Instant Cambodia
Author: Geoff Dean

Chapter 4
Fixated and it is feels so good

 

Chapter 4

 

 Alfred was starting to get perturbed with his roommate, which was a rarity for him, since getting perturbed required some exertion. Still, this had gone on long enough. As a matter of fact, it had gone way past that.

 “You are never going to find Maria. You’d be disappointed if you did.”

 “I’m not looking for her, son.” Alfred didn’t like to be called this, either. “I’m just, well…” Harry was huddled over the computer, fingers flying feverishly, desperately seeking Susan or something or someone. He just didn’t really know what.

 “What, already?” Alfred was fully exasperated now as his voice only slightly portrayed. “The project is finished, graded, and returned, baby. That was so last semester.” Alfred did not do a good “valley girl”. Humor wasn’t really a specialty, either. “Why are you so fixated on Cambodia?”

 ‘Fixated?’ thought Harry between taps on the laptop. “I’m not ‘fixated’ on anything. I don’t even know what you mean by that!” He did and he was. Harry was not very good at feigning anger so the whole dialogue seemed artificial. Still, Harry bothered to go on.

 “I got interested in Cambodia. That’s all, man.”

 “That’s all, man,” mocked Alfred. “Is that all, Jack? Dude? Hombre?” Alfred was still a little worried. It was just out of character for Harry to get so into one thing as he apparently was on this Cambodia baloney. “Why didn’t you go see Tuck then? Meet a real Cambodian?”

 “I don’t know. It’s just not, well, it’s not like that. I mean…” Harry was incoherent in equal measure because he was absorbed in his computer search and because he had no idea why he didn’t go to see Tuck. It made sense that if he was interested in Cambodia, he would walk the five minutes to C Hall. And yet, he didn’t want to. And he didn’t know why. It made him uneasy as if there was some kind of outside force in possession of his will and yet he was powerless to resist. He would NOT meet Tuck. No further questions, please.

 “Harry, old buddy, old pal,” Alfred intoned, quoting that inveterate philosopher, Fred Flintstone, “you are…weird! Do what you like; I’m out of here.” And with a quick snag of his jacket from its resting place on the floor next to his bed, he indeed was.

 There was something soothing about being alone. Harry was not a loner, not really. But “Cambodia” was one of those things that “others” couldn’t understand and he couldn’t explain since he really didn’t understand any better than they did. He just wanted to know about the country, anything and everything, nothing too trivial, nothing too bizarre. Perhaps, he joked to himself in half seriousness, just perhaps, it was reincarnation or karma or ying and yang or something “Asian” like that.

 The site that appeared on the page, sky blue letters on a saffron background, two flags fluttering in the upper right and left corners, obscuring the Angkor Wat silhouette, declared itself the “Cambodian Friendly Servicer”. Below a section of khmer indecipherables, there was a brief English explanation.

 “You can use this one to making friend, Cambodian and International, OK? We help you so let’s make. It is no cost for servicer.” Alfred found the broken English somehow irresistible. He assumed that the idea was to create pen pals for foreigners who wished to make Cambodian friends. It had an air of fishiness to it, but Alfred’s curiosity was aroused and his caution disarmed by the crumbled English.

 Clicking on the “sign in” feature, Alfred was escorted to a page where he would be requested to fill out his basic contact information. It seemed harmless enough except that at the top of the page, there was a photo of a sultry apparently Cambodian woman in some kind of purple ethnic garment and headdress, with an unmistakable “come-hither” look in her eyes. If she weren’t just a picture on a screen, Alfred was ready to come thither and go yon with this apparition.

 While Maria had been sexy and voluptuous, this new creation seemed exotic and inscrutable. Alfred noted to himself that it only took one letter change to make “exotic” into “erotic”. Her eyes were especially poisonous, so clear and pure and yet so clearly and purely dangerous. She was a mystery wrapped in an enigma and Alfred was dying to unwrap her. As Harry looked on, the screen suddenly turned to a force field of asteroids hurdling at the dear user. He had stared at the woman until the screen saver had kicked in. Unthinking as the screen saver was, it has served to embarrass him. His hand shuddered slightly as he moved his mouse enough to “revive” the friendly servicer.

 The requested information was mostly typical drivel, address, phone number, password with its usual anally retentive rules of engagement, sex, and birthdate. A bit more unusual was the request for “blood type”, “zodiac sign”, and “favorite rodent.” Harry wasn’t sure if hedgehog qualified as a rodent or not, but he typed it in, nonetheless. The entire registration process took less time than he had spend gazing at the exotic, erotic Purple Woman. Upon entering and confirming, he was informed that “An e-mail will sent to your address in short. Please waiting.” Waiting, he would. With bated breath, perhaps.

 

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