Qwertyman No. 22: The Boss

Qwertyman for Monday, January 2, 2023

(This week, our story deals with two security guards chatting between Christmas and New Year about money, power, and ambition.)

“RUDY! YOU’RE thirty minutes early. My shift doesn’t end until two.”

“Nothing much to do at home, Oca. My wife keeps nagging me about our Christmas bonus—”

“What Christmas bonus? The one we never got? Haha!”

“She thinks I’m keeping it to myself—or worse, spending it on another woman.”

“Which is what you would have done if you got it—”

“And why the hell not? What’s a bonus for but for, uhm, something special? But damn, it’s almost the New Year and I’m not only broke, I’m in the hole by five thousand, which I borrowed from Pedring for noche buena. Of course I had to put something on the table, or Marita would’ve complained even more.”

“Five thousand? That’s a lot of food.”

“Couldn’t be just food, you know how it is…. I tried to see if I could pay it off right away with a few bets at the races, but I swear those horses hate me. At least I had enough left for some small presents for the kids, for Marita, a bottle of perfume, you can get these from Daiso for a few hundred, and I got some pancit and roast chicken and pineapple juice. Everybody was happy, even Marita, and she smelled good, too, all night long, so good I couldn’t believe it was her lying next to me—until she woke up in the morning and asked me for more money, and I had to confess that I’d just borrowed some from Pedring. So she got mad because you know how Pedring is—if you don’t pay up in a week, he or his boys will come over and grab your TV or cellphone or whatever they can get their hands on, or they break your bones to teach you a lesson—”

“Didn’t you use to be one of Pedring’s boys?”

“Yes. I was. No need to remind me, Oca. It was a bad time in my life. Some days, it still is.”

“At least you now have a real job. The both of us. I don’t know what I’d be doing myself if the agency didn’t take us in.”

“Yeah, the both of us. But the big difference is, I have six mouths to feed, and you don’t. You get to keep all of your salary, and to blow it on whatever you want.”

“I’m just not there yet, but who knows, I’ll want a family, too.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking for, Oca. Me, all I ever wanted was to be a boss.”

“Like Pedring?”

“Why not? I’m smarter than Pedring. But I want to be something way bigger than Pedring. I want to be a big boss, like Cong Mando—”

“You want to be a congressman? Representing what? You told me that there are people in your province who would kill you if you ever showed your face there again!”

“Party list, man, don’t you know what a party list is? I can represent people like us—security guards. If not for us, where would people like Cong Mando be, huh, you tell me that. We keep the world safe for people—”

“Even people like Cong Mando, right?”

“Yeah! You and me, Oca, we put our lives on the line every day and every night so he can go to bed with his starlet of the month without worrying about his political enemies—”

“Or worse, his wife!”—”

“Barging through the gate, haha! Over my dead body—our boss should know that, how brave and loyal we are. You know, pards, if Cong Mando was really smart, he should have hired us directly, instead of going through the agency.”

“It’s cheaper for him to pay the agency, which his brother owns.”

“But we could be his bodyguards. We should be the ones with the Uzis, not that idiot Gardo and his gang. Why are we even carrying these silly .38s? We could show them and show the boss what security really means—whap, bak, bam! Bababadabadap!”

“I’m happy I’ve never had to shoot mine. I wonder if it still even works.”

“We deserve real guns, Oca. Like the ones the boss has in his arsenal. I heard he uses them for target practice back in the province. I even heard—don’t tell anyone you got this from me—I even heard he used them on some people he didn’t like. Tied them up to coconut trees and shot them from the hood of his Range Rover. That’s real power, pards—to do that, and to get away with it.”

“So that’s why you want to be a congressman? To show people how powerful you are?”

“That’s the problem with you, Oca—you don’t think big, you’re happy being small and meek and being ordered around. You don’t know how to command other people. That’s why you’ll never be a boss!” 

“I guess not.”

“You need to be more assertive, or people will think you’re a patsy and push you around. That’s why I want to be Cong Mando’s bodyguard and carry some real firepower, so I can get even with people like Pedring who make life difficult for people like me…. Oh God, if I don’t pay him back the five thousand by Friday, he’s going to kill me. You know he’s capable of doing that, Oca. I’ve seen him do it. I’ve helped him do it. I just wanted to get out of that but it seems I can’t, ever…. Can you help me? I’m sure you’ve saved up a bit, you hardly spend on anything—I’ll pay you back as soon as I can—”

“So that’s why you came early tonight? To ask me for some money which both you and I know I’m never going to see again?”

“Since when have I ever let you down, pards? I know I owe you a couple of hundred here and there but what’s that between friends? Come on, Oca, you’re the only decent person left that I know.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m signing the logbook and I’m going home.” 

“For God’s sake, Oca! It’s only five thousand. Come on, I know you have the money, You said you were saving up for a new phone— what kind of a friend are you? Going home to watch porn and jerk off by your lonesome while—”

“I’ll give you the money, Rudy.”

“What? Really? You’re not kidding me? Oh, you’re such a good man, Oca!”

“On one condition—“

“Sure! I know how this goes. Look, I’ll pay you six thousand in one month, I promise….”

“It’s not the money, Rudy. I just want you to do something for me.”

“Name it!”

“I want you to kneel in front of me, and say, ‘Thank you, boss’.”

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