Charlie St. Cloud and the Passenger by Chance
Charlie St. Cloud and the Passenger by Chance
06 October 2011
“I believe in miracles.” *1
The tiny raindrops create a hazy glow of orange beam from the halogen lamp in the streets which eventually penetrate the soul of the drizzle. There was a soulless man in the evening: who walked lonely like a cloud. The face of ambivalence, lost in the sea of other human beings. All dressed up --- nowhere to go.
“Of course I remember, but you seem to have forgotten the predicate nominative. The correct syntax is It is I.” *2
That was I.
“There was enough to raise questions, but not enough for answers.” *3
Not by chance, of which I presume, I reached the bus stop.
As I see it, bus stops are like turning points of our lives. You left some so that you can proceed for some. People travel, as always. People are never satisfied.
Across the street, a bus stop faces another bus stop. Just like the North faces the South, they pursue opposing directions which will never meet. They will be constantly parting, which made the cold night gloomier.
“On the horizon, he saw the full moon. God dropped it there, he was sure, as a reminder of our small place in the world. A reminder that what is beautiful is fleeting.” *4
It was a moonless night. Logically wrong because every night there comes the moon. We just have failed to notice it most of the time.
I waited for the bus. I have been spending my last six years of my life riding busses where I see and meet a lot of people, a lot of soul, a lot of their lives. But as easy as they come, they go together with their memories. Parts of it left with me, some has gone with them.
It took me more than an hour to wait for another because I didn’t catch the first one. Like the way I missed the moon that night.
“It was just so sudden, so unexpected. I never even had time to say good-bye.” *5
Then the bus came along. It’s time to go.
I walked through the aisle spotting for a vacant twin-chair. There! Second row. Left.
Then I sat beside the window.
The bus carries only fifteen passengers that evening. And there shall be other 30 human beings which missed this trip, or maybe cut their trip short. I can no longer guess.
I found myself satisfied with my seat. I am ready to browse the novel which I have been reading since yesterday, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud when a woman of thirties, a corporate worker, sat beside me.
I felt quite dismayed because I just want some solitude when I am sad. No more asking but I just want to.
I can do nothing easy. I was unable to transfer to another seat because I am sitting next by the window. I just have to make myself comfortable reading.
“The gloom was gone, and the light had almost encircled them.” *6
I got my ticket, punched 32 pesos. The woman got hers, 40 pesos. I’m going farther yet I will pay lesser. One of the life’s ironies.
Then out of nowhere, she asked me:
“Magkano ang student fare”? (How much is the student fare?)
“Trenta y dos po.” I said. (Thirty-two Ma’am.)
I didn’t answer anymore. But I know, she is looking at the book I am reading. She’s kind of curious. Maybe she recalls Zac Efron on its cover.
“Charlie Street Cloud?” she smiled.
“I guess Charlie Saint Cloud?” I smiled back.
“Thanks for correcting. The novel is about?” she then retorted.
“Miracles. About the miracles we believe in and the ones we don’t accept. The miracles we always fail to notice. And the miracles we deny.” I smiled again. This time, it’s sincerer."
“I bet there’s a film adaptation of that book?
“My friend told me so. But I don’t watch film adaptation of the books. They never give justice to it. The books are more real, stranger, and livelier. They talk and appeal to me personally.”
“Do you believe in miracles?” As she shifts the conversation.
“Sometimes I don’t.” I replied.
“There’s always a miracle. My mom was diagnosed with cancer four years ago. Terminal. And no more remedies. I didn’t give up. Instead I prayed more. I didn’t ask. I just hoped for the better, for her healing.”
“Has she recuperated already?”
“No. She died. She didn’t survive. Whether she has overcome cancer or not, I still believe that there are miracles. Just like this. Of 6 billion people living today, pursuing their dreams, we’re here sharing stories with each other. Isn't that a miracle?”
I just gave her a nod after long pause of silence.
And of course my good-bye for that evening.
It’s time for her to go.
She alighted from the bus and I stared at the window. Outside the cold, lifeless, moving chunky object, she looked back at me and smiled. I smiled back.
“They came, they coped, and then they moved on.” *7
A wanderer in the city journeys during the cold humid night. The moon was hiding behind the dark hazy clouds. Crickets were chattering. Exchanges of words permeate from unknown people sharing the same journey of the moment. Unread sections of the book from Chapter 9 waiting. And a great humbled conversation.
Now it's time for me to go.
*1 Introduction, page 1 *2 Chapter 6, page 48 *3 Chapter 1, page 12 *4 Chapter 1, page 18 *5 Chapter 6, page 48 *6 Chapter 4, page 25 Excerpts from the book The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud (Ben Sherwood, 2004)