Bears and Interdependence
“Lindsay,” Courtney growled, “why the heck am I wearing this…piece of material?!”
Lindsay pouted at her. “So that a lot of boys would come to the booth,” she answered. “I told you that you’re awesome-ly pretty, but your wardrobe is too…not showy. I mean, it’s really stylish…if you’re going to a funeral.”
Courtney scoffed. “I am not wearing black, though!”
“Or maybe church!”
Courtney sighed heavily and looked at herself at the full-length mirror. She grimaced. She was wearing what looked like school-girl clothes. She wore a plaid palda which was way too diminutive. She wore a white buttoned-up shirt—except the tuktok three buttons were undone ipinapakita cleavage unfortunately for Courtney. She wore a black tie and black, high heels. To narrow it down, she looked like a freaking hooker, stripper, prostitute, succubus, and whatever!
“This outfit doesn’t seem charity material, Lindsay,” Courtney said. “Why the hell would they even have a halik booth?!”
Lindsay shrugged, filing her nails. “I don’t know. Mr. Baldy Goatee was looking at me with the same look guys normally give me, and sinabi that I was going to ‘man’ the booth or whatever that means. He was confusing, and there was water coming out of his mouth. He looked hungry, too! But he was super fat…”
Of course. To men’s eyes, Lindsay is a so-called goddess to them. It’s pretty apparent that that baldy pervert would give her such a job in a charity festival, Courtney thought, shaking her head.
“Can’t I at least wear a dyaket or something?” she implored. “If anyone I know sees me like this, they’ll for sure never live it down!”
“Fine, fine—but it must be stylish!”
All of a sudden, Courtney’s cell-phone rang. She quickly got it out from her phone. In her caller ID, it showed the name Perverted Criminal flashing. She sighed, secretly happy, and answered it.
“Hello, baby!” a loud, deep voice greeted. “How’s the torture going one with Little Miss Dumb?”
“Oh, it’s going fine,” she retorted in clenched teeth. “Now, what do you want?”
“That hurt, Princess. Well, I was just wondering when you’re going to that booth. I am the one who’s going to bodyguard you, right?”
“I do not need your help, Duncan. You already made me do this mundane booth, so I’ve received enough of your gratitude.”
“I’ll ignore that joyful sarcasm and say ‘you’re welcome,’ ‘kay? And anyways, you’re the one who just accepted it right away. I thought you would argue about it for a long period of time; you should’ve just done that, you know.” She could picture him with that smirk planted on his annoying mouth.
“Shut up. I don’t need your help. Go be juvenile with the boys—I could practically hear Owen gorging down a plethora of food. Goodbye, illicit.” She hung up her phone, scowling.
Lindsay jumped up from Courtney’s beanbag and gathered her stuff. “I have to go to my appointment now, Court! Ta-ta!” She stared at Courtney’s face. “Guys will be scared of you if you keep on having that mad look, you know!” She winked and left, strutting her hips.
Courtney groaned and looked at the time. It’s time for hell, she thought.
Mr. Goatee Baldy, in actuality is Bob Anderson, operator of all events and festivals, was appraising Courtney’s outfit. It made Courtney feel incredibly uncomfortable, even though she got these looks from Duncan all the time.
Except Duncan never looked at her like he wanted to do illegal things with her; he only joked around about it.
“It’s a shame Lindsay isn’t here,” Bob sighed. He grinned suddenly. “But I’m feeling happier now that you’re here, Miss Davis.”
Courtney forced a smile. “Oh, please you don’t have to be formal with me, Mr. Anderson. Call me ‘Courtney.’” And quit checking me out, she added mentally.
Bob chuckled. “Likewise, then. Shall I ipakita you your booth? I made it very special. There are multiples of men here waiting, and there will be one special man who is going to ask a halik from you.” He winked at her.
Courtney almost vomited. And she wanted to. All over his bald head.
They arrived in front of a scandalous booth. The banner was huge and had pictures of lips and hearts decorating around it. It was all too colorful for Courtney, and she just wanted to rip it off right now.
“It’s…pretty,” Courtney commented. “It will definitely attract many customers…unfortunately.”
Bob smiled at her. “What was that?”
Bob looked at her, but not at her face. “That won’t be the only thing that will attract customers, Courtney.”
“I have a boyfriend.”
Courtney was confused. Who sinabi that? She looked at Bob who looked crestfallen. He didn’t say it. He isn’t gay, regrettably.
You sinabi that, idiot!
Courtney quickly covered her mouth, blushing madly. Her eyes were wide, and she just stood there, looking at a speechless Bob.
Bob narrowed his eyes at her. “What’s—what’s his name?” he asked.
“D-Duncan Evans,” she blurted out unconsciously. “He’s…my boyfriend.” Courtney was about to add, “I think.” He was the first person to pop into her mind.
Bob’s lips trembled. “I—I see…” He turned away. “Don’t look at me! I must go! I am…ugly!” He ran away, sobbing dramatically.
Courtney glared at the path he just ran to. Freaking idiot. She walked over to the booth and sat down on the comfy velvet chair.
She heard her phone ring from her dyaket pocket. Luckily, Lindsay allowed her to wear that. Who knows what Bob might do if she didn’t wear that jacket.
Courtney smiled at the caller ID. “Hey, Gwen,” she greeted softly. “I haven’t heard from you in a while!”
Gwen laughed. “Yeah. I’ve been super occupied with art school. The new teacher is immensely strict—which gets on my nerves every time. She’s just like you except even madami uptight.”
“You know it’s true, Court. Anyways, what are you doing right now?”
She felt too reluctant to answer, but she did. “I’m currently operating a halik booth at a charity festival—you?”
“Oh, that’s—wait, what? You, my dear conservative friend, is working at a halik booth?!” She sighed exasperatedly. “Courtney Rae Davis! You already have Duncan planting kissy goo on your lips! You don’t need to have other hopeless losers do that for him! I am…mortified! Yeah, that’s a good word!”
“I didn’t do this willingly, Gwen. Lindsay asked me to do it, and it’s for charity anyway! Duncan’s the one who made me do it!”
“Which charity festival? There are lots of them going on now.”
“The one for underprivileged families—why? Are you going to rescue me?!”
“Now, now, don’t get excited, oh, damsel-in-distress. I am going to be helping out at a charity festival, too. Some bald dude gave me a job—”
“Bob Anderson, the pig,” Courtney corrected.
“So, you’re at the same charity festival? Cool. Okay, this bald freak gave me this job; I don’t know, I accepted it ‘cause I needed the money badly. I’m going to be the big, stupid madala mascot. If you see a bear, it’s me, got it? If you want me to kick some guy’s ass, I’ll be there with my stuffed, toy sword, capiche?”
Courtney sighed, relieved. “Thanks, Gwen,” she sinabi warmly. “You don’t need to do that, you know.”
“Well, I know you can kick their ass, but I’ll help. I got to go—I’m gonna get ready. See ya’, Court!” There was a click.
Courtney put her phone back in her jacket. She looked up and saw a teenager boy smiling at her. He looked about fifteen years old.
“Welcome, boy,” Courtney greeted dully. She didn’t care if she didn’t get any customers at all. She only agreed to operate the booth, not do anything with it.
“I’m Mark,” he said. “And you, madam, are the most wonderful pot of bulaklak my eyes have ever seen.”
Oh, that’s just freaking great! That’s just what I needed—a wannabe, Shakespeare romantic! Courtney yelled in her mind.
“Thanks for the compliment. That’ll be twenty-five dollars.”
Mark gasped. “How extreme that price is!”
“What do you think? This is for charity, stupid, not some cheap stripper club. Now pay up!” She glared fiercely at him.
Mark screamed out loud. He gave her a fifty dollar—accidentally—and ran away, yelling out, “A beautiful demon she is! I scream in horror! I scream in pure delight, because of her beautiful beauty!”
Courtney took the fifty dollar and smirked mischievously.
That was easy.
Duncan walked down the streets. He was contemplating on whether or not he will go to the festival.
Ever since I found out I liked her, it’s…hard. I don’t know how I’ll act around her. It was easy to talk normally to her on the phone, but that’s because I couldn’t see her face… Damn freaking it.
He fortuitously bumped into someone. He looked up and saw a girl glaring at him. She looked like the girl-version of him. She wore black and had a punk look. She looked pretty, but never could compare to Courtney.
Aw, hell. Stop thinking about her, Duncan!
The girl sneered, “Why don’t you watch where you’re going, punk?”
Duncan’s temper flared up suddenly. “Why don’t you, punkette?”
The girl rolled her eyes at him. “That’s a horrible comeback, you know. You just used my tanong against me. How smart of you. Look, I wasn’t the one staring off into puwang like some lovesick fool, all right?” She poked his muscular chest hard.
Duncan felt nervous. Was he that easy to read? What was his expression right now? What the hell?!
“I am not lovesick! I am not a fool! Leave—leave me alone!” His head was pounding with the same questions: Should he go? Should he not go? It was a freaking dilemma for him, and those two tanong reminded him of that Macbeth play he once did—with the lead part.
The girl sighed. “I’ll get this over with. Okay, my name is Stefi—”
“Whatever. I don’t care; I’ll call you ‘Dork-an.’ I can practically see those tanong swimming around in your head. Just go to her, Dork-an, okay? Now, buh-bye.” She gave him a short wave and jogged towards her destination.
“Thanks, elfy!” Duncan yelled.
“It’s Stefi, you loser!”
Duncan grinned at her retreating figure. Then he frowned. He always needed other people to answer his questions. He hated that; he didn’t lean towards interdependence. It just wasn’t like him.
He sighed and headed towards the charity festival.
Which was right susunod to him.
Courtney was glaring at the man called “Christopher”—not that she cared at all. Christopher gave her three dollars—that was the price—and was currently putting chap-stick on his lips.
“Hey, Christopher, are you done yet?” Courtney demanded, irritated. “You’re holding up the queue.”
Christopher held up a finger at and started smacking his lips. “They won’t know I’m taking long; they’ll probably think we’re taking long, because we are making out heavily,” he replied, smiling like a maniac. “Wait—I got to freshen up my mouth.” He took out a spray.
“They could see you right now putting on that spray! Guys will soon get irritated and walk away! This is for charity! Just try to do something already!” She earned a lot of money, which surprised Courtney. She thought she would frighten them with her harsh scowl planted on her face. None of the boys kissed her, because she used her stragetizing skills from her C.I.T. camp in high school.
Suddenly, a huge, kulay-rosas madala mascot came up. The kulay-rosas madala was smiling joyfully—well, the mask was, but Courtney didn’t know if the person inside was. She smiled, though, knowing it was Gwen to the rescue.
“Thanks, Gwen,” Courtney mouthed discreetly.
The madala nodded, gave a huge thumbs up, and pushed Christopher out of the way, making him land a few feet away. Courtney laughed, loving, for once, how Gwen was so violent.
“Now that’s so much better,” Courtney laughed. “Your time was up, Christopher. Next!” She grinned devilishly and fanned herself with the amount of money she got.
The rest of the charity festival went sa pamamagitan ng so fast. It was fun for Courtney, and she was super thankful when Gwen helped her with the guys—by beating them up. But then, after a while, she seemed to disappear.
Courtney pulled out her cell, walking down the kalye to her apartment. She pressed the speed dial to Gwen’s cell. It rung for a while, but Gwen eventually answered.
“Hello?” She sounded tired.
“Gwen, where are you? You were just there, and now you left. Are you at your apartment?”
She heard rustling sounds and an angry curse. “Yeah, I am. Sorry for leaving you; I was just so freaking tired. Stupid guys and teenager freaks.”
Courtney laughed shortly. “I know how you feel. They aggravated me, but not one of them kissed me—well, one guy did, but that was a baby. Thanks for your help, Gwen. I appreciated it.”
“Um, yeah, sure. I guess; I’m here to help. Wait, what did—?” She heard something fell. “Aw, crap! My toothbrush fell down the toilet! I gotta go now! Bye!”
Courtney stared at her phone in amusement. She put it back in her dyaket pocket and continued walking. As she arrived in front of the apartment building, she saw Duncan sitting down on the fountain.
“Hi, Duncan,” she greeted when she stopped in front of him. “I haven’t seen you during the whole day; it felt odd without you there.”
Duncan smirked at her. “Missed me?”
Courtney sat down susunod to him and leaned against him. Duncan involuntarily wrapped his arms around her, putting his chin on her the crown of her head.
“Yeah,” she replied quietly, “surprisingly, I did. I wish you were there; it was hectic. Gwen helped me, though. I’m going to do something special for her since she did that, but also because I don’t see her that much.”
Courtney soon fell asleep on him, and Duncan carried her home.
I missed you…
Courtney woke up and saw Duncan staring at her with…loving eyes? She looked down and saw herself in new, fresh clothing. She blushed.
“Good evening, Sleeping Beauty,” Duncan greeted. “And no, I didn’t change your clothes—Bridgette did, along with Gwen. They’re currently at Geoff’s apartment, doing whatever crap. They told me to bring you to them when you wake up—which is now.” He stood up, carrying her bridal style.
“Duncan, I can w—!”
Duncan kissed her briefly, shutting her up. “Just shush, babe. Let’s go.” He jogged effortlessly to Geoff’s apartment. “You’re damn heavy for a girl.”
“Shut up, you sexist.”
“I know I’m sexy.”
“Keep it comin’, baby.”
They arrived shortly and Duncan banged on the door impatiently as always. Courtney rolled her eyes at him and smiled when she saw Geoff looking hyper. Bridgette appeared, smiling sheepishly.
“He ate way too much candy,” she laughed. She started to drag him somewhere else. “Let’s go, party boy.”
“Mocha’s here, though! Even my dude Duncan! The party’s just getting started, Bridge!” He kept yelling out nonsense until the door shut. It was like he was drunk.
Gwen came out of the kitchen, drinking some tea. She plopped down on the sopa where Duncan and Courtney were sitting at in between them. Duncan glared at her.
“Get away. I want to be near Courtney,” he said. “I don’t want you susunod to me.”
Gwen ignored him and smiled tiredly at Courtney. “So, tell me about your araw since I didn’t get to talk to you much on the phone. I had to do…some stuff to get my toothbrush back.”
Courtney leaned back against the soft sopa and sighed. “You should know, right? You helped me.”
“How did I help you? I only saw you there, but you didn’t see me, I think. I was going to help you when you were with that short loser, but a lot of children kept coming up to me. I thought for sure that if I wore a black madala suit, kids wouldn’t come up to me.” She glared at her cup of tea. “Damn smiling face that stupid madala mascot had.”
Courtney became rigid. She stared at Gwen in shock. “Did you just say black madala suit?” she inquired. “Weren’t you in a kulay-rosas madala suit?”
Gwen grimaced. “You could never catch me in bright pink—it was bright pink, right?” Courtney nodded. “Yeah, so that wasn’t me. You got the wrong girl, Court.”
“So…who was that person who helped me?”
Gwen smiled knowingly and gestured her eyes over Duncan, who seemed interested at the ground. He was playing with the thread of the couch, and he looked nervous.
Courtney smiled. “That was you, right?”
“You caught me,” Duncan mumbled. “Besides, that Christopher dope was annoying the hell out of you and me, so I had to do something.”
“You pushed him.”
“That stupid, itchy—”
“Ugh, that costume was itchy!” Gwen moaned.
“—was limiting my awesome abilities to protect you, Princess.”
“Yeah, good rationalization.” Courtney gave him a pat on the head. “Thanks, though.”
Duncan smirked and grabbed her soft hand. He kissed it softly.
“I’m here to be your knight-in-shining-armor, Courtney.” His tial eyes were ipinapakita this powerful emotion that Courtney couldn’t identify.
Gwen made a sound of disgust. “That’s just what I needed after a hard, grueling araw at work—two opposite genders staring at each other with sick, lovey-dovey eyes right susunod to me. Ugh. Ew. Yuck.”