I told the prostitute to dance naked at the foot of the bed while I propped myself up on some pillows and fondled myself and watched MTV Asia. I’d taken too much diazepam and I couldn’t get hard.
Even though I wasn’t meant to smoke in the hotel room I lit a cigarette and hummed along to the k-pop song on the TV. Lately, I’d come to like a certain boy band that sang a song about heartbreak and I asked the prostitute to sing along but she didn’t know what I was talking about.
Disappointed, I asked her to leave. I threw some money in her direction and watched as she had to bend over to pick it up. Out, out, I screamed at her and then leapt from the bed and chased her from the room, her clothes clutched to her chest.
Afterwards I leant my forehead against door and tried to catch my breath. Just go to bed, I told myself, fucking go to bed.
When I woke up there was ash in the bed and all the lights were on and the TV was turned up so loud it was like a band playing in my head. I felt like screaming but I turned it down and took the last of the diazepam and imagined I was in some kind of space capsule floating high above Saigon, all the lights flickering like countless candles beneath me.
Later I dreamt I was on TV and people were cheering my name and women were reaching out with stretched fingers trying to touch me. If they touched me everything in their lives would be perfect.
When I wake up I feel like someone with talent and purpose. Before this feeling disappears for good I try to memorize it, I try to cup it in the palms of my hands and hold it close to my heart.
In a bar packed with old white men I try to remember that feeling, to summon it back to me, but I have forgotten. All traces of that feeling have gone. And I am sitting alone in a bar in Saigon drinking beer and staring at the tits of a waitress as she leans over the bar to ask me a question and I feel like I’ve lost something.
In a Karaoke bar I watch as a Vietnamese girl is pulled into a room by her hair, screaming. My Vietnamese friends tell me that it is nothing to worry about.
Upstairs in our private room we chose our women and mine sits in my lap and feeds me because I don’t know how to use chopsticks or am just too drunk to use them. The girls had lined up in front of the four us sprawled out on the U shaped sofa and I was told to choose first. The girls stood there looking bored and I chose the girl I’d seen being pulled into the room earlier.
She was smiling but her eyes were red from crying and I chose her out of some kind of pity. When she squirmed on my lap and nuzzled her face into my neck I felt a pleasant stirring in my jeans.
I sang ‘Born in the USA’ because it was one of the only songs in English I knew well enough to sing, but mostly I just sat there drinking Heineken in big glasses filled with ice. I sat and listened to the others sing sad love songs in a language I couldn’t understand. I let the girl on my lap feed me and light my smokes. And when she stuck her tongue in my mouth I sucked it like an exotic fruit.
All my friends laughed and clapped their hands. They encouraged me to take her back to the hotel but the girl had sad eyes and I said no. I thought this was the right thing to do but when I said no the girl started crying again. I gave her two million Dong and kissed her on the forehead and she stopped crying and was happy.
A year ago my wife died and whenever another woman was in my bed I couldn’t get hard and I felt something great and terrible approaching. A huge wall of fear rushing towards me. I was thirty-one and I believed my sex life was over and done with.
Back at the hotel I tried to think about how it felt having that girl on my lap and how her tongue felt in my mouth and I tried to masturbate while thinking about these things. But in the end all I could think about was that girl being pulled into that room and the way her eyes lit up when I put the money in her hand and in the end my dick is soft and I am just moving my arm for the sake of moving it and I’m crying and it’s late and my wife is dead and I can’t get more diazepam until the morning.
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