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I don't look a thing like Jesus but I talk like a gentleman.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

stella (4): shadowplay


He hides in the closet, between sundresses and black miniskirts. He inhales through his mouth, his regular breaths sounding more like wheezes than exhales. His sweat often soaks through his shirt and the face towel beneath it. All this he endures to catch a glimpse of her naked body under the sullen moonlight. It is Wednesday, her day off, and he is all too familiar with her routine.

Stella is awake. She is humming a tune under her breath, a melody from too long ago. I recognize it almost instantly. She closes her eyes and her right hand ducks quietly under the covers. You can see her writhing in bed, one hand on her sex, the other fondling a breast. She seeks pleasure nightly, her regulars coming before she can even think about getting turned on. Her neck relaxes as she finds the right rhythm, the right pressure for pleasure. He shifts from within the closet, the wood creaking at his weight. Stella's eyes fly open as she lets out a quiet, little scream.

"Surprise!" they exclaim as she enters. And to think she had prayed they'd forgotten. All the girls are there. They transformed the tiny dressing room into a little corner of home. Makeshift streamers and condom balloons line the walls. Stella is breathless. She didn't want to make a fuss of this day but one of the girls had overheard her talking on the phone and the passing of her 25th birthday was too tempting, too delicious to ignore.

This would be her final birthday at the bar. Girls just tend to disappear when they become too old for the patrons and it was decided long before her time that 25 was the right age to retire.

"Who's there?" she asks, clutching the blanket close to her chest. "Who's there?!" she shouts.

The closet door opens slowly and she sees a dark figure emerging into the light. He looks embarrassed, like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. But this was no regular cookie, he would soon find out.

"What the hell do you think you're you doing? How long have you been watching me?" He doesn't answer. Instead, he gets up to leave. He looks at her one last time, his eyes full of regret, then he walks slowly to the door.

"So, what are your plans after this?" Hazel asks.

"I don't really know. I'm probably just going to eat my cake then go home," she answers, playing dumb.

"You know what I mean. You've had a long career here. Surely, you've thought about this at least once." Stella could tell that this was her idea. With her out of the picture, Hazel would inherit her regular customers. But she didn't think she'd be smart enough to orchestrate this blatant reminder of the bar's policy on how old the talents should be.

"Well, we can't all be rock stars," she says. "Any day now, Bookie will ask to meet with you about your options. What are you gonna do then?"

"I don't know," she dismisses, a blank expression on her face. "I'll figure something out." And something in me knew she would. She always does.

"Bookie,"
she offers. His hand on the doorknob, the door ajar. "You don't have to go." He looks at her from the dark hallway. She seems smaller than before. Something has changed. You could see it in her eyes.

"Get back in there and watch me." Her voice is warm at first, like the beginning of surrender. He refuses to move. Her dark brown eyes pierce through him in the darkness. She commands him once again, this time louder, harder. He closes the door and gets back in the closet. Stella resumes.

I'll figure something out, she answered. And something in me knew she would. She always does.

The girls sing her a song and Stella blows out the candles. She takes a large slice of the cake and sets it on a paper plate. She picks a sugary flower, the largest and brightest of them all, and plants it in the middle of the slice. She walks slowly, carefully like a cat about to pounce, and knocks gently on the manager's door.

"Bookie?" she beckons, her voice low and gentle like a purr. "Bookie, I have something for you."

He comes back every Wednesday, her one day off work. He knows her routine all too well. One week, he is in the closet. The next, on the bedroom floor. One week, she lets his hand rest on the bed. The next, he lays there quietly with her. He doesn't touch her. He wouldn't dare to. But on a particular Wednesday when the moon was at its dimmest, Stella raised her final white flag.

"Hold me," she whispers, desperation in her voice. Bookie's eyes light up with anticipation. He puts his arm around her and rocks her gently to sleep. I look away.

And I have seen all this through my eyes in the walls. I move undetected, like a shadow in the darkness. I am here because love compels me. I am here because the light has denied us.

My name is Bryan and I am not here, No, not really.

♫: The Killers | When You Were Young (2006)
Photo: shadow


20 comments:

  1. my indifference to stella turned into internal fireworks (the bad kind) when she called out to bookie. lol

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    1. LOF: Seriously? I always thought it was nice that Bookie could save her. haha #thirdworldproblems

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    2. LOF: How strange that I wrote majority of this back in September before the typhoon hit and yet you see how the foreign man is always seen as the savior. Brian just watches. It's Bookie who has all the power. lolz

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  2. the phrasing of "the typhoon" reminds me of something Derrida said regarding "9/11" and naming: "Something" took place, we have the feeling of not having seen it coming, and certain consequences undeniably follow upon the "thing." But this very thing, the place and meaning of this "event," remains ineffable, like an intuition without concept, like a unicity with no generality on the horizon or with no horizon at all, out of range for a language that admits its powerlessness and so is reduced to pronouncing mechanically a date, repeating it endlessly, as a kind of ritual incantation, a conjuring poem, a journalistic litany or rhetorical refrain that admits to not knowing what it's talking about.

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    1. LOF: There's the LOF i remember! haha it's been a while since we sparked a conversation like this.

      Maybe major life-changing events big (9/11, yolanda) or small (giving up on a lover, settling on someone else) are all the same. you could see it on the horizon and brace yourself all you want but when the first rains fall, you're still going to get wet.

      And when all is done, you relinquish all responsibility by claiming there was no way to control it or we're doing the best we can. Maybe that's our last remianing comfort?

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  3. starting religions and writing fiction or is that smarting religion or righting fiction? haha

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    1. LOF: wow, that was witty! Haha I think if you look hard enough, you'll see there's not much difference between the two anyhoo. Haha

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  4. nice. one of the best english bloggers around! hehe

    clap clap. uy namiss ko ang blog mo! hehe

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    1. kalansaycollector: Sushal! haha salamat! Namiss ko din mag-blog. It's not like what it used to be. Sana manumbalik. :(

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    2. I enjoy reading these stories of Stella. I don't know why, pero naaalala ko yung books ni Paulo Coelho. *hehe*

      Keep it up. And more inspiration for you sa pagsusulat. :3

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    3. kalansaycollector: Dati kasi ang daming tao. O baka kasi di ko na natutuunan ng tamang pansin aka di na ako nakakapag bloghop. hehe

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    4. Geosef: Uy sushal yan! haha Pinost ko to sa Facebook ko sa sobrang tuwa ko. Thank you for appreciating the story. :) Parang tinatamad na ako tapusin nung una pero knowing na may nagbabasa naman pala, go na natin yan. hehe

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  5. Medyo matagal ang paghihintay pero sulit ang kwento. Namnam ang bawat phrase and sentence. Next epsiode, next month, haha!

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    1. Limarx: Oo. Once a month na nga lang! haha nag-comment ka na ata when I first released this nung September. masaya ako at nakabalik ka ulit. :)

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  6. I imagine Bookie as a schizophrenic, mentally-deranged adolescent. I don't know why. Haha.

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    1. Rei: That's so strange! haha I invisioned him as a really fat guy na medyo may face naman. Yung tipong parating may dalang bimpo. haha

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  7. Hummm...... Had a comment, but got totally lost in the previous comments/dialogue! Now I don't know WHAT to say! Lol! Is the "foreign savior" sorta like the cliched 'white devil slavemaster' ??

    Oh dear!

    But I did see and hear this as a kind of Anthony Burgess style short film....a story playing out in Stella's head and imagination...perplexing all the while.

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    1. Rick: Not necessarily. Blame it on Douglas MacArthur. He is the epitome of the American soldier saving the Philippines. haha This cements your country's imagine in the Philippines as the world's savior. haha

      And I'm not that familiar with Anthony Burgess. I will do my homework!

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