kooter reporting 08/14/11
Cebu City, Philippines
A push cart rolled out to the arrival area, when suddenly he was met with hugs and kisses. And then, “where’s mum?” He asked.
There was silence. His kids covertly looked at each other. They seemed not to know how what to say. Again they heard him asked, “Where’s she?”
His eye locked on his brother in law. The medium built gentleman put his arm around the shoulder of Leon and walked him outside without a word. The kids followed behind. Leon stopped and faced Paul.
“What’s goin’ on, Paul?” Leon became edgy. “What’s happening, bro?”
Paul rubbed his big nose so that it turned rubicund as if he had colds. He scratched the back of his head, knowing not what to say. Leon watched his blank face in pain and “I’ll tell you where she is as we drive home.”
Inside the car, Paul heard him asked, “What’s up now?” Paul calmed him down. “Listen…” he said. “I don’t know how to begin.” The big nosed brother in law took a deep breathe. But then, “Something happened to her, right?” Leon nearly yelled but he hanged on.
“I’m sorry, bro,” Paul said, bolder this time. “You’re right something happened to her.” He looked at Leon’s paled face and was breathing hard. “Mia met a car accident four days ago. She was DOA when she hit the hospital.” That was blunt, Paul thought.
Leon looked at the kids. The kids by this time were already crying. “Good Lord,” that was all he could say. He sighed deeply, his dark eyes were now wet. “How did it happen?” There was silence. Nobody uttered another word. “And why did you not let me know, for God sake?”
“We know you’re comin’ home, bro. So it was better to wait ‘til you’re back without knowin’ it.” Paul explained. “The police believed it was an accident. And…and…Mia could have been driving fast…and…and the next thing happened the car was out of control and rammed a concrete wall at the foot of the Fernan Bridge.”
A little voice intervened, “I don’t believe it was an accident.” Said little Jack. He was a handsome young lad, intelligent with deep seated dark eyes. At age fifteen, he stood five foot six. In the next few year, he’ll be as tall as his dad.
The two adults stopped talking. Leon stared at the boy. “Why do you say that young man?”
“Stop saying that bro,” Birdie interspersed. Her brown eye fixed at Jack, mad. Her freckled face mottled and her ruby lips twisted. The thirteen year old girl opened up her mouth again. “You don’t know anything yet,” she said. “So don’t keep saying that.”
“Yes, it was.” Jack insisted.
“Whoa kids,” Paul said while he slow down, there was a red traffic light ahead. The car stopped and then, “Let’s not quarrel about it here, OK?” The kids looked at each other frowning.
“Right then,” Leon said. “Let’s hear it when we’re home, OK?”
The red CR-V stopped at where the accident occurred. Leon didn’t step out from the SUV, he just quietly watched the place that was free of debris. He silently cried. His heart bled furiously. From there they drove to Cebu Memorial Park where he offered flowers on the tombstone of his dear wife.
On the unlit veranda, a glowing tip of a cigarette was the only light that could be seen in the darkness. He clenched his fist and pledged to find out the real score of the accident and give justice to her. The gold ring in his finger turned to glowing green. He didn’t notice this transformation though.
Before the accident, Jack asked his mum about the golden ring with a black stone on it. It was always in her finger. Mia told her son that the ring was special gift from his dad. She didn’t want to part with it because it was unique, so different from other gifts that Leon had given her.
Incidentally, Leon had noticed the glowing ring. He was confused of this strange activity but he chose to ignore it. By then he remembered Mia’s ring. “Where is it?” He wondered.
Hong Kong 2003
A Nihongin walked casually near Sai Kung Central, entered a Japanese restaurant and went straight to the kitchen area as if he owned the place. Some client bothered to take a quick look at the man but the restaurant stuff ignored him as if they didn’t see him at all or perhaps they’re used to see him there quite often.
In the kitchen area the man could smell the aroma of good cooking. He opted not to be bothered by the dictate of his sniffing organ.
He approached a huge fellow in white and on his head a chef cap. If not for this attire, he would look like a sumo wrestler. Actually he was a chef.
The big guy was busy slicing something. He didn’t notice the in coming man. In a sudden the man pulled the big guy’s sleeves. They faced each other frowning and bowed as Nihongin do.
In one corner they talked in whisper. The smaller man did the most of the talking and after a while their conversation stopped. Both men then bowed once more to each other. The slim man left the place in the same way he entered.
Shortly the giant hurriedly finished his work. He passed the finished product to the next fellow. He took off his chef cap. He had his hair cut short that made him looked younger.
In the lavatory, he washed his moon face, brushed his teeth, gurgled, rinsed and disgorged in the washbasin. Then he shaved off some stubble that grew on his jaw. By then he looked at his reflection in the mirror, smiled and was quite satisfied of what he did to his moon face. He opened up a small drawer under the dresser and took out an ebony leather case.
He put it on top and unzipped it. It contained a toupee, synthetic sideburns and a toothbrush moustache that was to be worn under his nose.
The bushy like toupee was on his close cropped hair. And then he added sideburns on each sides of his skull. He nearly became a clone of Mr. Chaplin except there was no derby on his top.
Hey, that’s not me, he thought. The big man continued to talk to himself alone in silence. Of course, you shouldn’t be recognized that is the primary purpose of the masquerade, a--hole!
He stared at the mirror for sometime as if he wasn’t convinced of what he did to himself. He thought he looked funny but since there was nothing to do, nothing more to add to his comical appearance, he set off outside and did what he was told.
At the airport, Charlie Chaplain look-alike walked down to the departure area. He filled-in in the long queue and when it was his turn, he presented his papers to one of the immigration officers.
He stood there for a moment waiting. The officer looked at him for quite a while, compared him with his photo that was on his passport. He held his breath and remained calm. Satisfied, he stamped on it and handed it over to him. The officer was convinced that he was really Goro Machiguchi.
Two days after at the Narita Airport a good-looking Japanese gentleman stood before the immigration booth and presented his passport. The immigration officer took a glance at him and in minutes he handed over back his papers to him. Toshiro Sato was well known to nearly all airport personnel for he travels quite often abroad.
The businessman was from Kobe and in Tokyo he had a couple of businesses there such as gambling casino and a disco club. This moment Toshiro’s port of destination was Manila.
He picked up his cellular phone. The call was from Hong Kong informing him that his business partner had arrived in Manila and that he was to meet him at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Toshiro Sato settled down in a chair in one of the cafes while he waited for his flight. An airport policeman who happened to pass by pensively looked at him but then gave him a slight vow. He reciprocated the gesture with a sly smile. The officer walked away and didn’t look back.
Passing through the usual airport procedures, he found himself in the arrival area, a single suitcase in his hold. In a little while he met Goro Machiguchi.
They took a taxi cab and instructed the driver to proceed to Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City. That evening they have dinner in a Japanese Resto Bar somewhere in Makati Avenue. What they discussed that night was their business trip to Cebu City, they have a licensed recruitment agency down there.
Toshiro Sato liked to recruit naïve young girls in Cebu City not only because they were fairer than their sisters in Manila but also because they’re good dancers and have voluptuous bodies. Toshiro loved plump women, his weakness.
Goro Machiguchi whispered, “I would be happy if I have to do away with this comical outfit. Can I take it off?”
The other man grinned and said, “I understand how you hate it.” His dark eye locked at Goro. He gave a wave of a hand and continued, “At this moment you can’t take off that f--king mask until we’re in Cebu, you understand?”
Goro locked his spherical jaw for the rest of the night. His silence wasn’t of fear of Toshiro but of obedience. Goro considered the man as his master. The Sato family was once a ruling clan in Yokohama. At the height of the Samurai rebellion, they were vanished.
Hong Kong, 1983
He walked down towards Tuan Mum Town Centre, friendly breeze tousled his hair. In the town plaza park, he saw unexpectedly the woman he had been looking for all these years.
That unforgettable early morning Leon followed her. She wasn’t alone, she was with a female companion. He observed the ladies and realized one is taller than the other. The woman he liked was slim, buxom and leggy.
The women wore tight jeans and printed blouses fit for a windy weather. He was sure they were Filipinos like him. So it wasn’t difficult for him to get to know them.
The ladies were surprised when the man walked along beside them and unceremoniously introduced himself. “You’re Pinoys, right?” Pinoy is short for Filipino.
The women giggled. They got to know to each other in a matter of minutes. The trio sat on a wooden bench under a young rubber tree.
Mia Godinez had a pretty oval shaped face complete with glossy black hair, cherubic nose and brown eyed. He didn’t miss the other lady who was very fine looking girl too and she was Michelle.
At the end of the day, Leon found out that Mia and Michelle were gynecologist practitioners. They were on a holiday. Finally both doctors were natives from Bacolod City, but chose to work in Makati Medical Center in Metro Manila.
Leon followed her to Manila and didn’t stop seeing the lady doctor until she agreed to date him in one of the Italian restaurant somewhere in Alabang. The place was a favorite waterhole for movie and TV personalities.
Mia didn’t know that her date was a head turner as if he was also a celebrity only he was not known. While having dinner they enjoyed watching a Trio Los Panchos clones performing a Latin love song.
The love song enhanced the romantic atmosphere so that it encouraged the young bachelor to propose marriage to the young lady doctor that night. Mia was so astonished. She couldn’t believe what she heard. She wanted to say something but she was tongue tied. He and she stared at each other without saying anything.
She thought Leon was only joking but he told her he was serious. By then the man’s hand was on top of hers. She didn’t bother to remove her hand. Shortly she was thrilled by the warmness of his hold.
She was already attracted and had a deep feeling for him when they met in Hong Kong. And the next thing they knew their lips met and felt the heat.
A loud rumbling sound above followed by sudden bright electrical flashes and the rain poured. The couple didn’t care about the weather outside.
To be continued...
By Noel Horlanda