Halfling Chapter Seven: Incident

I couldn’t stop thinking about Khit that weekend.  What did he mean when he said he couldn’t tell me just now why my story affected him so much?  Was it really that important?

I spent most of Friday alone, jogging at the beach, walking around downtown La Jolla.  It was a sunny day, but not overly humid or hot with the salty ocean breeze, cool upon my face.  I had originally wanted to be alone to think, to get away from my smothering roommates at home.  They had good intentions, but I just didn’t feel like telling them every little detail of my encounter with Khit.  What he had told me was private…there was something about my story that he didn’t want the rest of the world to know.  That part was obvious the way he had tried to deter me from writing it.  He had been desperate too, or else he would not have chosen such immoral means to stop me.

My mind had been changed about him ever since he had apologized.  He must have had good reasons for what he’d done to me.  If he was truly bad, he could have accused me of cheating on the test, which would have forced me to be dismissed from his class and even suspended from the university.

And he certainly wouldn’t have tried to become my friend, make me laugh by telling me his nickname, save me from that psycho at the party, or apologize for his unfair grading.

I wished I knew what was going through that head of his.

Morning jogs always helped to clear my mind and make me feel more optimistic about life.  I jogged for about an hour until the crowd of beach-goers came and clogged up the shores.  Then it was just a nuisance to jog around all of them and avoid the bouncing volleyballs and screaming, hyper kids.

I made my way to the shops of downtown La Jolla, got some lunch and window shopped a bit, and then headed home.  There were way too many tourists during the summer, and it was no use trying to be alone in tourist territory.  At least there were only three girls at home as opposed to the hundreds in downtown.

Liana was watching TV when I got home.  As soon as I walked through the door, she turned around and sighed.

“I thought you’d never come back.  I’m so bored.”

“Where are Stacy and Nia?  Why didn’t you hang out with them?”

“They were gone by the time I woke up…probably went to the mall without me.”  She pouted.  “I wanted to go too.  They could have woken me up.”

Knowing Liana’s love of sleep, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had tried very unsuccessfully to wake my best friend.  However, I didn’t comment.  “Well, we can go to Fashion Valley if you want,” I suggested.

Her eyes brightened happily at my suggestion.  “Fashion Valley?  Will you drive?”

“All right, let me just take a quick shower.”

Half an hour later, we were speeding down the freeway in my blue Honda Civic.  I was relieved when I finally found a parking spot.  There were so many people, apparently the other half of the population that preferred shopping in Suburbia over surfing at the beach.

“Where should we start?” Liana asked.  Her eyes gleamed greedily at all the store sales signs.  Shopping was probably her favorite pastime, next to sleeping.

Not being a big shopper myself, I just shrugged.  I had come to the mall, not for myself, but just so Liana could have some Friday entertainment.

She didn’t need my help in deciding where to begin after all.  I was already being dragged into the first store in our vicinity.

Liana was lovingly searching through the racks of dresses.  The store did have pretty dresses, I admitted, but they were far too revealing for my taste.  Liana had the perfect model body for dresses—long legs, 34D boobs.

I, on the other hand, did not.  There was no point in wearing a dress that showed a bit of cleavage if one didn’t have cleavage to start.  But the store was also having a buy one, get one half off on their jeans, so I headed on over to try my luck.  One could never have enough jeans, after all.  It saved me from having to do the laundry so often.

We came out of the store, Liana with three bags of clothing, and I, with two pairs of jeans.  Several stores later, it was clear that Liana was not about to stop swiping her poor credit card any time soon, and I was incredibly bored, as there was nothing I desperately needed to buy for myself.

We decided to part ways until Liana had had her fun.  Then she would call me, and we would meet up for dinner.

“Don’t overdraft your credit card,” I warned Liana as we parted.  “You’ve already bought eight bags of stuff, and that’s pushing it, even for you.”

“I know what I’m doing,” she said with a big smile.  Then she waved and happily pranced off to the next store.

Meanwhile, it was off to the bookstore for me.  I happily browsed the shelves of fiction, breathing in the lovely smell of paper and glue mixed with coffee from the coffeehouse next door.  It was the purest, yummiest fragrance to my senses.

After about an hour, I had made a selection of two books on classical mythology and world fairy tales.  I paid for them and then checked my phone when I got outside just to make sure Liana hadn’t called me.

No missed calls.

That meant I had more time to kill, so I ventured over to the candy store.  On my way there, I happened to pass by Tiffany’s, and the glint of sapphires and diamonds caught my eye.  I stopped to admire the display in the window, and then, I happened to glance at the reflection behind me.  A certain familiar professor had just darted past me.

Either Khit hadn’t noticed me, or he thought I hadn’t seen him and planned to jump out from nowhere in an attempt to scare me.  More like the latter.  I whirled around to see where he had gone.

He was nowhere to be seen.  But I’d bet he’d just walked around the corner.  Well, I was onto him.  I jumped around the corner.

“Boo!”

I felt a hand grab my shirt and saw a flash of a hand, raising itself above my head, ready to strike.  Then the hand let go as recognition flashed across Khit’s face.

He cursed.  “Shit!  You scared the hell out of me.  I could have killed you.”

I wondered why he was so jumpy.  Had he really not noticed me?  And if he hadn’t been hiding around the corner to scare me, what was he doing here?

He swore again, the foulness making me wince.  “There’s no time to make you leave.  Just keep quiet and don’t move.”

The intense look on his face stopped me from protesting.  Something was up, and I intended on finding out what.  He had returned his gaze to something that was happening around the corner.  I risked a peek too.

It seemed that he was staring at a harmless, old lady who had just walked out of Tiffany’s.  Man, that old lady was rich.  Diamonds covered her neck, and gold bands decorated her hands.  She was carrying a Tiffany’s bag, which most likely had the most expensive treasure from the store.

The lady put the bag down to adjust her clothes and to arrange her purse more comfortably on her shoulder.

And that was when I saw a burly man dressed in baggy black pants and a hoodie walking from the opposite direction.  He hadn’t caught sight of the lady yet.  I was sure of that because I saw the moment he did lay his eyes on her and her unattended shopping bag.  The rest of the shoppers remained oblivious to what was about to take place, but I knew for sure that Khit was fully aware and had been aware of it before the gangster dude had even considered committing theft.

I didn’t know how, didn’t even have time to question before the gangster moved in for the kill.

And Khit strode out at the same time, intercepting the gangster as if the collision had been an accident.  The old lady, unaware of what could have happened to her, took up her bag and walked away.

I let out the breath that I was unaware I had been holding.

But then I saw a glint of metal that had suddenly appeared in the gangster’s hand.  “Watch out!” I screamed.

Khit spun away, but not before the gangster had attempted to thrust the knife into him.  The gangster missed but continued his attempt.  Khit kept dodging from the thrusts of the knife, and in a move I couldn’t even see, he knocked the knife to the ground and had hit the gangster square on the head.  The thug fell unconscious.

Now the whole mall had awakened, and everyone was in an uproar.

“Call the police!” someone shouted.

I ran to Khit’s side.  “Are you hurt?” I asked desperately.

“No,” he said, but I didn’t believe him.  He was clutching his side with one hand, and his eyes were furrowed with pain.

I gasped.  “The knife cut you!”

“Shh—don’t let anyone know.  It’s just a little cut.”

He lifted away his hand and I gasped, not because the cut was deep, but because I had a glimmer of the blood that had spilled onto his hand.

It was silvery-blue, like liquid mercury.

Everyone else at the moment was so focused on either looking for a security guard or assessing the state of the unconscious man that I was the only one who witnessed the strange color of Khit’s blood.

I blinked, unsure if I had just imagined things.  But Khit had already covered his cut again, so I couldn’t check to be sure.

At this point, a security guard had come over and had started questioning us.  Several people had seen the whole fight and could vouch that Khit had only fought the gangster for self-defense.

“He’s a hero,” a woman said.  “That guy had a knife.  If this man hadn’t fought him off, people could’ve gotten hurt.”

Through the whole questioning process, Khit just smiled and answered the security guard, all the while, hiding his wound from view with his hand.  More police had arrived, and I started answering their questions too.  When they were satisfied and had made sure, to their knowledge, that nobody was hurt, the crowd dispersed.

I made sure that nobody could hear before whispering to Khit.  “We need to get you to the hospital.”

He shook his head.  “No hospital.  I can take care of this myself.”  He cursed.  “I was careless today.  The thief was able to tell that I knew his intentions and probably thought I was going to call the police.  Usually they just run off, but this one was stupid enough to take out a weapon.  It caught me off guard.”

“Usually?  You mean you’ve done this before?  And how did you know that the gangster wanted to rob the old lady before he knew himself?”

He winced as he realized his slip.

“Never mind that now,” I said hastily.  I pointed to his cut.  “You really need to take care of that.”

I heard my name being called and turned my head to see Liana rushing towards me.  “Are you all right?”  She looked me over to make sure I was still whole.

“I’m fine, but he,” I pointed over my shoulder, “needs a doctor.”

She furrowed her brow.  “Who?”

I whirled around.  Khit was gone.

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