The mall opened thirty minutes late due to an unexpected problem with the central air-conditioning system. It was a burden for some who wish to enter the premises at once.
The Czech was restless: he paced the mall’s entrance, walking back and forth as if he was a husband, expecting his first born to come out to this world. His uneasiness did not sit well with the pair of guards who gave him suspicious looks.
“This is the problem with waiting,” he announced to the crowd. “Time is wasted.”
There were murmurs of assent. The only dissenters were the two guards: they deemed him as a possible troublemaker who should be frisked thoroughly later.
At last the sliding doors were raised, patrons began to troop inside. Hawk-eyed and strict security personnel manned both doors, one each for men and women.
“Can you open the knapsack, sir?” one of the guards requested him, though the tone was not friendly.
“As you can see, it’s nearly empty. I have no plans to shoplift,” The Czech commented sarcastically.
The guard did not bite the bait: he was methodical with his inspection. Although the bag held only a T-shirt, a towel and spare underwear, he kept looking for something that was not there.
“Sorry to disappoint you,” The Czech was in no mood to wait much longer. “There’s no bomb in there.”
That was his mistake! He uttered a specific word that was considered a taboo, a word that was automatically connected to dangerous persons.
“Hey! What’s the matter with you! That hurts!”
Both guards encircled him, one holding his shoulders while the other tried to put cuffs on him.
“You cannot do this to me!”
“Yes, we can. You said the magic word.”
“Say it again and I’ll have to cover your mouth with a tape.”
“Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb!” He would not stop.
A tall guy in a Barong Tagalog (the Philippines’ national outfit for men) approached the trio. People gawked at the commotion, creating a bottle neck at the entrance.
“Come with me,” he motioned them to follow him further away from the crowd.
When the four of them had some privacy, the tall guy asked for explanations.
“What’s the problem? You are scaring guests out there.”
“He mentioned about a bomb,” the guard related. His partner nodded repeatedly.
“Did you find one?”
“No, sir,” the guard replied, “but regulations say that we apprehend anyone who mentions the word.”
“Uncuff him,” the tall guy ordered. “Go back to your post at once. I’ll handle this one.”
“But sir,” the guard protested.
“Go on! I know this guy. He’s harmless,” his grin eased the tension. “And foolish!”
The Czech did not recognize the man. The term used to describe his actuation was a bit insulting though he was thankful it took him out of probable incarceration.
“You should thank me for the second time,” the tall guy said. “You were careless, is careless and now very rash with words. I should have said earlier, loco.”
“Have we met before?” The Czech was perplexed. “Why the second time? What did I do then?”
“You still don’t get it do you?” the tall man came closer, showed The Czech his face for easy recognition.
“I have no idea,” he replied, shaking his head. “Enlighten me, please.”
“Morning, restaurant, chase, netbook. Figure it out!”
The tall guy turned around and left him pondering four words to deduce the connection.
(to be continued…)