It’s A Great Life
Soopis stood near the front of the open-air bar on Soi Sea Dragon watching the tourists stroll by. She could easily tell the difference between a tourist and local at a distance. The tourists were usually wide eyed, almost like people staring up at the tall buildings on a visit to New York City. They also dressed a lot better. She knew they had plenty of money in their pockets; expendable cash was the term a farang friend had told her. Her job was to get them to come in and spend it. She ignored anyone that looked as if they had been here a while unless she thought that they had promise- unless she could see the longing in their eyes, the complete fascination when they looked at her. In that case she considered taking it further, as she wasn’t interest in making a few thousand baht every night-not interested at all.
Soopis didn’t shout ‘Handsome man, come here, welcome!’ That was ridiculous-old hat. She merely waited until she made eye contact with a man and then pointed to him and then to a seat like she was ordering him in. It surprised them. They were even more surprised when she broke into a self-depreciating grin, and shrugged her shoulders as if they had just shared a joke together, nodding her head in the direction of the bar. They usually filed in like captivated school kids.
She was a ‘front’ and she was excellent at it. She was paid more money than all of the other girls put together but she wasn’t impressed by that fact. She had bigger fish to fry. The other girls caged drinks from the customers, forty baht commission for a Malibu and orange juice that cost a hundred and twenty, then tried to talk the client into taking them home. Short time was the ideal for them. Two hundred baht bar fine, of which they got half and then one thousand for taking off their clothes and having sex. It didn’t matter what the man looked like, fat and sweaty, bald, tall and skinny or hairy-that was the absolute worst. They closed their eyes and let it happen and when it was over, they made a fast eleven hundred not counting a few drink commissions.
Small money Soopis thought smiling, hardly worth bothering with. That’s the problem with these people, hicks from the sticks, mostly Isaan rice planters, come here and think they hit the big time- they had no idea.
Soopis was one of the most beautiful girls in Phuket, possibly the most beautiful and easily the most charming. She had flowing red hair, large full breasts and long legs. She didn’t wear revealing clothes-she didn’t have to and besides that was not part of her persona. Soopies kept herself above the bar scene; she was there but not part of it. The men walking by, if they had any sense at all and were not bleary-eyed with beer, noticed this right away. Most men, as corny as they knew it sounded, could not help but think and most times would actually say, ‘What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?’
Soopies had two stock answers: ‘A girl's got to make a living,’ she would reply with a big carefree smile, was the one she most often gave. But if she sensed something more in the question, she would sigh and speak quietly, almost whispering, ‘not good for me,’ with a sad look of resignation on her face. She held that answer back, saving it for a special person, not some fat-bellied German, some jerk in shorts and a T-shirt or your usual tourist. No, the man that she said that to had to have something on the ball. He would be smarter than the average guy; he would be better dressed than the rest of them- no fake Rolexes for him, for Christ’s sake she had seen thousands of the damn things.
If she was pressed by a man to have a drink with him, she would. She would never ever, under any circumstances, ask for one. She would thank him gratefully for the drink and then look into his eyes and hesitate, as if she wanted to share a secret. She smiled and kept silent. After a while, if he kept asking, she would shake her head and say, ‘I’m so tired of this, night after night, but what can I do? I need to eat. I need a job. I need to send money to my parents.’ She wouldn’t look up at the man she was talking to; she didn’t have to. She had the timing down; she had it just right. She could hear his mind whirling, clicking like some crazed pinball machine. She was in no hurry, if it happens it happens. You can’t rush these things she thought. They had to suggest it themselves. She would never say it, never. If she was patient and she was, the man would always ask. Can I help you? Of course they had other things on their mind; she expected that, accepted it, welcomed it. ‘There’s nothing you can do,’ she would reply. ‘If I only had my own place, not a bar but a restaurant, a nice place, where decent people came, I would be happy-but I have nothing, I send all of the money I make, and it’s not much, home to my mother.’
Last month Soopies had taken a man for a million baht. She made love to him, reluctantly at first, then with more passion until he was crazed with the very being of her. ‘I have to go back to the bar. I need to make money. I wish I did not have to go.’
It was so easy. He just went to the bank and handed her a million baht. ‘Now you can have a restaurant. Now you and I can stay together.’ She never opened the restaurant; she just put the money in the bank and laughed at the silliness of it all. She called the police and had him taken away when he complained.
Soopis felt satisfied with her life. She did not have to take any man home. She owned three houses; two here in Phuket and one in Nakhon Si Thammarat. She was completely independent and would retire in a few more years at the young age of twenty-five.
She noticed, out of the corner of her eye, a man that looked familiar, walking towards her.
‘Excuse me,’ she said to her present client, and rose to greet the man that was coming closer, walking purposely. She recognized him. It was a man that had loved her for three months last year. She had only taken him for eighty thousand baht. How important could this be, she thought?
‘I have to talk to you. I love you. Come back with me. I need you.’ The man’s face was flushed and red. He was shaking. ‘I can’t live without you.’
Soopies had heard all this before. It was just part of the job. ‘Up to you,’ she smiled.
The man yanked a pistol from his pocket and pushed the muzzle against her breast. He pulled the trigger and she flew back against the bar. Blood spurted from her chest, covering her thick gold chain as she fell to the floor, scattering the bar stools. The other girls screamed and scrambled to get out of there.
At the same time this was happening, no one seemed to pay any attention to the man pressing the pistol to his temple.