“Desire” Part 5

A disagreeable man has just been murdered.

Epifanio, the main character, finds himself thinking of a lost sweetheart named Sheryn.

Had to edit out some sections to avoid trigger warnings. Whew! It is hard work typing everything.


She also had a more winning manner, a more inviting style.

She had not exactly been a closed door. That, at least, was the implication of the smirk that had accompanied the dead man’s comment about “morning sickness.”

But — was he really dead? What if he had merely been wounded, and the ambulance had rescued him in time? What if, even now, he was lying some hospital, with a drip affixed to one arm?

Was he the father of the young woman’s baby? Epifanio was surprised at the despair that accompanied this thought.

To hold a woman, any woman — to know the warmth of a woman’s embrace.

Epifanio’s parents had loved each other with a purity and single-mindedness that he had tried to emulate. But the ferocity of Sheryn’s desire had unmanned him. They had been classmates in high school but Epifanio never dreamed of courting her. Then, one day in October, right in the middle of the Masskara Festival, she came up to him in the plaza. Her tone was teasing. “Do you want me? O, tilawi!” Try me.

Their first time together: she had grabbed him and drawn him close. She had called up his courage. She had luxuriated in his desire.

After, when Epifanio and Sheryn encountered each other on the street, they feigned aloofness. Her family was not rich, but they were better off than Epifanio’s; his father eked out a hard living as a fisherman. Epifanio had done many things: he had been a tricycle driver. A waiter. A traffic enforcer. Sheryn had graduated from college, whereas Epifanio had dropped out after two years. She worked as a bank teller, and wore nice clothes to work. Still, Sheryn wanted him! When they caught each other’s eyes, they smiled surreptitiously, like conspirators.

Then, disaster: I am carrying your child, she whispered. The future shrank to the width of one hand. Her desire withered. There was a new, hard determination in her face. He talked of marriage; she said, Wait.

***

Sheryn’s voice was strong near the bar. A sign said, Deep and Deeper. Epifanio had passed it before, had noticed the women going in and out. They wore tight clothes, they walked languorously, aware that men were watching.

Epifanio lurked, throwing quick glances at the door. A tall man with a smooth-shaven head and tattoos running down both forearms stood just inside, where he might easily have been mistaken for a shadow. He uttered a warning and made a derisive gesture with his hand.

(To be continued)

 

 

“Desire” Part 4

Wrote this story for Jessica Hagedorn’s anthology Manila Noir. It’s a wonder what you can do if the opportunity presents itself!

I’ve been posting in sections. There was a post earlier today.


He remembered going there with her, the taste of the small, tart fruit in her mouth, and then his.

Epifanio was not physically strong. He was a rather small man, with a slim waist. His forearms were corded from years from having worked as a welder at the sugar plant in Victorias. Six months earlier he had been let go. The foreman refused to give him a reason.

To dream! Ah yes, he had dared to dream. The news spread quickly in the town. He slunk along the seafront, downing bottle after bottle of Ginebra. When he next saw Sheryn, it was on the arm of another man. There was only the smallest hint of a bulge, beneath her waist. Only someone looking for it would have noticed.

Julio was tall and fair-skinned. He spoke good English. He worked in the business office of L’Fisher Hotel, one of the best hotels in Bacolod.

Epifanio’s eyes reddened. My child! he thought. Mine! Mine! Mine!

 

Was Epifanio sorry about the fate of the smirking man? Naturally, yes. But he was also a little tense. Epifanio had disliked the man; it was this that made the guilt grow. Could his thoughts have somehow assumed a walking shape and descended from the room to the first floor, where the smirking man sat nodding off behind the desk in the small office?

Was Epifanio interested in the young woman because she reminded him of Sheryn? They had the same kind of hair: long and shiny, a treasure of fragrance. Sheryn was a little shorter.

(To be continued)

“Desire” Part 3

from a story published in Manila Noir, edited by Jessica Hagedorn (Akashic Books). Self will post the entire thing, in installments. This is the third posting:


Gonzago gestured, his right arm driving cleanly through the air.

Only then did Epifanio realize that the floor of the Lobby was covered with the same dark substance that stained the soles of his sneakers. It was everywhere. There was even some of it smeared across one of the lobby’s light blue walls. He saw what might have been a handprint.

Spit was collecting at the back of Epifanio’s mouth. He managed to ask, “Who found him?”

*****

Sheryn said, “I’m in love with Julio. He will make a better father for my child.” Epifanio closed his eyes. When he opened them again, everyone but Gonzago had left. Gonzago was chuckling to himself. “Eh?” The police ask so many questions. But all the wrong ones.”

Epifanio turned from him and walked out the door.

“Eh?” Gonzago called after him. “No one is supposed to leave. The police are still taking statements.”

Epifanio kept going. The street began less than a yard away. There was almost no sidewalk to speak of. There were spit stains on the buckling sidewalk, and horrendous smells. Banana peels, empty soda bottles, scraps of paper all formed a clotted mess in the gutters.

God is love. God is love. God is love. Epifanio trembled: Sheryn’s pet mynah bird knew only this one sentence. Every time Epifanio called on her, the bird would direct a baleful glance at him and begin its monotonous chant.

There was a small of cherisa trees behind Sheryn’s house.

(To be cont.)

 

The Writer’s Kitchen: How To Let Yourself Fall From the Frying Pan Into the Fire, by Rosario Ferré

Translated by Diana L. Velez

Feminist Studies 12, no. 2 (Summer 1986)

Throughout time, women narrators have written for many reasons: Emily Bronte wrote to confirm the revolutionary nature of passion; Virginia Woolf wrote to exorcise her terror of madness and death; Joan Didion writes to discover what and how she thinks; Clarice Lispector discovered in her writing a reason to love and be loved. In my case, writing is simultaneously a constructive and a destructive urge, a possibility for growth  and change. I write to build myself word by word, to banish my terror of silence; I write as a speaking, human mask. With respect to words, I have much for which to be grateful. Words have allowed me to forge for myself a unique identity, one which owes its existence only to my own efforts. For this reason, I place more trust in the words I use than perhaps I ever did in my natural mother. When all else fails, when life becomes an absurd theater, I know the words are there, ready to return my confidence to me.

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