I see Tobias Mindernickel roaming around the streets of Davao. His appearance is just as Thomas Mann had written, "eyecatching, quite odd, indeed ridiculous."
Out on a walk, he hauls his gaunt frame with the help of a cane, no longer up the hill, this time, but in an overpass reeking of urine and rotting garbage. He is no longer dressed in black from head to toe, in fact, he had changed into tattered rags that hang limply on his skeletal frame.
It must have been such a long and arduos journey for him from that small quayside town in Europe.
His mud-hardened hair covers half his face. He stares back at me with that gaunt look in his eyes as he hovers around the rows of stalls selling durian and pirated DVDs.
The sight of his sunken cheeks depresses me. I remember how Prof. Philip Van Peele back in Silliman U had pointed to us that Tobias Mindernickel is a perfect picture of Death.
He is lucky, no children come to tease him now. It's quite too far away from the street of Grauer Weg where he came from. Filipino children hardly know him at all.
Then, I begin to suspect that he is stalking me---or am I stalking him?
"Where is the dog?" I ask as soon as he is off the stairs of the smelly overpass, standing face to face with me on the ground. I am referring to that yellow dog, with one black ear and a black ring around one eye, that he bought from a man in Germany. A picture of sadness and remorse shows in his face. He had named that dog Esau.
"Where is the dog?" I ask again.
He began to sob. He did not reply.
"C'mon, tell me," I said, "What happened to Esau?"
His furious sobbing turn to a loud wail.
"What did you do to your dog?!" I said, loudly, this time, that passersby begin to notice.
Suddenly, he stops and squints a pair of bloodshot eyes at me. I could see sadness, but not guilt, in those eyes, before he scampers away and vanishes from my life forever.