I turn to Charles, who’s sitting on the bed and bouncing up and down as though testing the springs. ‘The man says he’ll call back.’ Earlier, he has checked if the room safe worked. Always keep your wallets inside if you book a girl overnight, he advised.
He gets up, walks to the window, pulls one-half of the curtain aside, and looks down at the traffic. ‘Right now, he’s calling the reception. To check that so-and-so is booked in this room. That’s how they work, they also counter-check on clients. To screen out all prank calls.’
Ten minutes later, the phone on the side table rings. ‘Hello, I’m Steve from Daffodil. Yah, you want lao jiao [veteran], I’ll send you a friendly and sexy lao jiao.’ A loud chortle and a harrumph and then a pause. ‘She’s college graduate, late twenties. A high-class girl, only three hundred. Second girl is special VIP model, early twenties, four-five-zilo. Very pretty. Both speak good Ingrish. They can reach your hotel in two hours’ time. Our driver needs to pick them from two separate places. Traffic’s terribly heavy. Remember, you have ten minutes’ probation with our girls. After that, you cannot reject them.’
‘Yes, I understand.’ I put the phone down and turn to Charles. ‘We need to kill two hours before the escorts arrive.’
Epiphany strikes my buddy. ‘Hey, let’s buy presents for our escorts. They’ll be effective ice-breakers. The girls will be friendlier and give better service.’
From our hotel, we walk to Pavilion KL. Across the drag, traffic is blocked and we are penned in by the press of vehicles. We wait for almost five minutes until a gap occurs in the stream of taxis and cars, and cross Bukit Bintang Road to proceed along Sultan Ismail Road, swinging our shoulders like boy scouts on a trekking jaunt.
We scrutinize the store directory in the lobby. ‘I’m getting chocolates for my escort,’ I say. ‘Patchi Chocolate Gifts & Souvenirs, sixth floor.’
Charles rubs his chin. ‘Hmm… think I’ll buy perfume at Just Parfum, fourth floor. Which girl doesn’t like perfume?’
We amble over to the perfume shop, which earns RM200 from Charles for a bottle of fragrance packed in a glossy box neatly wrapped in a butterfly bow. At the chocolate store, I’m set back RM80 for a box of Belgian chocolates containing ‘no preservatives, no artificial flavours, no vegetable oil, only cocoa butter.’