The wild-boy chase
I can’t remember his name. I woke up with a throbbing pain in my head, the sun streaming through the blinds onto my face. Did we introduce ourselves before we took off our clothes or while we were getting it on? “Nothing but a mask” was last night’s theme. The house drew in a number of men including him who immediately left after the party.
I picked up my clothes on the floor and as I put on my pants, I recalled his hands, rough and calloused from years of manual labor as they caressed my knees up to my thigh. When I wore my shirt, it reminded me how his chest hairs made my nipples stand on end and the sound of his breathing as he tongued my earlobes made me forget his name even more.
The smell of his sweat revealed that he washes only with soap and that he doesn’t douse himself with perfume. He spoke rather softly, not the prototype male who utters words so unpleasant that his demeanor only felt chauvinistic. When he asked if it was alright, I let him touch my mound that glistened against the neon lights of the art deco theater nearby.
I stepped out of the house, bringing the mask with me. Sunday morning on Echague Street meant I had to endure the cloying odor of dried fish, its saltiness hugging my shirt, and the lemons and oranges that smelled so sweet and tangy you would suspect if they were overripe. Past the fish stands and fruit stalls, I looked for the man whose hands when pressed against mine felt assuring; whose skin, sunned and tanned ensured me that he worked hard despite being underpaid, and whose body to relish for, naturally sculpted from daily lifting of wet and dry goods in the market. Everything I could remember, but his name and face.
I placed the mask on every man I saw on the street: the fresh noodles peddler, the meat vendor finishing his breakfast, and the newspaper man throwing tabloid on every house. “May I, Sir?” I asked before putting the mask on them. I even tried it on the man selling vegetables but it just didn’t fit. Not any one of them seemed and felt like him.
The smell of butter on bread wafted through the air. The bakery across the wet market was giving samples of their butter-soaked breadsticks. The man who was slicing bread said that there were still some left. I walked towards him and he sliced a piece. I let him hold it as I opened my mouth, the elongated bun sliding through my tongue.
I remembered again his hands slowly exploring parts of my body. His fingers still had some flour on them and it tasted a little sweet and salty on my lips. As I put on the mask on his face, he asked me if his breadstick tasted good. “It’s something I’d never forget,” I said.
Jeffrey Pascual Yap studied Philosophy at San Beda College, Manila and Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. He was a fellow several writer’s workshops and has published his short stories and essays in various publications. He has won in local writing awards for his adapted screenplays and travel essay.