I was on vacation for four months that year. To avoid the usual holiday misery, I decided to rent a place for myself (but I took my mother with me for safety precaution, hers; not mine) and pursued the peace I was desperately longing for; away from everything, but mostly from the people who wanted a piece of me one way or the other.
So, there I was in my two-bedroom, cute, pink bungalow in the middle of a park (which serves as a multi-purpose function hall for private occasions such as weddings, baptismal and such) minding my own business, singing karaoke, roaming around the gorgeous garden, walking along the beach at sundown, chatting with the people who manage the place, life is indeed almost perfect.
At least I thought it was; till one stormy night.
I got it in my head to wade in the water to bring warm clothing, money and food to ‘someone unfortunate’ who was always hanging around the town’s rotunda.
I said to myself: the person will have some difficulty doing the usual routine of begging for the things s/he needs in that kind of weather. I reckoned I have the means and the time to make a difference even for a day so I thought: why not. The gesture seems noble enough but in hindsight, bad idea. The result was: an unpredicted asthma attack!
So, wheezing, coughing, laboured breathing, I tried to find sleep but to no avail. Then, all of a sudden from nowhere, I heard someone whispered: “There is a chest. Go! Look for it! It’s there!” There was no use searching for another person, my mother was sounds asleep and it was 2:00 o’clock in the morning; I was the only one awake for miles. Besides, the voice was clearly only in my head. I tried to concentrate and listen to it. (More like ‘feeling’ for it) After few minutes, I woke up my mother.
Armed with a big bolo, I began dismantling a portion of the wooden wall in the upstairs bedroom saying to myself: I can afford the damage. I could if I don’t get too carried away. And so I went on, thinking: if my hunch turned out to be wrong and I was only hallucinating (I had the right to be, I was having high fever) and the chest is not behind this part of the wall, I could end up breaking the whole thing for no reason at all.
After creating a sizable hole, I lit a candle and shone the light in the cavity I found behind the wall. First, I saw nothing. It was too dark to see anything, but I was too stubborn to admit defeat; I cannot be wrong. (not after I wreck the wall of a rental place) when my eyes were finally adjusted to the darkness I saw an outline of something rectangular; I asked my mother to lights more candles (she, by the way, was trembling) And there it was, old and grey; the darn chest.
It was difficult to haul the casket out; simply because the hole I created was directly above the stairs. There was simply no place to put my feet on to balance myself and the thing was humongous.
Asthma was forgotten, I tried to hold my feet steady on both sides of the baluster and with all my strength, hauled the darn coffer out! (The voice said I will find my picture there and things I needed to further help unfortunate people) I thought: you bet.
Ignoring the rattle of my mother, I opened the chest and what I had found???
Lying inside the chiffonier was a bank book, an insurance policy, an SSS insurance policy complete with all the necessary papers to collect the money. What on earth I’m going to do with all these??? I thought to myself.
There was also a glass box with pieces of jewelry (that looks white gold or silver to me) no picture of me but a hand-drawn likeness of eyes, nose and lips! No actual face but the resemblance was striking. I immediately stop digging. (I never reach even half-way into the chest, too creepy even for me) and stared at the damn thing dumbfounded.
The next morning, I went to the owner of the park and told them my story.
They confirmed the name I saw on all the papers. According to them, the person was the original owner of the house. But there was something they could not understand, the place was sold three times over already, and the man whom the crate belonged to had died recently; a week ago to be exact. They said he has one daughter only; a teacher. Whereabouts? Unknown!
I tried to find the daughter or any relatives for that matter. My search turned out fruitless. All the time I was doing this, the house smelled like a rotten flesh. I know the smell; I used to work as a nurse. But I was the only one who could smell it, strange.
I have questioned myself about the darn trunk: Why on earth he hid the chest from his family? Why he never remove it from where it was when he sold the place? And the million dollar question of course was…why me???
I left the house and the country case still unsolved. The chest… I left it in the care of the people that manage the park. I have no idea what they did with it. I’m not even sure if I want to know.
Sometimes, I wonder… why these things always happening to me???