The Local Actor and the Scoundrel (Excerpts)

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.



Perfect Home (Excerpts)

They lay themselves under a huge Acacia tree, near a clubhouse of Eric’s village home.

“Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall,” she quoted Shakespeare.

“Some,” Eric said. “Not all and not most. Why do you believe in such things?”

“Why do people do the necessary? Why is it that when you do good even you don’t ask anything in return, you oftentimes get the bad taste of it, in spite of the good thoughts you have with that person. Might as well get rid of all the good things if most of the time the bad and evil prevails. It is just so ridiculous to live with both the good and the bad. It’s so hard to understand to be hurt after all the goodness you’ve done. This world has to be certain, precise. The world for me doesn’t make any sense.”

“It just shows my dear that we are just humans. It’s beyond our human intelligence; a transcendental one.”

“Is that what they taught you in the seminary?”

“Yes. But regardless of it, it’s just common sense, my dear.”

“Common sense? That’s the most absurd thing I’ve heard.”

“You’re getting too far, my dear. There’s so much here in this world we have to think about; the poverty of this country; the oppression by our leaders to our fellow destitute citizens.”

“Why can’t you just leave that up to other people. They are thousands of activists who shared with you the same beliefs. What about us, Eric? Our future, our oneness; I believe whatever good or bad we do just for the sake of the both of us, we are one, Eric, regardless of anything. We are one. We could be like the gods.”

“We cannot function in the world if there still have defects among our leaders; the system, the governance itself. We must cure that first before anything else in the world. We don’t just live in this world. We, as people, must be the complete oneness, taking your meaning into account.”

“That’s absurd, Eric.”

Eric had joined a group of activists called: Rebolusyon Para sa Pagbabago. He had joined protests on the streets; passionate and standing on his own convictions. That made her jealous, very, very jealous. She was selfish, Eric had always thought. As for Evelyn, Eric always talked about his love for his country; the love of his dream.

But there was more than that. There was a woman named Melissa. She was a newspaper columnist and an activist at heart. Eric met her at one of Cory Aquino’s campaign in Luneta scribbling notes. She was also hired as one of the campaign managers of Cory-Doy ticket. She had quit writing articles for a while. While Eric had always been involved in stand-offs, Mellissa shared with him their same sentiments. Their friendship got progressed into becoming mutual lovers. They would laugh at each other’s jokes, share witty ideas. Eric was happy with her. Mellisa was a mestiza who grew up in Bacolod, who frequently spoke illongga.

She had flawless skin, brown large eyes, thick eyebrows, lips delightfully seductive red. It was a cold night of October when they had dinner of one of a newspaper’s party event. It was a Halloween party. After they had their delectable dinner and exquisite wine, they found themselves in a hotel room in Shangri La. Caught themselves tasting each other’s wine-tasting saliva, and both took off their clothes and jumped on the bed as they experience the sexual bliss.

It wasn’t a betrayal to Eric. Eric wasn’t that sort of a man. He always hated that. It was against his principle. He even considered himself as a ‘liberal’ male chauvinist. He had his own virtues, but somehow had failed to follow some of them, and one of them was having a sexual relationship with Mellissa. Eric had told her their relationship was just all casual, and that was it. He had told her that he didn’t love her, and that’s all. They had made love once and that was over. It never happened again, though they still continue to become friends, and that was it.

But one night, Eve caught them kissing each other at Eric’s front door. She was inside the house gazing from the window. She didn’t react, no pain felt, no jealousy, at least, for a second, at that moment. There was no rage, ill-will, revenge, insecurities, hatred, inside of her that would make her kill him or kill herself. There were in Eric’s car, time for him to send her home. She didn’t say a word, didn’t tell anything about Mellissa, even she was in the verge of asking him again: Do you still love me, Eric? But she didn’t. She just bowed her head as though starting for a prayer. Eric glanced at her. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Nothing,” she replied, “Why?” He just drove the car off and sped away into the road. At her destination when she was about to light off, Eric said, “Tomorrow? What time?”

“I will substitute who had just lost a mother,” she replied. “That would be until the last shift.”

“Okay, he said,” I’ll be at my place; nothing to do much. I love to take you in a movie.”

“Sure,” she said. Eric drove off as she was immobile, watching the car faded away from her sight.