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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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Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 8)

8 Aug

Chapter 13: The Lunch Date

Saturday morning, at around 9. I was standing in front of my mirror. Deciding on what to wear. I mean how does one even prepare for a break-up date, if there is even such a thing? I’ve cried for four days since my last conversation with Jayson. And I ran out of tears just two days ago.  I was just happy my eyes weren’t red and puffy anymore. I was okay, I told myself. I’d be fine.

But who was I kidding right?

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if meeting Jayson today was a good idea. But I would, if only to see his face in person possibly for the last time.

And so I went…

Jayson was waiting for me right outside the Starbucks in Greenbelt 3. We would always meet first at that Starbucks before going any place else. He’d been there for forty minutes or so, but this time I didn’t care much that I was wasting his time. After all, he had stolen mine.

I saw him standing right by the wall outside the said café, and the weakness that was me totally forgot that I was supposed to be mad! I smiled. I smiled just seeing him seeing me. After everything, his mere presence still was enough to make me happy.

Hey. I greeted him awkwardly, suddenly unsure of how to properly talk to him now.

Hey. Jayson touched my cheek and then he put the few strands of my curly hair dangling along my face, right behind my ear. Are you hungry?

I’m okay. Where are we settling?

Let’s find a quieter place.

While walking around looking for a restaurant, Jayson started to small talk.

You’re too quiet. I’m not used to your being too quiet.

I’ve got nothing to say.

You always have something to say. And I’ve always loved that about you.  

How about you talk? You’re the one who’s not been telling me things, you know.

Jayson stared at me with disappointment.

It’s not like I wanted to. It’s just… It was necessary. And then he abruptly looked away. He tapped the navy blue cap he was wearing to bring it a little bit more down to his forehead. It wasn’t particularly hot that day but I noticed Jayson was perspiring.

We ended up choosing Zuni, in Greenbelt 5.

Jayson knew I’d always opt for the alfresco spot in any restaurant. He surveilled that part of Zuni quickly. Two tables occupied. One of which by a couple where one was a foreign guy. Right before I could pick a table, Jayson stopped me by holding my hand.

Not, there. Too many people.

The alfresco area was basically bare, with the exception only of the said two tables with a total of four people. But I did not argue with him anymore. I’ve got no energy to try and be all cute and get my way.

The inside of Zuni was indeed emptier, more spacious, and a little bit dimmer too. We got the table at the innermost corner of the restaurant. It was only the two of us there, although another person was eating alone at the farthest end near the door.

zuni2

This’ll do. He said. But he was talking more to himself, than to me.

Jayson sat on the chair facing the glass wall. And I sat right beside him. We ordered food. Ate a little. And the real conversation began.

___________

Chapter 14: The Revelation

So what are you going to tell me? I went straight to the point.

Janica, before I say anything to you, I need you to promise me this will only be between the two of us. You cannot tell anyone about what you will hear or know. Promise me.  

Okay? I promise.

Jayson released a big sigh. He composed himself. He held my hand. Then he began to spill his secrets out. Slowly, slowly, slowly, he made that typical Saturday afternoon too wild.

So… I asked to see you personally because I realized how unfair it was to say goodbye via text. And I do owe you an explanation. I really like you. I like you too damn much for my own sake.  And if it were only up to me, I’ll take you anywhere with me. But…

…But it’s your JOB. I already know that. There’s nothing new about that.

Listen. The job that I told you about is not my real job.

What do you mean? You’re not a real engineer?

I am. I really am an engineer, by educational background. But I am not here in your country to do an engineering job.

What are you saying?! You are not really working for that water filtration company?!

No. 

 So what do you do, really?

I am here because of the EDCA…

—And I was quite flabbergasted upon hearing him say that

Jayson kept on talking: I am not sure if you’ve heard of it. But it is the….

I know what EDCA is. I said, cutting him short. I went to law school and I work in a government office, remember?

For the benefit of those who are not familiar with EDCA, this is how Wikipedia explains it:

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is an agreement between the United States and the Philippines intended to bolster the U.S.–Philippine alliance. The agreement allows the United States to rotate troops into the Philippines for extended stays and allows the U.S. to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, for both American and Philippine forces. The U.S. is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases. It also gives Philippine personnel access to American ships and planes.

The EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the previous Visiting Forces Agreement. The agreement was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila on April 28, 2014.

On January 12, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the agreement’s constitutionality in a 10–4 vote. On July 26, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled with finality that the agreement is constitutional. (Author’s Note: Jayson arrived in the Philippines first day of January, and he left by July. Wala lang! Just saying! hahaha )

So you’re with the U.S. military?!

No. not exactly. I do Intelligence.

Intelligence? I asked, making sure to sound unaware.

Let’s just say I’m here to make things happen, and to help your government get the bad guys. 

How?

By being someone I‘m not.

What do you mean?

Jayson just looked at me, his eyes pleading me to draw the line on my questions.

A pause too long ensued.

There was no other question left to ask next aside from the one I had in mind, but I hesitated because I did not want to be my own unhealthy enabler.

But then again, I told myself, why not ask now, and then just evaluate later on the veracity of whatever it is that would transpire.

So I went for it. And I probed while carefully acting like I wasn’t stunned enough yet by what I’ve so far heard.

Wait, so what are you? Some kind of a spy?? And I laughed, not at the idea, but at myself. I could not believe I would ever ask that question to a real person, but there I was playing with my imagination, and yieldingly waiting for Jayson to make fun of me.

But he did not. Instead he said in a serious tone:

Well, that’s not really how we call ourselves, but yeah, something like that.

And there I was. Utterly confused and amused at the same time. I thought I needed to re-assess right away my extremely under-calculated gullibility… because why was I so willing, if not even enthusiastic, to hear more?

I continued to play along.

From what agency? the CIA?

No, but something like that.

So what is it? The NRO? The NSA?

No, but something like that. I cannot tell you what it is. Why do you even know these agencies anyway?!

I read?

That is the one mistake I made, you see – I dated a girl who knew how to read. He joked about.

Jayson, do you honestly expect me to believe what you’re saying?

I have no expectations whatsoever.

Well, okay… then why were you on Tinder? Aren’t spies forbidden from doing things that would easily expose their identities?

We are discouraged by our handlers, but it is not against the rules. We do have control over our free time. 

Handlers? I asked, once again pretending not to know what it means.

Bosses. Supervisors. He explained.

A part of me wants to call “bullshit” on all of this. After all, this kind of things only happens in the movies. But then, another part of me would get so convinced every time Jayson would use military jargons and intelligence terminologies rather naturally, and would often assume I didn’t understand him. It just feels so authentic when he does it.

Anyway below is the definition of  a ‘handler’, which i’ve known even before meeting Jayson, because, as unknown to him, I actually read lots of spy books and I love watching and re-watching lots of spy movies:

Handler: a manager or controller of a spy. Agent handler is a generic term common to many intelligence organizations; A primary purpose of intelligence organizations is to penetrate a target with a human agent, or a network of human agents. Such agents can either infiltrate the target, or be recruited “in place”. Agent handlers (or case officers) are professionally trained employees of intelligence organizations that manage human agents and human agent networks.

The skeptic voice inside my head kept on probing. Trying. Wanting to catch him on his seeming lies. Waiting to spot inconsistencies in his revelations. Praying I would not succumb to that bigger, stronger part of me that has always believed in fantastic things, and magic, and surreal adventures.

But why are you confessing you’re a spy?

I also don’t know. Maybe I just want to have at least one person in my life who knows the real deal with me. I mean my family doesn’t know what I do. Not my mom, not my sister, nobody. 

I appreciate that you chose me to be your secret-bearer and all, but it just sounds counter-intuitive to me. Spies are supposed to protect their cover, and yet here you are telling me all about it?

Am I? …I’m not giving you any classified information. Besides, if you talk about this, no one will believe you. All words, no proof. From my end, this is very easy to deny.  And as I’ve said, I am not a spy… Just something like that.

So… if you really are some sort of a spy or an agent, then… is Jayson your real name?

Yes. Believe it or not, it is my real name. It is not the name I’m called at work though. And definitely not the name I’m known to the big people that I deal with here.

So what do they call you at work?

Roy.

AND I DIED. Jayson just told me that his other name was Roy. Roy starts with a letter ‘R”.

Suddenly, the Viber Anomaly which I’d long forgotten by now came rushing back to me! And it has just resolved itself as well! (click here for that Chapter) As I’ve said before, I never mentioned to Jayson the curious case of his Viber Thumbnail Letter R. Now here he was volunteering an information about him that would turn it all into a self-solving equation.

So that’s why your Viber shows a letter R instead of a J! I blurted out.

It does?

Yes! And I pulled my phone out my bag to show him what I meant.

Hmmm, he said, looking a little troubled.

_______

The night right after our meeting, Jayson’s Viber got fixed. While we were texting, I noticed that the letter R disappeared, and the thumbnail right next to his name now bore the correct letter – “J”.

_______

At the beginning of this story, I gave you, readers, the option to decide for yourself on what Jayson might really be: (1) He could be a total jerk of a guy who was having way too much fun inventing tales and making a fool out of me, or (2) he could really be the spy or the secret agent or the “something like that” that he was claiming to be.  I really could not impose upon you guys, which one to believe, because even until now, I have absolutely no way of verifying his stories.

However, that he told me his other name was Roy totally weighs in favor of the latter option. And it also gave me a little bit of faith about his genuineness and sincerity towards me.

At least I knew he wasn’t lying about one thing: his use of different names.

And maybe, just maybe, the rest of the things he was about to tell me, were worth listening to as well?

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 7)

5 Aug

Chapter 11:  Ending Inconvenience 

I couldn’t quite believe how I managed to have Jayson take me in his arms and make him sway around. All I could recall was earlier that evening, we were sharing a box of pizza for dinner, goofing around, and talking about whatever, when I suddenly felt this intense desire to make the night more magical and special than it has already been.

While we were sitting on the floor, with an open box of Yellow Cab resting coldly now on the center table ,television was on but was completely being ignored, I randomly pulled out my phone, and did the unthinkable.

Jayson, you have three minutes to spare?

Yes, sure.  What’s up?

Do you mind if I waste them by asking you to dance with me?

A little bit flushed with shame but also a little bit proud of myself for being brave, I quickly scrolled down my playlist and chose a love song to play, and then I shared my earphones with him so we could both hear the music.

Jayson was just smiling the entire time. Perhaps giggling a little bit inside. He would always tell me my boldness usually surprised him, but he would never ever complain.  As for me, I was just happy he obliged and I didn’t have to suffer a night of rejection and awkwardness.

He turned the television off to eliminate the background noise. Then he stood up and he wrapped his arms around me, and  we started moving side to side to the rhythm of my song. My heart was beating so hard while we were dancing quietly right in the middle of his living room. He was looking at me so dearly, and he was smiling a lot, and  kissing me a lot too. And there I was thinking to myself: He was it. He was the one. And that I was truly, deeply, in love with this man.

Halfway through the song, we began talking about random stuff again. And at some point in our conversation, we got to the topic of dreams and ambitions.

… Well, if I ever get the chance years from now, I think I just want to slow down, relax and run a vineyard. I’ll make some fine wine, earn some money and just stay at home more. But that’s something I cannot do just yet. Still busy running around…. And you? … Maybe 10, 15 years from now, you’re already a Senator, or a big time person at the UN, or you’ll be Woman of the Year… and then I’ll see you on TV just doing something really significant with your life.. huh?

I don’t think so….

But I think so! You’re smart, you’re beautiful, you’ll go places I’m sure!

I took my gaze away from him and blankly into to the wall and slowly inward into the future I carved in my head. Then I uttered dreamily:

I really just want a simple, happy life you know. 10 or 15 years from now, I see myself doing a fulfilling job, and having enough time to pursue my other passions, and going home to a modestly sized but pretty, cozy house right by the beach or the countryside. Maybe by then, I also have a small family of my own already – a loving and responsible husband, and two kids at most. Nothing too grand. Just… something filled with meaning and beauty and joy and love.

Yeah?

Yeah. I replied as I pulled myself back to the moment.

Jayson looked at me again, but this time his stare said something different.

And then he embraced me tightly.  And the song came to an end.

______________

 

I couldn’t forget the way Jayson looked at me that night. It carried a sense of foreboding which, no matter how much I chose to ignore,  just wouldn’t escape me.

On the afternoon the next day, my fears were proven right. I received a rather long text from Jayson which I wished I never read.

“Janica, I couldn’t forget what you said about your dreams. You mean a lot to me, and our conversation last night got me feeling guilty. I didn’t really expect this to go this far, I didn’t plan to even have a second date with you. I didn’t plan on liking you this much because I didn’t think you’d be this amazing… but it all happened anyway. However, I don’t want to get in the way of your plans in life. And I should not have led you on. I wasn’t completely honest with you. You should know that I’m not staying long in the Philippines. I leave in June. July at most. Unlikely to ever be back. As much as I want to keep on seeing you, my job requires so much of me and it just cannot afford an inconvenience right now, or at all. I am not telling you that this would be the last time I’d see or talk to you, because I can’t. I don’t want to. But I’m hoping you ‘d take it upon yourself to stop seeing me, and to get away as far as you can from me. It is the only way to keep you on track. You are brilliant, and lovely, and you deserve to be happy. You are better off without me. ”

I wasn’t prepared for that message at all. And I didn’t know how to process all the emotions that it created either.  I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing. I was so mad and so at a loss. And I couldn’t talk. nor think. No words. Not even a hint of reason.

But I needed to reply. Clarify. Change his mind. Then like a giant wave that came crashing through the shore, a thousand and one thoughts started running inside my head all at the same time.

Eventually,  I gathered enough courage and calmness to respond:

I am an INCONVENIENCE?! You have the fucking nerve to tell me I am an inconvenience? What the fuck, Jayson! WHAT THE HELL! WHAT THE FUCKING HELL!!! 

That is not what I said! You are not an inconvenience. Relationships ARE my inconvenience. You think we’d work out if I’m away three or more years at a time?  What kind of a husband and father would I be then? Will you ever be ready to live a life of uncertainty? Because that’s all I can give you Janica… Uncertainty.

Bull shit! Don’t fuck with me! Do you know that the Philippines has millions of Overseas Filipino Workers who are away just as much? And yet their families here manage just fine! Don’t give me this shit about your demanding job! Just tell me the truth, Jayson! You’re married aren’t you? Tell me! Are you married????

I’ve told you a million times I’m not married! You’re the closest thing I have to that!

Well fuck you!

Damn it, Janica! What else do you want me to say!

The fucking truth!

It’s all the truth I can afford to tell you. My job has taken over my life. And it’s not the same as your overseas workers.

To hell with your job, Jayson!  And to hell with you! I cannot believe you made a big fool out of me! You’re a selfish person! What have I been to you all this time then? Your favorite pastime?

Can you please calm down! You know to yourself that you are not a pastime. You know it! Don’t convince yourself otherwise because you know exactly how I feel about you!

My eyes were all bawled out by this time. My emotions were high as the sky. Thankfully, a full-blown exhaustion hit me like thunder. And I was saved. I lost all the energy to sustain our first real fight. And I just finished off the conversation with this last statement:

Just tell me the real reason why you’re leaving me. And you won’t ever hear from me again.

To which Jayson did not anymore reply.

 —————-

 Chapter 12:  Prelude

It’s been three days since that fight. Jayson and I have never spoken again after that. I was still so upset and mad at him, but I cannot deny how much I was missing him too. I couldn’t help but reminisce all our good times together, and all our bad times as well. I started recalling all the past arguments we had, hoping it might shed some light about his decision to suddenly end things with me.

I couldn’t think of a reason other than one. And if anything, recollecting our other fights in the past just made me miss him more. See, Jayson’s ability to handle my very potty mouth every time I get upset or angry, is a quality so unique and rare. He seemed to have mastered what all the others couldn’t even begin to comprehend. Jayson figured out the trick in dealing with my worst. Jayson would never leave in the middle of an argument. He wouldn’t try to give me space, hoping to calm me down first. He knew that never worked. Therefore, what he’d do is to keep “engaged” in our fight in order to give me the opportunity to air out all the feelings I have. He always had a head-on response to my every attack. He never ran out of words to say, and he would never ever try to shut me up. He just gets me. Except that he never really took my angry self seriously and never did he let my rude words get into his head. He would just play along so well, he’d pretend to be on this lovers’ quarrel with me even though we both know it wasn’t really the case.  One time, while we were in the middle of a heated argument (or so I thought) I called him a jerk, among other things, and I made a very offensive, yet quite clever of a remark. I was waiting for him to say something equally mean, but instead he said “Touche, babe! That is so witty, I like it!” and he chuckled, and I could see how truly amused he was of my play of words.

“What are you doing! I thought we are fighting!”

“Oh, right! I forgot!  and then he’d start to laugh. “Ok.  ahem. ahum. carry on!”

And then I would start recovering my normal temper – against my childish will, mind you — until there was nothing else I could do but throw a pillow on his way.

“Well i’m sorry, you’re too witty I lost my focus!”

That was when I realized that Jayson was never really flared up as I was. He was just giving me what I needed – a platform to take my emotions out.  He’d patiently wait for me to finish spewing fire, but occasionally, he’d forget his role and would crack the corniest jokes in the middle of the skirmish he had carefully preserved just for my sake. So I always just ended up surrendering to laughter too. And I used to be so annoyed at this but I also knew at the back of my head, that this was exactly how I wanted him to deal with me.

And so I thought the relationship I had with Jayson was so ideal. He was my perfect match – and I mean that not in the naïve sense of the words….

But now he was gone, and I couldn’t fathom why. I couldn’t point to anything that I must have done to piss him off or make him lose interest just like that. As I’ve said, I thought everything was going so perfectly well. And Jayson never saw me in a bad light. He only saw the best in me all the effin’ time.

Married to his job. It’s always been his job. He loves his job more than he loves me, or anyone for that matter actually! An engineering job in a water filtration company. Tssss. Subic Samar Palawan. Intramuros. The canons. Strong sense of direction. An engineer making sure to run every morning? And do some heavy lifting? Away all the time. Spanish-speaking American.  Passing himself off as Canadian. Smart. Wealthy. Cautious. A US Marine. Well, wait now — Why was there a book about Philippine topography lying around in his apartment? No. That’s crazy. You’re crazy. That only happens in movies. Stop. Don’t think about him. Work. Move. Distract yourself.

The distraction came too soon. My phone suddenly buzzed, snapping me out of obsessively analysing Jayson’s peculiar behavior and situation.

I miss you. I shouldn’t be texting you. But I miss you.

I forced myself to ignore his text. It was a task I was so unwilling to do. But I knew better than be too available for him. So I just kept quiet.

Guy’s stubborn though.

He kept on texting me in the next succeeding days until I couldn’t not reply anymore.

 I miss you too 😦 Why did you have to send me that text a week ago? 😦

It was necessary.

I don’t understand.

It’s complicated.

I’m not stupid, Jayson. I can understand your reasons if you just tell me what they are.

I know. Do you still hate me?

What do you think?

I really don’t want you to hate me.

You know what it’s going to take.

Janica. Come on now.

What are you not telling me, Jayson?

Not here. Are you free on Saturday? Let’s have lunch.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

 

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 6)

23 Apr

Chapter 10: Catching Lies

10.1 The Canada Conversation

Jayson had been busy at work the past week. This time around, he had to travel to Mindanao. He told me that he’d be back on Saturday but he wasn’t sure yet if he could meet me. He told me to wait for his text though, and that he’d try as much as he could to finish work early.

I have to debrief my team as soon as we come back, but I guess we will be done by noon.

Debrief your team?

I mean we still need to talk about work. Sorry.

Jayson mistook my question as me not knowing what debriefing was. When in fact I knew exactly what it meant, and in fact, I was asking him to explain to me why he was using a term that I only typically hear in action movies. But I didn’t pursue the topic. I left it at that.

Anyway, we did see each other that Saturday. I was in Greenbelt by 11am but he finished “debriefing his team” around 1pm. I didn’t mind. I could always amuse myself. I enjoyed a solo karaoke session before he finally arrived to get me. We grabbed a quick bite at Mary Grace, and then we walked around Makati for a while.

In the midst of our stroll, I got caught up with something that I do not remember anymore now, but that thing I was doing made me let go of Jayson’s hand for a while, while he kept roaming around. We might have been physically separated at that moment, but I could still see and hear him from a distance.

Then there was a foreign guy and a Filipina who came to the same spot where Jayson was standing by. Just like us, they were on a date too. They were taking photos together, changing poses upon the instructions of the girl, trying out various angles, albeit never ever getting the perfect shot. Jayson offered to take their picture for them, and the couple appreciated that.

Thanks, man! Appreciate it! The foreigner said as he shook Jayson’s hand.

No problem! Jayson responded. And they exchanged some cordial words. He was ready to come to me when suddenly the foreigner casually asked:

What country you from?

I’m from Canada. And you?

The foreigner either said UK or Australia. But I didn’t really care about where he was from. All I cared about was what I accidentally heard Jayson say. When the couple had left, I walked back to where Jayson was, and blurted out:

Canada?

Jayson pretended not to have heard what I said.

Why’d you tell the foreign guy you’re from Canada? I prodded.

He’s a stranger. He doesn’t have to know everything about me.

I am generally a confrontational person, but with Jayson I seemed to be holding back a lot. My gut was telling me to keep quiet for now, to gather more clues that Jayson had been dropping once in a while, whether intentionally or not. I am not stupid not to form theories of my own based on what I knew so far. But annoyingly enough, Jayson kept assuming I was a typical girl who didn’t over-analyze.

The Canada conversation I had with Jayson happened two years ago, around the last week of February of 2016 to be exact.

Well, I think it is soooo worth sharing with you guys that recently (2018), I bought a book entitled “Overworld” which is a memoir (true-to-life account) of a reluctant CIA Operative in the name of Larry Kolb. There was a portion there that really blew my mind — the part where his father, a seasoned intelligence officer, was giving him practical advice before he travels to another country for a job:

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Coincidence? You be the judge.

_________________________

10.2. Jayson’s Tattoo

I’d be lying if I say that I had never set foot on Jayson’s flat. At this point, I had already spent enough time with Jayson to finally see him in the rare occasion where he was not wearing his usual branded shirt and baseball cap.

Jayson slept at night like any typical western man. Half-naked and all that. It was the first time I saw him shirtless, and I must say, Jayson never disappoints when it comes to carelessly revealing interesting things about himself to me. It was dim, with only the lamp on the nightstand on my side of the bed lit up. Yet, when he came closer to cuddle me, half-asleep as he was, I saw, for the first time too, a tattoo on his right arm just below his shoulder.

USMC

Four bold capital letters spelled out across his bicep. Carefully concealed throughout the day thanks to his uniformly sleeved and collared shirts.

Suddenly I was in the mood to talk. And even though Jayson was exhausted, I knew my questions couldn’t wait until the next day.

Babe, I didn’t know you have a tattoo. USMC? What does it mean? I asked as I gently touched the inked portion of his bare arm.

Jayson opened his shut eyes.

United Sons of a Martian Child. It was a tattoo I had out of a whim with my high school friends. Some kind of silly fraternity thing. We decided to get it one night when we were all so drunk. The three of us. We called ourselves Sons of a Martian Child. I’d tell you the backstory of it, but it is quite long. Maybe some other time.

Then he chuckled, and anyone else would have been convinced he was fondly recalling his fun childhood memories. But not me. This time, he could not possibly convince me.

LIE. THAT IS A LIE.

I am 100% sure that Jayson was inventing his Martian Child Story. Did he really think I was that naive?

See, if you readers must know one thing about me, it is that I have long been a user of dating websites… way before Tinder was invented, and way before phones were even called smart.

An older dating platform has indeed existed way before that. It was the kind where you log in using your desktop. The kind where it was still kinda shameful to admit you have a dating account. It was the era when taking things to the next level meant transferring from the website to Skype – not Viber or Whatsapp. And the era when men were not just within your 4 or 6 mile radius, but rather were oceans away. The way old-school dating websites operated back then was such that when two people who matched decided that they actually liked each other so seriously much, it would be time for the guy to book a flight.

In my history of using this kind of dating website way, way, back, I have come to talk to a lot of men from different parts of the world. Some of them I had remained friends with up to the present time.

There was this African-French guy who worked at Microsoft, and who built me a website for my then online business, all the way from France; There was another one from Gloucestershire who’d virtually tour me around his neighborhood during day time; There was this guy from Australia, divorced, with a daughter older than me, who wanted to marry me in an instant.

And then there were the soldiers.

I was quite drawn to soldiers ever since I could remember. I’ve had this fascination and raw admiration for men who run towards the sound of the gun. These men I met online were stationed in different parts of the globe, but all coming from just one country after all — no other than the US of A, of course. I talked to a lot of them in different times, for quite a while in each occasion. In the course of talking to them, I had come to know that there was a place in California called Twenty-nine Palms. I learned of the various stations in Afganistan, Iraq and even in the provinces of Japan. These military men would tell me about their day-to-day lives, their experiences in bootcamp, how they do combat, how to operate tanks and all that jazz. Heck there was even a time in the past when I had memorized all the ranks and titles of officers in the US Army, the US Navy, the US Air Force and , yes, the United States Marine Corps.

Truth be told, I’ve seen Jayson’s tattoo before. Except it was on another person’s bicep. And I only saw it via Skype when my bored friend living in the Californian desert decided to call me up so I could watch him cook his lunch, in a sleeveless gray shirt that boasted off his muscular arm.

Jayson was a former Marine. Could it really be?

I was discombobulated and amazed at the same time. I was nervous, and anxious, yet I found myself even more attracted to him now. The mystery that surrounded his person intrigued me to the bones. It made me want to uncover more information.

Slowly.

But more.

No, It’s not. It’s not what USMC means. I replied to him as soon as I slipped away from my internal soliloquy, and back to reality.

You know what it means?

Yes. I do.

I expected Jayson to dare me say out-loud what his tattoo actually stood for. But to my dismay, Jayson did not provoke me. I could feel he didn’t want to go there. He was not going to discuss his military background with me tonight. He was determined to lie.

You are too smart for me, lady. He said instead. Then he finished off positioning his arms around me, and he fell asleep, perhaps so intently, while giving me a warm embrace.

Image result for usmc tattoo right bicep

Not Jayson’s tattoo.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 5)

12 Apr

Chapter 8: Crancube and the Child

Jayson and I have been touring around Intramuros the whole day now. We just saw Fort Santiago which Jayson enjoyed a lot.

There was this young lad in Jose Rizal’s prison-cell-turned-museum who was playing a giant puzzle that resembled a rubik’s cube game except it was only two-dimensional. Jayson thought the boy was smart. We stood right next to him, amusingly watching him finish his round. Jayson would whisper “Ooops!” to me every time the boy would make the wrong strategy. But no matter how many mistakes the boy made, Jayson wouldn’t coach the poor child. The boy figured it out in the end. And Jayson was really impressed. He told me he could solve that puzzle in three, five seconds, and the boy did it in a few minutes… so he wasn’t so bad. I thought that maybe he was seeing his 10-year old self in that child.

I tried to mentally solve that puzzle too to be honest, but as much as I thought I was sharp enough, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out which square to even move first and which should be next in order to piece the same colors together. Ahh. I have never played a rubik’s cube or a crancube anyway. I’d cut me some slack.

But even then, it was at that very moment that I got myself convinced that Jayson was indeed the better leader. I thought that if I would ever end up with this guy (which i was actually wishing for at that time), I wouldn’t have a problem letting him make the big decisions because I knew that between the two of us, he was the more proficient strategist and planner.

It was also then that I realized that the idea of a “woman submitting to her husband” does not, after all, absolutely repulse me. I realized I could concede to the bible on this if my partner deserves to play the part, or in other words — if he was smarter, more skillful than I am in almost everything about life.

—————

Chapter 9: Chivalry and Cab Rides

Jayson, wait up, I need to buy a bottle of water. Do you want one too?

Sure.

We entered Ministop along Cabildo Street. I took what I needed from the fridge and rushed to the counter. The cashier punched the price in the register. Before I could give her my money, Jayson stealthily handed the lady two twenty peso bills to pay for my groceries.

Jayson, It’s okay! I’ll pay for it!

No, I got it.

Jayson! come on, it’s just forty pesos.

Exactly. It’s just forty, so keep your money now and let me be the man in this relationship.

If there was one thing that Jayson did that I loved loved loved so much, it was the way he made me feel so protected, well taken care of, and spoilt all the time. Jayson would never let me pay for any expense we would incur even if I’d insist to share. Not on my watch, he would always say.

So I let Jayson be who he wanted to be in our – what he called – “relationship”. And I believe he loved this in turn about me. I was the affectionate, caring, and genuinely appreciative lady his manliness needed me to be, but I was also the clever, sarcastic and challenging bitch his nerdiness enjoyed bantering with endlessly.

I know that being a willing recipient of the byproducts of Jayson’s chivalry may go against the very core of my beliefs. What with gender equality. But I’ve long accepted to myself that when it comes to dating men, I’d have to somehow allow my expectations and preferences betray my advocacy. Just a little bit. Just for now. I mean, until and unless all guys catch up with feminism, then I’d rather enjoy the perks of Jayson’s “being the man”.

Bringing our Valentine’s date to a close, Jayson had even gone to the extent of offering me money for my taxi ride home. This time I did not accept it.

At this point, I have to clarify: It is one thing to take care of the check by giving his credit card or spare bills to the waiters or sellers or cashiers directly; it is another thing when he is actually handing the money to me.

It makes me uncomfortable although I know it basically just boils down to the same thing. Somehow, I still associate actually receiving his money with my two bare hands as asking for a dole out or some kind of allowance. As I’ve said, I didn’t want to look like I am dating him only to exhaust his funds, especially not in front of the fancily-clad Intramuros guard and the driver who I’m almost certain was already sizing me up from inside the cab!

Thank you, I really appreciate it, but I can pay for my own ride home. Besides, you already spent for everything else.

I don’t mind. I just want to take care of you.

Aww, baby. You are so sweet. Thank you, but I’ll be fine.

You sure?

Yes.

Take it anyway.

No, babe. My god! Aren’t you stubborn! And I playfully rolled my eyes on him again.

Not as stubborn as you are! then he smiled, and then he succumbed to me and he put his money back in his pocket.

He leaned in for a kiss, I pulled back a little to tease, we simultaneously smiled while our faces were almost (but not quite) touching each other, until finally, I let his lips take the plunge… and then, with my bouquet of flowers on one hand, and my heart falling faster and faster on the other, I boarded the cab marking the end of yet another perfect, dreamy night. My first ever Valentines Day Date was a blast.

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 4)

5 Apr

Chapter 6: Stuffed Bears and Sign Board

 

“Why is this man not texting me today? He texted me yesterday, he texted me the other day. I’m pretty certain he is in Manila right now… so WHY THE HELL IS HE NOT TEXTING ME TODAY?!”

I thought it was so foul that of all the days he could pick, he particularly – and probably intentionally – chose this day to go missing on me again. I looked at my phone one more time. There was nothing. I probably looked at it a hundred times more until I finally released a heavy, disappointed sigh, accepted defeat, put my phone back in my bag, and went on walking along Greenbelt 1 where storefronts were all decorated with hearts and cupids and too much red, and side stalls and kiosks were teeming with unreasonably expensive teddy bears and roses.

Tomorrow is Valentines day. And this man I am supposedly seeing doesn’t care. Sure we’ve only been going out short of two months, but come on now —– Tomorrow. Is. Valentines. Day.

Pissed-off was an understatement for what I was feeling that night. In my mind, I was already ready to “break up” with this guy I was not even in an official relationship with.

And then my phone rang.

Hello babe… how are you?
I’m good. Just strolling in the mall. What’s up?
Nothing really. I’m just finishing up with dinner.
I see.
So I was wondering if you wanna go out with me tomorrow? I’d like to spend my Valentines Day with you if you don’t mind.

I took back all the hateful words I had already told him in my head. All the angst in me was instantly taken over by so much unconcealable delight that I was sure he could see me smiling from ear to ear even though we were just on the phone that time.

Yes, Of course! I thought you’d never ask!
You panicked, didn’t you? Wish I could see your face right now haha!

Jayson loved petty games.

Do you wanna go anywhere specific? I asked.

I would really like to see a place with some historical and cultural significance. No more malls for me, unless that’s where you wanna go.

Alright well there’s only one place like that in Metro Manila — I think you’re gonna love Intramuros!

———–

February 14 came sooner than I anticipated.

Jayson and I have agreed to meet first in a coffee shop in Makati before heading to Intramuros together. At exactly 8 am, he was at Starbucks waiting for me. I endeavored to beat him at it but I ended up being 20 minutes late. In my defense though, it had taken me a while trying to look like the finest lady in town. As early as 6am, I’d been trying on one outfit after another until finally I pieced together the perfect ensemble that I thought he’d find attractive, while at the same time would look chic and “un-stereotype-able” to the prying eyes of the public.

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Makati was rather accepting of pinay-and-foreigner couples, but now we were about to exit the bubble that is CBD and I wasn’t sure how the ordinary people of the outside world would perceive me to be. It has always been my issue, you know. I never wanted to look like I was dating this foreign guy for his money. Sometimes I would even wish I could hang a massive sign board on my neck saying “Excuse me. I make my own money and I have a law degree!”

 

Chapter 7: Cannons and Cobblestones

 

I was expected to be the tour guide of Jayson in Intramuros, all rehearsed to deliver the story behind every monument and every old building we were about to visit. I had even thought of giving him some cool trivia on Philippine History. Well I tried. But on our third stop, we both realized that he was better off just reading the historical markers of the sites because well, i clearly sucked at being a tour guide and all the more so as a historian. I would keep inventing stuff when I didn’t know what to say anymore and he would always catch each one of my wonderful concoctions about the happenings of the past – not because he knew the real deal – but because I couldn’t hide my hysterically cunning grin.

We walked atop the famous Intramuros stone wall. We walked and walked and talked, and we kissed every now and then, and then we’d walk again. A few more minutes of treading that 20-feet-high brick-laid pathway, he suddenly turned to face me, and he halted me to a still position. He grabbed both my hands with both his hands and then he gave me orders.

Look up! Look up in the sky !
And I quickly looked up in the sky as instructed.

What now? I asked out of confusion because there was nothing up there really but the sun that was starting to blind me.

Let’s play a game!
Ok?!
What is the year engraved on the bricks of the pavement we’re walking on?
There’s actually a year engraved on the pavement?
Yes! On almost every brick actually! So what’s the answer?

Having no clue at all, I just responded with the year of my birth which is 1989.

Ah close! It’s 1981… or 1861… depending on your orientation.

I looked down to see the answer for myself, and true enough there were 1981 engravings – or 1861 if you read them upside down – on most of the red bricks on the floor.

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Jayson was quick to throw me a smile filled with teasing condescension. 1-0, in his favor. Ugh. I’ve been to this place a number of times. How come I’ve never noticed this before?!

After savoring his quick moment of victory, Jayson suddenly changed mood and uttered something on a more serious note:

You’ve got to be more observant of your surroundings, Janica. Mindlessness can kill you.

———–

A few more steps along the muralla and we finally reached a wide rectangular open ground with cemented triangular planes here and there, and some uneven elevations. There we found the iconic 12 Spanish cannons strategically positioned against the indented parapets of the Old Manila fortress. Boy, did Jayson get excited upon laying eyes on these ancient toys! He speedily headed towards one of them with me in tow. As we got close to his cannon of choice, Jayson eagerly decided to give me a crash course on this particular artillery:

He talked about the engineering behind this weapon, as well as its assembly line. He explained to me how it works using principles of Physics I did not understand. He identified its various parts like the bore, the muzzle, and the reinforce whatever. He then blabbered about its history, its development throughout centuries, its various kinds and its more modern versions. I’m quite certain he told me more but I honestly had a hard time imbibing all the information. I gave up on him as early as when he started spewing Engineering jargons but I guess my acting prowess ( read: consistent nodding with occasional jaw drops, followed up with lines like  “Is that so?”, “Oh, really?”, “Wow, that is nice”) encouraged him to go on and on and on.

As he wrapped up his first lecture for the day, all I could ask him was:

How did you know all these stuff? You use cannons and cannon balls in your water-filtration job?

Oh yes. We use them as pipelines that’s why we are one of a kind,  He said in jest and I took it as a cue to playfully roll my eyes. Haha no babe, I just read a lot.

——–

Our next destination was the Bahay Tsinoy.

Jayson had particularly requested to visit a museum. Luckily for me, one of my friends had randomly told me a couple of months back about this Chinese museum which she really loved, located in the heart of the Walled City. And so I decided to take Jayson there. I thought it was the closest and most convenient to go to anyway. We braved the scorching heat of the day and walked the streets of Intramuros in search of it, only to find it still closed the moment we got there.

Since it was almost noon and we were getting hungry, we decided to go eat first and then just come back later.

I thought it would be interesting for Jayson and I to try Ristorante delle Mitre. I was convinced he’d love the cultural underpinnings of this holy diner.

The food on the menu of Ristorante delle Mitre were named after bishops and priests. And statues of saints and other sacred icons and representations were the primary decor. Those life-size religious figures were literally in every corner of the room, making you think that they were perpetually watching your every move. If you ask me, this made eating there very uncomfortable. And this made kissing there really awkward as hell.

Right after lunch, we decided to stroll aimlessly and see more of Old Manila for a while. Then we agreed that it was time to return to Bahay Tsinoy.

Well, after having walked along similar-looking cobbled streets, I found myself ultimately unable to remember our way back. I looked behind me, and side, and behind me again hoping to recall where we’ve been this morning and he patiently waited for me to figure it out.

Let’s go that way. 

I don’t think that’s the right way. 

It is. It is.

And so he quietly followed me to what I would soon realize was indeed the wrong direction.

Ok. You’re right. We’re lost now. Wait. Let me open Google Maps on my phone.

No need. He said rather softly.

And just before I could take my phone out my bag, he reached for my hand and took the lead. First, he quickly gave me a rundown of the NAMES of all the streets we must turn at and pass through. Then he wasted no time correctly navigating the place until finally, we were standing at the front door of Bahay Tsinoy again.

Have you been here before, Jayson?

No! it’s my first time.

So why do you know the place so well?

Just good with directions, ma’am.

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(TO BE CONTINUED)

Tinder Tailor Soldier Spy (Part 3)

31 Mar

Chapter 5: Samar, Seafood, and Salvation

Jayson didn’t reach out for two days. By this time, I had already learned how to be okay with his intermittent texting and disappearing acts every time he was out of town. I had also started to anticipate and expect his ready excuses upon his return.

Jayson would usually tell me where he has been right after he’s been there, but rarely before he goes there. This time though, it seemed like he was missing me just a little bit more because he has sent me a text informing me where he currently was:

Down south in the Visayas.

We had dinner as usual as soon as he got back. After settling down in a corner table of an alfresco restaurant, I initiated the conversation, and chose to talk about his recent trip:

So you were in the Visayas?

Yes. Our company is looking to take a new project there.

Really? It seems your company is aggressively expanding. You’ve got potential clients all over the Philippines.

Something like that, yeah. But it’s not definite yet.

Which province in the Visayas were you at?

Somewhere south. But when I texted you I was in Samar.

I see.

I’m really hungry. Let’s go order now.

Jayson ordered some seafood to devour that night. While in the midst of experiencing the deliciousness that is a platter of shrimps, clam shells, squids and mussels, we got into talking about a Jewish friend of his who wouldn’t eat this kind of dish because they are not considered kosher. Said friend used to convince him about going strictly kosher too but Jayson would always engage him in a debate about it. Jayson thought that going strictly kosher was baloney since according to the bible, God actually declared that it’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of it. I’ve heard my father refer to this verse before when I was still a little girl as he explained to me why Christians eat pork . So yes, I was familiar with what Jayson was trying to say. I just nodded in agreement, intentionally trying not to prolong the conversation about God and the bible, lest I bitch about how sexist I actually thought the bible was.

I talked about how salivating the shrimp was instead.

After our seafood dinner-cum-bible study session, we parted ways. A few hours later, just before I was ready to dive into my bed for my much-coveted slumber, I received a text message from Jayson but instead of just the usual good night and sweet nothings, I found myself reading a long quotation of verses from the bible. After the cited text from the book of Matthew or whoever it was that authored the topic of safely eating this or that, he followed it up with his own annotation.

I’ll be damn honest here – I really liked Jayson… but this revelation about him almost threw me off the wall. I was a little disconcerted by this sudden indoctrination and all. I never took Jayson for a religious man. And I never thought he read the bible regularly, but he actually had a bible app installed on his phone. I didn’t know what to do for a second. Should I reply to his eager text or should I just pretend that I was half-asleep already and my brain wasn’t in the mood anymore to process his five-page electronic essay?

Ahhhh….. But of course! the ever-accommodating side of me prevailed, and I decided to indulge him that night. I asked follow-up questions, I challenged some of his logic, disagreed on some of the things he said, agreed on others, and pretended to be curious myself about the biblical verses he just sent me, all in the hopes of fully convincing him I was the kind of woman he could talk to about anything under the sun. Perhaps I overdid it, perhaps I was too good at faking interest in what he was lecturing me on. Or perhaps he just needed someone – anyone – to hear him out. Whatever the reason was, that specific conversation I had with him marked the beginning of our many late-night virtual bible lessons… and this would eventually extend in our day-to-day face-to-face interactions.

Jayson’s favorite topic to discuss from the bible is salvation. He would repeatedly (and perhaps unknowingly on his part) talk about how God would forgive all the sinners on earth come judgment day for as long as these sinners repent and believe in Him in the end. He would tell me that it didn’t matter how big or small our sins were, all of us could still be saved, and that this fact made him really happy. I don’t recall anymore the exact biblical passages he would send or tell me, but trust me when I say that there was not a scarcity of them in the course of our “dating” life.

Whenever our conversation would start to gear towards the topic of salvation, my law-school-trained-and-debate-hungry mind and mouth would automatically shut up, and this would quickly be replaced by my feeling a little sorry, worried, confused and shaken for him. It felt like I was dealing with an entirely different person – not the funny, witty, sharp and light-hearted Jayson I was used to. It was like his sentiments were coming from somewhere deep down inside, like he was actually holding on to this verse all his life, like it was the only source of hope he had. As he spoke of being saved, his eyes would throw a piercing blank stare so far it might have well reached a mile, yet it would protrude so inwardly too at the very same time that the only conclusion I could make was that it was his soul doing the talking now.

This freaked me out a lot. This also made me wonder what kind of past this man has had. I even quickly entertained the idea that I was probably dating a legit crazy person! It was a good thing (or was it?) that this episode on salvation would only last just a few minutes or so each time: It didn’t brew up enough panic in my head for me to actually probe deeper and further into his history. I guess I was also scared to pry.

In the end, I was just really thankful for the rest of the days that we were normal, secular human beings who ate and kissed and held hands.

(TO BE CONTINUED)