There are people you notice, and there are those whom backgrounds just tend to swallow.
Perhaps if in one particular background a crime took place in which you happened to bear witness, then asked by the authorities to describe in full detail what you have seen, you would unintentionally left out these people from your three-page long narrative.
But they were there. Perhaps they still are.
The city is messier than the usual. With the Election Day just three nights away, one could only expect the environment to be dirty.
Pamphlets and posters, with politicians’ rather too wide smiles that no photo manipulation could force to arrive at their eyes, are scattered everywhere – light posts, establishment walls, some had even get as far as to place it on the pencil cases and rubber erasers they “donate” to children whose parents can’t afford to feed square meals three times for most days.
Some people just can’t ride with the festivities, however.
For one man, another election makes no difference. He still sleeps on the same television carton – it used to be solid enough to provide a half-inch’s gap between the cold pavement and his skin – but now it betrays how easily paper yields to Damp and Heat, the two swapping natives of the Tropics. Soon, maybe another night or two, he’d have to visit the Hills again and rummage for a product of paper sturdy enough to use as a mock bed.
“Looks like I’ve got to go to there again, eh, Hope?” he said to the scrawny black kitten that, for one moon now, had always stayed close during bed time.
He found this cat in the Hills, a local garbage dump site so named because of the forbidding sight of hundreds of huge mounds of assorted garbage that people like him treat as their treasure trove. She was such a sorry sight then, more dead than alive in a shoebox, but then again it was only her first life.
The man and his companion picked a very apt spot for tonight – a vacant strip of land beside a shrubbery only about fifty paces away from the little stage.
While he spread his carton open to make their bed, he scanned the vicinity.
There are at least a dozen squatters there in the park tonight – most were in groups of two or three, families by the looks of two adults and their kids who are either too skinny or too dirty or both. There were solitary types, too, and you can’t help but stare at some – this one old man has pus-filled skin eruptions all over his body that even if he wanted to have company, it would be doubtful to find a willing one. Another solitary type is a middle-aged lady who has two dogs and five puppies. You would waste good time wondering where she gets the food to feed those dogs when she looks like she can’t even feed herself. Maybe those dogs are the ones who find food for her that’s why she kept lots of them around.
The man didn’t know and he’s too tired and hungry to ask anyway.
“Me and you could look forward to a bright day ahead tomorrow, what you say, Hope? There would be at least two Meeting de Avances there in the morning. Let’s hope they’d drop their little change here in our cup, shall we?”
“Purr”, said the kitten.
“Ah, me too. Why, I haven’t had anything down my here tummy since that hot bread the kindly old miss gave me this morning now you remind me. But tomorrow’s a good day Hope, tomorrow’s a good day. Now come here and let’s now sleep and dream of hot meaty soups and fat little rats…”
“Purr”, replied Hope.
He dreamt he was in a world he had always wished to live in as a boy – a world full of ginormous fruit-bearing trees the Sequoia would feel like a wasp if asked to stand beside, vast meadows to run wildly about, houses in various sizes all resembling Igloos, but this time, made of wood.
And cats – lots of talking members of the family Felidae.
He could find a tiger playing with a white Persian cat when he looked right; at his near left he could see the king of the beasts telling a story to a group of ginger kittens. There are others, lots of other felines if he scanned the place further, but obstinate purring was getting vehemently loud below him.
“I see you’re enjoying yourself”, said Hope.
“Wow! Is this where you come from, little dear?”, replied the man who seemed to have forgotten that all he sees are illogical, nonsensical, products of a mind fixated in the joyous, fanciful world of a child.
But when you are happy in a Dream, you’d have no way of knowing other worlds exist.
Hope didn’t reply. She just gave him what would seem like a lopsided grin on a human face and said, “Come, let’s get you acquainted with Mr. Green.”
“He preserves the place. Don’t worry, you’d love him.”
And they walked toward the Igloo House on the far side of the meadow. It’s not an assuming house; it’s just similar to the other Igloo Houses they passed along the way. But this house has a very inviting air, you see. It’s like saying, “I have chocolate-chip cookies and ice-cold lemon juice waiting at the kitchen, so what do you think are you doing just standing there salivating instead of just getting inside?”
The man felt and looked just like that when they stood in front of the house, making Hope let out a hearty chuckle-purr.
“Come, he’s waiting for you”, she tells Juan.
For Juan is in fact the name to which our here man answers.
It didn’t take him more than one step, three for Hope, when they opened the door to see Mr. Green waiting.
He was garbed in all, you guessed it, green, and on his face was a smile so genuine and warm and homely you immediately know the person in front of you is a friend, not a foe. He invited Juan inside like only a cherished friend would and took Hope, right then already purring contentedly in his arms.
And waiting on the table, well of course, is a jar filled with ice-cold lemon juice of the yellowest green, and a plateful of oven-warm chocolate-chip cookies with the scrumptioustest chunks of chocolate chips you can find.
Juan knew that finally, after a lifetime of waiting, he is where he truly belongs.
The Wind was chilling on the park the next morning.
But maybe it’s not really the wind, but the sight that waited for the whole country in that square. For what was once an ordinary park stands now a graveyard. Bodies litter what was once only filled with grass and flowers, reasonable trash (mostly posters and pamphlets) and few animal excreta.
Among these mass carcasses was the one and only the bomb was intended for – a formidable politician who, for once, genuinely hoped to help improve the lives of his countrymen.
The site where the bomb was assumed to have been planted was only less than a hundred paces away from the stage where the politician was practicing his speech the night before. The only survivors, a lady and her scandalous amount of stray dogs, miraculously survived even if they were near the site of explosion. She was interrogated by the authorities if she had seen anyone suspicious who lingered on the site presumed on the previous night. She said there was no one in particular, but at the last minute remembered a man, one she dismissed as just another homeless beggar, there in that specific spot last night. “He looked like he was sleeping”, she said, and added, “But there was a very mysterious air with him I couldn’t place, now I recall”, thinking that that would make her story more interesting. She convinced herself first, and them afterwards, that maybe he wasn’t really a beggar after all since he didn’t look dirty enough and his eyes lack the wild look the usual vagrants have on that park. Nothing unusual with the man – she expounded with great immersion – except for the fact that he was homeless, which in turn is not what you can say unusual in this city. “He’s too normal to be worth any attention”, she said. The authorities, convinced that that was indeed their bomber, started an intensive investigation.
But what was once the man’s body, nor his identity, has never been found.