Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 83
THIS FIELD IS FULL OF THEM
"Never give in–never, never, never never, in nothing great or small, large or petty . . . . Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
"Unless it has something to do with snakes!"
I'm 10 years old and I have been on summer vacation for a couple of months. Bored. It's hot. I'm kicking a tin can down the road. I'm a shy quiet unaggressive kid. Out in a field I can see two kids about my age. They are doing something. The field is pasture land gone to grass and they are way way far away. The grass is up to my shoulders. I wonder what they are doing. I step off the road and start pushing through the grass. The grass is so thick and so high that you have to push your way through it as if it were a solid. You can't see your feet. Stumbling over rocks. Lots of big rocks and flat rocks and rock piles. One slow step at a time. No way to hurry it up. Eventually I come up with the kids that were just dots from the road. They are bent over and holding a cloth sack.
Me: Hi guys–what are you doing?
Guys: We are tipping over rocks looking for snakes. This field is full of them.
The trip back to the safety of the road was the first conscious notion of time that I can remember. Time stood still as I slowly pushed my way through shoulder high grass in a field full of snakes. Couldn't go fast and couldn't see my feet and kept tripping over snake rocks. It was also the first time that I had a ten year olds glancing blow with the concept of mental stability. I had the feeling that if I did not get out of the field and reach the safety of the road I might lose my mind. I don't like snakes. If you are a snake kisser that is your business, but I don't like snakes.
Flash forward to 2004. I'm in a toy Thai plane flying back to Bangkok from Viangchan. The plane is so small that if you lean out into the aisle when the pilots are landing you can see the tarmac rushing up towards the windshield. The twin prop of questionable maintenance has been chartered by a big necked Russian so that he can get to his six foot tall Ufuckastan whore with Ukrainian prison tattoos as soon as possible. Show a middle-aged Russian a South Pattaya white skin peroxide blond with a chipped front tooth in a leopard skin body suit and he thinks he's in an Asian Vegas. Stupid. But timely. Me and a few others managed to catch this plane when Thai Air was having a "Mai Pen Rai Sir–Solly Sir–No Ploblum Sir–Plane Fly Tomollow Sir" day. I had gone to the Laotian capital looking for some boy-girl action but it had been pretty disappointing. Not enough infrastructure and the girls too shy for my taste. Now I just want to get home. I'm a farang horse that can smell the Soi 4 barn. The Nana hotel mothership is calling me the way a space station calls an untethered astronaut.
Flying from Viangchan to Udon Thani there was a guy in my field of vision that was just impossible to ignore. The seats on the plane were arranged like on a train so even though he was in an aisle seat one set of seats ahead of me and on the other side, he was seated facing me. The plane was not very full so really as far as field of vision goes it was just him and me. And what a specimen. I'm 54 years old and no virgin but this guy was really attention getting. Like I said, I've been leaving the house 7 days a week for the past 35 years and seen a lot of weirdoes, freaks, and human roosters but this guy was pretty interesting. He was in his late 50's; but probably not much older. Vietnam era. About 5'9" tall but looked taller because he was only about 6% body fat. I don't mean he was gaunt or sick; I mean this was one leaned out stripped down dude with big hands and big feet and big veins. For the entire flight he sat at attention in the seat with his veiny hands on his thighs and a 10 mile stare in his eyes. Military brush cut, polished army boots, no socks, army shorts, and grey para-military style T shirt. No jewelry or watch. Just ropey veins and stringy cut muscles and tight chest and flat stomach. Scary. Looked like he was made of barbed wire and razor blades. He was also a homosexual. How do I know? Because he didn't care that I knew. One of the Vietnam grunts who never went home. Never wrote home. And never thought about home. Ended up in the Kingdom and just settled in to a life of freedom that he could never have imagined in America. Maybe living on a military fixed income, coming and going as he pleased, and playing butt darts with special friends. Other guys who hadn't gone home. Thailand had become home. A place of license and freedom. And ass lube? If this guy was using ass lube it had bits of glass and ground up shell casings in it. This fucker was tough.
I wasn't attracted to his homosexual lifestyle; I'm not into that–but I was attracted to what he had done with his life. He had walked the walk and made a success out of Thailand. I had to respect that. He was the real deal. I had been nothing but a failure. Import export, interest in a tour company, teaching English, selling sunglasses in front of the Royal Garden Plaza mall in Pattaya, ownership of a bar in Sangkhla Buri, etc.–everything I had tried had failed. But I wasn't through with Thailand yet. This human rooster with the 10 mile stare gave me renewed hope. By the time he got off at Khon Kaen I had made up my mind. I wasn't going back to Bangkok. I would give Thailand one more try. I got off at Nakhon Ratchasima. I bought a little house and some land outside of town. If faggot rejects from a warzone and thirty some years ago could make it so could I.
The second day I saw a snake outside the house. No biggee. After all; it was Thailand. It's a jungle, man. But the next day I saw another snake and the next day I saw another snake. So I went into town and hired 8 Thais and rented two wheelbarrows and bought ten 55 gallon drums of gasoline. One at a time we laid the drums in the wheelbarrows, opened the filler caps on the lids, and then four guys to a wheelbarrow; wheeled the drums all over the property dribbling gas on the ground. Took all afternoon. Then we set the ground ablaze. I had the 8 guys stand guard by the house to watch it while the entire plot of land burnt to a crisp. Snakes we had not seen while trundling the wheelbarrows over every square foot of the land were now slithering and flipping and frying. No problem. Next morning I did a survey of the grey ash and black charred remains of my land and it was snake free. If homos can live here so can I. This is my last fucking stand in this country.
That day I drove somewhere, I don't know where; and bought 100 beams about 12" by 12" and around 30 feet long from a mill that processed trees for the Thai railroad. I also rented some jacks. Back to the house with the shit and the same 8 guys from before. Carrying this stuff was easy because when I had moved to town to make my last stand in the Kingdom I had bought a Vietnam era military vehicle of uncertain vintage. The kind of big mother truck you see being used as a troop carrier. It was huge and heavy and it had some kind of road grading blade on the front. Anyway the hydraulics were shot so the blade didn't work but it cleared the highway by about 8 inches so it was no problem. I installed oversized tires in the front and added some extra leaf springs and painted the blade blaze orange. It would have been a lot easier to have a Thai with a goiter and a club foot and a torch cut the blade off but it amused me to keep the thing. It became my symbol that I wasn't taking shit from this country anymore and I wasn't going to fail anymore. If a zonked out homo can make it here so can I. Get out of the fucking road. Farang coming. Unloading the lumber two frisky banded kraits slithered off the back of the truck. No ploblum. Workin' on that. . . !
Anyway back to the house with the beams and the Thais and some shovels and the jacks. We start digging and by the end of the day we have beams in under the house. By the end of the next day we have jacks under the beams and by the end of the week we have the house eight feet in the air. Back into town to get a cement mixer and I have truck deliver a load of telephone poles from the utility company. Dig the holes, pour the cement, cut the poles to length, insert the poles in the wet cement, bash them and crash them in under the beams–and by the end of another week the house is sitting on top of poles set in cement and eight feet off the ground. I'd like to see the Thai snake that can jump that high. Another trip into town for tinsnips and 100' of duct work tin and some milled lumber at the lumber yard. I cut the tin and hammer anti-snake hats around the poles. I use the milled lumber to build a set of stairs that I can raise up at night with a block and tackle. The first night I go to sleep with the stairs raised I sleep like a baby. Now all I need to do is find a woman and a job. Things are humming now and if I ever stumble across this guy from the plane I am going to thank him for giving me the inspiration to change my life. Maybe I'll make a donation to the local homos club. Whatever!
A week later I am going down the steps and just as my foot is about to land on the bottom step the bottom part of my vision sees a 12 foot King Cobra sunning himself on the step. With the athleticism of the scarred witless I lunge forward and crash on to the ground. Then I am up and running. Towards the truck. The record length for these venomous terrors is 24 feet but 12 feet is plenty long enough for me. These are high intelligence animals that can zip right along and sometimes decide to attack rather than retreat. Since my breakfast was left-over bangers and a half bottle of whisky I know I do not have the fine motor skills to be slippin' and slidin' with snakes. I'm running. The thing people do not understand about a lot of snake species is that longer snakes are not just longer as in a piece of 10 foot rope is longer than a piece of 6 foot rope–they are also bigger. Much bigger. Big thick bodies. Big big animals. And the King Cobra will attack (I think I mentioned that). He ain't afraid of you. His passport says Thailand and you only have a visa and he knows it.
Into the truck and hit the ignition. A violent thumping under the hood. What the fuck? Out of the truck with the claw hammer, smash at the hoods release hook, open the hood, and I am staring into the eyes of a viper that has gotten caught up in the fan belts when I turned the motor over. He must have crawled up on the warm block last night when I came home. Now I lose it. I just lose my mind. Just start smashing at him with the claw hammer.
As soon as he is dispatched I get back in the truck, put it in gear, floor the accelerator and just start racing around the property. I race and smash and crash and circle and reverse and brake and skid all over the damn property from road to fence line and everywhere in between. The road grading blade that normally cleared the highway by about 8 inches is now digging up what's left of trees, bushes, logs, rocks, and snakes. I've gone berserk but berserk with a plan. Property cleared I back up to the tree line and head for the tool shed. The truck goes right through. Another 10 smashes and the tool shed is level with the ground. I open the truck door, hop out; and pick up a can of gasoline.
Now the house. . . ! Some Thais have stopped on the road and are watching the farang in the military vehicle. Fine. Watch this you fuckers. And I start smashing into the poles that are holding up the house. With their concrete footings the poles look like giant cloth covered temple gong hammers. Once knocked out of the vertical they lose their compression strength and stability and are pretty easy to knock over. Eventually, the house is mostly unsupported and tilting. Window boxes that I had planted with daffodils to please a brown skinned woman with soft arms and small hands have crashed to the ground. Tears are bursting from my eyes. A few more instances of pole demolition should do it. Backing up to the property line to get a good run at a corner post I am suddenly struck with the cut crystal clarity of thought gifted only to the savant and the mystic and the insane.
Sitting with the ass end of the truck against the fence I put it in neutral to handle this epiphanel moment. The lean mean homo fighting machine on the plane didn't have a ten mile stare because of warzone flashbacks. Nor did he have the erect posture and focused nonderivative stare of the philosopher because he had penetrated to the lodestone of some oriental philosophy. He had been snakified. . . ! He had been caught out in the middle of a field full of snakes and never made it to the safety of the road. He had lost his mind. Open his refrigerator at home and there was a black snake there. Moving slow because of the cold but you had to push the heavy body aside to get to the milk. Getting dressed in the morning there were snakes hanging off the clothes rack. From the front door to the steps across the porch you had to watch your feet. Sitting on the crapper he could feel the presence of a colored snake draped over the toilet tank behind him. He was sleeping with snakes. They were in his bed. When visiting with his Nam buddies he would brag that his house didn't have any rats or mice or crickets or locusts or frogs or birds or scorpions or spiders. Snakes got them. Making lemonade out of lemons. His Nam buddies would smile indulgently. Everybody had a story.
I wondered how long it took him to lose his mind. How long was he in the field pushing the grass aside trying to get to the safety of the road before the 'overwhelming might of the enemy' got him? A month? Six months? A year? He had been here thirty-five years. And then it was about me. I was angry. I had been fucked again. It had all been a lie. This guy was not someone to mimic or admire or follow or emulate or make into some philosopher hero. He was a loser. I had gotten revitalized and rehopeful by a chimera. A loser. He wasn't lean and fit looking because of some admirable internal engine of focus–he was nuts. Probably only got the food the snakes left him. He had been defeated by the greater primal forces of evil incarnate in a country that thinks adding a chili to a fried scorpion is cuisine. I had been following the wrong star, hitching my wagon to the wrong dream. I was a farang fool again and a nation of people that could not tell time had defeated me again. Unfuckingbelievable.
A few pushes with the gear in low and another supporting pole comes down. Then the house slowly leans and sags and touches the ground. I push in a wall. Out of the truck with the gas can. Into the house and I grab my passport, money, and manuscript. Spill the gas and drop a match. Driving away in the rear view mirror I can see the small fire outlined against the jungle hillside. Import export, bar ownership, sunglasses salesman, English teaching, and now this. Something else I couldn't do. I'm a beaten farang. But I'm a farang on a mission. I've got my passport, my money, and my manuscript. Next stop Don Muang International airport. And I am flying out of this fucking country. So long Thailand.
Do you need a visa to go to visit Ufuckastan? Always wanted to go there.