Thursday, November 17, 2011


[Last part of the "Daemons" series]

THE CURTAIN was raised and there she was at the platform, petrified in genuflection as though her flesh suffered its own weight, an Atlas condemned to shoulder the world and the people who expect the universe to follow the strokes of a divine hand. The stream of burgundy light from the overhead bulbs showered her skin, causing her body to glow scarlet and cast shadows cascading under her nakedness. With head bowed and face partly covered by strands of hair that curl at the tips, she began to gyrate on the wooden cross resting on the floor. She moved quickly, the wooden phallus deep inside her like a flimsy neck being strangled to death. The sudden haste of her motions prodded her to let loose soft moans, words issuing forth from her succulent lips, unceremoniously ending thirty years of detention in that virgin cocoon by laboring her first orgasm. “Oh god, this feels so good,” she sighed, her voice hushing the impatience and murmurs of the crowd. Clara breathed slowly as if relishing a moment of rest, taking in the scent of fresh varnish and her own sweat, the odor of cigarette smoke notwithstanding, wafting around the room like incense for the unholy.

Barely thirty seconds into the performance, Father Pio stood and made his way to the exit, brushing through the audience, cursing — “Hijo de puta!” — and elbowing those who, lost in the dim frenzy, refuse to clear his path. He struggled through the gaps, pushing the unforgiving bodies one by one in a burst of adrenaline, scuttling as if heaven ultimately waited for him outside, its gates to swing open with the brevity of a pause. He did not look back, not at the invitation that bore his name, now tattered and torn at the table where he left, and definitely not at Clara, now unquestionably absorbed in the strangeness of her promiscuity, flailing her limbs against the void in wanton abandon. She knew that her body was her altar, the very grail of her metamorphosis, and not even the hand of god can stop her.

Outside, the bungalow looked more like a house crippled by poverty than a proud art studio, its brick walls further aged by moss and the scars inflicted by years of delayed construction. Beneath the neon light by the door hung a sign. “Daemons,” it read in white print against black surface.

“Home,” Father Pio told the chauffeur.

The engine throttled and the velvet Mercedes sped away, enduring eight hours of intermittent asphalt and dirt roads that roll as far back as Nueva Caceres where Father Pio will try to sleep eight more hours of restlessness, only to be awakened each time by her voice at the back of his mind.

“Oh god, this feels so good.”

ALTHOUGH THE SUN floated brightly in that Black Saturday, the way Clara frowned at the very thought of sacrilege brought an air of melancholia in her house. It defied her pretense of indifference.

“That was a bold performance,” I said. I almost choked at my own pun.

“Felix, if you have nothing better left to say,” she tried to intone, “you may leave.” The monotony of her voice must have only fed her cynicism. Or maybe she just did not want to be bothered while she was carefully cutting out the article in the newspaper I brought her, nipping the edges ever so gently with her calculated precision.

The final snip sent the last fragment spiraling toward the floor where the other pieces were scattered about; some fell on her feet. For the fifth time, Clara read the entry to her self, holding the snippet with tensed fingers, her smile unsure how to place itself on her face. Her cheeks were pale.

“No matter how many times you read it, the message won't change.”

“This is nothing,” she declared. Her confession was more indignant than stale.

“Do you plan to meet him this week?”

“What for?” she said, eyes still scrutinizing the text before her face.

“For whatever it is that is bothering you,” I quipped.


“Is it?”

“Or maybe blasphemy?”

“Is it?” My eyes met hers.

“Wow, you've never changed,” she insisted. Silence chaffed the interrogation.

Wow — the word brought my thoughts back to the day I first met her eighteen years ago at the gallery, except that her remark now was devoid of astonishment. It was simply an utterance, a word that can no longer comfort the apprentice and the master, whichever one of us was in that lazy summer afternoon.

THE CITY has changed a lot. Gone are the few caritelas that used to ply the urban arteries under the baking sun. More high-rise buildings flank the main roads, dwarfing the electric posts that once towered above all the rest like kings in a field of nameless pawns. There are more people and, perhaps, more sinners than saints living in that bustling area known more for the crimes left unresolved than the gospel it preaches. Everywhere there are monuments of Dominicans and Franciscans, their colors washed away by years of sun and rain and everything that heaven is able to cast upon the city. The school along Dimasalang Street is no longer an exclusive school for girls run by nuns, and the shop for religious art nearby has become a clothing store, mannequins and all.

Stepping off the bus, Clara breathed the scent of the city, an odd mix of decay and sunset that thrived on the pungencies of modern life. The terminal was as busy as the people. Passengers waited for their buses. Porters pushed against one another, reaching out for the heavy luggage of willing passengers for the cost of a miserable dinner. Men and women selling an assortment of pasalubong in their baskets — some plastic, others rattan — snake through the steady current of well-wishers and pedestrians whose faces reveal their anxiety in the sunset light. Clara walked toward the exit gate that opened directly to where the public utility vehicles, mostly tricycles, wait in line.

“Your prodigal daughter has arrived,” Clara told herself although she perfectly knew by heart that it was for the priest than to anyone else, if not the city.

Clara occupied the tricycle first in line, her handbag in tow and her mind somewhere else.

“Where to?” the driver asked, his hands busy counting the coins in his belt bag.


The driver gave her a confused stare, not knowing what to say and losing his count.

“The Basilica,” she said.

After putting the coins to his pocket instead of placing them back inside his belt bag, the ageing driver started the engine. The tricycle sped away, enduring fifteen minutes of intermittent heavy traffic and wide lanes that roll as far back as the Basilica where she will try to reason fifteen years of restlessness, only to be awakened each time by her own voice at the back of her mind.


FATHER PIO cleared his throat with a half bottle of water. He leaned forward and looked hard at Clara, his bony fists clenched against the glass cover of his desk. Sweat filled the wrinkles on his forehead. Except for the distant rustle of leaves, his heavy breathing was the only sound to stifle the momentary muteness in the room.

Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


Anonymous said...

Congrats for being a finalist.

I also started a blog just a few days ago (transferred early posts out from my Facebook account), So maybe you could give a noobie some pointers on how to improve it. I am tied between making it humorous, serious or combination of both. I am also confused if I should make the topics a detailed analysis (which would make me out-of-date because I need to compile all the pertinent facts first) or just spur of the moment bite-size commentaries to make it easier to recall and not very tedious to read. The problem is, there is so much information that I wish to share, a single paragraph would not be enough. I am also arguing with myself If I want to be preachy and opinionated or just tell the story as a third party observer. One thing I wouldn’t want to take out is my penchant for adding my own personalized illustration or graphics. As you could easily deduct, I am still searching for an idendity to call uniquely my own and not just a clone or imitation of another blog. Thanks and more power to you, guys. ..and by the way,I am not after any award or recognition. I just want to learn how to bring out the best in me. Thanks again.

ayee said...

another awesome post. i shuddered with whatever that post made me feel.

SPLICE said...

Thank you. I'll try to visit your page and see what tips I can give you.

Maraming salamat! :)