Wallace walked along the streets silently with no purpose in mind. He just wanted to think things over. It was late but not too late.
“What are you doing out here, man?” Nic asked him when he reached the path leading toward a night market.
He turned to see Nic walking alone. He shrugged. “What about you, Old Nic?”
Nic looked around–as if wanting to make sure no one was within earshot. It was too dark to tell if anyone was spying on them at some secret location. Yet he did not speak up to mock Nic this time.
“Well?” Wallace said after several minutes of walking in silence.
“Cyndi just broke up with me,” Nic said quietly.
If it wasn’t so eerily quiet around, Wallace would’ve missed the previous declaration. Wallace turned to Nic to see that Nic didn’t look like he was pulling an April’s Fool. Nic diverted his eyes away from Wallace and continued walking along the sidewalk.
“You and me both,” Wallace muttered, letting out a sigh.
“What?” Nic asked, confused. He had stopped walking and was staring at Wallace strangely.
“I’ve been dumped too,” Wallace clarified, continuing his footsteps along the stalls. He did not care that they’d reached the point where others could hear them. He scanned the area and chose a hotpot shop. He gestured for Nic to follow.
“What happened?” Nic asked–though he tried to keep his tone casual. “I thought you guys were…” Even he wasn’t convinced they were fine. He was not so oblivious to Wallace’s change these past months.
“I’m an idiot,” Wallace replied. There was no other way he could put it.
They had begun eating, sharing a pot instead of having it separate like others around the little shop. Wallace had also ordered some beer. At least he thought it was safer than wine. And no one was driving tonight, right?
Nic placed some veggies into the pot as Wallace did the same to the meat. They were still buying time. As if afraid one or the other would attack soon. Delaying the worst?
“I’m waiting,” Wallace said, blowing on the soup in his bowl.
“What?” Nic asked, turning his attention to Wallace.
They were sitting across the table from one another so if Nic wanted to attack Wallace, he would have to get up and circle around. It seemed too much effort. At least for their current state of mind.
“You can go ahead and say whatever you want,” Wallace continued. “I won’t yell back.”
“People get together and break up,” Nic said, his tone still casual. “It’s not the end of the world.”
Wallace pointed at Nic. “You know what? You’re freaking me out with the unusually calm attitude. Come on. You’re the protective brother who wants to tear me apart when I wanted to date your sister, right? Or are you glad you finally got rid of me?”
“Only a cold-blooded loser would wish a broken heart for his sister,” Nic returned.
The beer arrived then. Wallace thanked the waiter and reached for two cans, handing Nic one.
“Do you want to celebrate our current freedom or soak about our similar unfortunate fate?” Wallace asked, opening his can.
“Neither,” Nic said, taking a sip out of his can.
“I thought I told you to bring a friend the next time you decided to get drunk,” A familiar voice spoke up.
Both guys looked up to see Jiro staring at them with disapproving eyes. Though his smile had betrayed him.
“It’s just beer,” Wallace said, his attention on the pot in front of them again. “And we’re not driving this time.”
“You wouldn’t want to get hit either,” Jiro said.
“Want to join us?”
Nic switched sides and sat next to Wallace instead, leaving the other side for Jiro. The waiter came and brought another set for Jiro. While that was taking place, Wallace introduced Nic and Jiro.
“We just got dumped,” Wallace informed Jiro after the waiter left. “Not by the same girl though, so don’t worry.”
“You two don’t look devastated,” Jiro said, eyeing both suspiciously. “Unlike last time.” That was meant for Wallace.
“I can’t say I’m proud of it,” Wallace said. “But…”
“It’s life,” Nic answered in Wallace’s place.
Wallace gave Nic a look–like Nic was crazy. “To think that her brother would come to my defense.” He laughed. It was out of amusement of the role reversal rather than out of mockery. He saw Jiro’s confused look. He pointed a thumb in Nic’s direction. “He’s my ex’s brother.”
“Cyndi’s brother?” Jiro asked.
Wallace wrinkled his face. “No, he’s Cyndi’s boyfriend. Well, ex now.”
“Yeah.” Then he remembered. It was vague but he remembered. “I thought she told you that night we’re not together.”
“You know girls. I wouldn’t know.”
Wallace smiled. “So you planning to move in on her now that she’s free?”
Nic looked from Wallace to Jiro. It was like he wanted to strangle Wallace then and there. He suddenly regretted in defending Wallace minutes ago.
“You were with Cyndi on what night?” Nic asked instead.
Wallace turned to Nic and explained to him briefly. Nic did not look convinced.
“Nothing happened, okay?” Wallace said defensively, too familiar with that murderous glare.
“How would you know? You were drunk.”
“I was drunk, not dead. And I thought she was Tammy so I would never think of doing anything to hurt Tammy.”
“So it’s okay to hurt my sister?”
“I thought Tammy’s your sister?” Jiro jumped in, looking at Nic. Confused was all Jiro was at the moment.
“Angela’s my sister,” Nic clarified. “Tammy’s his buddy.”
“I was the one who got dumped here,” Wallace reminded Nic.
“We all know why.”
“And we sure do not know why you got dumped so care to share?”
Nic was starting to sound like Cyndi and Wallace just had it with the lectures–and their principles. He did not need that, especially now.
Jiro knew he had triggered some events so he faked a glimpse at his watch. “I have to be somewhere soon. So I’ll see you guys around?”
“Sure,” Wallace said, realizing he had stepped over the line.
Jiro left some bills to cover his share of the food and left them to sort out their problems. He was no longer that eager to offer them a ride for the safety of the overall population.
After Jiro was out of sight, Wallace turned to Nic with an apologetic look. “Sorry about that.”
Nic shook his head. “Forget it. It was my fault too.”
As if wanting to make up for his outburst, he placed a hand around Nic’s shoulder and gave Nic a supportive pat. “We’ll both find someone soon, eh?”
Nic smiled as Wallace returned to eating. “Maybe you should get back with Yvonne. Or maybe consider Tammy.”
Wallace had on his mischievous expression. “Maybe I’ll try Ling Ling.”
Nic turned to Wallace with a sharp gaze.
Wallace waved his hand casually at Nic. “Just kidding.”
“It’s not funny.”
“What do you want me to say?”
Nic opened his second beer can. He was not sure what to do himself. How could he advise Wallace?
“Seriously though,” Wallace said, putting in some more meat. “Why did Cyndi break up with you?”
Nic sighed. He felt no point in hiding from Wallace. Wallace was honest with him. “Something about too much pressure.”
“I told you you’re a control freak.” Wallace meant it as a joke. For old time’s sake. Then he turned serious. “You think it has to do with what has been going on between us four?”
Nic knew Wallace wasn’t bluffing or hinting that his own existence could affect others’ lives so much. What had happened this past year had been too enduring. Tolerance was the best word for it. They did not need to be reminded of it anymore. Forcing themselves to get along was–like what Angela said–torturous. Ironically, they ended up becoming friends–more than the girls would ever be to each other. So what if Cyndi was firm on her words and her attacks toward Wallace? She still chose to desert them in the end. Angela was getting along with Cyndi for the sake of her brother? Or were they ever friends in the first place? They could not be blamed. It was how life was. Things happen, life goes on. Sometimes, one just has to let go.
“Are you really going to think about pursuing Cyndi?” Nic asked when they finished their second beer.
“No,” Wallace said, his voice determined. “Even if she was the last girl on earth, I wouldn’t go near her.”
“How could you be so sure?”
“I hate those who like to speak up for others but don’t understand the whole situation. And I hate nagging people.”
“She’s not like that.”
“Maybe I just don’t see eye-to-eye with her. She’s not fun as I thought she would be.”
“You can’t blame her for wanting to defend Angela.”
“And she still broke up with you?”
“No, it’s not. It’s still about choices we have to make.”
And Wallace did find the situation extremely ironic. That he had told Cyndi that exact same thing when she had confronted him. This time, it proved that he was right. Because Cyndi’s decision to leave Nic was too obvious. Was this an attempt to answer his question?
They finished their third beer and left the place, not feeling like eating anymore. The night air might help. Two guys walking silently at the peak of the night, not knowing where to go. Yet they weren’t pitiful.
© Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
Posted: Wednesday, April 6th, 2011