Saturday, June 30, 2007

Smoking (Part One)

By Summer Pierre

Sometimes I wonder about each of our paths towards that destiny. How did we stumble, grope, choke or perhaps elegantly picked it up, as naturally as one would take a pee, to opening our mouth just wide enough to snugly fit the butt of the cigarette between our lips?
I cough, choked, teared (as in 'tear drops') and just about vomited the way to mine.
First time ever. Tried it just to see what it was like. I wanted to know what made it so compulsive even when it stank so bad. It was college. As usual, after the lame ass music, environment and atmosphere of the 'Prom Night' organized by some of the students in the A-levels program, we bounced to what used to be one of the hottest night clubs in Kuala Lumpur at the time. If you don't know where I'm talking about then goddamn I'm old. Fires. Behind Shangri-la. We're talking early nineties here. So it's about an hour in. I was bored and feeling a little adventurous after a few vodka limes, my usual then. Spotted some of my friends sitting in a cluster of high chairs arranged around a small high table which had a few half drunk and empty glasses. In the middle was as usual, the ashtray. Full. Of cigarette butts jammed down into various strangely artistic poses which could even merit its own installation at the Tate. So there they are smoking. I tell them. (Note, the dialogue that follows and what happened captures more of the feel of what happened rather than what was actually and accurately said. I remember there were actually three of them at the time but for narration have reduced them to one)
'I want a cigarette.'
'Hah? Since when you smoke one?'
'I don't. I want to try it now.'
'Why now?'
'Hiya. Why you ask so many questions? Give me onelah!'
He fishes his cigarette pack out of his tight trousers with his thumb and forefinger, as if yanking out a flopping fish.
'Waitlah. Waitlah. This one not my fault ah. Just remember that. You ask for it one ah,' he says as he holds the cigarette perfectly vertically in front of me. 'I also just want to say for the record: It's bad for you.'
'Yalah, yalah,' I say as I grab the stick from him.
I put the stick in my mouth. He holds up the lighter for me. Click. An unsteady wavering flame occasionally quivers. Buffeted by the little unseen eddies of wind. Even as he protected the hesitant flame. It did not dare stretch itself. I lean down and aim the tip of the cigarette to the flame.
'Okay, now suck on it a bit. Bit by bit. Oooh yeah.'
'Shut up!'
'But seriously, take short pulls on it to get the ciggie burning.'
I smell smoke. I took short pulls on it. Not quite know what to do with it. One thing for sure. The smoke was getting to my eyes. Like a thousand tiny stabs in my eyes.
'Hiya, you're not inhaling! Take a deep pull and instead of holding it in your mouth, pull it in with your chest. You should feel it go down your throat. Which should burn since you're a first timer.'
So I did as he said. And it was as he said. Though he left out the fire in the chest feeling bit and what may come after. Perhaps it was easier for him. For me though. It began with this very mild sort of burning sensation in the chest. My chest then felt like it was going to leap out of me. To get away from the smoke. Which then rose to the throat which was still raw after that blast of hot dirty air down that went past it just recently. And finally, lodged itself in my throat and provoked me to tear, to feel breathless and to near cough my guts out. My friend was kind enough to draw the attention of my other friends to my situation so as to partake in the amusement of my predicament. They thought the redness in my face, which arose because I was coughing so much I could not breathe, was a nice touch.
That was my first puff. And my last! I thought to myself.
It tasted awful. Smelled awful. And was supposed to be bad for you to boot.
How could anybody like this awful thing?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Not the Usual Date: The Ride There (Part Four)

Step in. They. Haven’t eaten.
Sit down.

‘Ladies. Wan. I must apologise. I have to go.’

‘What’s up, man?’

‘Sai just got arrested at some mosque in Kajang. His fiancée doesn’t know what’s going on. I gotta find out where they’re taking him and what the hell he’s been arrested for.’
He's pissed off.

Shake Ida's hand. Cool. Soft.

'Ida. It was very nice to meet you.'

Turn to. Nadia.

'Nadia ...'

'Zack, I know this might sound weird.' Huh? 'But I was wondering if I could follow you.'

Kidding me. 'Uh... really?'

'Really. I would love to see the great criminal lawyer in action.'

'Nadia?!' Surprised. Or annoyed.

'But, uh... don't you want to finish your dinner? It's really good.' God, that was so so lame.

'I can always come here if I really wanted. It's not every night I would get to see you in action.'

That's true. But honey, you could every night!

Adventurous. To boot. Be still. My drug-fueled heart.

'But, it's not as action packed as those TV sitcoms. It's pretty boring really.'

'Nadia! What about me?'

'Oh Ida, Wan can keep you company here. And anyway, I'm not expecting a Bruckheimer movie. I can go to the movies for that too.'
Insistent. Okay. Gotta move.

'Wan. Can you stay with Ida?'

'Yeah, sure. But, uh.'

Great. What now?

'You sure you don't need my help?'


'I wouldn't know. Can you? Quickly, Wan! Time's of the essence.'

'Ida, I really want to stay here with you but as sublime and intoxicating as you are, the thought of my best buddy running around looking for his brother... even though I don't really like that piece of shit... I don't...'

Ida. Disappointed. Big time.

'Wan, let me talk to her for a second.'

'Nadia. I don't mean to push, but we gotta go in 2 minutes.'

'Okay.' Step away.

'Wan, pass me your phone. I'm gonna need it for the next few hours, is...'

'It's yours.'

'Thanks.' Dial. Rahim. 'Rahim?'

'Who's this?'


'Oh. Encik Zachary, good evening.'

'Rahim. Where are you?'

'I'm... uh, having dinner at the moment. At... the office.'

'I've got a favour to ask.'

'Ask away, Encik Zachary.'

'My brother's been arrested. He was arrested about 10 minutes ago at a mosque somewhere in Kajang. I need you to check what went down there?'

'Okay. I'm on it. I'll call you back once I find something.'


'Are those girls ready?'

'Okay, let's go.' Nadia.

'Wait. Who's us?'

'All of us. Ida's coming as well.'

Great. Just great.

We're walking.

'Okay, Wan, get somebody to call us a cab.'

Wan. Throws card. Credit. 'Bill, please. As fast as you can.'

Signs chit.

'A cab? The hell for? We got a great comfy limo waiting on us outside!'

'It's too flashy.'

'Dude, what are we gonna do with the limo for the rest of the night?'

'I don't know. Get rid of him!'

'Hell no! If you call a cab you gotta wait some more. Let's just roll.'

Oh no. This. Disasterous.

Gotta move.

'Fine. I can't wait anymore.'

Limo. Stretched. Tearing through KL.

Destination: Kajang.

MTV blasting. But.

Everybody. Pensive.

Wan. Talk to. Ida. Trying.

Nadia. Staring out.

Me. On the phone.

'Evening Inspector. Zachary Hamid, here.'

'Ah... evening Encik Zachary. How are we this evening?'

'Not good.'

'Oh, sorry to hear that. What's the problem?'

'My brother's just been arrested at a mosque somewhere in Kajang about 20 minutes ago.
Would you happen to know what happened there?'
'Kajang. Hmmm... I do remember something about some disturbances at a mosque in Kajang. I'll have to call you back.'
'Inspector. I'm always obliged.'

Click. Dialing. Terrence. Reporter. The Star. Crime beat.


'Ey, man. What's up?'

'Where are you?'


'Great. Need a favour.'

'What's up?'

'Do you know whether there's been anything reported or not reported about some disturbances at a mosque somewhere in Kajang?'

'Not sure-lah. Can check. How soon?'

'Very soon. My brother's just been arrested.'



Now. Just wait.

Hate this part.

Slide. Closer. To Her.


'I hope you're not bored out of your wits already.'

Turns. Smiles. Look forced.

'No. It's interesting to see how you work.'

'It's nothing much... just working the phones until I know where to find him. But I've called everybody I have to call. It's just a matter of waiting now.'

'Do people always do what you tell them to do?'


If they did. World would be beautiful.

'I'm afraid not.'

'Could have fooled me.'


'What made you decide to become a lawyer?'

Good one. Used to. Have an answer. Good one. Too.

Don't know. Anymore.

Tell her the truth.
'I used to know the answer to that question. These days I'm not so sure.'


'Why? Laugh. Slight bitterness. 'Maybe, I'm just tired. Tired of seeing the ugliness, petiness, stubborness, unreasonableness of people. I'm sick of being thrown in the path of mad, rabid pitbulls and asked to sort it out, as cheaply and quickly as possible. I'm sick of having to appear before judges too stupid to find their own asshole even if you gave them a map, directions and a GPS system. I'm angry that all my ideals, my dreams, and hopes have been trampled on, raped, and ignored. I'm furious that the law is not about justice, fairness or equality, or even truth.'

She stares. Stunned.

'Shocking, eh? I have no doubt that you're asking yourself: why is this guy whose entire life revolves around the law sound as if he's one thought away from leaving practise? It's a valid question, I suppose. Very valid. I mean, if that were your question. But it's not. Your question was: Why don't I know why I decided to become a lawyer? Right?'

She nods. Stunned. Still.

Can see her still trying to digest this.

'Because everything I believed in about the law, about people about goodness and badness, about truth, about life, is a lie. It's all a fucking lie. Pardon, my french.'

No laughs there.

'People are not nice. Truth is not nice. Being good is not nice. People are selfish, petty, irresponsible and vengeful creatures. Truth is whatever you want it to be, or convince yourself it is. Being good? Hmph. There is no good. There is no bad. It's just people doing what they want to do. That's why. Does that answer your question?'

She's look at me. Wan and Ida. Both looking at me.

Wan's phone rings.


'Encik Zachary, please?'

'Rahim, what did you get me?'

'Sir, I found out that there was a demonstration at a mosque in Kajang.'

'Why was there a demo?'
'From what I understand, the government wants to demolish that mosque and build a newer bigger one about 20 kilometers away.'

'So, the mosque that is slated for demolition is in a PAS stronghold. The new one's in an UMNO area.'

'Fuck. Politics. What else do you know?'

'That's pretty much it. The people in that area were protesting the demolition and the police
must have clamped down on them.'
'Do you know whether this was regular or SB?'

'Sorry, sir. I don't know.'

'Okay, we're on our way to the Kajang police station. Get there.'

'Yes, sir.'


'Who was that?' asks Nadia.

'Rahim. My sidekick. I'm Batman. He's Robin.'

She smiles. Faint.

'So what's going on?'

'Usual government oppression. My brother was protesting the demolition of a mosque in PAS territory. Police arrested them.'

'Oh, no.' She seems. Genuinely concerned.

'Oh, yes. Now it's political. This makes things even trickier.'

'What are you gonna do?'

'Get my brother out of whichever jail he's being locked up for.'

'Is it that easy?'

'The first lesson you learn in the practise of law, Nadia, is that nothing is easy.'

10 pm.

Kajang police station.
There's a crowd outside the police compound. Bingo. Wives. Children. Uncles. Aunties. Cousins. Friends. NGO's. Plainclothes policemen. Lawyers. Press. It's a fucking circus. When we pull up in the stretched limo, it becomes a full blown carnival. Only thing missing is the goddamned Miss Malaysia. And that's because she's in the car.

'Shit. It's madness out there. Nadia, I don't think you should go out. You might just get lost or
more likely, molested, out there.'
'I appreciate the warning but I want to go. I'm not wasting my time sitting in the car when all the action is out there.'

Shit. This chick is psyched.

You want action? You'll get action.

'Fine. Have it your way. Wan, how much cash do you have on you?'

'Uh... about four grand.'

Ida and Nadia. Listen. In disbelief.

I have only. Four hundred ringgit.
'Hand it over.'

Now they watch in disbelief.

Wan hands over. Money clip straining. With cash.
'You comin'?'

'Nah. I'll be a liability. You go ahead.'

'Alright. Nadia. Stay very close.'
Door opens.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not the Usual Date: Dinner and Then Some (Part 3)

8:35 pm.
La Fite.
Décor. Sobre. Staid wooden floor. Soft Curtains hanging.
Full house. Pin Drop.
Hushed whispers. Sweet nothings. Expensive nothings.
Our table. In a discreet corner.
Butt on seats. Drinks in hand. Pre-appetizers smoked.
No Models.

“What time did you tell them dinner was again?”
“They’re late.”
“They’re models. They’re late.”
“I forgot they’re a special breed.”
“Don’t you dare start.”
Staring at nothing. Just ahead.
Boom! Like a supersonic jet.
Gliding. Through the room.
Head turners. Heart breakers. Boner Muses.
Beauty. Not just a pleasure to see. A privilege to behold.
Walking towards. Us.

“Hey Wan! This is my friend, Nadia.”

We stand.
“Uh, yeah, and this is my bud, Zachary. You ladies can call him anything you like, but he prefers ‘Zack.’”
“Zack.” Nod. “Ida. Zack.” “And Nadia.” Nod. “Zack. Nadia.” “Shall we?”
We shall’ed.
Sit. Shuffling. Seats.
Must admit. This. Is the best part.
They are. Achingly beautiful.
Yes. She is. Miss Malaysia. The Miss Universe one.
That is. Usually. Not uncommonly.

Until they talk.
Still. Getting comfortable.
We begin:

“Can we get you ladies a drink? Champagne? Wine?”
“Hmm… I’m feeling naughty tonight. A glass of Champagne, I think.” Says Ida. Oh man. When did Urma die?
“Sounds good. About the champagne, I mean.” Knowing looks.
Okay. Somebody’s got lift off.
“And, uh, Nadia, what can we get you?”
”Orange juice for me please, thanks.”
Wan gets champagne.
I get orange juice.
A touch of huskiness. To her voice. Though. Nice.
“And I have miles to go before I sleep.” Mumble.

“So Zack. Nadia and I were wondering whether you are that criminal lawyer, Zachary Hamid.”
Sigh. Try to. Smile.
“Well that is my name and I do a little bit of criminal work here and there. Could be.”
They. Smile back. Those million dollar ones.
“That first year lawyer who successfully defended the ‘impossible trial’?” Nadia. Zhang Zi Yi's identical twin. Swear on whichever. Holy book. If need be.
Damn. Got me. Blushing.
These girls. Good. Very.
By then. Wan. Ida.
Conversation. In flight. We have take off. Roger that.
“Wow. This is so cool.” Surprised. Genuine.
“Didn’t know you were in the habit of following criminal trials.”
“I actually find the law fascinating. Even back then. Plus my dad’s a lawyer as well.”
Damn! Is this. On live telecast. Or something?
“What about law do you find fascinating?”
“The idea that justice could be meted out. Applying both in general with room made to accomodate each individual too. Like this huge elastic umbrella that can reach out and shelter some of the isolated groups or people not directly under it. It... it's like the rails of society. That's it.” Very pleased. With herself. Flashes another one of those. Million dollar smiles. Glowing. With the pleasure of thought. Wow.
Is she for real. Or what?
“I think your friend, Ida, mentioned to Wan that you are in the legal line?”
“Something like that but ‘were’.”
“I just finished my Masters. I just got home and am taking some time off. Relaxing.”
“Where’d you do read your law?”
“Lovely place.”
“Yeah. It has a very rustic feel to it. I love it there! You could go walking in the forest anytime you wanted because they had treks just behind the halls. They have a lovely church. When they sing during mass on Sunday, it’s heavenly! The acoustics lends a sense of majesty to the singing. Have you been there before?”
Cross. Necklace. Plain silver.
Resting happily. Against her collarbone.

“Oh. Once. It’s been so long though. I don’t even have faded memories to hold on to about it. Sad, right?”
“Well, maybe it’s time you went back to England. When was the last time you were back there?”
A lifetime. Ago.
“I haven’t been back since I graduated.”
“Oh wow. Is that long?”
“Yeah! Like… 8 years ago.”
“That IS long. Where’d you graduate from?”
“Oh Bristol. It’s a lovely place! Kinda hilly though, right?”
“Yeah. Have you been to Bath though?”
“Oh yes! Bath is absolutely gorgeous. I loved the Roman baths. The quaint cobble stone streets. The bridges. It’s like a perfect postcard picture town.”
“Alliteration noted.”
She giggles.
“I’m impressed! Not many people notice that. Or when they do they don't know what it's called.” A touch of satisfaction crept. Into her smile.
“Confession time. I’m a geek.”
“Would you believe me if I told you I’m one too?”
“Nope. As a lawyer, I have to put everything to strict proof. And in such devastatingly serious matters such as these, the burden of proof of beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
"It's true. I love to read. I'll read anything.”
For real?! Oxymoron. Smart. Model.
“So who are your favourite authors?”
“I'll even read toothbrush or cereal boxes... Oh sorry! It might take us all night if I list them out."
Sounds fine. To me.
"I’m actually into short stories at the moment. So Maupassant is definitely up there.”

Maupassant. My favourite.
Chekov? Holy shit!
I love. Maugham.
“Novelists… hmmm… I love Nick Hornby, Kazuo Ishiguro, P.G. Wodehouse, Kathy Lette for my trash, and... oh, there are just too many!”
Paradigm shifting. Major.
“How about you?”
“I like those guys you mentioned too."
"Cool! What are you reading now then?”
“Well, I haven’t been reading a lot of fiction lately. At the moment, I’m reading this book called “The Age of Missing Information” by Bill McKibben. This guy is hilarious. He did an experiment. He spent 24 hours, or a day, in the country. And then spent a few weeks watching 24 hours worth of TV for each 93 cable TV channels for one day. I haven’t really finished it but the gist of his argument is that you learn more sitting in the woods naked contemplating your navel compared to plopping yourself in front of the TV.”
“Really? Sitting naked in the woods?”

“Yeah. Not one thread.”

Pause. She's thinking.
"Why does he have to be naked?"
"Why does he have to wear clothes?"

“You’re funny.”

“Not really. I think you just like to laugh.”

Smiles. Cheers.

Menu. Served.

Waiter. Black suit. Bow tie.

Beside. Table.

“Have you been here before?”


“What would recommend?”

“What do you feel like?”


“Okay. How about the pigeon to start and the lamb cutlets for the mains?”

“Sounds good.”

We order.

“You mentioned your father was practising?”

“Yeah. Maybe you’ve heard of him – Lim Wei Ming.”

“Hmmm… afraid not.”

“It’s okay. He does mostly corporate work.”

“Ahh… which firm is he in?”


“Ah. Big time.”

Shrugs. “Not really.”

“Is he why you ended up reading law?”


“No pressure from him about reading law?”

“Nah. Maybe it was all those law shows on TV.”

“Maybe. You’d be surprised how many people tell me that they ended up being a lawyer
because they thought practise was like LA Law or the Practise, etc. i.e. fun, exciting, full of drama.”
“You mean it’s not?”

“Those instances are few and far in between. Most of the time it’s drudgery. You just plow through piles and piles of paper. You go through reams of statements. Spend your time in quiet contemplation or doing research. Writing papers.”

“Then why do you do it?”

“ I love the law. Although I'm in the process of falling out of love with it. The thing about legal practise here is it's challenging. Sometimes on the law. But mostly it's about how you get around certain things. And intellectually there’s always some issue that has loose ends, imperfect principles, different ways of approaching it, for us to research and think about.”

“Sounds like you still enjoy practise.”

“Heh… looking at me practise, you wouldn’t think so!”

“Well, it’s what’s inside that counts, right?”

Uh. Yeah. But not for you, honey.

Wan. Shoots me. Look.


“I dislike people who judge books by their covers. I didn't quite feel this so much in England when I was there, but I find Asian people do that a lot.”

“Well, the logic I suppose is that covers are supposed to be an indication of what’s inside. You know… The title gives an indication about what the book’s about. The cover gives an impression of the book. The little write up at the back tells you what the book is about and there are the comments as well about what other people think of the book. So, there is a lot of information on covers. These days, anyway.”

“Yeah, but that’s just information about what the book is about. You can’t make a proper evaluation of the book with just that information. You can’t tell whether it’s good or bad read just from that information. And what’s more, the comments at the back are biased. They only tell you the good things about the book. That’s why I never bother with the comments about the book.”

Wan. Kicking me. Under the table.

Appetizers are served.

“Oh these look so lovely!”

Not. As you.


“It’s almost a shame to eat them.”

“Key word here is “almost”. Bon appitit.”

Damn. Looks. So good. Eating that.

Wishing. Fervently. Her appetizer: Me.

Brunello di Montalcino. Ordered.
“So where’d you do your Masters?”


Fuck! Not. Just smart. Damn smart.
“Ah. So what’s next for you? Any plans to practise?”

“Hmm… not at the moment, no.” Smiles. “I’m taking a year off.”


“Mmm… well, not … sort of.”

“Sounds all… very mysterious!”

“Bizarre, more like.”

Like. Today.


“Would you believe it if I told you I won the Miss Malaysia title?”

“I would believe it even if you didn’t tell me.” Work it. Work it.

“Yeah, right!”

“Yeah, right! Yeah right!”

“Hmmmm…. That was good.”

Appetizers. Finished.

Big smiles. All round.

I’m addicted. To her smiles.

Want to reduce it. To powder. So I can sniff it.

“When did you win it?”

“About a month ago.”

“Damn! You’re Miss Malaysia and what do you do on your first month of your reign? You go for a dinner with two strangers!”

“I know! I was just thinking how ironic the situation is. Here I am, Miss Malaysia and there you are, the famous criminal lawyer, and we’re both here chaperoning our friends! You’d think it was the other way round.”

“Tell me about it.” Whisper. Gritted teeth. Story of my life.

Stunning. Smart. Classy. Talker. Reader. Damn.

She is. Kitchen Sink.

“So, how do you know, Wan?”

Hooo Boy. Hoop. Hoop.

“Him. Oh. Heh. Hmmm… We met like about 5 years ago. Yeah.”

“Oh. Okay. How did you meet?” Curious thing!

“We met at like some mutual friend’s party and uh, hit it off from there!”

That should do it. I hope.

"I see. Can I be frank?”

“Only if you let me be Mrs. Frank. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. Sure. Be frank.”

“You seem pretty different from Wan. Well, from what Ida told me about him, anyway.”

“Well, we are pretty different from each other. But somehow, and you might find this hard to believe, we do actually have some mutual interests in common. Plus, he’s a pretty fun guy, most of the time.”

“Ida says he’s crazy.”

“Yeah. Borderline insanity.”

Laughter. Comes easy. For her.

Better. Switch. Topics.

“So, how about you and Ida?”

“Oh, we’ve been friends for like, forever. We’re neighbours. Same school. Same college. The only
difference is she went to a different university. We both even did law.”
“Soul sisters, eh?”

“Yeah. Something like that.”
“How many in your family?”

“Four. Mom. Dad. Me. And my younger brother, Alex. Yourself?”

“Six of us. Parents. Me. Two younger sisters, Zila and Nina, and one younger brother, Saiful.”

“Sounds fun with so many siblings!”

“There are highs and lows.” Half hearted. Smile.

More lows. Lately.

“So is anybody else in your family a lawyer?”

“No. Just me. Zila’s in advertising. Saiful is… is… just … let’s just say he’s religious. And Nina, the youngest, is in first year uni. Studying graphic design.”

Frowns. Not good.

“Why do you say ‘religious’ like that?”

‘Because… truth?’


‘He’s extremely religious. Nobody knows what he does. He’s never around. We suspect he’s giving religious classes at some mosque. We only see him once a week during family dinners on Sunday. And even then he’s pretty secretive about what he’s up to. And let me tell you, it’s no fun because he’s always preaching to everybody else about what sinners we are, and I’m always arguing with him about what a zealot he is.’

‘Hmm. How is it you’re here drinking a glass of wine when your brother is probably some place giving religious classes?’

‘That’s a question I’ve been asking myself!" Nervous laughter.

Smiles back. Whew!

‘I thought it was forbidden for Muslims to drink wine.’

‘And your thoughts are most certainly correct! But then there are muslims and there are muslims, and there are the irredeemably naughty muslims.’ Cock Head. Left. Smile.
I’m a sinner.


‘But I’ve been babbling about myself. What about you? What’s your family like?’

‘Oh, not as colourful as yours, I’m afraid. My father’s a doctor, and still runs his clinic. My mom’s retired and now just takes care of the house and my father. My brother’s still studying architecture in Australia.’

‘So, they happy that you’re back?’

‘Yeah. I’m happy to be back too. There’s no place like home.’

Ida breaks in.

‘Uh, guys, we’re going to the ladies for a while.’

Wan. I. Get up.

Corner. They disappear.

‘Sooo… the model thing still a bad idea?’

‘I apologise.’

‘Damn right, you apologise! From the word ‘go’, everybody else just ceased to exist!’

‘Okay. Okay. I’m the idiot!’

‘Got that right. Just remember who said that the next time! So. How is she? Looks fucking amazing!’

‘Kitchen sink.’

‘100% bona fide kitchen sink, right out of your mama’s kitchen. Goddamn man! Why is it you always end up with the hotter chicks?’

‘Hey, ease off, man. I haven’t ‘ended up’ with her!’

‘Whatever, man. She looked like she couldn’t wait to get under the table.’

‘Shut up. And I don’t know what you’re complaining about. Ida’s looks like bloody Uma Thurman!’

‘Yeah, but she’s not Miss Malaysia.’

‘Jeez. Will you get over that?’

‘Yeah. BBP! Plus she’s a wild child! We were playing footsie under the table!’

‘Really? I’m getting this ‘christian’ kind of vibe from her.’
‘Zack. Listen to me, okay? Enjoy the moment. That shit doesn't matter okay. This is not for life. You’re not going to fucking marry her, okay?’

‘Shit. I feel cursed. I meet one of the most stunningly beautiful, intelligent and interesting woman I’ve ever met, and she’s Christian. This is why, I’m not religious! I’m God’s joke!’
‘Zack. Shut the fuck up and enjoy the night, alright? God. If I could light another one up and shove it up your ass right now I would.'

They’re back.

Can see. They’ve talked.

We’ve been rated. Evaluated. Dissected.

Come to sit. In judgment.
Oh, be merciful!

Dinner. Immediately served.

‘Oh wow. The cutlets smell so good!’


‘They look good too.’

‘They do don’t they? Your fish looks very interesting.’

How about me?

‘They cook the fish really well here. Somehow they always manage to surprise me. Well, enjoy!'

Small pieces. Cut. Chewed. Tasted. Exquisite.

‘So…’ I start.

Beethoven’s Ninth. Blaring. Sounds like.

100 piece orchestra.

Wan’s phone.

‘… how was that?’

‘Oooh… simply divine!’

‘Uh… Zack. Phone call.’




‘Yeah. Ma?’

What she says. I don’t like.

Not. One bit.

‘Zack! Sai’s been caught by the police!’ She. Virtually screams.
Escapes the phone. Rolls around our table.
Which goes quiet.
They. Turns to me.

‘Just! Ina just called me.’

‘Ina knows? How does she know?’

‘I don’t know! All I know is she said he was taken by the police.’

‘Where was he?’



‘That’s what she said?’

‘Yes. Oh Zack, please do something!’

No. No. No! Story of my life.

‘Okay. What’s Ina’s number?’

She tells me. Hang up.

‘What’s wrong, man?’ Wan.

‘Uh. Sai’s been arrested.’

‘Holy shit? How did he get arrested?’

‘I don’t know. Will you please excuse me?’

Step out. Dial. Tone. Ringing.


‘Mualaikumsalam. Ina ke?’


‘Ma kata Sai kena tangkap polis. Betul, ke?’

‘ah ah.’

‘Dia dekat mana, tu?’

‘Kat masjid kajang …’

‘Dia tengah buat apa tu?’

‘I dah kata dah kat Sai pagi ni.’

‘Ina, bila Sai kena tangkap?’

‘Baru ni! Kereta dan van polis tu baru tolak.’

‘Kenapa dia kena tangkap?’

‘Tak tahulah. Tak sempat nak cakap dengan dia tadi.’

Shit. Shit. Shit. Fucking Saturday night!

‘Uhm… Ina, cepat tolong cari kawan dan ikut kereta polis tu. Aku nak tahu mana dia nak bawa Sai.’

‘Okay. Okay.’

‘Sekarang tau!’


Shit. Shit. Dinner with Miss Malaysia. And my brother gets arrested.

Fucking unbelievable.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Self Portrait

May 2006
Hua Hin, Thailand

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Not the Usual Date: The Trip There (Part 2)

8 pm. Living Room. Waiting.
Dressed in:

Black boxers. CK. Check.

Black linen slacks. Armani. Check.

Black linen shirt. Thomas Pink. Check.

Black leather shoes. Ferragamo. Check.

Black jacket. Zegna. Check.

Black socks. Argyle. Check.

Dressed Up. Somewhere to go.

“Whoa! Dressed to kill! Where’re you going?”


“With whom?”


“Kewl. Like when’s he supposed to be here?”

Pon! Pon!

Wan. You tacky. Son. Of a bitch.

Not just. Limo. Stretched. White.

So OTT! And Very. The Embarassing.

Door opens.

“Wan!” Nina hugs him.

“How’s my favourite lady?” 8pm. He’s wearing shades.

All black as well. Great.

“I didn’t know we had a date tonight, Wan?” Teasing.

“Oh Nina, tried to reach you but I got your brother instead. What can I say? I was desperate.”

“Maybe it went to message.”

“Maybe.” Smiles.

“So, where are you guys going tonight?”

Look at Wan. Not answering. That.

“We’re going on a double date. Zack’s here has kindly and *ahem* graciously agreed to teman
me.” Glances at watch. “And, as much as I would love to stay and chat, we’re uh… running a bit late. You ready?”

“Didn’t you see me fully dressed when you walked in?”

“Okay then. Lessa roll!”

We roll. Space. Mini Bar.

Stereo. Appropriately badass.

TV Screen. MTV. Billboard. Bouncing.

Phone. White Leather. Smells. Rich. Dirty. Smoothe.

Don’t feel. Roughness. Don’t hear. Outside. Everything. Dark. Dull.

Nobody. Sees. In.

“Don’t you think this is a little over the top?”

“What?” Pours. Gin & Tonics. In hands.


“Yeah, what?”

“Fucking limo?”

“What did you want? ‘Hey ladies, step into your Perdana’ or ‘my fucking 2-seater Porsche?’ That’s sooo not happening.”

“I don’t know… This just feels totally over the top.”

“Zack, people are attracted to the candle that burns twice as bright. Not the dull motherfucker that burns sure but slowly away into insignificance, knowhatimean? Anyway, chicks love limos. Maybe it’s got something to do with size. And there’s like you know… room.”

“Fine. It’s your night and your candle. Not mine.”

“Hey, don’t say that, man. You’re the one that ends up with Miss Malaysia. Could be your candle too.” He laughs. A dirty laugh. Pregnant with filthy thoughts.

“That’s because of you. And can I just say I’m tired of going out with models. Fuck man, I’m so tired of how goddamned shallow and stupid they all are. ‘I’m so fat. I’m so thin. My tits aren’t big enough. My thighs are too big. I’ve got no ass. I made it on New Man. I didn’t make it on FHM. MR.’ Whatever the fuck, man. I think I am so way past that. No more models after this. If you wanna fuck’em, please take someone else. Take Chris, Thiru, or something. I’m tired of them.” Gulp! “And make me another.”

“Fine. Fine. Then why didn’t you just say you didn’t want to come out tonight?”

“I did! You browbeat me into coming!”

“Fine. Fine. And can I just say that you can be amazingly stuck up sometimes. And pleaselah. They are not that fucking stupid. Give them some creditlah. Don’t think you’re so goddamned smart, yourself, alright? Mr. I-won-the-case-myself-smarty-pants-full of himself. I’ve witnessed how stupid you can be sometimes.”

Sound of. Wheels Humming. Filling. The empty space.

‘And a fucking arse too.’ Wan breathes. Clear enough. If. Wanting to hear.

Gin & Tonic. Back in hand.

“And besides we’re all out just to have some fun, alright? Not everybody’s like you looking for our goddamned future ‘soul mate’ every time we meet a chick. It’s not forever with every chick you meet. We’re just bouncing. I thought you were down with that.”

“I thought I was too. I'm sorry, man. It’s just that I’m getting tired. We’ve been partying like almost every week for the last 5 years, man. And between the partying, the booze, the drugs, all those messed up relationships, my work, I think I’m getting tapped out. All I want to do these days is just go home. Get stoned. Don't think. Go to bed."

“One more.”

“Oh spare me the fucking ‘I’m tired’ speech, okay? You start going on this spiel like every time the year is ending. I could set my fucking calendar to this shit, okay? Did you get enough sleep today?”
“No. I was fending off calls all afternoon from my goddamned colleagues. I only got like 2 to 3 hours tops.”

“There you go then. You are tired already. So don’t make it you’re your life is coming down on you or something. Christ, you can be such a downer when you’re out of it.”

Gin & Tonic. Back in hand.

“I think you should toke up before we get there. You turn up with this kind of attitude; we might as well not go. You’re going to be like some steaming pile of shit in the middle of a fine dining restaurant.”

“Too late for that.”

“It’s not too late. I’ll call ‘em and tell ‘em ‘Mr. Zachary Hamid is having a bad day. Sorry Miss Malaysia. And your model friend. Enjoy your dinner. His being a pot full of piss right now. Some other fucking day. Oh yeah, and he hates you models.’ Just say the word.”

His phone. Held up. Glowing. In the darkness.

“Come on.”

Fingers. Resting. Buttons. Waiting to be pressed.

“Just say, ‘Wan, I’m very tired. I don’t want to go out for dinner with Miss Malaysia tonight.’ Just say the word and I’ll call this whole thing off. We go back to your place and we smoke the shit out of that kilo in the boot.”

Oh my fucking god.

Voice. Lowered.

“Wan! There’s a kilo of pot in the boot?!!”

Nods. With a. Huge ass. Won a million ringgit lottery. Smile.


“Are you like fucking crazy? That’s the death sentence in the boot there! And on a Saturday night! There are goddamned road blocks all over the place. Oh Wan. You are insane, you know that?”

“What the fuck do I have to be afraid of? I’m with the best goddamned criminal lawyer in Malaysia, right?”

“You are nuts. You are really nuts?”

“What’s the problem, man? I bring you shit all the time! And I took precautions amigo.” Smile. Still there.

“Yeah, but never this much! You know the limit man. And what precaution?”

“The limo’s rented. Had it washed. Punctured the tyres so it had to be taken to the workshop. No exclusive possession. Like that case you were telling me the other day.'
Taps his head. Right hand. Middle finger. Winks.
'I listen and remember what you tell me. And anyway, it was a bumper! Got the Great Malaysian Sale sale prices on it.”

Sigh. A little knowledge. Dangerous thing. But. Wan's pretty damn sharp.
“And they never check luxury cars. And look, worse case scenario, I’ll just pay them off. These fucking cops are after one thing only anyway. I'm a freaking opportunity here. So, in summary, chill the fuck out.”
Horror night. Tired. As fuck. Dinner. Miss Malaysia. 1 kilo. Marijuana. In the boot. Opportunity, my ass.

"Can you like please toke up or something? You are such a fucking downer right now. Look I’ve got some shit I rolled earlier.”

Reaches. Side pocket. Pulls.

Wan. Rolls. The best. Absolute.

One. Massive. Phatty. Tight. Beautiful.

What I need. Now.

So bad.

“There. Here’s the bomb. Here’s the fire. Light it up.”
“I smoke that shit, I’m gonna fall asleep during dinner. Face first.”

“I don’t care, man. As long as it gets you out of this funk. You awful, awful beast!”


Dulls. The edge.

Sweet. Numbness.

Walking. On water.
Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.

“Nah. Fuck it. We’ll do it later.”

“No. Smoke it up, man. I can’t take the negative vibes you’re spewing any more. This isn’t how I want to go for dinner. All this negativity. You’re messing my mojo. Big time.”

No way. Out of this.
Flick of metal.
Smell of. Burnt paper. Then a thick musky scent.

An orange glow. Obscures Wan.
"Nah." Hands it over.
Familiar feel. Between the index and middle finger.
Long, strong pull.

MTV. Beats. Pulsating. Spinning. Earth shaking.
Fills. Spaces.
Head's light.

Suddenly. Large. Empty.

Just another room.

Eyes. Closed.



“Did you leave a VCD at my place?”

“Probably. I always bring VCDs over to your house.”

“Yeah, but did you bring any porn?”

“Porn. Whose acting in it?”

“I don’t know. Some guys.”

“Who? Pete North? Lex the Impaler? Ron Jeremy?”

“No. It’s guy on guy action.”

“Fucking gross man. Why the fuck you asking me, anyway? I’m a homophobe.”

“I know. But someone crazy as you is always a suspect for something.”

Monday, June 25, 2007

Maxim 1

A life lived is one spent not saved.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Not The Usual Date: The Invitation (Part One)

The Hangover
Anthony Falbo
A melodious tune.


“Yes, Wan.”

“How’s my homie on the west saaaaiiiiiiide?”

“Wan, are you latino or black?”

“Blatino, homie.”

“Wan. I’m in a very shit state of being right now. Cut to the chase.”

“Take a chill pill, Will!”


“Sheesh. Okay. Okay. You should be nice to those who come bearing good tidings, you know!”

“You don’t know what the news has to be to be good right now, man.”

“Zack, I’ve got news that would be good any time, any day, to any man.”

Sigh. “Spill it.”

“One word: models.”



“As in women?”

“As in fine women. As in women so fine, it would be a crime not to wine and dine them. And you know all about crime don’t cha? They’re like BBP.”

“Hmmm… I don’t know, man. I’ve feeling a bit fucked up right now.”


“I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep. I’ve been up since 9’ish, taking shit from my mom, 13 and …”

“Fuck that shit, man! Don’t tell me you’re pining about that cockteaser last week!”

“Fuck that.”

“Fuck you. Fuck that. You’ve been whining like a fucking cunt all week about that piece of ass.”

“She’s not …”

“She’s a piece of ass, okay?”

Don’t need. This. Right now.

“Fine. Fine. She’s a piece of ass.”

“That’s better. That’s rule number one. Don’t forget that. The moment you treat them as anything else, you get in deep trouble. Now, Dr. Wan has just the thing to cure that whiny ass of yours, because, brother, it’s starting to make me ill as well. So I have booked us some specialists who will take a good look at us and perhaps prescribe something for us. Or we can look at the specialists and see what they can do for us! Hahahahaha…”
Ah. Such simplicity. In life. In love.

Correct that. In Sex.

“Wan… I told you I’m like really …”

“Zack, you’re not fucking doing this to me man! You are not saying ‘no’ to me!”


“Don’t make me do what I have to do to get you out.”


“I’m thinking your place. About Maghrib. Lots of booze. Lots of women. Lots of …”



“Is that a ‘yes’ then?”

“Wan, why can’t you ask somebody else?”

“You won’t believe this!”

“I will.”

“Okay then, check this out. Cloud 9, right? Friday night. With Chong, Deva, Thiru and all of that.”


“So, I’m working the bar early. Like 12’ish. After an hour, I’m still without a number, right? We hit the dance floor. Next thing you know I’m bumping and grinding with this hot mama and her friends. And man, can she dance! AND all her friends were like HOT! So we’re there for I don’t know how long. Things kinda spun out of control and I forgot some bits.”

“What the hell were you on?”

“God knows. We took combos. And boozed.”


“Didn’t see him there. So anyway, we’re like stumbling out at 6 or something like that and I reach in my shirt pocket and there’s a number and a name. Cha-ching! Call her the next day and she’s game for dinner.”

“So what the hell has this got to do with me?”

“Well, she’s game if she can bring her friend. And they’re both students AND models.”

“Yes, you can stop emphasizing the word ‘model’ now. I heard you the first time. And students? For god’s sake Wan, how old are they?”

“Chill pill man! It’s all good. And legal, okay? So, anyway, the chick I talked to she’s in mass comm or something like that and her friend does law. She’s asking me who I was bringing, right? I tell her my friend who’s a lawyer. She wants a name, so I tell her: THE Zachary Hamid. Know what?”


“Her friend’s fucking heard of you! Turns out her friend actually reads the papers and followed your case. She thinks you’re like this legal greek god or something.”

“Wan. Please.”

“I kid you not! And that’s not the end of it!”

“Whatever, Wan. Just don’t feel like going out with models tonight.”

“What the fuck?! Any reasonable man on the fucking Clapham Omnibus wants to go out with models!”

“I don’t take the fucking Clapham Omnibus.”

“What the fuck, man?!”

“It’s just tiring man. And I’m tired. I never know what to say to them. And they never seem to want to say anything.”

“Man… I think you must be the only dick getting so worked up about conversation and talking and shit. What the hell you wanna do that for? Kick back. Relax. Enjoy the beauties. It’s time for body language, not the English language. Knowhatimean?”


“So, anyway…”

“There’s more?”

“Hell yeah! I haven’t even got to the best part yet!”

“Is this gonna take long? I really gotta get some sleep if I’m going to go out.”

“Just shut up then I’ll finish quicker!”

“Okay. I’m shutting up.”

“So I asked her what her friend’s name was. She told me: ‘Nadia Lim’.”


“Am I supposed to say something?”


“You just told me to shut up.”

“Fuck that. You can talk now.”

“Okay. Nadia Lim. So what? Who the hell is she?”

“’Who the hell is she?’”


“Uhhh… ‘she’ is just the newly crowned Miss Malaysia.”

“Are you serious?”

“As I’ve ever been. How the hell can you not know about that, man?!”

“Wan. I read the news. Real news, you know. People dying. Companies going insolvent. Global warming. And all that shit.”

“Yeah. Yeah.”

“When the hell was she crowned Miss Malaysia, anyway?”

“About a month back.”

“It’s only noon and this has to be the most fucking bizarre day in my life.”

“What’s bizarre about Miss Malaysia?”

“Nothing. Forget I said anything. So are we picking them up or what?”

“No, they’re gonna meet us there.”

“Good. You pick me up then.”


“I’m fucking tired man.”

“Oklah. But I don’t feel like driving, either.”

“Can’t you use your father’s driver or something?”

“Forget it. I’ll sort something out. Pick you up at 8. Since you’re in such a shit mood I’ll bring some

“Great. What are you bringing?”

“Our usual.”

“Wicked. Can you bring me some as well? I’m out.”

“Done. Anything else?”

“Yeah. Leave me alone.”