Filthy Hands (Chapter Three)

Friday, January 13, 2006
It is already late at night, but one could hardly see the stars for all the smog and haze emanating from the numerous vehicles still clogging the streets. Agnes was busy chatting with the other call girls as Monique hurried up to her.

“Agnes, there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you. Have I got the biggest news ever! I’m in love!” Monique squealed as she shook her friend’s shoulders.

Agnes shoved Monique away and looked at her with scorn. Letting out a low, mocking laugh. Agnes retorted, “Silly! You? In love? Since when did you learn to fall in love? People like us don’t have any right to fall in love. Love is not even in our vocabulary, it’s just a hindrance in this kind of job.”

Monique stared at the air dreamily ignoring her friend’s remarks. “All people have the right to fall in love, and this time I know it’s for real.”

Agnes abruptly looked at Monique and slowly shook her head. “Hello?! Are you alright? What are you talking about? I’ve heard that line a hundred times already.” Then letting out a big sigh, Agnes stared at Monique wide-eyed and sarcastically asked. “Whatever! I just don’t want you to be hurt again. So, who’s the poor guy?”

Monique looks at Agnes, eyes beaming with happiness, like a teenaged girl going out on her first date, and spills the beans to her friend. “Mike…Mike Delos Santos”

“Mike Delos Santos?” Agnes repeats, as if trying to recall something. “Isn’t he the cute guy who’s been hanging around you these past few days?”

“Yes, that’s him!” Monique replies dreamily. “And you know what, when we did it, I really felt love. It’s so different, the feeling is inexplicable.”

“Yeah right!” Agnes rolls her eyes and walks towards a car parked on the other side of the road. “I think you better start working now, okay?” Agnes snorts back at her friend.

~0~
The house was pitch black, and a loud knocking can be heard. Suddenly, the front door pulls open revealing a shadow of a man, Mike.

“Monique, Monique, Monique…” Mike calls upon entering Monique’s home. Realizing that no one’s around, Mike decides to sit down and switch on the tiny lampshade beside the couch. The lamp switch echoed through the silent apartment, the dim light doing little to dispel the creepiness permeating the room.

After starring in space for a couple of minutes, Mike notices an album lying under the center table. He opens the album, which looked like it hand’t been opened for ages. Mike blows away the thick layer of dust covering the album as he carefully turns the pages, eyes squinting in the dim light.

Staring at a family photo of Monique, he wonders out aloud “Hmmm…I wonder who this girl is?” Mike stands up and walks closer towards the light to get a better view. “I thought she was an only child…”

Deep in his own thoughts, Mike suddenly hears footsteps and a crash. Initially surprised, he decides to ignore the noise and radio his colleagues. “This is Mike, can you hear me?” Mike speaks into the little radio transmitter he retrieved from his back pocket, all the while keeping an eye on the room from which the noise seemed to come from.

He continues to skim through the album, failing to notice the shadowy figure of a girl approaching silently. The girl, with long wavy hair and a slim figure, appears to be in her late teens. She seems to be out of her wits, looking jerkily from left to right, as if checking to see if anybody else was around.

The girl was inches away from Mike, when sensing something, he looks up and is startled to see a young girl in front of him.

“Who...who are you?!” Mike stammers loudly, as he draws his gun and points it at the strange girl.
“No! No! Don’t hurt me, please! I’m not the killer!” The girl cries out, as she attempts to cover herself with her arms.

A look of astonishment crosses Mike’s face. “What do you mean? Do you know something about the killings?” Mike responds in a calm voice, and slowly puts away his gun.

Seeing that Mike has calmed down, the girl lowers her hands and quietly responds. “Ahhh… yeah, I do! But I’m not the killer, it wasn’t me, I swear!” The girl starts to cry, a scared look on her face.

Mike approaches the crying girl. “Yeah, I know…But do you know who it is?” He asks, a mixture of concern and curiosity on his face.

“It’s...it’s Monique! Yes, Monique, my sister, she’s the killer!” The girl cries and buries her face in Mike’s shoulders, as if trying to hide from someone. “She’s the one who killed all those men, she’s the killer!!!”

Mike is stunned by what he just heard. He pushes the girl slowly away from him. “Monique? Your sister? She’s your sister?!”

The girl wipes away her tears, and innocently looks at him. “Yes…she is…”

Mike’s expression suddenly turns sour. “But she’s never mentioned you to me…and this is the first time I’ve ever seen you.”

“That’s because she keeps me locked me up in that room!” The girl replies defensively, pointing at a secluded room. “She locks me up so I wouldn’t be able to tell anybody about the killings! Look, she even keeps tied me up. It’s only now that I’m able to escape.” Angst fills the girl’s every word, as she shows Mike the pieces of rope still binding her hands. Something Mike failed to notice until now.

The girl was in the middle of narrating to Mike how she escaped, when Monique suddenly appears in the doorway, holding a plastic bag full of groceries. Upon seeing Mike and the girl, she drops her groceries.

“What’s the meaning of this!? Mike...Why are you here? Salve?” Monique asked, as she nervously looked from Mike to Salve, and back.

Salve suddenly gets all hysterical and hides behind Mike, crying out. “She’s the killer! Catch her! She’s the one! She’s the killer!”

“Monique, when I was asked to be assigned to this case, I was so sure that you were the killer. But then as I got to know you I began having my doubts. My intuition was still telling me that you were guilty, but I tried to brush it aside, because in that short span of time that I’ve known you, I’ve already learned to love you.” Mike shook his head and looked forlornly at Monique. “But apparently, my intuition was right, I should’ve –“

“But Mike, you don’t understand! She’s lying! What killer are you talking about? I’m not a killer!” Monique cried as she pleaded with Mike.

“Yes you are! She’s the one who’s lying,” shouted Salve, as she continued to cower behind Mike.
“Salve stop! I am not a Liar! Mike, please believe me!”

“And you expect me to believe you, after lying to me? Why didn’t you tell me that you have a sister? And if you’re not guilty, why have you been keeping her tied and locked up all this time? What kind of animal are you?” A look of foreboding and anger slowly growing on Mike’s handsome face.

“Because I was afraid that you might leave me if you found out I had a crazy sister. And she’s very dangerous Mike, that’s why I keep her locked up.” Beseeched Monique.

“Crazy?! Don’t change the subject! If there’s someone who’s crazy here, it’s you! Don’t believe him Mike, she’s just pretending!” Salve shrieked while pulling Mike’s sleeves, like a little girl asking her dad to reprimand her naughty playmate.

“Mike, please!!!” Monique slowly walks towards Mike, her voice quivering. “I’m not the killer! Why won’t you believe me, I love you Mike and I wouldn’t lie to you”! With that, Monique breaks down and starts to cry, tears streaming down her face.

Mike, overcome by his love for Monique, walks slowly towards her to help her get up.
Suddenly, a look of pure evil and loathing crosses Salve’s face, and grabbing a knife lying on the nearby kitchen counter, she stabs Mike on the back. Mike lets out a gasp and crumples to the ground.

“Nooo!!!” Monique screams as she hugs her lover’s lifeless body.

Salve starts laughing at the top of her lungs. “Hahaha!!! Love???!!! What a touching scene! Now where’s your love”? She scoffs at Monique as she slowly dances around the tragic pair.

“Salve, why are you doing this to me? What have I done to you, for you to treat me, like this?” Monique stands up crying.

“What have you done wrong? Sister dear, you’re not that old yet to forget…” Salve crows, a twisted look of malevolence in her face. “No! Mom, Monique! Don’t leave me here, I wanna come with you, please!!” “I was always the outcast, isolated!” Tears begin to stream down Salves face, as she continues to circle around Monique.

“Wow! Is this really for me mom? Oh, it’s so beautiful, how about Salve?” Salve sneers. “You always had the best things. What Monique wants, Monique gets! And me…I was never mom’s favorite! It was always you! You! You!!!” Salve screamed as she covered her ears, as if trying to block out some terrible noise only she could hear.

“Now tell me...what… have… you… done… wrong.” She utters calmly, a pale deadly look on her face as she raises the knife once more, brandishing it slowly in front of Monique’s face.
Monique opened her mouth to speak, when Salve suddenly interjected, “Stop! Sshhh! Do you hear something? What’s that?” Salve still holding the knife, looks wildly around, as if searching for someone.

Seizing the moment, Monique pushes her sister and makes a break for the front door.

“Ooops! Not so fast!” Salve hisses as she blocks Monique’s path.

“Salve, please, let me go!”

“Why? Are you scared sister dear? Don’t worry, I won’t kill you like what I did to your customers.” Salve spits out the words, full of guile and malevolence.

“You! You were the one who killed them?!” Monique yells, the surprised look on her face slowly being replaced by an expression of understanding and terror.

“Of course! Who else?! My, you are slow”

“But how? I locked you up...”

“Hahaha!” Salve cackles as she proceeds to tell Monique how she managed to fool her into thinking that she was still tied up. “You’re such a fool! Just like your customers, wanna join them?!!” Salve shrieks with glee as she aims the knife at Monique. But at the last minute, her hand turns and the knife hits the table. “Hahaha! Just kidding!!! Are you scared now? You know what? In spite of all the pain you’ve caused me, I still love you, look I have a present for you!” Salve crooned in a singsong voice, her hands excitedly digging in her pocket.

“Ahhh!!! Noo!!!” Monique gasps in horror.

“Why? Aren’t they cute? I bet you didn’t like them…” the excited look on Salve’s face slowly turning into disappointment. “See how much I love you sister...I killed those people who fooled you. They don’t love you. They’ll just make you cry. They’ll never make you happy…and I wont let anyone make you happy!!! No one!” Salve utters as her face fills with a fierce look. “But hey… you can still have these.” She holds out her hands, slowly giving the bloody fingers to Monique. “Even if you don’t get to marry them, you can still have their filthy little ring fingers. Filthy fingers from filthy hands. Hahaha…here!!!”

“No!” Monique says, as she shoves Salve’s hand away. “Stay away from me!”
Monique pushes Salve away with all her might and runs towards the kitchen. Grabbing everything in sight as she attempts to block Salve from pursuing her. Salve catches up with her quickly and grabs Monique’s legs.

In the struggle, Monique manages to kick Salve in the face and manages to momentarily gain her freedom. She runs off with a limp but Salve quickly grabs her hand and slices her left arm with the knife.

The door then bursts open and Mike’s colleagues from the NBI steam in. They take one look at the scene and immediately grab Salve and restrain her with handcuffs.

“Hey! What are you doing?! I am not the killer! She’s the killer, she’s the one who killed Mike! I was just defending myself because she was gonna kill me too!” Salve sputters as she struggles to get out of the cop’s grip. “Lemme go! Lemme go! Look, there are the fingers, she’s the one who killed her customers. Not meehhh!!!”

~0~

It was the usual night for the pimps and call girls. A few fresh faces can be seen. A girl in her late teens, with wavy long hair and a perfect figure is the hottest and best buy of all.

Filthy Hands (Chapter Two)

The night fell and once more people who are hungry for flesh and those who sell them for a living infest the streets of Malate. Monique puffed on a cigarette continuously while scouting for prospect clients. As Monique amused herself with smoke rings, two women passed by giving Monique a funny look.

“Hey! Isn’t that Monique, our neighbor?” The first woman nudged her friend, pursing her lips at Monique.

The second woman looked at the call girl, trying futilely to hide a smirk. “Correction, I think you meant…our crazy neighbor. Poor Monique, she really has gone crazy, did you hear her talking to herself the other night?”

“I bet my arm she’s the serial killer everyone’s talking about. Just look at her. She creeps me out.” Scoffed the first woman.

Both of them let out a demeaning laugh which caught Monique’s’ attention. Seeing the dirty look Monique gave them, the two women scurried off, throwing furtive looks at Monique.

Monique stared at her two neighbors, as their hurried forms disappeared in the dark. “Sheeesh. Blabbermouths.” She drawled, rolling her eyes as her friend Agnes approached.

Agnes lit a cigarette as she stood next to her friend. “Hey, heard the news?”

“Apparently not.” Monique retorted in a flat voice.

Agnes’ marble eyes grew bigger as she excitedly told Monique the news that SPO1 Reyes was found dead last Monday night.

“Oh…I knew that.” Monique drawled, unimpressed with Agnes’ news.

“How’d you know? The press doesn’t even know about it.” Agnes replied, a worried look on her face as she peered at Monique’s face more closely.

Monique’s tired expression suddenly turned into alarm, as she stammered her reply. “ Oh! Ah..err..hmm..eh... I meant, he’s a policeman, so it isn’t surprising to know that he was killed or something. That can happen to all cops you know! It comes with the job.”

Agnes looked at her friend suspiciously then diverts the conversation to something else. “Have you heard the rumors? Some people are saying that you’re…”?

“What? That I’m crazy? INSANE? NUTS? WHACKED? What if I tell you that I am? I AM CRAZY!!!” Monique let out a loud cackle as she slowly walked away. Steps measured as if imagining something. She suddenly turns and looks back at her friend. “Duh!”

Agnes moved forward and starts to say something when Monique sees a handsome guy at the corner of her eye. He was standing in a corner, as if looking for someone. He wore a denim blue jacket and dark jeans. Both of his hands were tucked into his pockets. From the clueless look on his face, it’s evident that he was unfamiliar with his surroundings. Monique turns her back on her friend and walks toward the man.

“Hey there stranger. Looking for me?” Monique drawled. Circling the man, checking him out from head to toe.

The guy sheepishly looks around. He smiles shyly at Monique and nods his head.

Monique flashes a wide grin. “So handsome…got a name?” she asked as she let her fingers lightly run over his shoulders, then down his chest.

“Muh..Muh…Mike”

“Well hello Mike, I’m Monique. Mike and Monique…we make a cute pair.” Monique winks at Mike as she languidly walked around him. She gave a slight chuckle as she raised her hands seductively in the air. “M&M, how sweet right?” She giggles, coyly looking at him.

Then, suddenly as if a switch was flipped on, Monique straightened her shoulders and brusquely stated “Okay, enough chit chat. Back to business. What do you want? I can do everything… depending on the price.”

Mike was taken aback by Monique’s forthrightness. “Oh…oh…okay” Mike stammered, giving her a wry smile, which looked like half a wince.

“Whatsa matter? Don’t you want to party?” Monique sneered.

“Oh…oh…of course. I do…I want to.” Mike replied hesitantly.

“My, my, but aren’t you the innocent one. I like that!” Monique teasingly played with Mikes’ hair. “Don’t worry, I think you’re cute, so I’m gonna give you a BIG discount.”

~0~

Monique flicks on the light switch as she opened the door to her pitch-black room.

“So, this is your place?” Mike asked, checking out the place.

Monique put down her bag and proceeds to remove her earrings. “Yeah, it’s a bit small though, isn’t it?”

“Well, I think it’s nice and cozy” He replied, as he stood in one corner. “Do you live alone?”

‘Ummm…yeah, I do! Anyway, just make yourself at home, okay?” Monique proceeds to the kitchen to open the refrigerator. “Want something to drink? Soda, Juice?”

“Water would be great.” Mike begins to relax as he sits down.


Monique gives Mike a glass of water and sits comfortably beside him.

“So, why’d you end up in this line of work?” Mike asked as he takes a sip of water.

Monique was a bit taken a back and raised her eyebrow. “Well, I’ve never been asked that before? Usually they just wanna get it on as soon as they’re through the door. What are you? Some kind of a reporter or something?”

“Oh no. I was just curious. I’m sorry, did I offend you?” Mike turned to look at Monique, concern visible on his face.

“No, not really!” Monique paused and let out a big sigh. “Just surprised. I really didn’t have a choice. My parents died when I was young and I was left with nothing. My dreams are just simple you know. To have a nice house, a family to call my own, and a…a man who will love me for who I am. A man who will finally put a wedding ring on my finger.” She looked away trying to control the tears welling in her eyes. “But sad to say, I’ve always been unlucky when it comes to love. I’ve had a lot of men tell me they want to marry me. Telling me they’ll give me the sun and the moon. In the end they’re all the same. They always leave me with false hopes.” Monique suddenly sits up and shrugs her shoulders. She wipes away the tears and looks pointedly at Mike. “Enough sob stories. So what do you wanna do now?” ‘

Mike gave Monique a forced smile. He looks at her intently. The dingy little room became quiet, so quiet they could already hear the pounding of their hearts. Slowly Mike lean over and begins to kiss Monique.

Filthy Hands (Chapter One)

(This is an original script I have written during my 3rd year in College, and was transformed as a short story with three chapters )



It was the usual night for the pimps and call girls. The busy street, the Christmas lights from different bars and the honking of horns while people chattering together with their boisterous laughter are enough to create chaos. Different species of their kinds can be seen roaming and wandering looking for the perfect customer. Perfect means, the one who has bulky wallet, a big fish.

Agnes approached her friend Monique, and blatantly asked “Hey! How was the night so far?” while chewing her gum. “As usual, same old thing, no customers again!” Monique replied exasperatedly.

While sharing sentiments with each other that night, it suddenly hit Agnes the Japanese Businessman whom she always sees with her friend. “So, how’s Mr. Nakamura? I thought he’s going to marry you?” Agnes asked excitedly. “That creepy old man! He fooled me, he said he’s going to marry me and take me out of this dirty job, and look where I am now? Still here!” Agnes looked at Monique and sarcastically replied “Aren’t you still immune to that? It happened to you for three times already.” “Hah! Funny!!!” Monique said then rolled her eyes on Agnes.

One night before going to her usual work, the only source of light in the room was the small lampshade at the corner. Monique can be seen talking and preparing a food for someone but no one was there with her in the four-cornered walls of her living room, except the furniture.

That same night, Monique was on her usual routine when Agnes ran up to her to let her see the newspaper. “Hey Monique! Look, look!” as she let Monique see the news putting the paper almost right in front of the latter’s face. “What?!” Monique asked irritated after spitting her gum. “Look who’s on the paper, he was the man you’re with last night, right?” Agnes looked at Monique hoping she’d say no. Monique looked closely at the paper and much to Agnes’ dismay, her friend replied yes in a monotonous voice. “So?” Agnes asked Monique anticipating an explanation to what happened that was also answered with “So?” by Monique. “Someone killed him and cut his right finger!” Agnes answered back frustratingly upon seeing that her friend is not even alarmed to what had happen. “And you were the last person whom he was seen with! Are you sure…?” Agnes’ annoyed look suddenly changed into fear while she backed off from her friend without even finishing her sentence “Sure what? Don’t tell me you’re suspecting me.” Monique retorted while raising an eyebrow. “And why not? It seem as though you don’t even care about this thing” was Agnes’ defense. “Why should I? Is he my relative or something? Hah! Good for him, he didn’t paid me the exact amount that we agreed on.” Monique shot back on Agnes with an uneven smile on her face. “But Monique…you don’t get the picture! Aren’t you alarmed, this is the second time that this happened? That all the man you’ve slept with was found dead the next day. The police might suspect you again.”

They were in the middle of the conversation when two Police Officers came and invited Monique for some questionings about the killing incident. Monique tried to let go of the cop’s grip but they were too strong for her. After some interrogations at the headquarters, which led to nowhere since the officers doesn’t have strong proof that Monique was the serial killer, she was then released again just like the previous grilling done to her before.


It was evening and Monique didn’t go out because he wasn’t feeling well that time. She’s in the kitchen preparing food. The kitchen was in shambles that time and mess was everywhere. She was in the middle of slicing the vegetables when she recalled the humiliation done to her last night. “Hah! Those pesky cops! The nerve of them to think that I’m the killer! Do I look like one? Tell me! Or…do you know something about this?” Monique stopped chopping the vegetables then look around her as if talking to some sort of invisible individual, while holding up the knife. “Oh, cut it off! Of course you don’t know anything about this, do you?” Good thing I was still able to get at least one customer last night!”

She was in the middle of her monologue when she heard the flash news over the radio.

“Now let’s hear our 9:00 new. The serial killer strikes again! Miguel Flores, a 29-year-old businessman was found dead in an abandoned lot at Marikina, early this morning. Investigators said that Mr. Flores was last seen with Ms. Monique Santos, a prostitute, early 10:00 p.m. last night. And because of the consecutive killing incidents here in Metro Manila, everyone, especially the male species are advised to take extra care, especially during the night.”

Monique turned off the radio and a lopsided smiled crossed her face. “Monique Santos…the serial killer!” She exclaimed then a piercing laugh echoed in the dim-lit room.

********

The Animator’s Sketch


They are the ones who give life to our favorite characters. Without them, I think life would be dull. Admit it, figuratively and literally, they give color to our lives. With such powerful hands, they bring our wild imaginations closer to reality. It’s high time that we turn the spotlight on the humble cartoon animator. I’ve recently had the pleasure of sitting down with one of Disney’s more prolific animators, Mr. Adelfo Manao, and finding out what makes a good animator tick.



Toni: How long have you been drawing? Did you have any special training for this or was drawing merely a hobby which you’ve parlayed into a job?

Adelfo: I’ve been drawing since I was young. I guess it’s both an inborn talent, and a hobby. I didn’t attend any workshop or classes. I practiced by myself. But if you wanna know how long I’ve been in this profession, that would be 17 years and 8 months. I’ve been a cartoon animator since January 1988. I’ve managed to hold onto this kind of job but it wasn’t always easy. When I was only starting out I had to transfer from one company to another. I spent 3 years in Fil Cartoons Inc. Afterwards I transferred to Moving Images Inc., and spent another 3 years there. Finally I landed a job in one of the biggest animation groups, Walt Disney, specifically with one of their subsidiaries, Toon City Animation Inc. I’ve been with them for most of my career. By the way, all of those companies are based here in the Philippines, although they are under foreign administrations.

T: Who or what encouraged you to draw?

A: Who? Well, that would be my father, Placido Manao, Sr. But encouraged is not exactly the word I would use. It’s more of, influenced. My father was very artistic. As a kid, I would watch him draw and imitate him. That’s how I discovered that I had the talent. But he never gave me formal lessons on how to draw things. Just like any other kid, I used to draw robots and anything from my imagination.

T: How did you get into this industry in the first place?

A: My sister-in-law knew someone from this field who happened to be her client. She told me to send some of my work to her client, which I did. Then after that, I took the required exams, submitted more portfolios, and luckily I passed. Honestly, this is not the kind of career I planned on having. I took up Marine Engineering during college, obviously hoping to become an engineer. But I wasn’t able to finish. I have no regrets thought, for being in this line of work, because I learned to love what drawing. At least, what I’m using here is my talent, and not only what I have learned in school. In other words, I enjoy my work.

T: Any personal favorites among the characters you’ve drawn? If you were to choose become a character in your drawings, who would it be and why?
A: I like all of my work, but I consider Lilo and Stitch as my favorite because we got more projects after it became a hit movie (laughs). Seriously, it is my favorite because they are troublesome but funny characters. And their appearances are appealing to children. As for the other question, I choose Mr. Incredible, because he’s just so incredible! Although he’s old he has remained strong for his family and for the people who need him. And he’s very funny, too.

T: How does it feel getting to see your masterpieces on the big screen?
A: I feel proud. Who wouldn’t, right? Just seeing those figures I drew come to life is a big achievement. Furthermore, to see your name included in the acknowledgement part, that’s the most rewarding part. I get the chance to become famous even for a second. Even though most of the viewers won’t sit and wait to see that part, at least to us animators we know we’re the ones who made those still figures come to life.
T: Is this profession financially rewarding?
A: It is. I think any profession or job will be, if we know how to make use of our time and skills as wisely as we can.
T: Any downside to being a cartoonist or animator?

A: None, I guess. This is a fun job. It’s like playing all the time, only it’s a more serious game.

T: What does it take to be a good cartoonist like you?

A: Of course you’ve got to possess not only talent but also passion for your craft. One must also think and feel like a child in order to create something that will interest your largest market, which are the children. Most of all, one must be very eager to learn.

T: Do you still see yourself holding that pencil 5 to 10 years from now?

A: 5 to 9 years, yes, definitely. But 10 years from now, I guess I’ll still be holding it, but not as a professional animator anymore. By that time, my daughter might have taken my place, not as an animator, but as the new provider for the family. That’s according to her. She wants me to retire once she becomes successful in her chosen field. But it’s a plus factor because she can also draw.

T: Any tips for aspiring cartoonist or animators out there?

A: The only tip that I have in mind for them is to never think that they know all about drawing just because they can do it. Drawing is a very broad field. There are lots of styles, techniques and tricks to be discovered through practice and continuous learning. Most importantly, try to develop your own style and never copy from another artist because each work of art is unique, each stroke is personal.
 

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