Category Archives: Short Stories

Dead Son

old-lady-crying1

Dr. Mallory hated this part of his job. Telling people the bad news that their loved one passed away was something that he studiously avoided, if it can be helped. It was the emotional outpourings that drove him off. It annoyed him. He often delegated this kind of stuff to junior residents, unfortunately for him none were available at the moment to do his dirty work.

Too many years with the dead and dying and the grieving had left him with a harder constitution along with a well calloused heart.

It is not my fault, he reasoned when a friend commented on it, I am just a victim of circumstance.

He first saw a man die when he was just seven, stabbed to death by some guy high on meth. Who wouldn’t be desensitized with death with that kind of start in life. Being born poor and having a hard life can sometimes do strange things to people. Suffering was a common theme throughout his younger years. He needed to be tough to be at where he is now: a made man.

But his friend had a point, it’s part of the job to be gentle and caring. Since he was not, he made it a point to act as close to what will pass-off as one, and he was damned good at it. People liked him. His higher-ups liked him even more, promotions were as constant as the sun.

We are very sorry Mrs. Parker,” said Dr. Mallory in his best imitation of regret and commiseration. “I am sorry for your loss, Ma’am, but there was nothing we can do.” His voice was mellow, gentle, caring – perfect. He bowed his head and shook it a little to emphasize his deep regret in their failure to save the boy.

The doctor’s words was met with silence.

After several heartbeats had passed without hearing a reply he raised his downcast eyes and looked at the woman sitting on the chair: her head down, her posture a picture of complete exhaustion. Mrs. Parker’s shoulder length hair, almost all of it were already prematurely gray, partly covered her face. But the part that showed, wrinkles and all, was a tapestry of emotions – fear, regret, exhaustion, pain, sadness – woven over a fabric of love and loss.

Mrs. Parker?”

Yes, i heard you.” Her voice was flat. Emotionless.

Are you alright ma’am?” Dr. Mallory made sure to add a tone of concern for added effect.

She gave a feeble cough. “I am as fine as I can be under the circumstances, doctor.”

I am deeply sorry for your loss, Mrs. Parker. If there is anything…”

She bowed her head even lower, her hair now totally obscured her face. “Can you bring back the dead?” asked the woman in the same flat tone.

No, ma’am,” replied the doctor in his best neutral but mellow voice. Frankly, he was astonished by the question. He barely repressed his irritation. This woman is going bonkers, he thought to himself. Better notify the nurse later in case she does something odd. It is always best to cover all the bases.

It would not be good for his reputation if people will think that he failed to report something he noticed. Better yet, it would be great if I reported it and something bad will happen. It would surely mean more promotions. He repressed a smile at the thought.

Then you can do nothing for me, doctor.”

I’ll take my leave then, Mrs. Parker. Just tell the nurse in the station if you need anything.”

The woman barely moved. She just slumped in the chair and stared at the floor.

Tell me doctor, have you ever lost a son?”

I have no children, Ma’am. I never married. No siblings too, I was an only child.”

A parent, then.”

My father left us when I was young. It was my mother who raised me.” Dr. Mallory was feeling very uncomfortable with the talk they were having. He did not like opening up to people, he thought of it as something soft and wimpy. An unforgivable thing, being soft. He had learned that in life softness will always lead to despair, it was always the sharp and the tough that flourished. Hell, his mother was too soft and look what that got her. She let her husband trample her around, she didn’t even sue for alimony. She did not look for a new husband that could help pay the expenses after the bastard left them for someone younger. She did not even look for a higher paying job for, as she reasoned out to him, ‘it would mean more hours away from you, honeykins‘. He appreciated what her mother did for him but the truth still remained that in his eyes his mother did not amount to much because she was too soft. Life could have been better for them if she was tougher.

He started towards the door.

Aah. YesI remember. Where is she now?” Mrs. Parker’s voice became more subdued and more distant, it was almost a whisper, as though she was deep in her own reverie and recollecting something from her long distant past.

Who?” Replied the doctor; his hand was already on the doorknob.

Your mother.”

I really don’t think ma’am that…” he twisted the knob. The door was locked. It would not budge. But how? These doors don’t have locks.

Just humor me doctor. Spare a moment for a poor woman who just lost her son. I have no one with me now. No friends. No family. Only my son… he was my life.”

The doctor’s hands became clammy. Fuck! He practically screamed inside his head. Why can’t people just hold their shit together. His thoughts raced to the trainings he had at medical school: first rule of thumb when confronted with an insane person, never agitate them. He forced himself to smile and turned around to face Mrs. Parker.

Uh, she’s old now, so I had her live in a Home. Green Groves, it’s the best, they can take better care of her there.”

The woman was still slumped on the chair. Still staring at the floor.

How is she?” her shoulders slumped even more.

She’s fine. Great, actually. Never been happier! Lots of people her age to mingle with. Professional health workers round the clock. The best money can buy. Only the best for my mother.” His forced cheerful tone was irritating to his own ears. He hated it. I’ll have a word with fucking maintenance after this. Fuckitty fucking door!

Do you visit her often?” The woman’s voice had slightly changed. It was no longer as flat. There was a little emotion bleeding into her words.

I hardly have time to do that Mrs. Parker. But the management sends me a quarterly report along with some pictures. And I call as often as I can.” It was a lie. He hadn’t talked to his mother for months;  she had dementia, and for Dr. Mallory there was not much sense in talking to someone who hardly knows the day of the week. He haven’t even read the last three quarterly reports.

It had been awhile since he thought of her. It’s not my fault, he reasoned, I’ve been busy lately. Maybe I’ll call her later. It’s her birthday in a few days, after all.

That is good, if you did. To be alone is a wretched thing, doctor. The coldness of death is preferable to living a lonely life.” Mrs. Parker stood up.

Dr. Mallory stiffened a little, he was taken off guard by the sudden movement.

The woman walked to the window and placed her hands on the ledge. The setting sun was beautiful. Enticing in its bouquet of colors: shades of violets, blazing orange mixed with different tints of red, and luxurious golden accents all-round. Fluffy clouds were lazily floating about in the sea of colors, but Mrs. Parker did not notice its splendor, her head was still bowed down.

It was a hard life, doctor, but I shouldered on for my son. He must have the best, I always tell myself that. He must have the things that I never had and never will, but I could only do so much. But he is now gone. I have my fears that it might be so and that it will end like this, but I deluded myself into thinking otherwise. He was always a precious boy, but as he grew older I fear he grew more distant, but I never gave up on him. To finally hear those words from you puts a finality to it that gives me closure, doctor. My son was long gone, I know that now.”

Dr. Mallory felt a chill ran down his spine. The woman was giving off some weird vibe. Marbles totally gone down the drain, stupid twat! He slowly stepped back towards the door while still eying Mrs. Parker warily. His back finally hit the door, his hands on the doorknob. He tried twisting it again, but it would not give.

Tock. Tock. Tock.

Someone was knocking on the door.

“Sir?” It was a female voice. Far off, but becoming clearer.

Tock. Tock. Tock.

Thank God, they’ve found me! “Yes! I’m here! Open this damned door!” he hollered back.

Tock. Tock. Tock.

Sir?”

He woke up drenched in sticky sweat. He was slumped on his desk, disoriented for a moment. He looked around him: on his left was a wall lined with diplomas, certificates and awards, on his right were ceiling to floor windows that framed the setting sun – bathing the room in a somber color of deep, almost red, orange. He was in his office. Relief flooded him. Fucking dream!

Sir?” Someone was knocking on his door. It was his secretary.

He cleared his throat before answering. “Yes,” said Dr. Mallory gruffly.

I am sorry to disturb you sir. There is a call waiting for you. It’s from Green Grooves, they said it was important.”

Ok, patch it through.” He took the phone out of its cradle and pressed a button. “This is Dr. Mallory, what can I do for you?”

Dr. Mallory, this is Arthur Pikes, the Director of Green Grooves.” The speaker’s voice was deep and courteous, but the tone he was using had a familiar ring to it: consoling, mellow, gentle, caring. “I am sorry sir. Mrs. Mallory, your mother, died a couple of hours ago. She was feeling off for several months – we sent you the report awhile back – we did the best we could…” But Dr. Mallory no longer heard the rest of what Mr. Pikes said.

He bowed his head. A soft sob escaped his clenched lips. The phone fell from his hands and hit the armrest of his chair, it went on loud-speaker. The kind and caring – well practiced – voice of Mr. Pikes rang throughout the room. “May I extend my heartfelt condolences for your loss…”

The Hermit, The Dog and The Rabbit

My father shared this little story to me, allow me to share it to you in the hopes that you will find something good out of it.

 

There was once an old holy man living alone in the edge of a desert. There were once many hermits like him who lived there in self abnegation and in deep spiritual contemplation. However, one by one, all the others left, unable to take the cruel heat and the constant lack of food and water.

One day a young man went to the holy man for some wisdom and guidance. As he was about to leave, he asked the holy man “Honored sir, may I ask how come that you still stayed here even though others had already left?”

The holy man replied, “My dog saw a rabbit one day and chased it. The other dogs saw my dog running and so they ran after my dog. One by one the other dogs stopped until only my dog remained.”

The young man thought this over for awhile and yet could not find in it the answer to his question. “Honored sir, how would that story answer my question?”

“You see, young man, only my dog saw the rabbit,” replied the Holy man with a smile.

 

After telling this story my father asked me, “Do you see the rabbit? Or are you just running because you see others doing it? Find the reason first why you are doing what you are doing before you start running, or you will end up like the other dogs.”

 

Love, in the Spring of Youth

I had been privileged to witness once a kind of love story that could only be seen in movies, and could only be imagined in the most vivid of day dreams by hormone addled teens. It is a love story that I could only describe as one much sweeter and passionate than that of Edward and Bella’s, yet more nourishing and delicate than that of Romeo and Juliet’s.

Just like anything in life, it started in uncertainty; to be honest, at the start I didn’t even realize that I am witnessing what would be, for me, one of the most inspiring and heartwarming proof of humanity’s capacity to love and be loved.

NOTE: For the sake of their privacy, allow me to change the names of the characters.

 

Ron and Ren were studying on the same University as me. Ron was taking up a degree in Mechanical Engineering, an intelligent and charming man, and the ladies find him quite attractive. Ren was studying Psychology; passionate, articulate, and sexy.  Since our school has a rather huge campus and their particular colleges being situated a fair distance from each other, it was only on their final year when they were made aware that the other exists.

I don’t know if it was destiny or if there really is some fat kid with wings out there who makes use of humanity as target practice for his frigging arrows; but with some twist of fate and the connivance of the Universe, they did meet.

 

Maybe life sometimes hate to copy some cheesy scene in a romantic movie or that the Mighty Hand that wrote the story of their lives just wanted to have some variety, but as far as first meetings go it was the lamest for a love story. You see, they met at a meeting –  an extremely atrociously boring and god-awful honest to goodness meeting.

It was a University Student Council Meeting; packed full of pompous and overbearing individuals with aspirations to fame and visions of self-importance. Ron was the then chairman for the College of Engineering student body, and at that time too, Ren was the Prime Councilor of the University student body (a position quite similar in nature to the Speaker of the House of Representatives).

 

Attractiveness, intelligence and being all around cool, though, did not make them immune to the overwhelming and contagious nature of boredom. Just like anyone who found themselves in such a situation, they tried to find something more interesting to pass the time, like flirting with the nearest attractive person for example – which they did. It so happened, thanks to the mysterious workings of the Universe (again!), that they were sitting just near enough to start talking.

Their eyes met. Just a shy tentative look at first, then followed by several quick and successive secretive glances, just to make sure that there really was that initial spark – that tingling sensation that resonates from the heart.

 

Seconds passed by as eternity, minutes were already an agony.

Finally, Ron found the courage – the audacity, to ask Ren out.

 

It was a short courtship, nothing fancy, and certainly not the kind of courtship that would look good in movies. They went out for walks, talked a lot, and occasionally had that fleeting moments of rapturous harmony that often come with that affectionate bond that forms when minds and hearts connect.

What makes their story awesome is not their courtship, which was very brief to say the least. What makes it great was the kind of devotion and love that only a few people, since the time when man first loved and be loved, had ever tasted – that sweet intoxicating nectar of young love with the heady zest of fading innocence.

 

You see, this love story happened in our little country, the Philippines, and they were student leaders during a time where there was deep rooted animosity between the university administration and the studentry. In our country, where there is still an ongoing war between the government and communist insurgents, instances where there are tensions between the “establishment” and the idealistic yet disillusioned students are ripe ground for the communist movement to plant the seeds of rebellious thoughts and harvest new recruits that grew out of what they had spread.

One of those seeds took root in the mind of Ren, she was recruited and entered into the ranks of the communist insurgency. This happened just a couple of months from the start of their sweet romance. It was a troubling time for them, Ron totally disapproved of anything to do with communism. He already saw what ruin it causes in the lives of many. He saw families from the small village he came from that were torn apart because of the fighting. He saw death and destruction, where there was once laughter and smiles, in the eyes of those bereft. It was a cycle of agony without an end in sight.

picture from: dipity.com

 

He was a simple man with simple dreams, to have a family and to live a life of simple bliss. He was a righteous man, strong in principles and always stand for what is right. But, he said, bearing arms to kill people is not right and should never be right. Suffering breeds hate, hate breeds more hate and will end in death, death gives birth to more death, and death  caused by hate creates suffering.

 

Now, if Ron was just any man and the love that he professed to feel for Ren was just a way to get her to bed, then the romance would have fizzled out at that point. It was a clusterfuck waiting to happen. No matter what action movies would tell you, in real life seldom was there a happy ending if you mix guns with romance. But Ron loved Ren in a way that is seldom seen outside the big screen, like Thor with his hammer or Puss with his boots, she completes him.

And, he was no ordinary man – he has balls of brass the size of coconuts.

brass balls

He joined the communist insurgency with Ren.

“What will happen to Ren in the mountains if there is no one to take care of her, she is a city girl for *u*ksakes! How will she survive there without anyone looking out for her?And who will convince her to come down if not me?” Admittedly, we were drunk when he said those words, but i never expected that when his hangover has come and gone and sanity kicks in that he would still push through.

 

They say that for every gallon of bravery there is always a dash of insanity thrown in for good measure. At that time i thought he had more than a dash of insanity in him. Be that as it may, one thing is for sure, he has balls of brass the size of coconuts!

imagine these babies in solid brass!!!

 

In between joining communist led rallies and cleaning empty bullet shells for reloading, he talked patiently and lovingly with Ren. Ever patient, ever loving, ever dependable even in the face of adversity. He was the shoulders she could lean on and the arms to cradle her when she was at her weakest.

a shoulder to lean on and arms to cradle her when she was at her weakest

 

In the end, he won her over with his patient love and his devotion to her. By willing to march into the mouth of hell to bring her back, Ron had shown the kind of love that is not often seen in movies with glittery vampires and bare-chested werewolves. Sometimes true love does not manifest through a passionate kiss under the rain in a moonlit night, or through an electrifying sex behind the bookshelves in the library, sometimes true love is shown through the simple actions made day by day that when looked from afar become awesome tales of adventure and romance.

 

Now, Ron is a Marine and Mechanical Engineer and Ren is working as a representative for a medical firm, they live a simple yet a very happy life with their baby daughter.

 

True and lasting love is not made by blazing ecstasy and fiery heat of passion, it is through a conscious decision to stick together and fight for the love that burns in the heart and in the soul. True love is not always accompanied by sweet music and romantic bliss, often times to have our true love we need to walk a hard and rocky road.

 

Ron only decided that he must not let Ren ruin her life and that he must not leave her because he love her; a simple decision that led him to happiness through a torturous and agonizing road. No words of mine could give vivid color to how terrible were those times for them and how it almost led them to the brink of  death’s abyss.

 

To have true love and a happy ending to our story we must actively seek for it, and when we find it we must fight our damned best to retain it, and when we have retained it we must work our hardest to nurture it and make it grow and bloom.

For after all, “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”

 

-pacb2

 

 

Darkness and Light

Sunrise image from edwebproject.org

 

An old sage once asked his young disciple if he knew what makes light bright and what makes darkness dark. The young disciple however could not answer the old master, so he resolved to go out to the world and seek the answers to the riddle the old sage gave him.

 

He spent years roaming the land, until he too grew gray and old and weak, but he still persisted. Until a time came where he was so worn out from his travels that he stopped at a nearby temple. While lying at the stone steps blinded by old age and dying of exhaustion the master of the temple saw him and came out to help.

 

As his eyes started to fail, and the breath of life started to ebb away from his frail body, with the master of the temple cradling him in his arms, he finally found the answer he was looking for.

 

The disciple finally realized after all his sufferings and undertakings the secret of what his master was trying to teach him. Light is bright because of darkness, and darkness is dark because of light. One exists because the other exists.

 

How can man, in his limited knowledge and wisdom, appreciate the light if he did not experience darkness?

So too with our lives, how can us, as limited beings, appreciate what is happiness if we do not know sorrow?

How could we discern good if we did not see any evil?

Is there any glory to success if we did not feel defeat?

There are so many people out there that questions God.

If God exist, if he is truly God, then why do he let his people suffer?

 

The mere fact that we experience suffering is a testament that there is a God. The mere fact that we discern Evil is evidence that there is Good.

 

Man, as stubborn and ignorant as he is, need to suffer for him to know joy; he needs to live in an evil world for him to aspire for a better earth and a divine and good filled heaven.

 

We are made imperfect for us to seek perfection.

We are made weak and fragile for us to desire eternity.

God is the ultimate destination of our souls, He is perfection and everlasting.

To seek Him and be one with him should be our ultimate goal.

For “restless is our hearts until it rests in Thee, o God” (Saint Agustine)