A KILLING STORY…
By: Suyop Abog@2015
The Killing Fields
Bath in sweat, tossing and turning on the hospital bed, I was dreaming. Dreams of gunfire, of smoke and the carnage that was happening around me. I looked at my gun, a 1911 colt 45, locked and empty. I thought I had one last bullet reserved for me. But someone with a menacing bolo came from nowhere, my self-preservation kicked in, so I emptied my gun at him. He fell on me and it took him some time to stop quivering. I almost drowned on his blood gushing from the wounds where my bullet entered his body.
I tried pushing him, but my strength was ebbing rapidly. I knew I have been hit in my abdomen and bleeding profusely. I heard shouts from somewhere near. Getting louder and louder and louder…
“Check everyone! None of these motherfuckers leaves alive!” It was one of those leaders. ‘Kumanders’, as they called them.
From the bottom of my foxhole, I heard sporadic single shots. I knew they were executing my buddies. My friends for years, and soon it will me my time. I prayed, preparing myself for what is coming. I thought of my Mom and Dad, my 2 brothers and sister. How happy they were the last time I came home. It was Christmas and we were shopping for gifts. Each one beaming, smiles that were invaluable to me. Mom and Dad talking about what to prepare for the Noche Buena. I was lost in my thoughts…
“Good” I told myself. At least I die in the company of the people who mean most to me. Even it was just in my mind. I fixed my mind on their faces, ignoring the gnawing pain. In my state, a shadow suddenly blocked the blazing sun. I had my eyes closed, I willed myself not to open them, knowing that doing so would mean immediate death. But curiosity got the better or me. I half opened my eyes and found myself staring at a familiar face.
“Abdul?” that’s what my mind said. This was the guy I helped when his mother needed blood. I had that rare blend – type AB, same as his mom. I volunteered and offered to donate my blood, even though I knew they will not allow it being a Christian. I wasn’t sure why, it was maybe the direness of the situation, or something else, but they allow me. I saw Abdul, twice more in the hospital after that. It was more than a year ago. Now here, his face staring at me. So that’s where he went, to the mountains and became a rebel.
“Abdul, are they still alive over there?” I heard a ‘Kumander’ shout. Abdul didn’t reply, he was still looking at me. Suddenly, he grabbed my gun, pulled the man on top of me and covered my face.
“No, they’re all dead over here. Here, I have the gun it’s a nice souvenir.” I heard Abdul say.
“Good, now everyone, gather all the guns, take their shoes and whatever you can. We will need anything useful.”
I heard Abdul shuffle back to the hole and began untying my shoes. Then he proceeded to the other soldier beside me and did the same. Suddenly he lurched and pulled his gun and shot him.
“What’s that?” A ‘Kumander’ asked.
“I thought I saw him moved when I took his shoes. I was startled, so I made sure.” Abdul replied.
“Fool” the ‘Kumander’ retorted “that was maybe just a muscle twitch. “Don’t let it get to your nerves. Hurry up now.”
I heard a few laughter and snickers. I knew why Abdul did that, he made sure that everyone believed him when he said we’re all dead in that foxhole. I sent him a mental thank you. Then I heard them rustling about.
“Let’s go, hurry up, their reinforcements are already on the way. Let’s go home with this victory.” With that I felt them leave the area. I waited for a while, it felt like hours, before I tried pushing the body on top of me. I managed to free my head and gasped at the fresh air. But my weakened body was not able to cope up with the exertion.
I felt my body go limp. My eyelids falling. This is it… so this is how you feel when you’re about to die. Floating… floating… floating…. flo…
I was practically dead to the world. I didn’t hear the arrival of the reinforcements. I never felt the hands that removed me from the foxhole, nor the press of a medic’s head on my chest. I didn’t hear the medic shouting that I was still alive. I didn’t feel the carrying to the ambulance and the trip to the hospital.
There was simply nothing…
A Doctor to Kill for
I opened my eyes as the doctor slid the curtains letting the bright sunlight in. And as she saw me move to cover my eyes, she said.
“Good morning Captain Salvador. How are you feeling today?”
It was her usual beaming smile and jovial attitude that greets me for the past 4 days. It does cheer me up, that plus the pretty and almost angelic face, the humdinger of a figure, which made me wonder what it would look, beneath her hospital gown. What would it feel to hug that body? Hmmmm, I began to feel some stirrings somewhere between my legs. I did my best to ignore it, not very professional I told myself.
“Much better than yesterday. Dr. Madrigal. By the way, why do you look lovelier every time I see you?” I answer the doctor teasingly.
“There… I have started it. I should not have flirted.” I thought to myself. Too late, I have already allowed my mouth to get ahead of my head.
“My, oh my, Captain, I think you are already healed. You are already flirting with me.”
“Flirting? Hmmm you should see me when I get serious flirting with you.” I replied.
I got a beaming smile, while the doctor went over my records. The nurses who were with her started taking my blood pressure and a thermometer was unceremoniously stuck into my mouth, preventing any further talk. The doctor came over to the side and started a few gentle presses and probes on my abdomen. I could smell a faint whisper of jasmine on her hair, and a subtle scent of perfume on her. She took out her stethoscope and started pressing it on my abdomen. Her eyes looking at the ceiling and listening intently. As if a philharmonic orchestra was playing Beethoven’s Sonata on B Minor on my tummy. Then as if on cue, the thermometer came off, and I can speak again.
“So doc, how’s the music in my stomach?”
“I was trying to listen to the flow of your gastric fluids to see if your intestines are healing properly. It seems like we will have no problem on that area. I will have some final blood test done and if everything turns is okay, then I can release you in the next few days.” She replied.
“Release me already? I haven’t finished flirting with you yet.” I groaned.
“You can flirt with anyone anytime, when you are good and ready. Meanwhile, be a good soldier and rest.” She replied with a rather cute smile and walked away.
“Maam, Yes, Maam” I playfully answered her and to the bottom part of myself I uttered “As you were Soldier.” As I was staring at a cute pair of buns walking away.
Laying down, when you are a person whose body is used to moving around is a tedious task. Suddenly you develop itches all over your body and most of them located at places where it would require a contortionist to reach. You find your eyes wandering around for things or corners where you can rub to remove the itch, only to discover that there are more itches all over. So I tried to ignore them. I reached for a book, one that I started reading over a year now, and I am still in page 87. Well, 500 plus more pages to go.
I was about 10 pages into the book, when from the corner of my eyes, I saw a little girl standing at the foot of my bed looking at me. I put down the book and looked at her. I smiled and she smiled back. Then, turned and ran away. I was smiling, thinking it was a girl from another room who wandered and somehow got lost. I forgot the incident and went back to my book.
About 4 in the afternoon, Dr. Madrigal returned and after a few banter and lame jokes, I got to learn her name – Christina. A 32-year old widow. A few years back, she and her husband and daughter of about 5 years old met an accident killing her husband and daughter. I express the usual condolences and that was that. She left to attend to her other patients.
I was propped-up half inclined and watching the early news on TV we again I saw that little girl peeping from the door. I smiled and motioned for her to approach. It took some time and she timidly came nearer. I reach for a piece of chocolate cake, that someone from headquarters sent and offered it to her. She came, took the chocolate and softly said…
“Thank you…” she gave me a beaming smile and again ran away. I followed her till she was gone and went back to watching the news.
Killing the Time
Dr. Madrigal did not come the next day. I was informed by a nurse that she had something to attend to and have requested another doctor to check on me. I felt a little left down, as I was expecting to do a little jibe and joke with her. I was never good with women, probably the reason why I was still single at the age of 34. I have devoted most of my time with the military and honed my skills to perfection. Although I did have a few not-so-serious relationships, none however gave me the confidence to tie the knot with.
From the information I learned from the nurses, not without a few ohhhs and ahhhs, Dr. Madrigal comes from a decent family of doctors, she being the oldest and the last to marry, at 26 years old, among her siblings. A literal homebody who loves books and photography. She married an engineer and was with him and their daughter to visit a project when a freak accident happened. They stopped in a curved because she wanted to take some pictures, while her husband, who was on the phone was in the car with their daughter. That was when an earthquake hit causing the car to slide down into the ravine and got covered with rocks and earth. Dr. Madrigal had no phone and no way to call for help. Eventually when help came, both her husband and daughter were already dead.
According to one of the nurses, Dr. Madrigal have many suitors. I thought “no doubt, that lady is a good catch for anyone who would be lucky”. However, for no apparent reason many of the suitors simply stopped pursuing her, as if they never had any interest at her at all. Those that remained eventually stopped, or just simply didn’t visit her again. Nobody really knew why.
After some ribbing and jokes, the nurses left me and saying that I would be a good match to the doctor and that they heard the doctor mutter that, I was handsome in a kind of rugged way. Just her kind of man. I practically had to shoo the nurses away giggling at their childish snickers and jokes.
Left alone, I was thinking about Dr. Madrigal and the life she went through. I wondered how strong a woman must be to be able to bear all that pain. Something I can say I am familiar with, since the people in my platoon, were my best buddies and they were killed while I was a few meters away. It was insufferable to hear their cries and unable to do anything. The same maybe what the doctor went through.
The day was as uneventful as is was in the past few days. At about 5 pm, Dr. Madrigal entered the room and for no reason I felt elated and happy to see her.
“Hey, I thought you had something to do somewhere?’ I asked
“Yes, that was this morning.” She smiled in her reply.
I sense something seems to bother her and she looks to almost ready to cry at a pin-drop. I wanted to ignore it, but again my mouth went ahead of my head.
“You look like… sad. Something wrong?” and knowing I was intruding I hastily added. “I know I am out of place, but if you need someone to talk to… look no further, for I cannot walk any further than here.” A weak smile to go with a weak joke to cover the weak ground I was standing on.
“It’s ok, I’m alright… It’s just that…” she paused looked at me… “it’s ok, don’t bother.” And she continued to prod me with that snakelike rubber tube called stet…
“Doc, I don’t know what it is that bothers you. I will not pretend to be a friend, nor will I say I can solve that which ails you, because I am not a doctor. But, what I can do is listen. I will not judge, nor make any conclusion. That I can promise.” I said gently.
Dr. Madrigal sat down. Look at me, then stared out the window, as if deciding whether to talk to me or not. I kept silent giving the space and time she needed.
After a while, she started talking.
Dr. Madrigal’s Killer Story
“Two years ago, my life was perfect. A kind and responsible husband, a beautiful daughter and good practice, a nice home. All suddenly gone like smoke, when the accident happened. I keep telling myself it was my fault, although at the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t. It was the earthquake that did it. The only thing I did was insist on coming with him to the project with our daughter, or that and stepping out of the car on that freakin’ road to take pictures.”
She paused, bent her head looking at her fingernails. I wanted to riposte with something witty, but suddenly I can’t seem to remember any. So I just sat down there and waited for her to continue. After a time, she stood up, took a glass of water. She sat down and continued.
“I don’t know if I have to tell you this, but you promised to listen and not say anything. Didn’t you.”
“I did”. I replied motioning with my hands for her to continue with her story.
“For some time, I kept blaming myself. Eventually the hospital forced me to take some time off to grieve and get a grip of myself as I was falling apart. I did, and I travelled to my mother-in-law’s place. I found them very supportive and they bluntly told me that it was not my fault. And they even said, God may have spared me by making me step out of the vehicle. I may still have bigger things to do, as my grandmother said. After a month of staying there, I went home to my parents and again found lots of support from there. My father even told me to stay there forever and leave this place. It was a tempting idea, but something kept pulling me back here.”
“So I came back and started working. That was about a year and a half ago. And now here I am.”
“A – a, you still haven’t told me why you were sad earlier. Don’t you short-change me now doctor, I have already ordered the popcorn and ready to hear the whole story.” I jokingly told her.
“There’s really nothing much after that. The reason why I was out earlier today, because it’s the 2nd anniversary of the death of my husband and daughter. I went to visit their graves brought some flowers. I actually just passed by to check on you and some other patients before going home. I have prepared a small party for friends.”
“Whoa, can I come?” I blurted
“Why not, if you can stand and walk unaided. You sure can.” She said.
“Now, doctor, you’re kidding me, you know I can’t do that. Anyway, can I ask something from you before you go?”
“Yes, what is it?” she asked.
“Can you pray with me?” I said.
“Captain Salvador, that’s a surprise, I didn’t know you are a praying man?”
“There is more to me than most people know. Will you pray with me?” I asked again.
“Sure…” she hesitatingly replied.
“Let’s hold my hands and bow our heads.” I told her and then prayed.
“Father in heaven, you are the fount of everything. Everything as it is and will be comes from You. We praise You and give glory to You glory on earth as it is in heaven. Father we thank You for everything we are and we will be, for we believe in Your will and follow Your path. Father, I raise Christina to You, a beautiful person, sad because she misses those that she loved, which You lovingly now hold in Your hands. Touch her heart and mind Father, that she may feel them through You and feel the peace that You have given her husband and daughter. For thou art our most loving Father, our sanctuary our refuge. I raise my plea with her claim for Your loving hand, that she may find the strength and the peace of mind. They will be done always in our lives Father. In Jesus Name.”
Opened my eyes and released Christina’s hands. Smiled at her. I noticed tears flowing from her eyes. And for the first time, I saw a real smile on her face, not the professional one that she gives everyone.
“Thanks… that was wonderful” she said.
“Anytime” I replied. “Don’t forget to bring me a piece of cake”
“I won’t” she replied and left.
A Killer Dream?
Late that night, I was waiting for the news on TV, and was just about drowsy, when from the corner of my eyes, I again saw this little girl, in the same dress. Waving her hands and smiling at me. So I motioned her to a chair, where a friend mo mine sat down earlier. She came and sat down, and again I offered another piece of cake, a different one this time.
She took the cake and started eating it. I asked her, if she was a patient in the hospital. I got a head waggle to mean NO. So I asked if she was with a patient. Again another waggle, another no. Ah, I said, you are the daughter of a nurse and maybe your mother had to bring you here because there’s nobody at home to take care of you. The answer was a giggle and another no. I was about to ask another question, when the girl approached me and whispered in my ears.
“When you were on the field, and about to die, were you afraid?”
“What?… how… how did you know that?” I asked
“The nurses told me…” she said. “Were you afraid?”
“Yes, in fact I was very afraid.”
“Why?” I heard her ask
“Maybe because I felt it was not yet my time. Maybe because I wanted to be able to do more. Maybe because I felt I was not ready… and maybe because I am not sure what happens after death…” I heard myself answer.
I was wondering if I was sleeping or awake, why was I hearing myself. Then I heard her ask me another question.
“Why do you believe in God?”
“What kind of question is that, and to think you are just about 4 to 5 years old?” I replied.
“Humor me please.” She pleaded.
“Okay, Why I believe in God. It may be because of my upbringing, when I was small. It was the foundation of faith that I grew up with. But as I grew older, I learned to become a skeptic. I questioned everything and had ready scientific answers to everything. But as my life move further, I can be proud to say I am a little above the average guy, and have learned a lot. But I discovered that knowledge does not give me peace of mind. I started to think that there is more than just knowing.” I paused at this point.
“So that’s when you believed in God?” she again asked.
“No, I first started in knowing that God exist. I started accepting His existence. From there it was easy to take the next step – believing.”
The girl again approached me and whispered.
“That Is a good answer, but it is not the answer to my question – why do you believe in God?”
I was getting uneasy, her I am arguing about God with a 5-year old, whose logic is akin to that of my Theology professor.
“Okay, okay. Why I believe in God, because… because… because… I can feel Him around me. In the birds, flowers and trees around me. In the people and friends, whom I love and who loves me. I feel Him around me, helping me, guiding me and inspiring me… I believe in God because He is God and that needs no further explanation.”
“That’s a better answer. Captain.”
I turned my head, and the last I saw was her skirt as it disappeared in the corner.
The Killing reality
I woke up early, since I was to be discharged from the hospital that day. I folded my blankets, placed all other items in a big box, and made preparations for leaving. I lovingly looked around the room. Not that I would miss it, but maybe because it breathes an aura of having seen too many patients over time. I was just one of them.
Another chapter of my life added to the pages of my personal life-book that I can safely say I have surpassed. I wasn’t quite ready to return to my life as a soldier, but chances are I can’t milk my condition for more days, simply because I wanted to take my chance with Dr. Madrigal who became close to me after that night.
Her smiles came naturally, and the laughter and jokes became lewder and greener, all for good things though, never beyond the boundaries of propriety. Even the nurses were feeling more at ease with her and they have intoned to me that I was the cause.
They told me that before I came Dr. Madrigal, though amiable and kind, was easy to erupt and get angry with them even if the mistakes were tolerable. Now, she had, to use their term” mellowed, and was radiating with and inner glow. She once threw away a music box from her office, now she had a radio tuned in to a music station and was often humming a tune during her rounds.
Yep, it was an improvement indeed, but as I told the nurses, it would be presumptuous to say that I caused. They would simply raise their eyebrows and tell me they don’t believe me. I left it at that.
I was waiting for her to arrive to give me my clean bill of health and permit to leave the hospital, when I thought I saw a glimpse of the skirt of the little girl pass by the door. I hurried stood up and went outside. I looked left and right, found nothing. So I started walking to the other rooms up to the nurse’s station, hoping to catch a glance. Until I saw Dr. Madrigal.
We walked back to my room while she explained about me coming back every 3 days for the next 2 weeks so she can check me.
“Oh, so you have packed and ready to exit this place.” She exclaimed when she saw I was already packed.
“No, I just had too much time when I woke up, so I decided to do some packing.” I replied.
“I know, the nurses told me. Anyway. Here is your medical certificate, this is required by your office and a doctor’s report as your attachment. And here is your pass so our security guard will allow you to leave.” Please captain, don’t bring with you any property of the hospital.” She jokingly quipped.
I was about to reply when her cellular rang. She motioned me to wait and answered her phone. After which, she placed it down on the bed and told me that she would do a final check on me abdomen. As she was doing her thing with the stethoscope, I glanced at her phone on the bed and shivered. She looked at me puzzled as to why I suddenly became four shades whiter, as if blood was drawn from my face.
“What happened, are you in pain? Anything wrong?” She asked.
My mouth was dry as paper. She told the nurse to give me a glass of water. I hurriedly drink and asked her to show me her phone which she did. I looked at it, the picture on it was the little girl I was talking to for several days.
“That’s my beautiful daughter, who died 2 years ago.” She said.
I was at the back of the car, on my way back to barracks. Waving to Christina, she insisted I call her that. We had a long talk after I told her that I was talking to her daughter. She was crying at first and then she understood. I hugged her and she hugged back. As if promising that there will more intimate hugs sometime in the future. But that would be another story.
As we rounded a corner, I was looking at the portion of the hospital and to the area where my room used to be, the window was open – on the sill sat Divine – Christina’s daughter smiling and waving to me.
I smiled and waved back…