Simple Lives (4)

“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.



18 thoughts on “Simple Lives (4)

  1. Very good. I was hoping you would give us a bit more. I am assuming that you’re giving us an accurate depiction of what Manila is like. If so, it’s pretty formidable. It almost seems hostile to anyone who doesn’t look like they fit in. That’s something I didn’t expect. I do have a suggestion. You don’t have to use Western names for your characters.. You’re giving the reader some cultural information which many Westerners enjoy experiencing. Of course, I don’t know your goal for yourself as a writer. You write so well and your stories are very engaging. Keep up the good work. Lucy

    1. I have to cut the series. There’s six more but I think readers will get bored if there’s no variety. I can always post the others in succession at a later date.
      The situations in Manila are accurate. I was born there so I know the life. Some people say, the situation is getting worse.
      We have Western names. The old Spanish names are now used by the wealthy. They add to the class effect. 🙂
      This is a peaceful country. On the outside, everything is normal. Dan Brown described it as the Gates of Hell. He’s not exaggerating if you really live in those areas.

      1. The Gates of Hell. Wow. I didn’t realize western names are used, so forgive my ignorance. What an awful place that is. I know someone who went to Manila with a team to train call center employees. But they stayed in one area and didn’t venture out because they were so busy. Later her call center closed down and the Manila center took over.

        Anyway, I really liked the story. My favorite is the last one with that creepy woman. I like a little murder and mayhem but only if the bad guy suffers it. Have you written about your life on the island and rural life–what it’s like? Farming etc.? If you have just point me to it.
        Again, you’re a great writer. Keep going. I’ll always read it. There’s a blogger I know who does writing reviews, she is very good and gives me a lot of feedback. I’ll have her stop buy and read some of your work. Lucy

      2. That was Dan Brown’s words (the Da Vinci Code writer). It is difficult to comprehend without living there for some time. The locals are used to the life so they consider every fault in society as normal.
        You can read some of my personal experiences in the My Stories page.
        I appreciate all the help I could get. Thank you for considering my stuff for review. I am grateful.
        Your generous words do indeed push me to write more. I know I have a lot to learn.

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