your messiah on a harness
It’s the second meeting with friends, and before us lay the ruins of our lunch: shawarma-rice containers, corn chip and chocolate wrappers, empty soda cans, and the remnants of candy/marshmallow/rice cripies-sprinkled ice scramble. We’re in the food court of one of Dumaguete’s older shopping centers, meeting up in what we all hoped was going to turn into a regular event, a getting together of Super Jj, The Monkey Keeper and yours truly.
We just finished our “main course and side dish”, and The Monkey Keeper was holding court by narrating a series of experiences she had on the second day of January. The noise coming from the mall’s amusement center provided the background music for her retelling of a story told by someone who was supposedly enrolled in SU’s creative writing program.
What this creative-writing-program kid told her started off as a promising horror story. So, Super Jj and I made ourselves more comfortable in the best way possible when one has to deal with Lee Plaza’s food court chairs. This was a story, and we love stories.
We shut off the noise from the arcades so that we’ll catch each unfolding of the plot as The Monkey Keeper retold the story of a grave digger who had a penchant for looting the graves of rich dead Chinese who were certain to be buried with ancient coins in their caskets. Predictably, like any good rehashed horror story, the ancient coins of the dead were supposedly cursed. Jj and I waggled our eyebrows: This is going to be good!
However, the story suddenly branched off into a badly concealed deux ex machina – complete with the inevitable exploding volcano, earth tremors and landslides our country is notorious for. Then it became a Filipino parody of Washington Irving’s Rip van Winkle, which then morphed into – what it seemed to me – a Dawn of the Dead story line. From that, the story mutated into a parable, with the grave digger being transformed into a Messiah figure on a harness. Jesus on a harness. Then the narrative evolved into a prose with an ecologically nihilistic theme that, all of a sudden, became a humorless standoff between death and salvation. It ended there… a parable of the lost soul that had Jesus Christ on a harness and the figure of a gullible Grim Reaper.
The original writer of the story actually feels good about his magnum opus, and would willingly tell anyone who shows half an interest about it or if they mistakenly buy into the false advertising that this story was “the best one ever written”. And he does not care for feedback.
But we had feedbacks, and we discussed the story’s merits (or lack of them) for a good part of the afternoon, causing someone to fail to return to the office after her lunch hour and nearly forgetting that she’s supposed to pick up one daughter from school.
Anyway, here’s the general aftertaste left by the best story ever on our psyche:
The Monkey Keeper felt that she just heard the plotline of another local TV station’s soap opera (teleserye).
Super Jj gave a trademark one-eyebrow-raised expression and a yell: “What????!!!!!!!!!”
I echoed Super Jj’s yell… So frustrating. Like being promised candies and chocolates but was instead given a cucumber and grapefruit because these latter ones are healthier and better. Blech.
It would have been a very good story… ~Sigh.~
I’ll put a disclaimer here:
Judge not, lest ye be judged.
I admit to writing off-tangent plot lines myself. But still… the kid’s enrolled in a creative writing program that’s supposed to enhance his writing skills. I think he’s missing out on a wonderful opportunity to really shine as a writer if he continues to proceed with that single story that he considers as his masterpiece.