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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chapter 3 - Debraining

Chapter 3


                  Various fresh spiritual bouquet with sympathy cards  lining in a row from gate entrance their  fragrance wafting  that evening air creating familiar   ambience  of solemnity reminiscent of  Flores de Mayo atmosphere when beautiful flowers abound and offered by children in honor of Virgin Mary greeted him creating aromatic sensation on Fr. Driarco alighting from Motorela.
                “Home finally,” he uttered his eyes surveying his home teeming with sympathizers.
                 Faces of friends and relatives empathy written all over  their faces were seen  all over  some slightly bowing their heads seeing him passing them  by entering the front door. Mass cards on top of casket and scented lighted huge candles their wax piling up on their exquisite holders provided an eerie atmosphere of   the rare crossover occasion. It was common sight to Driarco as vigil and dishing out homily on the beauty of death as celebration of life has been part of his work as an overseas Catholic Missionary  priest in Taiwan.
                But that evening was completely different he  being a party to the deceased. It’s as if bucket full of cold water was doused all over his body coming finally face to face with his father this time in a casket, dead!
                “It’s time to mourn. Don’t drag the weight of the whole world upon your shoulder buddy,” the words of Beatle’s song ‘Hey Jude’ reminded giving him fleeting relief somehow.
                “They are right,” he realized regaining composure learning that he has not even established the bottom line of the case yet.
                Embracing her mother Illa Crispe tightly, he was speechless before  fresh hot  tears just started falling profusely down his innocent check recalling those beautiful memories together between him and his father down the memory lane. Holding on to his emotion he managed somehow but not for long as it’s time to release the pent-up emotion of grief or it would just explode. He finally broke  the silence of the night sobbing like a child hugging gently his mother. This must be it, he thought  reliving how chose he was to his father as a young boy. Somehow, he felt good as great outbursts of erstwhile controlled feelings were depleted  down the drain regaining back serenity and sanity otherwise shuddered in their foundation by circumstances beyond his comprehension.  Recovering from seemingly almost disorientation exhausting whatever emotion left, he finally fidgeted that he’s okay and would like now wasting no time  seeing his father.
                 “Go son there he is waiting for you,” said the comforting words of her mother fulfilling his last request promised.
                “We have added few more liters of formalin just enough to  last for vigil  few more nights before he would finally be laid home to his eternal rest. Requesting for an  exclusive audience with his father except  Danny, his younger brother, the embalmers left one after the other on cue leaving by their twosome selves.
. . . . . . . . . .

                “What’s up and whatever happened?” Fr. Driarco started probing into the mystery surrounding their father’s untimely death after hugging the cold and stiffed lifeless body. Standing back while seriously gazing over the lifeless body on bed hoping to spot for that proverbial clue to account what really happened building from  loose pieces together hopefully to answer that same baffling tough question, he waited Danny’s comment.
                “He just slept away in there at Aling Nita’s parlor,” responded Danny his two hands spread wide outstretched.
                “That simple!” Driarco begged the question wanting to get vital information  into the bottom of the incident.
                “He was even snoring earlier and mistaken to be only resting as he was still right there glued in his chair sitting his reading glasses still solidly perching on his nose when Aling Nita woke him up but to no avail  until . . . .”
                “He dropped like spaghetti his body soft as marshmallow falling into the ground . . . dead!”  Danny slowly uttered stressing the unhappy ending.
                “The time when pandemonium broke loose concerned people from the neighborhood coming to the rescue administering first aid in an earnest attempt of reviving  him up. But to no avail.”
                “At the dead of the night,” Driarco said further begging the question.
                “Did he vomit? Were there any foreign residue indicating  presence of ptomaine – poison no less?”
                Danny moved his head indicating none at all wondering the inquisitiveness of his elder brother.
                “There’s something wrong short of mystery surrounding his death,” why  thought the younger brother his innocence  gradually pricked by elder Driarco.
                Gently hugging the dear departed again, rolling slightly away the white linen cloth the cadaver exposed both looked for some indications of possible foul play. None. Same his toenails, hands, back, ear all the way up to its extremity – head - surveyed. Nothing suspicious indeed. The body was fresh as the embalmer literally administered his last bath only this time, he was stiff. What caught his attention though was the black color of his hair.
                His mother Illa Crispe must have agreed to embalmer’s request treating his once all white hairs into black to look good and young albeit his last, he thought.
                “Then barring all suspicion of conspiracy, it must have been a case of  cardiac arrest to use medical parlance in other words,” Driarco explored catching Danny off guard.
                “Most likely and nothing much we can do,” Danny said nodding approvingly.
                “Was this confirmed by Physicians who performed that last ditch effort of reviving him in an Emergency station later?”
                “Yap. But not that fast. Father’s case was already history as he was already declared dead on arrival.”
                “Maybe,” Driarco nearly giving up recalling three similar incidents involving basketball players dead during and after the game.  Two while playing, the last,  resting for good after the game. But there was no physical involvement of strenuous activity on his father’s case. Mere drinking spree spending the nights away among friends, the smoke of doubt clouded over him again.
                Intoning prayer having floated several sensitive queries receiving no convincing answers, he readily hugged his cold body for the third time  and just didn’t manage controlling himself sobbing anew all the more instead realizing his  inaptitude and helplessness probably without seeing the dawn of his initiative.
                His grip on his arms tightened, voice guttural he uttered “Thanks for having been there!”                 Fr. Driarco ended wanting to be not melodramatic spoiling the night away.
                “I’m entangled in a maze with all these tentative and negative results,” he contemplated.
                “When would the new light shine on me Dear Lord?” he whispered with entreaty for the first time showing that big leap of  faith on Him recognizing his helplessness addressing very tough battle ahead. Wanting to give up knowing the complexity of the problem facing blank wall, he mustered enough strength to accept that all for now is well and done deal.  As if guided by his father’s  spirit though to finally bid him adieu, he lifted his torso up closer to  his heart kissing his forehead its long shiny black hair slowly swaying to the rhythm of his sobbing as he finally intended to call  it a night. 
                Suddenly,   he had nosebleeds and goose bump his face ashen and cold his middle finger on the right hand  touched over sensitive small protruding stuff from a cranium! This he felt  while  repeatedly and gently combing his father’s thick and long  new black  hair  as if arranging each strand in their proper place.
                “What could this be?” the question trapping him right away  stumbling upon pointed foreign little object its top  just barely enough to be felt protruding from his cranium!
Turning off the light, he requested Danny to provide him the necessary lift.
                “Just follow my command complying whatever I shall say. Okay?” he whispered.
                “Deal,” Danny nodded approvingly showing  thumbs up sign even while darkness had already engulfed them in the  room.  More surprised and caught off guard thinking what’s this unusual antics of his brother priest all over again.
                “Why this poor guy can’t just wait licensed embalmers outside doing post mortem for them on instruction from National Bureau of Investigation officers instead of messing up their work,” he reflected griping, a question he was about to ask but afraid to do observing how engrossed Driarco was doing his own thing looking into that foreign item light emanating from penlight his mouth bit. Raring to ask but Driarco beat him just in time he was to show his impatience.
                Reaching his right hand putting his index finger on his lips signaling to just keep quiet, he complied. Feeling the urgency of the command Driarco guided  his right index finger through the cranium feeling  the top of an object  buried protruding sending tremble down and  swiftly to his spinal column.
                “What do you think that is?”
                “No idea yet,” Driarco answered as they started pulling it off alternately one after the other unsuccessfully as their index finger slips away each time the attempt of pulling it off  made. Both could only shrugged in disbelief as they frantically beat the heat of the night pulling off shocker failing some more. There was adrenaline rush face turn red as beads of sweat now appeared on their brow dropping  freely to the floor. Who knows, embalmers outside might crashed their entry growing impatient  wondering whatever happened that they have not yet been summoned back inside the room
                “If so, they too might be an accomplices doing their work for a living and therefore Driarco’s family is only treated to  a joyride,”  farfetched idea but otherwise possible, an engrossed playing detective Catholic priest thought.
                “But if they treated his father to his last bath and dyed his hair black then most likely. Who knows? Just who knows?” the nasty idea further played around his mind.
                “Accomplices then of the mastermind. But they are  merely ordinary embalmers doing their work for their family” Driarco taken aback  learning they are licensed and private practitioners of the trade.
                “But who knows how much cost the deal forged? You cannot eat your ideals and value you know. Nothing is impossible for people of greed hungry for  power and money.” The question running on his mind as he hurriedly wiped the red oily grease on his hands reaching for Swiss Knife tucked in his belt.
                Taking the corkscrew and scooped its top baiting the object popping up, he finally pulled off the big surprise of his life!
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

                Putting back his father on bed,  surge of brief contentment was felt. Feeling  great relieved and jubilant, both sighed deep bated breath anew rejoicing over  that very important finding just discovered validating the sick joke surrounding mystery of  his father’s fate. Holding the just discovered little object in between the thumb and middle finger  for clarity against the light, lo and behold it was a customized item approximately three inches long. Inserting it in a vial and looking it back against the light, both look at each other’s face in reality check mouth agape clearing their unbelief if at all if their discovery was true. Shaking and listening to little sound it makes inside the vial  the echo reverberated. Driarco tossed it up probably sending the shrill sound it brings to high  heavens above crying justice. A small sound but taken collectively, would be enough  account clipped voices of innocent victims killed in such dirty fashion now Fr. Driarco and Danny knew.
                More tears flowed down naturally as he summoned enough strength accepting finally all is  gone for his beloved father.  Gazing his face, it was still the same familiar face he never run out of wonder viewing – serene, soft, eyebrows thick and full, gray mustache partly covering his lips, long hair   -  and seemingly indicating that death may have come out naturally for him. But not now having learned how far evil  could do.
                “Lord God please do send Your angels and saints with Mother Mary to meet him and usher him into his reserved  room You prepared for him as You do to us.  If need be, have him seated by your side and hear the good deeds he did back home when he was still with us. Amen,” he solemnly prayed.
                Suddenly, the door knob sounded and the door gradually opened. Light from outside flickered into the room.
                “Sorry Son to disturb you. I just thought that you might need a lift; hence, my incursion . . . .” Illa Crispe breaks the silence handing a towel to Driarco his clothes drenched by sweat.
                “Hmm, it’s okay. Thanks. I just completed my personal prayer to Dad,” he retorted embracing her mother at the same time blinking giving thumbs up sign for ‘good job’ to Danny across.   
                Giving himself benefits of  doubt, he immediately summoned the embalmers back in and facilitated the handling of the dead in his casket. Thanking them of the great effort done,  he let them go but not after dishing out curl of crisp Philippine paper money for the job well done.
                “Why not? What an effort they have exerted anyway managing their own experiment,” consoling thought shone on Driarco. Presence of blood spots  on his fingers confirmed validity of his own post mortem. .
. . . . . . . . . . .

                Debraining. That’s how any student of animal science in Agriculture would call savage way of killing an animal. Electrocution of neck just below the ear of swine, carabaos and cows is the counterpart among butchers in slaughterhouses before double bladed sharp  knife  thrusted into their throats falling to the ground like mosquitoes killing them instantly  blood  gushing forth from their slit neck drained to a bucket. Same way of killing cows and carabaos  getting rid of savagery and unforgiving smashing of sledge hammer breaking  animals’ head, any matador would justify their cruelty.
                The image of his father suffering similar fate falling as the needle was plunged into his cranium struggling gradually nearing death before he was returned back to his seat dead as if nothing happened, is clear  to Driarco.  Conspiracy delivered clean and dry leaving no semblance of foul play, one done by professionals.
                “The evil that men do! This is it! Crime in its highest order.”
                 “Who could have done this must be genius – one that exists only in fiction,” Driarco cleared feeling vindicated on his first adventure.
                “But for what reason?” now remains baffling question to Fr. Driarco.
                  Everything now comes in their proper place into full circle. 
                “All I have to do is to conduct my own inquiry  of all  men who were there. Doing the background investigation each of them is simply irresistible. By then I could  established the bottom line and know who the real culprits were their mastermind unmasked and reason identified at the end of the day. They are considered all suspects for the meantime,” he qualified lifting momentarily his morale acting like any detectives of  Agatha Christie’s classics.
                “Why not? The plot was familiar to Christie’s work – murderer using a pin almost identical with that used in killing the innocent Nong Clineo,” crazy idea played in mind.
Looking back closely  the little object  inside the small  bottle, the thin, short  and    pointed  round sharp object was undoubtedly very important discovery of the night whose implication far outweighed  all there is happening in his hometown. The item is what all master cutter used for a living. Unfortunately, it is such an important possession of other tribes. Muslims have fetish with arms. Tibetans have their prized possession, one they always carry around for protection. Incidentally, Filipinos even enhanced its usefulness. They not only used it sewing but worst, killing faces Powers-that-be don’t like!
                “What if poison too was laced on its edge? That makes the item doubly lethal and deadly,” Fr. Driarco cleared.
                The luxury of sleep was all his’ hoping nonetheless that justice is delivered to his family. 
                “When? That remains to be seen,” he said emphasizing the importance of time.

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