The Struggle Continues - Part 1 - The Reunion - 1 - The Mandarin
I was eleven floors up and very much asleep when the phone rang. Or rather my mobile phone rang. I cursed it, thought about answering it and then ignored it, before leaving whoever it was who'd called to leave a message.
I lay there looking around in the darkened room waiting for the beep as a message was announced. No beep ever came and five minutes later the wretched thing rang again, seemingly with a lot more purpose. I cursed it again. Perhaps, I should have switched the damn thing off before I had got into bed. Or after the last time it rang! This time though, I raised myself in the bed and reached over the figure sleeping to my right, before picking up the phone from the bedside table and opening it. 'Ewart!' My name was about all I could say in my partly-woken and possibly rather hung-over state.
'Is that you Ewart?' It was my ex-wife! She sounded a lot more awake than I was! 'You've been very difficult to get hold of! I had to bribe your solicitor to get your number out of her!'
'Yes!' I didn't say anything else. But if it wasn't worth it, I'd be having words.
'Where are you? You sound rather distant. And sort of delayed!' She had paused between each sentence as if waiting for me to say something. 'Shall I phone again later?'
'No! Sorry! Alice!' I was just about waking up or at least getting some of my senses together. 'I'm in Hong Kong! And in your favourite hotel, too! The Mandarin! So it's the middle of the night! Well! Perhaps very early in the morning! I can't see a clock!'
'Sorry!' I heard a giggle followed by a laugh, neither of which Alice made any attempt to hide. 'It's ten on Saturday evening here.' That was late for her, as she usually always seemed to be in bed by just after nine! 'Perhaps, you should phone me back when you get up in the morning!'
'Is it important?' My muddled thinking thought it probably was, as I hadn't heard from her other than in official and rather cold correspondence in the three years since we'd got divorced. But then I hadn't been a very good communicator either, so perhaps my question wasn't correct.
'It's very good news!' She sounded like it was too!
The naked Chinese girl I was leaning over was now fully awake and was trying to extricate herself from under my body. 'Ewart!' She tenderly kissed and rubbed my back, whilst her hands stroked and probed!
I had put my hand over the phone. 'Later! Shh! It's my ex-wife!' I was kissed again.
'Is there someone with you?' Alice had heard my conversation.
I decided to come clean. 'Yes!' I added a stupid boast. 'Jacinta is a very nice and beautiful young Chinese lady.' Thinking again, it wasn't that untruthful!
Alice ignored what I had said and continued. 'Josh is getting married on Thursday!' She definitely sounded very happy. But then she would be!
I agreed. 'That is good news! Good for Josh too!' I liked the idea too, especially if it was still the same girl he'd been with when I'd last met him two years ago. Hopefully, she'd knock some get-up-and-go into him. 'Is it Lucinda?' I hoped I'd got the name right. But I'm never good with names and faces. On the other hand, I remember every single line of code down to the last letter, number and operator, that I've ever written.
'Yes! They're getting married at Bow Registry Office at twelve. Can you come?' She wasn't exactly pleading with me, but she did at least sound hopeful that I'd come!
'Yes! Of course!' I paused and wondered if it was such a good idea. 'If I'm welcome then I'll be there! I really ought not to miss Josh's wedding after the farce of last time.' I just hoped I could get a flight! My proposed, but as yet unbooked holiday in the wilder parts of Malaysia would have to be delayed. 'I'll phone you later tomorrow!'
'You don't know my number!' It was true and I could hear Alice laughing. 'I'll phone you when I get up in the morning.'
'You sound very happy! Calling then will be fine!' I was intending to work on the Sunday to finish the documentation of the programming project that had brought me to Britain's last and most infamous and glorious colony in the east. 'I'll be working in the office from lunchtime! We can exchange numbers then!'
'Good! I hope the lady is worth what you're paying!' I heard a sharp tut-tutting. 'What would your mother say?'
She hung up before I could reply. She always liked the last word. As to my mother, I hadn't seen her in over twenty years either! And that was at my father's funeral!
'You have a son?' Jacinta had drawn the curtains back to allow the almost permanent light and bustle of Hong Kong and the approaching dawn into the room.
'Yes! I have two sons. And no daughters!' She smiled knowingly as I emphasised the latter. Not that I'd been a particularly good father. Perhaps it was why I was only in contact with the youngest now. And that only very ocassionally.
'What are their names?' Families and names, and of course male heirs are always important to the Chinese. And certainly more important than to me!
'Thomas and Josh!' I realised how old they were. 'The elder is about your age and the younger is three years younger than him.'
Jacinta giggled. 'So I'm about the same age as your children.' She giggled again. 'Are you ashamed? Or do you like younger ladies?'
I blushed. 'Partly! Yes! Partly ashamed! Possibly! But this wasn't my idea was it?' I smiled at her.
Jacinta leant towards me and kissed me. 'No! Of course not! But you were as how you say - A willing victim!'
Jacinta had been my colleague, programmer, helper and guide for the last three months.
I was in Hong Kong to specify, write and install one of my anti-money laundering systems at the Far East headquarters of a major bank. I could not have asked for more support and she would be in charge of the system, when I returned to London. That we'd ended up in bed together was not something I'd planned. Or indeed had she! Perhaps I might have dreamed about it. But then who wouldn't as she was slim, intelligent and extremely beautiful, with an awful lot of dark, eastern mystery. But then there is a lot of difference between that sort of male erotic fantasy and the often unfullfilling and completely trashy reality.
She had now joined me back in bed and I turned towards her. 'When you suggested that you'd like to show me the real Hong Kong, I didn't think I'd see things like last night!' I smiled and cuddled up to her.
She had certainly shown me everything at every level of decadence, depravity and debachery after we'd met in the bar at the very swish Regent Hotel in Kowloon. But from there, the journey had been mainly downward. We'd walked up and down allies, teeming with people, bicycles and stalls, echoing with caged birds and smelling sour, fragrant and sweet. One even sounded of the distinctive noise of the Heidelberg printing machines of my childhood! We'd visited bars, where I was eyed distrustfully as I was the only non-Chinese and I'd been given herbs or were they illegal drugs to as Jacinta said make me a strong and virile man! Around nine we had ended up in a heaving restaurant, where I hardly had a clue about anything that I had eaten.
But that had just been the start! The Kareoke bar where I showed my lack of expertise, was little more than a front for a brothel. I declined the young girls probably trafficed and smuggled from the mainland. It was all rather sad and I said so! In response, Jacinta changed direction and moved back upwards through a dubious semi-naked cabaret with topless waitresses to a sumptuous bar with striking views of the lights of Hong Kong Island. Eventually after a taxi ride through the tunnel back to the island we arrived in the basement bar of the Mandarin at about one in the morning.
'I was very surprised when you suggested coming upstairs to my room for a last night-cap!' I paused and stroked her hair. 'Were you thinking of ending up in bed?'
Jacinta giggled and kissed me. 'We try to be very welcoming here! But I don't think I'd thought of it before either!' She kissed me again. 'But you were so sweet and a real gentleman last night! A proper English gentleman!' She giggled. 'You never even loosened your tie!'
'Sweet! I'm not sure I like that! I can be quite nasty really! Selfish, too!' I laughed. 'And why all this giggling about English gentlemen?'
'You're not selfish!' More giggling and she kissed me again. 'I really enjoyed last night! But you're not very good at Kareoke!'
'Thanks! I knew that!' I'd never been able to sing since my voice broke.
The fantasy continued that morning until almost eleven. We drank Buck's Fizz and ate a sumptous breakfast of everything anybody could possibly want, whilst sitting naked on the bed. Then we made love again, before we shared the enormous shower. Truth be told, I'd never been the strongest sexual performer, but I'd managed to surpass myself by a long way! Perhaps it had been Jacinta's herbs! Or perhaps the unrivalled company.
It was certainly the best way to say goodbye to Hong Kong.
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