It was late in the evening and Brig was on his couch, getting high in his apartment when his cell phone rang. It was typically the time of day when one member of his latest band of hangers-on called to see what he was up to and if he wanted to party. Brig rarely left his apartment at night but was happy to host a gathering of fellow abusers at his place. Over the years he had cycled through a variety of cliques, hanging out with one group for a few weeks until he grew tired of them, or they became tired of him.
“Hello?” Brig answered his phone.
“Wei?” a familiar voice responded.
Brig hit the pause button on his TV remote. He hadn’t heard Cantonese spoken in a long time. “Buddha? Is that you?”
“How did you know?” Buddha hooted in mock disappointment.
“Who else is going to call and speak in Cantonese.”
“All I said was ‘Wei.’”
“In God’s country we don’t greet each other like that.”
“Well, you and your compatriots should learn how to. It won’t be long before my country colonizes yours.”
“You better be careful man, you don’t know who may be listening. This is an unsecured line.” They laughed as only friends who knew each other well would laugh. “How the hell are you Buddha?”
“I’m doing great! Busy as ever. Little Buddha has me running around like a crazy man.”
“My son? I’ve told you about him like twenty times! He’s six years old!”
“Oh fuck. Yeah. I knew that.” Brig vaguely recalled the Buddha telling him something about a kid last time they spoke. “I’m a little high right now. How is the little bugger?”
They carried on, caught up for a few more minutes until eventually the Buddha got around to the reason for his call, ”I have a friend that you want to meet.”
“You mean, you have a friend that wants to meet me,” Brig corrected.
“No. I have a friend you want to meet.”
“Oh really? And why would I want to meet him?”
“Not him. Her. And you want to meet her because she is exquisite. Possibly the most beautiful woman you’ve ever met, or will ever meet.”
“No offense dude, but your standard in women has never measured up to mine. You know that!”
The Buddha laughed. A deep belly laugh that never failed to cheer Brig up.“I’m telling you. This girl is an eleven!”
“There’s no such thing. The scale only goes to ten, and no one has ever actually seen a ten. A ten is a myth. A legend. Like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot.”
“Give me a break!” the Buddha said derisively. “Be honest. How many tens have you awarded today?”
“Two. No three. But none of them stayed a ten for more than twenty seconds.”
“Here’s the thing,” Danny explained. “She’s an eleven. And she knows you. And she still wants to meet you. She was a prospect back in our missionary days,” Danny lied. “She was never baptized. Not exactly the churchgoing type. You wouldn’t remember her. She was too young. But she remembers you.”
“Ha. They all remember me. You’re just jealous because I’ve got mad skills. If I might be so crude, have you ever…you know…bumped uglies with this girl?”
“You are crude, and I knew you would ask me that. As hard as it may be for you to believe, the answer is no. She’s like a little sister, so I want you to treat her with respect. We grew up in the same neighborhood, and her dad was good to me. Besides, I don’t have what she’s looking for.”
“What’s that? A big penis?”
“Well, she never told me this, but I suspect she likes the foreign devil. Particularly foreign devils with money.”
“You think I’m what she’s looking for? A sugar daddy?”
Buddha sighed heavily, “There’s the rub. Yes. I do. I’m sure of it. But why would that bother you? No disrespect, but you’re as…no, you’re even more superficial than she is. You two were made for each other.”
“True ‘dat.” Brig’s phone beeped indicating another call was coming in. “OK, look I’ve got to go. What’s her name and how do I find her?”
“Her name is Ho Ngaak Lohk, and she’ll be in Salt Lake City in a few days.”
“Ho Ngaak Lohk,” Brig repeated. “If she’s coming all this way just to meet me, I’m already impressed.”
“Well, she’s not that desperate, but I’ll let you be the judge. The truth is, she’s trying to get away from some bad stuff here in Hong Kong.”
“Bad stuff? Like what?”
“It’s not my story to tell. Let’s just say bad relationship stuff.”
“No. She’s not married, but, yeah, something like that. Let her tell you.”
Brig’s phone beeped again, but he ignored it. He would call whoever it was back later.
“How do I reach her and what’s her English name?”
“I don’t have a number for her yet. I’ll text you the details later. Her English name is Happy.” There was a long silence, and then Brig started to giggle.
“What?” the Buddha asked.
“You’re kidding me, right? This is a joke.” The giggle grew into laughter.
“What?” the Buddha repeated, though something in his voice suggested he knew why Brig was laughing.
“Happy… Ho!?” Brig was now barely able to speak he was laughing so hard. Tears rolled down his face. “ Happy Ho? The Happy Ho? That is precious. That may be even better than Harry Wong!”
“Okay. I know. Calm down. Believe me, we’ve given her a lot of grief about it over the years, but this was when we were kids. You’re an adult. Act like one!” But the laughter was infectious, and soon Buddha was laughing as well. They couldn’t control themselves. Just as it seemed that the fit had run its course, a fresh wave of laughter would roll through them. Finally, and with great effort, Brig announced, “Okay. Seriously. I’ve got to get going. Text me her contact info, and I’ll call her. I’ll talk to you later.”