Wednesday, March 07, 2007


*11th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival; copyright Sherwin Ian S. Reyes

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Velvet Underground I

It had been one of those nights again. Undercover work wasn't this fun before. I hate the way things are now.

I got home at around 4am. My vision slightly clouded and my ears still ringing with the disturbing sounds of a karaoke jam. I had spent the entire evening at a local sing-along joint, " Club La Fonda". My mole gave me a tip that the crooks I was after usually hung out there, so I went- hoping to pounce on the scoundrels as they sang Celine Dion tunes. The place was rundown: fluorescent lamps wrapped in colored plastic sheets served as "lighting", the walls nothing more than unplastered bricks stacked on top of one another. Yes, it was the kind of place where only rats, the dirty ones, dared to tread. The Cuba Libre that incessantly washed pork rinds down my throat throughout the evening was slightly "experimental". After all, you'd expect a Rum-Coke to be, well, Coca Cola laced with Rum, not gin. Why I nevertheless continued to drink the abhorrent brew still escapes me. Perhaps it had to do with my irritation at seeing no sign of my quarry. They didn't show up as I had been led to believe.

My trigger finger itched as I sat on the corner of my bed. The light from a neon sign outside my window crept in through an opening in the filthy curtain and bathed my room in red. My left hand twitched involuntarily. I had to get some sleep in before light.

By the way, my name is Velvet, Greg Velvet, Editor-class Agent with the Good Grammar Bureau. My job is to bring the improper use of English, where and whenever it occurs, to an end. I used to have a teaching job, but the purely theoretical aspect of the job in furthering good English proved a bit too boring for me. I had to get out there and be in the front line- defending the proper use of the Language and bringing all who do it wrong to justice. This is my calling.

I would have been a priest- but in the dream where God revealed what he wanted me to do, His use of English left much to be desired (all that time speaking Aramaic could not have helped). "Ye shall be brought by my Divine Hand to priesthood, and My work shall be done by thee.", he said. His use of the passive voice was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I removed the idea of stole and cassock from my mind completely.


There had been a wave of tense-use violations as of late- the perpetrators were audacious. Signs like "Please Closed the Door" were all over the city; people were sending text messages asking "Did you used the computer?". Only two days ago, a counter in a City Hall office had a sign that read, "Please proceed to the Room 6 when you received your permit". This last incident, in particular, got the Mayor's attention. This was no petty act of mischief. His house had been violated. Mayor Jack Hummus thus saw it fit to get in touch with the Bureau and asked that we have a look at it. As was usual practice at the Bureau, a case of this magnitude got assigned only to the best agents there were. I got the call.

to be continued...

1. I wrote this first installment of the series 3 years ago. It was for a newsletter that, sadly, never tasted ink.
2. All credit for the name "The Velvet Underground" goes to Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker.