“Can you do me a favor, Michael?”

Tina’s honey sweet voice could have traveled through the airwaves without interference that he heard it as if she whispered directly to his ear. She has lost interest in him, thank God, but she would not let him go yet out of her daily life.

“Tell me first before I answer,” he replied, slightly bored inside his room.

“The girls and I are going somewhere. Don’t ask where. We need a male chaperone.”

“Where?” he asked, curious why he was selected.

“I said, don’t ask,” she retorted. “No hanky panky. Just someone to keep us company.”

“Tina, I don’t know what games you’re playing but please leave me out of it.”

“Please, Michael. My parents would say yes if they know I am with you. Remember the party?”

She had a point. Without ado, her parents did not even ask where they were going. That’s how trustworthy his persona shone especially to older people.

“If there’s no booze or cigs I will do it. I have a rep to protect,”

“Great!” she said, overjoyed. “Step outside so we could be on our way.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. “Now?”

“We’re outside your house,” she laughed. “Your mother has already said yes.”

Michael ran to the window and saw the van. Tina waved at him while the other girls were conversing with his laughing mother. They were probably telling her what they  planned to do.

“I’ll be right down.”

Michael dropped the phone on the bed, ran straight to the bathroom for the quickest shower possible. His grooming routine that usually took nearly an hour was finished in a blur. Also, it was a good thing that his clothes were the easiest to pick out from the closet; he was not into fads.

Unusually, Tina did not sit beside him. He was sandwiched between two other girls who kept squeezing him with their bodies. They were as playful as their leader, perhaps more because they would not stop giggling.

“Why are we going to the airport?” he asked, seeing the sign board by the road. “Don’t tell me we will fly out of here.”

“You ask too many questions,” Tina blurted out, her smile meant something. The driver, who was probably into the secret, grinned from ear to ear.

Inside the facility, Michael walked leisurely while the girls excused themselves to visit the restroom. He was neither given instructions on what to do nor told to check in.

A thought suddenly occurred to him while observing the new arrivals populating the halls. There was no harm in trying, he surmised.

“Can you page this name, Ma’m?” he asked the amiable lady at the information booth. Her signature smile was familiar, he thought, recalling it from an advertisement he saw on TV.

‘Where do you want her to go?” she asked, reading the name to make sure she pronounced it correctly.

“Right here, Ma’m,” he said. “Thanks.”

She nodded, switching on the microphone to announce her message.

“Paging passenger Rowena Salvacion. Rowena Salvacion. Please stop by the information booth.”

“Can you please repeat it after a few minutes?” Michael asked.

Waiting for the result of something he thought out of the blue was not as important as waiting for the girls to come back to him. They had probably forgotten about him.

Where were they?

“Sir, sir.” The lady at the information booth waved him to come.

“What is it?” he asked, hurrying to get closer.

Before she could point to the person who heeded the message, he was face to face with her.

“You paged me,” she eyed him, trying to make instant recognition.

Michael was suddenly nervous, his knees felt weak, his palms sweated. He was not ready to utter a word, his tongue seemed to have retracted, unable to pronounce something intelligible.

“You are here,” he heard himself whispered.

(to be concluded)



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