Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The State of "Eh" , Chapter 2
Chapter 2 - Richard, Vegas and the Yakuza
Pack up. Not too much, not too little. Don't know what outfits to pack. What kind of trip is this anyway? Pack two bathing suits....stop.. pack FOUR bathing suits. Stop. Feel like I'm acting out a telegram.
Weird trip. Friend offered to pay for vacation time. In Vegas. Never been to Vegas before, so kinda nervous. Never been alone with friend before in close quarters. He says- "you MUST come to Vegas!" Friend has had a crush on me for years. Not secretly.
Is this friendly? I dunno.. Sounds like something else. In need of something else anyway.
"Something else" sounds far better than the new nothingness at home.
"Something else" feels warm, exciting, whimsical. Whimsical has been unattainable for years. Changed it's number. Being rude.
Go to the airport, board the plane, chill out. Seems like a good time to start drinking. Drinking and taking pills. Pop speed. Order vodka. Stop. Order THREE vodkas. Not free?
"Sheesh, I remember the days when my free plane booze came with the freedom to light up a smoke and recline in an uncomfortable half lean. Now, just the half lean. Can I smoke outside?" Flight attendant is only slightly amused.
I'm starting to notice the middle aged gentleman next to me is nudging his arm closer to mine on the armrest. Slowly, about half a centimeter every 20 minutes. I intensely dislike when people move slowly into my personal space.
Men seem to do this a lot. On the subway especially. Look, I know I'M not moving, so it's clearly YOU. If you started off 1 foot away and now you're practically on my lap, I'm going to notice. I'm intensely perceptive.
However, three vodkas and two hours in, I'm in good spirits. Terrible unintentional pun.
I turn and say quietly - "If you want to hold hands, we can just do that now."
He turns, smiles, grabs my hand. Pushes the flight attendant call button and says to me- "We need more drinks."
Let me describe Richard for you.
Richard is 52 (not a guess, he showed me his drivers license).
Richard is happily married with 2 children, Jessica and Brandon. Jessica is 22, Brandon is 18. Great looking kids.
Richard's wife's name is Elie. Elie is 46. Elie is quite stunning.
Richard is about 5' 10", white, very very very very tan and in amazing shape for his age. For ANYONES age really.
This is because Richard works out 4 days a week and enjoys extreme... well.. anything.
Richard is a very attractive man. In a rugged, older Hugh Jackman sort of way.
Richard is pretty well off, we started discussing his job, but that's where things got fuzzy for me.
Richard and I are getting wasted, still holding hands.
Richard wants me to tell him more about myself. Richard looks ecstatic and thoroughly involved.
Richard is a good listener.
I'm not sure exactly WHY I decided to tell Richard the story I told. I think, partially because I felt terribly awful for Elie, Jessica and Brandon. I thought they deserved the truth. Which made Richard not deserve the truth. Not in a malicious way, I suppose in some sort of universal balance. It's not my job to do that, no.... but.. I could.. so I did.
Also, I was drunk... also, I enjoy comedy.
Richard has said- "Why won't you tell me about yourself more?" around 10 times now.
So far, I've told Richard that I'm half Brazilian and half Japanese. Richard likes this combo very much. He says he would have guessed that. He fancies himself "intensely perceptive" as well.
I have also told him, numerous times, that - " I don't really like talking about my life.. it's very painful to rehash all the memories..."
Richard asks me again. I now respond with - "So much DEATH.. SO.... much... Bloo-ah ah ah ahhhhhd" and fall gently onto his shoulder, weeping softly.
Richard coos me, like a child, strokes my hair and says "shhhhh" while rocking me back and forth.
Other passengers are starting to listen.
I have to turn it down a notch.
I slowly draw back from Richard's shoulder, he passes me a napkin, I use it to dab my tears while shaking my head and saying - "I'm so sorry.. sometimes the tears, they flow.. like a river.. like a.. ri--i-ii-i-veeeerrrrrr." I draw out the last letters back into sobs and fall back on his shoulder again.
Fuck a notch.
Richard hits the call button again and is saying that another drink should relax me. He feels awful, he says. This is all he can do right now, he says. He's here to listen, he says. So, so beautiful.. he says.
This is getting good. The free drinks are really a bonus at this point.
I draw back dramatically from his shoulder once more, letting him dab my eyes with a fresh napkin, as mine are being ripped to pieces with my thumbs and index fingers, decorating my lap and the floor around us like children's construction paper snowflake cutout remnants. Only damp, and stained with eyeliner. Deviant goth children's construction paper snowflake cutout remnants.
I flip my hair and gather it to fall on one side, tilting my head down and then up at him longingly.
"Alright.. I trust you.. you can't trust anyone, you know. It's been so long since I had anyone to talk to. You're so good."
I clasp his hand tightly with both of my hands. He swoons and melts down further in his seat, eyes completely open and ready for information. He looks concerned, caring. I feel bad.... for about 5 seconds until the drink arrives.
He squeezes the miniscule lemon wedge into my drink, swizzle sticks it about and hands it to me.
I take a sip... I breathe deeply and exhale. I turn my body to face him...
For the next hour, I tell Richard about my life.
No, I do not kill people.
Yes, I do, deal with the dead a lot.
No, I do not work in a morgue.
Yes, I am what people call, a "cleaner."
No, I do not enjoy my job.
Yes, I am the best in the business.... In the Northeast and several Japanese provinces.
Yes, we still refer to them as "provinces" for the sake of work, staying off the grid.
No, I do not work in South America.
Yes, my line of work is very dangerous and politically frowned upon there.
No, I do not understand why he is shocked by this fact. I thought it was well known. But.. what do I KNOW about the world?
Richard is captivated.
I tell him of my family.... on my father's side.. killed by ninjas as they slept.
I can't believe I'm getting away with this shit... it's fantastically preposterous.
I tell him of my father's Yakuza ties. I pull my hair back and show him my tattoos. He is in awe.
I tell him about my parents forbidden love that almost got them killed, but they overcame the odds.
I tell him about being trained to be a cleaner since I was 5 years old.
I tell him about all the products that scrub out blood stains the best, how to pick out bone fragments from shag carpets, how much I loathe apartments decorated in 1960's and 1970's regalia.
Richard nods a lot.
I am spent....
I say, "I really should stop.. I don't even know you.. you could turn me in as soon as we step off this plane.. oh God.. please.. please don't do that to me..oh God.. what have I done.. what have I said."
Richard grabs my chin gently and says - "Doll.. I just want to take care of you."
I turn away sharply.. "No.. you.. you can't.. It's too dangerous.. I couldn't put you in that position... you.. your family.."
I am truly aghast at my acting skills at this point. I'm almost not even listening to what he's saying because I'm so impressed with myself.
It's going to be time to get off the plane soon. Richard tells me to come with him. He has the high rollers suite at Caesar's.
Now I'M impressed.... ha! Slightly tempted even.. NO! Bad Jean! Bad Jean!
I tell him no.. I'm here to see a friend.. we have some time planned.
He asks - " Are you," he stops.
"Am I what? " I ask him.
He says - "Are you ... umm.. working? While you're here?"
I look down... don't respond. Richard is apologetic - "Oh.. I .. I shouldn't have asked that.. Oh.. I'm sorry." he stammers.
"No, no.. it's alright Richard.. Honestly, I don't know. I don't think so. They'll just call me. I thought this was a vacation, but... I truly don't know. I can't.. I can't involve you."
Richard throws himself back in his seat and stomps his foot on the floor. "Goddamnit!" he says... "This isn't right! This shouldn't be your life! We could.. we could be happy!!!"
"Here" he then says, handing me his business card.. "Just.. please.. if you change your mind.. I know we could.. I just know"
This is fucking incredible.
I place my hand gently over his.. stroke his face and say - "Maybe.. in another life.. maybe"
He grabs my hand.. kisses it and keeps in on his cheek.
We stay like that until it's time to deplane.
"Goodbye" I say, as we step into the airport. I speed walk away. Pretending to cry, I look back. He is just standing there, bags dropped on the ground.
I get outside and see friend, waiting in car in front..
'Holy shit man.. I gotta tell you this fucking story." He is all eager ears and smiles.
Getting in the car I see Richard coming out.. I wave as we're pulling off. He waves back.
I never saw Richard again. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had called.