A FEW STEPS FROM DEATH’S DOOR
I was having a perspiring day in my mini gym when my errand lunged forward as if to interfere in my solo ball game. Accordingly, he was a few blocks away to buy me a pack of cigarette when he witnessed someone being fired upon at close range. The victim had just unloaded his son from his car at the gates of the school when a casually dressed man walked by, pointed the gun at the driver and fired a single shot. The victim throttled his car but the gunman further peppered the car with more shots, most of which found its target on the prey rendering the man behind the wheels lifeless instantly.
The incident drove the people; mostly students scampering away from the commotion as the gunman slowly walked towards his motorbike and normally sped away.
The school, the site of the murder, was a few blocks away from my residence. I remember last year, one of my personnel was also gunned down in a similar fashion, gun, bike and the unhurried get-away . To think that my place was a placid, sleepy type of a town makes it a location impossible to host violence but there it was. The irony of it is further amplified by the fact that most residents in the area are not the controversial, provocative or notorious kind.
Well, none of the residents would figure in the violence and only those transient would get the comeuppance. What is perplexing though is the kind of viciousness expressed in those violent streaks. It is more urban than rural, more metropolitan than municipal.
I am not worried though. I am neither apprehensive about the situation. It merely reminded me of my past. I worked in prison for almost four decades and the feeling was deja vu.
And I mean I spend most of the time, occasionally taking my meals in the prison camp a few paces away from the meanest, callous, coldhearted, those the judicial system have segregated from the free community because of their vicious acts and there I was with them. I knew for a fact that while eating, those incorrigible types ogling at me may want to gobble me up. Well, they were also aware that I could also to the same to them. Psychologically, a stalemate if I may submit. I had no reservations. Actually, I had no worries, no sweat, no fear at all. Just projecting to the prison community that here is one person who understands their plight, unafraid to promote what is left of humanity in their souls.
And unlike Manila’s Dirty Harry, Alfredo Lim or Davao’s (now the country’s ) Punisher, Rodrigo Duterte who impress people with their iron fist and fearsome disposition in front of arrested criminals, surrounded by armed squad, I was oftentimes inside the prison compound during my prime, at the heart of the convicts’ lair, alone, without body guards or armed sentinel while effectively making my rounds. A single violent incident in the neighborhood will definitely not unsettle me at all.
That is right. I just retired and came out of death’s door a brief summertime ago. And anything that spells mayhem around merely reminds me of the melody which gave my youth and adulthood, those times in prison work, that crime and innocence are one and the same.
Sometimes, one’s past would haunt if only as reminiscence of a person’s present.