The Date

I.

The café had a few customers that night. Tina was alone at a table in one corner, quietly sipping a cup of mocha cappuccino while stabbing a slice of chocolate cake with a fork. To her left a group of boisterous young men sometimes glanced at her. They were obviously talking about her. Two girls, in their late teens, from another table ogled a professional-looking guy who just entered the café with a girl in tow. Another guy with a very expensive wristwatch was talking on his iPhone 6 at the table near the counter. Tina’s phone rang, catching the attention of other customers. She picked it up and answered the call.

“Hello?” she said softly.

“Hi,” the guy on the other line responded. “I’m so sorry but I can’t make it there tonight. Something came up and I have to take care of it.”

Tina’s smile faded.

“Oh, that’s unfortunate,” she said.

“I know but I really have to take care of this. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Oh, not at all. It’s alright.”

“Thank you. I owe you one. Say, what about I make it up to you Monday night?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Great! See you Monday, gorgeous. Call you later. Take care, okay? Bye”

“You too. Bye.”

Tina stared at her phone for a while after the call ended. It was disappointing not being able to spend some time with him on a Saturday night. She wasn’t mad at him. He understood and accepted what she was.

She paid her bill and walked out of the café. The cool evening breeze greeted her as she approached her car, the key in her hand.

“Don’t make a noise.” Tina felt the pointed tip a knife pressed against her back. A strong arm wrapped around her neck. There were two of them. The other guy, in his early thirties stood guard watching out for possible passersby that might foil their plan.

“If you make any scene I’ll gut you. Open the door,” the man holding her growled.

She unlocked the car with a steady hand and opened the door at the driver’s seat.

“Get inside,” the man with the knife pushed her in. She went in without resistance and sat next to the man, her eyes fixed on him as he started the engine. The guy in his early thirties sat in the passenger seat behind her. She knew what they were up to. Robbers, carjackers, and serial rapists lurked in the city, preying on innocent civilians. But something else lurked in the city. The two criminals failed to notice the faint smile on Tina’s face as they headed for the highway which lead out of town.

 

II.

It was past eight in the morning when Tina rose from her bed. A faint taste of bile lingered in her mouth. Her mom and dad were in the living room, discussing business matters. Later in the afternoon that day she went out to hang out with some friends. She nodded in response to the security guard’s greeting, on her way out of the subdivision. In the guard house one of the personnel was absorbed with the news on the radio. Apparently two dead men, one in his early thirties, were found in the floodway just outside the city. Their throats were slit and their bellies cut wide open like a dissection frog, the guts spread out for the world to see. One of them was missing a liver.

 

THE END

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Bloody Mary

Tahimik at tulala si Mei habang nakaupo sa kama ni Sandy at hawak-hawak ang duguang kotsilyo. Walang bahid ng kung anong ekspresyon na makikita sa kanyang mukha, di mo alam kung ano ang kanyang iniisip o nararamdaman. Siya ay nagmistulang bingi sa ingay ng telebisyon at tila hindi pansin ang lagkit ng dugo sa kanyang mga kamay. Mapagkakamalan mong hindi siya humihinga sa halos di mapansing pagtaas baba ng kanyang dibdib upang pumakawala ng tila panatag na paghinga.

Sa sahig ay nakahandusay ang malamig na bangkay ni Sandy; naliligo sa sariling dugo, laslas ang lalamunan at tadtad ng saksak ang dibdib. Bakas sa mukha nito ang sindak sa karumal-dumal na sinapit. Ang bibig na kanina’y pinagmumulan ng makapanindig-balahibong tili ngayon ay bahagyang nakabuka at nakangiwi na tila ba nakakaramdam pa rin ng kirot ang bangkay. Nagsisimula nang matuyo ang dugo na kanina’y dumadaloy mula sa magkabilang gilid ng bibig nito. Nakatirik ang mga matang pinanawan na ng ningning at para bang napako sa pagkakatingin sa kawalan.

Ang mga mata ni Mei ay biglang kumisap at ipinako ang tingin kay Sandy, na hindi iginagalaw ang kanyang ulo. Walang kakurap-kurap ang mga mata ng dalaga habang pinagmamasdan ang duguang bangkay sa sahig. Ang kanyang mga mata ay parang matatalim na punyal na tumatagos sa laman ng patay. Biglang tumunog ang kanyang cellphone, at dito ay parang natauhan siya. Agad niyang nilagay ang kotsilyo sa kama, at nang mapansin ang dugo sa kanyang mga kamay ay dali-dali niya itong pinunasan ng maigi gamit ang bedsheet. Pagkatapos ay dinukot niya ang cellphone sa kanyang bulsa, sabay tayo at patay sa telebisyon. Saglit niyang tinignan kung sino ang tumatawag, at itinapat ang cellphone sa kanyang tenga.

“Hello?” sabi niya habang nakatitig sa bangkay ni Sandy.

Isang pilyang ngiti ang gumuhit sa kanyang mukha habang pinakikinggan ang nasa kabilang linya, na parang walang nangyari.

“Gaga. Gimik ka dyan. Nag-aaral po kaya ako dito,” balik niya sa kausap.

Muli siyang napatingin sa bangkay ni Sandy sa sumunod na tanong ng kausap sa cellphone.

“Human anatomy,” sagot niya na may pilyang ngiti sa mga labi, at muling natahimik upang bigyang daan ang nasa kabilang linya.

“Loka ka talaga,” hagikhik niya. “Sige na nga. See you there 9:30. Sige, bye bye na muna at tatapusin ko lang ‘to. See ya. Mwah mwah.”

Napatingin si Mei sa oras sa hawak na cellphone. Pasado alas otso. May panahon pa, sa isip niya habang nakatingin kay Sandy. Ibinalik niya ang cellphone sa kanyang bulsa at dinampot ang kotsilyo sa kama. Dahan-dahan siyang tumayo at parang lasing na lumapit sa katawang nakahandusay sa sahig. Wala na ang ngiti na kanina’y gumuguhit sa kanyang mukha. Ito ay napalitan ng mukha ng isang taong walang damdamin. Walang awa. Ang mga mata ay puno ng poot at galit. Mga matang parang dalawang bolang apoy. Mga apoy ng impiyerno.

Kinabukasan ay laman sa radyo at telebisyon ang pagkakatagpo sa bangkay ni Sandy Murano sa apartment nito sa University belt. Pugot ang ulo at kinatay na parang baboy. Ang mga laman-loob ay nagkalat sa ibabaw ng kama. Ang ulo ay natagpuan sa loob ng rice cooker. Walang mahanap na saksi o lead ang pulisya na makakapagturo kung sino ang may gawa sa karumal-dumal na krimen. Ang tanging palatandaan mula sa salarin ay ang pangalang “BLOODY MARY” na nakaukit sa noo ng pugot na ulo.

WAKAS