Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Delivery Boy Attempting to Write

It took me several minutes to prepare the coffee, boiling first a mug of water and when it seemed hot enough, poured it into the cup. I rummaged in my piles of papers for something to write on. All bond papers had been scribbled on and I knew then that I had to get a fresh supply of papers; available in the store and I could get several pieces so I could start.

Pens and papers were ready, and yes the coffee. It was time already to go to the adjacent house and write the narration that had been playing in my head.

Then the phone rang, as I was about to get out of the house. It was a client. It was an order for cases of strong beer and pale pilsen. Promptly, I had to drop the things that I would have to do, and hurriedly put on a shirt, grabbed my cap and asked the receiver of the call where would I deliver the orders. After much fussing about the exact location of the store, I dumped the cases of beer on the service tri-bike and sort out for myself where was the store from the vague direction that was given to me. The coffee would be cold by the time I returned for sure but it did not matter.

When you have set your mind on something to do and there are distraction like errands and chores to fulfill, you just have to understand that these are necessary delays. These errands are only momentary. After fulfilling them, there would be a lull in time, enough to retrace your steps as to what your mind was weaving earlier.

So after the delivery, I bid my time again, repeating the rituals, wiping the sweat from my brows and arms. This was the time of reconstructing the narrative that flowed in my head earlier; my head searching for that glimpse of the gist of the narrative, the rhythm, the juice. A cigarette or two would do the trick, I thought.

Then, as I got myself halfway back to the path (I could already feel the narrative beginning to flow again) moseying in the house as if trying to find something, another order came in. For the second time, it did not matter again. I got a good hold of the narrative in my head and nothing could erase it.

After all the distractions, finally, I was able to sit. It was already time to pour the narrative that had been bugging me into the blank pages of the paper.

It was near noon when he woke up. He stumbled from his cot and went straight to the kitchen. He boiled a mug of water. When he saw that there were little bubbles hissing on the casserole, he poured the water into a cup and made himself a coffee. He sat on the patio in front of the house, sipping the coffee. He fished for a cigarette in his jeans and lit it. He puffed hard, feeling the smoke went into his lungs.

The street was deserted. The sun was high over the sky, cloudless. The street was blanched white by the fury of the heat. Gabo could feel his heartbeat slowed down into hard, strong throb. He would squint his eyes as he stared at the street. He had many things in his mind yet he could not focus. All he could think was nothing. For a long time he was staring at the street until he could no longer see the baked cement pavement, the quiet prefab row of houses in front of him, until what he saw and felt was the fury flowing in his veins, the actions he had formed in his mind.

His coffee had become cold and he took it in one gulped. Then he puffed harder this time. It was time, he thought. He got his cap in his room, then put on a shirt and went into the street.

The heat of the sun was singeing his arms. His face sweated. But he was oblivious to it. He clenched his knuckles and jaw, easing down the tension in his limbs. He felt his face had been soiled and wet that he had to squint, and he squinted sharper and hard. He knew that he ought to do this. He knew it was the right thing to do. It was the most right thing he had ever to do in his life.

He still could not tell what changed him. But he knew something had changed in him since last night. He had been changed no doubt about it. This is already not the story he reads from books. No amount of reading can make you tough. It may give you the insight to face Death, but it can only reach up to that point. And Gabo knew about it. As he walked under the blistering heat of the sun, he could feel he was stepping out from the books he had read about courage. This time, he could breathe the air of fear that was making his knees wobbly. Yet the only thing that made them firm were his knowledge that it was the right thing to do for him. Live on your knees, or die in your feet. He repeated this mantra like it was the truest words that he knew. It was no longer a courage that you get from impulse. This was courage coming from a deliberate will, tougher, every second ticked with the motion of the will pushing him. This was the courage that he knew all along.

He was near the end of the block, and in his mind he could see that his foe stood behind the bend, probably talking to somebody like it was any ordinary day. He knew the other had a knife tucked in his pants, ready to stab his guts. And Gabo knew he had to be ready for it. They knew when they see each other that they would have to kill each other. He could smell the trouble waiting for him around the bend. And he was ready for it.

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