Friday, December 31, 2010

DWP - paranoia: prompt


Kalan knows this business of killing and murdering people for money has got to catch up with him sooner or later and he has wished it would have been later, much, much later. All these times that Kalan has come to Father Richard for confession, is it possible that, no matter the two of them have been kindred spirits ever since their young years, Father Richard is actually a spy and an assassin? And now that Kalan's thinking about it, in all forty of his missions, Father Richard has always suddenly and conveniently appeared.

And Kalan thinks that perhaps, the priest has sold him to his enemies.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

DWP - blame: prompt


"Maddie, please. We discussed this a number of times. No one's to blame."

"But he's hurting, Cynthia. Lee's been hurting for so long." Maddie coughs on the phone; she's been smoking again. "Why can you not make up with him. Aren't you lonely? The trouble with you is you are so proud. Why can't you just make up with him? You know you love him, and he loves you so much. That's why he's been single all these years."

"Maddie, please." I say again.

"And you, none of your relationships amounted to the degree that you and Lee had. You yourself said that a number of times. Why can't you...?"

"Maddie!" I interrupt her. "Maddie, listen to me. Lee and I will never be again. It's been twenty years, for God's sakes!"

"But, I'm just worried about you. Lee still wants you and he's been very good to you. You should consider getting back together." I roll my eyes and put the phone away from my ears. I feel blood rising to the veins in my temple and I am about to explode. But Maddie's been a very good friend, both to me and to Lee, but at times like this, when she's keeping at this drama, I feel like she's more on Lee's side than mine.

"Maddie, you only know one side of the story and that's Lee's side. Once again, I tell you that I will not discuss what transpired then. So you do not know the complete story. Please, if you're my friend, you'd skip the drama."

There is a long pause then I hear Maddie coughs hard. When she speaks again, her voice is hoarse and she sounds tired. "Okay, so what are you making for New Year's eve then?"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DWP - moving on: prompt

moving on

The Christmas card arrived two days early, just as it had been in the last twenty-some years. With the same wishes, that he hoped I have found happiness. As usual, he signed it "I love you. I wish we're still together. Lee"

This year, I sent him a reply card and in it I wrote: "Lee, as I said a number of times, you should be moving on, because I have. Yes, I am very happy. Alone, but happy."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DWP - home: prompt


"Yo, honey I'm home!"
he shouts loud and with gusto.
Her note says, "Good-bye".


the weary mind finds
while its soul searches the world
home is in the heart.

Monday, December 27, 2010

DWP - the record: prompt

The Record

For the entire month of September it rained, not continuous but the heavy downpour came at various times of the day, sometimes heavy, sometimes quite light, but rain it did. It was the record rainfall that the entire country had not expected and by the end of that month, the waters rose and flowed into the streets in every city.

It spared no one, not even the most powerful politicians, not even the most popular celebrities escaped it as streets turned into rivers and parks into lakes. A Mercedes Benz was treated the same way as a rusty rundown old car - carried by the strong current, turned over and left unusable. The only difference was that the owner of the Mercedes had insurance coverage and the rusty rundown car did not. Over and over, news showed pictures of the famous actress on the roof of her expensive home, devoid of makeup and the expensive clothes, wet from the pouring rain.

People tried to rescue whatever belongings they could - a woman held her family's clothes in a plastic basin on her head, as she walked the chest-high flood water; a child rode on the shoulders of an old man as he treaded along, looking for a place high enough for the child's safety; a policeman carried a dog and a cat while the owners chose to remain in their houses.

An old man refused to leave his home, telling everyone the water would soon recede. He knew these waters when they came and he knew they could only rise so high. But when the waters reached just below his shoulders, he was forcibly removed from his single-storey home by his neighbours and brought to someone's second floor home. A woman sat on her refrigerator to prevent it from being carried by the raging flood, a possession she knew she would never again have, as she held the statue of the Virgin Mary in her arms.

The pictures were devastating and heart rending, especially of a five-year old girl huddled on top of a shanty's roof illegally built underneath an overpass; of people who used the high voltage wires to traverse the streets - they figured since there is no power, the wires were safe. When one wants so desperately to survive, you hold on to anything, you count on anything.

And when the waters receded, the pictures of devastation, the chaos of retrieving one's possession from the knee-deep mire; the despair of people hugging their expensive sofas, crying over their damaged material possessions, feet buried in mud, faces buried in their hands, crying over their loss.

Those were but few of the images recorded caused by the record rainfall that caused the record flood that wreak havoc to the lives of so many people.

And then how soon they all forgot.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

DWP - snowy woods: prompt

In the Snowy Woods

When Kalan regains consciousness, he finds himself inside an old musty log cabin. Where this cabin is, how far it is from the city, and how the white-haired woman got him here, are the questions that he lets his mind ponder for a brief moment. As a matter of reflex, his hands travel down the inside of his suit and finds his gun is not there, nor the spare he keeps strapped in his left leg.

He stands up and paces around the small bed. He stares at the door and contemplates opening it and escape. He assumes the white-haired woman is outside and God knows who else. His eyes chance upon the window that has a picturesque view of the tall trees, dressed in the white of the snow that whirls in the wind outside. He assumes he is in the back part of the cabin. It looks familiar, the lines of the trees, but Kalan admits to himself instantly that he has seen so many similar landscapes it's hard to know if he has been here before or not.

A figure, dressed heavily in downfilled coat, appears from the side of the house towards the tall trees. His eyes strain to see the face of the person, whether it's a man or a woman. He examines the window and chuckles at the fact that all he needs to do is lift the lever on either side and the window will open. The ground below is more or less four feet and the snow would protect him in any case. He knows he has more chance of survival, and ultimately escape, in the snowy woods beyond.

As he reaches for the lever to execute his idea, he hears the door unlock. At the same time, he sees Father Richard walking towards the cabin from the distance, his arms stretched open towards the figure. His brows furrow, remembering that hours ago at the church, Father Richard lay dead on the floor with a bullet through his head. So, what gives?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

DWP - Santa Claus: prompt

Santa Claus

The Santa looked so real with his snow-white beard,
Big tummy, rosy cheeks and his suit of white and red.
But when little Jimmy sat down on his big fat knee,
He shouted, "Ewww, his breath smells not so funny!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

DWP - elves: prompt


Mila, the daughter of the groundskeeper at the large house on our street, was a skinny, dark-skinned and plain-looking girl who was also painfully shy that everyone was surprised when word got on the street that she was pregnant and that Antonio was the father. Antonio was a handsome, fast-talking man, being the product of an American service man in Subic and the "laundry woman" at the little inn that the soldiers frequented when they leave the base for good time. People were divided as to what actually transpired between Antonio and Mila, with one group saying Mila, for all her shyness must've seduced Antonio beause no one else would pursue her, while the other group said Antonio must've fast-talked Mila and raped her because, really, who wants a handsome midget (yes, he's a midget) for a husband if you're tall and lanky like Mila.

So when people heard that Mila had given birth to twins, they asked Antonio what he was going to call his children, to which he replied with a mocking smile on his face, "Since you refer to me as an elf, I guess, my children are 'elves'?"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

DWP - traditions: prompt


The one Christmas tradition I like best is the Noche Buena, the midnight "supper" on Christmas eve. In our household, when my five siblings and I were young, our mother would wake us up at midnight to have our Noche Buena. Because we were really poor, she and my father would cook a special meal for us: a whole egg for each child, cooked sunny side up, with a piece of hotdog, fried, and my father's specialty, spaghetti with corned beef sauce. Instead of the cheap margarine, we had on the table half a pack of real butter, and instead of the daily morning rolls, we had a loaf of bread, the one in white plastic bag with colourful circles. The meal was repeated in the morning for breakfast, after we had opened our gifts.

Intead of stockings, we used old socks that each child hung on the Christmas tree (which was a large branch of a tree with lots of twigs in it, leaves pulled out and the branch painted with white, and instead of the shiny Christmas balls, we hung our little toys, then Mother finished it off by tying the multi-coloured lights around it). I can still remember those socks stretched and bulged to the max with the little toys our parents painstakingly wrapped and put inside the socks. In any case, the gifts were little toys, and back then, we never asked what we wanted for toys. Our mother seemed to know which ones we liked.

After breakfast on Christmas Day, Mother dressed us in our new clothes - the only new ones we would have all year - and hauled us all to the church to hear Mass. Then we either walked or took jeepney rides to our relatives' homes, where they have all kinds of special food on their table. Our aunts or uncles would give us money. Of course, there are favourite aunts and uncles, and there are favourite homes where the food was really abundant.

Christmas in Manila was not complete without the carollers. They could be anyone, from a man playing a guitar or a group of young people with really good voices, to an annoying drunkard who just wanted to have more money to buy booze. The unforgettable ones are the group of little children in the neighbourhood, each one clutching an improvised "musical instrument": a makeshift tambourine made of flattened bottle caps (cork underneath removed) and stringed into a wire; a discarded Dole pineapple can for a drum beaten with a little branch from the neighbour's tree; and best one is a comb covered with cellophane from cigarette packs.

These children would sing, mostly desafinado, mostly yelling to make sure they are heard, as there would be other carolers nearby or other loud sounds from other houses, and of course the barking of the dogs. If they didn't get the houseowner to come out to give them "alms", they kept singing in front of the house, until they got money or they got shooed away (some people would throw water at them if they're really bad). After they sang, and they got money, if they didn't have someone in charge of getting all their collections, you'd hear them bickering.

"We should divide it," one says.

"No, the lady gave it to me!"

"Yes, we agreed that we take turns in taking the money."

"It's not fair, you got twenty-five cents and I only got ten!"

"I sing the loudest, I should get more."

"You suck!"

Sometimes a fist fight would settle the matter, and yet, on to the next house they go carolling afterwards.

Other readings on the Christmas theme:

Silent Night

Christmas past 1

Christmas past 2

Christmas past 3

Christmas past 4

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DWP - the flood: prompt

the flood

Manila, May 1960
The day started with beautiful sunshine, vivid blue skies and just a touch of breeze. But my mother, having lived in the farm, thought there was something odd in the air. She was supposed to have washed the sheets, but she changed her mind and she said she would do it tomorrow.

We went about our chores around the house and, as usual, at noon, we sat down to eat lunch. Simple stewed fish and boiled rice. Mother kept saying all morning that there was something odd in the air. The skies couldn't decide if they were blue or gray or a mixture of both colours. Then we noticed that water was flowing inside the house. Outside, the streets suddenly became flooded.

Mother said, "The river is rising in the middle of the day." High tide at noon wasn't normal in our place. Also, my mother commented, there is a strange noise with the rising water which by now is ankle deep for her. I was seven and small for my age so my feet were above ground when sitting. Still, we continued to eat.

But within two minutes, the water rose to her knee and almost to the bench we were sitting on. She ordered us to carry our plates up the stairs to the second floor of the house. By the time we finished eating, just at the top of the stairs, the water inside our house was almost near my mother's waist, her skirt billowing in the water as she carried some foodstuff from the kitchen.

By this time, the strange noise that came with the steadily rising water was replaced by the noise of panicking neighbours. The old lady in the house behind us wailed and asked God for forgiveness and to save her soul. She yelled at her grandchildren: "You little pests, come up here and pray with me. It's the end of the world, you sons of a bitch and all you can think of is swim in that stupid flood!"

Another neighbour turned on their radio and tuned in to the news. Apparently, hours earlier, there was an earthquake in Chile and what we were experiencing was a tidal wave, the tail-end of the much larger scale tsunami that formed across the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DWP -outer space: prompt

outer space

an endless darkness
a sea of lonely planets
a stunning silence


so, are we alone
here in this vast universe?
we may never know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Benjamin series: a chance meeting

"You are too short to be a model," Mrs. Leyba tells me. She scans my bio-data again, her round glasses almost slipping off her nose. "I don't understand why they sent you here."

"I'm not really a model," I say. "I was just modelling or sampling the underwear for private groups of women."

"I know," she snaps at me. "But if I hire you, you will have to sample the products at the floor, and if there are a lot of people, only the ones in front will see you." She cocks her head and peers at me through her glasses. "Plus aren't you too thin? I want someone with fuller breasts. You look like you're flat chested and your behind seems flat to me as well."

An emerging brand of underwear uses the Tupperware and Avon methods of selling its products. Instead of selling the products through retail stores, it hires 'independent specialists' to peddle them at offices or private homes. Leony, a friend at the office, starts to sell part-time and takes payment in instalments, something that is attractive to the young office workers who are earning minimum wage. In one of our lunchtime "parties", I would have no qualms about the girls seeing me when I try on the brassieres. A year later, the undergarment becomes popular and the selling trend catches on and the large department stores start to carry the undergarments and would hold private 'fashion shows' for their customers. Leony has asked me to "model" for her group parties because she sells more when the women sees the products on an actual body.

I shrug my shoulders. I take my shoulder bag and stand up. If she's not hiring or using me for the demo that afternoon, I might as well leave.

"Hmmm," Mrs. Leyba pulls the long Mongol pencil holding the bun of her long hair. "Well, since you're here, why don't we try to use you, ha?"

"Will I get paid?" I ask.

"Of course," Mrs. Leyba's eyebrows furrow and she shoots a dirty look at me.

I put on the beige lacy push-up brassiere with matching lacy panties. The five other models, three from the modeling school, and two are daughters of American diplomats, tower over me in the change rooms. Mrs. Leyba thinks I'd make a perfect window mannequin because I can stand still for a long time, that is, after she sees me standing still as I watched the girls practice their routine. She makes me stand in the front window on the second floor of the store, after she has sent me down to the make-up room.

She comes by after two hours and tells me to take a break. She forgets to bring a robe or towel for me so she tells me to dash off across the cosmetics department to the back wearing only the underwear I am wearing.


I turn around and Benjamin is standing in front of me. I start to smile when a plump hand whacks across Benjamin's chest. Mrs. Leyba's.

"You're not supposed to interrupt the models!" Mrs. Leyba pokes a finger at Benjamin.

"It's okay, Mrs. Leyba," I say. "He's a friend."

"I don't care. Go on and dress up," she says, then turning to Benjamin, "You, get back to work."

It will be months before I would see Benjamin again.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

DWP - the teacher: prompt

The Teacher

None of us knew Fallore’s first name. In high school, we were called and known by our last names. Maybe because he was older than us, by a few hundred years, that we just ignored him and didn’t pay attention to him. Even Fallore himself couldn’t blame anyone for doing so: he was very talkative, always making fun of anything or anyone. And he was loud. Although he was smart, he was nonetheless disruptive.

Now, everyone knew Fallore had a big crush on the science teacher, Miss Lumba, a short, skinny woman, with bronze skin and beautiful big round eyes and short cropped hair. On the first day of our class, Fallore let out a loud whistle. Miss Lumba frowned, clearly not appreciating Fallore’s whistling. She immediately called the class roll and marked Fallore’s name in her attendance book. The next several weeks, Fallore had been sent by Miss Lumba to the Principal’s office for his disruptive behaviour. For example:

Miss Lumba: “What is the symbol for hydrogen?”

Fallore: “Ma’am! Ma’am!”

Miss Lumba tried to ignore Fallore, and scanned the whole classroom hoping another student would volunteer to answer. But when none of the other students did, and Fallore’s hand remained raised, she called Fallore.

Fallore: “The symbol for hydrogen is this”

And he made the shape of a heart with his hands and putting them over his left chest.

Miss: Lumba: “Seriously, Fallore. Stop wasting my time. Now answer the question.”

Whereupon Fallore insisted on his answer.

One day, Fallore was absent from class and for the first time that year, Miss Lumba came to our classroom smiling. Everyone clapped and cheered and you could see Miss Lumba’s relief that for once she would not have to deal with Fallore. She had closed and locked the classroom door and delivered her lecture. It was a productive class.

But when Fallore returned the next day, he interrupted Miss Lumba three times to tell her he missed her and asked if she missed him, too. Miss Lumba tried so hard to ignore Fallore. During her lecture though, Fallore continued to talk non-sense with the other boys who also did not care to listen. In the middle of Miss Lumba’s explanation, she made a pause and quickly threw a whole chalk stick before continuing. Fallore caught the chalk stick and kissed it. The class roared. Miss Lumba got very mad that she ordered us to take a sheet of paper and gave us an instant exam by making us explain the process of how water from the sewer can be distilled into clean drinking water.

During the exam, however, Fallore continued to talk loudly, vocalizing his answers as he wrote them. Miss Lumba had enough. In a swift instance, the board eraser which she had just used to clean three full blackboards, flew straight into Fallore’s face, just as he was looking up to ask the boy in front of him a question. His face was all white and some chalk dusts went into his eyes. He stood up and became disoriented. Miss Lumba’s face paled and you could see the concern in her eyes at what she did despite sporting a really stern face.

The class was suddenly in chaos: some were screaming and others tried to cheat with their exam. Then there was a loud thud on the floor. Fallore fell, his back flat on the concrete floor. Some of the students crowded around him.

“He’s not breathing, is he?”

“I don’t know, but I think he’s dead.”

“Don’t believe that stupid boy,” said one of the girls.

But Fallore lay still.

Someone went to call the security guard who quickly came up to the classroom followed by the Principal and the head of the Physical Education department in tow. The students were asked to stand back. Fallore was not aware of this and unfortunately this was the moment he chose to open his eyes, and pointed towards the doorway.

“Look! A nipple,” he screamed. He looked like a mime with all the chalk dust on his face.

Everyone laughed, and at the same time looked out to see where the “nipple” was. Our classroom was on the second floor of the building and the hallways faced the nearby houses.

“Look there, there’s a nipple showing!” he screamed again.

When the Principal looked back at Fallore to see where he was pointing, he saw Fallore had pulled his shirt down so that his own nipple was showing. The boys in the class guffawed, the girls cursed Fallore, but he laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. When he had calmed down, the security guard picked him up by the collar and dragged him downstairs.

Miss Lumba did not come to class for a few days and we heard she had asked to be relieved of teaching our class. But because the school was short of science teachers, her request was denied. Fallore, however, never came back to class. And to the school.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DWP - strange behaviour: prompt

strange behaviour

colourful clothings, bright candles, merry flowers,
gold balloons, horns tooting, champagne a-flowin'
and in the centre should stand my coffin
this is how you celebrate when i'm a-passin'.

Friday, December 17, 2010

DWP - broken: prompt

(Continued from the "plugged in" prompt)

Neves can't believe her ears. "What do you mean it's not plugged in?"

"Gheez, Auntie Nev, see this?" Shayla says popping pink bubble gum while waving an assortment of cables at Neves. "Besides, I think the damn camera's broken."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DWP - plugged in: prompt

Plugged In

Neves prances from table to table singing a karaoke of "Big Spender", her hips grinding and sometimes seductively showing her thighs through the high slit of her gown, moving in harmony with the beat of the song. When she returns to the centre of the dance floor, she finishes off her song with her head tilted back, one gloved arm stretched up, legs apart, thus showing her thighs again.

The guests clap and shout "Bravo!" and "More! More!"

Neves curtsies like a ballerina would at the end of her performance. Her audience loves her. She lives for these family parties when she can display her singing talent to their friends and people who had never met her before. She throws kisses at the guests.

She runs to Shayla's table, while she motions back to the DJ to cue her next song.

"Shay," she says, "did you get that on the video cam? I think I was splendid, wasn't I? Did you get a close up of me like I asked you to? Did you?"

Shayla does not look at her as she fiddles with some wires connected to the video camera mounted on a tripod next to her.

"Shay, my mom would like to see this performance. She has a friend who works at the TV station. Make sure you got that first one, okay?"

"Huh?" Shayla asks as if waking up from a deep sleep. "What did I get?"

Neves eyes bulge and her mouth falls open. The intro to her next song has started. "Did you film me when I was singing Big Spender?"

Shayla stares at her with a blank look.

"Did you?"

"Er, no! The camera's not plugged in yet!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DWP - the river: prompt

Beatha always wondered what life was like in that small village across the river. Every night she watched them dance and sing by the bonfire, old and young people. Ever since she arrived here, they had been that way and she had always dreamed of going there.

She asked Maghnus one day if they can go there. Maghnus had never been there himself. He told her that the gods will curse anyone who dared cross that river and set foot on that part of the land; that even if you survived the raging waters those people will kill you.

"They never liked us, Beatha. They never did," he had told her. He told her about Fiona and Siadhal, two foolish lovers, who long ago escaped and crossed the river. "When they reached the other side before they could leave the water, something strange pulled Fiona underneath and when she surfaced, the current carried her far away and Siadhal could not do anything. As soon as Siadhal stepped on their land, the people took him away. And we never saw him again, not even to dance or sing by the bonfire. A few weeks after, they put that pole with the human skull. Do you see that, Beatha? We all believe that was Siadhal. They killed him."

But Beatha had made up her mind. Tonight, she would go there, if only to meet the young man who always smiled at her whenever she watched them from the balcony of Maghnus' mansion. She would cross that river even if it would mean her death.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DWP - stars: prompt

see that li'l bright star?
over there below the moon?
i'll pluck it for you.


your eyes shine like stars
well at least to me, they do.
(though crossed they might be.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

DWP - on the subway: prompt

On the Subway - July 2010

I am running late and I should have been at the office an hour ago. Subway is delayed again. "Switching problems" according to the announcement that keeps on blaring.

"Well then, fucking do something about it, you idiot people!" one pissed passenger yells, just as a TTC person passes by. He continues to rant and curse, directing his gaze at the TTC person.

Some of the people laugh, some glared, others non-chalantly go about whatever it is they're doing while waiting on the platform: reading books, reading newspapers, bobbing their heads to the music on their headphones, doing crosswords or sudoku. I stare at all of them. Character material for later when I sit down to write.

Outside, the temperature has reached 25 degrees and it's not even ten o'clock yet. It's hot and muggy and my hair, newly washed and styled, looks like shit again. I have a very important meeting at ten and it doesn't look like I will make it in time, especially if I will need to walk it.

After twenty minutes, the overhead speakers announce that the problem has been rectified and that service is now restored. Three jampacked trains pass by. I wouldn't dare get in. Standing here on the platform, where there is more space around me, I could already smell stale sweat and a few, all women, who have alcohol in their breath. Yaiks.

The fourth train that arrives is not terribly full so I get in and stand by the door on the opposite side. When we arrive in the next station, however, the station is packed with people. Suddenly, the train is jampacked and I hardly have room to move. Well, I say in my mind only, at least when I get to my destination, I am first to leave the train because I know the doors would open on the side where I am standing.

That is when I notice the heavily bearded man sitting on an inside seat, wearing a black toque and a khaki trench coat. It is the middle of summer, what a dolt, I say to myself. I see people looking at each other after staring at the man. He looks like...Oh, my goodness! The London and the Madrid bombings suddenly come to mind. I start to sweat. I swear that I will get the hell out of this train at the next station. I swear.

As the train approaches the next station, the man wearing toque and trench coat, gets up and moves his way towards the doors. I am thinking, "Please, God, let him leave and blow himself up elsewhere, just not here." I watch him wiggle his way towards the door and almost miss the stop. I breathe even though an armpit is within a foot away from my face. A few other people breathe a sigh of relief, too, having been thinking the same thing.

A woman says, "Not being prejudice, but with him wearing that coat and toque, in this heat, plus he looks Middle Eastern, I thought he was a suicide bomber!" Everyone nods their head slowly.

DWP - first line: prompt

(Warning: contains indecent language; reader's discretion is advised.)

The burglar moves through the house having disabled with ease the complicated alarm system and proceeded to climb the winding staircase. The master bedroom is at the end of the long hallway but he knows where the “goodies” are. The safe is in the master study located to the right past the master bedroom, up in the split level floor. Just before he makes the turn, he surveys the entirety of the large living room below, admiring the well appointed furnishings and interior decoration. He loves his new infra-red goggles, and he loves that he can see all these in stark darkness.

He turns the corner and slips quietly inside the study making practically no noise, except for the very soft click of the door knob as he locks it once he is inside. He looks out the wide bay window behind the large mahogany desk and surveys the grounds below. His brows furrow when he sees a Lexus SUV parked just behind the rose garden, seemingly in there so as not to be noticed. He knows the “master” of the house is supposed to be out of the country and the rest of the family, the wife and two sons, are spending the night in their condo in the city. He knows the Lexus does not belong there. And it is unlikely the grounds keeper of this property owns a Lexus. He stands for a while and focuses on trying to hear any any tell-tale signs of someone inside the house.

When he does not hear anything, he walks to the walk-in closet where the master keeps his business suits. He kneels down on the floor, lifts the corner of the expensive area rug and a square opening with a mechanical lock is revealed. He carefully enters the combination numbers and he smiles when he hears the small click. He lifts the lid and shoves his arm to the very bottom drawer where he retrieves a small box.

The box is lined with expensive velvet and in it rests a diamond studded necklace. He smiles as he takes the necklace and raises it, the bulk of it, the yellowish pendant swaying and sparkling even in the dark, all of its 300 karats. He fishes out a leather pouch from the side pocket of his pants, kisses the pendant before putting it inside the pouch. He unzips his jacket and places the pouch in a zippered secret pocket. He closes the floor safe and replaces the area rug. He looks out the window and sees that the SUV is still there. He leaves the study and cautiously walks down the hallway.

It is when he hears moaning sounds, softly at first and as his ears strain to find out where the sound comes from, the moaning gradually grew louder and it's coming from the master bedroom. His pulse quickens, nobody is supposed to be at home, more so the mistress of the house. He walks past the master bedroom and enters another room and opens a door that leads to a narrow space, a secret passageway which leads to the walk-in closet of the master bedroom. He can hear the woman’s moaning, now coupled with the heavy breathing of a man. Blood rushes to his head. In the darkness of the room, he sees them, the woman lying prostrate on the large round bed, the man on top, behind her, in the culminating moment of their sex act.

“The asshole has no idea what’s happening when he’s away,” the woman says as she shifts her position and goes on top of the man now lying on his back. They both laugh as they caress each other, calling “him” stupid, idiot, cuckold, dumb ass. "And I know he's going to give me a diamond necklace for my birthday!"

"Ohhh," the man says, "but this is better than his diamond, isn't it?"

He can’t take it anymore. He takes out the Smith & Wesson, switches on the light and aims the gun at the couple on the bed. He smiles at the horror in their faces upon seeing him. Two gun shots ring and envelope the whole room briefly.

He quickly leaves the house, runs to the back garden and out into the wooded area of the property. At a clearing, he recovers his mountain bike and pedals away a good five kilometres before encountering an oncoming pick-up truck. The truck makes a U turn and slows down, slow enough to enable him to throw his bike in the back, open the passenger door and get in.

"The bitch was there," he casually tells the driver. He opens his jacket and takes out the pouch with the diamond necklace. "And you suspected correctly. She was having an affair."

"Did you see who it was?" the driver asks, in an equally even voice.

"Yup," he says then places the necklace on her lap, and his hand travels inside her skirt, and he smiles at what he finds, and he kisses her shoulder, and then he quietly says, "your fucking husband."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

DWP - ice: prompt


big deceiver when it's on the road
looks like nothing, it fools your eyes
but try driving through it at 50 miles
too late to realize it is black ice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

DWP - magic: prompt

First I heard his voice and when I turned around, Benjamin was there, with the same smile, and the same sparkle in his eyes and I felt like I was transported back in time.

"Ben!" I called, the excitement in my voice obvious even though I tried to act cool.

It was like a slow motion scene in a movie, the camera panning between the protagonists, like everything else and everyone else were blurred and there was no one else in the scene except Benjamin and me, as he reached for my hands and our fingers intertwined and we just stood there and stared at each other, just staring and not saying anything. It seemed like magic.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DWP - the professor: prompt

The Professor

Fasiloff leans his back on the brick wall outside the run-down building of St. Lawrence market. As he sucks at his cigarette, he scans the thick crowd of Friday afternoon shoppers and looks for someone he can “execute” with. It takes a good twenty minutes before he spots her. She has long hair, fair skin, a little on the fat side but otherwise attractive. Attractive and has an attitude. Fasiloff finds it easy to read her body language: the way she walks with her straight body, shoulders pushed back, arms slightly swaying, neck straight and the chin seemingly jutting forward, and the condescending look in her eyes. You know she has money by the quality of the clothes she’s wearing, no matter that she is just walking around the market, and the expensive watch on her wrist confirms that fact. Fasiloff knows the make, the model and brand of that watch, one of his talents. There is a shorter, darker woman following her, a large woven basket in her had. It is the maid. Fasiloff nods his head slightly.

He takes one last suck at his cigarette, looks both ways as he discards the half-smoked stick on the ground.

Jared alternates his gaze between Fasiloff on the other side of the street and the throng of shoppers walking past him. He sees Fasiloff casually eyeing one woman and when he sees him throw his cigarette away, he, too, makes his move towards the woman.

The woman stops to examine a large flowery robe hanging at one of the stalls. After saying something to the unseen vendor inside the stall, she lets go of the robe and purses her lips and slightly shakes her head. She continues to walk, giving all the goods a once over. The maid patiently follows her mistress. Fasiloff charges the shoppers until he reaches the woman and deliberately bumps into her with such force she almost fell. Jared, walking towards the same direction as Fasiloff but on the other side of the woman, catches her by her arm.

“You stupid idiot!” the woman yells at Fasiloff as she tries to regain her balance, Jared still holding her.

“You the idiot,” Fasiloff barely looks at her and continues charging the crowd. This only makes the woman angrier and starts shouting expletives at him. Fasiloff flashes a finger.

“Are you okay?” Jared asks the woman who pushes him away and scowls at him.

“Go away!” she yells at him. Jared shakes his head and walks on.

The professor, watching from the window on the second floor of the old building, smiles as the woman goes about her shopping still fuming at the incident. In a few more minutes, Fasiloff knocks and enters the room smiling, the woman’s expensive watch dangling from his fingers.

“Wow! That was easy,” Fasiloff says smiling.

Jared enters the room and casually places a bulging Gucci wallet on the table.

The professor sits on the large arm chair, alternates his gaze between Fasiloff and Jared. He takes two index cards and hands them to the two young men.

Fasiloff gets an “A”. Jared gets an “A+”.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DWP - the time traveler: prompt

Hortense peered at the old woman’s face and said, “I know you; I’ve seen you before. But I can’t remember when. Or where.”

“Yes, we have met before, quite a few times, in fact,” the woman answered.

Hortense examined her face, the droopy eyelids and the little lines around her eyes, the unmistakably high cheek bones and the full lips that now curved downward. Then, as if spark occurred in her brain, she recalled that day when she was five, at the cemetery, her grandmaman’s burial.

It had just rained and the funeral procession started from the little chapel to the family musoleum situated a few meters towards the back of the cemetery. Somehow, little Hortense lost her grip on her mother’s hand and the rush of people walking towards the musoleum pushed her aside. She stood atop one of the old stone tombs, the one with the large metal cross that now gleamed in the light of the setting sun. She watched as the last person in the procession disappeared at the corner. She noticed a double rainbow in the sky, its colours so vivid it made her smile and made her sing.

“Nice song, good voice.” The voice startled her and she gave a little shriek as she put both her tiny hands over her mouth. She was surprised to see an older woman sitting on the little tomb next to her.

“They went over there for Grandmaman’s interment,” Hortense said, pointing to the corner where the procession had turned several minutes ago.

The woman just stood there, smiling at her. Hortense eyed her with curiosity little children always had with people they don’t know. She liked the way this woman smiled at her, like she found Hortense amusing. Hortense was used to being ignored. In her family, the attention is always on her sickly older brother, or her cute little baby sister.

“Look at the rainbow,” Hortense pointed at the rainbow. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Have you seen a rainbow like that before?” She jumps down the ground, her feet splashing on the little puddle of water between the two tombs. “Is it really true that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?”

The woman smiled at her, but replied, “I don’t know, I’m not sure.”

“What is your name?” little Hortense asked.

“My name is Hortencia.”

“Oooh, we have the same name!” there is giddiness in Hortense’s voice.

“Hortense!” It was her mother.

“Maman!” and Hortense ran to her mother.

“Who is that?” asked her mother, eyeing the older lady suspiciously. “Didn’t I tell you not to talk to strangers?” She pulled Hortense as she walked away, looking back at the woman only once.

Hortencia waved at them. When Hortense looked back, Hortencia was gone.

A switch had been turned on in Hortense’s head. Hortense…Hortencia.

“It was I!” she exclaimed, touching her face and staring at herself in the mirror. “I visited myself when I was five!” Her reflection in the mirror smiled.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

DWP - the drunkard: prompt

he goes for detox
but sneaks in with a flask of


Hiram Walker Old
Seagram's, Black Velvet Deluxe
his favourite things.

Monday, December 6, 2010

DWP - Christmas lights: prompt

Det. Garreth Jones steps out of his cruiser in front of 393 Gammit Ave. It is a quiet neighbourhood, and this house looks like the model suburban house you get to see only in glossy magazines like Homes & Gardens – an all-brick four bedroom New England classic on a well-appointed lot, with white iron grill fencing that reaches up to one’s chest. The well kept garden is elegantly decorated with colourful LED lights in uniform colour of blue. The house is picture perfect. Except that a man, wearing a red and white suit, black boots and sporting very white beard, hangs from the roof high above the front door, his red and white hat resting on the white awning below, a good portion of the Christmas lights wrapped around his neck. The fascia board is exposed as the cover has been ripped off by the weight of the hanging man, his body dangerously swaying in the minus twenty degree wind.

“Shit! Another one,” Jones mutters.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

DWP - the chef: prompt

she chops, dices, slices and minces
whilst making sure the laundry's done
stirs, vacuums, folds and mixes
she's mom, maid, wife, chef all rolled into one.

Friday, December 3, 2010

DWP - the assassin: prompt

This is a continuation of a previous prompt. Click here

The assassin now finds himself in front of the gun of another assassin and Kalan does not understand how Father Richard got involved in this. The white-haired assassin, waves a rolled up document in her other hand, while motioning Kalan to close the door and at the same time telling him, "Well, if it isn't Kalan Sandars, the slippery one, or is that your real name?"

Her voice, exactly like that of an old woman's, squeaky and high-pitched and conveying some sort of kindness, belies the toughness in her face and the determination in her eyes.

"I got me the cake and you are the cherry on top!"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

DWP - the library: prompt

The Library

Old Mr. Hillman had a room full of books. All four sides of the room had shelves that reached the ceiling. Even behind the door, there was a four-tiered shelf filled with children’s books and store-bought comics. The bottom of the wall shelves had doors with fancy “gold” knobs that the maids polished every morning. Behind those doors with the fancy gold knobs were glossy magazines, imported from the States, Britain and Germany.

In the middle of the room sat a large leather sofa, two armchairs on either side and two upholstered chairs on the opposite side, surrounding a large coffee table with very thick glass top. An intricately carved ivory chess set sat on top of the coffee table as well as two large crystal ashtrays. My mother used to call the Hillman library as the “bragging” library, for it had expensive volumes of books but none of the ten Hillman children had any desire to read books.

The room had a large bay window with a cushioned sill. Whenever we visited the Hillman’s big house, one of the Hillman children would bring me up to the library and would sit me on the cushioned sill that overlooks the cemetery on the south side. Between the cemetery and the property, there was an ancient mango tree, its branches abutting the large bay window.

The Hillman children had a pet monkey that lived in the small tree house on the mango tree. Often, Moe, the monkey, would tap the glass window of the library and screamed as loud as it could and wouldn’t stop until Mr. Hillman himself opened the window and smacked the monkey.

By the time I was six, I had gotten used to going up to the second floor library whenever we visited, and one day that was just what I did. I had been reading the “G” volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica when a thick book fell on the floor. I picked it up despite its weight and placed it on the floor by the window. Another book fell and I did the same until there were three piles of books as tall as I was. Suddenly, more books were falling off the shelves and I could no longer cope. I ran out of the room and down the stairs but I slipped, scraping my back against the steps as I reached the landing.

“It’s raining books in the library!” I screamed.

My mother, thinking I did something bad, pulled me aside, despite my bleeding back, and spanked me.

Just then, Moe the monkey started to scream while jumping up and down the steps. The younger Hillman children who were being fed their lunch ahead of the adults, scrambled to their feet, laughing and screaming in delight, as one of the maids and Mr. Hillman tried to catch Moe. It was pandemonium inside the house, knick knacks falling and breaking as Moe tried to elude capture. After Moe managed to bite one of the maids' hand and knocked down a couple of light fixtures, he rested on the shoulders of the oldest Hillman son, Harvey who was then seventeen, but not after Moe had already grabbed and broke Harvey’s glasses. Harvey had a soft spot for animals and begged his father, Mr. Hillman, to leave Moe alone, as it was, after all just being silly.

Mr. Hillman, however, got so mad after seeing the books scattered around in the library upstairs, and the thick glass top of the coffee table broken in half. He took the monkey outside, walked to the cemetery which was several yards away and we heard the sound of a gunshot. At this time, my father arrived to collect my mother and me. When Mr. Hillman saw him, he ordered my father to dig a grave by the fence so Moe could be buried. Later on, Horace, one of the younger Hillman boys admitted to having opened the library window to pet Moe, but had forgotten to close it properly.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DWP - the airport: prompt

Ruth feels a bit of panic as she swipes the passport on the self-serve kiosk beside the Lufthansa counter. The images on the monitor give her options to press and she chooses them diligently until the machine spits out the desired boarding pass. She pulls at the hem of her blazer and straightens her body as she makes her way towards the departure gates. She has exactly one hour to wait until her direct flight to Frankfurt leaves. Reaching the appropriate gate, she chooses a chair at the very corner of the waiting lounge, a vantage point where she can see everyone and everything that goes on until she boards.

Sunshine floods the interior of the terminal and it gives her reason enough to put on her wraparound Serengeti sunglasses. She takes a book from her small carry-on and pretends to read. A group of student tourists converges near her and her attention is diverted to their loud and noisy conversation.

Fifteen minutes later, the overhead speaker fills the lounge with an announcement: Paging passenger Ruth Marowietz of flight United 867 bound for San Francisco. Passenger Ruth Marowietz of flight United 867 bound for San Francisco, please proceed to Gate 3 on Terminal 1 immediately.

Ruth smiles. Flight 867 is terribly late. It should have left twenty minutes ago.

Twenty-five minutes later, she hears the call for boarding to her flight to Frankfurt and she calmly takes her passport and boarding pass out of her purse and joins the other passengers to line up for boarding. The ground steward scans her boarding pass and looks at her passport, smiles at her and gives her back her documents. Ruth proceeds to enter the gate. The security guard, however, stops her, asks to see her passport and requests for her to lift the sunglasses off her eyes. She obeys. He examines the document and looks at her before giving it back to her and thanking her.

Just as she is about to enter the walking tube to board the plane, she hears the call on the loud speakers: Final call to passenger Ruth Marowietz of flight United 867 bound for San Francisco. Passenger Ruth Marowietz of flight United 867 bound for San Francisco, please proceed to Gate 3 on Terminal 1 immediately. Ruth pauses to check the leg of her pantyhose and long enough to hear the announcement before continuing towards the plane.

Once inside and seated, she opens her passport and looks at her picture and the name beside it: Verna Guarin. Born: August 27, 1958. She smiles and puts her passport back inside her purse.


Ruth Marowietz smiles and mutters a polite "Thank you" to the United check-in person as she takes her passport and boarding pass. She checks the two stickers on her ticket, the receipt for her two large luggages for which she paid an extra sixty-dollars for one due to its extra weight. She follows the other passengers to the Immigration and Customs Inspection for the United States and is quite surprised at the very brief questioning she has received. She reaches the assigned gate and sits beside an elderly couple. She takes out a magazine and reads it halfway through when she decides to leave her seat and, pulling her little carry-on behind her, she walks to the farthest washroom. As she has guessed, it is empty. She goes inside the handicap cubicle.

After twenty minutes, she emerges from the cubicle, washes her hands and exits the washroom after drying them, pulling her little carry-on behind her. She walks back and past the assigned gate for her flight. She goes past the Customs Inspection area and calmly tells the security guard, "I forgot something." The security guard does not even look at her.

The terminal has become fairly crowded now but she manages to make her way through until she reaches the less travelled part of the terminal, sees a woman's washroom and goes inside. She takes out her toiletry bag and prepares to brush her teeth. When she finishes, she leaves her toiletry bag on top of the counter and her little carry-on on the floor directly below, then goes inside the stall just behind her. She hears someone coming in, the door to another stall opens and closes. Ruth takes her time, she can see her bags through the narrow space between the door and frame. She takes off her moss green sweater and moss green track pants and hangs them on the metal hook of the door. She opens the stall door and steps out to retrieve her toiletry bag. The other person is still inside the stall with a carry-on just outside. She checks her make-up and decides to brush her hair.

She hears the occupied stall's door open. A woman wearing red blazer comes out, and looking at each other through the large mirror, they greet each other with a polite smile and hello. Ruth starts to walk out and pulls the little carry-on bag behind her. She walks back to the busy part of the terminal once again and takes the escalator up to the platform and boards the Skytrain to Terminal 3.