By Matthew Burgos
I will shoot her, I say to Rodrigo in a serious tone, but he only chuckles. For him, it is a joke. He pecks my lips and asks me to calm down. I remain standing outside our house and see Aling Tacing watching our house. She lives in the small eatery she owns, a few blocks away from our house. It bothers me that she looks at our house whenever my husband comes home at five o’clock in the afternoon.
Aling Tacing is in her 50s, but still wears short skirts and tight, strapless tube tops. Her face is either too pink or too violet-ish from makeup, but her lips are always bright red. Her perfume is either too flowery or too sweet. Once, she asked me to remove Aling when I speak to her as the term is only used for old women. She wanted me to call her Tacing, like a sick teenager.
I enter the house and ask my husband what he wants for dinner. Anything except Dinuguan, he says. After dinner, I wash his uniform and prepares his suit for tomorrow’s formal event. I might get home late, he says. He turns off the bedroom light and says good night.
But I can’t sleep. It is past twelve and someone is still singing karaoke in the eatery. When it stops at three in the morning, I’m able to sleep.
My husband asks me why my eyes are puffy the next morning. I just tell him that I will shoot Aling Tacing. He chuckles, eats his breakfast, kisses me, and leaves. A routine for a good husband.
I go to the library where I work, but I ask my boss if I could leave at one to get some sleep. Since it’s summer and not a busy time, she allows me. I drive my old car home, but before I turn onto our street, I see Rodrigo in Aling Tacing’s eatery.
I approach him from behind and ask him why is he eating there when I packed his lunch. Aling Tacing walks to our table, a sway in her hips, and asks me in her sweet tone to calm down. Rodrigo guides me to the car. As he drives, he explains how the event finished early and he had already eaten my packed lunch, but was still hungry. I just need to sleep, I tell him.
Night after night, I lose my sleep. I have to listen to different covers of “My Way” from the drunk men singing in the karaoke. But tonight is different. I hug Rodrigo from behind and when my nose touches the nape of his neck, I catch a faint flowery aroma. He hates sweet scents.
In the morning, Rodrigo tells me his chief changed his schedule. He is assigned to a night shift of three in the afternoon until midnight. The crimes occur at night nowadays, he tells me.
Days and nights pass and I see less of Rodrigo. I work in the morning, but when I get home, he is already gone. But I don’t ignore the changes in his scent. Every night, I catch different fragrances from him—flowers, sweet candies, or vanillas. One night, I pretend to sleep when he enters our dark bedroom. He lies down on the bed and reeks of beer along with a strong aroma of lavender. Flowery scents, just like Aling Tacing’s perfumes.
I get home early from work the next day and park the car outside our house. I see Aling Tacing in her short skirt and tight strapless tube top, holding a covered bowl and straining her neck as she looks inside the house.
I ask her what she wants and she becomes startled. Roddy ordered Dinuguan and I’m just delivering it to him, she says. Rodrigo steps out of the front door, a towel hanging around his hips.
His hair is wet and the water drips to his body. I see Aling Tacing licks her lips.
Did you order Dinuguan, I ask my husband. He says yes.
But you hate it, I say.
He does now, Aling Tacing murmurs. I storm inside the house, but stops by the front door when I hear Aling Tacing yell ‘See you later, Roddy!’ as she walks away.
I ask my husband what she meant and he says to just leave it. Why does she call you Roddy? I ask, but he shrugs and tells me anyone can call him anything except profanities.
I watch him prepare himself for work and notice the missing wedding ring and tan line on his finger. I might lose it at work so I keep it in my pocket, always, he says. He leaves the house without the usual chuckle or kiss.
The night comes and I pretend to sleep. I wait for Rodrigo, my husband, to come home. When he lays on his side of the bed, drunk and murmuring incoherent words, I see red kiss marks on his neck and white shirt. Besides the whiff of beer, he reeks of vanilla.
A drunk man is trying to sing “My Way” in the karaoke. I don’t know how to sleep anymore. My husband is drunk and deep in sleep. I slip away from the bedroom and out of the house. I walk barefoot to Aling Tacing’s eatery.
She is giving the drunk singer a lap dance and the other men around them holler in joy. Aling Tacing looks surprised when she sees me, then she grins.
What? Roddy wants more? Dinuguan, I mean, she says.
I raise the gun I snatched from my husband’s holster and shoot her in the mouth.