Bold: The characters are speaking in English.
I slammed the door shut with a bang, sweating profusely due to extreme shock. My heart was beating ‘thump thump’ like a drum inside my chest, trying to recount how the events just now weren’t a hallucinatory side-effect of the hottie’s paracetamol.
What was happening to my life. All of a sudden why were there people (men) (the handsome ones at that) charging at me with such desperate lust? Did I do something wrong? Or has the world gone abnormal with all the beautiful good women taken?
Knock knock knock.
Startled, I peered through the peephole and found the wolf in golden retriever’s clothing smiling broadly in front of the door to my room. What was I to do? I was really going to end up with a second husband if I opened this door. “What now Sasha?”
“How mean, suddenly closing the door and chasing me away without even a word of farewell.” The smiling face looked as if it had grown a pair of horns and fangs. The person who was beaming an innocent smile in front of my room held up the documents for my visa application and waved it around in his hand. “What did you think I was going to do?”
“Do you expect me to predict your actions?”
“I just wanted to say that I still don’t have your passport, you won’t be getting a visa at this rate.”
Hua, is that true? Luckily I halted my hand fast enough before it could open the door out of reflex. “I’ll hand it to you tomorrow morning.”
“I’m up fairly early, can you wake up in time?”
“6 o’clock in the morning, are you sure?”
“I’m always sure!”
“You’re bragging, I know you like to wake up at ten.”
How did he know! I assumed a haughty composure. “What evidence do you have to support your words? Just so you know, I wake up early every morning to give alms to the monks.”
(TN: Giving alms to monks – A buddhist tradition. Monks set out for alms every morning around 5-6 am. Walking along the streets of Thailand barefoot in their orange robes, monks will accept your offerings of rice, fruits, snacks, clothes, etc. if they pass by your home. It’s a common sight for the early risers, even in the bustling city of Bangkok. Otherwise, you could always visit the temple, there will be monks to receive your offerings every morning. This practice is said to bring good luck and dispel misfortune.)
But Sasha wasn’t willing to back down, my phone rang and the number flashing on the screen made me gulp. I picked up the call warily, scared that the wolf in golden retriever’s clothing was going to teleport himself through sound waves.
“Mr. Petch, please take me along with you tomorrow for almsgiving.” He pleaded with a sweet voice. When you opened your mouth to devour me earlier you didn’t sound like this at all, tsk. Finally, he burst out in laughter. “Hahaha, you have a good sense of humor! I can’t believe it!”
“Do you take me for a standup comedian?”
“No, just a crazy person.” He chuckled in a leisurely manner.
“Fine! I’m crazy, do you have anything else to say? If not then see you tomorrow.”
“Are you not going to pay a deposit for having me help you with the visa?” His tone was playful, horns reappearing on his head as a tail wagged left and right.
I felt uneasy. Since being born I’ve never had a man try to flirt with me before, now was not the time to be blushing with embarrassment. What should I do, Father, Mother, Jessica or P’Pun, somebody come save little Petch!!!
“Come on, open the door so we can have a proper talk.”
“Wa-wait…. your words are troubling me Sasha, we don’t even know each other that well.” Why did I say that out loud, I sound like a female protagonist.
“Mr. Petch you’re so forgetful, I’ve told you before that we’ve met… at Jessica’s wedding. I’m friends with Baum, Jessica’s husband.”
Oh yeah, Sasha had mentioned this before.
“But the fact that you don’t remember isn’t a problem, we can always start over.” From just hearing his voice, I could imagine the face of a wolf baring its fangs and preparing to eat me whole, just like the wolf disguised as the grandma in ‘The Little Red Riding Hood’, beckoning her granddaughter to come closer and closer!
“Um…” What to do Petch. Your manliness is in danger. “What you say is probably correct, Alexey also said something along those lines as well.”
“Uh-oh…” The voice at the end of the line sounded highly curious.
“Why uh-oh?” These two people definitely shared a secret.
“I had no idea that you were starting to get close with Alexey.” Sasha’s tone changed, as if something entertaining had just occurred. “It seems he’s finally decided to talk to you.”
“Decided to talk to me?”
Sasha chuckled in his throat. “He’s that kind of person, cold and indifferent. Pay no mind to it Mr. Petch, it’ll give you nothing but a headache. If anything does come up… it’s better to call me, I’m always happy to listen.”
For those who dislike being subject to flirting, the best resort is to act like a troll, it works every time!
“So are you happy to let me borrow your money too? In case of when I’m unable to pay my apartment’s monthly instalment.”
I really shouldn’t have asked that question because it seemingly leaned in favour of this wolf / golden retriever who was ready to snatch me up whole.
“Are you in desperate need for money? Then how much does dinner with you cost Mr. Petch?”
Uuu, I’m in trouble.
Two minutes and fifteen seconds past five in the morning…
I opened my door softly, as if trying to be considerate of the sleeping gecko on the ceiling. Carrying my passport which was wrapped up in a document envelope, I slid it under the door of room 1206 along with a short note which read ‘Thank you’, before tiptoeing back to my own room.
The sound of the door closing which followed was so loud that it made me jump off the ground. I turned back to look at the source of the noise and found Alexey, standing there scowling with a small travel suitcase. I hurriedly glared at him, ‘Shhhh!’ you’re going to wake up the golden retriever-wolf hybrid.
“What’s it got to do with me?” The stunning pair of eyes stared coldy at me per usual. “Are you scared that your puppy won’t get enough sleep? Was he up crying because of a nightmare?”
“Are you crazy? What nonsense.” I berated him and quickly covered a hand over my mouth due to the loudness of my own voice.
“If you’re that concerned about others, have you sorted yourself out?” He moved from the front of his room to stand directly in front of me, loosening his necktie slightly. I looked at the hottie and my heart quivered. Why did he look so good in every outfit? He’s handsome when he’s not wearing anything too. Especially that sharp and immaculate Tom Ford suit… seeing the price tag could make me faint– hua, no! I mean, just seeing it made me feel pathetic. What’s got you so handsome hmm? It’s only five o’clock who are you getting ready for this early in the morning?
Alexey placed the back of his hand on my forehead, his expression blank. “Your fever has gone down but…” He scanned me from head to toe.
“You still look pretty worn out, go see a doctor.”
This was the second sentence in my life which made me feel that Alexey was damned cute. I pulled the hottie’s large hand away, embarrassed (why was I embarrassed?). “It’ll recover on its own.”
“You’re sick but decide to stalk out in front of your neighbour’s room, the symptoms look to be getting worse. A crazy person like you can’t look after yourself, go visit the psychiatrist, they’ll prescribe you some sedatives.”
I never should have complimented you! Would you like a dislocated jaw delivered by my fist?
“If you’re not concerned about me then hurry up and go, get out of my sight.”
I chased him away and turned around, hugging the yellow bucket chock-full of offerings while walking past the hottie with disinterest. Right now I was able to make peace with the situation. If I couldn’t enter his country then so be it, either way I have Uzbekistan in the bag! Although I was risking my body in the process, there was someone here who had already stolen my virginity. What’s wrong with another husband– hua! I take that back!
A large hand on my elbow pulled me back. I side-eyed him. “What?”
The hottie held up a familiar-looking keycard in front of me before slapping me lightly on the forehead. “Careless. Take your keycard back with you.”
I saw the card and grinned widely, quickly placing down the bucket in my hands to accept the object. “Where did you find it?”
“My bodyguard picked it up.”
“In front of the door to your room, you careless reckless kid!” He slapped my forehead once more, then dragged his suitcase and pressed the elevator button. “And where are you going?”
I looked at the bucket in my hands and began to feel embarrassed. “I’m… forget it.” Inside the bright yellow bucket was a complete set of offerings, from a set of monk’s robe to incense sticks, candles, matches, milk and so on.
The hand at my elbow squeezed tightly, his eyes insistent.
“I’m…” I took a deep breath. Hua, what was I embarrassed about! Each person had their own beliefs after all! “I’m going almsgiving to cleanse myself of misfortune! Ever since moving here I’ve had nothing but problems with weird people like you, my life has become an endless torture. I’m going to the temple in case it helps to make anything better. And another thing…” I stared at him annoyingly. “In case God bestows me with a visa so I can finally be rid of a psychotic embassy staff like you.”
Alexey chuckled low, holding the elevator button so I could get in, then pressing the G button. “In your dreams, even if you die nobody will bestow you a visa.”
“What, God is always on the side of virtuous people like me woi.” I hugged my bucket of offerings tight.
“Even if your God has an ambassador’s passport, he can’t enter the country either if he doesn’t have permission from me. So don’t think he can help someone as reckless as you, it’s better to not wish for too much.” The hottie sneered before pressing the STOP button with a straight face. “That said, did that handsome golden retriever ask anything in return for the Uzbek visa?”
“Ha-how did you find out!”
I shouted loud inside the elevator before using a hand to cover my mouth. But it was already too late. Alexey’s grey eyes glared at me with intensity, hand slamming against the elevator wall with a bang. The atmosphere turned dark immediately.
“You’re looking to get yourself in trouble Petch. Let me warn you first, stay away from that guy, do you want to get devoured?”
“Oh come on, he’s not going to eat me.” I argued. “And why did you stop the elevator?”
“What? Do you have a problem?”
“You’re obstructing me.”
“I know what that guy will do if you offer yourself up to him.”
This is going completely off topic! I protested in my heart. “You sure are devout, obstructing me from going almsgiving like this. Cut it out, I won’t make it in time for the monks.”
Imagine how weird this looked if someone pressed open the elevator, seeing a handsome wolf trying to threaten an innocent bright-eyed man with a pure heart who was carrying an almsgiving bucket. I used this opportunity to push aside the hottie’s hand and slap the STOP button loudly with a ‘pap’, commanding the elevator to start moving again. “Easy-peasy.”
Alexey stared hard at me before baring his fangs… hitting the panel of buttons again till it abruptly stopped functioning (as if confused) and bent down close, our noses almost touching. I smelled a faint scent of cigarettes from his warm breath. “Don’t ever let me find you doing ‘this and that’ with Sasha… do you understand me?”
I was sweating profusely, hugging the offerings bucket tight and hoping that Buddha’s grace could help me out somehow. “Um… and… why? If Sasha like, bought me a box of Pocky, can I not repay him with a can of Pepsi? There’s no need to be so narrow-minded, he’s your friend after all.”
“It’s because I’ve already decided that you’re mine and I will deal with you however I want.”
Out of nowhere a collar with a dog tag was put on me, this ‘dog tag’ being an intimately stolen kiss without the slightest warning on my part.
It wasn’t like I wanted to act feeble but do you know how easily ‘exciteable’ a man’s body can get in the morning? From just a slight touch, the blood in my veins began pumping violently, how embarrassing.
…It’s embarrassing, I didn’t want to admit it but I was starting to react to the passionate kiss that the other man liked to steal from me. But as to not lose my conscience, I used the offerings bucket as a shield to defend myself from the hottie’s further advances.
“Are you playing hard to get so you can save your body for Sasha? You’re beginning to make me angry Petch.”
“I… nonsense, you’ve misunderstood.”
But suddenly the elevator doors opened and he yanked my body along (as well as my offerings bucket), not giving me the chance to correct myself. He dragged me straight to the parking lot, wrenched the door open and stuffed me in the backseat before settling down next to me.
The engine ignited and roared, I was ‘confused like a broken-eyed chicken’ when I saw two men dressed in black suits take up the front seats as if in a mafia flick. Assessing the situation, I figured that this would end in nothing but losses so I yanked the hottie’s necktie and started arguing up a storm.
(TN: Confused like a broken-eyed chicken – An idiom referring to Thailand’s favorite pasttime: Cockfighting. Chickens use the claws on their feet to attack their opponent. If these claws happen to damage the opponent’s eye, it causes them to become dumbfounded and confused, hence the origin of this saying.)
“Where are you taking me, let me go this instant!”
“SHUT UP!” A voice snapped loudly from the front, along with a sleek black gun barrel pointed at the center of my forehead. I was stunned, sweating profusely like a broken dam.
“D-Don’t shoot me! Am just kidding– Right? Alexey?” Huuhuu, get that gun away from meeeeee. I may have a thick skull but you don’t need to help make a hole in it.
(TN: Thickskulled – slow to learn, insensitive, stupid.)
Alexey raised a hand and the man lowered his gun down. I swallowed my saliva with apprehension… that was shocking.
“You want to go to the temple so I’m taking you to the temple.” The person replying had a cold expression. “Didn’t you want to cleanse yourself of misfortune? This is me helping you.”
“Being with you causes nothing but misfortune.” I rolled my eyes at him. I couldn’t help but think in my heart that he was taking me to organize my own funeral.
“Whether misfortune falls on you or not isn’t my problem.” Alexey hooked and pulled on my shirt collar, brushing the tip of his nose against my ear, his faint breath tickling my skin. “But the fact that I leave you be doesn’t mean that you’re free to go see someone else, little monkey.”
Little monkey! I was shocked by my new alias. What the hell. I might not be a trendy good-looking man like P’Pun but I was not ugly either. Calling me ‘little monkey’ all of sudden was going too far.
“Who did you say was a little monkey?”
“You’re a reckless little monkey.”
“Don’t you dare!!!”
“Pathetically horrible at English.”
It was in this moment that I truly wanted to challenge him to a boxing match so I could wreck that handsome face of his. But as soon as I raised my fists, the same bodyguard pulled out his gun. I considered wisely to not risk my life with a single bullet…
“But some things about you aren’t so bad…” His last word came with a playful smile.
The car braked hard and the doors unlocked. The hottie lit his cigarette while the bodyguard with the gun stepped out of the car. The door on my side was wrenched open and he grabbed the offerings bucket as well as my body.
“I have business to attend to and there’s no clue about the return date yet. In the meantime Isakov will look after you, in case some mutt decides to piss on you. I swear I’ll cut their throats open… you better not go seducing them too, beware of the fleas.”
I didn’t even get a chance to say farewell… only able to blink perplexedly at Isakov the bloodthirsty gunman and stare at the back of the luxurious Jaguar car with an embassy nameplate… not knowing where that hottie was hurrying off to, it was only five-thirty in the morning.
Isakov, who was almost two meters tall was forced to look down at me. He stored the gun back in his suit jacket and coughed when he met my worried eyes. “What’s wrong?”
I couldn’t believe it, what was that hottie thinking? Or was this his way of deflecting Sasha? Solving the problem by leaving behind a gunman. Like hell was this a way to solve problems! If you really like me then ask for my hand in front of my parents, don’t leave a gunman behind like this, I’m scared that I’ll be the one to go to heaven first. This guy looked especially odd too when compared to someone normal (?) like me.
More importantly, Alexey was concerned about me? What a hilarious joke. It was more believable to claim that you were hotter than Zac Efron you know.
What a devil! The giant Isakov removed his glasses. He was a gunman and yet wore ALDO sunglasses, it was equally as expensive as my camera lens. His eyes were green and slender, face stern and a scar under one eye. Seems like he really is a bodyguard.
“What’s wrong Phachara? The monk is coming.” The corner of his eyes glancing at the elderly monk that was slowly walking past with a chubby looking temple boy.
Umm… umm I think I’ve found a more pressing issue than this guy looking like a mafia underling.
“Can you speak Thai?”
“Very little.” He gestured with his hands, pinching his thumb and index finger together.
This was bad, my English was pretty awkward too.
“But I am not good at English.”
“You suck at it. It can’t be helped.”
“Hua” I let out a high-pitched noise. “Didn’t you say you could only speak a little?”
“That was before getting a wife here.”
“Where’s your wife now?”
“Shes’s here at the temple.”
“Did she convert to a nun?”
“No, she had an affair so I let her eat a few of my bullets, she’s good friends with the gravedigger now.”
Hearing this made my hair stand on end… did Alexey send an assassin to look after me?
The expression of the elderly monk who was waiting to receive my offerings looked at me conflictedly. I made eye contact and tried to convey that I was equally as uneasy. The elderly monk smiled at me. I smiled in return. He then gulped loudly. “Child…”
The elderly monk adjusted his reading glasses and whispered. “Umm… child you’re only here to make an offering, do you really need a gunman to protect you?”
“It’s not what you think Elder, I have no idea who this guy is.” I tried to act smooth, blatantly saying these words despite Isakov standing still like the Stonehenge nearby.
The elderly monk nodded. “Then… oh my… if you didn’t tell me I wouldn’t have known, you’re the son of an influential person yes? I didn’t see your face around here during the campaigning period. Those who plan to run for the election always come to introduce themselves to me first.”
Hua, this Elder was a political endorser?
“Okay, now say your prayers three times.” The elder monk said.
I scratched my head. “Umm Elder… I… I don’t know the prayer… I’m not Buddhist.”
“Uwah! Then why did you come to present your offerings?” The elderly monk was starting to get annoyed.
I raised my hands above my head and shut my eyes tight. “I don’t know, but a friend recommended that I do some almsgiving to cleanse my misfortune, so I came. Like… it’s similar to acne medicine Elder, if it works well then you’d want to pass the information onto someone else.”
The elderly monk swung his cane down on the center of my head. I gently rubbed my head to soothe the pain. “Elder~”
“Fine, repeat after me… namo tassa… ahem.”
“Namo tassa… ahem… amen.”
“I’m not done yet woi. Take your offerings back with you and use the monk’s robe inside as a wash towel why don’t you?”
No~ Elder~ Help me firsttt.
Four o’clock and fifty-five minutes in the afternoon…
Today’s photography job finished well despite the blazing sun as if in the middle of a desert and the location which was as far as Bangkok to Songkhla (TN: A 13 hour drive). I was almost crawling back to my car by the end. Why did these graduate school girls have such a high endurance, be it in the sun or rain they could keep posing for three to four days straight. Yet when it came to education, a couple drops of rain, a bit of sun, or a 2 millimeter wear on the sole of their heels was enough of a reason to not leave the house and attend lessons. I promised to myself that I would never accept a photography job at Mahidol University ever again. If somebody hires me, then they will have to provide an extra two bottles of SPF 250PA+++ sunscreen. With that said… this was simply me complaining. When I looked at the amount on the cheque, my exhaustion dissipated instantly.
The sound of a honk could be heard softly and looking to the source of the noise I had to crack up in laughter. Isakov sent a menacing glare my way. “Get in Mr. Petch.”
“It’s better to let me drive.”
“You’ll doze off at the wheel.”
“Thank you for being concerned.”
“Sorry but my life is worth more than yours.”
Your mouth is as rotten as your boss’, I grumbled inside.
“Okay suit yourself, I have a meeting with the internal office at eight, then I’m going to go buy some home supplies at CentralWorld and eat dinner around Lang Suan before heading back.
The sound of my troublesome phone rang out to interrupt. Seeing the name of the caller I felt saliva catch in my throat, unable to swallow or spit it out.
Isakov the gunman glanced at me, saw the name of the caller and smiled at the corners of his mouth. I picked up the call feeling anxious and fearful, not knowing what the tall giant next to me was thinking. “Hello, this is Petch speaking.”
“Dear, your visa has been granted. Would you mind coming to the Uzbekistan Embassy and having dinner with me?”
“Uh… but, but, but Sasha, today I haf meeting.”
“Nevermind, I can wait, as long as you say YES to this special night.”
Isakov seemed to almost vomit due to the cheesiness.
“But…” I was always up for free food but I was afraid of being the one to get eaten instead!
“Do I have to devote anything else in order to have a good time with you? Don’t be mean Mr. Petch, please give me the honor of taking you out to dinner for once.”
I almost threw up and Isakov grabbed some tiger balm to inhale deeply.
Sasha laughed at the other end of the line.
“I asked you before about how much a dinner with you costs… I’m not against paying for you Mr. Petch.”
“What a stupid romantic.” Isakov cussed while stepping on the gas pedal, trying to bypass the traffic lights before it could turn red. I hurriedly clutched my seatbelt tight, mouth trembling at the speed indicated on the console of the car. “I’m definitely reporting this to Mr. Alexander, don’t you worry.”
“Why would that hot– hua… I mean Alexey want to know about this? This is my problem.”
Isakov squinted at me with his intense green eyes.
“The reason he needs to know is none of your business but if he finds out that you aren’t waiting in your room tonight… you might be overseeing the cemetery with my ex-wife, who knows?”
“Your boss!” Intentionally making my voice stern. “Is he a civil servant or the mafia, which is it?!”
“Both.” Isakov shrugged without care. “It depends on the situation.”
I was shocked… he’s like a Thai politician!
“You don’t want to get into trouble with my boss, actually nobody wants to get into trouble with him.” The bodyguard elaborated. “It seems that I need to tell Sasha once and for all.”
“Tell him what Mr. Isakov? Look, from everything that you’ve said, understand first that I’m not your boss’ kept wife, what’s the use in trying to obstruct me like this.”
Isakov didn’t reply, causing me to feel exhausted for getting worked up on my own. So I conceded by sitting back against the cushioned seat with a grumpy face before smiling upon seeing P’Pun’s name flash up on the screen of my phone.
“What’s up senior?” P’Pun was the only person today who made my life worth living.
“Petch, everyone’s waiting for you in the meeting room, where did you disappear off to? Don’t tell me that you’re still sleeping in your room.”
“No, no, no, no, no.” I quickly turned left and right fidgety. “I’m almost there, just two more traffic lights to go.”
“Then we’ll start without you. Oh by the way, do you mind giving me Mr. Sasha’s number again? I want to treat him to a meal as a thank you for last time.”
I slapped my knee. Isakov glanced at me cautiously while I laughed, satisfied at myself… huhuhuhu.
Looks like I’ll be escaping death tonight woi!!!