Wow, I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since I last posted for this! I’m so sorry for being so lazy!…Well, not really lazy, but there are just things in life that I had to do first and this got sidelined. So now, I am continuing with it. This is my latest post for this. I am also currently editing a bit the first chapters. You know sometimes you read something again and now notice misspellings, wrong grammar, and even loopholes. That said, feel free to read the previous chapters and scenes, so check out the link below (especially because there is a very important explanation there…) 🙂
For past chapter pages, CLICK HERE.
CHAPTER THREE: REUNIONS (Scene 5)
Having puffed his last cigarette, Gabriel headed back to the doctor’s laboratory. He had taken a break from work for a few minutes. His stomach still felt like turning, but he made up his mind not to be affected. It was work, he thought, Deal with it. And so what if Dr. Rivas showed him bodies with all the guts and gore. He was tough, right? He had seen worse.
But then again, that was it. He had seen worse. Dealing with this kind of things now only brought back memories Gabriel had struggled to forget for years and he blamed himself for remembering. No, actually, he blamed the NBI for it. He had joined to fight crime, to do good in the world. How was he to know he would be assigned to do this? If only he could back out. But it was an order – an assignment, yes, but an order nonetheless. He put the blame back to himself for performing exceptionally well on the job that landed him this assignment in the first place.
Gabriel took a deep breath, turned the knob and pushed the door open.
“What are you doing here? How did you get past – ”
“Don’t worry, I didn’t sneak in. I simply kept bothering her until she gave in.”
“Hmnn…I’m not surprised then.”
“That she gave in?”
“That you bothered her.”
Of course, he did not mean to eavesdrop, but he assumed he could simply go in, just as the doctor told him. So now, he heard a conversation between Dr. Rivas and someone whose consequent laughter practically made his heart race.
“But you should not be here. I have – ”
“Asyama’iya…?” Gabriel cut Dr. Rivas mid-sentence, as two surprised people stared at him and he stared back at particularly one of them. No wonder his being reacted the way it did – he stood there staring at the face he missed most yet did not exactly want to see.
“GABILANI!!!” Maya screamed and within seconds, she threw her arms around his neck, causing them both to almost topple over a gurney that fortunately held no skeleton or body on it. “Diyos ko! You’re here! It’s really you!!!” she exclaimed, jumping up and down excitedly. Gabriel was rendered speechless for a while.
Dr. Rivas cleared his throat and Maya finally let go. “You know each other?” he asked. Maya answered an ecstatic “YES!!!” but the doctor’s eyes were kept on Gabriel. “You called her Asyama’iya…”
Gabriel wanted to know, too, why the two knew each other, how come, how well, but he decided not to ask. “Uh…We’re…old friends,” was his reply, an answer he thought was most appropriate to give to someone who was a stranger to him. Maya knew this; a standard reply to such a potentially dangerous question. Knowing Maya, she would not tell a soul so he knew it was the most plausible answer to give.
“You,…she called you Gabilani. That is a very rare name, I believe, and there’s only one person she calls by that name…”
So she did tell a soul. How could she! “Like I said, we’re old friends.” He cast Maya an accusing look, but she did not seem anywhere near being remorseful. She was just smiling from ear to ear. He missed that smile. This was not the time nor place to be nostalgic, though. This was not how he wanted to see her again. “But I suppose I don’t need to explain myself.”
“Of course, not, Agent Gatdula. Or should I call you Gabilani?” The doctor’s eyes squinted testily.
“I prefer Agent Gatdula.”
Maya exclaimed, “Ay! I’m so bad, sorry!” She took Gabriel’s hand and dragged him towards the other man for proper introductions. “Santi, this is Gabilani, A.K.A. Gabriel, that’s what I’d prefer you call him. He’s been my bestfriend since…forever. Gabriel, this is Santi, also my bestfriend since some years ago – there’s no quota on bestfriends. He’s been helping me.”
To him, “Nice touch on the Gatdula, by the way, so nationalistic. It was Gabriel Tatlonghari when last I saw you.” To Santi, “It was Christmas when we thought he needed a new last name. Before that, he was Benjamin…what was your last name then?”
“I forgot. I find no reason – ”
“Sulayman! Like the rajah in history!” She laughed. But Gabriel recognized it was not at all due to amusement, rather, more like a way to mask her nerves. Yes, she was nervous after all, he could tell now. He did not expect this perky girl in front of him, and in some way, he was a bit glad to see her like this, but the nervous laughter gave her away.
It seemed that Santi, the doctor, knew it, too, as he stared at her. But how could she! Why Santi? Why him, of all people? Gabriel could not help but feel quite annoyed at this. What was Maya thinking? Or could it be she had plans? What could they be? Did Gabriel really want to know?
“I know, guys, let’s celebrate this reunion a bit. Let’s go to the deli, my treat.”
Before they could protest, she was already dragging them both to the door.
*Tatlonghari – an actual Filipino last name made up of the two words, “tatlo” and “hari” , which mean “three” and “king” respectively
*Rajah Sulayman – a rajah, which means king or an heir to the throne, in Philippine history