He switched on the hot water knob and let the warmth of the water soak his tired legs. Ah, bliss! In a few hours, he would address a press conference with the Greek Prime Minister on the bailout package that the IMF had decided for the debt-ridden country. And he would have to spend long agonising hours with the Finance Minister deliberating over the details, the intricate, mindnumbing details. Oh, it was killing. He poured some liquid soap into the water and rubbed his hands to make foam. This was the only time in the last two days that he had found for himself. Cath was going to attend Cambridge and he had had no time to congratulate her. Why is the Greek economy more important than my daughter's graduation, he asked himself, and surprisingly, did not arrive at an answer.
There was a noise outside. He started. He thought he had closed the door but maybe not. The drinks at the state dinner last night had left him groggy and he had not been up to speed since morning. He pushed himself out of the tub and peered from the door. A slim lady, not over 30, was bent over the table, accumulating stuff on a tray. She wore the sort of costume that he had observed a cosply actress wear at a members-only club in Japan, frilly skirt and satin top, something that reminded him of an air doll. Oh yes, he had tried one of those. Before meeting Anne, he had passed months without meeting any woman. Koizumi had suggested to him to try one. The Japanese, he sighed!
She was petite, this woman, who was now dusting the mantelpiece with a tiny brush. Its light brown bristles made a soft movement that made a mockery of the act. He was standing in the most exclusive suite known to man, and here was this lady, dusting and cleaning, when she could just as soon walk into his arms and allow him to show how decisive he could be in bed.
He walked towards her. Her hair was tied in a tight bun and the skin at the nape of her neck glowed with a fragrance that he could not have smelled at this distance but was sure was emanating from her. She turned around and gave him a shocked look. "Oh I am terribly sorry sir," she said, "I thought you weren't here." She looked here and there and began collecting her stuff to leave.
"Oh no please, don't leave, it's all right, " he said, and walked towards her. She looked at him with horror and a look passed in her eyes, a look that mixed recognition with utter surprise. Suddenly he realised he was naked, and thought, Thank God, now there is no going back. Now I cannot douse it in error.
She started walking towards the door really fast. He lunged for her. She gave out a cry, but he was grateful they were the only ones on the floor. He held her from behind and whispered sexily into her ears: "Listen, listen dear, I don't mean to hurt. Just calm down, ok? Please come here and sit."
He was reminded of the island he had visited with Anne on the invitation of Papadopulos, and the hotel room, just like this one--only smaller--where they had made love. That had followed a failed meeting with the leaders of the G8 in London where every one of his goddamn proposals was shot down by one party or the other. He had had to come out at the end of it looking like a tame rabbit who had to sugarcoat his words to the press. Bloody heads of state!
But she was still struggling, shouting now, asking to be let off. "I am the chief of the IMF darling," he told her, "and I will show you a good time." The sound of these words made him feel robust and vigorous, and for a moment, his mind actually believed them. If now, only this intransigent woman would agree!
He lifted her and the feeling of her writhing body and fighting legs soothed his tense nerves. He felt a certain pleasing heaviness enter his soul. Its imprint was similar to how he felt around Anne. They hadn't made love in a long time. There was also this irritant of her profession. As a journalist, she knew too much, she knew how powerless he really was in his job. Whenever they were together, and he was moving inside her, he imagined a dent in his pleasure because of her knowledge and his knowledge of her knowledge.
Ah, but this woman. Couldn't she just stop screaming? "I am not going to force myself, you silly goat, I promise," he said, but it didn't seem to matter. He took her inside the bedroom, threw her on the bed and latched the door. The fucking hi-tech latch. He could never wrap his head around using them. He and she might be stuck here forever. He giggled.
She was sobbing now. The anger had dissipated. He felt sorry for her. But he could not allow regret or guilt. He had to have something to pass the day. Anything, but now it was this. Oh, just managing, what-was-his-name, Dappiano, sapped the life out of him. The discussions and the boring, boring conference calls. She should understand that. "Why don't you understand," he said to her, but she kept sobbing. "Just spend some time with me, is all," he said, "and then we can go our own way."
She looked up at him now, and her eyes gleamed with the freshness of tears. "Ok," she mumbled. He thought he didn't hear her right. "Yes?" he asked her, and she nodded. He was very happy. As he walked towards her, he thought: Now I can do it, now I can do it. But he was not sure what he meant to do. Fuck her? Live the day? Locate meaning?
He took her in his arms and kissed her hair. She embraced him haltingly. He kissed her on the chin and took her hand to between his thighs. He saw himself all suited up, speaking to the press in that sophisticated voice of his, and the memory of this moment pressing him on. He took out his tongue and reached for her mouth. She turned away her face. He smiled. He liked this woman. Maybe he would check up on her later. She looked Oriental, but he could not place her. For all he knew, he may have signed a deal that affected her and her family. Yes, he was quite certain she had personally benefitted from his largesse. And here she was now, in the arms of her benefactor. He was satisfied she was thanking him in this special way.
He was big now and wanted her to take him in her mouth. "Go down," he said softly, and held her head to direct it. "I need a minute," she said. "Sure," he replied, a tad too formally, but the world knew he was a stickler for day-to-day decencies. She lingered, then got up, and left the room. He stretched himself and brought his arms behind his head as he rested against the too-large pillow. Dreams of the day floated before his eyes.
A minute passed, maybe two. She did not return. He decided to go call her. He came out of the room and checked the bathroom. The suds in the tub were now floating like less sticky versions of themselves. But there was no sign of her. "Oh," it occurred to him suddenly. "Oh that bitch," he muttered, and checked out the vast suite with shocked eyes. It was beautiful. A bunch of fresh tulips, their slender stalks hidden in the depths of a rotund Japanese vase, made an offering of peace. He was almost ready to accept it, but how? How could he? She was gone and he was left to face the day alone. He massaged his forehead, benign with the loss of lasciviousness. He heard hurried footsteps. There was commotion. A small crowd gathered at the door. Everyone stared at him. She was there too. She was there, pointing a finger at him, a small, culpable finger, her face devoid of emotion. Oh no, he thought. They started moving towards him and there was only so much time to absorb this. But at least, he said to himself, there would be a different texture to the day. At least he would be in the dock for pressing his imprint. He tried to mind the fracas, tried terribly to mind it, but could not bring himself to.