They were in a shopping center along Taft Avenue. The old man and the armadillo were both standing in front of a mannequin. Just staring at it.
“I don’t think it’s going to budge, Fred.” Said the armadillo.
“Just wait. We’ve been here this long, why back down now?”
They had lunch at the food court. It wasn’t that good, but they had plenty of choices, plus, there was a lot of greasy food too.
A couple walked past them. The guy, whom they assumed the boyfriend, was carrying the bag of the woman he was with.
“I feel sorry for the guy.” Fred almost twisting his head following the couple.
“I don’t know about you, Fred, but I think she’s just gorgeous.”
“I didn’t mean that.”
“I mean him carrying that woman’s bag.”
“Why? Is it how he’s carrying it?”
“Especially that. The lady must not have insisted on it. But the way he wears that bag slung across his chest like that, just gets me.”
“Oh, I see.” The armadillo was admiring its newly polished shell.
“What’s the title of that movie with those giant, worm-like monsters in a small desert town? I just remembered something.” Asked Fred.
“What? Earthworm Jim?”
“No, the one with Kevin Bacon in it.”
“You mean Tremors?”
“Yeah, that one.”
“What about it?”
“Well, I had a young lady once. Pretty as hell. Like one of those beautiful college girls we go see sometimes.” Fred paused and picked up the plastic saucer and drank what’s left of the gravy. “Anyways, I just thought about that other thing she told me. Other than what she said about men carrying shoulder bags.”
“Why? Did she despise it too?”
“Have you ever heard about chivalry, Fred?” Refuted the armadillo.
“It’s not about that. But yeah, that too… Anyway, that’s not the point.”
“Then what is?”
“Tremors, buddy. Tremors.”
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
“She prefers ugly men with little wieners, seriously, over those who are good looking but packing big guns.”
“For real? We’re ugly, we like to travel light. Well, that’s our department.”
“Yes. I really thought I finally found the perfect girl.”
“Have you ever.”
“Yes. I thought so too.” A busboy came over and cleaned the adjacent table beside them. They caught a whiff of detergent.
“I’m not sure how, but ever since she saw that movie she got nightmares non-stop.”
“So what happened?”
“You know, things.”
“Why don’t you get back with her? Obviously, you’re still hungover.”
“I’m in my late sixties. She’s probably dying or dead by now.”
“Probably.” The armadillo plainly responded. “Was she the reason why you were staring at that mannequin earlier?”
Fred did not respond.
“But one thing I don’t understand…” The armadillo straightened up from its curved stance. “Why that mannequin? We could have picked up a live one. I know just a place.”
“Well, it had no face.”
“You’re getting weird again, Fred.”
“No, it’s not like that, A.”
“Get to the point.”
“I’m getting there. Jeez.” Fred took a sip of tap water, then continued. “I’m an old bastard. And nowadays, I forget things, you know?”
“Right. Go on…”
“I mean, I still remember the details, but I couldn’t seem to remember her face, anymore.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Fred.” The armadillo replied genuinely.
“That’s okay, I guess.”
“Oh. Like that Joey Albert song! Only in reverse.”
“Ha! Like that one exactly!” Both of them laughed.
Then silence fell between them. It was a thin one, but it was sincere.
“Something like that, huh?”
“Yeah. Something like that.”
Fred’s tone was a little somber. He then checked his hands and licked the gravy off his fingers. They’re now both looking at the direction of the crowd, where a street dance contest was about to begin.