The next few days, they were getting ready for the upcoming traditional festival. The atmosphere around town reflected excitement and liveliness. It was something they all needed after all the rain from these past few weeks. The rain hadn’t really cleared out. Not quite. But it had let up slightly, giving them an intermission from time to time. On the other hand, Angela had kept her promise with Claudia. She managed to slip away from the others at times to go visit Claudia. Calvin had also passed on the words to the officials to search for Cyndi and Joyce’s possessions. It would take some time because it was in storage.

“What do you think of this one?” Sandrine asked one day when they were at a boutique looking for some costumes–or more like possible ideas.

“Pure, refreshing,” Angela commented.

“Typical,” Will said. “We need to do better than this.”

“You’re just picky,” Sandrine chided Will.

“It’s not like it has never been done before.”

Sandrine had both hands on her hips at that point. “Fine, what ideas do you have then?”

Will cleared his throat, his smart-aleck expression on. “Since you asked…”

Angela was only half listening at this point. She still managed to laugh at her friends’ feud over differences in opinion. She, of course, was distracted by what would happen during the actual day. What began as a challenge had now turned into a nerve-racking wait. Her only consolation at this point was that Will and Sandrine were in the dark about the matter. And that Wallace wasn’t around as actively as of recent. Thinking about Wallace, she wished that he wasn’t that type of person. Or if there was really a misunderstanding somewhere along the line. Didn’t Calvin say that there could be some other explanation? That everyone lied? So it was possible that Nic or Tony had lied about Wallace’s involvement. It wasn’t like she was obsessed with Wallace like how Debra was, constantly tagging him. He was one of those easygoing beings that she could relate to since moving there. It helped that he was a businessman so he was always friendly yet it seemed so genuine. How could he be involved in such a mess? Or be responsible for such tragedies?

*****

While Angela, Will, and Sandrine were using their time off going shopping for the upcoming festival, Calvin was seen around a deserted alley. To be exact, it was the same alley that Cyndi once found Wallace, Nic, and Tony together that one time, talking about some sort of transaction. If only Calvin knew that he was standing at the exact spot Cyndi had once stood and eavesdropped on the other three. Yet if Cyndi was there at this point, she would be even more shocked. Because Wallace was seen walking toward Calvin at that same alley. Wallace waved to Calvin–like he had expected Calvin to be there. It was like they had planned this meeting ahead of time.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” Wallace asked, his friendly smile on like always–or at least since Calvin had met him.

“I was the one who left the note for you,” Calvin said, knowing Wallace was scanning the perimeter for another presence.

That was when Wallace stopped his routine check of the area and snapped his eyes toward Calvin’s face. His eyes were doubtful. His expression was now serious, all business, no longer friendly or sunshine like seconds ago.

“I was going to leave a note the other day but Angela caught me so I had to make up some wild story to get her off my back,” Calvin said.

“Which day?” Wallace asked, his eyes still studying Calvin cautiously.

“The day we had the celebration for the petition.”

“Is that why she has been giving me strange looks these past few days?”

Calvin had on the guilty look. “Sorry, but she’s so persistent that if I didn’t come up with some outrageous yet not impossible story, she would’ve found me out.”

Wallace seemed relieved. However, his expression reflected that he was still on guard. “So, why the note?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“There are only two people who know of that contact method. Don’t tell me you’ve met them.”

Calvin nodded. “It wasn’t easy to track them down, but I managed to do just that before they got caught.”

Wallace’s expression had tensed up again. “They got caught?”

Calvin nodded again. “Yes, they got caught. It was all over the news on Earth.”

“How do I know you’re not someone the earthlings sent here to trap me?”

“Would I tell you they were caught if I was that someone?”

“I know those two. They would give me up if it would reduce their sentences.”

“Well, I don’t know what your gripe with them is. I’m just interested in my supplies.”

Wallace was still studying Calvin with the same cautious eyes.

“Look, if you don’t believe me, then take your time to think it over. But don’t wait. Our best bet is that festival. After that, I’m leaving. I wouldn’t want to waste my time here any more than I already have. There are always some others willing to do it on another planet.”

“If you’re really interested in a deal, why haven’t you approached me these past weeks?”

“I have to take caution too. I thought it was easy, trying to mingle with the citizens here and not draw any suspicions onto myself. How would I know I ended up in the wrong crowd? Yes, I found you faster than I expected, but those neighbors of yours are seriously nosy. Didn’t I tell you when I finally try to make contact, I almost got caught? You seriously should lock your door. Anyone could just come in and take your stuff. To think of it now, I don’t know if I should trust that you’ll have my supplies for me.”

Seeing Calvin’s obvious foul mood, Wallace loosened his guard a little. Just a little. “Look, you know how risky it is. Especially after they canceled the traditional festivals. But don’t you worry about the stock. I’m not that foolish to keep the stash in my apartment.”

“Where then?”

Wallace had on an amused smile. “Haven’t you heard those corny phrases your fellow earthlings came up with?”

“What?”

“The magician doesn’t reveal his tricks.”

“There’s also a phrase that goes like this: Caution is the eldest child of wisdom.”

“Fair enough.” Wallace took a quick scan of the area again before turning back to Calvin. “Since we both can’t trust one another, how about you decide the location of the exchange and I’ll decide the time?”

“So you’re going to take the deal?”

“No one’s an enemy of wealth.”

“I know a few who would disagree with you.”

Wallace smiled, his amused smile. “They’re lying.”

After saying that, Wallace left the area, signaling the end of their meeting. But as he was taking his leave, heading toward the opposite direction, Wallace spoke up again.

“Meet me across the street from city hall.”

Calvin, puzzled, turned to face Wallace again. Wallace had also turned around so they were indeed face-to-face.

“It would make sense if we maintain a normal front,” Wallace explained. “So it wouldn’t be too much if we were to run into one another around town.”

Calvin smiled. “Good point.”

“And you lectured me about caution?”

Then Wallace left for real this time.

*****

Wallace was indeed standing across the street from the city hall building when Calvin showed up. He had walked slowly on purpose. So the surprise on his face wasn’t because of Wallace’s presence. It was because of Angela’s.

“Hey, Calvin!” Angela yelled out upon seeing Calvin.

Calvin waited until it was safe before crossing the street to join the other two. “Hey, what are you two doing here? I thought you said you were planning to go shopping with Will and Sandrine after work.”

“We are,” Angela responded. “Well, we were. Then the other two fought over some artistic differences so now we’re not going to just purchase some random outfit. We’re going to create our own costumes.”

“Don’t tell me I have to as well,” Wallace joked then, his smile bright like how it was in front of others. His somewhat dark moods seen earlier were completely gone–like it had never been there before.

Calvin had to admit Wallace’s acting was even better than half the actors on TV that he’d seen. In fact, Wallace could just open up his own acting academy to train those in need.

“You don’t have to,” Angela said then. “It’s just us three.”

“That means I’m off the hook as well?” Calvin asked, trying to act normal.

Angela turned to hit Calvin on the shoulder then. “Are you trying to say something?”

Calvin raised his hands up in surrender. “I wouldn’t dare.”

“You two heading home or no?” Wallace asked then. “If you’re not, I’m going to go first.”

Angela shrugged. “Sure, why not?”

So the three of them headed back to their apartment building together. At least they were going to Angela and Wallace’s building. Calvin was just tagging along.

“Where have you been these past few days?” Angela asked several minutes later, looking at Wallace.

“You know me,” Wallace said, gesturing his hand. “I go where the business goes.”

“What kind of answer is that?”

“A businessman’s answer,” Calvin quipped.

Angela turned to Calvin then. “You never told us what your occupation is on Earth. Are you in business too? That’s why you seem to know him so well?”

Calvin shrugged. “I’m just here on vacation, so I prefer not to talk about professional matters at the moment.”

Angela wasn’t satisfied with the answer. She pestered Calvin all the way back as Wallace watched on with a secretive smile. It was like he finally realized Calvin’s words were true regarding the nosy nature of his neighbors.

© Friday, May 8th, 2015

Posted: Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

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