Carta Visa: 34th Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English.

“Meuk… Meuk.”


“Don’t you think our office is full of nothing but people deeply in love?”

“What makes you say that?”

“Well look… before this there was P’Petch who suddenly eloped away with that drop-dead handsome authority from the embassy… and then… there’s also P’Pun and his blonde-haired hunk with the blue eyes and playful smile…”

“But didn’t P’Pun already declare that they were just friends? I thought there was nothing special going on between them.”

“Meuk, are you blind? Don’t you see that even though P’Pun disappears from time to time, that blondie still comes to pick him up in a BMW nearly everyday… what kind of man gives a lift to one of their own gender on a daily basis?”

“A taxi driver of course.”

Smack! Being slapped, Meuk felt he should really consider his words more carefully.

“And look, even my Haru.”

“What? Your… Haru? Mild, you can’t say stuff like that, you’re tarnishing the boy’s reputation. With those trendy looks of his and a rich father, why would he end up falling into your hands?”

Mild sighed with exasperation. “Just look at Haru sitting there smiling to himself as daydreams about someone. Maybe he’s secretly thinking about me…? Oh just thinking about it makes me so embarrasseddddd.” Mild squealed as her body twisted left and right.

Editor Chid materialized silently from behind before using the long rolled up poster in his hand to give both of his underlings a rap on the head once each. “Quit mucking around, the deadline for the manuscript is in two days, are you almost done?” Then sharing his tough love with Haru as well. “You too, what are you smiling about? How’s your work going Haru?”

Haru smiled sheepishly and quickly went back to typing out his work again, albeit while still smiling. But come on… he was in a good mood alright? Happiness filled his heart to the brim and was almost on the verge of bursting out of his chest. After all, he had met the person he had been waiting for this entire time. Well, that’s the gist of it anyways. Come, come, sit close and listen up.


Oh… and by the way, this story happened a few days ago.


Putting bluntly, at that time Haru was at a complete loss at what do, seeing Alexey make his appearance at the airport… if he didn’t see Isakov dragging a bunch of travel suitcases after the man as well, Haru would have thought that he was dreaming.

“You… you…” Hundreds and thousands of words surged into his head, but he was speechless.

Those beautiful pair of lips curved up into an endearing smile… a familiar smile.

“You’ve… changed… a lot…” These were the smartest words he could muster from his mouth at this moment… before standing there helplessly in shock like he had been spooked by a ghost in broad daylight.

Well… wasn’t it not shocking? For a heavyweight bear with a giant’s physique, a ruthless attitude, and the impression of a thief (?) to reincarnate into a pristinely handsome and flawless gentlemen; even if he was just wearing a luxurious brand name t-shirt and a stylish pair of jeans (that Haru was sure… his grizzly bear Eisbär would not even be able to fit his legs into).

Alexey bent down to pick Kiril up in his arms and gave the boy a loving smooch on the cheek. His grey eyes appeared genuinely playful. “If you could be so kind as to help me look after the twins for three to four hours, I’ll explain.”

Haru couldn’t even remember what he said in reply, knowing only that he hastily grabbed Nikolai’s hand and led the boy to the car in a daze, as if having been struck by a spell.

The children were lively all throughout the course of the trip from the airport to the condominium on Phetchaburi road. As for Alexey, the man did not speak a single word to him at all, solely playing with the children until they fell asleep on the sofa in Sasha’s room.

Sasha’s room was similar in size to Haru’s place in Asok. However, there were several things inside that his eyes recognized, such as P’Pun’s old iPhone which was still plugged into a charging socket, P’Pun’s watch sitting on the bedside table, or P’Pun’s jeans among the pile of clothes delivered back from the dry cleaners… P’Pun really is tight-lipped like what P’Mild and P’Meuk had said. If he just admitted that they were lovers then that would be the end of that… why try to hide it when then evidence was already blatantly out in the open?

“You seem especially interested in this room.”

Haru flinched at being addressed out of nowhere. “Uh… it’s nothing.”

This reincarnated gentlemanly version of Eisbär made him feel uncomfortable, it was because of that magnetizing aura which made it difficult to detach one’s gaze.

“Get me a cup of coffee.”

Except the only thing which hadn’t changed was… that way of speaking… be it explaining, refusing, asking, or requesting, all of these sentences came out in the form of a command. Haru unconsciously shifted his body to do as was asked.

“I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to Isakov.”

Ah, really…? Haru scratched his head abashedly and settled down on the opposite side.

“So where did you disappear to? My bags are still packed and ready for the trip to Budapest you know.”

The former heavyweight bear in front of him sighed.

“If I said… that I no longer take photographs, how would you react?”

Deep inside, Haru had a hunch that this was the case. However, by hearing it directly from the other man’s mouth, he couldn’t help but feel that his entire world was crumbling before his eyes. His heart which had been puffy from earlier now wilted like a balloon popped by a needle.

“Then… pay me compensation for my bicycle, my house’s front door… and the fine for causing a noise disturbance too. Ethan caused me such a hassle when you vanished.” In actuality, Haru just wanted to complain, he had no need for the other man’s money. Just getting to sit and chat in this familiar way already had him immensely happy.

“Why demand compensation from me? Ethan’s the offender so go get it from him instead.” This man’s way of speaking was as infuriating as ever. “Or you could go get it from that other guy too.”

“Ethan won’t pay me and ‘that guy’ is stuck in jail in Florence.”

“Aren’t the spare keys to the Maserati still behind that clock?”

This polar bear was planning to let Haru sell Ethan’s Maserati…?

“Don’t try to pretend that you don’t care. Isn’t it you who sold your house, sold your photographs, sold everything and vanished into thin air? Moreover, you even changed the lock to your house. That’s right… because of you, I was accused of breaking and entering too. I reckoned that the lock to your house might have broke so I climbed in through the kitchen window instead. But guess what? The real estate agent thought I was a thief and called the police, talk about bad luck. It’s a good thing though… that your friend Sasha managed to step in in time.”

The former god-tier photographer before him burst into laughter, almost spilling the coffee onto his leg. Once managing to stop laughing, his expression turned serious in an instant.

“I wasn’t lying you know, Eisbär no longer exists. You don’t need to keep following me around anymore. That path of mine has ended and will never return again… as for you, you have your own path to walk…”

Haru stilled.

“Your path as a physicist… will it be achieved by chasing after me and taking photographs, Haru?”

“But my dreams can only be fulfilled… by you.”

It finally escaped from his mouth. Haru’s body felt scorching hot and feverish, as if he had just confessed his love.

Those profound eyes bore directly into him… as if always intending to divulge his heart. If he had the chance to… someday, Haru wished to tell the person before him how truly beautiful his eyes were…

In that very moment… Haru was starting to feel unsure if he had chased after this man because of his photography skills, or rather because he was enraptured by these stunning eyes.

But the issue at hand happened to be…

“Hey!!! How dare you invade my place?” Someone’s voice blared out from a corner of the room, along with Haru who was lifted up from the sofa so high that his feet dangled in the air. This was because all of sudden, he was yanked up by the shirt collar from behind, like a cat being picked up by its nape, and then flung at the savior (?) who was standing at the back.

Sasha sent a sharp look. “What’s this? Alexey, why did you let this guy into my room?”

“Go ask your sons because they’re the ones who arranged this. When I went to pick up the kids at the airport, Haru was already there. Moreover, your sons were glued to him tight, should I have driven him away or what?”

The owner of the apartment stepped past the living room and into the bedroom. The two children were still fast asleep and clueless so he spun around with a glare. “Then your business here is over now, go home.”

However… a small voice spoke up first. “Kitty…”

“What is it dear?” The person who was their father replied automatically, but it turned out to simply be a case of sleepy murmuring, making the man at a lost at how to react.

Haru observed and sent him a mocking smile, walking out from behind his shield. “It might be wiser to let me look after your kids while you spend your time making up with the person who’s about to travel to Tashkent alone, Sasha.”

“We’re not arguing, and this isn’t something a third-wheeler like you has any business poking your head into.”

Hey, who are you blindly accusing a third-wheeler!?

Turning left and right trying to find his savior, it turns out that Mr. Isakov had already walked into the kid’s bedroom and shut the door. As for his polar bear Eisbär, he turned back to wave a farewell from the apartment’s doorway entrance. Wait! We haven’t finished talking yet!

“Alexey, wait!”

“You’re not allowed to leave yet…” Sasha’s voice was extremely frigid. “Because we still have quite a lot things to clear up!”

“What do you mean by quite a lot? Aren’t they all stuff related to P’Pun?”

“Oh it’s quite a lot, because I saw you hugging him, don’t try to act like you’ve forgotten, it was at the office parking lot.”

He actually had forgotten about that already, don’t bring it up again!

“Go blame P’Pun for wanting physical contact. Haru was just being generous and offering him a hug. Also, quit being unreasonably jealous!”

“This isn’t funny, you overstepped Pun’s boundaries.”

“You’re the one who tossed him aside. Lovers are meant to be cherished, not left waiting on the side lines.”

“Lovers?” Sasha made a perplexed face.

Why was he making such a perplexed face? That handsome korean-looking man who’s about to board the plane to your home country Tashkent with his head hung low… is no one but your lover Mr. Sasha.

“P’Pun of course, he’s your lover is he not? Mr. Father of two?”

“You’re misunderstanding something. Pun is the one who decided for himself since the very beginning… that he didn’t want to be tied down by words like lover or boyfriend. Has he changed my status and informed you of it? This is news to me.” His voice was tinged with heavy sarcasm.

Hua! The situation was flipped over just like that.

“In case you might be misunderstanding something further, let me say out right… that Pun was the one who decided this himself… and I, accepted his decision because I’m still unsure how to tell him about my kids.”

“Just explain to him that they’re your sons, how is that so difficult?”

“And what if we break up and he goes to defame me on social media? If news gets out that Vivian Nazarbayev’s ex-husband is gay, what am I to do then?”

Sasha had a point, after all, there’s a common saying that ‘People say good things to three while people say bad things to three thousand’. More importantly… it’s impossible for information to be deleted off Google, therefore Sasha absolutely could not be careless. Haru understood the other man’s reasoning well… because no one can guarantee what will happen after breaking up.

Sasha raised both hands as if forfeiting. “Sit down, having someone to talk to might be good actually.” He let out a long sigh, fetching a cigarette but pausing as he looked towards the childrens’ bedroom. As such, Sasha himself offered for them to go chat on the balcony instead, letting the cold breeze sweep away the strained atmosphere. Both were quiet for a moment… but this was considered fairly normal between Sasha and Haru, even from the time when they were in Frankfurt.

“Do you want some beer?”

Haru nodded, receiving a cold can of beer to sip on gingerly as he closely eyed the troubled man.

“In case you haven’t caught up with the recent news… Vivian and I divorced not too long ago therefore I’m officially single right now.”

“Then why are you bringing the kids back?”

“Vivian has custody over the children, but she also wants to return to her work and travel across Europe. For this very reason that guy…. Alexey… thus suggested that the kids come back to live with their grandparents in Kazakhstan instead. But the kids need time to adjust first, otherwise they’ll be too shocked by their new surroundings.”

Haru nodded knowingly despite his dismay.

“The amount of immediate problems I’m currently trying to deal with is so overwhelming that I haven’t had time to think about Pun at all.”

“Are you serious about him?”

“What if I said that I was serious in an unsure way?”

“Why are you unsure when P’Pun’s reactions are already so obvious? He’s skipped work so frequently because of you that he’s on the verge of getting fired already.”

“Hm? What did you say?”

“You didn’t hear wrong. Not only is P’Pun skipping work but he’s also failing to submit his work on time as well. If he’s not wallowing around with you then who else is he wallowing around with?”

Sasha’s complexion changed.

“Haru… I swear that I arrive to work on time everyday and have never told Pun to skip work even once… The most I do is go pick him up from the office or photoshoot after hours whenever I get the chance to. I’m the one who should be asking you instead about where he’s been disappearing to, you’re with him more than me.”

“Huh…? They weren’t with each other? One of them disappeared while the other had no idea?

As if would Haru know dammit!

“Well you guys seem joined together at the hip. Everyone thinks that P’Pun is running off to see you. That’s why P’Chid is furious, scolding P’Pun for abandoning work and running to his lover.”

Despite normally being a cheerful golden retriever, from Sasha’s expression right now… it seems the golden retriever was capable of making a serious face too.

“Don’t joke with me.”

“Why would I be joking? Your boyfriend fails to come to the office on the days he’s being expected, nor is he submitting his work on time too. Haru is not with P’Pun all the time you know. Sometimes, Haru is even ordered to go back to the office alone.”

“With all honesty, I’ve always assumed that Pun goes to work diligently everyday.”

Silence seized the both of them at once.


“Then perhaps he might have something he doesn’t wish to tell you. I don’t know P’Pun as well as you do.”



Despite desperately wanting to head back to his own condominium, in the end, Haru had to keep the twins company in bed till morning, only discovering then that ‘Mr. Father of two’ had passed out with the bedroom door unlocked, hand still clutching onto a half-read document as well. Just as Haru was about leave, his eyes tripped over a note stuck to the front door.



Since you’re already here and all, look after my kids for one more day.

Find something for them to eat too.

Or if not, go find Isakov in room 1202.

Thanks (also you can’t refuse this request).

– Sasha.


P.S. If I remember correctly, Kiril is allergic to cornflour and Nikolai doesn’t eat tomatoes.

P.P.S. Do not bother my friend next door, no matter what your excuse is.’


Haru read it and let out a chuckle. Sasha was still the same as ever. He even remembered incorrectly as well because the one allergic to cornflour was Nikolai, whereas Kiril didn’t eat tomatoes.

Upon reading the second postscript however, Haru was unsure of what he was feeling. He wasn’t necessarily sad, and even if he was happy, it was a painful kind of happiness.

Walking up to the neighbouring room and giving it a brief knock, after a moment, Isakov came to open the door.

“What do you want, Kitty?”

Haru handed the note over to Isakov and shrugged his shoulder. Despite cursing under his breath that Sasha was an utterly pathetic father, the bodyguard still agreed nonetheless to look after the kids for him.

“May I see Alexey? Just for a second, please?” He seized this chance and asked apprehensively.

In turn, Isakov shut the door, leaving him to wait outside.

What did Haru want you ask…?

Haru’s small modest wish was not in any way difficult to fulfill. He just wanted for this talented photographer to turn around and look at his work, and perhaps maybe comment on them a little.

Isakov returned again with a large photo album… “His Excellency hasn’t woken up yet, however, this album is for you. Truthfully, he’s been meaning to give this to you for a long time now but things became hectic.”

Haru accepted the album in a daze, and was even more astounded when he opened it up to see its contents. They were the photos that he had adamantly tried to email to Eisbär, ranging from when they still did not know each other in person… The first photo that he had ever taken… The first photo which granted him permission to cycle after Eisbär (?) along with Ethan to the studio… The first photo when he flew after the both of them to practically every corner of Europe… The first photo on his solo trip to Eastern Europe… Hundreds of photos which he had sent to Eisbär and waited on until he nearly lost hope.

Some pages had vanilla-colored post-it notes inscribed in German like: ‘The camera is good but you’re terrible.’ or ‘This photo, even a cat capable of pressing the shutter can take this.’. Whereas on some other pages, the comments were scribbled on either a coffee shop tissue napkin or a food brochure (with these harsh words, ‘Following me like this…has it not taught you anything at all?’)

The last seven to eight pages were the photos which Haru had taken when he was not chasing after anyone, truly free to do whatever he wished… Haru noticed only then, that the latter photos which he had taken were significantly more individualistic, more ‘him’ than when he was still chasing after Alexey… his had perspective changed… the colors, lights, shadows, mood, and way of thinking… none of these sported his idol’s hallmarks anymore.

“Can I please speak to him for just five minutes Mr. Isakov? I beg of you.”

Isakov stood still. The door shut once more. From merely this, Haru understood that he would probably not get to meet his idol. Therefore he hugged the photo album close to his chest, but then noticing a small white piece of paper sticking out from one end.


Alexander Nazarbayev

Consultant of Political and Foreign Affairs

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan


Behind the fine white name card and written in a meticulous and orderly handwriting was a short sentence.


‘This is my invitation for good coffee, not for photography.’


Despite not being exactly according to his expectations… Haru believed regardless that this partly constituted as the man’s approval of him… and the thought of this made him smile with relief… finally understanding in the end, that the person capable of fulfilling his dreams, is no one but his own self…


And this was reason for his puffy inflated heart… which nearly lifted him off his feet.

Mild was curious? Sorry but Haru won’t say a word… it’s a secret!



Isakov spun around to look upon hearing a brief knock at the door again. Peering through the peephole, he discovered an utterly groggy-looking Sasha standing at the front door. “Sasha’s come sir.”

“Let him in.” The person who had just gotten out of bed ordered.

The owner of room 1206 came in with a difficult look on his face and a small note in his hand. There was a small doodle on it, along with a message written in German that oddly resembled Japanese script. “Is that Kitty here?”

“He went back ages ago.”

“Just take a look at this.” …Sasha was complaining.

“Hm, let me see?”



You owe me money for looking after your kids, 10 euros x 15 hours.

I’ll come collect it next week, don’t you dare runaway.

Also learn to devote your attention to the person beside you.

Regardless of what he sees you as.

Aside from looking after your kids, I don’t want to look after your lover as well.






Isakov exploded into a roar of laughter, in contrast to the owner of the name on that note whose face was wrinkling. As for Alexander Nazarbayev, he was chuckling low in his throat.

Aside from buying one truckload of pedigree dog food for Petch, it seems like he would need to buy some cat food for this babysitting kitty as well…



Carta Visa: 33rd Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English.

Allow me to switch from hardcore mode to a more lighthearted mode instead, little Petch’s brain is already on the verge of exploding. I was scared of Ethan’s ghost (so he’s dead now?), scared of Viktar (give me back my kind and caring dot dot guy), and scared of Alexey (what if I approached some other man by accident…?). In addition to this, I sported a split lip from being punched, as well as a bruised back from crashing against the wall.

I had been pondering for exactly forty-five minutes and thirty-seven seconds already, flipping over left and right on my bed. Why did Ethan–who was arguing about Eisbär earlier–all of a sudden begin to lash out at Alexey instead? I definitely must have missed some vital detail.

And if Ethan was angry at Eisbär, why did he have to take it out on Alexey?

Are these guys caught in some kind of love triangle rivalry? Or was this actually a 3P situation? Hua… just picturing it in my head was already giving me goosebumps. With Eisbär’s physique being that of a heavyweight class wrestler, the bed would have had to withstand several tons of weight I bet.

However, it was also not out of the question if the situation was actually a love triangle rivalry instead. Hypothetically for instance, out of certain circumstances Eisbär becomes ‘involved’ with the hottie, resulting in Ethan being left and abandoned all by himself.

Another issue which was lingering inside my head was that… in my entire life, I had only gotten to meet Eisbär once, this being during Jessica’s wedding; to which I myself do not remember any of my actions from that day at all. But even more curious is that on that previous night in which I cried in front of Sasha… venting about Alexey and what he did to me… Sasha had claimed that Alexey was merely fulfilling the promise that he made to me from long ago…

Sure I might have requested something from Eisbär, but I certainly have never requested anything from Alexey. Furthermore, even if I really did request something from Eisbär, how was Alexey related? Don’t tell me this is also a case of Satan’s spawn inheriting his father’s will, hm?

I definitely must have missed an important detail, but being clueless as to what it could be… Jessica, you need to take responsibility for this matter (?).

However, before I could see her, I had something else that I needed to investigate first. No need to hire Kindaichi Kosuke since that guy is old now, rather, Kindaichi Phachara will solve this case instead!; so long as Google still exists in this world.

After wallowing in a German fansite for three and a half hours, finally I managed to find the ultimate hidden treasure trove… Ethan’s final three modelling photographs.

From just a single glance, I dawned on the reason behind the break up.

These final three photographs were not Eisbär’s work. I was willing to put my head on the line and claim that these three photographs were amateur level. This was blatantly a case of a kid chancing upon a master’s camera. But have you heard of this saying? ‘A Leica won’t improve your photography.’–to which I believed this to be true, because a good photo consists of a perfect blend of experience, skill, perspective, and a camera. If missing either one, a good photo cannot be produced.

‘It’s a completely separate matter to your betrayal of him by going to that peasant scum.’

This means that Ethan joined hands with someone else in order to betray Eisbär.

But who? And how could he?

What exactly did I learn from these three photographs? That this was a case of one’s work being stolen, a case of one being impersonated, and a case of one being betrayed so shamelessly that if feels like a smack in the face.

I sympathized with Eisbär, and felt deeply sorry for him.



“Hey, Mr. Pha-cha-ra… what time do you think it is, knocking on a lady’s door like this? If I get acne from going to bed late, do you think you can buy me Lamer cream to cover the damages?”

I sighed. “Even Lamer can’t help the skin on that face of yours, you might have to use cement instead.”

The kathoey let out an offended screech but agreed to allow me inside. “What do you want? Out with it.”

I handed the photos that I had printed out from that website to my kathoey friend. “I found them, now give me the rest of the story, you left me hanging last time remember?”

Jessica took the photos, studying them before likewise letting out a sigh. “What do you think of these?”

“They’re not Eisbär’s work, the skill can’t even compare.”

Jessica looks at my face. “Yes… and nobody realized this until one day, someone in our group walked past a bookstand and picked up a magazine to flip through casually, only then did they discover something abnormal: The severe contradiction between the photographs taken and the name of the photographer. Thus, the secret was laid out in barebones. A third party individual had secretly used Eisbär’s name to accept work from various magazines… with Ethan’s complicit approval and cooperation too.”

“Surely there had to be people who doubted this, especially when the man himself never makes an appearance.”

“Of course the magazines doubted from the very beginning, however, all of them were pressed for time, desperate to get their hands on the material before their deadlines. Moreover, at this point, Eisbär’s name practically served as a guarantee that the photos would turn out fantastic. However, when they received these three photos in particular, they were rendered completely speechless. An editor who was very familiar with Eisbär saw this work and immediately lost it reaching for the phone to give him a stern talking-to, but who would have guessed…”

“When did Eisbär find out?”

“When the magazine was already laid out, wide open on his table as he received the call from that editor.”

Boom! What followed afterwards didn’t need any explaining.

“Did Ethan not try begging for forgiveness?”

“Ethan went and wallowed around with scum, not to mention dumbing down his own brain with cocaine too. When we tried to question him… he was already drained of all sense of responsibility and care.”

Jessica’s emphasis of the word ‘scum’ made me flinch. “And… who was that other guy…?”

“I don’t remember his name, but what’s certain is that he can’t pick up a camera anymore, ever again.”

“Why? Is he banned?”

“The ban is one reason but… an accident which caused the bones in his right arm to fracture beyond repair is another.”

Hearing this caused my goosebumps to flare up again. This kind of cruelty… evidently reminded me of Alexey.

“Where is he currently?”

“Stuck in jail in Florence, he got given the nickname ‘One Hand Coke’ too, cool isn’t it? It’s a mixture between ‘Stumpy’ and Cokehead.”

Oh my good god… his bones were fractured so badly that they had to amputate the entire arm? Not to mention being arrested for selling drugs? What an absolutely miserable outcome.

“…” I was speechless, this story was honestly depressing. “And what about Ethan? What happened to him after that?”

“Well you can probably guess that everyone willingly shunned him from the industry, he had no work, no money, and everything that he used to own vanished in the blink of an eye. People… when we destroy our own honour and dignity, even a mutt won’t bother to give us a glance.”

“It’s strange, they loved each other so well all these years and suddenly… or were they already in an argument prior to the incident?”

Jessica shifted her stance. “Yeah… like the saying goes, lovers are akin to tongue and teeth, its natural for the two to clash with one another. Think about it, even you and Alexey bicker on a daily basis.”

Oh, she has a point…

“The argument must have been big then. Could it be… is it concerning them abandoning their lives in Europe and returning to Kazakhstan?”

Jessica nodded. “But it in no way means that if one person needed to go back, the other had the right to betray him by having an affair.”

She was right about this as well. Someone like Eisbär could probably be reasoned with if spoken to nicely.

“He knew from the very start that Ethan was not going to follow him back to Kazakhstan, however, distance doesn’t necessarily dictate that we have to break up with our loved ones… Eisbär was prepared to sell his house and rent a luxury penthouse in Frankfurt for Ethan, not to mention planning to transfer his cherished Maserati under Ethan’s name as well. But when this incident occurred, boom! Everything was over… it was an ugly ending too.”

…!!! A penthouse in Frankfurt and a Maserati! This amount of dedication, just how much did he love Ethan?

I processed these details inside my head and concluded the lecture.

“To conclude, there are three big disputes. The first… Eisbär needed to return Kazakhstan but Ethan didn’t want to abandon his life in Europe, as such, Eisbär prepared everything so that Ethan could live comfortably over there–this was something that the public had no knowledge of. The second… Ethan was seeing another man, behind Eisbär’s back no less. And third… unbeknownst to what Ethan was thinking, he let that man become famous in the photography industry by relying on Eisbär’s name, as if this newcomer had Eisbär’s approval, but this is…”

“The trampling of both a man’s and a photographer’s honour and dignity.”

Yes, Jessica was right. If it was me… I wouldn’t be able to bear it as well if my lover was having an affair and stealing work so blatantly from my face no less. No one could bear such thing.

“How is Eisbär doing right now…?”

“I have no more stories about Eisbär to tell you, everything ends there… Eisbär has left us, and will never return again.”

We both went quiet… I had no clue what Jessica was thinking, but I… was sad, to know that the person I had admired so much was shredded by a storm so badly that he could never get back up ever again.

“Eisbär left the industry and entrusted everything in Alexey’s care.”


“It’s already over Petch, don’t clutter your brain with stuff from the past.”

“But Ethan’s not over it, didn’t you see Viktar beat him up?”

“No one can ever forget about past loves, even if time has passed for so long and the feeling has already vanished. Some people believe that those who used to love each other will come back to love each other again, treat each other nicely again, but for others, they just let it pass them by, looking back with an empty feeling.” Jessica handed me a glass of water. “But I believe Viktar did not beat Ethan out of resentment, rather, he was simply fulfilling his duty.”


“The duty that Alexey entrusted to him. To look after you and keep you safe, so that you can work without any problems of course.”

How ridiculous, I shouldn’t be feeling anything from the words coming out of my friend’s mouth, but my troublesome cheeks were already flush red.

I wanted to see Alexey so badly… I wanted so see him right this instant…

“Alright, all this chatting is making my throat dry, do you want some water? There’s fruit juice as well.”

My best friend abruptly switched topics all of a sudden. Fine, I won’t dig up anymore stories about Eisbär, regardless of what occurred in the past he was still my idol.

Jessica poured me a glass of orange juice without bothering to wait for my answer. “Here! Orange juice, drink up so your skin can be beautiful and young as mine.”

“Then it’s a good thing that I celebrated my 28th Birthday just recently.” I joked and quickly altered the mood before it could get anymore depressing. “Let me ask you something else, this one’s not stressful so no need to worry about you ageing okay?”

Jessica opened her mouth as if about to cuss, but held back. “What now? You’re wasting my sleep time.”

“I want to ask about your wedding, the day you were the most beautiful in your entire life.”

“Oh you’re exaggerating.” Her voice sounded almost abashed, but upon hearing the following sentence, I wanted to jump kick her. “Although honestly speaking, I think I get prettier and prettier with each passing day, my husband is still head over heels for me you know?”

What a waste of my saliva, I shouldn’t have complimented her in the first place. “That day, what did I exactly do…?”

“Not much, you just went on a massive rampage, destroying each and every thing in your path.”

“Like hell does that sound like something ‘not much’… what I mean is, do you remember at all what I talked to Eisbär about?”

“Of course I do, you were totally wasted that day, not to mention getting into such a huge slugfest with the waiter that Eisbär was forced to intervene, he sent the waiter flying with a punch and dragged you away by the collar.”

Hua… and what next?”

“Fuck, you really can’t remember anything at all? Do you even know how you sobered up?”

I shook my head side to side, putting on a highly intrigued expression.

“Good job you drunkard, he threw you into the pool in order to calm you down.”

“How cruel! That’s barbaric! Did he really treat me that violently?”

“And you don’t think it was deserved?” Jessica retorted. “You’re both crazy. Anyways, when you managed to climb out of the pool, rather than sobering up, you clung onto his back like a little baby monkey instead, begging if you could follow him back to Frankfurt, declaring yourself as his favourite pupil, offering to eat his leftover food, and trailing after him obediently like an abandoned baby monkey looking for its mother.”

“You saying this makes me want to conserve wildlife.”

“Conserve your own species first, Petch!” She cajoled sarcastically. “Actually it’s fortunate that you remember nothing, because the look that Eisbär kept giving you was a weird mix of pity and sympathy.”

Hua… he threw me into the pool yet still had the shamelessness to feel sorry for me, I’m touched… and what else did I talk to him about?”

“Quite a lot, gosh… I don’t really want to admit it but, are you aware that you can speak English when you’re drunk?”


This was a shocking revelation to me as well (I thought my improvement in English was only exclusive to after eating Pedigree).

“You’re joking.”

“Joking my ass. You begged him to teach you photography techniques and when he started to ignore you, you tried putting on a cute act, sending him pitiful watery-eyed looks until he couldn’t help but acquiesce. It was only when he promised that he would come back to find you that you started to smile again. Hua… talk about using underhanded tricks and sorceries.”

“And did Eisbär ultimately fall for my trap? No.” Was I really trying to defend myself here?

“At that moment no. Since he said that your drunken speech was still all over the place, he dragged you off to wash your face until you finally sobered up. And upon coming to your senses, all of sudden, you refused to talk to him like nothing had happened.”

“How much did I exactly drink that I ended up not remembering any of this?”

“If I recall, a bottle and a half of Black Label plus several shots of vodka.”

If I actually did drink this much… even if Jessica claims that I danced the flamenco and did a voice-over in Swahili, I’d still find it believable.

“And did you ever get to meet him again after that?”

“No, I haven’t seen him in a long time now. If you want to pass a message on to him then just tell Alexey, he’ll know.”

I puffed out my cheeks. “But it’s embarrassing.”

“The hell are you embarrassed about?”

“If I tell him to pass on the message: ‘Love you xx come see me in Thailand soon’, that hottie is never going to let me live it down.”

Jessica replied by staring daggers at me. Hua… it seems like I really can’t pass on this message.



Alexey opened his email for the very last time before retiring to bed, double-checking the Bangkok to Samui flight e-tickets for himself and the twins Kiril and Nikolai. However, right then, the sound of an incoming call on Skype broke his concentration. Upon pressing accept, the image of a sunburnt monkey with a swollen lip and a pouty expression popped up onto the screen.

“You’re finally online, making me wait for so long.”

“You look… quite dark.”

He thought the charred-faced monkey was going to go along with his teasing, but was confronted instead by a long rant.

Hua… what did you expect? You sent me to a desert Mr. Alexey, not the north pole. Your home country’s desert, even SPF 350 suncream can’t hold out. Also, that dude Ethan who you sent to me as a model is the goddamn devil, you were actually trying to bully me weren’t you? @#%%#%&*()(_)__( and then Viktar beat him up until blood spurted out of every orifice, talk about hardcore. Is he really a bodyguard or actually an assassin $%$@#%^&*((&…”

After a full five minutes, finally the charred-faced monkey’s throat was parched. Alexey sat there watching silently as the person who had just complained about his swollen lip chug an entire bottle of Corona Extra in one go (didn’t his split lip sting when met with beer?)

“Do you have anything else you want to rant about?”

“No more, I’m tired, all this ranting is making me even more tired.”

It was obvious from his complexion that he was truly tired. Beneath those big eyes were a set of puffy bags, as if they had been hit with a punch each.

“Then again, are you planning to continue leaving me here all by myself? It’s lonely you know.”

Didn’t you say you were done ranting? But Petch carried on telling his story from start to finish, beginning from the first second in which he made eye-contact with Ethan, the harrowing incident of shattering a coffee cup in mid air with a single gunshot, etcetera, etcetera, and finally ending with…”

“So what exactly is up with the five hundred thousand euros? I demand a clear explanation.”

Despite teasingly wearing an indifferent expression like he couldn’t care less, Alexey was aware that this sun-scorched monkey had called him out of his own volition, so he reckoned some truth was deserved… just half of it though.

“It’s the cost… how should I word it, the cost for…”

“Five hundred thousand euros, that’s twenty-one million baht you know? Are you actually that rich?”

“If you want a straight answer, then yes… paid full in cash too.”

“Wow, whaaat…? How come you never buy me snacks or treat me to meals at all?” The sun-scorched monkey pouted. “Put shortly, that’s the cost for tricking Ethan into accepting this assignment correct? Your actual goal was to bully me correct?”

“If I wanted to bully you, I wouldn’t need to rely on Ethan.”

“Are you proud of that or what?” The monkey pitched his voice sarcastically. “Forget it, not like it’s my money anyways, you can scatter it on the side of a road or roll a joint with it for all I care.”

“Of course I’m not giving it away to Ethan for free. Once it’s returned to me, I’ll snatch up a Leica camera for you, how about it? Will you stop complaining now?”

The monkey’s face stretched into a wide beaming grin. Alexey wondered, has anyone told Petch before that sometimes, he looked a combination of silly and cute? “Use that money to heal my mouth too okay?”

“A split lip only takes a few days to heal but a foul mouth can’t be fixed Petch.”

“Alexey, you!!! Ow… it hurts.”

Alexey felt sorry for him… but teasing him was too much fun.



I wore a pouting face, letting the hottie coax me for a while until my mood improved.

“You still haven’t stopped laughing.”

“You’re the one who’s done this to yourself though!”

“What did I do to myself exactly? I was punched okay?”

“I know… in any case, how is your work going?”

When I said that I was scraping by but wanted him to help take a look as well, he nodded his head.

“Send it over, I’m not busy right now.”

I thought I had heard wrong! Ever since writing this story, Alexey has never once said that he wasn’t busy. But now, I was so excited and elated to hear the opposite. Complying to his wishes, I therefore sent over the photos and we carefully looked at each photo together one by one. I was aware that Alexey was not a photographer–he was a mafioso (in the skin of a civil servant)–yet in spite of this, his every opinion was so educated and straight to the point that I had to quickly reach for my pen, jotting down the points that needed fixing and improvement.

Although we spent only an hour on this activity, I felt like I had learnt more from doing this than taking photos for an entire year. To tell you the truth… I felt that over the course of these past several weeks, my work has changed unusually for the better. And if I’m not mistaken, this hottie played a part in said improvement.

Once we finished going over the last photo, I felt inexplicably relieved. I told him that I would send over the photos again as soon as I was done making the fixes. “Do you have anything else to comment on?”

Alexey leaned against the backrest, drumming his fingers on the table as if in the middle of a thought.

“This may be difficult to hear but… I think your portrait photos… still needs a lot more work.”

I was dismayed… feeling as if I was being criticised for not meeting his expectations.

“But I understand… that this is impossible to do if the model refuses to give you his cooperation, like what Ethan has done.”


“You did your best.” These words were accompanied by a faint and seemingly-consoling smile. “You’ve done very well Petch.”

My lips slowly unfurled into a smile, heart puffy and full with some sort of feeling which could almost lift my body up into the air…


The hottie had already gone offline, leaving me to sit in front of the computer by myself. And then, I began to compose an email in my severely crippling English.



Thank you very much for today, I learnt so many things.

But I still have another request that I want to ask of you.

See, could you arrange… or let me meet Eisbär?

Look… don’t misunderstand okay? I promise not to ask weird questions too.

I… I want thank him myself.

For this best once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ve been given.

Don’t forget okay? Pass this on to Eisbär for me!


P.S. I won’t pay back the car repair fees or return that red convertible to you if you forget.’


When I was about to turn off my MacBook and go to sleep, I found a new email in my inbox… sent by that hottie. Inside the email were two attached files. I selected one at random and had to cry out loud with a mixture of surprise and a feeling of wanting to jump with joy. This is because what popped up on my screen was a flight booking for a business class seat from Astana to Bangkok, as well as a connecting flight from Bangkok to Samui. The name of the passenger specified clearly as:




This much was enough to give me a heart attack. I muttered to myself ‘that hottie must be kidding…’, but who would have guessed. Upon clicking on the second file, it was a polaroid photo of two tiny twins. One had grey eyes and a wide smile which looked slightly cheeky. As for the other one, he had blue eyes and a pair of swimming goggles strapped to his head, sticking his tongue out at the camera. Scribbled on the photo was the childrens’ messy handwriting in English.

‘Don’t dawdle, call and confirm the tickets now.’

Returning to the message within the actual email itself, although he didn’t reply exactly according to my request, reading it still made me want to fly back to Thailand and kiss Alexey this very instant.



The person who has granted you this opportunity is no one else but yourself.

And this is the reward for this small victory of yours.



Guess what I did after that…? I packed my bags and fled the cold to Samui of course!


Carta Visa: 32nd Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English.



Photography in the middle of the desert turned out to be a way more laborious ordeal than I expected. This ranged from waking up at half past four to capture the morning sunrise, the model who wasn’t very willing to give his cooperation, and the stylist who was ready to smack the model’s face in with her high heels. To add, the natural conditions were extremely difficult to control, be it the sunlight, wind, shadows, or grains of sand which shifted and transformed over every second.

The desert was stunning and the sky today was clear. I relished in its beauty, but not for long as Ethan’s behaviour irritated my mood. Despite managing to obtain plenty of good photos, most of them weren’t photos of Ethan. The face which belonged to this model was gorgeous and flawless, white skin radiant as if emitting light. He knew full well his duties as a model and was proficient at posing, as if it had been programmed into his body previously. But it was far from consistent… one minute Ethan was a professional model, the next, he would turn into a bad-tempered child, self-centered and lacking responsibility. As such, I was forced to suppress my emotions, practically almost counting from one till a hundred in my head.

Ethan’s eyes were beautifully captivating, but it failed to captivate me.

When his eyes averted the camera… they appeared listless, like a person who did not have the will to continue living anymore. In the complete polar opposite however, when his eyes made contact with mine through the camera lens, he resembled a wounded animal, one that was fierce, resentful and hateful, ready to tear me into pieces at any moment. Within the brief instant that we stared fixedly at each other through the camera lens… I had a secret impression that his prickliness partially resembled Alexey’s (albeit praying now that he wasn’t equally as brutal as the other man).

“Just keep on spacing out why not? Are we done with this shot yet?” His voice wafted into my ear and I went back to concentrating again despite my irritation.

“We’re done, but it’s not good enough.”

“Then perhaps you should go back to photography school.”

“Perhaps you should also go back to modelling school as well.” I spat back immediately, never knowing before that arguing with a foreigner would improve my English this fast.

Ethan’s face flushed red, my quip likely pushing his buttons. He expected a photographer to kneel and respect the model? As if.

“You will regret daring to speak to me like that.”

“Saying such words… who do you think you are?” I asked dispassionately, shifting the camera lens around. “Are you the highest-paid model in the world? Lift your face up a bit more… fifteen degrees.”

What I got in return was a cloud of sand being kicked up in my face. I shut my eyes tight, hearing a voice in the distance say. “I’m taking a break, for as long as I please!”

“Go to hell and rest in peace!” I shouted after him from behind in spite of my badly irritating eyes. Jessica hurriedly ran up to me with a mirror and until we finally managed to get the last grain of sand out, one of my eyes had already turned red.

“Petch, calm down okay?”

“Yeah, I know.” I wiped my tears gingerly. “My eyes freakin hurt.”

The dot dot guy came over check on me as well, along with eye drops which greatly helped to relieve the irritation. It was strange, despite not uttering a single word, I could sense that Viktar’s concern.

“Don’t act hasty alright?”

My condition right now resembled a boxer sporting a black eye with two nannies constantly feeding me food and water on the sidelines. I could only helplessly sit there and grind my teeth in resentment. “Just wait until this assignment is finished you bastard…”



The sunlight was dwindling rapidly, but I still felt that I have not done well enough yet. From my experience as a fashion photographer, I was certain that I was capable of doing much much better than this. But I received no cooperation from Ethan whatsoever. Taking a fifteen minute break before shooting the final set just as the sun was about to sink underneath the horizon, I felt so frantic that I couldn’t sit still.

Eventually, I dialed my phone…

“How’s it going Petch?” The audio on the other end in Thailand was noisy and lively, as if he was among a troop of monkeys. I could hear the sound of children giggling in the background.

Just hearing this caused exhaustion flood my chest, so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to speak.

“Are you alright dear?”

Dear? How glad I was to hear this word. “I don’t know what do to… the sunlight is dwindling and I need a better photo than this.”

“And… the problem is?”

“That model of yours… he’s the biggest troll in the entire three worlds, and heavily addicted to cocaine too, what kind of person did you send to me?”

(TN: Troll – Not the mythical creature but the internet kind of ‘troll’, someone who is deliberately provocative; Three worlds – In buddhist cosmology there are three planes of existence/worlds.)

“Mm, I expected as much. But you’ve already lasted several hours correct?”

“Yeah, there’s fifteen more minutes remaining.”

“Well… you just let him go then.”

“Hah? You must be joking.”

“Petch.” This voice which called my name, hearing it honestly made me want to crawl into his lap and let  him comfort me, I really needed encouragement okay? “Since this assignment belongs to you, then photograph what you want other people to see.”


Easy to say but difficult to do. I disconnected the call and took a deep breath.

Fine! Whatever happens, happens!



“Is this the extent of your skills?”

Hearing this criticism felt like being slapped in the face. My heart pulsated forcefully, hands shaking and almost flinging a punch at the pretty lips that half the human population on earth dreamed of kissing. Ethan tossed the stack of photos which we were about to select and submit to the magazine in my face, each photo scattering and drifting down to litter the floor.

I witnessed the image as Ethan used his feet to crush the photos that had fallen onto the floor, my heart speeding up, pulsating rapidly with anger.

“If I lose this magazine assignment… ” The end of his sentence stretching out into a pause. “Then it’s certainly because the photography work is trash.”

Have you not looked at yourself in the mirror at all…? I argued inwardly.

“Actually, it’s not so terrible… to tell you the truth, Alexey has a good eye…”

I really loathe this way of speaking. If you have something to say then say it already, don’t just stop in the middle of your sentence just to could keep me anticipating.

“Out with it already, quit being dramatic.”

“Hotheaded are you? What did you think I was going to say?” These ocean blue eyes were beautiful, but it was a beautifulness that was disgusting for it reflected a filthy heart. “I just wanted to tell you in case it might make you feel proud, that Alexey has a very good eye, choosing ‘The best among the worst’ as the photographer for this assignment.”

“That’s true, I also have to praise him as well.” I drawled. Jessica turned to face me warily, muttering under her breath: Petch, what are you planning on saying? “Alexey has given me a fantastic opportunity to photograph ‘the suckiest among the suckiest’… I’m really grateful to be given this assignment. When I return to Thailand, I’ll boast to everyone that I got to meet the very person holding the title of ‘The Industry’s Shittiest Model’, my co-workers will be so jealous.”

All of a sudden, my MacBook flew off the table, falling imminently towards the floor. Luckily Viktar managed to catch it just in time before it smashed into pieces. Seizing this chance, I climbed up onto the table, yanking that soft downy brown hair before slamming his forehand down onto the table with no intention of holding back my strength. Ethan cried, groaning in pain. I pressed his head down to prevent him from moving and whispered beside his ear.

“Hey… Ethan… has your brain atrophied from all that cocaine? Do you not see the reality of the situation? This magazine… has never wanted you, rather, its your partner Eisbär that they want, do you still recall this name…? Even if Eisbär goes to photograph some slum kid instead of you, the magazine would still gladly use his work on its front cover… do you understand your current status yet? Don’t be retarded and start making use of the remaining brain cells that you have left–also, quit trying to piss people off!”

“You’re the one pissing people off.” Ethan growled back.

And thus, the situation fell into chaos. I underestimated Ethan’s strength as he grabbed my arm, yanking me down from the table before gracing me relentlessly with his fists. I tasted the salty blood which seeped into my mouth. After trying to block the assault for a while, I decided to retaliate as well by gracing his defined nose with my fist, blood spurting out of both nostrils. All in all, this round was over without us having to rely on the referee to the side.

According to regular boxing rules, breaks in-between rounds prohibited fighting. However, it’s not like this was something Ethan–whose face was smeared with blood–cared about, attacking me while I was distracted. I pitched backwards, tumbling and making impact with the back wall. But before I could even get up to reciprocate, I heard the heavy sound of a steel object hitting flesh. From the corner of my vision, I saw Viktar bash the pistol grip of his gun against Ethan’s nape, the latter slumping down onto the ground, motionless.

“Petch, escort Jessica outside first.”

Except, it turned out to be Jessica who quickly dragged me out of the room instead. Her entire body was trembling and her face looked as if about to cry. “Petch, you’re okay right? Did he hurt you?”

“No, no, I’m fine.” In truth, I ached all over but didn’t want her to worry.

The sound of conversation could be heard through the doorway of the room which was still wide open, so I couldn’t resist secretly peeping inside.

Ethan was still lying curled like a shrimp on the floor and upon witnessing this scene… the caring dot dot guy in my imagination dissipated in the blink of an eye. I used to think that Viktar was different from Alexey’s other bodyguards because he was gentle, kind, and had a sense of humour.  But now I truly believed… that Alexey’s men all took after their boss’ ruthlessness to a T. Although his expressionless face displayed no emotion like usual, I winced as I saw Viktar tenderly rest his feet down on that pretty face, before crushing one cheek hard… with his leather shoe.

“You guys… play… dirty. Villains… from start to finish.”

“To deal with a dirty person, an equally dirty method has to be used… I thought you already knew this.” Viktar sneered, increasing the strength of his feet till the cheek crumpled hideously.

“Your boss Alexey is vile, that bastard! He broke our promise!”

He never said he would be your photographer Ethan, you’re gravely misunderstanding something, why would he ever lower himself to be your photographer again… hm…? A meat that’s rotten, as if anyone would want to touch that.”

“Then that chink must also be rotten as well since you guys sent him here.”

Jessica and I jumped out of our wits upon seeing the dot dot guy’s classy shoe stomp down onto Ethan’s ear, fresh blood spilling from it. Its red color contrasting against the fine porcelain skin was a horrifying sight to witness; and I wasn’t particularly a fan of horror films too.

“You are still of some use… he has learnt several things from completing this assignment, and you are a bit more of use in sending him further in his career… aren’t you proud Ethan?” Viktar stomped on his face repeatedly. I closed my eyes, unable to continue watching. I have never witnessed anything so painful before in real life.

Ethan lashed out in a language that I couldn’t discern, but certainly, Viktar could, retorting back in the same language. After a moment, they abruptly switched to English.

“Alexey’s selfish, I never wanted to come back to this third world country with him. My life… he has no right to dictate it, he has no right to force me to come back and wallow around with him in this shit country.”

“This shit country that you’re referring to is the birthplace of your father, mother, grandfather and grandmother, furthermore it’s a completely separate matter to your betrayal of him by going to that peasant scum.”

“Your boss is the one who couldn’t handle the existence of someone equally rivalling him. Is he that much of a big-shot? His authority, the sky’s the limit isn’t it? Of course it is! If not through using his financial power, how else could he come to stand so high and mighty? And if he didn’t have that surname, would he have the authority to kill people like livestock!?”

Hua… hearing this gave me goosebumps.

“What crap are you spouting? Regardless of who sir Alexey is, what status he has, and what surname he’s attached with… the thing that you should never, ever do to him, is betray him… It’s a waste that you grew up together, it’s a waste of his trust, and it’s a waste of his love and devotion towards you. Despite all this you know him so very little. So little in fact that you do not deserve to meet him ever again…”

“I didn’t ask him to love me, you asshats.”

Crack. Viktar stomped him over and over until he laid still, unconscious.

I held my breath in when I saw the dot dot guy reach out his hand to grab my camera, taking a photo of Ethan whose entire body was wrecked beyond repair… Following onwards, he phoned Alexey, reporting in Kazakh briskly before bending down to squat beside the body as he whispered something in the man’s ear. I wasn’t sure if I was seeing things or not, but I thought I saw Ethan jerk due to a surge of anger. Viktar dialed his phone again and after a brief moment, bodyguard number three Leof broke into the room, turning to meet my eyes with a stern look as if trying to chasing me away, and then shutting the door.

In any case… if you become a ghost… go haunt the dot dot guy alright? I know nothing about this (really!).

I pictured Ethan, ruined like a red rag on the floor with mixed feelings of pity and sympathy. Although Ethan was not yet dead… it was hard to predict if he was going to be returning to Europe alive, or buried and used as fertilizer here.


I needed to know for certain, about what exactly happened in the past… what caused Eisbär’s revenge to fall completely into Alexey’s jurisdiction, free to do whatever necessary for revenge?

Carta Visa: 31st Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English.

Seven hours earlier.


After passing out for an estimated three hours, my tiny, dizzy and confused brain started to function normally once more. I brewed a dark cup of coffee and sat down to finish organizing my work schedule for tomorrow and the day after, which wasn’t too difficult of a task. Tomorrow, I would do a bit of research at noon, have an assignment briefing with the model at one, then after separating ways, if I had spare time remaining, I might ask Viktar to take me out to survey the location. Then on the following day, it would be the day of the photoshoot. Fortunately, the time of year was autumn so there was more daytime than nighttime, as such, I would have a large window to work with, from five in the morning up to nine-thirty at night, precisely when the sun would disappear beneath the horizon. I could only pray… that everything would go as planned.

The corner of my eyes glanced over to the phone. Not because there was an incoming call, but rather, because they were no calls, making me feel a bit dejected. Although, if Alexey called me, was I ready to speak to him yet? And what if his mouth itched to berate me again? Dear readers, perhaps you will find my dead corpse hanging lifelessly from a tree.

Ruminating while taking small sips of coffee, I was unaware that Jessica had entered the room. Her complexion seemed fairly distressed. “What’s wrong? Making an expression like you’ve been dumped.”

“Are you asking yourself or asking me?” Jessica replied as she dragged out a chair.

“I’m asking you.” I replied.

“Well…” My dear friend Jessica shrugged her shoulders and adjusted the glasses she was wearing. “Well… well maybe I’m worried about you, or something like that. Your expression resembled a frog getting squashed under a car.”

“Is my face really that ugly? I’ll have you know that I used to be the campus moon of my university department.”

(TN: Campus Moon – A feature of Thai universities where annually a contest is held to vote for the most attractive guy in the department, winner gets the title ‘campus moon’)

“A waning moon probably.”

I blurted out laughing. “Then a waning moon like me has to be paired with a Rahu like you–ow… fuck, don’t pinch my ear, what if you tear it off!”

(TN: Rahu, an asura in Buddhist mythology that swallows the sun and moon; it looks quite ugly.)

Jessica willingly released my right ear and spat back in dramatic fashion. “Now you’re suddenly energized to bicker with me!?”

“That Mr. Satan of yours thrashed me hard Mrs. Jessica.” I couldn’t resist voicing my complaint. “Speak nicely and I’ll speak nicely back.”

Jessica, my loyal kathoey friend shrugged her shoulders again. “Now… I’ve come invite you out, properly open your eyes and ears and explore the city for once, are you coming?”

The offer was tempting. Although I couldn’t read the street signs, I still at least had a map of Astana so it wouldn’t prove too difficult. Despite currently being displeased with the hottie times twenty-five, this was no excuse for me to stubbornly refrain from using the map he had given me. Thus, I acceded and quickly opened my big travel suitcase, searching for any winter coat capable of withstanding the eight degree temperature outside.

Now where did I put it… ah, found it!

I stared at the gorgeous warm Burberry coat in my hands and suddenly felt a stinging pain deep inside my chest… did the person who returned to Thailand realize? That his every action, be it nice or cruel, all had an effect on me…

I wanted to drop everything on the spot, change tickets, go back to Thailand, call off my remaining vacation days, sell back the apartment, go back to live with Pa and Ma, and never have to face Alexey ever again.

…But this was merely a desire that flashed briefly into my mind from time to time.

Because my life and everyone else’s life… our lives are not driven by wants… rather, it has to be propelled forward alongside the words: duty and responsibility. I might be on holiday leave, however, since I promised P’Chid that I would write and send him columns throughout the entire trip, this was an obligation that I had to see through to the end. I couldn’t let the editorial department suffer from my abrupt decision to abandon the project so suddenly.

I pondered this on the ride back from the airport to the hotel I was currently staying at. Some people might think, hey …don’t worry, people fail, people trip, there’s no need to try to win at everything… of course, anybody has the right to think like this. But what happens if you give up and accept defeat when you haven’t even won once? This is no different than blindfolding yourself and walking backwards, comforting yourself that it’s okay, you don’t need to win, only to realize later… that you’ve become a permanent loser. I needed to thank the hottie, P’Chid, and Sasha for taking turns to beat me with words until I became tender, finally coming to realization at last.

A loser… I didn’t want people calling me this… and I especially did not want to hear it from the mouth of someone… who I felt good about.

I admit that it hurt a lot… you know where it hurt? It hurt to know that I was so close to becoming one, a loser. If I was any more narcissistic than this, it probably wouldn’t hurt this much.

At the heart of this pain however… I saw a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. Alexey’s ferociousness… was the thorny path that I had to walk in order to achieve my dreams… but I was also fairly certain that he was the only person who would ever pave a path for me. I, who had to change… and had to hold on until I reached the end.

At the bottom of my travel suitcase was a box containing the Leica lens I had received as an early Christmas present from Jessica. I lifted it up to inspect it, and couldn’t resist smiling

It hurt… but at least there was still a certain someone by my side, she who was always ready to cry and laugh alongside me… she who was constantly wishing me the best…

I spotted something out of place inserted inside the lens box. Upon extraction, it was a postcard, the custom type where you could print your own photos onto it. And this photo, was so beautiful it could steal one’s heart away, reflecting the contours of a man carrying something on his head, set against the dry weather-beaten desert that was as vast as they eye can see. Flipping over to the backside, there was a peculiar-looking stamp which had already begun fading. The postcard was addressed to Baum, Jessica’s husband. However, because the message was written in German, I was unable to decipher it. But I could at least read the last three sentences.


13 Dezember (Unspecified year)

Alexey I. N.

Western Sahara Desert, Morocco.


It was the hottie’s handwriting, why wouldn’t I be able to remember it? …But what was most shocking was the person that took this photo.



“Oh really? There was a photo inside the lens box too? I didn’t know that.” Jessica pitched her voice higher, expression clueless. But I wasn’t very inclined to believe her.

“You’re the one who gave me the lens and you didn’t know that there was a photo inside the box?”

“I got it from an eBay auction! They shipped it from Morocco.”

“Still determined to say bullshit I see. eBay my ass, the postcard is signed with that hottie’s name.”

“Do you know the number of people named Alexey in Central Asia? Over two million.”

“And how many people are named Alexey in Morocco? Even two is considered too much– oh… shit, red traffic light. Why didn’t you warn me there was a red light?”

Jessica stared daggers at me. “You’re the one driving and you want me to help you look whether the light’s green or red? Pay attention yourself, also brake already woi.”

Oh, forgot! I made a head lurching hit on the brakes. Luckily, there was no one in my driving path. “Stop trying to veer off topic.” I attempted to steel my voice. “Confess, who gave you the lens?”

My dearest kathoey friend gave in unwillingly, acting extra unimpressed. “Okay, okay, fine. It’s that hottie of yours, he gave up his lens to you.”

Oh my Buddha! I’m honestly shocked actually. “And why did he only give me the lens? Why not the camera too? Where am I going to find the money to buy a Leica camera?”

“Oh… this bastard, you get given an inch and now you want a foot. Look… maybe he doesn’t know that you’re too poor to buy a Leica camera.”

“Is that hottie so rich that his brain is on backwards? Dude does photography as a hobby yet buys a Leica camera and lens, not to mention giving up the two hundred thousand baht lens to me?”

“Yeah, I agree with you.” Jessica shrugged her shoulders, making a sick and tired face. “The kind of person who sees you as someone that’s like… ‘attractive’ must definitely have their brain on backwards.”

“Wait a minute, tell me what ‘attractive’ means first.”

Jessica looks at me with immense pity and exasperation. “It’s the antonym for ‘so bad’, ‘dull’, ‘gloomy’ and ‘very ugly.’

I turned to fix my eyes on her and glared. “Are these really antonyms or are you insulting me, hm!?”

“Red light!!!”



I concluded that driving and bickering with Jessica was an extremely dangerous activity to do, so I decided to park our car on the side of the road and invite her for a walk.

My second visit to Astana was still as pleasant as the first. I strolled around, admiring the buildings which were a mix of European and Soviet styles. I saw a bunch of Kazakhstani citizens in the middle of having a late afternoon break, sipping warm cups of coffee in classic-looking coffee shops. I saw a beautiful woman with long slender legs wearing an extra short skirt and the added sexiness of an intricate pair of lacy stockings. I saw a granny selling flowers hobbling along the side of the street. I saw children filtering out of an elementary school as they jumped and celebrated their afterschool freedom.

We walked until reaching a gigantic atrium with an eye-catching group of people gathered out in front. My sight tripped over a poster which said a photo exhibition was being held inside, the theme of it being national parks across Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. The name of the photographer was not specified, however, Jessica and I decided to go take a look anyway.

This large antiquated antrium happened to be Kazakhstan’s national library. Furthermore, the photo exhibition seemed to be organised by the very people in charge in this library. I strolled along, not bothering to study the photographs in too much detail. The photographer’s skill was basic, the likes of which anyone with a fairly good digital camera was capable of. Nevertheless, from this detour, I discovered that the size of Kazakhstan is almost as large as the entirety of the Europe continent. It had drastically different terrains and climates depending on the region. Moreover, several of the regions had less population than all of the people living in the Ekkamai area, while some regions had no population at all… the desert.

(TN: Ekkamai – A fairly crowded neighbourhood in Bangkok.)

Seemingly, the photographer fancied the desert in particular because a zone in the exhibition was solely dedicated to it. I saw and admired their effort… but suddenly sensed a heaviness in my heart. I… know nothing about this desert… and I’d be killed if this was still the case when the day after tomorrow arrives…

I looked at a photograph of the sand whipping up alongside the breeze, each grain reflecting the light of the dusky sun while the tracks of desert snake paved its way through the fine dune…

Each individual photograph, not a single one looked the same despite being taken from the same angle. Each grain of sand reflected light and shadow in its own unique way… the sunlight which waxed and waned, changing in every second, gave a new perspective to the photographs…

I wanted to know more… I wanted to get to know this desert better.

“Jessica… hey… could I ask you to head back first?”

Hua, where are you planning to go?”

I pointed towards the entrance door of the imposing library.

“I’m going to find the answer… I need to familiarize myself more with the assignment… as much as possible.”

The eyes looking back at me appeared surprised, and then she smiled.

“Okay, call my room when you return, I’ll be waiting.”

…And upon coming back to my senses again, the night librarian had already kicked me out of the library, shutting the door in my face so violently that it disturbed the dust clinging to the frame of the door.

I closed my eyes… not because dust had gotten into them… but rather because I wanted to retain all the information about the desert that I had researched today…  I wanted to burn the stunning images of this nation’s desert into my memory… It was a shame that I couldn’t read a single word of Russian nor understand long English sentences, otherwise, I would have approached the librarian and inquired if there were any other books which had escaped my sight.

…It was also a shame that Alexey wasn’t here… despite being angry and disappointed, I believed that he would still support me… unknown as to why… but I really believed so.

Suddenly, a thought flashed into my head…

Grains of sand which never stay still in the same place… and sunlight which never illuminate photographs in the same way…

This definitely had to be connected to my ‘last chance’, surely!



A long dialing sound echoed from the phone. My heart was drumming loudly, hoping upon hope that the other end would pick up already.


“Alexey, it’s me.”

He answered curtly with a noise in his throat.

“I have two questions that I need you to answer clearly and directly, got that?”

“Go on.”

“This ‘last chance’ you speak of, is it for me… or for whom?”

The other end of the call went quiet.

One second.

Three seconds.

Five seconds.

“You’re taking too long to think, I’m not playing around okay? ‘One last chance’ for whom? Me or him?

“Neither. Is there no other option?”

“Then… the desert.”

“There is no answer better than that.”

I practically slumped down onto the marble floor at the entrance of the library… smiling to myself like an idiot… the relief felt like a mountain being removed off of my chest… my heart inflated, on the verge of bursting at any moment now… and I began to laugh at myself for overthinking too much… this hottie was freaking evil, leaving me to cry my eyes out, leaving me to go on a rampage… leaving me to run around in circles just so I could learn how to kick myself forward with the motivation in my own heart.

“Oh, what’s with the fit of laughter, are you alright?”

“I understand now hahaha. Thanks so much, you really are a damn handful.”

“So what are you doing right now?”

“Haha… I just got kicked out of the national library, about to head back and find something to eat.”

“What did you go there for?”

“To find the answer to that mystery you laid a trap for me in, how about you?” I tried to make myself stop laughing, returning to sit in the car and leaning my body back as I sunk into the driver’s seat.

“Currently playing with two four-year-olds… not my children but Sasha’s, hope you haven’t forgotten.”

“Oh, oh, I remember.” Finally able to stop laughing. “The second question then. You have to answer, definitely no beating around the bush.”

“Make it quick, the two twins are about to destroy the condo.”

“Please pay attention and answer me this. I don’t know what the relationship between you and Ethan is, but I need to know the best method in order to deal with him. I have to work with him, and I have to get this assignment completed no matter what. If you send him to me, then you need to tell me how to solve the problems I will inevitably face as well.”

Three seconds.

Five seconds.

Ten seconds… uh, Alexey… my dad isn’t the owner of a telecommunications company you know, this much is already damn expensive for my phone bill.

“Then listen up and keep this in mind. There are two things that you need to have confidence in, that you are the person in control of this game–“

Now it was my turn to be surprised. “Hah? What? Are you joking?”

“I’m not, and I’m not overestimating you either. You control this game… and secondly,  you need to have confidence that… no matter how horrible the situation gets, you’ve done your best.”

“Quit speaking nonsense and answer me properly, international calls are expensive you know.”

All of a sudden, the hottie disconnects the call and dials me back instantly. Uh, should have done this since the beginning.

“Put simply, there’s a certain magazine title that’s about to have simultaneous launches all across Europe, in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy. They sent a proposal to your model with the condition that aside from specifying Ethan, the photographer… has to be Ethan’s regular photographer.”

“Eisbär?” I asked.

Alexey went a bit quiet. “Yes… Eisbär… but he refused… the conditions outlined strictly that if not Eisbär, then it has to be someone designated by Eisbär. There must absolutely be no involvement from any third-party photographer. Furthermore, upon submission, Ethan will not receive a single cent unless Eisbär calls the owner of the magazine to verify it himself. With that said, if everything goes according to plan, Ethan will land on the front cover of this person’s big-name magazine that is to be on sale in the aforementioned four countries.”

“Where is Eisbär right now?”

“Let’s just say he’s not here anymore.”

“You know, right?”

“Yeah, but you don’t need to know.”

“Fine, fine, you don’t have to tell me as that’s not the current issue.” I tried to process this newfound information in my head. “Yeah… but isn’t it weird? If this magazine title really wants Ethan that badly, why go through all this extra hassle, especially when plenty of other people are equally eager to work with him? Then again, unless this magazine’s actual goal is to locate Eisbär who has vanished from the industry. They want to lure Ethan into accepting this job because they believe Ethan knows where Eisbär is.”

“So you’re capable of asking smart question after all.”

Just look at him! What a terrible personality. Nevertheless, he sounded inexplicably proud?

“I ate some Pedigree earlier, there’s omega-3 in it too.”

(TN: Pedigree – A brand of dog food.)

“If I knew, I would have bought you some a long time ago.”

“Stop being annoying and get back to the story already, what next?”

“So, the focus is not Ethan but the photographer, you understood correctly.”


I stilled. From my experience as a fashion photographer that has shot several hundred people, some went on to become superstars, some were ruthlessly kicked out of the industry, some stepped closer to their dream, and some discovered that their dreams brought along with it grief and suffering.

But the people that always remained… were people that helped these guys fulfil their dreams… realize their aspiration to shine dazzlingly on the front cover of the top magazine in Thailand… Inside a photographer’s portfolio, the model is not what determines skill. Rather, it is what the photo conveys which determines whether the photographer is good or not.

I uttered a sentence. “Models come and go, born and extinguished, but a magnificent piece of work will still remain…”

“Pedigree really seems to be working, I should order an entire truckload for you.”


“Petch… what did I tell you this morning?”

I grimaced… “You threatened me and said ‘Do you best for one last chance’. I really should demand heavy compensation from you for making me neurotic for an entire day.”

“And what have I done to you exactly?”


“You didn’t decide to act obedient all of sudden because I threatened you right?”

“Of course, as if things like this have any effect on me woi.”

“Well spoken.” Alexey turned back to speak German with someone nearby. I could hear the sound of whiny children in the distance, believing now that he was really with Sasha’s twins. After a while, the sound of the children died down. “And I believe you will do well.”

“No need to try and cheer me up with your words.” Yet, the heart of the person listening was already full, inflated, and floating…

“Hey, let me tell you something…”


Upon listening to his words, I was highly relieved and highly pleased. So high spirited all throughout the course of the dinner that Jessica couldn’t resist asking what had got me in such a good mood.

Before heading to bed… I read Alexey’s email over again meticulously, understanding straight to the point and transparently.

The words ‘one last chance’ might sound a bit harsh towards one’s feelings… a way of speaking that’s expected from that hottie… but upon proper reflection, I was also partly responsible for making him have to speak this way with me… therefore we were considered equal on this issue.

The ability to seize chances is seemingly a special skill attached to the hottie since birth. Regardless of what his story with Ethan is… he was capable of making Ethan stay put in order to collaborate with me. And this is the very ‘chance’ that Alexey has given me… A one in a million chance for me to present my work on a magazine that will be launched all across Europe… and if this chance is missed, it’s lost forever.

(TN: Clarification – So by ‘one last chance’ Alexey actually means this once in a lifetime assignment, it was never a ‘one last chance’ for Petch.)

The hottie’s voice still echoed in my heart.


‘I wasn’t threatening you… I was simply speaking the reality that anyone has to have experienced before when they face obstacles that need to be overcome. I might have chosen a method that you dislike, to which I cannot undo because regardless of whether it’s me or you, we are both living beings that are difficult to understand. But today’s outcome… even if you haven’t picked up your camera and started working yet… at the very least, I’m relieved that you have made good decisions, and believe that you will pour all your effort into doing the best you can…’

‘Aren’t you placing too high hopes on me?’

‘A worthless person… is someone no one will place their hopes onto… understand?’

I took three minutes to process his words… so he trusts me?

‘And… and… and why did Eisbär choose me? You know that my skills aren’t even close to being on par with his, didn’t you tell him?’

‘Eisbär has abandoned everything… you can forget about him entirely. Also, I’m the person that chose you. As to why, I’ll explain it to you later… if you can to wait that long.’ His final sentence sounded significantly gentler.

I wanted to asked him, what if I couldn’t wait that long? What then? …But instead, I chose to say the opposite. ‘I can wait, but I’ll be charging you an interest rate in the meantime.’

I was about to say that once everything was over, I would be demanding heavy compensation as well… but his reply had me utterly shocked…

‘I believe in you.’

Tears on the verge of flowing upon hearing these words. These words weren’t words of appeasement nor words of comfort, they were genuine, and they emanated from a place inside… I believed in his words, just like how he believed in me.



It was already eleven o’clock at night but I couldn’t fall asleep… As such, I decided to tread over to Jessica’s room and knock on her door, seeking someone to have a nice walk with. My kathoey friend complained incessantly yet agreed to come along in the end. We walked together quietly amidst the hazy lights lining the edge of the streets and looking up at the spindly branches above, this scene was like something out of ‘Friday the 13th’. At a small grocery on the wayside, we stopped to get some vodka in order to relieve us of the cold. For those of you who don’t know, this place is practically heaven for ‘copper throats’ because a six-hundred cc bottle of regular grade vodka costed only a hundred and fifty baht (I already purchased several to store in my room).

(TN: Copper throats – Those with a high tolerance for alcohol.)

“Jessica, have you known that hottie for a long time?”

I brought this topic up so out of nowhere that Jessica lost her balance, spilling the vodka in her hand.

“And what if I have?”

“I plan to buy some underground lottery tickets.”

(TN: Gambling is prohibited in Thailand, so we have a lucrative underground alternative instead.)

“Fuck!” My answer was worthy of getting scolded at, this I admit. “You finally want to know more about Mr. Handsome? Talk about slow.”

“Oh come on, I just got a little bit more interested now. I want to know more about the type of deranged person that buys a two hundred baht Leica lens and gives it out to other people for free.”

Jessica motioned as if wanting to rap me on my head. “Let’s see, Alexey’s been friends with my husband Baum ever since he went to earn his masters degree in Boston.”

Oh… right, that hottie had told me before that he used to live in Boston for a half year. “Then what?”

“They were friends from that time onwards. As for me, I first met him when Baum took me travelling to Amsterdam. At that time, Alexey had a small art gallery by the riverside, oh… it was so gorgeous.”

Oh wow…

“So… you’ve known him for a long time then, why didn’t you tell me before?” I asked, beginning to sulk a bit.

Jessica gave me a sidelong glance, throwing back an entire shot of vodka. “And then what? Some things are better known later.”

“Then… what about Eisbär?”

Jessica knitted her brows together, staring at my face and scratching her head before letting out a sigh.

“I came to know them all at once. Those guys are all friends, Baum, Sasha, Ethan, all friends. Only Sasha and Alexey grew up together since they were small. Also, Isakov, Viktar, and Leof grew up together as well. First off, you need to know that these Russians stick close together like a big family. Be it the boss’ children or his underling’s children, they all play and study together.”

“You’re even knowledgeable about their ancestors? Are these guys relatives of Rasputin or what?”

Jessica met my face with a glare. “Do you want to know about Eisbär or not?”

Oh, right, right, I completely forgot. I relayed the story that I had heard from Alexey to my best friend and finalized it with this question. “Thus, to conclude, Eisbär permanently quits taking photographs while Alexey takes over instead, deciding everything in his stead–the thing I’m wondering is, what was the disagreement about? Why is that hottie out seeking revenge, wiping out both the older twin sister and the younger twin brother, Ethan? Where did this resentment come from?”

“Uh… it’s a damn long story that you’re better off in the dark about.”

“Fuck, I’ve gotten this far already and I’m meeting Ethan tomorrow, just give me anything at all for me to work with, please.”

Jessica honestly didn’t wish to tell me, but caved in eventually. “Only because this is work-related.” She said.

The story was exactly like what I had known so far. Eisbär and Ethan were one of most skilled model and photographer duos in Europe, furthermore they were lovers. For this reason, the two of them made a vow to each other that they would never work with anyone else. Truthfully, the publishers were often reluctant to accept this arrangement, however, they would ultimately have to because Eisbär’s photography skills were god-like.

“Wait a minute, let me interrupt you for a second. Eisbär isn’t his real name right? I tried searching before but it came up empty.”

“It’s a name made up by Ethan’s fan club. At first, when he wasn’t famous yet, he was pretty normal. Just that he refused speak to anyone at all, no human beings whatsoever. Not to mention, he was so handsome that it made many people confused. Whenever he came to discuss work or arrived at the photoshoot, the team would always be confused as to who was the model and who was the photographer. He’s the type of person that wears Valentino and drives a BMW Z4 to work.”

My god! Even if I worked as a photographer for a number of lifetimes, I would still never have the money to afford and drive a BMW Z4!!! Just witness my daddy Eisbär!!!

“Now then, your man is a really irritable guy. Once starting to gain reputation, he disliked all the attention he was receiving. As such, he stopped wearing good clothes and let his body grow bigger and bigger until becoming a bear. His facial hair was left to grow into an unruly fashion while his expression resembled a grumpy polar bear, not to mention transforming the luxury car into a Hummer instead.”

I secretly thought, if he didn’t want to drive the BMW, he could have just given it to me. I’d be willing to adopt it for free. “But why the grumpy mood?”

“He’s an artist got it? He dislikes when people cause a ruckus and meddle in his private life, the exception of course being the people in his family. But Ethan’s fan club loved to meddle, be it news reporters or paparazzis.”

“You’re crazy, why would there be paparazzis chasing after a photographer? They should be chasing the model woi.” I commented.

“This is what’s crazier… several of these paparazzis who stalked the duo had to be admitted to the hospital afterwards.”

“Don’t tell me…” This was clearly the trait of a gangster.

“Let’s just say, Eisbär eradicated the paparazzis from his sight by making himself inconspicuous and got back to working passionately again because he truly loved his career. But the problem didn’t lie with him, rather it was other person, Ethan.”

“What did Ethan do to him?”

“Asking this means that you haven’t checked Ethan’s portfolio yet, right?”

I shook my head.

“Go back and look at Ethan’s final three magazine photographs, you’ll find your answer.”



When faced with the actual situation, I think… rather than demanding heavy compensation, I should force that hottie to show up instead.

The real Ethan E. Wittenberg in the flesh was something beyond my imagination, beyond a UFO mixed with a transformer mecha. By this, I don’t mean that he’s ugly or anything. On the contrary, he was such a beautiful man that it made me feel feverish, wanting to turn into a mushroom right on the spot.

However, past this layer of beauty was a dark simmering atmosphere that was being conveyed through the ocean blue eyes. He refused to shake my hand, not to mention staring at me with disdain from the corners of his eyes… Look, I’m a hundred and seventy-seven centimeters tall okay? I’m not a tiny pest, no need to make a face like I’m that inferior.

Ethan spoke English very fluently but it was coupled with a strange accent… it wasn’t a Russian accent like the one Alexey has… and it sounded really strange to the ear.

As for me, as if I was going to give up.

I invited him to sit down and introduced myself briefly, whilst trying to prevent myself from grabbing the tripod standing nearby and breaking Ethan’s pretty neck with it. Especially upon claiming that I was a fashion photographer working in Thailand, his gaze was even more like…


Uh… Ethan, I’m not a cockroach alright? You don’t have to make such a disgusted face.

“So… you’re the one?” He finally spoke up.

“Yes, he entrusted this assignment to me.”

“Merde! I thought we understood and settled this already, it has to be him and only him! Not you!” Ethan raised his voice while clanging the cup of coffee in his hand down onto the saucer, causing it to chip instantly. Hey, just don’t pull out your gun on me okay…? “A big assignment like this, how could he entrust it to some nobody?”

Hua… this bastard.

“Regardless of whether it is big or not, we are both responsible for this assignment.”

Piercing ocean blue eyes snapped to meet my face. “Who-is-this-we?”

“Oh, sorry, I mean ‘you’ and ‘I’” How the hell is this any different from ‘we’? “I believe you are professional enough to have this discussion done in half an hour…?”

“What if I refuse to do this?”

“Then five hundred thousand euros… and being banned for five to six years might suffice for refusing.” Viktar’s decisive voice interrupted our conversation.

Ethan turned towards the source of the voice, grabbing the cup of coffee and flinging it in the same direction, only to be riposted by the sound of a gunshot. The entire room therefore reverted back to it’s peaceful state once more. The coffee cup laid shattered into pieces on the floor of carpet, leaving behind a cloud of ceramic dust in the air. Ethan was pale-faced yet kept his face turned upwards haughtily. As for me… my tail almost dove into my butt!

“Five hundred thousand euros means that your boss wants this assignment more than me, if not, why would he offer ten times the hiring fee that was outlined in the actual contract…?” These hateful eyes landed on my face. “Is he planning to pave a path for this little puppy with money or what? This his new kid…? His tastes have changed.”

What about five hundred thousand euros? I had no idea what he was talking about but I went with the flow anyways… my English was poor… speaking-wise it sounded like nonsense… listening-wise there were many words I couldn’t understand… but my rabid dog instincts… were still as strong as ever!

“Quit your bullshit already. Whatever resentment you have from your previous life I don’t give a shit about. However, this is my work. If you think you’re that smart then consider properly if you want to return those five hundred thousand euros and be registered on the national unemployment list or hug those five hundred thousand euros and land on the cover of this magazine, it’s your choice. But I definitely won’t waste my time on you because my vacation will not be wasted with a model that has kicked the bucket.”

“Petch, you!” Jessica exclaimed from behind, acting as if about to faint due to the speech that I had spat at Ethan, all entirely in English, there was not a single word of Thai mixed among it. I was also surprised at my own words. My English bulb which had been blocked like a large pimple since birth finally burst and overflowed, flooding up and out of my mouth (but now was not the time for celebrations).

“So are you going to cooperate with me or not? If you are… please sit down. If not… the get out, I don’t want to waste my time on you.”

Ethan obeyed and sat down, glaring at me with loathing eyes. “…Son of a bitch.”

“We’ve only talked for ten minutes but you’re already capable of thinking up a suitable label for me? Not bad.” With an emotionless voice, I shot him back this question. “Then again, who would know a ‘son of a bitch’ better than a ‘son of a whore’? …Isn’t that right?”

I gave him a smile… coldly.

“Before spewing something out of that fucking mouth, realize first that the person in control of this game isn’t you!!!”


Carta Visa: 30th Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English.

“Your passport please.”

Pun nodded and handed the maroon passport book over to the pretty Uzbekistan Airways staff with a feeling of heavy uneasiness… was this the right thing to do…?

That day, Sasha had begged for him to go to Samui together… However, he ended up refusing coldly and forgot about this matter altogether, only having recalled it just fifteen minutes ago when he heard the final call for a Bangkok Airways flight.

Sasha never revealed why he had to go to Samui. Pun only knew that there was someone special the other man wanted him to meet… but who was this person exactly? And why was he meant to meet them? He was not given an explanation, and Sasha did not bring it up a second time.

…At this point, it was too late to change his decision. The staff handed back his passport book along with the boarding pass, informing him to head to the gate at the appointed time.

Pun sighed… never mind. Sasha was probably going to explain it to him eventually.

In that very same second, a certain someone popped out from behind with a pleased grin plastered on his face.


The owner of the name jumped, then had to subconsciously smile upon seeing the wide grin of a gleeful kitty that had appeared without any warning.

“Ah… how come you’re here?”

“Well it’s after hours now, Haru came for a walk.”

“You’ve come a long way for a walk, isn’t your condo in Asok, Haru?”

The kitty smiled shyly. “Actually, I’m here to pick up Someone Special!!!

The word ‘someone special’ seems to be trending these days…

Wearing a Comme Des Garçons heart print shirt, the kitty craned his head around.  “And… is no one here to send you off?”

“Oh, he’s gone back already… the ambassador was urgently summoning him, apparently there’s trouble in Pattaya.”

Trouble in Pattaya… Haru recited the words in his head.

Despite suspecting that the golden retriever was lying to P’Pun, this excuse seemed fairly reasonable. After all, Pattaya consisted of the Russian mafia and gangs trafficking women overseas, not to mention, Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya was just a short trip away…

If this story were true… couldn’t Sasha be bothered to receive his twin sons at the airport first? What kind of person was so heartless? Abandoning his sons with Mr. Isakov (the nanny?).

Not to mention, making Isakov take care of the two naughty monkeys on the plane all by himself. If they allowed the twins to sit in first class this would not be a problem.

Their wealth was undisputed. However, these Russians were determined to raise their children as humbly as possible. Even the kindergarten that these two twins attended was still a little bear kindergarten at the end of the alley and situated next to a church. Undoubtedly, they were travelling here in economy class. Just the thought of it, Haru could imagine the kids causing quite a hefty amount of trouble for the flight attendants.

“Haru… Haru, what are you daydreaming about?”

Startled, Haru wondered if he accidentally said something out loud. “Nothing, nothing.”

“Have you eaten yet? If not, let’s go get some coffee together, I’ll treat you to Starbucks.”

Haru shook his head smilingly. “Haru will keep waiting, they’ll be arriving soon. In any case, P’Pun… have a safe trip. If you need anything, feel free to call Haru okay?”

“Will calling you help?”

Haru scratched his head abashedly and waved farewell.

Have a good trip! Enjoy!”

Enjoy! Haru wanted to say this to himself. He couldn’t wait to bring two clingy monkeys to Samui and play in the sea!




The tiny legs belonging to two little boys raced towards him with voices so loud that it caught the attention of everyone waiting at the arrivals gate. Haru bent down and hugged the two small chubby bodies on either side. Nikolai in his right arm. The feisty Kiril in his left arm.

“Nikolai pulled my shirt just now!”

“Kiril bullied me first!”

The twins scrambled to voice their complaints and he was forced to cover their mouths, not wanting to make this any more of a scene than it already was. Haru gave them each a kiss on the cheek, then rubbed each of their heads once. “Where’s Mr. Isakov?”

“Isakov is waiting for the bags.” A familiar voice… but one he had not heard for a long time… could be heard accompanying the answer. Haru felt his body grow cold all of sudden, then switching to become scorching hot, starting from his ears… then cheeks…”

“Eisbär? You…” However, the man before him was not the same giant polar bear that he used to know.

Those grey eyes were the same…

That voice was the same…

The way he took the twins’ hands… large hands cradling the tiny ones ever so carefully… those hands were the hands he was familiar with…

“Eisbär, is it… really you?”

No. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. no. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes. yes.

His brain and eyes said no.

But his heart said yes.

The final judgment depended on these pair of eyes, the pair of grey eyes beneath a fluttering of light coffee-colored eyelashes that Haru had always been envious of… how it perceived beauty in everything and conveyed it in such a stunning and captivating fashion. Furthermore, this gentle smile could belong to no one else.


“Eisbär no longer exists… call me Alexey.”


Oh shit.

Carta Visa: 29th Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English.

Over the course of our dinner, I was slightly disturbed at the hottie’s mood because I could see clearly that after the battle of seizing rabbit legs, he had gone completely quiet, not speaking a single word to me. Although he did not have a grimace on his face, something still felt unusual. But since I was someone who did not overthink things much, upon eating to my heart’s content, I moved my round stomach back to the extravagant library, not bringing that heavy atmosphere along to ruin my mood.

I took a big liking to this library. In actual fact, the guest rooms outside were unoccupied now, but being too lazy to move, I therefore settled down, eating and sleeping in this very library. It was spacious and extravagant, to add, there were countless books for me to read–to which the hottie and Viktar did not oppose me from doing so.

As a thought flashed into my mind, I wondered why Alexey didn’t just move his living quarters closer to me rather than having to walk back and forth, it felt like I was being treated as a regular guest. However, upon reflection, he probably wanted time to himself as well, not wanting to be constantly bugged by me.

This presupposition was likely correct because upon finishing dinner, Alexey returned to his private quarters, holing himself inside until nearly midnight. I tried calling him once but it turns out, the guy had absolutely no intention of picking up the phone. I could only contemplate aimlessly about what he was doing inside. It was an hour later when I realized that I had things that I needed to get done as well–to write and send another column to P’Chit. Thus, I quickly turned my attention back to my own work.

I returned to the sofa which had been modified into a bed, only noticing now that there was an unfamiliar book lying beside my pillow. The contents inside were in German (I reckoned so anyway) and comprised with plenty of photographs. Briefly scanning through a few chapters, I suspected it was a manual for taking photos out of an aircraft.

…Wait, but why was this book lying beside my pillow?

…Did someone leave it here? Was it Alexey? And since when? Is this what he actually meant when he told me to get ready?

Flipping the pages until I reached the middle of the book, my eyes tripped over a paper note that was the size of a hand and someone’s adorable round English handwriting.


‘This book helped me a lot, its a fantastic manual.

I tried following the instructions… and it turned out great, it’s amazing.

Thank you so much.’


The writer did not sign their name, instead, they signed it with a small doodle of a smiling squinty-eyed kitty.


I kept my suspicions inside until I reached the final page, finding the hottie’s neat and orderly handwriting which inscribed a date. I hazarded a guess that this book probably belonged to the hottie but was lent out to someone else. Furthermore, according to the doodle of the smiling kitty, the borrower had been very pleased with it.

How come I didn’t see this book when I woke up this morning…?

Eh? Or was I not paying attention…? I recalled that when I got up to brush my teeth, I had heard the sound of something landing on the carpet but chose to ignore it.

A cold sensation ran down my body, from my forehead, past my throat.

“Did he leave it here this morning?”

I could merely mutter to myself. Turning back to the book and reading it properly, I discovered that this manual was actually written in two languages, German and English, half and half on each page. Even the explanation for each photograph was in two languages. Moreover, the instructions weren’t difficult at all. An idiot like me, even if I couldn’t read a single word, could follow along no problem. It was in this day that I learnt the basics about taking photographs out of an aircraft. I quickly grabbed the phone and dialed the hottie’s room once more, hastily apologizing and asking for forgiveness for neglecting the book he had so meaningfully left for me to study. However, not even finished speaking yet, a sigh interrupted me.

“Will apologizing fix the events that have already happened?”

I was stunned… heart nearly going into cardiac arrest.

“But I regret it. In any case, please give me another chance… I’ll try better…. I’ll…”

“Listen up.” The other end of the line cleared his throat, voice frigid. “Chances are akin to time… once it passes, it’s gone. Think of today as a lesson and cram it properly into that thick skull of yours… only idiots choose not to prepare themselves for what’s coming…”

“I…” -didn’t know how to respond since tears had started to well up from my eyes, turning everything in my sight blurry. “I didn’t know… I didn’t mean to make you angry… I just…”

“Shut up and stop making excuses. Don’t make me have to admit that everything I’ve done has been a waste of time…” The frigid voice sliced at my heart, blood seeping ever so slightly.

The call was disconnected…

I tried to prevent the disappointment from trickling down my cheeks, feeling ashamed and remorseful.

In the end, I had disappointed him again… Nonetheless, couldn’t he have said it in a nicer way!?

Be more tactful of other people’s feelings! Think about my feelings too!

You heartless person!

Just then, by chance, Skype notified me that editor Lookchid had come online. As such, I took this opportunity to turn on the webcam and pour out my feelings without pause for a total of fifteen minutes. Upon saying ‘okay… I’m done having a tantrum, thank you for listening’, P’Chid blinked several times before concluding with an ‘okay… I’m heading to bed too, let’s discuss this matter again some other day.’

Thirty minutes later… I received a short email from P’Chid, speaking as my friend, my brother and my boss.



I think I understand your situation well, well enough or even better than how you understand it. I won’t say how lovers should treat each other…  or how much or little you should be expecting… should we speak nicely so as to be considerate of each other’s feelings? Lie in order to make the person listening feel better? These are things you need to consider yourself because this isn’t something an outsider can decide.

As someone who has survived the lowest point, I have to agree with that hottie (you shouldn’t refer to him like this) that everyday is a chance that arrives only once. If you don’t make the best of it… it will never come back. Therefore, I hope you will use your remaining time as best as you can, better than the day before. Do things where upon looking back at it, there won’t be any days that fill you with regret.

As your boss, let me say that this correctional school you’re attending is fantastic, it honestly makes me want to send Pun there as well.


Best wishes,



Even harsher than being struck repeatedly in the heart by a wooden mallet, the stinging pain verified to me that: I… was still the same old loser who has never tried to improve myself.

I thought of Pa’s scolding words trailing behind me before I left Bangkok.

I thought of P’Chid’s reprimanding eyes and remarks at times when I submitted him substandard work.

I thought of Alexey’s cold eyes and weary voice.


Everything I’ve done… looking back at it, they were all full of shame and regrets.

I waited until half past one… but Alexey did not come to see me like usual. Furthermore, I wasn’t brave enough to knock on the door to his room…

By now, he had probably realized…. that even spending a few meagre seconds on me was also a complete waste of time.

Skype notified me again that P’Pun was online. Despite curious as to why he was online so late at night, I quickly wiped away my tears. At least, I didn’t want this person seeing me drown in tears. However, upon accepting the call, the face which appeared turned out to be Sasha’s beaming face instead.

“Oh, Mr Petch. It’s very nice to see you.”

The account was P’Pun’s, so how come Sasha’s face appeared in the webcam? Were my eyes misty from tears?

“Oh dear! What’s going on? You’re crying?”

I quickly wiped away my fresh tears again… “No, I’m not crying, why would I be crying?”

“Mr. Petch, what happened?”

I shook my head vigorously. “Where’s P’Pun?”

“Not here.”


Sasha revealed his guess that P’Pun had probably saved his Skype account by mistake in this device. If I wanted to talk to P’Pun however, Sasha was glad to log out and call P’Pun for me. But not knowing why, I prevented him from doing so.

“Your face looks really awful Mr. Petch, would you like to tell me about it…?”

Sasha’s eyes were still as gentle as ever, despite being hundreds of miles away.

“Did he hurt your feelings?”

I nodded silently… not intent on explaining… however, unprepared, two troublesome teardrops rolled down my cheeks again. I quickly wiped them away and ran off to wash my face in embarrassment, returning with a nonchalant expression… that certainly did not conceal my gloominess.

We both stared at each other in silence. I saw Sasha disappear off the screen, thinking he was about to go offline, however, he eventually returned with a mug of milk wafting white steam and a tender smile… like always.

“Okay, you don’t have to explain. But if I had to guess, you probably did something that was not up to par with his towering high expectations. You feel bad, while he feels disappointed and makes a face like… just hurry up and go die.”

…As expected, they were friends after all.

“If not this, then you find it suffocating that he’s forcibly making you do this and that, changing you to become this and that despite never having asked for it. As a result, you want to run away from this type of situation.”

Well… kind of, but not to that extent yet.

“Let’s just say, if you’re in the first situation… I’ll tell you straight up that Alexey’s expectations are at a level of perfection that’s difficult for the average person to achieve. It’s a component of his life… how do I put it… he applies it to everything. I think you should to try to understand him a little, this won’t be too difficult to do I hope, because someone who lives a flawless and fully equipped life like him… doesn’t understand someone like you, Mr. Petch.”

This final sentence felt like getting smacked in the face with a wooden plank… he has never understood me?

“Is that so?” This was the best reply I could muster.

“But what you need know is that he never expects perfection from you.”

This is considered not expecting perfection?”

“Perfection is the goal, the things you do are the steps… he is simply trying to help you polish your steps, getting you as close to ‘perfection’ as possible. Mr. Petch… he is merely fulfilling the promise he made you long ago… in his own way.”

Hm? What did Sasha say? What again? Who made a promise to who? Who asked who?

“I don’t understand.” I admitted cluelessly. “I never asked anything from Alexey.”

Sasha furrowed his brows and let out a sigh, massaging his temples as if concerned.

“Okay… let me explain in even more simpler terms. You see, his ‘just hurry up and go die’ expression is his default resting expression, that’s because people’s lives don’t typically mean much to him, you don’t need to overthink it. But if he’s trying to teach you something… you need to take his words to heart. No need to feel horrible or stressed, just Do Your Best and he will be satisfied. Is this easier to understand now?”

Hey, don’t just switch topics…

“I’m not clear about earlier, who asked what from who?” This matter was starting to bug me.

“If you’ve forgotten then never mind, think of me as not having said anything.”

Sasha logged out suddenly, leaving me perplexed on the Skype screen all by myself. However, to satisfy my curiosity I therefore dialed Alexey’s room again, forgetting that it was already past two in the morning.

The person who picked up turned out to be Viktar. He informed me that Alexey had gone to bed already and to leave a message with him if needed. I glanced at the computer screen and saw that I had received an email from Alexey, annoyed all of sudden that the dot dot guy had lied with a straight face (but that guy’s straight face is his default expression though isn’t it?)


‘Your model is Ethan E. Wittenburg.

48 hrs. to know him and to know the desert.

You might be his hope, or his dead end.

He might be your future, or nightmare.

I believe you have learnt what one last chance means.




I quickly typed the name into Google and the search engine produced thousands of pictures which caused me to wince, a sharp pain shooting through my heart.

The result of the search was the owner of a gorgeous set of blue eyes which shone brilliantly at every sight it made contact with… The past brand ambassador of leading brands such as Burberry and Tom Ford… It was this captivating charm which once appeared on the cover of the fashion magazine Vogue like a brightly lit star. A model that anyone, or any photographer for that matter, would kill to admire these profound stunning eyes up close. And it was this perfection… that used to be by Alexander Nazarbayev’s side, an impeccable match made in heaven.

Why did it have to be Ethan…

Didn’t he claim that they used to be friends? What about now…?

I decided to click into Ethan’s fan club website… there were numerous photos but no news for over eighteen months already. As for the message board, a few fans had come to discuss the probability of his return… some cited a few magazine titles but no one could verify whether these rumors were true or not.

As a photographer, it was necessary to get acquainted with the person who would become my model to some extent, be it at a surface level through word of mouth or more attentively through scouring for past interviews. However, getting acquainted with Ethan proved to be more difficult than I thought. Furthermore, nothing ensured that he would give me his cooperation…

Some fans claimed that Ethan was arrogant and greedy. However, another claimed it was because he highly valued his private life. Some also claimed that Ethan was being controlled by Eisbär, his personal photographer. A photo posted on the message board caused my heart to drop to the floor… unsure of whether I was happy or not that the person beside Ethan wasn’t Alexey, but my dearest and most admired Mr. Yeti instead.

The mystery which had been lingering in my heart for quite some time finally unfurled itself…

Ethan and Eisbär are lovers, Ethan had nothing to do with Alexey…

As Ethan’s personal photographer, Mr. Yeti was actually nameless. It was the fans who gave him the sobriquet ‘Eisbär’, meaning Polar Bear. However, some people argued that the name Eisbär was actually too nice. Rather, they should call him short-tempered grizzly bear instead.

The more I searched for information about Ethan, the more I sunk deeper into a pitch black underground tunnel. Ethan was always never far from Eisbär’s sight. Furthermore, Eisbär never photographed anyone other than Ethan. The more they collaborated, the more their reputation skyrocketed. Although there were rumours of the two being lovers, this did not impede their rise to fame. While Ethan stood in the limelight, Eisbär kept quietly to himself without exception. Until something occurred. All of a sudden, Eisbär vanished from Ethan’s side, never to return. The limelight which was always shining brightly also extinguished… likewise never to return to Ethan.

There was likely a reason behind it, and it was probably what resulted in the ‘death’ Eisbär like Alexey had mentioned.

Feelings of distress flooded my chest… Furthermore, why was it Alexey who’s now trying to push Ethan back in front of the camera? This man never does anything without a goal in mind…


‘You might be his hope, or his dead end.

He might be your future, or nightmare.’


Let me hazard a guess. Alexey and Eisbär are working together, scheming some sort of evil plan that would be somewhat positive towards me, but negative towards Ethan E. Wittenburg.

I might benefit…

While Ethan… might either stand to gain or lose…

I thought back to the first day I stepped onto Kazakhstan soil… the day of the wedding ceremony where the two of them chatted intimately with one another. The hands and arms resting on each others bodies indicated that… the two were very close, so close that I felt like I had turned into thin air. If Alexey was actually acting out a political drama to lure Ethan into a trap, then I’d like to give him a hand of applause and immediately award him a golden Oscar statuette. But if both Alexey and Ethan were wearing masks in front of each other, behind the scenes readying their respective guns… I’d be the one caught in the crossfire.

The sound of footsteps could be heard from behind me. It happened to be Viktar. I switched back to normal demeanor. “You haven’t gone to sleep yet?”

“…” Viktar didn’t answer but strode directly towards me, peering over to see what I was looking at before saying curtly. “Websites dealing in gossip and rumours might be more helpful in getting you acquainted with him.”

“I think I’ve read enough gossip from his fan club message board.”

“Gossip is always true.”

When these words slipped out of Viktar’s mouth… could it be true? I was beginning to worry.



The afternoon of the following day, we returned to Astana together. After several hours at the mercy of the physically and mentally intense car ride, Alexey said succinctly that he was returning to Bangkok.

“Hah?” I was taken aback. Hey, you’re thinking to leave me here with Ethan!? And if Ethan can’t speak Thai then who’s going to help me?

The hottie did not leave any room for me to protest. “I need to go receive the kids.”

What kids…? Pubescent university kids on the cusp of turning eighteen or what?

Upon confronted by his intimidating gaze, I told myself how lucky I was that I didn’t let my thoughts slip out of my mouth.

The car turned into the special entrance of Astana Airport as the airport authorities hurriedly rushed over to open the door and bow reverently.

He looked back to meet my eyes and reiterated. “Keep it in mind. Do your best for one last chance.”

He turned and stepped down from the car, not turning back to look again.

I swallowed my saliva stiffly and to much difficulty…

No one needed to tell me, because I knew…that this was my last chance to seize my dream.

And my last chance to walk on the same path… as his lover.


The thought of this pained me greatly, and I didn’t want to admit that it was because of the immense feelings I had towards Alexey.

Happy news years everyone (*´▽`*)

Carta Visa: 28th Round

Bold: The characters are speaking in English



The smell of toasted bread and frozen lightly salted butter laid next to a plate of piping hot scrambled eggs still giving off a gentle steam was wafting in the air. Half a cup of high grade espresso coffee had been drunk already amidst the reading the report that had been sent straight from parliament conference room. One name which offended his eyes appeared out of the conference transcript… forget it, Alexey needn’t pay it any attention for he was capable of controlling this game.

Just one more day… and a certain someone was going to go absolutely raving mad… though it was not going to be him.


The BlackBerry phone belonging to him emitted a ringing noise. He simply glanced over from the corners of his eyes and threw it to Viktar who was attending nearby. “Pick it up instead, tell him that I’m not talking.”

The taciturn person gave a nod.


“I want to talk to Alexey.” The other end of the call began the conversation in a bristly tone.

“His Excellency is in the middle of having his breakfast and does not wish to talk to anyone.”

“That definitely must not include me.”

“Sorry to disappoint, but his order includes you as well.”

The other end of the call made a frustrated noise.

“When will you let me leave this place? I’m almost dying of boredom here.”

“I believe His Excellency has informed Leof already, that you’re free to go anywhere you want, except out of this country.”

“I need to see a doctor.”

“If you mean a psychiatrist then talk to Leof for now, he knows how to calm you down.”

“Leof isn’t a doctor.”

“Sir Alexey is also not a doctor. Exactly what business do you have?”

“Didn’t you say there was work for me to do?”

“You already received your payment in advance so enjoy it to your heart’s content… work can be done later.”

“Viktar, don’t you act sarcastic with me.”

“I have no need to be considerate of your feelings, plus what I said is simply the truth.”

“I’m bored! You confined me here with Leof, I’m bored, bored, bored, do you understand?”

“You have a car, feel free to go wherever you wish…”

“That car is my father’s.”

“Oh yeah I forgot, that’s true, you actually don’t own anything at all… but that won’t be your father’s car any longer, tomorrow it will be turned over to the state.”

“You guys played dirty, my father had nothing to do with this.”

“You’re the one who played dirty first… as for your father, he’s being sued for corruption with evidence that binds him so tightly from escaping, don’t group the two together.”

“You filthy mafiya.”

“Please refrain from calling us that, and besides… this land originally belonged to us, it’s just that Kazakhstan cannot be governed with only ‘white’ alone… you used to understand this well Ethan… don’t pretend to be more of an idiot than you already are.”

“You! Viktar!!!”

“Enjoy the pay and prepare yourself… tomorrow I guarantee you’ll be going out to take a breath of fresh air.”

“Take your money back.”

“Then wherever will you get the money to pay back your debt from…?” The tone of his voice sounded almost concerned, when in actuality it was mocking. “The five hundred thousand euro you received as payment will erase the three hundred and twenty thousand euro debt that you owe to those Italian mafiosos. You’ll still have over a hundred thousand euros remaining… not much, but it will help to prolong your life for a little while more, perhaps you might even get to return to the fashion industry with a pair of clean hands.”

“A shoddy amatuer photographer won’t be able to help me!!!”

“Think of it this way… you can’t poke your head out of that rank apartment of yours without this lump of money… in this dire hour, it would seem as if that amatuer photographer has the upper hand…”

The phone at the end of the call shook wildly with resentment.

“Prepare yourself in a befitting manner of a professional too… though it might be considered your past now.

Viktar concluded with a soft-spoken voice and disconnected the call.



“…Quiet down already… I’m reading the newspaper.” Leof spoke up from one corner of the room in the large and spacious extravagant colonial-style penthouse… a luxurious jail per se.

The man in question continued to pound the victorian-style table in front of him with his fists, hands and fingers swollen with bitterness. His eyes were flush red with blood vessels that seemed on the verge of rupturing.

“A life with no alternate path is cruel like they say… albeit you were the one who subjected yourself to this.” Leof said wearily.

“What are trying to say!?”

Leof looked at the swollen and bruised hands, then smiled with the corners of his mouth… mockingly.

Ethan was so livid that he nearly vomited blood.



Amidst the gloomy atmosphere strained with tension, suddenly the door of the dining room burst open along with the beaming smile of top detective Kindaichi Phachara who was cradling in his arms a white rabbit with brown splotches.  “Look what I found in the garden.”

Alexey paused from taking a sip of his coffee, sending me a sidelong glance. “What nonsense are you up to so early this morning?”

“How is this nonsense?” I voiced my protestations. I had found little Paesa (naming him right from the get-go) early this morning while I was taking a walk and exploring the giraffe farm; a result of the hottie waking me up at five-forty AM, telling me to get ready since I was going to be taking photos of the Altai mountains from a helicopter today. But honestly, what preparations did I need to make…? Taking a shower, eating breakfast, and preparing my camera, that was it. Thus, I killed my time by going out and admiring the garden.

“Where did you get that from?”

“At the end of garden over thereeeeee.” I added quite of a lot of E’s because this guy’s house was gigantic, roughly around one and a half acres with the rear of the house situated right at the foot of the mountains. “It’s docile too, so I named it Paesa.”

(TN: Paesa means plain broth.)

“Give it to the cook then.”

The cook? “This guy belongs to the cook?”

Alexey had an expression of disregard. “So you can get to eat rabbit stew and roasted rabbit legs tonight of course.”

Hah!? No way, that’s cruel. You savage! “Who the hell eats rabbits!?!”

The hottie made a face which implied I was some kind of monster from a different planet. “Everyone in this country eats rabbits.”

“Thailand is a Buddhist country, we don’t eat rabbits.”

“And what country are you in right now? Viktar, go give it to the cook.”

In the end, Viktar wound up seizing little Paesa from my arms. I saw it look it me with woeful eyes… no… you won’t end up dead in my bowl of stew right? But if you do and turn into a ghost, please don’t come haunt me, go haunt that hottie instead since he’s the one who proposed this savage idea in the first place.

“Mucking about all morning, have you made preparations?”

“I’m all ready to go.” As ready as I can ever be. I had even called P’Pun in Thailand and bragged about getting to ride a helicopter.


I said I was ready, but why was he asking ‘How’ hm?

Unknown as to where Jessica had appeared out from, I was startled when her hand landed abruptly on my shoulder, followed by the hushed whispering in my ear. “What preparations have you made already?”

The pressure accompanying her heavy palm made me sense something was off. Alexey’s piercing gaze was fixed firmly onto me, and not in the affectionate way either…

Did I make some sort of mistake?

“Where are you going to take photographs?” The question was coupled with an intimidating frigid voice.

“Uh… the Altai mountains, which spot in particular I’m not sure.”

“Who’s driving the car?”


“And does Viktar know that he’s coming with you?” Met with this question, I was beginning to sweat.

“The route in order to get there, have you studied it?”

“Uh… don’t know.”

“What’s the weather condition like?”

“I can’t read the weather forecast in the newspaper.”

I decided to beat around the bush… however, it was a severe mistake for I was promptly retorted.

“The website Yahoo Weather is in English, you can definitely read that.”

Hmph… talk about quick thinking.

“Where is the helicopter waiting?”


“And have you ever rode on one before?”

I shook my head.

“How do you take photographs from a helicopter? What equipment do you need to prepare? What do you need to do?”

“…” I became entirely mute.

“So how is this considered being prepared!” The reprimanding voice lashed out like a strike of lightning in the middle of the room. “I gave you over two days’ time to get ready but in the end you haven’t done anything at all have you?”

Cornered to the point where I was at a loss at how to reply, my face was flush with mortification, ashamed that I had failed to reach his expectations. Not to mention, I didn’t even realize that I had failed at first. “I…”

“Thirty minutes. If everything isn’t sorted by then, the car is sending you back to the airport!”

My heart dropped to the floor. Quickly rushing off, my hands and legs were jittery as I went to see Viktar who was in the middle of handing little Paesa over to the cook to be slaughtered. Viktar looked at me and smiled.

“I did remind you before you went running around catching rabbits earlier.”

Yeah… I know alright, no need to rub it in.


My hands were ice cold… yet I was sweating like a dam in my body had been breached. My heart was beating so erratically that my chest ached…

‘Only a loser dreams of being a professional while never thinking to make an effort with their own ability… remember these words well.’

He had warned me a long time ago, not to assume that he was going lift even a finger for me. A person who does nothing is only met with broken and failed dreams… these weren’t words of intimidation, rather, Alexey was speaking the truth… following through with it in his actions no less.

I had a lot of places I dreamed of visiting, wanting to take photos over here and over there… indeed, even though he sought these places out for me, it was ultimately my duty to see it through till the end.

Thus, since my good-for-nothing self ran around mucking about all morning, I had to take responsibility of the aftermath. I tried to compose myself as I negotiated for ways to get to the destination; Viktar being my translator. Initially, I had begged Viktar to drive us there but the man refused.

“No thanks, I’m not familiar with the route.”

Although I was a little annoyed… Viktar couldn’t be blamed for refusing my abrupt request.

Working as a team was… easier… faster… and more convenient… so convenient that I barely needed to think about anything at all, not having to try too hard…

However… this place taught me something different. A single person carried all the responsibilities… it was both exhausting and stressful. I didn’t see why it was necessary for me to bear everything by myself…

I secretly wondered, since we were seeing each other… shouldn’t I be eligible to request a little bit of help here and there?

Speaking bluntly, this theory may be applicable to other people but it has been proven that it did not work with Alexey, because in the very second he says to ‘go do work’, he would not be lenient at all. Making the tiniest mistake was also unacceptable as his first reaction would be to use his disdainful gaze to stare me down like I was worthless trash; something I had been subjected to several times already and it hurt every time.

My throat was parched with stress from having attempted to gather all the necessary information within the designated thirty minutes… I knew Alexey was capable of using a pen to scribble in the center of my passport book and put me on a plane back to Bangkok with the excuse of my visa having expired. Furthermore, I had a feeling that this was just one of the many things Alexey would do to me if everything was not sorted out properly within the thirty minutes…

The car, check…

The route, check…

The destination, check…

What I was going to take photos of… check, maybe…

Taking photos from a helicopter… this, I was still unsure about. Nevertheless, I managed to obtain a few tidbits from the internet. I needed earplugs or earmuffs to block out the loudness of the helicopter, set the ISO Speed of the camera higher, prepare a spare camera with a 17mm Tamron lens, and other things of the sort. This was all new knowledge to me.

But the real problem was… I had never ridden on a helicopter before, was it going to be scary?

“Why don’t you go ask His Excellency?” Viktar suggested just like that. Uh… but he was the one who shooed me away to make preparations in the first place. If I went back to ask that hottie, was he going to bite my neck off?

Seeing my reluctance, the dot dot guy urged me forward. “There’s eight minutes remaining, if you ask, His Excellency will give you an answer. If you don’t, go ahead and meet your fate on your own.”

Hence, forced to lug all of my belongings with me, I dashed back to the dining room just in time to see the hottie finish reading his newspaper. “What do you want?”

“I… I’m ready… bu… but…” Panting breathlessly, I only noticed now that the hottie was dressed similar to a soldier, wearing form-fitting navy blue trousers, shoes which resembled actual hiking shoes, not to mention a military jacket. In comparison, what was I wearing…? Upon bending down to inspect myself, I felt this had to be another mistake again.

“Go change your clothes, your shoes too.”

The final thing I forgot was… the clothes on my body which were in utter disarray. Skinny jeans and Onitsuka Tiger shoes… these were definitely unsuitable for taking photos on a helicopter.

“This too.”

A large hand reached out towards me. I closed my eyes tight, anticipating being smacked in the head. But what the hottie took in his hand were the tresses of hair covering my face and eyes.

“The wind’s strong, you won’t be able to take any photos with hair poking your eyes, take care of it.”

Then, do you know what this hottie did…? He produced a rubber band out of who knows where and took this opportunity to tie my bangs into a water fountain like a shih tzu dog! Proceeding to nod his head in approval at his work.

Viktar, who entered into the room just as the hottie finished creating the masterpiece on my head, burst into a roar of laughter before quickly snapping his mouth shut. As for Jessica who had come back from the toilet, she cracked up laughing until her stomach turned stiff.

Alexey had a deadpan face. As for Viktar, his face suggested that he desperately wanted to laugh out loud.

“Come on, go change your clothes.”


Changing clothes was no big deal, but this shih tzu water fountain hair-do, I really have no idea what to do with this.


The sound of the helicopter propeller blared so deafeningly that I could hardly hear anything at all, even if we were shouting at the top of our lungs. Biting cold gusts of wind collided against my shuddering body. I tried to stand up, but each and every time, the high speed wind would bash directly against the center of my body to the point where my legs could not hold out. Alexey propped up my body, agreeing to offer up his left arm for me to grab onto, nails digging so hard into his skin that it bled a little.

However, freezing gusts of wind were not the only brutal thing I had to confront from the wide open door two hundred feet above ground. The adrenaline in my body was pulsating violently, my hands shaking to the point where I could not hold up my camera.

I was scared…

So high up that I felt light-headed…

What to do… I was shaking all over.

I had tried to line up my eye with the camera’s viewfinder, but my hand and body was shaking so uncontrollably that it failed to act accordingly. It felt like my soul had left my body. My eyes peered downwards, brain responding that the scene before me was absolutely captivating while heart protesting that I was freakishly high up… I wondered if I was going to fall. Lifting up the camera again… this time, my brain asked what kind of photo I was going to take… my mind was blank, no different than the rotund clouds over there.

“You okay?”

I shook my head vigorously and collapsed onto the vibrating floor of the helicopter again, this time, nearly dragging Alexey along with me in the fall.

“I can’t take photos… I’m scared, Alexey, can we land first… it’s so scary.” Quivering voice almost in tears.

The hottie shifted around so I could sit leaning against him, then shut the door. The cold gusts of wind which collided against my body till it became deprived of all sensation thus ended it torment. I only realized now that both of my hands were damp with sweat, even though my body was ice cold.

I faced those pair of eyes, well aware that I had disappointed him. “Sorry… I really couldn’t take the photos.”

I had expected to be scolded until my ears turned numb, but was mistaken. Strong large hands pulled the camera out of my hands and returned it back into its camera bag. He grabbed my hands to rub them gently, as if to transmit his warmth to me.

“Calm down, take deep breaths…”

I obeyed… and not long, the heart that was beating erratically to the point of losing control gradually relaxed. Staring at the two hands which held onto mine, I felt speechlessly grateful.

“Close your eyes.”

I obeyed again… sensing a warm hand brush a strand of hair from my forehead, before transitioning to rub my head gently.

“Observe from me… and bear it in mind, understood Petch?”

I nodded despite eyes still closed. Beneath these warm hands… I felt safe.


I nodded again and slowly opened my eyes. My hand was about to reach for the camera, however, it was caught in his grip first.

“No need to take photos yet, your duty is to learn from me.”

I had never seen Alexey acting like this before. Even though his words were short and terse, eyes sharp and piercing… it was apparent to me that this hottie was trying his hardest to be as patient as possible in his explanations, whether it was about preparations for getting on a helicopter, ways to communicate with the pilot, simple hand gestures to use when communicating with the pilot and his team, how to choose the appropriate time or even what angles to take photos from. I therefore learnt how exceptionally minuscule my preparations were in comparison to the practical execution. Moreover, I also learnt… that my experience was extremely lacking, even a hobbyist like this hottie was several leagues more knowledgeable than me.

Until I could adapt to being on a helicopter, over an hour had passed. Nevertheless, Alexey’s lecture had produced one fruitful outcome… I did manage to amass a number of gorgeous shots of this national park. I was captivated by the surface of the lake which sparkled dazzlingly, just like the stars in the skies which twinkled even under the sun. A lush verdant green forest stretched out as far as the eye can see, cut against the indigo horizon of the sky with fluffy soft white clouds drifting languidly. It felt like I was floating high above the indigo colored sky.

“It’s so beautiful.” I murmured absentmindedly in my reverie.

But in the very next second, I was shrieking as the engine began to shake violently, eventually hitting something which caused my body to float up. I cried out loud, heart dropping to the floor as I dove at the hottie, eyes shut tight. “The helicopter’s gonna fall!” My hands seized the hottie firmly, clinging as if stuck with superglue.

“Ridiculous!” Despite the rebuke, he still gently patted my ears and tail. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

“No!!! I wanna get down!”

“Go then.”

Hua… you’re shooing me?” Mouth quick-witted despite a trembling body… this was me. “The helicopter is still in the air, you want to trick me into falling to my own death?”

“If you’ve recovered the let go already, go report me to the police if you want!”

“No way.” Burrowing my head into his chest as if to assert my position as the female lead of a soap opera no less. “Tell the pilot to land the helicopter first, do you think I want to hug you that badly?” The floor of the helicopter was still vibrating.

“We’re here already, on the ground, open your eyes you monkey.”

Really…? No way, no way. The helicopter’s propeller was still emitting noise.

“Hey Petch, let me tell you something, it will definitely interest you.”


“Viktar is an avid lover of roasted rabbit legs, he’s even capable of severing ties with his family and friends if they so much as steal a piece from his plate.”

“And what does this have to do with the helicopter not landing?” It sounded suspicious.

“It already landed since that collision earlier… you’re the one who’s not willing to believe me.”

My eyes widened. Really!? Then… then… I yanked open the door thick bulky door of the vehicle, seeing the green grassy floor. Hey, it’s true, we were already on the ground. I stepped off the helicopter gingerly, then something dawned on me.

“So where’s Paesa?”

Alexey inspected the wound on his arm that had been gripped so tightly by me that it bled, answering with irritated voice: “By now… all of its four legs should be cooked through.”

“No!!! You savage, you barbarian hottie!”

I yelled angrily at the hottie before dashing into the grand and extravagant giraffe farm, my tiny heart battered and bruised yet again. That hottie dared to give Viktar permission to slaughter Paesa, my endearing cute little rabbit. This year is the year of the rabbit you know. If someone eats rabbit, they will have bad luck for the entire year, It’s true!

By the time I reached the kitchen, a silver tray comprised of delicious roasted rabbit legs was already laid out in the dining room, complete with several other dishes. I inhaled the appetizing smell of garlic, curry powder, and a variety of other spices, mouth watering immediately.

“Viktar, confess, you’ve already killed little Paesa right?”

Viktar stared at my face emotionlessly. Come on, at least make a dismayed expression, I’m accusing you of murder here. But what I received in return was a… dot dot gaze.

“Have you ever tasted it before? I’ll share you one.”

Hua… to even offer me a bribe!

Alexey, upon finished changing his clothes, came down to the dining room. Seeing me glare daggers at Viktar, he intervened to mediate the situation. “Come, if you’re hungry then eat, no need to be hangry.”

(TN: Hangry – Portmanteau of hungry and angry that describes being irritable due to hunger.)

Hence, I stuffed the roasted rabbit leg into my mouth… and discovered… that it was so delicious that I was almost in tears.

“Hey… Viktar.”


“Mind if I have another leg?”


“Of course I can, I’m the one who caught it.”

I turned to ask the hottie for assistance in increasing my quota of roasted rabbit legs but he just sat there holding in his laughter, face black and red, not helping whatsoever. Thus, I pretended to act smooth, soliciting Viktar to get me a glass of wine and seizing this chance to nonchalantly serve myself another rabbit leg. By the time the glass of wine arrived, little Paesa had already been turned into a rabbit with only two legs remaining…

…My deepest condolences Paesa. In any case, rabbits were born to be food for humans anyways… rest in peace, Paesa.


P.s. Earlier when I said that people eating rabbits in the year of the rabbit will end up having bad luck for the entire year, can I take those words back please?