Old School

Old School

(for Jose G.)

The patriarch wouldn’t budge to make things easy for every Tom, Dick & Harry by greasing his way through the line: so the paper got stacked in the desk until Tio Pepe’s youngest talked it over with the rat-faced functionary, complementing him with coffee money because that’s how things are done these days… Some kids on the block would wave red banners making it difficult for the state of affairs to flourish darkly… But they would be old school themselves, tracing the footpath of the patriarch who wouldn’t truck with pompous bums & floozies.

(for Servillano G.)

Tio Servel’s the finest self-taught mechanic in Naujan, troubleshooting at the electric plant where engineers could only mumble, who’s that guy? From what school did he graduate? But he barely finished elementary & had his ear slashed by the Kempetai. He would laugh it off, even when a brother-in-law buckled under when he brought him to the penitentiary. His little gas station was forever in the red – townsfolk would scribble him comradely credit slips… Yeah, he was most amiable, didn’t rake in money from the municipal hall: not a monument hower stands in his memory for kids to remember the praxis of his integrity.

(for Manuel G.)

He wouldn’t sign the desistance paper even if he’s innocent, for that would mean leaving the son of a friend in the lurch. So the case moved on like a freight train with town judges & ten-percenters on board the wagon. He carried the turmoil to his grave. Is there loyalty to a friendship less than the old tailor’s who wouldn’t care how the future would treat his kind in standing by a dead confrere’s side? But, he lived, alas! in a time of criminals & drew the line with angels, recuperating the biblical.

Ka Bel

Two doors from Anakpawis headquarters in front of Sacred Heart, he would size up the dark, old guy in barong, virtually of peasant stock to whom the staff would excitedly flock. He was their Bossing & he would confer with them in friendly, official manner. Distant, intimate would be the banter. On TV, he wasn’t as slick as any Harvard-trained debater – His English was passable: after all, his roots didn’t countenance a foreign language. & his spiel was predictably contrary – but measured & strong – to the state’s drawn-up emergency. He wasn’t conversant with the intricacies of Marx, permutations of Hegel, even any French philosopher, but felt it in his bones why the poor eat less & the rich paint the town red. He wasn’t charismatic but his grasp of common life was the very secret of this tough dude to whom agents & politicians would willynilly listen: he was, warts & all, the voice of the silenced horde of workingmen.

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