A Tidy Little Tale
by Jose Claudio B. Guerrero
Every night at exactly eleven forty-nine, tidy little Mars leaves his apartment in a tidy building on a little street in a subdivision in Quezon City. Tidy little Mars drives along the quiet streets of the subdivision, past the guardhouse where the guard sleeps, unmindful of the tidy little car going out of the gate.
At exactly eleven fifty-one, tidy little Mars turns on his radio and listens to tidy little songs. He chuckles, proud of his tidy little joke. For the next several hours he drives along near-deserted streets looking for his next quarry. He really isn't very picky. Of his quarries, he has only one requirement--that they're not barefoot. Because if they are, how can his tidy little joke work?
Once he spots the right one, tidy little Mars steps on his brake pedal, rolls his window down a crack, and pretends to be lost. With his tidy little voice, he calls out to his victim and asks his usual question: which way to the nearest hospital? when his victim leans over to answer, he takes out a tidy little atomizer filled with chloroform from his breast pocket and sprays it on the quarry's face. He then quickly opens the rear door of his tidy little car, drags the unconscious victim inside, and drives off looking for the nearest secluded spot he can find. There, with his sharp tools and little phials of acid, he cuts up his victim's body into small pieces and places them in tidy little bottles he keeps in the trunk of his tidy little car. Next, he dissolves the victim's bones and hair in the powerful acid. He then takes out his tidy little lighter and burns the victim's clothing, all except for one shoe which he places on the mat in front of the passenger seat. This done, he wipes his now not too tidy little hands on his handkerchief because he is very tidy indeed. Satisfied, he gets in his tidy little car and returns home. As he speeds along the highway, tiddy little Mars rolls down his window and throws out the shoe with a tidy little laugh.
Back at his apartment, tidy little Mars places the bottles filled with pieces of human meat in his refrigerator. Later in the morning he will grind it in his little meat grinder, so he can make the tidy little kikiam that he sells to the men selling snacks fried in pans in wooden carts. After closing the refrigerator door, he yawns a tidy little yawn and starts getting ready for bed. Soon after turning off his lamp on his side table, tidy little Mars falls asleep, his lips formed into a tidy little smile, dreaming of his tidy little joke.
Every morning at exactly seven twenty-one, tidy little Nance, dressed in her tidy school uniform, with her hair tied with little bows, sits and waits in the garden in front of their tidy little house on a little street in a subdivision in Quezon City. She waits for her mother to finish reading the newspaper full of stories of missing people. At exactly seven twenty-five, the mother, with her tidy little daughter seated beside her, drives her car along the little streets of the subdivision, past the guardhouse where the guard who is sipping coffee from his mug waves to the car going out the gate.
As her mother maneuvers their car through traffic, tidy little Nance sits on the passenger seat and quietly watches the highway as she listens to tidy little songs on the radio. Her mother also listens, but not to the songs on the radio. She listens for her daughter's tidy little voice as she asks the question she asks every morning: I wonder who owns that shoe? as she points her tidy little finger to the shoe on the highway. And her mother tells her that someone must have fallen asleep on the jeepney the night before and did not realize his shoe had fallen off. Satisfied with this explanation, tidy little Nance shrugs a tidy little shrug and forgets all about the shoe. Her lips formed into a tidy little smile, she fingers the ten-peso coin in her pocket and dreams of the tidy little kikiam she will buy from the vendor after dismissal time.