Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2. Shit happens

I met Khavn through a mutual friend – a UP professor. A meeting was arranged.
 He was already a respected filmmaker that time and was looking for a nice project to invest some of his resources in. Born into a rich family, national bourgeoisie by class, Ateneo-educated, at the top of his game, chicks left and right … Khavn was a fucking prince.
 Meanwhile I was, at that time, jobless. And homeless, too, I might add. It was a time when my sweet job in UP-Ayala Technopark suddenly came to an end. The start-up company that hired me was losing money. The owner fired at least five people every month. Poor bastards. Those were hard times.
It never occurred to me that one day, I’d be next. That the owner would eventually tell me to pack up my shit and go. I was high all the time back then, a real wake-and-bake motherfucker so I didn’t really care. And besides, I was at the top of my game, too. And I was very good with my job.
I was the last one to go. Three weeks I’d been reporting to work all by myself. The boss never hung-out in the office so I had the whole place pretty much to myself. I liked that set-up. I played music as loud as I wanted to; smoked weed in the parking lot every half hour or so … did some work. By that time, there was so little work anyway, but I was still being paid. I didn’t give a shit about the world. I was rocking on someone else’s dime.

Then one day, the owner came by the office and told me to just fuck off and never come back. He gave me my week’s salary, and told me that all good things must come to an end. Adios.
I smoked my last joint on the way home. I was worried about being jobless but the weed took care of that anxiety. I was high in no time.
My apartment was just a few minutes’ walk. At least. You gotta be thankful for the little things in life, like the private spaces where you have room to breath.
Losing my job, well, shit happens. The situation somehow gave me a feeling of relief.
However, when I got home, my landlord was in the yard waiting for me. As if my situation could not have gotten any worse. We got into a heated argument about my rent, which was, according to him, already running in its fourth month. The argument soon turned into a vicious shouting match. Good thing I was stoned. My vibe was Woodstock-like. I was able to restrain myself. I was able to keep my cool.
I let the poor fucker rant about his shit. I even apologized for my unpaid rent. In the end, after serious bargaining, I was allowed to stay for three more days.
The moment he left the yard, I went inside the apartment, dropped my office bag, changed into a clean shirt, and went out. It was still early so I blew some steam in the store across the street, drank maybe four or five bottles of Red Horse. Then it was on to Sarah’s. There were a couple of friends hanging out. Maybe it was Friday. Or maybe not. Sarah’s was always full of drunk students back then — any day of the week.
Karl was there. He was with some geeks from the English Department. I knew some of those fuckers. Some of them were actually nice. Even though they weren’t the type of people that you would want to associate yourself with, as much as possible, some of them were alright. Plus, they had weed.
I spent all my money that night on booze. I remember that because I went to my sister the day after, broke as shit and smelling of stale beer. She was pissed because I lost my job again. And was soon to be homeless.
 —Don’t worry, sis, I told her, —I got two more days on the apartment.
—And then what?, she said, —You can’t put your shit here.
—I don’t have lots of shit, I said, —Just clothes and my computer.
—What about your appliances?
—The apartment was furnished when I got it. So most of the things are not mine.
—Then what after two days? You’re gonna be homeless? You can’t stay here. Everybody here hates your guts.
—Even Rey?, I asked. Rey was my sister’s husband, ergo, my brother in law.
—Especially Rey.
—What the fuck have I done to him?
—He just hates you because you’re too old to be this way, kuya. What the fuck is wrong with you? When will you get into the right frame of mind, leave all that teenage-rebel-angst shit. You’re too old for that. Why don’t you just go home to Mangagoy and stay with the old folks.
—Don’t worry sis, I said.—I have plans.
—Plans? Since when did you have plans? Can you save yourself from being a homeless bum in two days?
—Actually, I can, I said. —Or I might.
—How?
—Remember that book I wrote? The one that won the Carlos Palanca?
—The novel? Or the short story? Yes, what about it? Have you met a publisher? Someone that can turn your book into money?
—I told you not to worry, sis. I got it under control. And yes, the novel.
—So tell me. Something good is about to happen to the manuscript? This is your first book so you have to be careful when talking to publishers.
—No, not a publisher.
—Then who? Tell me, kuya.
—You know last night.
—Yes, last night, you were at Sarah’s, yes??? You were wasted, yes? Then you met a publisher?
I shook my head.
—Not a publisher?
—No.
—A director then? Someone to adapt the book into film?
I let her stew for a while, slowly lighting up my cigarette before I answered. She was dying of impatience. Finally, I told her.

—Not just a director. Even better. Last night, I met a fucking prince.

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