Characters: Gloria, Mario, Pablo
An improvised home behind a portion of the Intramuros walls. Two wooden boxes flank the doorway. At left is an acacia tree with a wooden bench under it.)
MARIO enters from the street at left. He is in his late twenties, shabbily dressed and with hair that seems to have been uncut for weeks. He puts his lunch bag on the bench, sits down, removes his shoes and puts them beside his lunch bag.
GLORIA: (Calls from inside) Mario! Is that you, Mario?
GLORIA: (A small woman about Mario’s age, with long hair, comes out wiping her hands on her dress.)
I’m glad you’re home early.
MARIO: How is Tita?
(Without waiting for an answer, he enters the dwelling).
GLORIA: (Crosses to the bench)-
Don’t wake her up, Mario. She’s tired. She cried the whole day.
MARIO: (reappears and crosses to the bench and sits on one end) Has she
been eating well?
GLORIA: She wouldn’t eat even a mouthful of lugao. But I’ll buy her some biscuits. Maybe she’ll eat them. (She slips her fingers into his breast pocket) I’ll take some of the Money!
MARIO: (Rises, annoyed)
Gloria! Can’t you wait a minute?
GLORIA: (Taken aback) Hey, what’s the matter? Why are you suddenly so touchy?
MARIO: Who wouldn’t be? I’m talking to you about the child and you bother me by ransacking my pockets I wish you’d think more of our daughter.
GLORIA: (Crosses at the Center) My God! Wasn’t I thinking of her? Why do you think I need some money? To buy me a pretty dress? Or see a movie?
MARIO: Tone down your voice. You’ll wake the child up.
GLORIA: (Low but intense) All I want is a little money to buy her something to eat!! She hasn’t eaten anything all day! That was why I was “bothering” you!
MARIO: (Repentant) I’m sorry, Gloria… (Grips her arm)
GLORIA: It’s all right, Mario. Now, may I have some of the money?
MARIO: (Turns to her)-Money? I … don’t have any… not now.
GLORIA: Today is payday, Mario.
MARIO: Yes … but…
GLORIA: But what? Where’s your pay for the week?
MARIO: I don’t … have it.
GLORIA : What? I waited for you the whole day and you tell me.
MARIO: (Angry) that I have nothing! Nothing! What do you want me to do steal?
GLORIA: I’m not asking you to do a thing like that! All I want to know is what you did with your money.
MARIO: (Sits on the bench)-Nothing is left of it.
GLORIA: Nothing? What happened?
MARIO: Oh, I had a few drinks with my friends. Before I knew it, I had spent every centavo of it.
GLORIA: (Eyeing him intently)-Mario, do you think you can make a fool of me? Haven’t I seen you drunk before: crawling home like a wounded snake and reeking of alcohol like a hospital? You don’t smell or look drunk.
MARIO: All right, so I didn’t go drinking.
GLORIA: But your pay- what happened to it?
MARIO: It’s better if you don’t know, Gloria
GLORIA: Look, Mario I’m your wife. I have the right to half of everything you get. If I can’t have my share, I have the right to know at least where it went!
MARIO: All right. (Rises.) I spent it all on another woman.
GLORIA: Another woman? I don’t believe it. I know you wouldn’t do such thing.
MARIO: I didn’t know you had so much faith in me.
GLORIA: No, Mario, what I mean is- you wouldn’t spend all your money when you know your daughter may need some of it. You love her too much to do that. (Mario sits down and buries his head in his hands. Gloria crosses to him and lays a hand on his shoulder.)
GLORIA: What’s wrong, Mario?
MARIO: (Turns his face away)- Nothing, Gloria, nothing.
GLORIA: (Sits beside him) I know something is wrong, Mario. I can feel it. Tell me what it is.
MARIO: (Stares at the ground) Gloria, I’ve lost my job.
GLORIA: (Rises, shocked) Oh, No!
MARIO: (Looks up at her)It’s true, Gloria
GLORIA: What about your pay for the whole week?
MARIO: I lost my job a week ago.
GLORIA: And you never even told me!
MARIO: I thought I could get another, without making you worry.
GLORIA: Do you think you can get another in five months? It took you that long to get the last one.
MARIO: It won’t take me as long to get another.
GLORIA: But how did you lose it? Mario! Have your sinful fingers brought you trouble again?
MARIO: Now, now, Gloria! Don’t try to accuse me, as they did!
GLORIA: What did they accuse you of?
MARIO: Just what you meant to say, Pilfering, they call it.
GLORIA: What else would you call it? (Pause.) What, according to them, did you steal?
MARIO: (Low) It was nothing much, really nothing at all.
GLORIA: What was it?
MARIO: It was an apple.
GLORIA: An apple! You mean-
MARIO: An apple! Don’t you know what an apple is?
GLORIA: You mean, you took one apple.
MARIO: Yes, and they kicked me out for it: for taking one, single apple. Not a dozen, not a crate.
GLORIA: That’s what you get —
MARIO: (Sits down ) -Could I have guessed they would do that for one apple? When there were millions of them? (Pause.) We were hauling them to the warehouse. I saw one roll out of a broken crate. It was that big. Suddenly, I found myself putting it in my lunch bag.
GLORIA- That’s the trouble with you; when you think of your own stomach, you think of nothing else!
MARIO: (Rise) I was not thinking of myself!
GLORIA: Whom were you thinking of- me? Did I ever ask for apples?
MARIO: Yes, she did. (pause.) Do you remember that day I took her out for a walk? On our way home we passed a grocery store that sold “delicious” apples at seventy centavos each. She wanted me to buy one for her, but I did not have seventy centavos. What I did was buy her one of those small green apples they sell on the sidewalk, but she just threw it away, saying it was not a real apple. Then she cried. (Pause.) So… when I saw this apple roll out of the broken crate, I thought that Tita would love to have it.
GLORIA: You should have tried to bring home pan-de-sal, or rice, or milk and not those “delicious” apples. We’re not rich. We can live without apples!
MARIO: Why? Did God create apple trees to bear fruit for rich alone? Didn’t he create the whole world for everyone? That’s why I tried to bring the apple home for Tita. When we brought her into this world we sort of promised her everything she had a right to have in life.
GLORIA: So, for a measly apple, you lost a job.
MARIO: I wouldn’t mind losing a thousand jobs for an apple for my daughter!
GLORIA: Where was this apple? Did you bring it home to Tita?
(Crosses to the bench to get the lunch bag)
MARIO: No, they kept it as evidence. (Sits down.)
GLORIA: See? You lost your job trying to filch an apple and you even lost the apple for which you lost your job.
(Gloria puts away the shoes and the lunch bag. She sits on the steps and they remain silent for a time.)
GLORIA: (Rising)-Filching an apple that’s too small a reason to kick a poor man out of work. You should ask them to give you a second chance, Mario.
MARIO: They won’t do that.
GLORIA: Why not?
MARIO: (Rises) Can.t you see they had been waiting for me to make a slip like that? They’ve wanted to throw me out for any reason, so that they may bring their own men in.
GLORIA: You should complain.
MARIO: If I did? They would dig up my police record.
GLORIA: (Crosses to him)- But, Mario that was so long ago! Why would they try to dig that thing up?
MARIO: They’ll do anything to keep me out. (Holds her arm.) But don’t worry, I’ll find another job. It isn’t really so hard to look for a job nowadays. (From this point he avoids her eyes). You know I’ve been job hunting for a week now, and I think I have found a good job.
GLORIA: There you go, lying again.
MARIO: Believe me, I’m not lying this time.
GLORIA:(Crosses to the center) You’re always lying. I can’t tell when you’re telling the truth or not.
MARIO: In fact, I’ll see someone tonight who knows of a company that needs a night watchman.
GLORIA: (Holds his arm) Honest?
MARIO: (Avoids her eyes) Honest! (Sits down.)
GLORIA: I knew God wouldn’t let us down. He never lets anybody down. I’ll pray tonight and ask Him to let you have that job.
(Looks at Mario)
But, Mario would it mean that you’d have to stay out all night?
MARIO: That would be all right. I can always sleep during the day.
GLORIA: (Brushes against him like a cat)- What I mean is, it will be different when you aren’t by my side at night. (Walks away from him.)
But, oh, I think I’ll get used to it. (Crosses to the center and turns around.) Why don’t you go and see this friend of yours right now? Anyway you don’t have anything to do tonight. Don’t you think it’s wise to see him as early as you can?
MARIO:(After a pause)-Yes, I think I’ll do that.
(Gloria crosses to the steps to get his shoes, followed by Mario.)
GLORIA: (Hands him the shoes.) Here, Mario, put these on and go I’ll step up and wait for you. (Sits on the steps and watches him.)
MARIO: (Putting on the shoes) No, Gloria, you must not wait for me. I may be back quite late.
GLORIA: All right, But doubt if i can sleep a wink until you return.
(Gloria comes up to him after he finishes and tries to hug him, but he pushes her away). Suddenly confused, he sits on the steps. Gloria sits beside him and plays with his hands.)
GLORIA: Mother was wrong. You know, before we got married, she used to tell me: “Gloria, you’ll commit the greatest mistake of your life if you marry that good-for-nothing loafer!”
Oh, I wish she were alive now, She would have seen how much you’ve changed.
(She sees someone behind the tree: Pablo. He has been watching them for a time. He is older than Mario, sinister-looking, and well dressed.)
PABLO: (Sarcastic)-Hmmmmmm How romantic!
(Suddenly unnerved, Mario starts to fidget. Gloria rises and walks to the center, her eyes burning with hate. Pablo lights a cigarette, never taking his eyes burning with hate. Pablo lights a cigarette, never taking his eyes off her.)
PABLO: You’re not glad to see me, are you? (Puts a foot on the bench.)
GLORIA: (Angry) What are you doing here? What do you want?
PABLO: Saaaay! Is that the right way to receive a friend who has come a
GLORIA: We don’t care for your visits!
PABLO: You haven’t changed a bit, Gloria… not a bit.
GLORIA : Neither have you, I can see!
PABLO: You’re still that same woman who cursed me to hell because I happened to be Mario’s friend long before you met him. Time has not made you any kinder to me. You still hate me, don’t you?
GLORIA: Yes! And I wish you’d stay away from us for the rest of our lives!
PABLO: Am I not staying away from you?
GLORIA: Then why are you here?
PABLO: God! May I not even come to see you now and then, to see if life
has been kind to you? How are you getting along?
GLORIA: (Scornfully) We were doing well until you showed up!
PABLO: Your daughter- she was only that high when I saw her last-how is she?
GLORIA: She’s all right!
PABLO: Oh! and I thought she had not been very well.
GLORIA: (Suspicious)How did you know? (To Mario). Did you tell him?
MARIO: I … how could I? I haven’t seen him in a long time … (Sits down.) until now of course.
PABLO: What? is she sick with?
GLORIA: (Curtly)- We don’t know!
PABLO: Don’t you think you should take her to a doctor? (Puts his foot down and pulls out his wallet). Here, I’ll loan you a few pesos. It may help your daughter to get well.
GLORIA: (Scornfully) We need it all right-but no, thank you
PABLO: Why don’t you take it!
GLORIA: Paying you back will only mean seeing your face again.
PABLO: Well, if you hate my face so much, you don’t have to pay me back. Take it as a gift.
GLORIA: The more reason I should refuse it!
PABLO: All right, if that’s how you want it.- (Sits down and plays with the wallet.)
GLORIA: Mario has stopped depending on you, since the day I took him away from your “clutches”! I have no regrets.
PABLO: How about Mario? Has he no regrets either?
GLORIA: He has none.
PABLO: How can you be so sure? When he and I were pals we could go to first-class air-conditioned movie houses every other day. I’ll bet all the money I have here now (brandishing his wallet) that he has not been to one since you “liberated” him from me. And that was almost four years ago.
GLORIA: One cannot expect too much from honest money and we don’t.
PABLO: (Rises and walks about) What is honest money? Does it look better than dishonest money? Does it buy more? honesty? What is it? Dressing like that? Staying in this dungeon you call a house? Is that what you call “honesty”?
MARIO: (Rises) Pablo!
PABLO: See what happened to your daughter. That is what honesty has done to her. And how can honesty help her now? She’s not sick and needs: food. Good food.
GLORIA: I know you have come to lead him back to your dishonest ways, but you can’t. He won’t listen to you now now! We have gone this far and we can go on living without your help!
PABLO: ( Sarcastic) – You call this living? This, Gloria is what you call dying, dying slowly minute by minute. (Laughs.)
MARIO: (Crosses to him and shakes him) Pablo, stop it! (Pablo stops). You shouldn’t have come.
PABLO: I got tired waiting for you!
GLORIA: So you have been seeing each other! I was afraid so!
PABLO: He came to the house yesterday.
MARIO: Pablo, don’t
PABLO: (Ignoring Mario) He said he would be back this noon. But he didn’t show up. I came because I was afraid his conscience was bothering him.
MARIO- Pablo, I told you she should not know!
PABLO: It’s all right, Mario. You’d better tell her everything. She’s bound to know later. Tell her what you told me: that you no longer believe in the way she wanted you to live. Tell her.
(Mario turns his back on them.)
GLORIA: Mario… is this what you meant by another job
MARIO: Gloria… you…you must try to understand… I tried… but I could not left us out of this kind of life…
GLORIA: (shouts at Pablo)- You’re to blame for this, you son-of-devil!
PABLO: He came to me first-
GLORIA: When you know he’ll cling to anything and do anything! Even
return to the life he hates! Get out!
PABLO: I’ll leave just as soon as Mario is ready to go.
GLORIA: He’s not going with you!
PABLO: Is that so! Why don’t you ask him? (sits on the bench, grinning.)
GLORIA: ( to Mario)-You’re not going with him, are you, Mario? Tell him to leave us and never come back! Tell him to go, please, Mario… I know he has talked to you and tried to poison your mind again… but don’t go with him.
MARIO: (Holds her) – Gloria, I…
PABLO : Don’t worry about him, Gloria. He’s safe with me.
MARIO: ( Pulls her away)- You stay there, Pablo, I’ll be with you in a minute.
MARIO:-Gloria, I’m going with him.
GLORIA: Don’t Mario, don’t…
MARIO: You can’t make me stop now, I’ve thought about this since last week.
GLORIA- No, no Mario, no … (Holds fast to him.)
MARIO: You take good care of yourself and our child. I’ll take good care of myself. Don’t wait up for me. I’ll come home very late.
(Mario walks away with Pablo. Gloria stares at them, then she shouts.)
(She covers her face with her dress and cries into it. The daughter,from inside, joins her crying as the curtain closes.)