Avoidance

I’m sitting in a cell. Nothing new there. I’m chained to a table. Can’t say that’s a first. This time they’ve stripped me naked. It’s a hundred degrees out, so I don’t really mind.

They interrogated me for hours. I put up with it. They tried to shake me and to break me. I sat there with my dick out and waited for them to stop.

They stopped.

“We’ll find it,” they said, and left.

And I’d been having such a good vacation.

***

Some people wake up to find they have religion. Some people roll over and hit the alarm and in the silence they realize they’re gay or they’re straight. Some people know they’re going to quit their jobs before they’ve brushed their teeth. I woke up one morning and I knew I was taking a vacation.

Iade a few calls and my calendar was clear. The rest was up to me. I lay in bed and dreamed of where to go, how to get there, what to bring with me, what to do. Fell back asleep.

Woke up with sun on my face. Got to work.

Found the boat I wanted at a mooring in Macao. Rented it out for a month. Told them to have it meet me in Hong Kong. Booked a flight.

Flew first class. Bought slippers in an airport boutique, wore them down the gangway and onto the plane. Lay back and drank a bottle of Moromoreto. Listened to music. Ordered shit online. Looked out the window at the arctic ice breaking up beneath me. It got cloudy. I fell asleep. Know I snored. Woke up when my ears popped. Stepped out into HK.

Took a taxi to the docks. Boat was there waiting. They were loading it full of packages. Overnight shipping, meet overnight flight. A forty-foot catamaran. Carbon hulls, a half a million dollars worth of boat. I tipped the guys who’d sailed her over and they headed for the airport. I headed for the sea.

Dipped the motors. Chugged out between the yachts of Asia, a thousands masts with sails of every color like the silk banners of an army on parade. Got to blue water. Raised the sail. White and bright straight up to the sun. Two thousand square feet of canvas just for me.

Eighty degrees. Fourteen knots of wind. Clouds boiling up from the horizon. Golden sun making a silver sea.

It was ten in the morning and I wanted to sleep for a day. Couldn’t let myself. Stood there with my hand on the tiller. An hour, two. Eyelids kept shutting on me. Went downstairs and got a bottle of cold water to drink. Drank it in three pulls. Took me ten minutes to find the recycling bin. Went back up to the deck and she was still sailing, making twelve knots without needing anything from me. I wanted a boat I could sail myself. It was sailing itself. Worked for me.

Late afternoon. Covered a hundred miles. All I saw was sea. Suddenly ravenous. Went back to the galley and found it stocked with everything I’d ordered, months worth of food. Steamed myself some shao mai. Went up top and sat on a soft chair, ate them with my fingers, watched the sun set over the sea.

Turned her into the wind. Dropped the sail. Felt her glide to a stop. Heard the slapping of the little waves against the hulls.Went below. Brought a can of beer into bed with me. Drank about half of it. Fell asleep.

Woke up at two in the morning. Poured out the half a beer. Opened a fresh one, drank it down. Realized I wasn’t going back to sleep. Got back to the tiller and cruised until dawn. Then cruised all day.

Explored the ship. Two hulls. Like two penthouses on adjoining skyscrapers with a deck stretched between. One hull had a kitchen and an office. The other had a bedroom with a king-sized bed. Not spacious. More like a studio than a penthouse. Enough. Perfectly enough.

The office was full of airmail boxes. I found a knife in the kitchen and cut them open. Toys. All sorts of toys. Everything I thought I might want, could possibly want, for a month at sea.

Pulled out a hammock. Strung it across the deck, between two posts that weren’t meant for it. Climbed in with a bottle of Kavalan. Watched another sunset. Slept until dawn.

***

They’re questioning me. Nothing to find – I’m traveling under my own name, my real name, spending my own money. Clean money. With a 1040 at some consulting firm. Upper class, middle aged, a boat full of toys: a mid-life crisis sailing for the sunset.

They don’t ask me about the girl. I don’t bring her up. To the me I’m playing, she’s just another toy.

***

I sailed into Subic Bay at midday. Last time I was there I was hiding in a cargo container heading for Long Beach.

I dropped the sails with a few pokes at a touch-screen. Started up the diesels just the same.  Entered the marina and there were five men to catch my hawsers, pull me to the dock. Fill up my fuel, my water, my batteries. Get rid of all the boxes and the bubblewrap.

One of them asked me if I wanted anything brought on board. I knew what he meant. “Just some fruit,” I said. “Washed. In bottled water.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Tonight,” I said. Got my land legs. Met the rental car I’d ordered. Drove to Angeles.

Fields Avenue. One street, eight blocks long. A few souvenir stores. A few restaurants selling the worst pizza in the world. Every other building is a brothel. Every one.

But that’s a word with a hundred meanings. It means good china in a cabinet in a Jordaan privatehouse, marble bed-posts and black silk sheets in a Rio terma, pastels and plastics in a Tokyo soapland, bikinis and cowboy hats at a Nevada bunny ranch. Here in Angeles it’s a bar with a stage, where a hundred girls are dancing or grinding or hitting each other with balloon swords or whatever they’ve dreamed up to call a show.

A hundred girls. Of every type. The children of American men and Japanese men and Australian men and Korean men, African men, European men, every shape and size and creed and color. Because this is the sex tourism capital of the world, and contraception is illegal.

Don’t like what you see? Go next door. See a hundred other girls. Tall, short, flat, round. Beautiful girls. Every one is young and beautiful. Any one will be yours all night for the price of a six-pack.

I wandered around. Streetwalkers who looked like kids and were. Headed for the brothels. Walked by a guy trying to sell Viagra from a tray. Went into a brothel like a 70s go-go bar. Loud. Flashy. Neon. Spinning lights. A hundred girls. Ten guys, twenty. I wondered if I looked like them. Of course I did. I should.

Couldn’t stand it there. Next place. Named after a brothel from American TV. I sat in a soft chair and ordered a bottle of beer.

Within three minutes three different girls had come on up to me, not wearing much, not hiding anything. I gave them each ten dollars and they thought they’d hit the jackpot. For fifteen I could have taken them to bed – together.

One sat across my lap and one sat between my legs and one sat behind me and rubbed my shoulders. And I watched the show.

I flagged over a waitress, slipped her five bucks and asked for the mamasan. She came over, a big lady, still a young lady, only lady in the place wearing enough. Smiled at me. I told her I wanted a girl for two weeks.

“Which girl?” she asked.

“Someone who can leave for two weeks.”

“They all can,” she said. “You pay them.”

She’s selling time and I’m buying in bulk.

“Might not get internet,” I said. “Not even phone service.”

She shrugged. “Two weeks not that long.”

“Then a good girl,” I said. “Quiet girl. Someone I can leave alone all day.” Not all night.

“Tall short?” she asked. “Big tits?’

“Doesn’t matter,” I said.

“Virgin?”

“No.”

“I bring some,” she said. “You pick.”

Disappeared. Saw her again on the edge of the stage, getting the attention of one girl then another. They left the stage. Came and stood in front of me. And the three girls who were draped across me who didn’t bat an eye.

Sometimes there’s nothing to think about.

“Her.”

The girl smiled at me, and bowed her head. The mamasan nodded and the girl turned and went away

“Don’t want two?” the mamasan asked.

“No. Thank you.”

The other girls smiled at me and went back to the stage.

“Pay up front,” said the mamasan.

“Half. Half up front.”

“Us up front,” she said. “You her work it out.”

Two weeks. “One thousand a day,” I said.

“Two thousand for day,” said the mamasan.

“For one day,” I said. “For two weeks, one thousand a day.”

“Fifteen hundred,” she said. “Fair.”

Twenty one thousand pesos. About four hundred bucks. I’ve spent more for fifteen minutes. I’m getting fifteen days.

“Fair.”

We shook hands. I pulled out my wallet. The girl in my lap giggled. Ten minutes later my girl came out, wearing street-clothes, smiling at me. The girls around me stood up and waited for a tip. I gave them another thousand pesos and they kissed me, one of them quite thoroughly. I watched them go back out onto the stage.

I offered her my arm. She took it. She smiled up at me. We walked out onto the street and I asked her if she needed to go home and get anything. She shook her head.

Other people saw us. Didn’t really look at us. Nothing to see. It made me feel dirty. But for all the wrong reasons. Because I paid for it instead of getting it for free. Or because I didn’t pay much. Because I got it easily. Because it’s not the best. The best? All the wrong reasons. Stupid reasons.

We got in the car and headed out onto the empty highway. She didn’t speak. I put on the A/C. I asked her name and she told me. Don’t think she would have told me otherwise.

I told her my name. She smiled at me. Put her hand on my arm, and kept it there as I drove.

There was a little box on the dashboard. I opened it, took out what looked like a digital thermometer. Told her to open her mouth, I was just going to make sure she was healthy enough for the trip. She understood. She put it in her mouth obediently, held it there for a minute. When I told her to take it out she gave it to me, didn’t look at it. Didn’t want to know. I looked at it and told her she was healthy.

It was still daylight when we got back to the port. Felt like I’d done a day’s work. Felt exhausted. Shrugged it off. Drove us to a mall. Pulled up next to two guys with shotguns. One of them took my keys and went off to park.

We went clothing-shopping. “Bathing suits. A few dresses.” Her eyes just lit up. She kissed me on the mouth, and squeezed my hand.

She picked out two bathing suits and three pairs of sandals. And some t-shirts and cutoff jeans she could take home. Then I brought her to a nicer store. And I picked out six dresses, and she found them in her size. Then a lingerie store. A bunch of other gwailos there. My brain detached from my body and I bought her something different for every night.

We went down to the docks. I tossed the car keys to a guy and he jumped in, drove it away. She followed me out onto the dock, holding her big shopping bags. She stopped at the boat. Didn’t say anything. But didn’t move.

“Don’t worry,” I told her. “It’s just you and me. Very safe, plenty of food, everything you need. We’ll be back in two weeks.”

I took her bags from her and brought them on board. She followed.

I showed her to the bedroom. Knew that would make her feel safe. Took out a box of seasickness patches. Could tell she didn’t know the word. I put one behind my own ear so she’d trust it. Opened a closet. Told her to hang her things. Told her to put on a dress and meet me on the deck.

She came upstairs. She’d brushed her hair and the dress was white. She looked uncomfortable. She looked small. She looked beautiful and I told her so.

The deck had a wet bar and a cabinet with appliances. Burnished steel things, all the comforts of a modernist home. I put three mangos through a juicer, added a few gulps of the local coconut moonshine. She sat with her legs uncrossed and looked at me.

The guys on the dock cast us off and I motored out into the channel. Got past the buoys and opened up the throttle, just to see what it would do. The diesels pounded like we were riding forty-foot Harleys. I looked at her and she was looking straight ahead, holding her drink tight in both hands. Then we were clear of land and heading into the sea.

I cut the diesels. The silence was terrifying. Then I tapped the screen and the sail jumped up the mast. The wind caught it. Luffing. Snapping to. Flying above us. Enveloping us. Pulling us forward. We hit fourteen knots and there was just enough noise to fill  the silence of the sea.

I freshened her drink and told her I’d be back, went downstairs to chop fruit, a pineapple, a papaya, two types of mango and three types of banana. I set out a bowl of honey and another of clotted cream. Sent it to the deck in a dumb-waiter. Put it in front of her. Just a man and his girl, on a boat, on the sea.

We ate quietly. She smiled at me. It’s all she did. I asked for a quiet girl.

The sun touched the horizon.

“Let’s go downstairs,” I said, and went. She followed me.

I stood by the bed, kissing her. I turned her around and unzipped her dress. She reached up and unclasped her bra. Bent down and raised one leg to take off her panties. Put them on the couch and turned to me.

I put her on the bed.

Afterwards I fought to stay awake. I got up and splashed water on my face. Went up to the deck, naked, let the wind run over me in the dying light. Then I went downstairs and she was just lying there. What else did she have to do?

Fourteen days.

I climbed onto her again.

***

This time they’re using a tweezers and a microscope. Taking everything apart. Spreading out its pieces. Photographing each and every one. Scanning every microchip, copying every line of code. Opening every jar and can of food. X-raying the fish I caught.

Glad I didn’t catch more.

***

I woke up and she had put her underwear back on. I let her sleep.

I went to the tiller and set the sails. A light breeze. So long as there’s any breeze we’d keep going. It could come from any direction and it wouldn’t change a thing. Our course was due south across the Sulu Sea. In fourteen days we’d dock in Sandakan and I’d put her on a plane. It would be her first time on a boat and a plane. I wondered if it was her first time in a car.

She came on deck, sleep in her eyes. She wore a dress because that’s what she had to wear. I fixed us breakfast, eggs and fruit and juice. I told her to follow me downstairs and she looked apprehensive, just for a moment. And she came.

I gave her a package. It’s a new laptop. And headphones and a carrying-case. “It’s yours” I said. “It’s for you to keep.” She looked at me differently. Stunned. Then melted into my arms and kissed me.

She kept kissing me.
I took her back to bed.

I put on swim-trunks. Dropped the sail. Jumped overboard right from the deck. Swam in the ocean. Pulled myself up, put on goggles and a snorkel. Stuck my head under. Nothing to see. I came up and she was looking down at me. I asked her if she can swim and she said she couldn’t. I told her to put on a bathing-suit anyway.

I looked up and later and she was in a red bikini. She sat on the edge of the deck and kicked her feet in the air. I swam around, swam under the boat. Nothing to see.

I pulled myself up to the deck. She handed me a towel. I kissed her and she laughed and wiped the salt from her chin. I went and got some toys. One flew, one went under water. They both cost more than the girl.

I flew the drone straight up. Caught its signal on my phone, saw through its camera. Looked down at my little world. Watched the boat get smaller and smaller. Watched myself disappear. I scanned the horizon. There was nothing to see.

I sent the submarine down to two hundred feet. Too dark to see anything. Another horizon, even wider than the other. Nothing to see.

I showed her what I was doing. Let her fly the drone. I had to make her. She did it for a few seconds then gave the controls back to me. I stowed the drones away. I asked her if she liked the boat. We talked a little. About nothing.

I asked her to come shower with me. She washed my back, my chest. I washed hers. I showed her around the kitchen, we made a little dinner together, listened to music as we watched the sunset.

When the darkness pulled close around us I threw a blanket down on the deck. I held her from behind. Nobody in the world but us. She pressed herself into me. And we looked at the stars and listened to the sea.

***

They gave me laxatives. Skipped my breakfast and gave me a bunch of bananas for lunch. Little bananas, light and yellow. Made me strain over a steel bowl.

They wanted me to feel punished. But they were the one going through my shit.

***

I saw an island on the horizon. Sailed us towards it. A tiny gem set in the Sulu Sea. Sailed around it. Didn’t take that long. Uninhabited. No more than a little rock with a few trees.

The ship had a Zodiac strapped to the rear. I loaded it down. Camera and tripod. Bicycle for riding on the sand. A bucket of ice, bottled water, bottled beer. Set it in the water. Climbed in.

Motored over to a whitestand beach. Maybe a mile long – whole length of the island. Ran the boat up onto the sand. Lay on the sand and felt it bake me. Maybe not the first person to lay on those sands. Maybe. But right now they belong to me.

Sat the bike in the sand, got it set up. Five inch tires, carbon frame. Rode to the end of the beach. Cut up and over some rocks, down to another beach on the other side. Then back again. Ang again and again. Felt like desecration. Felt great.

I went back for the girl. Lay her down a towel, put her up an umbrella.  I took pictures of the island. I took pictures of her. Used my 800mm lens to hunt for birds. Didn’t find any.

I went for a walk and looked back at her, saw her taking a selfie with her phone. I walked back and open the Champagne. She raised her cell phone and took a picture of me.

I took off my shirt and my shorts. She looked at her feet. I told her, look around, there’s no one to see us, in any direction, nothing. She saw I wanted it. She turned around and took off her bikini. Lay herself back down, arms at her sides.

I went and splashed around in the water. She watched me. I went back to shore. She moved her knees apart and looked up at me.

We went back to the boat. She put on a dress, I made dinner, we watched the sunset, we had a routine. I packed an aeropress, then another, then told her I might not be back for a while. She had her feet up on the couch, cradling her laptop. She was good.

I went back to the island. No clouds. Only stars. I’d never seen so many stars. It was like day.

I set up a telescope, and didn’t come back until dawn. Found her asleep on the deck, in a blanket. Carried her downstairs and laid her in bed. Lay next to her. Went to sleep.

***

A soldier holds up a phone. It’s showing video. Live, I assume. It’s my ship. It’s in pieces. They’ve taken it apart with a fucking buzz saw. They’re feeding it into an x-ray machine, piece by piece.

Bye bye security deposit.

***

I sailed us for two days. The sky stayed clear and calm. We ate. We drank. We fooled around. I played with my toys. I played music to the open sea.

Storm clouds came up. It rained for three days. Blood-warm rain. We put on bathing suits and stayed on deck. Sailed through it. Fucked in the rain.

I broke out some fishing gear. Didn’t catch anything. Tried again the next day. Boated a 22-pound skipjack. Filleted it on the deck while the girl hid downstairs. Cleaned the deck with sea-water. Cooked her fillet through, seared mine just a little bit past raw. Had enough left over to feed us every meal until we made it back to port.

Fished a little more. Caught another. Pulled the hook. Dropped it back.

I started to get restless. Did some push-ups. Sailed closer and closer to the wind. Ate too much. Drank too much. There beneath canvas and sky and I thought about watching some TV.

My mind wandered. I started to daydream. What would happen if pirates sailed up beside us. What if a tsunami came up or a hurricane blew. How about if a helicopter came down, camera crew leaning out, catching me with a hooker. I’d either get through them alive or I wouldn’t. And if I did, I’d be back where I was, sailing.

Pulled up a chart. Found another island. Went exploring. Back aboard.

Thought about getting another girl. Thought about getting ten. Might need a bigger boat. Not impossible. Not even all that hard. Wasn’t really tempted. What I had here was perfect.

I was done with perfect.

I swung around and headed for Sandakan. Got within five miles, and they got me.

***

Beautiful ship. Sigma-class, modern, three hundred feet long. They fired a warning shot from their deck gun. The splash was bigger than my ship.

I heaved to. I told the girl that we were going to get inspected. I told her to just answer their questions honestly. I kissed her and she hugged me. I didn’t tell her it was going to be alright.

I left her below.

They boarded us. Four soldiers, submachine guns. Cuffed me straight off and put me on the lander. A coast guard file motored me back to the corvette. I didn’t mention the girl. They wouldn’t let us stay together anyway.

***

I didn’t know how long I’d been in captivity. Turned out to be six days. Well, some people pay good money to do a week-long retreat. And even they don’t poop as much.

They gave me my clothing back. And a letter summarizing everything they’d destroyed. Or so I assumed. I don’t speak Malay. My homeowner’s insurance could sort it out.

An officer came and sat by me, smiling. A vindictive sort of smile for a guy who’d just fought dirty and still lost. “We tested the girl,” he said. “She’s HIV positive.”

“Yeah, I know.”

He didn’t know what to do with that. Gave me back my passport, and had a lad with a gun show me outside.

They gave me a ride to a streetcorner in town. A taxi was idling just up the block. I walked over and got in. The girl was in the back.

I will not try to describe her look. I will say that she had just spent six days undergoing God knows what, and she had no idea why, and now she was dependent on me to get her home, and if I wanted she’d still have to fuck me.

I didn’t say anything to her. Nothing to say. Got us to the airport and took a flight to Angeles. Had to wait two hours. Then three more because it was late. Not the only gwalio on the flight. Touched down. Disembarked.

I told her we were going to the bank. She followed me. I took out five thousand dollars in pesos and gave them to her.

She took them and she paused and then she went to hug me. I stopped her. Took her hand and kissed it and thanked her for a beautiful week. Then turned around and returned her to her world.

Five thousand dollars. Ten times what I’d promised her. A little less than she’d make in a year. I didn’t know what she was going home to, a boyfriend who’d take it, a family who’d split it, a little girl who now could go to school. Didn’t know. Didn’t want to know. None of my business.

I hoped nobody was waiting to take it from her. Either way, in a week I’d have someone find her and give her fifty more. And a visa to the States, and four years at a community college on the edge of the Bay.

Of course she was HIV positive. She was a sex worker in southeast Asia. I didn’t need a cheek swab to test for that. The first swab carried a virus. A little virus. Helped you digest, or something like that. Smuggled out of a Manila biotech. Given to me to smuggle out of the country. They were watching too closely, it never would have gotten out. So I gave it to the girl. Preserved it in her. Incubated it in her. And I’d take it back from her when she came to America to begin a life.

I caught a plane back home, and back to work.

Advertisements

~ by davekov on 20 November 2016.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: