A story. Comment on what you think.

A remix of that horrible Paris Hilton song from 2006 - I think it was "Stars Are Blind" - played in the background while I remained seated on that small monobloc stool, a half-empty glass of iced tea set in front of me. He, on the other hand, was chugging his way through God-knows how many cans of beer across the table. I never liked the stuff. It just tasted horrible. He didn't like the stuff either. But after what happened to the two of them, nothing could be more bitter, I guess.

I stared at his devastated, partially bloodshot eyes. They were... sad. He'd never been this sad before - that I could see it in his eyes. He always hid whatever little melancholy he felt; he was the omni-optimist, and me the eternal emo kid. He was always smiling while I always stared off into space like some autistic kid. Usually I was the one crying shit out in his face, while he just held me against a wall so I wouldn't hurt myself. Sometimes he'd hold me against himself and I'd just go limp. I'd just cry.

He wasn't crying. I never saw him cry. He'd never let me see him cry - except the time that he cried in relief because her pregnancy tests came out negative. The protection had broken, he told me. He took it too far, he told me. It was horrible, he told me. Horrible the way they panicked afterwards. Horrible that she blamed him. Horrible, that even when the tests came out negative, she left him. Horrible, that after two years, it was finished.

He finished his 6th? 7th? can and crushed it against the table surface with his bare hand. I was always scared of those hands. They could shatter your skull, break your legs, and then afterwards give your bleeding body a damn good hug. He kicked ass - literally. And I was always fucking jealous of him because I was never any good at anything physical. Except maybe running. And he... he always pwned me at those kinds of things. Whenever I tried to struggle against him, he'd just laugh and give me a headlock. Or he'd lock my arms so I couldn't go anywhere.

"Wanna go somewhere?" He wasn't drunk yet. He had a really high alcohol tolerance. Countless years of drinking probably gave him that. He had probably inherited his dad's drinking problems, but he always knew when to stop. He knew very well I didn't have my license yet, and I couldn't just carry him into the nearest taxi. He was way too heavy, and I was just too much of a wimp. Yeah, he drunk and drove, but we never got into any accidents. And we haven't gotten caught - except that one time where I bribed the fuck ugly policeman who flagged us down for "having too bright headlights" and then (by chance) smelled the alcohol breath.

I shrugged at his suggestion. He called the scantily-clad waitress to the table and asked for the bill. For my iced tea and... that beer. Why people drink and serve that disgusting stuff in amber-colored bottles and aluminum cans, I have no idea. Maybe because it was so cheap. P15 at this place. Before he could bring out his wallet I took out a P200 bill and handed it to the girl in a G-string and a bra three sizes too small. "Keep the change," I said. She thanked me profusely by kissing me on the cheek with her partially bloated lips, then she turned to him and groped him a bit. She must have really needed the tip.

"Dude, I'm sorry for bringing you here..." he groaned, after the ho had returned to her lap-dancing duties at another table. I told him it was okay, that it was my job to make sure he didn't kill himself driving. Well, it was. It was my job to make sure he'd always be there for me. Selfish, yeah. But still.

He stood up and I followed suit, skirting past the skirts and tables of countless "hospitality girls" fluttering around smoke-filled tables of numerous drunk assholes and perverts. This was why I preferred the bars around Manila - the perverts there had more class. We got to the door and pushed out into the cool night sky.

We walked slowly, and he began ranting about the quality of alcohol in the Philippines. Maybe he was drunk, after all. Despite his being able to walk straight, he was wobbling when we walked. But... I kinda knew he wasn't drunk. I could tell. He was weak on his feet because... he was just weak. The break-up really hurt him, I guess. I put his left arm across my shoulders and continued walking, while he continued to lament about the lack of good gin nowadays. He was still heavy, but I didn't complain. He didn't complain. We both knew he needed help just to get to the corner where we were parked. Then he could sleep a bit - we weren't missed at the condo.

He suddenly misstepped and we staggered a few inches before I brought him up again with my other arm. I was completely carrying him now, his movement dependent on mine. He'd stopped ranting and was now just staring blankly at the dirty concrete. I'd never seen him this vulnerable, this apathetic...

This pathetic.

I guess this was how he'd been seeing me for five years now. At some point in time we had switched roles momentarily, and I was now the one helping him up. He wasn't really bringing me down, but the burden... The burden for him must have been unbearable. And now I knew, somewhat, what it was like. He shared my problems, he cared for me; he kept me from dropping to the ground. I was probably drunk - drunk on my self-pity, drunk on my hate, drunk on my stupidity. I always pushed him to do some really fucked-up things, and he consented. I hated myself that he'd let me do anything so easily. I did some pretty stupid shit on my own, like getting into heroin for a while. He was the one who put me on rehab and threw away all of my stashes. I think he even beat up my supplier or something.

Yeah, he put up with me and my crap for quite a long time. I don't know how he did it. But whatever happened, he still stayed my best friend. And he loved me like a brother. The only dude who ever really did.

We got to the car, and I groped around in his pocket for the keys. I blipped it open (blip, blip) and laid him down across the back seat. He really was drunk, and he was moaning in what seemed to be pain as he stretched across the beat-up upholstery on his rear seats. I closed the door and got into the other side, sitting down and putting his head on my lap. He used to do this to me all the time till he had that kolehiyala girlfriend from Ateneo. I looked down and I saw... I saw him looking up at me.

His eyes were glistening. His permanent smile was breaking. One of his hands went up to his face and partially obscured it, but I could see a small trickle going down his face as he quietly sobbed.

He was crying. And I felt horrible.

'Coz I suddenly smiled.


Blogger Kevin Caballa said...

beautifully written... agghhrh!! it kicks ass... 8D

3/16/2007 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice one.. seriously. same with the profanity post. :)

3/16/2007 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

simply love it. :)

3/17/2007 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful. as always.

-- dawn

3/19/2007 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great dude. Read it thrice. Got stuff in common with that other guy. haha. take care!


3/20/2007 01:25:00 PM  

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