Three Weeks Later
Rodney knows everybody, he knows their weakness and their strength, he has a gift for these things. But then he realizes, there is this pretty little lass, Jennifer Labangon, he does not know her or even her name.
Rodney fancies his reputation of being liked and this one lass has never acknowledged him.
It was a Tuesday that Rodney first noticed her, she was running late for the first period. Rodney pretty much bored toyed around his Bic ballpen, with his mouth biting it. She came in through the back door and just as she went in Rodney turned his head to see who was late.
There was not much bright light from that angle of the door outside, because of the large acacia tree branches hanging over. Now she is walking towards Rodney, there is no flare into this nothing that Rodeny saw; nothing ever dramatic or in a way magical too, she was just walking.
She is wearing a flared dress not exactly sleeveless, not exactly a mini skirt but around right above the knee level. It looked like it was a double skirt, the fabric crêpe like. The fabric on her sleeves was so light that you can see through it. The dress is around the aquamarine hue to blue, and printed with floral designs.
The way she walked, the movement of the skirt and the angle, gave it an illusion that she was almost floating, walking slowly, gracefully. He stared at her like a child wondering and staring at his mother who had something yummy with her.
Rodney was seated on the second column from the window and last row seat. Jennifer was seated on the third column from the window front row seat, she pivoted on his right.
He was drooling but not obvious then his mouth dropped as if in awe of what had happened. His ballpen fell into the floor, and that broke his trance. Oh no it’s dirty now. She was not on his naughty or not list.
Rodney wondered, who the hell is she, how is it that I only now noticed her.
It was the first time she wore that dress, her regular casual clothes were not dry yet. And her school uniform was not finished yet.
“Hey John,” John was moved to his right by the teacher, “who is she? How come I only have seen her now?”
“What? Joanna introduced her around. You did not notice. How did that happen?” he paused to think, “her name is… now that has escaped me.”
“Oh you didn’t see her? She talks a lot with Gerald, now see that.” Pedro points it out to Rodney who is still seated on the window side.
“So what is her name?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t ask.” Pedro with an uninterested look on his face.
Rodney walked outside of the room to check the list, and the list was taken out.
A few hours later during recess, he noticed that Jennifer was always around Joanna, and Joanna around Ellen who happens to tag around Gerald, and always bring him around.
His pride was so high that he did not have the bother to ask Joanna and gang her name. Everytime he tries to approach them, he gets stopped by something.
Two days later, afternoon, recess, canteen, and Joanna and Ellen as well as Rica left Jennifer on the table by herself. So he approaches her, and tries to introduce himself.
“Hello, my name is Rodney, what is your name, you are new around here are you?” Rodney playing the innocent role and the cute puppy look eyes.
Jennifer reacted differently, she looked at who was it and quickly turned her face around, as if she was terrified of him. She did not even say anything, at least nothing audible to Rodney.
Oh no its him, the prick who looked like my ex, who looks better than my ex. Jennifer’s thought was running on what to say what to do, she said something or her thoughts came out but only she could hear.
“What did you do to her Rodney?” Rica with an annoyed face, stares at Rodney, with squinty eyes.
Jennifer, relieved at what looked to her was a rescue.
“I didn’t do anything, I was just asking her questions?”
“Really, then why is she so terrified of you?”
Then came Ellen, “Yeah you must have done something.”
Rodney saw that this was not the time to approach her, withdrew himself, “okay, okay I get it you do not want me near her. I’ll take my leave.”
Rodney’s pride hurt, but still undone. When he sees a hole he does not stop until he finds a way to get through.
See that hole on the ground Rodney? That hole was formed because of the water, dropping repeatedly on the same spot from that stalactite. Rodney reminiscing about his grandfather when they were in a cave once. Like water it is.
Patience was one of Rodney’s excellent virtues, and he knows how to use it. It was on a Friday when he decided to follow Jennifer. He knows that she might be terrified if she sees him. So he followed the jeep she was on from a distance carefully hiding himself with a change of clothes.
He did not follow her all the way the first time, he was careful, methodical. The first time he stopped at the corner where the road goes up to the Beverly Hills village, where the Taoist temple is.
The second time, he took note of the jeep and the plate number, then he went ahead and stopped and waited outside the campus of the University of the Philippines. Again he followed it from a distance.
He then overtook the jeep she was on, because he was convinced that she might not get off near the upper class schools. Went ahead and parked at the side of Foodarama, the road that goes to the Redemptorist church.
There she waited, stalking like a tiger, then the jeep passed by, unsure if she was there or not, he asked the driver to drive a little closer, overtake, then turn left on Ramos street.
She was still sitting there, heedless that someone was stalking her. Rodney’s heart is racing, oh my gosh, she seems not aware.
He stopped again right after Kan Irag Hotel right across the Lim Compound gate. There he and his driver followed the jeep from a distance.
The jeep stopped in front of the Lim gate, beside where there is Pierre Angeli boutique today. They had already moved and were a little close for comfort that Rodney thought that this might be a bust so he asked the driver to move on.
The driver instinctively, and a seasoned driver, turned the car right towards Arlington Pond and turned left to where St. Mary’s Dormitory is and then turned left again. Waiting, stalking from a distance.
The jeep passed them again, and there she was still in the jeep.
Rodney felt like this was really too close, waited a bit and then said we will wait for the jeep at a distance. They left again and overtook the jeep. They stopped at the corner of R. Landon.
Then the jeep passed them again, she is still there, Rodney says this is the last part and then will have another round tomorrow. It was as if heaven opened up, they saw her get off around a hundred meters from where they stopped.
“Noy’, let’s call it a day, let’s go home.” Rodney orders.
Rodney, could not seem to get to her just yet, this needs to be a few more weeks or months even, he thought.
At the end of the week, Rodney went ahead to wait for her at her home, well a few houses away at least. It was almost dark, he was worried at where she might be, because she took that same jeep they followed her in on Monday.
So, he turned around to see if there were any cars, before he could open the door, and there she was. Jennifer turning to the street, from the corner, she was carrying her bag, and she wore her school uniform.
Aha! So that’s where you were. Rodney surmised. That she must have claimed her new uniform from a seamstress nearby. Jennifer walked past Rodney’s car, and did not even notice him.
Incredulous as it may seem, that Jennifer did not see Rodney or completely ignores him altogether, puts Rodney in an uneasy situation. No one dislikes Rodney Quiñones, no one, everybody loves me!
The ambiguity of Jennifer’s reaction puts Rodney on edge for a while. So he devises a new plot. Know her neighbors. Rodney does not know the neighborhood, so in order to know them was to get to know them but how.
The area then and even now in Cebu City, is known for its joggers. Early in the morning just before dawn joggers would be out jogging, usually the street where Jennifer lives going up to Ramos, then left towards Fuente Osemeña going down to the Lion’s Rotunda (this is not existing anymore) turning left some turn left on Junquera some to Jakosalem.
Early Saturday morning he goes out and stakes the area out, the movements of the people early morning. He finds that around seven or earlier even, a group of old timers of Chinese ancestry, practice Tai Chi at Fuente Osmeña Circle.
On Monday or any day of the week he at least checks out Jennifer’s neighborhood after class. There is a printing press nearby, he was curious to ask how things work. With that he got to know the people around and the neighborhood.
There was this little house, colonial in design, as well as the houses nearby, but this one was a factory at the same time making sweets. El Teodoro, you can find them at facebook now. So he bought some of those too.
It was from there that he got a peek of Jennifer. Then on Saturday, he pretends to have jogged around, but started at University of San Carlos, while his car is parked along R. Landon hidden from view.
Not long the house helps or the maids, who are quite efficient at tongue wagging, gave him confusing info, after all he was a handsome kid. But he still does not know her name.
Jennifer has recently kept herself away from neighbors two years time now. Strangely, at El Teodoro’s he’s been invited to have some cocoa or coffee when he passes by, he has been buying more regularly.
On one Saturday, he had a long conversation with the El Teodoro owner, and when he left, he saw this beautiful girl. She had a hair color of Joanna’s but she was skinnier and taller. She went in at Jennifer’s house.
“Say lola,” Rodney asked the owner of El Teodoro, “who is that mestiza over there?”
“Oh that my boy, I think she is German,” she is Spanish and she seems to have a disdain for using the word mestiza on her, “she’s bad news.”
“Oh really? How so?”
She grew up with a lot of prejudice and bias against the Germans, so she continues, “they’re Germans, they are evil, remember Hitler they started the war, killed a lot fo Jews”
“Oh that, of course,” sounding emphatic, he continues, “so where does she go to school?”
“Where else? To that Spanish school now controlled by those evil Germans. You know USC. The nuns there are evil, pure evil. So she is bad news.”
It was here that Rodney, thinks he has the pieces of the puzzle, but he is not committed to pursuing more investigations. He seems to have gotten a weird sensation after that conversation with the owner. He does come here every week to get a box of his sweets.
That is how resourceful Rodney is, apart from that he has the resources to move around, he is not some pesky dude, a lying idiot, but a well prepared person who does his homework. Rodney is a guy not to be trifled with.
End of Rodney Q