Mozart (Part 4) … the last one

The boy stared at the body, his vision impaired by his own blood. He did a slow visual scan of the man he used to call Daddy from head to torso to toes and back to torso to……

“That’s not a head!” he mumbled cheerfully. “It’s a potato!” His father had a potato head. Potatoes must be mashed. Almost instantaneously, the boy raised the screwdriver and began pounding on the man’s head.

“Potatoes must be mashed. Potatoes must be mashed. Potatoes must be mashed……” The boy went on to mash the potato completely in some God-given time. When he was done, he leaned back to rest.

“Well done!”

“Thank you, God!”

“Are you ready for the next step?”

“Yes, God. But…”

“But what?”

“Can I see Your face, God?”

“Ha! Why?”

“I’m just curious, God. Hmmm, never mind, God.”

“Since you’ve been such a good boy, I shall grant your wish.”

“Really, God?”

“Yes.”

“Oh…thank You, God!”

“Meet your Maker.” The boy could see someone walking towards him from the darkness of the bedroom. As the figure moved under the lights, he gaped at a little boy who looked just like him.

“Who are you?”

“I am God.”

“You look like me. You are not God.”

“I am God. You are me and I am you.”

“What?”

“I am God. You are God. We both are. In music, there is only one genius – Mozart. In music prophecy, there is only one genius – you and I. You…I…prophesy to kill. Let you…me…continue to draw strength from Mozart’s energy in his music-making when prophesying the death ends of all the naughty people. I will kill all the naughty people like how I killed the undertaker who touched me all over and my father who failed his life. They don’t deserve to live……” It dawned upon the boy that he had been talking to himself, and he was rather bemused.

He stood gingerly as he remembered three names. Tom had beaten him several times, citing fun as the reason. Dick had labelled his mother a witch. Uncle Harry had rolled off his father’s bed naked. He put the headphones to his ears and clicked ‘play’ on his walkman. Mozart made him smile, again.

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Published in: on Monday, September 8, 2008 at 11:32 pm  Comments (8)  
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Mozart (Part 3)

The crescendo startled the boy. He opened his eyes and found himself still sitting at the corner of the living room. One bead of perspiration trickled down from his forehead and brushed across his lips. He wetted his lips with his tongue and tasted blood. He wiped his forehead with his hand and saw blood on the palm.

His father was watching Psycho on TV from the couch. Intermittently, the man would turn to glare at him, obviously warning him to do his job well. Quite bizarrely to the boy, the man resembled some food item he had learned from the pack of flash cards his mother had bought him about a year earlier. Potato. Yes, he was thinking of potato. He recalled what his mother had taught him about potatoes. They must be mashed.

A screwdriver darted across the room and hit his shoulder. He looked up. His father was yelling at him, demanding the name of the winning team of the game between Red Sox and Mariners. Then, a voice boomed in the boy’s ears. It was God and He said it was time. The boy removed the headphones and remained calmly seated. He asked his father if he could take him to the restaurant to eat waffle ice-cream. Incensed by the boy’s audacious request, the man picked up a stool and hurled it at him. The stool landed heavily on the boy’s head and it left him with an open wound. As he struggled to sit upright, his whole head was in red.

The man, who must have been shocked by what he had done to his own offspring, acted apologetic. He was adamant that he was not wrong. He told the boy that they could both work closely together to attain huge measure of success. He ambled towards the boy and went down to pick up the stool.

“Now!” God spoke and the boy pulled his father’s hair with his left hand. The man was stunned by his son’s enormous strength and thrashed about to get free. He looked into the boy’s eyes and for the first time in his life, he fully embraced the meaning of fear. The pupils were plain ravenous. The boy seized the screwdriver swiftly with his right hand and pierced through his father’s neck with it. Like a contorting dying cockroach, the man lived out his last moments in tremendous agony, body twitching acrobatically. Soon, he left.

Published in: on Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 11:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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Mozart (Part 2)

That night, the boy was weeping tearlessly in his sleep when a voice spoke to him. He knew that was God who went on advising him on how to capitalise on his gift to further His kingdom. God closed the session by whistling a tune of Requiem and the boy swore his soul was much soothed by his Creator.

Just as God’s serenade faded into the darkness, the father stomped into the room and hoisted the boy from his bed. He commanded him to pull Mozart close to his ears. The little one did as he was told, remembering every word that God had uttered. He was going to get it, he reminded himself. He was going to get it.

The boy clicked ‘play’ and the music rolled. It was Requiem – the trail of hope God had just left behind in thin air. He closed his eyes, and for the first time, he could see. His mother was right ahead in all red. Her lovely tresses fell nicely on her breasts as she lifted her head to look at him. He thought he saw peace in her eyes, but her mouth was full with needles and she was chewing on them. She went on peeling the skin of her left forearm with the apple knife. The boy recognised what a monster depression was.

Before he could call out to his mother, she vanished. Then, a full-length mirror erected in front of him. He could see his own reflection and he looked gay. Quite abruptly, bruises, swells and cuts began to appear on the face and arms of the boy in the mirror, and he was crying. A huge arm of a strangely familiar headless man began to drag the boy in the mirror away.

Again, the boy wanted to shout, and again, he was distracted by what he saw next. His father was standing in the living room, back facing him. He started walking straight ahead and seemed to be talking to someone. As he squatted to pick up a stool, a boy came into sight. The boy saw himself, again, and this time, he was bleeding profusely from the head. His father was about to stand up when the bloody boy grabbed the man’s hair violently with one hand and thrust a screwdriver into his throat with another.

Published in: on Friday, September 5, 2008 at 1:32 am  Comments (3)  
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Mozart (Part 1)

The metre-tall boy picked up the screwdriver and began pounding on the lifeless body of the man repeatedly. He was sort of sniggering. The background music of Hitchcock’s Psycho seemed to give him the momentum to swing his arm.

No, he was no Chucky who was probably still chasing after his eloping bride. He was just a victim of his own success. A prodigy in music prophecy, he was the brainchild of the Almighty’s effort to boost the rootless life of a drunkard. Or at least that was what the latter believed. Day after day after the boy’s mother took her own life from prolonged depression, his father put him on the walkman that spoke nothing but Mozart. His mission was to predict the winning dog on the race track.

It was in fact accidental that the man discovered his son’s gift. Mozart was playing at his wife’s cremation when his boy whispered to him that the undertaker was going to take a tumble into the furnace. In all sanity, he slapped the boy and ordered him to shut up. Ten minutes later, while everyone was wailing or pretending to wail at the sight of the woman on the firebed, the undertaker slipped and fell into the fire. In the midst of the chaos that followed, the man looked at his son in disbelief. He knew God had finally arrived in his life.

The first weeks of the boy’s music prophecy reaped benefits for the parent, much to the boy’s own delight too. He was only four, but he could already feel what pride was. However, he soon found feeding an insatiable drinking beast an order too tall for even a Philistine. That animal started forcing him to spend every second of his 24-hour-a-day life listening to Mozart so that he could help him create his own almanac for the baseball games that coming new season. The man was determined to win every odd for every game and player. Sleep became a luxurious commodity for the little boy. Beatings began to co-exist with Mozart in his life.

Published in: on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 1:58 am  Comments (4)  
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Mahjong

You know how it feels when people all round you doubt your words, especially your loved ones. Gutted. That’s what I’m feeling right now.

I was just sitting there alone, staring out into the darkness, while everybody else was busy catching up with relatives and old pals from work or school. It was supposed to be a time of mourning, but at the superficial level, people here seemed to be having a whale of their time. From smiles to laughter; from tears of sorrow to tears of joy; from condolences to jokes. This funeral wake was slowly but surely turning into a farce.

Granny whom I so dearly loved was called home to be with the Lord just days before that. Perhaps, it was really the right time for Him to summon her after watching her, for quite a while, succumbing to the worst disease anyone could ever suffer on earth – dementia.

Just the other day, she looked into my eyes and said I really resembled Elmo. Then she woke up one morning and called Pa Ma, both of whom were rather bemused. She went on singing “…she’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes…” throughout that day. Of course, nothing beats that time when she hugged our neighbour, Mr Ong, and said, “I love you!” Apparently, she saw my late Grandpa in our flabbergasted mister handsome.

So, the day must come. She called all of us into the room and insisted that we sat down together with her to have a round of mahjong. We were baffled. She had never played the game before. The closest she had come to the game was those times she spent sitting by my Grandpa’s side while he played. Anyway, we obliged and Pa sat on my right while Ma sat on my left. Granny, who sat at the opposite end, rolled the dice. What happened the next half an hour or so was rather amusing. Granny did not know the rules of mahjong, but she went on telling us how to play the game, her own way. The three of us who could be considered mahjong veterans just tagged along. It was rather fun, except that we never got to win the game. Granny did all the winning, based on her own rules, of course.

Just when we were cheering for Granny for winning the fourteenth consecutive time, she let out a chortle and collapsed onto the floor, hands clutching her chest. We scrambled to our feet and rushed towards her. She never woke up after that.

I could hear the distinct sound of the mahjong tiles on the table not far from me. I looked up and saw Pa with a stick in his mouth talking loudly. He said he was going to win the next game boastfully. His three friends at the table laughed with him as they arranged the tiles neatly before themselves. Pa rolled the dice and another game began. Surprisingly, Ma was not there to watch or play along. She was sitting at the far end with her group of tai-tais. They were speaking very softly to each other, obviously building up their gossip prowess again. I could have joined Pa or Ma, but I had no mood. It wasn’t that I felt terribly sad to lose Granny. Yes, I loved her and I missed her, but I didn’t really feel devastated seeing her gone forever. Not when she kept calling me Nemo in her last days. I just felt that I should give her my utmost respect as a grandson. I might not be crying, but my heart wept bitterly on behalf of Granny. She must be crestfallen to see her son and daughter-in-law enjoying themselves with their companions at the wake.

I stood and ambled towards Granny’s coffin. Through the glass panel, I looked at her sullen face, much aged with wrinkles and faint red spots. She looked calm, and that soothed my heart somewhat. As I was about to walk away, I saw Granny smiling. I was stunned for a moment. My heart skipped a beat. I placed my face nearer to the glass panel and observed. No, there was no smile. Ha, I must be dreaming. I straightened up to get ready to go back home to rest a bit.

Just as I was about to leave the wake, I could hear another set of mahjong tiles being shuffled on the table behind the wall next to Granny’s coffin. Ma must have initiated another round of mahjong with her tai-tais, but why would she want to play the game so close to the coffin?

As I walked towards Ma on the other side of the wall, I could feel a little chill. This weather was getting on my nerves. Hot for five minutes, cold for fifty minutes; and this cycle went on and on. Then, the mahjong table and the group of players came into sight. But what I saw next got me standing there, rooted to the ground. Granny was sitting right there at the far side of the table with three other players. They were all rearranging the mahjong tiles, almost ready to start the game. Granny looked up and our eyes met. There was this strange sense of homeliness and alienation going round in me. I simply did not know what to do next. The moment of silence was interrupted abruptly when Granny opened her mouth and said, “Nemo, come and join us!” Well, she might have died, and her spirit might be haunting me now, but surely her state of dementia remained. I would never ever forget what I was about to see next. As soon as Granny finished talking with the smile I had seen earlier at her coffin, her three mahjong ‘pals’ at the table turned to face me, and none of them had a face.

That totally freaked me out, so I yelled as loud as I could and took off. Pa and Ma might have seen their son running in countless sprint races in school, winning each and every one of them. But I bet they had never seen me run that fast, as I disappeared from the funeral vicinity in under five seconds. They found me some twenty minutes later behind a trash bin on the floor just outside a 7-eleven store, arms over legs, the whole body shaking violently with a trail of white foam from the mouth. I swear that wasn’t vomit.

Guess what? I told Pa and Ma, in the presence of many concerned relatives, about what I had seen earlier when I was finally resting comfortably in my bed. And guess what again? They all laughed out heartily and said I needed a rest. I could not believe them, especially my folks. After watching how I had broken into a canter just an hour earlier and finding me next to a bin in a contorted state, they could actually trivialise my story!

“You sleep tight here, Sumo Lee! I’m going back down there to carry on my winning streak,” Pa said. Every one of them started streaming out of the room one by one, all appeared indifferent. I could hear Ma say, “I don’t think Sumo is taking Mum’s death too well.”

I close my eyes and feel a tinge of disgust. How can they doubt me? But I am too tired and too kind to hold any resentment now. My drooping eyelids are about to shut when I hear someone say, “Nemo, come join us in the living room here. We are short of one player.”

Published in: on Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 1:26 am  Comments (14)  
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