taxi driver

I step into his cab. He says he is lost. I feign interest. I just want to get to the gym as quickly as possible. He keeps on yakking. Then his phone beeps. He reads the message and puts the phone down slowly, looks at the incoming cars. “My sister is dead,” he tells me. I am shocked. "Were you close?" I ask. Yes, they were. There were only three siblings in the family. His father was killed during the Martial Law years. Ambushed, he says, by a political clan that was not able to get his favor. My interest is pique. In movies, people break down when told of death in the family. They start keening, throwing their arms to the sky and cursing the gods. This one just looks at me and tries to be cheerful. “When was the last time you saw her,” I ask. Last December, he says, when she visited their house. Are you going to rush home? No, he will finish his shift and will ride until late the next morning. What they need to do, he tells himself, is to move on.

I then wonder who he is and how he wound up driving cabs. Apparently he was an architecture student in FEU. During his senior year he met a man, a very wealthy man who was courting his classmate, a Miss Manila pageant winner. One day, the man asks him if he would like to work with him as a body guard. The offer was good and he took it and stayed on for decades. In fact, when he left his service the man was already very old. He told me that the man was 90 years old but still had the unfortunate habit of jumping into pools. On more than one occasion they found him floating in the swimming pool with blood gushing out of his head. I imagine an immaculately clear pool slowly being polluted with blood. Very Sunset Boulevard, I must say. Now, he drives a cab for a living and had just lost his dear sister. We arrive in my destination. I thank him for telling me his story but before I go out I ask for his name. Boyet, he tells me. Boyet de Leon. 


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