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and Estela, for Ikong, Tenteng and Miniang and the baby called Biik, one day the katsa curtains shut out the sky. Bianong touched a lapad to his lips, and the baby cried from hunger, and Ikong was terrified of his father, and Tenteng and Miniang lay as still as death, and Estela, and Estela, and Estela« Somewhere in the morning a radio came to life, and Aling Upe a door away was berating her Sigue-Sigue-Sputnik son, and still farther on, the puto vendor was singing, Puuuuuuto! Itoy Bayag, the kubrador, was collecting the early bets for Jai-alai, working his way down from the far end of the Pasilyo, and at exactly 12 noon, he was going to poke his head through the door to ask if Bianong had any sondo to bet with, which was not likely, and also to see if by any chance Estela was not wearing anything under her cotton shift. Bianong touched the lapad to his lips. A fly buzzed and alighted on his arm, and he banged the table with his fist. The baby cried harder, and Ikong cringed, and Tenteng and Miniang lay unmoving. The morning reeled in Bianong¶s mind, and reeled before his eyes, and he was growing more irritated because it would not stand still long enough for him to think, and how could a man think clearly in all this when there was no milk for Biik and not even any aspirin for Tenteng and Miniang? Poor Bianong, poor Estela, poor Ikong, and Biik, and Tenteng and Miniang. Poor Estela who had to work all night so her family could eat, and Bianong, ay, what a burden he was the lazy carabao. The fishwives clucked their tongues, and straddled the edge of his vison, safely beyond reach, mocking him. Bianong touched the lapad to his lips the shook his fist at them. He wanted to kill them, kill them, kill, kill them, but Pareng Isko merely laughed. Look, Pare, hahaha, they are only envious of you. He slapped his knee and winked at Mareng Estela when she emerged with a platter of pinapaitang aso, and winked at Pareng Bianong as they touched their lapads together, Pareng Isko saying, ³tagay,´ and Bianong saying, ³tagay,´ and when their Marka Demonyo was empty, he called Ikong and sent him out to Aling Upe¶s for more. Bianong was a jeepney driver. Boundary: 50 pesos a day. He worked ten hours at the wheel, with only a quick lunch and quicker coffee with pandesal and a slice of cheese later in the afternoon, and yet he could make no more than 20 pesos at the end of the day. No matter how he tried to figure it out. Ten pesos for him and ten for Estela. Ten, ten, ten, pesos, pesos, pesos. He did not see the bus turning the corner, but an old woman vending Marlboro/Hope/Philip cigarettes nearby did, and she screamed. He wanted to retched. He felt terrible. His head swam and the pisong pansit that he had eaten earlier at Aling Upe¶s was rising, and now it was spilling out, and he closed his mouth, trying to force it back, but could not swallow, and it came in spite of
Why couldn¶t he move? Where was everybody? EMERGENCY WARD. and Pareng Isko accompanied her. cutting away the shirt with the vomit still damp on it.. that their credit was definitely. despite the mosquitoes and the dampness. his gaze transfixed upon her swaying buttocks. they wheeled him under the lights at the ampitheatre. Bianong. He swore. despite sometimes the drizzle. Mare. Biik refused to nurse at his milkbottle which held plain tapwater sweetened with panutsa. He brushed a stand of hair off Miniang¶s forehead. squalling his protest over this rank deception µtill it tore at Bianong¶s nerves. and Bianong found himself thinking.m. closed until further notice because their debts were already up to here(hand rising. saying there. and then his pants. Teneteng whimpered. The comatose twins looked like waxen dolls and were hot to the touch. and after swabbing him with alcohol. but Pareng Isko held her hand. Pareng isko glared balefully at the attendant who was shouldering them out. wringing her hands. and the baby cried from hunger. and again. and he retched again. seeking each other out with trembling hands. Their fever had not abated. courtesy of Aling Upe ± I¶m giving this. He dragged himself from the bench and on to the wooden papag where Tenteng and Miniang lay. He buried his head in his hands. leaving a third of his sandwich unconsumed. and they had lain together on the grass. back where it was darkest. dribbling down in gobs of noodle/tokwa/shreds of pork/bile/saliva over the front of his shirt. The sun¶s glare was blinding him. and was still swearing under his breath as he hurried to emergency. The morning heat was oppressive. palm down to neck level). up to the swinging door where the NO ADMISSION sign barred them. and afterwards just laying there into the early hours.himself. and Ikong looked bleakly at him. Pareng Bianong is all right. and after it. for the last time. you understand? For the children ± who had told Ikong to tell his father. He had not anything but gin for nearly two days. until the tenseness left her and she was beginning to feel a pleasant tingle. up and down. Philippine General Hospital: The nurse-on-duty logged the patient¶s admission at 5:30 p. what if they should suddenly melt? Should he call the doctor? Would Doctor . Tenteng and Miniang could not eat anything at all. Estela. and moving his free hand up and down her back. as his name came over the PA system. and all the while. They prepared him for surgery. and paged a resident surgeon who was at the time wolfing down an egg sandwich with coke at the Medical Personnel Canteen and thinking of his dinner-date with the new student nurse. Estela was going to be hysterical again. under the other. there. And what if there had been clandestine spectators? Bianong touched the lapad to his lips. and Tenteng and Miniang lay as unmoving as before. and all he could scrape up for the children was a cellophane packet of soda crackers. and Estela¶s absence intruded upon Bianong¶s mind with the persistence of a knife turning in his belly. Diyoskodiyoskodiyosko. his briefs. Bianong was dreaming of Estela. and finally. accompanied them. She had come to him after class behind the densest gumamela stand on the Muni green off Intramuros.
and a darkeness shot through with screams and stretching wheels and screams. there were so many expenses to be paid. Aling Upe had materialized before his doctor to collect. He was working on the kneecap now. It was 10:30 p. But Bianong could not think of anything at all without getting furious. He hurled the empty bottle from him and the scene dissolved into another morning on Pasilyo 8 when he sat on the doorsteps. Estela had found work in a soda fountain of dubious route at the Avenida on Pareng Isko¶s recommendation. but he played blind. and giggling nurses. the heat. Doc washed up and headed for the phone in the nurses¶ station outside the operating room where Isko was rubbing Estela¶s clammy hand to dispel her fear. the heat. Confess. and Bianong scowled the wrath of heaven. and scalpels. Bianong must use his brains and not be too emotional. It was good of Pareng Isko to show such concern. Isko was kind. refusing to admit that Isko¶s trivialities were more than what they were. The twins were too still. He wanted to scream. screams. Pare was a personal friend of the manager. Bianong agreed. sell cigarettes. hindi ba? Tagay! Isko winked at Bianong and stabbed a fork into the pansit that he had brought along for pulutan. their silence frightened him. his fingers curled around her neck and tightened until it distended into the lapad. he shouted. and found out he couldn¶t. a fat wink when Bianong was not looking. After all. She smelled goo. his voice a hurt lament in the drift of morning sounds. He gave Ikong a whole peso. sweepstakes tickets. he snarled. the doctor replied through his surgical mask. The moment she heard he was back. and clamps. What were they doing to him? Where was Estela? Was he never going to wake up? Tch-tch. Ikong shrank back in fright. Bianong clenched his fist and banged the table. always that murkiness. whore. How could he? His lower extremities ended in stumps below the knees. Nothing was wrong with Estela working. now the tears were streaming down his face. Think of the children and the monthly rental. nudging Bianong. There was no more rice. Bianong remonstrated and flung silent imprecations after her and snapped at Estela who had been after him to do something. It was cold.Estela. and 50 watt bulbs and masked surgeons. Estela was pleading. Bianong blinked back his tears. whore. Bianong dreamed listlessly of crispi pata. Pareng Isko assured. and the OR nurse handed him a cotton swab. and Tenteng and Miniang 50 centavos each.m. He was strangling Estela. He had known it all along. he was drifting weightless in a false dawn of shifting shadows. it reminded him too much of long hospital corridors smelling of alcohol. thinking whether it was not too late to call up the girl at her boarding house. The room stifled him. nor even move. All of Pasilyo 8 thought it was a great joke that Bianong could no longer drive a jeepney. The lapad was empty.Bangloy accept gin in lieu of the five-peso consultation fee? Bianong thought it was funny. right from the Day of the Accident. sago ± couldn¶t he even think of anything? She tearfully demanded of Bianong. smoking a cigarette while he awaited Estela and wondered why she did not come home. whore. but he did not laugh. . Mareng Estela.
Pareng Isko. of course. The sign advised DETOUR. lifting the lapad to his lips. he said. It was Big Night. a bottle of cough syrup for Tenteng and Miniang who needed it. Tagay. The sun was just stealing upon the scarred table when Bianong raised his head. an expansive warmth that filled him with lassitude. Drawing himself up. Tio Pepe reminded in the bus station. A Cola billboard bounced past. Estela said nothing. The boy crouched in a corner. and embraced him. Estela said. cold. while her son and his barkada snickered. after which he handed it to Bianong. The envelope of peso bills was tucked securely in her bra. a bleak storefront. milk for Biik. She thought it best to tell bianong about it only when she came back. Now she had the money. sun. the nails pounded into his head. Estela watched dispiritedly from her seat. the manager. Estela mentally filling out the word. whose head was beginning to ache. home-cooked lumpia for Ikong to peddle in the afternoon to jeepney drivers at the corner stop. Bianong clapped his hands to his ears. She had decided to say nothing to Bianong about her father¶s younger brother in Cagayan. Bianong mechanically waved them in. and Bianong scrutinized her sourly. What Estela was thinking as she rode back to Manila on the bus: a cigarette stand.she wondered if they were all right. he edged warily forward at Bianong¶s call. He was a shrewd trader. Workers had torn up a section of the highway and were lowering culverts into an excavation gouged across it. She had been three days gone. He didn¶t even know she had an uncle named Pepe. his eyes puffed and his breathe heavy. and looked at him for a long time. Somebody was hammering somewhere. EstelaBiikTentengMiniangIkong. he saw the two of them. Pareng Isko was unloading the bags and unwrapping a lapad. so he decided to accompany her home. and that was the reason for her lateness. saw how their shoulders touched as they walked down the alley. It was painted sloppily on a slab of plywood nailed to a utility post. the bus rode into a bumpy stretch and the driver geared down to a grumbling crawl at the tail-end of the straggle of cargo trucks and cars and jeepneys following an arrow. He saw all this. The darkness undulated sluggishly before him and Bianong fought back his nausea. midnight sat o his brain. sun was cold. Bianong knew they were relishing it and he deliberately spat on the ground to show them that he knew it. At the junction near Angeles. happened to be drinking with his friend. The liquor burned his throat at first. Pay it back when you have money. grinned a good morning. a roadside tire-vulcanizing shop that brought a whiff of burnt rubber. The sun. He was only vaguely aware that Biik was still yowling. Pareng Isko was loaded down with bulging paper bags. cold. poised for flight. gradually settled in his stomach. the brethren of Pasilyo 8 expectant. Aling Upe was looking curiously at him from behind her small counter. Ikong squealed and Bianong squeezed him tighter and touched the blade to his neck and held it there . Estela and Pareng Isko. a clot of stygian fears that pulsed and skittered. Bianong caught Ikong on both shoulders. Estela bent to give him a dutiful peck at the forehead.At eight o¶clock. Three hundred pesos in 20-peso bills that Tiyo Pepe himself had grudgingly counted in her presence.
He lay the limp body on the bed. the wrenching fulfillment and the excruciation. Itoy Bayag. and then he took Biik. And so it was that one day along Pasilyo 8. Tenteng and Miniang.until the shoulders subsided. hugging them and touching the blade on their necks. briefly patting the boy¶s cheek. the jai-alai kubrador. and stumbled back. and hugged him. twisting the cold steel again and again so he could feel it. and his nausea erupted. and he fell upon himself in a dull rage. one after the other. poked his head through the door of an entresuelo at 12 noon. as it should be felt. and touched the blade to his neck. and came upon that darkness. after Biik. muttering: Diyoskodiyoskodiyosko« End .
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