The Joshua Tree

Copyright © 2011-2015, 2017-2018, 2020 by VeryWellAged

Back to Chapter 1

Author's note: These chapters are NOT stand-alones...The story starts here.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

She had to wait a little bit for the Jeepney. It would not have been so bad, but it was raining again. Umbrellas were good for protection from the sun, but they did little for you when there was a foot of water in the street and it was raining buckets. She did her best to limit the damage. She carried a pair of slippers, which we would call flip-flops, in her bag. She changed her work shoes for these. Let them and her feet get soaked, please God, not the shoes she wore at work. Ana Fe huddled in a doorway until the Jeepney rolled up the street, at which point she needed to be out in the street hailing the driver to stop.

Soaked, sitting on the bench in the Jeepney, Ana Fe thought more about the odd man and his three letters. As she dripped water onto the seat, right along with everyone else in the vehicle, she looked around. What had she been offered? A life of ease: Not just for her but for her daughters as well. And each of them could go to school! How much was that worth? Yes, he was perverted, but he said he would be kind to all of them. Could that be possible? Education, for all of them? Did he really mean that? A life in America, for all four of them? She wouldn’t have to leave them behind, as other women had to do!

It was perverted. It was against God. It was wrong. But would God forgive her if she did this for the sake of her daughters? What would her daughters think? Even if she said OK, what would her daughters do? What would her daughters think of her if she allowed them to even know about this? What would her daughters think of her if she didn't tell them and they found out later? Ana Fe was as close to being in a fugue state as any sane person might be.

She almost missed her stop.

A friendly face, who frequently rode the same Jeepney with her, said something to her and roused her out of her dazed state. She thanked the woman very, very much and exited onto a street as flooded as the one she had left earlier. She was fully soaked as she entered the apartment.

The rain had not shaken her, but Joshua’s letters certainly had done so. What should she do? What if she ignored him and lost the one chance her daughters had out of this life? Would that be fair to them? If they said no, then it was no problem for her, except what would they think of her? Would they call her perverted for even entertaining the offer? But what if she never asked them and acted for them by never answering Joshua? Would God be pleased or angry with her? What was she protecting her girls from? Here, they might be raped. Here they might be beaten and abandoned by a husband or boyfriend.

That had happened to her. She had lived with him for years, not marrying because they could not afford a church wedding. That's what she had wanted. And then he left. He left her and the children. There was no marriage. There was no child support to be gotten. In truth, Ana Fe didn't even know what child support payments were. Now, unmarried with three children, she had no future. Here, her children likely had no future. Just why was it so wrong to put up with a pervert if it meant a better life for all of them? It might even include a church wedding.

She walked over to the computer. It was already on. She loaded the Yahoo account and entered the email section. Quickly, before anyone noticed, she created a new email to Joshua without opening his to her.

Dear Sir Joshua,

I was angry when I read the email, but maybe we do this. I will talk my daughters and if they agree, I bring them to internet café Saturday morning. That OK you? Send me photos your apartment.

Salamat Po,1
Ana Fe

She quietly closed the screen and took a deep breath. It was 5:50pm.

§ § §

Joshua was sound asleep when the mail arrived at just before 4am, Tuesday morning. He hadn’t been able to sleep too easily that evening. After sending those three letters, he was anxious, nervous and totally unsure if he had really screwed up. But was it a screw up? It was what he wanted. If she wasn't the one, was he not better off knowing now? Still, maybe there was a better way of broaching the subject than the brick-through-the-window way he had chosen.

He was on tenterhooks, hoping against hope for a positive reply. Would she agree? Would the daughters be pretty? He hadn’t even thought to wonder if the girls would agree. Maybe he should have, but it never entered his mind.

By 2am, sleep had finally quieted his addled brain and sleep was gained. When the alarm clock sounded at 5:30am he was surprised by it, as well as groggy and irritated that he had forgotten again to remove the damned programming, and anxious to know if there was any email waiting for him.

As Joshua was showering in his master bath, Ana Fe was showering in the apartment in Cebu City. With a synchronicity that can only be described as weird, their towels were both in motion at the same time and, once dry, they stepped out of their bathrooms at the same moment. Ana Fe to bed with her daughters; Joshua to his computer and to his email.

What Joshua read was both a happy surprise and a frustration. It was Tuesday morning for him. It would be Friday evening (her Saturday morning) before Ana Fe might get the girls to the Internet café, if they agreed to come. Clearly, she must have thought he would like their looks, or why would she bother? Still there was a lot of waiting happening.

Should he send an email to another girl? Maybe he should. He selected another from the group of 24 and sent an email that was a combination of his first two emails to Ana Fe. Following that, he decided it was time to take some pictures.

Ana Fe had asked about an apartment, but Joshua didn’t live in an apartment. His was a four-bedroom house. He had not needed so much room since the kids left, and then his wife left. Really left. She really left the house, the town and the state. He had always liked the neighborhood and this had been their home for a long time; it was paid for and so this is where he lived. There was a gracious covered porch in the front with a bead-board ceiling, and comfortable chairs and couches. There was a full basement, where he had his rifle and shotgun safe and where he did his reloading. There was a laundry room down there, a bunch of storage and a mechanical room with the water heater and furnace.

On the first floor was a living room, a half bath off the living room, dining room, guest bedroom and attached three quarter bath. The bedroom Joshua had converted to a study. He had the computer on a desk, an easy chair and a TV. Also on the first floor were the kitchen, a back porch off the kitchen with a gas grill, and a back mudroom that opened onto a concrete walk. The walkway took you to the detached garage that opened onto the alley. The second floor had two bedrooms with an adjoining full bath and a master bedroom with an attached bathroom. The garage was big enough for two cars plus a lot of extra “stuff.” Also in the back was a tool shed for the garden equipment.

The house, garage and shed were sided with white clapboard. The eaves were a deep forest green and the roof was black tabbed shingle. It was a double lot with the extra portion extending to the corner of his block. A lawn covered the balance of the house lot and the attached lot. Shade trees lazily spaced on both lots added a sense of graciousness to the house, which really did have a white picket fence around both lots.

Joshua took photos of all of it and sent them off to Ana Fe. Of course, before he took the photos, each room had to be freshly cleaned and made shipshape. This took some time. So did the mowing of the lawn and weeding before he took those photos. Then he took photos of the town, the schools, the hospital, and the Catholic Church. He sent those, too. Joshua was a busy man that week.

It was now Thursday. If nothing else this, his house, benefited from Joshua’s new interests. Every morning and every evening, he looked for email, from Ana Fe, and from the second woman he had emailed.

His inbox appeared to be in revolt. No email appeared other than the odd piece of spam.

§ § §

Ana Fe checked her email upon awakening. There was an email from Joshua.

Wednesday's email subject line read: Kitchen, Dining room and Living room. There was no text below but there were three photos. She opened the one named kitchen. It was huge. But she couldn’t figure out where the hotplate was. Nor did she see the rice cooker. Where was the safe water dispenser? She thought she recognized the fridge, but it was huge. She thought she might be looking at a microwave, but it wasn’t on a counter and if it was built into the wall, what was the other thing below it? There were so many cupboards and closets they surely could not all be for the kitchen. What was the appliance under the counter to the right of the sink? It could not be the refrigerator if the big thing was a refrigerator.

Next, she opened up the dining room photo. Oh, my God! All this room just to eat? The table was huge and there were eight matching chairs around it! The furniture was all fancy and looked like the type of things you saw on TV when looking at the homes of wealthy Filipinos. There was a cabinet completely filled with dishes. It was all so large, so much, so fancy.

Finally, she opened the living room photo. She couldn’t believe her eyes. There was more room here than in their entire apartment. Such luxury! If this was real, she didn’t even know what to think. But one thing seemed to becoming clearer to her. She could not ignore this. She needed to talk with her children.

Mornings were too busy. There was no time now. She would talk with them tonight.

No, not now… now she had to get the clothing washed and pressed, the rice and pancit warmed up. She had to shower, dress and get to work. There was precious little time to think about Joshua. She had spent far too much time already looking at the photos. She had no time to waste.

The rain had stopped again and the roads were dry. The Jeepney trundled down the road like every other day. She sat among those she had sat next to for so many other days such as this one. As they bumped along, Ana Fe had visions of couches, easy chairs, beautiful tables, fancy drapes over pretty windows. She had seen such things on TV but she had never been in such a home. And then there was that kitchen that was so improbable in its appearance. Were there bedrooms like this too? This was a very large apartment.

But she would be sharing a husband with her daughters. Could she do that? Was he really going to require that? Was that really possible?

The Jeepney came to the mall. Ana Fe exited and clocked in with five minutes to spare. The morning moved quickly. There was a sale and her floor area was filled with shoppers.

Today she took only a fifteen minute lunch and was about to clock in 15 minutes early when her supervisor stopped her. She should get out on the floor right now and her supervisor would clock her in at the right time. Ana Fe would get docked for missing the minutes yesterday but she would not get fired by the supervisor for missing those minutes. However she would not get paid for the 15 extra minutes she worked today. It wasn’t fair, but there was no one to whom she could complain. She needed the job and this is simply how things were.

As she walked out onto the sales floor, she realized that Joshua had offered her a life without the need to work at all. Imagine that! She could stay home and take care of that big apartment! That is, if she could accept this man taking her three children as his wives along with her. Could she do that? She wasn’t sure.

As the afternoon wore on, the crowds were thinner and the time seemed to drag. Ana Fe could not afford to spend more money at the Internet Café. She would wait until she got home to see if there was another piece of mail.

The sky was clear as she waited for the Jeepney this evening. She climbed on, finding a seat and passing her pesos up, hand to hand, customer to customer, until it reached the front and the driver. To say it was a quiet ride home would be to misinform, but the riders were quiet. The noise was that of Cebu City itself. It was always loud. Today was no exception. It was a rare fifty seconds wherein a horn did not sound or some other element of the city did not intrude upon the ears.

This evening, Ana Fe came to her stop and disembarked without the need of being reminded. She hurried up the three floors to their apartment and quickly went over to the computer to check her mail. Roberto’s wife made a comment that Ana Fe must have a boyfriend, considering the way she ran to see the mail. There was laughter. Ana Fe had not had a boyfriend for many years. Normally such a comment might have caused her some distress, but not today. Today she ignored it and opened up the mail. There were photos of a study, and some bathrooms; how many can there be in one house? There were photos of three bedrooms. They were each lovely and each had a fine bed in it. The beds, the furniture were matching and incredibly beautiful. How can an apartment be this big? And then she saw other photos of the outside of a building. Oh! He didn’t live in an apartment, this was a house. Was it really his? Who else lived in this house? It surely would not be for him alone. Then she saw a photo of the garage and the car inside. He has a car! There were pictures of a lawn and a garden. Was this truly all his?

She called her girls together and told them she needed to talk to them. They gathered around their mother, not far from the computer. Ana Fe didn’t know how to start this. She didn’t know how to explain any of it. But if the girls rejected it — then no matter how nice Joshua’s home was, no matter what he might do for them, it was all without the required participants and she would tell him as much.

My children, I have something important to tell you and it is difficult to explain so I want you to listen closely.

Ricca blurted out Oh no, something bad!

Ricca be quiet and listen. I met a man online. He thinks he might like me. He lives in the USA and there is a possibility that we could live with him. I am going to show you some photos. Then I am going to have you read what he has written to me. After that, we will need to talk.

One by one, Ana Fe showed them the photos: the kitchen, dining room, the living room, the bedrooms and study. They saw the outside of the house, the lawn, garage and all that it bespoke. There were gasps, giggles, and sighs. There was playful jostling.

And then Ana Fe had them read each letter. Between each letter, they talked about what had been said and how they understood the meaning. The second to last letter caused confusion and an argument about what it really meant. He couldn’t really mean that he wanted good sex from all of us could he? He must have made a mistake. He must have meant only mother when he was mentioning sex. Ana Fe said nothing.

And then the third letter was displayed. There was no doubt any more. Yes, they could all get college educations. Yes, they could all live in that nice house, but they would have to all be wives to Joshua. They would not have to work. But Joshua was ‘abnormal.’ On that, they all agreed.

The concept that they would all marry the same man was beyond hard to fathom. They had no way to even imagine it. It was perverted and wrong. But they didn’t close the windows displaying Joshua’s home. They didn’t close his letters. They didn’t erase any of the emails from the system. They didn’t email back saying ‘no.’

After deciding that Joshua was one truly weird fella, they giggled over what a life in America among the Kanos2 would be like. They playfully argued over who got which bedroom, until Janna said that each of them would be spending time in the Master. That quieted them down again.

Then Ricca said I want to be a doctor! But what if we aren’t pretty enough?

Ana Fe looked at the three sweetest faces in her world. Her face was solemn, but not worried or mean looking. She spoke softly Children, I am worried about many things. Your beauty is not a worry. Joshua would find you pretty if we showed your faces. That much I know. I make decisions for you every day. This is something you must decide for yourself and you must do it soon, but you don’t have to do it now. Let us not talk about this further tonight. I told him if you agreed, he could see you Saturday. That gives us a few days. Do not talk to anyone else about this! Let’s eat.

Ana Fe closed the windows on the screen, logged off the email account and washed up. Her mind was in turmoil. Since when did Ricca dream of becoming a doctor? It would never happen in their lives here, she thought. It could not have just emerged anew without predicate. And yet there was no fertile ground here for such a predicate. All seemed repulsed by Joshua’s proposition, but no one had said, ‘no way’. The door had been left open.

Ricardo had questions about what was happening with his sister but he knew not to ask. Living in close quarters, you just knew that privacy was something you afforded others lest you lose it yourself. It was the only way to live in peace, if not total harmony, when sharing a living space such as they did. Ricardo also knew that if Ana Fe felt she needed help, she would ask. He would be patient, eventually he might learn what was happening and, if he didn’t, he would eventually forget that this had ever happened. They all had to get along. Without each other, bad things would happen to each of them, as it took all of them pulling together to survive.

This was something Ana Fe was aware of as well. She knew that if she left Ricardo and his family, Ricardo and Analen would be unable to make the monthly payments. She was adding to the family coffers, as was Mary. Every peso mattered.

Dinner was uneventful, filled with small, insignificant chatter. Afterward, the kitchen was cleaned to as close to sparkling perfection as was possible to make it. Cleanliness was not the rule because of an arcane value. It was necessary to stay healthy and deny insects and roaches what they needed to begin living with them. Everything was cleaned every day. The bathroom was swamped out and scrubbed down, the clothing washed and ironed, the food put away and the counters and floors washed down. The apartment and its occupants might be humble, but the apartment was clean and its occupants stood up straight.

Night came early and rest was welcome. Ana Fe’s family followed their evening rituals and all became quiet in the apartment. Outside, the din of Cebu City came in unabated through the open windows. Karaoke played with the warbling voices of the untrained, roosters crowed, horns honked, sirens blared. The sound of motorcycles with their inadequate mufflers was ever-present. There was no air conditioning in their apartment and the windows were only closed against the rain when it came.

These sounds were the background to their lives. They gave no thought to it at all. But on this night sleep seemed to elude each of the daughters and Ana Fe. Each had too much to think about. There was too much riding on their decision. Each daughter understood that one ‘no’ was a potential veto against the rest, and each daughter understood what seemed to be in the offer in front of them. For each daughter, to say no was to potentially dash the future of her sisters, even if she didn’t have such hopes. And yet each did, that night, dream dreams of things never before thought possible.

Ana Fe also was thinking. She was having something close to an erotic nightmare. She saw herself placing her twelve-year-old daughter, naked, atop a man and lowering her onto his erect penis. Could she really do this? Would she be sharing a bed with her husband and her daughters? How would this work?

Thursday morning eventually came. As usual, Ana Fe was up before dawn. The first thing she did was turn on the computer before she started her tasks. In between tasks, she would click on something or log in to something until she was in front of the mail program. There were three more pieces of mail from Joshua, each containing more photos. These appeared to be from around his town. It seemed like a small place, not a large city. Ana Fe had grown up in Cebu City. Millions of people lived there. The pictures she was looking at showed nice buildings, clean and well-kept but, in the provinces. She was not sure she could live in the provinces. And not in a single photo did she see a Jeepney, or a bus, or a train, or a taxi, or a tricycle, or a pedi-cab. Just how was she supposed to get around? She closed the windows and logged out of the account.

As with every day, there was little time for introspection. There was too much to do. Everything required many steps. Of course, Ana Fe wasn’t aware that it wasn’t this way all over. It had always been this way for her. When someone bought a cosmetic from her, she wrote up a ticket by hand and walked the cosmetic, her ticket and her customer to the cashier where she would stand in line with her customer until the cashier was ready. Then she could surrender the cosmetic and ticket to the cashier, who would then ring up the sale. She would then walk back to her workstation. Even though the cashier could scan the item when ringing it up, it still had to be compared with the hand-written ticket. This was the way things were done. That it wasn’t done this way in other places was outside of her understanding.

There was no time to think about Joshua. There was no time to think about what might happen to their lives. And so she didn’t consider emailing Joshua. She had told him Saturday and that wasn’t unfair. She was busy.

That night again, there were more photos. One was of a Catholic Church. It was a small thing, not like the Cathedral they attended, when they attended, which was not all that often. Ana Fe closed the window to the mail program and said nothing to anyone.

Friday morning there were no new photos. Ana Fe became fearful. Should she have been writing back? Just because she said Saturday for the girls, should she have been emailing something to him and what should she say? She couldn’t tell him yes. She wanted to say no, but then she was afraid to say no. She didn’t know what to do. There was no time to dwell on this now. Morning was a busy time and she dove into her work.

That Friday, Ana Fe spent no more time on Joshua… but Janna did.

Janna was in her junior year of high school and she was thinking long and hard about her future. She had seen Joshua’s photo. He was a handsome man. She was willing to be the 'wife' of such a man if he would be good to her. If she had to wait until a man could actually marry her, she would have been out of school for at least two years3 if not far, far longer. Her mother might think it wrong for each of them to be his wife, but she didn’t care. If he really could take care of them, Janna had decided that she was in favor of it.

On the way to school this Friday morning, Janna decided she would ditch at least her first class. She wanted to see if she could chat with Joshua. There was an Internet Café just around the corner from the school. Janna would go without lunch and spend some of her money to get on-line. She walked into the Internet Café at 7:10am.

§ § §

It was early Thursday evening and Joshua had not heard from Ana Fe for days. She had not acknowledged the photos he sent and he had not gotten anything back from the other girl he had attempted to contact. He decided it was time to send out an email to a third woman, when he got a request for a webcam chat from Ana Fe. This was a day earlier than he had expected a webcam session, if it were to happen at all. He had never used the feature and didn’t really know how it worked, but the potential to see and hear her stoked his willingness. He clicked on “Accept.”

Two small windows popped up. One was of his face and one of a teenage girl. This was not Ana Fe. She certainly was pretty, but who was she? It must have showed on his face because Janna saw something and quickly announced Hi! I’m Janna. I know Mom’s login and I wanted to meet you. I hope it is OK.

Yes, it’s fine. I am happy to meet you Janna. You are very pretty. What do you know about what your mother and I have been discussing?

Janna was giggling and rolling her eyes. I know you must be a sex addict or something because you want all of us to be your wives. But if you will take care of us, like you say, well, I guess it’s OK with me.

What does the rest of your family think?

I not know what Mom thinks. She told us we had to decide and get back to her. I think Ricca will say yes, but she is too young! Ate4, sorry, that Mary, not say anything to me and I not know about her. Mom said we all had to decide by tomorrow morning. Are you really going to be good to us? You promise?

If we become a family, then, yes, I promise.

Why do you want us all?

The truth is I want you and Ricca. I will accept Mary and your mother because I need your mother to have you and your younger sister and leaving Mary out isn’t smart.

Really? It me and Ricca you want?


I not think Mom know this.

You are right, she doesn’t know this and she doesn’t need to know this. I will be good to her and I will be good to Mary. They don’t need to know. So, Janna, are you my real, honest to God, girlfriend now?

No… not until you come here. You come here and kiss me and then I will be your girlfriend. When will you come here?

Are your sisters all as pretty as you?

Mary is prettier than I am. Ricca is too young to be pretty but she is cute I think. When will you come?

That is something I can’t decide until I hear if all agree on Saturday. And if the others are as pretty as you.

Ha! You will say we are all pretty! If we agree on Saturday then when will you come?

Janna, I can be there in a couple of weeks. Why the rush?

If you are real then you will come right away. I have been told that many men talk about such things but never come. I hope you are not one of them.

I see. I was not aware of that. Does that happen often?

I think it happens most of the time. Will you really help me go to college?

Yes Janna I will. I will also teach you how to drive a car. Would you like to do that?

You have a car?

Yes and we will need more cars if you and your family comes here.

Really? You are able to buy many cars? Truly?

Yes, really and truly.

Sir Joshua, you are gwapo5. Do you know what that means?


Gwapo means handsome Sir Joshua.

Janna, how do I say, ‘you are beautiful.’

Gwapa ka

Gwapa ka, Janna.

Daghang salamat. That means ‘Thank you very much sir.’ And you would say to me, ‘Walang anuman.’ That means, You are welcome.

Walang anuman Janna.

Sir Joshua I must go now, but I think we will be very happy.

I agree Janna. I think you are correct. I hope that we will see each other tomorrow.

Yes, I hope so too. Bye.

And so Joshua had finally made the type of contact that told him his dream might well become a reality. Fifteen-year-old, Janna, had accepted the offer. If Ana Fe accepted, that would be enough. If Ricca also said yes, well that was a celebration, and if Mary agreed, it was as close to perfect as it could become. But if Mary said no, the deal would still work for him.

The next hours were a combination of high anxiety and non-stop masturbation. All he could do was pace the floor, look at the computer and jack-off. All three things he did repeatedly, until he went to bed at 1am. His dreams were fitful.

Half a world distant and with the entire Pacific Ocean between them, Ana Fe, Ricca, Janna and Mary were feeling very differently.

Ricca was a sixth grader and school was a demanding place. She was excited about the adventure of leaving for America. She was frightened that Janna, Mary or their mother would say no to the whole thing. Ricca had long dreamed of being a doctor, but had never mentioned it because there was no way it could happen. And then, out of the blue, this guy says he will put her through college. Wow! And so it had spilled out of her mouth in front of her family without her even being aware that she was spilling the beans she had, for so long, kept hidden, until it was too late. What had they thought of her? Ricca was embarrassed. She was afraid that tomorrow would be the end of her dreams.

Janna returned to school, having missed the first period. She was almost giddy as she made her way through the day's classes. Janna was sure she and Ricca would say yes. She also knew that Mary’s agreement was not needed. She wasn’t worried about what her mother would decide. She knew that if Ricca and she wanted to go, her mother would go. If she was going to say no, she would not have asked them. Mary was old enough that she could be left behind if needed. Janna was walking on a cloud. She would have a gwapo guy, live in the USA and go to college!

Mary was confused as she sat in front of her keyboard and entered in inventory for the store. She tried to keep her mind on work, but it insisted on wandering. She actually had a boyfriend. Her mom didn’t know this. They had not had sex yet, but Mary’s heart was set on the guy. They often had lunch together at a turo-turo6. The possibility of going to the USA was more than just tempting. It was a fantasy now turned into an option. But that option meant leaving her guy and being a ‘wife,’ without ever really being married. That was a sin. Mary assumed that it also meant having children in this new marriage. Her children would be bastards, just as her sisters and she were. She wasn't angry with her mother for that, but if she did this, it would not be an accident of a man who abandoned her, as it was with her mother. With all that in her mind, being a mistress with children, if she took it, the path back to the guy in the Philippines would be closed.

Her life was not easy. She worked hard six days a week. She knew that the rest of her life, if she stayed in the Philippines, even should she marry her guy, would not be easy. But Mary was in love. She would have to forsake a church marriage under the eyes of God, to go to the USA. Mary really didn’t want to go. But, worst of all, Mary assumed that if she said no, she would ruin things for Ricca and maybe Janna. She had no idea what her mother thought or desired and was afraid to ask. Her mother told her to make up her mind without guidance. Mary decided that she needed to talk with Janna.

Ana Fe was a mess. As she had told her daughters, it would be their decision. She wanted to say no. This perversion was wrong. But she could not say no if her daughters wanted her to say yes. How Ana Fe made it through work on Friday was a mystery. By the time, Ana Fe stepped onto the Jeepney, to return home, she could remember none of the day’s business.

Ana Fe knew that if she said yes, she needed to explain the financial obligations she had to her brother in a letter to Joshua. It was Ricardo’s family, as well as her own, that was affected by this. As much as she needed to consider the desires of her daughters, she needed to consider the needs of the others.

She texted Mary and asked her to gather up the other two. They would meet out in front of the apartment house. This discussion needed to happen in private, which in this case meant in public.

Before Ana Fe could join them, that evening, Mary and Janna had already had a discussion. Mary was to the point. Do you want to be a mistress to this guy?

Yes! Mary, he is gwapo. He will send us to college. We will get USA citizenship. Yes, very much yes! You think staying here is a good idea? Really?

Maybe you will meet a nice Filipino here and marry.

You mean like mom did? When will you ever be able to afford a church wedding? You would not have children or sex until when? Maybe you are thirty or older? You think the guy stays with you? Ha!

But it's not right to share a man.

Tell that to all the mistresses that still live in our country. You know that many Filipinos have mistresses. Why is this worse?

Because it's you, Ricca, mom and me?

At least I know I will always love the other women of my guy.

Ok, Ok, we do this.

Twenty minutes later, as Ana Fe exited the Jeepney, she saw her three girls. Gathering around, they formed a huddle to discuss things. Ana Fe turned to Mary first. Do we say yes or no to Joshua?

I want to say no, but Janna and I have spoken and if I say 'no,' I screw thing up for her. I think that I will also disappoint you Ricca. Will I Ricca?

Ricca, looking at the ground, If you say no, I will be unhappy but I will accept your decision Ate.

So mother, how can I say no? My sisters want me to say yes?

Ricca, Janna, is Mary correct? Do you both want to say yes?

Mary was correct. Both girls confirmed that to Ana Fe. Janna chose to not mention that Joshua didn’t really need Mary to come. In truth, Janna really needed her Ate to be with them and so Mary never knew she had an opt-out option. Ana Fe proceeded to explain that she would email Joshua tonight that they would all say yes, but that there was a matter of financial support for her brother’s family. Janna freaked out. This was a bump that she had not expected. There was a possibility that they would lose Joshua!

All four returned to the apartment. After supper, Ana Fe left the apartment, walking down the street half a block to an Internet Café. There she composed a note to Joshua.

Hi Joshua,

I talk my girls. They say OK with you. You will see them in morning. But another problem is my brother’s family. We live them. They need maybe ₱5500 a month if we leave them. You do that? See you tomorrow.

Ana Fe.

The email arrived at Joshua’s inbox on Friday at 5:30am. The alarm went off shortly after that. Each day Joshua swore at the damned clock but hurried to get up to see if any new item had been sent to him. By 6:45am Joshua had read the message and sent back the following.

Dear Ana Fe,

Thank you for the very good news. Assuming that I find all your daughters to be pretty, and there is agreement that all of you will join me, then once you join me, I will send monthly remittances to your brother to cover your part.

All my love,

That email was waiting for the four of them when they assembled at the Internet Café. All four read it, with Janna letting out a yip as the meaning was clear.

In Cebu it was Saturday morning at 10am and in Joshua’s home it was Friday at 8pm.

The intervening hours as the girls slept had been a trial for Joshua. Nothing had gotten done. Not a dish was cleaned, not a shirt washed, not a blade of grass was cut. Even the doors to the house stayed undisturbed. Joshua couldn’t sit still to watch a simple TV show. He kept on thinking about Janna, and what she had said. He hadn’t even thought about traveling to the Philippines. At some level, he was aware that he would need to go, but that concern was more of a future concern just a few hours ago. Now he had to refrain from booking the flight immediately. He needed to see what the Saturday webcam connection might bring.

Now that time was at hand. Joshua was at his computer, logged in and waiting. When the girls logged in to the IM client after reading the mail they immediately saw Joshua was there. Janna had control of the mouse and immediately opened up a webcam session with him.

Joshua was without words. The girls were lovely. Ana Fe and Mary were actually beyond lovely. They were beautiful women. Janna and Ricca were an old man’s wet dream of young girls. They were all smiling and waving. He waved back. There was no way to speak to all of them at once and Janna typed a message to him.

OK… now when are you coming? ; - )

As soon as I log off from this, I will purchase tickets. I will try to be there in about two weeks.

How long you staying here?

How long do you want me to stay this time?

Long as you can. Why you ask this?

After we meet, I have to file for you to come here and I have to do that from here.

Ana Fe leaned over Janna and spoke to her. Janna typed,

How about month? Mom and Mary continue to work, we also go to school. We keep what we have until you get us to USA.

That does not give me much time with you. I will come and if we decide you are coming to the USA, I will provide money to cover for you and your brother’s family until I can bring you here.

You will not pay my uncle after that?

No. I will pay for your uncle after that but no need for you also as you will be here.

Really? You pay us even before we come to USA?


Where you stay when you here?

I will see about a rental apartment.

Mom says I the one to IM you because I home earlier. But the Internet Café cost money we don’t have.

I will send your mom money for the following things: Each of you gets a new dress, new panties, new shoes, and just before I get there, a trip to the beauty parlor. Plus I will send enough for daily IM sessions. OK? How much do you need to do all that?

Up to you.

No, Janna, I need to know how much money you need to get those things.

After some discussion, a decision appeared to have been made.

Mom check on the beauty parlor and I let you know tomorrow.

The IM session went on with Joshua greeting each one and each one typing at least one sentence to him via IM. When the ₱20 was used up, and the goodbyes had been said, the session ended and they were gone.

§ § §

1 - Thank you, Sir. [The 'po' being non-gender specific.] [Pronounced: POH]
2 - Kano: pronounced ‘ka-NO’ with a fast stop at the ‘O.’ Slang word for an American man, especially a white man, short for Amerikano.
3 - Philippine law requires a person to reach the age of 18 to marry and there are no exceptions. At the time of this story, High School in the Philippines was from 7th to 10th grade. Students graduated at age 16.
4 - Ate: [Pronounced: ah-Teh.] Older sister but can also indicate an older and respected female.
5 - This is Cebuano not Tagalog. The Tagalog would have been "pogi."
6 - Turo-Turo: Literally means point-point. a small type of restaurant which offers meals for cheap prices usually found along the sidewalks where the food is displayed and you point to what you want to eat.

§ § §

Chapter 3