Wednesday, June 29, 2016


The Miracle by Ben Crisp and Rosalinda Flores


As the days had been stressful, good times were numbered.  Friends popped and disappeared.  When people smelled you could not give enough, they stayed away.  If they could not get anything from you or suck anything from you, merry days would be over; you would be out of the circle.  See I’m out? They smelled they couldn’t get much from me. 
“Good morning, Miss!”
Where is he?
“Please see him in the living room.”
He was sitting in his wheel chair.  He was reading the newspaper and a glass of water was on the table.  Postcards were scattered, a record book, and medals of his faith.  He was supposed to be a cleric, but due to weak health, he didn’t get it through.  Instead, he ventured on a business that earned him a fortune. 
I always borrowed from this man, and he was the only one who didn’t tax me.  As people could see outside, he lived in luxury – but his heart, it was benevolent to any creature who would seek his help.  The only thing that he asked from me was to help him on his records and choose medals for him, which I really liked.  He collected stones, as well; precious and non precious; even diamonds.
“What’s the problem?”
It is the same as yesterday.
“The love affairs...”
Yes. And he will be back for me soon.
“Could you be happy...”
Yes, you know I love him so much.  I danced in front of him.
“You are must be mad.”
Yes, I am. I thought we could be married.
“Next time he would sell you for a gold coin.”
We sorted out the medals.  Some were very, very old.  Some were new.  Some were uniquely precious and of great value.  In a while, he got something inside his fist and told me.
“Close your eyes.  Give me your hands.”
Nah, you will play up on me.
“I’m serious now.  I have something for you to drive evil spirits away.” He teased me.
You and your fart!  I laughed out loud.  My sad laughter filled the quiet room.
“I said open your hands!”
Okay, Sir, here it is.
I closed my eyes and slowly he dropped the object in my hand.  “Magic, here!”  My palms were excited and cold, just like when one student told me to open my hands across snowy Japan, then surprised me with a Sakura.  She told me, she liked me a lot, offering me the national flower of her country.  And now, was another guessing moment. 
Is it another precious gem?
“Hold it carefully and see for yourself.”
That time was special.  I could see his face full of compassion for someone weary.  I felt it was an act of consolation to blow zeal to my broken spirit.  It was as though a magic clock made me a princess or sent me somewhere in time like, Alice in Wonderland. What I held in my hands was dear to my heart, and the feeling was all of a child so loved dearly:  free and happy.   It was a gold heart locket; an old one, embed with red tiny rubies. Inside was a picture of the Madonna.  He knew I liked the Madonna. My throat tightened and my eyes blurred with clouds of water.  And then, his hands came gentle on my cheeks.  He smiled and hugged me, tight. 
I was certain I would get a chain for this.  My ringing phone intruded. He told me, “Go now.”
“Why do you want me to leave? Am I disturbing your holy hours?”
“No, you need to go and find what will make you happy.  And that boyfriend? Stay away from him.  Do you think he’ll marry you for real?  He has got a wife.”
Before I left his house, he’d always tell me the same reminders.  That was what I evaded.  I couldn’t let any one, not even my family or closest friends mock my boyfriend.  It was time to leave again.
“Thank you for the Madonna.”
I hurriedly kissed him and went out of the house.  I didn’t look into my phone to check, nor answer it.  My boy friend was always exciting, as there might be something confidential – not business, not updates, but the tweets and yearnings of him.
Outside, when the gate was closed, I dialled his number.  I was right he was the one who called.  Was he meeting me?  I waited.  He wasn’t answering the phone.  I tried calling him again, but still, there was no answer. I texted, “Pls answer your phone now.  I miss you so much.”  As I walked the empty street, the air glistened to me.  I was reminded, of my separation with him, my incompleteness, and that I was only, waiting for crumbs. 
As I looked the next post, I saw that same white guy, walking and holding something that was mine.  Was it my scarf?  


Tuesday, June 28, 2016


by Ben Crisp and Rosalinda Flores

It must be nice, I thought, to have some sort of certainty in life.
To be able to look to a faith to guide you when reality – that deluge of chaos that tears at the flesh and soul – is inescapable.  Or maybe she just liked the statue.
More people began to trickle into the park.  The illusion that this was my place began to fade, like it always did, as the sun drew long shadows on the ground; soon it would be time for work.  Once I had enjoyed the anonymity of living in a big foreign city.  Now, I feared, solitude was decaying into loneliness and I felt myself disappearing into the crowds that lined the streets each day.
She finished or paused whatever thoughts had held her and stood up to leave, as though in a sudden hurry.
Was this my life?  Watching others from outside a window like a child at a pet store?
It took a moment for me to notice the sliver of yellow beneath the bench.  Curious, I stood and walked slowly across the park to the space in the front of the statue.  The impassive Madonna did not turn to look at me as I entered her periphery, and when I stooped to inspect I saw it was a silk summer scarf that had fallen from the bench; that same canary hue of the woman’s dress.
She was already at the end of the park, turning left out of the gates without looking back.  The scarf in one hand, my other reached into its pocket to retrieve my phone.
come dwn sick.  mybe flu.  srry.  tlk 2morrow.
I had taken three sick days in four years.  Whatever else that devotion to such a badly paying job might be called, I reasoned, it wasn’t the symptom of a well man.
I quickened my pace not quite to a jog and scanned the streets when I reached the gates.  For a moment I thought I had lost her until I spied a flash of yellow amidst a crowd of pedestrians moving across an intersection two blocks down.  The traffic closed after them like parted waters and I waited, tense.
Overloaded trucks and bikes whined past at high speed in the dangerous dance of weaving engines that only the Filipinos can survive.  A group of wiry children aligned at the curb next to me, chattering like squirrels, watching the road with unblinking eyes and gesturing to each other with their hands.  They were preparing to cross.  I watched them watching the cars, and when they darted out I sucked in a breath and ran with them.
Horns blared all around me, and I felt the thundering slabs of steel rush by close enough to feel the heat from their choking and spluttering motors, but after a few terrifying moments we were across safely – the children giggling and pointing at the idiotic white man.
The woman had vanished from sight, and I spent a few moments striding between street corners, standing on the tips of my toes as I scanned the faceless crowds for her.  Then the yellow dress peeked out through gaps in the crowd ahead of me, and I moved again in her direction, pushing my way past the suits and the sneakers and the cell phones and sunglasses.
I followed her to a street lined with townhouses – the angular, rendered townhouses for people with the money to pay others to choose their tastes for them.  I had gained enough ground now to call out to her from the other side of the street, but I caught myself when she stopped in front of a high stone wall to push the button on an intercom panel.
She spoke for only a moment and waited for a response, then the courtyard door must have been unlatched from within because she pushed it open quickly and stepped inside.

I was alone, on that lush and empty street, the scarf still wrapped in my hands.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 23, 2016. THE MIRACLE



By Ben Crisp and Rosalinda Flores

There was no place to go, but here. 

I was raging as always, to imperfections. As such, at least, be perfect in front of this holy woman. 
Something stirred into my memory, while I uttered chants I couldn’t even understand.  So, this holy woman people called their mother, and the Catholics believed to be the mother of Christ, had always stunned me.  No, she did not stun me like ghosts scared, but her benevolence scared my sins and inspired me to hope.  At least, in this way, I could re-organize my undecided life.

At least, I’d be prim in front of her, confident in front of her; complete.  Apart from my whoring affairs to get money, I wished some guy would come back for me, as my yellow dress meant waiting.
In a few weeks, my boyfriend, a married man, would decide whether to marry me and annul their marriage, or leave me for his wife.  Of all the men in my life, I just got into material quests so I could sustain my falling business, but this married man was different because he thrilled my every need, other than desire. 

We’ve been on and off this love affair for two years now, and I could see how he craved for my being, because of his maid wife. “My wife compared to your diplomas is only good for a housekeeper,” he told me.

And so, I summoned him.  “You must choose between me and your wife.”  In a few weeks, I  hoped, he’d be back to cuddle me and present me a diamond engagement ring.
A yellow dress would be good to wear all the time!  I’d go for this good luck hype.  

“Oh, would you always come back for me, Madonna?” 

In my thoughts I chanted, “My boy friend would come back for me; heaven might let the maid wife curse me, but what can I do?  I have to steal something to love me, or else I won’t stop whoring.  Who would come back for me?  Maybe, a thousand other men, to prance on my neck and mark it ‘Hey, I’ve got your ass, too.”   Will I be punished for ruining a sacred matrimony or stealing a father?
In this place, was something more real and tender.  “Love me tender, love me sweet…  Oh, my love complete,” I hummed.  After my love affairs, here was the only concrete and beautiful thing.

Across the benches, of this, which I called a sanctuary, were a few others who breathed solace like me.  Perhaps.  One could be on a fitness program, another read a newspaper, and still another guy, sipped his brew.  This guy, sipping his brew, could be thinking nuts like me.  Or could he be thanking the magnificence of another day, while he looked up the sky, bowed low for his cup, and darted again, in front this Madonna? 

Or would he look at me, too?  His gaze was flaming hot.  For what thoughts, he could have  sensed my urgent pleading to this holy statue, sublime in simplicity and honesty.  “Well, we’re flesh and bones, but if for moments, we could be holy,” an old priest said that during the mass I had attended when I was younger, so once in a lifetime I had been serious in the temples; so once pure, I was, before I came into this labyrinth.  Would my pleadings echo around? 

I caught him looking into nothingness, unconscious maybe, when he glanced into my space and my confused efforts.  That time, when he raised his cup, swallowed and sipped again, I thought he was a handsome bum. 

April 23, 2012

Tuesday, June 21, 2016



By Rosalinda Flores Martinez and Ben Crisp

The coffee was still too hot, so I cradled the foam cup between my knees and lit my last cigarette. 
My last ever, I promised myself, as I had done the day before.
The park was mostly empty.  The sun had not yet crept above the horizon, to burn the dirty greyness from the dawn sky, and it would be at least an hour before the rest of the city left the their homes to brave another miserable taglamig day outside.
There had been reports of another journalist shot in Manila.  I had long grown used to such news, acknowledging it with a kind of postured indifference that my ex-girlfriend had found no comfort in.  It didn’t matter to her that I was relegated to the smallest sections of the sports pages; I was white, and besides, could not an outraged sports fan be just as violent as a vengeful gangster or deranged terrorist?  She was probably right.  Still, I found comfort in my own sense of insignificance.  Speaking barely a word of Filipino, and – some had argued – only just enough English to get by, I would never rise to the ranks of martyrdom like my braver, more talented brethren.  I may have been white, but with no money, no connections and no friends I was worth nothing to anyone.
A familiar figure appeared from behind the trees that formed the arched entrance to the park.  She always wore yellow dresses, or perhaps the same yellow dress, that danced beneath her knees.  She was pretty, or at least she gave an impression of prettiness from across a distance to far to know for sure.  She meandered, indecisive, between the benches scattered beneath the pines that brushed the air in the morning breeze, before choosing the one she always chose.
It faced the statue of the Madonna, stood upon a plinth in the centre of a small pond.  It was a simple carving, as they all were; achieving no greatness in aesthetic or skill.  The virgin’s head tilted to one side, serenely, eyes opened wide and her hands stretched out in blessing - not, as it had always appeared to me, shrugging as if to say: what?
To the pinay in her yellow dress she was captivating.  She sat before the statue, alternating between long, lingering stares and moments with head bowed, eyes closed, I guessed, though I was too far away to know.
I sipped my coffee and watched her watching the Madonna, killing time as I waited for my day to begin.

Hansel and Gretel9