17 October 2011

Tripartite Crime

Brown Blood
The loud fire of the .45 mm caliber pistol woke the two brothers who were sleeping soundly in a small cabin in the woods. Terrorized by the shot, they jumped off the creaking bamboo floor through the rickety wood stairs and crept toward the ash- covered loams of the deforested hills.
“Ako ron bahala mig!” Tikboy gave out as he fired two more bullets to the fleeing brothers, who managed to have found refuge behind the thick carabao bean bushes, near the brook that stretches through Bugangan River. His accomplice shushed him but it was too late. The subjects have heard him; his rough and deep voice has reached their ears with extreme poignancy of terror and surprise. Tikboy, their meek and timid brother, had just tried to murder them!
The two brothers, Digong and Puloy, have completely fled from the assailants and reached their homes catching their breath. Their clothes were muddied; they smell like a carabao ascended from its favorite mud pool.
The next morning the rumor exploded in the barrio like an atomic bomb and it reached the hithermost barangays. It was known to the local folks that they were secretly and surprisingly attacked in the woods by the two assailants whose identities they vaguely characterized. The attack puzzled the prying people immensely. Their old bedridden father has recently passed away and they’re still wearing black clothes. Who would’ve mercilessly dared to cause the death of another member of their family?
“Sin-o gid man haw, Puloy?” Dadak asked with compelling inquisition in her voice. She had been recurringly asking her husband about the identity of the attackers but he refused to name names. He remained quiet and cold towards the subject every time it is brought up in the discussion.
“Puloy, who are those predators? Why were they hunting you? “Dadak was trembling. Her grip on his arm tightened and her voice grew raspy. “Please, tell me…”
“Si Agot ah,” finally he spoke. He disclosed the attacker’s name with careful euphemism as if he abhorred mentioning it. His head fell and his open hands caught it. His elbows stood on the table that’s made of coconut slabs. It was rough that when he lifted his elbows, the coarse texture printed exact figures on his brown skin.
“Why? Wha-how could he do that to his kindred, to his own brothers?” She was delirious. The confession terrified her so much. Her eyes widened, her mouth remained open. Her knees felt weak. She dropped her butt on the bamboo floor and leaned against the plywood wall.
“Do you remember the night before last night when Digong cursed him for being irreverent to Tatay on his wake? He smiled to that but he drank the freak off the whole night. You know it; he never immersed himself in tuba or Tanduay, never before. He must’ve felt humiliated in front of the mourners and gamblers.” Puloy spoke with unusual rate of speed in his voice. His arms made anticipating movements while he spoke; his mustache imitated the motion of his upper lip; his nose crinkled travestying a little child defiant of a sharp sting by a mosquito on his temple.
Dadak motioned to speak when four rapid knocks shook the door. She looked at her husband and the latter gestured her to open it. She hesitated for a while but when the visitor knocked again, she rose from the bamboo floor and went for it.
Ferdinand entered the room, Digong followed him. He’d just arrived from Cebu where he was assigned as a parish priest in one of the congregations there. An emblem of disbelief is marked on his cheerful face. Apparently, Digong has already told him of the assailant. Digong approached the table and pressed his hands unto it.
“We have to do something. I want vendetta. No! I just want vengeance, that’s all. If we’re gonna ignore what happened last night, we’ll eventually get killed. Let’s rob him the chance to do that. Let’s kill him before he can kill us!” Digong spoke with verbiage. Enmity has possessed him. He didn’t care what or who is the person he wanted to get himself avenged of. Brother or enemy – the idea is entirely the same for him. It’s barbaric but he knew he’d be a fool if he’d let Tikboy axe his head off when he sleeps again at the kaingin range.
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, not anyone, not even your brother!” Ferdinand exclaimed poetically. As a servant of God, he knew he’s compelled to do a miracle in the midst of his warring siblings. He has to work hard to put out the flare-up that grew hotter in them.
“Are you mental? We’re gonna get killed sooner or later. The fact that we know he’s the attacker won’t keep him still. He’ll hunt us to death!” Digong has neither animosity nor resentment for Tikboy. He only despised the idea of his sooner demise. He has two little kids to raise. His wife can’t grow them both. He dreams of one day seeing his sons get decent jobs and marry them off with successful women. He wants to see his grandchildren gather beside his rocking chair as they listen to his monster stories similar to that of Amor. The thought of his death in the hands of Tikboy rippled the peaceful lake of his dreams.
“This is only one filial problem rooted from a petty misunderstanding and melancholy. This can be solved without anyone of you gets killed. Let’s summon your brother here so each one of you can express each other’s grudge and settle everything at once for Christ’s sake.” Ferdinand was determined to resuscitate Digong’s vanishing fear of God. It seemed the only way that could retract him from pursuing his wicked scheme.
Digong gazed at Ferdinand, then to Puloy. Dadak muttered prayers imploring for the Creator’s providence. Silence fell unto the room. Nobody dared to move for a while. Puloy gave out a deep sigh and groomed the grey of his hair with his gnarled fingers.
“Let’s sort this out tomorrow at the burial, in front of Tatay.” Puloy broke the silence. Ferdinand rose from the long bamboo bench and walked past the door he opened and closed with force. Dadak went to the kitchen to fill the thermos with hot water for the mourners at her in-laws’ house five meters away from theirs. The two brothers were left in the room. Digong hammered the table with his fist. He stood erect and placed hands in his pockets.
“We can’t get away with this without retaliation. Tomorrow is the burial. After the burial, its hunting time,” said Digong with suppressed violence. He was expecting a response from his brother.
“Gong -” a frightened plea set in his clumsy words, “I-can’t-I’m-ugh. This isn’t right,” he said at last. But in his subconscious mind, a reverse question formed: what if Tikboy is so intent to finish them off?
“If you don’t have the spine to do this then lemme do it myself! I don’t want the retard ruin my dreams just like that. If Tatay were alive, he would’ve axed him off. You know how fierce he was in dealing matters like this.” He was no longer compelled by probity. He’d made up his mind. To murder his younger brother is his new desideratum.
The burial of their father took place the next day. The whole family gathered at the church and greeted each other as if there were no tension and resentment in their midst. They looked like one big united family gathered to bid last goodbye to their father. Ferdinand believed that the warring brothers are finally in good terms. It was emotional relief seeing his brothers joined together in sorrow for the loss of the great pillar of the family. They spoke with good riddance and eventually trusted his flair for causing reconciliation in them.
The night arrived so early. It was very calm except for the stray dogs sabotaging its serenity from time to time. The little kid’s have gone to their homes and the grown-ups have stopped playing card games. The deafening silence created a rather eerie feeling.
Didong trode on the grassy path that leads to Puloy’s background. Trussed across his hips was a cold blade locked in its sheath. Puloy waited on the backyard patiently. He resisted the urge to slap with his open hand the mosquito that stung his neck. Digong found him there crouching behind the Hibiscus bushes. His small knapsack carried a sling and a bundle of poisoned darts. Together they took the path that leads to the beach where Tikboy’s hut was built.
Tikboy heard the dogs bark as if upright walking creatures are ambushing them with twigs and stones. He reached for his nylon pouch and took out his gun. He positioned his forefinger on the trigger and crouched beside a sturdy wall near the unlocked window. He waited for the rustle of dried mahogany leaves nearby. The moon came out of the dark clouds, reflecting a faint light upon the beach. The cod sea breeze gently moved his unruly hair and fanned the sweat on his forehead. Suddenly he caught a glimpse of silhouettes of men juxtaposed among the coconut trees near the high way. He fired a bullet to them and jumped out of the hut. He crawled towards the rudder of a boat when suddenly he felt a sharp, pointed metal punctured the muscle beneath his shoulder blade. He reached for it as he continued crawling. It was a dart!
His eyes searched for his enemies but they’re nowhere to be seen. He got up on his knees and ran towards the thick mahogany trees without looking back or looking ahead. His head became heavy and his eyes were blurred with thick and indistinct figures. He groped for a trunk when suddenly a cold, thin blade penetrated the bare flesh of his left limb. The stab maimed his arm totally. He couldn’t see things anymore clearly so he fired his gun at a random direction. Another blade cut across his belly, then his thighs and his face at last. For a moment the wounds scathed his muscle tissues. Another stroke sliced his right shoulder and the world was gone.
Puloy saw his brother fall flat on the rocky earth, motionless. His blood flowed out from his wounds. The blood seemed brown and thick under the moonlight. Digong stood aside at the dead body. He was paralyzed with horror and fear. The foliage rustled and several rushing steps approached them. Puloy bolted and dragged him toward the legume fields, crushing the peanuts in dark yellow bloom. The moon lurked again behind the nimbuses. The dogs howled as if giving a long, loud, mournful cry. From a distance, a shrill wail of a woman can be heard against the splashes of the sea waves. The lightning knifed the dark sky and a roaring thunder drowned out the sorrowful cries.

(The characters and events in this story are fictitious. Any similarity is coincidental and not intended by the writer.)
Fonzi Christ Web Developer

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