Posted by Lex, on August 29, 2006
MagSaySay was packed. Jeepneys crawled between the sailors and girls that milled along the sidewalks and spilled out into streets. It was afternoon, and clouds filled the sky. Tom worked his way toward Fendler Street on his way to Piso Jimmy’s. He turned the corner and bumped into a group of three sailors coming the other way.
“Hey, Marine, watch where you’re going.”
One of the sailors shouldered him, turning him toward the wall. They were all obviously drunk, and Tom turned to sidestep them, trying to avoid the coming confrontation. The largest of the three stepped in and blocked his escape. All his options evaporated and he slid the camera bag off his arm.
“I was just going the other way, sorry about that.”
The sailor that blocking his path smirked, “What the matter, Marine, you scared of a couple of sailors?”
Out of nowhere, the sailor took two fast punches to the side of his jaw and went down to the pavement on his side. The other two sailors backed away, then turned and ran. Tom turned to see Eric Randle, an ordnance Sergeant, grinning at him, his fist still cocked.
“I know you want to kiss me, Harrelson, but let’s get the heck out of here.”
They stepped past the sailor still trying to regain his feet and moved quickly back onto MagSaySay, merging into the crowd and slipping into a club that Randle pointed out.
“Ordnance has been hanging out in here, come on upstairs, most of my shop found their girls here.”
“Thanks, Eric, I thought I was going to get my ass kicked.”
“You were, but hey, it didn’t happen. You owe me a beer.”
They climbed a steep set of stairs and entered a small, dimly lit club. It was packed with sailors. A couple of dozen Marines sat by the dance floor at a couple of tables. More trouble. Eric and Tom worked their way over to the knot of Marines.
Eric looked across at the sixty or so sailors in the bar, “Where did they come from?”
One of the Marines pointed at the large welcome banner on the wall, “Off of an oiler, that’s what the AO stands for. They say this is their bar, they always come here on liberty. The girls put up the sign for them.”
A couple of pretty girls in knit bikinis came over to take their order. Tom took out a 100 Piso note and ordered a fresh round for all the Marines. Somebody clapped him on the shoulder, chairs were found, and he sat down. After the beer arrived, the discussion resumed.
“You see her? Over by the stairs? The one with her back to us, in the red. Man, I thought she was my girl, and now she’s with that sailor.”
“Let it go, man, there’s lots of girls.”
“Yea, and lots of bars, but you haven’t wanted to let go of this one, have you?”
Tom took a pull at his beer. Ice cold San Miguel. He considered the open windows at the back of the bar. Reaching down, he tucked his camera in the bubble wrap and ordnance tape pouch inside his bag and zipped the bag shut.
Olongapo. He hadn’t been out in the ‘ville an hour.