Photo by Gaebriele Gutierrez/ THE FLAME

THE LAST jeepney was heard at the tail end of Doroteo Jose where an aging railway hung above it. George had just settled from counting the coins and bills he collected when he found an elderly man, dressed in black trousers and a polo, sleeping at the rear of his vehicle.

“Tay,” he said while tugging him repeatedly by his shoulder.

After a few heaves, the man woke up. “Ah! Pasensya na.

Ayos lang ho, dito po ba kayo bababa?

Ah, dumaan na ba tayo sa Laon Laan?

Wala po ‘yon sa ruta ko.”

The elder nodded in disbelief before carrying his backpack and rushing towards the entrance of the jeep.

Nagkamali yata ako ng basa sa mga paskil, heto,” the man muttered, handing George a 20-peso coin.

When he was a few distances away, George realized that the back of his cloth was drenched in sweat; a sense of conscience surged along his spine.

“Tay!” he exclaimed, “sumakay na ho kayo. Dito ho sa tabi ko.

George sprinted to his seat and started the engine of the jeep, resonating a loud hum across the road. The man walked back and sat beside him.

Pasensya na,” the elder apologized, “pagod lang.

George coursed northwards, pathing through the street that led along the railway and, eventually, to Laon Laan.

San po ba kayo nanggaling?” George asked, his eyes piercing through the windshield.

Hearing no response, he leaned to his right and saw the man with eyes closed. F

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