“This is taking too long.”
Andy complained softly to Jane, who kept craning her head, trying to discover what was the line about or where it would eventually lead them.
Embarrassed to ask questions for fear they would be known as ignorant newcomers, they kept to themselves. Better to shut up than be alienated.
People did not mind them. Some had animated conversations about anything and everything. Most were intently looking at cellular phones and similar electronic gadgets. There were even some toting half-read pocketbooks to cure boredom.
“It’s a good thing you brought an umbrella,” Andy mentioned as he saw her unfolded it.
“I am always prepared for eventualities,” she bragged.
“Be ready then,” he continued, “it’s going to rain any minute now.”
Not all it seemed did not notice them. A middle-aged man behind them took Andy’s words seriously, albeit, falsely stated that he pounced immediately to contradict.
“I think you don’t know what you are saying,” he interrupted, a bit louder to get the attention of the crowd. He looked the part of a know-it-all who relished on the idea of being superior to anyone he targeted. “You did not watch the weather bulletin yesterday?”
Andy did not want to lengthen the discussion so he stayed silent.
“He said it will rain,” Mr. Smarts announced.
People began to laugh. They were used to hearing various charlatans predicting strange events everyday.
“You still think, er, believe it will rain?” Mr. Smarts asked in a mocking tone. “Wanna bet?”
“Yes, I believe so,” Andy said meekly, not elaborating his claim.
“Look at the sun! There’s not even dark clouds overhead.”
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Andy replied, embarrassed because the crowd’s stares centered on him.
“Hahahaha!” Mr Smarts laughed deliriously. He found his mark for the day. “You’re one crazy man!”
Jane pressed Andy’s arm to prevent his boyfriend from losing his cool. But then, she needed not worry because Andy looked peaceful as always.
“I bet you a hundred that you’re wrong.”
“I don’t gamble anymore,” Andy tried to divert the issue. “I promised someone.”
“Listen, I will give you this,” Mr. Smarts showed the crumpled bill and waved it as if it was worthless to him, “if you are correct. Otherwise, you will say to all around that you are crazy. Deal?”
The spectators clapped their hands. They were enjoying the impromptu event with gusto.
As a reply, Andy took his girlfriend’s umbrella and opened it. He closed his eyes for a moment. A colder breeze passed to refresh the air and lessened the prevailing heat.
“Here it comes,” he grinned.
A few droplets began to fall, even though the sun had not wavered its bright sunshine.
A few more seconds later, the sky kept pouring rain in torrents. It was what was commonly called raining cats and dogs.
The line broke up as people without any shield from the elements scrambled to dry places. Mr. Smarts was nowhere in sight: he vanished not only because of the downpour but the sure heckling he would receive for being the lead skeptic.
The opportune incident led Andy and Jane much closer to the covered stairs that went upwards to the station platform. It was only then that the couple realized the line led to the mass rail transit station.
“I feel like a duck,” he jested, closing the umbrella.
Jane laughed heartily. She had an idea what he was talking about.
Those who overheard it was ignorant of the joke. No one dared to comment because of the earlier episode.
“I thought about that a few seconds ago,” she confirmed. “A rich relative of Old Frank probably own this place.”
“I’ll have to ask him when we return home.”
The Old Frank they referred to owned a duck farm. Every morning his ducks lined up and walked a small gang plank up the hauler, which would transport them to rice farms in the vicinity. Since farmers considered the snails in their fields as pests, Old Frank helped them with his ducks.
“I nearly laid an egg while waiting,” Jane remarked gleefully.
– o –
“That would be sixty for two,” intoned the female ticket teller. Her tenor was slightly similar to the sound system announcer.
From inside his denim pants’ waistline, Andy removed a folded hundred peso bill, which he had prepared in advance before leaving the house.
The teller saw everything that she touched only the tip of the bill for fear it was moistened by sweat. Her delicate hands threw it inside the cash register without the proper checking she used to do as standard procedure. She was willing to take the risk of a fake money rather than hold it longer than necessary.
After Andy received the tickets, he thanked the teller rural-folk style by bowing slightly, more like a gentleman of the past.
Jane, behind him, was not so obvious: she smiled innocently.
They followed another line that led to the turnstile.
“You did not tell me you have money,” Jane had her own cash reserve inside her brassiere. “I was ready to pay.”
“I hid the real money somewhere safe.”
“Is that the reason you told me the robber might get angry at us?”
Andy nodded with a contented grin. He had planned the trick all along especially when Father Joe warned him of bad elements in the city.
“How about the watch?” she was still intrigued.
“You know I don’t wear one.”
“Whose was it, then?”
“I don’t understand.” Jane suspected that her boyfriend was perhaps lessening the emotional impact of losing an object that he held dear.
“It was from my high school days,” he clarified. “I was thinking of throwing it away but then I needed it as a decoy. By the way, it has a missing part.”
“That’s why you did not want to report the crime?”
“Exactly!” Andy agreed. “That could have ruined our sightseeing. We could have been staying at the station staring at mug shots of criminals the whole day.”
“I had not thought of that that way.”
“But if he did try to hurt you,” Andy became serious, “he would have gotten bumps and bruises all over his body instead.
With such a sweet revelation, Jane gave him a hurried kiss on the cheek. She was not bothered that her open display of affection caused those around to gawk and stare.
“You’re my hero,” she whispered to his ear.