At the corner where it reeks of barbecued liver, intestines, and chicken feet, a plump seventeen year old sells newspapers. She enjoys the komiks and the crossword puzzles. And she laughs whenever Rey, the taho man, limps by. Rey was shot in the hip by some police man three years ago. It was a “stray bullet” the tabloid said. She laughed at the stories. It wasn’t because of the way he limped that made her cringe with embarrassment, almost wishing she or he were dead; it was the unbearable attraction. Rey would fill five of her glasses with taho every morning free of charge. “Ikaw pa, libre ko na yan sa iyo.” He’d say other things, too.
He walked funny and smelled a little bad, but she thought about the Axe Deo Cologne ads and knew it would help should she… well, if she considered the subtle invitations.
Between the crossword puzzles, the komiks and her thoughts every morning, Guita was a very busy girl. She would sit there entertaining her sukis, the regular buyers who would hang around, read and then pay. Often her sukis, after making small talk with Guita, would clutch their newspaper under sweaty armpits and wolf down a taho or two on their way to wherever they went. It was the same almost everyday, except the time Rey was shot.
In their small apartment Guita lived with her grandfather, her mom, her older brother and his wife. Lolo, or lolo taba, used to run the newspaper stand. He now watches television with a passion. Nanay, a chain smoker, runs a carinderia business with her kumares two blocks away. Kuya Boy is in and out of the country. His last work was in Dubai as a janitor. His wife, Ate Sandy, was as pretty as a 19 year old slut but she was 34 years old. Four years older than Kuya Boy and very malindi. That’s what Nanay would say under her breath. Malindi. Pokpok. If Ate Sandy asked for any of them to please pass the scrambled eggs, the pandesal, or the Chizwhiz, and it happened to be within Nanay’s reach, Guita could barely hide the smirk from knowing Nanay’s inner thoughts. It wasn’t very nice. But, it actually thrilled Guita; her ways, her clothes, her perfume, the way men looked at her. Ate Sandy was the woman she often thought of being similar to. Minus, perhaps, the damaged feet from too much pedicure. Guita swore she would have better pedicures.
Ten years have passed.