He shivered on the cold of the night breeze, the same one that rustled the bare Mango tree right by the silent street he was walking on. His umbrella was barely holding, taken by the weight of the wind. It wasn’t even raining anymore, he just holds it up, lost in thoughts while walking this long but familiar path home.
He had just turned right into the alley between the main road and the road that slopes down. This was done mainly as a shortcut, but partially to see the odd little broken building that demolishers chipped away every single day. Yesterday it looked like a turtle, overturned and on its back, the curtains left writhing like fingers to the chill of the wind.
Today, it looked like a lonely lego brick, awaiting it’s unsuspecting giant to be stepped on. There was only rubble and rocks around it, like an unholy halo of destruction, like tears shed and remembered only in memories.
He had thought this was the last time he’ll see the building, it had gotten so small that perhaps a single blow would be all it takes to bring the rest of it down. Then he can actually call this an “empty lot”. Aghast to the thought, he felt that he barely even remembered what this place looked like before. It had always been just this brown menacing building, covered by boards and weeds and stones. Only made up stories and rumors no one can ever now prove surrounded the lonely piece of building left standing.
He recalled the fantastic one he heard about the beggar that once lived in the building. As stories had went, a friend of a friend of a relative once heard the story of the old man of Canley – this was the long sloping street at the end of which housed the alley that this building had stood. The old man of Canley was a lively old fool that had a harmonica and begged for food. He’d been chased by many a policeman but never caught because he’d disappear through the alley. One day, it was said that a stranger approached and tried to talk to him, umbrella in hand from the drizzle of rain. The old man was in the middle of playing an unfamiliar old song, so without fear of interrupting, the stranger went close and cleared his throat. He asked him why he didn’t seek shelter since they’ve been told the rain brings sickness.
Old man Canley finished his little ditty, spit on the ground and looked straight through the man. He said, “Ang mundo ang aking tahanan at nakatira ako sa lupa” (But the world is my shelter and I lived on the land)
Confused, the stranger gave him bread as the old man restarted his instrument – this time playing an eraserheads song. The stranger immediately recognized, and decided to sing along.
“Kamukha mo, si Paraluman..” the harmonica sustaining the note, as if to a long lost love.
“Nung tayo ay bata pa.”
“At ang galing galing mong sumayaw.. Boogie man o cha cha.” It had started to pour harder, the stranger singing in between a cigarette he lit as the song started.
“Magkahawak ang ating kamay at walang kamalay-malay, na tinuruan mo ang puso ko na umibig ng tunay.” The stranger then looked intently at the old man, who played so passionately those last few notes as if there was nothing else in this world but the song.
“La la la, la la la… la la la, la la la-” at that last note, the old man stopped, stood up, said thank you and walked to the direction of the abandoned building.
The stranger, now sure that the man was a little bit off, thought nothing of it. However, to his behest, he never saw the old man again. So as any urban legend must end in, the people began to believe that the old man was the spirit of the building and all it wanted was to be part of something again – perhaps something as simple as the chorus of a song.
With that thought, the wind and the rain picked up as he realized that he was staring at the empty building. Shivering again, he had started to proceed home. And he rounded the corner where the building was about to leave his view, he started to sing the same song in the story.
Nobody would even believe him even if he tried, but he was sure that while he was singing, it was like the wind was whistling the same lonely tune – an ode to days gone by.