Stickman Readers' Submissions February 14th, 2006

Iewung’s Inheritance! – Chapter 4

Chapter Four – Chenda’s Camp

Om continues her story. Chenda and Om arrive at Chenda's Camp. A shooting accident creates a difficult moment for Om. Why do Chenda and Grant take weapons with them when they go fishing? Chenda is loved by his follower's and perhaps by Om too.

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Now that the neighbor is taking care of the children Om is relaxed. She is sitting quietly. I think that she is reliving her story. I was still wondering how any house could be worse than this one, when Om started speaking again;

‘Let me see, where was I; Oh yes, Chenda’s place by the river’.

Om gathered her thoughts and went on;

‘Chenda’s hut was so small, about tree meters square, on one side was a pile of bed clothes on a dirty old mattress and on the other was one chair. His place had a dirt floor just like this one. The dirt floor was hard and shiny, just as
though someone had swept it every day for a long time. I found myself feeling jealous, where was she, the girl who keeps his floor like this. I looked at the pile of bed clothes more carefully, lest she be there under them. Chenda was smiling,
he read my face and my gaze, he said;

The ladies in the moobaan take care of me. I’ll be back in minute”, are his parting words, as he leaves me alone to get used to my surroundings.’

‘Chenda was gone quite a while so I rummaged through the pile of bed clothes in the hope of finding out more about him. There was only one blanket, the rest was an assortment of clothes, two pairs of jeans, a soldiers’ water proof cape, some tee shirts, a frayed jumper, a coat, and a pair of ladies panties! The bed was made out of three mattressy thingies, each about one meter square. They seemed to be filled with straw and reminded me of what dad used to say he slept on when he was in the British Army, he said that they were Pally… something or other’.

I made another of my involuntary interruptions; “Palliases!”

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Om scowled, showing her irritation and went on;

‘Well anyway they were laid end to end on the dirt floor, reaching from the front wall all the way to the back wall and one meter into the width. Having found the panties I decided to go through the pile of junk in the corner behind the chair. Well you couldn’t have imagined what was in that heap. Apart from the girly magazines and brand new pornographic video tapes, all in boxes and with the most dreadful pictures on the labels; there was the little bundle wrapped in an oily cloth, I picked it up and unwrapped it to see what was inside. It was a gun! It was small gun. It was very heavy. It was all oily and shiny. I fondled it. It was beautiful. Just feeling it gave me a funny feeling in my tummy. Well, just as I was clicking a funny little bit Chenda came back, I tried to hide the gun behind my back but it went off with a loud bang! Chenda fell over screaming. Then he went white, he didn’t move. I was terribly afraid that I’d killed him. I could hear people running and shouting. The funny smell from the gun going off in that small hut made me feel sick. My head was spinning I must have fainted. Later when I came to I was tied to a tree and surrounded by all these frightening looking people. I could see two men walking over to the hut; they tore the door off its hinges and went in side. They were inside such a long time. I was afraid that they were going to kill me. I didn’t want killed again. Then I felt excited, alive and I wanted to be free. When the men came out they had Chenda lying on the door. He was covered up with that smelly blanket off his bed. They were carrying him ever so carefully. They put him on the ground right in front of me. An old lady appeared from inside the hut. She came straight over to me, knelt on the ground and was pulling the blanket away from Chenda’s feet. His left foot was all bandaged up; blood was seeping through the bandage’;

”Look what you’ve done to our Chenda”, she snarled.

‘I was terrified. Chenda was groaning. His eyes opened and saw me tied to the tree.

He shouted at them;

“Let her free”.

‘The people were talking amongst themselves. No one moved.

He said it again;

”I said Let her free! Do it now, she did nothing, it was an accident. She was looking at my PK I grabbed it off her and it went off! The silly bitch had taken the safety of!”

‘Chenda sat up clutching his ankle, moaning, the old lady was still on the ground beside him'.

”Oh shut up, it’s only a flesh wound, stop whimpering”; she hissed.

’The crowd gasped! No one talks to Chenda like tha'.

'Chenda got up and said’;

”OK! OK! You can all go home now, the show’s over”.

‘Chenda was grinning all over his face, he was looking at me like dad used to when I’d made him cross and yet somehow I would know that he wouldn’t punish me.

Then Chenda spoke to the old lady’;

“Fetch some food for us we’ve got to eat before we go fishing”,

‘He said; with an air of authority. The old lady set me free and scurried away. I helped Chenda limp back to the hut. He was making out as though he was leaning heavily on my shoulder, but I couldn’t feel his weight at all. The crowd had melted away into the trees’.

‘The lady was back with the food within minutes. She served Chenda the noodle soup and prawns first; she was very attentive to him. When satisfied that Chenda was happy she wai’d to him with a very deep bow. I was puzzled why this old lady should show him such respect. Then she served me, respectfully, somehow as though I was important. Before she left she leant forward and whispered in my ear',

”You be careful my dear. We wanted him to take one of our girls. Our girls boom-boom him any time he want, they’re all in love with him”, then she was gone.

'While we were eating I could hear many people; they were talking in hushed voices'.

After breakfast Chenda said;

“Get my Winchester down”.

‘He was pointing up, I looked up and there in clips on a roof beam was a rifle. I reached up and got it. When I turned to hand it to him Chenda was wearing a bandolier and a bandana, thrusting the PK thingy in his belt. He took the rifle from me and took my hand, pulling me out of the hut with him. Outside his hut all these people had lined up and were looking at us expectantly. Chenda walked along the line and gave every man one hundred Baht, to each woman he gave one hundred and fifty Baht and to each child he gave twenty Baht. At the end of the line was a tiny tot; he gave her ten Baht, scooped her up in his arms and gave her a big kiss, I’m sure that she was his child. Chenda put the child down and shouted;

”Grant! Grant! Bring the nets, it’s getting late”.

‘Grant came running. He was not Thai. He was a big man with fair skin. Just like the farang that gave me the baby. He was carrying fishing nets over his shoulder. He put the nets into Chenda’s boat and Chenda lifted me into the boat too. He pushed off and jumped in himself, started the long tail’s engine, opened the throttle and took us upstream. In daylight the boat looked wonderful. The huge engine looked as though it was brand new, all its bits shining in the early morning sun. When we pulled off the beach I’d noticed that the boat left two lines in the sand, not one as you would normally expect. The boat was wider than long tailed boats of its length usually are, I’d say perhaps twice the width. Mid-ships there were a strange looking bulge protruding up, it had a tarpaulin thrown over it, but I was sure that it was part of the boat and not cargo’.

‘Grant had come on board wearing a bandolier and carrying and rifle too. They both fixed their rifles to clips on the inside of the boat’s gunnels and lay the bandoliers beneath them. Grant’s rifle was in its clip at the bow and Chenda’s in its clip at the stern. About a kilometer upstream Chenda cut the engine and anchored in the lee of a small island. Grant deployed one net via a boom toward one bank and Chenda deployed the other from a boom toward the other bank. It was still only nine o’clock in the morning. We waited for another hour and then Chenda released the anchor and we started to drift down stream. It took another hour to drift back to where I could see Chenda’s hut. That’s when I realized that Chenda’s place was on an island in the middle Mekong River. Well anyway, we drifted past the Island, which took another hour. The southern tip of the island was still insight when Chenda and Grant lifted the booms and swung the nets inboard. The boat filed to the gunnels with beautiful silver fish sparkling in the sunshine. Chenda started the engine and we headed back upstream to his anchorage by his hut. When we got there the little beach was crowded with womenfolk with wicker baskets. Chenda sat on the gunnels and shouted';

”OK get the fish away!”

‘Two of the younger women got in the boat and filled basket after basket with fish, as each lady on the beach passed her basket aboard for filling. Would you believe it; they filled nineteen five kilo baskets before the boat was emptied of its fish? Chenda and Grant took the rifles and bandoliers out of the boat. Chenda told Grant to send the cleaning party to wash out the boat. Two men went off in small boars. CChend said it was their job to 'feed the swim' every day to ensure that the next catch would be good too. We, Chenda and I went to his hut. He lit a small fire outside and brewed up coffee, we drank the coffee, and then Chenda went to bed and fell asleep. I lay down beside him, and having not slept for two days, I fell asleep too’.

Stickman's thoughts:

Good stuff.

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