Tenderness (Fiction)

by Juan Bautista


I am dying, when I met the love of my life. Oh well, the world is a humongous joke anyway. And since I was a child, life is like, “look at this ridiculous creature, another toy to satiate on whenever everything’s boring like a lame-lone kite in a cloudless sky!”

At four years of age, I was sexually abused by my Father. At nine, my mother took a gun and shoot herself right in front me. At eleven, my baby brother died of leukaemia. And at fourteen, I strangled my dead weight father to death with a steel chain. Since then, I was alone. Until I met Joseph in the streets of Red Manila, my best friend.

I would not say that I was happy with him. I mean, who the hell would recover from the mayhem that I had experienced in our household, right? I was never happy. But I lived. I worked odd jobs with him. I sniffed rugby and robbed random people with him. I ran from the crooked-ass cops with him. Joseph was a great friend. He’s a brother to me. Until he decided to go with a priest. He told me that we should go together for that man could be the answer to escape from our misery. But I was like, ‘hell no!’, for I believed that man was nothing but a freakin’ paedo. I was wrong, he was right. Because when we saw each other again after two decades, he’s a father, a husband and an engineer. And I was a dirty-stinking crackhead. Everyone would say, “I am better off dead.”

Joseph took years looking for me. He never forgot his brother, he said. But I think that was a lie. I offered him a cigarette and he said no. He invited me to his house, and of course, I said yes. And after thirty five years of my existence, I met the most beautiful woman in the world – Elena. His wife.

Joseph offered me everything once I stepped into his house. Coffee, bread and a decent shower to boost my morale. It was about ten in the morning. Elena was in the kitchen, cooking lunch. I stared at her once more before I took a shower, she stared back at me. A huge mistake, I should say. For I could take her to the bathroom with me even if she wouldn’t leave the kitchen. I am the vacuum of souls and essence. I could take anyone and anything with me. I’m a drug addict. I’m like an Einstein hiding in a Hitler body.

Elena was about in her mid-twenties. Morena, with long-straight hair and glowing brown eyes. Damn. What if I didn’t call Joseph when that priest approached me looking for him and instead, offered myself in exchange? Could this merciless world let me find this woman? Well, I doubt that. For I was born to be the victim, never a victor. But not forever, I thought. And since that day, I was constantly victorious. Not against Joseph, he was never my enemy. He’s my brother. But against my conscience. As always.

Joseph offered me a job. I took it. And he asked me to live with his family. They didn’t know I have cancer, though. Why should I tell them anyway. All I want is Elena. The love of my life. Surprisingly, she was dear to me. She treats me like someone whom she knew for ages. An absolute sweetheart, she was.

One morning, I was smoking my first cigarette at the veranda facing Joseph’s priced garden. “Here. A cup of coffee to warm you up.” She said. “Thanks, dear.” I said, she smiled. I was procrastinating with my cup of coffee when suddenly,  I felt a slight bump to my boots, it was King. Joseph’s barely two year old son. “Hey little man!” I shrugged his hair. God I love the boy. He’s a charm. He looks more like Joseph but what the hell, a man shouldn’t look like a living Venus like his mother.

One rainy evening, me and Joseph were sharing a bottle of Black Label when Elena approached us from holding a bowl of smokin’ hot beef caldereta. “Here, you got to taste the best beef stew in the planet.” Said Joseph. I took a piece of meat using a fork. I smirked. I swear that wasn’t my intention, but that stupid piece of meat have caught me off guard. I did not expect that piece of shit to be that bad. Was it really the food? Or my tongue, numbed by a sachet of crack that I took before Joseph reached home. I don’t know. And I don’t care.

“What the hell, man. Are you serious?” Asked Joseph.

“Nah! I’m sorry man. It tastes good actually,” I lied. “It’s just the meat. It’s not tender enough. C’mon man, look at my mouth.” I opened my mouth wide to once again, show him that I have a messed up set of teeth. A typical mouth of a severe crack addict. He laughed.

“You punkass moron. I never thought crackheads do have concerns about the tenderness of meat.” He laughed again. I did not.

It was a long night. A long night of booze and nonsensical stories. And that moment, I was thinking about telling my brother I have cancer. But that was a somehow, joyful evening to spoil.

“Well, you know man. You’ve been here in my house for over a week now. How was it?” Joseph asked.

“How was what?”

“You know, we’re back together, just like the old days. My family, wife and son? I just want you to know that, man…” Joseph turned at me. “I am more than grateful to the heavens for giving me a chance to find and save you.”

I beamed. And sighed. “Cheers to that.”

“Hey guys. It’s getting late!” Said Elena. She was wearing nighties and the dim light from the garden post slightly exposed her perfect body.

“Yeah yeah. Man. My brother.” Joseph was about to stand up from his chair when I stopped him. “Wait. I forgot something.” I said. “Wait here, I have something for you.” I stood up to go to the kitchen then I motion my hand to Elena telling her to go back to their room and we won’t take a while. Then I turned to Joseph, he was smiling at me. It seems he couldn’t believe that I have something for him. My brother.

The next morning, I found Elena in the sala. She seemed trouble. I know, for even I was with them for a short while, I had memorized her gestures and expressions. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Joseph wasn’t here. I woke up and he’s not in the room.”

“So? Maybe he went to the store to buy something.” I said.

“It’s six o’clock in the morning. Where would he go? What would he buy?”

I kept mum.

“Okay, you know what? I need to go outside and check on him. Could you be dear and watch King for me please?”

“No. You can’t go out.”

“Why not? C’mon now. I know the place more than you know. Just watch the kid alright? I will not take a while.”


I sighed. Then I turned to her son. Crawling through the side of the white sofa. “Well. Just the two of us.” I said. The boy smiled. Then suddenly, I felt hunger. I remember we didn’t had dinner the other night for we drink whisky since afternoon until barely midnight. “C’mon boy,” I picked him up and took him to the kitchen. “let’s just cook some good food today, alright?”

It took me a while to make the stew. It was a tough one. I even cut my finger while slicing potatoes and carrots while checking on King from time to time. But hell, it was worth it. Everything. For I made sure that it will be the best meat stew that I will ever eat.

I took the first bite and it was the most tender meat every man in the world deserves to satiate on. King was in thrill whilst eating potatoes beside me. No meat for the baby. I cooked enough for a family of ten but hell, that masterpiece of cooking that would put the well known chefs to shame was just for me and King. No one else. Even Joseph, my brother.

It took me almost two days to eat Elena entirely before I decided to leave the house. I left king in a front door of the Church where me and Joseph were used to sleep back in the day. He’ll live. For that old bastard priest was still alive. And after three more days, I still wasn’t able to eat. Just crack and water. Maybe due to Elena’s tenderness? I don’t know.

One thing I’m certain of, was once again, I was victorious over my conscience. First, I poisoned the person whom I regard dearly as my brother. And then, Elena. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.

Hell. I am dying when I met the love of my life.

She’s gone. I should be dead by now.

The world indeed – is a humongous joke.


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