[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
001 002 Prologue 001-002 003 004 005 Chap 1 003-005
Chap 2 006 007 008 Chap 3 007-008 009 010 Chap 4 009-010 011 012 013 Chap 5 011-013 014 015 016 017
Chap 6 014-017 018 019 Chap 7 018-019 020 021 022 023 Chapter 8 020-023
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 024
Chapter 9 (1 of 4): The Bi
I had to stop in the lobby and sit in one of the comfortable chairs.
“May I get you something to drink?” One of the attractive hostesses circulating among the loungers had appeared in front of me.
“Yes, yes. That’s a good idea. I’d like a large glass of club soda with a lime twist.”
“Thank you,” she said. “It’ll just be a second.” She wasn’t kidding. She mumbled something into her lapel, and almost before she had moved on to the next set of chairs a smartly dressed attendant placed a beaded glass in front of me. “Here you are,” she said brightly.
“That was fast,” I said, rather dumbly.
The woman gave me a little nod of agreement and rushed off in the direction of the bar.
I took a long draught of the cold drink and looked casually around me. As one might expect for a Sunday morning, the lobby was quite crowded and filled with a steady hum of conversations and laughter. I tried to tune it out and sort of retract into myself.
The truth is that Agung had drained me. Emotionally, psychically, certainly physically. An ineffable lassitude had descended over me, and, stretched out in my soft fauteuil, I mused languorously on our recent encounter, as if detached from its reality and marooned in a waking dream. I am almost – but not quite – tempted to call it love-making. But in spite of my sense of possible drift onto the dangerous shoals of passion for Agung, as yet I still had enough presence of mind to steer away from this shattering passage. Although I clearly had wide ranges of feeling for the men who hired me, from incipient disgust to passionate abandon, I had never had any illusions about what I did for a living and what my clients wanted from me — reduced to the frank and guileless patois of the gutter, it was that delicious hairy pussy between my legs. I knew working girls who in their hearts had packaged this reality in the disingenuous wrappings of romantic illusion only to be cruelly disappointed. For in the end illusions are without exception as falsely perfect as they are inevitably unreliable, and I prayed I would never lose sight of this perdurable truth. Women like us were simply not the ones the men who paid us to fuck and suck would ever be bringing home to Mom and Dad.
I snapped out of this reverie.
I had a good three hours before my meeting with Yukiko at the Momiji. I was ravenous and decide to splurge at The Take, a classy restaurant associated with the Momiji and specializing in Japanese-French fusion food that was astonishingly palatable. But I couldn’t bring myself to get up; I needed to stay a bit longer and unwind exactly where I was. I finished my club soda and licked the lime. Discreetly, without removing it from my shoulder bag resting on my lap, I used a tapered fingernail to split the seam on the little something Agung had given me. I peered inside. His munificence was, if not surprising, still quite grand. Ten crisp Franklins lay sleeping peacefully in the creamy off-white cradle of the thick envelope.
Definitely my kinda guy!
I moseyed indolently over to one of the revolving doors and exited into the furnace warmth of mid-day August. I was feeling like lethargy incarnate, and it was far too hot for me even to think of walking the ten or so blocks down to the Momiji. Feeling expansive, I palmed a ten to the doorman and asked him to secure me a cab. With a tip like that, said is done, and soon a Sikh in a green turban was conveying me south in his air-conditioned cab.
The Momiji is one of those super-luxurious hotels backed by foreign – this one, obviously, Japanese — corporations that have begun to dot the more fashionable landscapes of larger American cities. It was also super-expensive, but I’d never heard anyone complain about the amenities or the service. They were all super-impeccable. The lobby was a study in minimalist elegance, and one could imagine hearing the soft modulation of flutes. The spacious atrium was bathed in soft daylight pouring down through a vaulted ceiling implanted with countless panes of patterned glass. A luxuriance of verdant plants and red hibiscus made for a general restfulness. In the middle of this expanse a broad fountain purled gently and murmured its muted whispers. Tall bamboos swaying halfway up to the mezzanine formed a fringe around the outer periphery of the pool’s blue-green water. A polyglot of languages from East and West created a rustling susurrus in the background.
The Take was located at the north end of the atrium, and I wended my way through clusters of bowing businessmen and multiple groups of Japanese and German vacationers being herded out to the tour busses parked outside. There was a short line outside the restaurant. It seemed to be moving along briskly enough, and since I still had lots of time I decided to join the other brunchers waiting to be seated. It didn’t take long, and soon I was seated at a table for eight with seven strangers.
It was one of those teppanyaki steak places where the food was prepared right in front of you on a large hibachi-type grille that was built into the table. I was partial to the fried rice and the thin, almost transparent strips of filet; these were seared with garlic, chopped ginger and shredded stalks of green onion, and then mixed in a sauce of mirin wine, soy sauce and oyster sauce.
Shortly after the eight seats were filled a waitress came and took our selections, and soon after that the chef arrived with his cart of implements and ingredients. I had a small flask of sake while I waited for my order. Everything was fixed with flair and style, and the food was every bit as tasty as I had remembered. I finished up with green-tea ice cream and put down a generous tip.
The lunch left me feeling neither hungry nor sated. Perfect.
I wanted to walk a bit and settle the food. Since the weather was not likely to have appreciably changed in the interim I opted for a slow walk throughout the coolness of the vast lobby and atrium. Idly I watched people and also let my eyes rove over the exquisite luxuries on display in the many windows of tony boutiques and established chains.
It was getting on towards three o’clock.
I suppose the hermetic compartmentalization of desire is not possible. For desire seems more to be a matter of gamut, more a movement along an elastic spectrum than a fixed point of eternal permanence. As I have noted before, I have a wide range of feelings for the many clients I see; I could probably locate each of them with some precision along a personal continuum of want that stretches from the barely tolerable – a Fab Darling, say – to an avidity almost frightening in its intensity – an Agung, say. But in the phenomenology of yearning men constitute only one half of availability. What of women? Again, I am compelled to contemplate that notion of an elastic spectrum to whose practical applicability Yukiko is, contrary to all I might have believed, shortly to introduce me.
I am alone riding up in the exposed glass cage to the eighteenth floor as the view of the lobby of the Momiji receded. The ascent is smooth and swift. I exit the glass enclosure and avail myself of the pointing arrows and range of room numbers posted on the wall to get oriented, and then I head off in the soft direction of 1856. It is about half way down the opulent hall. I stop in front of the door. Before knocking, I hesitate briefly and allow myself a final monitory reflection about why I am here and what I think I am really up to.
I tap on the door.
It opens, immediately, as if she has been peering through the small eyehole and knows I have arrived.
I sweep over her in one stunned look.
TO BE CONTINUED