All around me, everyone seems to be having a good time. Alcohol does that to you and coupled with friendship and other spirits, it’s not hard to feel alone in a sea of happy, inebriated strangers. Pardon the cliché but it’s all I have right now. My word processor’s cursor blinks like an irregular heartbeat and I can’t help but feel that if I don’t start writing, I would dry up and vanish forever.
I’m alone, save for an empty bottle of beer. I’ve been trying to get another one but the waiter seems very intent on a much delayed airing of a boxing match. On the table, I have my cigarettes and a relatively untouched bowl of tokwa’t baboy. I’m not hungry. I came here to drink. And to write.
I close my eyes. There are stories that need to be told, scenes that need to play out. In my mind’s eye is a woman with a toaster. You can hear an old song from the radio. Which song is it? It sounds like the intro to Michelle Branch’s Are You Happy Now?* The woman is frozen in time, toaster in the air, her husband in the bathtub seemingly unaware of the fate she has decided for them. Why is she there? Why does she want to kill him?
My head hurts. It seems I cannot find the story. It’s like that store in the mall, the one where you saw that really nice pair of jeans a week ago. It has a way of hiding from you right when you need it. And when you finally arrive at its well-lit façade, the jeans are either not how you remembered them to be, not in the right size or if you’re really unlucky, the store has just closed for the night.
The waiter looks my way and I signal for another bottle. Where is the woman with the toaster? Where has she gone?
If you ask me, toasters are a little too cliché. It’s so old-fashioned, you can literally taste the damask wallpaper peeling off the wall. The scene’s poorly lit but you can tell that her hair has been dyed from its original color to platinum blonde. The roots show like a weak story with poor delivery. Let’s change the toaster.
She walks slowly with a loaded shotgun. The bathtub’s gone too. Her husband is showering. You can see his blurry nakedness through the frosted shower window. He needs a pubic trim but that’s something you don’t really write about.
She slides the door open. There is no fear in his eyes. Did he see it coming?
I take another swig of my beer only to find it is my last one. I promised myself I would stop drinking so I guess I should stop at three bottles. The waiter is behind me. With the smallest voice I could find, I ask him for a glass of water and the bill.
Chit? he asks.
Bill, I correct.
“Hands up,” she commands but he just stands there, one hand soaping his left shoulder, the other covering his privates. She needs something from him – a look, a confirmation her lover loves her still.
“Hands up!” she says again, this time shouting. Reluctantly, he drops the bar of soap and throws both hands in the air.
“Say it,” she barks as she cocks the gun.
“Three words.” There is a wicked smile on her face, like she’s done this countless times before. There is still no fear in his eyes.
“Do you want me to say I love you?” he asks. The scene is in black and white so you barely notice that he has peed on himself. The warm liquid trickles from the tip of his uncut penis to his hairy, muscled leg to the soapy water on the cold bathroom tiles.
Yes? Do I want her to say yes? Does she want him to say he loves her? Wouldn’t that be too quick?
“Pull the trigger,” he says, not I love you. More than any combination of all the words in the English language, those were the three she least expected. Why did it seem more genuine then? Could it be that he knew all along? Why did he allow it to happen? Is love really that strong or that stupid? Help me understand why he let her do it.
He loved her knowing it would be the end of him. In my mind’s eye, she is cleaning the gun’s barrel as they do in the movies. Do shotguns have barrels? This story has no ending. None of my stories do.
Sir? Sir, the waiter calls to me and I awake from my daydream. He hands me the bill for the food, a pack of cigarettes and two bottles of beer.
I ordered three, I say. Or was that all in my imagination too? I lay a crispy Ninoy on the tacky leather envelope and tell him to keep the change.
Photo Credit: it's my life