Danny opens a sliding glass door and steps into the Internet café. His bungalow at the Lamai Pearl has just been raided by a dozen Thai policemen and he has had to pay a hefty fine. What a bunch of wankers! Ten thousand bloody baht for a little bag of ganja! Bet the bastards are smoking it now and having a good laugh and playing cards with his money. But it could have been worse. They hadn’t deported him. He still had his passport and his ATM card so now he needed to e-mail the old man for a quick 500 quid.
The Internet café is busy as usual. Full of Lonely Planet types communicating like crazy. He spots an empty chair and squeezes his way past a Robbie Williams, and a bunch of Thai kids playing video games. He sits between a dreadlocked, and probably caps locked, Swedish Rasta and a couple of Sinead O’Connor’s, all beaded and braceleted and pecking away at the keyboards. Oh yes, all kinds of information getting shuttled around in here, planets are getting saved, anxious parents are being reassured, friends who should definitely come next year are being told the best place on Kao Sarn Road to get their noses pierced.
Danny himself is a friendly version of Kurt Cobain. Tanned, lean, lank blonde hair, his little beard is elfin not demonic, his smile is warmer than anything Cobain could have mustered. That is because Danny gets along well with his parents. Especially his dad who has been a bit of a lad himself in his day and who has made a few bob in the building trade. Good thing too.
The noise from the games is deafening. Danny casts a craftsman’s eye over the well-worn keyboard. He’s seen worse. At least the keys on this one have been hastily repaired. By a ham-fisted aphasiac. There is a package beside the keyboard, something wrapped in brown paper and sealed with sticky tape. Looks like half a pound of minced meat. I’ll have a look at that later, says Danny to himself and sticks it in one of the pockets of his cargo shorts.
He wipes a film of dust off the monitor screen hits any key and gets started. The PC itself, unsurprisingly, is on Samui time, which means long periods of not much happening, interspersed with irritating pop-ups. Eventually hotmail’s home site appears then just as quickly disappears. Danny is beginning to have second thoughts about the whole enterprise but then Yahoo!! Comes back and hotmail dot coms back again immediately after! Better still, his password is accepted and he is able to locate an e-mail from his sister in Fulham. A very boring e-mail. Everything is OK according to her. Nothing is new, she says, and she hopes he is behaving himself. He tells her to put some money in his bank account because he has scraped his foot on some coral and needs some very expensive anti-biotics. Before he e-mails his dad Danny checks a couple of websites. Arsenal 4, Liverpool 1. Oh nice work Gunners! That ought to make the old man happy. And there is an e-mail from Robby. Great! In Pattaya too! Excellent!!
One of the Sinead O’Connors is asking him something. Does he know much about computers? A little bit. Can he open an attachment? Yes but not here. She laughs. She is wearing a tank top but no bra and as she leans towards him he can see her right tit quite clearly. It’s ringless too thank goodness. The nipple brushes against his arm and away we go again he thinks and marvels at the power his own sexual organ exerts over his destiny. The bloody thing drags him around everywhere, organizes his day, tells him where it wants to go. Slaves to sex that’s what we are. Got to stop it. Mai dee as the Thais say. So where are you staying? asks the little voice between his legs. A bungalow says the girl. Why? Fancy a walk along the beach?
* * *
“You have fucked many Thai girls?” Inge asked, taking Danny somewhat by surprise. They have just spent a sweaty but energetic and enjoyable hour in Inge’s grass hut among the coconut palms. It hadn’t been a bad fuck at all, thinks Danny. Got a bit sweated up there but that’s OK. The still-bleeding tattoo had been a turn-off but it was nice to see a blonde pussy again. Bit of variety never hurts and the tits were spectacular. And now it’s time for a little chat, say goodbye and then off for a swim.
“Uh…one or two. Why?”
“Oh…just curious…I know all the guys try it. Did you use a condom?”
“Of course. You think I’m crazy?”
“What about you then? Tried it with any Thai guys?”
“OK then was it?”
“Yeah well, you be careful. Some of those blokes can turn nasty.” Said Danny pulling on his multi-pocketed, sun-bleached khaki shorts, “They like to think they’re the boss. That’s what I’ve ‘eard. Been to the Full Moon Party yet then?”
“Oh yeah. Been there done that. And I went to see the ‘elf lady an all.”
“The elf lady?”
“Health lady I should say. Excuse my English. The ‘elf lady on Koh Pangan. I told ‘er about me back. I fell off of a roof once ‘an its always ‘urting. It’s not your back, she says, it’s your kidneys….’ere lie down. So I did and bloody ‘ell…. she grabs me kidneys and moves ‘em around. I’m not kidding. Oooooh it ‘urt. I could feel me insides moving around. Then she says OK you’re done. Take it easy for a few days. Take it easy!! I could ‘ardly bloody walk back to me bungalow. But she’s good that lady. It worked. I give ‘er 500 baht. I can drink a bottle of Mekong a day now no problem…two even…which reminds me. Got to be going now. Tatta. That was fun.”
Out on Lamai Beach Danny walks along the water’s edge watching waves break and recede. As usual he is struck by the brilliance of the place, the dazzling blue sky, the white sand and the glare of the water. Here and there naked pink Euroflesh is soaking up the sun while overdressed Thai women with big sun hats massage, braid hair and move from group to group selling food and trinkets. Bloody brilliant. If you feel like a beer there’s always a bar handy. Even the stray dogs and the bits of plastic flotsam are all right with Danny.
‘The Beach’ was a pretty good movie, but Danny likes the real thing better. He finds it intoxicating and he can never get enough of it. Swimming, the palm trees, getting stoned and just lying in the sun staring out to sea, while back in England people were putting on their raincoats and wheezing off to their stupid jobs. Bugger that. This was the life. Birds, booze, dope. And the Thais were OK most of the time. So you got ripped off now and again. But that was just the price of education. Always something to learn in Thailand. It couldn’t possibly get any better than this. So why leave? What had that German bird said about Pattaya? Terrible place? Nothing but beer and sex. Hmmm. Sounds interesting. Might give it a try. Stay here for a few more days…wait for the money…then maybe fly up to Pattaya and see what happens.
Danny sits down on the sand, leans back and lets the sun beat into him. Then slowly he takes a few things from his pockets and starts to roll a joint. But what’s this? Ah yes the package. He opens one end of the brown paper. There is a plastic bag packed hard with white powder. Bloody hell is this what I think it is? Looks like smack. Some silly sod must have left it in the internet place. He won’t be going back for it I bet. Maybe I’ll put a pinch in with the ganja. Only way to find out what it is. Then what? Take it to the cops? Ha bloody ha. Sell it? Hmmmm? Must be worth a few quid to someone.
Danny takes a big pull on the joint and quickly realizes this is no ordinary buzz. Bloody hell. He feels like he’s been kicked by an elephant. But in a painless kind of way. His mind is leaving his body and his body feels like it’s melting. He’s not really into hard drugs. But he likes to try different things. Tried opium up in Chiang Rai in one of those hill tribe villages. Bit of all right it was. He could see how you could get a taste for the stuff. Easy. Perhaps he should forget about Pattaya. Go up north again…maybe marry an Akha girl. Wouldn’t that be a laugh. Move into one of those little hill-tribe villages around Chiang Rai with all the sisters and cousins, and nephews and nieces. Danny had done a bit of trekking up there in the mountains. He could live there all right. Get up early, feed the chickens and pigs, groom the buffalo and the nights were quiet if you didn’t mind the odd bit of domestic violence…no electricity or paved roads and only one truck which everybody shared if they wanted to go to the nearest town which was 10 miles away. Food was awful, rice and frogs mostly plus any roots or insects somebody found in the jungle, but he could always buy a sack of potatoes and a bag of flour and show Duan, his wife, how to make chip butties. Duan was OK, 6 months pregnant now, a quiet girl who didn't complain about carrying a couple of water buckets up from the well. The Akha were tough little buggers who spent their time making stuff to sell to tourists and drinking lao khao. Visas were a problem. He needed to pop across the Thai/Burmese border every couple of months at Mae Sai but his passport soon filled up with stamps and he'd run out of money anyway. Nobody seemed too worried about money though. His father in law joked about how they'd have to stick one of those Akha hats on him and get him walking around Chiang Mai selling stuff. Very funny. Might as well throw the bloody passport away anyway. Who gives a fuck? Some bloody idiot politician was going to blow the whole bleeding planet up anyway one of these days, wouldn't be nuffing left, ‘cept maybe a few Akha. Take more than a bloody atom bomb to get rid of them. Come to think of it I bet they could ‘andle a bit of radiation and keep a smile on their cheeky little faces. Wonder what’s going on in the world anyway? Don't tell me I can guess. More people wanting more and more stuff, cheating and killing each other to get it. Or am I being a bit too cynical ‘ere? What about mum and dad? Bet dad’s still popping down the pub every night. Mum will go down too some nights to see ‘er mates and talk about the latest ‘oliday in Majorca. So ‘ows your nutty son doin’ in Thailand Ted? Last I 'eard ‘es gone native…says dad, married a local girl. Ee’ll be back, says mum, ee’ll miss ‘is telly…just ‘ope ‘ee’s not on drugs nor nuffing…'eard some awful things about those countries…
Right. Time for a swim. Danny gets up and walks towards the water. Soon he’s up to his chest and then he’s floating. If he was to just let himself go he would drift across the Gulf of Thailand to Cambodia or Vietnam or even beyond and out across the wide Pacific. But he stops and swims parallel to the beach for a while then turns as his feet touch sand again and stands looking at the grass huts and the tourists and the palm trees. He takes the plastic bag from the pocket of his shorts and empties it in the water. There…that should keep a few plankton happy for a while. It’s the small things that matter, right mum? Danny’s a good boy Ted. Yes dear, brought ‘im up right we did.
Is this the new Steve Leather? Well, not yet, but it is a good start! When will we get the next instalment?