Bold: The characters are speaking in English.
One hour later, Alexey invited me to work inside his room for safety measures–to which I pondered heavily about who would want to blow my brains out, even Hannibal Lecter wouldn’t find my flesh palatable. But either way, at least I would get to save my electricity bill, so I willingly migrated to room 1202.
P’Chid was calling me. I picked it up and enabled the speakers, too lazy to hold the phone up to my ear; it turns out, this was a horrible decision.
“Petch woi, the magazine deadline is about to close, how long are you going to spend editing those photos?”
His protestations from the phone were so loud that the person working in a separate corner of the room was forced to look up. Alexey adjusted his rimless reading glasses and casted his eyes on me, perking his ears to listen in on every word.
Editor Lookchid, the publishing house’s pitbull terrier was rushing to get a hand on the magazine photos before I headed off on my trip this coming Sunday.
“I haven’t found all the ones I like yet P’Chid.”
“Just select a pile and we’ll decide the rest on our end… I’ll even have Meuk edit the photos for you if you want, but I’m taking it out of your paycheck.” P’Chid wasn’t making much sense, he probably had a cigarette in his mouth.
“By the way, a little birdie told me that Pun’s taking a man with him too. Remember, you’re going for work, not to flirt with each other Petch.” I was stumped at my editor’s words. If P’Pun was taking a man with him, why was P’Chid lecturing me?
“Although I hear this man is dashingly handsome isn’t he? If you’re not pleased with the model in your team, feel free to use him instead.”
“P’Chid are you crazy? …That man belongs to P’Pun, I can’t ask him.”
“Well according to someone, he’s also been brushing up to you–this means you’re the perfect person for the job Petch… I’ll leave it up to you. See you on thursday, don’t be late.”
“Brushing up to me? As if.”
“Are you not riled up at all Petch? I hear he’s as handsome as a god descended down from heaven.”
“Okay, I admit, he’s damn handsome… his name is Sasha… if you really want him as a model, I’ll try asking.”
“I knew it, behind that innocent face you’re secretly a casanova aren’t you? Pun fell for it, that god-like hottie too, and I hear there’s another foreigner wrapped around your finger as well.”
“In any case, don’t forget to ask Mr. Sasha–your new husband–for permission. It’ll be a problem if we publish his photos and end up getting sued later on, foreigners are especially cunning after all.”
I glanced to look at the person most suited to be called a ‘cunning foreigner’ sitting not near or faraway, feeling a cold shiver run down my spine. I had mended this problem already did I not? Why was it resurfacing again hm~?
God definitely did not love me. Instantly, after hanging up the call with P’Chid, Sasha called into the room’s landline telephone asking for me. As you can probably guess, the hottie sitting green-eyed nearby was ready to tear me into pieces.
Of course, Sasha made it even worse. His nice-guy attitude made me feel so guilty that I offered to treat him to dinner as thanks… finding trouble for yourself again Petch.
The weather forecast at 24:25 in Bangkok: Rain clouds blanketed over the twelfth floor, strong gusts of wind swirled around, and a tornado forming out of nowhere was predicted to surface from the Bay of Bengal and reach Phetchaburi road within the next ten seconds.
I glanced over to assess the situation, then averted my eyes away. Making a face of disregard, I shut my eyes and clicked, choosing eighteen photos from the total of eighty or so that were taken. Good grief… like I had the face to tell P’Chid that I couldn’t take any decent photos due to my lack of sleep. I was blurry and exhausted with sweat after ‘exercising’ on the van. Moreover, I had taken the wrong lens with me too. Sending substandard work to my editor was therefore like destroying one’s own rice pot.
(TN: Destroy one’s own rice pot – An expression referring to an act that is against one’s interest or is damaging towards oneself.)
Regardless, it was entirely my fault. Look at P’Pun’s photos for instance, they were flawless, be it the lighting, the angle or the poses. Even the photos which P’Pun took for fun… every photo of Sasha was tinged with soft lighting, especially the photo of him smiling… exactly how did P’Pun manage to make this guy look as handsome as a deity?
“I demand an explanation. What you told me before, it seems to not be the case Petch.”
I smiled sheepishly. “Can this wait? Right now I’m… uh… like… busy with work… I can’t think… I’ve been sitting here looking at these photos for ages and still haven’t edited any of them.”
Alexey’s eyes flashed with rage. Anyone who has raised a dog before can probably imagine that I was no different than a puppy caught red-handed at stealing grilled chicken off the dinner table. I made an expression like my ears were drooping and my tail was tucked, searching for an excuse inside my hollow brain.
“Look, I’m not skilled at Photoshop okay? I normally use it only once a month since I have other assistants to help me–with urgent work like this, it’s bound to take some time… can you give me a while to deal with this first?”
I swear on my pride as an ex-boy scout, an ordinary puppy and little monkey that I was better at using Photoshop than speaking English by a tiny margin. Would this hottie believe me?
“Do you think this farce will buy you time?”
…I knew it, this guy didn’t believe me.
“You’re a compassionate enough person to understand me… right?”
I had no idea why but the edge in my voice sounded oddly challenging, and he seemed to read it that way as well. The hottie retaliated by throwing me a hardcover book which was the size of a Bible. The front cover read the following: Idiot’s Guide to Photoshop CS5.
Um… from my understanding, it said ‘Photoshop CS5 Guide for an idiot like you’. Did I over-translate? I wasn’t sure, however I felt strangely dejected.
“If you don’t have the brains to think for yourself, then open that book and follow the instructions.”
It felt as if he was rubbing salt into my wounds but I opened the book anyhow. Seeing the English, my eyes turned dizzy. “I can’t read it.”
“Your husband from room 1206 should be glad help you.” Look at him speak, using that frigid tone again.
Alexey grimaced. “Should I call him over for you?”
I wonder if he knew… what I thought of his words? Or did he only care about himself? Whether ‘he’ was satisfied or not. It was never about what ‘I’ felt.
Fine. I can’t count all twenty-six letters of the English alphabet from A to Z but I can read this much at least.
‘If you want to verify this, use the Eyedropper tool to measure the bottom line where the lines cross and where they don’t cross. Doing so, the values will be 64 and 128 respectively.’
What I underlined were words which I couldn’t translate. When I was born, the doctor told my mother that my English gland was defective from birth. Luckily my mother was in a state of confusion so she didn’t tell the doctor to bury me in the ground right then and there.
I stamped out of the room and returned with bright red talking dictionary. Sitting down, I pressed the keys with a ‘pip pip’ sound, and used a pencil to write down the translated words on a notepad which I also went to grab from my own room. Once done translating the paragraph, I followed the instructions. I succeeded some and failed some, but whatever. If I couldn’t do this much, Alexey was going to accuse me of pretending to be weak at English and simply waiting for the golden retriever next-door to come to my aid…
So then why won’t this hottie help me instead?
Although, why would he even need to help me? …We weren’t ‘anything’ to each other…
Oh… bed partners maybe. If I acted too haughty then forgive me… and this was probably the reason why he never bothered to listen to any of my words too!
These idiotic questions swirled around in my head like a goldfish swimming in a glass bowl, from a whisper it grew louder and louder until my thoughts became overcrowded, unable to think of anything else. I jerked back the hand which was in the middle of writing down the translated word and relaxed it open. Although the room was cold due to the air conditioner, my hand was damp with sweat.
There was no explanation for it.
Brushes have variable settings like size, hardness, and opacity. Different effects can be achieved by modifying these variables.’
Like I could read this, I’ve been copying Jessica’s English tests since elementary school up till my undergraduate year after all. I jotted down the translation, erased it, wrote it again, it was wrong, then erased it for the second time… what the hell.
I flung the eraser hard. Go die instead of that hottie, you!
“I didn’t mean to say those words.”
If you didn’t mean it, why did you say it out loud to hurt the feelings of the person listening hah?
Alexey went over to sit across from me. I stared off somewhere else, closed the book, turned off my MacBook, then went to brush my teeth. Returning to the sofa, I grabbed a pillow… then slept.
“Forget it, I’m going to sleep.”
Whatever he viewed me as was his business. I won’t care anymore too, you black-hearted person.
I pulled up the blanket over my head and lay, eyes blinking for a long while, hearing the sound of the hottie fumbling around, doing something nearby. I wanted to know, but my obstinate self prevented me from getting up to look. Half an hour later, I felt the lights turn off and the hottie leave the room… I heaved a sigh of relief, looking up at the clock. What was I acting crazy for? Why was I acting like a self-centered kid sucking on his thumb? Wasn’t there only a few days of work left? And why was I using nothing but emotion to deal with things, it was ruining my productivity.
Why did being near that hottie constantly cause my emotions fluctuate? This isn’t good Petch, you’re becoming overly dramatic.
Enough, it was time to quit being crazy!
I calmed my nerves, took a deep breath, and turned on my MacBook once again… The whitish light made what was once a darkened bedroom glow bright. A big thick book lay next to my stylus. I squinted to read the title of the book in the darkness and flipped through its contents, assuming that it was a guide aimed at novices for editing photos like a professional. When I got down to reading however, I discovered that the hottie had given me a German book. Should I be thankful or angry?
Only when I got up to turn on the lights did I see that nearly every page was covered with someone’s handwriting. It was in English, and annotated each and every step. From just guessing blindly, following the instructions, the photo in front of me appeared more professional in the blink of an eye
The photos I sat there working on till my eyes became sore earlier was now retouched until they looked stunningly beautiful. If Editor Chid didn’t like them, I was really going to spray insecticide down his mouth and poison him dead this time.
The work was finished without my realization. Looking at the clock again, it was already eleven-thirty. I sat there reading the big book in my hand casually, my eyes finding that some of the chapters had an unusual handwriting in them. It was written in German, however it felt inexplicably familiar.
A polaroid photo sat in the second-to-last page of the book. Giving it a once-over, I could tell that it was taken by a professional-level photographer. They were able to draw out the fearsome charisma of the owner of those deep blue eyes which shone brilliantly in the photo, even if only one side of the face was captured. Actually, I recalled vaguely that I had seen this photo somewhere before. It was used as a contact lens advertisement by a giant brandname corporation in Europe. The photo was displayed on billboards across England and several other countries in Europe, as well as published in a variety of magazines in Thailand too… it was roughly four or five years ago.
This eye was really beautiful… good grief.
I tried to visualize the rest of the facial features… Dark eyebrows like mine, the color of cocoa. The nose, prominent with a rounded tip, arrogant-looking. Lips which could only be seen a little, what color were they? Smiling licentiously like a ‘Bad Boy’, was the real person even half as fierce?
I admired the photo for no less than fifteen minutes… To use a polaroid camera relied entirely on skill to draw out the spirit of the person being taken and convey it to audiences one click away.
Awesome… both the photographer and the model… they were damn awesome.
I turned over the photo. 24.11.06 was written on the back. There was no name or signature. I wanted to know more about the photographer, what to do… and when was that hottie coming back?
I slid the polaroid back in place, reopen the photos which I had just finished editing, then flipped the book open again to begin reading attentively. Some of it I understood, some of it I didn’t. However, I was starting to feel better about myself.
When I dove down into the blankets… suddenly, the answer to my idiotic questions from earlier dawned on me. It wasn’t that the hottie didn’t believe me when I tried to correct myself… rather, it was because he ‘believed’ and ‘understood’ that he threw that god-tier graphics book at me, so that I could learn to do things with my own ability and not go begging for someone else’s ‘help’.
It was a shame that I fell asleep before he returned, in my sleep, feeling a pair soft lips brush against my cheek…
Okay, okay, so you want to know what that guy said? Let’s play a guessing game to see what exactly I heard which made me startle out of my sleep.
A. It was a shame that I fell asleep before he returned, in my sleep, feeling a pair soft lips brush against my cheek… “I didn’t mean to hurt you, my dear. I’m sorry.”
If it’s option A, then that’s too cheesy. Let me suggest a second choice, option B instead.
B. It was a shame that I fell asleep before he returned, in my sleep, feeling a pair soft lips brush against my cheek… “You’re quite the flirt, little monkey. If I ever catch you cheating, you’re dead.”
Option B still sounds a bit weird doesn’t it? Let’s try one more, option C.
C. It was a shame that I fell asleep before he returned, in my sleep, feeling a pair soft lips brush against my cheek… And then he shifted to bite my ear! What is this, since when did this hottie transform into Mike Tyson!!!
I bounce right up, hand cupping my ear and eyes brimming with tears after getting a true taste of BDSM. “Woi!!! What the hell are you doing!”
The hottie seemed slightly surprised at my loud outburst, however his expression was oddly content.
“Waking up someone who likes to fake sleep.”
Having not anticipated this answer, I couldn’t reply back. “You… you… are you crazy? Do you know how late it is?”
“I didn’t give permission for you to sleep, therefore you can’t sleep yet.” He declared, complete with a sneer to get on my nerves. “Are you finished with your work, little monkey?”
“It’s done already!” I made a stern voice, ear still throbbing with pain. When morning arrives, I swear I’m going to Khao Din! I’m going to complain to the director of Khao Din that a poor little monkey was being abused by the Russian mafia! “Can you leave me to sleep in peace already? I’m dead tired.” I flipped my body over to face inside the sofa and tugged the blanket over my head.
(TN: Khao Din – A popular zoo in Thailand)
Ah, wait. I shouldn’t leave this hanging.
I turned my body over to look. Although I wanted us to speak nicely, I was still feeling resentful about having my ear bitten. “Um… thanks for the book, it was very helpful.”
“You read it?” Alexey’s expression softened.
“Mm, I couldn’t read it–but I don’t want to ask for help from the neighbouring room either, afraid that a certain someone is going to accuse me of being lazy, that I’m waiting for the deity from room 1206 to come down and grace me.” I glared at him, then tugged the blanket over my head again. “Good night.”
(TN: Petch, why is your mouth so stubborn =.=)
Were my words too harsh?
But wasn’t this equal treatment to all the times which this hottie had scolded me?
Wh… what to do. To apologise now didn’t seem appropriate too.
Dammit, I didn’t really mean what I said. That hottie probably understands right?
Crap… he’s not replying at all… Petch is going to die because of his mouth again everyone.
The blanket was yanked away, sofa sinking from the weight of the eighty kilo body which transferred onto it. A black shadow towered over my body which in turn, shrunk to two inches. Grey eyes flashed.
I shut my eyes tight. There’s no need to be violent, I’m sorry okay? I’m the one who’s wrong.
“The new keycard console has been installed. If tomorrow, you want to move back or move to some other room, be my guest. I’ve had enough of dealing with you. Good night.”
Alexey went to bed at two. As for me, before I could force my eyes shut… it had become four in morning.