A peeping tom gets what he deserves, finally.
"Well yes it is. In fact," he said, "it's February 14th and you know what that means don't you?"
Still a bit foggy from my excesses of the night before, I just shrugged my shoulders.
"Okay, then let me enlighten you by asking a question."
"Go ahead," I allowed.
"Will you be my Valentine?"
"Oh, Valentine's Day," I giggled. "Do they even celebrate that here in Bali," I asked?
"I don't know, but we're going to celebrate it. I want this day to be special for you."
"What have I done wrong," I asked, figuring I must have poisoned someone's plantation somewhere.
"Nothing, I've decided that your love should not go unrequited."
Oh my god, I thought. He remembered.
I felt so foolish that I'd declared my love to my boss, to my best friend's older brother, to my next door neighbor and to a gay man to boot. I almost felt as if he was mocking me, but something about Albert's smile told me he wasn't.
"I want to tell you a story," he said. "I've never told anyone, and I want you to promise me you'll listen without interrupting me. It won't take that long."
I nodded my agreement.
"If you listen without judging me or trying to ask too many questions, I will be in your debt."
"Okay, I won't talk, nor will I ever tell anyone," I said. "Whatever you tell me, is for me and for me only."
I waited while he gathered his thoughts and then he began his story.
"When I was a young man, first starting to travel with my parents and beginning to be interested in making my living assisting the lives of plants and flowers, a client took me into his garden, and without going too much into the details of how he got his way, he took my pants down and gave me pleasure with his mouth. After I came, he asked if I'd like to do the same for him. I couldn't think of any reason not to, so I very awkwardly reciprocated."
Albert looked at me for a moment until I nodded understanding, an understanding that, at the time, meant little more for me than understanding the particulars of the encounter.
He went on with his story.
"A few years later, I met the son of another client who was as beautiful as any woman I had ever seen, anywhere. In the circles I travel in, there are many beautiful women, but none were as beautiful as this boy. And he was wild."
"One night at a party, we wound up dancing with each other, but not touching, moving to the rhythms of the music, offering and accepting one dance gesture after another."
"Later, we walked by a lake and then kissed. When the kiss ended, he bent over the trunk of a fallen tree and I took him from behind. When I was finished, he cleaned me with his mouth and smiled the most deliciously evil smile I've ever experienced. Remembering back to my first experience, I asked him if he'd like me to reciprocate. He look horrified and said no, absolutely not."
"It was the third time in a four year period, I'd met him at one place or another, when he told me that he thought at first I was straight and that for him, the thrill of having me penetrate him gave him a feeling of superiority and of conquest. After he explained why he was attracted to me, I grew bored of him and never saw him again."
"Since that time, probably ten or eleven years ago, I've never had sex with anyone, man or woman. I've stayed celibate and, to tell the truth, I thought I was always going to be that way. Oddly, that didn't bother me at all."
Albert stopped for a minute, reached to the cart by the side of the bed, poured some water, drank and looked at me.
"That is, until you told me you loved me."
My breath froze in my throat and my heart stopped beating.
"It's odd," he said.