Layers of Shame by Akarin Siri

 The clock struck half past one in the morning to a rather chilly night of drizzle. Amid the harsh conditions drifted the odour of cigarettes which firmly thrust into oblivion the renowned stench of the extremely narrow street engulfed in vast chunks of debris. Heavily graphitised walls caved in the movements of the youth dressed in filthy baggy clothes puffing smoke out of their mouths.

Minute after minute the gang roamed the isolated streets beneath the pitch black sky that soon began to empty heavy buckets of water. Racing against each other were the dissonant tipper-tapping of the rain and the rowdy joke-cracking and cackling of the teenage boys. The tall unstable street lamps dimly glistened upon the filthy environment, merely adequate light to perceive the very slightest of surroundings. As the group of six approached a corner, they silently peered around the maze of narrow streets.
“Alright little Juan,” snarled the tallest and bulkiest of the group, his eyes viscously glued onto the eyes of the smallest and thinnest who was grappling onto a long gun. “It’s do or die. You’ve come a long way with us. Shoot that lad dead now. Be a coward and we’ll kill you.”
A grimace of hesitation swept across Juan’s face. Thrusting the rifle onto his scrawny shoulder, he apprehensively gazed past the gang leader into the darkness amid the rain that had not ceased to settle.
“Come on son, you -“
The bulky teenager lay sprawled on the ground, with a large bullet protuding out of his chest. Juan soon found his two feet speedily darting away on the rock-hard concrete, his fist still sturdily clenched around the trigger of the gun.
As his eyes snatched a glimpse of the view, his legs were still aggressively pacing faster than ever, but no longer was the weary boy racing through the maze of rigid graphitised walls amid a nose-gripping stench of garbage. The pitch black horizon of no-man’s-land glared upon him. As Juan halted, he was entranced in an endless landscape extending miles out of the capability of his vision. Upon glancing behind his shoulder, he was certain that the gang was nowhere in sight. In the middle of nowhere, the power of the darkness overthrew the vision of the nature. A somewhat flat and sandy texture pushed upon his two weary feet. He was lost.

With Juan’s heart rate racing against time, sweat emanated down from the bushes of his wavy hair. Emotional agony gripped him, forcing rivers of tears to be emptied from his swollen bruised eyes. The gun was thrust to the ground. He unleashed a boisterous howl of misery before he buried his two numb hands into his weeping face. One month of a brutal life wrapped in gang membership had swept past the limit for Juan. He simply could not handle the cruelty of gang violence.

 Juan shrunk to his knees, grasped hold of the rifle and heaved it into the midst of the darkness engulfing no-man’s-land. The buckets of heavy rain entered his mouth as he suffocated in the course of sadness. The exhausted boy was nowhere to be heard or perceived.
The thin boy lay stomach-down on the sandy ground. Layers and layers of agonising thoughts reverberated across his mind. Being forced to emit howls of laughter upon the death of a sweet innocent child. Being forced to forcefully stomp on the face of an elderly woman. And the pressure of hoisting around a vast rifle. The tears just kept combusting out of his sorrowful eyes.

Why did Juan have to do this? Did Juan really have to stick with the unworthy gang for a month? Did he really have to betray his parents at home with the very most of treachery?

But when Juan’s head ascended from his hands to glare up…

“Look who it is…”


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