English is not my first language, suggestions welcome!
Bold: The charaters are speaking in English.
After a bruising from that hottie—my tiny heart battered on the floor of the interrogation room—I heaved my exhausted body to Mahidol University, meeting with the client who wanted her photos taken for the practice graduation ceremony. Yet, I was met with both the merciless sun and rain. Barely alive at the end of that job, I was on the verge of collapsing dead on the side of Puthamonthol road. But the last thing that kept my consciousness anchored to my body was P’Pun’s promise, tonight’s free dinner. It restored me with enough energy to drive from the campus to Rajadamnern.
“Oh, you pitiful puppy.” P’Pun poured beer into his own glass while laughing cheerfully. His other hand ruffled my hair with satisfaction as he turned to call the waiter over. “Kid! Two bottles of Singha beer.”
“Make it three! Hua!!! Actually no, call off the beer, give us some mineral water instead!”
P’Pun looked at me with shock. “Did a ghost possess you Petch!?”
“Didn’t you agree to quit drinking with me for Buddhist Lent?” I reminded him of our promise.
“When did I say that?”
Alzheimer really did work in favor of some people. I spent my time retelling the story to P’Pun for a total of three minutes before concluding pridefully, “And from these 348 reasons, as well as you giving your word, it means… waiter! give us two bottles of mineral water.”
“Would you like Thai mineral water or imported mineral water sir?”
“Any is fine as long as you don’t give us tap water.”
P’Pun muttered a curse under his breath but didn’t protest openly, his hand stuffing a bunch of fried beans into his frowning face. “Today’s been nothing but full of problems. You’re no exception too, forcibly making me keep you company by drinking mineral water. Can’t we start our drinking ban tomorrow? How about we shift it over one day for now?”
I stared at his face, not knowing how to argue back. But after staying quiet for two whole minutes, P’Pun conceded and raised his white flag.
“Okay, okay. Fine. Stop sulking. Men who sulk aren’t cute Petch.”
I wasn’t sulking in the slightest, but my senior already took it to mean as such so I decided to play along. P’Pun began to make a stressed expression, he removed his glasses and folded the legs so it could dangle from his shirt pocket. “Hey, you’re angry at me just because of this?”
“Nonsense.” I pretended to speak in a disatisfied manner.
“You’re like a girl, how stubborn.”
I glared at P’Pun and snapped my face to the side as if unimpressed; this was the most pretentious and petty acting I could pull off. “It’s nothing, I’m just hungry.”
P’Pun became stunned for two seconds before gradually smiling again, his expression relaxing. P’Pun hurriedly handed me the menu, making conversation about this and that while simultaneously undoing his shirt buttons in order to let the cooling wind inside. What kind of man was so handsome that his every action appeared pleasing to the eye? Good grief, why didn’t my parents save up for plastic surgery on my 20th birthday like those teens in Korea? I chose a few of P’Pun’s favorite dishes to share as a form of apology; now that I think about it, we really resembled a sugar daddy and his mistress.
P’Pun nodded his head without saying anything, too preoccupied with attaching a lens to his camera. Seeing this brand new lens of his, my saliva began to drip more vigorously than having piping hot food laid out it front of me.
“Is that a new lens?”
P’Pun wiggled his eyebrows playfully. “It’s shiny new, I bought it to celebrate being single.”
“You might as well close off the entire street to celebrate if you’re that happy about it.” I sarcastically remarked but then suddenly remembered, “Oh, so did you manage to meet with the prime minister through Mr. Sasha’s number that I gave you?”
The newly single man cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah, I was about to tell you the details.”
The story was that P’Pun rushed to the prime minister’s next location according to his sources. Yet, once he got on the elevator, it so happens that the device froze halfway up the building. So there he was, stuck on the elevator next to a good-looking foreigner who seemed equally in a hurry.
“Hua, for real? The hotel elevator?”
“Yeah, I was shocked, and you know how claustrophobic I am too.”
P’Pun continued his story. Inside the elevator was really hot and the air was thin. The foreigner seeing that P’Pun didn’t look too good because of the confined space offered to fan him using the documents in his hand. If it weren’t for him P’Pun would have been done for as it took nearly half an hour before the elevator doors could open up again.
After managing to get out of the elevator, P’Pun hurriedly called the number which he had received from me. But as it turns out, the owner of the number was the very same foreigner who was stuck in the elevator with him. When this fact dawned on the both of them, they couldn’t help but laugh at the coincidence. In the end, P’Pun even got to cut in line and interview the prime minister first.
“Since the moment I was born, I’ve never met such a kind foreigner before in my life.” P’Pun explained cheerfully. “With people like him on this earth, life seems more worth living. So how exactly did you get to know this guy?”
Hearing this made me jealous. I wish I could have had a scenario like this happen to me.
“He’s the owner of the room next to mine, number 1206.”
“You guys live in the same building?”
“Yeah. Ah, the food’s arrived let’s eat.” On our table laid the following dishes, crispy pork mixed with spicy salad, sour curry, fried snake-head fish, garlic prawns and pineapple fried rice baked in a clay pot, wafting off a delicious smell which triggered a gurgling in my stomach. But I still couldn’t resist comparing my two neighbors.
“He really is kind. Everything about him is good when compared to Alexey.”
“Hm? Who’s this Alexey guy?” P’Pun made a perplexed face while piling a mountain of food on my plate. “Come, eat more so you can grow”
“He’s the menacing guy whose apartment door you broke.”
P’Pun’s expression turned sheepish, making me feel guilty for bringing up this topic. “Uh… senior… I…”
“How much for the repairs? Is it over fifty-thousand baht?”
I raised up two shaky fingers as a confirmation that it was around twenty-thousand baht.
“Is that mafioso charging for any other extra damages?”
I hiccupped. “Nuh… no. Just twenty-four thousand.”
“Hua, there aren’t any extra charges? How curious. This means that even the Thai police can extort money better than the mafia.”
(TN: Thai police regularly pull over drivers for speeding; regardless of whether the accusation is true or not. In this moment you are given two choices, to accept the speeding ticket and fine that comes along with it OR give the police officer some ‘hush money’, the less expensive option. Naturally, people lean towards the latter. Thus, the police get a bit of ‘snack money’ for simply pulling people over, an easy way of extorting cash. This is illegal in many countries, but hey we’re pretty high on the corruption index.)
The logic behind his statement was faulty but I found myself oddly in agreement.
“Anyways, if that’s the case then what a relief. Tell him for me that I’ll take full responsibility. I’ll entrust the money to you okay Petch? I really don’t want to see that guy’s face.”
“You say it as if I want to see his face.” Despite making a sullen expression I was happily chewing food in my two puffy cheeks. “Do it yourself P’Pun, that guy won’t talk to me, he only talks to good-looking people.” I raised him this bullshit reason with a straight face. Naturally, the naive P’Pun fell for my words entirely.
P’Pun furrowed his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”
“I meant just what I said.” (Although it wasn’t true.)
“Come now, I’ll even tip you three-thousand baht for the delivery.”
“Hua, I’m not someone you can buy with money.”
“You’re treating me to this meal instead then. I’ll order expensive stuff like Alaska crab.”
“What? This is clearly breaking our promise.”
P’Pun shook his head exasperatedly. “You make me feel like I’m raising two toddlers that speak absolute nonsense. I’ll go withdraw the cash later and leave the rest in your hands Petch.”
“Hoi… P’Pun.” I protested weakly. Doing this was blatantly kicking a pig (me) into the mouth of a dog (that hottie).
(TN: Kicking a pig into the mouth of a dog – An idiom meaning to unintentionally give others a benefit.)
To conclude, although my stomach ended up round and full, I heaved my heavy heart—as if weighed down by lead—back to the condo. P’Pun stuffed twenty-five thousand baht in my hands while dangling an offer that if I quickly finished this delivery, I would get to borrow his brand new lens.
Money cannot buy Petch, but a lens… sure can.
This truly was an offer that I could not reject… god dammit.
I debated to myself for quite some time before making the decision to knock on the door of apartment 1202 belonging to none other than my nemesis Alexey (I gave him this title on my on accord). The person who opened the door was a scary-looking masculine man who I came to know later as Isakov.
“State your business.”
“I have something to talk to Alexey about.”
You’re telling me that it’s late? Does this vain man require his beauty sleep? If so, explain that cigarette in your hand.
There was a sound from the back and the door opened further. I hesitated, but then my interest piqued when I saw the hottie standing behind the door bare-chested, showing off his well-defined figure and stunning set of muscles that caused me to stare unintentionally.
“Oh, it’s you. Come in.”
“Is that a wholehearted invitation?” My mouth shot ahead.
Alexey side-eyed me. “Close the door behind you.”
I followed him into the room. From just one step over the frame of the door I felt I was transported to another world. It was like my experience visiting a rich person’s house for the first time during the time I was working in social news. Although we lived in the same condo, his room was beautifully decorated and without a single speck of dust.
Alexey’s room was twice as large as mine. It also had the benefit of being a corner room as it offered an expansive view of the outside cityscape. The furniture was sparse and either navy blue, grey or black in color. Along the walls were wooden carvings which should not have complemented the European leather furniture but oddly enough they went well together. Altogether it transformed the image of the room’s owner from a crude mafioso into a Russian man with classic tastes.
“What are you looking at?”
The tone of his voice was stiff, unknown as to whether this was due to anger or simply his natural state of being. I couldn’t read his emotions very well so I jutted out my bottom lip and refused to answer instead. I also refused the beer that was handed to me.
“I’m not drinking, no thanks.”
Alexey dragged out a cushioned chair for me, while he himself sat on the sofa littered with several books. It looks as if I had interrupted his reading.
“Has the door been fixed?” I decided to bring up the issue first. Alexey nodded and emptied the rest of the beer into his mouth. I sat body frozen, not fidgeting in the slightest as I felt that my life was on the line. Especially that scary tattoo on his back, from just looking at it I was afraid that he might really be from the mafia.
Alexey likely noticed the fear in my eyes so he opened the closet, finding a round collar T-shirt to wear. “Can you quit making that face now?”
I nodded, able to breathe a bit better and then remembered the purpose of my visit.
“Um… my friend wanted to tell you that he’s sorry and that this is the money for the door repairs. He’s currently busy but promised to come apologise on his own at some later date.” That last sentence wasn’t actually said by P’Pun, it was just me making things up on the fly.
The hottie stared at me, his eyes reflecting neither happiness or anger. He pointed at the faraway luxurious 44-inch plasma television. “The bill is there, might as well go and pay for it yourself.”
I followed the hand and walked over to collect it, wondering to myself whether this guy lacked so much kindness that he couldn’t even be bothered to get it for me. However, my eyes tripped over a picture frame which sat hidden away, as if intentionally placed out of anyone’s sight behind the television. With a glance I recalled that it was a photo from Jessica’s wedding, but I wasn’t entirely certain. I reached behind to pick up the frame and place it back properly but was reprimanded with a loud shout which caused my whole body to flinch, turning around to face the owner of the room with surprise.
It seemed as if Alexey himself was surprised as well, hurriedly leading me away from the television.
“…” What is up with you, and why did you have to shout at me?
“Such troublesome hands.” This scolding was oddly cute. He looked at me and furrowed his eyebrows. “What have you been doing? Why is your body hot?”
(TN: Troublesome hands – A saying used to lightly scold restless children.)
I tilted my head, resting a hand on my forehead to check the temperature before Alexey placed his own large hands in the nook of my neck and on my arm.
“Come on, stay still. I won’t break your arm– You’re sick, your body is really hot.”
“Oh yeah, it really is hot.” As soon as he brought this up, I felt floaty, light, and dizzy all at once. But Alexey was way too close to me, I think I was going to faint first from his handsome looks. So I backed away and stilled, waiting to see what would happen next.
He stared at me strangely, however it was cute at the same time when this large stunningly handsome man with a back full of tattoos went to search his cupboard for a thermometer–the disposable kind–and stuffed it into my mouth. He shook the thermometer and muttered.
“38.8 degrees. Tonight, you’d better stay here.”
Hm, the fever was really high.
He then found some paracetamol for me, along with a small bottle of mineral water. Seeing that I had finished taking the medicine, he took out an icepack which was chilling in the freezer and wrapped it in a small piece of cloth before handing it to me. “It’s better to stay here tonight. You have an extremely high fever, it’s not good to be on your own.”
Despite berating me this afternoon, his mood did a complete one-eighty now. The sentence a moment ago was the kindest thing he has ever said to me. Hearing it made me want to stay here according to his suggestion but my room was only next door. It was better to not intrude.
“No need. I’ll go ahead and pay for the door repair costs then.” I waved the green slip, feeling relieved on one level that I wouldn’t have to argue with Alexey.
“Are you sure?”
Yeah, I’m not going to indulge myself in a sleepover with a handsome man.
“Well…” The hottie seemed reluctant. “Get well soon.”
If Alexey wasn’t the person who nailed and bailed, devoured me and threw me away, dropped me and flipped my world upside-down… I would have kissed him two or three times as a reward for being unexpectedly cute.
Oh no, where did my keycard go…
I forgot entirely about my fever when I discovered that my keycard wasn’t in its usual place. I searched all my pockets, in every nook and cranny (except for my underwear) yet I couldn’t find it. My happiness which had been gained moments ago fell into a deep dark pit once more.
Or did I leave it in his room… this was highly probable. But to knock on that hottie’s door and demand my keycard back again… was he going to bite my head off?
“Mr. Petch, Mr. Petch… you don’t look well… is something wrong?”
An old-fashioned way of speaking Thai sounded from behind. I flinched, before having to smile back at Sasha who was beaming, complete with a golden sparkly aura which caused my eyes to go blurry. The words ‘golden retriever’ echoed inside my head; it looks as if I’ve been hypnotized by Alexey. The tall large figure walked closer, using the back of his hand to touch my forehead.
“Are you sick? Your face is all red.”
The large hand rested on my neck, then my cheek. I was embarrassed, cheeks on the verge of exploding as I hurriedly removed his hand before someone walking by could see and think we were acting out ‘Love of Phetchaburi’.
(TN: Love of Phetchaburi – Reference to the film ‘Love of Siam’ which is parodied to ‘Phetchaburi’ because that’s where Petch and Sasha live. It’s an extremely famous film in Thailand featuring a gay relationship between the two main characters. Shockingly, the PR leading up to its release promoted the film as a regular heterosexual romance flick… boy did audiences get quite a surprise. It’s a really sweet and beautiful film despite being pretty dated ;_;)
“No… no I’m ah… ah… I can’t get into my room… I think I forgot my keycard in the room of A…” I almost let loose that final word, hitting the brakes just in time.
“Oh dear, you poor boy.” Sasha exclaimed with sympathy, dragging me into his room and gearing to stuff some paracetamol into my mouth. I hurriedly stopped him, fearing that I was going to die from paracetamol overdose first.
Not knowing whether he understood me or not, at least he was willing to put away the medicine. Yet, Sasha looked ready to carry me to his bed. It caused a thrilling feeling which made me consider distancing myself from this guy as soon as possible.
“Should I call the downstairs manager and ask them for a back up key Mr. Petch?”
He topped his words off with a small smile and a wink. My heart which had been bruised and heavy for several days melted into a puddle on the carpet. “Thank you so much.”
“But next time you can’t refuse a dinner with me.” Hearing this sentence made me want to pass out. “Even if Alexey threatens to tear you into pieces.”
“Are you not concerned for my wellbeing?” I whined weakly.
Sasha smiled cheerfully but refused to answer, disappearing out of the room shortly before returning with the building manager’s keycard. “I’ve got the card, do you want me to go in and help you look for yours?”
I felt extremely dizzy, not knowing whether the paracetamol that Alexey gave me was pain relief medicine or actually rat poison. I staggered after Sasha before crashing onto the bed, the large man closing in to support my body. I moved away, but not because of his touch. Rather, I couldn’t find a comfortable sleeping position. At a short distance in front of me was Sasha’s face. His blue eyes, golden hair and gentle expression reminded me of a prince from a fairytale.
“Sleep properly, you’ll have a sore neck if you sleep like this.”
I had no idea how to answer him. To act devastatingly sick with a red face and bleary red eyes was too much so I simply nodded and wrapped myself up in the blanket as if to say, ‘do whatever you want, just close the door for me’.
The heavy footsteps of the athletic man walked around to survey the room. I used the corner of my eyes to watch him, seeing him open the box of crackers and closing them, the box of instant noodles… the rice bucket… the refrigerator. I really wanted to ask him if he thought I was crazy enough to accidentally leave my key card in the refrigerator, seriously.
“Hmm… there’s no sign of it at all Mr. Petch.”
“It’s alright. It’ll come to me eventually.” I pushed myself up into a sitting position. My body felt warm like a rice cooker, sweat soaking both of my hands.
“Ah… Mr. Petch… are you going to Uzbekistan?” The excitement in his voice made me curious. The caring large man grabbed and held up the travel booklet that was clipped with my visa application form. I began to feel slightly embarrassed but the evidence was right there so I admitted that I desperately wanted to go travelling in Central Asia.
I made an embarrassed face (to confirm, I wasn’t trying to act cute) and shyly scratched my head (I’m not trying to entice him but my cheeks were naturally red) “I was planning on going to apply for a visa but haven’t had the chance yet, there’s been a lot of trouble lately.” I couldn’t resist pulling the hottie next door down with me.
The handsome and kind-hearted man in front of me beamed a smile. “Do you have all the necessary documents? I can hand it to the embassy staff for you, there’s no need to waste time by going in person, especially when you’re sick. You should sleep and rest more.”
Hearing this made me feel touched to the very core! I felt like my fever instantly dropped three degrees! I wanted be a well-mannered gentlemen and tell him that I didn’t want to bother him, that I’ll go by myself, but my troublesome mouth had already stretched into a wide grin.
“I’ll go deal with the application for you then, as for the keycard… I pray that you find it soon. But if you still can’t find it, I’ll happily share half of my bed with you Mr. Petch.” Hearing this was refreshing, my heart almost melted into a puddle on the bed. I couldn’t help but think that this man was so goddamned cute… but why was my right eye twitching again?
Sasha digged out his name card, scribbled something on the back and handed it to me. His large figure sat down on the edge of the bed, using his hand to gently brush away the hair falling on my forehead.
“Good night, sweet dreams Mr. Petch.”
Warm lips touched my forehead lightly. I was stunned with surprise when I stared deep into his blue eyes which were clear like marbles, kindness, playfulness, gentleness and concern… feeling a bad premonition about this, my body out of natural reflex leaned away from the attack which barely grazed my left cheek!
My right eye was twitching rapidly like a shrimp dropped in boiling water, and I wanted to scream out loudly, ‘What golden retriever? You liar!’.
This was clearly a wolf in golden retriever’s clothing!