Old Mr. Me was kind of happy with himself. The contract I had devised to allow Asian women to live in the nude with me in my house by the beach seemed to work. Proof is, today, a Sunday, was the day when May Linh and Lily were coming back. So I cleaned the house real nice before going to pick them up at the train station for the 3:45 pm train, a 35 miles ride.
On the way, I heard that really sweet woman voice on the radio, again. I took it as a good sign. But then it got me thinking: fuck, the last and only time I had heard that voice before, I was going to pick up one woman and there were two waiting; today I hear that voice again as I’m on my way to pick up two women already! So what now? Will there be three of them!!! I laughed alone. “Sure, why not,” I said to myself, not believing it for a second.
The radio was playing some New Orleans blues, each song introduced by that sensual woman’s voice on the radio, and I was careful not to hit a buffalo or something each time she pronounced a word, although of course I couldn’t understand a thing of what she was saying because she was speaking her Asian dialect. I could see where the typhoon had vaporized whole swashes of land.
Later, I was waiting at the end of the platform, looking at the train entering the station. I just had a quick bloody Mary at the bar because I had arrived just in time. The train came to a screeching stop. And there I saw Lily, dressed in her red riding hood best, come out of the car, with her suitcase and her leather case, followed by May Linh, in her usual severe Mary Poppins garb when traveling, with her suitcase.
But they weren’t looking in my direction and they were talking to another woman, with one small suitcase, who followed them closely out of the car and they were now, all THREE of them, talking among themselves and now looking for me and seeing me and May Linh and Lily waved and said something to that other lady and she waved too.
Holly mother of Jesus Christ! In one look, I saw this woman, she was wearing a blue dress and seemed to be in her late 30s, early 40s maybe, it was hard to tell from the distance but I could tell she seemed to be very nice looking and had an intelligent air about herself.
Chris oh Christ, what now! And I remembered the magic voice on the radio, the sign, and I was thinking what the fuck, could this be true? The fact remained: I had heard that radio voice again, for the second time only, and now this, a third woman! It is true also that when old Mr. Me had first imagined to live surrounded by nude Asian ladies, I had thought, for some reasons, that three was a good number. But now there were May Linh and Lily and I was in no mind to meet, much less deal with, yet another woman.
I was close to panic. And I thought: what is this? Now every time they’ll take their days off, every three weeks or so, they’ll bring me back yet another woman? What, was my contract too generous? And then what? Ten women living in my place and diving for seashells and giving massages? Or blow jobs why not, that would be something new! What the fuck, what the fuck!!!!
I felt the urgency to stop this infernal spiral I had put in motion when I imagined that contract. And they were still looking at me and speaking among each other and I had to do something but I was frozen and weak and I figured, in French for once, ‘ce qui sera sera’, what will be will be.
Then I saw all three of them shake hands, May Linh and Lily coming my way, the other lady leaving in the opposite direction. Sweet Jesus!
“Hello Mr. You,” said May Linh when they reached me and we shook hands and I then shook hands with Lily. I must have looked moronic I guess.
“Guess what,” said Lily, “we met a very nice lady in the train, the lady who came off the train with us. And we had an interesting conversation during the voyage. Very nice indeed, isn’t it May Linh?”
I was thinking, please don’t tell me you made an offer for her to work with us.
“Oh, and that’s Carter’s wife,” May Linh said.
Carter’s wife? I felt so relieved.
I knew I had already accepted that this woman could be coming to live in the nude with us and be fondled here and there weather permits. And it was Carter’s wife! I felt a breath of shame. Man, I have to relax I thought.
“So you’re going to stay standing here or we get moving,” said May Linh, smiling.
“Yeah, let’s go home,” said Lily.
It still took a little while for my cold sweat to dry.
On the way back, I turned the radio on but the woman’s voice had disappeared again. May Linh wasn’t saying anything, like usual, and I wasn’t saying anything either, like usual. It occurred to me that May Linh told me, when I first saw her, that she had agreed to meet with me for the chance to speak English. And her English is very good. Yet she hardly talks. Not just with me. I know she doesn’t talk that much with Lily either, even in their language. I then understood better, recalling her story and how she had been repudiated, that May Linh had spent many years hardly speaking to anyone at all, save for her mother, in whatever language. Yet she can communicate plenty and clearly without talking, and in English too. So I just shut up too.
Lily looked happy. She was on the back seat, in the middle, and I caught sometimes her weird pale eyes in the rearview mirror.
“So, Mr. You,” Lily said with a joyous voice, “did you miss us?”
I paused and looked for her weird eyes in the mirror, found them. They were good humored. No question, ‘asking too many questions Lily’ was back.
After a few seconds, time for an angel to pass, I answered her.
“The house misses you, both, and the garden misses you, and the jungle, and the beach, and the ocean and the sandbar miss you, and the seashells and the sky miss you and the construction workers miss you too,” I said.
For Christ’s sake and Mary mother of god, they were both in my car and they had already filled it with their presence, with their scent and fragrance and they were beautiful, to my eyes at least, and we were driving to my house by the beach where they were living in the nude with me. Did I miss them? Hell yes I did and, I knew, old Mr. Me was now crazy about them. Damn!
We stopped at the village so May Linh and Lily could go to the market and buy groceries. So I went to have a couple of beers in my usual joint. They found me there and sat on the terrace with me. I ordered two glasses of white wine, with ice cubes in there, and another beer.
“They cleaned up everything pretty well around here,” Lily said in reference to the typhoon’s destructions. Yes they did and I knew what she meant and I knew who ‘they’ were.
There we were, the three of us, having a drink on a terrace; we could see the harbor with fishermen getting busy, people going in and out of the market. Typhoons can come and go, at that very moment, we didn’t have a worry in the word.
“Yes,” I said, “they fixed the village pretty good and, you’ll see, construction work is totally done at home and they’ve done a real good job. I told them that you girls would be seeing them this week for the last details. I didn’t pay them the last week. I told them you would.”
“Ok,” May Linh and Lily both answered at the same time. So they looked at each other and cracked up laughing and I laughed too. Other people in the bar were looking at us, wondering what could be so funny.
When we arrived in the garage, I let them get inside the house first, by themselves, and I carried the groceries to the kitchen down the path, taking my time, making several trips. So, by the time I was done, they were already naked and I could see May Linh tiny dark pubic triangle and Lily’s hairless pussy and I stopped in the bedroom just so I could fill my eyes up with every details and they didn’t care. Yes, they were at home. We were all home.
So I got a beer and, just like the first day, I couldn’t help but stare at them like a maniac.
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Iconography: Betrayal & Other Acts of Subversion, Leslie Bow (book cover)