My Chanteuse, Part Four
Reaching out I forced my fingers under the first rope and lifting it away from her skin moved the knife under and with one swift motion cut the rope. Four ropes later she was revealed but still I stood there with the knife in my hand undecided. “NOW she yelled, do it NOW!” Instincts taking over I wondered what color my eyes were now as I moved towards her…
This experience is probably my strongest with her, though to be honest during those two weeks there were many “close seconds.” It took me a long time to decide to share these few weeks of my life, and much thought to decide exactly how to tell the story. Such experiences are often strung out until the reader loses interest, or told too quickly depriving the reader of the real feelings and emotions involved. You see, this is about a lot more than meeting a beautiful lady and having extraordinary photo sessions. This is about the very essence of a talented artist, her life and feelings and deepest fears as seen through the eyes of a fellow artist as lopsided in comparison his talent might be. By now the reader has got to be asking themselves why such a traditional and beautiful talent as Mei-Ling would at all be interested in sharing such powerful and emotive events with a relative stranger in such a raw setting. Sit back, I’m about to tell you why..
Hours later after untying her and preparing a bubble bath with scented oils and bringing her heart rate back down to earth I’d smoothed out the sheets and removed all the equipment from the master suite, lit the candles and brought in the fruit tray and some juices. She was laying on a thick soft white towel and I was sitting on top of her working a scented green oil into her skin being very careful not to get any on her abrasions or sensitive areas. This oil lubricates for massage, heats for healing, and then turns cold as it dries. Her shoulders were tied in knots and I did my best to relax her as I worked down from her neck, shoulders, arms, and finally her lower back and buttocks. Occasionally she’d reach out and take a strawberry or slice of cantaloupe and slowly eat calming and restoring energy with each bite. I felt really guilty seeing the abrasions caused by the ropes and when I tried to tell her I was sorry she just put her fingers to my lips and told me “thank you.” I think the massage was relaxing me as much as it was her, yet my eyes were taking in her beautiful naked form while my mind was reliving the hours before and I found myself wanting her again and pressing back against me she softly laughed and told me we’d have to take a break for a while longer.
Turning her over I took the Nivea moisturizing cream I always use for massage and worked it into her upper shoulders and then down across the abrasions on her rib cage. Dabbing a bit more on my fingers I slowly worked it into the abrasions under her breasts while making sure to work the muscles in her stomach all the way down to her slim hips. I’d already applied peroxide on the worst of the areas to disinfect so this was just to replenish moisture and comfort. Her eyes watched me work and her hands came up and stroked along my upper arms as she smiled and told me it felt good. Parting her legs I sat back on the towel and took a closer look where the ropes had created friction and noticed the swelling had subsided leaving only a few light abrasions. Dabbing some more Nivea I worked it into the affected areas and watched her face as she closed her eyes. Softly she told me she was tired and I quickly moved to leave when she asked me to stay. “Just pull the sheet over us and hold me” she asked. I did as she instructed and nuzzling my face into her hair from behind I held her close until I could feel the deep and steady rhythm of her breathing as she slept. Soon I followed her into a deep slumber.
I was abruptly awakened by the noise of a crash as her body hit the floor and she yelped as she hit. Not fully awake I jumped from the bed and held her up now noticing she had somehow not seen the padded stool. The room was dim, but still lit by candles so I thought it odd she hadn’t seen it but didn’t give it much thought. Holding my arm she asked me to help her into the bathroom and I gave her my arm and led her to the toilet and then to wash her hands before coming back to bed. The rest of the night passed without incident and she woke me the next morning by putting the room service menu on my chest and asking if I was hungry. Fully awake she looked refreshed and happy after a good nights sleep. We ordered our breakfast and putting the phone back on the nightstand she lay down next to me and thanked me for the day before. “Have you ever done anything like that before” she asked. I assured her I never had and was excited about taking a look at the pictures later that day. She looked up interested, so far she’s only seen the raw proofs taken during the outdoor session but not any of the other work I’ve done of her. She said she wanted to see the pictures right after we ate so I loaded the CF cards into the reader and let Lightroom build the previews as we ate.
We both ate like pigs and I realized we only had a few snacks for dinner the night before and no real lunch. Now fully satiated we sat in front of my mobile workstation with its 17 inch monitor as I brought last nights collection up to view. This laptops screen was very good with a wide viewing angle, yet she said she couldn’t see the pictures. We ended up with her directly in front of the monitor and me standing behind her as we moved from frame to frame making slight adjustments as we went. The pictures weren’t bad at all, especially the ones of her in the dressing room where I was taking my time and checking the lighting often, but the polish slowly left my work as we got deeper into the scenes with the rope and knot tying. Directly behind her I could feel her body tense as she looked at some of the pictures and her breathing became more rapid as did mine. These pictures were raw in the rawest sense of the word. Each frame became more graphic, more revealing, and elicited stronger emotions as we went. All of a sudden she closed the top with a SLAP and turning to me with a big smile she said she was one satisfied customer but that she had to work that night and turn the room in before noon and suggested we get busy packing up gear.
It never takes nearly so long to pack up gear as it does to carefully lay it out to plan and soon we had everything but our personal bags sitting by the door ready to go. I didn’t want this day to end, it was the first night I’d “stayed over” with her and I was still processing the experiences from the day before and I wanted to process them with her. We had to leave soon though so we both took showers in different rooms and dressed. She called the desk and the bellhop came up with a cart and we loaded the gear and our bags and headed down to my SUV. All of a sudden she said she forgot her makeup bag in the master bath so giving her the keys to my SUV I told her I’d go grab her bag and meet her down in the parking lot.
Letting myself back into the room I walked back to the master suite and into the bath and there was her makeup bag on the counter. Reaching for it my foot slipped on the still wet tiles and I fell to the floor along with her bag which spilled onto the floor. I started putting things back into her bag but stopped when I got to a prescription bottle. I normally don’t snoop but I’d been physically close to this lady and we still didn’t know each other well and.. I suppose if she had something I should be concerned about I wanted to know so I read the label and it said “Latanoprost” and gave directions for so many drops in her eyes so many times a day. Normally I wouldn’t give eye drops a second thought, but I’d had RK surgery over 25 years earlier and a PRK touchup just a few years ago to keep my eyes in top shape so I was curious, perhaps she’d had similar corrective surgeries? Noting the name once more I finished putting things back in her bag and met her at the SUV where she gave me a hug and said she’d call me later than night when she was done working.
A few hours later I was home with my gear unpacked and the memory cards unloading into my main workstation and noticed that while my main monitors were a great deal bigger and brighter than my mobile workstation, these pictures still should have been easy to see. Thinking back to her spill during the night, the difficulty she had viewing the pictures needing a direct view angle, and then the drops… Pulling up my browser I fed in the name I remembered trying different spellings until I got it right and sat there and read the description. My heart sank and all of a sudden things made sense and I was sad. Latanoprost is a Pfizer product commonly used to treat glaucoma! Reading further I saw a common side affect was that with long term use it would darken the iris to a brown color. I thought back to her beautiful green eyes, the matching chemise and knowing the ancient Chinese found green eyes so rare they would treat their own with this rare color as deities, and all of a sudden I understood her desire to experience life, to try new things, and to maybe be flattered by a man who found her green eyes so appealing. The more I thought about it the more sense it made to me. Remembering the close up shots of her eyes I took while she was applying makeup in the mirror I went to those frames and zoomed in fearing what I’d see. It was there, the pupils were slightly different sizes and her eyes reacted unequally to the flash. Walking away from the workstation I put on my swim trunks and headed down to the pool.
There was so much to think about, and I’ve always thought about such things best when exercising so lap after lap I swam and considered each piece of information. She didn’t know I knew, and perhaps she never met to tell me. I was probably just a final good time before she finally lost her sight and started her life as a blind woman. Asians don’t think kindly towards the disabled, often thinking they’d earned their disabilities through bad deeds so the possibility that she was blaming herself existed as well. Back and forth I swam, should I tell her I knew? I’d read more and at her age, with her symptoms and dosage, I was guessing she had maybe 6-9 months more to go before losing total function and only being able to recognize large shapes and levels of brightness. I wondered how much longer under her green eyes would start showing brown flecks and slowly darkening? I’d only known her about ten days at this point, yet I felt like I’d known her much longer. Finally I couldn’t swim any more so I climbed from the pool and went upstairs to shower.
Deciding not to wait for her call I found myself back in the lounge listening to her beautiful voice having decided to not tell her I knew. If she wanted me to know she’d tell me, and there were only about five more days left on her contract in Bangkok before she’d move on to her next engagement. Over the next few days we spent a lot of time together as I took her to see the Grand Palace, the floating market, and other nearby sites I wanted her to remember. On purpose I told her my workstation broke and I wouldn’t be able to work on her images until the next week when a new part arrived. I asked for her address so I could send her some contact sheets and she quickly gave me her email and asked if I could put them in a private web gallery instead? Of course I said and let it go. The next day we’re standing in front of the immigration entrance at Don Meung hugging goodbye and she asked if I still had her email and saying I did I asked for her phone number and acting like she didn’t hear me she gave me a last hug and stepping through the gates as she handed her airport tax ticket to the ladies and disappeared from my sight. I wanted to yell after her that I knew, that it didn’t matter, I wanted to tell her so many things but I couldn’t see her any longer. All I had left of my chanteuse was a email address and a computer full of images.
Until next time..
You're killing us! Where are the photos?! PLEEEEEASE!