Sometimes, all a man wants is a simple life.

Why should we let someone tell us how to live ?


“Look at you James…just look at yourself.” Valarie’s father, Thomas said. “What can you possibly give my daughter ? “

James kept quiet and he exchanged a look with Valarie.

“Daddy..James he..” Valarie got cut off before she could finish what she wanted to say.

“As a food delivery rider, how much can you make ? How many hours are you going to spend on the road ? Where are you going to go from there ? “ Thomas asked.

“This is Singapore, everything is so expensive. How old are you again ? “ Thomas asked with a frown on his face.

“I’m 28 Uncle..” James replied.

“28…. 28, with no career, no plans, nothing… are you kidding ? and you have the cheek to date my daughter ? Come on James…” Thomas looked like he was on the verge of getting a heart attack.

“daddy!…” Valarie tugged onto her father’s arm.

“Valarie, be realistic… you’re already 30, you cannot afford to waste your time dating someone who is not marriage material…” Turning to James, Thomas added, “ James…next time when you become a father… you will understand how I feel…I’m not letting my daughter continue this relationship with you…you have nothing… I don’t see a happy ending between the two of you…”

“Uncle, if you give me a chance, I promise I will work hard…” James pleaded.

“It’s not about working hard James…It’s never about working hard…you’ve already lost on the starting line… how are you ever going to catch up…? “ Thomas’s voice seemed to get louder with each passing moment as he dragged his daughter towards the car.

“If you give me some time to proof myself, I will…”

“Proof yourself with what ? be the top delivery personal in the month ? With the most incentives? The one that can pedal the fastest ? don’t be ridiculous..”

“It’s an honest living Uncle..” James said.

“I never said it is not a honest living, it is… but unfortunately…this honest living is not good enough for my daughter.”

“Daddy please…. James and I we …”
 

“Don’t give me the shit of you guys love each other… love will not fill your stomach…. Love without money is destined to fail…don’t believe fairy tales and Korean dramas….”

Turning to James, Thomas warned him not to go near his daughter again.

“You guys have only been together for 6 months… it’s not too late to end it..” Thomas took out his wallet and pulled out several fifty dollar bills. “here… take it… take a break today…sleep it off…”

He stuffed the money into James’s hand and pulled his daughter into the car.

As the car sped into the distance, James looked at the money in his hand. $200 will solve a lot of problems for him. Instead of keeping the money, he walked towards the kidney dialysis center just down the road. He found the donation box and dropped the money in the container.

If he didn’t earn it, he didn’t want it.

Looking at the container of food he was supposed to deliver 30 minutes ago, James checked his phone to see a barrage of messages before the order was cancelled. His rating dropped a full point, not to forget he’s probably going to have to pay for the food out of his own pocket.

Riding towards a nearby shopping mall, James receives another ping on his delivery app to pick up bubble tea and curry puffs. He never expected Valarie’s father to confront him like this in the middle of his work day.

Thomas is right through, he’s simply not good enough for Valarie. He likes Valarie, and he did consider a possible future with her. His feelings towards her barely just started to warm up when it was cut short by Thomas. She’s a really sweet girl, someone that James can see himself spending the rest of his life with even though he’s not sure about their compatibility.

Their so call dating did not progress beyond holding of hands and hanging out at cafes for meals. James works 7 days a week and there’s hardly time for the two to meet although they kept in touch by phone everyday.

Thomas’s appearance dashed his dream of getting to know Valarie better.

After clocking in a full 12 hour work day on his bicycle, James returned to his rental room he shares with a friend, Ivan. Ivan works as an assistant chef in a small café.

James got to know Ivan because he frequently collects food from that café, after realizing that James is sleeping rough out in the street, Ivan offered to share the room.

He also took care of the rent when James is just starting out as a food delivery man. 6 months in, James has since repaid his portion of rent to Ivan. Ivan stepped into the house just when James came out of the shower.

“Hey bro “ Ivan said.

“Hey..”

“what’s the matter with you.. ? “

“Valarie’s father came and look for me today… demanded that we end it..” James said.  

Ivan laughed as he took a beer out from the fridge.

“I told you already… people stay condo one….. you stay HDB rental…”

“but I’m making an honest living… I’m living a simple life…”

“Bro… I told you already… no girls want a simple life… especially not girls in Singapore…” Ivan took a sip of the beer and rubbed his fingers together, making the sign of dollar bills.” Money bro…. in Singapore… it’s all about money..”

“I don’t understand… how much money can you possibly want ? “ James sighed. “ Isn’t it enough we have food to eat, a roof over our head…?”

Ivan laughed out loud and added a burp to his amusement as he walked towards the shower.

“you’re too simple minded James…. Oh boy… haha.. what to do with you ? “

“I’m not simple minded…I just… I just..”

“Yah la, yah la, you the best la hahha… you are the extinct good guy that no longer exists.” Ivan teased.

James massaged his calves and muscles as he watched his roommate head into the shower. Just when he thought he could take an early break, he saw a notification on his phone. The missed delivery when Valarie’s father caused earned him more than a poor rating. The complaint caused his account to be suspended.

“Oh my god… oh my god…” James exclaimed as he tried to find a service line to call. “he just needs to explain this to someone. It was not intentional.”

After being put on hold and transferred around for close to an hour, there is still no one who can attend to James’ request to be unblocked.

“I can’t make any delivery while I’m suspended, what am I going to live on?” James lamented. “I’m really screwed this time.”

Ivan sat at the corner of his bed and looked at James, unable to believe a grown man like him can appear so helpless like a child.

“really ah…. I see you ah James….i no word come out of mouth ah..” Ivan teased. “ Speechless you know… speechless…”

“stop teasing me already…I’m already panicking… what am I going to do ?”

Ivan scrolled through his phone and dialled a number.

Moments later when it connected, Ivan’s ruffian like speech pattern changed into that of a polite school boy.

“Hi Ms Fang… Ivan here… from Café Rajah… yeah yeah yeah…it’s me…” Ivan nodded while looking at James. “You remember what you said to me yesterday…yes.. yes about that… haha.”

Ivan just nod quietly before quickly adding he’s not suggesting himself.

“No, no of  course not me… I look in the mirror I also scare myself la… haha… I have someone in mind for our consideration… if you are still looking…” Ivan added, looking hopefully in James direction.

“I assure you, he’s decent looking, very simple , errrr ok, maybe a bit stupid… but 100% nice guy…” Ivan grinned at James who looked at him in a puzzled manner.

“alright… alright… I’m off tomorrow… I’ll bring him over…yes Ms Fang… thank you..” Ivan said before hanging up.

“who is that ? “ James asked.

“The person that is going to save your ass.” Ivan said as he laid down on his bed, bringing his phone to his face.

“What do you mean ? “

“you’ll see.”

…………………………………………………

The next day, Ivan brought James over to an apartment located in the middle to town. The security guard gave them weird looks when they mentioned they are visiting.

The lobby of the apartment in the middle of Tanjong pager looked posh and opulent. Even the uniforms of the guards looked expensive compared to the well-worn jeans and t-shirt James is wearing.

“what are we doing here ? This place looks expensive…” James asked.

“Look for Ms Fang lor… she’s a regular…”

“what does she do.. ?”

“she has her own company…” Ivan said as they stepped into the private lift.

“what am I doing here ? “ James asked while looking at the breath taking view of the city as the bubble lift shot up into the sky.

“didn’t you say you would do anything for money ? how are you going to pay the rent if you have no income ? “ Ivan said.

The lift opened and the first thing that hit James was the smell. What was that alluring fragrance ? The lift car was immediately overwhelmed by that sweet scent of fresh flowers before they stepped out of it.

Their shoes found the intricate carpet in the middle of the lobby and the two of them did not dare venture further for fear of dirtying the house.

The size of the private lobby they are now in is bigger than the whole rental unit the 2 men are sharing.

In the middle of the lobby sat an ornate table with a large flower arrangement on top. A sight commonly seen in 5 start hotel lobbies.

James looked nervously towards the double lift door flanked by shoe cabinets. He heard an audible click as the bolt disengaged.

The panels of the door opened and a graceful lady dressed in a long black dress appeared at the doorway. The V shaped neck line drew the men’s attention to her chest for a brief moment before they quickly looked away.

With her hair tied up and her shades on, the woman oozes confidence and power as she walked out into the private lobby. She’s pretty and classy. Her face is blemish free and her lips looked like they were practically shining.

The delicate fingers on her hand were beautifully manicured and long simple dress could not hide the sexiness of the body underneath it.

“Hi Ms Fang, let me introduce you to my friend James..” Ivan said to the expressionless lady.

She looked at James from top to toe before turning to Ivan.

“How much ? “ she asked.

“what how much ? “ James asked his friend who quickly replied that Ms Fang is referring to his salary expectation.

“say a number James… how much you want ? “ Ivan prompted.

“huh ? err.. what do I have to do ? “ James asked, puzzled as to the nature of the job.

“Everything… everything I want you to…” Ms Fang said.

“I’ll say it for him… err….$2800 a month….plus medical benefits… CPF… err… and 13th month bonus…” Ivan rattled out the list as James nudged him on his arm.

“hey… don’t…” James tried to shush Ivan up but his friend went on.

“He’s a hard worker…he will do everything…. never complains… a bit stupid though…”

‘I’m not stupid…”

“Ok. Not stupid… just simple minded…” Ivan added.

Ms Fang removed her shades that was covering her face and looked at James, she considered for a few seconds before nodding in agreement.

Ivan pumped his fist into the air as Ms Fang whipped out her phone and proceeded to transfer a ‘finder’s fee’ of $500 over to Ivan.

“what is this ? “ James whispered harshly at his housemate. “did you just sell me or something ? “

“chill bro, I just got you a full time job.” Ivan chirped happily.

Turning to James, Ms Fang asked.

“You can drive ? “

James nodded.

She threw her key over to James and start walking towards the lift.

Ivan quickly hit the call button and ushered Ms Fang into the lift car like a VIP. The 2 of them looked impatiently at James who is still trying to figure out what is going on.

“hurry up don’t waste my time” Ms Fang snapped.

“ok… ok…” James quickly ran into the lift.

As the lift descended to the basement, Ms Fang spoke to James.

“Call me Kexin..”

Ivan alighted at the ground floor and gave James the thumbs up, leaving his friend alone with his new employer.

“I’m… I’m sorry Ms Fang…. I meant…. Kexin…. What….What exactly do you need me to do for you ? “ James asked.

The lift opened into the basement lobby and Kexin turned towards James.

“As of this moment..… you’re going to be my boyfriend.”


14100 words

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