“What is wrong with you?” Ferdinand exclaimed, coming in through the door that day.
“It’s disciplinary action!” Lina told him, following close behind as she shut the door behind her.
Lina was a college student and assistant teacher in the early childhood department in the Catholic School Ferdinand helped run as a tertiary brother. He was just reprimanding her, as a part of the administration, about the way she would handle her less rowdy students.
“Hello you two.” Chloe greeted, acknowledging them as she set her book down. “What this about Lina and disciplinary action?” she asked them. Chloe was a musician and studied Physics at the university owned and managed by same order Ferdinand was in.
“She whipped one of the kindergarteners!” Ferdinand ratted out on her.
“Oh my…” Chloe reacted, turning her head and convictions to Lina.
“I did not whip, Ferdinand.” Lina clarified, looking back at Chloe. “It was just a soft strike…” she tried to justify herself.
“She made a whip out of those candy-colored yogurt sticks!” Ferdinand said. “Every time the kids would act up, she hit them and take their yogurt sticks.” Ferdinand continued.
“Oh, come one, it’s not that bad…” Lina defended, placing her handbag by the sofa.
“At the end of the day she ended up with a cat-o-thirty-two tails made of yogurt sticks and a lawsuit.” Ferdinand squealed.
“I’ll have you know the complaint never had the chance to become a lawsuit.” Lina replied, taking off her earrings.
“Yeah, that’s because the marks on the children’s backs never had the chance to show…” Ferdinand quipped.
Lina Pascalli and Chloe le Blaise were college students, Chloe was taking Physics and made ends meet by performing at the Gaslight, a nightlife café. Lina on the other hand, was taking Basic and Primary Education and worked for her daily bread as an assistant teacher. Ferdinand was orphaned as child, and became a tertiary for the Redemptorists at seven. He is currently taking up Divine Theology and Philosophy, serving as an instructor during the night and the lay brother cook at day.
How two young women came to live with a brother in the first place was the result of a city filled to the brim with young hopefuls like them, a dyslexic pedicab driver and the Intercession of Our Mother Mary.
“Uncle!” Lina hailed for a pedicab. The clunky motorized cycle rickshaw made a U-turn and parked in front of her. Lina and another girl, who she would soon know as Chloe, got in.
“Here’s the address, uncle.” Lina said, giving a small piece of paper to the driver. She looked dup in a slight hesitance after seeing the nonagenarian behind the bar. He fumbled for his glasses and read the address. He soon stomped on the shifter and started off.
“Excuse me…” a petite squeak emanated from her side. “Do you know where this…”
“Ahh…” Lina hesitated. “I’m not from here…” she said, to the then stranger’s dismay.
The motorcycle rickshaw had its carriage wielded to the side of it chassis with one wheel: the standard design for most pedicabs. Inside there was a window for the driver and for the passengers. Above the passengers window was a vaguely painted sign that’s said “Left *invert symbol* Right”. Lina had no idea what this meant, even if she actually did notice the sign.
“Oh…” the girl drowned. “Out of town, too?” she asked, picking up her mood.
“Yeah.” Lina responded charismatically. “I’m here for uni.”
“So am I!’ the girls responded.
“St. Ligouri?” the girls asked, pertaining to the university rather than the saint himself.
“Yeah!” Lina said optimistically, followed by a sigh of relief.
“Oh wow! Me too!” the stranger said in response, with more or less equal enthusiasm.
“Oh my gosh, you don’t realize how much of a relief it is to meet somebody out of campus this early.” Lina expressed. “Saves all the awkwardness of like, actually finding friends in campus.” she went on. She continued this and turned her head to the miniscule girl next to here. “Hey, I’m Lina. Lina Pascalli.” she introduced.
“I’m Chloe de Blaise.” the girl introduced herself. “Nice to meet you.”
“Just to be sure: you’re in college, right?” Lina said. The two of them shared a chuckle on the well-meaning joked. After their humors subsided though, Lina went to apologize. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said with a trail of faint laughter.
“It’s alright, I get that a lot.” Chloe forgave. “Besides, guys like the petite aesthetic.” she quipped, flicking her golden-brown hair and wielding a rose-tinted smirk.
“Ohhh!” Lina reacted. “How many guys?” Lina asked.
“None yet!” Chloe said, slightly offended by the assumption. “What do you take me for?”
“No, no, not that.” Lina clarified. “I meant how many guys are under your leash? You know, how many fish are on the line?” she asked.
“None yet. The secret is not to let them bite…” They shared another chuckle in between stories until they got to their destination.
While the girls were unaware that they were heading towards a different street, Ferdinand was busy doing the morning chores. His morning routine was get everything done then sit down for breakfast. He did exactly that and more: pouring kerosene down the toilet and setting it ablaze to disinfect it for good and send a message to any rats that might want to climb out.
It was during breakfast where the oddities of Ferdinand’s morning truly shine. From the box, he would tear off a chunk of bread, take the slab pork drying from the nail on the low wooden rafter, take a ladleful of bitter chocolate, sit down with his ‘brick’ phone set to his favorite radio station and provide commentary on what he heard.
“Notre Dame Fire caused by faulty ‘electric wiring’, says authorities.” Cover up.
“Cardi-B admits to drugging and robbing men” I knew that shady skank was no good.
“Vatican sex scandal” Cardi-B should get herself a job in the Vatican: drugging cardinals
As he enjoys dunking his bread into the boiling bitter chocolate and tearing chunks of salty pork with his teeth, he hears a knock at the door. He gets up, swallows the bread, spits out the half-chewed pork and move for the door.
“Mother Agatha!” Ferdinand embraced the old nun. “What brings you here?”
“Oh, it’s so good to see you, Ferdinand.” She hugged back. “I’m here to discuss something very important to you, my son.” She said, letting herself in.
“Oh, Mother Agatha you walked such a distance,” Ferdinand said. “At so early in the morning, please, have some breakfast.”
“I didn’t walk all the way, Ferdie.” Mother Agatha reassured him. “I just stepped a few meters outside the Covent and a nice gentleman offered to give me a ride; granted, who wouldn’t offer a ride to a nun?”
“Ideally, no one,” Ferdinand commented on the unmeant innuendo. Mother Agatha was quick to give him a smack on the face for it.
“Would you at least like some breakfast?” Ferdinand offered.
“I’ll pass…” Mother Agatha declined. “Although he didn’t say, my doctor would most probably advise against me easting old pork.” She said, pointing at the slab of swine on the table, which by that point had already turned pale with salt.
Before they could truly discuss the matters Mother Agatha wanted to bring up, the doorbell rang once again. Ferdinand, with a sour expression on his face this time, went to the door to see who it was. There at the door, she saw a tall, slender woman with dark layered hair and a short, stout woman with curly hair that was dyed pink.
“What do you want?” Ferdinand asked sternly, standing over them.
“Is this 24 Luna Avenue?” Lina asked.
“24 Luna Avenue?” Ferdinand said in an impatient manner. “That’s the other side of town, this 212 Aguinaldo Street.”
“I think our pedicab driver made a mistake…” Chloe pointed out.
“And he’s about to make another one,” Ferdinand said as he watched the old man speed off into the horizon. “Hey! You left these two!” he called out for it to no avail.
“Who’s at the door, Ferdie?” Mother Agatha asked.
“No one!” He ringed back.
“Aww, your mom?” Lina asked.
“Technically” Ferdinand replied. “Now leave.”
“Oh, Ferdie…” Mother Agatha rang from behind him. “That is not a good way of treating guests.”
Ferdinand looked at the old nun, who found him and mothered him since childhood and then turned to the two women, who he knew nothing of. It would be easier to listen to the nun than make to his gun rack in time. Ferdinand stepped aside, opened the door wide and let them in.
“If you come here as boarders, we don’t have room,” he told them.
“That’s what I was here to talk to you about.” Mother Agatha said. “See, the prior had decided to convert this old presbytery into a boarding house.”
“What are you talking about, Mother?” Ferdinand raised his voice. “I thought you promised to tell me when the priory would go under, I could always work…”
“It’s not that…” Mother Agatha interrupted him. “It’s just the parish is too far away for this presbytery to be necessary, so it’s either we raise its equity or tear it down…” she said. “Don’t worry, you can still live here. In fact, the prior would like to see you tomorrow for your position as custodian.”
“Sorry, what.” Ferdinand bugged.
“I’ll explain later,” Mother Agatha said. “so as of now, why don’t you get these ladies some breakfast, hmm?”