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Chapter 58: Night Terrors

From the viewpoint of my little bed, the familiar bare wood walls of my tiny bedroom looked drab and dull. I closed my eyes, shutting out my surroundings. I thought of Stephan and imagined his body next to mine, inside me. I was instantly aroused and involuntarily squeezed my thighs together, hard. At first, it was a tingling sensation low and deep, and then I shuddered for several minutes before I could pull myself together again. I flushed, flustered by my lust. I wanted to see Stephan’s face, read his body language and see if he was eager to be close to me.

I waited for my breathing to lengthen out before calling him on the radio. “Echo 4 India to Uniform Lima 35 Bravo, come in.” The response was immediate. “I was just lying here thinking I would be happy if you wanted to listen to the ham radio with me—many peoples are on tonight.” I hoped this idea was only a ruse to throw the walkie-talkie snoops off the scent. Remembering at the last minute to change out of my sleep shirt and panties, I drove directly to his camp.

Stephen stood outside, waiting for me to arrive. Even in the dark, the expression on his face was unmistakable. I wasn’t a one-night stand to him, and he wanted to see me again as much as I craved seeing him. Getting in the car, he confessed, “I was in the bed with the handset on my stomach. I’m hoping to hear your voice.”

Wanting to recapture the magic of our last trip there, we returned for the third time to the mountaintop pagoda. From the balcony, my feet dangled over the mountainside―over a slumbering nightmare. It was once a place where the Khmer Rouge threw people to their deaths.

A sudden cold shiver sliced through me. Shuddering, I pulled my feet up and turned to Stephan, to the warmth of his body, to the welcome of his embrace. His kisses were playful, gentle. As I kissed him back with urgency, his hand slipped under my shirt and then down to my waist, undoing the button on my slacks.

Then Stephan’s hand stopped. His body stiffened next to mine. We felt it before we saw it, a rustling movement in the bushes. We were not alone.

“What do you think?” I asked, more in a croak than a whisper.

“A small boy.” His breath brushed against my cheek as he murmured, “But maybe a Khmer Rouge guerrilla.” We froze, drenched in fear. Ice replaced blood, and our breathing became fast and shallow. Quietly, we pulled on the clothes that we had already shed and lay still as death. Stephan clenched me tightly against him as the ghosts of the former Killing Field came alive. They stood in our midst and said nothing.

There was a stirring in the bushes and more rustling, but the sounds were further away. We lay frozen in place, until finally we saw a shadow silently disappear into the undergrowth and out of sight.

Warm, wet air turned cold and hostile. Stephen grabbed me by the hand as we ran from the pagoda and scrambled up the path to the truck. His eyes darted everywhere, alert to any movement.

“Check the truck.”

“I am. Empty.”

Neither of us took so much as a breath as I turned the key in the ignition. The engine sputtered. “Polish fuel,” I quipped with a nervous laugh.

I felt Stephan’s hand on my shoulder―partly a rebuke, partly reassurance. I tried the ignition again. This time the engine caught, and we fled.

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