Have you ever felt the crushing guilt of being the ‘bad guy’? This pain can torment you for days, weeks or even years to come after the deed is done. The first and last time I had experienced this was two years ago…
“Give me your lunch money, sucker!” The tall, towering wall of muscle demanded. I glared up at the beady little eyes of my captor, feeling as helpless as a hatchling. For what Tom lacked in brains, he doubled in brute force. I silently handed over the precious five-dollar bill, originally meant for getting my mother a birthday present. Glancing wistfully at the note crumpled into Tom’s meaty hand, I could only watch as he lumbered over to his ‘boss’, Rex. Rex was easily the richest kid in school, paying for his meals with a platinum credit card and wearing nothing but branded products to school. His father, being one of the treasured alumni of the school, had threatened to punish anyone who got in his precious son’s way. Using this to his advantage, Rex had been monopolising the whole school’s occupants, including the teachers, ever since he first set foot in this school.
I glared sourly at the little dictator, vowing to take revenge on him. Aha! Hadn’t Joe told me that he had seen Rex use an inhaler before? Clinging to the idea like a lifeline, a malicious plan formulated in my mind. Primed like a ticking time bomb, I was more than ready to take action when the right moment came. After school, I pulled Joe aside and told him of my brilliant plan: wait until Rex was alone, and ambush him with a ‘makeover’. What a joke that would be! As Joe had also been suffering the consequences of Rex’s bullying, he readily agreed to assist me.
That fateful day, Joe and I tailed Rex all the way to his house, trailing behind the luxurious limousine that ferried Rex and his gang of hooligans with our bikes. As I watched the car turn round the final bend, an enormous semi-detached house stood out from the prominent landscape of HDB flats. Fountains gurgling crystalline water and a driveway flanked by towering gold statues came into view. Servants scurrying around preparing for their young master's arrival was the next sight that greeted us. The place basically stank of Rex! As we dismounted our bikes and shoved them half-heartedly into a bush, I could not help but feel my anger grow. “Come on!” I whispered fiercely, ducking below the gilded gates of the driveway with Joe right behind me.
There! It was Rex, leaning against a wall while eating a sandwich wrapped in gold foil. Gold foil! I smiled as I pictured the look of sheer horror on his thin, pouty face when he finally saw me.
“On the count of three… one, two, three!” We pounced upon the defenceless Rex, pinning him down as he struggled to break free. “You’d better not tell your daddy about this, Rex!” I breathed in his face. Pushing him violently against the wall, I raised my fist as Joe whipped out his phone to film the whole ‘makeover’, smiling like a madman. But as I started messing around with various ‘tools’ I had brought, the searing hot anger inside me told me I just could not pass up this chance to punish Rex for all he had done. As the makeover progressed, it became more and more violent, until it ended with me pommelling every inch of skin I could find. Years of pent-up frustration against him burst like a balloon within me, filling me with a hurricane of violence. “This is for Joe!” I shouted as he took a blow to his face. “This is for the teachers! The principal! The students! The school!” I glanced up to see Joe staring at me in shock. I grinned right back with a smile like a serial killer.
“H..help,” Rex gurgled. He was barely audible as I fished around his Louis Vuitton custom-made school bag for his inhaler. Just as I was about to shove the inhaler down his throat, a sharp slap snapped me out of focus. It only served to fuel my rage. “What are you doing?” Joe questioned in a sharp whisper. “Was this even part of the plan?” “I don’t care!” I snapped back. Joe watched in horror while I punched the plastic lever one, two, three, four times, and kept on pumping…
“Stop!” Joe raced over and snatched the inhaler from me. The now bloody Rex was twitching on the floor and foaming at the mouth. “What have you done?” Joe hollered, grabbing Rex’s phone and quickly calling for an ambulance. While Joe described Rex’s condition to the paramedics, I glanced at the battered Rex as the full reality of what I had done sunk into my bones. “What have you done?” Joe’s words resounded within my mind, drowning me in a sea of guilt. Did my seemingly harmless prank turn into something much more sinister?
After the incident, everything was a blur. I numbly remember being loaded into a police car, the livid face of Rex’s father, and the crack of a cane as it hit my rear end. Now, looking at the broken form of Rex lying in a hospital bed, I knew not of the present, and what would come to pass for Rex and me in the future.
One thing I was certain of was that my impulsive actions would cause this horrible guilt to reside in me forever. Due to a split second of uncontrolled fury, I had failed to keep my composure. I turned into a raging beast that was used to being tethered by the chains of self-control. Facing the consequences of my prank on Rex has taught me to think twice before acting on my rash impulses. The guilt from a well-meaning prank going too far is a lesson I will remember for life.