There’s no question: without aliens’ money, old Mr. Me would have never pulled this off. Why, even in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t imagine that two beautiful Asian ladies would agree to a contract – a fair one that is – to be living with me in the nude. Yes, I have to admit, I own a nice house by the beach in this Southeastern Asian country and that helps. Still, even after pinching myself, it was now happening. And I kept pinching…
So now May Linh has been living with me for about six weeks, Lily five days. In those five days Lily had shown May Linh and old Mr. Me the power of youth, regenerative power I guess, reviving from the dead power. All that to say that May Linh and I, after a four days sex craze, were happy to catch our breath for a second while Lily went to the village by herself and left the two of us alone at home.
I liked to think May Linh and I made good use of the time we were together alone again.
Then May Linh went on to play her piano and I settled on the porch, looking at the ocean and the big sky, with clouds now, drinking beer and listening to May Linh’s classical music and feeling quite content with myself.
Lily was gone a long time. Indeed, she was gone much longer than when the two of them were going to the village together. And it occurred to me that Lily probably did this on purpose, to let May Linh and old Mr. Me have some time for ourselves. And did we?
We didn’t hear Lily come back because May Linh was playing and I was listening to her, almost dozing off on the porch as it was getting dark. And all of a sudden Lily was there on the porch, nude but for red panties, lighting the candles. She had a cold beer for me and two glasses of white wine, with ice cubes in it. She sat in her chair, as if she was coming back from a tough day of shopping in Paris or New York.
“So,” she asked, “how was your day?”
It was true, I hadn’t seen her since this morning when I got a glimpse of her in the garden with May Linh and that’s when I saw she was wearing panties and when I figured she had her period. Then I went to swim and didn’t see her again until now and it was already dark. What a day! And I wondered if Lily somehow KNEW already how mine and May Linh’s day was.
“It was a nice day,” I said.
Once she finished her piece on the piano, May Linh joined us on the terrace and there we were, the three of us, looking out at the sunset far to the West and watching the night falling on the ocean, just when the first bugs were starting their ruckus in the jungle nearby. The two of them were nude and easy and old Mr. Me was feeling good, body and soul, in a way I couldn’t even remember if I ever felt that good before.
“Say, Mr. You,” said Lily, “I was driving back from the village on the bike through the jungle and I couldn’t help but think this is very nice country around here and I was kind of happy to be coming back to the house, to be coming back home in a way.”
I must say I liked the way she said ‘home’, especially after having been here only five days. But she kept going:
“So it got me thinking. Tell me, Mr. You, in all due respect, why did you come here?” Lily asked. “You could have retired just about anywhere in the world, Africa, South America, the Netherlands. Why here?”
It occurred to me that I should have put in the contract an article that said: no question asked. Those three words were indeed in the contract (art. 10 and 11) but only concerning the rule on how to get out of the contract. Well, there was no such article so I had to answer. What do you do anyway when you’re facing a woman asking personal questions and she’s naked and smiling and beautiful?
Still, this one was an easy one I thought. “I came here because here there is the ocean and it’s always hot and I’m not afraid that the local tribe is going to reduce my head to the size of a nutball,” I said. I thought I was being funny.
“I can think of many places by the ocean that are warm?” said Lily.
She was right of course.
“Look,” I said, “did you hear about the Inuit and how they survived?”
“Well no,” Lily said, “other than they were eating polar bears and seals and living in the Arctic.”
“OK,” I said. “On the Arctic ice, back then, food was scarce and far apart so there couldn’t be a mouth doing nothing. So when the first born was a girl, the Inuit would bury her at birth underneath the ice of their igloo. Right there, with them in a way. Same if the second child was a girl again. And the third. There had to be a boy first so he could hunt; only then could you have a girl.”
As I was saying this, I was thinking, don’t be mistaken Lily, it is still like that in many parts of the world. The number of baby girls being slaughtered at birth every day in the word is astronomic. Thousands upon thousands of infanticides, every day. And I’m not mentioning what happens to a lot – thousands upon thousands – of the girls that survive. At least, with the Inuit, everything was clear to everyone from the get go.
“Anyway, the Inuit had a problem because, with this system, there were much too many guys for the number of women. Not only that but hunters were gone for weeks, sometimes months, at a time and ‘the wives’ remained at the igloo, alone as well. So when a lone traveler or hunter would show up at her front step, the first thing the Inuit ‘wife’ would do is to take the brave in, take his clothes off to dry them. Then she’d get him under the blankets and then she would take her clothes off and also get under the blankets to warm him up.”
I liked the concept of a woman ‘warming him up’. May Linh and Lily were silent, listening.
“Well, in any case,” I continued, “the Inuit never cared who were the genetic fathers of the children. If it was a boy, they’d train him to become a hunter, if it was a girl and she had a big brother, her mother would train her on how to survive in an igloo while the boys are hunting and having fun. That’s how the Inuit survived for thousands of years and I’m sure there was affection and love back then and they weren’t scared of nudity and, while among themselves, they weren’t scared period; they knew crisis was when it was below 40° out there and when that hunter husband of yours hadn’t come back yet, for more three months now, and that he may never come back.”
“So what’s your point?” Lily asked.
“My point is Inuit weren’t Christians, which doesn’t mean they weren’t religious. They had their own spirituality I guess but the lone hunter was welcomed in any igloo, even when the husband was there. The husband understood. And the lone hunter was never in any case coming empty handed and would soon be on his way anyway. No husband was going to hunt for the lone traveler but please if you can take care of my wife while I’m gone… As a matter of fact, the moment Christians discovered the Inuit, the first thing they did was to put an end to these barbarous adultery manners. That’s pretty much what Christians, and Jews and Muslims, do every time they meet another civilization: they tell savages to put some clothes on. Show me the difference between a Catholic sister, a Muslim sister or a Jewish sister! If they believe – better yet, if the men around them believe – these women are all covered, from head to toe. To protect them from men’s lust, their husbands say. What a joke! So I didn’t want to go in a place where people believe there’s only one god. I understand people need their god(s) – although I don’t – but, if at all possible, I didn’t want to live anymore in one of those terrible places. The moment one thinks there’s only one god, at that very moment, he/she sends to hell everyone who doesn’t agree with him/her. And that’s a hell of a lot of people to go to hell.”
May Linh and Lily were looking at me. I could see the house full of gladioli and it was a beautiful tableau, as we’d say in French, and again I wished I was a painter, Gauguin, Caravaggio…
So I took a breather and a big swallow of beer, lit a cigarette and looked out at sea and I saw the big sky and I was happy the millions bugs in the jungle weren’t laughing at me. Bugs don’t care.
“So,” I said to Lily, “I didn’t want to deal with Christian or Muslims or Jews, men or women, especially men. So that greatly reduced the field in my search of a place by the ocean in an always warm country where nude women could live around old Mr. Me without running the risk to be stoned to death by hateful motherfuckers, their own fathers and brothers sometimes, often the husbands. And Greenland and the Arctic are too cold, I couldn’t swim! So that’s how I got here, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the jungle.”
I thought I was being funny again, like Tarzan could be funny.
“So are you a shameful white perverse Christian?” Lily deadpanned.
I remembered that fleeting thought I had earlier today, about being a parent and getting lucky with your mate when the kids are asleep or gone somehow and you’re not yet so tired by work and responsibilities that you still have other desires than just wanting to hang yourself.
I didn’t know what to think of what Lily had just said or why she said it or if she was joking or not.
I looked for help into May Linh’s eyes. She shrugged.
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Iconography: Kenojuak Ashevak, Spirits of the birds