The Crude Process of Manufacturing Sunlight

The newspaper was already wilted however a bit damped when he picked it up from the bricked doorway, as moisture and its current state were gracious enough to provide a little dose of personality, if not, an originality for once.  He turned to the better side of the house, where a huge window and its shutters are always left open.  He carefully laid the paper flat on the marble top table by the industrial fan, where his old collection of fiction also stands.  An ornamental indoor plant on the window shaft was portraying a role of a desperate 8 to 5 employee, ready to jump, who has nothing else left to live with.  Until now, for some bizarre reason, or just a mere lack of concern, he still does not know what that plant is called, in the same order wherein he subconsciously decided a long time ago to not bother to know about anything trivial anymore.

So the information about how this plant has never bloomed for over a year now will not be of useful information to him anyhow as well.

In the sun the fine prints of the paper were like an impressive army of elite black ants in formation without his reading glasses.  And when he looks around the study and his living room, the place appears to be translucent, like an over magnified cooked onion.

For him, a true meaning of an idea or a tangible mass, its actual physical tendencies, everything about it is always going to be arguable therefore.  Either we accept that or we turn to the crude process of manufacturing sunlight.

Through the passages of fiction he took the time and lived there for the time being.  He has lived many lives in varying folds, characters and colors. He had discovered infinity and had access rights to polygamy.   His leftover meal has gone cold on the white ceramic plate, and he has skipped to dessert apparently. Wooden shutters slapped against the facade of the bungalow, on its broad porch as he was also tuning in.  He tapped his shoes along with it, to its rhythmic syncopated beating that for him was real jazz.

Neighbors can’t get a good read on him.  For them he was odd, and overly peculiar.  His wife left him be for most of the time, and would rather talk only over supper and breakfast.

But kids are genuinely fond of him. In fact they treat him as equals.  He was in every truth of the term, “one of them”.  He wasn’t the mentor type or someone who would dispense life altering profound advices.  He just taught them how to put just enough grease on their hair, how to fix things like simple water pipes or how to build wooden push carts and change deflated tires.

He wasn’t an important man in the community, nor decided to be one.  In fact, whether or not he believed it to be, he was just a romantic with the obvious knack for indifference.  He currently lives in the past and through the pages of his magazines, newspaper, and paperbacks.

Just another ghost like us.   

Over the blue tiled roofs

I went out onto the main street where I breezed the sidewalk on the opposite side of where the sun shone. Rose gold rays warmly sets in through the apartment windows and the narrow concrete walkways were relatively empty and yet to be bustled. Sure, a few cars jostled across here and there, but the town was sleepy considering, while breakfast cafés are now putting up menu signs for the day and folding gazebos were set up at the marketplace beneath the shade of the trees along the hedges. The unloading vegetable jeepneys and meat canter trucks pulled over and went, as people shook hands and chattered before bidding goodbyes.

Summer has just begun, and another school year has ended.  Kids help out with the chores at the nearby fruit stands and novelty thrift shops. I know most of the owners by name, and some are considered dear friends.  As I watched them go about their day, I settled in under a cool shade, reading an overdue paperback from a local library.  I figured I had at least an hour before the scheduled rendezvous, so I took my time leisurely, drinking a cup of creamed coffee.

A flower girl held a basket full of mixed banaba and yellow gumamelas as offerings to the virgin of the grotto. She held the hand of an elderly, whose I would assume was of her grandmother’s, while lanky male tourists wearing board shorts and loose shirts walked past by me, peering through the food stalls at the corner street. They appear to have been around for at least a week by the looks and tone of their tan.

Over the blue tiled roofs, the sun is now higher into the horizon, outlining the sky. The wind then picks up, as I walked up the slanting road, until leveling off onto the commercial part of the district. Standing on a tall escalator, pairs of lower limbs in jeans and skirts tripled before me through the reflection on the glass balustrade panels. I elbowed the rail as I ascended to the upper landing where I was bound.

When I approached the reception, I was told to sit down on the couch, under where a huge abstract painting hangs. The lady behind the desk was nice enough and made me feel I was being expected. Her warm accommodation was very much complimented by her soft voice. Somehow I just couldn’t remember her face anymore, as if what was left is just a memory of an embroidered crest on her office jacket and the apple cut hair that she was sporting.

I stared at the enormous painting to kill time, examining it the best I could and thought about what it meant. I never quite understand what abstracts were all about, or how one should feel about them particularly.

When the time has come I was led to a room at the end of the hall.  The decorative paneling was made of oak and the lighting was elegantly positioned and unnecessarily excessive.  I was behind the receptionist when the door was opened and a man was waiting for me inside, leafing through some paperwork as he went to me and reached out his hand. He always had a good grip.

University certificates were delicately framed, not a hint of dust on them.  There was a fabric ward divider that stood at one side for changing and paper brochures neatly spread out atop the receiving table, with a picture of a happy looking couple on them.

“Let’s get on with it shall we?” I suggested.

“Lots of good things to see today”

 

Cake

A heavy downpour was reportedly on its way but we reckon that we still have a couple of hours to discuss the matter on hand.  Well, he first saw her on a crowded elevator, midway to his floor.  He eventually braved the odds and spoke to her after a few more encounters which turned out to be a positive thing that he did.  He was always proud about that, and would boisterously tell friends at dinner tables or after a few rounds of drinks during the weekend literature meetings held at his place.

He would occasionally talk about how it went on down to the very last detail and how this series of pleasing events would make him write about her. Unsolicited, he also does recite poetry whenever he feels like, and claims that the taste of rice has just become sweeter. Clinical or not, I think a sort of madness has stricken him.

It was exactly a month from today since the last time I had cake.  I have almost forgotten its taste, how soft the texture is like exactly whenever I gorge a mouthful while smoking a stick of cigarette.  And so I agreed to go out today.

We live near to each other, practically a good stone’s throw away. He was at the door for a good fifteen minutes before I reluctantly answered back.

I crammed my pockets with keys, phone and a few change, quickly pulling a jacket on. I took a deep sigh as I braced myself before stepping out.  In the sun, I can see more visibly the tufts on my coat and the highway lines of my skin. Invariably despising this idea almost immediately, but there was also a  hint of mood that stirred inside me. All of a sudden I became somewhat excited to see the moonglow and thought about spring.

On the reflection of a glass, my eyes followed a line of ants marching across the pane until I could no longer see where they were heading.

We were standing in the cold, at the front of a jewelry store.  This younger friend asked me to choose which one he should buy her. Our hands were tucked-deep in our pockets, nursing to their feeble quakes.

I told him he was stupid, and we should buy cake now.

Photo by F. Osorio
Photo by F. Osorio

Telegram

An afternoon coffee was served at exactly 04:30, precisely how it was done ever since the pension house opened. But today they were serving 2 for 1 to compensate for the low foot traffic.  She was alone by the sea breeze and mused about the other dreamers who sat there at the same table over the years and wallowed about the tides that had brought to them.  On the prints of each page she graciously borrowed a steady meaning and sipped the reflection of the setting sun from a coffee cup.

When other couples have regular date nights, this was hers.  For her, she was married to the sea.  They never did celebrate anniversaries, nor have consistent birthday dinners, but never once did she skip their summers together.  Here, they exchanged glances for the longest time while tasting its kiss through the salt in the wind.  She lingered in its arms, longer than most men she slept with, and they made love so endlessly in the enveloping formation of curls and foams.

She will not grow weary of her.

And she wondered how she got there and she thought about her mom.  Her parents raised her well, gave her good education, and taught her that grace and humility far exceed any talent in the world. And for her, their most precious gift was her well-travelled feet that led her shadows home.

One of the guests walked through the beaded blinds decorated with sea shells and surveyed the sunburned faces in the room.  Her face was veiled by the shade of the baseball cap brim and her temples were draped by her long dark hair.  She was carrying a messenger bag and a gray hoodie hanged limp on its sling.

The guest walked past her while calling out her name.  Her complexion was mid-toned.

They caught each other’s eyes and locked for a while.

From a far, the lines of their lips broke apart in turns. The words fell out so silently and there were no movements apart from that.

Life was not perfect so she realized, but so as the cratered moon.

She was introduced to contempt for the first time.

sea

Ginger Ale Rain 

He had his legs crossed while resting his jaw on his palm, listening to the amplified pulse of the rain on the thin iron sheets of the roof above him. There he sat with a cat in front of a barbershop sign – which was hand painted on a window glass- while they both waited out the pluvial weather.

This companion snuggled against his feet, supposing for warmth. Playfully making its acquaintance, it had little trouble conveying its mind to him, unaware of the passing automobiles a few paces away.

He envied its relentlessness to dismiss hesitation, above all its innocence.  Little by little, a sudden urge dawned onto him to make a sketch of the feline, or maybe taking him home should he be stray.

He admired the distinct patterns of its fur – elaborate and it appeared warm – they were the color of ginger however sometimes it changes into amber when the sun is setting low.

While his was a little ashen above the ears, he thought of having a trim but hesitated.  His hair resembled the patches on a gloomy monsoon sky such as what can be seen on that day.

With complete abandon, he sets aside the idea.

Some twenty minutes had passed, the rain let up, and he started moving again.  Soon, the soles of his boots found its way crunching against the gravel walkway of the crematorium of the community parish.

These days she would have probably liked to wander about the provinces on shuttles somewhere.  He can imagine her peering at the world outside the window.  The thatches of the hut houses would be brown and crisp, scattered at the footsteps of the isosceles mountain backdrop.  The clouds scudding across the powder blue skies, as high as they could while the sunbeams appear to be just fair, intermittently peeping through the etched leaves and tree branches warming up the scenery.

There will be no more motion sickness, lack of sleep and heartburns.

He wanted to tell her how wonderfully the children have grown and how the other day they asked about what bellybuttons are for.

On his way home, standing on the train being a little taller than an average person, he looked around the crowns of the passengers and it reminded him of a landscape of hay swallowed in the somber nighttime during summer.

IMGP1670

Retired Suitcases

The kitchen door swung open and the prism made it home through.  As his wrinkled eyes welcomed the dawn, old cigars from the drawer case were lined up on the tabletop as if a celebration called for it, as if yesterday has left behind its shape.  During those days newspapers were treated like they were still part of breakfast, of over-easy-peppered sunny side ups and black coffee while smoked salmon and VCRs kept the night intact.

Retired suit cases filled the closet and the clock was silent and still. The mailbox was hollow, and the words were deep seated  somewhere far away.

But the stream was endless, and the pictures were always as clear as day. The possibilities never eluded him, as if miracles do happen all the time.  He would always go back holding onto a piece paper, to a promise across a long stretch of an attempt to dream only to find the morning at the end of it.  A slow erratic pace, but a rediscovery is always almost a certainty.

And when sleep is out of reach, the dents and the dimples on the other side of the bed keep him company. He tells himself, that nights do end and some things last. After all, the universe allows a little indifference in its lifetime.

For it is not sentimental he would always think? Just sheer contemplations of the complicated human heart.  It beats to resonate across the end corners and the clutters, cruising the seas and highway intersections to the point of absolution or tragedy.  The years that went by were reduced to mere flashes and pixelated photographs. They are no longer numbers but the very accumulation of delightful shared experiences.

How can one be grateful without despair? Suffering concludes pretenses, and it clears the way for contentment. For sure he recognizes what was once there.  The shadows of the past let him remember that he can never make accord with time. He steals therefore, a thief between the paradoxes.

But what does it mean really?  Whose answer may trigger either sober inspirations or bitter ending catastrophes. Pardon the blunt demeanor, but the ink is blotted, and the pen is starting to skip.

I wish to taste all the good from a honeycomb. To weather the skies.

Retired.

Under the kindness of the dark

The pictures rolled past by me suddenly like some distant, familiar memory that kept on coming back only they were not mine to take.  An inkling of white foam now forms at the corner of my lip as I drowsed.  I must have dreamt some good dreams then.

Under the blanket of the deep black night, it arrived to me that my body felt quite differently.  As if lifted and cured of its illnesses, it hardly felt any pain, relieved of its mortal weight and protracted weariness after not sleeping for years.

The wipers thud swinging back and forth like clockwork while the rain pelted the pane relentless like splatted kamikaze pilots.  The howls of the wind seep through my ears, taking me while I sank in the backseat of the car with my knees held a little too close to my chest.  My half opened eyes leveled with the chrome window sill as they pried into the gush of the rain.

A million and one headlights drew towards us in the highways.  Lights brighten up wide upon each approach as if a production line of salutation and courtesy.

She sang along soundlessly with the song that came out of the FM radio.  She had her face on, of faint rose petal red, evenly toned on her cheekbones and a bit heavier on her lips.  Her black laced eyes were crawling over their lids like beautiful insects in the night.

Behind the glass the world was colorful, and opaque, and imageless.

Studded with red hexagon lights, golden circles and pulsars of bright greens, they lined up neatly at the same time blurted in random.  There was poetry in chaos after all.

Residues of droplets obscured the view on all sides.  It was of another universe.

The seats smelt of cheap pine car freshener, lazily covering the stench of uncleaned upholstery.

She leaned against my left shoulder and pressed her face against it, as if lifeless.

She must have had preferred the smell of cigarette smoke on my sleeves, it felt safe.

And in that moment I could almost tell her everything and more.

Then it would not matter how terribly things went.

She cradled a thermos for coffee, for the light of the sun and the little things left forgotten.

So we may never have to close these wandering eyes anymore.

Not anymore.

wp-1476562596835.jpg