The old lady looked really frail and tired. But as soon as she heard the news she got up like she was in full health, and went to her big old wardrobe drawer.
There was something that I noticed that I thought I was really stoned, because I saw that the native mat that she lay on was sticking to her forearm skin, like it was glued on her.
“So what is with her?” I asked one of those relatives, I can’t be sure which one, and I was like having tunnel vision, so focused on that old lady.
“She just won’t die, until she passes that stone to someone.”
Mockingly I said, “and so she will just die.”
“Yes.” The answer kind of got me there; it was cold, with no feelings at all.
And yet I thought Filipinos were so family oriented. I was kind of shocked at his reply, then I saw her with the drawer she removed from her bureau, in it were lots of small bottles.
Then she said something to her relative, I realized they were instructions.
So he said that… “This is for your skin, for the night, when you look for victims”
The food arrived, both had to pause a while and eat. But Mr. Lutz was curious; he pushed Steffan to continue as they ate.
I didn’t really get them, so I asked what was in the bottle. I mean I didn’t even notice the word ‘victim’ until now. Oh shit!
“What’s in the bottle?” I asked; the relative confers with her great grand aunt, and then he looks back at me. “This is oil for your skin; this is when you fly into the night to hunt for ladies”
“Does it improve the texture of my skin?”
“Yes, yes. I think so. Look at my aunt, she is aging well.”
“What oil is it?” so he asks back at the old lady. “You can put any oil, but it would be best if its coconut oil or vegetable oil”
“So what is this black stuff inside the bottle?”
“Oh that, tree.”
“Tree? Oh you mean a tree bark?”
“That is the skin of a tree.”
“What tree?” the relative asks her again.
“She says she doesn’t know anymore it was just passed on to her.”
“So why do I want to put any oil?”
“Refill any oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil or even Johnson’s baby oil.”
“You know what; I don’t think I would want to bring all of this, besides I don’t have anything to put it in or carry it.” The next thing I know she gave me a black bag, well three of them… small ones.
The relative explained a bit more, “these bottles over here are for those people who will harm you with magic, this will boil and you can feel the heat”
“And that is bad…”
“Yes it’s bad because they will kill you, you cannot move… These oil bottles help to heal wounds faster. Faster for a wakwak than ordinary man”
“I don’t think I can take this to the US, definitely customs would put this on hold.”
“No you must bring this!”
He was insistent that I should bring this with me all the time, so I brought it along, anyway back to the story…
“I guess this is it, thanks.” I was just about to leave when he stopped me.
“Wait, you have not received it yet.”
“What? So these are not it.”
“No no no, those are the things that go with it”
The old lady goes back to her mat or was it a bed. She looked at me, and I guess it was my cue so I went up to her. She made a fist of her right hand and put it in front of her mouth as if she was regurgitating something.
Then she took my hand and gave me a black pebble from her right hand. So I held it, I didn’t know what to do with it; I didn’t want to swallow it. But she sort of made gestures that I should put that thing in my mouth; I had no intention of swallowing it though, so I pretended to sort of put it in.
It was like magic when I did, because it disappeared in my hand like it melted or like I absorbed it.
“So did she die?”
“Now that I look back on it, she died right away the moment it disappeared from my hands.”
“So do you still have that oil? And the small bottles?”
“Have you ever used it?”
“Last night, but I didn’t remember anything, it was like I was dreaming.”
“Why don’t you tell me about it?”
“Okay, but you better tell me your stories after.”
“I was planning to party all night, with my roommates… wait let me just cut to the chase. I did put oil all over my body. And after that it was a dream.”
“What was the dream all about?”
“Well I flew… and I think I…” what was that again “I kaon, it was an old guy dying, he smelled like… I can’t describe the smell, but there was a fruity sweet scent, yet it was really awful, it stinks”
“Did you see anything glowing, like a white light?”
“Yes, yes, so it was not a dream?”
“Of course it was not.”
“I still can’t believe it, so surreal. When I consumed it, the awful smell became addicting, like it was not even there, the taste kind of reminds me of eating caramel candy. Then I could feel the heat inside me, it was like being alive… it was psychedelic, like I was one with nature, it was… euphoric.” Steffan’s face looked like he was trying to act stoned.
“That was the life force….” This guys is really fucking nut, a fucking tree hugger.
“I’m a monster!”
“If you feel that way you should not have taken it.”
“Does it happen all the time; am I going to… kaon again? I mean I don’t believe in superstition hence… so can I control this?”
“I don’t know, we have similar paths but I don’t have oil.”
“Wait what do you mean I should not have taken it? Who believes in such mumbo jumbo superstition stuff anyway?”
“You should have taken the advice from the motorcycle cabbie.”
“Were you always on a kaon, every night?”
“It’s like an itch that you just can’t get rid of, it compels you.”
There was silence between them, as they finished off their meal.
“So is that what it is, it compels… we are compelled by an urge to feed every night?”
“Through the years I found a way out of it, but as I say it compels you and sometimes you cannot stop it. Listen kid, before I tell you my story, where did you have your first kaon?” Mr. Lutz gestures to the waiter for the bill, and he picks up his glass of water to drink.
“At the hospital I suppose.”