By W.D. Nolledo
Maria Concepcion had many suitors. They came to her house at night when the streets were deserted and the sampaguita vendor waited hopefully under the balcony and under the moon with the remaining white flowers of the day like a face behind a veil.
* * * *
Who can tell the ways of women? Wherever she went, she sought out the male and the male always suffered. Whenever she moved, she hurt the male mind, the male heart, the male body. Nothing masculine was ever safe from her and this went on and on and on and she exhausted all logic and all lands and still it was not over. It could not end. After every destruction, she went on a pilgrimage to her mother's tomb in Spain to look at the cross hung crooked on a bough, to check on the flower man. Perhaps the caretaker was a traitor and was not tending to the weekly floral changes as he had been retained to do. Then he must die; shall be buried in his own graveyard like a thief without a funeral. Farewell, mother. Until the next seducer.
* * * *
He took her gloves and put them under his pillow. "At last, it may be over," she said.
They lay back together in a lazy children's trance, and when he slept, clasping the first female presence in his life, she went away.
And now the white moon glowed in the room like lightning and the boy slipped his fingers under the pillow, to touch the white hands of a terrible dream. Outside, it had grown darker still and the members of the invasion convened once more in front of the house. They clapped their hands, they danced, they sang his name in metaphors.
"Alfonso, you must lead us," said Anselmo.
Alfonso did not move, did not want to understand.
And they danced, all night they danced around the countryside, the girls, the hunters, the council of war. All night they sang: Where, where is our leader?