The three of us, Tabog, Pepit and myself while watching the shoot of Maruja at Bustos Bulacan, sometimes in the late 60’s, made a promise – it would be imperative for us to watch the movie once released in theatre.
Imperative could be imperiled, though, as the Henson Theatre which would likely show the Maruja movie hired a new security guard. His name was Teryo Taramindo, a menacing figure, a cross between cro-magnon and Kingkong whose biceps resembled that of a tamarind fruit. For theater sneakers, like us, Teryo was a total terror. He could pulp us to smithereens, once he caught us sneaking.
The lure of Maruja defied fear, however. We followed the novel in “komiks.” We watched the shoot. The movie starred Romeo Vasques and Susan Roces, both superstar of the period. And we wanted to know how truthful the movie is to the novel it was based from.
So, the movie came at Henson Theater at Baliwag, Bulacan. One Friday night, we did the sneaking scheme devised by Tabog that afforded us to see weekly movies free.
The scheme seemed faultless. One of us, say Pepit, would deposit, five pesos to the ticket lady at the door – looking for someone inside, as one’s excuse. Movie tickets then are sold 80 cents apiece, so for five pesos as deposit, the ticket lady would think, Pepit wouldn’t stay inside. Once Pepit was inside, he would lift the latch of the exit door at the side street, where Tabog and myself were waiting for it to be deserted. Once we thought no one would see us, we would push the door with just enough space for us to sneak in. As we made it now inside, Pepit would then get his deposit back, get to the side street, and it was now our turn to lift the latch for him.
This scheme worked for the previous lazy guard. Not with Teryo, though, as we lately realized. Teryo had different routine. He made round every hour and on one of his runs, he saw streak of light pouring in from the outside, that we made. We’re toast! Caught in the act!
Teryo brought us at the roof top room of the theater. He made us lined up like cadets. Teryo looked like the towering and menacing brute.
“So you’re the “lusut gang” huh! Since when, you’re doing this?” Teryo thundered. I peed on my pants.
“Months now, Sir”, I said. Pepit stepped on my toes, as if saying, stupid, why should you be honest. It wouldn’t help.
“Sir, we’re sorry, we just tried it now” Tabog interjected.
“Yes Sir,” Pepit seconded.
“Get your pants and underwear down”, Teryo commanded. What? Would he like proofs of my pee?
Right away, I pulled down my pants and underwear. Pepit stepped again on my toe. “tang na ka”. Pepit mumbled. Tabog and Pepit reluctantly followed.
“So, who’se the mastermind here? Teryo asked.
“It’s him,” I fingered Tabog. If he could just crush me, he would do it, from the way he looked at me. Teryo confronted Pepit, tapping his finger on his chest. “And you, what are you?
“He’s the second in command, the Lieutenant, Sir…” I volunteered. “Tarantado”, Pepit said to himself.
Teryo turned to me. “And you, what are you?”
“Sir, I am just the fingerling”, I said, meekly.
“Stand still here, and don’t move till I come back” Teryo instructed and left locking the room behind him.
Pepit and Tabog rattled me of their sharp tongues for my suck up stunts when we were alone.
After 30 minutes, Teryo came back with paper bag on his hand. He took out something, a yellow cashew fruit! He gave it to me. I was about to bite it, when he said, “Stupid, who told you to eat that? Since you’re just a fingerling, you’re going to ripe it in your ass.”
“But Sir, it’s already ripe”
“Rot it in your ass then.” Teryo barked.
I cried while sitting on top of the cashew on the dirty floor. Shit, I felt million germs nibbling my bare butt.
Then I saw Teryo took another item in the bag. Green Papaya, a good size for Tinola. He gave it to Pepit. “Rot this also on your ass, Lietenant,” Teryo said. I stopped crying seeing this. I felt lucky. To ripe that Papaya, it would take Pepit longer, how much more to rot it.
Pepit sat on his Papaya, his head down crying, while clasping his hand as if on prayer. Meanwhile, Tabog had this all-knowing smile at our fate.
Then I heard Teryo called Julio.
I consoled Pepit. “You know, at least you’re better off, much much more fortunate than our boss.”
“Why?” Pepit asked.
Look, I said. The one that Teryo called Julio appeared in the room carrying on his shoulder a pig size JACKFRUIT!