Off Shift

•January 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Off Shift
By Hermie Gianan

I wonder now why I thought of you,
As you make your way to the floor,
To take calls as I seat here on my post.
We just had our dinner,
Now we’ll wait for our shifts to be over.
Im not gonna see you,
Coz I know I’ll see you,
Oh wait, you still have your last break.

Come on, let’s have a smoke,
Let’s go down the stairs,
Take an elevator and scare ourselves from 6th to the 2nd.
Oh shoot, We’re hungry again.

Now we’re out,
We’ll seat on a couch.
We have this moment,
Lay your head on my lap.
How was your day?
This is my day.
I’m tired but you took my stress away.

Get up, its time to sleep,
I know it sucks,
Coz I’ll be sleeping of you
In the dark room full of
friends that snore
And I’ll jamming with them in a moment.

Come on, let’s have a smoke,
Let’s go down the stairs,
Take an elevator and scare ourselves from 6th to the 2nd.
Oh shoot, We’re hungry again.

The Visit

•December 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 The Visit

November 1, unknown year,

Thin gray clouds were building up covering a portion of the moon which sat on the north-western part of the starry sky.  There was a gust of wind a moment ago but only lasted for a minute, enough to neutralize the warm atmosphere.  Alley II was blanketed with dimness that every house had candles rested outside their doorstep and gas lamps inside.

     On the small front yard, Rysen was sitting on a wooden bench facing the stairs heading up to the second floor where the owners –two eighty-year old couples –were staying.  There was not much to do if there was no electricity and Rysen was just waiting the night out.  However, that was not the only reason.

     Suddenly, Lexor Gidlan stepped out of their living room door and said, “I had to stop it, I’m getting goose bumps.”

     But Rysen could not see a trace of terror in his father’s eyes.

     Rysen stood and peered through the door.  It was a bit dark inside, bathed in faint light from the candles placed on the wooden dining table.  Six low-backed chairs were set around it.  The candles, fore-finger thick and a foot long, each stood on a saucer, two paces apart.  Six small plates were in front of each chairs around the table which he recalled were full of “bico” –a provincial delicacy, chocolate-colored sweetened rice –but now all plates were half-emptied as though someone consumed them.

     Rysen knew better.  He did not feel scared and for a minute he was strangely amazed.

The night before, right after dinner around quarter past seven, their family gathered on their small living room and as always, his father would love to tell old stories about him in his younger days.  Only that night with a different mood, all shadows that surrounded them, it was a different tale.

      Rysen’s oldest brother, Fredrick was standing outside their living room doorstep, puffing silver smoke against the darkness.  His older brother, Nelgh was still sitting in front of the table masticating a banana.  Their mother and father huddled together in the couch and the youngest of all, Jel seated between them.  Rysen was rested on a stool leaning his back on the wall of his parent’s bedroom.

     All of them seemed a silhouette in the dim.  The flickering flame of the candles threw lights to outline everyone’s faces.

     It had been six weeks that their country were having controversial crisis in electricity.  The power had been coming and going.  MERALCO seemed to be having a shortage, though Rysen was not sure how that happened, he hardly watched the news or even cared about those things that somewhat related to political stuff.  He just knew that the government devised a schedule for temporary sharing of electricity in Metro Manila.

Pandacan was a town which shouldered the brown wateredPasigRiver, where the Gidlans had been renting in a rail-road side.  It was a squatter’s area with three barangays crowding in ever since Rysen stepped into his freshman year. And their town would have to wait until Monday for their power.

     “I remember what your grandma used to do back then, every first of November,” Mister Lexor blurted out with a voice that was so sharp somewhere between a stifled scream and a flat base note that he earned the pet name “wangmouth” –sound of siren –from his colleagues.

     So it has begun Rysen thought.  Because of the ambiance, he knew it would something like a scary story but still extracted from the old days of his father. Besides, it had been in the culture or an occasional thing to many people whenever the lights went out and whatever the situation, in school, house or in a beach, everybody would gather together below the roof of darkness and horror stories would always come out as the top most interesting subject, a topic that interested groups of teenagers, reunion of old folks and in a family little casual chat.

     “She would cook “bico” on a big pot and served it on our table for dinner except the preparation was not for us.” Rysen’s father grinned.  “She said it was like an offering to the souls wandering when All Souls Days comes.”

     One of the traditional beliefs passed on every generation way back to the times the country had been colonized by the Spaniards was this holiday that Rysen reckoned appeared in distinct forms to various countries, like All Souls Day here in the Philippines whereas Halloween in the United States.  There, they do trick or treat; here, every house would set candles outside the doorsteps to show respect to the wandering spirits.

     Rysen and his brothers never met their father’s parents.  They died even before Lexor met their mother inManila.  But their grand parents lived up to the stories of their father.

     Nobody spoke or made any comments but Rysen was sure everyone was listening and waiting.

     “I could not recall how often she did it,” his father continued, “but as far as I could remember it was really every first night of November and same thing happened.  She made used of all our plates, filled it with “bico” and positioned it around the table then she would asked us –me, your aunts and uncles –to leave the house. Of course, in those many times she had done it; we already knew what had happened.

     “When everybody’s outside and only your grandma is in our thatched house, she stands facing our old oak table with gas lamps on top of it and the food placed in front of each eleven chairs.”

     “Then she starts to pray.  It was a prayer not to God like giving praise or asking forgiveness or anything, but a prayer summoning all the souls, as if inviting them to dine in our house.  She never told us what exactly she was saying. I suspected its something like a ritual.”

     “Then, after a moment, a cold breeze would abruptly swirl inside our house, coming from all directions; breathing through the windows, wheezing through the slits of our bamboo floor and from the holes of all the corners of the walls.”

“We felt that too as we stands outside but it was not a very strong wind that would ruffle you hair.  It never touches the fire on the gas lamps, your grandma says though it can be felt.  She said the wind was not a wind.”

     “Of course it wasn’t,” Rysen’s mother interceded, he thought earlier she was too engross in folding their dried clothes, as though she heard this story several times and no longer cared, apparently she was listening too.

     “Then what was it mom?” asked Jel, wide-eyed and Rysen could see the white sockets of his brother’s eyes as he looked up to his mother.

     “Spirits son, those who were roaming around,” Lexor answered.  Jel was only seven, ostensibly he was already frightened.  He shifted to his seat, drew his legs up on the couch and his father put an arm around Jel then continued his tale.

     “Your grandma said, a few minutes after the wind gushed, the bico in all the plates starts to lessen or rather, portion begins disappearing as though it was being scooped and eaten in the thin air.”

     “She did not actually see a food on a particular plate being consumed. There was eleven plates, remember? If she looked at the one on the head of the table and the food there was not touched then she would checked the plate on one side and when she gazed backed to the previous, there was already a slice on the “bico”.  It was impossible to take it all in one look.”

     The atmosphere was humid; it was not a kind night.  Rysen felt a sudden chill and the hair in his arms prickled.  Fredrick was now sitting on the wooden bench, leaning his shoulder on the column, scanning the sky.  Nelgh edged his chair closer to Rysen and Jel squeezed even more inside his father’s arm.

     Their father was just smiling.  Their mother got off the couch holding the folded clothes then she went to our closet.  It was believed by some that when people get older they tend to regain some characteristics of a child but apparently being afraid of such scary stories was not one of them.

     “Your grandma believed that on the nightfall of All Souls Day, spirits of the dead walks around with us again, even visiting their loved ones no matter where they were,” said Rysen’s father.  “So she said it was possible that your grandpa would drop by once in a year to check on us along with your great-great grandfather and my late sister who died of ovarian cancer.”

     Rysen wasn’t sure, but the eerie feeling had gone and he saw the little tense in his brothers changed.

     “And I think I’m going to try to do it tomorrow,” said Lexor.  Fredrick shook his head, understood that their father’s story-telling was finished, he walked on the front yard and stepped out of the waist-high small gate.  Rysen knew his brother would go to their cousins for a night chat.  Nelgh stood and went to the kitchen but Jel remained under their father’s arm as if it was his safe zone.

     Rysen stared at his father.  Lexor was smiling brightly which showed a map of excitement and trace of pride.

That bit of exhilaration had gone from Mister Gidlan when he ambled out of the living room door this night of November one, holding the match with both hands as he said, “I noticed after a while, every minute or moment, I don’t know.  I-I just saw the plates no longer full.”  He sat slowly on the bench.  His father wore a weak smile. It was weak but triumphant.

     Rysen knew his father was glad he had done it, no matter how astounded he was. It’s a self-fulfillment for his old man to do his grandma used to do decades ago.  He did not know what to say to his father, he just sat back on the bench when his mother trudged in the gate.

     “Rysen? Why are you still here?’

     “Why?” asked Rysen.

     “You’re sleeping there in your Aunt Visma’s, aren’t you?”

     “Oh. Yeah”

     “Jel’s there,” said his mother and went under the stairs into the kitchen door.

Every night since the power outage, Rysen and his younger brother would go to Alley I, few blocks from their house to their mother’s sister just to sleep over.  Rysen had no idea how in earth people in that area somehow able to dig up electricity, although it was not the regular energy but enough to power up a few lights and a fan.  But one thing was sure, it was not legal, perhaps people living in this type of neighborhood managed to find ways when necessity called for it.

     Rysen quickly changed to a more comfortable sleeveless shirt then went to his aunt’s house and he totally forgot about the half-emptied plates.

When his third son left, Lexor Gidlan padded back inside their house, his eyes landed on the table and it seemed no one or nothing any more touched the plates.  He could not know what made him to do something like this –feeding the souls –which he never done before.  He just believed if his mother was able to do it, he can do it too; her oldest, mister-fix-it and I–can-do-it-all son.  Now, he felt fulfilled, however, no clear explanations why. Maybe he already fed his pride, that’s why. His lips twisted into smile.

     “Are you done with this?”

Lexor gave a start and he realized he was standing in front of the table at the back of the head chair.  He did not quite remember he even stepped near it.

     “Lex?” asked his wife, Rhodila who stood on the other side.

     “Yeah, I’m done.”

His wife started picking up some of the plates and brought it to the kitchen.  Lexor helped Rhodila to clean the table.

     “What are we going to do with these?” asked his wife standing in front of the sink.

     “With what?’ Lexor blew one of the candles and took one to the kitchen.

     “Left-overs of your ‘bico’.”

     “Put it in a plastic bag and throw it in the garbage,” he said placing the candle beside the sink.  Rhodila fished a disposal bag on the overhead cabinet.

     “You saw Fredrick in Alley I?” asked Lexor.

     “With his cousins as usual. He said he’ll stay up late.” said Rhodila.

     “Where’s Nelgh?”

     “He’d stay over Keanan’s for two nights, they have a choir practice.” said Rhodila, “So you can lock that door, Fredrick knows he’ll just use the living room door.”

They were just renting the first floor and it was a small place but who would have thought it had two doors and two bed rooms.  Everything seemed squeezed in together.

     The kitchen door was made of old wood; its two hinges were covered with rust and got no spring and a knob.  As Lexor pulled it closed, it creaked like a sound of struggling steal as it slid along the wood.  Lexor flattened the door and hooked the first lock – a three-inch rustic nail tied to a column that went through a bended nail fixed on the side of the door.  Then he sheltered the Yale padlock below it.  Even it’s already closed there were long vertical holes on the sides that moonlight cast a thin silver beam through their kitchen.

With Rhodila done with the dishes, Lexor picked up the candle and they went to the living room.  His wife stepped inside their bedroom and he placed the candle on the table.

     Adjacent to their room was the living room door, the main door.  The more secured door which was made of thick and strong new wood that had a door knob and fitted perfectly against its column as Lexor pulled it closed.  Not even a wind can perforate through it.  He did not lock it knowing Fredrick would be arriving later, and then he blew the candle and went inside their room and lied next to Rhodila.

Lexor Gidlan had a dreamless sleep that night that he didn’t noticed his first son slipped in an hour after midnight.  And the next day he totally forgot what he did.

Until the next twelve hours.

November 2, unknown year.

The night was warm and no wind tarried even for a while.  The moon was nowhere to be seen from the slice of the sky through the almost-touching corrugated roofs of houses but its dim silver light masked the crisscrossing narrow streets of Alley Two that didn’t spare the small vacant space of the front yard.

The front neighbors were already closed. One or two people would pass every half an hour or two.  Everything seemed peaceful.

     Out of the corner, Fredrick appeared and trotted into the gate.  His was early tonight.

      “Have you checked your brothers there?” asked Lexor who was standing on the front yard.

     “Yes father.  Both were on the bed when I left,” said Fredrick and went under the stairs heading to the kitchen.

     “That door is already locked down son.”

     “Oh,” he said and spun on his heels to take another direction.

     He waited for Fred to come in the living room; he followed and shut the door behind him.  The gloominess inside the house engulfed them soaked only by a weak light of candle which stood in the middle of the table.

His wife Rhodila was lying on their bed when he got inside their room, her back to the door.  Lexor sat and swung his legs slowly over the bed.  He did not want to disturbed his wife if she’s already far somewhere, catching up a dream.

     The candle on the table was thumb tall, it’s melted cold wax was all over the saucer where it stood as Fredrick crossed by it. He pulled his shirt off and threw it in their brothers shared room in front of the dining table, next to their parents.  He picked up the saucer by its lip then he trudged to the kitchen.

     After Fredrick brushed his teeth and washed his face he went back to the living room, placed the candle on the table and blew its flame off.

     Then darkness swallowed up the whole house.

     He stretched out his hands and felt the wall of their room, just two steps in front of the table.  As he went in, his eyes had adjusted to the darkness.  The room had a double decked bed and a meter space, providing a small area for changing.

      Fred ducked his head and crawled into his bed.  He looked at his watch which had a glow-in-the-dark hands, it was quarter before twelve midnight.  He unlatched it and inserted the watch under his head pillow.  He kicked his blanket aside which was of no use for this damn black out, the air seemed warm and torpid.

     He turned into a fetal position and closed his eyes.

After Lexor heard his son padded inside his room, the silence was deafening as the warmth cling with the shadows like paint to a canvass.  He stifled a yawn.  He could feel the deep breathing of his wife who was still on the same position.  Lexor rolled to his sides facing the back of Rhodila.  He stifled another yawn as his eyes grew heavy.  He felt tired for no reason at all and he just wanted to sleep.  For a moment, his thought lingered to some things, when will they have electricity?  What was the Philippine government doing anything to resolve the issue? He hoped his two younger kids; Rysen and Jel were sleeping tightly.  Thoughts that lined up until his mind abased below the threshold of consciousness.

Lexor awoke with a start.  He did not know how long he had been sleeping but he knew it was still in the middle of the night.  He felt something must have awakened him. He turned to lay on his back and tried to closed his eyes again to go back to sleep when heard a knock on their living room door.  It was a slow steady tap.  Tok..tok..tok..

     Lexor shifted, facing the door of their bedroom, only covered with thin yellow curtain which was hanging steady.  His eyes were adjusted to the darkness but even he stared through the curtain, he could not make out the outline of the living room door.

      He remembered Nelgh said to his mother, he would spend two nights over his friend’s house and if it was Nelgh, his son would call out for them.  But then, that three knocks, there was something unsettling about it. A normal knock by a person would be fast and impatient not the kind that he heard which there seemed to have a breath intake in between.  Except if the one who did it was a very old man.  The sound was dull and old.  It was calm with an odd resonance.  A word flounced through Lexor’s mind that defined that tap.  Dead.  The sound was dead.

     Then there it was again, three sluggish, aged knocks, as if taking all the time in the world, Tok..tok..tok…

     He felt his wife budged from his back.  Lexor raised his head a bit from the pillow.      Something’s not right.

     “Dad, who do you think it is?” said his wife in a low voice, more than a whisper.  He thought Rhodila had been awaken by the first set of knock that her voice was controlled and focused.

     “I don’t know,” he answered his own question from his mind but the right question that was clutching desperately on the back of his head, what was it?

Fredrick was lying flat on his back.  He felt his body stiffened.  He could not afford to make any sound.

     When he heard the second set of beat on their living room door, he could not believe it was that sound that woke him up.  It wasn’t loud but something about it would definitely grab anyone out of his dreams.  He could not move, all he could do was wait.  He felt it was not yet over.  His parents must have heard it too; they were closer to that door.  Yes, they were closer and he was not the only one awake right now.  He’s not alone under the dark waiting.

Lexor Gidlan waited and tried to listen.  He had no idea if Fredrick was awake or doing the same thing.  There was no movement from upstairs.  It was possible the old couple did not hear it.  They might be too old not to hear it or maybe, just maybe they were doing the same thing.  Waiting.

It took about two minutes then there was a lifeless silence, quieter than earlier before midnight.  Rhodila shifted closely to Lexor as he leaned his head back to his pillow.    Abruptly, there was a loud thumping that made them jerked up from the bed at the same time. Tag…tag…tag…tag…

It did not come from the living room door.  It came from the kitchen door.  What the fuck?

     Fredrick’s iciness was immediately broken when he heard the loud thudding in the kitchen door.  Shit!  Now it’s closer to you! He did not know what to do.  Should he stand and go quickly to his parents?  And together with his father, they would be a team if it was a burglar who was trying to break in.  It had crossed his mind but who in the right mind would dare to rob the house – if it was really a robbery – of the family who belong to one of the largest clan living in Alley One and Two?  They knew everyone in the neighborhood, surely no one would even try, aside from the fact that Gidlans were not that rich.  Who would it be then?

      Cautiously, Lexor fumbled blindly for his toolbox under the bed.  After a moment of rummaging through, his hand felt a familiar hard handle then pulled it up.  It was a mallet with a two-foot long solid wood handle and a head made up of rock-hard iron he used in mechanics.  If someone was trying to break-in, he would let them taste it.    Although he had doubts that someone would burgle this house.

     The thumping on the kitchen door continued whoever or whatever making that noise did not seem to care he or it was being heard.

     Lexor held the mallet firmly with both hands, stood by the wood column of their bedroom.  He moved the curtain by is head as he examined through the dimness, to the kitchen with his natural night vision.

     Then he felt a cold hand on his shoulder.

     While Lexor was too much focus and his mind was occupied with many vague things he did notice Rhodila got up from the bed.

“Dad, wait,” she said.

“What?” he said, still looking as if is eyes would pierce through the fridge that blocked the view to the kitchen door.  He was not sure what he could do, his heart was pounding against his chest, and he could not feel any air at all as though the air itself was afraid to make any movements.

“I think we should..,” his wife was about to say when the thumping stopped.

Lexor was about to relax his muscles that went glacial but it was only a blink of an eye then the hasty silence was followed by a thunderous disturbing sound.

It was no longer pounding.  The kitchen door was being shaken.

DAG!… DAG!..DAG!..DAG!…

Rhodila’s gasped was drowned from it and her hand tightened on Lexor’s shoulder, her long nails digging on his skin.  It hurt badly but he could not seem to scream as though his tongue rolled to the back of his throat and he felt the hair on his arms stood straight.

     His body stood frozen, now he was staring blankly to the kitchen after a while barely aware the trembling hand of his wife.

     Fredrick jolted up from his bed brought by the shock when the quaking of the kitchen door began.  Definitely it was not a thug, unless he was too dumb and stupid to make that so much noise that the whole neighborhood would hear, he thought funny for a moment.

     Then the shaking grew stronger as though something large and very angry was trying to get in.  DAG!… DAG!..DAG!..DAG!…

     Shit! Shit! Fucking Shit! Fredrick hastily fumbled for his blanket he kicked aside earlier because of the warmth, trying to pull it by his feet.  Closing his eyes he reached for it and pulled it wide open on top of him.  He went under the thin blanket –colored gray by the murkiness–the other end he locked it with his feet then pulled the other end over his head, covering his whole body with it.  Fuck the heat!

The shaking went more loudly as he held to his blanket tightly;  his grip tighten on on the blanket and both feet were stepping horizontally on the other edge, avoiding his feet to stick out.

     The door was quaking madly.  Someone or something must be really upset.  Lexor shrugged off his shoulder and Rhodila released her hand then he stepped out of their bedroom.  He’s head of the family and he knew that he’s the one who must face this.

“L-Lex,” said Rhodila behind her with a very nervous and controlled voice but he ignored her.  He held the mallet up with both hands like a baseball bat as he slowly walk passing the table.  He threw a glance on his sons’ bedroom.  On the lower deck Fredrick was lying straight on his back, whole body covered with blanket like a frightened child.

     He felt Rhodila stepped behind him as the beating on the kitchen door continued.

DAG!… DAG!..DAG!..DAG!…The whole neighborhood must be hearing this.  They should be.  Then he remembered something, with that kind of shaking, the old hinges should have given up or broken already but he hoped the padlock would hold on to it.

     Lexor padded to the kitchen door, Rhodila did not follow.  The kitchen door was shaking like a possessed body of a woman in that Exorcist movie.  It was struggling and fighting as if challenging whatever was outside.

Suddenly, as swiftly as it started, the shaking ceased.

Seconds passed sluggishly.  It turned to minutes.  Silence once again was waiting along with them.  What’s next?

     Lexor calculated hesitantly.  Confused, he looked back at his wife.  He could not see the expression of Rhodila’s face but she was holding the table as if supporting herself like there was an earthquake.  Then he saw she shook her head signaling, no.

As the rightful dweller of the house, he thought he should check. Lexor paced closer to the kitchen door and waited again, banking on time.

     After about a minute, he held the mallet with his right hand and unhooked the first lock slowly with his left.  He fished the key on top of the fridge without taking his eyes off the door.  The door looked okay to him.  The hinges were still attached.  He could not quite believe that a moment ago it was like being shaken by a wrestler.

He inserted the key on the Yale and it clicked as the lock released.

      I’m too old for this. He held on to the mallet as if his life depended on it, he could feel sweat beneath his closed numb palm on the handle.

     He breathed deeply, took a step to the left side allowing a space and he raised the tool as he pushed the door ajar.  Thin pale gray light fell inside.  Lexor looked furtively through the slit.  It was pale dark outside, flooded by the moonlight.

     He listened.  Nothing.  There was no movement outside.  He just heard a low gust of strong wind and he found it strange.

     Here we go. Lex pushed the door.  It creaked loud enough for the night’s silence as it swung opened.  Nothing on the doorstep, he ambled to the doorway lowering his mallet a little and almost stumbled back, his only weapon slipped from his hands on what he saw on the front yard.

     Their gate was widely open and before it stood an overly hefty dog. Its thick fur was all black; darker than shadow and its tail was standing straight up.  The black dog on its four great legs, stood higher than his waist.

     It was facing the gate and Lex thought it was about to leave that it was caught in surprise as if it felt the gaze of him.

     The Gidlans had been in Pandacan for ten years, Lex knew every people from every block and alley.  Not all by their names though, but by faces.  He was even one witness to all the changes if someone leaved or just moved in.  They knew all the stray cats going to every house for food, all the roosters in the cages of those avid for cock fights and he was sure as hell he could pin point whose dog was on the street dropping their shits every single morning when he get to work.

     This dog now standing on their front yard was something he had never seen unless it came from another town, traveled a long packed road and picked  their house to barge in and made fun with the people in it by waking and scaring them to death.

     Well, it was utterly ridiculous.

     The huge black dog was not moving, still facing the gate, Lexor bent slowly and not taking his eyes off the dog.  If he could reached for his mallet maybe…

Suddenly the dog’s head moved.  It fucking moved! It unhurriedly shifted its head then looked back at Lexor. He froze, managed to get the mallet and slowly Lexor straightened to his feet.

     He did not know for how long, the black dog was just staring at him with its black pupils, yellow irises and white sclera’s which appeared to be the only different color on its entire body.

     It just looked at his eyes with its blank dead gaze and Lexor held his eyes trying not to show his fear, not allowing the dog to see any sign of weakness.

     Then the dog turned leisurely and stepped out of their gate.  Seconds later, another strong cold wind gushed below the roofs.  Lexor quivered

      He did not bother to follow the dog or check where it’s headed.  He was afraid he might see a different thing.

     Yes, it was wise just to stay.  Lexor let out a long breath he realized he was holding.  His muscles relaxed that a moment ago seemed to be contracting from absurd terror and he noticed he was sweating all over but proud to no one he did not wet his pants.

     Lexor did not or was not able to sleep for the rest of the night.  Instead kept thinking and terrified that something else might happen.

Thank God nothing occurred till the dawn unfurled.  But until that morning, questions were itching on the back of his head.  What was that all about?   Of all people, why them, simple, quiet Gidlans? Was it coincidence that it happened the day after “All Souls Day?”

     The next day, November 3rd, he asked the old couple from upstairs and their neighbors if they heard anything last night.  Nothing they said, of course as he expected.

     Their electricity came back after dusk, fluorescent lights lit on in all houses that showered mix brightness on the narrow streets of Alley Two.

     Lexor told the story to his sons –save his oldest son –over their dinner that left his youngest son’s mouth hanging opened and Nelgh eyes widened with disbelief and Rysen wearing a masked expression.

     “It was scary man, I swear to you,” said Fredrick.

     “And it turned out only to be a dog?” asked Nelgh.

     “A dog not from around here.” Jel remarked.  “Isn’t that right father?”

     “That’s right son,” Lexor agreed, sitting at the head of the table.

     “Do you think it had something to do what you did the other night, on the first of November?” asked Rysen.

     The four brothers looked to their father at the same time, even Rhodila who just went back from the kitchen holding a refilled big plate of rice.  Lexor was munching his food in his mouth, lifted his glass of water, took a zip on it to chase it down, then he said, “No, I don’t think so.”

     That was a lie.

     As he lay on their bed, giving all his effort to get some sleep but Lexor was having a hard time.  He had never considered it, not until Rysen asked that question.  The serving of food the night of November first was somehow related to the odd incident the following night, but he still could not quite figured out what was that all about.

Then it struck him like a whisper of wind blowing off the flame of candle.

     During the time of his late mother, before serving the dinner, she would say a prayer.  Was it a prayer or a ritual or something between those two that everyone should learn before doing it, inviting souls over? Was it necessary?

He was not sure. Because as for Lexor, he just invented some phrases like, “Souls of the night, I invite you to dine in our most humble house,” something like that.  What an idot!

     Before his eyes dropped to sleep, Lexor said a little prayer, not to the wandering souls but to God in heaven asking to protect their house and swore through his lifetime he would not again ask any spirits to their house.

It’s just that he did not want any more unexpected visit.

NIGHT SMOKE AND COFFEE

•March 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Unlit cigar pressed between my lips,
A cup in one hand, the other heaved the backdoor opened;
I stepped into moon-casted yard.
Catch stars above faintly glowing.

Pulled a low plastic chair,
I sat, set the coffee cup down;
Fished the small, black lighter,
Stroke the flame as I drag.

Tip of the stick burned, fiery red,
Lifted my chin and blew,
Thick silver smoke brushed the quiet air.
Then desperation spilled,
But it never drained out.

Pick the cup, took a sip,
Took a puff, felt the smoke sank deep.
Drink, puff, sip, drag;
As though compunction would be clenched.

Instead, felt my throat coiled,
Coughed and spat on the ground.
Damn cigarette, I hate smoking,
This is my last stick, I would quit.

But tomorrow, if I know better,
As time crawled to midnight,
Would pour a hot black coffee,
Light one more cigar and smoke through the night.

When Beginning Meets the End

•April 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

sunsetproposal

Has anyone of you ever felt despondency? Utter bleakness? Has anyone of you sat under the obscurity and known, deep in your soul, heart that it was never ever going to get better? That something had been lost forever and it wasn’t coming back. That a little hole had been hollowed out inside of me that wasn’t ever going to be filled again.
When I pointed this pen into this piece of paper, I knew later on I would come up with a laconic conclusive sentence. I knew when I began to peruse the prologue, foreword or introduction of some novels written by best-selling authors across the ocean which piqued my interest that soon enough I would reach its epilogue or great ending.
Like when I started to pluck the first note of a melody whether of impetuous heart beats or slow, I’m sure I would hit the last riff or its fade-out tune.
Every leave-taking, no matter how far, regardless of any impediment, has its own destination.
Every problem, after brain-storming, isolation and deduction would arrive to a winding up and decisive solution. For every cause serve its purpose.
All stage plays in a theater would be welcome warmly as it commenced and be showered by a thundering applause as the wide curtain fall.
On the first light, dawn starts to unfold and it cease by nightfall when the new face of dusk awakens.
Every new beginning travels through the labyrinth conduit of time and not before long would reach its finality. Or in another angle, Beginning is when the eyes in the face of Time unclosed, awareness and realization come on top of its vision but then meeting its ending when it shut its eyes refusing to gaze anymore but rather felt acceptance within, knowing that there’s nothing else to do or there’s no more choice to take.
Every start has to finish and each beginning in some of the things I could think of would meet their end, I’m sure of that. For myself, however, one thing I’m not certain how it will achieve its closing stages. Would anyone of you be in no doubt if all you ever felt is barrenness or emptiness?
Where our old love would lead to? I don’t know. I started it, created a beginning for us two, but I’m such a fool that up until now I could not discern how it will end.

Thrust of Memories

•February 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

memo1

Let me broach something what seemed to have brought me in throes and melancholy from the early cold period of this year up until this day I decided to elucidate in writing what I’ve been dealing with that my new merry colleagues are oblivious of.

Another summer has come to past in which in those diminutive periods I had two, short distinct jobs. Both were poles apart in their fields and location that separated me from the city who cradled half of my life in its arms and witnessed the sunset and the dawn of changes in my once infertile life into a gilded, full of love scenes which in the very end curdled in a vain, painful peevishness.

As some people might say, the time has a power to patch up the bleeding or cure the unseen wounds deep in the center of our chest. It’s all I’ve been hoping for. However, certain cuts leaved a scar that although already been stitched to its closure; time itself will drive a knife to it creating a crevice that soon would be open.

She left in the last quarter of 2007 that if only I had known I won’t ever see those beautiful eyes –two big black pools which possessed unyielding love –and hear again those sweet, thin voice that tickles my ear, I would have… Honestly? I don’t know the answer back then. Not until now.

I got this new job which brought me back in the north side of Manila. A town I would say my second birthplace, for its where the life of my first love breathed the air of this world. The long national road of España sided with houses, universities, stores and fast food restaurants. This labyrinth ramification of multiple streets and main roads; P. Campa, P. Noval, Galicia, Moret, Centro, Lacson, Trabajo, Vicente Cruz, Maceda and so on, ending at the Welcome Rotonda Circle.

As I set my feet on the ground at the terminal in Lawton, descending from the San Agustin bus, my excitement went ahead of my physical body racing against the PUV’s reeking smokes and making their usual stops. When I was in a jeepney, my eyes widened with all the changes although some stood still the same. But as the days reached into weeks, seeing fast food chains; Mcdonalds, Jollibee, Wendy’s, Goldilocks, Greenwhich, Shakeys and Burger King up above España sting my eyes to the back of my brain sending signal to my heart. In each and every store, believe it or not, she and I spent a moment or two, dining and talking and laughing. Every dark alleys, lighted corners and narrow streets I saw the shadows of our moments trudging slowly leaving its scent which lingers in the air that fingered my shoulder wherever I turn my head.

It’s nice to remember, how great it is to reminisce but it hurt so badly and so dreadful that my heart blubbered in anguish. This place is thrusting our old memories like a sword at my heart that images of her started triturating in my head these days. I know there is no escape and no way to drench these stacked jiffies.

All I could do is hold one wishful hope that perhaps one of these days, if ever I walk in one of those stores, she’ll be standing behind the counter or sitting by the window or just maybe, one day when I made a turn around a corner, in Moret perhaps, she would be there striding away, her back on me. Then she would look back as I call her name, “Kat!”

Before Midnight

•January 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

dream_a_z

Fragrant Gust,
Glinting disk,
Pool of light,
Silver mist.

Touch of night,
Swimming abyss;
Black limpid eyes,
Flowery lips.

Time light waits,
Dreams behind eyes;
Breeze swirled late,
Across horizon it lies.

Miss the embrace,
Dwell in river bliss,
In your smooth face,
Blew a good night kiss.

As night deepens,
Stars dotted the sky,
Wind breathes in,
To hug you tight.

Snuggle on thy pillow,
Split a sweet smile;
Before whirl in imaginings,
Let me kiss you good night.

Small garden bed,
Roofed by moonlight,
Serenity dwells,
Love’s not distant far.

Close your eyes,
Thoughts about to see,
Envisage tonight,
I would lie beside as you sleep.

12 o’ Clock Bridge

•January 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

humber_bridge_shot11

Midnight is where the transition happens. As the page turns to a new chapter, as the door of another place pushed open by the Almighty hand, showing us the fresh path of every beginning, the Time once again unfurled before us.

Past is on the other way, behind my back as I stand at the foot of this bridge with unseen trestle, underneath is deep darkness. Ahead of me are the rungs leading to the modern customary period of a different year ramifying to moments we about to create and of preternatural distinct seasons about to occur on us.

Throes arisen from deplorable elapsed experiences which had curdled awfully and challenged my potency are already on the base of my murky shadow put forth by the lustrous effulgence of the infantile age I’m facing now. Some, however, clings on my shoulder that I should have known better wont skittered away or let go of me that easily. The obstinacy should be dealt with.

When we padded down this 12 o’ Clock Bridge it’s unnoticeably quick. It’s when the Time blinks. One second we are there, next we’re here in the surface of an innovative moment.

Before I ambulate, I asked, “Should I be afraid?”
Someone answered, “Not a man like you.” Then I took a languid step and started to cross the 12 o’ Clock Bridge, leaving others behind, hauling some with me where everything unexpected with the option of choices awaits.