When old Mr. Me bought this remote house by the beach in this warm southeastern Asian country, part of the reason was to escapee the folly of the world, its violence, its hypocrisy. I just wanted peace for my last years and be away from it all. Then May Linh and then Lily signed my contract and came to live, in the nude, with me. And they too didn’t care too much about the rest of the world. It was perfect and serene.
But when Maggie unexpectedly showed up, the fragile balance of our tranquil way of live was shattered. Maggie was hiding from something or someone, a heartbreak I figured, or she had maybe embezzled her boss or held up a bank or something. I didn’t care that much. But she eventually had to explain her arrival in this secluded place. And when she did, while May Linh and Lily were away, the outside world all of a sudden caught up with me.
We were on the front porch, in the evening, drinking – bloody Maries for her and beer for me – and we hadn’t eaten all day and, an hour or two ago, I had been so mad at her… Anyway, she was stark naked and I was stealing glances at her lascivious body and I was ready now to listen. Then she told me her story.
“Look,” she started, “in Hong Kong, I am, I was I guess, the mistress of a powerful corrupt politician, his name is Cao Cao. He’s a big guy, a tycoon I mean, he’s involved in all kinds of trafficking, and he’s important I guess. He came with the new brand of politicians who showed up from the mainland after Hong Kong reverted its sovereignty to China. He was a good looking Chinese guy, ambitious, older than me when I met him. I wasn’t doing much with my life, he was married but I didn’t care. And, after a while, I had this apartment – I never went to his home -, this bank account, golden credit cards, I was going to every dinner and party in town, it was incredible and I just L O V E D it.
And we liked each other in the sense that we knew perfectly how to be together, inside and outside. I was there when he needed company and when he needed sex, both going together really, and I knew what he wanted and gave it to him no question asked, like your contract says, and he was a lot more brutal than you’ll ever be. Anyway. And when he was taking me out with him, he knew that I could have a conversation with anyone and would never make him look bad and that I knew how to handle myself in this kind of circles.
I knew that because that’s where my mother comes from. But her dad, my grand-father, ran out of luck so she had to marry my father, who wasn’t rich by any mean, and she resented him for that and she raised me, an only child, just so I could get back up there, where she came from. And, with Cao Cao, as his mistress yes, but I did get there, and a lot farther up than my mother ever dreamed of. And it lasted a long time.
I never asked old comrade any question about his business, and this he liked too, a lot. But I know he is a brutal man, as brutal as he is powerful. Sometimes, over the years, I’d hear him give orders and what I heard gave me the chills. But I always shut up and I was kind of happy to see sometimes my picture in the papers. I never saw his wife, not once, not even in the papers, not even on Internet.
Anyway I had a bunch of goofy friends from college and this was a good life and it didn’t call for much work, like here in a way. Old comrade asked me many times to have a kid with him but I always refused. ‘Divorce your mainland Chinese peasant wife, marry me, and I’ll give you ten children if you want’ I’d tell him. ‘I would provide for them’ he’d say, and he was sincere I guess but still, I knew that if I’d give that up, he’d lock me up into ‘the mother of his child’ and I could forget smoking and drinking and dancing and he could forget jumping me like a whore, the way he likes it. Ok, I’d give all that up but only if he’d marry me. ‘If not, no deal’ I told him. I was thinking, you want a kid? Ok but I want you to be mine and me yours, father, mother, this stuff.
And that’s where it stood as more than 15 years went by, so quickly now that I think of it, and I’m now already very close to the end of my biological clock. You know how old I am, don’t you Mr. You?”
Indeed I knew. I looked at her nude body and I understood.
“So I was really getting ready to have a child with him as a father, even if not married, just for myself in a way, a kid just for me, when, several months ago, I noticed a new distance between him and me. All of a sudden I wasn’t seeing him that much and he wasn’t calling me as much and he was distant when I called. I always had my own place, for which he paid, and I never saw him every day. But we were close, really, like I said, and there was rarely a day when we didn’t call or send a message to each other, just to say hi. And we had been together such a long time.”
I remembered then that quote from French writer Honoré de Balzac. It says something like ‘a man will never elevate his mistress to his rank, but a woman will always place her lover as high as she’. And I kind of guessed what was coming but I didn’t say anything.
Maggie continued. “So, when he became aloof, I knew he had found another bitch, younger than me and who would give him the goddamn kid. So I tracked him down and I found out who she was, and when I knew for sure, it made me so fucking mad. But I kept acting as if I knew nothing.
One night, I was waiting for him as he had said he’d drop by my place. And I had everything ready for him and I had prepped myself the way he likes it. But I had something to tell him and I was firmly waiting for him. And I waited and waited, drinking bloody Maries and waiting and drinking and he never showed up. The son of a bitch stood me up, just like that, and I knew he was with this bitch I thought was my friend and I was so furious and so sad and so drunk that I trashed the place, all the cooking, all the clothes, the furniture, everything. I was outraged.
So I called a friend of mine, a journalist – a people magazine type of journalist, and I just needed someone to talk to I guess – and I told him how he could find proof this asshole big shot comrade was corrupt up his ass, that he had swindled millions of public money and was hooked up with the Triades and had illegal bank accounts all over the planet, from Switzerland to the Virgin Island, two places for example I visited on several occasions and now he was leaving me and I cried and talked and talked to my friend and that was that.
The next day I left Cao Cao several messages but he never called back. It was too late anyway. The morning after, The Hong Kong Chronicle had the story on front page. TVs, radios, Internet, etc. It went wired. Christ almighty! That day, it was the top of the news on every news channels, even on CNN, and, in the street, I could see his portrait on every screen I’d look at. Then he did leave me a message. It said: ‘You fucking bitch, I’ll kill you.’ That’s all that the message said. And I knew he could.
So I panicked. I had to get out of Hong Kong, fast. But to go where? And who could help me? Cao Cao knew all of my friends and he was probably already after their asses. Then I remembered this Eurasian woman I had met with several times, usually at embassies or expat parties for lunch or dinners or breakfasts or whatever. Her mother is Japanese-Chinese and her father is Franco-Maltese or whatever. Her name is Louise and she speaks so many languages and she was kind of fun when I’d see her and all the expats loved her. We had talked together a few times and she had told me that she’s running a bureau catering to rich expats’ every needs, right here in Hong Kong, her job being some kind of high class concierge I guess.
I had her office number and I easily found the address. On the way there, I tried my credit cards. Two didn’t work already so I pulled as much cash as I could with the others and went to Louise’s office. She was surprised to see me, so I told her the truth. She was flabbergasted but she agreed to help me.
Yet, she didn’t know quite what to do so she called her boss, this Mrs. Wan, explaining the situation. Mrs. Wan called back an hour later, and she told my friend and me about this remote place somewhere by the ocean, somewhere that wasn’t even on the maps, that I could live there for a while but that I’d have to be nude around old Mr. You, the owner of the place.
Mrs. Wan told me old Mr. You was a decent man, that all I had to do was to be naked.
Anyway I didn’t have much time to hesitate and not that much cash, so my friend took me to the airport. I wanted to pay Louise something for her help but she refused. I had left with the clothes I had on, so, at the duty free store, I bought a small suitcase and few clothes, underwear, lipstick and a tooth brush. I paid in cash because I didn’t want to use my credit card where Cao Cao could trace me.
Once I arrived in the capital city of this country, I took a cab to Mrs. Wan’s office and she made a phone call, to you I guess, and set me up in a cheap hotel and the next day she put me in a train, told me to get off at the last stop and that you’d be there to pick me up. I had just enough money to pay her. In the train, I didn’t know what to think, especially this naked business but I figured it couldn’t be worse than what I had been doing all those years.
Then the train reached its destination and there you were, old Mr. You. And that’s how it happened and how I got here. Then I read your contract, I couldn’t believe it but I signed it because I had no choice. Now I would sign it on my own, with both hands, but that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m sorry for you guys, for May Linh, for Lily, for you, because, now that I know you, all three of you, neither of you deserves this, you guys have nothing to do with this mess I’ve created and then I came and fucked it up here too. You know, since I’ve been living here, I haven’t been that happy in a long time and I’m now wondering myself what in hell I’ve been doing all those years in this shit, in this Hong Kong shit? I’m so sorry.”
She looked sincerely downhearted.
“We don’t deserve what?” I asked.
“This Cao Cao fuck is after my ass and if he finds me here, I know he’s going to hurt you guys.”
“Well, what could he do? Kill old Mr. Me?” I asked smiling.
“I don’t know what he’d do to you guys but I’m afraid he would do something. Anyway, I don’t want him to find me because if he does, I’m dead,” she said, and she wasn’t smiling.
Somehow, knowing the truth, I felt now a lot better and I knew I felt better also because I was not unhappy with my performance in fucking her earlier today, when I was so pissed. Now I knew I had some real reasons to be pissed but I wasn’t anymore. Anyway, I knew I would never beat anyone like this ever again but I was somewhat thankful to Maggie for the experience and what she gave me and what she had allowed me to feel. That’s probably what she was doing to her corrupt Cao Cao asshole politician back in Kong Kong and why he liked her so much.
One thing was for sure, I was now starving, and she had to be starving too, and there was no point of dying of hunger.
Iconography: Abstract by Ellar Wise