(Editors’ note: The Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on Dec. 11, 2011)
Mario again counted his money, making sure the amount came up to P10,000, his Christmas bonus from the government where he was employed as assistant clerk in the office of the Register of Deeds.
Being a dutiful husband, Mario was considering giving the whole amount to his wife, so she can do her Christmas shopping early.
But his wife, Linda, was a practical woman, and would not bother to buy the toy that their son, Peter, has been pestering Mario all week long.
It wasn’t an expensive toy, just a ray gun that would flash rainbow colors when you pulled the trigger, at the same time making funny noises that sounded like the gurgling of a man about to breath his last, so an amused Mario thought.
But what was expensive and would come a thousand pesos or more was the spacesuit that went with the gun, complete with rubber boots and a plastic helmet. After all, what’s a ray gun without a matching outfit?
In his head, Mario toyed with the idea of buying both the ray gun and the spacesuit, and later on suffer the wrath of his wife for both his fatherly concern and husbandly insolence.
“That money,” Linda would definitely shriek, “could buy a day’s worth of groceries, maybe a small queso de bola, and a kilo of Chinese ham for Noche Buena.”
On the other hand, a smiling Mario mused, Peter would be the happiest boy in the neighborhood during the entire holidays, with all the other kids looking at him with envy.
Mario laughed, trying to picture in his mind Peter’s playmates crying their hearts out and pleading with their dads to buy them a ray gun and spacesuit similar to Peter’s.
But Mario knew exactly what his wife would do to him if he failed to bring him the full amount of his bonus.
Damn this government, Mario frowned, why all the big publicity about giving out Christmas bonuses. Imagine all the wives waiting at the door on payday, grinning from ear to ear and looking freshly bathed, all for the “princely sum” of P10,000.
Boy, would Linda have a mouthful to say if Mario would dare flinch even a peso. The last time Mario went home with part of his salary missing was when he had a night out with the boys. Tired of being called “Boy McNutt” (makunat) by officemates for not dipping into his pocket when it was time to pay for the drinks, Mario had then risked Linda’s anger when he paid for the bill during one drinking session, Linda would have a raging fit, maybe even punch Mario in the nose if he would again commit a similar infraction.
Well, Mario said to himself, Linda will be happy and surprised when he would hand over the P10,000, not a centavo less, and it wasn’t even payday yet. To brighten up its image, the government had decided to give the bonus a week early.
Arriving home, Mario noticed the unusual quiet in their house. All the doors and windows were closed, with no lights on, and dark had already set in.
Proceeding to the back of the house to pry open a loose window, Mario was shocked to see a guy stepping out of it, and couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Linda pulling the guy back and giving him a long, wet kiss.
It was all that Mario could do to keep himself from going after his wife’s apparent lover, but Mario was much smaller, and he knew for sure that he would be badly beaten, with Linda probably helping do that.
So Mario hatched a plan. The following day he called up his wife to tell her that he would be working overtime, and would be home at a late hour.
Mario then bought a gun with the P10,000 and just as soon as night fell, he went to the back of the house and pried open the loose window, and stealthily tiptoed to the masters’ bedroom. Mario could hear grunting and moaning, like two lovers coupling. Kicking the bedroom door open, Mario shot his wife and her lover while one was on top of the other.
“Hey Linda,” Mario shouted, “How do you like your Christmas bonus, and Merry Christmas to you too, you son of a bitch” firing another round.
At that precise moment, little Peter stepped into view, and screamed at his father, “You bought yourself a gun? What about my ray gun?”
Poor Mario, with a dribble of tear rolling down one cheek, he put the gun to his temple and squeezed the trigger. The pistol blast was followed by a deafening silence, and it was then that Peter heard the refrain of “Silent Night” floating in the air. Opening the door, Peter saw all the carolers garbed in spacesuits, ray guns tucked in their waists.
In that instance, Peter vowed to never ever have anything to do with guns, toys or real.
Time for all Filipinos to make the same vow.
A peaceful Christmas to all!