Excerpts from the Novella “The Local Actor and the Scoundrel.”
The house stood at the corner lot of Pearl and Opal streets in Doña Margarita, a village where Eugene lived when he was still five. For eleven years he had lived there, he hadn’t seen such a house, so crafty and outlandish, not homogeneous as the typical Filipino bungalows in Doña Margarita.
It was like the houses he had seen in foreign films, where they defined more elegance and appeal. That house only showed little, as though the cheapest and the most practical one in any foreign place. It was all painted white from the gate and steel wire fence, to the walls and gable roof; except the window frames were varnished wine red clutched with glass panes painted black. From within the man gate carved an adequate flight of stairs to the house, and from the main gate welcomed a slope driveway to the garage. The garage roofing was a crown of white concrete blocks to mimic a tower of a castle. In front of that castle-like parapet were letters emblazoned that read: CHALET WESTFALIA.
And there a man Eugene saw stood at the doorway, sipping a drink from a glass. Of course he was a foreigner, as seemed to Eugene he was. But he looked more like a foreigner. He looked like a soldier in HBO movies he had watched. The way he stood, firm and upright: chest out, shoulder in, he looked like a war hero, although he seemed to be old to portray that one.
He didn’t wear anything on top and bottom; bare feet, no cap or hat to cover his bald head. He wore only short maong trousers, so short it was lifted up to his navel down his upper thighs, making him even taller with those long legs and arms. Eugene estimated he stood about six-feet tall; he was slim, white burnt skin that looked more like pink.
Eugene walked closer from where he was standing, across, at the sari-sari store’s pavement, for a clear view. He narrowed his chinky eyes, almost shut from the blinding rays of the summer afternoon sun. When the man saw him, Eugene looked away and walked toward the sari-sari store, where a fine-looking, middle age woman came in.