THE CREATURE

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By: Luis  Mondejar, jr.

Jimmy  was a  staunch labor lawyer.  Scores of labor cases had been  won by him in favor of the  working class.  He was  popular among  the labor  sector and had been for his sincerity in handling  labor  cases.  There was  no instance he’d  compromise  the interests of his  clients. Since  he passed  the Bar  Exams in 1980,  he began fighting  for  the cause of the working  man.

There was a time  he handled an  illegal dismissal  case of  a labor  union  where some 30 rank-and-file employees had been ordered reinstated.  One day,  as a token of gratitude, he was  invited  as sponsor  to the   wedding of the daughter of one  of his clients. The wedding ceremony  was held at the province  and they had to  commute half  an hour  to reach  the place where  the reception  was held.  It was  here that  he noticed  some  talisay trees  that surrounded the house of his  kumpadre.  The place was of course  cool because  of the trees.  Attracted,  he asked his kumpadre to  give him a seedling to talisay tree. Without any qualm, kumpadre  gave him one.  “I’ll  plant this in front of our house,” he said, telling his kumpadre that he  just moved into a subdivision  in Bangkal . “There’s no  plant around the area of our house.  It’s good to have this to cool  the house.”

Right after he arrived home, he planted  the seedling.  His spouse was against it.  “It’s only good in the province, in the farm in particular. They say you can’t  plant a talisay tree in the city. It’s bring bad luck,” his wife said.

“That’s superstition,” he said. “Bahala ka nga!” the wife said.

In their subdivision, not  a single  homeowner ever bothered to plant  a talisay tree. All their neigbors prefer flowering plants, avocados, and mangoes.

“Give me a few more years and let us see which house has a good shade,” he quipped and smiled.

True to his expectation, after seven years, the talisay tree was already full grown,  standing majestically,  in front of their house.   The tree provided an enviable sight to the neighborhood because not a single  homeowner has grown a talisay tree. It was tall  and enormous. One day,  he put up a hammock in the tree purposely  to use it for relaxation.  But his wife again cautioned their kids not to play around the  tree’s premises and not to touch the  hammock put up by their father.  “Why, Mommy?” their kids asked.

“Just do what I say,” she replied.

Jimmy used to relax in the hammock every Saturday afternoon,  reading a magazine or a newspaper and then naps.  In the evening, neighbors and passersby would be surprised to see a  man smoking cigar in the hammock especially during  very late at night. The man was very black- as black as  the night- hairy, with bulging  round red eyes.  The sight was reported to the couple,  but Jimmy didn’t believe it. “Why don’t you believe them? They saw it,” the wife said.

“But nothing happened. Maybe they were seeing things,”  Jimmy protested. From then on, sightings of the strange creature  became more often.  Terror stalked the entire neighborhood.  Many said the talisay tree was inhabited by a Kapre. Some said by ghost. Whatever it was,  it was a common sentiment to cut the tree.

“Why? Did the tree harm any of you? asked lawyer Jimmy. “Perhaps, you’re just jealous of my tree that’s why you all are making  up these stories.”

The plan to cut the tree didn’t materialize, but the black man in the  hammock continued to appear. One day,  after relaxing in the hammock, Jimmy started coughing. Soon,  he begun spewing  phlegm.  He noticed  that he was weakening.  His cough worsened. He hardly slept that night.  He reported for work the following day,  but he was so weak  that he had to go home to rest.  The coughing didn’t stop . He continued  to spew phlegm. He was losing weight fast but he  never lost his appetite. This puzzled him and his wife. Also,  his body steadily  weakened.  One morning, he went to see a  neighborhood  doctor.  The doctor advised him to go the hospital to have a laboratory test as he found nothing  wrong  with him.

He tried the hospital. He’d a laboratory test. All kinds of tests were  done but nothing  told them the cause of his worsening health.  Not contented with the results of the laboratory test, he decided to have a CT scan. Still,  the result showed no abnormality in Jimmy’s  physiology. Jimmy’s wife was sick with worry that she decided to consult an albularyo. “I am  already too weak.  Where shall we go now?” asked Jimmy weakly.

” Mang Andoy in Negros. He’s known to be a good healer. Perhaps,  he could help us.”

Mang Andoy was a known albularyo  in the locality.  He was known to have  cured patients of various illnesses, including  those possessed  by an evil spirit.  Jimmy’s wife came from the  same town where mang  Andoy conducts his business.

The couple went to see  Mang Andoy was already 80  years old  Mang Andoy still recognized Jessica, Jimmy’s wife.”What brings you here? Welcome back,” said the old man. Jessica narrated  briefly what had transpired. She said the doctors  had no findings about Jimmy’s condition.   Mang Andoy picked up  clean a sheet of paper.  He scribbled  something on the paper only he could understand.  He then asked Jimmy to dip it in the glass of water and drink it. He was asked to do the same  for three days.  After three days,  Jimmy’s health was back to normal again. They  went back home.  Their neighbors were surprised at how fast  Jimmy recovered.  Jimmy had the talisay tree cut.  They were all surprised to see that the tree was bleeding when they were cutting  it. After the tree was cut, the black man was never seen again.

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