THE RUNAWAY GIRL a true story

A True Story
eastwind journals 168


By Bernie Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits.


Except for the ending dialogue, this is a true story as related by a friend. It attempts to explain the Theology of Death.


amen I say to you
beware and be cautious
for you know not
the day nor the hour


Matthew 25:12-13


Jimmy is a senior citizen. He is on the Light Rail train on the way home. A frail girl of about ten with dirty clothes and a heavy backpack enters. Staring into nothing, she stands beside Jimmy, clutching the train post. There is a half a seat beside him, so he offers it to her. She gladly sits.


JIMMY. Where are you going?
GIRL. Cagayan.
JIMMY. You mean Cagayan Valley in the north?
GIRL. Yes.
JIMMY. You are going that far alone? That’s about 12 hours bus ride.
GIRL. That long? I can manage. (Casually) I’m running away from home.
JIMMY. Oh oh. Why?
GIRL. My stepfather touches me and forces me when he comes home drunk. Happened many times. Then he mauls me. I can’t stand it anymore. (She displays her bruises on the left arm.)
JIMMY. Yes, you better run away before you get crazy. Have you been to Cagayan before?
GIRL. No. But I know the town where my grandmother stays. She will take care of me.
JIMMY. Do you know what bus to take and where?
GIRL. Not yet. I will ask around. Perhaps you can tell me.
JIMMY. Do you have enough money?
GIRL. I have no money, just loose change.
JIMMY. How do you expect to get there without money?
GIRL. I will ask the bus driver and conductor to give me a ride.
JIMMY. For free? I am not sure they will do that.
GIRL. They will. People are kind.
JIMMY. And if they don’t.
GIRL. I will ask passengers to pay for me.
JIMMY. Do you know how much it costs?
JIMMY. I think it would be about 500 pesos.
GIRL. That much? I will manage.
JIMMY. Passengers can’t afford that much.
GIRL. I will ask for 20 pesos per passenger. People are kind.
JIMMY. I like your positive thinking.
GIRL. I have a guardian angel. The Lord loves me and takes care of me. (She takes out a tattered rosary and proudly shows it.) I prayed before I left the house. Nothing can happen to me.
JIMMY. How about food? It’s half a day’s ride. You need to eat.
GIRL. I will be okay. My grandma will feed me.
JIMMY. No, I mean during the 12-hour trip.


The girl does not answer. Jimmy squirms in his seat. He gets a 500-peso bill from his pocket and gives it to the girl. All the while, Jerry, another senior citizen is listening to their conversation. He stares in surprise at the 500-peso bill.


GIRL. Thank you, sir. You are very kind. (She clutches the money.)
JIMMY. You better put that in your bag so it does not get lost. (The girl does so.)
GIRL. You are very kind. Thank you.
JIMMY. (Long silence.) You know what? Do this. When you get in the bus, talk to the driver and tell him you have no money for food. Ask him to take you with him when you make a stopover to eat. Drivers get free meals from the restaurant because they bring passengers to eat there.
GIRL. That’s clever. Okay, I will do it. Thank you.
There is a long pause. Jimmy squirms again in his seat. He hands three 100-peso bill to the girl. Jerry grunts.


JIMMY. That’s for your food. The driver may not like to give you a free meal.
GIRL. Thank you again sir. (She clutches the bills.)
JIMMY. Put it in your bag. (She ignores him.)


Another girl, a teenager, sits beside them.


JIMMY. Hello there, miss. Can I ask you a favor?
JIMMY. Where are you going down?
TEENAGER. Pasay Rotonda station. Why?
JIMMY. Good. This girl needs to go to one of four provincial bus stations, the one where buses go to Cagayan Valley. She does not know how to get there. I am going down at Ayala. Can you take care of her? Just ask around what bus station to go to.
TEENAGER. No problem, sir. I will do it. (She looks at the girl and smiles.)
JIMMY. One more thing please. Escort her to the station until she boards the right bus. Please get her a sandwich. I gave her money. Do you have time for this? Is it too much trouble?
TEENAGER. No problem, sir. It’s okay. I’m glad to help.
JIMMY. Thanks. (To the girl.) Okay, she will take care of you. Do not talk to strangers, only the bus driver or conductor. Is that clear? Put the money in your bag.
GIRL. Yes sir. Thank you again. You also have a guardian angel. I can feel it.


Arriving at the Ayala Station, Jimmy says goodbye. He and Jerry leave.


JERRY. Wow. That was something you did back there. Why did you want her escorted all the way to the bus?
JIMMY.  Many strange people hang around bus stations, looking for victims.
JERRY. Oh, white slavery. Never thought of that. In all my life, I never saw someone hand out 800 pesos just like that to a complete stranger. Did you notice she is a very brave girl?
JIMMY. Yes, an innocent lamb unafraid of the jungle of predators.
JERRY. It’s more ignorance than bravery. Or it’s faith.
JIMMY. Extreme despair makes you brave. Kapit sa patalim. (Grab the blade in despair.)
JERRY. It’s faith, not ignorance not despair. She never sees it as a ‘blade’.
JIMMY. She has a guardian angel. She knows it, that’s why she is not afraid.
Did you not realize the girl could be conning you?
JIMMY. It crossed my mind. But I gave the benefit of the doubt. Supposing she was conning me. I lose 800 pesos, right? So what? But suppose she was not conning me. Supposing she’s really running away from home and has no money. Supposing she becomes a sex slave?
JERRY. No way. She has a guardian angel, remember? You gave without hesitation and so quickly, without thinking too much. Amazing. You must be rich.
JIMMY. Rich, my ass. Rich people do not take train rides. I earn a lousy 24,000 a month. I get by. Simple living. I live alone. What is 800 pesos to me? I would spend that in three days on food and transport. I would not die of poverty or hunger.
JERRY. I give coins to beggars. At times, I give a whole 20-peso bill. I give but I am not a martyr. 800 pesos? Wow. Tell me, what made you really do it?
JIMMY. Tell me, how old are you?
JERRY. Sixty five.
JIMMY. I’m sixty nine. You and I are going to die soon. There is no time. When the rare opportunity comes, grab it. All my life, it’s just me, me, me. It’s a game changer really, this thing called death.
JERRY. (Long pause.) Come to think of it. You’re right. Thank you for inspiring me. From now on, I will look for little girls to help. So you think I also have a guardian angel?
JIMMY. You better believe it. And you better look hard for opportunities. They don’t come easy in train stations. When the rare opportunity comes, grab it, and die for it. It matters a lot for us old guys.
JERRY. Rare? They’re all over the streets. They’re everywhere.
JIMMY. There is no time. We could die tomorrow.
JERRY. It’s also true for the young. They could die tomorrow.
JIMMY. Do you realize the Lord gives us the poor to sanctify us not so poor? Sharing is never an option. It is an obligation for the rich or the poor.
JERRY. Can I treat you to a bowl of noodles?
JIMMY. Sure, sure. Here’s your rare opportunity. (They both laugh allowed.)


I empty your body so I can fill your soul
I make you poor so I can enrich you
I burn your home so you can seek My shelter
I make you sick so you can find My healing
I bring darkness so you can seek My light
I make you lose your way in the desert
so you can find My path
for even crooked paths lead to Me
I give deliverance only after you carry My cross
I am the Hound of Heaven in search of lost souls
first I sanctify you by sharing My cross
then I make all things beautiful for you
in My time and in My way




when you wrong another, you wrong yourself a hundred fold
when you uplift another, you uplift yourself a hundred fold
malign another, and you malign yourself
teach another, and you enlighten yourself
when you aid the weak, you strengthen yourself
when you give to the poor, you enrich yourself
comfort another, and you are consoled
save a life, and you are saved
life is such that what you give
is what you receive, only a hundred fold




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