Did you check his phone?
I told you, I’m not gonna do that!
But it’s so easy.
They are not talking about Martin. Toby pronounces it Mahr-teen. Because that’s how Martin himself pronounced it, being from Chile. It was only last year that Martin stayed with them, and Toby’s father was crazy about the young tennis player. Since then, disillusionment has spoiled his father’s gaze, and every tennis player after Martin can only be a reminder of him, and an object of suspicion.
365体育现金I don’t think I could live through that again, Toby’s father says, and switches back to the subject of the new guy: How difficult could it be? Just ask to borrow his phone. Say you want to play a game. Say I don’t allow you to on your own phone. Then take a look at his messages for anything iffy. Head things off at the pass.
365体育现金He’ll know I went through his messages!
Tell him you touched it by accident! Do I have to feed you everything?
365体育现金Toby has only his father, and his father has only Toby. Plus their palatial estate in La Jolla. Many months out of the year, Toby is left alone with a groundskeeper and a companion—all right, a nanny—while his father is in Macao tending to his casinos and his other businesses. But this is the part of the year that they always spend together—roughly from the beginning of March to late April.
365体育现金For as far back as Toby can remember—since he was six or so—his father has signed them up to host a visiting player at the local event, the Diamond Club Challenger, in which Toby’s father is an investor, of sorts. Toby is now eighteen and taking a year off before deciding on college, maybe longer. Of course, he’ll go—he’s Chinese, and whoever heard of a Chinese without a college degree? And, besides, he does not have the option of becoming a tennis player. He simply is not good enough.
There’s been, let’s see, Pratesh, Liam, Manolo, Manuel, that Indian guy (the one after Pratesh, with the complicated name that you couldn’t shorten), the Moroccan guy who wanted to be left alone because he was in a mid-divorce funk (though that didn’t stop him from trying to get into the pants of one of the event sponsors), Apichat, Albert from Canada (which was how Toby’s father, riffing on the way the young man had introduced himself, referred to him behind his back), the three Chinese guys in a row—Wuyang, Zuhan, and Louie—or, technically, four, since Albert was Chinese-Canadian, and, of course, most eventfully (though not at the time), Martin, just last year.
It was Apichat who taught Toby to drive when he was thirteen. Apichat, with electric-blue hair that he claimed nobody in the streets of Bangkok gave a second glance to, was originally going to drive Toby to the mall, as a distraction from his second-round loss, but instead they circled the family compound over and over again, Toby in the driver’s seat being instructed by Apichat. They wound up sitting on the beach, people-watching, commiserating over the unfairness of life, Apichat sharing a joint. Two firsts on that day: his first drive and the first of many tokes.
Although the tournament administrators told him that they couldn’t accommodate the request, his father had insisted on hosting any Asian players in the tournament, on the no-need-to-speak-it assumption that Toby would benefit from exposure to an older-brother figure, to make up for his lack of a mother. Though, to be honest, it was also to compensate for his having a ghost as a father, since Toby’s father, even when in residence at the family manse, is always out making his deals, driving from meeting to meeting, and, when he’s home, holing up in the game room in front of his wide-screen TV, on which he can monitor the floor action at his Macao casinos, as well as his cashiers’ booths, his office with the two safes, and, most important, his general managers’ quarters.
Besides, Toby’s father is an alcoholic, and by noon on most days, if he notices Toby at all, he does so through a scrim of wooze, on wobbly feet. When operatic-drunk, his father likes to quote a line he says comes from his favorite movie star, Steve McQueen: “If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place.”
365体育现金One way that Toby bonds with the visiting players is by betraying his father—as when, with Pratesh, he spied on his father, dressed in nothing but boxers, making circuits around the perimeter of the pool, a full tumbler of Scotch attached to his hand. His father would take a sip, walk a few steps, then stop and say, to no one, to the air, to an antagonist in the air, If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place. He repeated this routine for nearly half an hour, until there was nothing left in the tumbler and he let his hand drop. He’d forgotten that he’d had the entire place, including the pool area, fitted with cameras—or maybe he didn’t care—and Toby and Pratesh sat in Toby’s bedroom cackling over the sad-comic spectacle on Toby’s laptop.
365体育现金It was worse when they had the swans, who, for two years, owned the pool. His father would taunt the birds, pitching ice cubes into their habitat, making them honk and flutter their insane wings, goading them to come after him, which they did less and less as time passed. They were supposed to mate, but, when a guy from the zoo came to collect them, it was discovered that Toby’s father had been harboring two males—imagine his peeve. Faggots, he told Toby. All this time! Which is among the reasons that Toby has not told—and probably will never tell—his father about his own possibly irreversible gay tendencies.
It was Apichat who, intuiting those tendencies, had jacked him off by the pool very late at night, before flying to Florida to compete at another Challenger event. Where was his father then, that Toby could be so brazen? Probably knocked out in his bedroom, on the other side of the property. Or indulging one of his club jaunts. Toby remembers being so wrapped up in 420 and lust, it was as if he were swaddled in blankets even when he was naked. The lights were off, and he was being pleasured by a ghost made of white eyeballs and electric-blue hair. Thinking of that night now never fails to give Toby an erection. Apichat rested his wireless speakers on a lounger, and the same song kept playing over and over: “Abracadabra,” by the Steve Miller Band, a tune that haunts Toby still; when he wants to get into a mood, he puts it on repeat on his iPod.