May Linh and Lily were now reunited in May Linh’s place, up in the mountains of this southeastern Asian country. And they were waiting for Maggie. The kid, who went to pick her up at the airport, would be back for dinner, around 9 pm. May Linh and Lily had time during the day to walk around town, see the neighbors, visit the school, and meet with the architect, the pupils. They were happy to go home early and work together in the garden for a while. It was too cold to be nude but they worked side by side, like old times, each lost in her own thoughts.
When it became dark, they took a shower together and they were laughing a lot, then Lily gave May Linh a massage in the bedroom and May Linh felt a lot better after that. Then May Linh played her piano as Lily was doing the refills on white wine, with ice cubes in it. And May Linh’s was playing a blues tune in honor of Lily being there, an old blues from New Orleans called Junkers’ blues. And the whole neighborhood was happy that Lily was back and all were listening to the blues and even the trees and the mountains.
Then they heard the car and, all of a sudden, Maggie was there. And she had a baby with her!!!!! The kid looked at May Linh and Lily, his eyes saying “this is not my fault.” The three women looked at each other for a second, the kid hadn’t even put Maggie’s luggage down yet, and then May Linh and Lily and Maggie were in each other arms, hugging and crying – “you’re alive, you’re alive” was saying Lily. So the kid went to unload the car and left them alone.
“But, this baby…” Lily said, after they regained their composure, “is it what I think it is?”
“Yes,” Maggie said.
“But how did you?” asked Lily.
All three of them knew perfectly well what were Mr. You’s preferences.
“One night, while you were away.”
“He knew about Cao Cao?” asked May Linh.
“Yes,” Maggie said.
“So how did you do it?” insisted Lily.
“I don’t know. We had gone to eat crawfish and we had been talking and drinking and he knew the truth by then and that night we were ready for a gamahuche but I lead him there and I wanted to make sure he knew what I was doing, and he knew, so I lead him and we made love and ‘voilà!’”
May Linh and Lily were flabbergasted, Maggie was a bit shy and she was holding her baby.
“A boy or a girl?” asked May Linh.
“A boy,” Maggie said.
“What’s his name?” asked Lily.
“His name is Simon,” Maggie said.
“Simon says,” said Lily.
“Simon says,” said May Linh.
“He’s a cute baby, he hasn’t cried once in the car,” the kid said. “Hell, I’ll be his father if needed to.” And the three women laughed.
“But how come you’re not dead?” asked Lily, serious again.
The kid was listening intently, trying to understand. He realized that, since Maggie had arrived, everyone was speaking in English now, just like him with her in the car, because Maggie was Chinese, he knew now she was from Hong Kong. Before, since Mr. You’s disappearance, they had been speaking their own language among themselves but, with Maggie’s presence, they were back to English and, somehow, back to Mr. You. Still, the kid wasn’t sure to understand everything: What did Lily mean by ‘how come you’re not dead’?
So Maggie explained. That one night when Jacky Chan and his goons showed up, it was not to kill her, it was to take her alive. As it turned out, after she had revealed Cao Cao’s swindles and after she had disappeared, the press started to say Cao Cao must have killed her and now, in Hong Kong, the debate was not whether Cao Cao should be tried for embezzlements but for murder. And Cao Cao knew he didn’t killed her, he wished he had but he didn’t. In the meantime, he needed to find Maggie alive, fast, if only to prove to the press and the government that he indeed didn’t kill her.
“When I got back in Hong Kong, he forced me to play the game in front of the press: ‘yes, yes, I had retired in a Buddhist temple because I needed to think about the consequences of my past actions’, these sorts of things and I played the game. And, I guess, I could have won him back because he did missed me and now everything was in lawyers’ hands and he was back in business anyway so there was a chance for things to revert back like they were before. But, when he found out that I was pregnant, he got furious; I thought that, this time, he would really kill me. He beat me up and I told him the father was old Mr. You. He wouldn’t believe me. He got completely mad. He called Jacky Chan in his office and asked him: ‘the old fuck you beat up in that place, how did he look like?’ he asked. ‘Like an old white man’ Jacky Chan said. ‘So, if he looked like an old man, WHY did you beat him up for fuck’s sake? He couldn’t be that old…’ Cao Cao was screaming.”
“Anyway, I was toast,” Maggie continued. “Once he was done parading me in from of the press and had shown his good faith to anyone who needed to know, he dumped me just like an old whore. I had no more work, no more money, no more friends because they were all scared, they all knew what happened to my friend running Mrs. Wan’s office in Hong Kong. And I was pregnant. So I went back home. My dad was nice and happy for me because of the baby that was coming but my mother was frantic and mean. I had no money, no status, I was 40 year old and soon to be the mother of a baby whose father I couldn’t begin to describe to her, neither to my dad as a matter of fact. So I had the baby and my mother didn’t want to look at it at first. Now it’s better but it’s tough for me to live with them, back in the old small apartment.”
“And that’s when I got your call,” Maggie said to May Linh.
“Mr. You knew you were alive?” Lily said.
“No,” May Linh said, before anyone could answer.
“Thanks, May Linh,” Maggie said, “but no, he didn’t know because I wanted it this way. I didn’t want Mr. You to worry, because he would have, he would have tried something if anything happened to any of us. So, with the baby, he would have worried. I told May Linh that I was alive though, so someone would know, and I knew Mr. You was with May Linh and I didn’t want to mess it up again and, anyway, I had that baby I needed to take care of.”
“I’ll be the father of that boy,” said the kid again. And he was dead serious. “It doesn’t mean that I want to marry you” he told Maggie, blushing, “just that I could help you to take care of him, give him a daddy or something.”
The three of them looked at him in surprise and he smiled.
“Trust me,” he said.
So May Linh and Lily helped Maggie and her baby to settle in the house and feel comfortable and now they were speaking freely among themselves, because they trusted each other, none of them could lie. Then they had dinner and had a great evening, talking and laughing and carrying the baby.
They decided that they would drive down south the next morning, back to the old beach to throw Mr. You’s ashes out in the ocean he liked so much, maybe while swimming naked by the sandbar.
“I’ll drive you,” the kid said.
“No”, Lily said, “I’ll do the driving. You stay here and look things over and have the car ready by tomorrow morning, you can’t come this time.”
“Ok,” said the kid, “I’ll have the car ready tomorrow morning early” and he smiled to them and he left.
And they went to bed together, naked, Maggie in the middle, like before, Maggie scratching Lily to sleep, like before.