The Story of A
I hadn’t seen her all night and I was starting to feel a little frustrated. After all it was now 2:30am and I’d been looking for about 4 hours. I’d visited a few places on Soi 6 and then toured a couple of go-gos and beer bars on Walking Street but with no luck and now I was just watching the world go by at the corner of Walking Street and Soi 15. You know who I was looking for because I think we’ve all probably sought her out at one time or another, or maybe a little more frequently than that. I was looking for the “one”. The right lady with the right combination of looks, sassiness and sexiness and yet with a glint of humanity in her eyes. I know I’m a sentimental fool and a hapless romantic to boot, plus I’ll never win any hardcore mongering trophies, but I’m ok with it. I just wanted a little fix of GFE, or at least some friendly company.
So I stood outside the Family Mart and watched the steady flow of humanity streaming down Walking Street and off into the night’s embrace, or for many a happy punter into more intimate embraces with their chosen companion.
As I looked to my right an arresting sight really caught my attention: an attractive girl in a short pale blue mini dress was helping an old man off the high sidewalk and down onto the street. She held his hand and arm with tenderness and almost a bright-eyed reverence as she lead him across the busy soi and up onto the opposite sidewalk. After he was safely there but before he was on his doddering way she gave him a warm, serene smile framed by a respectful wai. But as she turned to step back onto the street and proceed up Walking Street the warmth in her eyes and the softness in her features hardened into a sternness and almost defiant coolness that chilled the space around her. Yet there was a feline litheness and grace in the way she looked and moved that hinted at an erotic sensuality that excited me. I was transfixed by the transformation, and although she wasn’t the most beautiful girl I’d seen that night I was immediately attracted to her in a kinetic jumble of mostly visceral emotions. I would have been attracted to her raw sexiness under any circumstances but most likely I would have kept my distance as I prefer a more approachable woman, but I had seen her apparently selfless and kind gesture that suggested behind the hard façade was a degree of genuine humanity I was looking for.
Yes, she was the one.
I approached her from the side and tried to get her attention by calling out, “Hello, that was a nice thing to do”. But no response. I repeated it a little louder, but again no response. I thought she was deliberately ignoring me, but then I noticed a white cord snaking from her ears to a device she held in her left hand and realized she was listening to music. So I strode forward a few paces to get ahead of her and waved my hand in front of her to get her attention. She stopped and glared at me with such a bored, belligerent and unwelcoming look that I almost backed off. But there was a glint of light in those dark eyes that encouraged me to continue. I wanted to ask her if she was available but I knew that was a deal killer, that she was not going to respond to that kind of directness, at least not from me.
So I gestured for her to remove her earphones. She removed one. I told her I had seen her help the old man and that I wanted to tell her that I thought it was very gracious and kind of her. She glared at me with a begrudging tolerance of yet another horny farang who no doubt wanted to screw her. But again I noticed the hint of the lightness of being that she was so practiced at masking. It sounds corny but I looked deep into her eyes and as her gaze met mine I felt a moment of quiet, calm equanimity. All the raucous bedlam around us dissolved and in that instant I focused solely on the extraordinary woman in front of me. The light in her eyes bloomed into warmth and curiosity that belied her icy exterior and I felt her yield just a little, just enough to reveal more of her gentler side. That was enough. I realized that she was indeed the one, but not in the way I was expecting.
I broke my reverie and stepping back ever so slightly I asked if she understood what I said. Clearly she had because she said, in clear and yet lilting English, “I help that man every time I see him because everyone ignores him.”
All I could muster in return was, “Well, it was the kindest thing I’ve seen all day.”
There was a pregnant pause. My instinct told me to be very indirect and social, but my loins told me to touch her, reach out to her, and to suggest we go back to my hotel. As much as I wanted to believe otherwise I could tell that she was not interested in that kind of company or commerce with me right now. So I introduced myself, told her my name and asked for hers. She said her name was “A”, then she quickly added, “Just one letter, no more”. I asked her if she was hungry. She said she was and that she was going to her favorite place just down Walking Street and I could join her if I wanted. I had visions of a loud and raunchy club, which I was really not into, but she surprised me by steering us to a very stylish bar-lounge-restaurant that fronted Walking Street. Rather than sit up front she retreated to a quieter area deeper in the place and settled into a comfortable armchair. She placed the device she had been carrying on the glass-topped table and I saw that it was identical to the high-end and latest-release Sony-Ericsson phone / Walkman player I had. I had bought mine in the USA just 2 weeks earlier and unlocked it with a code I had purchased on the internet. Interesting coincidence. Plus it told me that she had money, or maybe a well-to-do sponsor or two.
I fished out my phone and laid it next to hers. She glanced at it but said nothing.
A fellow approached us and she introduced him as the owner, who she said was French. But he looked and sounded Russian to me, and that seemed to be confirmed when he did not respond to my admittedly poorly accented schoolboy French “Comment allez vous?” (How are you?). But he did give me an odd look when I followed that up in Russian with “Zdraast vooee che kakh dyeh-lah?” (Hello, how are you doing?). [I know a little Russian from having traveled in 1975 by train on a diplomatic visa from England to Moscow, where I stayed for a month over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with a boarding school chum and his family. His father was the acting British Ambassador, so it was a unique insight into both real and rarified life behind the iron curtain. But that’s another story.]
We ordered Thai food and bottled water and casually chatted while we ate. The conversation was very easy and relaxed, with a little banter occasionally that made us both laugh and poke fun at each other. A phone chimed and she fished a black Razr phone out of her small handbag and flipped it open to check an SMS, which she did not reply to. I have exactly the same unlocked Razr that I had brought along in case my new phone did not work in Thailand. Another interesting coincidence, but I was trying not to read too much into it.
She fiddled with her Sony Ericsson and I asked what she was listening to. She complained that it was just the radio because she couldn’t load any songs. I told her it was easy if you have the right cable, which I just happened to have brought with me, and I offered to upload some music from my laptop if she was interested, but she didn’t respond.
We talked a bit about where she worked, and she said she was a show girl at a club on Soi 15. In my naivety I asked what a show girl meant and she simply said that she’s paid to dance nude. That got my attention but I didn’t press her on the subject as she didn’t seem interested to talk about it.
Then she asked me where I was staying. I told her, but she did not know the hotel as it was brand new and had only opened 2 months previously. I had booked in at their grand opening special at a fantastic rate, even though I had a large and luxurious room with balcony overlooking the beach. She looked at her watch and said it was time to go. It was 3:30am. After paying and saying “Da svedaneeya” (thank you) to the owner (which elicited an almost dumbfounded look), we walked back up Walking Street towards the northern end. A surprised me by telling me “You can ride on my motorcycle”. This was not a question but neither was it an order: it was a matter of fact statement. I saw no reason to disagree with the opportunity to squeeze my crotch against her pert buttocks so a few minutes later we were tooling along Second Road in the direction of my hotel. She did not ride fast nor unsafely, but with confidence and a little aggression that perfectly matched her current personality. When we reached the hotel she parked and turned off the motor. So now there was no doubt, as if there had ever been any: she was coming up to my room.
Once in my room she asked me to check her Sony-Ericsson while she snuggled up on the comfy sofa. She didn’t even turn on the TV and channel surf for Thai soap operas or variety shows, so I was impressed and relieved. I took my laptop out of the safe and replaced it with my own phone and wallet, and once it booted up I used my USB cord to connect to the room’s stereo system. Without consulting A I piped in a dub-mix of Thievery Corporation sounds and she seemed not to mind the choice as she stood up and started to dance around the room in an erotic undulation. “Nice,” I thought to myself, amongst other less neutral ideas. She took out her phone and asked me to load some music: “Any music, you choose”. I used my Sony USB cable to connect to her phone and once registered I tried to load a song, but the directory on her phone was blocked and it would not transfer.
Meantime A was back curled up on the sofa across the room and about 12 feet behind me. So here was another intriguing opportunity…I had full access to a Thai girl’s phone, a USB cable and a laptop. May the karmic phone gods forgive me but no, I couldn’t resist. I downloaded her photos and a movie to a new folder I labeled work, but just before I was about to download her phone book, she roused, stretched and I heard the soft bare foot tread of feet on the wood floor. Fortunately I was able to close the folder and click back to the music transfer program before she peeked over my shoulder and asked, “I have music now?” I told her not quite yet and tried a few more times to load the songs, but with no luck. I felt a little guilty, and not just for downloading her photos and movie, but for my impotence at being unable to satisfy the reason we had come back to my hotel and perform a simple but satisfying task of inserting something I had into something she had …was that an altogether too obvious metaphor for how I was feeling inside? No doubt.
I told her that I couldn’t load the music, but I’d try to download another utility and driver from the internet. She told me not to bother and she took back her phone, so I closed up my laptop and turned around to talk with her. I asked how long she had lived with her farang boyfriend. She perked up at my directness and said “You know Thai lady like me learn English from falang boyfriend”. I nodded and then without much prompting she told me all about her life, or at least those parts she wanted me to know. She spoke surprisingly clear and decent English, but I was disappointed to find out that although she could prattle away quite well, when it came to listening to what I had to say, let alone any comprehension, it was like we were speaking different languages. She would nod and make little noises to encourage me to carry on with what I was saying, but any time I asked a question about what I had said, or said something that should have elicited at least a nominal response she just nodded, smiled and went on talking as though I had not asked anything or said anything for her to respond to. I’ve found that this is an infuriatingly frustrating habit so many Thai women have, so A was no exception.
Her story was pretty typical to start with…poor background in a village near Mahasarakham, her family saved money for her to go to a technical school in Chonburi (this did not make sense to me as there are good schools in nearby Khon Kaen or even Mahasarakham town), where she went 4 years ago. She met her UK boyfriend 3 years ago on an evening out in Pattaya, where he lived and then she had come to stay with him. They broke up a year ago as he was a butterfly. She had gone back to school but had run out of money 4 months ago and had come back to Pattaya to work in a bar, and now most recently in a go-go on Soi 15 renowned for its very raunchy show girls. She made a point to tell me that she hardly ever went with customers even though they always want to barfine her, then she added with a nastily mischievous smirk, “and f*ck me, but maybe I f*ck them!” I asked what she meant and she started in on a tirade about sleazy married men who expect her to do the most obscene things like the other show girls. She went on to say, with a certain condescension, that she will never do the extreme and crazy things most show girls in that club will do because they all have Thai boyfriends or husbands and so don’t care what any other man thinks. She insisted she had her self-esteem and standards, which the other girls don’t care about…and so in a perverted way she had scruples and standards that created some sort of equilibrium in her life and justification for her behavior. Based on her nightly earnings, she may have had a point. She also knew she didn’t have to be barfined because she revealed she could make 1,000 – 2,000 baht in tips and lady drinks a night, and that allowed her to choose who she wanted to go with when she was horny or just liked the guy, and usually she never charged the man anything anyway. So I wondered to myself where I rated in her world and I had to admit that I hoped it was more than just as a passing diversion and possible source of music downloads. She had captivated my attention right away and now she was gradually nibbling away at my heart, despite my better judgment.
I asked her about her earnings and what she did with her money. She said that between her basic salary and her tips she could make 40,000 baht a month. I calculated that if her tip money was what she said, then that was the low end and more likely it was 50,000 or more. She said that she gave half her money to her family, and especially for her younger sister who she wanted to go to university and not end up like her. Oh no…a compassionate side…I felt another nibble on my heart.
She went on to say that she wanted to go the USA and she asked me if I had been to Miami or Las Vegas because she had an American friend who had clubs in both cities and he wanted her to work there as a dancer because he knew she’d be a hit and make a lot of money. I’ve spent time in both cities and agreed that they are towns that would have plenty of opportunities for her. She seemed pleased to hear that and in a kind of confession told me that she was only gong to do this for a couple more years and make enough money in the States to come back and retire in Thailand. As she spoke she reminded me of Chanya in John Burdett’s trilogy about the adventures of Sonchai Jitpleecheep, and how she had done what A had described. I just hoped that A didn’t get involved with the gruesome aspects of the seedier side of life as had happened to Chanya. And of course I couldn’t help but imagine myself as a farang version of Sonchai who fell in love with and rescued her. Uh oh…that wasn’t just a nibble, it was a full chomp on my heart and I had to fight off an urge to succumb to my fantasy.
It was now getting onto 5am and A was nodding off so she moved over to the bed and in a moment she was out like a light. I took the opportunity to sit on the edge of the bed and watch the deep, even breathing and placid beauty of her slumber. Years ago I would have fallen for her seductive combination of warmth, willfulness and sensuality, but instead I just pondered the possibilities and enjoyed a momentary fantasy of her really being the “one”. My reverie soon ended and I concluded that this was just another remarkable and unique episode that is so typical of the Thai experience.
Feeling relieved at my conclusion and although it was very late I decided to do some work. I usually work in the later part of the morning after breakfast so I can at least keep pace with the daily avalanche of emails. Sure enough, as I logged on via a secure web session up popped 86 new emails and 7 urgent flags. An hour later I had most of them handled so when my offices in California and Florida logged in at their respective time zones they’d have the responses and directions for the day.
I stretched the tightness out of my shoulders and then went to sit on the edge of the bed next to A, who was cozily curled up in bed under the covers. After a couple of minutes I started to get up but felt a warm hand firmly press me back down onto the edge of the bed and heard a husky voice command “No”. I was happy to obey and enjoy the view of her stirring in bed and then teasingly narrowing her eyes at me. I was even happier, although definitely surprised, when she reached under my shirt and tweaked my nipple hard enough for it to be very arousing but not enough to really hurt…she had a very experienced touch. “I’m horny in the morning,” A purred. Here we go, I thought, as what was left of my heart was surely going to be devoured by her predatory appetite.
Some time later and after a raw and almost bestial experience, I was spent and flopped down on the bed to rest. Somehow the session and exertions seemed to invigorate A because after a short shower she was dressed and perkily gathered her things. Before I had a chance to conjure up and say anything inanely predictable about being happy to meet her and enjoying her company, she was at the door, turned for a moment and said dismissively “I know, but don’t think about it”. Then she was gone. Of course she knew the spell she cast, and its lingering, insidious effects but in fact she didn’t know that I already had the antidote coursing through my system long before meeting her, and so I had surrendered only a part of my heart and not my mind or my will. Feeling secure in that knowledge I lay back down and let myself retreat to a delicious reverie that reminded me of Coleridge’s fragmentary and hallucinogenic dream-vision lyrics:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
The A Show
I woke a few hours later, still satiated but ravenously hungry for another type of sustenance… food! As I ate a tasty Thai lunch I reflected on the events of the last night and felt surprisingly buoyant and even neutral about the whole adventure…it’s not that I didn’t have an exciting, fun and certainly unique experience, but I did not feel trapped by the mind warping games A played. In fact I decided to go to her go-go that night because I wanted to see her stage performance and what I felt would be her mastery of her salivating and doting male audience. I had a feeling that she’d be in even more control than she felt she’d been with me.
I got to the go-go at around 11:00 pm and as I was ushered to a tiered seat on the right side of the brightly lit club I saw her. She was about 20 feet from me on a raised platform and she stared right through me as I sat down. No obvious social recognition but then just a lingering glare as though to say “This is my zone and I’m in control”. Then she looked away and deliberately did not look at me again even when she came right past me and danced for men seated to both sides and in front of me. Years before in earlier times and a very different more vulnerable frame of mind I would have craved her attention and been crushed when she ignored me. But now I was happy to just sit there and admire her sensual and erotic beauty as she strutted around flagellating customers with a waggling phallic foam wand, knowing that it was just her game that she plays very, very well. She was a real pro, seducing the punters into peeling off big baht notes for her as she in turn peeled off her skimpy outfit for them. But she was true to her word in that she didn’t do the raunchy things or let herself be manipulated in the way the other show girls not only allowed but encouraged.
For about an hour I genuinely enjoyed her showmanship, strutting self-confidence and brooding vitality but then I had seen and experienced enough so I decided to move on. As I was about to leave there was a commotion to my right, and A was standing over and glowering at a group of 4 or 5 guys and speaking to them very sternly. Evidently she thought one of them was surreptitiously snapping photos of her because she demanded that he hand over his camera phone to her, and when he refused she ripped into him in a vicious torrent of profane and foul-mouthed Thai, interspersed by some choice farang profanities favored by hip-hop rappers. The guys’ weak protests were interrupted by the mamasan and a bouncer who came over and eventually the accused fellow handed over his phone to her for inspection. After scrolling through all the shots and not finding anything incriminating she handed it back to the customer. Meanwhile A was pacing like a ravenous lioness threatening to strike and shred some flesh. But there was a mean, vindictive fire in her eyes and she radiated disgust and hatred for the men in front of her, as though their pathetic drooling enraged her. Her outburst was remarkable and it occurred to me that she felt she needed to regain the face she had lost, both literally and figuratively, by the alleged photographer stealing her image…momentarily she had lost control and she needed to regain it to save face and regain her domineering position.
But I had seen enough. I checked my drink slips, put some notes in the bill cup, eased out of my seat and headed for the exit. I looked back towards A but she was in her own world again, erotically strutting around, titillating and cajoling customers for baht to buy her another kind of control and maybe even some happiness.
A will be one tough tigress to tame.
Beautifully put together story.