Checkered Blue man
Arturo Dela Cruz
LANDO: [faces Dina] So, are you okay?
DINA: A bit cold.
LANDO: [looks at his watch] It’s 11:48. [touches Dina’s forehead]
DINA: Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. You know my stamina is strong.
LANDO: Have you slept well?
DINA: Two hours or three.
LANDO: You’ll make it through this night?
DINA: You bet, I can. [LANDO throws the used cigarette on the floor, gets a new one from his pocket, and lights it] So, what happens uptown?
LANDO: [sits down on a wooden box beside Dina] I let a crowd shake me like a fool [exhales smoke]. And I didn’t have sense enough to get car fare. Whew! You don’t realize how intense it is to walk ‘til you sit down.
DINA: Poor you.
LANDO: You’re quite early; I thought that you’ll be late.
DINA: Not so, just arrived 10 minutes ago. I’m glad you’re here. You didn’t bring in—nothing?
LANDO: [inhales smoke real hard, looks up the sky] Not even a peso, Dina. [He exhales the smoke] I don’t know myself these days. It’s that darn fever blister. I could have been in the line-up on posting placards for the mayor the first day.
DINA: Yet, you’re off good now. Can’t even notice a thing.
LANDO: Of course, it should. I should be in perfect condition. Remember the consequence of that. I have to go in and out for the week to deliver that package. [puffs a smoke] Everybody was afraid of me.
Damn them! [angry]
DINA: Damn! [Dina nodding]
LANDO: I lost my way and the next thing I know, they fired me. And won’t take me back. So, it’s up to you now.
DINA: I thought about that over and over again. It makes me crazy.
LANDO: Don’t be crazy. [inhales smoke] If you’re sure of yourself you have luck; if you aren’t, you don’t. That’s all there is to it.
DINA: Too much to think, so much to consider, so little options we have. I wonder why they even call this country—what do you call it again?—democracy?
LANDO: Right. So how’s the day with Piling?
DINA: And I thought it would be better. Gotten worse. She said a fine job is available in Dubai. Turns out at the office, a man of about 50 comes yelling at her when I was about to take a seat.
LANDO: What does he want then?
DINA: Keeps yelling why his daughter hasn’t returned for a month if the contract already ended last March. Then I was afraid.
LANDO: It’s better to be home than get abused.
DINA: You think so her daughter was abused?
LANDO: Why isn’t she coming back right here?
DINA: Love [smiles]
LANDO: Hmmm. Indeed. Why don’t you put on your jacket? It’s getting cold.
DINA: [makes two steps and sits beside Lando, faces him and smiles at him]
Okay, I’ll put on my jacket [puts on jacket].
LANDO: [gets up and takes a packet of cigarette out of his mini pack bag] I saved this for you, anyway [hands over the pack].
DINA: [receives it] All right, mister! Chilax!
LANDO: [looks at Dina getting a cigarette from the packet] So, you finally decided?
DINA: [looks at him yet Lando looks elsewhere] No, it doesn’t matter. I’m just nervous. If I don’t get some money tomorrow I just don’t know what I’ll do. It’s terrible to be so dependent on anything as that [puts in her mouth].
LANDO: [bends his knee and lights the stick] Just for a week, it will all pass.
DINA: I know it’s not easy for you to say that [whiffs smoke].
LANDO: [puts a new stick in his mouth, and takes it off] Nothing is easy these days. I know [puts it back again and lights it].
DINA: [laughs] What a life we have and it’s still evolving.
LANDO: [looks at her inquisitively] At least we have each other [walks to and fro].
DINA: That’s the point, as long as we’re still together, life can’t be so sober. I wonder if I haven’t found you three years ago [exhales smoke].
LANDO: And you were so pretty and stunning. Not fit to be working in a cafeteria [smiles]. What becomes of all the other poor bastards who gets knocked out and can’t get back in the ring? I don’t know.
DINA: That has always been the trouble perhaps with all men. You think you’re all raised up to fight and if you lose, the whole world is cracking down. And you’re done. You were only twenty-five and sniffing cocaine.
LANDO: At least, in my situation, a wonderwoman saved the life of a stranger. I don’t know where I’ll be in this world without you [bends his knees and takes her hand]. You accepted me as I am, thank you for that.
DINA: I love you too much, Lando. That is why making this decision is the hardest choice I have to make. Yet you too have accepted the consequences.
LANDO: If only I could do the delivery one more time [stands up].
DINA: And why sink yourself in the sea of addiction, lies, horror and even near death. Cocaine no more.
LANDO: At least I have that to pay for rent and food three times a day.
DINA: [inhales smoke] She’s gonna kick us out.
DINA: The landlady, of course. She went to the apartment this sunrise.
LANDO: And I told her to give us one more week.
DINA: She knows we’re broke.
LANDO: What? How? Why? [exhales smoke]
DINA: Are we close? She said that’s life [shakes the packet, gets a new one and lights it].
LANDO: If we have another place to live in, I swear I would have transported us.
DINA: She also holds our things until we pay her.
LANDO: Excited woman. Perhaps I have to—her.
LANDO: I’m gonna be fair to you. That’s why I’m telling it now. We can’t get kicked out. This is Manila. What the hell can we do? Sleep in the park or outside the buildings or in the streets? I guess not. Not while I have a way to make easy money. It’s easy, I tell you. And you don’t have to do this.
DINA: Too late mister, first guy on prospect is here [stands up and throws the cigarette].
[A man of about forty, fit, wearing brown pants and checkered blue polo walks in the street. A bundle of girls comes near him, touches his body parts, trying to seduce him. His look shifts to Dina, and he leaves the girls.]
DINA: [outlines his polo shirt with her fingers] Hello, Mister, out for fun, I’m definitely ready.
LANDO: [feeling furious, jealous, throws his cigarette] Hey, get off her you drunken old man!
CHECKERED BLUE MAN: Whatever is your problem? Shouldn’t you introduce her to me? After all it’s your role [shoves Lando aside].
LANDO: Role? [spits on the ground] You have no idea what you are doing with your money. [Takes him up his sleeves and bangs his head against the man. The checkered blue man falls down. Lando is about to throw punches at him, but the man gets scared and runs away. Other girls are screaming in the scene.]
DINA: Fuck you! What did you do? [takes Lando’s hand and drags him for a walk].
LANDO: I said I have another way. It just came to me now somehow, yet I can still do it. Listen to me [gives her a pitiful look].
DINA: [in a high voice] What? That you’ll deliver cocaine again. You were nearly caught once; I can’t have that same mistake again.
LANDO: And you think I don’t have same stake here.
DINA: What’s to think when you don’t have the world designed for you, when you don’t have a home to own, [stuttering] when you don’t eat three times a day because we lack money. What’s there to live? [teary-eyed] Tell me! [pummels Lando’s chest again and again]
LANDO: I’ll do what a man has to do.
DINA: You are so stupid! [pause] You are so unfair! [pause] Isn’t this already agreed by us. [long pause] This is gonna be my first time afterall! Just hold on to your faith while I’m getting laid. Sex is the number one demand today and there is nothing wrong anymore to what I want to do.
LANDO: [tears fall down on Lando’s cheeks. A moment later he runs straight to the other end of the stage, sees a man get out of a taxi, wipes his tears, approaches him, walks with the man and smiles] Off for women, sir? [The man nods] I have nice delight for you this evening, sir. Very beautiful, sexy, meztisa and just turned twenty-three. She’s in the corner of that street, would you like to meet her?
[The man follows him. They pass by the group of girls first. He stops, yet sees Dina more attractive than them, sways his look and continues to walk].
LANDO: Josa (addressing Dina) this is Mister—?
ARTURO: Dela Cruz. Arturo… call me Arturo [looks at Dina, smiles and nods].
LANDO: [grasps the right hand of Dina] Josa, why don’t you give Mr. Dela Cruz a nice welcome. [He puts her hand on the crotch of Arturo]. You like that ha? [pause] Yes?
ARTURO: [feeling the sudden erotic pleasure, smiles and hugs Dina] You’re on for me tonight, ha?
[LANDO swings his look and hails for a taxi. There’s a long pause. Lando is not looking at the two. The taxi arrives].
ARTURO: [holds Dina in his left arm, cuddles her nose, and laughs] Let’s go!
[Lando opens the taxi door. Dina enters the vehicle first. Arturo shakes Lando’s hand for goodbye. Inserted in the handshake is a P500 bill. Lando looks at the bill. Taxi leaves. Dina looks back at him. Lando is teary-eyed. He looks at his watch].
Hannah Louise Enanoria is a senior AB Sociology student in Ateneo. This is her first play.