Mr. Medina

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illustrAtion By PErry Gil MAllAri

illustrAtion By PErry Gil MAllAri

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Mr. Medina (he was not known by any other name) as a quiet man who ran a radio repair shop which blared the whole day in our neighborhood of few radios to the annoyance of his landlady of powerful connections who took him to court as a public nuisance, a case which dragged on and on until the high school graduation of Ruby’s daughter,
Vi, an event of great celebration for which he donated the sound system, Sago and our gang the drinks, gin, rum, and beer (prompting the Mayhaligue sewing circle to remark, rather snidely, that the Merrymen of Mayhaligue be trusted to donate only what they themselves would consume), and Ruby had only to take care of the food, which she did extravagantly, as we never saw such an abundance of prawns, oysters, lechon, before or since, it being a good week for her at Bayside where she worked as hostess, it was then called, (a more honest and more beautiful distinction than today’s GRO), not to mention the generosity of a certain friend from the B.I.R. who came in the latest La Coste teeshirt which shone as brightly as the diamond-studded bracelet with a large ‘N’ on his wrist and a ring of innumerable carats around his fat finger, making the eyes of women bulge as they pretended to admire each other’s dress, all done with grace and profit by D’Domingam who, however, reserved for Ruby and herself the silken, clinging dresses with the deep fronts, which had the young men barely out of their teens making a long queue for the privilege of hugging them tightly in dance, making them bulge as well, while, we, of course, settled for a long night of boisterous drinking, in which, much to our surprise, believing that he was a teetotaler (a totalitarian, as Asin put it), Mr. Medina joined in, telling us, as he steadily kept the pace, of his days as a constabulary non-com and guerrilla fighter, his wild adventures with barrio lassies and the number of Japanese soldiers and Makapili collaborators he had killed or executed (with a mattock), something quite amazing in so quiet and gentle a man, which Sago, putting on his version of a sage look, said was understandable, for the gentlest and the bravest (perhaps, Ompong snickered out of hearing, alluding to himself as well), a sentiment heard by Ruby who forthwith asked an awkwardly protesting Mr. Medina to dance to ‘My Happiness,’ which turned out to be his favorite song, as it was the days of sentimental hits like ‘Tennessee Waltz,’ ‘Whispering Hope,’ ‘My Destiny,’ and my own samba favorite, ‘El Cayman’ (to which I perfectly imposed Longfellow’s poem, which goes: ‘Tell me not in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream, For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem, Life is real, Life is earnest, And the grave is not its goal, Dust thou art, To dust returneth, Was not spoken of the soul’), a piece danced at arm’s length but licensing a punctuated pressing of the chest, a maneuvered I managed many times with Ruby, who took it rather good-naturedly, for it was known that the Merrymen, superb at street-fighting, were all mere bravado in sex, more showy than serious, except for Asin, because, as Ruby said, he panted and his palms got watery while dancing with her, which Ompong in turn attributed to much reading till midnight, but in the dance with Mr. Medina, we saw Ruby giving him the Bayside treatment, grinding and bumping her hips to good effect, now and then pressing her breasts against him, her left hand clutched around his neck, her whole body undulating, making Mr. Medina laugh as he talked to her, which we thought was gentlemanly of him, not wanting anyone to think of it as anything more than comradely fun, but the young bucks were obviously jealous, wishing that they were in Mr. Medina’s shoes at that moment, and so it went on, after which he joined us again, the very image of ecstatic happiness, which made us think that, perhaps, he had won the case against his landlady, to which he replied that the judge was going to hand down his decision the next morning, and we wished him well, and he said he hoped the judge would be fair, and Sago said he’d never heard anything good about that judge and proposed storming the landlady with powerful connections as proper climax to the wild evening, but just then Ruby turned off the sound system, not to end the evening, she said, but to introduce her friend from the B.I.R. with the diamonds, who immediately stood up and combed his hair, grabbed the microphone and started saying that he loved to go gatherings like this, where everybody was natural, which Asin interpreted as going slumming, breaking bread with the lower classes, the unwashed, outlaws, outsiders, and Mr. Medina agreed, and he led the long and loud applause to drown out the snob’s voice, encouraging him to end his speech and saying that he recognized the hostility, bade Ruby good-night, and she smiled at us, indicating that she understood the man was an ass, for which Mr. Medina kissed her full on the mouth and said he loved her with all his heart even if his wife and kids were listening at the moment though they were not, they were fast asleep, and going over to us, seeing that Sago was pouring rum on Rudy’s head because he refused to drink some more, said that Sago should do the same to him because he wanted to drink and drink until he fell flat on his face, for he had to be bright and sober in the morning for the judge, a desire which all of us quickly gratified, until he, indeed, passed out, and we carried him to his shop, then returned to our dancing and drinking until everybody, bleary-eyed, sweating, and exhausted, started retiring at dawn, with Vi happy as a lark and Ruby maternally pleased, kissed all of us and begged us, as if she needed to, to clean up the party place, the passageway surrounded by apartments collectively known as Looban, by which time it was already nine in the morning and we saw Mr. Medina spic and span in a coat and tie (another surprise in such a simple man, but then Sago said one must be well-dressed in a courtroom), wave at us, raising his hands in victory, disappear into a taxi (another surprise, as no one in Mayhaligue took a taxi, except for a bit actor who visited his mistress in Magdalena street) and then reappear an hour later in another taxi, come out with his wife and children who walked meekly to church as he ordered them to, and then he ran up to the landlady’s apartment, from which we distinctly heard two shots, and then we saw Mr. Medina go back to his shop, then heard another shot, and the story was that the judge had given Mr. Medina a bum deal but apparently the quiet man was prepared for it, for he took out his .45 automatic from his guerrilla days, shot the judge three times on the head, took a taxi back to the shop, diverted his family, shot the landlady and then put the weapon to his mouth in a shattering climax, after a grand graduation party, to a quiet, gentle life.

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