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Fifty Bucks Is a Lot of Money

In Which Our Hero Pays 20 Bucks to Salvage His Conscience

A lot of money

Phnom Penh, October 16th, 2018

I’m a little sad to be leaving Phnom Penh so soon. Sure the hotel wasn’t very good, but it was in a lively part of town— full of girly bars.

And so it was that we found ourselves in the Honey Honey Bar at 10:30 PM on a Monday night.

We’d been drinking since around 4 PM, so we were all a bit shot when we hesitated outside just long enough for the women on the forecourt to notice us.

A tall, slim, well dressed woman in her 50s waved and smiled at us from a seat in the middle of a small group of younger women.

“Hello sir. Welcome”. She was getting up, coming towards us. The other women were, without exception shorter and overweight.

“Come in. Have a beer”.

Have a beer? We looked at each other. That was the only incentive we needed. Four of us stepped inside.

The interior was darker, with a shiny bar surrounded by stools and neon signs.

There were a couple of other fat girls sitting at the bar who stood up and attempted to smile when they saw us and a tiny, plump barmaid who’s head barely showed above the bar moved forward to take our order.

The older woman began to marshal the girls as she passed us the drinks menu. Beer was 2 to 3 times more than we had been paying.

I looked at the unattractive women and the empty bar. Turning to my fellow revellers, I suggested we could do better and urged them to leave.

One of the guys had taken a shine to the boss though and began taking drinks orders.

I noticed a back room and on a closer inspection realised it held a pool table.

“Hey guys, there’s a pool table”. I stepped into the pool room with the guys and girls following me.

The boss was now clinging to my buddy’s arm and I could see he was enjoying the attention. At the same time a fat young woman in a pink polyester dress had taken my arm and was grabbing my hand and trying to place it around her waist.

The pool room was small and the girl was making me slightly claustrophobic. I shook her off but seconds later she was back with the same routine.

I shook her off again and this time grabbed a pool cue. “Let’s set them up” I said hoping one of my friends would join me, perhaps we’d even play doubles but that looked doubtful as I could see Frank was now sat on a stool with his back to the wall and the boss nestled between his thighs, her hand on his shoulder and her head on his chest. He was stroking her back and shoulders.

Unfortunately my pink girl picked up a cue too and it became clear that she was my opponent. She looked bored, tired and a bit sad.

She had long dark hair, a big round face, dark eyes, bright red lips, a small bust and very thick thighs.

I won the game and 2 of the guys stepped up to play the next game leaving more room for Miss Piggy to pursue me.

I looked to see if there were any other girls who might pursue me to finally get rid of the girl but they all just gazed at me when I stuck my head in the bar so I returned to the pool room and sat on the stool next to Frank.

Moments later my girl was there, stepping between my thighs, staring straight at me with her hands on my shoulders. She leaned forward and kissed both my cheeks before nestling in to me.

I could feel a thick layer of fat around her shoulders through the polyester dress.

The girls spoke pretty good English but 3 of the 4 of us had a lively dialogue going on that they struggled to grasp.

Part of this was me mouthing “Help me” intermittently. “You look like you’re doin’ alright mate” they offered in broad Australian twangs, clearly enjoying my discomfort.

By now Frank and the boss had moved to a sofa in the corner of the room where a slight recess afforded some limited privacy.

There was music playing and we began to dance. The girl looked reluctant but I took her as if for a waltz and encouraged her to twirl under my arm.

After a few minutes she was out of breath and so adjusting her sticky clothing she returned to kissing my cheeks and now pecking me on the lips.

The hands that were on my shoulders were now seeking out my nipples. I immediately returned the compliment and realised she wasn’t wearing a bra. After a couple of tweaks her nipples were hard.

She placed her arms around my neck and pressed into me, occasionally lifting her head to gaze into my eyes and peck me on my cheek or lips.

“You like me?” She asked.

I followed it up with “I like you” and “You’re lovely” I told her. 

“What’s your name?”

 “Ay An” she said.

“I’m John” I told her. “Nice to meet you”. I held out a hand which she took. Her hands were small and coarse. “Do you come from the country?” I asked her. She nodded.

“How old are you?” She lifted her gaze and through hooded eyes told me she was 37. “You want to go somewhere?” she asked me. “Go where?” I couldn’t imagine where we might go. 

“Your hotel room” she said. “Fifty dollars”.

“50 dollars!” I feigned surprise. “That’s a lot of money. What do I get for my 50 dollars?”.

She moved closer again, snuggling into me, her thighs straddling my leg, and began flaring her eyes in the hope I would comprehend exactly what I might get.

I felt slightly guilty about playing with her and although part of me feels I didn’t invite or encourage her attention, I am also aware that we stumbled drunkenly into a bar called the Honey Honey Bar.

“We can’t go to my hotel room” I told her. “I have a room mate” I nodded towards one of the guys noisily playing pool behind us.

It was an unusual experience for me but I’m open to new experiences so I thought about it. Maybe if she’d been prettier, perhaps if she’d been slimmer, smarter, less dopey. Maybe if she’d had a room above the bar.

I’m a single guy and I miss female company and intimacy. I enjoyed her girl-ness - her clothing even though it was cheap, her necklace, her long hair, her painted finger and toe nails.

She pulled out her smartphone and began to take selfies of us while she kissed me on the cheek. She held the photos up for me to see. She looked great. We looked good together. Like a couple! It was astonishing and made little sense either then or now.

“We look great!” I announced. “We should get married!” 

“You want to marry me?” When I looked at her I instantly regretted my rash suggestion. She’d already told me she didn’t have children or a husband. Even the idea of marrying me seemed to kindle something in her.

I felt guilty treating a fellow human being in such a casual way. It’s not what I train to do or how I want to be. I invited her to join me on the sofa.

“I can’t take you to my hotel room” I told her, “but here’s some money for you so you haven’t entirely wasted your evening." I handed her 20 American dollars - the preferred currency in Cambodia.

She reached for her handbag and stuffed the cash into it. “Thank you” she said and it felt like she meant it. “Good luck to you I said. I think you’re lucky. I hope things work out for you”. And with that we stepped out into the night and returned to our hotel.

“If you wanted to bring her back I’d have cleared out the way” my room mate told me. I told him my conscience was troubling me. I had so many questions about what just happened. 

“Don’t beat yourself up mate” he said. “If it wasn’t you it would have been some other bloke. And she got twenty bucks from you for what?”

Johnny Seven
Johnny Seven

I'm a father, a writer, a poet, a musician, a traveller, a dancer, a lover of people and always visual. 

I say "Everything I write is true". And it is. I'm also full of shit. At my best the shit is "quite entertaining".

I hate reading. 

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