(Editors’ note: The Midland Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on Dec.18, 2005)
Bernardo was down on his luck. He had earlier pawned his wedding ring hoping to win some money at the pintakasi.
He was doing quite well for a time, and then he got greedy. Already up by P10,000, he decided to press his luck and double his winnings.
His fortune soon took a turn for the worse, and before he knew it, he had lost everything.
Bernardo blamed the mayor for his woes. If the old goat did not disapprove his yearend allowance, there would have been no need for him to pawn his wedding ring, much less gamble.
His wife would surely ask him when he got home why his wedding band was missing from his finger, and he had contrived the excuse that he brought it to the goldsmith for cleaning because its glimmer was gone and had become dull.
Bernardo laughed at himself. Maybe he was talking about his marriage and not the ring.
A month back, Bernardo was smitten with a GRO (guest relation officer) he met while nightclubbing with his officemates, and he shuddered with pleasure as he thought of their last tryst, when Tisha brought him to the clouds of ecstasy he had never experienced before with any other woman.
Again, he cursed the mayor under his breath. How dare the old goat say he was undeserving. Maybe it was him who undeserving, doing nothing but run after a Chinaman in the parking business, and shifting the blame for his incompetence to his political rivals or whoever.
Has the city moved forward at all since he took over?
Maybe someone else was running the show, but that sounded more like a fishwives’ tale, at least that was what the old goat’s wife kept saying, plopping herself on the mayor’s chair, feeling like she owned it.
Sipping beer with his friend in a restaurant, Bernardo voiced out his feelings to him.
“Look Bernardo,” his friend said, “forget the mayor, he is as stubborn as mountain goats come, and he won’t listen to reason. Remember, Eve brought Adam down with her, and maybe the old man and his meddling wife will suffer the same fate and may be driven out of Paradise for eating not one but all the forbidden apples – or deals, if you like.”
“But I want you to forget the other thing. Forget the girl, she can only bring you trouble.”
“She’s like your cockfighting friends, they love you when you are winning, but shun your company when you are on a slide.”
“Believe me, I know whereof I speak. I have been there, and my two daughters have not yet forgiven me up to this time, even if my wife already has.”
“Here kumpadre,” his friend added, handing him P10,000, “do me a favor and give this money to your wife, so you and your family will have a happy holidays.”
Suddenly Bernardo was glad he lost at the cockfights. If he had won, he would probably be with his girl at the moment. His friend was right. He remembered how angry Tisha was each time he came to visit empty-handed, and refused to sleep with him.
So much for fair-weather bedmates.
Bernardo hugged his friend and said thank you.
“Think nothing of it,” his friend answered. “What are friends for? Besides, it’s Christmas. There’s more joy in giving than receiving, and that’s not a gift, it’s a loan, but pay me when you are able.”
Bernardo stepped out into the cold night. His friend watched him walk away, feeling good about himself.
“Merry Christmas Bernardo,” he shouted, and Bernardo turned to wave at him, looking at him like he had just been freed from bondage.