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.

Darn.

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)

He Knows About Angela

Not many people know about her.

As a matter of fact, very few people seldom remember. It was one night of good brew and great camaraderie among people who are rarely together but when they do, it seems like they know each other pretty well. It was something I treasure every time I went. There are quite a few times, and I mean really few times I went to the gathering of people who have cameras for eyes and art for hearts. Heck, I don’t even see myself as a photographer, but these guys accepted a stray, so that makes these gatherings worthy of their own stories.

And he knows about Angela.

With Jojo, it was pure wit and humor, with Darrell, it was profundity, Mike, Buboy et al, a learning session about stuff I don;t know about lenses, and most of them I still don’t know shit. Tony, the wide variety storylines one can delve into with just one topic.

But he knows Angela.

Okay, time to stop being all cryptic. Angela is a song from Vitamin Z that we hit off on at one time. An obscure 80s album with a couple of radio hits and some great music  in the roster. I made a quip about it, firing a slew of  high points for a song that practically no one heard of, unless you bought the tape, or vinyl, and listened to the album in its entire glory. I remember singing a few lines that made him remember the song  . . . .

AND I REALLY LOVE HER,
SHE’S MORE THAN THE WORLD TO ME,
AND I REALLY WANT HER,
WOULD SHE GIVE ALL HER LOVE TO ME.

ANGELA DON’T GO AND LEAVE ME TONIGHT (LEAVE ME TONIGHT),
ANGELA PLEASE BE WITH ME (ANGELA),
ANGELA DON’T EVER WALK THROUGH MY LIFE (WALK THROUGH MY LIFE),
ANGELA PLEASE BE WITH ME, CAUSE I LOVE YOU.

He pointed out something about the intro, being all too techno but with a touch of good old pop rock. I said it was one of the best songs in the album, even though Burning flame was the more popular one.

And we both agreed Hi Hi Friend is the best song in that particular album.

From then on, it was music all the way, the nuances, the stuff I regret never following up with my guitar playing, and the envy we had for Tony’s Fender.

Photo by Darrell Sicam

From left – Jojo, Tirong and me. (Photo by Darrell Sicam)

As I sit here, still sleepy from the lack of it. A two-hour bus trip back this morning from Sucat, Paranaque, was worth the several hours staying with Tirong’s bro, singing some songs, and joking about stuff Tirong might have something to say  to. Turns out I hardly know the man, there were stories I need to hear, adventures I had to take in, and  Momma Orbase just felt like she was glad Tyrone had more friends than she ever knew. She took some much-needed rest at about 2am this morning, and I wish I could have picked her mind about Tirong. But the fretwork of long-haired bro Orbase made it worthwhile to shoot some musical topics and what little bit of history I could glean from him, even while gin was being passed around and I tipped the jigger like cacti thirsty for water.

I hardly know the man.

But he knows Angela.

The interment is tomorrow. I can hardly bring myself to go there and bear witness. I have issues with death and goodbyes. I just like to think he just went off somewhere.

And he knows about Angela.

That makes him one of the few friends worth keeping.

And Just Like That . . .

Introspection

It’s always a problem when I treat a project like my own.

If I was given a task to do, with just an idea, or a concept to work on, I try to learn everything there is to know, or maybe just enough to understand what the outcome should be. It doesn’t matter if the job is an illustration, motion graphics or web design. There is a time as the work progresses that I adopt the project as my own.

Lo and behold, it’s taking shape, exhibiting behavior, showing purpose and cadence. Indeed, we often treat our work as infants brought into the world. Forget the fact that I was hired to do it. The baby is growing.

Now all of a sudden, some nitwit thinks it could have been done better, or this shouldn’t be there. You know, pedestrians posing as analysts. Or worse, as experts. Continue reading