Turned Eye

Pavle Radonic

The fatty gleaming Indian doing tricks round Tasvee doesn’t give up easily, especially not after a brief eyeing three weeks ago at first encounter. Ever since beaming her come-on and last night presented her pitch.

Gal was a fair judge of a chance, capable of penetrating hidden lusts and subterfuge. She got about too. Passed one afternoon outside the library and on another occasion the biz district. Both times flashing, despite the crowd of faces and briefest of glances. Wouldn’t have thought those locales held much promise, but the gal would know best of course.

Silver stud in the nose complements the neon smile—a powerful dazzle against dark skin; the sole adornment she can afford. Short, but walking tall, cleavage revealing large bust and adding size. The one black dress by the looks.

Bounce in the step. More front than Myers, as they used to say back home. (Largest department store in Melbourne back in the day.) You have to admire the panache. Popular girl in younger days, before the pratas weighed in. The swagger retained.

An unlikely duo. The companion looked little value as any sort of pimp or protector. Certainly knows how to make himself scarce without being asked—peels off very quickly. They have been on the road together a while, covered lotta ground.

Some few years older, beard unkempt and grown out like the hair. Tall, not stooped exactly, though that was the impression beside her. A kind of retiring, shy type. The turned eye marking the pair as strongly as her smile, buxomness and forwardness. A kind of talisman.

Although the eye was clearly turned, one didn’t notice immediately. Not beside the girl. Did he slink off so quickly because they have divined that the eye frightens off customers? Seems likely. Man with a turned eye had less to lose when it came down to any rough-house. Man with a turned eye goes in boots and all. Taking a turned eye man’s girl can’t be recompensed sufficiently, no matter how many dollars. (And she can’t charge much.)

The carting of the bags his job. Waiting around, like last night at Tasvee. They take their meals together, share cigarettes. She came back with one from up the lorong directly opposite last night.

Good and bad shared together equally—the impression was strong.

The blue and white hopped shirt doesn’t get much of a washing; her black hiding stains. Sometimes he wears a baseball cap or bandana over thinning, long hair. At a guess, he possesses nothing like her command of English. A brother possibly? An old lover on whom she has taken pity seems less likely. Nothing in the behaviour either way.

Last night when she trooped down the lorong he spotted her a long way off, back down in the deeper dark. Yet he hadn’t kept particular look-out. For half an hour he had chatted quietly, standing with another Indian beside one of the tables where the other might have eaten. The first time either of them had been in other company.

Not long after the other left she appeared, seemingly unexpectedly. It was clear she had been gone a long time. When she had come out into the light of the street and was waiting to cross, he raised and shook both hands at her over the traffic.

Where have you been so long? Accompanying hard look.

Nothing that bothered her too much. Quickly she was on the move again, after some sharing of the cigarette. When she moved in one direction, he must have immediately moved in the other, disappearing without trace.

The on-lookers didn’t bother her in the slightest, numerous countrymen among them. She was well known at Tasvee; no concern of hers.

Names. Living, working?? Marriage status? Nationality? Girl-friend?… Girl friend’s nationality? She make it good?

Was that how she had asked it?

For a few moments it seemed she had the power of second sight, penetrating to the truth of all these matters. Perfectly frank. Enquiring smiles and almost a kind of solicitude and understanding offered.

She herself knew how to make it good. Make happy, they usually called it in that quarter. Just a few doors down. She pointed and might have given a name or number of the place. There seemed to be understanding too that perhaps she wouldn’t win the trick there and then. No matter; it could be something for the time ahead; sooner or later.

When she rounded back a second time a while after under the alcove, with her guy in tow, again she pointed up at the same place, where she made happiness. Smiling and nodding. The chap would know to make himself scarce so quickly that a fellow would never be sure whether he had been there in the first place

– Geylang Serai, Singapore 2011-22

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Image by Aline Berry from Pixabay