“Tell me Bill, do the surroundings amuse you?” Serene smiles as her outstretched hand glides across the scenery.
We are overlooking the Singapore River. The equatorial night air is warm and heavy. A slight scent of smoke, not unpleasant, from an Indonesian forest fire drifts across the South China Sea. I lean back into my wheelchair as an Asian woman dressed in hospital scrubs delivers an IV filled with a bright colored fluid.
“Things are well at home?” She asks.
It is November of 2007. What is home? I live alone for the first time in my life. Images flicker; a basement apartment, boxes still unpacked. Sunlight pouring through a stained glass window colors my grandmother’s coffin; the new house that my daughters live in without me. Here on the other side of the world, I am a time traveller; living in tomorrow.
“Yes, all is well” I lie.
“And tomorrow Bangkok; you go shopping-la!”
Singaporeans love to shop and when they love something, they add a “la” to the end of it for emphasis. They also love eating-la and drinking-la, which is why I feel so fat-la and tired-la.
The next day four of us, a gay man, a New Englander, an Irishman and a German board a flight for Thailand. There is no punch line.
“You handsome man, big!”
“That OK, I like gay.”
“There you are!” I hear someone say in a British accent. He is talking to me. He has a broad smile and kind eyes. “We should go for a walk. We’re going to DJ Station.” He puts his arm around me and the Thai prostitute vanishes.
I thank him profusely. We spend the rest of the night together dancing, talking and laughing. At four AM the club is beginning to close.
“I’m going to the bathroom; you should join me or wait here.” He says.
“I’ll wait here.” I say and as he walks away, I walk out of the club and into a taxi. During the ride to the hotel I argue with myself. What were you thinking, why did you leave? Even if there is no possible future, did you get a good look at him? What are you waiting for?
In the morning I fly home to Boston. I climb into bed and sleep for thirteen hours, the time difference between Boston and Bangkok. When I wake up and look out the window a layer of pure white snow blankets the world.