Well, what can I say? All my greatest fears have come true. My beautiful state of the art production studio has been completely destroyed. You and I know who did it but my lawyer who luckily escaped the the conflagration has advised me that due to a little something called 'burden of proof' I should remain silent and let him pursue revenge, I mean justice through legal channels. (brief pause) I can't remain silent in the face of such overwhelming cruelty and spite. You know who you are, Francesca Fiori. One day I will have my revenge, I mean justice but until then I will remain above the fray. Luckily I stll have my cell phone, a pack of matches and a mirror and through a technique calle 'faint hope' technology I will at least be able to provide you with at least an audio version of chapter three. Sure it's not high definition HDTV quality video but will have to do for now. Perhaps it's for the best becaue I must admit that I'm not at my best visually at the moment but my voice is as youthful and diamond bright as ever. So sit back, close your eyes and enjoy chapter three of my bestselling autobiography 'Buddy Babylon.'
Waiting For Imelda
When I woke up the next morning, Tino and I were in each other's arms. Fely was nowhere to be seen. That was to be expected. I'd paid her, and she'd done her job, and now she was gone. I was under no illusions about hookers. I began to dress quickly. Suddenly, Tino shrieked.
"My wallet is gone," he said. This was bad. But then it got worse.
"The magazine that I was reading is gone!" I shrieked. "I had the new ‘People’. You people won't get the new ‘People’ for months. This is a disaster. We've got to find that whore."
There was a knock at the door.
"Buddy, are you ready? It's time for the photo shoot."
It was Ronald. This was just like that time in Montreal with Rolly. Life keeps repeating, just like chili. And sitcom plots.
"Coming," I said, and got up. I looked at Tino. "I have to go. I'll meet you later tonight at the Bird's Nest, about midnight," I said. "We'll get my magazine back. And also your wallet." And with that, I was off.
The shoot was uneventful. I went through the paces, like a pro, but my mind was constantly on Tino and the coming confrontation. I don't know what excited me more - sex with a soldier, or a catfight with a hooker.
At the end of the shoot, when we were all leaving, I noticed a heavily tanned, dark-haired man with a reptillian handsomeness, talking to the photographer. When I looked closer, I realized it was George Hamilton. Ronald immediately brought me over to meet him.
"Mr. Hamilton, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the new face of Juicy Mango Jeans, Mr. Buddy Cole." I extended my hand and shook his leathery paw.
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Hamilton. I've seen all your movie." There was an awkward pause.
"So, it seemed to go well today," he said.
"Yes, they were very professional for a third world crew," I said archly.
"Have you had much experience in the Third World, Mr. Cole?"
"Does Canada count?"
"Canada always counts," he replied. Damn his charm. "I know Margaret Trudeau."
"I had no idea she was married. Anyway, have you been modelling long?"
"No, Mr. Hamilton, I'm new to all this. I'm an ingenue, a bottle of just-uncorked champagne. How about you? Got any bubbles left?"
"Oh, one or two," he said smiling. I couldn't believe it. His charm was getting to me. I hate it when people I want to hate turn out to be likeable.
"You must come over to Malacanang Palace one of these days, to meet Imelda. She loves what you're doing for the ass of her pants. Believe me, she notices good work. Well, I'm off to supervise some slave labour." He flashed me a killer smile and sauntered over to the door where the very same blonde man in the yellow Jaguar waited. They exchanged a few words and left. What was this?
That night, Ronald and I met for drinks in the lounge of the hotel. I used it as an opportunity to ask him things that had been on my mind for a long time.
"Why couldn't you have said goodbye to me at the end of the 'Prettiest Feet' tour?"
"I just can't say goodbye. It's the English in me. Besides, I knew we'd meet again.
"I see you're still with Dianne. She still hasn't found him, has she?"
"That's why we first came here. I personally don't care if we ever find him. I just want to have Dianne back. I was told there was a faith healer here who could cure her of her obsession. We went to his place out by Smokey Mountain, and he pulled a lot of black gunk out of her stomach, but she never let go of that cursed rock." Ronald looked sad.
I realized that Ronald Coleman was just like his movie star namesake - debonair, honourable, refined, gracious, and yet world-weary. It was as if the name came first and his personality just grew into it, like plaster filling a mold.
"Buddy, I was upset with your behaviour in the limousine on the way in from the airport."
"What do you mean?"
"It was callous when you threw the egg back at the little boy."
"I thought I was being funny," I said.
"Well, you weren’t. Do you realize you make more money in one day as a model than that little boy will make in his entire life? Do you realize that when he turns thirty, he will be old? Of course, you're gay, so you too will be old by the time you're thirty. You're in another country, Buddy. Open up and let it in."
"I had sex with a Phillipino last night," I offered. "Actually two. A guy and a girl."
"Oh, Buddy," he said wearily, getting up. “The shoot tomorrow is at ten. Don't be late. Imelda will be there." He left. Wow, I'd finally get to meet Imelda. I'd never met a dictator’s wife before. I wondered if you could tell just by looking. But why was Ronald so angry with me? Was I really an ugly foreigner, no better than an American tourst looking for a Mcdonald’s in Paris? I vowed to make it up tonight with Tino. I'd pay for everything.
At midnight, I walked into the Bird's Nest. Tino was already there, making time with another girl.
"Buddy, this is Juanita. She's a friend of Fely. She says Fely has not been in tonight."
"Why would she be? She has my magazine. You could get a lot for current issue of ‘People’ on the black market. She's probably partying with the Sultan of Brunei by now."
"Fely not a thief. Fely is good girl," defended Juanita.
"She stole my magazine," I reminded her.
"And my wallet," chimed in Tino.
"Fely say your cock too big. You hurt her. She go to doctor," blurted out Juanita.
" Look, it's not my fault the socket’s too small," I defended. Tino glared at me.
"Look, Juanita, we just want to know where Fely is. We're not going to hurt her," said Tino bringing some masculine calmness to the exhange. I knew what to do. I flashed a five hundred pound peseta note. Juanita's mood changed considerably.
"Fely is a bitch. I never like her. She stay upstairs, room six."
"Juanita, here's five hundred more. Tell mama-san we want to go upstairs with you."
"I do that," she said. She whispered something in mama-san's ear, and led us upstairs. We walked down a dimly-lit hallway that reminded me of a bathhouse which was strangely comforting.. We came to room 6 and listened at the door. We could overhear a girl talking inside.
"Canadian man have big ugly cock, they hurt me. Phillipino men are poor. I like rich Chinese like you." This was the place. It sure sounded like Fely.
We pushed open the door and barged in. An older Chinese man sat on the edge of the bed holding a picture of his dead wife, crying while a girl was masturbating him. She bolted up. It wasn't Fely.
"Get out, Joe!" She started throwing things at us and yelling in Tagalog. Mama-san came upstairs swiftly, followed by two goons who rather rudely escorted us out of the club. Outside, as we picked ourselves up, I whirled on Tino.
"That bitch lied to us," I said. "First Fely, then Juanita. You can't trust a whore."
"Don't call Fely that."
"Are you getting sweet on her? Listen, keep your eyes on the prize, Tino. We can't let our emotions get involved. From here on in, we're Navy SEALS."
"I think I love her."
"And I love you!" I blurted out.
"No you don't," he said.
"No I don't," I agreed. Whoosh, that was close.
"Look, we can't do anything else tonight," said Tino. I know where there's a cockfight." "That sounds like fun," I said, brightening. The evening wouldn't be a total waste after all.
We hopped into a jeepney and rode to the outskirts of Manila, near Tino's base. The cockfight was taking place in a nearby scrapyard. When we got there, there were about sixty men of various ages, some as young as fourteen, all gathered around a circle made of tires. Everyone appeared to be drunk. I was the only white person. But the incredible amount of alcohol consumed by everyone erased all barriers. The crowd greeted us with warm embraces and smiles. We were all just drunken men, preparing to bet money on animals that would tear each other to shreds. I felt charged with primitive bloodlust.
Tino and I took our seats on the fender of an old rusted-out jeepney. It was at the end of the program, and the second fight had just finished. Everyone was girding for the final battle of the night, a bout between the champion rooster, John Wayne, and the contender, Bruce Lee. The owners brought out their cocks. They beamed with pride as they held them up over their heads, and the crowd cheered for their favourites. Everyone placed bets with the guys running the fight, who circulated amongst the crowd. The metal talons which the owners made the roosters wear on their claws flashed. Very deadly stilleto heels. A big light attached to a noisy portable generator flickered on and off overhead, as the ‘Theme from Rocky’ blared over a tinny loudspeaker.
Tino bet on John Wayne and I bet on Bruce Lee. I always supported the underdog. John Wayne seemed to have the biggest support but Bruce was clearly a contender. John Wayne swaggered out, all macho bluster. Bruce Lee went into a crouch and uttered a high pitched shriek. John was unfazed and held his ground. Bruce immediately went into a flip and came down behind John. John got confused.
That was all Bruce needed. He slashed John Wayne's back savagely, and feathers and blood sprayed the ring. John lost all pretense of acting tough and started shrieking and flapping his wings. Like a chicken, really. Bruce would have none of it, and coolly pecked half a dozen times at the Duke's head. He fell to his knees, or whatever they’re called on a rooster, and his crest fell. The crowd was stunned. John hadn't even gotten in a peck yet. His owner ran into the ring and bent down. He put his mouth over the bird's beak and began to blow in and out. Slowly, John came to. He stirred and then jumped up, reinvigorated. The owner ran back to his place, and the fight resumed.
Bruce, who thought it was all over, had gotten cocky, and didn't see John's recovery. He never knew what hit him, as John ruthlessly slashed at Bruce's chest with his claws. Their talons locked in a death grip, and they rolled around in the ring, each pecking each other's head. I put my hand on Tino's lap. He was hard. I felt like Ernest Hemingway at the Running of the Bulls. Finally, the birds pulled apart. They both appeared mortally wounded. Their heads slumped against each others shoulders. Then they fell to the ground and died in each other's wings. All bets were called off, and the crowd dispersed. - deeply disappointed.. Tino and I went back to my hotel, where we fell immediately asleep, spoon-fashion, in our clothes.
The next morning I found myself posing in front of a camera once more. There was so much going through my mind that I found myself phoning in the performance. I couldn't concentrate, thinking about the articles I hadn't read in my ‘People’ magazine. In the middle of one particularly lacklustre pose, there was a commotion at the back of the studio. Immediately, the atmosphere in the room changed, and everyone's backs stiffened. There were men with guns, followed by a flash of scarlet and turquoise. And then, there she stood, Imelda Marcos. She was beautiful. Ageless. Richly dressed. Morally bankrupt.. The Queen of Hearts. I looked into her eyes and felt a mixture of terror and awe, the perfect conditions for performing. Suddenly my body became a supple wand of energy. I began to pose with bravaura.
Imelda had been joined by George Hamilton, who hung on her every word. They sat at the back and gossiped and giggled, completely ignoring me. I kept waiting for a break so that I could meet her, but the shoot went on and on. Imelda never once looked over. Then abruptly, surrounded by her guards, she got up and left. George lingered. I couldn't believe it. Who did she think she was, some dictator? Supposedly, she had hand-picked me for the gig and now this is how she treats me? I spoke to George.
"An introduction would have been nice.”
"I know, and believe me, Ma'am is very anxious to meet you, but she has a lot of responsibilities right now. We're off to Unacao Island tonight, and she has a lot of packing to do. But trust me, she loves what you're doing. She saw yesterday's contact sheets and she's thrilled."
"But she didn't even look at me. She just stayed at the back and gossiped with you. I'm sure it was interesting. What were you talking about? Who's In, Who's Out. ."
"Buddy, if it's any consolation, you're In."
"That’s good, because your friend Imelda is Out! That kind of rudeness will never be In. It must be true what the rabblie is saying in the streets, that she's gone mad. Anybody who could turn away from what I was just doing in that photo shoot had to be insane. With manners like that, you know it's close to the end. Mark my words, the Marcos' regime has as much life left in it as your skin, George. This shoot is over!"
"Yes, I know. We got everything we need. You'll be going home in a couple of days."
"I'm still storming out." And so, I did. I was always true to my word.
Gabcast! ewe #16 - Waiting for Imelda
In which Buddy Cole discovers the true meaning of cockfights.