Under The Protection Of The Three Brothers Pii (Ghosts) Part 2
I hung around where I had parked the pick-up truck near the Chong Chum Cambodian border area the first time there that week, listening to the truck’s stereo and drinking a beer Chang or two. I waited on the Thai side for wife and family to do their shopping. I had still been under the impression that the border crossing was closed for farang at that time, so didn’t bother trying to cross over. Prime Minister Taksin had closed it earlier due to much crime against farang while over the border in Cambodia gambling and shopping (they had just completed building one casino just over the borderline by then, there are now two). There had a been a few kidnappings and robberies of farang, supposedly by leftover ex-Khmer Rouge soldiers now turned mafia and bandits who roamed the area looking for easy pickings and ways to extort money, so the Thai authorities deemed it unsafe for farang to cross there and closed the border crossing to the tourists and expatriates.
While sitting around dangling my legs from the pick-up’s opened tailgate, which I had opened to give myself a seat in the shade dappled sun and available breezes so as not to waste diesel keeping cool in the cab of the truck with the AC on (impossible to sit in there without the AC on, even with the windows open, unless you like saunas) I was visited by a family band of roving wild monkeys. They just suddenly plopped down beside my truck from the overhead foliage and tree branches.
Both sides of the road leading up to the border crossing are lined with newly erected barbed-wire fences, which might pose some small obstacle to illegally immigrating Cambodians, but seem not to deter these migrating simians from going where ever they please. But what might deter these cousins of we humans from foraging around on the ground are the landmines planted in the jungle along both sides of the road, which are advertised with red corrugated plastic signs featuring a white skull and crossbones and the large words “Danger Landmines!” prominently tacked to the trees on both sides of the road. I highly doubt the poor monkeys are literate though.
I was sitting there on the tailgate, trying to catch some small relief from the occasional jungle breezes when the monkeys invaded. It was ridiculously sweltering hot at the time. Hell, it had been brutally hot the whole two weeks I had been there so far. The monkeys wandered around me and I appreciated the diversion they presented me; watching their feeding, and chattering antics. Papa was a fairly large brute, with large vicious looking canines, and a scrotum that prominently hung half way down his legs as he sashayed by. Mama and a couple other young females, sisters, wives, harem, I’m not educated on monkey family groups and dynamics so I have no idea of their structure, strolled past me, staying a respectful distance behind the large male monkey, much as my own wife and family do whenever we walk together. “These must be Thai monkeys coming back from a trip over to see Cambodia.” I thought to myself. There were also three youngsters, how old I have no idea, but they were much smaller than the rest of the band of monkeys, who put on some mock combat playing show that had me laughing, grinning, and chuckling.
As the troop entered the jungle forest beside me I thought again of the landmines and their placement, and wondered exactly how close to the road they were, and if a monkey accidentally tripped one if the explosion might just as well rip me to shreds as I sat there on the truck tailgate as it would the monkey who stepped on it. Fuck, I hate landmines.
As I sat there pondering this pleasant thought while watching the foraging moneys a nice, strong, cool breeze sprang up from the west. I looked down the road back into Thailand into the distance and spied enormous thunderclouds racing toward Cambodia and the valley below. The tops of these clouds were tinged a warm pink from the setting late afternoon sun. Their bottoms were a dirty grey, flat bottomed, and promising a near future of rain, and probably lots of it. The breeze rushed along the forested land before the impending rain storm tussling the heads of leaves atop the trees, and causing to rain down on the road and truck, and me as well, a deluge of leaves, small branches, and pieces of long dead creeper vines. From somewhere amongst the trees nearby rose an angry piercing wail, not unlike the cry of an American Katydid screeching from the trunk of a Willow tree on a hot August afternoon remembered from my youth in Southern New Jersey. These creatures sounded much the same, and were extremely loud and close by. Within seconds the bug’s (I assume it was a bug) call was taken up by at least a half dozen more of its mates from the trees about my vicinity. The sound was enormous and thrilling, and sent chills down my spine.
I hopped down from my perch on the tailgate of my truck and went to get my last remaining bottle of drinking water from the cab. I was sweating profusely still, even with the cooling breeze blowing through the trees surrounding me. It might have been a bit cooler now, but this is all somewhat relative. Instead of 95 degrees Fahrenheit it may have cooled down to 92 or 93.
It was still as hot as the Devil’s left testicle encased in a woolen jockstrap in what passes for summer in hell. That’s fairly warm still. Every drop of liquid I consume here seems to go right to supplying my sweat glands with yet more material to trickle over my already glistening skin.
I felt like a walking salt lick, with no one around wanting to lick me; or at least that I wanted to lick me at the moment.
I doused myself with some of my remaining drinking water and sat on the tailgate again to await the arrival of wife and family.
Tomorrow would be the ritual cleaning of the Buddha and his buddies in the house in the village, the Thai Songkran equivalent of farang ‘spring cleaning’ of the house.
(The Central Scrutinizer)
More magic from Cent.