Typhoons, hurricanes are reminders that we live on a singular planet, flying by itself a way off the universe, some place no one cares about. And we on Earth are all agitated but, naturally, it doesn’t really matter. The earth was spinning before us and will still be spinning after us. That’s the very reason why, as much as old Mr. Me tried, whatever I thought, said or did was in vain. So, at this point, why not a contract where May Linh and Lily were now living in the nude with me? Thanks to aliens, it somehow made sense to me.
So now the typhoon was upon us and it was a mother. Because it was set on high grounds in the jungle, May Linh, Lily and I had taken refuge in the guest-house of the property I possessed by the beach in this southeastern Asian country. Outside, it was now almost as dark as night and, from inside, you couldn’t tell whether it was day or night. So, maybe as a way to feel more secure, we had all the lights on. It was a lot of fun at the beginning. First we all took a shower, me first.
The guest-house was small for the three of us now used to live in my big home opened to the ocean and the sky, and it didn’t help that every windows and doors were closed and sealed. The place was full of walls and doors and the shower was tiny and not really practical. Coming out of the shower I was surprised to find dry clothes waiting for me. May Linh had packed into a suitcase dry clothes for everyone. That was nice. So after the shower, in clean and dry shorts and t-shirt, in a cavern of sort and surrounded by two nude ladies that I liked, I felt like a million bucks.
Then May Linh took a shower and it was for her like changing clothes as she remained naked. Then Lily took her shower and the whole place was now filled with steam and soap smells. Then Lily was out, nude too other than panties – red panties – because she had her period. By then, May Linh was in the kitchenette preparing dinner and I fixed drinks for everyone, beer for me and white wine for them. I realized that there wasn’t that much ice in the small fridge so I took it easy with ice cubes in their wine.
I tried to go outside to have a smoke but the moment I attempted to open the door I felt the storm wanting to come in and rape us all.
“Mr. You, please, don’t open the door,” May Linh said. “You can smoke inside if you want.”
I felt guilty. Neither of them was smoking and, out of habit, I usually always smoke outside. They had never mentioned it – it was in the contract – but in the small space of the guest house – one decent bedroom, one living room rather large with a kitchenette, one small bathroom, one toilet – I figured that if I started to smoke I would be incommoding them.
“I’ll wait,” I said. May Linh read my mind I guess.
“You can smoke I said,” and she was saying this matter-of-factly, not judging, not pissed by any means.
“Thanks,” I said.
I still waited, knowing the time I’d want/need to smoke would come anyway.
So, other than the smoking glitch, this was fun at first. We had a very nice dinner, after which I had my first cigarette in there. Once the table was cleared and the dishes washed, we wondered what to do. I had no idea really what time it was – maybe 6 pm, 8 maybe, 10? – and we all knew we were in for a long night.
“What don’t we play backgammon?” I said.
“Backgammon?” they asked. And I was happy to take my board out.
I would quickly realize that May Linh didn’t care that much about the game, or any game. She would play to please us, to have something to do, but she was soon just as happy to watch us play, Lily and I, because Lily is a player. When she plays, it is to win. It didn’t take her long to figure out the rules and she was on!
I had learned all the ‘tavlis’ games while living in Greece. So that was the occasion to tell them about Greece. I could tell Lily was interested, and curious. Not so May Linh. And I understood. Between May Linh and I there was some sort of a ‘no question asked’ convention of silence and each one of us was happy not needing to know more than what we knew already about each other.
But not so Lily who was asking questions and blabbing, still trying to win! Double-6! She would scream, so happy. And May Linh was happy for her. And Lily weird eyes were looking at those dices and those dices were bewitched and she kept having doubles and winning. Debutant’s luck I thought. I didn’t like too much losing at backgammon. Ask Carter! They both had forgotten they were nude, I didn’t and I was filling my eyes up as if this was the last day on earth. That said, I too was trying to win but I couldn’t seem to un-witch the dices. Double-1 when it was the last thing I needed!
We could hear the storm maddening outside. Every now and then we could hear something bang on the house. It would make some sharp boom. And we could feel how the wind was still finding its way inside and how at some point it just felt as if the roof would just fly away. But we were playing backgammon, drinking and talking and laughing and they were nude and beautiful and nothing mattered. That’s when electricity went off.
For a second, it was totally dark and none of us said anything, holding our breath. “I’ll get the flashlight,” May Linh said. And she did, which means she knew where it was. And, I thought, of course there is a flashlight in this guest-house designed to serve as a bunker when typhoons are on their way. It took few seconds for May Linh to get the flashlight. When she did, she turned it on and we saw the light; it looked weak, like one of those translucent animals living deep in the abyss. Christ I thought, those batteries are probably as old as the house and have never been changed nor checked since day one!
All three of us were stunned. “I checked today, it looked fine,” May Linh said. And there was sadness in her voice. I couldn’t help it but the thought that if I had checked it myself I would have thought of getting new batteries (as if we had any). Then I remembered that they had to wake me up for me to help. Because, at first, really, I was ready to do nothing. At the same time, I just couldn’t help it, the thought that I would have done better with the flashlight crossed my mind. So I felt a bit of shame and I went to turn the main switch off.
“It’s alright,” Lily said, “let’s watch a movie.”
“Watch a movie????” May Linh and I were back in sync and I was glad.
“Give me some light,” Lily said to May Linh. And she went to get her laptop and turned it on. Then May Linh turned the flashlight off.
“So what should we watch?” Lily asked, without expecting an answer. Anyway May Linh and I were too stunned to say anything. “Let’s see… Oh, I know,” Lily said. By now there was only the bleak light of the screen to lighten up the abyss.
“Oh”, Lily said, “it won’t be comfortable for the three of us to watch it here around the table. Let’s go settle on the bed.”
So we did and May Linh and I followed her onto the bed. So Lily sat in the middle, her back to the wall, the laptop on her legs, and I sat on her right and May Linh on her left. Then she turned on the movie she had chosen. It was The Blues Brothers!!!! No wonder Lily had a Chicago bulls’ cap!
So we watched Jake and Elwood’s adventures! The storm could spill hate outside, Lily and I were singing Sweet Home Chicago, Soul Man, Do you love me, etc. and May Linh was very surprised and, again, interested by the music. For one thing she could put her English to test.
“Raw hide? What does that mean,” she asked. Before I could even start to explain, Lily said, in English: “it’s a whip, a whip made of untanned hide.” May Linh asked her something in their language, for confirmation I guess, and Lily said “yes, exactly.” So Lily stopped the movie and rewound it to the beginning of the scene.
She rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them doggies rollin’, rawhide
Through rain an’ wind an’ weather
Hell bent for leather
Wishin’ my gal was by my side
And the storm was hell bent on pounding on us. I couldn’t believe it. May Linh couldn’t believe it and I wondered if Lily chose this movie on purpose, just for this song. Of course she did it on purpose. She chose the movie. How many movies did she have in her laptop? Only one and she was just waiting for me? I don’t think so. And again I knew, I just knew, Lily is a Jedi. Or an alien. Or both. And just when Jake and Elwood were flying on the highway with police from all over the world chasing them, the laptop battery gave up too.
In the one second of darkness and silence that followed, the full force of the storm came through us very, very, loudly. Now the bang bang bang on the house was almost constant while millions rain drops the size of nut balls were thumping on the roof and making a ruckus that was more infernal than the daily forest ruckus. And the wind would now find some way inside to the point that candles were out of the question. I realized it when I realized the three of us were under the sheet, as if this thin sheet of cloth could be any protection if things turned sour.
Bang bang bang, boom boom boom, ccccrrrraaaaaaacccccckkkkkk and you knew a tree just fell somewhere in the jungle, close, really close by. And again, bang bang bang… And the darkness!
We discussed what to do with the flashlight’s last rays. We decided we’d go as far as the batteries would carry us. So that’s what we did. But we quickly saw that light flicker and die. I had absolutely no idea what time it could be. It suddenly occurred to me I didn’t smoke a cigarette for hours!!!! It was dark dark dark and the storm was loud loud loud and it was violent. And now I started to worry a little bit. In any case, it wasn’t so much fun anymore!
Yet I could feel May Linh and Lily’s naked bodies against mine and, to me, this was protection enough.
Like the Blues Brothers say, Everybody Needs Someone to Love. And typhoons and hurricanes are there to remind us that this is a solitary planet. It’s here today, gone tomorrow.
Next episode: Adam sees the dark face of Armageddon
Previous episode: The wind cries, Adam worries this typhoon is the wrath of god
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