As time goes by, I become more and more concerned about my roommate’s brother and his… let’s call them “methods.” He wants to run this place like a mobster: buying expensive clothes, making his employees fear him and other things I suspect but can’t prove. However, I must agree it works. With the resources we have, we’re breaking hundreds of demonstrations. With any hope, we are showing people the true face of violence and mindless hatred. As I work on a table by her side, my roommate touches my shoulder gently, startling me. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes after seeing my reaction. “I never know how to… when you’re in ‘the zone.’” She even uses her fingers to act out the quotation marks. “Anyway, ehm… today my-our uncle, is coming. My brother and I will meet him in two hours here. You can have the day off.”
“Oh, thank you,” I reply. A day off. I don’t even remember what that’s like. In fact, I think I’ve had none in the… eight months? I’ve been here. But I can’t complain, the pay is good and I can study most of the time. On my way out, I cross paths with my arab friend. “Hey, you got the day off too?” he asks. “Yeah, I was just going—” “I know of a new brewery with cheap imported beers,” he interrupts me. “They have indian pale ales.” Is he asking me for a date? “I’m sorry, I don’t really do alcohol.” “Oh…” he says gloomily. I feel bad for him, he does such a great job. “But we could maybe, I don’t know, watch a movie?” I say. His face lights up. “I heard there’s a new film about who was the true author of ‘War and Peace,’” he says.
“Sure, sounds fine,” I say. I don’t want to sit through another revisionist bore with boring actors about a boring book, but whatever. We walk to the bus station in silence. I take my phone out and text with people, partly to avoid a conversation. I also check out the best way to the movie theater. “Let’s go this way,” I say. He meekly agrees and walks with me. As we turn the corner to the street with the station, we watch the bus speed away. “Oh, this is great,” he complains. “No way we get there now… What are we going to do? There’s no more buses until—” “Stop worrying,” I interrupt him. “We’ll go later. I was hungry anyway, so we could grab something to eat first.” “Wait a minute,” he says, pale with fear. “We’re on the bus stop where you joined the bus… you know, when we met. The protest.”
“I’ve been avoiding this route,” he goes on. “I don’t like it. I don’t want to see those two bullies again.” He’s truly terrified of them. “Please, let’s go,” he begs. “Ok, just give me a couple minutes to rest,” I say before sitting down. “My right leg is cramping, again.” He nervously paces up and down the street until he comes running. “Th-they are here!” He stutters. I see the two bullies walking toward us. They are still far. “They haven’t seen us yet, let’s go! Let’s run!” He begs me.
“You should learn to confront people who don’t like you,” I say calmly. “Are-are you crazy? Th-they’ll break my leg or something. They’ll compress me into half my size, and I’m not even tall now.” He rubs his hands nervously. The two guys keep getting closer. “If you don’t stand up to people, you’ll always be a squeamish errand boy,” I continue, impervious as I stand up. “Otherwise people, especially women, will never respect you.” The two guys point to us and start walking faster.
“C-call the police, that’s why, you know, we-we pay them,” he says, reaching for my phone, but I stop his hands with mine. “Stand up to them,” I whisper before giving him a kiss in the cheeks. He stares into my eyes. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the b-word and her towelhead friend,” says one of the bullies. I let go of his hands. My arab friend closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “Go away! We are not afraid of you!” I yell, standing my ground. “Come on, tell him,” I say to my friend, who just smiles weirdly. “Hey pal, are you gonna let a woman speak for you?” the bully taunts my friend, who rubs his hands. “Y-you know, I usually leave the fighting for after dinner, you know? It helps with digestion.” The bullies are right next to my friend. He runs his hands over one of the bullies’ coats. “You cowards better leave!” I threaten them. “Or what?” chuckles one of the bullies, coming closer, “There’s no bus driver here to save you.”
I throw a punch at him, but he stops it and twists my arm. My phone falls to the ground. I scream in pain. “Stop!” says my friend, punching my aggressor in the face. “You’re dead,” says the aggressor, grabbing my friend. Then the first guy says through his teeth, “b-word.” I feel his punch on my face. The next thing I know I’m on the ground. I look up, feeling the blood on my face pumping. Then I look left.
I see my arab friend getting beaten as his cries for help slowly die out. I get kicked on the gut, and feel the urge to vomit. I take my hands to my face and cry, crawling into a ball. I stay there for some time, until I hear a man’s voice, “Hey, are you ok? Hang on, I’ll get help.” He helps me get up. When I look down, I see my friend, bleeding on the floor. I kneel by his side. It doesn’t look like he’s breathing. My heart races. “Wake up! Wake up!” I scream, fearing the worst. But he just bleeds.
Then, as I stand up, I grab my phone with one hand as I cover my belly with the other. I wait for the police and paramedics to arrive. The paramedics place him on a stretcher and take him to the hospital. Police officers take me to the station. “Here, look,” I say to the policeman who found us. “The whole thing is on tape.” We watch the video, with the faces of the two bullies clearly visible at some points. “Those monsters won’t get away with this,” promises the police officer.