“Desire” Part 6

Epifanio walked quickly away, his thin shoulders hunched up and his hands jammed into the pockets of his jeans.

Epifanio easily found the bar again two nights later. There was some kind of program going on: he listened to a man reciting lewd jokes into a microphone. The bar seemed full: the laughs were raucous. A young woman kept going in, out, in, out. She was not pretty. She wore a tight, silvery blouse that emphasized her breasts, her slim waist. Only after she had gone back and forth several times did it dawn on Epifanio that she was aware of him, that she was interested in him. She stood on the sidewalk, peering down the street as if looking for someone. He watched her turn, this way and that. She wore gold sandals; her toenails were painted bright red. Because she was taking her time about going back inside, Epifanio was sure: she wanted him! But he could do nothing, only stand and stare.

She came out a third time and stood on the sidewalk. Her lips seemed brighter. No one else was on the street, or in the world: there was only the girl, and Epifanio, and an aching need.

She turned in a slow semicircle. She seemed to be urging him on, trying to rouse him to some form of action.

When she had executed every possible movement, she turned and walked slowly back to the bar. She held her head high, but Epifanio could sense her disappointment. He had saved her, or himself, he didn’t know which.

***

The city had always existed in his head. It was his last remaining opportunity, the one he would run to when everything else had failed, his last card. He didn’t want to be playing that card so soon, but he found the situation with Sheryn unbearable. So, like a gambler, he had played it.

Epifanio went to see Sheryn one last time before leaving. Her eyes were puffy and red. She grazed his cheek with the tips of her fingers. “Silly,” she said softly. “Silly, silly.” Epifanio’s gaze traveled to her stomach, the roundness there. That was when she pulled away, both hands over her belly as if protecting it. “Please go.”

He left.

***

The men’s breakfast was provided by the boardinghouse. For lunch and dinner, however, they spent their own meager funds. Someone said that the food stalls near the bus terminals had the cheapest food. The pork barbecue, dripping with fat, was ten pesos a stick.

For the past week, he had subsisted on a meager breakfast of two thin sausages, an egg, and a small pyramid of rice. By noon, he was faint. By dinnertime, he was angry. But he found a way to endure the hunger; he had no choice.

(To be continued. For a short short story of approximately nine pages, dear blog readers are probably thinking, why is it taking sooooo long to get to the point? GAAH!!! Get a move on, Epifanio!)

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