The contract old Mr. Me had drawn stipulated that the ladies living with me in my secluded home by the beach in this always warm southeastern Asian country, had to live in the nude around me. This was a work contract so May Linh and Lily had two days off a week, which they would take all at once every three weeks or so. Maggie too could have had two days off but Maggie wasn’t going anywhere.
Maggie had even refused to accompany me went I drove to drop May Linh and Lily off at the train station like it was customary. May Linh and Lily, who were from the same village up north, would take all their days off together at the same time, usually when they had their period, and would be gone about a week. Indeed, after the more than two years they had been living together, older May Linh and younger Lily now had their period at the same time, to the day.
And just as customary, I would find myself alone at home for a week. I knew exactly how it worked. The first couple of days, I’d enjoy being by myself, not cleaning the dishes and not making the bed and not putting away my cans of beer and smoking more French joints than usual. And those days, I could somehow swim very well and very far because I didn’t expect them to wait for me on the sandbar so I was in no hurry and didn’t think of them and somehow swam better, more relaxed.
And those were good days, doing nothing, save for feeding the animals, looking at the ocean and the big sky, drinking beer and listening to Buddy’s blues maybe. I guess it was good for my eyes to be resting and it somehow calmed me down, at first, not to see a beautiful naked Asian lady everywhere I looked around.
But I would eventually get bored with that, if only because I didn’t like the house to be messy anyway and there was only so far old Mr. Me could swim in the ocean, it’s not as if I was trying to swim to Malaysia or something. So that’d get me out of the house. Meaning going to see Carter and shoot the breeze or have a couple of beers in the regular joint where I go sometimes and where they know me and, between Carter and the local villagers, I’d have all the news I needed to know.
After that, there were one or two days left only so I’d start longing for May Linh and Lily, cleaning up the house real good, buying flowers, including some white ones for May Linh’s altar, and I’d even clean the coop and harvest the veggies and start imagining them and couldn’t wait. I didn’t know how May Linh did but she always called when I couldn’t pick up the phone. She’d always leave the same message: “we arrive tomorrow with the 3:45pm train” and I was always so happy to go pick them up, to see them come off the train, Mary Poppins and a big red riding hood.
Well, at the moment I had just put them in the train, leaving, and I guess I was a little bit sad, like always, to imagine already their return. I was driving back but this time, something was different because Maggie was at home and I wouldn’t be alone, instead I would be alone with Maggie, for the first time really, and I didn’t know how that would play out. I sensed that it was a lot easier with May Linh and Lily around. Even then, things were different with Maggie.
I hardly touched her for example. Yes, in two weeks, old Mr. Me fucked her twice, but it was only during Lily’s massages. Again, Lily was right: without her massages, I would at this point probably never have touched yet Maggie’s ass. All that to say that Maggie was not exactly overworked and she came to realize, I think, that the contract she had signed was fair enough. Which goes to show that I could have rightfully, so to speak, tried the fondling part of the contract with her but it hadn’t happened yet. I wondered why? Maybe I wasn’t assertive enough?
Well I must say that there was already plenty of sex for old Mr. Me, what with Lily’s massages, the gamahuching and love making with May Linh, the clearing in the jungle once in a while with Lily, and now Maggie, already twice her bumhole. So it’s not as if I was sexually frustrated and drooling to get lucky. In fact it had become somewhat natural for us, May Linh, Lily and I, and it had nothing to do anymore about any drive or urge.
The drive remained in the ogling though. This I could never tire of and I was still, after all this time, gazing at them with a passion, every day, and being dumbstruck by the beauty of it, the most beautiful thing in the world, a nude women, Asian but that’s me, and there was no fear, no ambiguity, just generosity. Still, that made me think about fondling Maggie. Christ, I didn’t even know how to begin about it.
By then I was already in the village. Since May Linh and Lily always left with the 10:45 am train, it was early, about noon. I could go home and swim, with Maggie maybe I thought. But I decided instead to go have lunch at the Lemon Tree, Carter’s place.
“Hey Mr. You, what’s up what’s up,” he said with a big smile when he saw me.
The thing with Carter was his discretion. His wife was friend with May Linh and Lily and I guess he already knew, as I showed up, that I just came from the train station. Maybe he even expected me to drop by. He probably knew about Maggie too. Jesus, you can never escape, there is always someone knowing where you are and what you are doing.
Anyway, I was happy to see Carter. I sat at a corner of the bar. He was busy at this time of the day, in this season, the touristic season, the village being full of people from everywhere speaking aloud and being full of themselves, for most of them. Sometimes you do meet tourists who are not total morons. In fact that reminded me about that one night at Carter’s, there was this beautiful and funny Norwegian girl, blonde with blue eyes of course, traveling alone and we had been talking at the bar, drinking Norwegian beer Carter had gotten for her and she was a bit tipsy and asking me what I was doing here and who I was and what was my name and silly questions like that.
So I looked at her and I looked at her forms. For a guy who would like tall Norwegian blondes, she was it I guess. So, I told her the truth. I told her everything, the aliens’ money, the contract, May Linh, Lily, beyond the contract, the swimming, the garden, the animals, the snakes, the passion for the round eye, etc.
After a while I could see her discomfort because she didn’t know if I was joking or not.
“It’s a nice story,” she said, laughing it off.
“It’s not a story,” I said.
And I asked her if she wanted to try living in my place by the ocean, I told her that this was the occasion for her to stay since she seemed to like this country so much, that’s what she had said, and since she was traveling alone, etc. And I was sincere I guess, I would have let her live with us for a while and who knows?
At least now she had to consider the offer and she did. Then she declined the job, getting red in the face, and that was fine with me. Fact is, we never saw her again, she was traveling the world like a good girl scout, bringing back magnets as badges of honor and crossing that country off her to-do list.
“Stop scaring the nice tourists,” I heard Carter tell me.
Anyway that day I had lunch and, once Carter could take a break, we played backgammon. Shit, I couldn’t win a game that day and that was unusual and even Carter was surprised at his good luck.
“Hey Mr. You, the wheel turns and your luck is gone,” he said, cracking up so happy he was at winning for once. But I didn’t like the way his joke sounded and it made me think again of Maggie. And, all of a sudden, a thought came through my mind. The money!
Indeed I had most of my money in cash in the house because, in this country, a lot of business is still made in cash and I didn’t want my banker nor anyone know what I was doing with my money and where and with whom, like they would if I used my credit cards.
The money! Of course May Linh and Lily knew where the cash was and they would dig into it by themselves to fill up the money jar in the kitchen for daily expenses like groceries and gas and stuff. But I always trusted May Linh and Lily and it never occurred to me that anything could happen to the money. But Maggie?
What was she fleeing from to begin with? Of course, after two weeks in the house, she knew where the money was and she had been alone at home since this morning, plenty of time to disappear with the loot. Christ, now that I had thought of it, I couldn’t get rid of the idea: what if Maggie…?
And all that came with Carter’s remark: the wheel turns and your luck is gone. My good humor was gone and now Carter was beating the shit out of me at backgammon and making fun of me. So I didn’t hang at the Lemon Tree as long as I would have usually but, as I left, I paid for all the beers; it was a first but it was fair I guess, I hadn’t won a single game.
I drove home too fast, I knew, and I had to calm down. Night was falling and this is when you can’t distinguish a dog from a wolf so I had to be careful. When I arrived at the garage I didn’t honk. I went down the path to the house, could see no light in the kitchen and in the office but saw lights in the rest of the house and on the front porch. As I went to the bedroom to change clothes, I stopped by the office and checked the money. It was there, all there. Jesus, what’s wrong with me? I thought.
Sure enough Maggie was on the porch, listening to music, smoking, drinking bloody Mary and, for lack of other things to do, looking at the ocean and the big sky I guess. I grabbed a beer and joined her.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hello,” she said, “did everything go fine? May Linh and Lily are gone?”
“Yes, everything went fine and they’re gone,” I said.
And I looked at her and she was smiling and she didn’t seem to fear anything and she seemed happy to see me and I was looking at her nude body and she didn’t mind and I could hear the ruckus in the jungle so I figured everything was ok. I popped my beer open.
“Cheers,” I said.
“Cheers,” she said.
I sat next to her, looked at the ocean, the big sky and I thought: now, about that fondling, how do I go from here?
Iconography: abstract by Ellar Wise