Saturday, May 09, 2015

Tell Me

   “--and that’s why your husband left you for a living, breathing blow-up doll!” the man said.

   The man pauses, takes deep breaths.  His tirade has been going on for fifteen minutes now.  I don’t know his name but he’s a regular.  He comes to me at least twice a week, says what he wants to say, pays me, then leaves.  I’m not the one he’s angry at and I’m not the subject of his tirades.  I’m just a… call me a stand-in.  People come to me when they can’t say what they want to say to the people who need to hear it.  They figure it’s easier to say it to a complete stranger who does not really care what you’re talking about.  I don’t care what this man is saying as long as he pays me after.

   “You wouldn’t know kinky if it sat on your face!”  The man goes on, spittle flying from his mouth.

   The man’s been coming to me four about a month now.  From what I’m able to piece together he won the top prize of a major literary competition three years in a row and was considered a wunderkind of Philippine literature.  He now writes an erotic column for a tabloid under a pseudonym.  And his editor’s his mother-in-law.  Everyday his column’s always not good enough for her and she rides him hard (heh) to kink it up some more.  For the readers’ sake, she says.  Right.

   The man stops talking, catches his breath.  He looks at the ground as he reaches into a pants pocket. His scalp is winning the battle against his hair.  He hands me a hundred pesos, thanks me and walks away.  I watch him as he crosses the street and flags down a jeepney bound for U.N. Avenue.

   I turn around and see that save for a stray dog I have the whole Plaza Dilao for myself.  Late afternoon traffic is building up along Quirino Avenue and my lungs savor fresh carbon monoxide. The dog takes a crap at the base of the statue of Dom Justo Takayama, a 17th century Christian daimyo who was expelled from Japan and lived in Manila.

   A traffic policeman was negotiating with a truck driver near the gates of the Columbian Center. Lozano.  He’s a shitty cop who demands a hundred pesos whenever I set up here.  The shitbird senses someone watching him conduct his business, looks up, and actually smiles at me.  I’m tempted to salute him with my middle finger but wouldn’t want to risk a punch to my stomach when he collects his hundred later.  I smile my most genuine fake smile.

   His smile probably means that he’s glad I haven’t run out on him.  And it’s also a warning not to.  I slipped away from him twice before and the next time he collected from me he jacked up the fee to three hundred.  Interest, he said.  Along with a punch to the gut.  Someday, he’ll be roadkill, run over accidentally by twenty cargo trucks.

   I light up a cigarette, sit on my favorite bench and continue reading my newspaper.  I’m halfway through my second cigarette when I sense someone standing before me.  Thinking it’s Lozano, I grumpily put down my paper and start to reach into my pocket for his hundred.

  Except it’s not Lozano.  It’s a bureaucrat of about fifty, thick glasses, hair combed over to one side. He had on government regulation polo barong and black gabardines while clutching a plastic attaché case.  A client.

   “Yes?” I say.

   “Are you Tony?”

   “That’s me.”

   “I’ve heard I can talk to you,” he says.

   I drop the cigarette and crush it out as I stand.  “Well, you can talk at me.  And if you really want me to answer back, it’ll cost extra.”

   “No.  I’ll just… I’ll just talk at you,” he says.  He put down his attache case.  “How much?”

  “Fifty pesos minimum.”

   “That’s fine.”

   “I’m all ears, then.  Whenever you’re ready,” I say.

   He seems unsure of what to do, what to say.  He looks at me and past me.  He opens his mouth and I thought he’s going to start.  “Can I hit you?”

   “Whoa, whoa.  No, you can’t.  I don’t do that.  You want someone you can hit while talking at him, you want Gary.  He’s at the Liwasang Bonifacio today, I think.  Big guy, favors muscle shirts.  Used to be a stuntman in movies.  You can’t miss him,” I say, starting to sit back down.  

   The man scratches his head.  “That’s out of my way.  And I have to do this now,” he says.

   “Sorry I can’t help you.  You can talk at me all day long but no hitting.”  I pick up my newspaper and look for the article I was reading earlier.

 “Wait,” the man says.

   I look up and see him dipping into his wallet.  He takes out a thousand peso bill and holds it out.
 “This is all the money I have on me right now.  It’s yours if I can hit you.”

   I stare at the money then study the man.  He’s thin and short.  I reckon the worst I’ll feel is an eight year old slapping me.

   I stand and take the money from him.  “Alright.  A couple of conditions, though.  You just hit me once.”

  “Okay,” he says.

   “And I get to hit you back.”

   “Oh,” he says, brows furrowing.  “What the hell.  Fine.  As long as it’s not in the face.”

  “Sure.  Not in the face.  Now, I’m all ears,” I say.

   We stand not quite face to face for he was a couple of inches shorter than me.  His eyes dart left, then right, finally resting somewhere on my face.  He was probably looking for a target.  I ready for my nose to be hit.  He opens his mouth, his throat moves and then I feel something hit my left cheek. A jolt of pain dissolves into a burning.  The bastard must be stronger than I thought.  He shouts something but I can’t understand for his palm kept reintroducing itself to my cheek.

   I stagger back, throw up my arms to ward off any further reintroductions.  I begin to understand his words.

   “It was the cat!  It was the cat!”  He pays no attention to my pleas to stop.  He raises his attaché case and I had to act soon before it gets acquainted with my head.

   “It was the cat!”

   I step forward and take hold of his arms and knee him in the groin.  Twice.  He crumples to the ground.

   I stoop down, catching my breath.  “Are you okay?” I ask.

   He lay in a fetal position, gasping for breath.

   I hear shouts and whistles and turn to see Lozano and one other cop entering the park.

   “Ice it when you get home,” I say to him.  “Good luck.”

   And I run.      

Monday, March 23, 2015


Found this scribbled in an old notebook, practicing my observation and description skills:

Antipolo City 
August 7, 2011 

She sat on a bench beneath a tree, fair skin radiant even beneath the shade. She wore a light pink shirt, jeans with its cuffs rolled inwards, and flip flops. Her toenails painted red.  Sleepiness hasn't completely faded from her eyes. She held a spiral notebook with a ballpoint pen tucked within its metal spine. 

She was yawning when a passing street sweeper greeted her "good morning." She tried to shift the yawn into a smile but the yawn won. She smiled and greeted back afterwards.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Writing's On the Wall

Staring at the walls or ceiling is an integral part of the writing process. A variation of this part of the process is banging one's head against the wall (or the ceiling if the writer is tall enough, or can jump that high) until an idea comes or the words come flowing. Most writers report, though, that more often than not blood flows out instead of words, so those who would want to practice "banging one's head against the wall (or ceiling)" must do so with due caution. Or with an ambulance standing by. A variation of "banging one's head against the wall (or ceiling)" is "banging someone else's head against the wall (or ceiling)" but that is only recommended for experienced writers who can afford lawyers to fend off the inevitable lawsuit. Or settle out of court with the person with the nasty headache or cracked skull.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Apathy killed this blog, which is no surprise since its former title was The Indifference Engine.

This post is a blip, a possible sign of life. Stay tuned for more silence.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Huston's Guns to Shape the Future

Awesome Charlie Huston essay on Mulholland Books.

"Along with the future, I also like a good wall I can bang my head against.

It’s a very healthy process, this writing thing."

Friday, June 25, 2010


My short story Best Served Cold is included in the horror anthology Demons of the New Year by Estranghero Press.

I know, I know. The anthology's been online for a few months now but I only got around to posting about it now.

And The POC's Fidelis Angela Tan has a two-part review of the anthology which you can read here and here. A sampling of what she has to say about my contribution:

'"Best Served Cold" takes demons, big corporations, and politicians – all one really needs to know of evil – and puts them all together in a creepy (and at the same time funny) read.'

There's also a two-part interview with the anthology's co-editor Karl de Mesa here and here where my contribution gets mentioned.

And I'd be lying if I proclaim that the review and the mention didn't embiggen my heart. And my ego. Heh.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Gordon Goes to Detroit


"The Detroit Pistons have reached agreement with free-agent guard Ben Gordon(notes) and forward Charlie Villanueva(notes), a source with knowledge of the talks told Yahoo! Sports Wednesday evening."

And your friendly Bulls Blogger rants about it.

There goes my 2010 and beyond scenario (more like dream) with LeBron, Derrick, and Ben leading the Bulls to a number of championships.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Curse Songs

From the backmatter of the second issue of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's Phonogram: The Singles Club:

"It's worth stressing that the curse record is a different thing to a true angry break-up obsessive record. Putting on Gentlemen or early Nick Cave and drinking a lot of whiskey while scowling is actually a healing thing. Not nice for anyone else to be around you as you coat yourself with blood and sin, but actually a utilitarian thing for self-repair, an aesthetically-inversed version of white wine, smeared mascara and bawling "I Will Survive". A curse record is the opposite. A curse song, will, in a real way, open old wounds, tearing the stitches you're trying to make hold. A curse song should be avoided at all costs. I have friends who, suffering through the most virulent stages of the curse, abandon entire bands or even genres of music due to the associated poison."

So what are your curse songs?