Thursday, September 07, 2006

The House in Rue Pergolese (4)

In Luna's mind that morning, he was the oppressed.

More than a week before, Luna followed his dear wife as she went to 25 Mont Thabor. He lost sight of her, but in the entrance of the building he saw Mr. Dussaq. Luna asked Dussaq if he lived there. But Dussaq said he did not, and he was there just to meet someone. What was Luna supposed to think? Certainly, in his mind, his Chiching was there for a rendezvous with Dussaq.

He pressed his wife for an answer. He asked her brothers for help. But Chiching never admitted anything. She claimed she was not unfaithful to him. But what about that visit to that house with Dussaq?

In the Philippines, adultery was more than just a crime. It was an insult, the strongest that any man could ever get. It demeaned his being. It made him a worthless fool. And it meant more that his Chiching had fallen for a white Frenchman. It was a negation of everything that Luna ever was and ever would be.

But Luna loved his Chiching so dearly that he knew he had to give her a chance. Paris had been a temptation. The fame, money and comfort drew his family apart. While Luna worked on his art, his wife was distracted by the shopping places of Paris. And since her mother was always there to provide for her needs, Chiching could do what ever she wanted.

Thus, Luna decided to give his wife a chance. They were leaving for Vigo, south of Portugal -- away from the temptations of the city and away from the trappings of her family's wealth.
Luna made the decision to leave. Nobody could stop them, for after all he was the master of the house, the master of his family, and the captain of their fate.

But what a surprise for Luna on that Sunday, when the brothers Pardo de Taveras arrived with Antonio Regidor, the family lawyer compatriot of Don Joaquin Pardo De Tavera around. What was going on? Regidor said he came to discuss the separation.

Separation? What separation? Luna, Chiching and son were on their way to Vigo that morning -- that was the plan.

Separation was betrayal. The Pardo de Taveras betrayed him. They were taking her away from him. They were going to destroy his family. They were going to ruin his universe. His only hope for the restitution of his home was doomed. They were using their wealth and power against the Indio from Ilocos whose only sin was trying to restore his honor.

"What does it all mean?.... A reunion of the family council .. What do you have the presumptim to do. ...Ah! You know I will defend mysef."

The fools looked surprised that he was upset. He saw them whisper something to each other, they went upstairs to the room where his wife was, and then they scampered downstairs towards the gate. He saw them leave.

Meanwhile, Luna looked for his revolver, his only weapon against the oppression. He raged at the brothers. He raged at his wife. He raged at her mother. He was going to kill her. He was going to kill them all. Nobody could take her away.

Minutes past and Luna found his revolver, and proceeded upstairs to look for his wife. But they hid inside the bathroom. Like a beast hungry for his prey, Luna paced back and forth outside the bathroom.

"Fools! I will kill you Chiching!", he cried.

Then, he heard the gates creak. Luna looked outside the window. The traitors were on the ground. He fired a shot. Felix fell. He got him alright. But Felix was not who he wanted.

He knocked again in the bathroom. He kicked it. He banged it. Ke kicked it and banged it again. How many times he did it, he couldn't recall. Inside the bathroom, his wife and mother in law wailed. "Help us! Help us!".

Then, suddenly, he found himself inside the room with his mother-in-law and wife. How did he get inside? Did he destroy the lock? Did he find another way in? It didn't matter now. What mattered was it was the exact moment when his life would change forever.

He pointed the gun to the head of his mother-in-law. He pulled the trigger. And the first shot was heard. She fell on the bathroom floor, lifeless and bloodied, a sight to horrify generations of Pardo de Taveras of the world.

He fired another shot.

Then, he fired at Chiching, his dearly beloved wife.

He bore a large hole on her head. The marriage was over. His dear wife was going to die. He stood there for a moment not knowing whether to be happy or be sad.

Luna saw Trinidad enter the room. He handed the revolver to the maid as he spoke, "This is all your fault Trinidad, you are the cause of all that happened here, you are the cause of everything."

The house in Rue Pergolese was a home no more.

(To be continued)

1 comment:

DAVID FABROS said...

good prose. i would like to call/message with you to discuss your research. this is for a film I'm doing :) -- davefabros@gmail.com