Its just one of those regular scenes.
Inside a wide room, where clouds are suspended and other paradoxes secretly happen, Leron took his usual spot. No longer a noob when it comes to this but definitely a first after a very long time.
"Sometimes I just hope they could expand this side of the spa."
Both of them smiled but inside, Leron knew its the queue.
After a series of small talk exchanges, they have decided to go out and spent some time over a couple of bottles; waiting for the day to break. Leron was in the mood of being too generous and offered a ride.
Inside, both of them were silent, still waiting for who will make the first move. Leron decided to put his focus on the road while the passenger was busy checking his phone. The trip going to a destination has always been the most awkward part for Leron. Its a usual scene of no one wants to take the lead; scared of making a mistake that would either lead to a bad impression or ruined everything they've mutually invested. Both were bounded with rule is the lesser, the safer.
Eventually the passenger decided to break the directionless drive.
"Do you want to go to the hotel I am checked in instead?"
Leron abide, relieved that they have already a definite place to go. He taught, he was no longer used to this.
Surprisingly, they parked in front of another hotel, three blocks away from what he thought they were heading. Leron started doubting if it was really the name of the hotel the passenger said. He might be hearing different things already since he has been awake for more than 24 hours, straight from days work. So Leron just convinced himself that its probably part of a common drill.
Bravely, they ventured along piles and piles of dark alleys and forgotten scents until they have reached a makeshift castle, where the forsaken have probably owned it as their paradise.
Leron was caught out of his expectations. Hesitations started pumping in. Leron started to feel an internal struggle to pursue this or not. However, he thought that the act has already been decided and it should be done.
The passenger took the lead as paths of thousand turns reveal like a labrynth of lost souls. Leron thought they could have already done it there but the howls of yesteryear's repressions were too distracting behind those moisten walls.
At the end, they have reached what Leron thought to be a dungeon, a small and humid box that looks like the package box of the bed in the middle. Dismayed, he just wanted it to be done and over with before he loses his determination. But when he was just about to close the door, two men brute fully broke in.
"Did you know that you are with a minor?"
Leron was just too surprised to spur a remark. It was as if words dried out from his throat.
"Did you know that we can file a complaint against you for this?"
Suddenly, images of people he loves started flashing; faces he have kept his secrets from just because he did not want them to get hurt.
"Do you want us to tell this to the authorities or perhaps we can bring this out in the public?"
Familiar voices, similar prejudices, he was convinced he is not yet prepared to face this.
"I can settle this! this is just a simple misunder..."
"P10,000.00 then! pay us P10,000 and we will let this pass!"
"But I do not have that much."
"He is lying," finally the act was revealed, "I saw his wallet inside the car. He pretty much have that amount. If not, he has cards too.'
"Give us your pin number. We (but refering to other guy) will withdraw the amount for you. Just make sure that you are telling us the truth or else."
Leron was now in full remorse. He cannot believe that he was dragged into this scheme. All he could think of was to knocked the heads out of these people. But before he could land his fist to the person nearest to him, the three immediately violently tackled him down. One strongly held both of his arms. The other grabbed his legs while the passenger started pulling his pants off. Leron never felt so helpless.
When the passenger successfully pulled his pants off, he immediately took his wallet, Iphone5 and car keys. Leron told himself, he cannot let this pass. He just cannot forgive himself for letting these people do this to him. In an instant, he heard himself screaming for help. He knew that the other occupants are already aware of whats happening inside.
But suddenly he felt a wide and rough fabric around his neck. The man who was holding his arms before, wrapped a military belt around and started strangling him. Leron immediately held it, convincing himself he cannot die there. He needed to fight back. But the other guy who was previously holding his legs threw strong punches on his chest and face. He was starting to lose count. Everything was beginning to blacken out.
He tried to look for the passenger, thinking of having a last look of the person who dragged him there. Probably thinking, he would look for him on the other side. But the passenger was no longer inside the room, probably headed to his car, where most of his belongings are also in.
But when he was about to accept his fate, the buckle of the belt broke. He never felt so much appreciation to the air that started filling his lungs. He immediately kicked the guy in front while the guy at his back was relooping his belt. Eventually, the owner of the apartelle, along with other faces (Leron can no longer remember), came in and started shouting at the brutes. The two immediately fled.
Still trying to gain his strength, a pants and shirtless Leron tried chasing them--- alone. No one inside dared to go with him. Outside, he saw two shadows running toward the directions of where his car was parked. He shouted--- screamed for help. But again, no one dared to respond.
When he reached the parking space, the picture of his car still there was a relief. He immediately went to it and checked for anything that could clear his suspicions. The car was still locked; his other phone and cardholder were no longer there.
He immediately ran toward the guard of the hotel in front of him, begging to call for police.
"What happened?," the guard on duty asked.
"I got robbed! Call the police!"
"By three men. Please call the police."
"Are they the three guys who pass by here just now."
"Yes! Now, call the cops!"
"But isn't one of them the same guy, you are with when you parked the car in front?"
"Manong, can I just explain it later. Please call the cops!"
"Unfortunately, I don't have their numbers."
It was unbelievable. All he could think of was what he have done to deserve all this. Fortunately, one of the front desk staff, who was silently listening to the conversation, approached them and said,
"The cops are already on their way."
When the cops arrived, Leron was asked with the standard questions. Based from the manner of asking, he felt like they already know what happened. Later on, it was revealed that a similar case happened two weeks ago in the same area.
"So what is the update?"
"We are still investigating it. We have leads but they need to be validated further since the victim refused to give clear statements. Can you tell me how you meet this guy?
Silence. Everything just happened so fast that Leron have not yet prepared himself from these questions. He knows that if he says the truth, this will be put on the police record with his real name on it. What if his parents requested and learned about it? What if this will be used in the court and read while his loved ones are there? What if his loved ones find out?
But if he don't, these guys will still be on the loose and another person may be robbed, beaten or worst dead. Hence, Leron decided to push through the case. Unfortunately, he needed to fabricate some parts of the events just for his secret not to be compromised.
At the end, he is just grateful that he is still alive and praying that no one will endure the same experience he had.
I took the liberty of writing Leron's story to at least expose these existing and growing modus operandi. He might not have told the complete truth to the authorities but at least by sharing his story, a life may be saved.
Currently, Leron is still recovering from the bruises and trauma he have endured. But in general, he is trying to be fine and will definitely take this as a major life lesson.
These scenes are not new to most of us since crime can happen to anyone. We have heard similar stories of people getting killed or robbed out of a supposed to be one night stands and home service massages.
Despite these, I believe that there are still best practices we could observe to avoid such situation. Many may not agree with it but at least for some people I know, these have helped them in mitigating these situations from happening.
· White stalking
Waiting for the fruit to get ripe is sweeter than not waiting at all. For some, they would usually allot a specific time before inviting someone over. This period are usually allotted in doing some due diligence or in layman's term, stalking. Yes, just like lying, there is such term as white stalking. Maximize social media. Check his friends (or your mutual friends). The places he go. The things he does. These enable one to check the identity and profile of a person.
- Dress NEVER for the kill
It is more advisable to go out in low profile. Bring only a simple talk and text phone. If possible, just bring one card, which could finance you all throughout your itinerary. Distribute your money and not just in one pocket or wallet.
- Safer Impressions
More than how you look, conversations usually take the bigger part of the impression pie. Also, for many individuals who are planning something bad against you, it is what you say that confirm whether you are a right target or not. Hence, talk about things that interest you and not what you have inside your closet. Challenge what the other thinks and discuss more about the person more than yourself.
- Private in Public
It is always recommended to do it in a neutral zone. Neutral zones are basically hotels or motels, where it is easier to seek assistance or help just in case an untoward incident happens. It is more advisable not to invite anyone inside your house neither entertain an invitation to go to theirs.
- In the event you only have a smartphone, maximize your mobile apps
There are a lot of mobile apps nowadays that can be put into a more specific but practical use beyond what they are intended to do.
Mobile App Trackers – There are a number of mobile apps that you could use nowadays to at least protect your smart phones. Most of these apps allow you to track your stolen phone. Take a picture of whoever is trying to break in to your account and even remotely wipe out files and data from your device to protect your information. Some of these are the following: iCloud’s Find my Iphone, Samsung’s Locate my Mobile, Cerberus, GotYa!
Cloud storage apps – Intended to store and access same files in different devices, These apps can be later used as a good applications to identify a possible suspect. Just make sure that it is linked with another device. So in the event, someone stole your phone and decided to take a selfie of himself, these mobile apps will automatically upload and share it to the cloud and other devices linked to it.
Social Media Check-ins – Let your friends and families RANDOMLY know where you are, especially if you are going somewhere by yourself. Just in case, this give them good leads.
At the end, I believe that no one can judge anyone because of the decisions s/he makes and the situations s/he subject him/herself into. All of us have our reasons, which many may not understand. However, in each of these situations, we are still responsible for the decisions we make and we ought it to ourselves, our families and love ones to be at the very least safe.