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Dog Eaters

Scene 1
Mariana looked out of the window toward the other side of Artiaga Street. A group of men had gathered
around a low table in front of Sergio's sari-sari store. It was ten o'clock, Tuesday morning. Yet these men
did not find it too early to drink, and worse. They wanted her husband to be with them. Victor was now
reaching for hisshirt hooked on the wall between Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. Mariana turned to him,
her eyes wild in repulsion and anger.

Mariana: Those filthy men! Whose dog did they slaughter today?

Victor did not answer. He put on his shirt. Presently, he crawled on the floor and searched for his
slippers under the table. Mariana watched him strain his body toward the wall, among the rattan tools.
He looked like a dog tracking the smell hidden carrion.

Mariana: My God, Victor, do you have to join them every time they stew somebody's pet?

Victor found his slippers. He emerged from under the table, smoothed his pants and unbuttons his shirt.
He was sweating. He looked at his wife and smiled faintly, the expression sarcastic, and in an attempt to
be funny

Victor: it's barbecue today.

Mariana: I'm not in the mood for jokes! It's time you stop going with those good-for-nothing scavengers

Victor: They are my friends, Mariana

Mariana: You should have married one of them!

Suddenly, she straightened. She heard Sergio's raspy voice, calling from his store across the street. It
was an ugly voice, and it pronounced Victor's name in a triumphant imitation of a dog's bark.

Sergio: Victor! Victor! Aw! Aw!

Mariana glared at her husband as he brushed her aside on his way to the window. She felt like clawing
his face, biting his arms, ripping the smelly shirt off his back.

she felt angrier. come. to lead a dog's life! Victor stepped closer. She had to have a weapon. Victor? Its heart? Its liver? Its brain? Blood? Bone? Ears? Tongue? Tail? I wish to God you'd all die of hydrophobia! Victor: Can you feed the baby and talk at the same time? She did not expect him to answer and now that he had. her right hand tight around the empty bottle. Mariana darling. ha. The porch was at the top of the stairs that led out into Artiaga Street. . Let’s celebrate. Perhaps you can invite your friends tonight. Mariana: Why don't you do something instead of drinking their stinking tuba and eating that filthy meat? Why don't you decent for a change? Victor: And what's so indecent about eating dog meat? “The people of Artiaga Street have been eating dog meat for as long as I can remember Mariana: No wonder their manners have gone to the dogs! Victor: You married one of them. She came upon her husband opening the door to little porch. biting his arms. She felt like clawing his face. don't you know? Victor: Come. breathing hard. The baby had gone back to sleep. Which is the most delicious part of a dog. Mariana: Shall I slaughter Ramir for you? That pet of yours does nothing but bark at strangers and dirty the doorstep. Marina did not move Victor: What's eating you? Mariana: What's eating me? Dogs! I'm ready to say aw-aw. ripping the smelly shirt off his back. The heat from the unceilinged roof had become terrible and it had all seeped into her head.Victor: I’m coming Mariana glared at her husband as he brushed her aside on his way to the window. Mariana: Aren't you inviting your wife? Perhaps your friends have reserved the best morsel for me. Mariana dashed out of the room. She was ready for a fight. Mariana: Yes.

Instinctively. tried to paste pictures on the wall. Perhaps he thought it was all a joke. her eyes surveyed the room with repulsion. Gregory cancelled his membership. Philippines. Victor was quite attractive. She had stayed in this rented house for two years. There were five other men aside from the chief drinker. Big Boss Gregory . Then I’ll call a veterinarian. The bastard! How dare he turn his back on her? Mariana: Punyeta! She screeched and flung the bottle at her husband. Mariana closed the window.Victor: Leave Ramir alone Mariana: That dog is enslaving me! Victor turned to the door. Downing a gallon of tuba at ten o’clock in the morning with of Artiaga’s idle men was his idea of brotherhood. Sergio. he was a member of the Gregory Body Building Club on Cortes Street. He opened the door and stepped out into the street. He dropped out of freshmen year at Harvadian and instead developed his chest and biceps at the club. It rolled noisily under the table where Victor moment had hunted for his rubber slippers. Victor turned and parried the object with his arm. The bottle fell to the floor but did not break. He looked at her.who was not interested in girls but in club members with the proportions of Mr. Instead of cheering up the house. She felt tired. obscenely. His was to be Mr. hung up classic curtains that could not completely ward off the stink from the street. but there was no reaction in his face. twice. She pulled a stool and sat beside the sewing machine under the huge pictures of Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. It was the final insult. Mariana leaned out of the window and shouted to the men gathered in front of Sergio’s store Mariana: Why don’t you leave my husband alone? You dogs!” The men laughed louder. The slight darkening of the room intensified the heat on the roof and in her head. though his wife languish behind the row of glass jars and open cartons of dried fish – the poor woman deep in notebooks of unpaid bills the neighbors had accumulated these last two years. Mariana ran to the door and banged it once. . thrice. Philippines – had discovered that Victor was dating a manicurist named Fely. all the while shrieking. they made it sadder. It was good for his store. Once again. When he was teen-ager. emphasizing the lack of the things she had dreamed of having when she eloped with Victor two years ago. Mariana thought. he thought. Their voices offended the ears just as the stench from the garbage dump at the Artiaga-Mabini junction offended the nostrils. until one day. Mariana: Go! Eat and drink until your tongue hangs like a mad dog’s. under the altar-like alcove on the wall where a transistor radio was enshrined like an idol.

a spent bitch with hind legs spread out obscenely as her litter of three. Mariana. Mariana: Come on up. sit down. Shoo! Shoo! Mariana: Stay away from the beast. What if she bore a pair or a trio of puppies? She imagined herself as a dog. But he showed up only when the man did not report for work. her hands nervously holding her basket close to her like a shield. The dog resisted. barking at the old woman. . With the price of pork and beef as high as Mount Apo – one would rather eat dog meat. Mariana pulled the chain. Aling Elpidia: Naku. Aling Elpidia. How’s the baby? Mariana: Asleep Aling Elpidia picked up her basket from the floor. Aling Elpidia: Where’s Victor? Mariana: There! With them.An uncle working in a construction company found him a new job. She felt the uncomfortable swell. She closed her eyes and pressed her belly hard. Why do you keep that crazy dog at the door? He’ll bite a kilo off every visitor. Aling Elpidia was in the little yard. But soon he relaxed and stopped barking. These last few days. Ramir was at the bottom of the stairs. Her tight faded dress could not quite conceal this most unwanted pregnancy. His chain clanked and she could picture the dog going up the stairs. The baby in the crib in the other room was only eight months. Aling Elpidia? Aling Elpidia: It’s better than goat’s meat: And a dog is definitely cleaner than a pig. and here she was . Come. He is one of them Aling Elpidia: One of what? Mariana: The dog-eaters of Artiaga Street! Aling Elpidia: What is so terrible about that? Mariana: Do you eat dog meat. fought for her tits while the mongrel who was responsible for all this misery flirted with the other dogs of the neighborhood. not one of the carpenters got sick. ay. She felt her belly with both hands. straining at his chain.carrying another child. Mariana! Your dog! He’ll bite me. It was Ramir. or five. I’m holding Ramir’s leash. Aling Elpidia: Ay. So Victor had to stay home. his lethal fangs bared in terrible growl. and in a moment. she had ridiculous thought. or four. Mariana felt a stirring in her womb. Mariana was startled. Aling Elpidia! She opened the door. Don’t be afraid. A dog barked. The last time I was here I almost had a heart attack Mariana: That’s Victor’s idea of a house guard.

Mariana? Mariana: Three months and two weeks. Aling Elpidia: Are you sure you don’t want this child? It feels so healthy Mariana: I don’t want another child And to stress the finality of her decision. Mariana regarded it with interest and horror. Cook Victor a pot of sinigang and he’ll forget the most delicious chunk of aw-aw meat. gnarled roots. Aling Elpidia Aling Elpidia: Nonsense. The bottle is yours. she grabbed the bottle and stepped away from the old woman. take these vegetables to the kitchen Mariana: Is it effective? Aling Elpidia: Very effective. Go. it’s your decision. She held the bottle against the light. Mariana went to the kitchen to get a basket as Aling Elpidia busied herself sorting out the vegetables Mariana: I hope you haven’t forgotten the green mangoes and – and that thing you promised me Aling Elpidia: I brought all of them Mariana: I haven’t told Victor anything Aling Elpidia: He does not have to know The old woman produced from the bottom of the basket a tall bottle filled with a dark liquid and some leaves and tiny. Aling Elpidia: Three months did you say. Aling Elpidia felt Mariana’s belly with both hands. get a basket. Mariana: Is it bitter? Aling Elpidia: Yes Mariana: How shall I take this? . Come on let me touch you Mariana stood directly in front of the old woman.Aling Elpidia: Here’s your day’s supply of vegetables. The bottle looked like atrophy in her hand Aling Elpidia: Well. her belly her belly almost touching the vendor’s face. Go. I also brought some bangus. Mariana: I’m afraid.

He had taken off his shirt and his muscular body glistened wit animal attractiveness. is it. there will be less pain and blood. It is bitter but it is harmless. What did she bring you today? Mariana: The same things. Aling Elpidia: You may start taking it tonight. Mariana stiffened. The tall bottle looked grotesque on the table: tiny. It will appear as an accident. It must be Victor. Her anger returned. Moreover. The house had become hotter. Aling Elpidia? Aling Elpidia: Don’t you worry. Loud laughter rose from the store across the street. Things might go wrong Aling Elpidia: I think I must go now.Aling Elpidia: A spoonful before you sleeps in the evening and another spoonful after breakfast Mariana: May I take it with a glass of milk or a bottle of coke? Aling Elpidia: No. Victor: I met that old witch Elpidia. gnarled roots seemed to twist like worms or miniature umbilical cords. Her voice became nervous again. sweating and red-eyed. But now Mariana was in a different type of heat. Ramir did not bark. The sharp cry became louder. Victor: Mariana! Mariana! Mariana: Quiet! The baby’s going back to sleep. It was her last piece of medical advice. she glanced at the bottle. She hurried to the bedroom. Like falling down the stairs. The vendor counted the bills expertly. Do you have the money? Mariana: Yes . Vegetables. Then her baby cried. Victor was now in the room. Mariana: Please come every day. ready to resume the unfinished quarrel. You must take it pure Mariana: It’s not dangerous. Mariana went out of the bedroom. and then dropped the little bundle into her breast. Some fish. With a shudder. Aling Elpidia: Your dog. She heard somebody coming up the stairs. She handed Aling Epidia some crumpled bills. Mariana. She picked up her basket and walked to the door. Mariana rushed inside and discovered that the baby had wetted its clothes. Suddenly she stopped. Yes She went to the sewing machine and opened a drawer. Victor: Fish! Again? Mariana: You are drunk! .

Mariana: Do you have to be like this all the time? Quarreling every day? Why don’t you get a steady job like any decent husband? You would be out the whole day. I should have continued school. this plastic curtains – enough? This is not the type of life I expect. We are not starving. You never tried to please me. Victor! Victor: What do you want me to do – stay here and boil the baby’s milk? Mariana: I wish you would! Victor: That’s your job. You fooled me! Victor: I thought you understood. Come Mariana dear. You’re a woman Mariana: Oh. Let me hold you Mariana: Don’t touch me! You stink! Victor: I don’t stink and I’m not drunk. I’m mad because – . how are you admire yourself for being a man. are we? Mariana: You call this enough? You call this rat’s nest. Mariana: But I want to quarrel with you! Victor: Be reasonable. You would rather be with your stinking friends and drink their dirty wine and eat their dirty meat. Mariana: You are not reasonable. and perhaps. I’m mad because I want my husband to make a man of himself. Oh. I don’t want to quarrel with you. this hell of a neighborhood – enough? You call these tin plates. my work is not permanent but I think we have enough. Mariana: And so I’m mad. I would miss you Victor: You don’t have to complain. I- Mariana: No. You wake up the baby Mariana: To hell with your baby! Victor: You are mad. how I hate it. no I didn’t understand. You miserable- Victor: Don’t yell.Victor: I’m not drunk. And still I don’t understand why you – you – Victor: Let’s not quarrel. I’m mad because I don’t eat dog meat. Mariana. True.

but I will bear it Victor: What? What? My baby! Mariana: Yes! And I’m not afraid! Victor: You won’t do it Mariana: I’m not afraid.Victor: Stop it! Mariana: Punyeta! Victor: Relax. She held high in Victor’s face Mariana: See this. I don’t want another child. You are excited. Victor: And what did that witch do? Curse my baby? Is she a vampire? Mariana: She came to help me Mariana went to the table and snatched the bottle. Victor. Mariana. Victor Victor: I don’t understand Mariana: One spoonful in the morning and one spoonful in the evening. It’s bitter. and here you are with a bottle of sioktong Mariana: How dull you are! See those leaves? See those roots? They are very potent. Victor? Victor: You don’t want me to drink tuba. Victor: What do you mean? Mariana: You met Aling Elpidia on your way. Mariana: There will be no second baby. I have the right to dispose of it. I want my second baby healthy. That’s not good for you.” . Victor: Give me that bottle Mariana: No! Victor: What kind of woman are you? Mariana: And what kind of man are you? Victor: It’s my baby! Mariana: It’s mine.

Victor: Why. He pushed his wife against the wall and ran to the window. At last Victor took hold the bottle. Mariana: You threw it away! You destroy it! I paid forty pesos for it and it’s not your money! . I don’t believe in that anymore. She moved back. for she had a quick taste of salt and dirt. he hurled the bottle out f the window. She scratched his face and pounded his chest with her fists. Then she bit on the right arm. Bits of leaves and roots stuck to the dust. In the glare of the late morning sun she had a momentary image of the men – now faceless and voiceless – in front of the store across the street. but they watched her from certain blankness. why?” Mariana: Because you cannot afford it! What would you feed your another child. Mariana! Mariana: Let me go! You are hurting me! Victor: Behave you woman! Victor shook her harder. Everything will be all right. The crash of the glass against the gravel on the road rendered Mariana speechless. Mariana screamed again in horror and frustration. his right hand holding the bottle above his head. everything will be all right – for you. She spat again. Victor: Give me that bottle! Mariana: No! They grappled for a moment. a dog came along and sniffed the wet ground suspiciously. Victor? Tuba milk? Dog meat for rice? Victor: We shall manage. Presently. then left with his tail between his legs. Mariana: Damn you! Damn you! Victor: Stop it. Mariana spat on his face. She turned to her husband and flung herself at him. Mariana. This time they did not laugh. She dashed to the window and gave out almost inhuman scream at what she saw. Mariana fought like an untamed animal. ha. But she recovered. sure. her uncontrollable rage shaking her. The bottle was broken into countless splinters and the dark liquid stained the dry gravel street. Mariana: Sure. raising her arms. Mariana. And like a man possessed. her fingers poised like claws. Victor released her.

You coward! Victor raised his hand to strike her. and forks. please. Victor: You cannot afford to buy pills or hire a doctor. And God – and God – will know! Mariana: Ahhh! Now who’s talking? When was the last time you went to church. A trio of dogs rushed in from nowhere and fought over the fish strewn in the muddy space under the sink. spoons. I want a child. daring him to complete his own humiliation. Then she went to the kitchen and tossed the basket of vegetables and fish out of the kitchen window. Mariana That’s our child! Mariana: I told you I didn’t want another child. I’ll fall down the stairs. He raised his hand again. but Mariana was quick with the nearest weapon. . She stooped to the table and with a furious sweep of her hand. and with the strength all her arms could muster.Victor: Forty pesos. He was lost. a vase of plastic flowers. You will know. Mariana offered her face. And now here you are mentioning God’s name to me. Victor: Please. Mariana was left panting. A bit of his male vanity stirred inside him. You broke that bottle but I’ll look for other means. Then Ramir barked. That is a lot of milk Mariana: What do you want me to do now – cut children’s dresses? Victor: You are unnatural. I’ll starve myself. you want to kill your own child Mariana: It’s my own child Victor: It’s murder!” Mariana: Nobody will know Victor: I will know. You don’t act like a mother. Mariana: Go away from me! Get out! Get out! Victor went out of the room. I’ll jump out of the window. Victor dropped his hand. cleared it of dish rack. The stool dropped to the floor as Mariana made ready with another weapon. tin plates.” “ Mariana: You men can talk because you don’t have to bear the children. ha Victor? That was the time the Legion of Mary brought us to Fatima Church to be married and you fought with the priest in the confessional. totally unmanned. giving vent to her anger by pulling down the plastic curtains and the printed cover of the sewing machine. She seized a stool with both hands. Victor caught the object with his strong shoulder. throws the stool at him.

Mariana cried. A crowd had now gathered in front of the house to witness the unexpected execution. She did not know how to use it at this moment. Slowly. Downstairs. As she had expected. Mariana sat on the topmost step of the stairs. Mariana laughed deliriously. She braced herself against the rails of the porch. she climbed up the stairs. and Mariana noticed the change in the animal’s eyes. And the dog rushed into the roaring attack. Ramir. too. . Victor’s dog. Mariana dropped the knife. he stopped barking. Like a hunter sizing up his quarry. But Mariana neither saw their faces nor heard their voices. The hair on the back of its neck stood. the dog hurtled into the space between the broken banisters and fell. she put her hands between her legs and stared blankly at the rusty rooftops in front of her. The weight of the animal pulled her to her knees. too. you miserable dog! Ramir continued barking. This creature knew! Ramir’s ears stood. Kicking the scattered tin plates on the floor. Ramir was barking at some object in the street. she taught. She was beginning to be afraid. Mariana slipped the end of the chain under the makeshift railing of the stairway and pulled the leash with all her might. and now.Mariana: Shut up. Now she knew exactly what to do. Mariana thought. He moved softly but menacingly. Damn this child. She watches the hanging animal and addressed it in triumph Mariana: I’ll slit your throat and drink your blood and cut you to pieces and stew you and eat you! Damn you Victor. Ramir gave a final yelp and stopped kicking the air. His yellowing fangs dropped with saliva. the dog was dangling below her. The dog stared back. Ramir. A cruel thought crossed her mind and stayed there. dangerous. My God. but she was prepared for that. Then he bared his fangs viscously and growled. she crossed the main room to the porch. She reached for the big kitchen knife of a shelf above the sink. They became fiery. Mariana was untying the chain on the top of the stairs. Mariana stared at the dog. Meanwhile. Quicker than she thought she was. I’ll cook you and eat you and eat you and eat you!” She released the chain and the canine carcass dropped with a thud on the ground below. I’ll cook you. Noticing Mariana’s presence. And for the first in all her life on the Artiaga Street. Damn everything. Mariana paused.

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