Randy Ford Author- dungeons, or were they denigrating a shrine

      For one who always enjoyed exploring, Don less and less liked his investigating job.   He liked it better when he taught science; he preferred village life to having to be on the go all the time.   It was strange to him that he felt that way.   Something more than the investigating part bothered him more than anything else did: normally he thrived on analyzing.   In his new job (since his extension) he couldn’t deal with people in a straightforward way, and he had to put his personal feelings aside.   And that sometimes made him feel like a snake.   When he found something that he had to report he had to report it.   To a great extent, it was all up to him.   It all depended on how he framed something and measured it.   It was all right most of the time, but it was bad when the people involved were his friends.   It was always unpleasant, and hard feelings were always unavoidable.

      At last they came to Fort Santiago.   Elaine said goodbye before they left Diliman.   Ted said, “You’ve been here before, I’m sure.   If you’re nice to me, I’ll give you a tour.”   They went to the theater, where a play was running and another one was in rehearsal and pretty much set by then.   It was busy, with everyone doing something, and so hurried that no one paid attention to Don and Ted.

      Ted had to show Don the huge mortars that he and Alfred borrowed for the first production.   High up on a wall was a technician busy changing gels (they needed to be changed every two weeks).   Some actors were just arriving; and Don could see how his friend Ted was in a position, if he so chose, to exert a great deal of influence, good or bad.   Ted asked if anyone had seen Alfred, as they went down into the dungeons, a few yards away from the theater.

      They heard voices inside.   Sonja came into the front cell from the adjoining one, with a man Ted recognized as the columnist and theater benefactor, DeRoy Valencia, and Sonja introduced Ted to him.   The passageways were narrow, and narrow tunnels connected each cell.   Sonja and Mr. Valencia were taking…artistic director, mover and shaker…and they were talking about the dungeons and using them as a theater, and Ted wasn’t part of the conversation.   They moved on, leaving Ted and Don behind, so Ted only caught a small portion of their conversation.   He wanted to hear all of it.   Ted and Don sat on the edge of the raised walkway, constructed along the walls for tourist.   In the middle of each cell they had left the original floor of dirt and created a pit.   When Ted got going he gave Don a pretty good description of the show he had in mind, and didn’t leave out many details, including the flag he had made.   Two Filipino tourists and an American man in Bermuda shorts, a tourist also, came down into the cell and walked behind the two friends.   When the American man came close to them Ted thought it was ironic that he and Don had just been talking about the atrocities that had been committed in this place, and how this American seemed so detached.

     Ted wished he were detached.   But he had been a drama major, and he was very passionate.   Americans hadn’t perpetrated all of the atrocities.   He had to be fair, he supposed; but he knew he couldn’t create a drama about the Japanese.   And he was so attached, so biased, with his head filled with so much propaganda, from Nick and other sources, as he played with ideas for his drama.   He thought with unhappiness of the war and his situation with the draft.   He thought of his parents; and he thought of his old friends who could well have been fighting in Vietnam.   He thought of Don too.   With his job, Don knew he had to be detached.

      Don himself was quiet.   He had been that way the whole time they’d been in there.   He felt uneasy down there, but he hadn’t figured out why.   He’d wait and didn’t jump to a conclusion; he had learned to wait until he had all the facts about something.   But sitting in the dungeons (and particularly that place) affected him in an unexpected way.   He knew the history of the dungeons, and it seemed to him, in light of that long history, that putting on a drama down there denigrated a holy shrine.   It had already been denigrated to a degree by the walkways.   And he supposed that though he was casting himself as a critic, as an American, he was really an outsider and didn’t have any say.

      They talked.   Don didn’t share his feelings.   Ted got up and acted out some of the scenes he had in mind; and they were just as slanted against America as Don thought they would be.   He had never been so close to the creation of a drama.   Enmeshed in science the way he was, there hadn’t been the opportunity.   Immediately, as Ted became animated, Don was frightened by his friend’s intensity.   His intent seemed obvious; all of it could’ve been dismissed as propaganda.   When Ted moved he moved with great force; he slashed and punched without actual victims or props, a sword, a garrote, a water board.   Don started thinking: this was more than playacting for Ted and was coming from something very deep inside him.   And the root of this had to have come from Ted’s past, whatever it was; and clearly it came from anger.   Of course, with his background, Don couldn’t diagnose Ted.   Sitting in the dungeons, watching his friend, and thinking of the political situation he was in, and the volatility of it all, Don began to think that something had to be done to stop Ted, and that went against all of his principles.

       Randy Ford

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