Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer
C How they made me chapter 22:
Ah the sweet taste of freedom.
The guard led me down the corridor past the click clack of ancient typewriters and back into the room where I was initially questioned. I hesitantly opened the door then a wave of relief came over me as my eyes landed on David Goldshaft together with another guy whom I had never seen before and Captain Garcia. As I walked in I let out a huge sigh of relief and muttered “David, boy am I glad to see you“. It was very obvious to David that this ordeal had taken its toll on me and I must have looked a disheveled wreck. Upon seeing me David gave me one of his best crooked smiles and said, “no problems mate this is Barry from the Australian embassy and we have talked with the good Captain here and you are now free to leave“.
At this stage you could of knocked me down with a feather. Just 3 minutes before I had been sitting behind rusty steel bars playing cards with a bunch of ragtag Filipinos whilst having horrendous visions of spending the rest of my life rotting in jail and now all of a sudden sweet freedom was beckoning. When I heard David’s words I let out another audible sigh of relief and slowly sunk to the chair in front of Captain Garcia’s table. I felt like the weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders and the only thing I wanted was to get out of this police building and hopefully never see it again for the rest of my lifetime.
Captain Garcia looked at me and authoritatively announced well Martin we have considered your case and have found no wrong doing on your behalf therefore you are free to go. When I heard his words I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing so I momentarily sat there in a type of stunned stupor until David gently placed his hand on my shoulder and said come on Martin you look like you could use some sleep. I slowly raised and hesitantly put my handout to Captain Garcia. After he silently shook my hand I turned round and walked briskly out of the office with David Goldshaft close behind me. When we got outside I stopped suddenly and just drew in a deep breath filling my lungs with the smog and haze of Manila which had come to represent sweet freedom. After several breaths I turned to David and said mate I don’t know how I am ever going to thank you and he replied trust me Martin I will think of a way.
David hailed a cab and before I knew it we were back at the Mayfair hotel and I was being greeted by a crowd of Filipinos and foreigners all of whom greeted me with big smiles and well wishes. David guided me to one of the small tables outside where Ken Carbry was waiting and as I sat down Ken presented me with a glass of Scotch and said here kid drink this then get your behind up to your room and get some sleep you sure as hell look like you could use some.
That night I must have crashed for at least ten hours and even though I was dead tired visions of the Filipino jail cell and swarthy Captain Garcia kept on invading my dreams and I remember waking up in a cold sweat several times but each time my fears were assuaged by the now familiar surroundings of the Mayfair hotel and I slowly drifted into a pleasant slumber getting the much needed rest my body had been craving.
The following morning I woke up and headed downstairs to find David waiting for me by the outside tables. When he saw me David said now you look more human mate, come on lets have a seat and I will tell you about what happened. I did as directed and slowly sank into the seat and then David began relating the chain of events that had led to him coming to my rescue. As it turned out my favorite receptionist had found out from the guard on duty that the police had taken me and upon finding this out she had immediately informed David. David had then conducted a meeting with Ken and between them they had contacted the Australian embassy and informed them about my troubles. Within 2 hours the Embassy had sent Barry to the Mayfair and together he and David had come to the police station to secure my release.
Now that was simple enough but I still had a number of questions which I needed answering for me to get closure in my mind. Listen Dave I said there are a few things I need cleared up so do you mind if I ask you a few questions. David looked at me gave me another one of his lopsided smiles and replied sure mate but make them quick because I have a lot of work to do today. My first question was why had the cops locked me up and tried to create trouble for me and in reply David just said Money mate it’s all about the money. The cops were trying to make a case against you hoping you would be forced to buy your way out. I looked at him in disbelief and said you can’t be serious since when does law enforcement work like that and he replied remember where you are son, this is the Philippines and 99.9 percent of the time it will boil down to money, especially where foreigners are concerned. Well this answered my question and also gave me a valuable insight into the Filipino psyche which in the coming years I would be eternally grateful for on numerous occasions. David looked at me and said is that all you need to know to which I answered no I have a couple more questions like who was that Barry guy and why did he stay behind when we left. In response David gave me a piercing look and said Barry is an old mate of mine who works closely with the Australian embassy its his job to get people out of the shit. Ah ok I said so he is like a “fix it” man. David said yeah he is a fix it man and a whole lot more, very handy man to have on your side mate. So why did he stay behind when we left I asked and this is when David dropped his bombshell “mate what did I just tell you everything boils down to money and Barry had to negotiate the payment for your release. He will be contacting me later and then I will tell you how much you owe. Upon hearing this I was momentarily shocked but then I looked at David’s stern expression and I realized this was just normal procedure in the Philippines.
I asked David a few more questions all of which he answered and then as he got up to leave he said by the way mate you better thank Sally for her help I think you should maybe give her a gift or something. With that said David rose from his seat and disappeared into his office to attend to his pressing work demands. When left alone I was free to ponder my situation and it became abundantly clear how lucky I had been. At the time I did not realize how the police in this country work but looking back on it I now realize I could have been charged with murder or manslaughter and be spending my last 20 years in Filipino prison rather than living life large drinking, partying and chasing an endless supply of young nubiles. In the Philippines it always boils down to who you know not what you know and most importantly it always boils down to money.
After my lunch I decided to heed David’s words and went inside to the main reception seeking out Sally so I could thank her. Very obviously this young ladies alertness and intelligence had been instrumental in saving my ass. If it wasn’t for her quick thinking and informing David I would have probably still been in the holding cell. There was no debating it, I owed this lady a debt of gratitude and my profuse thanks. I wandered into the main reception area and there at the front desk attending her duties was the ever vigilant Sally. She was on the phone at the time but as I approached she said goodbye and looked at me with a beaming smile that would make the worlds hardest cynic dance for joy and celebrate life.
In my mind I had already composed my thank you speech to Sally but when she smiled at me I was suddenly dumbfounded and at a loss for words. All thoughts of a convoluted thank you speech left my head and I found myself just staring at her. Sally returned my stare with yet another dazzling smile and said, “yes martin how can I help you?” When I heard her voice I was gently woken up from my stupor and I mumbled, “Sally David has told me what you did and I just wanted to say thank you very much.” I think Sally thought my humble thanks was kind of cute because she smiled yet again and said “you are welcome Mr Martin.” I was about to walk away when all of a sudden a sort of inspiration hit me and next thing I knew I found myself inviting her out on a date later that evening. When she heard my invitation Sally smiled again and replied certainly Mr Martin I like that very much. We made arrangements when and where to meet and next thing I knew I was back in the hotel room enjoying my now familiar bed and getting more sleep.
That night I met Sally at the Hula Hut behind Rosie’s diner and as we ate together in that iconic establishment I began to realize how truly pretty Sally was. Sally was one of these girls whose intelligence and zest for life shone through her eyes like a beacon of light at the end of a tunnel. Her vitality and vivaciousness marked her as someone special and yet for me she was just another woman. I was still in a state of semi shock at what had happened to Hilda and as our dinner progressed I found my mind wandering away from our conversation and onto Hilda. I was feeling twinges of guilt thinking I should have been in mourning but at the same time I was tremendously relieved and couldn‘t help but smile when I pondered how lightly I had gotten away from a potentially disastrous predicament.
Sally being as bright and bubbly as she was noticed my aloofness but unperturbed she kept up the conversation and by the time we were tucking into our deserts my attention was now fully on this beautiful woman and thoughts of getting her into bed kept on coming to the fore. Sally at the time was 21 years old and for me was a so called proper lady as in a non bar girl. We slowly finished our meal and then as I was paying the bill it suddenly dawned on me that this lady had been subtly flirting with me all night and if I played my cards right I probably had a good chance of getting this lady into bed but to be honest I had no idea how to breach the subject with her.
While we were waiting for my change I mumbled something about going back to the Mayfair Hotel and I hoped Sally had enjoyed herself and that this was my way of thanking her for saving me from doing some time in a Filipino jail. After I had finished my mumbling Sally gave me another beaming smile and then said, “Martin I like to go hotel with you but much better not Mayfair because to many eyes watching to me there.” When I heard this I felt a barrage of conflicting emotions. On the one hand I was so happy and couldn’t believe my luck but on the other hand I felt a tremendous sense of guilt. Hilda had only passed away 48 hours ago and here I was about to spend the night in the luscious embrace of yet another sensuous brown skinned beauty. As I silently contemplated my options and the conflicting emotions they produced Sally took matters into her own hands and said Martin meet me outside Rosie’s I will be the one to get taxi and with that she strolled out leaving me to follow feeling more than just a little sheepish and more confused than ever.