radioactivelizard

fiction | nonfiction

All these politicians, man

All these politicians man.

I had this conversation with a friend about politics. He said that a young person should be liberal, only in her later years should someone turn towards conservatism. I thought this was a trite observation he possibly picked up from some girl who’s trying to impress him. But I took the bait and went with it, tried to play with the idea. I generally agree, I said. People usually are liberal in their younger days because they hardly think of anything beyond their immediate concern. This is the hedonistic phase of their lives. This is that whole ‘gather your rosebuds while you may’ philosophy. It also helps that younger people usually are not propertied, so they feel they don’t have much to lose in this world.

On the other hand, older people have experienced much. They have properties, or land, or some serious adult stuff like that. So they tend to be more cognizant of protecting things. Like Protectionism if we put it economically.

But I’ve known conservative young people, and I’ve known some pretty radical older people. So there’s your counter-argument or counter-example.

It was a roadside store and on that spot immediately outside the window the shopkeeper set up a table and a few chairs. We had the conversation while eating pancit canton. We often sat there and talked and watched all the people and vehicles that passed by. Some cats passed too. We looked at them and surmised about their lives here on this earth. There are too many cats, I said, and recalled the time that there was a rumour circulating in the dormitory that the maintenance staff, in order to control the rising cat population, bagged kittens and just drowned them in some far off canal somewhere. It was true, of course. It wasn’t a rumor. I was there when they captured those cats. They were cats, not kittens. Well there were some kittens that they captured too. But mostly it was adult cats. They were of all colors – black, white, calico, yellow, orange. They were all just gathered into sacks. I have no idea whether they actually drowned the cats or not. Maybe they just released those poor animals in some far off place where they would start another colony of cats. Cats breed really fast. It’s not that they don’t have any positive contribution in this world or anything, it’s just that there’s too many of them, and the dormitory authority just does not care too much or does not have the funds to have them neutered. Maybe there should be like a dedicated or maybe even just a volunteer vet, a heroic veterinarian who would just go around and neuter cats and dogs. Maybe this person, a great individual, full of the vigour and idealism of youth, would set-up an online funding campaign. She would then post videos of the neutered cats online on her youtube page.

“Is she single?”, friend asked.

“How is that relevant in the whole veterinary undertaking?”

“Is she hot?”

“Dude, concentrate on what’s important here. It’s the cats, man.”

“Just askin dude, but please continue.”

Oh well okay, so she’s like a recent graduate. Average slim build. Likes wearing jeans and running shoes. Black long hair which she keeps in a bun because she’s an active young lady who’s into adventures and hiking and all that active stuff like mountaineering and rappelling. She had a boyfriend, but they broke up some few weeks before she started her neutering activities, because of some personal, political, religious, philosophical and ideological reasons. These people are complicated. She wears glasses because she has bad eyesight. People have remarked that she does not smile a lot. She has what is called a bitchy frowny face. But really she’s just like the Russians in this regard. A smile should only be for close friends and close relatives. The world is a cold, dark place and smiley people just don’t have a fundamental understanding of how this world functions. But that’s just me affixing my views on her, I don’t really know. She could be a happy and fulfilled person really.

So she has neutered this one cat who then began to follow her in her neuterings. It’s a black cat. A big cat. It’s called Blackie. Real creative name. She adopts the cat, or rather the cat adopts her. Cats are like that. It’s a mutual adoption sort of thing. They just bonded. You know how witches have what is called a ‘familiar,’ which is their spirit animal, only this animal ain’t just spirit but flesh too. So Blackie is like this ambassador, or like a go-between between the Vet and all Catdom. In a loud booming voice he would gather all the cats in some place and talk to them, or meow to them, about the dangers of irresponsible reproduction. He would like have this PowerPoint Presentation with slides showing photographs of kittens and cats in deplorable and horrible living situations. The cats are all gathered and staring and feeling sad. One raises a paw and asks, how can we prevent this sad sad thing from happening, mister?

And that’s how the whole cat population was controlled. No more strays and unwanted kittens. A peaceful world and society.

“Wonderful,” friend said.

“It’s a utopia of cats,” I said.

“A world where we all can live peacefully.”

“Cats and humans, God’s creatures.”

“So what happens next?”

The ex-boyfriend shows up.

“Wow.”

The ex-boyfriend tells her he still loves her.

“Oh fuck.”

She picks up the sleeping Blackie off the floor who then wakes up and glares at this new face he hasn’t seen before. Boyfriend takes little notice of Blackie. The problem, the boyfriend begins, was that he wasn’t ready for that whole commitment thing? His boyfriend has this tic where he ends all his sentences like he’s asking a question? But he’s ready now, he says to Vet Girl. He’s ready to take it all onto the next level. He’s like all responsible and propertied now and shit, so like come on babe. But Vet Girl’s just eyein him all skeptical. “Oh really?”

“Yah really?” boyfriend says.

My friend asks the shopkeeper for a couple of boiled eggs. The shopseller is an older lady, and during certain hours she sells hardboiled eggs. There’s a technique to peeling the shell off hardboiled eggs, my friend said. The trick is to break off both ends first, then you blow air fast and hard through one hole. It’s like magic, he said. He demonstrates and huffs himself red in the face, but the shell just won’t come off in one piece.

About the Girl

About the Girl

We went to Quiapo and looked at all these pirated DVDs and VCD stalls. It was a whole building just filled with stalls of pirated shows. There were movies from Hollywood, anime from Japan, documentaries, etc. etc. There were softwares too.

It rained the day we decided to go to Quiapo. I waited for her in McDonald’s Philcoa. I ordered then drank hot chocolate while waiting for her. Inside behind the glass wall, I stared at her as she walked towards where I was. We waited inside for the rain to subside. We talked, I can’t recall what we talked about. We’ve been to several dates before that. We watched movies, we ate, we went to this cafe once where we drank cold expensive frothy coffee. She invited me there because she said it’s where she often worked with her classmates on their projects. All I got from that experience was that it was cold and that you’d have to take a tricycle to get there. I think I was reading something about Rizal. I looked at her handwriting. She has beautiful, clean, precise handwriting. She is very organized. My mind was frozen inside that place. I couldn’t think.

——

I was at the back because I always sit at the back. She was at the back because she was always late. She talks to me when I only wanted to listen to the lecture. So I listen to her. I listen to the lecture too. The professor does not see us because we are at the back. She likes to eat sometimes during class. One time she bought a Baby Ruth candy bar. She rarely takes notes. She asks for my notes after class. She has shoulder length black hair. She always wears shorts. She always wears t-shirts with words on them. Org shirts. Event shirts. Commemoration shirts. High school reunion shirts. She has a Lacoste shirt colored purple. She wears glasses. She wears flip-flops. The only time I saw her wearing jeans she was also wearing sneakers. The sneakers were white. She tells me about her favorite professors, her favorite topics, her favorite movies, her favorite shows (she really likes Glee). I tell her my favorite movie is Fight Club. I like reading funny stories. I like making people laugh. She likes making people laugh too. She once won an essay-writing contest. I was awarded once by the principal back when I was in high school for being the most active library user. She asked me to watch a movie with her sometime. There were free movie screenings in the University Film Theatre. I said okay. It was a lesbian film. From what I could make out of the darkness, there were not much people in the theatre. We sat side by side. She was texting someone. I could see the blue light from the cellphone screen reflected on her face in the darkness. We went out several times after that. We watched a movie. We watched a play. We watched more movies. I lent her some of my DVD’s. I never got any of them back. We went out to the old part of the city. We walked the streets and looked at the stalls, the people and the architecture. We looked at the house of Gregoria de Jesus. She took photos. It was raining earlier that day but it later subsided. We got wet on the way to the old city because water from the puddles splashed inside the vehicle we were in. It was cold.

——

In the reception area of the dormitory, we sat and ate while watching television. There were a lot of people gathered in front of the tv screen because it was the Miss Universe finals. We ate spaghetti. A short news update that day: a young rising star was found dead inside his apartment. This young rising actor was well-loved. I was surprised with her comment that the young actor committed suicide. She has inside information because she has worked with entertainment industry people and that was that filtered through the grapevine. What struck me was the way she said this, like his suicide wasn’t such a big deal really. And in a sense it really wasn’t such a big deal in her world, and in mine too.

——

I always sat at the back because that’s how I usually sit. I have a strategic position in every classroom that I maintain: at the backrow, second chair to the right. She always sat at the back near me because she’s always late. That class was twice a week, and I looked forward to that class after befriending her. I recall the first times she went to class she sat at the row ahead of me. But then she sat by my side the rest of that semester.

Our class went to see a play. I kept the half of the ticket in my wallet for a long time after that. I also kept the ticket they gave us in the lesbian film festival. I think I paid five pesos for that ticket.

——

It was fun. The atmosphere was carnival-like – lots of people, groups carrying flags, there were people who sold stuff like Che Guevara t-shirts, punk shirts, etc. She let me use one of her cameras and I basically followed her around like a puppy. When the protesters burned this effigy, the smoke billowed around us and I wet my handkerchief and gave it to her to wipe her eyes with. She wore a purple Lacoste shirt and jean shorts which showed her white legs. People talked to her in English, thinking she’s American. We saw a busload of delegates from other countries pass by. It rained later that day.

——

We were in the mall, talking. I don’t remember now what we were talking about. It must have been historical, since we stopped for a long time watching this display of historical things. Inside the mall, on the ground floor, in the center of the wide immaculate expanse, were set-up these display booths showcasing large tarpaulins with images and text printed on them. One that caught my eye was the display on the revolutionary-dubbed-bandit Macario Sakay. In the accompanying image, it shows him having long hair and sitting along with other uniformed officers of the Revolution. In a separate and smaller tarpaulin, there was an article and image detailing the amulet used by Macario Sakay. It was a small, white jacket, I surmised must be worn behind the shirt, in contact with the skin. It had Latin words written all over it, and images such as an all-seeing eye, a pyramid, a cross, and I think I also saw a heart. Not the emoticon kind of heart, but the semi-anatomically correct heart one often sees on old antique statuettes of Christ.

———–

In another earlier time in a similar place, we watched a movie together. In this movie, insectoid aliens have landed on earth. Years pass and we find that they are being contained in this ghetto/camp. I have watched the movie already before with friends. She said she has not seen the movie, so I thought we should go and watch it. I remember the blue light of her cellphone screen, illuminating her face in the darkness of the theatre. She was staring at her phone. I was looking at her. Later, we went out to the open space outside the mall where she could smoke. She was telling me about this professor of hers, a favorite of hers. We talked of the future. I told her of a dream of mine to open a cafe inside a library where I would support all artistic people in their activities. I would support, because I would be very rich in that future time, various cultural endeavours. Paintings. Books. She said she has a similar plan. But foremost in her mind is to have her own house. She would then decorate its walls with framed artworks made by her and her sister. We sat and talked and I watched the white smoke she has exhaled as it rose up and dissolved into the air.

———–

Alone, I stood behind the clear plexiglass wall. I looked below at the people. They were so small and busy, going on to work or school, underneath the heat. It was very cool inside the mall. The white square tiles were clean and shiny, reflecting the flourescent lights on the ceiling. The atmosphere reminded me of a hospital room I was in before, only without the smell of antiseptic alcohol, bleach and medicine, and also without the constant but subdued hum of people talking and walking. I sent her a message on the phone asking how she’s been doing lately. We haven’t seen each other for almost a whole semester. I’ve had some personal issues to deal with the months before and was unable to summon the right mindset to reply to her messages. She replied that she’s in the hospital, just some gastroenteritis.

———-

I recite her name like a mantra to drive away all the sufferings. It doesn’t work, but subjectively, inside my head, it works. It doesn’t make sense I know. I thought of methods, techniques. One is I flood my head with memories of her. I recall details about her and then hold on to them as long as I can. She had curly black hair. One time she showed up to our date with frizzled unkempt hair. She wore black-rimmed glasses. She has thick, constantly chapped lips. That day inside the airconditioned fastfood place where we were eating and studying, she smelled like milk – sour and sweet. She does not paint her nails, they are always clean and short. She has the most delicate-looking fingers.

The first and only time I saw her wearing jeans, she wore a green polo shirt. I don’t know whether this was before the fastfood episode or after. So she wore blue jeans, shoes (running shoes. it surprised me how small and dainty those shoes were. she usually wears flip-flops around the campus), and most importantly, her hair was short. It was also straight. We were in the library that time and I promised her I would help her with an assigment or something. I had nothing to do that day. I finished all my requirements already. I waited hours. She’s usually late.

——-

One time in the library of her college, she showed up wearing jeans and a shirt probably of purple color. Every time I think of her, I think of her wearing that shirt. It was thick T-shirt with a green Lacoste alligator logo on the left breast. I remember her eyelashes – so thick. I remember her teeth, not so good, kinda yellowish and one has a bit of discoloration from cavities I think. She has a dainty nose. She always wore glasses. She has black and long and wiry hair. Sometimes she doesn’t comb them so you could see the split-ends. The last time we met I think she had it cut off to just about neck-length. It looked good on her.

We visited the house of Gregoria de Jesus. It was an old building and badly -maintained. You could still see the old architectural details, like the balustrades and the windows. There was a historical marker there saying that Gregoria de Jesus, the wife of Bonifacio remarried after he was killed. Her next husband was an architect.

We went inside the Quiapo Church. We saw one of the old ladies by the entrance of the church, the ones who will pray for you if you pay them. We saw one knee-walking the aisle from the back towards the altar. I wore my Buddha shirt.

She took photos. We talked about her favorite professors on the way back from Quiapo.

——–

I can’t recall the last time I saw her. I can’t recall what happened during the last time we met. I can’t recall what the last words were that we exchanged. I do remember that I sent her a message saying I wanted to kiss her. I did not get a reply immediately. I was particulary overbold that time (early morning) because I was slightly drunk. I got very little sleep. That was the context of that message. And her reply was an apology. In the text message I got near the afternoon, she said she was sorry she was unable to reply because she was already asleep.

Friday, January 09 2015 Dream [Nuclear apocalypse, monsters, mudhill climbing]

I have the most vivid dreams when I fall asleep through anti-allergy medication. In this dream, Japan was nuclear-bombed and my high school class was sent to this high school in Japan. We were I think invading the place and that’s where we were supposed to be studying now. The trip started through submarine. I could feel the sensation of falling down as the submarine descended to the depths of the sea. The second part of the trip was through air. I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of aircraft it was, but it was a smooth ride and we had a clear view of the high school from up above.

It was total carnage. There were still bodies of students and people littering the grounds of the high school. When we got inside one of the classrooms, it turns out the high school is also infested with these monsters that we thought was caused by the radiation. They kept trying to come in through the doors. I stationed myself at one of the doors, just trying my best to keep it closed, and managed to kill two of these huge cat-like things.

Then we found out there were still several Japanese students that were alive and hiding. They were all girls. I and a group of my classmates managed to save them and bring them into our classroom. There we tried to communicate with them, but none of spoke any Japanese. We found out that the book we used for our Biology classes had the same content, and also that the key to our salvation from the monsters was written in this textbook. We were supposed to drink this liquid and everything would turn out alright. Somehow we found the liquid and every one drank.

The next scene is within a dark movie theater. My high school class and the girls we saved were watching this film. The film was about this kickass soldier-girl battling monsters as she and her unit make their way to an underground research laboratory. The soldier girl was the last of her team to depart to the underground lab as the whole vast lobby filled with monsters then exploded. I guess it was another apocalyptic scenario because there’s a scene in the end where one person asked the other whether they can restart the earth’s flora and fauna through the materials that were stored inside the laboratory. The other person replied yes.Then in the middle of the movie this 3D image of a CGI dragon came into the screen. It was totally terrifying not only because it was unexpected but because the liquid our class drank earlier magnified the effects. It was the clearest most crisp, most HD thing I probably ever dreamed. Movie ends then we all file out.

The dream then cuts to this weird contest where several competitors are climbing this tall and very steep hill of mud. I was just passing through and thought ‘hey why shouldn’t I join too.’ They were already ahead of me, but I bested them. Were using were this flimsy straw rope, but somehow we managed to not break it or slip because of it. Then on my way down I high-fived this one guy who looked like this schoolmate of mine in high school. When I was near the base, a part of the mudhill collapsed on top of me. They spent a long time looking, but they never found me. ##

Apologies

Listen, she’d start. I was just sad, you know. Really sad. I have been sad for a really long time. You have seen me, right? Some days my body feels so heavy I can’t even get up from the bed. It feels like with each passing hour my body becomes denser, and I sink slowly into the foam of the bed, past that into the wood and then into the floor. I fall down into the earth. I’m so very sorry you had to see me like that. I’m sorry you had to do what you did. But really, you should have left me alone. Haha, just kidding. I don’t know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

She wakes up and asks herself is this going to be the day. An hour of staring at the noisy street below, in the end she decides not yet, not yet, she still has some things to do. So she walks across the empty room, past her disheveled bed to the huge mirror with the low table in front, to comb her hair. She starts the count – from a hundred to zero. While she combs she stares at herself, stares at herself until she no longer recognizes her features. Until this person staring back at her becomes a complete and total stranger. “Hello” the pale girl with the long black hair, dark lines under both eyes, says to her.

The place smelled of chlorine and alcohol. It was cold but stuffy. She remembers staring at the fluorescent light after a long restful sleep. The fluorescent light was way up on the high ceiling. The room was tiny but the window almost covered the upper-half of the wall. The windows opened onto a central garden where tropical plants grew unchecked. The walls surrounding the central garden were covered by a climbing vine. The vine held the most beautiful violet flowers. She wanted to go out there and pick some, but looking at the damp ground filled with leaves of trees browning and decaying, made the idea suddenly so abhorrent. So she laid back on the bed and stared at the pale light. The low electric humming which filled the room lulled her back to sleep.

Fee injected insecticide into the big vein of her left arm. Her hand was shaking a bit as she squeezed the plunger of the syringe. ‘Fascinating,’ she thought as the liquid entered her bloodstream. She drank cleaning fluid afterwards. She chugged about half the contents of the bottle. When she burped, her breath smelled like roses.

“Let’s wait a couple more days to see if we’re going to have to amputate,” the doctor said. She did not know whether to laugh or cry. Her housemate was with her. Her housemate stared at her silently. Fee’s attention was captured by the bright light of the recovery ward’s lamp. The doctor continued saying that she was in a coma for three days. They operated on her arm. He told her she was lucky she did not penetrate the vein with the needle. What happened was she missed and injected the insecticide into her muscle. They had to cut off a huge chunk of flesh from her forearm. Her housemate found her covered in her own vomit. She was brought to the hospital immediately.

Fee’s housemate stood beside her for a while once the doctor continued on his round. She could not look at her housemate, she felt so terrible. “I’m going now,” her housemate said. She stood up and took her coat off the chair beside the bed. She managed a glance at her back as she exited the ward. Fee started to think. Maybe saying sorry is not the right way to start.

Chanting

It is one of those things I don’t really care about.

Yet they keep bringing it up.

Again and again and again.

Into the conversation.

Religion. God. Family.

To all of these I reply in the negative.

And all their conversations tend to revolve around these topics.

“You shouldn’t say ‘Good Luck.’ You should say ‘God willing.”

This was before the job interview.

We were in the lobby waiting for each of our turn on the hot seat.

His skin was too smooth, his lips were too red.

He was wearing make up.

Hair too slick and shiny.

Suit, tie, black shoes.

“Luck has no role in it. It’s all in God’s plan. It’s all in his time.”

‘In his time.’ That phrase has been making the rounds lately.

Like last year, I was talking with my then-boss with our then-prospective-donor.

‘In his time.’ The business will prosper. The family will be healthy. All in his time.

My boss was being all friendly with the lady. She owns several jewellery stores in the city. Early retirement, lots of time, need for a sense of purpose.

It was a non-profit, church-sponsored, for the improvement of the lives of the indigenous peoples.

I got the job from my uncle. He was friends with my then-boss.

I stayed in that job for a year, going to meetings, hiking to the mountains, talking to the elderly community leaders, the community organizers. I remember staring at the mountain range where the people we were supposed to help have lived for a long long time.

From afar, the mountains were slightly blue-colored, all covered in mist.

There was a ritual from the tribal elders for our arrival.

A pig was butchered and roasted on an open fire.

While the pig was being turned round and round, the shaman started chanting.

He was standing behind a table in the middle of a clearing.

On the table were a lit candle, several candies, a few coins, uncooked polished rice, coins and a bottle of whiskey.

we, the visitors from the non-profit, were seated in front of the table. The chairs were arranged in a semi-circle facing the table.

After almost an hour of this, occasionally interspersed with shots of whiskey, a chicken was brought out.

The chicken was black. With a swift slash of a short curved knife, a gash was opened on its neck. The blood steamed as it streamed out of the wound onto a big plastic bowl. The chicken stiffened and shook, then it weakened and finally died.

The killer of the chicken handed the shaman the bowl.

While he chanted, the shaman dipped a finger into the bowl and then made a cross sign on the back of a visitor’s hand. He also did the same thing to the feet, or the shoe. All the visitors had their hands and feet marked.

Afterwards, he placed the bowl on top of the table. He continued chanting some more, said something to his assistant, then sat down on his chair. He smiled.

Some more shots of whiskey for everyone. Then there was talking, talking, talking. The ceremony was over. It was time to feast.

The people were called upon, and old and young gathered inside the large nipa-roofed communal hut.

Rice and meat were placed on the pieces of banana leaves that were cut earlier into squares.

All these were laid on the bamboo floor. There was no table.

Old and young squatted side by side on the muddy bamboo floor.

They ate with their hands silently.

That was my last day at that job. After that I got really sick. It must have been something in the water, or the food, or the air.

The young man with the bright shining future, a believer in the deceny of humankind was called inside the interview room.

At the end of the hall was a window. The window opens onto a vast expanse of sky. We are somewhere in the seventh floor the building. The hallway is airconditioned. Several of the applicants carried books while waiting for their turn.

Didn’t get the job. Well, the wording was, we will call you. But I’m not the hopeful sort of guy.

Apocalyptic Cat Scenario [Dream]

Another apocalyptic scenario dream. I was looking for this cat. It was an evil, disgusting cat. Earlier, it was midnight, but there was a brief moment when a portion of the sky lit up in purple light so bright I could see the clouds surrounding the source of the light. It was as if the moon became hyper or something. It was unusual. After the light died down, it was morning. I was looking for this cat because I knew it was going to do something evil. It ate a hotdog and what remained of the hotdog melted as I lifted it. An earthquake while looking for the cat. I told my brother who was there with me looking for the cat: ‘I hum this tune whenever it’s quaking so I won’t be afraid.’

05 DEC 2014 [Journal]

The biggest news now is the storm, named ‘Ruby,’ international name ‘Hagupit,’ that’s coming. There is a feeling of dread and excitement. In the news we saw people evacuating to safer grounds, the memories of last year’s catastrophic typhoon Haiyan which killed around eight thousand people still fresh in their minds. The typhoon will pass through the same path taken then by Haiyan. The Philippine Eastern Sea is the birthplace of typhoons. I imagine it like some dark, primordial, primeval, mystical, fog-covered place. Maybe the typhoons are gods of destruction, and the Eastern Philippine Sea is where they are born. I seem them encased in something, like they’re inside an egg, just under the sea, developing, maturing into the destroyers that we so rightly fear.

Again, there was panic buying. Again, there was the announcements by the authorities not to panic, be safe, etc. At least this time people seem to be listening.

‘You say don’t be blue …’ sings Natalie Imbruglia. That part induces frisson, it’s so perfect. The song is ‘Leave me Alone.’

‘Emotional Diarrhea.’ I was washing the plates earlier, and the TV was on the background. There was the usual fighting and crying, exchanges of unpleasantries, children being all cute and asking stupid questions to adults, overall the usual fare of drama in this beautiful island-nation. The idea occurred to me while I was scrubbing this one glass plate that what this particular style of drama is, is ‘Emotional Diarrhea.’ It’s all just this outbursts of emotions, feelings all over the place. People who lead not-so-interesting lives of course don’t have that many opportunities to be all dramatic. By watching these shows, by the magic of empathy, they vicariously experience said emotions. Where are the shows that depict intense, cold rationality? We need those in this country.

CLOYING. Is what the child’s voice is. This kid who talks in a high-pitched, cutesy, baby-talkey way to arouse the adult characters’ sympathy. What a manipulative little shit.

What people in this country find ‘cute’ really isn’t. If stupidity, if acting like a petulant puppy is cute … puppies are actually cute, well not all puppies. The ‘cute’ here easily slides into the grotesque: Mahal, Mura, that fat dark child, Nora Aunor’s doll, etc. Do people here actually find these things cute, or once again, am I wrong in my assessment? Appealing to the baser aspects of humanity works, will make a person wealthy, or at least well-off. Baser? Hierarchy of instincts? Of course there’s a hierarchy. Some instincts are better than others. Counter-argument: all instincts are the same. They are beyond morality.

IDEA: Vignette/scenes that illuminate character.
– Think of it like you’re ‘proving’ the character’s well, character.
– Place the character … or rather imagine scenes for that character.
– Idea taken/sparked by Flavorwire article: ‘Genre Novels That Should be Classics, esp. item : The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald

– – –

This kid posts the most inane, stupid things. And people like ‘like’ his posts. What has this ugly world come to? Has it always been this way? Am I the crazy one here?

A psycho-analysis of this guy would yield some interesting findings. He’s supposed to be smart, but he has the emotional maturity of a five-year-old. It’s not even the ideas he espouses really. It’s the way he presents them. Persecution complex. Megalomania. Arrogance. There’s this one time he had a flame war with a professor he once had. I think the posts between the two must have reached past a hundred. The kid it turns out is a rabid anti-communist. The professor on the other hand is a somewhat well-known leftist teacher and activist. Days after this interesting display, he makes a post about all the teachers that supposedly inspired him. The activist teacher’s name appeared in the list. The kid also gets into this theological debates with people, then asks for nods from those who’s friends with him online. He always has this desire to be right. Maybe he’s reading too many books or something. Maybe he’s watching and listening to all the wrong things, things that only buttress his already-formed opinions. He lives in this narrow space which is his own head, an echo chamber, just being all right and self-righteous.

What can be done to save this child from himself? First, we must let go of the idea of ‘saving’ someone. So are we just going to watch him do all these inane things? Have all those kinds of stupid ideas? Sadly this seems to be the case. The truth is that people like him, people who share his ideas compose the majority in this beautiful country. He is the politician type, he is the religious leader type, he is the demagogue type. Already he has amassed a not insignificant number of followers online. It’s like watching the rise of some sort of monster.

Tales of the One-Eyed Man

In the stories they tell their children for a restful sleep, there is always the figure of the one-eyed man. He is never the main character in these stories. He is in the sidelines, a friend of the protagonist. He is not a villain either. He is just there, he exists. The one-eyed man sits in the corner of the room where the story being told to the child is taking place. He is thin and cadaver-pale, like he hasn’t been outside for a very long time. The bear is talking to the girl with the golden hair, asking why she ate all the pudding. The girl replied to the little bear, then to the big bear, then to the mama bear. But these are bears, and no matter how civilized they appear, one always has to be cautious around them. The little bear lunged for the girl’s neck, where its teeth tore through the veins and arteries and tendons and muscles. It was a mess. There was brain matter on the ceiling, on the walls, and on the floor. The mama and papa bear just stood there. Papa Bear’s arms were crossed and his head was bobbing up and down in agreement with what baby bear is doing. Mama Bear had a vacant expression on her face. Then the one-eyed man stood up. His hand stretched and reached the chest of papa bear. He pulled out papa bear’s heart. He did the same thing to mama bear with his other hand. Baby Bear was too busy to notice all these, and it happened too fast anyway. When finally Baby Bear looked up from the mangled bones and flesh of the little girl, he found his parents and the one-eyed man on the corner were gone. The moral of the story, the mother telling the story to her already sleepy red-cheeked child said, is that violence will be met with violence. The one-eyed man restores the order of things. So go to sleep, go to sleep, another story is waiting for you the next night.

Car Trip

“Don’t change the radio.”

“I won’t”

“I said don’t do it.”

“I’m just going to find something good.”

“That song was good.”

“That song was trite derivative bullshit.”

“Oh so you’re a song expert now?”

“You don’t have to be a song expert you know. You just have to have taste.”

“I have taste.”

“Hey, slow down. What is that?”

“What?”

“Oh, I thought I saw something.”

“Could it be a ghost?”

“Stop, don’t even go there, man.”

“Oh.”

“Oh, what?”

“It’s just you know, I’ve heard stories about this place.”

“Don’t man, shut up.”

“A long time ago, a young woman was found dead here. I don’t know the exact place, but it was somewhere here. It wasn’t like this then. It was just a narrow road with tall grass on both sides. They said she was a college student and she was chopped into pieces and …”

“Fuck you.”

“Hey, okay okay, I’m sorry.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“Okay, no more ghost story.”

“You did not see that?”

“See what?”

“I swear I saw …”

***

The bodies of two college-aged males were found two days later. Their car was hidden in a grassy secluded spot near the intersection of the new highway. They were chopped up cleanly. Heads and limbs were separated from torsos. The limbs were separated by the joints. There were no signs of struggle.

Breakfasts

The house wife wakes up, pretties herself, then cooks breakfast for her husband.

It is a two-story house. The rooms are on the second-story. The smell of the food cooking wafts onto the rooms on the second floor.

The husband wakes up. He prepares himself for the day of hard work he is to face. He washes his face, brushes his teeth, dresses himself. His clothes were prepared for him the night before by the wife/cook/house cleaner. Elbows on the table, he reads the newspaper.

The children, two of them, are still asleep.

“Say honey,” the husband says.

“Yes dear,” the house wife says.

“I’ve been noticing something,” the husband says.

“What dear?,” she replies, turning her attention to him, a smile on her face. The husband looks at her. They stare at each other. Frozen smiles, healthy gums, pearly-white teeth. The birds are tweeting outside, it’s a sunny day. There is the constant humbuzzing from the wires between the electric poles. People are jogging and walking their dogs. There are puddles here and there on the sidewalk and street. It rained the night before, not that hard, just a drizzle, but it lasted the whole night and did not let up until a few hours until sunlight. Black smoke rises from the pan.

“Oh dear me,” she says and swiftly douses the burnt egg with water from the faucet. The husband grimaces, frowns, his face contort terrifically. Eyes bulging red, jaw clenched so hard he could feel his teeth sinking deeper into the jawbones, veins prominent on his neck. But then he relaxes, his face falls back into its neutral pleasant smiley state. Birds are chirping outside by the window.

The children wake up. First child is a girl. Second child is a boy. First child is two years older than the boy. Their parents have been taught that proper spacing of children is important in a growing family. Allow a gap of at least two years in between children. The ideal number of children is three or fewer. Depending on the growing family’s economic capacity, one could add more. But five children is the maximum allowed. Psycho-sociological research have shown that the optimum number of children to have in this modern-day and age is three. The parents could only devote quality attention to three children. Beyond that, and one or more of the children could exhibit undesirable social and psychological behavior for lack of love and attention.

“Juice,” the boy says to the housewife/mother.

“I want cake,” the girl says to the housewife/mother.

“Now, now sweetie, you know you can’t have cake for breakfast,” the father says to the female child.

The mother/wife places a glass of juice on the table in front of the boy/child. The boy looks up and smiles, in that totally adorable smile kids do where their eyes almost close, at the mother/wife/provider of juice.

The girl/child sees this and her face contorts. Her voice is low and grizzly, like it’s not her voice, it’s the voice of a large adult male person. “Mother, I want cake, I want cake, I want cake.” She shouts this instruction to the mother. The father looks on smiling adoringly. She bares her teeth so her mother could see how serious she is. She clenches her jaws and raises her lips some more to expose her gums. She holds her face like this for minutes while the boy/child drinks and finishes drinking the orange juice. “Yum, yum, yum,” the boy child says, licking his lips to emphasize the deliciousness of the sugary liquid he just imbibed. The girl child turns to face the father. The father smiles at her. The girl child turns to face the child/brother/boy. She wants him to see her face, her reddening bulging eyes, her gums, her teeth.

“Well, I guess have to go to work now.” The father/leader of the household stands up and kisses the wife, stoops to kiss the little male child, walks to where the girl child is sitting and stoops down and kisses her too. The girl child is still making the face.

The mother (wearing her apron), the male child, the female child (still making the face, clutching a glass of orange juice), all stand on the patio. They all wave goodbye at the father/provider of money. The father is smiling. He is waving at them as well.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 74 other followers