Wednesday, December 07, 2005



Aldwin traversed the dimly-lit alley with sagging shoulders, drooping head and his sweaty hands inside his empty pockets. It was a year ago when he last entered this alley, and just like now, he had no money then, no home, no wife.

It was here where he found Corina, the only woman who loved him, who gave him the right direction in life and who provided him with the confidence he needed. It was Corina who taught Aldwin the true meaning of love, total submission and sincerity. He could not ask for more then, or he shouldn't have.

Distraught, Aldwin looked around in every nook and cranny, unmindful of the stink of the place, inspecting the piles of garbage, rummaging inside the trash cans, not for food though. It was inside a garbage can where he found Corina. Tired of aimless walking, Aldwin sat on the filthy curb, stared at nowhere and began reminiscing the past fortune that he once held in his sweaty hands.

With nowhere to go, Aldwin made the alley his home during the night. It was very warm, just like that hot evening when he heard moans coming from a dump of garbage at the back of the old movie house. He discovered a dangling foot belonging to a very pretty woman named Corina. At first, he mistook her for a bar girl assaulted by the infamous muggers of the New York streets because she was wearing jumper shorts and her blouse was of a glittery fabric.

He tried to revive Corina and carried her to a cleaner place in the alley. He could smell the woman's musky odor which was not exactly perfume but it surely aroused his animalistic lust. Her flawless and hairless skin was tender to his touch and he noticed that she wasn't wearing any make up except for the thin line in her eyebrow which looked like a tattoo. Aldwin mushed her silken hair to the side of her face, exposing an earlobe with no earring hole.

After some time, Corina sat up and smiled at him. Aldwin presumed that Corina was mute when she opened her mouth and no words came out but she was gesturing in simple signs with her left hand for her right hand looked injured. With a little difficulty, Aldwin tried to decipher her signals by examining her
person, especially her gold necklace which bears her name in exquisite letterings.

Unsure of what she was saying, Aldwin surmised that some dangers might be lurking and for the first time in his life, he felt some sort of fear, more for the girl than for himself. His long hibernating emotions were awakened and he was transformed into a knight with a shining armor, ready to defend her mistress in distress. He decided to leave the alley with the girl.

They went to Central Park, with Aldwin holding the weak Corina by the waist, just like two lovers unmindful of the crowding night promenaders. It was in the park where Aldwin got to know more of Corina. She was, according to her gestures, from a faraway place and that she knows nobody around. She was motioning for some sort of an accident which Aldwin could not clearly comprehend. Another thing he gathered was Corina's gesture for help, probably medical assistance.

Taking inventory of her injuries, Aldwin learned of an aching bottom and a painful right arm. To impress the attractive woman, Aldwin played doctor for the moment. He straightened the arm which seemed to be broken and tenderly massaged her buttocks to comfort her. Corina's pain seemed to subside and Aldwin was sure that she enjoyed the light massage. But his actions led to a more intimate activity and they sought refuge among the corner bushes in the park where Aldwin showed Corina his skills in the art of necking and petting.

Despite her injury, Corina showed submissiveness to the still surprised Aldwin. Beak-nosed, freckled-faced and with a balding pate, Aldwin considered himself to be ugly. But this woman was so beautiful, much prettier than the bar dancers he had seen before. With her fair complexion, moderate nose and chin, blue-green eyes and hazel hair, she can give some movie starlets a run for their money. Much more if you will consider her good height and svelte body.

In the heat of the summer night, Aldwin's lust heightened with each stroke of his hand inside Corina's pants. The scent exuding from Corina's body added to his excitement and it was enough to draw the maximum attention from Aldwin's masculinity. When Corina licked the sweat from his face, Aldwin was sure that the pinnacle of his pleasure was just around the corner.

As was his wont, Aldwin did not waste time in grabbing the opportunity. He was successful in his second attempt to make love to Corina and was gladly surprised when Corina asked for an encore before dawn to which he obliged with pleasure. Corina was in deep slumber after the pleasurable exercise. Aldwin didn't get to sleep at all until the time they went to the nearest medical clinic for consultation on Corina's injuries.

The clinic doctor turned out to be a gynecologist, more probably an abortionist, but somehow, they were entertained when Aldwin insisted that it was an emergency case. The gynecologist felt Corina's buttocks and right arm before pronouncing a suspected fracture between the elbow and shoulder. She mumbled something like humerus or tibia, and she gave Aldwin a referral to a bone specialist.

The gynecologist further advised him to have a ready cash for the x-ray because the ortho-surgeon wouldn't touch her without the preliminary requirements such as the taking of blood pressure, body temperature, heartbeat count and x-ray. Aldwin was glad that the doctor did not charge them a single cent.

The clinic of the referred bone specialist was a good two miles away and they had to pass by the park on their way. Not wanting to disappoint Corina, she left her at a park bench and promised to come back with the money. His skills in snatching purses aided him to procure the necessary amount for the clinic fees, thanks to an old man with a bulging wallet.

The gynecologist was correct for the x-ray showed a fracture in between the elbow and shoulder of Corina's right arm, and fortunately, the buttocks have no injury at all. The specialist, a certain Dr. Mullins, advised them for a plate implantation to join the broken bone and the operation will cost between one thousand and ten thousand dollars. The range in cost signifies the quality of the metal plate that will be used to serve as brace in patching the broken bone.

Aldwin paid the hundred dollars charged for the preliminaries. They went back to the park and decided to come back for the operation when his pocket would warrant it. He tried to consult Corina regarding the expenses but the woman gave a gesture of surrender, that she had no money. Aldwin eyed the golden necklace but soon abandoned the idea for Corina might think ill of him and he was afraid to lose her.

Seeing Corina's beauty in broad daylight, Aldwin was motivated to do his covert business again for the sake of his future wife. It took him three victims of snatching and one by mugging to raise a thousand dollars that enabled Corina to be admitted to the bone center. She was given a small room to get her prepared for the cheapest surgery the next day and Aldwin was given the custody of the golden necklace, any jewelry was not allowed in the operating room.

Before the operation, Dr. Mullins called Aldwin aside to tell him of the abnormality he found in the x-ray. He said that Corina's humerus, the arm bone between the elbow and shoulder, looked different. The specialist explained to Aldwin that the human lower arm bone called ulna has two and the upper which is the humerus has one. In Corina's case, the fractured humerus has two bones and the ulna consisted of four.

Another point raised by Dr. Mullins was the very low blood pressure of Corina which was measured at only 70/30 and the slow pulse beat of 40 as against the normal 70. The body temperature was normal though at 98.6 Fahrenheit. Not interested with the technicalities, Aldwin yawned as if to show his boredom for the figures had no impact on him.

Aldwin left the bone center and returned the next day to learn of the successful operation of implanting the metal plate in Corina's broken arm bones. He returned to the Central Park when Dr. Mullins informed him that Corina will remain asleep for another six hours due to the anesthesia. He was also informed
that the cheap metal plate would require them another surgery, to take it out of the body, within a year.

For six hours, Aldwin contemplated on what fate awaits them if Corina decided to stick with him. For the first time in his life, he laid out a plan for his future, a better one. He came back to the bone center in time to see a half-awake Corina smiling at him. Aldwin carefully placed the necklace back on
Corina's neck and noticed that it greatly enhanced her beauty.

Dr. Mullins again talked to Aldwin about the pathological mysteries he found. He explained the procedure done on Corina's arm, emphasizing the improvisation he employed, using twelve screws instead of six and placing the metal plate somewhat diagonally to cover the two broken bones. He was reminded of the next surgery and was warned about the onset of fever, the first symptom of infection.

Corina stayed for another two days in the clinic to recuperate. Aldwin was relieved to find that the one thousand dollars fee included the medicine, room, food and other services given her. Aldwin stayed most of the time in the park to do his business and before Corina was discharged, he was able to save a little, enough to rent a small room that they could call their own. He felt happy for his plan seemed to be working.

After some fixing, the rented room looked clean and neat to Aldwin's eyes, complete with a flimsy curtain and a small bedside table and chair, it can be their home for the time being. The damp smell didn't discourage his spirit and Aldwin bought a cheap air freshener cake which changed the prevailing odor to that of a clean toilet.

Corina enjoyed their home for she was completely under Aldwin's care, feeding her, bathing and dressing up. He provided all the required movements for Corina to avoid any undue stress on her healing brittle bones. Her companionship was compensation enough for Aldwin's troubles and the nightly lovemaking was a bonus, considering Corina's condition. He was satisfied, particularly with the prominence of Corina's body scent pervading the room, it gave him a continuous desire for sex and only his limited supply of energy disallowed it.

Aldwin tried to shift to the good side by looking for a decent job. But he was unsuccessful in the several applications he sought and panic was seeping in for he was running out of cash and the next rental would be due the following week. One other problem that bugged him was his numerous criminal records, from petty thievery to armed robbery. To confound his worries, Corina's arm began to swell and her body temperature rose to an alarming level.

Corina reached for Aldwin's face and planted a kiss on his cheeks. She asked to be helped in detaching the necklace and offered it to Aldwin, maybe to pawn or sell. Aldwin was hesitant at first but he decided to take it for he didn't want to go back to his snatching and stealing jobs. Besides, the necklace looked good to him and it might fetch a good amount that can tidy them
up for several weeks until the time he gets a job.

Aldwin was right, the pawn broker declared the necklace to be made of pure gold, 24 solid Karats, and he was handed a thousand dollars for it. Aldwin was a little reluctant for he intended to sell it but thinking that the necklace was Corina's only wealth, he accepted the broker's offer, giving him three months to redeem the necklace with a ten percent interest.

Immediately, he got a cab and took Corina back to Dr. Mullins. Corina was diagnosed to be suffering from severe inflammation of the wound due to an infection, probably caused by the body's immunity system to reject the metal plate being a foreign matter. Dr. Mullins strongly advised for an emergency operation and Aldwin had to shell out another thousand bucks for that. The metal plate was being rejected by Corina's system and it has to be taken out at once to arrest the infection.

The surgery lasted for three hours. A new metal plate of a different material would be implanted in place of the old one. Like before, Dr. Mullins again took Aldwin aside after the operation for some medical information. The bone specialist handed Aldwin the metal plate which was removed from Corina's arm. Aldwin examined the two-by-four-inch metal and blurted a loud "what!" in astonishment. His eyes saw the once aluminum-looking metal plate now thicker and made of gold!

Again, he visited the pawn broker to confirm his suspicion. It was gold indeed and 24 Karats at that, not much different from the necklace. Aldwin was offered another thousand dollars but he decided not to pawn it and he went to a jeweller instead. The gemologist, renown in underworld dealings to readily buy jewelries without question, weighed the gold plate and offered Aldwin two thousand dollars.

Aldwin bargained for three thousand, to which the broker agreed, and immediately went back to the pawn shop to redeem Corina's golden necklace. He was firm in his decision to avoid using the necklace as pawn for it belonged only to Corina's neck. No matter what happens, the necklace must remain in Corina's possession for she is the rightful owner.

With the remaining money, Aldwin went to the grocer for their food supplies and a variety of fruits as present for Corina. He next went to a cheap boutique to buy some loose clothings and other feminine needs for Corina, complete with shampoo, soap, lotion and the like. He did not forget to buy a golden comb with fancy trimmings in the handle for he loved to see Corina's long hair blown by the wind.

Corina's stay in the clinic was shorter this time. Aldwin signed a waiver to have her discharged after a day of confinement. He was afraid that the doctors might perform tests and investigations that could confirm the phenomenon. If the newspapers got hold of the information and if Corina's family got to know of it, what happens then? Aldwin refused to continue thinking of probabilities for it was not his line to speculate.

Although Dr. Mullins swore to keep the thing secret, Aldwin wouldn't trust him even if the doctor showed his disbelief and impliedly said he would confirm the phenomenon when the second implant would again turn to gold. Aldwin wished for the contrary to happen and left the bone center in haste with Corina in tow. Dr. Mullins, with his sad-looking face, waved his left hand to bid them goodbye.

Aldwin had difficulty getting sleep in spite of the routinary sexual intercourse they had every night. He just lay awake thinking about everything that happened and what may happen in the near future. He began to notice the mystery surrounding Corina and on impulse, he woke up the sleeping Corina and he
pronounced them man and wife without the benefit of a legal marriage to avoid complications and further expenses. As usual, Corina agreed without any reluctance.

Same as before, the swelling showed after three days and they were back at Dr. Mullins' bone center for another operation. Aldwin was edgy while waiting for the surgery to be finished. His apprehension rose not from the dangers of the operation but from the phenomenon of the metal plate turning into gold. It
would really be a sensation and he didn't like the idea of Corina being a guinea pig for the scientists.

The agony of waiting took its toll and Aldwin noticed his shaking hands and trembling knees plus the cold sweat rolling from his temple down to his neck. In all his life with the underworld characters, he didn't experience being scared out of his wits. He was even nicknamed Iceman to manifest his coolness in the illegal operations that he was involved with.

His fears were confirmed when Dr. Mullins came out of the operating room with the solid gold plate, a little thicker this time. The doctor was in a hurry to consult Aldwin because the surgery was still in progress. Dr. Mullins advised Aldwin to forgo with the metal implanting to prevent another infection and just settle for a "reduction by casting" which is a simpler procedure. Out of confusion and ignorance, Aldwin nodded his head in approval.

The wound was cleaned and the incision was closed before setting the broken arm in a plaster cast. To Aldwin's delight, Dr. Mullins simply refused to believe the phenomenon and said that they may be playing tricks on him. He was very professional in his dealings with Aldwin until now. The discharge waiver handed to Aldwin was signed by Dr. Mullins as the attending surgeon and opposite the patient's name was written - MRS. MIDAS.

Like a faithful husband, Aldwin dutifully attended to Corina's needs twenty four hours each day without any complaint. With only a few hours of sleep, he ignored all the laborious tasks for his primary concern was Corina's recovery and nothing else. He avoided asking for his desired sexual activity but Corina was the one insisting and he was only human not to refuse.

The nursing routine inside their small room went on for two weeks although Aldwin didn't notice the time. He was too busy attending to the needs of his wife. All he could see was the beautiful face of Corina and his only respite from the pleasant view was his visit to the grocer. Like a dutiful husband, he did everything in the house, cleaning, washing, caring for his wife.

Aldwin was fixing the bed when Corina motioned for a pen and paper. Although unsure, Aldwin went out for a while to buy the writing implements. His effort was not wasted when Corina started writing and Aldwin saw her penmanship to be very precise, with a quality higher than that of an ordinary manual typewriter. He was amazed by Corina's handwriting and was totally bewildered
upon reading Corina's message.

"I cannot speak your language for my vocal cords are not equipped to transmit audible sounds in your voice frequency. But I can hear you speak although I cannot understand. If it would please you, let us just communicate
through writing."

Using the same printed style but with a much lower font quality, Aldwin immediately wrote the questions that were bugging him. He was both excited and anxious to get the answers he long wanted and this was his chance to explicitly ask Corina if she really loved him. And Corina replied in writing.

"Yes, I love you and I think I will stay with you forever since there is no other choice for me. I came from a faraway place by which I cannot tell you the name for it has no direct translation. Don't worry about my family, my present classification is unattached."

With a sigh of relief due to a feeling of security, Aldwin carefully wrote down the remaining questions inside his head that he could think of at that moment. He intended to unravel the mystery behind the metal plate turning into gold. And with her mystic smile, Corina obliged.

"Your existing science is not equipped to explain the chemical reaction that happened because some elements of my body enzymes which caused the white metal to turn yellow are not in your chemical chart yet. My orientation included a complete lesson about the yellow metal, being a very valuable item here in your place, the reason why I offered you my Mission Tag in exchange for material necessities."

Corina's reply was pregnant with questionable declaratives, prompting Aldwin to retaliate with more specific interrogatives. He asked in writing for the exact location of Corina's place and the significance of the mission tag. It took a while before Corina replied because her injured right hand was obviously aching from too much movements.

"My place of origin is a planet outside your star cluster which your people call Milky Way. I was sent here, together with twelve others, on a data-gathering mission under the code name CORINA. Some of your TV shows reach our place and the most popular show there is Living With Corina, the reason why our team selected that for our mission name."

Aldwin shook his head in disbelief. His wife was a good catch with a pretty face and all that, who can turn metal into gold but who happens to come from another planet under a mission named after a stupid cat in a TV serial. Shaking off his skepticism, Aldwin's face turned to serious and he got a clean sheet to write a series of questions. It took a longer time before Corina replied with the lengthy answers.

"Our mission orientation started when I was still a young person, similar to your first grader here, and I already had produced two generations when our craft left our place. Our lifetime is much longer than yours but our looks don't show it if you base my appearance in your standards. My actual age, using your time measure, is about eighty years now and probably am a great grandmother already."

"We had an intensive study of all the visuals from your TV transmissions that reached our place. Your simple alphabet, having only a few letters, was very easy to comprehend although we were not able to learn your speech because the audio signals are too weak to handle. It's only now that I discovered about the peculiarity of your voice."

"Our team was composed of experts in different fields and I was assigned to take care of the communications. But before we neared your place, our craft developed a problem and I was the one voted to ride the salver which can hold only one passenger. As I steered the salver away, our craft exploded, inflicting damage to the salver's direction pointer. Only the gravity of this place guided the salver and with a little luck, I was able to execute an emergency jump before it crashed."

Half convinced, Aldwin nodded and tried to fit the pieces in the right places. He found Corina in the dump with a broken arm caused by the fall from the burning vessel. He also recalled the not recent rumor about the debris of a flying saucer, found near Manhattan, which may be the salver. And how can one explain the phenomenon of turning the metal plate into gold? He got an inkling that perhaps it was all true.

Aldwin forced himself to believe Corina's story although he felt a stabbing pain in his chest when he thought about Corina to be eighty years old and a grandmother already. But as a consolation, Corina added that she's still capable of bearing offsprings which gave Aldwin some hope of pursuing a normal life. Besides, age didn't matter for the pleasure he gets from the sexual activity cannot be matched by any woman.

The interrogation was finished after an hour and Aldwin felt more tired than Corina who had to endure the throbbing pain of her injured arm. Seeing the depression on Aldwin's face, Corina, with full passion, kissed her moping husband. Out of habit, Aldwin returned the gesture in a more torrid fashion that led to their favorite activity - sexual intercourse.

Aldwin's pleasure was greater than before and it surprised him to find his previously waning lust to be more intense instead, ironic for a man making love to a still reproductive grandmother. His desire lasted for three acts and for the first time since he found Corina, Aldwin had a good night's sleep, it was a dreamless slumber.

The following days were spent on further written conversations in between Aldwin's job hunting. He explicitly declared to Corina his desire to have children when they can already afford it. As was her wont, Corina nodded in approval and to give more assurance to Aldwin, she even drew a caricature of a happy family standing beside a big house which elicited a smile from Aldwin's face.

The cast was removed after two months and Dr. Mullins assured Aldwin that Corina's arm bone was back to its former condition, if not better. Before Dr. Mullins could say another word, Aldwin paid the fee, thanked Dr. Mullins and took Corina by the arm to leave, carelessly showing his obvious evasion from further questionings. But before they could get past the door, Dr. Mullins teasingly hollered, "Goodbye, Mrs. Midas."

Aldwin wished to lead a normal life, but he knew that they never could without a steady source of income. He was losing hope of landing a job but he never entertained the idea of letting Corina work for he doesn't want his wife to meet any other men, he was just being practical to be jealous. It was exactly three months after Corina's last operation when they ran out of funds, the day Corina offered financial help.

Without hesitation, Aldwin declined Corina's idea and asked for a little time to look for a better source of funds. She was his only treasure and he couldn't bear the pains and the scars that Corina would suffer by allowing her to be a gold mill. He contemplated on his three options: first, go back to the underworld; second, make the street their home; third, the bogus surgery. Aldwin pondered and evaluated everything before he made the decision. He chose the third option.

Using his underworld connection, he sourced out the best abortionist that he could trust, both with Corina's health and their secret, to perform the surgery. A very cheap metal will be implanted in Corina's flesh, just under the skin of her left thigh for future removal when the fever sets in, hopefully turning the metal into gold by then.

The illegal clinic was situated in an old building but Aldwin did not encounter any difficulty in finding it. His friends gave him a complete direction and a referral note for the secrecy of the operation. His underworld friends thought it to be just a simple abortion. The female doctor smiled at Aldwin and praised his wife for her beauty which increased Aldwin's apprehension. But he remained watching the doctor's every move.

The simple surgery took only fifteen minutes and the crook doctor charged them two hundred dollars including the sterilized tin sheet that was once a sausage can. Aldwin was able to observe the entire operation, not out of concern for Corina's safety though. He was formulating a better idea for the process, not unlike a shrewd businessman who is trying to protect his exclusive rights.

Only two days passed when the infection was manifested by a very high fever. But instead of going back to the doctor, Aldwin got a clean blade which he purchased the day before and cut through the sutures in the still fresh incision, trying to ignore Corina's moans of pains. He was gleaming with pride when he pulled out the yellow metal that definitely looked like gold.

After wiping the blood, he applied powdered sulfanilamide on the wound for faster healing and held out a tablet of aspirin for the pains. He didn't bother to buy antibiotics for according to Corina, her body was equipped with antibodies to fight the infecting organisms and the fever was only caused by the rejection process. With tenderness, he carefully wrapped the wounded thigh with a new and clean bandage, unmindful of the seeping blood between the plasters.

He left for the jeweller when Corina was settled in bed and promised to come back soon with the sedatives. As usual, the jeweller weighed the gold and offered three thousand dollars. Since it looked heavier than the previous one he sold, Aldwin was able to bargain an additional five hundred dollars which would take care of their rental for the next two months. He left the jeweller in haste to complete his errand.

After paying the landlord and buying groceries, he proceeded to the clinic of the abortionist. Aldwin handed the crook doctor a hundred bill in exchange for a syringe and a prescription for injectable pain relievers. He ignored the doctor's queries regarding Corina's condition and hastily left for the drugstore to buy his needs.

Aldwin's hand was shaking when he injected Corina's arm with the pain reliever. Only a minute elapsed when Corina gestured a sign of relief that erased Aldwin's worries. Due to the large dose, Corina fell asleep in no time at all giving Aldwin the opportunity to do his own doctoring, a much safer method, on his wife.

He lay down the materials beside the bed and started making a long but shallow incision in Corina's other thigh with a shiny scalpel. Aldwin cut through the flesh to separate the skin and make room for two strips of galvanized iron. Using only white bandages and medical plaster, he tried to close the wound without the help of sutures to make the removal easier and less painful for the patient. He pronounced success after sticking the last piece of plaster.

Aldwin couldn't understand himself why he had to vandalize Corina's body. But since he had to justify the second implantation, he affirmed his alibi. It will save Corina the pains for she had to suffer only once, just this time. Besides, it is for the good of their relationship.

Ironically, Corina, upon knowing of the second implantation by Aldwin, even praised him for his practicality. She consented to his idea of hoarding a little money to tide them over the next few months, until the time Aldwin gets a job. She also assured Aldwin of her safety from being "really" infected and only the scars will prove a disadvantage. Although edgy, Aldwin was quite happy with the turnout of their discussion.

Aldwin's golden idea proved correct after two days for he didn't encounter any difficulty in pulling out the gold strips from Corina's left thigh and it was just like opening the coat pocket to get some coins. The aspirin taken before the removal of the plate reduced her sufferings and the pain reliever made her sleep. It was a piece of cake for the two of them.

She woke up to see her husband counting a lot of bills in large denomination and Corina couldn't help but smile. Aldwin hugged his wife to signify his love and gratefulness for her sacrifice. Their fate was sealed and financial security became a reality with the bounty he was holding. He started a conversation of making grand plans for his family.

Mr. and Mrs. Aldwin Brooks moved to a not so classy apartment and purchased a brand new car. Aldwin posed as a trader dealing in the buy and sell business of old jewelries to allay any suspicion that might arise. He had grown to be a little paranoid with the situation and he tried to avoid any conversation with people in their new neighborhood. Aside from their being elusive with the neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks looked like a normal couple.

Aldwin finally believed Corina's revelation regarding her being an alien from an unknown planet. But he tried to console himself for he was completely satisfied to have a pretty wife, nice home, classy car and a limitless source of money. He never attempted to do another surgery in their new home unless the situation calls for it. But he estimated their cash to last them a year of high class living.

It was one evening when Corina was making the bed ready for their favorite pastime and Aldwin confronted her with the writing pad. She did not hesitate to nod when Aldwin asked her to have children although it took her fifteen minutes to explain the necessary procedure required to successfully procreate, at least in their kind. Without hesitation, Aldwin agreed although it didn't look easy to him. They scheduled the session for the following night after finalizing a sort of dress rehearsal.

The hot bath was refreshing and rejuvenating, a good conditioning for the human body according to Corina. She lay on the floor with both feet up in the air and Aldwin posed in between her legs, his back to Corina, like a conqueror ready to slay his prey. But the awkward position gave him a hard time to heat up, his crotch touching hers, and all Aldwin could see was the floor. He missed Corina's face although he could feel her hands tenderly massaging his behind.

A little concentration paid up when Aldwin was able to insert his masculinity and the penetration proved successful after some thirty minutes since they started. Corina's ecstatic cry during the climax signaled the end of it and Aldwin was thankful with a sigh of relief. He was hopeful that Corina will get pregnant and bear their child in six months time.

But he was a little irritated when Corina pronounced that they have to repeat the same procedure for the next two nights. However, Aldwin showed a little adeptness and his endurance was getting stronger the next time they did it. The couple showed perseverance although Aldwin could feel some pleasure unlike the first time. They were rewarded when Corina declared pregnancy on the fourth day. Her body temperature went down to ninety six and will remain at that level for the next six months. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks celebrated the event by a steak dinner in a classy restaurant of her choice.

Aldwin's envisioned good life continued and they barely noticed their dwindling funds. He sold the car to pay the rent and replenished the stock of groceries. But with the onset of Corina's pregnancy, each day was planning time for Aldwin. He calculated a certain amount that they will need to tide them over for a year and Corina replied by offering a series of surgical implantations to resolve their financial problem once and for all.

Like before, Aldwin was reluctant and it took him time to think it over although he again relented when he realized there was no other recourse but the surgery. He examined Corina's thighs and it looked fine with a thin but prominent scar from the previous implantation. He couldn't help but notice Corina's bulging tummy, filled with his baby that would come out in a matter of two months and make him a father. The future of their baby is at stake and it is only right for the parents to make the sacrifice, her with the physical sufferings, him with torment.

Aldwin decided to do an implant simultaneously on both thighs to save on Corina's physical pains. After giving her the aspirin, Aldwin administered a heavy dose of sedatives to make the operation painless. He was sweating and trembling but he tried not to show it to his wife.

The moment Corina fell asleep, Aldwin began the surgery by making two long incisions on Corina's left thigh, in the outer and inner side. After mopping up the blood from the cut, he inserted the thick rusty strips of metal that he took from the junk yard. According to Corina, the rust will make the infection process faster thus lessening the time of harvest and waiting.

He had prepared a total of eight metal strips for implantation, two on both sides of each thigh. Aldwin ignored the emotional pain he experienced in making the long incisions and tried to concentrate on what he was doing. This implantation would be the last one, as he had decided, for he didn't want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg and he was firm in his resolve to find another source of income.

He repeated the same procedure on the other thigh and closed the wounds with a gauze and elastic bandage. The surgery seemed simple enough with Aldwin's adept hands and he felt like a veteran surgeon after a successful operation. His only worry was the effect of the pain killer.

But Corina had no trouble waking up. Still drowsy from the sedative, Corina opened up a serious conversation regarding their future. Aldwin grabbed the opportunity to declare his decision - it would be the last surgery for her. Corina just gave out a teasing smile and Aldwin attributed her reaction to the effect of the drug.

In between the waiting for the harvest, Mr. and Mrs. Midas were both excited to make plans for their baby. It was a tossup between their choice, a female for Corina and a male for Aldwin. The written, sometimes sign language, discussion ended up in a pillow fight.

Before going to sleep, they contemplated on putting up a small business with the money they would get from the sale of the soon to be harvested gold. Aldwin suggested to rent a store space and sell fruits like the Korean in 24th Avenue. Of course, Corina agreed. It was a dreamless night for Corina, the sedative had a long lasting effect, but Aldwin lay awake not because of having abstained from their habitual sexual activity but due to a certain apprehension which he couldn't explain.

It was noon of the next day when the fever set in and Aldwin's lethargy instantly vanished. He got his tools and after injecting Corina with the leftover sedative, Aldwin started to pry out the metal strips from Corina's thigh. Removal was easier than the implantation but Aldwin's anxiety was much evident because of the building apprehension inside him. His sweat was all over his face and his shirt was drenched.

Aldwin let out a loud gasp as he pulled out the first metal strip. It was shiny, yes, but not yellow as anticipated. Removing the other three from the left thigh, he concluded that the rusty metal did not change into another element although the rust were all gone and the thick tin, presumably from an old car's fender, looked like new. With a heavy heart, he completed the removal and sealed the incisions on Corina's thighs with a new gauze bandage after applying the healing powder.

He lay down the eight metal strips on the bedside table and started analyzing the result. It was tin, no doubt about it. But how did it happen? He didn't have the answers. Looking at his sleeping wife, Aldwin decided to leave for the jeweller. It might be white gold or silver, maybe. But the jeweller proved him wrong on his second opinion, right on the first. It was tin.

He sat beside the bed and stared at the eight strips of shiny tin, his mind wandering, losing focus with reality. The rust might have been the problem, yes, and he could repeat the surgery with a cleaner metal. But wasn't it his conviction to cease from doing another surgical implantation on his wife?

Corina woke up after a few hours to see her brooding husband. She was filled with disappointment upon learning of the implantation's failure. Speculations, logical and illogical, filled three pages of coupon bond until they both ran out of suspicions. Another thing that bothered Aldwin was Corina's steady high fever which should have already subsided a few hours ago. What more, Corina was getting weak and wan.

Setting aside the eight shiny metal strips, Aldwin attended to Corina who was complaining of abdominal pains. It was late at night, with no car, no cash, making Aldwin more worried in case an emergency arose. He applied a wet towel on Corina's forehead to ease the fever and tried to position her on the reclining chair to relax and minimize the tummy spasms. But Corina's moans got louder to Aldwin's discomfort which triggered the rising panic in him.

Hailing a cab, he carried Corina from upstairs and proceeded to the bone center. In between hastes of strapping Corina to the stretcher, Aldwin explained to Dr. Mullins the wounds and the stomach pains that might endanger the pregnancy. The ortho surgeon just nodded, showing disbelief in his face, maybe due to the implantation that Aldwin mentioned. Dr. Mullins was more concerned with the threatening abortion but he could not do anything except for some first aid measures for he was no obstretician nor a gynecologist.

Holding the necklace in his hands, Aldwin heard Corina's loud cry from the emergency room, running inside, he found Dr. Mullins picking up a large dead fetus, about seven months in size if compared with the ordinary infant. Everyone in the room, Dr. Mullins, the nurse, Corina and Aldwin were astonished to see the dead baby evenly covered with soft yellow tissue. As pronounced by Dr. Mullins, it was a golden baby!

Aldwin's nightmare was just starting but the loss of the baby sunk his heart to his bottom. And if somebody was to be blamed, even if he was not sure of the medical complications that happened, it would be them and their folly. He started to tremble and his mind began to wander to nowhere.

He sat on the chair beside Corina's bed unmindful of his wife's delirious moans, the effect of the high fever. Aldwin didn't know what to do, what to think, while the nurse was giving Corina an alcohol bath to combat the high body temperature. The fever lasted for another hour before the moans ceased and Aldwin learned that Corina fell into a deep coma.

Aldwin's nightmare was completed at early dawn when Corina passed away due to unknown reasons although Dr. Mullins wrote cardiac arrest on the death certificate. Since he had no money for the burial, Aldwin agreed to have Corina cremated, a cheaper procedure. He went back to the apartment, gave a long look at the bed and retrieved the cash left under the bed. He had no intention of staying in their home even if it was already paid up for the next several months. All he needed was room to breath, far away from home.

Aldwin wore Corina's mission tag around his neck and started his trek, to where his mind drifted, a long trip to nowhere. Once in a while, he would wipe the uncontrolled tears and the sweat caused by the summer heat. He acted like a zombie, no direction, no emotion, unmindful of the things around him. He just continued with his aimless walking.

As was before, he got back to being a tramp, a useless waif that is an excess in the society that nobody would care if he died. Aldwin roamed around the vicinity of New Jersey for two weeks before getting back to his senses. Beside the casino building, he cried out loud to grieve for his lost family. He was picked up by the police and after some questioning, was dropped near the boundary to New York.

Before reaching his territory, Aldwin was attacked by unknown muggers that almost cost him his life. The last thing he remembered was the shiny fan knife being plunged into his side. Fortunately, somebody brought him to a charity clinic and he was discharged after a day of treatment. He felt ungrateful to the doctor that saved his life when he learned that he lost Corina's necklace to the muggers, the last remnant that reminded him of his beautiful wife.

Aldwin continued his search but his mind wouldn't tell him what he was to look for. Depending on the necessity, it may be food, dwelling or memories. He walked towards the city and scanned the faces of the people that he met especially the female kind. No one looked like Corina for Corina was one of a kind with her hazel hair and blue green eyes. Nobody would ever look like his Corina. Aldwin continued with his aimless walking.

He found himself in the same alley where he first saw Corina and spent the whole day to inspect every garbage pile with no specific object to look for. When the summer sun was beginning to set, he sat on the dirty gutter and stared at the darkening horizon. He jumped to his feet upon seeing a burning object falling from the sky in the direction of Manhattan. He heard a loud thud nearby and walked fast, hearing his deafening heartbeat and ignoring the pulsating pains in his side.

In one of the garbage piles across the road, Aldwin saw the stockinged feet dangling on the pavement. Quickly, he examined the woman and was surprised to see her face. So similar to Corina's face and body, so much the same as Corina's, his beloved Corina might have come back. Aldwin felt her pulse, she was alive and she appeared to have only minor injuries. He touched her necklace and read the elegant inscription: MARIANNA.

With excitement, Aldwin brought the moaning woman to a cleaner place and attended to her injuries. But he stood up from the dirty curb upon realizing that the muggers might come back for her. He decided to leave the alley.

His hands on her waist, they walked to the Central Park like two lovers unmindful of the evening promenaders. Just like Corina, Marianna couldn't speak but it was all right for Aldwin knew what to do. He looked for a cozy place, underneath a bush, to settle with Marianna and check her injuries. He examined her arm and massaged her buttocks. The woman showed submissiveness and extreme pleasure to what Aldwin was doing.

But unlike before, and in spite of the musky odor emitted by Marianna's body, Aldwin felt tired and there was a deep longing for him to close his eyes and sleep. The thought of making love to this pretty girl only made him a little excited. Perhaps it was Corina's memory that stunted his lust, but Corina was gone now and he had to pursue his own future.

He tried to fight the fatigue with his excitement and lust. His hands moved inside Marianna's pants but it seemed to be too tight and when he kissed her on the lips, there was no warmth like before although Marianna exhibited the same submissiveness he found in Corina. Pushing his luck, he ripped open her blouse and failing to find the buttons in her pants, ripped it, too. It was Aldwin's last act.

The morning daily was splashed with the news of a dead man in the Central Park, his bloody clothes can be discerned from the black and white photo. However, people wouldn't know, unless they read the entire news, that the dead man was clinging to an old rag doll, with torn clothes and a leather tag in the neck with the inscription: Marianna Dolls by Ritzie Inc.

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