Heartfelt thanks to Palanca Award-winning writer Ichi Batacan for encouraging me to write this story, and Kenneth Yu for publishing it last April on his Philippine Genre Stories website.
Much of this is based on true stories. Truth, after all, is always stranger than fiction, precisely because it really happened.
So. The girl, I was told, was not Silva’s but another man’s – the woman’s husband. She had left him because he was beating her. Late one night she crept out of their shack carrying only a duffel bag of clothes and her young daughter; hitching up the skirt of her duster, she got astride Silva’s Yamaha motorcycle and off they sped into the night and a new life. Only for him to disappear mysteriously five years later.
Ray said, but that’s not what really happened.
You mean Silva didn’t run off with another woman?
No, said Ray. Tatay’s friend told me this:
A Spyderco Endura knife like this one features in the story.
Boyong Silva was a neighbor of theirs. He was a drunkard. He spent the days getting soused with cronies, who, like him, relied on their wives to keep them fed and sheltered in the barong-barongs, the shacks of scrounged wood and galvanized iron that littered their community like rat’s nests.
He’d come home late. The wife would be asleep. She took in laundry and would be tired to death after a day bent over a washtub, scrubbing clothes by hand, the chemicals in the harsh detergent bareta eating into her hands, pitting the rough brown skin with red wounds that stung when she immersed her hands in water. After that she’d iron the dry clothes. The damp, the heat, the hard labor, they take a toll.
Read the entire story here.