Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

By Eka Kurniawan

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They were walking along the pavement, each with a clove cigarette between their fingers. One was sucking on a Djarum, the other had never strayed from Gudang Garam. Gecko placed the clove in his mouth, let it hang there, and slipped both his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He bit the cigarette a little bit so it wouldn’t fall when he exhaled. The smoke slowly emerged from his mouth and with the finesse of a long-time smoker, he inhaled the plume back through his nose and then exhaled it out his mouth again, in a smooth rolling curve.

Ajo Kawir gazed up at the sky and blew his own fragrant smoke into the air and then looked over at Gecko. “I want to beat someone up,” he said.

“How about those two kids sitting against that wall over there.”

Ajo Kawir glanced to where Gecko was pointing, and he saw two kids who looked to be about their age. They were catcalling and whistling at the girls passing by on their bicycles. Ajo Kawir and Gecko approached. Ajo Kawir took a long final drag on his cigarette. There were still about three centimeters left until it was down to the butt, but Ajo Kawir knew he didn’t want to smoke it anymore—instead he tossed it, with its tip still glowing red hot, into one of the kid’s laps. They both looked up at Ajo Kawir, startled.

“Hey!” they shouted, angry of course.

“You got a problem?” challenged Ajo Kawir.

The Gecko opened and closed his fists, to limber up his fingers. It was going to be an awesome afternoon, he thought. It was going to be an exciting afternoon. This was going to be a fun fight.

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