Tiny strands of dust dance on a pale ray of light that snuck its way between curtains, into the dusky room. The modest space feels more constrictive from all the clutter gathered in the many weeks of idle ruminations. Books, magazines, food wrappings, beer bottles, laundry and a bunch of other stuff sprawl the floor and every available surface. If not for the thick blanket of dust, one might think-at first glance- that the place was ransacked in a crazy indoor luau the night before. But the place had been this way, stale, on its own. A chorus of horns begin to scream from outside, blending with the steady noise of rumbling engines, growing as more people trickle into traffic. Another bustling Monday morning comes to life, and as he had done for the past several weeks, Oliver Clio lay spread eagle on the bed, staring at the ceiling. alone in life, out of work, ridiculously broke and utterly clueless. his reflections momentarily interrupted by a curious little lizard gaping intently at him, it does seem as though the passerby was in concerned speculation of what could be the matter, then loosing interest, scurried on its way.
how did everything go so wrong? he endlessly searched himself. in the not too distant past, all the good breaks were going his way, a promising young career, a sweet caring and supportive girlfriend, that took on the roles of lover, assistant, secretary, nanny, best friend, creditor and even a young sugar mommy; and also a merry group of friends. then all of a sudden everything was swept away, his perfect life inexorably taken from him, whether by cruel fate or his own undoing, Oly is yet to discern, but the present outcome is easily perceptible, he is left with nothing. at 24 years old his life had been reset, forced to start over, but with a bevy of hurdles to overcome, souvenirs from the disaster of his past life. months into his despondency however, Oly is yet to find a direction. swaying from defeatism and sporadic urges to be resilient.( the latter gets continually drowned in depression.) He has made a few spirited attempts to pick himself up, it just so happens that luck has not been on his side, on the contrary it has been mischance that continues to pester him. closed doors greeting him at every turn.
An impatient and familiar wrapping at the door jolted Oly out of his reverie.
“what can i do for you Mrs. Ramirez” he lethargically rang back, rising and walking to the door to unbolt it. a jarring scowl greeted him as he pulled on the knob. arms folded across her chest, a short and stout woman stood menacingly, like miniature troll in a floral night dress.
“rent Mr. Clio…” her round face contorted into a smile. ” i need your rent, your already three weeks behind, i’m not running a hospice.” a fluffy bunny slipper begins to thump impetuously on the linoleum floor. between gritted teeth she puffed profusely on her cigarette, blowing a haze of smoke that hovered over them.
” I—I’ll have it by next week Mrs. Ramirez…” Oly stammered, running a hand on his nape. “I’m really sorry for the delay, my—uncles been ill and I’ve been…helping out with his medications. but I’m sure to have the money by next week, he’s expecting a check from hisss—pension. He dug deep into his pockets and dredged up his best impression of a reassuring smile. It sounded plausible enough, it wasn’t over creative, maybe a bit cliche but still passable.
“you don’t have an uncle Mr. Clio.” She scoffed, both hands now pressed on her waist. ” You have nobody, I’ve heard your story. Not that it matters. you see i cant take your apologies and promises to buy a pack of chiclets, can i? you have till next week Mr. Clio.” Her stern look traveled from Oly’s head to foot, and back. After a derisive smirk she was on her way, marching down the corridor and disappearing beneath the Stairway. Damn… that went well he thought to himself, easing the door shut. He looked up the clock and caught a glimpse of the time. Twenty minutes past eight, twenty minutes past eight! He suddenly recalled a job interview he’s supposed to be in at nine, that’s today! In a panic he hurriedly put on pants, grabbed a shirt from the drawers and ran to his desk scouring the mess for his CV, then stuffed it unceremoniously in his bag. Forgetting to put on socks, he stepped into his shoes and fumbled his way out the door. Monday morning rush hour is unforgiving, if he takes the metro, he could be stuck in the long cue of commuters for quite possibly an hour. Same if he takes the bus. Unless angels would swoop down from heaven to fly him across the city, he had no other choice but to ignore austerity to hunt down a cab. He hailed from the porch all the way down the corner, cutting between other commuters, until a beat down yellow Corolla screeched to a halt a cars length past him. He brazenly caught up and climbed inside, giving directions as he was catching his breath.
” I don’t think I can take you to Ortigas…” the driver pretended. “the traffic is really bad along edsa.”
“I’ll add another fifty on top of the fare.” Oly bargained right away.
” Can you make that eighty? Gas price went up again the other day. Those bastards are really eating into our income. they make millions and their still not satisfied, they have to reach into the pocket of the little guy” Oly’s heart sank, there goes his cigarette ration for today. Precious time is ticking away. “fine! can we just get going, I have to make it to an appointment in thirty minutes. is there a faster way to get there?”
” No problem, I know a few shortcuts, with some luck we’ll make it. ” The driver grinned and happily pulled and pushed the gear stick.
(to be continued…)