I was looking for old files in my computer when I came across this short story I wrote in 2008. I had forgotten all about it. But I remember the impetus for the narrative was my finding a sad note like this one in the story. I put myself in the place of the scribbler of the note, and imagined “What if…?”
SIRE OF SIRES
It was 2008, and Danny was forty.
He felt old. It wasn’t that long ago when he was fifty pounds lighter with a full head of hair, jauntily entering the state university’s Malcolm Hall law school as a student. Where did time go?
Do the math, mocked Rina. How old will you be by the time your youngest child has finished his university degree? I loved you, Danny. I still do, a little. But you got yourself into this situation. Not me.
As much as his hand itched to slap her, he couldn’t do it, couldn’t even find the words to reply, because he knew she was right.
After she had gone back into the house and slammed the door in his face, and after he had driven back to his and Thess’s apartment where she, tired of waiting up for him, tired of putting up with his promises to leave his wife and excuses why he hadn’t, couldn’t yet, was asleep on one side of the bed, her bulk taking up fully two-thirds of the mattress, he went down to the living room and sat at his desk.
Drawing a piece of paper toward him with trembling hands, he made a list of his offspring. Lissette, born 13 November 1990; Migs, 25 October 1998, Marco, 29 October 2002. His youngest by Rina, Manolo, was born 8 March 2004, barely a month after Thess had given birth to their firstborn, John, on February 16. His and Thess’s youngest, Matthew, came along on 8 August 2005. Roselle’s baby was due in December.
In 2010, Lissette would be in her fourth year of college; Migs, in sixth grade, Marco in the second, John and Manolo both in Prep, Matthew in senior kindergarten.
In 2015, Lissette should be working, unless she took it in her head to attend law school; Migs would be in his first year at college, Marco in the first year of high school. John and Manolo, the almost-twins, in fifth grade, Matthew in the fourth.
By 2020, Lissette would be 30 years old, presumably working and with a family; Migs, at 22, should be working also. Marco would be 18 and in his second year of college, John and Manolo, both 16 and in their last year of high school, Matthew, at 15, in his junior year at high school.
By 2025, John and Manolo would presumably be in their last year of college, Matthew in his third. Roselle’s child would be 17, and perhaps newly-graduated from high school.
And Danny? He would be 58, with four children still in college. He would still have to be working and earning; there was no guarantee that Lissette, Migs, and Marco, his older children, would contribute towards their half-brothers’ education and upkeep. They would, of course, help out with their brother Manolo, but with John and Matthew? His child by Roselle? He didn’t think so. On the contrary, he felt that they would tell him in no uncertain terms to go to hell, dragging his own tail.
Buntot mo, hila mo.
The jokes comparing him to the prolific stallion Conquistador who sired countless colts and fillies weren’t funny anymore. No, the entire situation had lost its humor long ago.
He wondered where now were the drinking buddies with their ribald challenges of his manhood, where his employers, the racehorse owners with the expensive young women on their arms, where were they now that his life was falling apart?
Danny placed his scribbled list on the desk, weighed it down with an old horseshoe. His neck hurt. The house oppressed him; it was as if he could hear Thess snoring, John and Matthew breathing heavily, even though they were yards away from him, in their own rooms. Oh, but he loved them so, and Roselle and their unborn child, and his older children, and yes, Rina too. He was never one to stop loving, he could only love more people, add to those already in his heart. Didn’t the old rascals say, “Magdagdag ka ng minamahal, huwag kang magbawas?”
He had always fancied himself a stallion like the late great Conquistador, and he was, with his six progeny, a filly and five colts by two broodmares, with a third dam in foal, and he was magnificent in his sexual prowess, a stud just like his father, they all said so.
His old man died at the track, watching races till his breath caught in his chest and his heart gave out and whose last sight was of horses running till his vision narrowed to a pinpoint and dissolved into darkness, at whose funeral two wives showed up, the first wife sharing bitter whispers with a woman whose jockey husband had left her for a slut: “They come back to us when they’re dead.”
But there was still one more way Danny could be like Conquistador.
He got out of the house, locked the door carefully behind him (it wouldn’t do at all to have an intruder or a burglar come in, an akyat-bahay who would not be content with stealing the plasma TV or the few pieces of jewelry he had managed to buy for Thess, but who would stab his family where they slept, turning them into another “Massacre In (insert name of city here)”, tabloid-fodder for the masses), got into the car, and drove to the racetrack.
The night guard was surprised to see Danny there so late, but waved him through and went back to sleep. Danny parked as close as he could to the first bend. Sitting in his car in the driver’s seat, the seat pushed back as far as it would go so the steering wheel wouldn’t dig into his gut, the moon shining into the car and filling it with silvery light, Danny unzipped the black leather case beside him on the passenger’s seat.
Inside was the bolt gun he used to put all those horses to rest.
It was heavy, the rubber grip rough in his hand, the barrel cool against his temple. He gazed at the track, it was aglow in moonlight, each particle of sand luminous, and over this brilliant surface he saw Conquistador’s legs pumping, galloping for the turn home.
Smiling, he pulled the trigger, and ran to meet his hero.
It was 2008, and Danny was forty, forever. ***