrate the eve with his family. And you know what? He got a glittery earring for me.

Areas of interest


You know what, dear friend? I have rarely been so depressed. I make it a point, almost ritualistically, to post my writings wherever I can. This is my third post here. Till now, no one has bothered to comment.
What's wrong with me? My writings? Am I really not good enough? If that be the case, let me know, and I'll stop writing. If I have done something wrong, have the courtesy to tell me so, and I'll quit writing.
But rejection is one thing and keeping complete silence over a literary work is another. It is worse than the former.
I had sent this story to a Flash Fiction Contest a couple of years back. I changed the title before posting it here under the impression that the changed title will bring me luck. Hoping against hope, I am expecting someone to get in touch with me, help me accomplish my long-cherished dream of making this world of ours a little better through my writings. Good things happen to those, so I was told, who wait and watch. When is anything good going to happen to me?

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Rathin Bhattacharjee