Fuck, fuck, fuck. It was 10 am sharp. Last night, after May Linh, the best candidate so far for my plan to hire Asian women to live naked with me, had left, I had spent the evening drinking beer on the terrace of this sixth floor terrace in the capital city of this Southeastern Asian country before crashing in bed.
Ding dong ding dong.
Fuck, I thought. May Linh again. May Linh had arrived yesterday at 10 am instead of 4 pm and surprised me. No, no way she was doing it again. “Ok I’m coming,” I screamed, before putting my shorts on. The moment I opened the door, a small cleaning army came in past me and got busy. What the fuck! So I went to take a leak. After that I went to the kitchen to fix myself a coffee. But there was already a maid busy there. “Can you make coffee?” I asked. “Yes Mr. You,” she said, “I do it right away.” “Thanks,” I said and walked out of the kitchen.
Another maid came and asked me what to do with the flowers. Indeed, in order to interview candidates who would agree to live in the nude around me, I had contracted a florist down the street, a pretty one as it turned out, to change flowers every day in this apart-hotel I had rented for the week. I was supposed to leave today back to my house, in a far province, by the ocean. Instead, I was staying one more day, which wasn’t planned, so I knew the florist wouldn’t come today. “We keep them,” I told the maid. “Coffee ready sir!” said the maid from the kitchen.
I recognized who was the boss of this brigade. So I went to him: “Please, could you tell me, sir, why you all showed up this morning at this time? It’s nice but I don’t remember asking for it.”
“Oh,” he said, “the lady that was here yesterday, she told the front desk when leaving you’d be staying one more day and that cleaning had to be done by 10:30 am,” he said.
And then I remembered. May Linh. The medical AIDS and venereal disease free certificate. That’s why I was staying here one more day. She said it was not negotiable. How would I find such a fucking certificate, in this country I didn’t even know the language, in this city I hardly knew? And a Saturday!!!! That’s why May Linh had them wake me up. Fuck fuck fuck…
Then I knew what to do.
“Hello Mrs. Wan. Excuse me to disturb you on a Saturday morning, this is Mr. Me.”
“Mr. You!” she exclaimed on the phone. “Nice to hear from you. How did it go with May Linh yesterday?” she asked.
I was thinking: Christ, how come I call your office at 10 am on a Saturday and find you there? Nonetheless, I was very happy she picked up that phone. “Ho, I was glad to meet with May Linh, thank you,” I said.
“So what can I do for you Mr. You, on this Saturday morning?” Mrs. Wan asked me.
Now, that was embarrassing. And, all of a sudden, a thought occurred to me: ‘and what if this is a scheme between May Linh and Mrs. Wan? Was this the part one of their plan to suck me dry?’ So not only was I embarrassed but I suddenly also had cold feet. Then I thought it couldn’t be. “Well,” I said, “I need an AIDS and venereal disease free medical certificate and I need it today and it’s Saturday and…” I could hear my voice wavering.
“A medical certificate?”
I could hear in her voice that she didn’t expect this one. Well, I didn’t expected it either.
Mrs. Wan quickly gathered her thoughts and said: “No problem Mr. You. Let me think about it and I’ll call you back in one hour the latest.” So I went to the terrace with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, lit a cigarette, thought about May Linh. Then I went to take a shower and dress up. I knew I would have to be moving around town today.
In the meantime, I started to think about the contract I needed to write for May Linh. See, I thought my plan was pretty simple. I would hire, with a fair contract, three women to live with me naked in a nice place by the beach and that was that. Now, it was two days in a row I couldn’t sleep in the morning but, on top of it, my day had just started and I was already in a hurry. Why? I thought of May Linh nude body, relaxed and waited for Mrs. Wan’s phone call.
“Yes.” I said. It was Mrs. Wan.
“OK. No problem,” she said. “First you have to go to this address and ask this doctor, in such neighborhood. He has his own laboratory for analyses. But then you’ll need these analyses certified by a local doctor who will write the certificate out for you. He’ll be waiting for you at this address. Tell him you come from me – I already talked to him – so that he takes care of it right away. Once you have done that, you have to go to the Central Bureau that will officially stamp your certificate. Beware, Central Bureau closes at 5 pm. Monday is a holiday here, so you have to be there before 5 pm or else you’ll have to stay in the capital until Tuesday. Tell the man at Central Bureau I sent you. He will stamp your papers and you’ll be officially disease free.”
“Thanks Mrs. Wan,” I said. “Do I have to pay any of these guys?”
“NO,” she said in a hurry. “DON’T GIVE THEM ANTHING, I’ll take care of everything and I’ll send you a bill.”
“OK,” I said.
Doctor Vermoelen, 2nd floor, it read, in front of a nice building in a nice neighborhood. Once up there, it said ‘Ring the bell and enter’. So I rang the bell and entered. I was alone in the waiting room. On the walls there were some paintings, mostly countryside scenery from this southeastern Asian country. It was so kitsch it was pathetic. ‘He probably asked his mistress to decorate his cabinet’ I thought. Almost immediately, a rather young man showed up. “Hi,” he said with a big smile. “Nice to meet you Mr. You. I heard a lot about you!” Yeah, right, I thought. “Oh and I see you’re looking at my paintings. My wife is the artist. Isn’t she extremely talented?” he asked.
He was smiling with big white teeth, an American thinking that he’s living a great adventurous life in this posh neighborhood, tending to sore rich white expats and tourists who wouldn’t dare going to see a local doctor, even if he had graduated from Northwestern in Chicago. “Yeah, she’s good,” I said about the paintings.
“Are you married Mr. You? Marriage is such a wonderful thing…” doctor Vermoelen was saying. What an idiot! But he was eagerly waiting for my answer. “I’m a widower,” I lied. I regretted it instantly.
Indeed, the next thing he said was: “So, Mr. You, what can I do for you? Mrs. Wan told me it was urgent…”
I wanted to tell him that my knees hurt more and more, that I am coughing every morning because of the smoking, that my back is so stiff it’s hard for me to bend down, that my stomach is fucked up and my dick lifeless and that if he could bring my body back forty years, I’d give him all that remained of the aliens’ money. But I knew he couldn’t help me for any of this. “Well,” I said, “I need blood analyses.”
“No problem,” he said with an air of utmost satisfaction. “We have here top of the line machinery, imported straight from the US. So what should I look for? What’s the purpose of these tests?”
“Well,” I said, “I need a certificate showing that I’m free of AIDS and venereal diseases.”
He was stunned and speechless for a moment.
Then he had a condescending smile. “But, but, Mr. You, at your age, why do you need such a certificate? Unless you’re getting married again. But considering your age, even in this country…” He left his phrase up in the air. He didn’t say it but he knew anyone in this town could fuck any whore, male or female, even a dog, and no one was asking for a certificate. I could see this asshole thinking and now looking at me either as a perverse motherfucker or a fool. ‘What do you care?” I was thinking.
“Never mind my age,” I said, “can you do it?”
“Sure, sure,” he said, and he finally got busy.
After he took my blood sample, I had to wait a few hours so I went to eat somewhere nearby. There were a bunch of white people in a rather nice place, a place for foreigners. All the waitresses were pretty, with very short skirts and I could see the guys ogling them over their wives’ shoulders, over their kids’ shoulders. There were a few guys with an Asian woman with them, much younger, and I could see how those girlfriends would defy the waitresses with an air that said ‘don’t fuck with my sugar daddy’. My phone rang. Results were ready. Somehow, doctor Vermoelen was not as friendly anymore. I didn’t care.
I had to face the same look of surprise followed by consternation when I had to go get those tests validated. Some guy – I had told him I was sent by Mrs. Wan – filled up the official papers with an angry look. “Name,” he asked surly. “Surname,” “Age,” “Address,” etc. Then I had to hurry up to Central Bureau. It was 5 minutes to 5 pm. The clerk there was going to blow me off when I told him Mrs. Wan sent me. Then he smiled and said: “Mrs. Wan, good lady, good lady.” “Yeah,” I said, “she’s good.”
He looked surprised for a moment when he saw what the papers were about, I saw it in the lookover he gave me, but I guess he figured it wasn’t his problem. Or maybe he had seen anything and everything, enough, at the Central Bureau and wasn’t that curious anymore. Or he owed Mrs. Wan big time. “Follow me please,” he said. So we went through corridors, going up stairs, then coming back down other stairs and more corridors. He opened one office with his keys, took a seal, damped it in red ink and stamped my documents going boom boom boom with great seriousness, as if this was a job only he could do. Five minutes later, I was outside. I had my goddamned certificate. It’s weird to say but I felt victorious.
I took a cab back to my apart-hotel. There, I opened a beer, my first, with relish, went to sit on the terrace and then relaxed maybe for the first time of the day.
Then I thought: Ok, I still have a contract to write.