“Hah! They took the bait! I mean, my career destination is now on target! Pack our bags, babe! We are heading to China and our newest gig!”
Frieda’s mouth hung open slightly in disbelief as she watched Jamie doing his happy dance around their grimy living quarters. Finally, shrugging off her dumbfounded state she reminded, “We’re under contract here, my soon-to-be-in-jail-for-fraud, aka my humping-buddy. We haven’t saved anything to just pick up and leave this cesspool that has been downgraded from its earlier status in the travel brochures as the Armpit of Africa. You just conned the finance dweeb of this disgusting manufacturer of personal hygiene products for animals and larger primates with a fabricated story that rivals the Wall Street financial derivatives debacle of 2008. None of that now matters because you think we are leaving for China instead of jail! By the way, where in China? I don’t speak Chinese and neither do you as far as I know.”
Jamie, still elated that his dream-scheme was unfolding the way he needed it to, waltzed over to Frieda. While smiling tenderly, he pushed her dark hair behind her ear. He then moved his head over to whisper in her ear but instead began teasing her ear with his tongue while his right hand moved to begin caressing her breast. He would have undone her blouse if her indignation hadn’t kicked in, prompting her to pull away.
After a few retreating steps were made, she rebuked, “So it’s going to be like the last time, right? Me desperately trying to keep us out of jail, and you ready to drop and run to the next gambling exercise. Jamie, I can’t ask my folks for more money to underwrite this lifestyle! Don’t we ever get to do what I want? Will there ever be a time when we can just have a normal life? Is this just one big con game for you? Is that all I am as well?”
Jamie, always the gambler, offered, “If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to. After all, apparently all I am is your humping-buddy anyway. Surely someone as pretty as you can get that anywhere.
“Look, Frieda, I don’t have anything but my wits to leverage. I’ve taken all these backwater IT jobs that no one would take to learn just one thing. I wanted to know how computers communicate, how information flows, and most importantly how to profit from that knowledge. Not to do it for the rest of my life, but how to win at their game.
“This job in China is exactly where the payoff comes in. I will be the lead IT engineer in a fully automated gambling casino, in what is probably the newest version of the old Wild West. Since this part of China is similar to Hong Kong, English is spoken as well as Chinese and Portuguese. I need to do this. If you want to go with me, I promise you will be wearing diamonds as big as horse turds before I’m through. Are you with me?”
Frieda could feel the old con game being staged again with her emotions simultaneously pulling for and pushing her away from the blue-skies offer. How many times had he taken her along for his roll-of-the-dice only to lose everything except the clothes they wore? She fought the tears and the tidal wave of anger, but it boiled down to only one of two choices. Each time he promised something better, and every time they were the losers.
She really wanted to go home to start over in a normal life. Trouble was, she wanted him to go too! He simply wasn’t the reliable, home by five for dinner, kind of male. She knew this would be like the last time, and the next gig he signed on for would be like the one previous. She told herself that he was the one with the gambling problem, but if that were true, then why couldn’t she just leave? The tears streamed down her face as she made up her mind on what her future was going to be.
In that short moment of thought, Frieda stared at Jamie for a few minutes and then slapped him hard across the face.
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