short stories

242

WRONG WAY ROMANCE

A young and long haired girl watched him from distance. She couldn’t catch what he was talking about – she was not a lip-reader – but she could see his expression. She could see how his face was contorted in an ugly frown. He was definitely not happy.

“Who was that?” She asked him as he entered the car.

“A friend of mine.” He answered, buckling the seatbelt with a loud snap.

“Was that a girl? You talked a bit long.”

“No.” He turned the ignition and the car's engine came to life.

Nia -that girl- didn't say anything. The interior of the car was drowned in a deafening silence.

“Look, you can check the register menu if you don't believe me,” Tius finally broke the silence, his voice held an impatient tone. He extended his mobile phone to her, but she didn't make any movement to take it.

“No, I do believe you. I just think that it's a little weird. You often keep a distance from me whenever you receive a phone call.” She said, sulking.

“Honey, trust me, there's no other girl. You know that, don't you? He glanced at her. “And there's nothing you should be worried about. Believe me.”

Nia smiled surreptitiously. She did believe him. She never thought that he'd have another girlfriend, for he was not that kind of guy. As a boy, Tius was quite reserved. He didn't quite know how to treat a girl properly. He often faced problem if he had to get a long with the member of the species that is called girls. He often got tongue-tied, or got nervous in the presence of the opposite sex. But beneath all that, he was nice, patient, mature and very independent. They were enough reasons for Nia to love him. Moreover, it seemed that her love and attention had changed him gradually into a warmer and friendlier person. It made her loving that 172 cm height guy deeper than ever.

After a half an hour drive, they stopped in front of Nia's house. A young man about 28 years old and well built came out of the house when the car stopped, and opened the passenger door for her.

“Uncle?” Nia cried happily, and flew into his arms. “When did you arrive? Why didn't you tell us first? I could have gone home early if I knew that you were coming.”

“I arrived just two hours ago. My former classmate is getting married, so I take several days off to attend his wedding party.”

“Hmm… I see. And I assume I'm your date to that wedding party.”

the young man whom Nia called uncle laughed. “Nia, you are seventeen now. You're practically a grown up. How can you still behave like a child?”

she pouted. “There's no prohibition in this case, is there? You are my uncle and I'm your beautiful niece. We always went and did everything together in the past. I think there's no difference in this thing, too.”

“Well, I give up. You always have the perfect excuse.” He said, laughing at the girl wearing yellow dress in front of him.

She turned to Tius and drew him closer. “Honey, I want to introduce you to my beloved uncle. He's a member of Semarang police Department. He is great in his job, we're all very proud of him.”

“Yuda.”

“Ignatius.”

The two guys shook hand. There was a fleeting odd look exchange between the two, but Nia didn't pay much attention. She just asked Tius to sit, then she pulled Yuda's arm to enter the house.

“He's my boyfriend. Treat him well, ok?” She whispered on his ear, flashes of joy could be clearly seen in her smiling pretty face. She disappeared behind the wall, to appear several minutes later bearing 3 glasses of orange juice. She was about put them on the table, when suddenly Tius got up and told her that he had to leave.

“What's the hurry? You haven't even touched your drink,” Nia frowned.

“I'm sorry, but Andra just called me, and it sounded like an emergency.”

His regret was clearly shown on his face, so she decided to let him off the hook this time. She walked him to his car, and didn't turn back until his car has disappeared around the corner.

“He always behaves like that. He cares about his friends more than me.” She said to Yuda, who was still sitting on the terrace.

“That's what we call a man. It's human nature.” He responded.

“Do you always behave like that, too?”

“Sometimes, yes.” He answered. “By the way, how long have you known him?”

“A year maybe, but we just became official five months ago,” She replied. “I mean, as boyfriend and girlfriend.”

“Where does he live?”

“In a boarding house in Jalan Akasia,” She answered, and was starting to frown. Why did her uncle ask her all these questions?

“What is his job?”

“He owns an internet rental in Ruko Samudra, called Internet Biru. That was where we met, because I often got school assignment which need materials from internet.” Her frown grew deeper, “Hey, what's with the third-degree? Is something wrong?”

“Not really, but…”

“Oh, please uncle. You are a police man, but it doesn't mean that you can treat everyone like you treat your suspects.”

“Don't get me wrong, Nia. I just think that…I've ever met him before, but I don't remember where.”

“I know where you met him. You once drove me to Internet Biru, last year. He was there but we didn't know him yet at that time. Do you remember?”

Yuda nodded slowly, thinking that it wasn't where he remembered seeing the guy. Something was definitely awry. The problem was, he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was.

He tried to forget Tius in the evening. He had dinner with Nia, her parents and her younger brother, and they happily chatted long into the night. It was rare that he could set aside time to visit them, sometimes not for several months, so such a visit was cherished by everyone. When he was already in bed, getting ready to catch some sleep, Yuda took his mobile phone and play music from it. He also scanned through the pictures that he had taken with his mobile phone's camera. He looked at some pictures of a long haired young man wearing black shirt. That was when it hit him. Of course. The pieces of puzzle have finally fallen into place. He then put the phone back to the table. Nothing he could do about it now. Finally, he fell asleep.

He woke up early in the morning. The first thing he did was to find Nia. He found her in the garden, watering the flower. It was Sunday.

“Nia, can we talk?”

at the very first sight of her uncle's unshaven face she could tell there was something wrong. And she wasn't sure she wanted to find out what. He gestured her to follow him into his bed room, where he had prepared some pictures, copies of files and newspapers clipping which he had brought along in the back of his car. He was never one hundred percent off duty, some aspects of his job always followed him around.

“You know what my position in the police department is, right?” He asked her. She nodded. He belonged to the Anti-Drug Unit, and she knew that.

“Well, remember when I told you yesterday that I've seen Tius somewhere, but I just couldn't place it?”

she nodded again. He shoved the pictures toward her, and she took a look. Then she let out a loud gasp. “What… what is this?”

“These are the pictures we took, most of it by my mobile phone, when we busted a drug operation in Semarang more than a year ago. We caught some guys in the operation, but some slipped through our fingers. he…” He pointed to one guy in the picture,”…is one of the guys who were able to get away,”

She looked at the guy underneath her uncle's finger. There was no second guessing that face, those eyes, the differences were on his hair cut and his weight. It was Tius.

“That…that can't be!” She wailed. “Tius would never be connected with drugs! I know him, he's a good guy!”

“Nia, I'm telling you this because you're my niece. Stay away from him. He's not good for you.”

“But I love him!” She cried. “And I promise you, he's changed. So, please… just walk away from him, and let everything just be. Please, I'm begging you.”

He looked at his niece's teary face, and could do nothing but nod. She burst into tears then, and he drew her into his arms.

***

One week later.

Nia stood still, staring sharply at Tius who was sitting behind the computer. She still wore her school uniform. Tius stared at her, too. He glanced at the wall clock and he then turned to face her again. “Did your class finish early? It's not even 11 o'clock yet.”

Instead of answering, she took something out of her pocket and put it on the table. It was a small package containing glittery white powder.

“Could you tell me what this is.” She said coldly without looking at the package.

The shock on his face was obvious. “Did you spy on me? What did you do in my bed room? How can you get into it?”

“I don't have to answered it. It is you who have to tell me what this is and whom it belongs!” Her scream was near hysteria. Everyone in 5-meter radius from her turned around to look. Tius took the package with his right hand, and pulled her arms with his left hand to follow him upstairs. They entered a room and then Tius closed the door behind them. Something was frightening Nia. She was afraid to know that it's true. But she had to do it somehow.

“I can explain it, honey.”

“I don't need any explanation. Please just tell me that everything that I have heard is wrong. You and uncle Yuda don't know each another, do you?”

“Nia, I…”

“Please, I'll ask you once more time. Uncle Yuda is not looking for you, right? There are so many people in Indonesia whose name is Ignatius.”

Tius looked down at the floor. He didn't have a heart to look at Nia. “But only one Ignatis who is 25 years old now, has family name Suprapto and is being a fugitive.”

“So?”

Nia bit her lower lips to prevent her tears bursting, but it was useless. She almost fainted when finally he nodded slowly, “Yeah. It's me.”

“But how could you lie to me?” She cried. “I know now, you left my house at that time was not because of your friend's call. But you were afraid of seeing my uncle, right?”

“Actually, yes. We have met before. He caught me in the act but I could escape. Unfortunately, he had taken my picture with his mobile phone's camera.”

“You are disgusting. It's unbelievable. How could you do this to me?”

“Nia, please her me out,” Tius faced her now. “Indeed, I have a bad past. But I'm trying to become a better person now. That's why I ran away from Semarang and I'm living here in disguise. I cut my hair short, I hate to do it actually, but I have to do it. I have to keep away from my former boss and friends. They will kill me if they knew that I had stopped consuming and selling drugs. And I love you, Nia. You change me into what I am now.”

“You are a bad liar! How could you say that while you are still keeping that evil thing?”

“I need time, Nia. It's not easy to be free of drugs all at once. But you have to believe me. I almost succeed to recover and be free from it. I'm joining a drug recovery program recently. The drug you have found is the last one that I have.”

“I always believe in you, Tius. But what have you done? You take it for granted.”

“I know it's hard to believe, but I promise…”

He didn't finish his sentence yet when suddenly the door behind them was opened, and…

“DON'T MOVE!!”

A group of police officers rushed in, guns in hands. Behind them there were some people holding cameras. Automatically, Tius raised his hands up.

“Nia, you are trapping me!!” His eyes fixated on Nia.

“No, no, no!!” Nia shook her head in terror, leaning against the wall to get a grip.

It all happened in a flash of a second. Tius was brought voluntarily without any argument, and so did Nia. Their faces became the target of the cameras. Some reporters shot them and followed them hurriedly until they reached police station.

Internet Biru that midday was suddenly so noisy. The deafening sound of police car's siren, the racket of the people who talked through HT, the mass of people outside the internet rental who were so curious all added up to a wild commotion. The yellow ribbonwich was put around the Internet Biru building with warning sentence “Police Line, Do Not Cross” written on it was a sign that the area was forbidden for anyone who was not authorized.

Nia was still in a state of shock when the police officer finished investigating her in a closed room, even though the police finally released her because she was proven innocent tn the case. Yuda accompanied her all the time in the police office. Nia found out later that it was him who informed The Anti-Drugs Unit of Semarang Police Department about Tius. Then the chief of that unit called the same unit in Lamongan Police Department. So, they could catch him easily after planning it for several days and spying on him.

“Are you happy now, being the superhero for police department? Even though you have sacrificed me and Tius?” She said bitterly when he drove her home. Yuda didn't show any emotional expression. He knew well that she was still very young. Her puppy love had blinded her mind.

“Ignatius has to take responsibility to what he had done. He is a fugitive. He will bring a bad influence for you.” She said coolly.

“But like I said, he has changed now. And we were happy, Uncle, before you came between us. Can't you just let him alone with his new life?”

“Nia, it's not my authority to do so. He had broken the law. He can be prisoned for 15 years.”

“Fifteen years? Oh, My God. Uncle, can't you help him? He is my boyfriend, and he will be your nephew-in-law.”

“Good Heavens, Nia.” Yuda sighed desperately. “You are just seventeen years old. It's not like you are going to marry him next month.”

“Indeed, but, someday I will marry him. If you can't forgive him for what he had done in the past, at least please consider me. I'm your niece.”

“Law doesn't know any relatives, Dear.” Yuda said. “And if you can't see that, then I'm sorry, I can't do anything else for you.”

The car he was driving ran slowly along the quiet street, and the silence has dawned inside the moving vehicle. Both of the passengers knew that the relationship between them would never be the same again, but neither had any idea on how to mend the fences and lifted the heavy silence between them.

The car was moving, but the silence stayed.

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