Short Stories

A Special Night I’ll Never Forget

Have you ever had an experience youll never for get that makes your hair stand on end.

Ive had a few but one ill never forget ,I was in the phillipines for xmas,staying with ma  and  pa , about 1999 ,well that was their names too me.In a shanty hut just outside manila maybe 1 hour taxi drive,don’t ask how I ended up there that’s a book in itself lol,(see photos)

Funny, the shanty, corrugated illegal houses they  have, but, land line phone and full tv set.Most. even a karokee machine as I learnt of listening to many kids singing there pop songs down the narrow ally ways  they called streets,where at night steam came through the open gutters from the drains and mixed with steam from 1000   house kitchens ,cooking there evening meals,mixed with the heady smell of spices and herbs…….always in the distance  the sound of……arrrnd……..  I dit it marrr  weeey… a young phillipino girl or boy who couldn’t pronounce English very well.

There were no proper doors in the shack or windows with locks   and a lounge that converted to a bedroom where 4 of the family slept,the fith  on the couch,. Kitchen bedroom all in one,but so clean so tidy,a small plastic cupboard to keep the flys from the pristine cleaned dinner plates,I have been in many millionaire houses in leeds 17 with kitchens you wouldn’t have dinner in,when I was a kitchen designer

 what a shock it was to see this.

The walls didn’t meet the ceiling leaving about a 9 inch open vent to allow the air to circulate.You couldn’t open the only window in the house that was covered with a mesh to keep flys and mosquitos out which I found funny as there was this open space all around 2 of the 4 walls.

Id been told to be carefull in the only other room in the house the bathroom and the wash room.  you were told not to sit  on the loo,  but suspend yourself over ,rather than directly sit down,as snakes had a tendency to come through the drain………I could see that, I wouldn’t be reading a newspaper, have a fag and a cup of tea,and do the crossword on the loo in this house.

Just going back a few days,id gone for 2 weeks xmas and new year,look for some work sort of recki the place,there was a time share resort near by, id found in the II international directory of timeshare resorts,as my management time in Ibiza was coming to an end,

And had planed touring the phillipines,after arriving at the airport spoke to a taxi driver(as I have said before, your best friend in a new place)and I had checked into a small hotel in Manilla city to check things out,the driver must have thought I was a typical sex tourist , he took me too this American , Brit , Aussie sort of b and b ,was a stop of place for the guys before they went to Antipollo,the big beach pub disco sex part of Phillipines.It was also a last night stop off, as you could see by how many guys had gorgeous girls at their table for breakfast that morning,giving last minute presents before they set of to the airport and the girls leaving back to Antipollo to find new business.With the familiar ,{I will loof yoo always and wait yoo cum back{   from the girls.

Never mind it was cheap  cosy and lots of info on reception including a Phiilipino newspaper in English    the Manilla Bulletin     above the tital of the newspaper it said

{the  exponent  of phillipines  progress}   the nations leading newspaper.

And  the  Manilla  STAR.

Right. pen and paper in hand, breakfast ordered,.newspaper opened  lets read…plan the trip……………………oh yeah yeah yeah.

I have still to this day the newspaper cuttings from that paper

Head lines

16 foreigners abducted    15 slain in 98  report

A list of kidnap victims

The headless body of Arthur atega a hotelier from Zamboanga City is found in a remote villag in Iligan City.

A bomb explodes in Mary May Bus servicing the Molave,Zamboanga del sur to Diplong City killing a pregnant woman and injuring 9 others.

Two soldiers and four cilvilians were wounded in an attack by MILF rebels in Sitito City Hundreds of villagers evacuated.

A bomb explodes inside a Super 5 bus near Bacolod Lanao del Norte thirteen people injured

Bombs explode again inside a park bus in Diplong City and along Plarridel Occidental 30 people injured and one dying at the hospital due to massive blood loss,

Now  you get the picture……touring cheap  round the phillipines on a bus  yeah yeah yeah    NO NO NO.

That’s how id ended  up north close to Manilla and with ma and pa , so back to the story,

Id decided to give ma  and pas a xmas dinner they would never forget so I dragged ma into a tuk tuk taxi and we went into the town to the market.The fantastic sights of all foods from fresh fish and meats to vegatables and fruits I had never seen in my life before,the incredible bustling throng of people selling their wares and shoppers laden with baskets.The food , beers and wine didn’t come to more than 100 US dollars ,but we had sufficient for a banquet including chocolates for ma, i don’t think shed had them in years.,

Xmas dinner is served at midnight on xmas eve there  and ma had been busy in that tiny kitchen preparing dishes all evening while I was  drinking ice cold beers with the men in the alley.

They had lost a grandson ,when he was about 11 years old and on the television was a large photo of this  so beautiful little boy,in a sailors uniform,why the uniform I never got to find out with a smile so wide and full of pristine teeth(how do they do it over there with so little dental hygiene).

He had died of a brain tumor and they couldn’t afford to send him to a specialist in Japan.

I had been to his grave the day before with ma.

As midnight came and dinner was on the small folding table,they knelt in front of the picture and said a prayer to there grandchild,I was out of place and felt embarssed I dont know why ,and just sat in silence,on the couch and watched,their prayers were mostly silent prayers and time stood still I didn’t even notice if there were any noises coming from the ally or any other of the shacks in the street.

At exactly that time the largest butterfly I have ever seen in my life flew through the gap in the corrugated walls between walls and ceiling ,landing  right on top of the photo frame.So rich in all colours it opened its wings to show full display then slowly repeated opening and closing   very slowly,it was a couple of minutes but felt like hours,the family just stared at this insect,my eyes fixed and must have been the size of golfballs,my mouth open,a few more flicks of its wings it then left us, back through the gap,A visitor at xmas,

Had a beautifull boy turned into a beautifull butterfly.

After life,coming back as another animal or insect,I never believed,

Im not so sure now.

Ma  and pa  believed…..i suppose that’s all that counts if it lifted their hearts.

My hairs still to this day ,on my arms , stand up, when I think of that memory….do yours

I wonder.