I always feel happier whenever I’m on empty trains. But it’s been hard to ride them nowadays. In fact, I personally consider it a luxury whenever I find one. Most of the time, MRTs are cramped, it’d be a lottery to board one without experiencing a significant degree of struggle. We are running out of roads apparently. Too many cars, lesser good roads. Where there are too many people, there is not enough urban planning in place. I was on my way home when I bumped into this frustration. A faint reminder that disappointments are a troubling part of living. The dead have it easy. I was reading a novel. Sometimes, I think that my only saving grace is fiction. Or it’s a sort of a consolation I guess. A disappointment cushion. A fucking doll.
I checked my phone and read a message from a friend. He asked to meet in Cubao. I said, what’s it about? He said, nothing serious. Then I asked, what the hell for? He said, he needed to talk. I said, okay.
When I got home, I took my dad’s car. I had enough of trains for one day. The ’76 Galant was craggy but still reliable. It needed some washing, but I thought the filth added character. Driving it was another joy of my life. No matter how tough the drive was, the ride had always been an escape.
Later, I realized that finding a parking space was as tough as surviving traffic. After the treasure hunt, I was able to smoke my first cigarette for hours. I got out, stretched my legs, and jaywalked.
I arrived three hours late. I needed a cold beer. Luckily there’s plenty. The city breeze that night was fresh. The rain just let up, but sadly it was only for a few minutes. It rained again. I showed him the manuscript. He read it. He didn’t like it. He said it was shit. He ripped it apart. He called it friendship. I called it my classroom.
We skipped the main reason why we’re there in the first place. We ordered some crispy Thai noodles. We talked about the monsoon and the countless rains. When you run out of things to talk about, you talk about the weather I suppose.
Then he spilled his insides out in the open.
For a man who was not meant to win anyone, he yearned for symbiosis. Long after then, he still had her picture tacked on his wall.
I wanted to console him. But I knew that there are some things that you can never win. I didn’t think he could drown himself with all the drinks he could buy that night.
“Just walk away.” I urged him.
“My legs are gone.”
“Easy for you to say.”
“That’s unfair, scoot over. But I get you.” I said earnestly.
My mom had always told me to always see the good in people. But I couldn’t tell him that that night. I guess no matter how much bearing the truth had, the pain can still shatter it through.
A Jeff Buckley song played on the monitor. We tried to sing along on the easiest verse to remember. We were both a bit tipsy and a whole lot out of tune.
I checked the news on my phone, the traffic was still bad. I guess we’re like insects stuck on flypaper, unable to move.
We both looked outside, the rain continued on, this time heavier. We can’t do anything.
Some of the rainwater seeped through the window. I suppose staying indoors was the right thing to do, at that time.
I suppose it’s all for the better. My mouth was still dry. I needed a cold beer. Luckily there’s plenty.