We are already eating when “It Stoned me” by Van Morrison is played in the background. I am following the song on my mind when he breaks the silence.
“So what brings you here?” he asks out of a sudden, lighting up another cigarette, looking at me..
I am in the middle of enjoying my French toast when he asks the question, has to finish chewing it first before I answer “Work.”
“Uhmm, for how long?” his brows meet, as if a thought came and trying to brush it off.
“I am not certain yet, it still depends.” I answer. “How about you?” I am not really interested to ask him that but it seems the only polite question to ask. As for me, I want us to remain stranger with each other. It’s not like we’re going to see each other again, but who knows?
“You really don’t want to know about me, do you?” He laughs as if he reads what’s on my head. “I work here. I live there.” He points somewhere but nothing can be seen, the rain is getting stronger as time passes by. But for some reasons, I don’t worry about it.
“Oh, how does it feel living here?” I ask as if disgusted by the thought of living in Manila. “I can’t imagine living here, unless of course, I am like you who lives within Makati. You must be very rich.”
He laughs at my last sentence.
“It depends on your definition of being rich.” He says, smiling at me. “And what makes you think I am rich?”
I give him a good long look before I answer.
“Well, there’s something dark in you, not a-Ted-Bundy-kind-of-dark-way, but there’s that presence in you that suggests you’re more than who you want to be perceived, and about the rich thing, I was just kidding. Why, are you rich?” I taunt.
He laughs even more.
“I can’t answer that. Dark? Seriously, and Ted Bundy?”
I crinkle my nose as I usually do when I am conscious or said something silly.
“Well, you’re creepy” is all I can say, totally deliberating whether to hold back my thoughts or not.
“Creepy but not a Ted-Bundy-kind-of-dark-way.” He says just parroting me.
I smile sheepishly.
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“Well, it depends on how you’re going to take it.” I say ruefully. “Ted Bundy is cute, only…”
“Only he’s a serial killer.” He finishes my sentence, and looks at me as if memorizing every detail of my face and smiles, a Mona Lisa smile. I never thought I’d describe a Mona Lisa smile to a man, but it is exactly the right adjective to describe it, there’s something behind his smile that I just can’t comprehend, and it gives me an uneasy feeling, that somewhere in this conversation, something’s going to happen, definitely happening right now. “And you think I am cute, that’s a first.”
“Someone describing me as cute.”
“What do your friends usually describe you then?”
“Let’s talk about confidence here.” I say, laughing gazing at his face, but totally agreeing with him. He is really handsome in a very alarming way, and it scares me a bit. He has this effect on me, maybe it’s because of the weather or I don’t know but I am frightened- in a good way.
“I love this.” He says suddenly looking at me and grin.
“This, having coffee, cigarette, the weather, and a beautiful woman to talk with, it just makes my day.”
“Oh my god, are you hitting on me?” I burst theatrically, he laughs.
“It depends on how you’re going to take it.” He says with a tease in his eyes. “You don’t consider yourself beautiful, do you?” he continues when he sees I raise my brow at his remark.
He gets me. I don’t feel beautiful. Of course, I get compliments, but I never take them seriously, to me, they are just words.
“I love having coffee too, and cigarette and a book, and sometimes a companion.” I say avoiding the where the subject is heading.
“You are beautiful.” He says not minding what I was saying. “And I am not saying this because I am hitting on you, though that’s part of the reason.”
Something weird happen, for God’s sake, I don’t usually blush when someone compliments me, but I just did! Fuck!
“And you look cute when you crinkle your nose like that.” He continues.
“Fuck off!” I say to him, “now you’re making me feel uncomfortable.”
He just laughs at me, totally enjoying his control over the situation.
“Seriously, stop talking like that.” I say now that I am myself again. “Or else, I’m going out of here.”
“Okay, I’ll be serious now.” He says, still a hint of mischief in his eyes. “I like it here.” He says, looking blandly at space. “I love watching people passing by, minding their own business, the feeling that they don’t know me and they don’t care about me. I love the feeling of isolation.”
I look at him with fascination. No wonder why I am attracted to this guy. We both have a special relationship with loneliness.
“Don’t you feel lonely?” I dare to ask.
“Loneliness is just a state of mind.” He looks at me, smiling “I simply enjoy being alone. I don’t have to worry about other people, to be honest,” he pauses for awhile to get a cigarette and put it on his mouth then light it. “I hate being with people. I always wonder why human beings hate being lonely, they make conversation to other human beings, have a special relationship with them and they call it love then at the end of the day, whether they acknowledge it or not, you are still lonely. No amount of company can fill the emptiness inside you, you just have to admit to yourself that you are lonely, will always be. Loneliness is not bad nor a curse, it’s a blessing. When you feel lonely, you get to think about your life, the people around you and you realize, life is not bad at all.”
“That’s a peculiar way of seeing loneliness.” I say at the end, totally understanding every word that he said.
“That is how I survive life.” He says puffing a smoke in the air.