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Stickman Readers' Submissions April 19th, 2004

Gone Fishing (In Isaan) Part 14

The shadows were growing long, and a beautiful salmon pink tinted the horizon of the bruise purple, cloud speckled sky. The murderous sun had once again gotten away with murder scotfree, and was quickly making it's escape into the distant lands of the west. I had survived to live another day and tell the tale, this one, truth be known, but the vicious beating ol' sol had given me would show it's mark for weeks to come. A clear case of assault and battery with intent to maim for sure. As the cops would probably say though, I had been asking for trouble, and shouldn't have been hanging about in such a rough neighborhood. That damn Isaan sun had kicked my ass. I sucked down another beer Chang as I drove the rice farmers home. Purely for medicinal purposes I'd like to add.

He Clinic Bangkok

Sis had given up arguing her case in front of her jury of rice picking peers in the back of the truck bed. She looked sullen and disgusted when I glanced in the rear view mirror. I could see the wheels of her crafty Thai female brain spinning in her skull. Revenge was being plotted I was sure. I had a hard time to keep from chuckling. Just so you don't all think me an evil bastard I'll just say that Sis and I are very close, and love to bust each other's chops and joke around and play practical jokes on each other. She had probably figured out by this time what I was doing, but was having trouble figuring out exactly why. Us falang are such a mystery to them most times. As much as we think the Asian mind inscrutable a lot of the time, well, the same goes in reverse. They have a hard time figuring us out a lot of the time. Culture clash and all that.

Truth is in the village a lot of the people have NEVER met a farang personally, never interacted with one, or spoken with one. Especially the kids. Going by some of the kids reactions you'd think they were seeing an alien from outer space when they see a farang. Some actually are frightened. I know I'm not much to look at, but, at least in western society, most kids don't start crying when they see me. Here it's happened to me quite a few times. Must be the haircut.

I stopped the truck once in a while along the sois toward home so others could jump out a their homes. We were hailed by those fortunate enough to have been able to stay home in the shady village rather than get mugged in the rice fields by the torturous rays of the sun. Invitations were screamed to my farmers by the off-loading workers as to plans for consuming beer Chang and Lao Kao, and mysterious concoctions of things edible whose ingredients are likely best left unpondered by farang for an evening meal, as we sped along from each drop-off point in a cloud of dust. Chickens were scattered, clucking angrily at being disturbed from their pecking a meal from the road's dirt. Soi dogs didn't have enough time to piss on the truck's tires, as our stops were just too quick, leaving them grumpy, and a bit confused as to their territorial limits.

Cooking fires sizzled and smoked as mothers and wives prepared the evening meals for their families. The smoke, tinged with the acrid scent of overheated oils and peppers, wafted around the wooden stilt houses lining the dirt streets like a San Francisco fog off the bay, and parted in swirling thin fragrant clouds as the truck sped along depositing red dust everywhere in it's wake. The strains of a Lao buffalo-boy song leaked into the air around the moving pickup from a tape my lady had popped in the cassette deck in the dash. A typical Isaan lyrical yodeling caterwauler of lost love oft repeated to a salsa type beat of asian influence which, when played at gogo bar decibel levels inside the small cab of your pick-up truck, is amazingly quick to induce a migraine headache. Even if one isn't usually prone to getting migraines.

Once the last of the family and friend workers were let off home we turned the last corner onto the lone paved soi of the village, our street, and pulled into the yard and parked. The remaining sisters and my wife climbed out, and Sis unlocked our doors, and gates, and security bars, the homestead is as well protected as Fort Knox's gold bars now-a-days, all the while the lasses chattering and laughing and taking leftover utensils and stuff from the back of the truck for later washing.

I climbed out myself, sliding across the plastic seat with my wet and soggy pants and shirt. I smelled distinctly of rice farm pond scum, bug repellent, and sweaty falang. Time for a quick shower, and another change of clothing! I knocked off my footwear at the doorway and raced for the bathroom to shower before one of the ladies could get in there, and take possession of the hong nam for what would seem like hours to me. I had priority.

I still had some fishing to do in the dying sunlight at the lake a few houses down the soi.

The day was yet finished, and I knew how hungry fish love to bite at dusk. I still had time to catch a meal and redeem my fishing abilities!

I was quick.

(to be continued)

Stickman says:

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