Writing Challenge, Day 19
Final part of the Bryan and Barry's first(!) meeting.
* * *
They continued to walk, Barry heading purposefully--at least, it seemed to Bryan--to the classy Filipino restaurant at the north end of the mall. Bryan knows the place, and again he thought about the couple of hundred-peso bills in his wallet. He mentally kicked himself in the head for not following Ryan's advice of stashing an extra grand in his wallet's secret compartment. "For emergencies," Ryan had said. "Like condoms, you never know when you'll need either, or both, of them."
Funny, Bryan thought. I have two packets of rubber in his secret compartment and almost zero cash. Talk wishful thinking.
During the brisk walk, the duo managed to squeeze in more topics to talk about. Bryan found out that Barry was originally from Philadelphia but is now based in West Virginia because his work as an electrical engineer required him to do relocate (he has a house on both states, and he shuttles back and forth between these whenever he feels like it). And that since three years ago, the American saves all his vacation leaves for the year so he could spend them all going to the Philippines every February. Bryan likewise shared some personal details about himself and what little professional experience he's had.
During lunch, where Barry ate a hearty lunch of garlic prawns and Bryan managed to order a two-hundred-peso turon, their conversation continued to flow smoothly. There were some moments of silence, but each made an effort to start a new topic.
"So what does it mean, you IM handle?" Bryan asked at one point during the meal.
Barry then proceeded into a long discourse about how he was stalking a guy online and he figured that the best way to catch the guy's attention is to copy his username. This then lead to their exchange of online sexcapades (or in Bryan's case, his lack of it), to more intimate and serious relationships (both have none at the moment).
"So, what do you want to do next?" Barry asked after he signaled for the bill an hour later.
"I dunno," Bryan replied. "We can walk around some more? Do you want to shop around or something?"
"Yeah, well..." Barry trailed off when the bill arrived. He pulled out his credit card. "This is on me," he announced as he waved Bryan's hand when the latter offered his couple of hundred. "This is the least that I can do for taking time to meet me."
"Oh okay. Thanks. And it's no problem, really." Bryan replied.
They did proceed to walk around some more, chatting occassionally and stopping in front of store windows to examine the displays. A couple of shoppers pointedly stared in their direction, their expressions similar to the one Bryan's mother wears when she sees women with foreigners. "Mga kirengkeng yan", she would say. "Tingnan mo, ang papangit naman nila."
Bryan suddenly felt like he was an exotic-looking hooker. He didn't know whether to feel flattered or ashamed.
Another hour passed, and there was more silence than talk. Bryan decided that it was time for him to go home.
"Listen, I have to go," he began. "I promised my mom to run an errand for her today."
"Oh," Barry said, slightly suprised. "Okay. Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yep," Bryan replied, too nervous to pursue where the discussion might go. He had hinted that his hotel was nearby at least two more times during their aimless walking. Dammit, his horny inner self screamed. This is your chance!
"Alrighty then. Maybe we can see each other again before I fly back to the States," Barry said, extending his right hand. "It was nice to finally meet you Bryan."
"You too Barry," Bryan replied as he took Barry's hand and shook it. "And thanks for the chocolates!"
They parted ways on the same taxi bay where they first met. As Bryan walked past the waiting cabs and towards across the street for the bus stop, he realized he and Barry never shared what their last names are.