The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin

The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin

Author:Nick Joaquin
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2017-03-29T14:19:58+00:00


Telephones are latest in a house to wake up, which they do only after breakfast or in the forenoon. A household is in trouble whose telephone rings before breakfast.

Hearing in her half-sleep her telephone’s start of surprise, Ineng Heredia rolled over in bed, on her face, sinking back, back, deeper, deeper, into quicksand—but felt herself yanked up and pulled around by the shoulder.

“Mommy! I’ve shouted and shouted. The telephone.”

She groped, stubbornly blind, for the nape of the girl at her ear.

“Happy birthday, darling.”

But the girl bridled loose.

“It’s Mr. Henson. He’s Pete’s father.”

“Who? Ask what he wants.”

“I have. You.”

“Where O where’s your father . . .”

“Shaving. Mommy, I think it’s about Bobby.”

Mrs. Heredia opened her eyes but her daughter had run out of the room. Day was a dazzle of grilled window, faceted, like a great diamond. With a toss of legs into air, she swung herself up and over the bed’s edge, dragging sheet along, stepped into panties, vainly toed the floor for slippers and, winding the sheet tighter over her breasts, scampered on bare feet to the corridor outside.

This house was split level; and the banistered corridor, three steps up from the living room it overlooked, ran past three doors, two of which were open, revealing books and shoes on the beds, pillows and clothes on the floor. The third door, by looking so shut, looked bereaved. At the other end of the corridor, which here had a wall siding instead of banisters, Totong Heredia was shaving in the bathroom, with the door open, in his pajama trousers, leaning toward the washbowl mirror with exaggerated attention. His pretending to be unaware of everything else made his wife click angry heels as she ran down the three steps and across the parlor to the side table where the telephone lived, among pencils and pad paper.

“Hello? Yes? Mr. Henson? He where?”

Her daughter and younger boy, having breakfast standing, refused, by not listening, to be included in whatever crisis the telephone was creating. They were having their own crisis.

“You can sleep at grandmother’s!” screamed Sophie, who was fifteen today. “I won’t have stupid babies at my party! It’s my party!”

“Dad said I could invite Marilu Pérez.”

“Junior, if you bring that stupid Marilu Perez to my party—”

Glass of milk in hand, Junior was leaning sideways at the table, an elbow on the edge, a foot upon his satchel on the floor, like a tippler at a bar. He was not quite eleven. He scoffed without looking at his sister, who stooped over the other side of the table, disdainfully pinching off, with thumb and finger, pieces of omelet and bread, her other hand spread protectingly over the fresh blouse of her school uniform.

“Besides,” she said, licking her fingers and beginning a smile, “she’s old enough to be your nurse.”

He tossed off the milk as though it were a swig of booze, plunked the glass down, and, his eyes narrowing, now deigned to turn his head slightly to scan his relative.

“You’re just jealous of Marilu Perez because she can judo and you can’t.


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