Kapre Down Under
By Ben Umayam
Aspen trees proliferate primarily through root sprouts. Whole colonies can be traced to one gargantuan underground sprout. The colonies can extend from the Colorado Rockies to the Canadian ones. Aspen trees are like clones. They share identical characteristics from the single root structure. When they die, it’s almost like they don’t, another tree sprouts from the massive underground formation. Our framed poster of an Aspen colony is not an Ansel Adams black and white, but a colorful autumn in Colorado. Brian is from Colorado.
The poster had fallen, glass shards were scattered under the bed. We aren’t clean freaks. I am Manny the domestic one, the one expected to be the Felix of the two of us. Well, we are both Oscars. So, the Aspen and broken glass remained under the bed.
After a while, I began to suspect there was something living under our bed. First, two pairs of socks disappeared. Shorts, t-shirts followed. When I checked under the bed, I saw all that stuff, along with candy wrappers, empty bags of chips and donut boxes. We are Oscars but we never eat in bed!
I picked the trash up except for the poster and the glass. After two days, a curious peek and there it all was again!
My sister in the Philippines said a kapre was living under our bed. Kapre are a race of giants who smoked cigars and lived in big trees, appearing when something/someone was dying. Now they’re diminutive, trees are smaller. They don’t smoke. My sister’s girlfriend has a third eye. She sees spirits, ghosts. That day, Ms. Third-Eye visited my sister. Over coffee, she warned my sister her trees were full of kapre. My sister said I also had one under my bed, claiming his home among the Aspens and broken glass.
Kapre are mostly harmless but mischievous. I was now forgetting things. My name, my address, whether I had I made dinner yet? Brian was worried, said I have symptoms of dementia. I told him it’s just that damn kapre, under the bed. This angered him. He doesn’t believe, him with the leprechauns and banshees in his culture closet. And last night when I forgot to turn on the oven for the roast pork, he declared I have early Alzheimer’s.
For the first time in our married life, we went to sleep angry and hungry. I slept in the other room, on the recliner by the TV. Who is this Bri guy? He is not my old Brian. I blamed the kapre. Maybe Brian should get a Felix to live with, instead of me. Let Felix clean under the bed.
Bri, Bri, Bri, it’s like I don’t know you anymore. Uneasily, I dozed off, mumbling. Let that kapre play his roguery with you.
Ben Umayam moved to NYC to write the Great American Filipino Gay Short Story. He worked for political consultants, became a chef at a fancy hotel, then worked privately as a chef for Dominican priests. He is now retired and is working that short story again. Recently he was published in the online magazine Maudlin House.
© Ben Umayam
Photo Credit: © Gessy Alvarez