Chapter 25:

Stealing Thunders, and the Telemarketer Weather Report


Joey stared at the clouds, his mouth agape, his eyes unblinking. It went off without a hitch. And now, he's looking into the distance as if he'd lost his purpose in life after failing to take that shot. The only problem was that he had taken the shot. There were just no problems. He was just edged. In fact, he should be happy. Bookmark here

The last thing he wanted to do was flake out after preaching the whole story of Commander America to his people in his villain speech. Bookmark here

He was punched in the face, too. Bookmark here

But they were able to occupy this small compound of five houses. They were able to strip the surrounding houses for more supplies and furniture for firewood. No one was hurt. Some were visibly shaken, especially when they started the cleanup and moved the bodies to be buried, but there were no problems. Again, he should be happy. Bookmark here

He grabbed a stone and threw it. It flew, of course, but didn’t get as far as he expected. He clicked his tongue. He wanted to scream. So, he sighed and scratched his head. Maybe they’re talking about him now. He couldn’t stand them. But he’s the better man, so he chose to stay away, away from everything at the moment. Bookmark here

The last thing he wanted was the clouds to spell “loser.” Winds shouldn’t whisper that kind of thing either. Well, at least, he could bitch around here without much of a consequence. He also felt like heavy rain was about to come. He was sure of it. Bookmark here

And he groaned. Bookmark here

Going back now and announcing that he just knew that it was going to rain wouldn’t cut it. He could still remember that sensation. He cringed at how his legs trembled, how his fingers would shake, how his eyes would darken and tear at the thought of opening the doors that led them inside those houses. Bookmark here

He would always look back at the men that followed him. He wanted them to be ready, and they would nod back as they gripped their weapons. Bookmark here

By then, he would push the door, squeal like a fully grown man upon seeing a flying cockroach, and welcome them to a whole load of nothing. It should not be treated as a joke. Cockroaches were the shit, and they would always be. And it’s a different, darker story if they took flight.Bookmark here

This kind of shit happened every single time. Uncle had the fun of kicking doors down with Jonathan. Enteng made everyone else feel safe along with Enang and Lucy like they were on a field trip. The men that followed him were tired until they chose not to respond to him at all.Bookmark here

At least they were safe—for now. Bookmark here

And this cold wall embraced his back for comfort. It was fun. He had so many people follow his cues. For a moment, he felt like an actual leader. Now, everything’s done. They now have something to defend. They knew and could fight. Bookmark here

They don’t need him anymore. Bookmark here

Right, the sun was also sinking. Bookmark here

Maybe that’s the edge that he’s missing. He didn’t even lose anything to feel the burden of these people. Enteng lost his wife and children. Uncle lost his mom. Enang was probably the same. He didn’t have that drive for revenge. He couldn’t be the protagonist that he always wanted to be.Bookmark here

“Wow,” a familiar voice of a woman rang nearby. “you really are acting like a bitch.”Bookmark here

Enang peeked from the corner of the wall and handed him a water bottle. She scoffed at his unwelcoming demeanor and sat on the ground. Bookmark here

“I’m bitching and I am proud.” He closed his eyes, smiled, and rested the back of his head on the wall. “This is not a sign of weakness but of strength.” Bookmark here

“You’re a terrible loser, that’s what.” She stressed her words, and Joey’s cheeks sored a little. “That punch looked like it hurt you pretty badly. What did Uncle call it?”Bookmark here

“Greater Persuasion—”Bookmark here

“Heh…” She peeked at him again with a smug smile this time. “If you really didn’t mind, then you should’ve been around with the others instead of bitching here and being proud. Damn, after all of that speech.”Bookmark here

“Fine, I get it.” Joey sighed. “It’s my fault. I’m a piece of shit. I won once and went ahead and acted like a total bitch to everyone else in there. It’s my fault. I should go. I should start a new journey and pay for my sins.”Bookmark here

“Wow, you really are bitching.”Bookmark here

“I bet Uncle told you everything, especially with the one bailing out.”Bookmark here

“Nah,” she chuckled. “that one was from me. No one really said anything. I just had a hunch. Unlike you, I’m not pretending to be smart. I’m pretending to be stupid.”Bookmark here

“And—”Bookmark here

“And I’m telling you this because no one would believe you.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“That’s for stealing my thunder, you fuck.”Bookmark here

Crispy. Joey scoffed and found himself grinning. Bookmark here

“I was gonna ask if that’s something one should really be proud of.”Bookmark here

“There’s nothing wrong with being stupid,” Enang hurried her words. “I’m weak, after all.”Bookmark here

“I don’t think so.”Bookmark here

“What do you know?” Enang shot back.Bookmark here

“That there are better people in the world.” Joey smiled to himself. “It must be the Telemarketer in me, I suppose—”Bookmark here

“Shut the fuck up.”Bookmark here

Joey raised a brow. “Then, why are you even here bitching at my bitching corner?”Bookmark here

“People tire me out.”Bookmark here

Joey jerked his head and scoffed. “Am I just a grass to you?”Bookmark here

“Probably?”Bookmark here

“You don’t say…”Bookmark here

Enang groaned. “I am definitely not pretty, but I am getting hit on… A LOT. It’s getting hard to brush them off… so…”Bookmark here

“You’re here to turn me into a fence?”Bookmark here

Enang peered from the other side and faced Joey with an unapologetic smile.Bookmark here

“Oh, you bitch…”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“Nothing.” Bookmark here

Joey jumped on his feet, patted his clothes, and sighed. Bookmark here

“Hey…”Bookmark here

“Yeah…”Bookmark here

“Can you sit down for a few more minutes?”Bookmark here

“What, you into me?” Bookmark here

“I will peel your skin with a spoon.”Bookmark here

“Right.”Bookmark here

He sat back. Silence flooded his ears. He only heard the sound of his own heartbeat as he considered all the questions that she might ask of him. Maybe she’s going to ask about his family. Maybe there’s something more about his job. Perhaps it’s the world. It could be her crush, which was probably him. Maybe it would be something useful, or maybe about Enteng or Uncle. Oh. Oh fuck. He crossed his arms as he shrank back to the wall. Algebra would fuck him up. Bookmark here

“There are better people in this world, huh?” Bookmark here

“Yeah,” he smiled and nodded to himself in victory. It wasn’t about numbers. Bookmark here

“How do you know?”Bookmark here

“If you’re expecting me to have a checklist, I don’t. I just know.”Bookmark here

“Then…” Enang sighed. “This is so fucking dumb… but…”Bookmark here

“It is in character—”Bookmark here

Enang clicked her tongue. “Hey, have you ever thought about something that only you could do?”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.