Yesterday I was feeling better and I thought it was over but I couldn't have been more wrong. Around 11pm I was overtaken by a fit of coughing that felt like my lungs were trying to free themselves of my chest. It sounded pretty much like that night a few years ago when I thought I could sneak my dad's car out of the garage; I turned on the ignition and what else happened but the motor wheezed and spluttered in the noisiest way a motor could.

There's no one to blame but myself. Actually there is. Prince Henry (the other guy in my apartment) started it all with his getting the flu. Now three of us are down. Of course it didn't help matters that I continued to sleep shirtless at night despite how cold it got. Also the fact that last weekend I went some 36 hours without any rest. Now that's a story.

My boss thought it was about time I did something productive like actually selling stuff instead of just productively sitting at my keyboard and banging away at the keyboard sporadically to give the effect of being busy. So since the 3rd of December I've been out of the office and manning our booths at random bazaars in the city. I was ecstatic at the opportunity to finally be free of the office walls I'd been starting to find claustrophobic until I found out I'd be working 10 to 14-hour shifts with no overtime compensation. Didn't you get the memo? My co-worker could only shake her head at my naivety. The insult to my injury - or, since this was probably not intentional, the salt in my wounds was that for three weeks I would have only two days off and no, they couldn't be used consecutively. Boss said I could have them at another time but who is he kidding, next week will be Christmas vacation already.

So anyway, back to last week. Faced with the prospect of work on Saturday and Sunday, I decided to go out on Friday night. I left work at 12 midnight, had a bite to eat and a quick shower at home, and arrived at the usual at 2am. For the most part I managed to contain myself and sit quietly to the side, in fact I think I pulled off the creeper act fantastically: sat by myself beer in one hand, cigarette in the other, on my face a glower or maybe a leer as I scan faces in the crowd at leisure like a hunter surveys a herd of deer. To be honest I was just tired and maybe a bit sleepy. After an hour or so of this sitting down I started to feel fidgety. I think I must have ADHD or something similar. I mean I was still tired and sleepy but, holy shit man it was like the dj was a snake charmer and I his snake and he was making me dance like magic because there were no drugs involved. You know that's how snake charmers do it.

There I was making a fool of myself again and it was an honest-to-goodness riot what with stage stomping, hip grinding, hand waving, and head banging. With such a flagrant mating display it was not long before a birdie came chirping by and when the sun came up he took me to his nest where we did a whole lot of brooding.

I slipped out of his house at 10am and flagged down a jeep only to find that I was down to my last 10 pesos. I mentally revised my projected tardiness to one hour and walked the rest of the way home. On my arrival I was surprised to find that it was still 10am and what do you know, turns out the time on my phone was 1 hour fast. Popped some pills - a colorful variety of Vitamins C, E, iron, etc; nothing prescription or illegal - with breakfast and then it was off to work. I got there only an hour late and ahead of my partner. By early evening we'd hit our quota.

Not too bad, I reckon. Not until now, at least.


It occurs to me that I'm afraid of this: I might have grown bored of the random hotel rooms, random meaningless banter, random boys with which I've built my Babel. I tell myself that this straining to reach heaven must be blasphemous except I have no choice but to build higher and higher because there is no way down.

When it's really quiet my thoughts often turn maudlin.

A soft light shines from the half-open bathroom door. From somewhere in the room a tinny radio sings ridiculous songs, I'd turn it off if I fucking knew how but. I'd tried to call the front desk to ask how to turn the thing off but dialing zero got me nothing but a dial tone. Actually the front desk had called earlier, just when the kissing turned torrid so when I answered the phone and the woman on the other line asked if we were settled in okay I told her that yes, we were doing just fine until she called and then I put down the phone. Also a few hours after that the phone rang again but that time I just took the phone off the hook. For a while I could hear the woman's voice coming from the handset but not for long.

There's something about the way TVs saturate a dark room with their colored light that always gets to me. The Incredibles was showing and I watched the first half of it because I'd never seen it before. Tell-chan snored beside me, his left arm draped around my body. Fuck there never was a face more beautiful asleep than his.

I'm lying there, trying not to move too much, watching his chest rise and fall softly and I'm afraid that what I really want is this: to hold his hand in silence.

*Photo is from the photobook 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' by Jeff Sheng. Click on the picture to view his website and some of the other photos in the collection.