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First Fight - Ch 3 of 7

The first situation in life, where there is only one door way out. For this matter, a door way in.

The House of Pain


The old man smiles finally someone who bought the house has returned. He wonders if a jeep still there? With a mix of curiosity how he knows this without being there, how did he know of an abandoned front part of an automobile? For a long time now, it has been part of a wall of a fence. Weeds crawl on to it, and spider webs with dead skeletons of flies. I thought I knew more about the corners of the neighborhood, hidden secret that only kids find, it’s impossible an old man knowing this.

“Yes,” I said.

“Great,” he smiles again with the smell of gin from his breath mixed with a hint of lime. I tend to sit next to him while reading English written papers. I had no clue what the words were, but the pictures on the cartoon section were fascinating. From boredom of waiting, I traced the images over blank papers. I have no choice but to listen. What’s in it for me? Well, it’s a glass of bottle and a bill with a few coins. I go to a house, with mini market’s window just down the street, and I buy few drops of gin for the old man. The remaining coins are then all mine for the sweet calamari on a stick. “That was your uncle Tony’s jeep,” a little wet on his dark circling slanted eyes, and he sips his gin. “Aaaah,” he said. “Thanks again Vincent, and slow down on the calamari… you are wheezing again.”

Uncle Tony?

Not the uncle Tony who comes to the house out of the blue from Laguna City. The tall skinny man with the wide forehead, thick eyebrows, and big nose? It was always great to see uncle Tony. The longan fruits he bought as a gift, my brother and I can’t wait for another return.
 
There he is again, drinking Lipton tea with condensed milk eating grandma's cookies. The slightly crossed eyed man with a gentle laugh with missing teeth in the corners. His back again as we wake this morning. I still remember the lines from his cheek down to his long split chin. A resemblance to the little statue with suit standing by the frame of other small statues. But he wears no suit, just checkered buttoned shirt and the same type of pants the old man has. There is a comb he always carries in his pants pocket, and that same smelly pomade grease he shares with the old man.

“Sit here,” he said to my little brother and pets his head. “Have a cookie.”

“When are you leaving again?” my little brother asks.

Uncle Tony’s father is my grandfather, his first son from another marriage. She passed away, remarried again in Honolulu. Until she too passed, after a second son. I never met that son, or my father has. But he lives there in the most celebrated paradise, last time I heard of him, he lives in Nevada. Then as an adopted father to my dad in the sixties, as a pensioned man in the Philippines.

My adopted grandfather’s cousin is my dad’s biological father. These two men both love wearing khaki pants, with their thin leather belts, having conversations about permaculture. The influences, of old western foreigners, are familiar, as it transitions to more and more like of their own. And I don’t mind, the record collection played is from another planet, that became part of my soul.  

All is great in my uncle’s present. Few help in the kitchen and to the backyard with the chickens and pigs. And we are all pleased. Then comes the same pattern that repeats over and over. He comes home from just around the neighborhood, and to the same couch since the day I remember. With eyes crossed, the back of his head keeps slightly hitting the same wall. My brother and I just watch the next one will not touch the surface. In the occasion, we giggled. He smiles down, and then chin up again back to the wall hitting it with the back of his skull. Same crossed eyes as his chin go down again, not sure if he is aware of my brother and I are even there.

The stomping feet from the stairs come down again. With no shirt, just gray pants, and thin leather belt over a pot belly, the snow haired old man points his finger again at my uncle half way from the stairs.

“You are a disappointment!” he yells. And he goes back up to the stairs.

A mumbling sound utters from his first son's mouth, and the old man comes down from the stairs again. All the way to the floor and walks with an arch, arms spread down with both fists, and to the front of my drunk uncle. And this many times, my grandfather means it.

Knowing of what he's going to say, “Be quiet!” he whispers aloud. “I am taking a nap!” With a little slant of his head, ear out for a clear answer.

“Sssshhh…” uncle Tony chuckle with a little shake of his shoulder.

The old man punches the air as he turns back to the stairs and up again. The same stomping feet, don’t make him come down again. My brother and I with wet eyes quietly holding our guts the best we could.

The next day, uncle Tony left and back to Laguna City.

Before departing, “Be good boys,” he said with the center of his thick eyebrows raised, and a gentle smile. He walks again to the jeepney stop far down the street.

The old man told me that he bought the house for his son when he was younger, but his son sold it out of desperation that made their relationship firmly bitter and sweet. They did laugh together in the backyard. My uncle can’t stand living at his house, I supposed. The spoil of it didn’t matter.

It’s a two story house, with a balcony, a garage, and big patio from front to back. Over the fence gate at the back is a small forest and a pathway out to the left is a dirt road down to our play ground. Straight ahead from the same back gate is our current house. Many times I admired this house not knowing it once belonged to my uncle. The Voltron cartoons, and Tarzan of the jungle of Africa from their television screen, I never tend to want to leave my new friend’s house in the sunny afternoon. The brown clay pots bright roses, on top of the old white fence with dark water streaks coming down below, as I passed by the front gate of the house, was sadness. My mother worried of the spoil. I had to leave.

With a repeated advice from my mom, to just stay out of gambling life, because of the debt of it, cost you your house and everything in it. The childhood memory of it regardless pulls me back to that same place. It was a routine knowing what comes next to the memorable roller coaster ride.

Not until he lived with his son and family from a far away, where jeepneys can’t cross over. And I never saw the uncle Tony ever since. But it’s great to see his son’s social media, my uncle’s offsprings dig back the old treasure chest. As if his asking me, again with the same gentle smile, if I have anything to say for myself. I can’t right now, uncle. You know how it is, but my brother has.


To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

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