"Look what I found," Drake said as he entered our apartment.
The water in the pot in front of me boiled violently. I turned down the heat a bit, dropped the packs of dehydrated noodles in, and threw the empty plastic wrapper of the instant pancit canton I was preparing. I turned around to face my roommate. "Aliens. In the sky, are they?" We've been marathon watching episodes of The Middleman on our DVD.
He threw an object on to our table. It was a foot long, made of plastic and rubber.
"Found it upstairs," he said. Upstairs is the rooftop of our apartment complex. Our compound is basically a rectangular lot with rows of apartment units on all sides (except the gate side). Two storeys, but most of the housing units are on the second floor. The first floor's basically parking space, one unit's the office for the landlord and his errand boys (who take care of the electrical works, etc), and there's a small space for storage that the tennats share communally.
There's an empty space in the center of the 2nd floor overlooking the parking space below. Iron railings run around this whole to protect people from accidentally falling to their deaths (or, to their very awkward physical deformity, if they're lucky).
The rooftop is an empty space where a small room housed two old-fashioned washing machines (with spin dryers). There are clothesline running all over the rooftop as well. Usually, to save some money and to avoid relying on laundrymats too much, I wash my own underwear and socks and hang them upstairs to dry. (Also, this isn't important, but just so you know, there's a woman who comes every Saturday and Sunday to offer her services as a laundrywoman, but it's kinda hard to have her because the tennants in Apartment 15 have three kids, so she basically's fully booked washing all their dirty clothes.)
I picked up the object he found and inspected it closer. "Upstairs? You found this upstairs?"
"Yeah," he said, starting to fold the shirts he had had hanging upstairs to dry. "The bitches were devouring him."
Anyway, the rooftop is where Drake keeps his bitches.
As I've told you before, Drake gets his financial resources mostly from his parents' remittances, but he has also invested a portion of this to a business venture involving breeding dogs and selling them on Sulit.ph. He has an arrangement with our landlord that he pays an additional rent for the space taken by his cages upstairs. Once in a while, when the dogs get restless, he'd take them out for walks. When there's a storm outside, he'd wheel the cages into the laundry room. I brought him a fortune plant a couple of years ago so he would have some place to throw the dog turds. That inspired him to keep buying several ornamental plants on rubber pots, so the rooftop's now populated with fortune plants, a row of santans, some flowering shrub I don't know what to call, and a bouganvilla (he's trying to make it crawl all over the laundry room, like ivy vines).
"I'm thinking, it's one of those kids from 15," he continued. "Those brats must have fed that to the dogs on a dare or something."
"Yeah," I agreed hesitantly.
What he found: a plastic Ken doll, stripped naked. The dogs must have been playing with the doll for quite some time, it was mangled with the dogs fangs. Ugly scars where the dogs bit it punctured the doll's face, body. They must have thought it was a chew toy.
"Hey," Drake called out. "Hey!"
He flicked his chin upwards in a nod, so I turned around and remembered I was cooking something. The boiling water and the noodles had started to run down the sides of the pot. I lowered the heat a little, stirred the noodles.
I believe that paranoia is gestaltic. Our brain functions in such a way that we form shapes, we see forms, we organize order from chaos. We see bunnies in cloud formations, we see images of the Virgin Mary on bread toasts, Jesus on agricultural crops. We see faces in cigarette smoke, we see patterns where there is none.
For example: a series of objects may be totally unconnected to each other, but, when taken together, forms a relationship of sorts. How does one connect a mangled, horribly mutilated doll to one's life? How does one take a note slipped under the door anonymously? How do these things add up?
Paranoid traits are symptomatic of the malignant narcissism I have diagnosed myself to have.
Maybe I'm just paranoid. Maybe these things are unconnected, random objects, and the only reason why it's logical to think of them as related is because of my fear of being persecuted.
If so, then why is there a mark on the devoured doll--a mark on its left shoulder, an etched design, somewhat circular, penned in with permanent marker?
A mark located exactly where my tattoo is.