This isn’t one of my flash fictions but it’s one of my loved pieces. I wrote it when I was on the ship for Cebu.
“Siguraduhin mong may susundo sa’yo dun.”
Make sure someone fetches you there.
“Opo. Naa naman koy nakasabut, Dad.”
Yes. Already contacted someone, Dad.
I lied. Who would? The HR Rep? Nope. That snooty Napoleonic bastard was too proud to even shake my hand when he interviewed me. The plan was; I would go off the ship, get out of the port, hail a cab, and go straight to the hotel where the company already booked me.
My dad was always a worrywart when it came to promptness. So at, I kid you not, seventeen hundred hours, I was already in the boarding area of the pier with my things fully scanned and my body done being molested by the lady who sure was a lesbian. Departure was at twenty hundred hours.
One trolley, one dufffel bag, one handbag, and a box full of seafood canned goods and a mini rice cooker; that was all I carried with me. I hired a porter to carry all of it. That costed at least a hundred pesos. I tipped the guy with a twenty.
A thick-browed tall moreno guy carrying a mountaineer’s back-pack occupied the bottom bunk adjacent mine. He had this huge pastel-colored shoulder bag. Something whimpered in it. He looked at me. I looked at him back. Then, he looked at his shoulder bag.
“Be quiet, Fifi.”, he said in a hushed tone.
“How original.”, I said in a hushed tone.
He tried to retort but Fifi barked and squirmed inside the bag. He unzipped the bag and lo and behold; Fifi was a pekingese. He fed the bitch with dried goodies but she was still agitated.
I left and bought a bottle of water at the snack bar. I didn’t want to go back immediately so I took a few swigs at it at the top deck.
I couldn’t play any intrument at all. I sing. I’m a classically trained opera singer but I never took advantage of it. Started singing when I was in fifth grade. Manang Celly, an old woman in our neighborhood, took pity on me and taught me. She said I remind her of herself when she was young. She was alone; wasn’t married or had any children. She is dead.
The air was too chilly so I went back. That bitch still annoyed me.
“Maybe she’s thirsty.” I offered my half-empty water bottle to Fifi. She refused.
The guy said nothing. He squished himself inside the bunk and sighed; a form of surrender. I left him with his thoughts.
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Asshole. We were together for four months but said asshole was too stubborn to admit the last month just wasn’t working. He even blamed himself for me leaving. How pathetic.
Pakikipagsapalaran. Mom’s favorite word. The waves were invading my thoughts. Apparently, musings do have ambient music. Mom always told me it meant challenging fate. Was this me challenging fate?
I went back to my bunk and slept.
That whining little bitch was at it again. I turned over to silence that damned abomination but I was wrong. Fifi wasn’t whimpering. Her owner was. Binangungot. I woke him up and offered him my half empty water bottle. This time, he took it.
“Good thing she’s still asleep.”, he said.
“Yeah, or I would’ve killed that Satanic incarnation.”, I said.
He was about to lie down when I said, “Why the fuck would you put that poor dog in there?”
“I don’t want to pay for that stupid bitch anymore.”, he said.
I couldn’t get back to sleep.
I have a band. Well right now, it’s more appropriate to say I had a band. It was a long time ago. At first, it was great. Every night was another adventure; another opportunity to explore the city. Thoughts became lyrics that turn into songs. Hums became melodies, rhythms, and beats. Each of us was into different genres. I was the one into jazz.
Why did I leave them?
Mom was about to be promoted for a deanship in a prestigious school in the city. But, the proverbial institutional politics happened. She moved to Manila and returned to UP for her Doctorate. Dad is retired; living out his pension.
Why did I leave them?
I got offered a job in one of Cebu’s topnotch recording labels. Not as a recording artist, though. I’ll be the one-scouting-for-fresh-talents and dipping-my-hands-into-dirty-old-monkey-business for them. As what that Napoleonic bastard told me, I have a knack for fishing good talents. Talents. That narcissistic dimwit can’t even say artists.
Good morning, thank you for….. passengers…. We are currently…. pleased to inform you…docking the ports of Cebu…. In behalf of all the staff… this ship, I welcome you all to the Queen City of the South.
Attention all tourist passengers…… claim ID’s and return beddings at the counter. Thank you…. Enjoy your… Thank you.
“Let me guess, you crossed the sea just so you could give that little mutt to her owner. Please tell me I’m wrong.”
“How the hell did you know?”
“ You should just get rid of it.”
He was everywhere. Alfred. Alfi. Fifi. My Fifi. He was my Fifi. He still haunts me.
On the corner just outside the pier gates, I was trying to hail a cab when every one of them was already filled. Then, this one cab stopped and popped open the door in front of me. My pepper spray was ready. I peered in and saw him. He already made space for me.
“Good for you.”, I said and sat beside him. He smiled.
“Radisson….”, I told the cabdriver.
“Blu. Radisson Blu.”, he said.