Monday, October 5, 2009

Faith in Poison

by Karl R. de Mesa

Eat the darkness, feed your mind.
~ Zodiac Hidalgo, “Novaliches Journal”

Every angel is terrifying
The drugs are a fabulation. Every wisp of smoke I inhale and exhale is a story formed from one breath to another. Take this train I’m on, for instance. It could suddenly lift from its rails and be taken to a desolate planet, a razed nothing where food and water is scarce.

I wonder, then, who would make love to whom, who would be eaten first and by what method we would decide this sacrificial process. Or perhaps we’d all just be too hungry to think about it.

An obese lady seated in front of me is holding a light brown and white puppy. The dog has a gold earring piercing its left lobe. Probably a mongrel, I think, but can’t really tell.

The animal solves this by talking first. “Well, are you gonna ask?” the puppy says. Turns out it’s a he.

“Ask what?” I say.

“You’ve been staring at me since we got on at Boni. It’s Kamuning station now. Either you’re a real wuss or…” he pauses.

“Or what?”

“Or you don’t believe dogs can talk.”

“Hmmm. Likely. But then, junkies like me experience all sorts of weird shit. Maybe Kyrie cut my stash too pure again?“

“Oh, I was wondering why you don’t look too good.”

“It’s always this way, dog. If you don’t mind the term.”

“Sure, human.” He pronounces it hoo-man.

I ponder on this, realizing that neither of us has opened our mouths through the entire conversation. And I add, “So who doesn’t believe it, too?”

“See this fat woman?” Woo-man.

“Uh huh.”

“None of her family believes it either, although their ten year old kid’s catching on pretty fast. Soon enough, I’ll spring it on all of them and make up a story about tetranogenic effects concerning oddly cooked bibingka, TV radiation and lots of Selecta ice cream. By that time, I’ll be writing my own comic strips. Cartooning’s my thing, you see.”

“Is that so?”


“Well then,” I say, “Don’t forget to dedicate one to me. My name’s Lucas.”

“Too fagotty,” the puppy says, wagging its head from side to side “I’ll call you Luke.”

I nod and smile, “Sounds good.”

The puppy taps a paw to its head and makes its earring sway, “I won’t forget. May the force be with you, Luke,” Then we’ve arrived at Quezon Avenue station and the obese lady is heading for the doors with the puppy. The dog is waving goodbye to me and mouthing, “Always.”

I didn’t get his name.

Elegantly wasted
I’ve seen a lot of posters of oblong-shaped, silver-skinned aliens, with black, chinky eyes, smoking hemp from cleanly rolled roaches. The posters say, in yellow Arial, “TAKE ME TO YOUR DEALER.” They’re great to look at. I’m all for them. But I believe that the utopian ideal should stay on posters because they’re exactly that: a perfect, untarnished notion.

So, when I come home, it’s a unusual to find Kyrie’s petite body lying on my bed, watching reruns of Ispup! Kyrie, my illustrious hemp pusher.

“Hi Luke,” she says, her lips drug dealer red. The room smells of sweet wizard variety. She has on a brown skirt and matching dark top that highlight her mestiza skin to effect. The skirt just barely covers her ass, but the heavy boots she waves like weapons would make you think twice about touching it. Not at all unattractive, since she has the most silken of legs and a nice, fragile-looking package that more than makes up for her characterless face. She’s on her stomach and her feet are in the air tracing curlicues.

“How’d you get in, Kie?”

“Through the door. Same as anybody.”

“Please leave the same way. Jesus, I have to sleep first. Do you know how long I’ve been out on field? Ever been to `Garay, into the real green? Try it for a week with only one pair of jeans and no running water.”

She rolls out the merchandise from little teabags but I take off my shirt and walk into the bathroom, not even wanting to look. She says, “But these are the latest, Luke. Right off the market, experimental fabula strains. Cost you a thousand pesos for three packets. Only from me because you’re special.”

Right now the hinges to my bathroom door are broken, so closing it isn’t an option unless I want to just rip the thing right off. “I don’t care. I’ll see you tonight. Right now I have to sleep.” I’ve spread the toothpaste and am already brushing but there’s no answer, only Jon Santos’s pitiful whine as he impersonates Armida Siguion-Reyna. I take a peek. “Kie?”

She’s gone. From here, I can clearly see the three teabags she left on the bed that’d cost me just a thousand pesos right off the rack because I’m special. I proceed to brush my teeth.

Moments later, I’m on the bed and smoking the fabula. I see that she’s also left a ticket for some party titled “The Mobile Consortium – North Ave. to Taft Ave.” At the back of the ticket, Kyrie has scrawled in her loopy script: ‘Be My Hallowe’en? More discounts if you do, bub.’ With her package, the girl can get any boy she wants. A few heartbeats later, the tickets have gone into the trash and I’m rolling another hemp into a tight little stick. I lie back and try to sleep but the drugs are a fabulation.

In my rapture I meditate on 1 question: where the heck are Projects 2 and 5 located?

After an hour without answers my head gets tired of the circumlocution. My meditation turns up something else altogether. The ceiling unfolds a story, violently raping my head.

You’ll hear the riddle of prayers calling in the lurking lipstick scenes
Once, the boy was named Bernardo. Now, he is just one of the numberless, nameless dead that prowl the earth in search of salvation. I don’t know what Bernie’s salvation is, but I do know three things about him:

1) He was once a staunch pro-ERAP supporter. But when the shit hit the fan and EDSA 2 came along, he saw the error of his ways and quickly changed sides. Having voted for the man, however, haunts him well into his unlife.

2) He once got his gorgeous girlfriend, Sandy, drunk and stoned enough to consent to a six-way orgy with his barkada, wherein she consequently choked to death on a particularly well-hung guy’s semen. They got rid of the body by throwing it into Pasig. This, he firmly believes, is the cause of his damnation.

3) He knows for a fact that Sesame Street’s Bert is evil.

What Bernie doesn’t know, however, is that his erstwhile girlfriend choking to death is only half of it. Unknown to him his stash can be traced back to numerous contacts and deals, winding its way back ultimately to Kyrie. Kyrie, in her usual smug customer routine has cut the shit a bit too pure and first timers like Sandy have a hard time taking such unmixed stuff. The effect is an ever so slight constriction of the throat that would have made a world of difference to the girl’s disangulated and intensely skewered position. Thus the choking to death.

Now, Bernardo walks the byways of E. Rodriguez in search of something he doesn’t know shinola about. One night he encounters a sight that terrifies even his dead heart.

Three nuns in their big black and white trimmed habits are walking towards him on the sidewalk. The three are equidistant from each other, their strides precise, and the lead nun holds a swinging metal incense carrier that trails smoke. Bernie cannot see their faces behind the wimples. And he doesn’t want to see. He is certain that they have faces of wickedness and evil beneath those bellos. Terrified, he squeezes himself into a niche in the wall and lets them pass. However, the last nun stops and turns around to face him, with cheek still pressed against concrete. What passes for sweat in a ghost is streaming down his face. The evil nun approaches. With her face inches away Bernie feels her breath on him and it smells of sweet flowers. Just like his girlfriend did.

“Stop sniveling, you dork. I really hated that. Come to think of it, I still hate it,” the nun says and takes off her wimple with the white trim.

“You haven’t changed a bit,” Bernie says, going from one eye open to two.

“Hmph. Can’t say the say the same for you,” she points to his decomposing knot of a neck that trails flesh and tendons in the breeze. She looks up at a sign, “Do you remember this?”

Bernie looks where she points, “What?”

“That’s just like you. Not to remember our first anniversary.” She sits down on the curb and rests her chin on a fist, wimple in hand. “You told me to wear those see-through panties and then you ripped them to shreds when I took off my clothes. There goes a thousand down the toilet.”

“The Stone Arch Apartelle,” Bernie says triumphantly, remembering. He sits down beside her and they watch the cars go by like unerring neons.
“I suppose I should be glad for little things.”


“If it’s a question the answer is probably be `Yes’ and `You did kill me.’”

Bernie starts to sob.

“Oh, stop the waterworks. My only regret is not telling any of your exes that you liked me doing you. That I’m probably the only one who was crazy enough to ever put on a dildo and fuck your behind to kingdom come. Maybe that’s it. After all these years of walking around here with those two idiotas in this get-up I still couldn’t figure it out. And I tell you, you get a lot of time to think by the time traffic hits New Manila. But I digress. So, the question here is: did I just really love you or was I as crazy and perverse as you to have done all that?

She puts the wimple on her lap, “I have to explain that I go through it in progressive stages. When we start out in Aurora I’m blaming the whole shit on you and your pampered burgis childhood, coupled with a traumatic family life, plus some abuse from your Uncle on the side. Not to mention that time you had your kid sister blow you in exchange for a gallon of ice cream. You told me you couldn’t recall how old she was then. Maybe not older than 11? Then we get to somewhere along Christ the King and I begin making concessions. That maybe everything was racked against you. That maybe it’s not just an inborn thing but a factor of environment as well. That maybe being bombarded with that stuff all day was sure to have an adverse effect. I start going through all the academic Freudian-Jungian-Frankelian things that could’ve comprised that one event that brought us to the point where the six of you filled up all my orifices (plus one in each hand and one on my breasts and mangling them forever – you had yours in my ass didn’t you?). Anyway it starts to spiral down from there and when we finally get to Quiapo—"

Bernie pleads, “Please, stop—"

“WHEN WE FINALLY GET TO QUIAPO, I tell myself that it was all those years of repressed Catholic school girl distress coming up like fucking bubbles! I tell myself that I could’ve loosened up and not panicked and just relaxed my throat since you guys just had to put that big friend of yours—what’s his name, Mr. So-Well-Hung? Wally, yeah, that’s him—in my mouth. I tell myself that if I had just relaxed, I could have swallowed it all and I’d still be alive."

“Oh God,” Bernie says, wiping the tears with the back of his hands.

“Nope, old love. The more appropriate term is: That pretty little bitch was stuck-up till the end. That’s what you told them, di ba? Your, whadda ya call it? Justified excuse.”

A couple came out of the apartelle, laughing about something, arms around each other in a calm harmonium. Their conversation, as did the patter of their feet, mixed with muzak and wheels.

“I’m sorry,” Bernie says. “I really am, Sandy.”

“Yeah, well, I’m already dead and you are, too, but that’s not why you’re like this. It isn’t me Bern. That’s what I was supposed to tell you if I saw you. This isn’t the big sin that made your undeath. So there,” and she stood up to leave.

“Hey! Wait, aren’t you gonna tell me what it is?” Bernie says. Sandy already had her big wimple on and her face was hidden within again. He talked to a shrouded darkness.

“I don’t really know, Bern, even if I did want to tell you.”

“But what’s your big sin? Why are you here too?” Bernie dazed now, seeing the cars in a swirl.

Sandy pecked him on the cheek and he shivered from those freezer cold lips. “It’s a secret,” she said. “Hafta go. The girls will be looking for me soon.” She ran, a nun in black with white trim, and faded like a `50’s movie reel.

Bernie looked up at the lighted sign of the Stone Arch Apartelle. It blinked every 5 seconds.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” he said, and walked on, pondering his sins.

The loose palace of exile
My sin, on the other hand, is excess. It’s two days later and I’ve finished the fabula. All 3 teabags of it. Talk about addiction. I think I can stave off my down for a day but beyond that? Thing is, I have to have a proxy. I decide that alcohol will be just fine; so I call up a friend and ask him if he’d like us to meet and go drinking, catch up, whatever. From my place in Novaliches, it’s a pretty long drive to any decent bar.

“Um, yeah. S’okay.” Rico says with his scratchy voice, “but I got to take a bath first. Why don’t you take a trike over here so you don’t have to wait?” This is Rico’s way of saying I’m not too patient with long bathers, which Rico is. Takes baths that stretch up to two hours long depending on his mood. But he’s always at the deep end, so I say yes and go since it’s just a few blocks away.

Once there, I’m greeted by the maid who’s about to go home for the weekend. Rico, his frizzy, curly hair standing up in deformed spikes, tells me to wait, make myself comfortable, drink whatever I want. Then he goes off for his shower.

I must say that Rico’s house is a veritable mansion (three floors with enough space for a gallery) and has rooms furnished like a five star hotel. Him and me go way back to primary school. We used to watch a lot of dirty movies in his bedroom and, in high school, smoke a lot of pot and cigarettes. One thing Rico has as well is a gorgeous mother, the real MILF kind.

She’s still young, having had Rico and his sister when she was just barely out of her teens. I remember she had incredible light brown skin, a handsome face that virtually radiated freshness, and the biggest tits off a Filipina I’d ever seen that wasn’t in the movies. Rico’s papa is a big-shot stockbroker and keeps them well-funded, himself most often on business trips abroad.

One time, we had to use the Playstation (God knows what his parents play, simplified Dance Dance Revolution maybe?) in his parents’ room and I had to sit on this chair where his mother’s bra and shorts had been left hanging. I somehow found a Lifestyle Section of that day’s newspaper to cover my upper body. Then I let Rico engross himself in beating the hell out of the other racers in Jet Moto. This precaution up, I started sniffing the inside of the cups and, I tell you, I had enough fuel for erotic fantasies to last me a decade. Still jack off to it from time to time, the memory losing only the details but none of its essence. The scent left on those size D-cups were part honey and part sea spray, mixed with something musky that must’ve been sweat.

I kept smelling the thing for the next half hour, pretending to be engrossed with an article about some new hemp that was undetectable to any test. That was until Rico finished the damn game and we had to go down and eat.

That was the day I cursed Shakey’s delivery for being so fast.

Anyway, I never got the chance to do that again on account that I never really got back into their house, mostly because they had a big family dispute. Turned out, Rico’s papa was cheating on the mother. I suppose I should have said sorry to poor Rico. Me fantasizing about my buddy’s mom doesn’t help friendship any, but he doesn’t know it and lack of that knowledge keeps him (and me) from harm.

Well I’m here now. Rico’s still in the shower and mom can’t be anywhere over 40 years old (or thereabouts – she was in her late twenties when I pulled that stunt). I’m determined to find out if my luck will hold since, apparently, there’s nobody in the house except old Mang Tebio who’s out in the garden cutting weeds. My fantasy mom, I’ve been told, is off in Hong Kong shopping her ass off.

I go over to where I remember the main bedroom is and find it open. I step in and turn on the light. The room’s smaller somehow and more feminine, more geared to a single person ever since Rico’s papa left. These days I hear she’s attending more and more Baby Arenas parties than is good for anybody’s health. There’s a chair and I spot some clothes.

I rummage and jackpot! It’s a black bra with a bonus: lacy, translucent undies, almost see-through, those maybe-I’ll–get-lucky kind you find in any woman’s wardrobe. Booty. I pick up the bra first and sniff. Still the same old Rico’s mom scent: equal parts sweet honey, salty sea and a faint trace of musk. I realize I’ve gone to sit on the bed with the panties on my lap and that I’m clutching the bra to my nose. My head is swimming like a cyanide-bonked fish. After I don’t know how long I drop the bra, pick up the undies and inhale deeply.

I am on my knees in an instant, my strength buckling under the strong feminine odor. Riding the sensation I find that Rico’s mom has lost none of her touch on me even in her absence. What I previously mistook for sweat is stronger here, the musk aggressive, heady, delivering a kick to my groin, filling my jeans to bursting. Painful and splendid. There’s a bit of spotty, whitish discharge in the middle, no more than a few centimeters long but quite visible on the material.

I lick. It tastes salty, slightly viscous and languid as it goes down my throat.

I hear the shower being turned off and Rico’s voice growing louder, singing something Iggy Poppish. When I hear him open the door to his bedroom I take a last sniff and put the bra back where it hangs on the chair. I fold the panties neatly and stuff it in my back pocket. I turn off the lights when I go out and gently close the door. I make my way to Rico’s room as my hard-on dwindles.

Lahveh, etcetera
Look: the bar is called Big Sky Mind and it’s been refurbished by a goth owner. Darker, but still basically the same art and bohemian mill. The walls are white on black and the 1007 names of God are painted on them in two-inch high block letters.
I order the Bolognese and let Rico, his frizzy hair teased into little punky spikes with a lot of gel and hairspray, ramble on about the place’s history. Apparently, he comes here at least once a week.

Rico says, “One critic described Big Sky as `A quaint, artsy café.’ In my opinion, artist-run space fits it better. Granted that as Katya, the bar manager, says, some people understandably find it `scary.’ The bare Spartan distinction can certainly trigger some fight-flight hotspots in the easily spooked—this fucking aforementioned critic also described the place as if `set-up in a hurry by subversives, ready to fold up at any sign of trouble’—the shallowly ignorant (`uh, ba't anlalaki ng mga bintana?’) or those who think that blinders are a hip fashion accessory.”

I spoon enough Bolognese into my mouth to keep me from talking. Rico works as a PR man for a bank and can talk his mouth through the night if you let him. In my semi-stoned state, I neither have the patience nor the inclination to interrupt. My part of this exchange is “uh huh” and “exactly.”

“Here, on the first floor, is the bar and restaurant. You see it’s a smattering of tables and a brown couch. At one time or another, you can find personalities like Karl Roy or Sammy Asuncion seated here, guzzling a beer or in conversation. Even the desk lamps have character,” Rico flicks the switch on our table lamp that is made from driftwood and kitchen utensils. “And speaking of the damn devil, there he is! My man, Sammy!”

A stocky, solid man with long curly hair, a batik shirt and a skewed look in his eye comes up to our table, claps Rico on the back and says, “How ya doin’, spy?”
His torn blue jeans look like they’ve seen better days.

“I’m alright. Bit under the weather but doing fine. This here is my friend Luke Ramirez, just came off his tour of duty. Mag-puputo, I mean.”

Sammy snakes out a hand and I reach for it, “Glad to meet you.”

“Same here,” Sammy says.

Then Rico excuses himself as he and Sammy go out to Sammy’s car to get some CD that Rico loaned him ages ago. I’m glad for the moment, Rico being the blabber that he is. Minutes of peace with my dear pasta. Renee, the proprietor, passes by my table, nose ring and a huddle of other body piercings, and we nod in recognition.
Then Kyrie arrives with the puppy.

I’m pretty sure it’s the same puppy. There’s the small gold earring on the left ear, the same meaty plumpness, the cute button nose and the hangdog (sic) look. Only difference is he’s not talking. Kyrie brings him in and all the girls in the vicinity light up with a bliss I’ve only seen during playful sex. The pup keeps barking for them and this is just too cute as far as the girls are concerned. Somebody gladly takes the dog off Kyrie’s hands. This leaves me at her mercy.
“Hey, photo man.”

“Hello, Kie,” I say, leaving the pasta for a while and putting down my fork lest I feel motivated to stick it somewhere. “Where’d you get the dog?”

“Oh, him? I’m puppy sitting until his owners get back from Palawan. Poor baby, there’d be no one to feed him.”

The girls have now formed a phalanx around the pup, their voices sing-songy and giddy. “Looks like that won’t be a problem,” I reply.

“Did you see the ticket?”

Sub-title: cut right to the chase why don’t you? “Yep. And here’s the cash for those packets.” I pull out my wallet and hand over two five hundred-peso bills. “Thanks. That was good stuff.”

“Was?” she asks, even as she puts the bills away “I know you, Luke, but don’t tell me you snorted all of it in just two days.” I drink some iced tea. “Fucker. Oh well, that puts me back a bit, but just to assure me of your undying gratitude, I’ve brought you some more.” She pulls out two teabags of the fabula and I grab for them. Kyrie is faster and pulls them away. “I said, just to assure me of your undying gratitude and your noble presence at that consortium, I’m giving you these,” she shakes the packets, “Gratis. Without charge. Zilch. Not on your list. Plus a guarantee of three more free, if you promise to be at that party.”

“I promise,” the word doesn’t even register in my head.

“And give me a brain splitting blowjob after,” she says.

“Sure,” I say without hesitation.

She giggles, but I don’t hear, “Good. Cause if you don’t, no more fabula, dearie. No more stories. No more psychedelic dream eddies. Now give pretty Kyrie a smack.”
I peck her on the right cheek and grab the packets.

“Cheers,” she says and is skirt swirled off to join the puppy oglers.
I smell the stuff and it’s better than the wadded up panties in my pocket.
That’s what I love about this place, there’s always something going down (an open drug deal notwithstanding) and nobody could care a bit. It’s 9 PM and I know where my brains are going to be.

I am the passenger
To be driven. To live under glass and be in the hands of a capable motorist is a pleasure I indulge in as much as I can and is one of the foremost reasons I have avoided driving schools like the plague.

This is about an hour later with the cocks well in their nest, inside Rico’s car.
We have smoked one whole teabag and are seeing snatches of dreams and hopes and nightmares in the tenements we drive through. I don’t even know where we are. Rico doesn’t care. What we have are snatches. The challenge is to assemble our own narrative from memory, the high and the fragment rays that are episodes embedded inside pedestrians, vehicles, train boxes, lights burning within half-parted curtains, the eyes within objects and the beating heart of machines.

A great rapture, this configuration.

“I got one,” Rico, triumphant, announces. “You ready?”

Headlights too harsh, stories in my head like putty melting before I can sculpt. A truck blinks at me. I tell him, “Go.”

Rico begins.

Here are two lovers who meet up in Tagaytay in an IT seminar on LINUX. They are Sirri and Denver.

Denver works for a local arm of Microsoft and is a kick-ass programmer. All nerd and half-life twit. The kind you could kick on the street but has razors for nerve endings, the bushiest dendrites you’d ever see if an autopsy was ever done.

Meanwhile, Sirri is an info-tech journalist for a national daily. She’s sharp, witty, adept at hard ball, the trek and legwork and gossip meistering. She’s done it all in the name of news. Her love for computers and technology is unparalleled.
The miracle is that everybody gets drunk. The two of them more so. The tension has been up between them since the start and Denver covers it up with witty banter and a lot of college jokes. Sirri plays it cool and savvy. She wants to do the cute technique but is afraid to come on too strong. So she points her warmth at somebody else, then looks at Denver, as if this could present a solution in angles, like a Bata Reyes 9-ball game.

Anyway, they end up sleeping together – another miracle. Just sleeping because the seminar house has walls so thin that a one-year-old could punch holes right through. In the morning, they smile at each other and seem flustered, red cheeked and excited, wondering if they should make love. The walls are colored green and each think how the strange, beautiful creature they find beside them is totally unexpected, surreal, but nonetheless warm and inviting and filled with radiance.
They put it off to sleep some more and the morning call for the first session comes.
Too late.

Not even half finished with their desires, they go back to their jobs and write each other craving, desirous e-mails. Love letters they keep buried within seven folders of made-up directories filled with spam files. All have been converted into hidden format.

One of Denver’s letters: to

To Sirri,

For many years, I have suspected that I do not have a life. I type long and boring and sometimes eloquent code, go home and prepare for the next day. But this is not it. Recently, I figured out what it is and why. It’s corny and tasteless, but it’s true that there are forces that do things to you that you wouldn’t expect. That makes you act in ways that you won’t ever dare when in a normal frame. But mediocrity is hard to live with when you come into the light’s severe contrast.

The fact of the matter is, I would like to ask you out. I hope this isn’t too forward. Coffee or a movie or perhaps both, if a whole meal would not be asking too much, then that too. I’ll pay for everything.

I try to remember your voice and am frustrated and angry with myself to find that I can’t. : (

Please reply,

Sirri replies, a bit charmed, a bit annoyed at the guy’s ineptness. to

Dear Denver,

Of course, I’d like to have coffee some time. Plus a movie. Plus a whole meal. But you have to set aside this tone of formality, like what you had in your first letter. Our exchange can’t be this way, in this tone; it’s unusual and I’d feel a bit disappointed if you consider me anything else other than a very close friend (I do crave your friendship).

I don’t know and can’t venture to determine why you’d feel that you didn’t have a life until you met me, but I’d like you to tell me about it sometime. =)

Let me get your mobile number. I’m afraid I won’t be free until next week. Will Monday be fine? Do you think we should go see the new Scream movie or that movie with the bugs and the exciting trailer? LOL!

Whatever it is you yearn for, know that you are not alone in such desires.


So this shit goes on for sometime.

They go out and date and there’s an air of secrecy that permeates it. As if both are wary of some greater authority that will suddenly penalize them. Neither knows why but it adds a sense of adventure, an aching to their days apart and a wisp of the gamish that has so far gone only to kiss and make-out, done mostly in Sirri’s apartment that she shares with a roommate.
Months go by and Denver, for his loyalty and above par performance at Microsoft, is given a car. Nothing fancy, just a second-hand old box-type Corolla, deep blue with rubber bumpers that don’t push in like the new tin ones do. Anyway, they’re in a restaurant and Denver decides to make the big announcement.

“They gave me a car,” Denver says.

“Really? Oh wow,” Sirri says and looks at him sheepishly. She’s wearing an off-white dress that hangs on her frame awkwardly, but nevertheless makes her look sweet and vulnerable. Denver looks at the suggestion of cleavage on Sirri’s tan skin. She adds, “Um, can you bring it tomorrow?”

“Of course, I just couldn’t today because of the coding scheme.”

“Great. Listen, I have to go but I’ll see you tomorrow night. Pick me up at the office since you have a car. I’ll wait outside.”

“Sure. Hey, wait, what are we watching tomorrow?” Denver asks as Sirri rises, knapsack in hand.

“Oh, I’m not really particular. There’s nothing that good on anyway, although Elizabeth Hurley plays the devil in one.”

“Oh,” Denver ponders on this a moment, “Anything else you want?”

“Trojans,” Sirri whispers.


“Condoms, Dev,”’ she always called him Dev.

“Trojan. No prob. See you,” Denver bobs his head, already excited.

Sirri leaves and the guy feels like jumping up and down, pumping his arms, doing cartwheels and pissing on the wine glasses. Denver goes to the drugstore and buys two whole boxes of the specified rubber.

The big day comes and Denver decides they’re better off parking somewhere in Diliman since campus premises are a haven for lovers. They’re inside a copse of trees and they begin okay enough, the foreplay making them all the more awkward and they have some trouble pulling down the rubber. Then it’s done and Denver is in and he’s pumping like mad, groaning like an ox, pretending he’s a jackhammer.

He explodes like fireworks. His bliss is unnamable. His bliss is part of a conglomerate of first time blisses that accumulates in the small, forgotten corners waiting to be found again. That rush and calm is also a beatitude that Denver has never before felt. He feels her silken underneath him, all around him, sheathed. He is suddenly exhausted. Both of them collapse in the backseat, the fragrance of post-coitum and sweat and delight stifling the air in their pantomime. Their bliss is unnamable.

Sirri is exuberant. She cradles Denver and they are two spoons.

Then there are flashlight beams outside the window.

The police have arrived.

For the first time Denver feels what it is like to be a hypnotized deer. What he remembers after that first is the confusion within the harsh glare of concentric illumination like the age determiner on large trees when you cut them down and see how long and how old they’ve been there. Second is anger at somebody else seeing Sirri’s nubile, half naked body as she clutches his big shirt to ward off the cops’ prying eyes.

They’re dragged off to the local precinct for acts of lasciviousness, are finger printed then asked questions and given a half hearted lecture on how the moral fabric of Pinoy youths today is steadily being unraveled. As punishment, Denver would have to go plant ipil ipils with a DENR program. That’s it.
But Sirri, a girl with wits like a halo, sees this balding sergeant in front of her and imaginatively, coolly, pulls out her wallet and bangs down two crisp P1000 bills on the desk. In her smoothest Tia Carerre imitation she tells the sergeant that there’s no need for Denver to plant anything or go anywhere.
For a moment the cop looks at the bills, the cash between their triad, the three heroes on the bills staring up at the three of them. Denver starts to think Sirri has made a stupid mistake but then the cop smiles. He nods and pulls the 2000 and it disappears into his pocket like a phantasmagoric rabbit. The cop says “absolutely no need” and Sirri almost laughs. Sleight of hand by one so bulky looks so unreal. She holds it in and what comes out is a wry smile.

“Of course,” the sergeant adds. “No need at all,” and calls an attendant to bring in their record. Once the attendant leaves, he tears up their records and typed up report, in fingerprints and acts of lasciviousness. Tears it up several times until it’s nothing more than confetti. Then he escorts them to the front and tells the duty cop that he’s got this one. Wave goodbye now to the cute couple, he tells the other cop.

Denver guns the car. One eye on his girl, he’s going from first to fifth gear in a matter of seconds and they’re racing up Antipolo. Whooping with the stereo up loud.
Sirri’s black hair trails the wind when she sticks her head outside enjoying the scratch of night cold on her skin and Denver feels the blood that tells him he is finally, irrevocably alive. Up in the heights of the lookout the stars are velvet, the city below astir as if sprawl and sky were twins. They’re making love again. They are laughing and giggling in the back seat.

“Why’d you want to do it again so soon?” Denver asks as they lie sated.

“Because I didn’t come yet, dummy,” Sirri says.

And the day after she’d go to the office and print out all of Denver’s love letters in plain sight of the whole news desk staff.

Rico coughs.

I wait for him to say THE END. Instead there are few minutes when he huffs and then he pulls us over into a small road to stop the car. He’s rubbing the bridge of his nose and I’m thinking he’s going to rub it right off.

“That’s good shit, man,” Rico says.

“That’s it? That’s your story?” I say, slumped in my chair and feeling the crash biting, its teeth sinking, jaws working away at the muscles of my psyche. It intends to maim.

I only have one packet left and do not intend to waste it. Partly because I can’t dance and thus have no intention of pleading Kyrie for more in that consortium and partly because I am not progressing at all out of this addiction.

“Oh, yeah? I’d like to see you try. Come on, tell me a fable.” Rico’s head is on his arms on the wheel. I can’t see his face.

I say, “Next time, I will. Next time,” feeling the crash coming on much harder than I thought. The pressure, like metal clamps, tightens around my temples. A corkscrew being twisted in my guts.

Rico is shaking his head to something huge descending. The names of the kingdom are found beneath glass, and the names of God are inscribed on café walls. “I knew you were a fake. You shit faced junkie,” he whispers.

I reply telepathically: Sure, but who’s got mommy’s panties in his pocket?

Still shaking in this tear room
At home, days later. That consortium set for tonight looks pretty attractive.
My secretary called this afternoon and reminded me about that fashion shoot tomorrow. I asked if she could hold the executives off until next week since I’m feeling under the weather. Yeah, sure, I’ll see what I can do, boss.

This is withdrawal from fabula. An emptiness I can’t fathom and didn’t believe possible.

Have you ever been inside a small practice studio? When the band has everything turned up to incredible gain and the feedback is immense and wailing? When that Jimmy Page melody is hanging in the air ripe to pick and the song paints a wall of Pink Floydian proportions then comes to an abrupt end? The sudden deafening quiet, the no-soundness that makes its way from your ears to tap tap tap at your spine and make you do something, anything to make noise, but it just echoes off the padded walls like a scream with no mouth.

I can even feel my corpuscles trembling. They’re asking why I’m putting them through this torture. Before I know it I’m licking up the teabags for dregs and last strands of the weed, hurrying to find those other packets I haven’t thrown out and hoping there’s some left. I’m a thorough guy as far as drugs are concerned so I only find three small straws. Not even enough to burn, but I try anyway and of course there’s no fix. So the dross shittiness of it climbs up my system and I throw the pipe across the room and something made of glass shatters.

I pace around the bed, pounding the mattress with my clenched fists. This is what I have learned: I am super-deformed and my blood is unshakable addiction, broken and ugly. Living like this is beautiful, terrifying and desolate. Every second ticking away on my clock pushes me minutely closer, tottering at the precipice. I find it harder and harder to resist. This is a taste of the void and I do not like it at all.

Not at all.

It’s still in there, I think. I can see the ticket’s edge. It waves its folded, yellow colored corner and tells me, in a little boy’s voice, to pick it up and go for the fun. It’ll be fun. Twisting from the edge of the abyss, I get up and frantically empty the trash to get at it since my hands are shaking so bad.
I shower, put on a silk shirt and some black jeans, don some jewelry to not seem out of place. Run to the mirror in the bathroom. Look and see that you don’t need no make up, boyo, you’ve got all the dark circles beneath the eyes you need. Reminds me of soccer punches. I catch a taxi and go to North Avenue Station.

The ravaged, lonely ones
I’m always late and tonight is no exception. At the station finally and the fire in my belly leaps up to singe my throat as I climb the stairs.

I’m sure there was once a long line of well-dressed ravers and party people but that’s all gone now, replaced by a trail of scattered confetti and velvet hung on pillars that decorate the place as if it’s a big womb. The big hulking guard stops me and asks for my ticket. When I give it, he grabs my left hand and injects something into my wrist with a quick, painless syringe. Then he shines a bar code scanner on it. I can see that I’ve been implanted with one of those cashless imprints. Through the neon yellow lines and miniscule numbers the code on my wrist reads: MONDEX TICKETRON.

“Enjoy the party, sir,” the guard says, who’s got a big MONDEX SECURITIES—Enjoy the Cashless Convenience!—sign on his steno cap. He tips it and pushes me inside the dancing crowd as the doors slide shut. The MRT moves, the party is off, the ravers are whoop whoop whooping.

I find her on the second stop as I get off for a moment and flow in with the waiting, costumed ghouls into the next boxcar. I drag off an Igorot she’s making out with and tell him to go fuck Lolita over there.

“Ho ho! You made it!,” Kyrie says as she hands me a pipe that looks like a big lizard. When I light it, smoke exhales from its mouth.

A souped up remix of “She’s in Parties” is my leveling off tune and I notice that a Jolina Magdangal look-alike is sitting beside me telling me how fucked up I look and wiping my sweat with a hanky.

“What did you do to your hair?” I say.

“It’s the techni-kulay look,” Kyrie says. A yellow MONDEX brand is on her forehead instead of her wrist “I was going for the masa approach tonight. Do you like it?”

“It’s horrific.”

She gives me the finger then pulls me up to dance. The fabula in my system does me good and I find that I can still keep up with the beat that’s been changed to a Bowie number. The drums are too aggressive and the bass shoots into my chest, forcing my heart to thump with it.

Kyrie tells me, with one hand cupped to my ear, that the train stops at every station once around until Taft and then we close off the whole thing, not making any more stops and just ride around hanggang sawa. I tell her the driver’s got to be tired after at least an hour of it. She says that’s why he’s got to be relaxed every so often then swivels my head to the driver’s booth.

A dreadlocked mestiza with sunglasses is in there with the driver, her hands gripping his shoulders, grinding away on top of him. The driver’s uniform is unbuttoned, his own hands clutching her thighs and seeking a deeper penetration, willing to disintegrate the pubic bones that keep them apart. The mestiza’s sunglasses bob in time with their thrusts and land farther from her nose each time but don’t fall.

That’s not all. Undone from my withdrawal haze, I see the consortium has gone wild. There, the Igorot is giving it from behind to a petite, pig tailed Lolita in her Catholic school girl outfit, his bahag discarded and now being used as a hanky dance by the others, she hanging on with her stick thin arms to a metal rail as they buck and heave. On the far seat, I can see an ape-man having his banana stroked and licked by the flamingo red lips of a Gaiman Death wannabe, her ankh pendulum swinging and flashing as she bobs her head in time to the drums.
This one’s for the history books, Luke, my son, Kyrie tells me in her best Darth Vader.

Then it’s Ziggy plays guitar and all the rockers begin to pogo. After that its house numbers, one after another, but I still can’t see where the hell the DJs or the sound systems are. As we dance, Kyrie’s Christmas décor hair swings in a psychedelia of colors like an unbound ferris wheel gone horizontal, the run of her Doc Martens stomp as sweat pours down her legs are a delirium and her slit black skirt do their own numbers like the clickety clack in my brain.

I know the party let-in phase has long gone and we’ve since done two rounds of the whole MRT system but in the middle of “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” she decides she just has to have that blowjob I owe her.
Knowing Kyrie, however, I know she’d like some privacy so I tell her that I won’t renege and promise to give it tomorrow. She refuses, “No. I want it tonight.”

“But Kie, this thing isn’t going to stop. You said it yourself.”

“Oh, it will.” And she approaches the driver’s booth, opens it to the sound of Ms. Mestiza Dreadlocks, her stomach on the control console, pushing herself onto the driver’s engorged brown dick, her ass cheeks being pawed as she groans like a city in subsidence.

“Hoy!” Kyrie screams to be heard above the music. When the guy doesn’t respond, she taps his shoulder.

The driver opens his eyes. “I’m busy.”

“Stop this thing at Q Av.”

“No way,” the guy chuckles.

“Yes way,” she hands him a fat roach.

Ms. Dreadlocks stops pumping for a moment and takes the roach with dainty hands. “This is just what I need,” she says in a husky tone. She lights it, still grinding softly. “Let them out to fuck, Tonio, you only have to open the door less than 5 seconds anyway.”

Tonio looks at Kyrie, then me. He says, “Whatever. Just be ready” And he slams the door.

Once the opportunity arises Ms. Dreadlocks waves us to the opening doors. Kyrie and I exit quickly as the driver closes them before they fully open. Which is less than 5 seconds. It takes most of the train by surprise, but a few manage to follow us. I spot one man who had surely been dawdling, his head caught between the doors, whimpering as the train rushes off oblivious to his predicament.

“Wait, I have to piss,” I say to Kyrie before she can drag me down the stairs.
I shake off her hand and rush to the bathroom just in time to catch my bladder before it bursts. I put a hand on the wall and lean onto the urinal. Just as my piss slows to a trickle a man with green hair and a punkish get-up staggers to the urinal next to mine. He fumbles for his zipper.

Before he can open his pants, however, he coughs, and the cough quickly turns into a deep, growling phlegm fit. He directs his mouth over to the urinal just in time to point the green and yellow vomit that comes out of his lips.

At first it’s just a dribble, timid and slow, then it promptly turns into a forceful surge that reminds me of the way water from a fireman’s hose is so powerfully expelled when the hydrant is first turned on. By this time he’s bent nearly double over the urinal and the small sink that is only built to catch piss is overflowing with the wretched, half-digested remains of his dinner, lunch and breakfast.

Complete with clues.

Instinctively, I step back as his fluids spill to the floor. They narrowly miss my shoes. I curse involuntarily and the punk, the deluge abating for a few seconds, glances up at me. He holds my gaze before the convulsions take him again.
It is not strange to feel kinship with a state of recognition. It is not peculiar to have sympathy for history -- such as the one that confronts you with an unerring flashback of yourself in the same predicament. The only similarity is that, in both instances I am helpless. Not strange at all that is, before gravity reasserts itself. I feel a familiar swelling in my throat that I force down quickly. I zip up my pants, douse water on my face and lurch my way out of there as expediently as I can while the punk continues to belch and belch.

People. Simply no respect for the scene.

I have never been so glad to be holding Kyrie’s hand as we cautiously descend the station stairs. With each step I am thankful that today, for the love of everything holy, I am not the punk.

I’m killing time on Valentine’s waiting for the day to end
The rest of the damned might find pleasure in getting free drugs and having a chance to service their sexy dealer in the process, too. Not me. I’m a control freak, always have been.

I like a bit of sadism in my sex. Just a tinge of violence, enough to be exciting but doesn’t actually hurt. Models and dancers are often my fare. Their delicate bodies are deceptive. Most are strong enough to take a slap or even the occasional four-post tie-up with silken scarves that my bed is also conveniently equipped with. It’s different with Kyrie. I owe her and so I give it the best I have between hurricane tongue twisters and all, the fabula in my system goads me on as much as the musk inside her. She’s straddling my neck from above so I have no chance to avoid her juices when she comes. I bet this is just the kind of thing that turns her on.

Of course, Kyrie is as insatiable as the next person with high metabolism. So what she does is she climbs off my neck and goes down on me. As much as I hate it, I’m responding and she soon has me harder than a square prig in a suit. She’s grinding away on top of me, hands on my knees, body cat arched and eyes showing whites. This is how it feels to be a plywood board with a dildo. She slumps when she’s done. I can’t even move since the numbness is setting on my legs, probably from the combined roller coaster of my withdrawal to leveling and thence to rigorous intercourse.
I sleep.

When I wake up Kyrie is not there. I find her on the rooftop smoking. In this apartment, I’ve got the penthouse plus the rooftop and the junk of my works in progress and some sculptures are up here. I slowly insinuate my hands to hold her and turn her face up for me to kiss and I make it sweet, like the faint duress on a Bailey’s mix. It is our first real kiss and she blows out cigarette smoke when our lips part after the long seconds, sticky and slightly hurting from the pressure.

She gives me a Marlboro light. I walk back near the door where there’s a long wooden bench and sit. Kyrie stands up barefoot and steps onto the dais that I’ve decorated with alibata runes, her small skirt flaps in the 7AM breeze. Then she’s raising her right hand and turning up her palm as if presenting the city to me.

“All this will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me,” she turns around to me. “How about you, Lucas? Will you take down your God for me?”

“Nope,” I shrug.

“Awww, don’t want to light up the city with your bliss?

I pout and shake my head.

“Why do you love the fabula so much, Luke?”

I suckle on the cigarette. “Dunno.”

“Do you think this is one of your episodes, Luke?” Her lips are needle-thin and she steps down.

“The world is full of episodes. They come free.”

I can’t believe we’re having an argument about art.

She approaches and squats and puts her face a few inches from mine. “Episodes? Let me ask you something, Luke. Do you make make-believe documentaries or real life?

I shrugged, “I make them as I see fit, Kie. That’s why I win awards.”

She stands up and smoothens her skirt, pulls up another bench in front of mine.

“Hmmm, right. Well, may I tell you a story? This’ll be brief, I promise” she takes a drag off her cigarette.

“Shoot,” I said.

Here are two lovers. Let’s call them Boy and Girl. The Girl belongs to a family of entrepreneurs and business mavericks; the Boy has a lineage straight out of radio jocks and news anchors.

However, where they meet is nowhere in the city but in Cordillera, where the old gods and the rebels dwell. They love and fight and train like guerillas and if the cause had a god, it would smile down on them for their devotion. Inevitably, they are married amid a cross of M-16s. Their love is sealed with an exchange of a handful of bullets. They consummate their vows down in the city where they join the legal wing of the cause.

Retired and ready to make a good life with their heads down, the Girl gets a scholarship on urban planning in Europe, while Boy comes back to take care of an ailing father. The suit of an anchor and reading the day’s misfortunes on a teleprompter fit him like a glove, the ease of mass communication is wired to his genes. They write long letters through the evening, turning each blank new page into their best friends and sending them off to the arms of their beloved. It warms them through the endless nights.

However, Boy’s mother has other plans and does not want that hateful Girl to make a wretch of her son. So she fakes a letter from Girl saying that she has met somebody up in Utrecht, and that she does not know how to say it, but she does not love him anymore and that she must forgive him but she is not coming back. In anguish, Boy slashes his arms and bleeds to death in his room. He is buried without preamble. The father, searching for his son, dies of lung cancer, his son’s demise kept a secret even on his deathbed.

Meanwhile, Girl comes home having completed her course and looking forward to be reunited. Instead of kisses and cozy nights, she is shown his grave and left to herself with his remains.

This is unacceptable, Girl thinks through her tears and so she makes her way down to Subterrania via an old mountain portal and sings her way through the layers of tropic gehenna with its inhabitants unable to touch her. Her voice is armor and weapon, its fierceness unfathomable. There, in the core of the Underworld city, she kneels in front of the King’s throne and she pleads her lover’s fate, asking the King and Queen to release his soul from the tormented fate of suicidals.

Surely this is within their power?

Moved by the Girl’s willingness for sacrifice, the Queen appeals Girl’s plea to her lord and he agrees. “The price, however, will be your voice and his wounds,” the King declares.

It’s the heart’s filthy lesson…
Kyrie stops to hurl the wooden bench through the air and clear into the next building. I hear it crash into something made of glass. She towers above me.

“You’re scaring me, Kie.”

She puts her mouth on mine and when she talks they brush like feathers “Am I? I have not sung for a long time. Will I sing again?”

She steps back and shouts, then comes rushing forward holding out her forearms, showing me the long scarred gashes that line her arm and wrists about three inches long each, with a single long one running vertically through the middle, bisecting them all. “The price is your voice and his wounds.”

I stagger up but the bench catches on my pant leg and I stumble. “You made this up.”
She shakes her head, an apparition of denial. “Neither am I human, Luke. On my hundredth birthday, when I die, my blood plus my curse will disintegrate what fragile system remains inside me and scatter the dust of my flesh, the casualty into the sun like a thousand motes to be forgotten. Who shall remember me? Who shall sing to me or about me within this sacrificed brief life?”

“You’re a sick fuck, Kie.”

“No. That’s you, Luke. Do you know why you love the fabula so much?”
I sigh, grab a particularly hideous brass sculpture of mine and stand up. “I suppose it’s going to be some obvious answer,” I tell her, trying to be calm.

“Because you have no stories of your own.”

This was a lie. “Fuck you, Kie.”

“You already did, idiot.”

“You’re wrong.”

“Really? Prove it.”

I stand up and brush off the dirt from my clothes. “I’m a pictures man, baby. Give me ten minutes. Stay here.”

She nods and holds out her arms, “Take twenty.”

I go down and set up everything, then climb back up and throw open the door. I kiss her on the lips. She responds then flings me aside and runs down, faster than I can catch her. I find her standing amidst all of it. There is an expression on her face that I think I get when I’m watching strippers.

What she’s looking at is still unframed, propped on six medium easels in a semi-circular arrangement. Kyrie stands in the middle. She’s not sure which one to look at first. My babies they are, my original stories, obras paid with a blood sacrifice.

I start to ramble off my description, the one I’ve been waiting to tell someone for the past decade but can’t or won’t or should have. I tell Kyrie who never takes her eyes off of them. “The pieces are collectively titled Closer to the Angels. They are composed of six canvases that show the transformation of a woman into a winged being,” she still hasn’t looked at me so I continue. “The credit liners on the lower right side indicate that it is mixed elements of painting, photography and computer ministration.”

Kyrie now approaches the first and moves to each canvass as I tell her a story. “As you can see, the lady resembles a fashion model, elfin-faced, high cheekbones, although she is no contrived model. In each of the six pieces, she is in the process of transformation against a backdrop of festival.

“The first one is colored in predominant white and shows the young lady in a state of dance. The second, in earth tones, shows the start of the process,” I point. “There her face shows a hint of something unusual happening. In the third and the fourth, both in shades of black and gray (Kie, there are, as you may notice, odd objects attached to the pieces themselves), she goes from pained to agonized. Her small hands turn into claws and there’s something coming out of her back. A glimpse, no more. Then her whole body in seizure, almost in a fetal position as the thing on her back is finally revealed: wings. These wings are more reptilian than avian and white protrusions hold the top ends and hooks decorate the flared parts like bat’s wings.

“On the next canvass, the lady’s getting up, her wings are half spread. From this angle, we can see that there’s blood on her dress that’s been nearly torn from the growth. This fifth piece is done in red. In the sixth and final piece, we find her wings fully spread, a span that spills out of the canvass borders. Her palms are turned upward and her face holds an expression of half-satisfaction, half-glee. Her feet are together and her head’s thrown back. The sixth is colored in gold and silver.”

Kyrie sits down within their circle and puts her fist in her mouth. “Oh, Luke,” she says reaching an arm to the sixth but not touch it.

“Well,” I say deprecatingly, “At least you like them.”

Kyrie, I think, is crying.

“You see once, not so long ago, in a street parade, there was a fledgling news photographer covering what-not festivals and shitty celebrations. He chanced upon a young woman running to the back of some parked jeepneys. He followed, intrigued and curious, and what he saw there was the magnificent transformation of the girl into a winged, fanged being with leathery wings, inch long claws and cat slit eyes. All the while, he was clicking madly away, changing films like crazy.”

Kyrie stands up and unbuttons the top of my shirt then searches my neck. She finds the puncture marks easily, the two thin scars on the left side of my neck
I continue as she touches them. “Of course, she noticed him and whisked him off to the sky and murmured truths to him in the rush of air and pyrotechnics. The festival’s roving medical team found him in later in the morning, on the top of a broken tent clutching a roll of film. Half his blood was gone. He still has the puncture scars to this day. And she has been with him ever since.”

I’m done.

Kyrie is leading me to bed and laying me down. Her weight on top of me feels comfortable. A heaviness. A fabulation. Just like the force to imagine worlds.
She pulls out a brownie the size of a comics panel, waves it at my mouth. “Eat me.”

“Time for sweets?”

“Just eat, Luke. Please.”

I shrug and eat the thing in three chews, tasting slightly of mint and something damp. Kyrie lays her head on my chest. I drift off.

…With her hundred miles to hell
The first thing I notice is the feel of grass instead of sheets.

“Kyrie?” I sit up.

There’s no Kyrie and no bed, no paintings and no apartment. There is just this long stretch of grass and cemetery tombs dotted with Chinese sepulchers and slabs on the ground with names of the departed. It’s late afternoon, the sun like a red eye splashing the horizon with a palette of warm colors. Standing up, I see that the grass in my hand is brown and brittle and that the rest of the scenery seems just as long disused or abandoned.

What the hell happened?

“You mean who the fuck are you?” the voice is unbelievably seductive even as she comes down from the blood red sky. She is as young and terrifying as I remember her, my nameless lady of the claws. I’m barely able to catch those clawed hands as she swoops down and propels herself with powerful flaps of reptilian wings.
My fingers are bleeding at once from where her knife sharp claws touch me but I hold on even though her strength presses like a juggernaut.

“How are you, Luke? Missed me?” she kisses me full on the lips and bites down. I knee her. She lets go and laughs as my lips bleed from the twin punctures of her canines. “Did you enjoy showbiz while I was away? I bet you did. All those girls, hmmm? Too bad you didn’t display those paintings of me at once. Why, my dear, are you ashamed of me?”

Wrestling with what seems a ton, I manage to roll us over until I’m straddling her from above. I’m still unable to get the advantage with her hands but I’m not letting go anytime soon. What the hell is happening? If this is a drug dream then you better wake up, Luke! This way lies death.

Luke, if he’s dreaming, isn’t waking up. The winged woman talks on, refusing to yield to my willing her away. “I hear you telling all those interviewers and those TV people that you’re always looking for answers, Luke. So much pseudo-intellectual bullshit. If you were ready to face the terra incognita of the soul I’d have come sooner. But it took a spiked brownie to get you here. Have you lost track of your meter, child? Gone insane while looking for something you know is futile? Still shaking? Do you want the answers?”

“Fuck you,” I spit out with some blood.

That was a waste of breath. She easily rolls me over and is again on top, pinning my hands to the sides of my head, putting her face near mine until I can smell the reek of her breath. Oddly, she smells vaguely like Rico’s mom’s undies and beyond that, the rotting awful smell of dead lizards, corpses in vast, empty abandoned lots.
She continues. “The answers, Luke:

a) Bernardo’s greatest sin is the corruption of an innocent. He is damned because he traumatized his then nine-year-old sister for life. It is a direct result of his perverse request on that fateful ice cream day. She never viewed sex as a normal act again and thus, he irrevocably tainted her forever.

b) Rico’s mom is a slut and that made it much easier for Rico’s father to find another woman. And much easier to get caught and tarnish his image, but it was the father who finally filed for a divorce.

c) The puppy’s name is Pol.

d) MONDEX follows the left hand path of darkness and shall rule the earth one day with its cashless society.

e) Sirri and Denver will marry and live a happy life.

f) Kyrie is a changeling.

g) You are a fake.

“No!” I shout and put all my concentration into rolling us over. I succeed but her claws are about to take my hands off.

“You have always been a fake, Luke. You possess no imagination. You have no fire in you, no duende. Your heart is cold and barren to rival the glooms. You are nothing but a thief.”

“That’s your verdict? I still made you into a masterpiece. I still did all the work. You just bit me and told me to go fuck myself.”

“No, Lucas. I gave you the life you never had.”

I slowly pin down her arms with deep, even breaths, “So what now,” each word is hell coming out.

“You’re coming with me.”

We stare at one another in the way humans and animals stare. I do not know which one I am in this equation, perhaps the latter. I remember Kyrie telling me she has never been human.


I slam my forehead into her nose and satisfyingly see it bleed. “That’s not going to happen.” I slam against her again and knock a few of her front teeth loose. She’s screaming now. I do this until I have spent all my anger, until I feel her nasal bone crack or go into her skull. She is a butterfly pinned beneath me.
A strange calmness spreads through her and she slowly melts into the earth, beautiful again like I remembered her. Like cooked cheese settles on a dish she osmoses into the brittle grass and the soil and diminishes into ether, into a film fade that I have been gladly running from all these years. The years smolder and burn and you allow them to take you with them.

No more.

I collapse on the grass.

Caveat emptor
A wet tongue and a bark unearth me from slumber.

“Yarp! Yarp!”

He barks once more and wags his tail as he climbs up my chest. “I thought you’d never wake up.”

Yarp? “Pol,” I smile.

“Yeah! That’s my name. How’d you know? I just got it last week when they came back from Palawan! But they’re all in Pampanga now, the shitheads.” The puppy settles down and whimpers a bit.

“Thanks for waking me up,” I say, grabbing him and turning him on his back so I can rub his stomach. Excited, he stretches and bares more belly as he yelps with joy.

“You almost scared me there, fag. Was drinking out of the bowl—nice salty taste you have in your bathroom, by the way—and heard you screaming, you were twisting the sheets like a wild man too. And your hands were…”

I hold them up and there are the wounds.

“Your hands were bleeding.”

“S`okay, Pol. Everything is alright now. Where’s you babysitter?”

“‘Kyrie? She just went out for some groceries. Great ass and legs on that one man, um um, mucho delisyoso. Hey, I know you and that girl have made it on this bed. I can smell your cum and hers, “he sniffs. “From a mile away. What I want to know is did you videotape it?”


“Nevermind. Hey, got any beer?” Pol asks and climbs down to paw and bark at the ref door.

“Of course.” I rinse the blood off my hands, wrap them in bandages then get Pol a Super Dry that I put into a bowl. Slurping hungrily, he tells me he prefers to sit on the table. So I pull up a chair and put the bowl in front of him. As my butt touches the upholstery, I begin to feel woozy. The pain hits me.

“Are you okay?” Pol asks, his mouth dripping Super Dry, but before I can say Yes I’ve blacked out.

* * *

I wake up sometime in the morning with the sunlight filtering in and see Chin Chin, my secretary, changing the bandages on my hands and Kyrie in the background smoking. There’s something wrong with her nose, there seems to be a white strip there, like a cast. What happened to your nose, dear? I also try to say that she shouldn’t do that, (chain smoke, I mean) but I swim out of consciousness again.

The second time, I wake up in darkness and see only that Pol, in his puppy tubbiness, is reading the newspaper on my dinner table with a nightlight. He smirks at a news item in the Metro. I try to tell Pol to turn on the lights because reading like that can damage your eyes, but what comes up is a cough. Then I’m out in a blink.

The third time, my winged girl is sitting at the foot of my bed wearing a frown. Her taloned feet hold her steady on the horizontal post. She puts a finger to her lips telling me to be quiet as she rocks Pol, holding him in one arm, the puppy suckling at her breast, while with another she hold up a card to me. I can barely make out that it’s got the illustration of a man on a bed being pierced by swords from above. I can’t count how many.

* * *

When my fever breaks I find Kyrie staring out at the dawn sky. I find that I’ve been out for a week which not only means that the fashion shoot has flown the coop but that a host of clients have unsheathed their bolos and are eagerly betting on whom will get to behead me first. Chin Chin tells me I can take care of it if I just work hard for a month. I say of course, and then bang down the phone.

First, I have to make love to Kyrie.

As we lay down she’s laughing and caressing the puncture scars on my neck, she tells me: “Beware.”

Polgas the dog was created by Pol Medina, Jr. for Pugad Baboy Comics©.