by Patrick Isaiah Abarra

I sat down on my desk early morning and put my coffee on the table. Upon sitting I saw a newspaper beside  my keyboard which seemed to be an old one judging from how it looks. But before I could inspect it, my  superior asked me to check on a case that happened last night. “There was mugging at Sitio Masikap last  night, the victim was fortunately unhurt but his bag containing his wallet, laptop, and cellphone was taken  away by the perpetrator. You will handle this case and interview the residents in the area along with the  victim later” I nodded and felt a sense of excitement that I would finally get out of my desk. For some reason  I got the urge to look at the newspaper on my desk, but the victim was in the precinct, and I had to interview  him. 

The interview room reeks of metal and the silver tubes with the water piping and steel walls follows along  with it, the steel door is shut and the table separating us was bolted to the ground. In front of me is a tall, pale, curly haired guy who was still visibly shaken from the incident. I smiled at him “Coffee?” I asked him  in which he shook his head in reply. His eyes were wandering, and he kept looking over his shoulder as if  would come and get him. I loosened my shoulder to make him comfortable which he seemed to notice as  he looked down while he played with the strings on his jacket. “Can you tell me what time the incident  occurred?” I asked. “It was 11pm, right after a study session with a groupmate”  

“Where did the incident happen, if you can recall?”  

“It was in the dark part of the neighborhood when it occurred. It was right by an old house, which I easily  recognized because of a distinct large window with white railings on the side”  

“Did you notice if anyone is in that house?” 

“No, sorry it was really dark and the next thing I knew-“he stopped and cried a bit. I stopped questioning for  a bit and offered him a cold glass of water. I waited until he was ready to talk but succeeding details did not  help in the slightest bit, he did mention that he put up a bit of a fight and scratched up the perpetrator’s  face. So, he would have a distinct scratch in the face. 

“I guess that’s all for now, I will see if there are any eyewitnesses in the area” I said as I reached out my  hand to him. I could feel him shaking but as I smile, it stopped, and he let out a big sigh.

“I trust you to catch him” he said, “I need those for my thesis.”  

Before lunch I went around the neighborhood where the mugging happened and asked the residents if they  had heard or seen anything. Most of them answered to no avail – as it was late at night. They were either  asleep or were used to cats bickering on their rooftops, so they did not bother to check. Thankfully, all of  them were cooperative but it wasn’t enough to get a proper lead. I kept looking at the big, windowed house  that the victim said, but I had no luck in the entire afternoon so by 7pm I decided to call it a day. On the way  home I saw the house with white railings and an old lady dusting it off and an old man mowing their front  lawn. I jump in excitement as I walk towards them. 

“Good day, may I ask you and your partner some questions regarding an incident last night?” the old man  wearing a green polo shirt and khaki pants greeted me with a smile, it’s as if they had not interacted with  anyone for a long time. He held me by my arm when I noticed a gold watch on his left wrist that looked expensive – it felt cold, maybe it was because of the sweat from mowing the lawn. Calling his wife, we  entered their home and he led me to their living room where he dusted my seat before he sat down. It was  a nice house, it didn’t look old from the inside, it had sparkling chandelier which looked expensive and out  of place, the cabinets are clean and well-kept from where I am sitting, the rug looks soft, and the two white  cats are behaving near the litter box. His wife comes jogged lightly down the stairs wearing a brown dress  with flowers on the skirt, then offered me hot chocolate, I said yes. She went to the kitchen adjacent to the  living room. She returned shortly and as they set the tray and face each other. After settling down, I asked  them the same questions that I asked the other residents. They were smiling and nodding at every sentence  I mutter. They were smiling and all, but there is this eerie feeling behind my mind that I can’t seem to get  rid of as I was getting goosebumps, but I didn’t let it get to me and continued. 

“Oh dear, that is horrible. Is the kid okay?” she asked as I nodded in reply. “We don’t know anything about  the incident, but I saw a large man with scratched up face frantically sprinting while holding a bag towards  the grassy areas” the husband pointed to the grassy area at the far end of the neighborhood. You can see  it from afar as the tall bushes are oddly shaped. I stood up and bid my farewell. “I’m sorry we haven’t  exchanged pleasantries, I’m Luke” 

“This is my husband Victor, and my name is Carla. we are the Riveros remember that dear.”

She said that so sweet but when she said “remember that dear,” it sent chills down my spine as if my entire  body felt a crawling shiver and I felt my feet getting heavy. I nodded at them and turned around to call back  up saying I have a lead. 

I was focused on the bushes and finally having a lead after a long day of work, that I didn’t get to ask how  he saw the scratch on the face of the guy in the darkness of the night.  

After 5 minutes, three police cars came and my superior went beside me and said, “Are you sure about  this” I said yes and pointed at the house behind me “The couple there helped me”. I can see at the corner  of my eye that he looked puzzled and looked at me indifferently, he was about to say something when we  saw rustling in the bushes. We cautiously checked if it was someone or something that was rustling in the  bushes. After a few minutes of checking the vicinity, we saw a shadowy figure which was startled by our  arrival. He immediately run and sure enough we took down the guy and unmasking him fit the description.  Entering the grass field, we saw his hideout and saw the laptop and bag that fits the description perfectly 

of the kid who was mugged, along with the other stolen goods. My superior called it a day. “I would like to  thank the couple” I said as I went a few blocks back and called outside their house but there was no  response, I figured that the couple was asleep already, I guess I’d thank them the other day. 

The next day I went back to my desk with my other co-workers applauding me. The victim also went to  thank me as the police retrieved everything that was taken from him. I sat down on my desk had, my coffee  and relaxed my back on the chair. The newspaper was still at my desk and as I read it I thought it off that  the newspaper was published January 18, 1976, but much to my horror the headline reads: “Elderly couple  brutally murdered at Sitio Masikap.” The old man was wearing a green polo shirt and khaki pants and the  old lady was wearing a brown dress with flowers on the skirt. 

It was the Riveros.