Ate Ditta and her well-laden cart arrived everyday at half-past four, during a well-timed five minute commercial break between Ghost Fighter and Flame of Recca. He patted the loose pocket, heavy and reassuring, bulging with eighty pesos in five and ten-peso coins. Neither his father nor his mother were home so Rodrik need not sneak back into the house or gobble his pritong booba. He envisioned an afternoon in front of their television, tiles cool under him.
"Huwag ka na bumili sa labas ah! Ma-food poisoning ka, wala akong pambayad ng gamot." That was his mother, who once caught him wolf down a stick of teats dipped in the dubiously orange sweet and sour sauce. She yanked him home, forced half a pitcher of water down his throat, and threatened to feed him soap.
"Malinis naman po si ate Ditta, 'Nay!" he complained.
"Wala akong pakialam! Huwag ka na bibili uli!"
Clouds were high in a perfect blue sky, the wind warm upon the dusty street, and Ate Ditta's presence was like a siren call to most, if not all, the children on his street. They flocked around her like the flies she slapped away. When a gaggle of second graders, still in their blue and white elementary school uniforms, moved away, Ate Ditta beckoned Rodrik close. The boys bought two orders of fishball each, their thin paper cups full of spiced vinegar. Rodrik licked his lips, forming the order in his mind.
"Ate, apat na fishball at tatlong pritong booba."
Hot oil sloshed in the wok as ate Ditta stirred. This was Rodrik's favorite part: he watched the fishball brown and crisp, the oil a small turbulent lake. She was cooking extra kikiam, a best seller, although Rodrik found them disconcerting to eat. They looked like small dwarf dicks. Maybe that's why he best preferred his pritong booba with its crisped nipples and mallow-soft flesh within crusty, near-burnt skin. Small and prepubescent teats harvested from sporadic sunshowers yet, somehow, ate Ditta came with a fresh batch everyday. Rodrik felt his stomach growl. Smoke from the oil wafted over him. As ate Ditta fished his fishball out, she slid fifteen single breasts into the bubbling oil. Crackling, they grew to the size of modest eggs. Rodrik counted eight brown booba, his favorite. More than usual. Their skin tended to be crispier. Blackened nipples stared like eyes and he could almost taste them, the crunch of his bite, the sudden sweetness within.
Ate Ditta handed him the order bundled up neatly in plastic. He didn't know if the ate remembered him. She was a tall, fat woman who dressed provocatively out of habit. Her loose sleeveless shirt came in green, white, blue, vicious red, and pink of all hues but she favored a tattered pair of shorts. Rodrik especially liked to look at her toes with their queer, rectangular nails.
Inside, settled on the floor, Rodrik ate his fishball and fried teats. Licking his fingers and burping on the floor, he fell asleep as Flame of Recca ended. When he felt his stomach roil painfully, gas in his belly, the first spasm hit. Unable to breathe, Rodrik stretched out on the floor, distended belly cooled by the whirring electric fan above. The spasms came twice every five minutes. They rocked his body and left him trembling. When at last he could breathe properly, he burped loudly, and crawled to the toilet where he heaved his meryenda. When he took off the sweat-drenched shirt with its orange-sauce stains where he wiped his sticky hands, Rodrik glimpsed his large brown nipples atop a budding mound of pink, soft flesh, large as shy eggs.
Using the same concept as Untitled