As time was passing by since May Linh, first, and then Lily had agreed to old Mr. Me’s contract and were living with me in the nude, and more, in my house by the ocean in this warm southeastern Asian country, the three of us had created our own little autarkic planetary system which was slowly finding its balance.
The universe is always searching for balance as the universe has eternity to settle into a rhythm. Even if it’s once in a ten billions years rhythm, with eternity, it is a rhythm soon enough. Yet it takes the least among of matter, and god knows there are billions and billions of objects, tiny and huge, traveling in the universe, so it takes only a biddy thing to appear inadvertently in the scheme of things and the whole shebang is set off course and thrown into a violent shamble.
And, once the shamble is over, the universe starts again searching for balance and has eternity to do it. Until the next bit of interspace matter appears inadvertently, etc. And so it was in Old Mr. Me’s house by the beach.
Indeed, no matter what it was May Linh, Lily and I did that was new to us – and the three of us, in our warm bubble, had been inventing a lot lately – no matter the excitement we felt the first time, whatever it was would eventually settle into the balance and just take its place. Which doesn’t mean we’d stopped liking it, I’m thinking about Lily’s massages for example; it is just that, whatever it was, however new it was once, it would eventually fall into a routine. And yes a lot can be said for routine, for the sense of security and stability that it brings. Isn’t it how the vast majority of people live, doing the same things over and over every day of their life and finding comfort in the predictability of things to come?
And, true, there can also be excitement within a routine. For example, soon enough, I was kind of excited when, two days before, I was already expecting the time and the gamahuche I’d have on Friday’s afternoons with May Linh, just the two of us, when Lily would be gone. But even that would soon lose its edge. And I had to admit I kind of liked the routine we had established and I felt comfortable with it.
Anyway, Lily had access, somehow, to the universe’s molecular and nuclear energy. Indeed, just as I was thinking that we were close to finding the right balance in the way the three of us were living together, Lily just knew how to rev up the place and May Linh and old Mr. Me couldn’t help but follow suit.
“Mr. You,” Lily said one day, after lunch, “do you know that I can drive?”
Well, no, I didn’t.
“You can drive?” I asked, a bit surprised, looking at May Linh, who shrugged.
“Yes,”, Lily said, “and I have a driver license.”
“And you have a driver license?” I said, taken aback.
“Yes, let me show you,” she said.
And she walked inside to the bedroom and again I was flabbergasted just to look at her young nude body walking with energy and elegance. And she came back with what she told me was her driver license. I couldn’t tell because I couldn’t read their Asian runes but I could see it looked official and it had her picture on it and I could see it was her; with eyes like hers, she couldn’t hide anywhere. So I looked at May Linh who, with her eyes, let me know that, as far as she was concerned, this was real. I sighed.
“And?” I asked.
“Oh,” Lily said, “can we, May Linh and I, take the car today? We’d like to go to town.”
We? So they had talked about it. And so they should I guess; it was not in the contract that I should know everything of their conversations but I felt excluded nonetheless.
Going to town is a 35 mile ride and I made it often to drop and pick them up at the train station, back and forth. It was small country roads almost all the way, and you had to be looking out for lots of people on foot and on bikes of all kinds, and looking out for buses and trucks and cars and whatnot, and looking out for chickens and buffalos. Then you had five miles of highway to get in town and once in town it was bikes’ country. Not a simple ride and I had never seen 24 y.o. Lily drive! Had she ever driven anything other than a Vespa? I knew for sure that May Linh, in her late forties, early fifties, had never driven a car. So I hesitated before answering Lily.
The thing is, I didn’t want them to think that my decision had anything to do with any kind of preciousness from my part about my car. I’ve never been a car guy in the sense that I never needed a car to prove my social status or my virility. And it was not a matter of money; at some point in my life, even before the aliens’ money, I could have afforded nice fancy cars. I made other choices. I didn’t care for cars and I still don’t. I always had good and reliable cars – Honda I recommend – and that was the case today and I couldn’t care less if someone else was driving it. I didn’t want to be mistaken about that.
No, what bothered me is the angst I immediately felt that some harm could happen to May Linh and or Lily. Yet, it occurred to me that I wasn’t worried when they were taking the bike although, everything considered, it was just as dangerous really as driving a car, probably more even. So I wondered if there wasn’t something in me that didn’t want to let them go, a desire to keep them here for myself and myself only? I realized there was probably some of that.
Anyway, I had no right to hold them up in any way, otherwise their being with me couldn’t be out of free will. That was the whole point of the contract.
“Sure, take the car. The keys are on it,” I said, trying to look off-handed.
It was a bit of a heartbreak for me when I saw them put their clothes on and when I heard them speak with excitement in their voice. They even reverted to their own dialect, without noticing it I think. I was a bit jealous of their joy, especially that I wasn’t part of it. Then they were all dressed up, made up and ready to go. May Linh wore her green and yellow flowery dress, Lily was dressed in red and white, mostly red of course and she wore yet another Chicago Bulls cap. How many of those Chicago Bulls caps does she have? I asked myself. I didn’t have the answer of course. To me, they looked both beautiful and I wanted already to rip their clothes off. I could hear in my head all the reasons for which they shouldn’t go but I knew at the same time those were bullshit reasons so I didn’t say anything and tried not to show my feelings.
Ok then. I accompanied them to the garage. They got in the car and they kind of looked small in it. But Lily confidently started the machine and they took off, waving their arms to me through the window. I figured that Lily had somehow learned by heart how to drive while watching the Blues Brothers. Yet, as I saw the car disappear into the dirt road through the jungle, I just hoped that nothing bad would happen to them and that they wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Shit, that was an unnerving experience. All of a sudden, there was no more balance in my home by the beach. I went to the front porch and tried to look at the ocean and the big sky but it didn’t work. May Linh wasn’t playing her piano, like she would at about this time, and the house felt atrociously silent. And I couldn’t play backgammon alone. So I went to play spider solitaire in the office. Really, I just didn’t know what to do with myself, I was waiting for them I have to admit.
So I tried to take it easy, grabbed a beer and settled again on the porch. And that worked for a while but then night fell at 6 pm in due time and they weren’t back yet and it would soon be very dark on those little country roads leading to my remote beach.
I knew I was being idiotic so I tried to relax, had a French joint and more beer and music blasting. At 8, they still weren’t back and another French joint and more beer didn’t help that much. Christ! What now? I was worried, already sad, imagining the worse. And I was thrown back in former lives when I was worried with the kids starting to go to school alone, with the wife coming back late from a party with friends, with friends not giving news for a few days, etc. I thought coming here that I would never have again those upsetting feelings and thoughts. What if? What if? And there I was. And I knew there was a part of selfishness in it. Yes I was worried something may have happened to them but I was also worried that, this being the case, I may never see them again and my nice little paradise would be gone forever. It was crazy I knew but I couldn’t help it, paranoia and egotism and anger were creeping on me.
It was past 10 pm when I heard the honk. I felt the urge to go up there in the garage and scream at them but I knew it was uncalled for and I managed to control myself. Anyway, they were back and that was all that mattered. So I tried to act cool and waited for them on the porch, acting as composed as I could.
I heard them come in and I knew they were taking their clothes off already. In a moment, there would be balance again and I felt better right away.
Next episode: Adam is May Linh and Lily’s butt of a joke
Previous episode: Lily’s got a hitch, Adam and May Linh are scratching
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Iconography: Picture by Soe Zeya Tun