Monday, May 11, 2009

The Great Escape (Last Part)

The rain fell in torrents as I sneaked outside the house with a small orange umbrella and an olive green jacket to protect me from the elements. On the main road, no jeepneys were in sight; the cold damp air had seeped through my skin, leaving me shaking while waiting for a cab to hail; and as the rain swept curb had flushed away all the dust and grime that accumulated along its edges during that sunny afternoon, my head was clouded with questions as to why I had to search for you in RCBC Plaza and show up like I am your worried boyfriend.

Was it for showing up in Malate after I had told you I was drunk?

Was it because I wanted to make sure you'll be in my bed when daybreak comes?

Or was it simply because I longed to see you no matter what the outcome of my daring escape would be?

And like the downpour heading towards the gutter, the answers remain as swift as the currents going down the drain.

I got out of the taxi a few steps away from the People Support Building. I feared that your party had left shortly before my arrival. Ignoring my growing pessimist thoughts, (as you were not replying to my text messages) I searched for the nearest coffee shop in the area. There, in front of the call center headquarters was a Starbucks packed with yuppies like you.

It took me less than a minute to spot you. After all, your friends had chosen the outermost table to sit yourselves in. Your chair was at a corner and as I passed by your table, our eyes met once again. I put up my stiffest facial expression and pretended not to see you glancing towards my direction.

The great escape had worked.

If not for the text message earlier that drizzly morning telling me that you were drunk; and if not for your suggestion of sleeping over in my place so we could catch up with the things we missed, I would never show up soaked with rainwater and with just a hundred pesos in my pocket.

Mustering all my guts to find some old connections, I lingered inside the reception area of People Support while waiting for your recognition. You see, I have a friend working in that company and since we haven't spoken to each other after our Christmas Party last year, I thought of paying him a visit just to keep my thoughts away from you.

And so I let the time pass by while waiting for my friend to show up at the door; and waiting for you to send a reply to my text messages.

Nothing came to see me; not even a silhouette or a shadow of your presence.

Leaving the reception area, I returned to Starbucks to check if you were still with your friends. And just when I was about to come near the coffee shop, I saw your group packing your belongings and walking away from your table.

"It must be closing time," I told myself.

Worried that I might lose sight of your presence, I followed your direction while your friends who were ahead began to walk their separate ways. I tried to get within an earshot's distance just to tell you I was there. You did acknowledge my presence by slowing down your pace and raising your hand to tell me to wait. Your eyes showed confusion. My presence might have screwed up your plans.


You told me over our text exchanges to wait, for you will have to escort a colleague going home. I would have followed your orders but the elements began to challenge my patience. It started raining and knowing you were against the forces of nature when you set your foot in Manila, a timely intervention would spare you from an embarrassment. At the back of my head, I would score big too, knowing I was already present even before you had thought of my assistance.

I stayed across the street while you and your girl colleague waited for a ride going home. Clutching my arms around my waist, the cold air and the piercing solitude began to assault my endurance. You weren't replying to my messages and as I learned later on, your phone turned out to be unattended. Was it because you intentionally shut if off, or your battery got emptied? I do not know.

Accepting defeat, I crossed the wide boulevard to trade glances with you for the last time. You weren't looking. Walking towards the darker portions of the avenue, I still waited - just until I saw you fade away from your spot.

But you weren't moving.

On the brink of hailing the first cab that pass my direction, I heard someone throwing up.

My first thought was you.

Mabilis akong lumakad patungo sa inyong kinatatayuan upang tingnan kung sino ang nagsusuka. Natagpuan ko roon ang kasama mong babae na nakatingin sa malayo. Ikaw naman ay nawawala sa eksena. Pasimple akong pumunta sa direksyon kung saan nakapinid ang mata ng iyong kasama habang ikaw naman ay gegewang-gewang na naglalakad papalapit sa akin.

Sa unang pagkakataon ay muli tayong nagkausap.

"Nagpunta ako rito upang iabot sa iyo itong payong." Paliwanag ko sa iyo. "Malakas kasi ang ulan sa Maynila..." Ngumiti ka lamang at sinabing ako ay mag-intay. Isasakay mo lang ng bus ang iyong katrabaho.

Sampung minuto ang nakalipas, dumaan ang bus na inyong inaabangan. Sinakay mo ang babae at matapos na umandar papalayo ang sasakyan, ikaw ay tumalikod at dahan-dahang nagtungo sa akin.

Hindi ko na pinakinggan ang iyong mga paliwanag. Sapat na ang malaman na akin ka na.

Nangasul ang kalangitan nang umagang iyon na ang mga braso ko ay nakapulupot sa iyong nag-iinit na katawan.

Sa ikatlong pagkakataon Epitome Boy, muli tayong nag isang dibdib sa aking kama.

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