“Where is she?”
The portable video player was on the table, cleaner as he last remembered it, the dust and grime on its cover was polished as if the set looked brand new. Handled with a delicate feminine touch, it received an unconditional love and care.
“Wendy?” Uncle Tom asked, wiping the glass cover of the display counter. “She stopped by and dropped off your player. She’ll be back and help us a bit later.”
Thank heavens, he sighed. His plan would not work: he was too nervous to even try.
“Whose this?” he asked about the denim jacket near the player. “Did she leave this, too?”
“Oh, she told me, it was given by one of your girlfriends.”
Rusty never felt any humor whenever his uncle reminded him about assorted gifts from female customers. It was embarrassing: the giving should be reversed as was customary in a macho society.
“I can’t accept it, Uncle. Please return it.”
“You do it,” Uncle Tom stood up to his full height. “It’s given to you so you should be polite enough to return it if you do not like it.”
“I can give it back,” a female voice interrupted, eyes lit with excitement, seeing him again as if it was always the first time. “I’ll be nicer. I promise.”
Instead of offering his gratitude, Rusty retreated to the kitchen, bringing along his player.
“He has problems, I know.” Uncle Tom confessed to her. “But ever since you came, he’s been acting strangely. I do not want to pry but I need to know.”
Wendy could not hold on any longer. The old man should be told, an explanation that should clear the air between them once and for all.
“Uncle, can you help me here?” Rusty shouted, his call for assistance immediate.
“Let’s talk later.” Uncle Tom excused himself and walked briskly toward the kitchen.
She expelled a huge sigh of relief. For some reason, Rusty could have had an inkling that she would tell their history from her point of view, which he probably suspected she would absolve herself of any wrongdoing against him.
“I won’t lie,” she mumbled. “Not anymore.”
– 0 –
He observed her worked the beat, effortlessly doing his job all by her lonesome.
Feeling like he was bitten by the flu bug, he sat idly and fiddled with his video player. His uncle stopped nagging him to help in the chores: his lazy bones got the better of him.
“What’s the matter?” Wendy asked, passing him a glance.
Rusty was so moved by what he watched that all his preparations for getting back at her was shattered to pieces. As always, he could not hurt her.
“Damn insect crashed in my eye,” he lied, wiping the traces of tears off his cheeks.
“Let me see,” she approached him, the distance too close their bodies nearly touched.
“I am okay,” he said, escaping in time, evading any contact.
She held his arm, forcing him to listen.
“I am so sorry for all the wrongs I’ve done to you.”
Rusty turned back and stared at her, unashamed to show her his tears.
(to be continued)