Parchment, Part 1

Jeremiah: Thus, his latest work was complete. He applied closure to his work by affixing his signature at the bottom of the once pristine piece of paper, which now housed many a poetic phrase, more than a few scratches, scribbles, and coffee mug stains.

He took a deep breath, sighed, and looked out towards the mountain sunset view from his family mansion’s balcony. He then put the paper in a folder with the rest of his much treasured poetry, and reached for his notebook. Not used as a notebook, though. This notebook was used to hold his most private thoughts, his recent life’s experiences. It was his diary. He quickly wrote in it, with his normally messy handwriting.

November 26, 1998:
“This day was like most others, which I’ve been getting pretty tired of. Woke up, went to work on the business. Had lunch, met yet another socialite rich girl brought by mom and dad, looking for an equally rich if not richer husband. Went back to work in the afternoon, and got away from it to add to my poetry collection. Here I am.

“Will this never end? I could try getting away from the madness of it all, but the magazine is still in its infancy. Haven’t reached the ‘black’ figures yet, and may not for a while, at least. I am starting to lose hope of ever establishing the publication. The Manila media won’t bite on our publicity campaigns, because they say ‘The content is too dull’.

Only the extreme literature fanatics will ever appreciate it, and there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around. I have to find something intriguing, something special, some THING that will catapult ‘The Parchment’ to the level of those celebrity gossip rags everyone seems to read. No, I won’t stand for being equal, it has to be far better than the tabloid trash out there. The quality of writings demand it. I demand it.”

“Right. I may as well just dream on. I try not to lose hope, but it’s so hard not to.”

He frowned to himself, and put his trusted pen away, together with his diary and folder. Another day of anguish in paradise.

John was the only son of a wealthy family. His father owned and operated the biggest real estate agency in the Philippines. His mother didn’t need to work or do anything really, but she found potential in the clothing industry. She ended up owning a large line of local fashion clothing stores. They were, in one word, rich.

John, after graduating with a degree in English, thought of starting a magazine, having his parents to help him along, after all. The Parchment was to be a bi-weekly publication featuring writings of all types by local authors, including his own, signed under the pen name “Jeremiah”. A great magazine to read in every way imaginable, after all.

After more than half a year, the Parchment still had yet to come close to making a profit in any single month. Not that his parents would worry about financial problems of that scale, but they were concerned about their son’s loss of confidence. He still wrote with great fervor, worked his heart out in meeting deadlines, but he always looked disheartened. Maybe he had some void in his heart, perhaps. A void which could be filled by the right woman.

When they had the time and thought to do so, they arranged for John to meet and have dates with the young women of Manila’s society. He was always flattered, always accommodating when it came to females, but he never quite found the “right” one for him, it seemed. Not that he would feel depressed about it, for he had other things on his mind. Or perhaps he was lonely and didn’t really take the time or attention to know that.

The Parchment started out in a Metro Manila office, near the metro’s media hub, but John decided to move his operations to the “basement” when the fourth month’s account figures were presented to him. So he basically had the magazine processes in his family’s residence in Baguio, a healthy 6 hour drive from Manila in light traffic, which wasn’t often. At least he was away from the pressure of having to be “something” while he was in Baguio, which is quite different from Manila in almost every way imaginable.

After putting his things away, John went over to his computer terminal. He checked e-mail, and found 4 messages waiting for him to read. Three of them turned out to be submissions to the Parchment for publication, he went over the submitted material briskly, and copied them to his “post” directory. Then, the last e-mail message, it came from his mother.

Sorry, we won’t be coming up to Baguio this weekend. Something came up, our whole family is invited to a party at San Fabian. It’s a dinner affair, you can come too if you want. Just e-mail me back ASAP if you’d like to come.

John thought it over. Dinner party. San Fabian, Pangasinan. Sounded more than decent, to him. He always looked going out to the beach or near-the-ocean places, it calmed him, cleared his mind, made him feel at peace. He didn’t like the idea of the party, though. More gossip and useless chitchat by the rich ones. Sometimes you have to give something to get something, John though, so, he decided it was worth having to go to some affair just to be near the ocean. He typed out his reply e-mail message:

hey mom, I think I’ll be going there. Just reply with the address of the place and I will be there. Take care!

The Parchment

On this Thursday evening John actually felt a bit chipper about things. In particular, about getting away from his work if even for one day, getting away from the pressure, and perhaps finding some inner peace at the type of place he usually found it. He was so excited about going down to San Fabian that he packed his most important things already: his notebook, his laptop, and his sheets of paper, one of which contained the address of the place he’d have to look for.

Though the affair he would be attending would be on Saturday night, John took the day off on Friday; he just couldn’t concentrate on his work with the impending get-away the following day. How excited was he? He didn’t have to write down the address of the place he’d be going to, he actually memorized the address. He did, however, take the brief moments he usually took when something was on his mind. He opened his notebook/diary and started to scribble his mind’s talk anew:

©1999 Jerome Baquilar