The Tragedy of Ho-chen

By
Chapter 1


Ho-chen lived his whole life without making a difference. He had no wife or children, which was a disgrace to his mother and father. Everyday he worked as a janitor at Hong Kong Public College... His life was passing him by and he had nothing to show for it. He could not enjoy his life, or feel the wind through his hair; mostly because of the thick gel he wore everyday to slick down his hair as was customary for manual laborers at the college. He felt
like he didn’t matter and had no purpose. Ho always dreamed of being a professor. This fate was not for Ho-chen though, he was born into a poor family and because of the constant abuse from his parents he never had the self-esteem to bother applying to college.. He had no friends either, too shy to talk to strangers. The only person that ever even acknowledged his existence was a pretty economics major, he loved her for the smiles she would give him as she passed by. Her brunnette hair would run over her shoulders. I've never seen anything as pretty in my life.


He frequently considered suicide, but then talked himself out of it because he said that if he killed himself, who would smile to the pretty economics student?


It was Monday morning when he got the call. In only a few moments a smart perky sounding lady told him that he was terminated, effective immediately. He had been laid off. Never again could he return to the college. The government was closing it down, the only thing he had left vanished, as if it was never there. He immediately thanked his employer and hung up. Quietly he stood in his apartment; he no longer wanted to live. Ho-chen would kill himself.


Picking up his shoulders and sighing, he walked into his bedroom and looked around. His bedroom was messy, with his dirty clothes and take-out boxes strewn across the green carpet, which had recently turned a hue of brown. Taking a while to remember where he stashed his 44. caliber revolver that he kept for just such an occasion, he reached under his bed and pulled a ball of white clothe out only to put it on his desk. Quickly he unwrapped the ball and pulled out the gun, checking to make sure the barrel was clean. He kept bullets in the chamber so that if he ever had the nerve to finally end his own life it would be quick and without hesitation. Working quicker now, because the actualization of the loss of his job was dawning on him and he was beginning to cry. Steadily he went back to his kitchen, which was just as disorganized as his bedroom with dirty plates stacked in his sink and his one knife and fork on the tile floor; he scanned the plastic windows of his cabinets for his last bottle of wine. Finally finding it, he popped the cork only to find the bottle completely empty. He could not take any more, he fled to his room and grabbed he gun, cocking the revolver he then closed his eyes and braced himself for oblivion.


Ho-chen was weak, too weak to pull the trigger. He sunk onto his bed began to weep. He knew he was pathetic, he knew he was an embarrassment, he knew his faults, but there was more to be done wiht his life.


The next morning he woke up to the sounds of hordes of people yelling in anger and pain. He felt their pain, he was conditioned to it, and he knew it better than any other on Earth. Hesitantly, as if expecting something to attack him from his window, he crept to his balcony that was facing a large park. Inside the park was forest of people with dotted trees and foliage. He scanned the angry crowd for signs of reasons for their dissent. But he didn’t need the hundreds of posters or tens of hopeful songs ringing in the air to see the military surrounding the park. The riot was over the closing of the Hong Kong Public College. He felt a kinship to these people, they had all lost their hopes and dreams as did he. He rushed down the stairs of his apartment building and stopped paralyzed at the front of his apartment's steps. He saw something that brought such a loathing into him that he had never seen before. The pretty economics major was being harassed by a soldier. A hurricane of anger came up in him and from the eye of that storm he flew out. The suddenly monstrance storm charged the soldier and rammed his fists against the soldier's face sending him flying. Immediately the soldier's companion slammed the butt of his rifle against Ho-chen’s mouth, knocking him flat. He was dragged to an older officer who looked nonchalant; he accepted that it was his duty to kill Ho. He showed no emotion, no empathy, like a farmer killing a chicken so that his family can eat; he neither cared nor did he want to care, because frankly it was not his business who his government wanted to kill, he stood Ho up. Ho attempted to fight back, but quickly realized that the handcuffs on his hand prevented any resistance.

Chapter 2

I've lived my whole life without making a difference. No wife or children of my own, mother and father never let me forget how shameful I am. I am my job. I earn close to nothing at the Hong Kong Public college as a maintanence worker. My life is passing me by, and the thick gel that I wear keeps me from enjoying the wind blowing through my hair. I secretly love the heavyly scented gel. Too shy to talk to strangers, I have no friends. The only human contact I have at work is Su-yi. I overheard her name once while cleaning the floor of vomit. Beautiful, young, and intelligent, she is everything I am not. I can't
comprehend why she smiles at me. I cling to those moments she passes by, they are my sustanence, my fuel to keep on living.. I must ask her, I need to. She is always early though, shortly after she arrives the proffesors start to file in. I envy them, their importance fills the air, I suffocate on it. They have their briefcases and grey suits that can barely stem the tide of their egos. This fate of egos and briefcases full of important notes wasn't possible, I
couldn't afford it. I envy those who have dreams, those who have their heads in the stars, I can't remember the last time that I dreamed, I stopped dreaming long ago.
My mother was never a kind person. She would have her moments of kindness, when I least needed it but was harsh whenever I felt the most pain. She had no social skills whatsoever, she would be constantly was self-concious and then revert to being mean. Maybe if I had had siblings she would have moved her
constant attention away from me. She passed all of her fear, doubt, paranoia to me. She is a dagger in my heart that I can't remove. Mother is part of me now, the part that I hate most. She was contantly mad about the wrong things, little things, like a sock on the floor. I remember ninth grade, when I told her that I had a crush on my beautifull math partner Hushi. Mother called Hushi's mother asking her for a playdate. Good thing that I lied to Mother, I liked Cristin. I was getting better at lying, I had to to avoid destruction. For weeks I was chastised by my classmates, I hear their laughter in my sleep. My doubts are spoken in her voice.
I preffered my Father to my Mother. He was never around. When he was around, he was drunk. He mocked me every day with baby voices and faces whenever I wanted to talk about something serious. He is the remnants of a once good man, broken by the dissapointment of his only son having average grades and being un-athletic. He was not shy about telling me I was a shame. I shrugged off his
Forty-three; I am forty-three and have nothing, every year this number grows and becomes harder to swallow, soon I will choke.
Work is my refuge, my home is hell. At work: I clean. I wash. I soak. I feel pain. At home I feel nothing. I must escape. The phone rings, a perky, smart sounding lady is on the other side, "Hello, is this Mr. Chen?" she asks politely.
"Yes, who is speaking?" I ask, hesitantly.
"Yes well, I'm sorry to tell you that your services as maintence worker are no longer needed, the college is closing and therefore you are terminated effective immedietely" she squeeked out quickly, trying to make my unemployment sound like good news. I feel tired, very tired. Out of habit, I thank her and hang up.
I need to die now. I walk casually over to my room. Scoop the wooden box under my bed out and place it on my desk. I am on auto-pilot. Thinking has ceased.

Picking up the gun, I check to see if it is loaded, peeking at my salvation that is nestled in the loader. The haze of shock passes and my cognitive
thinking starts again. Damnit, now I need something to numb my senses. Walking fast to the kitchen, I discover that the last bottle of alcohol is empty, and a shutter runs through my body. I need to die now! I increase my pace again and grab the gun greedily and place the barrel at my ear. In an instant, emotion sweeps through my body taking over. I need to die right now! My right hand shakes with with anticipation of a quick end and fear of pain. There always seemed like there was time to change, time to improve. An image of the pretty economics major laughing appears in my head. My gun has a personality of its own. I will always be fascinated by the power of a bullet. Three muscles on a skinny bone contract on a little curved piece of metal and a person's life is taken away forever. The bang of gundpowder is like the barking of thousands of people killed by another's simple movement.

The gun drops onto the carpet, which is filthy. I collapse and fall crying on my bed. I am awfull. I am evil. I can't even end my own life. Suicide is not going to be my end, but somehow it only seems appropriate that I go into the night with the bang of a gun.



The next moring I wake up uncomfortably. Dried tears on my cheek remind me that I am a coward. Outside, in the city park, oceans of people are camped out. Spray painted cars, screaming women, and the odor of burning rubber tells me this is a violent riot. After walking over to the balcony of my beige apartment building, I see the ocean. Waves of young people rock hazardly through out the park, which was about the size of four city blocks. I felt a brotherhood for these people, they fought for something that I had abandoned. They fought for their future. A quick peek at one of the larger posters gratified what he had already assumed. They were angry about the closing of Hong Kong Public College. Tanks rolled and Chinese flags waved by people who had enough time to worry about politics. I walked down the stairs of my apartment building. I stop dead. I mutter the name of the only person I love, "Su-yi." She was being harrased by a unshaven and dirty soldier, who was obviously drunk. She was only fifteen feet away from me but I felt so close to her. I could feel the soldier's hands on my arm keeping me from escaping. Passion took over. Finally, I felt something. I felt anger. I am the juggernaut. I charged the soldier and shoved my fists awkwardly against his face, hitting him square in the jaw. The even rougher looking soldier next to him quickly ended my assault with a firm swing of the butt of his gun against my mouth. My front teeth shattered and waves of pain rocked through my head, shock set in from the force of the blow. I was dragged to an older and more proffesional looking soldier who ordered that I be stood up. Suddenly caught in a trance I froze, hyptnotied by the sight in front of me.



An older man stands in the middle of the street. The wind in blowing through his hair and he confidently stares forward, as though he is watching his own death from an unimaginable distance away. His clothes are tattered and his mouth is badly beaten. In the background there is chaos, amilitary jeep is stationed in the middle of the road, preventing traffic. He looks as though he doesn’t notice the gun, or maybe he doesn’t want to notice it. He is lost in his own world and the handgun that is only a few inches from his temple can have no effect on him. I'm watching my own public execution.

The wind blew slightly harder, and its coolness embraces and lifts me up. My hair gel has dissapated due to the floods of perspirations. I heard the swing of the officer’s gun and the cock of the firing pin. Time stopped, I'm for once not looking into my past. I feel alive. I've lost my sight but can see
and abyss of blackness ahead of me, the smoky white hand of oblivion grabs me. For the first time I gave a wry little grin. Ho's body dropped to the floor, an empty vessel.





Ho-chen was foolish. He lived his life without passion, and now it is over. A lifetime of passion came out of him in his final moments. His life was taken from him because of his stupidity. His life was empty untill he lost everythin, his pain cured the emptiness he felt inside. But his new fiery passion killed him. He had never had a reason to live, but when he found one, it killed him.





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