‘Pepito! Hey stupid! Where are you?!’
Pepito looked across the shooting gallery at an old balding man seated in front of a glass counter. He removed his headset and whispered to the girl reloading a pistol. ‘I will be back.’ He walked down the dark corridor and passed several booths that stood some distance from paper targets. He pondered what the old man wanted from him.’ He balled a fist on his side. ‘I’m here Mr. Alvarez.’
Mr. Alvarez pursed his lips. ‘There is someone waiting at the counter.’
Pepito pointed a thumb towards the shooting gallery. ‘I was helping out a customer.’
Mr. Alvarez peeked between the open doorframe and Pepito. ‘She’s cute.’ He licked his thumb and smoothed his eyebrows. ‘Don’t worry I will attend to her.’ Mr. Alvarez stood up from his seat and raised his belt over his potbelly. He walked in the gallery and scratched his crotch.
Pepito rolled his eyes ‘Disgusting.’ He thought to himself. He walked over to the counter a young man looked over a glass case on the far right.
The young man sported fluffy curly hair, a loose polo-shirt and black jeans. He tapped a thick pair of boots and pushed up his sleeves up to his elbows.
‘Sir how can I help you?’ Pepito spoke loudly across the room.
The young man turned on his heel. ‘What gun would you recommend for me?’
Pepito looked at the young man. He was fair and quite lean. He noticed that the young man’s elbows were popping out under the pushed up sleeves. ‘He’s a kid.’ Pepito mumbled. He leaned forward stared at the faint facial hair and pimples on the young man’s cheeks. ‘How old are you sir?’
The young man walked to the glass table where Pepito stood. He crouched and looked at the guns through the glass on the counter table. He pushed a finger against the glass. ‘What is this gun?’
Pepito looked down the at the glass case. ‘That is Beretta.’
The young man stood up. ‘That is the gun they used in Resident Evil isn’t it?’
Pepito winced at the reference of a videogame by the young man. ‘Do you have a gun license?’
‘No.’ Replied the young man. ‘But that should not be a problem.’ He pressed his finger at the top of the glass case. ‘What is this?’
‘That is a magnum.’ Pepito replied curtly. He wasn’t keen on selling a gun to some irresponsible person. ‘You would need a license to be able to purchase a gun.’ He pulled out a folder from a drawer behind him. ‘We have a form that you can fill up. It will take some time but once you get the license we can sell you a gun.’
The young man looked up at Pepito. ‘Not necessary. I told you that it won’t be a problem.’ He grinned. ‘Trust me.’
Pepito planted his palms on the glass counter. ‘May I ask what you are using this gun for?’
The young man raised an eyebrow and pointed at an array of guns hanging behind Pepito. ‘Hunting. What is that?’
Pepito turned and looked at the rifle resting on two small arms screwed on the wall. ‘That is a rifle.’ He sighed and thought that he should call in Mr. Alvarez. Maybe the old man can deal with this young man.
Pepito walked into the gallery and watched Mr. Alvarez rubbing the buttocks of the young girl. He placed a fist against his mouth and cleared his throat.
Pepito cleared his throat louder.
Mr. Alvarez turned his head sharply.
‘Boss this kid wants a gun but he does not have a license.’
‘So make him fill up a form.’
‘He doesn’t want to fill up a form.’
Pepito turned when he heard some noise from the reception area.
‘Tito Alfie! Tito Alfie!’ The young man waved his arm.
Mr. Alvarez walked to the counter not without bumping his round frame into Pepito. ‘Bunso!’ He patted the hand of the young man. ‘What are you doing here?’
The boy walked around the corner and touched his forehead against the back of the hand of Mr. Alvarez. ‘Mano Po.’
‘That is a good boy.’ Mr. Alvarez hugged the young man tightly.
Pepito walked slowly to the reception, his jaw was dropped and he scratched his head.
‘Tito Alfie.’ The young man continued. ‘Tatay told me to come here. I was looking for you but your assistant came instead.’
Mr. Alvarez turned towards Pepito and flicked his hand in a shooing motion. ‘Don’t worry about him bunso.’
The kid paced behind the glass counter and pointed at a shiny gun with white handle that rested in a red silk lined wooden box. ‘This one tito.’
Pepito craned his neck. ‘A forty five?’ He slapped pulled the skin around his chin.
Mr. Alvarez slid the case open and pulled out the gun from the wooden box. He weighted the gun before handing it over to the young man.
The young man gripped the gun with one hand and raised it slightly before resting it on the table.
‘Sir.’ Pepito approached Mr. Alvarez.
Mr. Alvarez shooed Pepito again. ‘Pepito can’t you see I am busy! Go back inside.’
Pepito took a step back and crossed his arms.
Mr. Alvarez turned to the young man. ‘Bunso I think this is too heavy for you.’ He picked up the gun and slipped it back into the wooden case. ‘Let’s start off with a basic gun.’ He slid open an adjoining glass case and pulled out a small black gun with a wooden handle. ‘Here take this one.’ He handed the young man a revolver. ‘This is very simple to use and you can come here and practice.’
The young man gripped the gun and raised it with one hand.
Mr. Alvarez continued. ‘Once you get used to it then I can get you a bigger gun for your birthday ok?’
The young man smiled. ‘Ok tito.’
Mr. Alvarez wrapped and arm around the young man’s shoulders. ‘Bunso you are growing up.’ He took the gun from the young man. ‘How are the girls?’
The young man blushed.
‘Come on bunso! You have to tell tito Alfie all about her!’
The young man laughed nervously. ‘Sure tito. I will.’
‘Good boy. How is tatay?’
‘Tatay is good. He wanted to know when you were coming over.’
Mr. Alvarez rubbed his hands. ‘Is nanay going to make some Paksiw?’
The young man smiled. ‘Yes! She is making some tomorrow for lunch.’ The young man pulled out a small card and handed it to his uncle. ‘Isabella is going to study in California. We are having a small celebration.’
Mr. Alvarez pulled on his belt. ‘Isabella is leaving?’
‘She will be leaving in a couple of weeks.’
‘Then yes I will be there.’
Pepito rubbed his eyes. He could not believe the nepotistic attitude of Mr. Alvarez. He was willingly giving a gun to an irresponsible young man just because he was his nephew. Pepito felt his stomach twist into a knot.
Mr. Alvarez patted his belly. ‘Bunso before you go why don’t you let my boy teach you a little.’ He called Pepito forward with his hand. ‘Pepito here take this gun and show bunso the basics.’
Pepito grumbled. ‘Yes sir.’ He took the revolver from Mr. Alvarez and nodded his head at the young man.
The young man took the head nod as the cue to follow Pepito and he took short swaggered steps to a booth with a paper target at the end. The booth was painted gray and there was a large orange headset hanging from a black hook. The numbers on the headset matched the number painted on the booth. It informed everyone that this was booth number five.
Pepito wore a set of ear muffs and yellow tinted glasses reserved for staff. ‘First the basics.’ Pepito flicked his wrist sharply to one side. ‘This is how a gun works.’
The young man rolled his eyes. ‘Mister lets just fire a couple of rounds ok.’
Pepito groaned. ‘Fine.’ He handed the gun to the young man. ‘Show me how you load this gun.’
The young man picked up some bullets from a small box and clumsily pushed them into the holes of the carriage.
Pepito snickered as he saw the young man kneel down to pick up the bullets that fell on the ground. ‘Let me show you how.’ He picked up the gun from the table and swiftly filled all the holes with bullets from the box. ‘Now how about shooting?’
The young man stood up. ‘Mister I know how to shoot a gun.’
Pepito contorted his mouth into a fishhook smile and handed the loaded gun to the young man.
The young man took a power stance and pointed the gun forward. He squint his eyes at and watched the hammer snap back as he pulled on the trigger. The gun released a loud bang and the young man dropped the gun and scanned at where he hit the target.
Pepito laughed. ‘You are a good shot.’ He tapped the young man’s shoulder.
‘Yes really.’ He pointed at a paper target on his right. ‘If you were at booth number six!’ He laughed harder. ‘Did you know that there was recoil?’
The young man grumbled. He raised the gun and this time he rested his left hand under the butt of the gun. He spread his legs slightly and aligned one eye along the sights. He pulled the trigger for the second shot.
Pepito looked over the shoulder of the young man. He looked at the target on booth six but there was only the hole from the first shot. He looked over to the target at booth four and it was clean. Pepito wondered if the young man actually hit the target this time. He scanned the paper target of booth five and broke into laughter.
‘Why are you laughing?’
‘You missed again!’
‘I hit the paper.’
Pepito raised his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He pushed on the button and a motor whirred in the distance. The paper target slowly moved forward and Pepito pulled it from its clip. ‘Where were you aiming?’
‘At the head.’
‘Congratulations you hit his foot.’ Pepito handed the paper to the young man.
‘Enough of this! I have to go.’ The young man placed the headset and gun on the table. He raised an eyebrow at Pepito and turned on his heels. He walked up to Mr. Alvarez and gave him a hug before he disappeared out the door.
Pepito walked to Mr. Alvarez. ‘Boss!’
Mr. Alvarez filled out some information on a green ledger and waved goodbye to the young woman who was practicing at booth number two.
Pepito pounded his fist on the wooden table. ‘You are not giving him a gun are you? He is just a kid!’
Mr. Alvarez glared at Pepito.
Pepito retracted his fist. He knew he was in trouble.
‘Pepito this kid is special.’
Mr. Alvarez closed the green ledger. ‘He is my nephew and his father is a general in the army.’
‘You are giving him a gun because he is your nephew?!?’
‘You forgot that his father is a general.’
Pepito threw his hands up. ‘He is going to kill someone!’
Mr. Alvarez waved his hand. ‘Nothing will go wrong. He just wants the gun so he can follow the family tradition.’
‘Tradition of what? Murdering people?’ Pepito screamed.
‘Tradition of protecting people my boy!’ Mr. Alvarez stood up and wrapped an arm around Pepito’s neck. ‘You have been working too hard. Why don’t you leave early today.’
‘Before you go, make sure to deliver the gun to bunso.’
‘Make sure you pack a box of bullets as well.’
Pepito shook his head. ‘Why not just give a gun to everyone with fingers!’ He walked to booth number five and picked up the gun and box of bullets. He walked to the end of the hall and pulled open a gray door. There were boxes arranged on shelves. He neatly arranged the gun inside a box that he picked from the third shelf.
‘Pepito make sure to pick up the address of bunso. It is on the counter.’
Pepito took out his bag from the shelf to his right and stuffed the two boxes inside. He walked down the hallway and tore the piece of paper from the notepad. He read the inscription and muttered. ‘White Plains?’
‘I am not paying for your gas. Now go.’
Pepito slipped the note into his front pocket and stormed out the clear swinging door. He checked the time in his digital watch. It was six thirty-five p.m. He slung his backpack over his shoulder and pulled on the strap. Pepito looked to his right.
A group of men climbed up a small stairwell and chanted. ‘Beer! Beer! Beer!’
Pepito thought that maybe a beer wouldn’t be a very bad idea. He followed the group of men and walked into a small bar.
The bar was decorated in mostly wood with glass walls and dividers separating three areas. A band was setting up in the center and people crowded in tight tables in the center. Pepito walked to the bar and placed his bag on the empty chair beside him. He formed an ‘L’ with his hand called the bartender.
The bartender was wearing a black shirt and red apron. He walked to a blue chest behind him and pulled out a sweating yellow bottle of beer.
‘Thank you.’ Pepito slipped a hundred peso bill on the table and wiped the open lip with his thumb. He took a sip and released his frustrations with a long ‘Ahhhh.’
The group of men stood around in a circle on the left of the bar. There were five men in all wearing a shirt and jeans.
Pepito took another sip of his beer and watched as the five men turned their heads to a voluptuous woman walking in from the terrace. She stood in a short space on Pepito’s left and he could smell the smoke from her springy curly hair.
‘Hi.’ She smiled.
Pepito pulled on the corner of the moist label on his beer. ‘Hi.’
The woman leaned against the bar on her elbows. ‘Waiting for someone?’
‘No.’ He looked up at her light brown eyes. ‘You?’
‘I’m with friends.’ She winked.
Pepito groaned. He knew when he met a working woman so to speak. Not that this woman wasn’t attractive. She had an ample bosom and that was slightly exposed by a tight floral top. A silver ornament hung from her navel.
A guy from the group came in and chatted with the woman.
Pepito continued drinking his beer. He looked down and noticed the woman’s hand rub his thigh. He groaned. He thought about the values of people. One guy wanted to buy a gun and he didn’t even know how to use it. And now Pepito was certain that this girl wanted to sell some services to him.
The man left and the man left and the woman ran her hand higher on Pepito’s thigh. ‘What do you like to do for fun?’ She asked.
Pepito smiled. He didn’t know what to say. Guns were his life and he found no greater pleasure than firing a few rounds off in the shooting gallery. ‘Anything that can give me a release.’ He turned and faced the woman. ‘And you?’
The woman ran her fingers on Pepito’s gelled hair. ‘I like to release too.’ She leaned close for a whisper. ‘I like it a lot.’ She cupped her other hand on Pepito’s crotch. ‘Do you want to go somewhere where we can be alone? Where nobody can see us?’
‘Nobody.’ Thought Pepito. That was a very interesting concept. He looked at the woman. She surely was attractive and the men in the bar were gawking at her. He thought that he needed a release and maybe this woman could help. ‘Sure.’ Pepito whispered.
‘Let me freshen up.’ The woman disappeared into a narrow passageway to the right and Pepito stood up. He leaned over the bar and called the bartender with his fingers. ‘Who is she?’
The bartender picked up the half-empty beer bottle. ‘I don’t know sir. This is the first time I saw her.’
‘She said she had friends.’
‘I did not see her come in with anybody.’
‘Nobody.’ Pepito thought this was interesting.
The woman came back and leaned against Pepito. ‘You ready to have fun handsome?’
Pepito picked up his bag. ‘How much will it cost me?’
The woman ran a finger down the center of her chest. ‘Don’t worry it will be worth it.’
The woman leaned close and kissed Pepito’s neck. She ran her tongue slightly and bit his skin lightly. ‘Trust me.’ She held Pepito’s hand and led him out of the bar.
Pepito looked at her and watch her buttocks wiggle as she descended down the steps. ‘Nobody.’ He repeated this word in his head several times.
He thought of the young man and that he was the son of a somebody. But this girl here she was nobody. He knew that this meant something. The gears in his head were moving very slowly but he knew that it was going somewhere. He just did not know where.
‘Shall we take a taxi?’
‘I have a car.’ Pepito pressed on the button on his key chain and the parking lights of a red Honda hatchback blinked. Pepito threw his bag in the backseat and slid in the driver seat of the car. He stuck the key in the ignition and waited for the woman to slam the door shut. He held her hand over the transmission and drove out of the parking lot.
‘Where are we going handsome?’
‘Somewhere where nobody can disturb us.’ There was that notion again. ‘Nobody.’ Pepito pulled his eyebrows and lines appeared on his forehead. He still didn’t know what he was doing.
The car drove down Pasong Tamo and turned north-bound into EDSA. The traffic light at Ayala intersection turned red. On the right a corner gas station was crowded with drunks, beggars and street vendors.
‘Nobody’ Pepito thought to himself. A young girl passed in front of him and she was carrying with her several jasmine garlands. ‘Nobody.’ Pepito repeated in his mind again. He looked at the girl. She was walking alone in the night and besides other transient vendors she knew no one, she had no place to call home. Nobody would miss her. ‘Nobody.’ Pepito turned to the girl in the passenger seat and smiled.
The girl leaned forward and kissed him. Her tongue touched his and danced a quick sequence.
The light turned green. Cars forced Pepito to move with a series of honking.
Pepito thought that nobody would miss the little girl. An olive-green Mitsubishi Lancer zoomed around him and Pepito thought that many people had been killed by reckless drivers such as this. He thought of the little girl. He thought that if the girl had crossed the street much later then she would have been dead at the impact of the speeding car. ‘Nobody would miss her.’ This thought repeated in Pepito’s mind. ‘Nobody would miss her.’ His mind went in full speed like that car. The gears moved and touched his lips with his fingers. He felt the woman wrap herself around his arm. ‘Nobody would miss her.’ He whispered.
The car continued down the long stretch of EDSA. On the left of the travelling car a construction of a train system was underway. On the right was a stretch of malls and hotels.
‘There is someplace where we can be alone.’ The woman whispered to Pepito. ‘Just turn here.’
‘Are we going to your place?’
‘Where are we going?’
Pepito made a series of turns and he ended up in what seemed to be a motel district. He slowed down and watched many cars do in and out of driveways. Several low-rise buildings surrounded him and he looked around for one that was fairly empty.
‘We can go here.’ The woman turned to a brightly painted building.
‘No.’ Pepito looked forward and saw a fairly old building at the end of the road. ‘We will go there.’
‘I have a discount here honey.’
‘I prefer to go there.’ Pepito sped up and turned into the driveway.
A man walked up to him. ‘Sir how long?’
Pepito looked at a painted on the beige wall. ‘Short stay.’
The man pulled out a small ticket and instructed Pepito on a room on the right.
Pepito turned the car and parked in an open space with a gate.
The man followed him with a light jog.
Pepito pulled out a few hundred pesos and gave it to the man. ‘I won’t be long.’
‘Thank you sir.’
‘Keep the change. I don’t want to be disturbed.’
Pepito took his bag and led the woman in the room.
The woman turned on the lights and crawled on the bed.
The room was very small. It was a themed room that depicted features of a horse drawn carriage and several mirrors. Pepito noticed a large wall sized mirror on the far wall and a ceiling mirror. On his left was a red seat that was raised and surrounded by a yellow frame.
‘Come here handsome.’ The woman lifted her floral top and revealed a black bra that pushed her bosom up. She ran her fingers seductively down her chest and unclasped the front hook. ‘I’m ready handsome.’
‘I need protection first.’ Pepito rested his bag on a dressing table beside the bathroom. He unzipped the top flap and rummaged through the items.
The woman removed her bra and twirled it in the air.
Pepito felt a warm cloth hit the back of his neck. He pulled at it and smelled the perfume from the bra. He turned his head and watched the woman lick her fingers.
‘Hurry up handsome.’ She turned on all fours and wiggled her buttocks at Pepito.
Pepito reminded himself that nobody would miss her. He pulled out the box with the revolver and extracted the gun from its casing. He pushed the cartridge to the side and checked the number of bullets. ‘Four.’ Pepito turned around and watched as the woman wiggle out of her jeans. Her back was still turned at him. He walked slowly to her and pulled her towards him.
‘Are you ready?’
Pepito smelled her scent of perfume and smoke. He moved his hands across her abdomen and then her bosom.
‘Mmmmmmm.’ The woman gyrated her hips. ‘Is that a gun or are you excited to see me?’
Pepito whispered. ‘It is a gun.’
‘What?!?’ The woman shrieked.
Pepito pushed her on the bed and jumped on her.
She bent her elbows pushed her hands against the bed. ‘Wait! What are you doing?!?’
Pepito pushed her head down. He picked up a pillow from his right and pushed this against the back of her head. He placed the barrel of the gun behind the pillow and fired off two quick shots. Pepito watched the pillow soak up the blood as her body turned limp. He slid off the bed and checked the bullets left in the chamber. ‘Two bullets.’ Pepito took one of the pillow cases out and cleaned the prints off the gun. He placed the gun back in the box and into his bag. He zipped the bag and slung it over his shoulder. He turned to the bed. ‘Nobody will miss you.’
Pepito walked to his car and was pleased to see that the man was nowhere in sight. He pulled the gate open and hopped in his car. He placed his bag on the seat beside him and drove off.
The car got off the motel drive and back north-bound on EDSA. The road was fairly empty and the stretch was quiet. The car passed another stretch of malls and into a web of dimly-lit roads.
Pepito turned right into a wide road surrounded by trees and left into a narrow road. Small ornamental and flower shops close on his left and a bright guardhouse approached from the right. His mind spun and his heart raced. Maybe he could teach this young man a lesson. His snicker turned into a laugh.
A security guard in navy blue approached the car. He tapped the windshield and asked. ‘Resident?’
‘Visitor for General Alvarez.’ Pepito replied.
The guard gave Pepito a numbered metal plate in exchange for a driver’s license. ‘Go straight. Turn right at the second intersection and then right at the fourth.’
Pepito followed the instructions of the guard and turned up a steep incline. He looked at the note from his breast pocket and matched it to an impressively large house at the top of the incline.
Imported cars of every make and model were parked along the street. ‘How did he afford all of this?’ Pepito gawked at a silver Mercedes, a black Porsche and a yellow Hummer. He pulled out the two boxes from his bag and left his parked car. He walked to a few steps to a rusted green gate and rang the doorbell.
The bell rang a short jingle and the rusted gate creaked open. The young man was standing at the gate wearing a loose periwinkle shirt and white basketball shorts. ‘You’re late.’
‘Here is your delivery.’
‘Where are your manners?’ A voice boomed from behind the young man.
Pepito looked up to a rather giant of a man. He stood taller than the gate and wore a highly decorated uniform. ‘Who are you?’
‘Sir I’m Pepito. I’m here to deliver the present of your son from Mr. Alvarez.’
‘My son is right. You are late.’
‘I am sorry sir.’
‘You apologize to me but not my son?’
Pepito hesitated. He did not want to apologize to the young man but the imposing general pierced his eyes. He turned to the young man. ‘I’m sorry.’ He handed over the two boxes.
The young man opened the wide box and pulled out a small tray that contained the revolver.
General Alvarez picked up the gun from the box. ‘Very nice.’ He turned to Pepito. ‘Have you taught him how to use this?’
Pepito remembered the little training disaster earlier. ‘Yes sir. We fired a couple of rounds in the gallery.’
General Alvarez crooked a finger and motioned Pepito through the gate. ‘That is not what I meant. Pepito right?’
‘Shooting a piece of paper is one thing but shooting a living, breathing being is another.’ General Alvarez flicked the chamber out and flicked it back in. ‘I am a general. I have shot many people in my day and there is nothing harder than pointing a gun at fear. Do you understand what I am saying?’
Pepito shook his head.
General Alvarez lifted the gun and points it at Pepito. ‘How about now?’
Pepito raised his hands. ‘Sir I am sorry about any disrespect I may have caused.’ Pepito’s voice fluctuated between high and low. He wanted to scream at the general but he did not want to provoke an aggressive response.
‘How many rounds did you say that you shot with my son?’
‘Uhh…’ Pepito stuttered. There were only two bullets left in the gun. He wondered if the General knew something was wrong.
‘Doesn’t matter.’ General Alvarez lowered the gun and handed it to his son. ‘It’s time for some shooting practice.’
The young man gripped the gun and with the glee of a little boy in a candy shop he raised the gun at Pepito’s chest.
General Alvarez lightly kicked the insoles of the young man. ‘Fix your stance.’ He straightened the elbows and shoulders of the young man. ‘Take aim.’
‘Sir? The gun is still loaded. We did not finish all the bullets during shooting practice.’ Pepito’s knees shook.
General Alvarez fixed the young man’s aim. ‘You fired two rounds in the gallery did you not?’
‘I see only two bullets left. There should be four.’
‘Look at your sleeves.’
Pepito looked at his left arm and then his right. There were three brown drops on his sleeve. ‘Blood?’ He looked at General Alvarez. ‘Shit!’
‘Ouch!’ Pepito covered his left bicep. The bullet had grazed his arm. ‘Sir! The gun is loaded!’ He screamed.
‘This time look at the tip of the gun.’ General Alvarez traced a line from the tip of the gun to the hammer.
The young man closed one eye and positioned the gun close to his face.
‘Keep your arms still.’
The young man locked his elbows.
‘Remember to hold the gun firm with both hands. This is not like the movies.’
Pepito moaned. He watched as the young man aimed the gun straight at him. ‘Sir! Please! Le…’
General Alvarez interrupted. ‘I talked to my brother about you. He tells me you think my little boy will kill someone.’
‘Sir. I just…’
General Alvarez frowned. ‘You should not speak when your superiors are speaking. See this is the problem of civilians.’ He looked over the stance of the young man. ‘I also did some research on you. You have no girlfriend, you are an orphan and you have no friends.’
‘You are a nobody.’ General Alvarez smirked. ‘No one is going to miss you.’
‘What?!?’ Pepito winced as he swallowed his throat, he felt like he swallowed a bitter pill. ‘Nobody.’ He whispered.
‘You are right about one thing Pepito.’
‘What is that?’
‘My son.’ He tapped the young man’s shoulder. ‘He is indeed going to kill someone.’
The young man took aim and pulled the trigger. The hammer snapped quickly and the bullet hit Pepito dead center through his chest. He watched as Pepito’s body turned limp and fell on the ground. He turned towards General Alvarez. ‘Tatay how was that?’
General Alvarez smiled and smacked the young man on his back. ‘Very good bunso. Very good.’