I’m gonna post something that I’ll probably regret for the rest of my life.
"Hindi ba bawal 'yan."
The slight man, to whom the friendly reminder was addressed, merely shrugged, flicking shut a blue, plastic lighter. He took a long drag, the lit end of his cigarette burning red before turning gray. When he exhaled, he let out a keen that sounded almost like a wounded animal. His friend always thought it was because of the missing front teeth.
"’Tusi, kung walang nakakakita, ok lang."
Watusi was pretty sure it wasn't okay. After all, they were at a 24/7 gasoline station, where his companion worked every night, Monday to Saturday. He watched as Boy Dado enjoyed the cigarette, wondering how he kept the job despite being an inconsiderate, reckless gago.
"Me utang sa’kin yang si Councilor," was the smart reply, whenever Watusi thought to ask. Whatever works for the owner, he guessed. If he had any business whatsoever, he wouldn't hire anybody like Dado.
A late-night jeepney swerved and crawled to a stop in front of a diesel dispenser. Beside him, Watusi heard Dado curse, handing him the lighted stick as he went to service the driver. He wasn’t really into menthol flavors, but Watusi puffed it too, just enough to spite his friend.
Watusi was actually just visiting Dado hoping for something exciting to happen. Not that they often happened in a gasoline station, only they often happened to Dado. That was his working theory. In the eight months they’ve known each other, he’d been to more exciting things than his years at the old gangs. Also, more dangerous stuff than his fireworks years, where he lost a total of two fingers on the left, half on the right. Then again, he’d also met more cops than the gang years and fireworks years combined. In his opinion, no cop is more than enop.
The yell startled him to action, dropping the cigarette, which was almost the butt anyway, and rushing to where Dado was apparently shaking the jeepney driver. At first Watusi thought the man just wasn’t paying up, until he saw the way he was slumped over the steering wheel, all red face and bulging eyes and lolling tongue. Quickly, Watusi felt for any sign of life – a pulse, breath, movement – to no avail. The driver was deader than Mang Berto’s Balintawak botcha.
Behind him, Watusi could still hear Dado cursing. Dado hated dead bodies, which he thought was weird, considering what he does when he’s not manning a gas station and considering the part of town they lived in. As for Watusi, he’d seen his share of dead guys. Some of them unlucky enough to dead because of him.
Sorry to the dead driver, but finally, something exciting was happening.
“Ano ‘to, inatake? Istroke?” Watusi asked, staring at the driver’s unseeing eyes. He started poking around the skin on the face, mildly surprised at the warmth.
He could feel Dado’s short frame shudder. “Tigilan mo nga yan. Tae, kadiri.” He pulled Watusi’s hand away from the corpse, while moving closer to examine with a sour look on his face. The late driver was a middle-aged man of average height, with close-cropped graying hair and a sparse beard. He wore a blue samahan t-shirt, with the name of his union in bold green letters. Pasang Hari.
While Dado was busy with the corpse, Watusi was looking at the jeepney. At first he thought he should call the police, or an ambulance, but then he remembered he couldn’t get into UnliCall that evening so he only had UnliText. And Dado never had load. It was the police’s fault anyway. Who had unlimited load everyday in Tondo? If they had text service everything would have been easier. He thought he should run to the nearby houses for help, but then word spreads fast anywhere, and if he did that there’d be more usi than necessary. So he just looked at the jeep and waited.
It was a 12-plus-2-at-the-front-seater jeepney, the kind the barkers insist seats seven a side but doesn’t really, going to Divisoria via Juan Luna. Like all typical jeepneys around the area, it was painted in garish colors, this one with a flying American eagle on both sides. An anime character decorated the rear walls, and it took a few seconds before he recalled who it was. Dennis from Ghost Fighter. Ah, yung bakla. The mudguard screamed the words, ISANG KAHIG ISANG TUKA. Circling towards the other end, he saw the words QUEEN RISSAMAE on top.
Dado whistled through his missing teeth again, and Watusi knew he was through. For the moment. He walked over to where the short, thin Dado was, curious.
His friend barely looked at him before launching into an enumeration. “Bernardo Carandang, Nardo, 47. Asawa, Leny, 51, dalawang anak, babae, Bernadette at Donna. Address. Boundary kay Julius Manuel, 42, Manuel Operators, Address. Bise sa samahan, Pasang Hari. Sakit sa puso, nagpacheck-up nung isang buwan. Kalaguyo ni Anita San-“
“Oy, teka, pati yan?” Watusi wasn’t really surprised. For one reason or another, Dado knew everything about everybody within more-or-less the five barangays around them. He probably knew more in his hometown of Cavite. It was probably because Dado’s pastimes involve inuman with everybody in every kalye and tsismis with the boys at the tricycle terminal. There was a saying, around town, “kapag naitago mo kay Dado” which basically means never.
Dado was looking at him through years of eye bags. “’Tusi, pare, parang hindi ka nag-elementary.” It was a joke, because Watusi’s claim to fame around these parts was actually finishing elementary. After eight years. “Lahat ng pwede titignan, kapag pinatay yung… patay.”
Feeling an unwelcome grin coming, Watusi replied, “Tatawag na’ko ng pulis?”
“Telepono sa loob,” Dado pursed his lips towards the gas station’s cashier window.
The grin finally broke through Watusi’s dark face, and he moved towards the window, trying very hard not to skip happily, because this was excitement, alright, it’s what he was waiting for. Dado called him back, a slight irritation in his voice.
”Pa’no pala ’to, full tank ’tong Rambong ’to, ta’s mamatayan lang ako.” A hand raked through the dark hair. Watusi could hear the soft whistle again. “Kukunan ko ba?”
Watusi, eager to get on with the business of hunting the killer, and honestly finding no reason not to, since after all, even a dead person should pay his dues, shrugged.
“Dado, kung walang nakakakita, ok lang."
God wtf am I writing I’ve been reading too much Nero Wolfe and Wimsey stories
Un-beta-ed and probably full of awkward sentences
Is it alright that I’m laughing at my own jokes
Tell me if you spot the references there’s like a truckload of them
I started this last January after Asiong Salonga now I don't know how to finish