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Salt Lake City – Chapter 7.5

Though the separation was monumentally painful for Brig, it was a joyful event for Happy. She had hated her life in Salt Lake City on many levels. Brig loved to drink and do drugs, but he didn’t party. Not really. At least not like Happy was used to. Brig had started to loosen up, but he often acted more like a frightened boy than a confident man. Brig hadn’t told her much about his family, so she had had no inkling of his tenuous hold on his inheritance. From Happy’s perspective, Brig had hit the lottery by being born into a family with inexhaustible wealth.

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Happy tried to exhaust it. When she had first moved in with Brig, she couldn’t believe her good fortune and was thrilled with the gifts and cash that Brig showered on her. But as time passed, her disrespect for Brig grew, and she began stealing from him. She had a “go bag” prepared for when Brig eventually figured it out and kicked her to the curb, but that day never came. She became intentionally careless. One evening Brig had left the bed to use the bathroom when Happy spied one of his expensive Rolex watches sitting on his nightstand. She could have quickly taken his watch, placed it in her handbag, and returned to bed. Instead, she got up, lifted the weighty gold timepiece, walked over to her purse, and waited. Brig finally came out and smiled, seeing her naked and waiting for him. Their eyes met in the early light of the morning. Happy dropped the watch into her purse and waited for Brig to get angry, but he turned around and went back into the bathroom without saying a word.

Happy was proud of the plan she and the Buddha had implemented. Happy was comfortable, even proud of being a prostitute, and found that since leaving Chang she had developed a taste for power, intrigue, and risk. She was growing tired of Brig and desperately missed Hong Kong. She yearned for good Chinese food, to hang out with her friends, and if she was being honest, to see the fear in people’s eyes when she walked into a room with Chang.

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After the argument with Brig, Happy drove herself to the Salt Lake International Airport. Her “go bag” was in the VW Bug that Brig had recently leased for her. She abandoned the vehicle in the airport’s parking garage, placed the car keys on one of the rear tires, and walked away.

After an uneventful fifteen-hour flight, Happy arrived in Hong Kong. Exiting the gateway, she breathed in the damp, humid air of her home. Though the smell of jet fuel initially overwhelmed all other senses, the further she moved up the gangplank, away from the tarmac, the unique odor and feel of Hong Kong enveloped her. She marveled at how clean and orderly the Hong Kong airport was in contrast to the chaos she had experienced at the San Francisco airport. She passed through a “temperature check” station, manned by two airport employees wearing surgical masks, protecting the city from the germs and bacteria that had flown in from other parts of the world.

Happy reached into her Louis Vuitton purse, pulled out her Gucci wallet, and extracted her Hong Kong resident card. As a Hong Kong resident, she avoided the long lines that non-residents had to wade through and lined up at an empty “eChannel” turnstile. She inserted her card into the reader, and after a few seconds a plexiglass gate opened, allowing her to move a few steps forward. She was stopped by a second gate. She placed her thumb on a glass surface that glowed green as it scanned the details of her print. Another few seconds passed, and the last gate opened. Happy was home.

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