Journey into Disaster • Chapter 3.17. online

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Journey into Disaster

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3.17. Marielou and the German

Marielou goes quickly and purposefully through a maze of narrow streets and small squares. It consists of crooked bare walls and simple huts made of damp bamboo cane. The walls and roofs of many huts are made of thin braided leaves of the nipa palms. Behind the thin walls, Marielou hears women, men, children, babies, music, chickens and dogs when she scurry past. She hurries past pig and chicken pens and passes small yards with one or two palm trees. Dripping and often holey laundry hanging there. She passes garbage dumps. Garbage is actually everywhere. Finally, she steps out of the labyrinth and enters the dusty and hot-shimmering village place with the old Korean building, the waiting seat and the worn basketball net.

On the ramp in the shadow of the old Korean building, which used to be a match factory, Marielou meets her friends Jonathan Restito, an older brother of Sam Restito, Editho and Fernando. They are all at the same age as Marielou and have known each other since they were born. The boys, bored, throw pebbles on the dry ground. When they hit, the stones create clouds of dust that look like small explosions and they are childishly happy about them.

Jonathan jumps up: “Marielou, Lou, did you hear? Tommy was arrested, my brother Sam and four other boys are in the BSWD!”

“Yes, of course I’ve heard about, everyone is talking about it. Two of Ning’s cousins and two of my cousins are among them,” replies Marielou, breathless and slightly annoyed.

“And our Sam,” moans Jonathan and lets the remaining pebbles fall behind his back.

Marielou shakes her head. With worry lines on her pretty forehead, she replies in frustration: “Damn it, I can’t believe it! Tommy arrested, why?”

The tall, spindly Editho replies quickly: “We don’t know either, Lou. We went fishing and missed the TV report.”

Fernando, who, despite his 18 years of age, still has the broken voice of a 15-year-old, adds sadly: “But we barely caught anything. Just enough for breakfast. Nothing to sell. We’re broke.”

“As always,” notes Marielou. “Don’t worry, I’m broke too. Not even one Centavo in my pocket.” She becomes restless: “Do you know whether Frank is in his house?”

“Nope, Lou,” replies Jonathan.

Marielou gets desperate. She gesticulates vigorously while she speaks: “Anyway, I’m going there. Frank is also German. Maybe he knows what to do. We have to do something. We must help Tommy. I can’t just sit around idly, while Tommy is stewing in a cell.”

Jonathan rubs his dusty hands on his dirty shorts. Neither hands nor pants get any better. He answers: “I’ll come with you. Tommy has to get out of jail!”

Editho and Fernando also want to go with Marielou, but she refuses: “Forget it. Frank is strange, he won’t let more than two into his house anyway. You know that.”


Now the two teenagers are sitting upstairs on the covered veranda in the German’s house and look out over a short stretch of beach, the estuary, mangroves and the open sea. When Tommy lives in the house, Marielou, Jonathan and many of their friends often sit here. Neither of them has such an intimate friendship with the grouchy Frank as they do with Tommy. Marielou notes that Frank is the opposite of Tommy in every way: the strongly built Tommy and as opposed to the almost two meters long, smart Frank. So slender, that it looks sickly. Tommy’s always naughty grinning healthy face with full cheeks. Frank, however, with deep, dark rings under the eyes, as if he constantly has not enough sleep and then these always hanging corner of his mouth. Tommy is kindhearted. Frank doesn’t seem to care about other people and their worries. The biggest difference, Marielou sees again and again, are the mentalities of the two Germans. Tommy likes to laugh, crack jokes all the time, is interested in anything and everything. Frank seems always in a bad mood and wants to have as little to do with the villagers as possible. This is also shown by the three-meter-high fence that surrounds the small property, Marielou believes.

Frank, in his mid-forties, comes up the stairs smoking and sits down with the insecure teenagers. Now they sip indefinable bitter iced tea. Frank lights the second cigarette from the cheap Philippine brand “More.”

Marielou isn’t sure whether Frank is in a bad mood again, because he scowls at her and Jonathan and says: “Tommy, the idiot. He’s traveling to Tugalm City with five monkeys. Why doesn’t he come back the same day?”

“We don’t know either, Frank,” Marielou replies. She is contrite.

“Did you see the news, Frank?” asks Jonathan kindly.

“I don’t have a telly. It’s just garbage in there. I got the story from my neighbors earlier. There is already a lot of gossip about the dumb story.”

Frank blows cigarette smoke into the blue sky, pulls up his nose and spits from the balcony. Marielou turns away in disgust. She doesn’t really know how to react to Frank’s unkind behavior towards them and decides to just ignore it: “Do you have any ideas how we can help Tommy?”

Now the German throws his cigarette over the balcony railing and replies harshly: “Not at all! It doesn’t matter whether something happened in the hotel or not. They will really blow this story up and pull Tommy into court! Hello, Marielou! He’s a foreigner! Believe me, everyone wants to start earning money with it immediately. It’ll take at least seven years!” Frank laughs maliciously.

Marielou is unsure again. Is he joking or is he serious about his bad talk? She stutters: “But isn’t Tommy your friend, Frank?”

“Marielou, what should we do now? With five monkeys in the hotel? How stupid is that? No, he has to help himself. What happens now is clear. The police and the media will show up here soon. Asking stupid questions: um, okay, Heger lived here too. In this house — in my house! Goodbye loneliness and paradise. The fucking hell will break loose. But then I’ll be gone. Thank God, I have another house in the mountains.

Marielou and Jonathan are horrified. They don’t know how to answer and, out of desperation, they are drinking the bitter ice-tea. Marielou shouts in panic: “But we have to do something! Tommy gives money for my education and for Jonathan too.”

Jonathan nods barely noticeable and looks like he’s about to howl.

Frank’s facial features relax a little: “I know that! You can go to Attorney Padernesto. He certainly knows advice. What Tommy needs is money, a lot of money, to get out of the story.” The German leans forward, lights another More, inhales, grins crookedly: “A really lot of money!”

Marielou is persistent: “What’s about the embassy? They can not help? Gives any advices?”

“The police will inform the embassy. Then we’ll see if they can do anything,” Frank replies disinterestedly and adds: “Go to Padernesto! As far as I’ve heard he’s the best attorney in town. I’ll go with my motorcycle to Sendong City. I can take you with me and bring you there. In 30 minutes at the waiting seat?”

Marielou and Jonathan are relieved, the conversation is over.

“Okay,” sighs Marielou, “in 30 minutes at the waiting seat.”
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