Superficial (2) (Fiction)

So I got onto a jeepney heading out to Shaw Boulevard. There’s always one waiting at the corner just about 100 meters from our doorstep. And as usual, those before me have this idea that they were paying for three fares.

I paid mine and waited till the driver has deemed  it full enough to get a move on and tipped the barker, how much I’m not sure. Sometimes, I wonder, these jeepney barkers can earn so much with just standing around, occasionally calling passengers, as if commuters are uneducated or can’t read. Judging from the way people are seated inside this jeepney, I’m almost ready to agree.

The woman opposite me was wearing clothes one size too small. The guy beside me was looking intently at his tablet. The hair from the woman on the shotgun seat was making darting attempts at my eyes. Should have brought along a pair of scissors.

And it was getting hotter, I could feel sweat trickling from the crook of my legs, and the small of my back. But short trip as it is, it is very slow going through Kalentong and it’s throng of vendors and shoppers, delivery vans and tricycles. A steady flow of humanity going either way, to and fro. The smell of rotten produce replaced the chemical smell of petrol, but someone inside the jeepney has clearly bought cheap perfume and has liberally doused himself or herself with it, that it bothers me more than any bad smells that the street has to impose on my nose.

It took 30 minutes just to get to Shaw. Now I have to switch jeepneys.

Customary water bottle inside my bag  jiggled a bit as I wait for another jeepney going to Sta.Mesa.  And this heat seems to be rising a little bit each minute. I sure hope this new bottle doesn’t leak. My USB flash drives might be ruined. Better check on them first .

Good. Dry and safe.

Caught one with just enough free seats, planted myself near the driver and paid the fare, but not before checking if I still have enough money to go back. You know, just in case this meeting wa s a dud.

Been that way lately. Someone referred somebody to me, and of course, being a freelance I take what I can. But not without conditions, though. I try to demand a 60% down payment on projects. But I also try to do workarounds for clients. There was this guy whom a former co-worker gave my number and email to. It was cool, a marketing material in the guise of a comic book, 40 pages, full color, and seemed like they have enough rope to pay. The initial meeting this client set , he scheduled for the 16th, a Sunday. I’m used to clients calling me in the wee hours of the morning, and in all sorts of awkward time of day and day of week that it didn’t seem strange.

Good luck with that.

The day came, and I was already out when the guy said it’s a Sunday, the office is closed. Serves me right. Should’ve confirmed earlier.

Shit on that. I never got back to him. Looks like a shady deal to me. Besides, the former co-worker who gave my number around has a knack for asking for favors and stuff, of which he never really cares afterwards, so no big loss.

But this one I just got to have this new gig or else I may have to kneel and beg and borrow from friends and family, which by now has left a bad taste in my mouth and I’d rather not go through it again. I’m not worried if I go hungry in the city. There’s always coffee in my pantry. But my family in the countryside could use some boost right now. Been several months since I quit my high paying  job and has gone full freelance. Much good it did. I’m still reeling from that botched gig with a book publishing firm. More like punch drunk and out of my wits.

Well, this was my decision. Might as well make the best of it. At least I am being creative, and if I coul land one good gig, there’s always a possibility that my name could be passed around.

The sudden stop of the jeepney jolted me back to reality, by punctuating the situation with a nasty knock on my head from a large android mobile phone or could be a small tablet, clunky gadget. I couldn’t see myself carrying this kind of mobile communication. Too big for my hands nor my pocket. I caught the darned thing and I gave it back to the lady, who was profusely apologizing in between cussing the driver for that unfortunate incident that nearly destroyed her precious Facebook connectivity had I not grabbed it before it splattered on the jeepney floor.

Smells good too, this woman with the sharp tongue and the sweet apology. But, sorry, sister, I’m a married man and I get off this stop.

And so I did. But not without a second look as the jeepney blew dark smoke obscuring my vison, I tried to make out the face to go with the fragrance.


If I didn’t know better, I could say I was flirting.

Tough luck . That was in another life.

Today, I have to find work.

Move it, you schmuck. The light’s turning green.

(To be continued)

3 responses to “Superficial (2) (Fiction)

  1. Fiction ba talaga? 😉 Joke lang. But I do know that writers really do tend to cull stuff from past experiences, whether our own or that of others we know. That makes things more realistic for fiction (does that make sense?)

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