WRIT LARGE: Ch 14, Part 2
Pair O’ Dice
The brothers wait for us to catch up with them. SkyAvenue is much like any other nightclub strip, busy restaurants, neon signs, venues buzzing with music, but with the added feature of being situated on the rooftop.
“What do you think?” asks Keong Hui, arms outstretched. His smile is filled with pride and I can’t help marvelling again at his family’s insightful vision for this resort.
“It’s amazing,” says Olivia, gazing up at the purple-black sky. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this being on a rooftop.”
“Who doesn’t want to be close to the stars?” asks Loui Lim.
“You should see it when the clouds are low,” adds Keong Hui.
“I bet it’s quite surreal. Perfect for Halloween.” Olivia turns a full circle, face raised to the sky, breathing in the cooling air. “What do you do here for Halloween?”
Keong Hui’s eyes narrow. “What do you think we should do?”
“Well, if the clouds are low, you could have people dressed as ghouls, or zombies lurking in corners ready to pounce on passers-by.” Her eyes are wide with excitement like a child on their first trick-or-treating expedition.
I suggest, ever practical, that they’d have to be careful they don’t give someone a heart attack.
Keong Hui nods, his expression serious.
“You could get around that though,” says Olivia. “Give them a pumpkin lantern to hold so that visitors see the light coming first. Picture it: an orange glow materialising in the mist, drawing closer and closer, and then a zombie with half his face missing, says ‘Boo!’. Perfect.”
We all laugh, and I suggest turning off the usual welcoming signs of each venue and replacing everything with candlelight, inside and out. Gothic ghost stories are best associated with Victorian times with good reason.
“Candles, lanterns, a chill in the air.” I can almost see Keong Hui’s thought process behind his eyes. “People love to be scared.”
“It could work,” agrees Loui Lim. “Are you sure you don’t want to ditch Bernard and come work with us, Olivia?”
“Don’t tempt me.” She gives them a dazzling smile and holds onto my arm as we reach the Empire.
Stepping inside is like stepping out of the clouds and into The Great Gatsby. Designed with glitz and glamour in mind, the venue is opulent and classy, with gold trimmings and four giant chandeliers hanging overhead. Wide lights dance across the walls like a lighthouse beam guiding boats safely to shore.
Olivia is wide-eyed as she takes in her surroundings. “Well at least I’m dressed the part,” she says, eventually.
Loui Lim is already signalling for the barman to bring champagne.
“What do you think?” asks Keong Hui.
“It’s …” – Olivia gazes all around and shrugs – “… awesome.”
Keong Hui inclines his head. “We have had pretty good feedback. Zouk is a similar design but on a grander scale. I would love to show you both some time.”
I tell him that the concept of a grander version of this venue is difficult to envisage. “Is there anything that you would change?” he asks.
“If you’re going for grandeur,” says Olivia, “then nothing. But maybe ask me after a few dances and when my feet are aching.”
“Did somebody say they wanted to dance?” asks Loui Lim. “Come with me.” He takes Olivia’s hand and leads her away from the sumptuous bar situated in the middle of the club, and onto a podium where the spotlight lands on them as they begin to dance.
“My little brother constantly craves attention,” says Keong Hui. I say that I hadn’t noticed, and he laughs. I order a bottle of still water as three flutes are being placed on the counter in front of us.
“It is why the cruise line is perfect for him – it allows his originality to shine through and to give visitors constant visual stimulation. His mind never switches off.”
Unless it is early morning, and he has yet to taste his first coffee of the day, I suggest.
I am still watching Loui Lim and Olivia on the podium and am pleased to see that her face is glowing with excitement. In the lights her dress appears fluid and I am mesmerised, so I am taken by surprise when a man whose face I vaguely recognise appears beside my companion.
“Keong Hui.” The man claps him on the back and pulls him into a bear-hug. “I see your brother is on form tonight.”
“Jeff. Loui Lim was not expecting you until later.” Keong Hui turns to me and says, “Meet the author Loui Lim was telling you about. He will be writing our father’s biography.”
“Jeff Probst.” The man’s handshake is strong and warm. “Survivor,” he adds at my questioning gaze.
I tell him that I knew I recognised him but that it was completely out of context to see him in a state-of-the-art nightclub in Genting, Malaysia, rather than constructing a raft on a deserted island.
He laughs easily, and the waiter sets another glass on the counter beside the others. “I get that all the time and look, no sandals.” We all glance down at his shiny black shoes. “My dancing shoes,” he adds.
I ask what he is doing here and how he knows the two brothers.
“We go back a long way,” says Jeff. “I’ve spent some time in Malaysia, getting to know the country, and the people, and of course their father Lim. He has visited my home in the States, and whenever I am here, I stay at the resort. You can’t beat it.” He sips champagne and raises his glass to toast our surroundings. “Unless you’re on a deserted island with a bunch of fascinating people filming a reality TV show. Which is why I’m here. We’re scouting for potential locations for the next series, but don’t tell anyone I told you, or I’ll have to lock you up and throw away the key.”
I inform him that the very worst thing he could’ve done was to tell an author with an overactive imagination that the next series is being kept hush-hush.
Jeff winks. “Trick of the trade – knowing how to spark an interest. Maintaining interest throughout a season is the difficult part.”
I can imagine, I say, with the unpredictability of people’s behaviour, but they must be doing something right.
“How do you feel about camping out?” Jeff asks me. Before I can reply, he turns to Keong Hui, and says, “You’d be like a fish out of water without your iPhone and your chauffeur-driven Merc.”
Keong Hui takes it in his stride and laughs out loud. “And my Gucci pants, Jeff. Don’t forget the pants.”
I say that my memories of camping as a child are of sand stuck in every orifice and a layer of grime that even the ocean couldn’t entirely erase. Best bits though, I add, are staying awake all night to watch the stars, and not sleeping until the dolphins are dancing on the horizon. Oh, and marshmallows toasted over a campfire.
“Maybe you should come on the show,” says Jeff.
Olivia and Loui Lim return then, Olivia grinning, her cheeks rosy and her hair a little wild. “That was the most fun I’ve had in ages,” she says, slightly breathless, accepting the glass offered to her by Keong Hui.
I say that I am disappointed our evening spent at Universal Studios has paled in comparison and she hugs me close, planting an apology-kiss on my cheek.
That is beautiful, but Olivia is wearing Louis Vuitton as she mentions in Part 1 - this isn't it exactly but I could see her rocking this: https://www.buyma.us/items/62656d62-753d-49f3-b839-bd75420aeacb/?color=silver&set_currency=USD&size=34&variation_id=02f063ac-c321-4efe-9e6e-6ab7e4d5d13c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAorKfBhC0ARIsAHDzsluIhHADTwKPyD7kRKKD8ZfTPy-ZEvZWljZbwd--5d6HG0Ol7SG70I0aAp0qEALw_wcB
The setting here sounds beautiful. It makes me want to visit the place myself, especially during a costume party like described!