Suddenly, I was awake. 9:24 a.m. It was strange for me to be up considering I had come from a night of helpless inebriation. Then my phone rang, as if it had been waiting for me to get up before it would actually ring. Rosie. You know, my secretary? She was on the other line, sobbing. Something wasn’t right, obviously. I was about to ask what was wrong when I heard a knock on my door. I told Rosie to stay on the line while I answered the door. It was the sergeant with his face more grimace than usual. He told me what happened to you. I got back to Rosie for a bit and told her that I’d see her in the service.
I began speculating who the perp was. You weren’t exactly everybody’s best friend. Whoever it was, I knew I could get him. That would have been easy for me. You know that I’m one hell of a P.I. Nothing gets by me. Nothing. Dealing with these scumbags that fill this city is part of the job and you know pretty damn well that I’m good at it. I’d probably start at Malloy’s and shake up a few talkers, and work my way from there. O what I would have done to the bastard that did you in. He’d live but I would have made sure he’d never forget what he did to you and what I did to him.
But that wasn’t the case now, was it?
The sarge told me that there was no foul play, no evil conspiracy. Just a hand given to you by fate. You probably got a high ace and tried to bluff your way out of it by going all in. You were on your way home in your Buick. Nice car by the way. Witnesses said you were avoiding another vehicle. You could have dozed off before that. No one really knows for sure. You slammed into another car and that was that. Shame, you had a pretty car but who would have thought it would send you packing? Someone oughta do something about those boxes of death. Cars, I mean.
I remember our last conversation. It was a week ago. We were talking about putting up a new agency, working together as partners. The idea delighted me, of course. You were someone whose intelligence I respected and you probably felt the same way about me. In a town like this, it’s nice to know that respect still means something. I’m pretty sure, not a lot of people would have enjoyed us working together. The coppers came up to me asking for help on the alcohol crackdown, prohibition and all. Said they’d make it worth my while. I heard there was a big shipment of whiskey coming in about 2 weeks and it would have been great if you and I would be the ones to bust it. But now, I guess I’ll have to do it on my own.
I better get dressed.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” said the evil queen.
“Why, certainly not you. You know that” replied the mirror.
The evil queen knew what she had to do. Kill Snow White. As we all know, she sent the huntsman to kill her, only to be filled with mercy and let her live. Snow White ran off and met the seven dwarfs, who vowed to protect her. Meanwhile, the evil queen once again, asked that favorite question of hers.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
“Sorry, your highness, but Snow White lives. You wanna try again?”
Weeks passed and the evil queen finally found Snow White. And so, she disguised herself as an old lady and visited Snow White. The queen gave the beautiful Snow White the poisoned apple, supposedly killing her. The evil queen left to return to her castle, while the dwarfs returned to a poisoned Snow White. As the the dwarfs were to lay Snow White to rest, Prince Charming arrived and gave her a kiss, lifting the curse of the poisoned apple.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
“You were close this time, but Snow White still lives, all thanks to Prince Charming.”
The queen had had enough. Being a powerful sorceress, it was time for her to use extreme force. She marched on to the dwarfs’ house, determined to rid the world of Snow White.
“SNOW WHITE! I’M HERE TO KILL YOU, BITCH!”
A Gatling gun. That’s what the evil queen had. She raised her weapon and just sprayed bullets all over the cottage. You could hear the screams, the agony, the death. It reverberated through the forest, scaring the life out of every living creature. Eventually, the cottage exploded, bursting into flames. The evil queen kept firing anyway, till she ran out of ammunition. When she was through, the evil queen stormed back to her castle and confronted her mirror.
“MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHO IS FUCKING FAIREST OF THEM ALL?!”
“My queen, the gods must indeed love Snow White. I hate to tell you this but you missed.”
Furious, the queen turned into a dragon and grabbed from the castle armory a 50 megaton atomic bomb. She flew over the forest and saw Snow White mourning over the death of her friends. “DIE, BITCH, DIE!” was the queen’s battle cry as she dropped the bomb over Snow White. First came a bright light, followed by death.
The queen returned to her castle, expecting a different answer from her magic mirror.
“MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL, SURELY I HAVE TO BE THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL!”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, Baba Yaga summoned Snow White from the grave to join her evil zombie army. As a zombie, she’s still the fairest of them all. Amazing!”
The queen, incensed, grabbed the mirror and destroyed it. She had lost all hope for she would never be the fairest of them all. Even in un-death, Snow White still trumped as the beauty of beauties. Her heart sank. How could she compete? More importantly, who could love her now? Princes and kings sought for only the most beautiful and she would never have that privilege of finding true love. She fell on her knees and wept.
Just as things could not get any worse, the walls of her castle echoed loud crashes. Her guards were fending off an unstoppable force. The commotion grew louder and louder until finally it was just outside the doors of the queen’s chamber. However, even as the doors flew open, the queen did not care anymore.
“You’ve come here for me. Isn’t that right, Prince Charming?”
It was, indeed, Prince Charming, standing over her with his beautiful locks, his dashing smile, his overly exuberant and glorious manliness lighting up the room. His sword and shield at hand, and his heart filled with a resolve that demanded satisfaction.
In a fashion that would either make Shakespeare proud or cringe, the melodramatic prince said “Yes, but I am not here for thy head. I have come here for thy hand… in marriage. I am here, not to cut out thy heart, but to win it.”
The queen was, naturally, perplexed. She asked “What? Why?”
“For thou, my queen, thou art the most beautiful creature this kingdom has to offer. How could I not want to win such a prize?”
“Forgive me, prince, but I find that hard to believe. I am not the most beautiful creature in this kingdom as you say I am, for Snow White lives.”
Prince Charming knelt down, wiped her tears and said
“But, my queen, she’s a zombie.”
I know a story of a duck, who, on a whim, decided to fly south for the summer instead of the winter. As we all know, when one does strange things, one gets strange results. So the duck flew south, not knowing what lay ahead. The duck landed on a quiet watering hole with a large tree. The air was different than what the duck had expected for it was neither winter, nor summer, nor autumn, nor spring, but a mix of spring and summer.
“Strange to see you around this time of the year”
It was a sparrow. Not a robin, nor a blue bird and certainly not a raven. “True, but isn’t it even stranger that it is neither spring nor summer, nor autumn, nor winter here?” replied the duck.
“Yes, I guess it is. Quite lovely, don’t you think?” said the robin.
And so the two found themselves in each other’s company. Flying around, asking each other silly questions, or maybe the occasional poignant ones. They ate together despite differing diets. The duck spoke of tales overheard when one travels far distances while the sparrow, in return, would sing melodies not meant for our ears. Indeed, these were good days, moments to enjoy. However, strange circumstances create strange results. After days, weeks of habitual rendezvous with the sparrow, something changed one afternoon.
The sparrow was nowhere to be seen.
“Don’t worry, he’s still alive.”
“That much I know. I’ve seen him around today.” said the feline.
“And how do I know that you haven’t eaten him?” asked our fowl friend.
“If I did, you two would have never met. When I see him, I’ll tell him you’re looking for him.”
Not the most comforting of conversations, but the duck would rather believe that the cat spoke the truth than to think of the worst. The following day, on the way to the watering hole, the duck spotted the cat speaking to a bird. Drawing closer, the duck realized it was the sparrow, prompting quick movement towards the discussion.
“There you are. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” said the duck.
“Oh, sorry if I’ve worried you. Listen, I have to go for now, but the cat will keep you company. I’ll see you later”
And before the duck could reply, the sparrow left.
“Told you I didn’t eat him.”
“Where’s he going?”
“I’m not sure. Something about sparrow-y duties”
“Did you know that I’m leaving in a few days?”
“Seeing as we’ve just met, I obviously did not.”
“Well I am.”
The cat, seemingly aware of what was going on, whatever it was that was going on, spoke to the duck, “They’re quite complicated that way. Sparrows, I mean. But I assure you, not without reason” And so, the cat walked away, leaving the duck to its own devices. Meanwhile, the duck could only wonder what the sparrow had been up to. On the days that followed, the sparrow was hardly around; on some not at all.
“You said that sparrows were complicated creatures, but not without reason. What did you mean by that?”
“I meant that they act following a sense of logic. It’s what makes them sparrows”*
And so the time came, the duck had to leave. The duck thanked the cat for “…the company. The last few days have been odd. This trip, itself, is odd. Thank you.” The cat smiled “You’re most welcome. If ever you’re around these parts just let me know. Also, I think there’s someone here to see you.”
It was the sparrow. Of course, it was the sparrow. The cat walked away and left them.
“Where have you been?” said the duck.
“Around. Been busy.” was the reply of the sparrow.
“Busy? You’re a sparrow! You were busy with what?”
“What does that even mean?”
“I’m not really sure.”
Silence filled the air, only to be swiftly broken by the sparrow.
“There’s this common story among humans: boy meets girl, girl meets boy. They grow unto each other, and yet suddenly fall apart. They say a demon convinces one of them, or both of them that all is lost, that the end would only bring unending, unendurable trials. It sounds absurd, I know. Demons. But demons don’t always have fangs and horns and hellfire and brimstone oozing out of their orifices“
“There’s a bit of humanity in all of us, I suppose”
“I have this song I’ve been saving for this day. Would you like to hear it?” asked the sparrow.
“Let’s have it.”
The sparrow sang his song as the duck listened. The song ended and the sparrow took a bow. Satisfied, the duck bid farewell and returned home.
*Believe me, I did not know that about sparrows up until recently. Who am I to question the wisdom of a cat?
I remember drowning once.
I was around 2 or 3 years old. Maybe 2½ . My shoe fell in the pool and all attempts to retrieve it had failed. The last thing I remember was the water and the noise of my struggles, which seemed unable to cut through the silence of everything around me.
And then nothing.
And then I remember waking up, with a toy in my hands. Funny how my memory of my stay in the hospital is blurry, unable to recall any conversation I had. Later in life, my mom said I told her I went to heaven, met my dead grandmother and came back. But I do not remember that.
Just the toy. It was a red car, in case you were wondering.
Drowning did something to me. It made me fear the deep water. I couldn’t afford to be afraid of swimming (in the wading area) because summers are hot and there’s not much to do but swim on the warmest of days. But I dare not tread the deep water during those early years. I envied my friends for they did not share that fear. We would visit pools all over town and all I could do was watch from the shallow waters as they swam towards the deep end.
“We’ll teach you how to swim. It’s easy.”
One of my friends said to me. It was some time before lunch. We were about to end one of our usual morning swims when he told me that. I was tentative to the idea, but some borrowed confidence from your companions goes a long way. They said it was just like riding a bike, which I learned first to do amongst my friends and on my own. I clung unto the edge of the pool and traversed to the deep end.
I let go. I rode my imaginary bike. Wonderful.
Lunchtime had come and we had to head back home. I wanted to stay longer, but I also did not want to swim on my own. I retired from the pool leaving behind my envies and fears. Besides, I knew this wouldn’t be the last swim of my life. Far from it. If anything, it felt like my first.
I remember drowning once. I also remember learning how to swim.