She’s dancing, dancing, keep in mind. Fluttering, yeah, jogging hips. Hand all down the crotch of her bathing suit, Khira, ridiculous, that’s trembling, shimmering thighs, like sliced meat slick with sweat, and glitter, she’s got you, from the mirrors, and not just her; hundreds, a thousand Khiras . . . I’d wake up, bathroom, or on up to the roof landing to relieve myself. Jerking off in the stairwell of a go-go club. That’s heroism! That’s purple neon, the bright, bright whites of her eyes. Forget Khira. Half-empty beer, down it, find a cigarette. We’ve got the jackets on, doors open at seven. That’s lights-up, hit the streets, for me and Benoit, not cold, cold, but smooth . . .
And we’ll be talking, whatever, movies, about Henry Miller, that night, the Prince versus Michael thing—arguing, just walking, yo, get loose, over sidewalks, medians, and some girl, dyed auburn hair, maybe I’d seen her before, but on into the crush of bodies swarming Portland street. Two guys; tight jeans, bewildered, grinning, and we can tell, their first few days in Hong Kong. Benoit jukes right past, pushing between them. They stare at the sequins in his coat, smirks on their faces, that’s the hustle, and I come on up, I throw my arms across their shoulders . . .
By eleven o’clock we’ve roped maybe three guys back to the Wing Wah. Slow night. We’re chasing too much, forcing it, so we pit off into Blush. The girls there know us, swimming up with big smiles, which helps, to a point, I’m back to back with Benoit, he’s working some old guy, forties, with two Filipina girls, edge of the dance floor, and now I’m gulping drinks, I’ve got the card, thumb and middle finger, the music, doing that little chop with my other hand, and it is a kind of dance, the spiel, not so much talking as reading eyes—cut-back, now switch it so I’m talking to the girl, try that, she’s listening, laughing about it, he’s with her for the night, but he’s looking at the card too. Yep, listen, I want you to fall in love. I say. But not here . . .
“By the way, this shithole?” and that’s Benoit, zero to sixty, “And you’ve never been to the Wing Wah? Blue! Yo, Blue! Look at this fucking guy. Woww, man, two girls? You know, it’s a good thing you bumped into us!”
Wait. Ok, Monisha. Holding my face, scratchy, silver stud in her nose, the mouthwash taste on her lips, and like she’s reaching, blindly grasping at something, her eyes pressed shut. From there to that afternoon. Palace room, lights down. Crouched against the wall, I’m smoking, and there’s Monisha, between doors, rushing, tears, split-second, and her chin, trembling . . . At any rate, 3 am, and we’ve bailed, given up completely. We roll in right as Khira gets back, that’s fast food, I’ve stopped trying not to think about what that means. She’s fucked another couple of guys. That there’s a few hours left though, before morning, and she wants barbeque. Clapping her hands about it. Round up a few of the girls. I grab Monisha. But on the street the whole thing sours on me. Loose, getting flaky. Quick pull from Benoit’s flask. Or three, or four. Jumping, everyone’s laughing. Khira’s all on Benoit, kissing his neck, arm around his waist, she won’t even look my way, and tonight, it’s hard to stomach. And Monisha, trying to walk next to me. We should hold hands, maybe, but I’m stumbling, drifting, looking at lights. Vaguely aware that I’m now on knees, of people staring. Crawling the sidewalk, I’m searching. That girl with the auburn hair. Who of course, doesn’t exist . . . But I am Monisha! Rather, trying to picture her back in Jhalokati, in Dhaka, or wherever. Like busting through paper-thin walls! Three months ago I was in college in Iowa City. Now barbeque, cha shao. Coconut shavings. Benoit, with the lover-man face, nuzzling Khira. Drop an ice cube in. That same cup of coffee over and over. Sip it. Then back to the microwave, hit it again.