Ten toes twitching with taut tremors like feeling tentacles. This is not poetry; this is hell. He collapsed backward, a laboured wilting of limbs and lifeforce, drew him to the earth. My eyes lined up with the soles of his feet, where his muscles spasmed with a last display of virility.
“Coba lari sekarang, jalang Amerika!”
I gasped into the cup of my quivering hand, pressed against my mouth forcefully, with requisite urgency. I levered into my heels, shuffled and scathed my butt through the jutting sharp rocks, and soddening mud, to bury myself deeper into the undergrowth, beneath the fractured canopy leaves.
I could hear the gunman’s lead-footed boots snap branches on the high ground above my hiding hollow.
“Come out little piggy.” The man’s shrill voice sullied the Jungle air, in broken English.
I am not a target to take porcine pot shots. Fuck this, I’m not going down without a fight. Fight or flight, come on, make your mind up! Shut up! Sit still, you idiot, keep quiet. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.
My mind raced, like a doped-up thoroughbred on a diet of anabolic steroids, injected through the iris into my brain – I’m stuck in the starting blocks tearing every sinew of my mangled mind. My short desperate breaths, jagged as razorblades through my fingers, my vison, twinkling like pipe bombs denotating shrapnel through my sights, adrenaline flushing logic from my system – I was going into shock.
It is my fault, I did this, I should have just paid them the fucking money. Held hostage in this sweaty jungle pit for 3 days. If I gave them the money they wanted when they held us up at the ATM, then they may have just let us go. There was nothing but goddamn mosquitoes and monkey shit in that cage they beat me into. In the end I crawled in like an obedient dog, on my hands and knees, yelping and sobbing – battered in with a pulpy muddle of facial features. That ATM, there I was, oblivious, in his arms, already hot on the throb of each other’s hearts, with the oppressive humidity, the sweltering heat leading me by the hand into erratic choices – all I had to do was give them something, when those two thugs pulled up with their sticks and machete. I thought it was just ‘hot air’. As usual, I had to run my mouth, like a rebellious kid – that fucking label everyone always stamped all over me.
That’s why I wanted to get away in the first place – pack my bag and get out of that nowhere town. I was having so much fun here. I should have stayed in Bali – beaches, booze, the boys. Too many cheap vodkas and one night of average sandy sex, and that is all it took to get, beyond regrettable thigh chaffing, Simon following me around, like an undernourished, heart thieving, crab-eating macaque. It was his idea to travel to Jakarta. “Hell yeah!”, I said. He looked so happy. Now look at him, dead in his own piss and shit, with a bullet put through his fucking knee, before they blew the beautiful blonde hair out the back of his skull.
Annie, you need to pull yourself together!
Mum, I am so sorry, I should have known better. I wished I called more. I wish I told you I loved you more. I wish I did not leave so abruptly, after Mark moved in. Mark seemed nice enough – I could tell he loved you – I Just never understood why you left Dad, and then, when he passed away so suddenly, I blamed you. I did not know he was a smack addict. I get it now; you were trying to protect me. It was not your fault. It never was. Why was I so cruel? Why am I so shit? I promise, if I make it out of this, I am coming home, to hug you, hold you – I will make this right.
Simons body was still, naked, but for his fluids and those grisly holes in his defiled face and knee. BoBo, the gunman – I think that’s what they called him – slipped down the mossy outcrop, right in front of my squalid den. I felt sure he would be able to feel my fear penetrating the air between us, on the back of his neck. He was the one who pummelled me into that cage. He was supposed to be watching us when Simon managed to pry out one of the jaunty wooden stakes from his incarcerated hell. Bobo – his hands have Simons blood on them – that bastard, he was asleep in his chair, neck back, ballooning in and out as he snored, like a bleeding toad, whilst Simon slid across the damp hut on his belly, to me. If only we ran a bit quicker… Simon… I’m so sorry.
Bobo struck his lifeless body, with a ceremonial kick to the shins, spat some of his disgusting salvia at the pocket in Simons sweet head, as cool and calm as if he was shooting pool. I watched as he tucked his gun into the coarse leather belt, at his back. It was strange, an out of body experience – I burst recklessly from the undergrowth like a hidden predator, leaped ferociously right up onto Bobos back, attaching myself around his waist, with legs that curled like a boa constrictor. My right arm slipped with ease, lubricated with the stagnant mud, beneath his chin, as the force of my tackle tumbled us both over into Simon, and off again, to roll on the dense jungle floor. I used my left arm to anchor my right as I squeezed into him with all the strength of a desperate women, staring death in its haunting sterile eyes. He struggled with a hardy resilience. Who wanted to live more? He was thrusting into rolls, and making anguishing kicks airborne with his legs, his arms flailing at his belt, fingernails lacerating my sides as he wrestled for his gun. I felt the disagreeable rigid steel pressed into my groin, cutting off his access, as I stressed every fibre of my inconsolable being, crushing his windpipe with spartan determination.
I held him long after he stopped moving, tears ejecting down my flushed cheeks, despondent, as the abject terrors began to thrash about in my hippocampus – a flood of shaking rattled my limbs from BoBos slumped corpse. I curled into a shell, hollow, letting the silent jungle fill slowly with noise and movement again. I sat up, looked around, vomited, twice, then, shuddered onto my weakened legs, to no avail, crumpling into a disturbed void in the earth.
I did not realise how close I was to civilisation. The rain was pattering on the side of my skull, as I lay prone in the vegetation, when two farmers trailed through the treeline.
On the outskirts of Jakarta, the rain was still falling diagonally, as unsought lingering mementos on the window panes of the police station – the phone dialled up that numbing tone for an international call.
Story by © Darius the Mate
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