She’s not coming, I thought. She had come to her senses and decided that whatever it was we had was not worth her 10 years of marriage. I nodded at the counter airline staff, scooped up my passport and boarding pass and walked away. I was half expecting her to suddenly appear beside me out of breath and flushed, with something wild in her eyes. Not happening.
The line at the passport control was long, so I spent some time turning behind and glancing up at the upper level of the airport where the lifts were, imagining I heard her voice. By the time it was my turn, I used the automatic gate, got through it and strode down to the immigration point, where I lifted my overnighter and placed it on the conveyor belt with my dark brown corduroy jacket, then placed both my mobile phones in the tray together with my wallet, my belt and some coins. I got through that and proceeded to the train after gathering my stuff. The train arrived; I got on, swung from the ceiling handle and walked out the doors when I arrived at the departure terminal. I had approximately 2 hours before the last call for boarding. Slipping my jacket on, I took a seat at a small coffee joint and ordered a small coffee of the day. I sipped the black and bitter brew and stared morosely at the couple across the shop from me. The man was Malay and the woman was Chinese. Both were possibly in their early 50s; and both looked tired but happy. The man was leaning towards the woman and whispering something in her ear. She nodded without looking at him, smiling. This continued for several minutes, where the woman finally turned to the man, pulled his faces to hers, and landed a soft kiss on his lips. The woman turned suddenly to look at me and smiled knowingly. I looked away.
I leaned back against the chair and pulled out my Mac Book Air and placed it on the small round table in front of me. It took most of 30 seconds for the wonderful machine to hook to the café’s free Wi-Fi and another 30 seconds for me to hook up to my virtual life that was Facebook. I had 3 messages waiting for me. I was surprised to see that it was from her. Only it wasn’t. It was her husband. The messages were short, curt and effective: She won’t be joining you today, or any other day. She has changed her mind. I suggest you do the same. Walk away.
The other two messages were from my office colleagues asking where I was. I ignored them and focused on answering the husband’s simple statements. For about 5 seconds I considered adhering to the advice. It sounded reasonable, and fair. But I was not a reasonable man, and far from fair on any account. I figured my life had to take on something new, or be damned. She was the new, new for me.
It’s useless for you to convince her to stay with you, I wrote, She will join me no matter what. I paused a moment before adding, She loves me. And you know that. I sent it off without a second thought.
I finished my coffee, packed up, paid and walked over to the departure lounge. The elderly couple looked up at me and I smiled at them. The man averted my eyes, as if hiding something. Could it be they were not supposed to be together? Could that be me and her, 15 years from now?
The lounge was crowded, so I stood and waited for the gate to open. When it did, I walked rapidly to the mouth of the plane, showed the stewardess my boarding pass, found my seat, planted my overnighter in the overhead compartment, pulled out my book, stuffed my jacket, then sat down. I had the aisle seat. I buckled up, closed my eyes and fell asleep almost immediately. I normally don’t have patience for the initializing of take offs. The stewardess, though adequately tasty on some flights, annoyed me immensely as they educated the passengers with their flailing arms and their independent belt buckles and water vest and oxygen mask. It was all a show and I only watch shows if it had a million dollar budget backing it. At the end of the day, you just know it that if there was a plane crash, none of what they tell you will be of any use. How do you escape death at 800miles per hour? You can’t.
No one sat beside me because when I woke up, we were already up in the air and I had no immediate neighbors. But even then I felt strangely anxious, as if something bad was about to happen. Whatever could it be? I pushed the feeling aside and decided that if something bad was going to happen, it would be either too big for me to do anything about it, or manageable enough for me to bite it. Either way, if something were to happen, it will happen no matter what. I pulled out my book and started reading. The cabin light was dimmed so I switched on the overhead reading light and started to slowly sink into Robert Wilson’s “Ignorance of Blood”, the final installation of the Javier Falcon series. All around me other passengers had their eyes glued on their tiny TV screens in front of them, their headphones wrapped around their heads like an extension of their skulls.
It was then that someone pushed my seat from behind and this huge surly man of Indian origin apologized and squeezed his bulky frame to the seat beside me. I was not alone, apparently.
“Sorry,” he muttered, “hate these economy seats. Damn tight for people like me.”
“What, Indians?” I asked.
He looked at me.
“Oh you mean, fat.” I said.
The shocked look on his face was frozen, until it broke apart in the middle and he burst out laughing.
“For a Malay feller,” he said, “you’re damn bloody funny.”
“Bump fist,” I said, and showed him my fist, he bumped it with his. I didn’t even know why I did that. I’d seen enough of it on TV to know its effectiveness in breaking any kind of ice.
“Work or pleasure?” he asked, settling down by plugging in his huge behind in the seat.
“Pleasure,” I said.
“Lucky you. I’m taking over from my boss, to give a speech. Drop in, talk talk talk, then fly out. I hate that,” he said.
“Yeah? Who are you attached with?” I asked.
It took him a moment to answer. “Have you heard of Kaleideskope?”
“No, not really.”
“We deal with pharmaceutical companies. We supply drugs, hospital equipment to retailers, and they in turn sell it to hospitals.”
“I see. You’re head of sales?”
“Yeah, how did you guess?”
“Just a wild shot in the dark.”
“Yeah. Hey, have they served the food yet? I was in the toilet for a time. I had too much to eat and drink before the flight.”
“I don’t know. I just woke up myself.”
“I don’t suppose so. Its dark.”
“I’m starving,” he said. I believed him.
“So what’s pleasuring you in Melbourne?” he asked.
“You mean who’s pleasuring me in Melbourne?”
I leaned towards him and whispered “My left hand.”
He roared. I never knew anyone could laugh that loud. He was in tears by the time the laughter subsided, the seat finally settling down as his massive frame came to a shuddering stop. I was sure everyone on the flight was alerted of the effect my joke had on him, and not in a good way.
He wiped the tears from his eyes and said, with a suddenly serious face “No seriously, who are you meeting?”
Was this guy for real? I thought.
“A friend. Hopefully.”
He pondered a moment on this, chewing the scant information.
“You’re having an affair with a married woman, aren’t you?” he asked quietly.
I stared at him; in the darkness I could tell he was serious. The laughing, joking man was now dead serious.
“Yes I am,” I said, curious as to what his reaction would be, “how did you know?”
He shrugged and muttered “Wild guess”, then turned away from me and pulled out a thick paperback and promptly started reading it, ignoring me completely.
I pulled my book and started reading it too.
Suddenly it clicked.
I closed the book, waited a moment then tapped the Indian man on his arm.
“You know me, don’t you?” I asked.
He ignored me, and continued reading.
I grabbed his arm and shook it. He turned and said, “What?”
“You know me. You’re with him aren’t you?”
He put his book away, turned to face me and said, “I don’t know what or who you’re talking about. But I know it has something to do with your lover’s husband.”
I stared at him.
“She didn’t join you on this flight. Why? I don’t think you know exactly why yourself, do you? You would have, if you had called her, but you didn’t. Either because you took it for granted that you would be meeting her at the airport, and therefore did not bring your secret phone with the prepaid mobile SIM, or, you were too anxious to do anything remotely intelligent. For some reason, which I have an idea is related to her husband, she’s not coming and her husband has contacted you, and told you that.”
I was stunned. Was this going to be something bigger than me? Or could it fit between my teeth? I kept quiet, silently urging him to say more. That way I could learn more.
“Don’t look too shocked. I’m actually a private investigator sent by a client to track down a missing teenager. I’m not with any drug company. That’s my cover. The Australian authorities have issues about operatives like me operating independently in their fair land.”
He read my mind, “Don’t worry lah, I wont tell anyone. I don’t even know your name, where you work, who you really are and most importantly of all, I don’t even know who your lover is.”
“But if you did.”
“So what? You think you’re the only Malay feller that’s screwing around with someone else’s wife behind everyone’s back? Sorry la, you’re not.”
“He sent you, didn’t he?”
“No lah. Relax la brudder,” he said, “not everyone is out to get you, you know?”
I didn’t speak to him until we reached Melbourne. When we parted ways after the immigration, I kept my eyes on him. I took a cab and asked the cabbie to tail his cab. I read in a detective novel several years back that tailing someone was always a lot easier at night, and especially from the airport. Firstly, the person being tailed would not realize he was tailed on account of it being at night, and secondly, cab drivers driving late at night would be too tired to fully concentrate on his passenger who had asked him to follow another cab. Anyway, a cab tailing another cab makes sense especially if you tell the cabbie that both of you work together and are staying at the same hotel. If they took the trouble to ask you why you didn’t just share a cab, the correct response would be that the both of you wanted to cash in the transport claims when you returned back to the office.
When we reached the shared destination, I stepped out on the curb with my overnighter, waited until my ride drove off, then slid behind some trees and watched the fat Indian guy walk up to the front desk to check in. I waited until he completed his transaction, obtained his access card and headed for the lifts before I hailed another cab and made my way to my hotel.
The big sized Indian man was not surprised to see me standing outside his room, three hours later. He was expecting me. He was clad in a huge blue hotel towel and his sloping man tits distracted me for a moment. He even had a smile on his broad face.
“How did you know which room I was in?” he asked.
Without saying a word, I pushed him into the room, locked the door behind me and pulled out a silver fork I had pilfered from my hotel’s coffee house. It was strong and sturdy.
He started to laugh, but was silenced immediately when I plunged the fork into his sternum in three quick jabs; thrusting the fork with the full force of my extended and muscular arm. He tried to grab my arm but I quickly evaded his grasps and instead ducked in and out of his grabbing hands, popping up in front of him and plunging the fork into the same spot until it was a ragged gaping hole in the middle of his chest. When he finally collapsed to the floor, I was drenched in sweat and blood, the arterial spray had soaked and drenched me. I rolled him on his back, took out his enormous luggage and dragged him into it. It was hard work lifting over 100kg of meat. But I was strong and I bench more than my weight so the Indian man was not exactly that huge a problem for me. Naturally he did not fit into the luggage, and did not have the right tools to cut him up in small pieces so that he could eventually fit. So I did the next best thing, I filled up the bath with water, pulled the luggage to the bathroom and heaved his body into bathtub. Within minutes the water turned dark red, covering him up. I squirted all manner of liquid soap into the tub so as to drown out the smell for at least three days. I cleaned up, changed into the extra clothes I had brought with me and waited until 12am where I called the front desk and in my best imitation of the deceased, informed them that I wanted a wake up call at 12pm the next day. I was hoping to mess up the timeline for the crime scene investigators. Shortly after that I left the room and hung a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. I slipped out quietly and made my way back to my hotel, choosing to walk to a busy section of a café crowd before taking a cab.
I called an acquaintance of mine back in KL. He took down my orders without single word, applying instead his usual grunts. I told him I wanted it done in 2 days. Then I hung up. I was beginning to feel better. I was actually taking huge healthy bites out of the situation.
I called her that night. She sounded anxious. I told not to worry as everything had been taken care of. I told her that I would be sending her the money to purchase another flight ticket to join. She said her husband knows everything. So it was impossible for her to go anywhere. I calmed her down and told her to trust me, finally she did. I then told her to get some sleep as she had a long day ahead of her. I was sleepy myself. I finally relaxed and stretched out on the bed. The hooker I picked up was by then snoring away, her damp red hair sticking to her face making her look soiled. After what I had put her through, it was a pretty accurate summation.
Melbourne in winter is a lovely place. Hurrying people in long overcoats rushing by dark colored wooden doors and bright flashy shop displays beneath quaint buildings gives the impression of London, but the broadness of the city’s layout however tweaked it to give it a more American flavor. I was at my favorite Starbucks around the corner from Queens Street, sipping bitter Arabica, studying the people around me. I was hungry but I was too lazy to do anything about it. The red haired was just a snack. I was really in the mood for a full meal. I looked around. And then I saw her.
People, or rather, victims, have a single almost consistent reaction when faced with the truth of their mortality. They cringe, then freeze up, then panic. The emotional meltdown and single take from doubt to confirmation was the same every time. Since I was hungry, I didn’t give her my small explanation. I just ripped into her neck and tore out her throat. The fair skinned Indonesian arts student quivered and punched me repeated on my back as my teeth sunk deeper and deeper into the flesh of her neck. When my teeth closed in and met, she had stopped moving completely. I don’t normally eat Asian flesh whilst in a generally Caucasian country. I prefer to eat local. But I was hungry, and she was available. And I’m not a fussy man.
My lover called me when she arrived at the airport the following afternoon. I was waiting for her as she emerged from the arrival area. We hugged, and then broke for air, and then I kissed her on her lips, sucking her face until she swooned.
“See?” I said, “everything’s fine.”
She nodded with a smile, looking up at me with her big brown eyes. She was beautiful and I was madly in love with her.
I took her to the new hotel where I had moved in earlier in the day and she squealed in excitement at the size of the suite. She ran around the spacious room and leapt on the bed, jumping up and down on it like a little child. How could I doubt my own feelings for the woman?
We spent the next three weeks exploring the city and the surrounding tourists attractions, coming back to the hotel suite late at night where we made love until the deep blue of dawn broke through the dark horizon. It was endless. We laid waste all prohibition and rode on the gushing whims of our desires. And not one soul disturbed us. I had taken out my phone, asked her to take out hers, and we had both our phones under lock and key with the hotel management. I told the night manager that we do not want to be disturbed under any circumstances. We weren’t.
By the time we returned to KL, we were two different human beings. She was prepared to face anything, having taken my promises solemnly.
Only problem was, she was not fully prepared to face what was waiting for her when she reached home. Firstly, her husband was murdered, and secondly, her kids, a boy of 12 and a girl of 9 were taken away by her parents in-law, as she was an only child with long deceased parents. She was in quandary.
I told her that everything would be okay. The important thing was, I wanted her, and she wanted me. Nothing else should matter.
And it didn’t. Everything turned out pretty well for us. Her kids continued staying with her in-laws. And she moved in with me. Once a week she would spend time with her kids, and sometimes, they would come and sleep over at my place. In fact, I was beginning to enjoy my role as a dad. I stopped craving for anything bad, only that when suspicious friends or family started asking the odd question, I’d call my acquaintance for a favor. And that would more or less settle the matter for good.
I’m not a bad person. I’m just focused on what I want, and what I want to keep.
In some universe, vampiric, cannibalistic assholes do get away with shit. Like me for instance.