Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 9)

21 Aug

Chapter 15:  The Midpoint

Still on the same afternoon at Zuni, time seems to be slipping by too fast. I knew that Jayson and I were supposed to part ways officially and for good this Saturday afternoon. I knew he met me to explain his side, and to make me understand why he had to leave me.

But things didn’t go as planned.

I wasn’t ready to go home with so many questions left in my head, and Jayson understood that. So we stayed a little bit longer to continue talking. He was kind enough to answer as many questions as he could. And I gained a lot of insights about the nature of his work even though he was clearly screening, and choosing his words with caution.

Your tattoo? USMC? What does it really mean then? I asked.

I thought you knew?

Yes I do. But I want it to come from you.

US Marine Corps. That was what I did prior to this job.

A second truth. Jayson is slowly gaining my trust now. At the very least, I could go home later knowing that what he had been telling me wasn’t 100% bullshit.

So you were a soldier? You did the marine boot camp and all that jazz? I saw a documentary of the US military boot camp once and I thought it was super awesome… Like how they train you guys to do hand-to-hand and close combat… ahhh. That is so cool!

Haha, well no. I wasn’t a ground combatant. I was a pilot. I flew aircrafts, helicopters.

Ohhh. I see. Well it’s still cool. I said, wanting to make Jayson know that regardless of what he trained for, I still adored him.

Sorry to disappoint you. Jayson said jokingly, although later on I found out that Marine pilots do get their combat leadership experience on the ground too, before they are trained to operate and maneuver aviation machines.

So what was the most terrifying thing you experienced as a Marine Pilot?

Hmmm. Terrifying. Couldn’t think of one, but I could tell you the saddest experience I had.

 Okay. I said with a smile on my face. I welcomed what he was about to say.

Well, we were given instruction then to fly to a certain conflict-area to rescue some of our guys. I was waiting at the helicopter while my companions went to get them. One by one they returned with cargo all wrapped in black bags. And all the while I was waiting for the wounded soldiers to board the helicopter, until I realized that there were none coming. The bags that my friends carried back to the helicopter contained the bodies of the men we were supposed to rescue. And that hit me hard. I couldn’t forget how it felt like.   

Oh wow. I’m sorry to hear that.

Yeah, but you get used to tragic events like that when you’re in the military. It is just how it is.

Jayson would never divulge any telling detail about his mission in the Philippines but he didn’t mind talking about his prior experiences as a Marine. So eventually, I learned lots of things that he did in the USMC. Sometimes, when I’m bored I would ask him to tell me stories during his stint as a Marine pilot – the most thrilling, the most dangerous, the most bizarre. Jayson always had a story in his pocket. It would never run out.

I wasn’t done with him though. I was just itching to know a little bit more about what he was doing in my country. So I continued to pry even though I knew  I could be crossing the line:

So how did you end up doing this job you are doing now?

I was recruited.

Hmmm. You must be very smart then.

Perhaps. It is a curse.

So, I am assuming you are involved in counter-terrorism operations given that you always fly to Mindanao?

I cannot answer that.

Okay. That means yes. I said, convinced. And Jayson smiled and shook his head with surrender. Haha.

Mindanao I understand, but what’s your agenda in the Visayas? You would usually text me when you’re there… like in Cebu or Samar, right?

Well, if you’re flying from Manila, and your destination is the southern most part of Mindanao, where is the best place to refuel?

Hmmm…

Before I could interject something of better substance, Jayson finished his sentence:

At the midpoint, right? And where’s the midpoint of Manila and Mindanao?

Somewhere in the Visayas. I figured. Cebu or Samar?

That’s correct. He said.

map of phil

Note: I pegged the destination in Basilan, because I knew that Jayson had been frequenting it, among other provinces down south of Mindanao, because he would mention this in  our future conversations. But let’s leave that for another chapter. 🙂

__________________

Chapter 16: The Brave One Third

So have you killed anyone because of your job? I finally gathered enough courage to ask.

Jayson looked at me for a few seconds, and then he looked away, and he threw his stare out to the horizon. I could tell from his facial expression that he didn’t like this question.

After a few seconds of unbearable silence, he uttered without looking at me:

You know the answer to that question.

Well, you probably have. Is it a lot? like ten? twenty?

Again he looked at me. And again, he looked away when it was time for him to answer:

It does not matter how many. God will not look at the count once I repent right?

Okay. I’m sorry. I can see you are not comfortable with this question so I’ll stop. Sorry, baby. And I leaned forward to touch his crossed arms resting on the table.

Jayson took my hand with his hand, and as he did so, he gently kissed my tiny fist which he was holding.

It’s okay. Just refrain from asking me questions you might not be ready to hear the answers to.

But if it is bothering you this much, why don’t you just quit?

I toyed with the idea several times, but you see, in this field of work, very few really get out. It is not easy to just leave things behind.

But why?

I just don’t know what else I would do when I get out.

But you are an engineer! You can start your own business, or work  in the private sector.

You don’t get it. It is not as simple as switching careers. I am a rusty engineer now. My expertise is on something else. Outside this job that I am doing right now, there is few to zero places where I can practice that expertise. Besides, they will always call me back when they need me. One is never really out of the job.

Jayson continued on:

So do you understand now why having a relationship with you is an inconvenience?  While I do care about you, my job doesn’t.

No I did not understand. All I understood was how unready I was to give him up. It just didn’t make sense to me how one can express love and concern for another person, and yet decide ultimately to not have that person around. It baffled me. I wanted him to change his mind. Right then and there I decided I’d fight my way to his life.

Are you telling me that all the people that work with you are unmarried? I find that very hard to believe! I’m sure some of your colleagues found a way to make it work.

Not everyone are unmarried. About a third have spouses and families.  But…

You see! I knew it!

Come on Janica. One third is not a lot. That’s 7 out of 20 people. 33 out of 100 men. Majority of us choose to be on our own, because we do not or cannot deal with complications.

Well why can’t you be part of that one third???

Hypothetically, I can, but I still cannot be with you.

Wow thanks a lot! Ain’t that comforting!

Janica, listen to me. Jayson said so intently. You are not a US national. Can’t you see how extremely complicated you are? People like me, if we ever are to marry, are supposed to marry someone from our country, not someone from a foreign land, much less from a place where we operate. You will always be seen by them as a potential liability simply because your loyalty cannot be ascertained by any interview, or tests… not even by your love for me.

Jayson went on enlightening me:

Besides, I am not going to drag you into this mess. You are young, and you have the potential to be as happy and successful as you want to be. You will go places, and I am sure there are other men out there who can make you truly happy. Men who are around when you need them.  Men who you can count on to be there. I cannot deprive you of your bright future. I just can’t do that.

I had stopped listening to him halfway through his gibberish of a speech. I wouldn’t, and couldn’t accept what he just told me, especially not now that he had revealed the “truth” about his identity.

I had fallen in love with him way before this afternoon happened, but now, after having heard his secret, I was just fully smitten.

(TO BE CONTINUED.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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