Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Commoner's Short Story II: I'm Sorry, Lisa...

The silence in the cold, dark room was broken when my cell phone rang. Once, twice, then it ceased. The gleaming light from its screen had given me a sense of its whereabouts. "God, who could be calling me at 1.30 in the morning?", I grumbled. I checked on my cell phone out of curiosity. It read, "You have one missed call from Lisa". Annoyed by the disturbance, I shut the phone off, just to be sure, should anyone else dare to bother me again for the remainder of the night. I was already exhausted from the long day at work. The piling workload on my desk had kept me locked in my office up till about a couple of hours ago. I longed for my sleep, and so I decided to ignore the call. "I'll just call her back tomorrow or something", I half-heartedly pledged to myself. I chucked the cell phone inside the drawer of my desk and went back to bed.

The room was once again cold and dark. Accompanied by the quietness that surrounded me, and the starless sky visible through my window, the night seemed quite stagnant. The sole indication of time progression came from the clock itself, the ticking sound it made as the second hand stroked perpetually each second. I was lying on my bed, gazing upon the artificial stars that decorated my ceiling, agitated with my failed attempt to doze off. The phone call had kept me wide awake for what felt like an hour then. A tiny part of me grew curious about the possible reasons for the phone call. But knowing how random Lisa could be, she probably just called to rant on some insignificant stories about her friend's friends. She'd done that before, and it didn't surprise me one bit. Over the years of being best of friends, Lisa and I had grown to understand each other fairly deeply. So then I figured, she wouldn't mind if I call her the next day.

The next day I woke up late. It took me only a fraction of the time I usually do to get ready. I revved my classic red Miata all the way to the office, zipping in and out between lanes throughout the highway. I arrived half an hour later than usual, and I cursed the jammed alarm of my table clock for it. Little did I realize that it was actually a Saturday. And the people who'd normally show up for work on Saturdays wouldn't be around until an hour later. I only came to notice the fact when I saw the emptiness of the office. Feeling all stupid, I walked across the hall filled with unoccupied cubicles, and straight into my little office room at the far end. I rested myself on my oxford grey declinable chair, and contemplated on my plans for the day. The digital clock on the blue screen of my Dell laptop had told me that it was in fact, still early. "Maybe I should check on Lisa", I suddenly felt guilty for not calling her back last night. I tried calling her twice, but nobody answered on the the other end of the phone. " Maybe she's still sleeping", I thought at the time. I then went downstairs to the cafeteria to grab some breakfast.

It was already 6.30 in the evening, and I wasn't even half done with my clients' files that were beginning to cram my confined office space. "Great! I've dedicated half my weekend for what I unwillingly suffer every other day of the week", I said to the person who was staring back at me from the washing room mirror. Figured I needed to freshen up before I resume the marathon, nothing wakes my senses like ice cold water on my face. As I was striding back towards my room, my cell phone started to emit that annoying sound again. The caller ID showed an unfamiliar number. I picked up the call, and it was Lara, Lisa's mum. She was crying, heavily. The line wasn't clear. It was breaking up now and then, so I could hardly hear what she was saying. Her sobbing didn't help with the situation either. I could only make up a few words of what she was saying at the time. "Lisa"."My baby...". "Joe". I asked her to calm down, in a half shouting tone, as she could hardly hear what I was saying as well. Then I asked her where Lisa was. She told me, while still uttering that cry of despair.

My exhaust pipes were roaring as I stepped on the gas. Nineteen minutes was the only duration it took for me to get from my office to the hospital at the other side of the town. The old "SHMC" plaque that greeted me at the entrance of the building didn't seem quite as inviting at the time. I had a funny feeling in my stomach as I walked across the white hallway to get to the reception centre. The lady who was in charge had enlightened me on the whereabouts of Lisa, so I headed there immediately. As I arrived in front of the green door with the number "312" etched upon it, I paused for a while. I needed to get myself ready for whatever possible situation I was going to face once I walked into the room. I opened the door and saw Lisa on the bed, lying unconsciously, with bruises on her arms, and cuts on her lips and at the side of her forehead. Lara was still weeping hopelessly by her daughter's side. I stood motionless for a minute, seeing Lisa like that, it was all too much to absorb. Then I moved towards Lara and sat down beside her. I tried to calm her down. Slowly, she told me what had happened the night before.

Lisa's estranged step father, Joe, had come to their house drunk the night earlier. Joe had a bit of a problem with temper, even more amplified with his occasional problem with drinking. One of the reasons Lara and him had been living separately since a year back. That night he showed up on their doorsteps, and started kicking the door and rambling some gibberish while he was at it. Lara was still awake, so was Lisa. They were having a chat in the living room when it occurred. Lisa must've gotten a bit frightened, so she tried to call me. While she was waiting for my answer, Joe had managed to kick the door open. He had a big quarrel with Lara, so loud was all the shouting that some of the neighbours were awaken by it. He tried to drag Lara with him, to somewhere he wanted her to follow. But Lisa came in between them. Joe didn't hesitate, he grabbed Lisa by her hair violently and hit her on her face a few times. When she collapsed onto the floor he kicked her head and her stomach, relentlessly, while Lara was trying to pull him away from her daughter. Joe then realized Lisa was already unconscious from all the beatings that he heartlessly gave. He fled from the scene.

I grew very furious by the time Lara had come to the end of the story. And at the same time I was angry with myself, for refusing to be there for Lisa the night before. In a way, I felt that it was partly my fault that things had turned out this way. "Lara, just stay here with her alright? I'm going to sort out some things...", I told Lara. I budged from my seat and stormed out of the room. The next thing I know I was shifting away in my Miata towards Joe's place. Lisa had told me once where he lived. It was about quarter pass eight when I reached the brownish flat of his. I straight away climbed up the stairs to the fifth floor, since I had no intention of resorting to the sluggish elevator. The door that I kicked swung open, and Joe appeared shocked due to the sudden intrusion. I made him eat his own profanity when I threw the first jab on his face. He tried to put up a fight, but somehow in that demonic state I had outpowered him. The third blow to his temple had sent him down to the floor, leaving messy stains of red fluid all over. Even my clenched fist was smeared with the same fluid. I finally came to my senses when he begged me to stop, already cornered between the walls of his kitchen. "Don't you dare come near Lisa and her mother again! Or I swear this won't be the end of it...", I yelled at him. Then I turned away to leave.

I was awaken by the glaring rays of sunlight that had managed to penetrate through the window blinders. Lisa was lying on the hospital's bluish bed right beside me, still snugged under the blanket. I saw her open her eyes slowly. She was finally regaining her consciousness, so I thought. Moments later tears suddenly began to run down her cheeks. I sensed that she must've been in a lot of pain, all the trauma that she had to suffer. So I put my hand on hers, and I stroked her wavy hair gently. An honest gesture to show her how sorry I was for not being there when she needed me the most. She kept quiet, not a word uttered. "Maybe she just needs some time alone", I tried to convince myself. I realized that I was not in a position to bargain for her reply. "Everything's going to be fine", I promised her just before I left the room. But she ignored me altogether. I headed down, figured a walk would be good to regain my composure, after everything that had happened the night before. I was walking pass a newspaper stand down the road, when one of the newspaper's headlines caught my eye...


BEST FRIEND MURDERED BY ESTRANGED STEPFATHER

Monday, June 16th - A young girl's best friend was murdered when he tried to confront the stepfather for deliberately causing harm to her. The best friend, 25, was believed to have started the fight when he showed up on the suspect's apartment on Saturday evening, the 14th....... Evidence states that the victim was stabbed to death from behind with a kitchen knife...... Police are currently investigating on the whereabouts of the suspect.

18 comments:

dania said...

I knew there will be a twist at the end! Coming out from the SPM story, there's a certain flair you've got in your writing. One that I can't particularly explain in words. Anyway, it was brills!

Btw, it had to be a Miata didn't it? ;)

p/s: There should be more time for you to study for exams so that you'll be able to write more stories. Hehe. :P

Irfan Shai said...

hahaha... maybe it only comes when i'm stressed. when the only healthy thing i could resort to is writing. thank u so much for the comment...

p/s: yea baby! it's got heritage. classic, agile, rwd... simply mx-5! =P

Anonymous said...

Salaam Irfan,

Interesting post. Somehow it reminds me of M Night Shyamalan. ha ha. There are many layers buried deep in that great mind of yours. Keep it in check cos that little misdemeanor thoughts could evolved into a deranged lunatic psycho....ha ha
btw, have you seen the movie 'Identity' (John Cusack)?

Good luck on the finals.
pak su

Irfan Shai said...

W'salam paksu...

eh where got... i'm perfectly sane... still =P. it's just something i wrote to exercise what little creativity i still have inside. finals dah habis, just the presentations and thesis left. tak tgk la that movie. what's it about?

Eemelduh said...

aside from the fact that this story was incredible...

And aside from the fact that you have in fact confirmed my long term suspicions that you're a closet murderer..

Ok i might be kidding on the second one. But you know whats really really really strange. I had a dream that I woke up on a hospital bed and you were there, sitting and staring at me, eyes bloodshot from crying. Honest to God. About a few nights ago. Coincidence?

Irfan Shai said...

oh god! dun make this into a real m. night shyamalan movie pls... i swear i was just writing this coz i needed to alleviate exam stress! im so far away from being mystical...

Anonymous said...

Judging by the way you write, you are not so common after all. Kudos. Keep it up.

Irfan Shai said...

thank u anonymous...

Gold said...

did not expect the ending. LOL!! how many days did u take to write this?

Irfan Shai said...

4-5 hours i think...

khaliq said...

Good stuff but I am beginning to wonder if you should pursue a career in engineering. I also wonder if engineering literature is as dramatic as as your writing. Still, you should continue to horn your writing skill. Well done.

Eemelduh said...

i should pitch this idea to shyamalan. :D i'll take half the profits though.

Irfan Shai said...

khaliq: haha... i've been working hard to get good grades lately, dun la say like that... can't i be good at more than one thing? =D

eemelduuuuhhhh: yea yea yea...

hafiz said...

quote: "Good stuff but I am beginning to wonder if you should pursue a career in engineering"


hahaha... baru aku nak cakap...

but guys, I have known him for a while.. honestly, he is good in both engineering & writing as well.

seriously Irfan, what are the things that you do not excel at?

hahaha.. (aku terasa ada orang nak belanja nih)

anyway, story yang hebat.

Irfan Shai said...

haha thanx hafiz... dun worry, i'll stick to my end of the deal. nanti aku belanja kau makan =P.

haih, boleh pulak demam time2 nak presentation ni. hopefully esok ok la.

jazeliawidjoyo said...

Alright... I had trouble understanding the last part. Sorta.

So.. you were.. dead?

Irfan Shai said...

bingo! =P

jazeliawidjoyo said...

COOL COOL