I’m not sure where to start. The shop is a never-ending stream of news and events, trials, tribulations and complete shocks.

I guess I’ll start with the shock. Made a routine call to the manager this morning and got the news. One of the girls due to work today called to say she couldn’t come in. She works part-time at a city hotel servicing guests. She reported that last night while doing that she was raped by one of the guests. I don’t know all the details – I’m getting it all second-hand – but it’s the sort of news that makes you blink. You never expect anything like that, though of course realise that these things happen, and perhaps this career is more high risk in that regard.

Obviously it’s perfectly understandable that she doesn’t want to work. Even if she was happy to I imagine it might be traumatic for her to serve a male customer after this. We’ve told her to take all the time she needs. We’re willing to work around whatever her needs are at such a time. That might be just a few hours of work at a time if she wants, and purely female customers. Remains to be seen how it works out.

Something like this creates ripples of thought. As a business owner I wondered what if this had happened in my shop? Now, it’s less likely in a salon like mine – there’s more people around, the customers are screened from the get-go, and the masseuse only has to call out to get help. But, even so, what if? It’s a shocking thought, and has me re-considering the whole venture.

So, anyway, she’s not in, and nor is our star masseur – the only bloke on staff. He’s Austrian here on a working visa, and, so I gather, has been called away urgently to a job in Adelaide. From the garbled message I got it seems he needs to fulfill some requirements of his visa, and so off to the city of churches he must go. It’s very inconvenient. Not only is he excellent at what he does, and very popular, but his abrupt departure, coupled with the other girl, suddenly leaves us two therapists down. Unfortunately this is not uncommon.

The other news regarding the shop is that the tentative offer I received last week is now off the table. It’s only vaguely explicable that apparently the woman intending to buy found another place over the weekend, and bought that instead. This is after months of searching for a place without luck – in the space of a few days she finds two, and buys the other.

I was mighty deflated when I heard the news. One way or another I had built myself up for the deal. It seemed so timely, almost as in a fairy tale. Unfortunately I’m back to square one and stuck with the place – but still advertising.

I’ve also got a new receptionist. She’s a Thai girl who worked at the place a year ago as a masseuse. I met with her on Sunday and she told me she was shocked at how business has declined since then. She explained to me that they used to do about 30 massage over the weekend, until the previous owners did something to upset the therapists. The therapists left en masse, the business declined, and so bitter was the split that the shop has a bad name in the Thai community – which explains some of the problems I’m having, and the ad posted against us a month or two ago. I didn’t know what to think about that either. I was pleased to know that the potential we seek has been achieved previously; but pissed off that I should be paying for the sins of the previous owners, and unsure how to undo that.

This girl is very passionate and committed, and keen to help. I also found her powerfully alluring. We adjourned to an empty treatment room to talk and I found myself looking into her big eyes, and felt keenly her close proximity. I wanted to nestle in her, feel her nestle in me. It’s rare that I feel so moved – how often do I write of it? Bugger all. It felt like something that was beyond thought. My body, my spirit responded to her in ways that words can’t explain. I was moved. I felt like going to her. I felt like saying something for God’s sake. I wanted her to see me and to like me, and more. I felt as if she did. It felt as if what I felt was in her too, so that we spent moments just gazing at each other. But then that could just be my imagination.

How strange it is, and how rare. I left feeling uplifted, and a little confused, and thinking that it’s very unlikely anything could come of it. For once I felt something less than the buccaneer. I felt sweet and hopeful, like I must have once years ago when I was just a boy. All the same, I’d not be surprised if I feel none of that the next time we met. It might just have been that moment, pitched just right.

There you go, the full gamut of things in a few eventful days.

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