Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Slice of Flesh, a Taste of Joy

[Part 4 of "The Messiahs" series]


“I’ll rephrase the question. How was he before you went to work?”

“We don’t usually talk before I go to work. Come to think of it, we don’t talk at all. Yesterday before I left, he did not say anything, not a word. He was his usual self, I must say. I got home early and there was not a mumble,” I said, coughing between the phrases. For the longest time, I’ve been having intermittent coughs and colds. The phlegm in my lungs simply won’t disappear.

“Have you noticed anything strange about him yesterday?” she asked.

“No. There was nothing of that sort.”

“How about the past few days? How was his behavior? His mood?”

“I think he was quite happy.”

“Quite happy,” Amelia, the police inspector, echoed. Her calm voice suddenly became ripe with undertones of melancholia. Along with the wrinkles on her forehead, it added a flash of reticence to her authority. Age has its way of nurturing the instinct for suspicion, I thought.

I leaned back. “He’d smile often. That’s all. I never asked him why. His happiness was really none of my business.”

“Do you know anyone who held a personal grudge against your father?”

“I don’t know.”

“Mister James,” she uttered with a genial pause, “where is your mother?”

“I have no idea. I was adopted when I was two. I have the records with me.” I stood. “Excuse me for a while.” I walked toward the window, spat the phlegm climbing up my throat, and returned to my seat. “I did not bother to find my mother,” I resumed, “although I try to imagine her, whoever she is.”

It was almost dawn and I still haven’t had any sleep. Outside the house, a few neighbors gathered, curious as to why the policemen were at the village at an odd time. A police officer approached Amelia and had a few words with her. I remained calm, seated at the plush sofa where I take my nap before I go to work. For a while, I examined their gestures. Except for their nods and hand movement, there was not much to observe. Things felt as though they were planned.

The police officer left and Amelia sat back.

“So, you said that you came home early from work today.”

“That’s right, about two hours early. I was home by one in the morning. Perhaps it was no more than thirty minutes past one, or thereabouts.”

“Was your father awake at that time?”

“Yes, he was sitting by the porch, wiping one of the daggers in his collection with a piece of cloth.”

“And somehow you did not find it strange?”

“It was not strange at all. It was his habit even when I was still a child, twelve if I’m not mistaken. Sometimes, he’d suddenly get up from bed and clean his daggers even if it was three, four or five in the morning. There wasn’t a definite time. I wasn’t surprised to see him polishing one when I got home.”

“What did you do after?”

“I went straight to my room and changed clothes. I stayed inside for about thirty minutes. Then, I got out of my room and went to the kitchen to get something to eat. For a minute or so, I fixed myself a sandwich. I was about to return to my room when I noticed that the front door was left open. Before I could reach the knob, I saw father on the floor. He was heavily bleeding and lifeless.”

“Did you hear anything before you went out of your room?”

“There wasn’t a sound that could rouse my attention, although I think I heard father talking to someone over the phone. I wasn’t able to clearly hear the conversation. I think it went for about a few seconds.”

“Apart from that, were there strange noises?”

“None at all.”

“Not even a whimper?”

“Not even that.”

“I’ve noticed that his face was full of spit, phlegm,” she said.

“I know,” I interposed, “I’ve seen his face, too, inspector. He’s ugly, isn’t he?”

“With all those fatal incisions on his head, it really isn’t a beautiful sight to look at.” She gently bowed her head. “You must have noticed that his lips are missing, as if they were carved off from the skin on his face.”

“Aren’t you going to ask me if I killed him?”

She raised her head. “Did you?”

“If I did call the police, it’s most likely that I was not the one who killed him, don’t you think?”

“That’s possible, except for one thing.”

“Which is?”

“You called, that’s true, but it wasn’t you who called first. It was your father, thirty minutes before you did.”

“What did he say?”

“He said he killed his father.”


“Thirty years ago today.”

I let the thought sink in my brain. “And?” I asked.

Amelia continued. “And then you called about thirty minutes later. You said someone killed your father.”

A policeman went to her and whispered something. She stood and went outside. I followed them. From the porch, I saw father’s body wrapped in white blanket being transferred inside the ambulance. I came up to Amelia.

“Have your men found father’s dagger yet?” I asked.

“No,” she answered, “but they found a blood-spattered cleaver beside his body. Does he have one in his collection?”

“Yes, of course.” I watched the ambulance gain speed until its light was gone in the distance. “Please excuse me. I’ll get something to eat,” I told Amelia. I went back to the kitchen and prepared four slices of bread. After opening the refrigerator, I reached for a small porcelain plate inside the chiller. Together with mayonnaise, I placed a few little slices of father’s lips between the bread and took a bite, then another, until I finished one. I returned to Amelia beside the gate while I carried a plate with the second sandwich.

“Have a sandwich,” I offered. I coughed and spat on the floor.

“Thank you,” she said before she took a huge bite.

ANNE ARRIVED at father’s funeral earlier than scheduled.

“My condolences, James,” Anne whispered.

“Alfred finally slept the sleep he has never had before,” I quipped. He is my father, or he was my father, never biological, the man who wielded a cleaver in search of happiness. How often he told me that I was his son, his protégé, his messiah, and his executioner. He was more or less right with everything except one—the last one, for he was his own executioner.

Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


gaye said...

Nakakainis, bitin!next chapter na pls?nalilito nako, I want answers!gawin mo na novel to.

SPLICE said...

Pressure! haha

Anonymous said...

Puzzling. God, I almost spit out the bread that I am eating.

Things get worse, exciting.

Carl said...

Puzzling. God, I almost spit out the bread that I am eating.

Things get worse, exciting.