The Dog Eaters ( Leoncio P. Deriada)
Mariana looked out of the window toward the other side of Artiaga Street. A group of men had gathered around a low table in front of Sergio's sari-sari store. It was ten o'clock, Tuesday morning. Yet these men did not find it too early to drink, and worse. They wanted her husband to be with them. Victor was now reaching for his shirt hooked on the wall between Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos.
Mariana turned to him, her eyes wild in repulsion and anger.
"Those filthy men!" she snarled. "Whose dog did they slaughter today?"
Victor did not answer. He put on his shirt. Presently, he crawled on the floor and searched for his slippers under the table. Mariana watched him strain his body toward the wall, among the rattan tools. He looked like a dog tracking the smell hidden carrion.
"My God, Victor, do you have to join them every time they stew somebody's pet?"
Victor found his slippers. He emerged from under the table, smoothed his pants and unbutton his shirt. He was sweating. He looked at his wife and smiled faintly, the expression sarcastic, and in an attempt to be funny, "it's barbecue today."
"I'm not in the mood for jokes!" Mariana raised her voice. "It's time you stop going with those good-for-nothing scavengers."
Her words stung. For now she noted an angry glint in Victor's eyes. "They are my friends, Mariana," he said.
"You should have married one of them!" she snapped back. Suddenly, she straightened. She heard Sergio's raspy voice, calling from his store across the street. It was an ugly voice, and it pronounced Victor's name in a triumphant imitation of a dog's bark.
"Victor! Victor! Aw! Aw!" the canine growl floated across Artiaga Street. Mariana glared at her husband as he brushed her aside on his way to the window. She felt like clawing his face, biting his arms, ripping the smelly shirt off his back. "I'm coming," Victor answered, leaning out of the window. Mariana opened her mouth for harsher invectives but a sharp cry from the bedroom arrested her. It was her baby. She rushed to the table, pick a cold bottle of milk, and entered. In his rattan crib that looked like a rat's nest, the baby cried louder. Mariana shook the crib vehemently. The baby - all mouth and all legs - thrust in awkward arms into the air, blindly searching for accustomed nipple.
The baby sucked the rubber nipple easily. But Mariana's mind was outside the room as she watched her husband lean out of the window to answer the invitation of the dog-eaters of Artiaga Street.
"Aren't you inviting your wife?" she spoke loud, the hostility in her voice unchecked by the dirty plywood wall. "Perhaps your friends have reserved the best morsel for me. Which is the most delicious part of a dog, ha, Victor? Its heart? Its liver? Its brain? Blood?
Bone? Ears? Tongue? Tail? I wish to God you'd all die of hydrophobia!"
"Can you feed the baby and talk at the same time?" Victor said. She did not expect him to answer and now that he had, she felt angrier. The heat from the unceilinged roof had become terrible and it had all seeped into her head. She was ready for a fight.
The baby had gone back to sleep. Mariana dashed out of the room, her right hand tight around the empty bottle. She had to have a weapon. She came upon her husband opening the door to little porch. The porch was at the top of the stairs that led out into Artiaga Street.
"Why don't you do something instead of drinking their stinking tuba and eating that filthy meat? Why don't you decent for a change?" Victor turned her off. It seemed he was also ready for a fight. The glint in his eyes had become sinister. And what's so indecent about eating dog meat?" His voice sounded canine, too, like Sergio's. "The people of Artiaga Street have been eating dog meat for as long as I can remember."
"No wonder their manners have gone to the dogs!"
"You married one of them."
"Yes, to lead a dog's life!"
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