I was right. Sid doesn’t remember the date when I get back to the apartment in the early afternoon.
“I have a lot on my mind, kid. Too much to remember every date. I can barely remember my own birthday. Sorry.”
That in itself is a major concession from Sid, to say he is sorry about anything. It happens, maybe, twice a year. At least it happened today. We grasp for any little concessions, any little signs of affection, of caring, don’t we? Well, I do.
“So did you have a good time last night?”
“A very good time, thank you. Chantal fed me absinthe for the first time. Put me on my ass.”
“Absinthe, eh? You did move on to the harder stuff. I assume that means you and Chantal are fucking now?”
“That’s none of your damn business, Sid, what I do with Chantal. And you shouldn’t assume things you know nothing about.”
“I think it is my business. But I told you, you can fuck whoever you want. As long as you come back here and fuck me when you’re done.”
“Thanks, you’re a sport. No, really, I appreciate it. But it’s still not your business. You know how you’re always talking about ‘need to know’? Well, what I do with Chantal, you don’t have a need to know. Besides, you have enough to worry about, don’t you? You just said so yourself.”
“You’re smart, Rosie. Sometimes too smart. So what movie did you see?”
“Something called Spider-Man 2. It’s American, of course. Pretty crazy. Kirsten Dunst is in it. She’s so hot. We saw it in some theater over on the Champs-Élysées, with all the tourists. They’re all over the place now. The George le Cinq, I think it’s called. You should go see it.”
“No, thanks. Not my thing.”
Now one thing about me, I’m a very good liar. And with Chantal’s help, I did my homework so I knew what film I’d tell Sid we saw, and where. He won’t know, anyway, so I can tell him almost anything if he starts asking about it. Which he won’t.
“It’s new. You really should see it when you get a chance.”
“When is the last time you saw me go to a movie? Never?”
“Yeah, about then. Maybe twice never.”
“Right. So you went to a movie, drank absinthe for the first time, got wasted, and fucked Chantal. What else?”
“You got it all covered, Sid. And I remembered our anniversary. That’s pretty good, I think. Happy Fourth, Sid. Our fourth anniversary, our fifth Fourth of July. Pretty good, huh?”
“Thanks, kid. Happy Fourth to you, too. I can still see you standing there on the on-ramp, your thumb out looking like some sort of hot little chicklet on the run. I figured you were too good to pass up.”
“I know what you thought, Sid. Didn’t take you long to let me know it, either.”
“Remember how you used to show me devotion back then? I think that was a pretty good word for what you did. Are you feeling devotional today, being that it’s our anniversary and all? You still have to pay me back for that ride and for getting you out from under your parents thumbs, and let’s not forget getting you in culinary school. Don’t you think?”
“I think I’ve paid you back plenty, Sid. But I don’t mind showing you devotion. You’re still my lord and master, right?”
“As long as you know. So get that pretty mouth over her and show your lord and master how devoted you are to him.”
That first time, four days after we met, I remember Sid scaring the living shit out of me, already hurting me – I should have known then – and then demanding that I show him, as he called it, “devotion,” and not knowing what the fuck he meant. But I figured it out pretty quick, being no dummy, and once he released me from his grip, I remember telling him I’d give him a goddamn religious experience, if that’s what he wanted. And I did, kneeling in front of him like he was some sort of freaking diety. And the other things he had me do. I think I’ll give him one today, too. For it being our anniversary and all. For it being such a special day, special for things Sid had nothing to do with. Not directly, anyway.
Well, we’re going on this trip to who knows where, just that it’s exotic, and I guess I’ll know when we get on the airplane. I’ve got another week of classes to get through, which should be good for three or four more romps in the walk-in with chef, and five days of playing the piano naked at Chantal’s, and hopefully a couple visits to her bed if we can work out the time – we agreed her other girls don’t need to know about us – and hopefully no more beatings from Sid, and then a day or two to get ready, and off we go into the wild blue yonder. And, with some of that luck, not into some groddy prison or torture chamber or the hands of bad guys, of whatever ilk, in this exotic country we’re going to.
You see how much fun I have when I’m traveling the globe with Sid? No, really, it can be exciting and fun. So long as it doesn’t get to be too exciting and not enough fun.
The day finally arrives and we’re on our way to Charles de Gaulle. Speaking of groddy. I really hate that airport. They could at least clean it up some. It’s just so, well, French. Anyway, it’s not my call, and I have other things to occupy myself with. Like, who am I today, what’s my name, what’s my DOB, who am I to Sid this time, why am I taking this trip. Little details like that.
I’ll clue you in, but don’t tell a soul, please? It could get us both arrested, Sid and me, or worse. For this trip, I’m Louise Patterson, with two “t”s, from Aurora, Illinois. I’m 19, born May 6, 1985, and I’m traveling with my uncle, Oscar Petrovsky – look, I don’t make this shit up, it’s just what’s on the passports – and, as it turns out, we’re going to Thailand to spend some time on the beach at Phuket, just a little uncle and niece time together in the Southeast Asia sun, a belated high school graduation present from my uncle. Which, by itself, sounds pretty good, not that we’ll probably ever set foot on a grain of beach sand the whole trip.
I look pretty hot in my passport photo. I’m very photogenic. Sid, I mean dear Uncle Oscar, looks a little under the weather. Must have had a rough time the night before his photo was shot. Can’t be too perfect, though.
If you think any of this is easy, I think you’ve never done it. It takes nerves of steel, guts of iron, balls of brass, and the ability to look someone in a uniform right in the eye while smiling sweetly and telling him the most preposterous of bald-faced lies, never flinching for even a millisecond. To pull this off, as any professional liar will tell you, you first have to believe your lies. Once you do that, the rest is a piece of cake.
Sid has a stoner friend who lied her way through a CIA polygraph and passed it with flying colors. No, she never smoked dope. Never, ever. No hint flitted through her head during the whole session of those seven-foot plants growing in her backyard or that she spent much of her free time in la-la land, stoned out of her mind. Besides being an actress, she believed her lies. Easy peasy. If you can’t do that, don’t try any of this.
In fact, if you ask me, I’d say don’t try any of this, anyway.
Well, getting out of France was the easy part, and now we’re on the plane and into the long flight to Bangkok. I get bored easily, I didn’t tell you that part, and there’s nothing like an eleven-hour plane flight to really bore me. So I have to occupy my time productively, which I do by stroking dear Uncle Oscar under the airline blanket we’re sharing. I’m a very mischievous niece, as I suppose nieces should be, and old Unc doesn’t mind. Uncles should tolerate their nieces’ playful transgressions, don’t you think? I mean, that’s a big part of being an uncle, isn’t it?
Well, Uncle Oscar makes a bit of a mess of the blanket, wouldn’t you know, so we have to give it to the flight attendant to get a new one. I just tell her it’s itchy, must have fleas or something, and hand it to her balled-up so she doesn’t find the real reason we need a new blanket. We’ll have to be more careful with that one. There are only so many blanket switches you can make.
I finally drift off to sleep somewhere over Turkmenistan which, it being night by then, holds little interest for me. What holds more interest are the thoughts of Chantal, the time we spent together, the kisses and the touches and the orgasms and the sweet love we shared, that run through my head. I’m turned away from Uncle Oscar so he doesn’t see the smile I can’t quite wipe off my face, and my happy thoughts turn to sweet dreams as I finally fall into airplane-seat sleep.
I remember one of my dreams. It was like I was awake, though I wasn’t. Chantal and I are running naked through a field of tall flowers. Sunflowers, like the vast fields of yellow one finds this time of year in the South of France. I’m chasing her, but I can’t quite catch up with her. She’s just too fast, and she seems to know the best way to run through the sunflower stalks. All I see is her bare back and her ass and the backs of her strong thighs and calves and the magnificent sweep of her long tawny hair flying out in the breeze as she runs ahead of me. I’m just about to give up trying to catch her when she stops and turns toward me, her arms outstretched. I run into them and we hug and then we kiss, passionately. So passionately, I feel myself moistening, even in my sleep. Before the dream ends, Chantal has spread a picnic blanket on the grass – don’t ask me where she got it from – and sets out a bottle of absinthe on it, and two croissants. We lie down on the blanket and kiss and hug some more, it just feels so real, and just as we’re about to open the absinthe and eat the croissants, the lights in the plane come on and I’m jolted awake as the flight attendants begin the breakfast service. Geez.
Now the pilot has announced we’re about to begin our descent into Bangkok and to turn off our electronic devices, and I have to get back into my Louise Patterson head. So I’ll tell you the rest of the story of our trip to Thailand later on. If we survive it.