My Friday was spent at a beach resort in Mactan, where we had one of our yearly company outings. Three years of beach parties and I was beginning to get tired of the drill.
I had escaped from the seemingly endless game of Longest Line in the debilitating heat of the beach and was lounging in the coolness of the hotel lobby, when she walked in. The girl was about 18-19 years old, with sharply angled cheekbones, a delicate jaw. I watched her from the window as she came up the short steps. Her baby jacket skimmed narrow boyish hips and flapped gently against the tiny denim shorts that hugged her thighs. Her legs took the stairs effortlessly, flashing smooth, tanned calves. She was very beautiful, her pink mouth still that of a little girl’s.
Holding her elbow, as though to direct her course, was a short, fortyish man in jeans torn at the knees in a way that’s meant to be stylish, but only managed to look pathetic. He had long hair, salon-straightened and shot through with blond streaks. The few bling-bling he piled on flickered briefly in the light. I don’t know how exactly I know these things, but I knew at once that he was her pimp.
She took the seat right across from me. I looked on openly at her, admiring the curve of her hip, the exquisite taper of her ankles into wedge heels, the toes painted an unsettling shade of mauve. Her two ankle bracelets looked expensive, they twisted brightly gold and silver.
She met my eyes just once, a brief unblinking gaze. I could not look away from the gravity of her expression, the toughness that hasn’t had time yet to settle in her face.
The pimp talked to the front desk girl and confirmed that the guest they were to meet hasn’t been back yet, and that they were to wait. The girl’s eyes narrowed a bit upon hearing this, and she fished out a flip phone and spoke into it in a low voice, terse, very fast.
The pimp sat down on the chair next to her and took out a pack of Marlboros. He lit up, but did not relax. They did not speak, and for two cigarettes they were able to maintain a neutral silence, a stasis that both of them seemed used to. It was, to me the patient wait for nothing to be over, for nothing to become something.
My phone beeped a text message, and I was soon absorbed in keying an answer. I almost missed the curt little gesture the front desk girl made towards the pool area. That was the cue they had been waiting for. The girl and the pimp stood up at the same time. The girl did not even bother to fix her hair or check her lipstick; it was as though she was sure that she is, forever, irrevocably beautiful.
It was getting near sunset, and the grassy path to the pool bar must have been dark, as the lights weren’t turned on yet. But the two of them did not waver; they walked briskly, sure-footed in the twilight. They knew the way.