Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Gerald was out on the street, running down the sidewalk and hopping on to the first bus he saw that was bringing him back to the café where he first had met her. He wished John and the two others knew where he could find Patricia but then he remembered the only reason they knew her name was because he was yelling it out in his apartment the the day he met her.

As the bus made its long winding journey between the narrow streets and frustrating traffic, Gerald failed to realize how tired he was. His eyes narrowed into slits until he had fallen asleep and failed to realize he missed his stop. By the time he opened his eyes, he was way past the café and now closer to his old college alma mater which he had long ignored ever visiting, Quickly telling the driver to let him off, he hopped down on to the street and noticed how much the place had seemingly changed. What was once a school with the university mall on one side was now a long stretch of eateries and restaurants for the students to indulge in. Feeling still a tad sore from his long journey, Gerald cursed himself for having fallen asleep and checked the phone if by any chance she opted to call again. Unfortunately, there were no new calls, and the missed calls were only registered in his broken phone. And the broken phone, unfortunately, was left behind back at his apartment.

Feeling dejected and lost, Gerald sighed heavily at the evident disintegration of something that had barely begun. Just before meeting her, Gerald used to think being stuck with Jenna was the worst that one could endure to at least have a semblance of companionship in life. In some ways, he know began to think he was right to think that. For even as he realized how he had most likely blown away in chances with the one and only woman who seemed to actually get him and understand him the way he truly was, he did not even find himself considering going back to Jenna or find anyone else. It seemed she was who mattered to him now more than ever.

And he had lost her even before she had become part of his life.

Gerald walked down the long stretch of the road, ignoring the small herd-like gatherings of students that moved about in packs, as if to walk alone was to invite being devoured by higher batch students. He walked past the numerous groups of smoking teens, who shared stories of failed conquests, notable crushes and the latest gossip in regards to celebrities or sports controversies. He walked past the long lines of people that waited for a chance to use a pay phone, or the next FX shuttle, or the turn to purchase a ticket for the tram over head. He walked and he walked until he realized he was no longer among the vicinity of his old college alma mater and now deeper in the darker areas that most students shunned away from for their own safety.

And he found himself thinking, was that it? What that was the had finally come to? A point when he suddenly did not care for his own personal safety? A moment of ridiculous self-destructiveness for having failed in love? Has he not outgrown this pathetic attempt at gaining attention?

Gerald shook his head, realizing he was above this. He was past all this. He was someone better now. Someone more mature. And he did not see any point in treating his life as if it no longer ended because the chances of love had. After all, that was utter foolishness to believe. Love always had a chance. Love always remains there, waiting for someone to accept it into their homes. And maybe it did not work out with one person, one can never know when the other person comes along.

That was, after all, how it all began, was it not? Gerald with Jenna. The stranger in the café. The ape-faced muscle man and his botoxed big bosomed bride. Was not that first meeting in itself a moment Gerald everything was falling apart?

The grumble came quite suddenly, and Gerald looked around first, frightening it was some rabid dog or other strange pet that had the aims of mauling him, before he realized it was his own stomach. Rubbing his belly, Gerald realized that he had not gotten anything to eat for dinner, even with all the food that was gathered in the apartment. He reached down into his pockets to first check if his wallet and John’s phone were still there, then hailed down one of the public passenger jeepneys to take a ride towards the closest mall.

He was just hungry, Gerald decided, and he would feel much better once he had a chance to eat.

* *

Patricia entered the small café and thanked no one in particular for the dim lights the place had. Shaped like a lunch box, the rectangular café had three couches and five tables spread out in the room. At the central wall between the door and the bar, a large white screen was where the projection of an ongoing film showing fell upon. Patricia carefully maneuvered in the dark, until she found an empty table that contained a single nearly empty drink. Patricia sat down, assuming the previous customer had decided to leave and did not finish his drink.

She was wrong.

“Excuse me, this is our table,” the voice came and Patricia turned to see a heavily made-up drag queen looking at her with eyebrows held high. Not too far off, another woman, biologically female this time, tapped the gay guy’s shoulder and motioned with her eyes. Patricia shook her head and was on the act of apologizing as she stood when the drag queen suddenly pointed at her and asked, “Patricia!? You’re Patricia right?”

Patricia looked back at the drag queen and was taken a back.

“I know you?” she gasped and reached a hand out for a hand shake. Kimberly ignored her hand and leaned forwards, kissing the air close to Patricia’s left cheek, then the same to her right cheek.

“Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?” Kimberly asked Patricia and sat back down, motioning her to join him. Patricia noticed another girl sat on the other side of the table. It took Patricia a moment to remember her.

“Hot Cholocate, but served chilled, right?” the girl told Patricia.

“From the café,” Patricia began to realize, “You work there?” she asked the girl. The girl smiled and reached her had out towards Patricia, “We both do. I’m Jenny. This is Kimberly. You can join us.”

“You’re alone?” Kimberly inquired as Patricia hesitantly sat back down.

”Am I not supposed to be,” Patricia jokingly replied when Kimberly prodded more.

“What about the cute geeky guy, what’s his name, Gerry?”

“Gerald,” Jenny corrected him.

“Oh yes, Gerald. The guy who left his bag?”

Patricia felt silent, feeling for a brief moment the urge to let it out, but her will was stronger than the pain she felt. “We’re not exactly seeing each other.”

“You aren’t?” Kimberly seemed shocked.

“Kim, I think this is private. We shouldn’t-“ Jenny tried to dissuade her gay friend but Kimberly heard none of it.

“What happened? Did he cheat on you honey?”

Patricia looked at them both, “You know him?”

“Oh no,” Jenny smiled, “But I was there. When he first saw you. He was really staring at you. It was cute. I used to think that would be creepy or something you’d only see in the movies. But no, he was really staring at you.”

“You should have seen how nervous he was when you two first met,” Kimberly told Jenny and then faced Patricia. Kimberly slid a cigarette out of a bronze cigarette case which he kept inside his sling on bag. “He was totally falling all over himself over you. He was stuttering at times. He even tried to ask you out but ended up saying it just as you stepped out the door.”

Patricia smiled, thought there was a hint of bitter sweetness in it. She shrugged and tried to answer the earlier question, “I guess some guys just seem worth it at the start. Until you get to know them more.”

“Oh no.. he did cheat on you,” Kimberly shook his head, “And its been what.. three days?”

“It was strange though,” Patricia admitted, “At times it felt like more. Like week.. or a month already. There was this comfortableness about it. A clear understanding you could simply be yourself.”

“Ay,” Kimberly snapped his fingers and pulled out a lighter, “That would have been too good to be true. No one out there is who they claim to be anymore. If they aren’t in the closet, its’ because its too filled with skeletons, you hear?”

“Still,” Jenny sighed, “It is sad to hear it did not work out. I mean, what would I give to have some guy ask me out sometime.”

“Ariel,” Kimberly teased Jenny having noticed her choice of words reminded him of a song from the Disney musical, “Maybe if you would listen to me and try changing your ‘I am dressed to go to Church waredrobe,’ you’d have bigger chances and finding some guy.”

“But I like wearing this,” Jenny complained.

Patricia looked across the bar and tried to decide what she was really doing here meeting baristas whom seemed to know her more than she did them. She threw her gaze around and noticed how the film had ended and barely a couple of people even noticed. The director of the movie, a scrawny guy who stood by the bar, muttered half-hearted thank yous to the unresponsive couple and backed up his stuff.

“I guess, not everyone really finds what they want,” Patricia found herself muttered, as she looked around and noticed all the film-maker décor the café had. “You would have thought in a place like this, he’d be more noticed.”

“Who are you talking about?” Kimberly asked and Patricia turned to face him and smiled. Patricia shook her head and was about to explain how she was just day dreaming when a voice emerged in the darkness and caught her notice.

“Honey, stop that! There are people here!”

Patricia turned her head to see a lovely looking woman sitting at the table just behind theirs. Beside her, a bulky man who evidently lifted weights a lot continued to tickle her and try to steal kisses from her. The girl slapped him a few times, though her slaps seemed more of a play than an actual attempt to ward him away. The people at the counter realized how quiet the place was now that the film was over and decided to play some music. Strains of Damien Rice’s Amie began to play.

“Hi,” a third voice came and Patricia realized the two love birds had a third companion with them. The guy seemed to ooze over confidence. And his lips seemed to be locked in a smirk that may have seemed attractive during the early eighties. “Feel like hoping over to join us at this table?”

The strains of Palchelbel’s Canon in D Major suddenly played from somewhere at the muscular man’s side. Even with the music playing in the back ground, Particia found herself remembering Gerald mentioning it was his ring tone. Patricia stared in surprise as the ape-faced man pulled out his own cellular phone, brought it to his ear, then handed it to the over-confident man. “For you,” the muscle man shrugged, “Your neighbor.”

“Hey we’re having dinner here in Malate. This café just before you hit Starbucks. Just head here if you want to join us. I’m busy,” the over-confident man closed the phone and focused his attentions on Patricia again, “So, feel like joining us? More the merrier they say.”

“Uh, actually,” Patricia was not sure how to ask what she started to think was going on.

“We’d love to,” Kimberly answered and stood up, motioning Jenny and Patricia to follow. Over-confident John’s eyes opened wide as Kimberly sat down between him and Patricia and offered a long-nailed sequined hand towards him. Jenny stared at the table for a moment then asked, “Uh.. you’re the double espresso, no sugar, no cream and you’re the chicken salad with no dressing and a green tea frap.”

Seth and Elaine both suddenly recognized Jenny and laughter broke out as they suddenly easily became good friends. Amidst questions of what one was doing in a rival café (this is in Malate, our café was in Makati, so its okay), how much did the procedures cost (the botox cost a lot, with numerous injections before you complete the full compliment of sessions), John realized how small the world was when Kimberly realized who John was and revealed that he and John’s ex-girlfriend knew each other. Kimberly and Jenny introduced themselves but were too engrossed in the conversations to remember to introduce Patricia.

”What I don’t get is why do you have that ring tone as your ring tone?” John suddenly turned to Seth who brought out his phone and snickered, “It was meant to catch your boy off guard in case someone ever called me. You know, get whatshisname… Gerald to turn his head.”

And Patricia felt that moment the sudden urge to turn her head.

She stood up, just as the song hit its instrumental cues. The cellos sung their emotional cries as Patricia found herself rising from her seat. Gerald stepped into the café, looking around for a brief moment only to rest his gaze on the last person he thought he would see that night.

“Hey,” Gerald barely could speak.

“Hey,” Neither could Patricia.

Both felt their hearts expanding in their chest so much that it felt like they would burst. Patricia felt the tears come again and this time she found it was more than she could control. Gerald looked at her and saw the tears that threatened to fall. He reached up his hand, hoping to wipe them away, as he started to explain.

“Patricia, listen-“

“I know,” she told him and he stopped. He stared at her, amidst the feeble candle light and the strains of the cellos that seemed to blanket away any other possible sound in the room. He smiled now, and ran his right hand across her face to wipe away the tears that had finally fallen.

“I’m psychic,” she gasped as she cried and felt the warm touch of his hand on her cheek.

“I know,” he wanted to say so much. He felt the urge to finally admit so many things in his heart. In his head. So many confessions. So many feelings. So many admissions. But he couldn’t find the words. The courage. The strength to say them. Not when he had finally found her again. Not when she had finally found him again. Not when any he might say wrong could lead to him losing her again.

“Oh, I totally forgot, this is-” Kimberly remembered Patricia was with them and turned to introduce her when she noticed Patricia was no longer on the seat. Jenny gasped and found them standing and staring at each other’s eyes. Seth and Elaine could only hold each other tighter as they looked at them. John raised both eyebrows and actually nodded in approval, “Yep, the fruit cake is now a man.”

“I know I’m difficult some times to understand,” Patricia told Gerald deciding she had to at least explain some things, “I know I can be strange. I can be scared. Or scary. Or both at the same time. But I do hope you give me time to get used to all this. I am just not really used to all this.”

Gerald nodded and took into his hands her hands. He brought one hand to his lips and kissed it gently. He stared deep into her eyes and found the strength to speak. “It has only been a few days.”

She smiled. And nodded.


“Maybe even less... if you count by the hour.”

“Or more if you count the hours we were asleep,” Patricia teased.

The two broke into a laugh slowly realized many others were looking at them. Gerald bit on his lower lip and whispered, “I believe my friends are somewhere here.”
“I know,” Patricia told him and motioned to the table where John and the rest of the gang were watching them. Gerald looked at the table, then glanced back at Patricia in disbelief.

“Okay, now that really is like… spooky,” he told her, “You have got to warn me about these things. It really can transform a man into a cowering mess.”

“Trust me,” Patricia admitted, “I’m just as surprised as you are.”

“I guess we’ll get the hang of it, eh?”

“No rush,” Patricia told him and he offered her his arm. She wrapped her arm around it and the two walked towards the table, waving away the cheers and laughter than their new found friends felt the urge to give them. Patricia and Gerald sat down, their faces now aglow with smiles as the John ordered for some more drinks and food to be served while Kimberly, Jenny, Seth and Elaine continued to share stories about people they knew. Gerald and Patricia joined the stories, laughing along as they shared their own little anecdotes and jokes. And if any of them were to have glanced from beneath the table, they would have seen that Gerald and Patrica’s pinky fingers were locked together, as if not wanting to ever let go.

Word Count = 2,968
Previous Count = 45,165
Total Count = 48,133 of 50,000


Blogger Frances said...

Various kinds of music such as overhead music when played stir up both emotions and memories.

10:31 PM  

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