greta

It was a cold rainy night in Hongkong. Greta, covered in a beige overcoat, stepped out of the cinema and ducked into an eatery. Noisy Chinese cooks kept barking orders while all around her diners were hunched over their steaming noodles, slurping heartily. She took out her cigarettes and lighted one. The movie was a mildly entertaining, a Cantonese romcom featuring two of the city’s bankable stars. Greta, however, felt detached as she was watching it. She could hear laughter echo in her head but the delightful sensation that often accompany such exercise was oddly missing. She sat in the counter not exactly knowing what to do or what to think. She sucked on her cig while waving at the harried waiter. Noodles, yes. Cola, no. Just water. Tap water? No, bottled ones. Yes. Good, good. 10 minutes. Yes? And then she was alone again. She thought of dropping by a nearby convenience store before going up to her hotel, before she grapples in front of her laptop to write a succinct review. Perhaps, she thought, she could buy vodka or a similarly strong drink to punch something out of her, to make the entire process bearable at the least. She thought of her apartment in East Berlin and her sister who is now looking after her dog Yuri. She thought of Yuri and her heart sank. She loved that dog terribly. The mere thought that she is a thousand miles away from him makes her sick with loneliness.

A chime piped in and a young man in white shirt and black leather jacket entered the eatery. He scanned the room and when he saw Greta he proceeded to sit beside her.

“How are you?” the man asked her.

Greta replied with a vapid smile.

“You’re with the festival?” he asked her.

“Yes.”

Her noodles came and she took her chopsticks. From where she was seated, she could see the cooks in the kitchen with their faces constantly being smothered with steam.

“You know what, I’ve seen you before. In the gala opening.”

She smiled once again.

“Really?”

“I’m with a news agency. And I’m pretty sure that you’re not from here.”

Greta can’t help but smile. The guy smiled back.

“I’m Cary, by the way.”

“As in Cary Grant?”

“Yup, my parents were a big Cary Grant fans. And you?”

“Greta.”

“As in Greta Garbo.”

“No, as in Gretchen.”

“For a moment there I thought we were destined, both of us having named after Hollywood gods and goddesses.”

“No we are not.”

“Besides who believes in destiny anyway.”

“I do.”

Ah, there he goes flinching.

“We’re destined then,” she said.

“You know that Wong Kar Wai movie where Takeshi Kaneshiro picks up a lady in a noodle shop and then they ride on his motorbike, speeding across the highway while a funky music plays in the background?”

“You have a motorbike?”

“No, but I have a change for a cab.”

“Where’s your hotel?”

“Just a 10-minute ride across town.”

Half an hour later they were in his room. He held her face with both of his hands. He looked at her, pausing before kissing her. His kisses were violent and passionate and suddenly she felt as if she was being drowned. She grabbed his head away from her mouth but he kept diving in, hungry for flesh. She slid his jacket off while kicking off both of her shoes. The floor was damp and cold and she longed to be inside the bed, to come out of her wet clothes and be wrapped in a blanket. He hurriedly unfastened his pants and brought them down in an instant.

“Wait, do you have a condom?”

He was momentarily lost. He looked around as he ran his fingers through his hair. He took off his pants that were hinged between his legs and searched the room.

“I do have one. Just a minute. I think I have one.”

Greta watched as he rummaged through the drawers with only his shirt on. She took off her coat and blouse and her pencil skirt and carefully rolled down her panty hose until she was covered in nothing. Cary looked at her with unabashed amazement.

“Shall we start again?” he asked her.

She walked towards him and took his hands. She sat on the bed while he stooped down to kiss her. She ran her fingers across Cary’s back, tracing his skin with her fingertips. He pushed her forward and she finally fell on the bed. Now, his kisses were tender and his touch softer. Cary shifted his weight and she spread her legs so he could move in. She felt all the hair on his body brush against her, creating a soft almost inaudible hissing sound.

Some years ago, she was in a country where movies were mostly made by men. One film particularly intrigued her. It was about two women who, at the end of the film, were raped by almost every brute in the island. The scene was frenzied and crudely shot. She remembers heaving as she gazed at the screen, witnessing the women ultimately burn in a hut with all the men who mounted them. It was a country that would rise up whenever it smelled the stench of sex.

It was almost midnight when she suddenly woke up. She looked at her companion who was snoring quietly, his heavy naked body draped over most of the bed. She stood up and for no apparent reason went to the window. Down below, the entire Hong Kong lay glistening. What was it that made her wake up? She tried to rummage through her thoughts, attempting to drudge up any nightmares or dreams she might have had during the night but her mind was so quiet she thought she was still dreaming. She looked at the sky and saw the huge yellow moon and very distinctly she heard a noise. Somewhere in the darkness a dog was howling and she instantly knew it was hers.










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