The Kitchens of Canton, a novel. Ch. 12: Gwongzau
At my 180 kilograms it takes an effort to lift myself out of the bath, but I’ll be damned if I’m hooked up to the crane. Ingmon and the boss grab me under the arms and that does the job. Standing up, I can no longer see my penis under my belly even when erect. I can’t get hard anyway, with no place for it to expand. Previously, to check if my erectile function was normal, they would lift the bag of blubber high enough to access the penis and squeeze out a few spurts on the digital spoon. But now that it is getting all too awkward to manipulate they have a device for the purpose — a shelf to raise the blubber bag and a vibrating hose to slurp up the penis. Thankfully, they continue to handle me manually on the bed. They’ve found from experience that the human touch is simply more efficient.
I assume the quality and taste of semen extracted with friendly hands is superior as well. It would be nice if they joined me at my meals, but I am served a different diet from them. It’s Chinese food, but the carbo-rich repast is heavily infused with leeks, chives and garlic, designed to make me fat. The more obese I become, the more Ingmon and the boss seem to like me. Admittedly, it’s not a full-fledged interest but a divided attention. From their tone and emphases detached from anything they’re presently doing, their conversation clearly has nothing to do with me. I suspect their job is easy and they have a lot of time on their hands. They’re bored. Then again, we’re crossing the Pacific Ocean. Occasionally, as if suddenly recalling where they are, they address me directly, as the boss does now.
“Aa, hai laa, ngodei kapnei camdou jatgo zipsaujan.”
The words are not to be found in my Cantonese playpen. I have no idea what she’s saying. They then begin the game of trying, usually unsuccessfully, to paraphrase their meaning.
“Zipsaujan. Nei jigu hai jige zo.”
“Ji wui waapai ngodei dim fong nei zau,” adds Ingmon by way of explanation.
The problem is they can’t explain anything without piling on yet more unfamiliar words. This is understandable. Most people lack the ability to break a message down into comprehensible bites, an exclusive art possessed by foreign-language teachers.
“Zungjau jatgo singkei zau dou Gwongzau laa.”
A word I recognize. “Gwongzau?”
“Hai aa, zijau jatgo singkei.”
“Cat tin,” says Ingmon, crooking her index finger in the shape of a hook.
The upshot is Canton is near. And the regrettable thing is I’ve never felt closer to a woman than to Ingmon. How do I know she likes me and is not just engaging me sexually as part of her job? For even if only going through the motions an actress can perform quite convincingly in bed. Still, I’m convinced she’s genuinely into me. It comes down to the delicate and drawn-out quality of her kissing. It’s the way she whispers “boubui” in my ear. It’s the thoroughness with which she licks up the last of my semen. And best of all: she’s been spending the night more and more as the calendar unwinds.
The boss has been cooperative in all of this, though not so far as climbing on top of me herself. The two operate together seamlessly, their roles only subtly distributed, as if they were sisters instead of boss and subordinate. I’d rather they’d switch roles from time to time but there’s no sign they’re up for that yet. At her most daring she’s grabbed my erection and fit it deftly inside Ingmon as she squats over me. Ingmon could easily do it herself, so the boss’s gesture is gratuitous. And thus all the more intriguing. She even squeezed my hard-on and stroked it a few times, remarking with a grin, “Nei gam taai.” Lovely words stamped indelibly in my mind. Nei gam taai. By this point they’ve figured out I get more aroused with the presence of a third person in the room. In fact I’m keenly attracted to the boss and her domineering air, approaching fifty with a matronly bosom and a crew cut like a dyke (if I may use the word affectionately). If her bloom has faded, it still shines in her eyes.
How crucial sexuality is to communication. Not just the act itself but the whole ensemble of behaviors from seduction onwards which function as a signalling system, particularly in the absence of a mutually comprehensible language. I would even propose that all essential interaction can be accomplished through sexuality alone. We evolved out of this template — not much else went on inside the caves we lodged in for millions of years — and acquired spoken language only much later. Words aren’t that important, finally, except in emergencies, to defend oneself, for record keeping, and to work with as an aesthetic substance. The normal business we’re engaged in is not to convey information but attitudes — acceptance or denial. This can be done as effectively without words as with them. Mastery of language is the ability to use words in ironic or misleading ways, which is ultimately just a means of conveying attitude.
Let me try to illustrate this by elaborating on the eight final women in my life. They fall into two groups — those I can speak English with and those I can’t. In the former are Delilah the younger, Delilah the elder, and somewhat imperfectly, Zhang; in the latter, Giulia, Wing-yee, Attica, Ingmon, and the boss. They divide into the same two groups in another respect as well: I am only physically attracted to the latter. This does not mean I am in no way erotically inclined to the former. Take Delilah the younger, and her unusual, distinctive face. I fully appreciate many would regard it as beautiful; it just doesn’t turn me on. Nor does Zhang’s, with her angularity and hardness. If you look at Zhang in a certain light, she could be a man. Her face is perfectly positioned between the male and female; just change the hairstyle and the clothes, and she’s a man. I would even grant she’s quite handsome, only that I’d hope to find a cock in her pants, along with her manly tits. Now Delilah, by contrast, has an unmistakably female face — a concise, female jaw. Her only flaw is a nose that’s too long, though its sweep and flare suggests that most people’s noses are too short.
Yes, she’s beautiful, objectively speaking. Would I prefer Delilah to have been closer to me in age, say thirty or forty rather than fifteen and seventy? Would a riper figure have kindled my passion? It’s a moot point, since her spirituality is seductive enough. Nothing is more exciting than a person who can project an erotic field, above all a precocious fifteen-year old. Delilah the younger knew exactly what she was doing, even when she couldn’t articulate this in words, as Delilah the elder was able to do to her directly when they met. Yes, she had that movable vision, the ability to see around things, around corners. The thoroughness sprung from kindness. That comprehensiveness and anticipatory acumen engendered of desire. The sheer pleasure in vision — and the pain of having this vision even momentarily obstructed. The gaze that projects and forms a screen, an aura. The drunk, gaping, obsessive gaze spewing itself unchecked like a machine gun, or the “invisible arrows” of Danny’s gun, as the Romans put it.
The thoroughness of kindness. Zhang had it, in spurts, when not blinded by power and acquisitiveness. Giulia was endowed with it as well, but only to a modest degree, trapped as she was in slave mentality. On the other hand, Wing-yee didn’t seem to have it; she had something else instead, equally penetrating but more pragmatic, as the dire events involving her and Zhang revealed. This is not to say Wing-yee was altogether lacking in eroticism, but it was entirely of a different order, disarmingly transparent. Too much so; an eroticism lacking in comedy, without which it can no longer be called eroticism but some other as yet unnamed cultural phenomenon. She was indeed of another era, one I still don’t understand, a different ethical breed, of which I am now involuntarily partaking here in this ship with these two. Oh, yes, Wing-yee too was as beautiful as they get, and of a beauty more to my liking. Remarkably, she was drawn to my smell as much as I was to hers. This guaranteed something would happen, whatever the obstacles gathering in our path. Not that it was forbidden; she could do whatever she wanted with me. Coupled with kindness, there is much to explore in the realm of touch, even if, as with Ingmon and the boss, it’s our sole form of speech.
As Ingmon removes her tunic and straddles me, a tear drops on me like a raisin. That’s a first. The boss stands next to us, a bit closer than usual, and more relaxed, too much so, ominously so. Is she projecting what I’m supposed to be feeling? I once made a nervous pass at her breasts. Playing the elegant librarian putting an antsy teenager in his place, she grabbed my arm and placed it back at my side, showing no outward discomfort but clearly establishing her limits. I make one more assay and trace their outlines with my fingers. This time she doesn’t resist.
“Bei keoi tai neige bo, bannje ge haaupo,” Ingmon says to her. “Ceoi laa.”
“Ng seoi jiu.”
“Nei dim boudaap ngo?” The boss says with a sigh, shedding her upper garment. Her gigantic breasts are slung in a simple red halter top tied around the neck and the back. I undo the lower string and out they plop. I grab one but she remains immobile as I try pull it toward my mouth.
“Joeng to kap naai,” Ingmon tells her.
Resignedly, she inches closer and I suckle her teat. Her obedience emboldens me. I guide her head toward my body’s lower half. Ingmon assists by grabbing her by the breasts and pulling her close. She raises her own groin enough to release my cock from her vagina, so that it springs into the boss’s mouth.
“Wanjau di, jigu, boubui,” Ingmon whispers to her, patting her on the head. She unties the remaining string of the bra bib, tugs it out from under her tits and tosses it on the floor. “Neje wanjau di jigu! Hai to ge dingbou paa soeng luksapgau.”
“Hai to ge dingbou paa soeng luksapgau,” Ingmon repeats, and then to me, “Ceoi jige fuzi,” gesturing that I should remove the boss’s pants.
They’re stitched up the side with knotted buttons and it takes some work to get them undone. Ingmon covers her mouth and giggles at my lack of dexterity. She gets off the bed and undoes the buttons for me.
“Hai to ge dingbou,” she tells the boss.
The boss lifts herself over me in sixty-nine and I clamp her hairy mess on my face. I can’t see what they’re doing, but I can feel Ingmon pressing her groin against my shaft as the boss fellates me. Then she goes to work on Ingmon as the latter slips me back inside her. They’re moaning — Ingmon with an abandon she never displayed with me. Soon the boss starts shaking and a hot flush of her water drenches me as she convulses in orgasm. It’s the most satisfying sexual encounter I’ve ever had. It’s also my last, for their waves of pleasure not yet wholly subsided, we’re surrounded by several men in sanitation uniforms, one bearing a syringe.
The sedative acts immediately. It doesn’t put me to sleep, but profoundly relaxes me, at the cost of a modest degradation in consciousness. I experience extended moments but not the turns between them; each spell’s integrity is intact, just not what gets me from one spell to the next. Now I was with Ingmon and the boss, now I’m being carted down a corridor without recalling how I got there, now I’m in another room alone with my favorite music being played on the best surround-sound system I’ve ever heard, while my reclinable chair gently massages and jiggles my body. I don’t recall telling them to put on the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour, but here I am listening to the music of my childhood and it’s clearly not coming from inside my head. Interestingly, I hear all the songs on the album both consecutively and simultaneously, but leave off before the songs are finished, as I suddenly want to hear Led Zeppelin III. As I think the album, the Beatles fade out and Led Zeppelin fades in. Before I’ve finished the explosive side one of that album, I switch to Monteverdi’s Vespers and settle on that, a work better suited to losing myself in, should I not be able to return.
Freshly baked baguettes, a variety of cheeses and dark chocolates at my side, a bong packed with ganja buds sparkling with resin which goes nicely with the Monteverdi, and a bottle of wine. A marvelous Chinese winery of the future, clear ruby-red in the glass, firey dry and yet so perfectly balanced that the sweet and sour cancel each other out so it hits the tongue like spring water, leaving only a peppery tart aftertaste. I drink the whole bottle before the Monteverdi is over. When the music ends — I’m able to listen to the work all the way through with no annoying awareness gaps — I fiddle with the holographic video display. It has every movie, news show or book ever produced, called up again by thought commands. It takes some practice to isolate and select something without conflicting mental commands overriding it. I’d like to have a look at the history of the world over the preceding century but can’t figure out how to call up reference points I have no knowledge of. I try activating “Chicago 2060” but this only generates random items, a spinning carousel of gun commercials and horror films with titles like “Revenge of the sewer colony” and “Battle of the backyard baby snatchers.” Will need some help with this, if there’s time, and if I can find an assistant before being ferried away again for what I assume will be my last scene.
My thoughts harken back to my final moments with Ingmon and the boss, and a 3D video of our sexual embrace appears before me. With my eye motions I can swing the angles around in any direction as well as zoom in and out. I even figure out how to pause, fast-forward and reverse. This multi-angled viewability makes it the most fascinating porn film I’ve ever seen, and I replay it again and again from every perspective. And then I notice something peculiar. I thought Ingmon and the boss were playing some kind of secret sadomasochistic game of theirs when Ingmon started ordering the boss around. It was the first time they had done that and I wasn’t able to figure it out until now.
I am also able to call up every sexual encounter I’ve had with Ingmon from the beginning, and to put together the history I go over these as well. Whenever they start talking to each other, Ingmon tends to speak first and the boss answers. I had assumed Ingmon’s softer and more demure manner followed from her subordinate status, and the boss’s prompt responses from her liberty of expression. But now the reverse seems to be the case. Ingmon’s power over the boss freed her from the necessity to modulate her tone, while the boss was not at liberty to delay her responses. Could it be I have been mistaken all along and it’s Ingmon who is the boss?
The new revelation reminds me of Giulia’s relationship with Attica, which likewise took me the longest time to understand. Despite her slave status, Giulia was an aggressive take-charge type, self-directed, street smart and savvy, pragmatically rather than erotically inclined. If she freely gave herself sexually, it was because it was the easiest thing to do at the moment. No one had a less complicated approach to sex than Giulia. She entered into it with such ease and finesse she almost set a standard to aspire to (while Wing-yee was quite clumsy about it and there’s a certain appeal to that too). At the same time, she was hot-tempered, impatient and seldom at peace. Attica, meanwhile, lived in the moment. She had an equally uncomplicated approach to sex but that was her job. Getting her in bed cost me not a few denarii. Not that our lovemaking was cold and unfeeling — the stereotype of purchased sex. To the contrary. Her steely beauty and lack of sentimentality indeed greatly appealed to me. And she was kind. She and Giulia complemented each other in many respects and grew close. And as they grew close, their dynamic changed and it was Attica who took charge.
* * *
Forthcoming (summer 2017): The Kitchens of Canton