Stickman Readers' Submissions January 25th, 2008

The Intimacies of Thaddeus Thunk

On a Saturday night Thaddeus Thunk was half way through his customary ten or twelve Tequilas slumped on the corner couch of Safari Bar – a timeworn and tame Go-Go bar on Patpong 2. The bar had become one his favorites due in no small part to the way that the low ceilings and stages framed the dancers but certainly no less due to the familiarity with which the staff addressed him. They would address him as Thad and, coming from their mouths, this would always sound to Thunk’s ears as though he had been called ‘That’. He found it curiously comforting to be known as ‘That’. Yes Thad Farung, that he was, and here there was no need to wrestle with nomenclature.

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Glancing drunkenly from the stage to the customers and from the customers to the service girls dressed in last year’s drapery, Thaddeus Thunk reflected on the week gone by. He recalled his meetings with the Commerce Ministry and recalled his no less commercial trip to Soi Cowboy. It was then that it occurred to Thaddeus Thunk that when two cultures collide they sometimes don't end up with the best of both worlds. Sometimes, thought Thaddeus, all the relentless, shiftless, avaricious greed and materialism of one joins at the hip with the hierarchical and haughty intolerance of the other. It was both revelation and disappointment, as Thaddeus had long dreamed of the graciousness of a respectful and paternal quid pro quo but now knew that it wasn't something of which a cipher could realistically dream in Thailand.

Laughing at himself for having used the term ‘realistically dream’, Thaddeus tiredly and drunkenly motioned to Ming to bring him another Tequila and to keep them coming when he noticed that it had begun to rain. It was a heavy rain, a rain with intent and purpose as if it desired not to cleanse but to wash away not only what was before him now but all that had been in the week gone by.

Thaddeus woke in a room that had the acrid thick stink of two hour fornications played out day after day after day. It had been raining solidly for 45 days. The rain had never stopped once it had started. No afternoon showers anymore, just the flood. Always the flood. The streets were canals and the khlongs had long since disappeared with the deluge. There was no more reason for this than there was for the women lying asleep in the off-white color of the rental bed unexpected in the morning’s crumpled sheets like a horses head and no more welcome. From the bathroom he watched her wake, brown skinned, small and smooth.

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The cost? The cost the night before was trivial and expected. The usual; some bottles, some glasses filled with carbonated black and some banter. Idle banter it had seemed and idle banter it was, but if it truly was idle banter, where had she come from and why? As she woke he looked over as one leg moved slowly toward the end of the bed and pushed. It was heavy and it fell to the floor throwing musty spores into the air and making a sound like a bag of wet cement – but with the coming of the flood everything now sounded wet and muffled. The bloody trail left on the off-white sheets made him queasy and he gagged.

He thought of food and hospitals, he thought of food for hospitals and its unforgiving smell and he thought of how transport to hospitals was endowed and paid. But hospitals were in the past and future not the present, and money useless, so he thought about anything to take his mind off why she lay there in the crumpled sheets like a horses head and why it now laid on the floor un-welcomed and inanimate and un-mourned.

It might have been Korat, not the place but the thought and not exactly the thought of the place but the thought of what needed to be done in the place. It had come to this and she had come for him – at least he thought she had come and that, he knew, was all the usually mattered. That it didn't this time was the puzzle and the puzzle was the trail of blood from the sheets to the floor where it still lay inanimate and unforgiving. Thaddeus moved slowly to the end of the bed and looked down. She knelt at the end of bed looking also. She began to speak: “You take it home.”

“But it has no home now” Thaddeus replied. Her tone changed and it became demanding and censoring like the interminable rain and the swirling waters of the deluge: “You know its home! You take home now or it never stop! Take home now, take home now, TAKE HOME NOW!!”

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But there was nowhere to take it and no way to take it; there was only the flood and the streets turned into khlongs and the khlongs long since gone. There was nothing – just the rutting and nesting of rats in damp junkyard mattresses and there was absolutely nothing that would placate the screaming women kneeling at the end of the bed and building to an apocalyptic crescendo: “You take home…Take it home….You take!! …YOU TAKE!!!”

Thaddeus Trunk’s head fell to the side and, wrenching it upright, he faced the service staff of Safari who were now pointing at him and arguing with each other ‘you take Thad home…YOU take Thad home’. Assisted to his feet by Ming dressed in last year’s drapery, Thaddeus Thunk walked out unsteadily into the calming rain and soothing sounds of Patpong packing up at 3 am. Thad Farung, Thad Farang he mumbled to himself smiling as he drunkenly stumbled to Silom in the hope of finding a taxi to take him home where, with luck, he would dream of the graciousness of a paternal quid pro quo.

Stickman's thoughts:

This Thaddeus Trunk sure gets around. I really don't know what to say here…

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