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XVII. Love is Free

Dark. Warm. Humid. Three things to perfectly describe what Downtown is. But to me, ever since Jagger walked me through this part of the city, I’ve always longed to come back to it. Alive, awake, and free. Those are better words to capture what this scene means to me. And maybe all other people like me, trapped in an invisible cage.

I know he knows I chose this place to look for Jagger. He has never made contact since. I have never spoken a word to Lucian ever since that night at The Grid. What I know is that he has the rest of Jagger’s pills. For some reason, the pain felt nothing more like it used to. I don’t know if it’s me being desensitized or taking more of the drug has prevented me to feel the pain. It was still apparent to me when the bolts crept under my skin. Like ants trying to find their way to a roadkill.

Everything was blurry. Whenever the sunlight hits my eyes, I feel like coming out of a deep cave. And as I walked in the middle of a crowd, I felt like they were not separate beings from me. Like I am just one of them. My face caught the warm breeze and all its dust clinging to my hair. Music played loudly but I wasn’t hearing the words that came with it. To me, it was simply part of the world I was walking on, barefoot. As I held on to the white sheets covering my body, the winds tried its best to remove it from my grasp. It flowed mid-air, constantly hitting the ground soaking itself on puddles of mud. Footsteps marked the silky white sheets as people walked opposing my direction. Birds flew by and my eyes wandered to where they went, slowly disappearing into the sky.


Immediately, two women armed with brushes were at my side. They dusted my face with powder, lightly touching my skin with the tips. Another had an electronic fan in hand, cooling my neck. One of them immediately fixed the sheets and made sure it is in place to avoid it from falling. It became more evident to me how I was not alone. In all corners, I could see men in dark suits with radios in their hands. They stood close by being drowned by the sea of people walking, not minding that we were there.

The filming crew was far off in a distance. They said the director was some well-known foreign filmmaker who was shooting a music video for the first time. I can barely remember him instructing me on what to do in this one long take. What I do recall is seeing his face right in front of me. Young. With heavy waves of hair sprouting atop his head. From what I know, they’re making the video a lot longer than the 4:16 run time of the song.

I’m still wondering why Lucian allowed me to call the shots on this one. How would that be of any help to him if I was given the hand on my career for once? Is he trying to make a point to his father? Or the executives at The Grid? Furthermore, are there even executives at that label. I don’t remember seeing any short and important looking people on our visit. Just a group of uniformed men in all-white ensemble busy on their hive-like desks. Or maybe I just didn’t get to see the other levels. Executives don’t really mingle with the crew. Or once again, I don’t remember.

It was the last take of the day and the sun was already behind me as I continued walking forward. My white cloth has become darker with stains all over. It has been ripped to shreds by all the people walking all over it. What remained was a thin fabric I clung onto to barely cover myself. It was tiring. For some reason, tears fell down my eyes as I walked slowly. My tears blurred my vision, sending me to a distorted world of color. The camera was no longer right in front of me as it dollied and panned by a crane above me to reveal what was ahead of me. It was a fountain at the square. The light of the sunset glimmered softly at the flow of water. As my eyes dried up, my vision became clearer. And I saw a man stood before the fountain. Every time I blink my eyes, it’s as if he was never there and that I’m the only one who could see him. I was mesmerized by the presence of the man wearing a black suit silently standing still that I wanted to run closer so I can see his face.

“Jagger!” I called out. But he did not turn around. A few steps more and I shouted his name. Slowly, he turned his face but my vision went above to the sky. I felt a strong force charge to me, knocking me off balance. We both landed on the tiled floor of the square. It was then that I realized that a naked man lay on top of me. His weight pinned me down on the floor. There were loud noises, chatter and gasps growing louder and nearer.

I saw the face of the naked man and his eyes were red. He had familiar features, like from someone I’ve seen on television. He had an unkempt beard that seemed like he has not trimmed them in a while. This was also evident on his dirty skin. If he didn’t have a pretty face, everyone would have thought he was just another homeless person in Downtown.

“Help me.” He pleaded and grabbed my wrists before I could push him off. Veins filled his forehead and his skin turned red. I could sense his fear as his body shook. It was then he said the words that would haunt me forever.

“They’re after me.”

There was chaos as faces loomed above me. The naked man was forcefully taken away from my blurry vision. I could still see him fight off all the guards that held him. Different voices asked me if I was okay but I couldn’t speak. My eyes were fixed on his struggle. He screamed. No. Get away from me. Please. Help me. They’re here with us.

Slowly, I succumbed to exhaustion and everything I saw was dark.

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