Suraj Shah (author)
Vijay Shah (editor, proofreader)
In a unique and rare departure from the Half-Eaten’s steadfast weekend diet of news and photo moments, I am proud to bring you a short story penned by my younger brother Suraj, who will turn fifteen years of age this month.
As part of his schoolwork in preparation for the dreaded end of secondary school examinations, the GCSEs, Suraj has produced a series of short stories and fiction excepts for his English lessons. He is also a member of a select and very small group of students at his school who have been invited to write an opinion piece on the recently released Grand Theft Auto V video game. If Suraj is successful, his article will be published in the pages of The Independent, a leading and highly respected British broadsheet.
I, the editor of the Half-Eaten Mind, have been given exclusive access and permission by Suraj to reproduce one of these short stories especially for our readers and followers. Suraj has really impressed me with his writing skills. He has an intense vocabulary, which few people his age possess. His stories are deep in emotions with well-developed characters and gripping plots. Yet he can write just like a regular guy narrates a story to his friends. Accessible yet profound. He clearly is a budding literary talent and I hope he really takes this further. He has the classic writing bug, not unlike another member of the family who readers of the Mind will be more familiar with.
What is even more amazing is that while I have always known Suraj to be talented in the fields of sports and Playstation games, his way with words has taken me completely by surprise!.
Suraj’s short story is set in an upmarket, unidentified area of the South American nation of Colombia. Two boys, Fabio and Ricardo, part of an illustrious and enlightened family, the Guerreros, have all the successes in the world at their feet. Supported by their aunt and uncle, the young men are destined to live out their boyhood dreams as a brain surgeon and professional footballer. But a business trip to Brazil sees Fabio and Ricardo making a decision that will change their lives forever, but with a fatal cost. An innocent wrong turn to the wrong side of town leads the duo on a do-or-die mission that will cost them dearly.
THE WRONG SIDE OF TOWN
Colombia: sunnier and drier than ever was the home of the Guerreros.
A wealthy Mexican family who got all their wealth from the lady herself – Mrs Lucia Guerrero. She “struck it rich” when her new database software became a hit in South America, and now she was hoping to expand her software business internationally. She lived with her husband Hector in a luxurious mansion. In front of their mansion was their very own magical colourful water feature which had the famous surname ‘Guerrero’ engraved on it.
People used to walk by saying “oohs” and “aahs”, while others would just stop and glance at it for minutes on end.
The patriarch of the family was Hector Guerrero – a middle aged man who was tall and muscular. He was also a well-respected and well known in all of Colombia because he was an ex-marine and fought in many civil wars. He believed in equality and that any man or woman can be whatever they want as long as they set their minds to it and be committed at all times.
Both Hector and Lucia lived with their two nephews, Fabio and Ricardo, step brothers who never really talked or knew anything about one another. Their parents Jerry (Fabio’s father) and Cataliya (Ricardo’s mother) both passed away in a tragic car accident in South Carolina, U.S.A. on their way back from an old relative’s house. Because of this traumatic event, Hector and Lucia both decided to take legal custody of their two nephews.
Fabio was a calm, well mannered, quiet and last, but not least, intelligent young man. During his school days he always produced outstanding work and got the highest grades out of everyone in his year group.
His aunt Lucia said one time: “Your parents would have been so proud of you”
Now approaching seventeen his target in life now is to move to Madrid; where he can become a brain surgeon as he was already in heavy demand by many hospitals for his surgical knowledge. A brain surgeon must obtain a minimum of 14 years of formal education before practicing professionally. Fabio started learning about brain surgery when he was ten, he picked things up very fast and for all of his teachers he was the brightest student they have ever taught.
Ricardo was a “unique character”- according to his teachers in school. He never really cared what teachers had to say; he never liked school, but he wasn’t like those other kids who’d say they didn’t like school just because they got bad grades, he produced both exceptional and satisfactory grades. He just never expected himself to be the “school type”, he thought of himself as a big shot because he knew that he was a sensational football player.
Like any other normal Sunday, Ricardo attended his local football club The South Lions Football Academy; a well-regarded and popular club that won all the tournaments and all the trophies. All the club’s success was because of one person it seemed and that was Ricardo. Here’s what the clubs coach Carlos Gustavo had to say about his star player:
“Rapid, sharp, alerted, determined, agile and powerful”.
“Those six words came from the heart and nothing else can be said to describe Ricardo. Nobody knows him like I do. I know what’s on his mind when he steps on the pitch. I know his abilities. I know what this talented player is capable of. Ricardo should be proud of himself.
He joined this little overlooked team and in a short period of time he turned it into a glorified super team. He made the team win many titles and trophies, we are truly grateful to have such a young beneficial football sensation of his kind on our team.”
At a distance, Ricardo could see the full team roster sitting down at the centre-box just waiting for their star player to arrive. As he approached the team, Carlos Gustavo spoke, “We are here to bid farewell to our star player, Ricardo Guerrero.”
“What!” exclaimed Ricardo. He couldn’t believe what he has just heard.
“It’s okay my son. It’s Real Madrid, they have seen a video of you and they were astonished, mind-blown in fact. It’s La Liga, this is what everybody here has been targeting and aiming for from the very beginning and for you it’s more of a dream come true because your all-time favourite team, Real Madrid, want you. This is your time. Don’t let anyone ruin this once in a life time opportunity; or let it go to waste, this could very much be your big break. Make me proud my boy”
“Just as your uncle would say, ‘When we focus on leading a passionate, meaningful life, we are also inadvertently creating a spectacular ripple effect of inspiration in the lives around us. When one person follows a dream, tries something new, or takes a daring leap, everyone nearby feels their passionate energy; and before too long, they are making their own daring leaps while simultaneously inspiring others, continue to work hard at what you love no matter what the odds are.‘”
A few days later, Fabio went outside the mansion and picked up the local newspaper near the entrance gates and the headlines read:
‘SHOCKING! Guerrero Moves To Madrid!’
Fabio was just as shocked to see that his brother was set to move to Madrid in the near future just like he was to pursue his dream in becoming a brain surgeon.
Later that day family arrived to congratulate the boys in advance on their success. “Can I have everybody’s attention please,” proclaimed, Aunt Lucia. Immediately she got everybody’s attention. “Thank you all so much for coming to this little party me and Hector arranged for our boys, Fabio and Ricardo. We are all here to honour them both as they are both set to leave us and move to Madrid and get on with their own lives doing what they love. There’s just one more thing I have to acknowledge that me and Hector haven’t really discussed with anyone else and that’s that myself, Hector, Fabio and Ricardo are going to fly out to Brazil tomorrow for a short period of time”
“The people of this very important company want me to present them my database and see if there are any additional perks I can add to it. They already seem to like it, I think they just want me to sign off the paperwork to make it official and then we’ll make a LOT! more money and get the success and fame that we all deserve because this family never gives up! Because of that we are all getting good wealth and fortune, everything we got going for us right now is simply because we worked our rear-ends off every single day of the year”
“We never gave up and never stopped believing”
This powerful and emotional speech bought out some tears in people as they heard this hard-working lady pour her heart out to everyone.
“Cheers!!” Aunt Lucia announced with emotion as a tears shed upon her face, whilst she was smiling away at her family.
The following day – the Guerrero family were all set to go. They left their beloved mansion in Colombia and made their way to the airport.
The boys didn’t get upset or annoyed that they had to leave Colombia, in fact they were pleased to get to visit another country to explore and see wonderful things and sights. At the airport a check-in lady approached the Guerrero family and said “it’s time for all people going on the 241 flight to Brazil to board now.” That being said everyone boarded the plane; the family couldn’t wait to arrive in Brazil.
The plane landed in São Paulo at the Guarulhos–Governador André Franco Montoro International Airport, the richest place in Brazil was in fact São Paulo. Everybody got their luggage and made their way out to the exit and they saw a private limo that Aunty Lucia’s new boss sent to make sure the family arrived safely at their new home. The chauffeur was now Aunt Lucia’s personal driver to take her places. Anywhere she wanted to go.
“The mansion property is located in a quiet country-style, pet-friendly neighbourhood close to two universities and a state of the art technology centre. Minutes from major highways, conveniently located near two major hospitals and several medical centres. Ideally situated for ATMs, supermarkets, hypermarkets and huge shopping malls. So nearby facilities are not so hard to find. Oh one more thing!! Your home is the most classiest, the most elegant and by far the most beautiful mansion in all of Sao Paulo. I’ve drove past it a numerous of times”, narrated the chauffeur.
“I took a glimpse at it and I was just flabbergasted” The chauffeur said with excitement.
“Oh and welcome to Brazil!”
The limo approached the mansion. “WOW” both Fabio and Ricardo said with disbelief. They couldn’t believe that this is the place they are going to be living in from now on.
“Right everybody listen! Prepare to be astonished!” said Uncle Hector.
“Here are some of the things that we have inside the mansion:
• 45 m2 (484 sq ft) swimming pool
• Steam sauna
• 5 Bathroom
• Laundry room
• Workshop tool room
• Built-in barbecue / cooking area
• A HUGE! Living room
• 7 Bedrooms
And loads more, listen sons! To get all this in life you have to work hard.
It doesn’t get handed to you for free. You have to earn all this.”
Everyone entered the house, picked their rooms and straight away fell asleep; they were jet-lagged and exhausted.
It was 4 pm. Ricardo had just woken up and from his football pitch- sized room he could smell Aunt Lucia’s delicious pancakes. “It has some sort of family secret in it. It’s been carried on for generations after generations and so on… I just hope one day I get to know the recipe of this flavoursome, sugar-coated yet delicate heavenly goodness.” he thought to himself.
The only people in the kitchen were Aunt Lucia and Fabio. Aunt Lucia saw Ricardo and immediately said, “Finally! You’re awake. I made pancakes for you and your brother. Come on eat up!”
So full of life Aunt Lucia was, thought Fabio.
“You know what?” added Aunt Lucia. “You two should spend some quality time together come on. You are brothers for God’s sakes! And you don’t know one thing about each other.”
“This one likes brains” cheekily said Ricardo.
“And this one likes football” Fabio said with laughter.
“DONE!” they both remarkably said at the same time.
Aunt Lucia did not like the fact that they were being a bit foolish but then again she was more happy than tumultuous to see them co-exist and communicate for once. The boys eventually took what Aunt Lucia said into consideration and finally decided to spend some quality time with each other.
“Where do you want to go?”
“Hmm.. I got it! Let’s go and see a film in the cinema” Ricardo said with tremendous excitement.
“Great idea!” replied Fabio with an ecstatic smile on his face.
They both acted as if though they were children because when they were small they never really played nor talked to each other because of the whole ‘stepbrother thing’. They both thought of it as a big dilemma. They wouldn’t go out much either they would just prefer to stay home. Fabio and Ricardo have never really seen eye-to-eye but now was a chance to start fresh and let the bygones be bygones.
The boys left the house and waited near the bus stop.
“Why do you love football so much?” asked Fabio
“Why do I love football so much? Easy! “Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it all out to football. It has taught me to be a better man and have the desire and will to be somebody big in this world. Football is not just about football.”
“That’s inspirational” Fabio replied in a pleased way.
“Thanks, well why do you like brains so much?” Ricardo asked curiously.
“Easy! Your brain is involved in everything you do. Your brain controls everything you do, feel, and think. What can you do without your brain?
“The most important part of your body. Learning and hearing what other professionals have to say is a true honour. It requires ‘a brain’ to become a brain surgeon not just an ordinary one. One that’s unique in every aspect”
“Well done” Ricardo said.
A couple of minutes later the 22 bus approached. The boys jumped on and sat at the back of the bus.
“I’m still tired” said Ricardo.
“Yeah, me too” Replied Fabio.
As minutes flashed by both Fabio and Ricardo began to shut their eyes and eventually they both dozed off into dreamy oblivion. This one wrong move was the move that would change both their lives forever.
Hours later the boys finally woke up. The bus was now stationary in an old depot. It was deathly silent just as if you were resting in a graveyard. There was nobody here; all the lights were on but no sign of a person. The boys alighted from the bus and walked along the side walk till they exited the bus depot.
When they got out they realised that they were in Downtown Rio.
“Oh crap. Oh crap! We’re in Downtown Rio.
The wrong side of town! Oh no! Look at the time!” said a visibly frightened Fabio.
The clock on Fabio’s watch read 11:59 pm. “Just one more minute left till all the criminals come out getting into all sorts of trouble: stealing, assaulting and even murdering.”
“We have to go.. NOW!” exclaimed Ricardo.
The boys began to walk fast, faster than any normal person would walk. Then that turned into running and that led them to freeze in disbelief. For in front of them there were a group of hoodlums wearing black jeans with grey vests. All of them looked intimidating as they were just staring intensely right into the eyes of the two boys, Fabio and Ricardo decided to turn around and walk. Then suddenly they heard a car engine start and behind them they saw some of the members of the grey vested gang in a car. They started to rev their engines and smoke poured from the car’s tyres. Then they hit the gas pedal and decided to go and chase down Fabio and Ricardo.
“Ahhhh!” screamed both boys as they ran for their lives. They turned from the main road into an old decrepit alleyway but the car was too fast for them . It was literally brushing near their bottoms; that’s how close the gang was to them. And if things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Then what pulled out right in front of them seemed to be a driver offering to help but it turned out to be a guy helping out the gang.
At that point Fabio and Ricardo were trapped and couldn’t do anything.
“This is it for us I guarantee it” whispered Fabio to Ricardo.
The guy at the front skidded his car and went off shouting out a bunch of words.
At the back was the first car. The first to spot them. The first to chase them. And now the first to catch them. There were others in the back seats of the car but only the driver: who was big, strong, scary and looked like the leader of the gang left the vehicle.
He said, “Let’s cut to the chase!… you are going to die.. NOW! We are going to kill the both of you and leave you here to die in your own cold blood. We’ll make you suffer! Do you think I’m kidding?”
The man reached for his pocket. He brought out his gun. He reloads and pulls the safety catch off. Then he pointed the gun at Fabio. The moment was intense, the man is just staring coldly into the eyes of Fabio. It’s like he has a bone to pick with him even though they haven’t introduced themselves nor has Fabio done anything to him. The man puts the gun back into his pocket and spoke again.
“…unless you do us a job, you have to do two things for us and succeed in all of them… otherwise we’ll come for you and make sure you won’t wake up the next day to see sunlight”
“Do you understand?”
“Yes” they both said.
“First job, here take this red envelope and this briefcase” said the boss of the gang in a demanding way.
Ricardo took the envelope and then immediately the gang drove off in their black Cadillac.
The boys couldn’t believe what had just transpired in the last half hour or so. Shaken, they called a taxi and sneaked in to their home without anybody noticing.
The next morning Aunt Lucia woke up Fabio and said, “Why did you come so late last night?”
“We got lost” silently spoke Fabio as he was still half-asleep.
“Okay dear, did you have a good time?”
“Yeah, the best.“
A few hours later Fabio went into Ricardo’s room and saw him just sitting there. Not moving a single bit. In his hands was the red envelope and to Fabio it seemed like he had just read it so he decided to read it. It said ‘You must assassinate Jeff Richardson and leave the scene, you must do this before 5 pm. Otherwise we’ll come there and assassinate all of you. Choose wisely.‘
After reading that both of them just looked at each other traumatised. They had to do something as time was running out; the time was now 4 pm.
“Ricardo, we have to kill Aunt Lucia’s chauffeur” Fabio spluttered.
“You think I don’t know that? Listen, I don’t care about Aunt Lucia’s chauffeur. It’s the fact that this nitwit wants us to murder someone!
If that’s task number one who knows what task number two is going to be” retorted Ricardo.
“I understand! but we have no choice.”
“How are we going to do it?”
“The briefcase!” exclaimed Ricardo.
The boys ran to the briefcase and opened it and what they saw was truly shocking. Inside the suitcase was a gun. A Five-Seven silenced pistol. They rummaged around in the case. Not one but two guns. Fabio picked one up and Ricardo picked up the other one. They both nodded their heads to one another and sneaked downstairs into the garage. The boys stood near the chauffeur’s car. On the left side of the limo is Ricardo and on the right is Fabio.
“Both windows are open on both sides so an easy shot on the head through the brain should do it” Fabio thought to himself.
As Fabio looked over the car round the other side he saw Ricardo giving finger signals. This was it. …three, two, one Bang! Bang! Two shots. One bullet from Fabio and one from Ricardo. Both shots were aimed at the head of Jeff the chauffeur.
The silencer was clipped on. Only the people in the garage could have heard that. Nobody else.
The boys took one last look at Mr Richardson’s limp body and left the garage.
The murder victim was to be found very fast as the garage doors were already open. That meant that Aunt Lucia was meant to be going somewhere.
Police arrived at the scene, questioning everyone and yet couldn’t find a single thing. The only thing they’ve done is put security cordon tape around the perimeter of the garage.
Ricardo’s phone began to ring.
He answers. A crackly voice responds. “Check the suitcase, it’s task two. I want you to go to the address on it and kill the old hag as soon as you see her”
“Her name is um.. Lucia…. Guerrero. I also want the combination to the safe, get it out of her and I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Actually, wait for me to come… Ha-ha!… I want to kill her myself!!”
Ricardo tells Fabio what he has just heard. They are both struck with shock, they both decide on confronting their aunt and uncle but still not sure what they would do afterwards.
“Ricardo, I don’t want to die and I know you don’t too. We both have a future and it will be a very good one filled with money and fame.”
“I agree” replied Ricardo.
They both go up to their aunt and uncle with not a shred of love or human emotion whatsoever and point the guns directly at them.
“W….what on earth are you both doing?” said Aunt Lucia, rooted to the spot.
“Boys! Don’t you dare. I know you won’t. You’re cleverer and much better than this. After everything we have done for you… No!
You will not do this you boys mean the world to me and your Aunty. We love…”
BANG! BANG! Two shots were fired as the boys took solid aim at Uncle Hector’s head.
“No! How could you do this. What have we done!” Aunt pleads
Aunt Lucia is pouring her eyes out, seeing her husband on the floor dead. Just lying there in cold blood.
“I’m sorry” says Fabio.
“I’m sorry” says Ricardo.
BANG! BANG! Once again the echoes of two shots reverberate around the front of the house. This time the bullets were destined for Aunt Lucia. Ricardo and Fabio had murdered their uncle and aunt, yet their victims were more like parents to the both of them.
As time got shorter the boys quickly get the combination of the safe from Aunt Lucia’s briefcase, enter it and then take all the money held in it. They both already have their suitcases packed and have Uncle Hector’s car parked in the front.
The boys leave. A few moments later then in comes the gang, the same gang who peer-pressured and drove these boys to insanity. Upon entering the house and finding the bodies of the slain couple, the hoodlums from the dirty side of Rio are confused and shocked as they see that Aunt Lucia and Uncle Hector have already been assassinated.
The leader of the gang goes to the safe and opens it. “No! Ahhh!”
He is frustrated and filled up with anger so he pulls out a gun and begins to shoot maniacally at the dead bodies of Hector and Luisa Guerrero. Betrayed by their own blood.
Then out of nowhere the police storm in to the house and automatically assume that the gang had murdered the Guerreros.
They even heard the gun shots being fired but what the police didn’t realise was that they were already dead, and that the real killers had long departed the scene. Then again there are loads of fingerprints of the gang leader all around the house, especially on the safe. The police make an arrest of every single gang member there.
Years onwards Fabio and Ricardo are fugitives on the loose, still running free and living the dream. Nobody knows them. Nobody sees them. Tough justice.
“The Wrong Side of Town” was a short story written by Suraj Shah and edited for the Half-Eaten Mind by Vijay Shah. All original copyright for this story rests with Suraj. Permission must be obtained before reproducing all or any significant portions of “The Wrong Side of Town”.
Thank you for reading, and we hope you have enjoyed it.