“Who is Mrs. Wan?” asked Lily. I could hear some worries in her voice. She must have seen May Linh blanched and seen the seriousness on my face when I told them I had just gotten a call from Mrs. Wan. This was quite unexpected. For more than two years now, May Linh, Lily and I had been living together, both of them nude, in perfect harmony, in my house by the beach, under the contract old Mr. Me had devised. Now this.
“Who is Mrs. Wan?” Lily insisted. Mrs. Wan was the director of a headhunting bureau in the capital of this Southeastern Asian country through which I had met with May Linh. Lily didn’t know any of this but May Linh knew a call from Mrs. Wan could only mean bad news, at least as far as she was concerned. Indeed, I had never heard again of Mrs. Wan since the day May Linh agreed to my contract and we had never mentioned her ever again since that day.
“Mrs. Wan is an old acquaintance of ours,” I said.
Then I remembered Mrs. Wan’s family was from the same little town as May Linh, which is how they knew each other, and Lily was from the same town as May Linh. CQFD. Maybe Lily didn’t know of Mrs. Wan but Mrs. Wan maybe knew of Lily. Shit, that’s the last thing I needed, a call from Mrs. Wan, just when I thought I had finally reached shore and was happily living with May Linh and Lily and both seeming to be quite happy about it as well.
So I told them Mrs. Wan told me to go pick up a girl I didn’t catch the name of tomorrow at the 3:45 train from the capital.
For one fleeting moment I saw a veil of anger flow on May Linh’s face, as if I had purposely called Mrs. Wan before, without saying anything, just so there would be yet another Asian women living in the nude with me, with us. And I understood that May Linh, for an instant, thought that I was not satisfied or something with the two of them. As if that could be the case. I could feel May Linh probing my mind and she saw in there what I knew: I didn’t call Mrs. Wan, I didn’t ask for this and I was perfectly happy with the two of them. Then the anger left her face, replaced by a look of interrogation and sadness.
“So you mean another woman is coming here tomorrow?” asked Lily. “That should be fun,” she said. I wasn’t so sure.
“I don’t know if she’ll come here tomorrow but I think I have at least to go to the train station,” I said, looking in May Linh’s eyes for help. She turned back, a bit stiff, and went inside the house. I had a great look at her wonderful ass, her long hair, and she went to sit on her piano stool and started to play.
I had tried to call Mrs. Wan back, of course, but I couldn’t reach her and I left numerous messages and she never called back. What else could I do? Not go? I thought about it but then I knew I had to go.
So Lily went to the office to lay on the couch, working on learning America by heart on her laptop and May Linh was playing sad tunes and I remained alone on my porch, drinking beer and smoking my French joints and I could look at the ocean and the big sky. Yet, I couldn’t help but feeling sorry for myself. The whole evening was fucked up. Shit, I hadn’t felt this lonely for a very long time now, at least two years, at least since May Linh and Lily had been with me.
I felt shitty but, somewhere deep in me, I was curious. After all, when I had first devised this way of life, I had thought about living with three nude women. Maybe this was a sign, maybe this was god sent, just to change the routine a bit, to reshuffle the cards. After all I didn’t ask for this and, after all, if I had met May Linh in the first place, wasn’t it through Mrs. Wan’s office? And who brought Lily in?
Well, for some reason, there was no sweet gamahuche that night, no sweet French finger kiss.
And no swimming the next morning.
Then I was on my way to the train station, a 35 miles ride through country roads. So I turned on the radio. And there was that mystic voice again. See, on that ride to the 3:45pm train, I would hear sometimes that incredible Asian radio female voice, sweet and sensual, and I couldn’t understand a thing of what she was saying but I knew she’d announce the next song, and it was mostly American oldies, and that voice was mesmerizing, as if I was hearing the call of a siren.
And every time I heard that voice, I was on my way to the train station to pick up Asian women that were to live in the nude with me. That day, the sweet voice announced The Doors; in the Asian dialect gibberish, I recognized the name. So I wondered what song the radio would play: it was ‘Show me the way to the next whiskey bar’.
I didn’t know what to think of that or how to interpret this situation. Was I the only one to hear that voice on the radio? Was she there just for me? To warn me? But, I thought, picking up May Linh then Lily was probably among the best things I ever did in my life so I shouldn’t worry. But I was worried somehow.
Anyway, I got to the train station and I was early. So I went to the train station bar and ordered a bloody Mary and the new waitress said “What?” “A beer,” I said. I was pissed off already. I was thinking of May Linh and Lily, back at home, wondering. Fuck fuck fuck, why didn’t I go back right now and forget about it and go to swim; rather be eaten by sharks than this I was thinking.
I was of course most incapable of fleeing. Anyway I heard over the sound system than the 3:45pm train was coming in and I saw every one getting busy and I didn’t need translation. So I paid my bill mindlessly.
I’ll recognize her Mrs. Wan had said. So I waited at the exit, at the end of the platform. I first saw coming the first class people and the people in a hurry and the farm women coming back from the market where they sold their goods in the capital. Then I saw her and I knew it was her of course.
She came off the car and, once on the platform, she kind of looked this way and that way just to know which way she should go. She had a little suitcase only. She was wearing some kind of night blue suit, skirt and jacket, over a white blouse. No stocking. Flat shoes. She had short hair, sun glasses, and a blue silk scarf, the same color of the suit, over her head. She looks like a flight attendant I thought. Still, from where I was, she could have been 30? 35? 25? With Asian women, I never know how old or how young they are really but I could tell this one wasn’t born from the last rain.
Then she saw me and, I guess, she recognized me. She waved. Christ! What did Mrs. Wan had told her?
“Mr. You?” she said once she reached me, showing her hand. And I saw in her eyes that she though old Mr. Me was indeed kind of old. What? What did she think, that I was Tarzan or something?
I was even more pissed already because, by now, I was used to May Linh and Lily’s hands. May Linh was gardening and playing her piano every day and her hands and fingers were strong and she was in control of them. Lily was building things and doing massages and her hands and fingers were strong as well and she was in control of them. And if you’d shake hands with any of these two women, they’d give you a handshake.
This woman’s handshake was soft, she just lend you her hand and this was the hand of a woman who has never worked a day in her life and I guessed she wouldn’t even know how to wash the dishes if she had to. So that pissed me off.
“Yes, I’m Mr. Me,” I said. “And you are?”
“Margaret. Margaret Law. But everyone calls me Maggie,” she said.
Margaret? Margaret Law? Maggie?
Yet, she was Asian alright!
Now that she was close, I could tell her suit was an expensive one, her perfume was subtle and she was tall, almost as tall as me, and she was not from this country but from somewhere else in Asia.
“Do you have a cigarette?” she asked.
I was startled because neither May Linh nor Lily smoked.
“Sure,” I said and gave her one. Then I got my lighter out and gave her a light and I saw her lips, red with lipstick. Sensual lips.
I didn’t know what to do so I asked her to follow me and that’s what she did. I let her carry her own suitcase.
Iconography: Marc Chagall, Paradis