Ace is one of the few people who knows how kind I am to cats.

‘Uhum,’ he replies,’I wouldn’t call throwing a bucket of piss at a cat  kind.’

If the fucker scratches me to piece, I’ll try my best to draw its blood.

‘And then?’

Throwing piss on it is my way of saying I’m the boss. I just didn’t have the heart to stab with it a scew driver. Besides, if I got caught, I’d get jail time.

I know I sound disturbed but  I tell Ace that he ten-tonne tessies  of the desert dispose of unwanted cats by gassing them at the end of an exhaust pipe.

Cats disappear. And I’ve been teaching my stray, avoid that fat slut, or she’ll gas you. It was a case of cruel to be kind and the cat is still alive, I’m told.

Ace reasons I should write a story from the cat’s perspective.

I won’t bother. Cats are the devil’s spawn.

I was humming a tune, Diamonds are Forever.

And echo came back to me, ‘Herpes are Forever.’

It was a late night run to the Apotek after Ace, a friend who is concerned with my condition,  told me to check it out.

I had a flare-up. I searched google, fucked if I was going to waste cash on a doctor when I could get the name of the antibiotic I needed online.

‘How many would you like?’

It was nearing midnight as the  five staff female staff,  three of them wearing a hijab, greeted me reluctantly.  The hijab just draws you into their face, I thought, ignoring their surliness, and each of them was pretty in their own way.

Orders were taken by ringing a bell.  I’d break them in and soon they’d be eating out of my plam. By hook or by crook, I’d break that morgue spirit that permeated the place. 

The order was then placed on a basket that was pulled up to the second floor. And the basket would come back down a minute or so later with the order. It was a  pully system and it just fascinated the fuck out of me.

They couldn’t find the antibiotic I wanted. I pointed to the name of it on my computer screen. So I showed them a list of other similar ones. They had that, they said. I’ll take that and a tube of ointment.

‘It is the right one,’ I asked when the lady handed it over once I paid.

‘Yes, it’s very good for herpes.’

I guess it had to be the right one. I started humming a tune again, ‘Herpes are Forever.’

‘But highly treatable,’ said the chubby lady in the hijab.

I was way behind the times of treatment and thought that you just grinned and bare it. I didn’t get it checked out in Oz, they’d want a full report of my sexual orientation before and then have me call up every whore I ever fucked, before selling me antibiotics.

Besides, I’m not a big fan of Bangladeshi doctors who want money first before treatment and I’ll go the long yards to avoid paying high doctor and prescription fees. They even put you on a blacklist once you admit to an STD and they even pressured me to have an HIV test. The nosey fucking bastards, I told them. I’ll shop elsewhere for my STD’s.

I had been going along as if I had a common cold.

But these girls knew their shit. I was here to cure an outburst of my best friend.

Then proceeded a discussion amongst the girls whether I should take a pill tonight or in the morning.

‘Better in the morning,’ said the young chubby lady in a hijab.

But I wanted to treat the disease immediately.

‘But then you’ll have to buy more pills if you take one tonight.’

Each pill was 24 000 Rupiah and I said I’d be more than happy to buy some more to make sure I took them over a five-day cycle.

I left the pharmacy to the sound of giggling.

They had come to their own conclusion. Fuck it, I really didn’t care. I was over being embarrassed. I want the right antibiotics to do the right job.

It was a win for me tonight.

I was going to be cured.

Today I’m running up and down the three floors to and from Green Leaf Coffee shop. Whatever they put in those pills, it’s zapping the virus in a really good way.

Herpes forever, but with the right pills, it can be managed.

The Apoteck is open 24 hours. I’ve been there before to buy some painkillers for my teeth. But I gotta admit, this was the best session yet. I’ve never had such a captivating audience.

‘Hay,’ I hear one of the Ojeck motorbike boys say the next day to his friend, ‘he’s the guy that’s got herpes.’

What’s said in Jalana Siam stays in Jalam Sian. I really wasn’t fazed one bit.

Meanwhile back at my hotel, my Dyak buddy is telling me about the receptionist.

“Dicky has a big one.’

His name was actually Dicky. And if he had a big one, well good luck to him.

I had my battles with herpes, and he had a big dicky.

Borneo was getting stranger by the minute. All I could do was embrace it. Being consumed by it didn’t really seem fun to me.

I’m not on the blacklist. My money is welcome at the pharmacy. And they didn’t even want to see any I.D or date of birth.

‘Hay, Mr. Herpes.’

It was another Ojeck driver. News travels fast.

They are pretty open bunch this part of the world.  Even I’m getting a laugh out of this.

Diamonds are forever. I’ll have the whole fucking street singing that song before I’m out of here in a few days.

My friend gets back to me. He says hold your horses. ‘It’s not Herpes you’ve got, it’s Syphilis.’

Google has a lot to answer for. I’m not sold for one minute.

‘That might explain why you’re mad as a hatter,’ he says, ‘but don’t fear, it’s treatable now.’

But what about that build up of liquid around my spinal chord, I asked.

‘Probably terminal cancer,’ he replied, ‘ so seize the now.’

I always thought that Eckart Tolle was another German con man.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Van Gogh inspiration, it may come any moment now.

Bowel movements. I run to the toilet. It’s  a mess. I’ll label it expressionism with somber colors.

‘Looks like bowel cancer,’ said Ace, ‘I’d get that checked out too.’

And I hear you can get worms from eating pork too. Life was one long terminal illness and embracing it is a submission to that fact.

I run down the flight of stairs. It’s my third trip to the hotel’s cafe on the third floor. I’m steady and Eddy and even the creaking knees are conspicuously absent today. Whatever was in that round of antibiotics is pounding the fuck out of the virus and a vitality is creeping over me.

I can feel a nap coming on.


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