This story is the second part of a longer piece I wrote entitled “Memories of Cebu: Three Ways.”
Stealing mangoes from Senyora Nitang’s backyard was Jose’s idea. Not mine. Though I admit that the suggestion that he and I stage our heist during siesta time when the senyora would be resting indoors came from me. And yes, I might have offered two other proposals: that we enter the property from the west side so that the dog, usually tied just outside the kitchen on the other side of the house, wouldn’t notice us; and, that Jose climb the tree while I catch the mangoes with my skirt. It was a typical hot afternoon, though cool under the shade of the mango tree. I smelled the salty breeze from the ocean with an occasional whiff of drying cow manure. The increasing weight of mangoes on my bunched skirt made me giddy. Must have been a dozen in there. Then I heard the rustling of dried leaves and turned. I saw Senyora Nitang’s black mongrel dog sauntering toward us. I panicked. The dog is not leashed! I called out Jose’s name in a whisper. Let’s go, I said. The dog started to bark. I screamed: Run! We ran for our lives. Later, when we were safe, we shared the only mango left. The flesh was ripe, sweet and succulent. Jose and I smiled at each other, mango juice dribbling down our chins.