“City Gates” A Prequel to “Nameless” Part 1

Friday, June 24, 2011

“City Gates”
A Prequel to “Nameless

by: Jeel Christine de Egurrola
Two Brothers by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1921


Kato Green

“Move faggot!” I could hear my step-father’s loud cry. My brother Marcus moves away. My stepfather smiles sarcastically at Marcus... and Marcus.... poor Marcus just stares.

“What are you staring at, huh, faggot!!?”

“Nothing.” Marcus replies unnerve...

“What do you mean nothing? You’re staring at me like you wanna throttle me like a mouse!”

“I do not stare at you like that.” He defends himself with the voice that is no one’s but Marcus’—low and apathetic.

I don't understand why Marcus just allow anyone to label him, cuss against him, and abuse him. Profanities are insult to one's soul, and the more I hear them, the furious I become. Curses and words that pull people down are much worse than physical pain.

There was one time when I was fourteen that I found Marcus sitting beside piles of garbage bruised and wounded. His lips were swollen. He could barely move. I was supposed to meet him after his work in a bookstore to borrow books from a retired professor in a city state school who happens to be Marcus' boss. When I didn't meet Marcus I was worried and searched for him for half an hour and find him in that desolate alley. I was angry at whoever did it to him. He didn't tell me who, but I knew he wouldn't. He didn't want me to worry and I was furious. Had I know who the perpetrators are, I could have done the unthinkable. Had I been here during the incident, the perpetrator would have already been in his deathbed.

As an existent oppressed being in a cosmic chance I have learned to protect my self from my oppressors. My protective instinct is one of the reasons why I and my brother are still alive. Though I do not excel in hand-to-hand-combat, I am good with knives, but my greatest advantage is my ability to predict my opponent's offenses beforehand. I am not as educated as the rich and the powerful, I know how to write and read. Our mother taught us how to... One of the reasons why I read about human physiology and behavior is for my own and my brother's survival and maintenance.

In a wrinkle of a time, the big grumpy man in his early forties reaches and kicks my brother like a soccer ball. My brother hits the ground and I, now irate, take a bronze-made fire poker rod that is posed near the fireplace mantel and hit it toward the back of the big guy with full man strength. Such an ugly scene and a very bad thing for a teenage boy to do... In our society, we are subjected by laws that oppress the weak and the poor, and justice is only for those who are strong and rich—even the most disorganized criminals get away from trouble.

My stepfather squeals agitated obscenities. “You fuckin’ asshole! Just like your fuckin’ mother. Come over here bitch!” I move hastily toward the backdoor of the house where my small eight month old Doberman Pinscher my brother gave me last week as a birthday present sits on the meadow of manila grass. The dog barks an otherworldly sound like a sound of fright upon the sight of my step-father grasping my shoulders with his claw-like nails digging through my tanned skin. I feel the pain but I fight. Fighting is the only way to survival. From my experience with Doug, I learn to fight to protect me and my brother. I would do anything to defend my brother for he is my best friend and my only family left.

He continues to utter profanities—words I dare not hear. He pulls me inside the house and back and forth he aims at me with his painful blows. I smack him with upper hand blows and he stumbles, he stands up and hastens his motion back to me and he hits my forehead with the fire poker rod I hit him previously. I run groggily into the disorderliness of the kitchen where my brother is lying unconscious—dead to the world—on the dirty kitchen floor. Before I could reach the collection of knives in the knife handle, the big guy hits the occipital of my head and everything goes black. To nothingness I escape...

Marcus Green

I see myself looking at a vast field of daises, with my little brother beside me. I look at him and his slivery-gray eyes sparkle like gems exposed to the sun. He smiles at me like he always does when we are together. Kato takes off to Black, the little Pinscher I bought him with my meagre earning from the restaurant where I work as a dishwasher. I have no education. People like us—those who belong to the lowest strata in caste society do not get an education—not in this dystopian world.

I look at a seven-year old Kato playing with the black pup. His smiles are extraordinary—my comfort since our mother’s death.

I still remember it was noon when my mother and I went to the city market to buy us spices, potatoes and beans for mom’s bean casserole. It was a special day—Kato’s 7th birthday. My mom wanted to surprise him with a special casserole—our special casserole (one special viand that we can afford). Rice, bread, and the ones that we gather—fruits, root crops and vegetables—are the only food that we are used to eating... Sometimes if mom gets an extra tip from her clients in a beauty salon where she worked, we get to eat meat. Meat is the best food in the world. When I was young, I wanted to be a meat man so I can slaughter meat and bring my family meat every day.

Despite our impoverish situation, poverty is never our enemy because we have outgrown it or more like we are already used to its anguishing slaps.

My mother died the same day when a group of hoodlums come crashing us with their muscular bodies. One hoodlum—Scarface, I call him because of the long ugly scar lines diagonally from his left eye to the nose and to his right cheek—slits my mother’s throat. I will never forget that face.

Our food and our money they took. I fought like it was the fight to death but with my slender torso and limbs and my non-athletic body did me no good. Another goon knocked me out to the ground.

The memory keeps coming back. Always grief-stricken, the life I live with my brother, although oppressive sometimes because of the drunkard and emotionally-unstable stepfather, is my only comfort—a pillow that enshrouds me still to my sanity that I am so afraid to lose.

I laugh at the sight of Pinscher trying to catch its tale in circular motion. Black does it for minutes until he goes tired and instead jumps to give little Kato a lick on the face. That is the sweetest act of affection an animal can give to its human best friend.

I go to sit beside my brother, and for hours we talk and talk about anything under the sun. And then I wake up... Just a dream...

It is almost sunset when I regain my consciousness. I see myself lying on the dampness of the kitchen floor. Confuse, I try the recover from whatever trauma I received. As I regain my senses, my brother’s dire face I see in my mind. My brother... Kato...

I try to sit my banal torso just to see the lifeless body on the floor across me. Kato...

For a moment there I lose my self to despair. My vision now blurry from the lens of tears... My brother couldn’t be dead. Oh no! I reach for him and check his pulse but I sense none.

He’s alive. I try convincing myself.

“He’s dead.” Says a familiar voice—voice that once soothes, but no longer.

“Mom?” But no one answers. “Mom, is that you?” I look at my surrounding and I see no one, hear no one. I must be dreaming. Worse, I must be crazy. I sit there looking at something from a distance but actually seeing nothing for what seems like aeons, absorb in my own neurosis.

A sudden rap on the French window snaps me to my awareness. What the hell!

Dog paws stretch up through the window—Black is rapping the glass window as if knocking to be taken inside. I reach up to open one window and the poor creature leaps in the kitchen. Black moves toward the lifeless body of my brother. Kato’s face now pale, eyes closed, a cut projects from his right eyebrow and extends to his right temple, purple bruises from blows spread through his cheeks. A chill shudders through me as my brother’s lashes flutter.

He’s alive. Thank God. I whisper.

“Kato” I shake my brother’s shoulder as gentle as possible. His eyes flutter again and finally I see those silvery gray eyes. I give him my sincerest smile. “Kato, Oh my God, Kato. Are you okay?”

And Kato smiles back. “Marrrrckk-k-k-ccuss” he stutters.

“Hello brother. Can you sit?”

“I guess.” I pull him up and his body responds. Thankfully... “Where’s Doug?”

“I don’t know. He must have been asleep by now. The last thing I remember is that it was noon when the asshole attack me...us...”

I help set my brother on the couch in the living room and start cleaning with water and dressing his wounds with clean gauze from Doug’s first aid kit he hides under his bed—the same kit he stole from the city hospital where he worked as a custodian for over two months. A year ago, he lost the job because of his irritable disposition. From then on he never looked for another job. So, I answer his needs. I couldn’t say no. I have to repay what my dear mother owes him. He took us in when we were on the edge of surrendering from survival.

He never loved my mother, nor did he love us. He took us in because she was beautiful. My mom was an object to satisfy his desires and sexual needs. When mother died, he started abusing us physically and especially me because I am gay. Sometimes when he comes home drunk, he would hit me for no particular reason other than me being gay—a disgrace to his home is all, he said. He makes us do things we would never consent like stealing. But who are we to question? We are nothing but a weakling in a struggling and oppressive home.

Kato Green

We stay in the house for a while but we take off after an hour. Doug is still in his room dreaming. We have nowhere to go. We have no food. I have a few coins I saved from my work as a newspaper boy in the morning and an errand boy in a bakery during the night, and Marcus has his own savings too, but our money will not suffice for longer if we are too flea from this place and away from our stepfather. But we have no other options left. We know no one we can possibly trust in our hypocrite community.

We travel by foot for hours until we reach the train station where we buy our tickets to Penndorion, another city state where metalwork is its major industry.

We sit side by side with my brother. An old woman sits across me, and beside her a little lady, age twelve perhaps. She sings a song loud enough for us to hear. Her voice like siren's voice enthralling me to my death. The song she sings I am not familiar but it soothes me.

♪♫♫ Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your eyes
And when they open, the sun will rise
Here it’s safe, and here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet–
–and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.
Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when again it’s morning, they’ll wash away
Here it’s safe, and here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet–
– and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.
Here is the place where I love you. ♫♪♫
(Words/lyrics borrowed from The Hunger Games by Suzzane Collins, and melody from Yiruma's Kiss the Rain >>> listen to the song here sung by Kimmy West of Mockingjay.net) 

As soon as we arrive at the Penndorion railway station, groups of uniformed and armed security men checks the luggage of the arriving guest, especially those with big baggages. We have no big luggage unlike the others. What I have is an old faded blue backpack with few of my clean clothing and my little dog hidden inside.

I have always wanted a dog since I was little, but I wasn't allowed. Doug said that dogs aren't for kids, and that they are filthy beasts who poos anywhere. I know I'm eighteen but it doesn't matter, this dog is mine. Sometimes it feels good to be childlike once in a while.

Marcus brings his black leather tanner bag satchel–his most expensive and priced possession–hangs on his right shoulder. 

We join in the crowd of people, and we lose ourselves among the sea of faces...


You may also read PART 2 of this prequel.


kelvin June 25, 2011 at 8:29 PM  

may ganun? may faggot..hay nako tagal ko natapos magbasa at may dictionary pa talaga....

thanks author pinadugo mong muli ang ilong ko..hehehe

Jayson S Patalinghug June 25, 2011 at 8:31 PM  

why is the surname green? is there a hidden symbol or ganun lang talaga name nila? or baka green is the color of will..hahahaha

belib na jud ko nimo maam jeel dah

jeelchristine June 26, 2011 at 12:14 AM  

@Kelvin - salamat talaga sa patience and perseverance in reading.. :)

@Jayson- haha.."green" means "hope" i guess... hehe ewan ko sir, "Greening" dapat yung surname kaya lang, may nabasa akong book recently lang at Prince Greening yung pangalan ng isang character so "Green" ginamit ko instead.. hehe

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