There’s this kid that comes around to my house every day asking for money.
Malinis, he says. I’ll clean your dog poo. Forty. Forty. Malinis.
I hate this kid. He always seems to come at the most inconvenient times, like when I’ve just sat down to my lunch or I’ve stepped out of the shower, and the last thing I want to do is talk about cleaning up the dog shit in my yard.
Malinis, he says. Forty. Forty. Malinis.
And he stares, and he stares, and he stares.
I blame SA. This is a pal of mine here in Angeles. He comes around sometimes and we drink beers in my yard. The first time he came there was a flaming stinking poo right in the middle. Honestly, human sized. And stinky as all hell. Someone had tried to drown out the smell by dousing the poo in dirt. It did help a bit, but the flies were gradually pulling the dirt away, revealing the poo, the smell, bit by bit.
“Can’t we fucking pay someone to clean that shit up?” SA said, in his very lucid and prosaic way.
As it happened, this annoying street kid had been walking past occasionally pestering us for money.
Pera, he said, sticking his hand out and just standing there.
Staring and staring.
Pera. Pera. Pera. Pera.
Unrelenting, this kid.
“Listen,” SA said. “I’ll give you 10 pesos if you clean up that dog shit and fuck off.”
(His Filipina girlfriend interpreted for him, probably much more politely)
The kid set to cleaning up this poo with such gusto that SA felt bad and gave him 20 pesos.
“Good job, kid,” he said, and we went back to drinking our beers.
I don’t know what foul wind brought this kid to my doorstep, but now he comes by nearly every day. Sometimes he just stands at the gate and S T A R E S at me through the window. He grips the bars and stares and stares and stares.
Fuck off, I say. Just fuck off.
And after ten minutes of staring, he does eventually leave, so I guess he doesn’t understand fuck off.
But lately he’s hit on a new plan. He comes around every day to clean my yard. I don’t mind paying the kid, but we have failed to agree the terms.
The first day, he cleans two dog poos.
Forty, he says.
Okay, I say. He’s done a good job. My yard is poo free for the meantime.
The next day he cleans up 3 poos.
Sixty, he says.
No, I say. Araw-araw forty. Every day, forty. The whole yard, forty. Not per poo.
Forty, he says, and I give him forty.
Later that afternoon he swings by again.
Forty! he says, brandishing the broom and pan. Forty!
No, I say. I already paid you today. Forty every day, not every fucking time you show up.
Forty? he says.
No, I say, and he puts the broom and pan down and leaves.
If he came by every day and diligently cleaned the yard with a sense of pride, I would like the kid. But he doesn’t. He sweeps up one poo and then demands his cash and then I don’t see him for a few days.
Yesterday he showed up again.
Forty, he says.
This is the only word we say to each other now.
I get up from my table and wander outside.
Okay, I say, and he starts cleaning up a dog poo.
And that rubbish too, I say.
He sweeps up the chip packet.
And that too, I say, and I have to stand there and point out each and every piece of trash in my yard that needs to be swept up.
I hand him the cash.
Forty! he says with a smile, and I almost like the kid.
Yeah, forty, I say. Araw-araw. Every day.
Forty, he says. Umaga, tanghali, gabi!
Forty. Morning, noon and night.
I shake my head. No. Just forty araw-araw.
With the money in his hands, he doesn’t stand there and stare. He doesn’t even put the broom away. He just runs off, like he’s just won the lottery, and I won’t see him again for days.
I fucking hate that kid.