I was surprised that there were still a few people on the Eastwood Central Park when I got there. Most of them were couples, enjoying themselves in the shadows. All of a sudden, I felt a new rush of sadness being more aware that I was alone. I found a vacant bench in a place far and dark enough for me not to be noticed easily. I sat and continued on smoking–something I consider both a relief and a punishment to myself because of the consequences of the things I had done.
The roses I brought for Jira were still on my right hand. They already lost their worth and I didn’t know whether to throw them into a trash bin nearby or not. Instead, I just laid it beside me. My cigarette was almost done, so I took a final puff. I was about to throw it away when I saw a tall guy approaching. The lamp posts were off and the darkness of the place didn’t allow me to see his face clearly.
I quickly turned away from him when I noticed that he was looking at me. I was taken aback when he sat beside me, knowing that there were other unoccupied benches around. I pretended not to notice him. To back up my pretense that I didn’t feel his presence, I took my phone out my pocket and checked the time. 4:10 AM.
“Excuse me. What time is it already,” the guy asked in a very polite manner. The light of my cell phone lit up the place a little, letting me take a glance upon his face. He was handsome. My first impression was that he’s a few years older than me. I answered his question straight and returned my phone into my pocket for a chance to look away from him.
He followed up his question so as to start a conversation. He asked for my name. He said his name was Ashton. So showbiz, I thought, but the name suited him, though I was still not convinced that he’s telling me the truth.
He was a former flight attendant and had been a bummer for three months. He sounded smart enough for me, so I let my guard down. But honestly, speaking in English with him was a bit of a hard time, since I wasn’t used to doing it in casual talks like that. I told him that I was a call center agent. I also tried to convince him that he could try his luck in the BPO industry, considering that being a flight attendant and being a CSR deal with customer satisfaction.
“No. It’s for me,” he said.
I asked why, but his response caught me off-guard. Instead of answering my question, he said that he needed to take a leak and he wanted me to come with him. He stood and reached out his right hand to me. I ignored it. I stood without saying a word and just followed him as he walked toward the Eastwood Mall. We were almost the same height, only I was taller. It gave me some kind of relief, knowing that I could take him on if he would do something bad to me.
We reached a passage unfamiliar to me near the Mall Entrance. It was lit and there was a rest room for men when we reached the end. I had never tagged along with a stranger before so being in an enclosed space with him made me feel uneasy. In the light, I noticed that aside from his handsome face, he also had a good figure. Not too beefy. Just right. I could see the trace of his brawny chest against his shirt. His arms were not that big but I saw his muscles worked up when he tried to push the door open. He heaved a sigh when the door did not budge.
He turned to me and smiled. His lips were so red I was convinced that he doesn’t smoke.
“Wala. Sarado, ha? Do’n ka na lang mag-CR sa City Walk Parking nang makapaglakad din at makapag-yosi. Uhm, nagi-smoke ka ba?“
“Hindi eh. Halika, labas na tayo. May gagawin ka pa?“
“Wala naman. Naghihintay lang ako lumiwanag.“
“Aah ganon ba? Samahan mo na lang ako sa place ko.“
“Diyan lang, dito lang ako nakatira, eh. May condo unit ako malapit lang dito sa Mall.“
He led the way out. I just followed. His presence was something new to me. It has never been easy for me to trust someone I have just met but my loneliness made feel vulnerable. As we walk out of the park, I felt my heart relax a little. I felt his hand occasionally brushing on mine as it swayed back and forth. I also remembered that I forgot the roses on the bench, but I just shrugged the idea. I took the courage to reach out his hand and clasp unto mine. He didn’t seem to care. He just looked at me, smiled, and made it a grip.