Beer Bar Seven
She sits there somewhere between boredom and satori gleaming like an alcopop in a darkened bar. Every item she wears seems to glow like a gin and tonic under an ultra violet light. Bright orange vest. Bright green trousers. Peach and lime bangles. Even lips seem to gleam as if painted with a Day-Glo marker. Only her skin looks dark.
Sometimes she looks at her fingers as if checking for rings. I wonder how old she is. 16 or 17. Maybe a little older… But then again maybe a little younger. She looks cute. A smile would cause dimples in her cheeks but her eyes show nothing.
A group of Arabs ahead of me pass by the bar dressed up to the nines like extras from Lawrence of Arabia who've forgotten to take off their gold Rolex's.
She doesn't look at them. Maybe she doesn't see them. Maybe she's been trained by the mamasan not to catch the eyes of Arabs. After all, nothing puts off the farang like seeing a bar full of Arabs.
As I walk to the bar she looks at me and stares. For a moment it's as though she's forgotten herself. She's forgotten what her role in the world is.
I sit down and immediately an older lady has thrown herself at me with exaggerated friendliness. Now the Alcopop Girl smiles. And it's heartbreaking. It's the cutest girl in school. And because she's the cutest girl in school that smile must mean something more than just a regular smile would.
"You want I make massa'e." The older lady mimes a penetrating shiatsu in the air as if her inability to pronounce the soft "g" in massage has rendered her question impenetrable.
"You handsome man. You like Nong saow me ? I give you massa'e."
"Maybe later. But I'd kill for a beer."
"Oooh… Sorry sorry." And she rushes away to the bar to order the important, only, customer a beer.
The Alcopop Girl looks away and then back at me. And then, as if shy, she looks down at the ground, her acne'd brow furrowing but a smile still playing at the corners of her mouth.
I look away from her and watch a man in a dirty white T-shirt tossing a wok of pad tai as a customer waits holding a twenty baht note in her hand as if invited someone on a motorcycle to snatch it. The noodles fly into the air and seem to hover there for a fraction of a second before returning to the pan.
The Alcopop Girl has silently come to sit in the stool next to mind. She holds out a small hand. I take it in mine. It feels as gentle and fragile as the hand of a child. "My name Wan." She says and smiles as if terrified of rejection.
"Turk." I say.
"I come from Khorat." She says pointing at her chest. I find myself looking at her breasts which are small enough to be almost visible under her vest. The nipples are attempting to poke through the fabric.
"I come from Bangkok. Pleased to meet you."
"Nooo." She says laughing. "Farang not come from Bangkok." She keeps laughing. Too much maybe.
The older lady returns with a beer. "Ah… You meet young sister me. Young sister me very beautiful girl. You very handsome man. Go good together."
"Khun Turk," Says Wan carefully pronouncing each syllable as if reading something to her English class, "Where you stay in Bangkok."
"Miami Hotel ?" She says not quite masking her disappointment.
"No… Miami Apartment. Petchburi Tat Mai."
"Ooooh. You stay apartment." Says the older lady. "Very good you stay Bangkok long time. You working in Bangkok." And I start getting a massage whether I want one or not. "You have girlfriend in Thailand ?"
I take a sip of the beer completely ignoring the question. It tastes as bitter as ear wax and aspirin but it's cold and wet and that's all that really matters.
The massage I'm getting is truly painful.
Wan smiles that sweet sweet smile and takes my hand in her two hands and places it in her lime green lap as if I've been her boyfriend for months. The warmth of her thigh and the heat from her cunt filters through the polyester and cotton fabric of the trousers. A few years ago this would have meant something to me. A few years ago her beauty and her sweetness would have had me. Now I look at her and I wonder if she's even legal.
"You can buy one drink for me." Says Wan.
"Yeah… Why not." I say.
"You can buy one drink for me too." Says the older lady.
"Yeah. But only if you promise to stop hurting me."
The sun is starting to set as the older lady goes to get the drinks.
"When you watch the sun setting what do you feel in your heart ?" I say to Wan. She's shocked to hear me speaking in Thai.
"I wonder if I will die in the day-time or the night-time." She answers.
"Yeah… Me too."
She leans her gently perfumed soft head on my shoulder.
And that is all there is to it really.
I feel for a little while like I'm another innocent in a stupid world. But I'm not.
Some minutes pass. Wan looks at me and smiles a small smile. I gently kiss her banana flavour lips and then remember who I am and where I am.
Some customers come. They wear football shirts.
Wan says "You want me go with you ?"
"No… That would spoil it."
She nods. "I have to working."
I hand her five hundred baht… Her brow furrows again. "For what ?"
I shrug because I don't know.
I walk to the bar and pay my bill just as the older lady is taking Wan the lady drinks. She sees Wan put five hundred baht in her bus pass size wallet.
Before I leave Wan holds me in her arms tightly for a moment before returning to the bar and some real customers.
"You come back ?" Says the older lady as I leave.
"You have good heart handsome man." She says.
But it's not true. If I had a good heart I'd have given the money to her, or some charity, or some poor kid on the street. I was just buying a half hour of innocence.
And now I could go back to being a cunt.