Chapter 036—Scat Boy

Three years ago, I was, strangely enough, given a new nickname—Scat Boy.

At first, I thought it was a prank from my classmates I had just fallen out with, so I ignored it. But a few weeks later, the situation got worse. All kinds of rumours were spreading around the school. Exasperated, I went after the kid who started all this. Or so I thought. Unexpectedly, it wasn’t him. I turned to my teacher for help, but their help was to no avail. From then on, I became the bullying target of the whole school. Apart from verbal abuse (which was already difficult to bear), getting beaten up also became an inevitability.

Running away, skipping class and even paying money… These were some of the passive ways I used to buy myself some silence. Yet, as the days went on, I became increasingly jumpy, and like a bird paranoid of hunters, I was anxious even when alone. Eventually, the thought of suicide sprouted in my mind. I was like a walking corpse every day, and had completely lost hope for the future. It was entirely possible that I would have killed myself or have been beaten to death before graduation. 

One bright, sunny morning, I was violently assaulted by 4 male classmates. I curled up and suffered in silence, with my lips pressed together tightly and my hands protecting the back of my head. They spat out the most vile words in the most cheerful tone, until that phrase—  

‘Like son, like father!’

I finally hit the ceiling. I shoved them away with my arms, and 2 of them went flying back and fell to the ground. Everyone else was left thunderstruck. They didn’t expect that I would strike back. Seizing the chance that they hadn’t fully recovered yet, I swooped up a mop nearby and fought back. New wounds had appeared on my body when the old ones weren’t even healed yet.

‘Why don’t you spend more time on studying, instead of looking for trouble?’ My 50-year-old dad was archetypally old-fashioned. He truly believed that only studying can lead to a bright future.

‘I wasn’t looking for trouble! That was only a small quarrel among my classmates.’ I never told Dad about the living hell I had been through these 3 years. Dad didn’t have a high degree so he couldn’t find a job as a clerk. He had been a janitor for all these years. He was a hard-working man, scrimping and saving to barely afford paying my school fees. I didn’t want to give him more trouble.

‘Anyways, you have to study well. Then you can find yourself a nice job when you grow up.’ Dad understood that the world was not a kind place, and he didn’t want me to repeat the same mistakes he had made before. 

‘Alright.’ I nodded my head vigorously, forcing a bright smile.

It was another ordinary school day. Along the way from the school gate to the lockers, there were already more than 30 people who teasingly asked me if I’d had dung for breakfast. I simply disregarded those who only dared to mock. Those lurking and observing me in the dark were the ones I really had to pay attention to. They were all violent people.

But whatever. I was doomed anyway. 

I opened my locker and was shocked to find that there wasn’t any poop inside! (Normally people would spray watery excrements through the gap of my locker, so I would use plastic bags to wrap everything in my locker.)

More mysteriously, there was an anonymous letter in my locker.

‘I can tell you the origin of the name “Scat Boy”. Meet me outside the school gate at seven tonight.’ 

Around six at night, Dad went out for work after he had had dinner. I hastily did the dishes, got changed and left home. At the school gate, a tall, large figure appeared on time. I couldn’t even believe my eyes. The figure actually belonged to a senior who bullied me the most—Ziu Siu.

My instinct was to turn round and run away immediately.

‘Don’t you want to clear your name?’ Ziu Siu didn’t chase after me. His voice bellowed in my ears.

I couldn’t help but to stop in my tracks, and turned my head back with disbelief.

‘Follow me.’ He remained expressionless, and started walking on his own without  even looking me in the eye.

Sure, he didn’t need to take notice of my reaction. Everything was within his expectation. I hung my head low and followed him behind, until we reached the entrance of some underground casino.

The cold-looking guards at the door took a glance of Ziu Siu, and there was an instant 180 degree change in their attitudes by crowding around him. On the other hand, Ziu Siu kept a stern face and wasn’t too concerned about them. I stood at the door for a long time, as I was too scared to step inside. What was inside could be a trap. 

Ziu Siu clearly knew what I was anxious about. He maintained a straight face and a stern tone, but what left his mouth were actually words of encouragement. ‘What you did in the bathroom was spectacular. All of that fierceness you exerted, it was so explosive! I can tell you’re going places.’

I was completely at a loss. Wasn’t he badly battered by me that day? And also, I was almost mauled to death in the end.

‘This is your only shot in clearing your name!’ He didn’t explain much, and attempted to convince me with a firm look. ‘Trust me!’ 

Shivers went down my spine. I was captivated by his eyes. My hatred towards him had vanished into thin air all of a sudden.

Ziu Liu led the way in front. He greeted regular customers in a high-profile manner, while quietly introducing me to the casino’s operation. Apart from various gambling equipment and gambles, the casino also provided special entertainment sessions. He stopped suddenly and pointed at a curtain next to him. He warned me not to make a sound, and that I could only peep through the small opening.

Dad… was… eating… scat! He was beaming from ear to ear with a twisted face. Despair slightly spilled out from his flattering eyes.

Ashamed and infuriated, I threw Ziu Siu’s words to the back of my mind, and rushed forward to stop Dad. Ziu Siu covered my mouth just in time and brutally dragged me to the back alley of the casino. He gave me 3 hard slaps across the face, making my head spin and lose my change to fight back. After I had calmed myself down, my heart sank. I didn’t listen to Ziu Siu’s advice and staggered along my way back home.

In the dead of night, I tossed and turned on my bed. It was only when I heard the sound of Dad tiptoeing by the door did I drift off to sleep with tears. In my dream, Dad had been eating faeces with a grin on his face day and night. Then, he excreted countless bills full of stench, which came toppling towards me in piles. The bills then slightly came into contact with my body and turned into puddles of watery excrement, surging towards my notebooks and stationery in my locker… When I awoke from my dream, I couldn’t help but to admit the cruel truth— Dad had been suffering all kinds of humiliation just to bring me up.

Through the slit of the bedroom door, I stole a brief glance at Dad, who was fast asleep, before I left home for school. Ziu Siu was at the school gate waiting for me, and handed me a cigarette. I ignored his gesture. Looking rather snubbed, he put the cigarette between his lips, lit it, and drew puffs of smoke in the air.

‘Your father started working at the casino 3 years ago, and specialised in performing scat-eating. I did some digging. Someone’s parents should have visited the casino and recognised your dad, then…’

‘Then I became the true-to-my-name “Scat Boy”, right?’ I laughed bitterly to tease myself. ‘Why are you telling me all this? Wanna see us father and son performing together?’

‘I wanted to recommend you to the casino’s owner to lead a new performance, taking over the scat-eating show.’ There was no sympathy or empathy among his words.

‘What? To perform piss-drinking?’ I continued to be all smiles.

‘I want you to undergo training to be a boxer in the casino.’ He explained his idea to me seriously. ‘The casino will send boxers to customers of the same level to face off each other in a match. Boxers will secretly follow the owner’s orders to either win or lose the match.’

‘Ta, but I’m not interested in tricking people.’ I didn’t want to be involved with the casino in any way, while secretly thinking about how to convince Dad to quit his job there.

 ‘If there aren’t any new performances, the casino won’t give up on current shows. They’ll keep on forcing your father to…’ He stopped talking when he instantly noticed something wrong about my expression.

‘Just forget it.’ I was already dead inside. The guilt and despair had crushed me alive.

‘Scat Boy! Are you really willing to be a scat boy your whole life?’ Ziu Siu flew off the handle. He was even more emotional than me. He tore my school uniform apart in front of everyone. ‘Your dad raised you in vain! Do you have any dignity in spending his money, eating his food, and wearing the uniform bought by using his money?’

I struggled from his grip, and ripped apart his uniform. I saw his old scars and stopped. At the same time, he softened his menacing expression. 

 ‘Scat Boy… I was once a Scat Boy myself…’ Ziu Siu’s body went flaccid, overflowing with emotions: sorrow, hatred, joy and ferocity.

I finally understood.

‘I’m gonna be the last “Scat Boy”, I promise!’


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