B is for Borneo
Anna Kravac had a visitor. She saw his indistinct profile through the mosquito net that separated her office from the waiting room. There was something about the cut of the nose in the silhouette that caused a movement in her gut, six parts painful but four parts jarringly pleasurable. Still she moved slowly, even for her.
Finally, she walked into the waiting room and a familiar pair of olive eyes looked back at her. “Marcel?”
The man looked back at her. He was a distinguished looking gentleman still although he must have been nearing the end of his fifth decade, with salt and pepper features, dapper in a white jacket that would surely be sullied with sweat by the day’s end.
Anna felt her words desert her. It wasn’t a trait people associated with her.
“Marcel?” she started again.
“Ah yes Anna, I’m sorry this is so out of the blue.” His French accent was muted but still there. Blue sounded more like the Gallic Bleu.
At last she found her stride. “Marcel. There is no blue out there. Have you looked around? It’s all brown. Dust on the road and fires. When did you last see the sky Marcel. Why do you come here now talking about the blue?”
The man shrugged. The last time they had parted they had been equals. Their bodies had still fitted. Anna may have been 15 years older but she had the allure and experience of an older woman. Now she felt the difference keenly. She was a bag of bones and Marcel was still a dapper Frenchman in a part of the world where Frenchmen carried an allure. He could charm and she could nag or bang on about her memories. There was a painful silence and it annoyed Anna to have to fill it.
“So why are you here?”
The silence continued but Marcel looked at her keenly.
“I think you need to give it up now Anna?”
Anna drew herself back like a bird, readying to strike but she spoke more slowly than usual.
“Oh my God Marcel. They have tracked you down and sent you here to talk to me. How desperate are they exactly?”
Marcel moved closer and brushed her hand with his. She snapped it away. “That’s not quite true. I heard about it. Well Anna who hasn’t? But I was talking to an official last week and I didn’t like what I was hearing. I was frankly concerned.”
Again the Gallic shrug. “I was concerned that you might disappear in the night.”
There was a dried up spiky fruit on the table. Anna grabbed it hard and felt it cut into her hands.
“You care about me after 20 years? You suddenly care about me. How much are they paying you Marcel?” She was aware she was more shrill than she would have liked to be.
Marcel had adopted the doomed expression of a small boy who knows his quest for candy will be fruitless. “Anna. I know you are passionate about the cause but when did you last save an orangutan?”
“We are always saving them Marcel,” she shrieked back. “You know Billy was…” She trailed off Billy had been saved three years ago. Since then she had looked at the dusty road and the fires.
“Anna. There’s a stuffed orangutan in the museum at Kota Kinabalu. There are a few in zoos. They have been extinct in the wild for more than two years. They are gone – it's over. But your rescue foundation is still here on this road, blocking the new Interstate. Your rescue mission is extinct. You should go home.”
His comments alarmed Anna as much as they angered her. Anna had no place she could call home other than the ramshackle rescue foundation hut. Before setting up the non-profit she had cleaned toilet bowls at restaurants in Seattle. The jungle had been her first and last love. But it had been a long time since she had seen green or blue. There was a small preservation down the road known as Jungle Plantation. It preserved the old jungle with its vast trees in two acres so kids could one day walk through it and look up in amazement at the tall trees before being whisked back to a fast food dinner on the interstate.
She looked back at his muscled arms and wondered what it would be like to have him again before sliding a sharp implement into that well-toned body. However, when she looked back at him she realized it has been many long years since he had seen her as a lover. Those olive eyes that were once wide with passion were filled with old lady pity.
She drew her diminutive frame as high as she could muster.
“Just piss off out of here Marcel. They build the interstate over my dead body.”