The Tyranny of Happiness
A golden light the width of a stiletto blade creeps through the tiny gap between heavy dark orange curtains. The sliver of sun catches a thousand flecks of dust that glimmer like gems as they pass through and lands a slim illuminating beam on her golden skin. She shifts in her sleep. Her breast still moving a fraction of a second after she has changed position.
I look at her. I understand the greed of wealthy men for whom it is not enough just to see beautiful things. I understand the desire to own beauty.
Because I know that in just a few hours she'll be gone, and that at this time tomorrow another man will be looking at her still and silent in her sleep.
She twitches as if shocked in a dream. And I wonder what pursues her through her subconscious world. The faces of a thousand men shifting, changing, confused identities. A thousand men all forming into one Frankenstein creation. That man's eyes, this man's nose, that man's penis. All sewn together into an amorphous shifting punter. But fuck it. Her beauty is just a moment anyway. At nineteen she is the first golden dawn breaking over what may turn into a mediocre day. Maybe she'll be one of the rare ones who actually becomes more and more beautiful with each passing year. But this life can take its toll and youth can die as easily as that openness with which she kissed me. Her eyes open and she looks at me deeply as if she had never been asleep.
"Pen aray ?" she says in words just a fraction more than a whisper. "Plao" I say. Nothing. And her arms reach out to me and pull me close. She smiles "farang kit maak" and kisses my mouth. She kisses and kisses, and soon it feels as though I never knew life without her. Her slender dark hands familiar against my white skin. As if she is the earth touching the sky.
Soon my eyes are beyond seeing. I can only feel her. The softness of her skin. Her full breasts against me. Her thighs opening and pulling me into her. And the complete satisfaction of falling into the soft enveloping warmth of her cunt. It feels like coming home. The home that was before anything in this life. The true home. The place I belonged and owned without pain. Without doubt.
Her hands move over my back, a nail distracts me as it tears at my flesh. She mouths my name once, and then again. It is like a mantra. Something she says to assure herself, or me, or what we are doing here together in this intimacy.
The name will call me into her, enslave me to her. There is no world. No place. No right. No wrong. No good. No evil. There is just this. Just us.
She is the only woman in the world. There is no more. No need for more than this. We do not move. She just holds me inside her. This penetration is just the end of the obstacles to intimacy. Nothing obstructs us. Nothing exists outside. We hold on as if time could disappear before the passions bring this to a fiery end.
This is the tyranny of happiness that makes the rest of life a meaningless charade. I know this is all that matters and there's a tragic horror in that. Because I love her completely. I am her thing. Her baby. Her master. Her toy. And that is all. And that could be all. Only I know that when it comes to tonight, I'll just be another fucking guy sitting in the bar.
The Queen of Bangkok
I saw her each day on Khao San Road. In her late fifties but maybe younger. It's hard to tell after the harsh Asian sun have burned a skin to a leathery darkness. She wandered around wearing ancient flipflops, loose blue jeans and a looser blue-grey shirt with a neck as wide as the blades of her shoulders. Her feet were usually black with soot and dust but she didn't smell. Her hair was matted and thick but lacking any grey. Her features scored with the lines of age and her teeth only half present but she didn't seem to think much about this. When she walked she walked as if she was the Queen of Bangkok. The most beautiful girl in town. There was a swing to her hips as if she was still the good time girl breaking the hearts of GI's on R & R. Sending them back to the war with dreams of her sweet young flesh. Of course at times she would laugh at herself and her lack of beauty like a crone knowing full well that her looks had vanished but she played a game for herself and everyone else that she was still the dream date. Thais are not always kind with their words. At times they would cast some remark about her to her face that probably stung but she bore it with the grace of a superior being. The fact that when she leaned forward her shirt opened revealing not shapely breasts but udders that looked as though the flesh had been sucked
away through the teat was not her concern. If someone made a remark about this it was probably just that they were jealous because once she had been so beautiful and her beauty was such that they would never know.
Not that anyone treated her as a madwoman. She was an eccentric. A character. And people would often ask her to eat with them.
One day after a cop out breakfast at Buddy's I walked into the narrow curling alleyway that led from Khao San Road to Rambutri Road and she came up to me and hurled herself at me embracing me tightly and kissing my chest. "I love you" she said. "I love you… I go with you for fifty baht."
"Sorry… I've just had breakfast. Maybe another time."
"But I love you now." She said and kissed me again and again on the chest before leaning her head on my chest.
"Pba… Pba…" She said nodding at me. "Pay duay." Her grip on me was like a vice. Age had certainly not made her feeble.
"Sorry… I would go with you…. But I'd be afraid you might break my heart."
At this she let me go and cackled. She looked after me as I walked on. "Never mind… Maybe tomorrow."
"Yeah… Maybe tomorrow." I said… Mildly shocked to have been accosted but accepting that this was part of being in Bangkok. I checked my wallet just in case and immediately hated myself for thinking that her game had some ulterior motive.
I looked back at her as she walked on away as if there was another man around the corner who would happily take her to his bed. Her walk swaggered and I thought, for a second, I saw the ghost of a younger women imposed over her.
I never really thought about this much. I was still new to it all then. I suppose I thought she was just some madwoman swimming in a mental landscape of white lies and illusions. But who knows. Maybe she was the Queen of Bangkok.
Wrapped up to the breast in a pakhamaa she washed herself. Sluicing her body with clear water that splashed on already glistening skin. Water that trickled refreshingly into the large blue plastic bowl. Her black black hair hung still streams moving through its velvet flow. Squeezing the like a sponge cloudy white liquid slipped through the gaps in her fingers coursing down the back of her hand and her arm. Her pakhamaa came loose and she swiftly retied it dampening the patterned fabric so dark patches of liquid enlarged like ink on blotting paper. And where the fabric was wet it clung to her skin.
The previous night I'd been in Patpong with friends. In Patpong where women no less beautiful than this danced nakedly through the night. Yet there was something about this simple daily act of washing that held me hypnotised.
She threw back her hair and it seemed to lash the bare skin of her shoulders. Then her eyes caught me. I almost looked away but I didn't. And she didn't either. She wasn't shy. She held me in her eyes for a few moments in a look that neither played with me or rejected me. It was the look with which a cat who has never seen you before can hold you in. It was a look with no reason, no desire and no fear. A look whose only quality was beauty. For a fraction of a second this look changed and a smile darted across her face. Someone called to her from inside. She lost her interest in me to address the speaker… Then she went inside and she was gone.
It's funny the shit you remember.