“This place is empty!”

Before leaving the capital, a long four-hour ride back to the granary, Mr. Yang treated his temporary bodyguards to an eat-all-you-can lunch. Except for the female proprietor who was so delighted she had more customers than usual, only a pair of high school students was around: they sat in front of the restaurant television and played with the remote control, changing channels so often as if they owned the set.

“I eat here often,” their boss intimated. “Not only it’s safe but the food is great and inexpensive.”

Ed and Danny were already pointing their choices at the counter while Allen sulked in his chair, still morose after their encounter with the policemen. It seemed wherever he went, whoever he met, his eyes became the center of attraction, the comical attraction.

Mr. Yang whistled suddenly, the two students turned back and saw him motioning them to listen.

“Stop there!” he said. “You can change the channel after the song.”

Allen stared at the screen without contemplating what was it all about. It was not his type of music.

“There’s your answer to your problem,” Mr. Yang suggested, sipping coconut juice from a glass.

“I do not have a problem, Boss.” Allen tried not to dwell on his personal defect: it would never leave him so just live with it. “I am fine.”

“You are a responsible fellow, I am always told,” his boss said. “You’ve proven that to me several times now. If you want to concentrate working for me, that’s a solution.”

“I don’t understand, Boss!”

“Once you wear dark glasses, no one will notice your eyes. At least, anyone who does not know you will never know.”

It was not the first time Allen considered the option. He had no reason before to be conscious on how people saw him: he was a lowly stevedore so to hell with what they thought about the way he looked.

“Think about it,” Mr. Yang advised. “With a change of clothes style, you’d be more presentable. I can guarantee it that you would not be bothered so often.”

Allen saw other possibilities if he followed his boss: he could have better chances of courting a girl without being jilted instantly. Once covered, he could think of countless reasons to explain why he wore them in the first place.

“Here! Take it!” Mr. Yang offered his glasses, a cheap imitation of a popular international brand.

Allen took the give-away without second thoughts. Everything went darker after he wore the pair.

“Wow! You look like a bee!” Ed remarked a bit sarcastically, taking his place at the table, holding in each hand plates filled with assorted food.

“Don’t listen to him,” Danny said, admiring Allen’s new look. “That fits you perfectly.”

“I feel like a celebrity,” he said finally, laughing at himself for even thinking of it. “Or, like a beggar like you know who.”

“Ouch!” Ed cried out, knowing he was the person alluded to. “No hitting below the belt, please.”

“Come to think of it, he needs a pair, too!” Danny copied Ed’s suspicious stare.

“You should wear them, too, so no one will notice you blinking so often.” Ed fought back, mimicking Danny’s mannerism.

Enjoying the episode, Mr. Yang watched the trio exchanged banter, eating heartily and living life as simple as it could possibly be.

(to be continued)



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