draft title: IN MEMORY OF SARSI PETROVA
Other possible: IN MEMORIAM, IN MEMORY …
This guy. Call center agent. Works eight or more hours a day. Night shift. Keeps drinking coffee. Literature/Philosophy graduate. Contemplates asks self a lot: how did I end up here. Oh right, for the money. Need the money to live in this city. Need money for food supply, for living space, for clothes, for daily consumables, etc. He watches TV, or tries to watch, only watches the news. But these advertisements man, these intrusions into his consciousness, he does not welcome them. He hates them, but cannot turn the TV off yet, not right now.
He watches all these injustices on television. Notices the way the news reporters deliver the news. First they act all outraged, then they act all happy, then they act all outraged again. The whole range of human emotions seem to be presented, displayed five nights a week by these host and co-hosts, and the people watch. The people, the people. He starts to dream at night about this crime-fighting ninja. This vigilante who targets the corrupt politicians and all those sleazy celebrities, those old pedophiles never caught and are spending the rest of their lives respected and beloved. SOmething about the latter just does not sit well with him, and so he starts dreaming about the ninja.
The ninja wears all black and he sort of squats at the top, at the corner at the top of this tall building, looking down at the city. The ninja sees the traffic, the snarl of vehicles and pedestrians he hears as this miasma of noise emanating from below. So far from his memories of being a trainee ninja, up in the mountains oh so many years ago. Up at the building’s top, the ninja thinks and feels and breathes. He focuses his mind on the theme of love. What is the proper scope of love. Love emanates from the self, spreads outwards towards people immediate of one’s self. From there, it infects groups and societies, until love conquers the world. He sees the poor people, the poor children, the old and infirm and the abandoned, sees them all in his head, and he imagines them being loved and remembered. He stands up and jumps down, the cloth covering him head to foot fluttering from the wind as he falls head first.
Call CEnter guy wakes up, and it’s still morning. THere’s still light, I shouldn’t be awake at this hour. He makes himself instant coffee. He likes it bitter and warm. At the office, they fine you if you stop speaking English, the team leader eyes you like a hawk making sure you’re not wasting office hours doing whatever. The coffee breaks and bathroom breaks are monitored. At least, he thinks, this place is air-conditioned. At least my co-workers dress well, at least they all are college-educated and are into most of the same things as I am. They sometimes go out to drink and talk. There’s romance sometimes, but he keeps out of it, liking his solitary single non-complicated lifestyle.
He used to be an Internet addict. He is currently trying to limit his hours spent facing the computer screen. He is finding it hard to associate the computer screen with pleasure anymore since he started working, after having to spend hours upon countless hours facing it. A few months into his work, he started getting these episodes of severe headaches. Thankfully these only happened while he was at home, in front of his laptop. So there’ another reason for you. He started to associate it with memories of that time of severe headaches. Now, he starts and tries to read more books.
Real, actual physical book objects. Not ebooks, not webpages. He likes the reality of it, the physicality, the object-ness, the weight. Whereas years ago he fell asleep to the light of the monitor screen on his face, now it’s when the sentences and letters of the book no longer make any sense, then he slowly drifts off.
And the days pass, and the weeks pass.
And he has finally weaned himself away from any screen besides the ones used at work. No more Internet, no more laptop, no more television.
One day, during coffee break, this girl is crying. He asks why.
Didn’t you know?
The girl is pretty. The girl is religious. The girl believes in God. Frequent topic of their conversations are these retreats and conferences she goes into and all the important motivational stuff and spiritual stuff she learned. She tells him this. She tells them to everyone actually. But the girl is not that gregarious now, and telling him that Joey de Sotto has just been killed.
Where have you been, what have you been doing. It was all over the news.
Joey de Sotto has been a staple of the collective consciousness for the last three decades. Comedian, actor, producer. Beloved for his antics and for playing funny gay characters. He was brutally murdered beside his car the reporter on television said. So sad, the face of the reporter conveyed to the watching masses. A moment of silence for our fallen beloved ‘Tito,’ as he was fondly called. And let’s watch the CCTV security camera once again.
In the black and white but very clear video, an all-black wearing ninja suddenly appears attacks the bodyguards of Joey de Sotto. Kicks and punches and some Krav Maga moves. We can see clearly that he has some rattan sticks secured at his back, and he does not seem to be carrying any other weapon. The security guards move too slow for the ninja. Once all the guards have been subdued, the ninja opens the right back door and pulls out by his neck Joey de Sotto. De Sotto is wearing casual clothes – jeans, shoes, polo-shirt. Tucked on the left chest pocket of his polo-shirt is a sunglass. The ninja thn shoves him down so hard onto the pedestrian walk, we see his head bump and bounce a little on the pavement. Joey de Sotto is sprawled, facing up at the hot afternoon sun, as he loses consciousness. Then the ninja unfastens the rattan sticks and starts beating up Joey de Sotto. We can see clearly Joey de Sotto coming back into consciousness in the middle of this ordeal. He tries to block the blows with his arms and legs, he curls up and tries to roll on his side, but to no avail. More blows rain down. On his face, on his chest. On his groin. Then the ninja just focuses everything on de Sotto’s head. The deed done, the ninja drops the bloodied rattan rods and as quickly as he came, disappears.
The girl saw this last night, and tells it to him. He did not know this. Where have I been, what have I been doing.
On the news a couple of days later, another detail is revealed. After cleaning up the bloodied rattan sticks, the police investigation team found a message written on both: “In memory of Sarsi Petrova”
And then it all made sense somewhat.
The Joey de Sotto murder, one of his co-workers explained around other co-workers during lunch time in the lunch room, is basically revenge killing. During the mid-80s, the co-worker begins in his high-pitched self-important tone, Joey de Sotto, and two other celebrities was involved in this scandal with an underage sexy actress who had the screen name of Sarsi Petrova. She was raped by them, and when she tried to get justice for herself, she was out-maneuvered in the courts and there was some alleged harassment against her. A year after her rape, she killed herself. Knowing nods from some of the co-workers. This story has been floating aroud the collective consciousness for a time. Few people remember it now, but those who do, remember it well, though some details are hazy.
Sarsi Petrova. Barely eighteen when she hanged herself. Raised by a drug addict mother, the family was abandoned by the Caucasian father, who went fled back to his home country. Sarsi, scouted by an agent, birth certificate faked, groomed to be a sexy actress. Pale, petite, beautiful, long black hair. It was a different time, the co-worker continued, there were a lot of these movies and they were all cheaply-made but many people watched it. It was one of the few liberties allowed by the very strict government at the time. The producers and actors justified these films as art films and so have educational value for the people. There were several of these rising pretty young celebrities, Sarsi being one of them. Already at the time, Joey de Sotto was well-known and beloved and respected. The coverage of the rape trial was suppressed but of course things got out. Joey de Sotto and the two others who raped Sarsi, the Co-Worker continued, publicly admitted of their guilt and was spared the death penalty.
And she killed herself, and she was so young, and people grieved, but not so much, because there were other things they were busy about, and concerned about. And the years passed, and Joey de Sotto became even more beloved and more famous, and that episode with Sarsi was barely remembered anymore, until now. Until he got his head bashed to a pulp by a ninja.
The Call Center Guy was listening to all these, and he was one of several who nodded knowingly when the Co-worker started telling the story of Sarsi Petrova. He knew of the story back in college, during his internet and info-addiction years. He sought newspapers that were scanned online, he sought stories and found plenty, and found more comments saying these all happened years ago, and people have moved on, and Joey de Sotto is really a well-liked and well-loved and respected person. Who is this Sarsi Petrova anyway. She’s nothing, she’s a nobody, the Joey de Sotto supporters wrote and responded. He remembered seething and raging about it, and became an advocate for justice about it on the internet. But that was years ago, and he changed and he suppressed a lot of things during that time, because you can’t be angry forever, you can’t hold on to burning coal forever. But he still religiously avoids the television except for the news. Joey de Sotto endorses a lot of products and he tells you to buy this soap, or this shampoo or this liquid detergent for your dirty dishes, or this powdered detergent for your clothes. See Joey de Sotto dancing and wearing all-white, singing for you to buy this product. See him smiling and embracing housewives who have made the correct decision. It is difficult to avoid seeing his face, hearing his voice.
A hill is strewn with the cement rectangles of tombs. The ninja is sitting on top of one of these tombs, legs crossed arms crossed, back straight, staring far away. It is almost dusk, and the sun is orange-red and the clouds are pink, and the sky is violet. There is a cold wind blowing, and it chills him to his core. He likes it, he never liked the heat, he associates it with the city, and all its sounds and sights and textures. The air up here is clean and invigorating. He takes a deep breath, and focuses his mind on the theme of Contentment. Is Contentment the killing of passion and desires? Is this a desirable state? Being content of one’s lot in life, being content with how society is being run, seeing all the injustices and sadness in the world, is it alright to be Content? But it could be turned, it could be twisted, contentment can also mean resignation to one’s fate. One’s fate one determines for one’s self. The ninja stands up, adjusts the rattan rods strapped on his back, and starts jumping across the tops of the tombs, one after another. I resign myself to this fate. Two more to go.