No child is born evil, yet at the same time, no child is born good. The choices we make and the choices that are made for us along the path of life determine who we become. In China, on a warm summer’s night in Guangzhou’s Changzhou Residential District, the locals were enjoying their evening stroll through streets packed with families and food carts. The aroma could be smelt from all around, drawing people of all ages. Although this neighbourhood would be considered friendly and welcoming, there was an ever growing triad incursion, leaving the residents feeling increasingly uneasy. These gang members were not difficult to spot, as they liked to make their presence well known. Outside a fast food noodle bar, sitting around a wooden table on some quaint garden stools, sat four men in black leather jackets and sunglasses. It was clear that their attendance made the restaurant staff feel uncomfortable.
“Old man! Bring us more beef noodles!” yelled one of the men.
Inside the restaurant, a middle aged man scurried to fill some bowls of food. On any other occasion the customers in line for take-away would have complained, but everyone knew that feeding the gangs was a priority in order to keep the peace. The waiter power walked outside, holding a tray of food, and quietly ordering a waitress to clear their table as he placed the next round of food down.
“Here are some chocolates as well gentlemen.” Said the
waiter, an overly happy smile beaming across his face.
“You treat us so well here.” Said one of the gang members as he patted the man on the shoulder.
Slowly the pat turned to a firm grip, and the man gave the waiter a ferocious look.
“Just make sure that doesn’t change.”
With the triad members gaze focused on the waiter, they didn’t seem to notice that a young boy had snuck up to their table and pinched a piece of chocolate, and quietly moved back into the crowd. As the gang members dug into their food, one had noticed that his chocolate treat was no longer beside his plate.
‘I saw the waiter set it down, where did it go?’ he thought to himself.
The man scanned the immediate area, and in the distance, beside a fried chicken cart, he saw a small boy kneeling down and eating his chocolate. Normally, the gang would give a beating to anyone who crossed them, but as the man watched the young boy eat his chocolate, whilst simultaneously stealing a bottle of coca cola from the cart without being noticed, he was only impressed by the young child’s stealthy behaviour. The young boy walked away from the cart, but as he did, the cart worker noticed that one bottle was gone missing. Immediately he drew his attention to the child walking away, as young children were often the prime suspect for small thefts.
“Hey! Thief!” yet the owner of the cart.
The young boy did not hesitate to bolt into the crowds moving down a small side street. He was nimble and agile enough to evade the cart worker in the crowds. But soon those crowds dispersed, and the man began to narrow the distance between him and the child. He shouted after the boy, who was growing ever more worried. Eventually, the chase had led the cart owner and the child down a wealthy residential street. The young child jumped over a small garden wall, hiding in a thick bush. He was as quiet as a mouse as the cart worker looked around the garden. A few seconds later, he moved on, power walking down the street, and the young boy breathed a sigh of relief.
“What are you doing?”
The boy jolted at the unexpected question, causing branches to poke into him all over. He crawled out of the shrubbery on his hands and knees and looked up to see another young boy, roughly his age, wearing freshly pressed blue pyjamas, in complete contrast to the tattered sheets the boy was wearing. The wealthy child examined the boy at his feet, seeing nothing on his possession but a bottle of coke.
“Hey you! Have you seen a scrappy looking kid about here?”
The wealthy boy looked up to see an oily skinned and dirty man waving to him, it was the cart worker. Instinctively the boy understood the situation the other boy was in. Luckily from where he had crawled out of the bushes, the man who was chasing him was unable to see him.
“If you make him go away, I’ll give you some of my coke.”
Whispered the boy.
“He ran back to the city centre” shouted the wealthy boy, pointing in the direction the skyscrapers.
The man made no attempt to thank the boy in the garden before jogging back to the city.
“Thank you! My name is Kong, what’s yours?”
“Chang, can I have some of that now?” replied the wealthy child.
Kong opened the bottle for him and handed it up to Chang, who quickly took a swig of the sweet drink. Kong stood to his feet, brushing off some twigs from his hair, he looked and Chang, feeling both sadness and envy, this boy clearly lived a life of luxury. Although any form of living was better than what Kong experienced daily. Kong lived on the streets, under bridges, and in abandoned buildings, basically anywhere he could find with a roof over his head.
“Where do you live?” asked Chang.
Kong wasn’t sure how to answer that, after all he lived wherever he could.
“I don’t have a house if that’s what you mean.”
“You’re homeless.” Stated Chang
“Ok, stay here.” Said Chang walking into his house.
Kong stayed exactly where he was told to, hoping that Chang would bring him food or a blanket, or at least something. Ten minutes passed before Kong heard the gate to the front garden open. He looked round to see two police officers entering and walking towards him. Kong was cold and tired, too weak to run away anymore.
“You boy, come with us.” Ordered one of the officers.
Kong reluctantly stood to his feet and followed one of the officers to a police car across the road. The other officer walked to the front door of the house and rang the bell. As Kong was placed in the back seat, the front door opened, and a young couple appeared. Kong couldn’t make out what exactly was said, but he had a good enough idea. He sat peering out of the window at the street of extravagant homes and felt nothing but jealousy, but then, seeing the couple talk to the officers and point at him like he was some sort of animal in a cage, his jealousy turned to anger.
‘How is it that these children have so much yet I have nothing?’ he thought to himself.
Kong then saw a light come from the side door of the house, a few seconds later the young boy stepped out and snuck towards him, avoiding the attention of his parents by sneaking around some shrubbery and hopping over the fence. Chang ran over to the car window, and for a moment Kong thought that maybe the boy was going to help him. That idea faded when the boy stuck his tongue out and started pulling faces.
“Why did you tell on me? What did I do to you?” yelled Kong,
trying his best to appear resilient, but unable to contain the tears that were
forming in his eyes.
“Because you’re dirty! Homeless people don’t do anything good for China! My parents said things would be better if we just got rid of all of you!” said Chang.
Kang started crying, he hit the window of the car and yelled at Chang. This alerted Chang’s parents who called out to him. Chang looked round, seeing his parents run towards him, knowing he would be dragged away momentarily. He looked back to Kong and glared at him.
“When I’m President, I’m going to get rid of you all.”
Kong was both terrified and distraught by what Chang was saying.
‘I guess no one cares about me.’ He thought.
Chang’s parents urged him away from the car, as if he was getting too close to a rabid dog. The officers bid farewell to the couple and their son and got into the car. Kong looked back at Chang, now feeling pure hatred for him.
“What do we do with this one?” asked one of the officers.
“Let’s just dump him back onto the street in town.” Replied his partner.
“Sir, I don’t have anywhere to go, please don’t leave me on the street.”
The officers looked back at Kang, who sat looking at them with puppy dog eyes. There was a moment of quiet as Kang prayed for mercy. Followed immediately by hysterical laughter from the officers.
“You and all the other scum out there, kid.”
Kong sighed and fell back in his seat.
‘Not even the government care about people like me.’ He thought.
Kong had been alone for around three years by this point in his life, he had become separated from his parents while walking through a busy street market and being so young, he couldn’t remember his street address, or the directions to his neighbourhood. No one, not even the police seemed interested in helping him get home. Now, as Kong watched as each building passing by became more and more derelict, the streets became dirtier and dirtier, and the stench of filth began to fill the air. Kong clenched his fists, wanting to hit and punch anything he could to release his anger. He was so focused on his thought that he jumped in his seat when the door opened and one of the officers yelled at him to get out. When Kong exited the car he looked around, recognising the street immediately, he has actually slept here a few times in the past.
“Hey, don’t go near that house again… or else!” said one of the officers as he got back into the squad car.
Kong ignored the man and carried on walking down the street, trying to decide which spot would be the best to sleep on tonight.
Kong turned to see a man in a suit and sunglasses towering over him.
“You stole my treat earlier didn’t you.” Said the stranger,
wagging his finger in Kong’s face
“No I didn’t.” replied Kong quickly.
The man laughed, “I know you did, I saw you eating it, that was impressive though. Not many can sneak up on me and steal something from under my nose.”
Kong wasn’t sure how to respond, instead he turned slowly and began to walk away.
“Hey, if you work for me, I’ll give you a place to sleep and a hot dinner.”
Kong stopped at turned back, immediately wanting to accept this oddly generous offer.
“Why would you want me to work for you.” He asked.
The man smiled and got down on one knee, “Because I can spot potential a mile away, and I see it in you, kid.”
“Potential to be a gang member?”
The man was taken back by Kong’s response, it wasn’t that being in a gang was a huge secret, more the fact that this child didn’t seem to care about how he addressed him.
“Well if the government isn’t going to help people like us,
then we need to help ourselves.” The man placed his hand on Kong’s shoulder, “I
want you to remember this one thing, we are bad people, and we do bad things,
and one day it will be for a good reason.”
“What reason?” asked Kong, now intrigued.
The man smiled happily, “To be on top.”
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