"So who is she?"
I applied the bag of ice slowly on my shin. The swollen had at least reduced to half already by then. A bluish spot appeared clearly on the surface of the skin. I threw the bag of ice away into the bucket next to me and dipped a towel into a bowl of hot water that my dear mother prepared for me earlier. I squeezed the water out carefully and folded it twice before placing it on the swollen part. I didn't feel anything, at least not for a few seconds due to the pain that numbed pretty much everything at that point, until I realized that the towel was too hot, causing me to jerk a bit. The towel fell from my leg, that at the time was resting horizontally on the coffee table from across the sofa I was sitting on, and onto the floor.
He bent forward from his seat and picked the helpless towel up before giving it to me.
"You're not going to tell me, man?" he asked.
I took the towel, refolded and applied it onto my swollen shin, this time gentler to avoid another unforeseen and awkward jerk from coming. I leaned back to the sofa and placed both my hands along its headrest, and both my legs stretching from the sofa and onto the coffee table.
"Eh hello," he said. "What, am I talking to the wall here?"
I turned my head lazily and looked at the man who was sitting on another sofa on my left. He looked younger than I was at the time, even though he was born shy of a month earlier than I was. He was shorter than I was by a couple of centimeters, and weighed more than I did by a couple or more kilograms. He was indeed a large man, only that his height was his only disadvantage, making his appearance more or less similar to that of Michelin Mummy. Nevertheless, he was one of my best friends. He happened to drop by at home after I told him that I needed to cancel a previously-planned outing with him due to my injury.
"Fine, Bob," I said. "What do you wanna know?"
Bob was munching on some homemade chocolate chip cookies which my mother served to us also earlier, along with a pot of hot coffee. He took a few more cookies from the plate and leaned back to the sofa, crossing his legs like a bloody sir.
"So," he said, before putting a cookie into his mouth, munched on it and swallowed it in only a few seconds. "Tell me about this girl."
"Did you just swallow the cookie? What happened to chewing food before you swallow?"
"You didn't answer my question." Another cookie went and disappeared in that large mouth.
I stared at him continuously munching on those cookies and smirked for a bit. I shouldn't have had told him about how exactly I was injured from hitting that damn bed. At least not about what made me. Well I was sure that I could have come out with some self-made stories to cover things up instead of telling him the truth. But perhaps it was good too that he knew about it; at least I could see the entire situation from a whole new and different perspective. But then again he didn't know specifically about what really happened last night.
Oh Bob, if only you knew what really happened last night.
* * *
Two missed calls.
Two missed calls and the phone went dead silent. No more vibrations from an incoming call. I held the phone in my hand, thinking, and hoping it will vibrate again. Well what if did? Will I ever answer the call, or leave it unanswered like the previous two calls from the same number? I didn't even know why exactly did not I answer the calls. But no time to justify or reason things out. Let's just wait for another call now. Here goes, gotta answer this one alright, I told myself. I held the phone tightly in my hand and waited for the screen to light up and its body to excitingly vibrate again. I actually waited for a few minutes.
Nope. Nothing happened.
Damn it, I said. I knew I should have answered the calls. Now what do I do? Do I call her back? Do I just pretend that I was sleeping? Will she know? Women have this very deadly accurate instinct about almost pretty much everything. They seem to have this strong sensing ability that sometimes to cheat a way out would be nearly, if not at all, impossible. What if she already knew that I was awake? Maybe that was why she called in the first place? Or did she just try her luck? So what could my response be? Do I respond to her accordingly, or do I maintain the non-responding behavior? I could feel that my forehead was sweating regardless of the low ambient temperature. Perhaps this was the hardest and pressuring time ever. Come on Jack, I said to myself, make a damn decision already! Suddenly the phone vibrated; two pulses and not continuously.
A short message. I pushed a button to read its content.
"I'm sorry I didn't reply your SMS. My phone died. Just got back home. Maybe you're asleep already now. Sorry if I woke you up or anything kay."
Just got back home? I looked at the clock on the wall; it showed 3.30am. My God, where did she go? What could possibly be the places she could have gone to at around this hour? A nightclub? Oh my. But then again she didn't look like someone who went to clubs in the first place. Well what else? Oh my, could she be an escort girl? Damn it, what the hell was I thinking? Let's think positively. Well how about this: maybe she went to her friend's place or something? Did that sound better? Wait, what friend? A boyfriend? Holy shit, seriously? Seriously Min?
Beep beep. Another message came in.
"Thank you so much for the rose. Nobody ever gave me any before. Thank you so much. Can't stop looking at it the whole night. That was sweet of you."
Well of course! You are definitely welcome, my heart said. Well it wasn't a part of the plan anyway. I happened to see someone with a bouquet of roses when I was in the LRT on the way to meet Min up, and it occurred to me that, well, why not get her a gift or something? It so happened that I went and walked past a small florist when I was walking to Min's cafe, and maybe to cheer her up or brighten her day, I bought her a blood red rose. Very little I thought that that one single flower changed the entire course of her day. Nevertheless, I felt proud and uplifted from knowing that I made her day better, if not entirely greater.
So that's it? No more text message? Beep beep. Oh hello, there, another new text message. Let's push this button here to open the message and let's see what's in there for me to read.
"Will you come and meet me again?"
* * *
I took the towel from my shin and dipped it in the bowl of warm water. I squeezed all the water out and reapplied it on my swollen skin again. Now that the temperature of the water wasn't anywhere hotter than it was previously, this heat treatment happened to be much comfortable and relaxing. I leaned back to the sofa and placed both my hands along its headrest, and both my legs stretching from the sofa and onto the coffee table, all over again.
"Eh hello," Bob said, imitating an annoying female diva. "What, am I talking to the coffee cup here?"
Sincerely, I felt like slapping him every time he did that.
"Yes Bob," I replied him gentlest as I could. "She lied to me. She didn't exit at the station."
Damn it, Bob. If only I knew the answer to that question. Bob took the last piece of the chocolate chip cookies and ate it in one go. I was aiming for that cookie, actually. Seeing him finishing the last cookie off made me die a little inside.
"And," Bob paused for a while to wipe his lips with a piece of tissue paper before continuing, "you didn't even reply any of her messages last night?"
"Nope," I said.
"Not even the ones she sent this morning?"
This morning? Oh yes. She sent two messages. First, she wished me a very good morning, followed with a smiley, and second, she asked me why didn't I reply her messages and if I was angry at her, followed with another smiley, only that the bracket that represented the mouth in this smiley was reversed compared to the one in the first message.
"Nope," I said again. "Not any of them."
"Mm hmm. And why didn't you?"
"Oh come on, Bob," I replied him with an annoyed tone. "She lied to me."
"Well, maybe she has her own reasons. This you don't know."
I stared at Bob in disbelief. What, you're on her side now? He didn't give any response to my stare-attack. He just sat there and pretended to be entirely unaffected by me. This of course drove me into another whole new level of frustration. At this moment, I really felt like slapping him. The possibility of me throwing the bowl of warm water to his face, an option to a slap, was almost a hundred percent.
"Let's take it this way," Bob said.
Well this was it. My eyes stared at the bowl of warm water. One wrong sentence and you're gonna get it, man.
"Why not you and I go and see her and ask her personally? At least we can clarify the matter clearly," Bob said in his most profound and philosophic manner.
Good point, Bob. He was lucky this time. Fortunately he chose his words wisely. Unfortunately I had to disagree with him.
"Look at me. I'm pissed off," I told him before pointing a finger at y injured shin. "And look at my leg. It hurts."
"You really sound like a girl now, brother." Oh really? Where's that bowl of warm water again?
"How could I even..." Before I could finish my sentence, my phone vibrated. "Hold on," I told him as my hand reached for the phone on the coffee table.
It was a text message. I opened and read it one, twice, three times. Every time I read it, my facial expression changed from normal to, however exaggerated this could be, something similar to that of a dried date. I could feel my face turning green. I immediately stood up and threw the towel on my leg into the bucket next to the sofa. Bob was taken aback from my reaction, and by far confused.
"Why," he asked. "What happened?"
I didn't answer him. I went to the Javanese cupboard next to the wall and looked for my effects. I wore my wristwatch and put my wallet into the back pocket of my Bermuda short pants. I looked into the large wall mirror next to the cupboard and combed my hair using my fingers. There, good enough. I turned around and went to the coffee table to pick my phone up before placing it into the side pocket of my pants.
"Can someone tell me what is going on?"
I turned to Bob. "Come on, get into your car."
"No time to explain. Just get into the damn car and turn on the engine."
Without a word Bob stood up, opened the main door of the house and walked to his car. I went to the kitchen to inform my dear mother that both of us were going out. Once the permission from the queen of the resident was obtained, I walked out of the house and locked the door before proceeding to Bob's car. Bob was already inside it, sitting behind the wheel. I got into the car and closed the door.
"So, big boss," he said to me. "Where to?"
With a push of a button I winded the window down. I took a cigarette out and lit it up, inhaling the first smoke and let it out gently. Suddenly the kick from the first nicotine sobered me up like a motherly slap first thing in the morning. And so suddenly too I felt damn energetic.
"Full speed ahead, young master Bob," I said to him as I turned to look at him in the face before turning back to the front view of the vehicle. I put on my RayBan Aviator.
"Next stop," I said, "KLCC."
...To be Continued.