E@L went shopping for a specific type. Soft-soled, forgiving. He needed to minimizes this incongruous tenderness and this chronic pain.
A leather upper and an air-cushioned sole, for example, and Reebok made the ones he had found successful and that enabled him to wear them at work including the long days standing watching customers walk past to the GE booth at conferences, and not look like a software programmer, someone who's come to fix the air-con, or a jogger(!) in mufti.
(Just to remind all you faithful readers and inform all the web-robots who come looking for backdoors to spam this site, E@L has peripheral neuropathy, idiopathic, affecting both feet, and manifest in two distinct ways. The balls of feet have been aching for seven, maybe eight, maybe nine years non-stop. Non-stop. At the desk, in a taxi, in bed, in the morning. Non-fucking stop. Speaking of joggers, the feet feel like E@L has been running marathons in Florsheims. Then there are the electric shooting pains and hypersensitivity that affects mainly several toes. Gout sufferers, feel free to empathize at this point. This latter symptom is well controlled (well less and less lately) by several thousands dollars of assorted drugs, mainly anti-epileptic and minor attitude adjustment products. Hence the slightly more temperate position E@L has had in regards to his frustrations at the various perfidious experiences of culture shock he now takes on the chin in his extended tour of the Asian cultures. The pain in the balls (as it were) remain a problem and only super-supportive shoes help.)
The particular shoes in his size were not available in Tampines Mall. Well, duh. Westerner sized feet? Not up here in the heartlands. The shop assistant rang through and found a pair of size 45 at Parkway Parade shopping centre.
"Where is that?" asks E@L who has extremely limited knowledge of the wonders of the East Coast of Singapore (another part of the heartlands?).
"Um..." she replied. "It's, um, at the end of Parkway."
"And where is that exactly."
"It's hard to describe." If you are an idiot. Note that E@L did not scream at this point but merely thought of screaming, and instead he smiled and gave his name and contact for the Parkway shop people.
Thank Christ and/or Google for Google Maps, but hang on, IKYN, when E@L opens the app, his screen zapped out and flew across the pacific to centred in on some drug and criminal infested barrio in Mexico City. WTF? Shakes heads, types in Parkway Parade and the app swings back across the vast waters to Singapore. What was that all about?
Parkway Parade, of course the taxi-driver knew it well - it wasn't E@L's home address which no-one has ever heard of. Shoes were purchased. One task. Done. Oops there are secondary tasks: buy some fresh squid and prawns for the curry tonight. This Chilled Repository had no fish deli, so he turned around and headed for the taxi-stand.
A women came up the escalator and walked towards him. A short Filipina, round-faced, glasses. Intelligent, focussed expression on her face. E@L was startled. This lady looked the image of The Mouse. It wasn't her, but she had such a close resemblance that E@L could not help but wish it was her.
Last year, The Mouse had telephoned and cryptically asked if E@L would be prepared to hire her again should she come back to Singapore. The Mouse never called back. Three months later, around Christmas, E@L txt'd her and called but the automatic exchange said something in Tagalog (or Spanish, who can tell?) and disconnected. He wondered what was going on, hoped nothing bad had happened. Who knows, storms, floods, fighting; it's a crazy land. He had really no way of finding out if she was alright, save a full search-and-rescue operation, hacking through dense tropical jungles ("It's using the trees!") of the northern parts of Luzon. Or catching a 12 hour bus from Manila. [Mmm, bucket list: find The Mouse?]
But as he walked on, he wondered if the reason for her lack of contact was that she had come to Singapore after all, or maybe that she had gone back to Hong Kong, and was now employed by someone else. She would now have a local number.
Working for someone else!
E@L's heart dropped, he felt faint, his eyes almost misted. Perhaps she had found another employer, maybe a better, kinder, more generous, more understanding and supportive one than E@L. One with more books. The thought of her being here (or there) without calling to say hello and to explain hollowed him out. He felt cheated, betrayed. These are not just words, not abstract forms, these tell of physical things, measurable things, you all know this. When E@L says his stomach churned, his stomach really DID churn. When he says he felt sick, he really FELT sick, acidic and bilious. He felt pale, clammy. His pulse raced.
Snap. It was an instant.
Hey, he wanted to have The Mouse. He wanted her to be his. To be his friend again and to be his employee again. He didn't want her to have said she would come back to him and then to go with someone else, but maybe she had! But that would mean she had lied to him. Did he love her? He certainly held the most positive and caring attitude towards her. He wanted always her to be happy, he wanted himself to be happy even more, though when the trouble had come and she was forced to return, he let her needs rise above his selfishness. Of course he did, he is a nice guy. Dumb fucker. No, he didn't love her although he wants her, and not just as a maid either, but also as a friend. Was she treating him unfairly, was she being unfaithful? Was she not that good after all?
This was, da duh!, how he had felt the other week-end when Odette had stayed in the taxi and went on with her girlfriend (presumably for steamy sex). Jealous. Cheated, betrayed. LOSS OF OWNERSHIP.
[And yet with his post-modern, self-observant cynical eye, he was amused as he became even further self-informed: he is capable of being an idiot for not only love, like you, like everyone else, but also for a good employee.]
Love and ownership. Proposing, marrying, kidnapping, stalking, raping, pining, committing suicide, murdering, eloping (doing the Romeo and Juliet thing), the Dr Zhivago thing (leaving the missus for a gorgeous tart), pistols at dawn, writing poems, novels, radio dramas,screenplays and operas, attacking rivals in a pub, pillaging the neighbouring tribes for that woman you spied washing clothes by the river bank, starting a war against Troy (the piece of arse that launched a thousand ships), these are things you will to assuage this emptiness.
You know the shape that will fill the hole, and the vacuum is stronger than anything, ever. It's completely irrational. It's lower brain, it's primaeval, it's lust, it's jealousy, it's WANTING. They castrate you because you won't stop, you climb the tower to get to her, you fight the dragon, you...
E@L stands aside from his emotions and think'd: What is really happening is that you want one of your sperm to impregnate her before that from the rivals (real, imaginary, hypothetical) do. Ah, now we are getting to the point... Your selfish genes control you after all. They don't care about the pain, the hurt, the nausea; they just replicate and seek promulgation. That's what they do. It is their purpose and all else is merely the trappings. You are the support system for your sperm, for your eggs. Art, music, poetry. Pffft. Chromosomes rule your life, they are your essence.
This is where the urge comes from, the feeling that makes the world go around, spins it faster and faster... You want that person, you have no idea why or more correctly you have no idea why you want that person so desperately, why all of a sudden you've decided they're yours and you have to have them... It is the forgotten meaning of what being alive entails. We are the too smart apes ruled by dumb genes.
Yes, the snapping sensation, that eureka moment, that epiphany, that hit when he thought of The Mouse, was uncannily like the moment of realization that struck him when Odette went from becoming Izzy's sister and E@L's fun-loving, cute, tiny, way-young travel companion to - SNAP - someone else, someone he desperately wanted to screw (but knew he never would/could).
It was in the same epigastric sensation, the same emotion [E@L's repertoire of emotions is frighteningly narrow-bandwidth, like his cricket batting strokes; a no-step straight drive to mid-wicket, backward defense snicked pulled shot to third man, forward defense snick to second slip] but he reached there along a different path, from a different need. Did his genetic core get it wrong this time?
Friends have advised him, slightly less than jokingly, that he should just marry The Mouse, shut up and get it over with: have a perfect wife, a clean house, good food, a quiet voice, someone to talk about books with, no sex. Should he have done that? Should he still consider that trek to the Bay of Islands. Seriously he could not imagine having a better person as a significant other... But her phone number is lost. That was not her on the escalator.
But, no E@L never fancied The Mouse in sexual way... This was no sexual snap at all, it was an emotional snap, one of a lost friend, but also of lost possession, one of ownership.
He wonders at yet another opportunity lost. Is this his density?
Super-Joyce asked if E@L wanted her to help him with dinner? She was ironing in the spare bedroom and had heard E@L chopping up herbs for the curry paste.
"Sure, can you shell the prawns if you like."
Silently (unusual for Super-Joyce) she pulled off the shell, cut out the 'vein' and placed the prawns in a bowl. Then she picked up the squid and put it down again. E@L opened a tin of fenugreek powder for the curry paste. A small moth flew out. A web of fenugreek coloured silken strands formed a nice moth nest inside the mouth of the tin. This must be where last month's Infernal Tiny Moth Plague was sourced. It mainly affected the spare bedroom interestingly, not the kitchen.
"Oh," Super-Joyce jumped back at the tiny moth's sudden appearance.
"I'll do the squid if you like," E@L said and she laughed with some relief.
"Thank you, Mr Pilip. I don't like the smell on my hands when I am folding clothes."
"No, that's a good idea." E@L pulled the head, guts and plastic spine from the top of the small squid. He had two to prepare.
Super-Joyce was still in the kitchen, she hadn't gone back to the ironing. "Mr Pilip, I find this on the floor." She pulled out the rubbish bin [a plastic shopping bag in a bucket], moved some of the prawns shells aside and showed me a curled up black thing slightly bigger than a thumb-nail, eight legs in a clonic spasm. A dead spider. "Is poisonous, I find here, [pointing at a corner near the stove] and spray it. Now it's dead." Obviously.
"Many animals here in your kitchen Mr Pilip," Are moths and spiders animals? Arachnids. Moths are insects, right?
"You need someone to look after you more, Mr Philip." Pause. "Mr Pillip, can you help me?"
E@L looked up from pouring great quantities of coriander powder into the curry mix to make up for the lost fenugreek. "What is it, Joyce?"
"Mr Pillip," her voice was now more serious than E@L have ever heard it, strained, louder, insistent, "my employer has going back to working in Jakarta. He cannot sponsor me any longer. Can you sign for me, can you be my employer?"
E@L smiled lightly. "Well I guess I can..." Then he thought of The Mouse, and his essentially forlorn hope of finding her again. "The thing is, I promised I'd sponsor my old maid if she wanted to come back." That was nearly a year ago, who was he kidding?
"You have another maid coming?" she asked.
"Oh no, no. It's just that she called last year and asked me to... she wanted me to... Oh, that was so long ago. She's obviously not coming. Look Joyce, it shouldn't be a problem but let me think about it. I'll think about it..."
E@L picked up the bowl of prawns to mix with the now sliced calamari. Super-Joyce hadn't removed the inner heads of two of the prawns.
In unrelated news: the lady whose signs E@L had missed way back when and he never called back, has been unwell. Some surgery, some therapy and she is fine now but not yet back at work. E@L sent her a good will txt and they had a few vaguely positive (yet negative, now she can't drink any more and so is unable to come to the distributor's Sake Party at his place this week) exchanges... Who knows what will come next...
Further news associated to this illness: the lady who had been sitting at the same desk previously had developed a similar problem, but unfortunately with a sadder outcome. No-one wants to sit at that desk. It has bad luck. Ghosts. It is the 'cancer desk'. IKYN.
Team Scalzi - Not long ago I was having a conversation about some recent business stuff going on in my life, and the person I was having the conversation with noted that...
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