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My Heart Will Never Be Bulletproof

mario banzonLast Seen: Mar 27, 2024 @ 1:31am 1MarUTC
mario banzon
@mario-banzon

6th March 2024 | 3 Views

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“My heart will never be bulletproof,” the old man said. “It will remain vulnerable as long as I live.”

 What a bunch of baloney, he thought. Why do I always get these krung-krungs whenever I go out? And he was alone that night, trying to forget something that happened earlier that morning. He took out his last remaining cigarette, drank his beer and left the bar. It was a cold night. They just had an unexpected shower and now the heat of the city was rising, pungent and a little nostalgic. He walked slowly away from the noise, trying to figure where he would go next. It was already four in the morning but the thought of him inside his empty apartment filled him with dread.

“Why are you running after him?” his friend asked him just five hours ago. “Shouldn’t he be the one looking for you?”

Images flicker on a white cloth. They were in some screening in one of the cafes in Maginhawa. Students stream in and out of the place. A group of gay men roar in laughter as one of them sashays across the screen. A woman stands annoyed by the door with cigarette burning between her fingers. The movie plays on and on.

“I don’t know,” he tells his friend. “I really don’t know.” What he is sure of, though, is that he needs to see him tonight.

“And tell him what?”

Sorry was the word swimming inside his head. He doesn’t know why he needs to apologize. Lately his brain has been hazy. Maybe it’s about something he said during their fight. Maybe it’s something that he had done in the recent past.

“I don’t know how to help you,” his friend tells him.

He went out because his apartment became stifling. He was already in bed by seven but the sadness that filtered through the air became too menacing. It was as if the very molecules that made up the air and smoke that he breathed stopped moving petrified by the misery that engulfed them. And so he went out. He put on some clothes, hurried down stairs and hailed a cab. He slumped on the rear seat, looking at the tassels, red tassels, all four of them, dangling from the windshield, swaying along with the cute little Hawaiian girl every time the cab lurched forward. Outside tall buildings stood like sentinels with a thousand blinking eyes staring down at him. He wanted to fly. He wanted to roll down the window and fly.

“Can you be more specific?” the man asked him, leaning closer so that he could already smell the alcohol off his skin.

“I don’t know. I just feel guilty. Guilty all the time.”

The crowd inside the bar seemed to grow in size even at three in the morning. It was his third bar. Rain was pouring down hard and they could barely hear each other. He was sitting alone for almost half an hour until this man came in.

“Maybe you had premeditated everything. You know you want to do it. And you know you will do it.”

“Do what?”

“Do what it is that you all so feel guilty about.”

“Sometimes I just want to take a knife to my heart and let the poison out.”

“Don’t we all wish to do that?”

He looked at the man as he took another swig at his beer.

“Have you seen Bonnie and Clyde?” the man asked him. “I don’t remember much of it but I do remember vividly the ending. Faye looks at the sky. It was very quiet. And then there were birds flapping their wings violently into the air. Faye looks at Warren. Arthur Penn, the director, lets the shot linger. Then bam! The police comes out and Bonnie and Clyde are riddled in a hail of bullets.”

“Sounds like the kind of movie that I’d love to see. The bullets must’ve turned their innards into a pulp.”

“Yes. You know our hearts will never be bulletproof,” the man said.

“Will never be immune to heartaches, you mean.”

The man just shrugged his shoulders and drank his beer.

He stepped outside the bar and paused for a minute. Hurtful words ricocheted inside his head as he walked towards Timog. He found himself muttering drunken excuses, re-living arguments, getting worked up as sweat broke across his face. He really needed to see him that night.

He notices the lights scattering like water on the wet road. Suddenly he was reminded of his mother, standing outside a building, hugging her pink jacket under a December drizzle. She, too, was looking for her husband then. Out on an instinct, she dragged her son to the other end of the city knocking on doors of friends and strangers. He wasn’t sure now if her mother really wanted to find out if her suspicions were true or if she would be happier if she knew that she was just making up things. They went home quiet that night and sort of broken-hearted, sort of like this night as he made his way to the highway.  

The sun was already up when he arrived at his apartment. He went to the kitchen and opened another bottle of gin. But before taking a sip he paused. He looked out of the window, took notice of the bleeding sky, held his gaze a little bit longer, just as Arthur Penn did, and drank.

mario banzonLast Seen: Mar 27, 2024 @ 1:31am 1MarUTC

mario banzon

@mario-banzon

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