May Day Part 1
”You’ve been looking for me!”
Yes, I had been looking for her, but how did she know?! She didn’t know me. I’d never even been to Bangkok before!
“Um, yes, I guess so,” I said.
Shit! Why did I say that?! Had I blown it already! I had a sudden sinking feeling. My second night in Bangkok and I’d ruined everything already. My heart started pounding as I wondered why I’d volunteered for this.
The girl slipped her mobile telephone into her bag and turned to face me.
“Where are you from?”
“Do you stay this hotel?”
“Not this hotel. So…what’s your name anyway?” I asked nervously.
Bingo, I thought. I quickly glanced at my two friends, John and Barry, through the window of the bar, to try and let them know this was definitely the girl we’d all been looking for.
“So where you want to go?”
I didn’t want to waste everybody’s time so I decided we could skip the go-for-a-drink scenario.
“Well, I’d really like to take you back to my hotel but I can’t. Do you know a place we can go?”
She remained silent for a few seconds and then said, “Ok we go. I know good place.”
As we walked away from the bar and past all the other girls outside, I wondered why the topic of money wasn’t mentioned.
May asked me a lot of the usual questions I’d expected as we walked. I didn’t tell her how long I would be in Bangkok. I lied and said ten days. I don’t know why I felt a tinge of guilt lying to her. I guess I just hated lying for some reason.
I felt my friend’s mobile phone vibrate briefly. I quickly checked the text message which read: “nice work, keep going, we’re not far away.”
I discretely slipped the phone back into my pocket. I didn’t try and look for John or Barry.
May asked what I’d done during the day.
“Not much,” I replied, “I got up late, swam in the hotel pool, went for a foot massage.”
“You like massage?”
“Yeah, the foot massage is incredible, very relaxing.”
“I give you good massage.” She stated enthusiastically.
“Sounds very nice,” I said.
I could already see why my friend Dave had fallen for her. I sensed that she was a no nonsense type of girl. She was very friendly and seemed completely unaware of her incredible looks. Maybe this was all just an act. I’d been warned by everyone that these girls were just out to empty your wallet. I had to keep my guard up, yet ironically I was about to give her twenty thousand baht; twenty thousand baht for nothing in return!
I’ll have to rewind the story back to the day before.
I’d arrived in Bangkok on holiday for the first time and was with a group of friends who lived in Bangkok. Dave, a friend of the group, visited Bangkok a lot. He had a girlfriend in Bangkok who he gave money to. I’d heard of all the crazy men sending money to girls. The only two differences with Dave were that he seemed to be very aware of what he was doing and he actually never sent money, he brought the money with him when he visited his girl. His argument wasn’t that his girl was different, but that she really seemed to be in trouble sometimes and he just wanted to help. He had a P.I. follow her a few months after he first met her and she was observed sitting on a park bench all night crying. She had been living in another girl’s apartment but they’d argued and she’d spent one night on the street. After that, Dave didn’t care if she was scamming him or not, he earned a fortune as he owned his own company and he’d said that there was no way May was ever going to spend the night on the street again. Dave’s choice I guess. No-one could tell him otherwise.
Dave was due in Bangkok very soon, after he’d done some business in Singapore, however, something unusual had happened.
He’d received a death threat on his mobile phone. The message had come from his girl’s mobile phone, although he wasn’t sure who’d actually sent the message. Had it been her Thai boyfriend or her brother? It didn’t make a lot of sense. Why tell someone who is bringing money to get lost or die? Dave was confused as hell and so was everyone else. So was I. Dave was seriously worried about his girl and had begged us to find her and find out what was going on. He’d tried calling May when he’d seen the message but her phone had already been cut off. Dave wanted us to give her some money too. He knew that her crazed Thai brother was taking a huge amount of her earnings and was probably even bashing her. Everyone seemed to think that her so called brother was really her Thai boyfriend. Dave wasn’t convinced, but he was worried that this guy would be watching May, so he requested that we give her some money in a private place. Hopefully the crazy guy wouldn’t be able get his hands on the money. Incredibly, no-one really knew what May looked like and we couldn’t call her. The only way to find her was to search Sukhumvit on foot. John had only seen her once and that had been three years ago. I couldn’t believe Dave didn’t have a photo of her he could send. We’d all tramped around Sukhumvit for two hours looking for her. We were pretty sure we’d found her, and here I was about to give her, a girl we didn’t know, twenty thousand baht. I’d volunteered to hand over the money as I didn’t live in Bangkok and if the crazy guy saw my face and wanted trouble, I’d just leave.
After a few minutes in a taxi we arrived at a shabby three story building. This was obviously the short time hotel. At the reception, a man smoking a cigarette gruffly asked me for three hundred and fifty baht, without even looking up.
I handed over the cash and myself and May made our way up the creaky wooden staircase. The atmosphere felt very seedy and I began to feel very uncomfortable.
I felt better, however, when we got into the room. It was quite large and very clean. There were clean towels in the bathroom and two toothbrushes and a tube of toothpaste. I pretended to be very happy about the size and cleanliness of the room. I pushed the heavy curtain to the side and peaked out the window. I could see the street below. I couldn’t see John or Barry anywhere. I hoped they could see me. I don’t know why but I dimmed the lights to half their brightness.
May sat on the end of the double bed. “You want to take shower?”
I sat on the bed next to her. “To be honest May, there’s no point.”
She immediately looked frightened. “Why?”
I got to the point. “I have a message from Dave.”
May grabbed my arm. “Dave! Is he ok? Where is he? I tell him not to come Bangkok.”
“He’s ok. Don’t worry. I’m a friend of his. He just wanted me to make sure you’re ok, that’s all.”
At that moment, somebody rapped on the door.
I froze with fear. Why would anyone knock on the door to one of these rooms? Everyone knows what goes on in this hotel, there’s no reason to disturb anyone. I had an awfully bad feeling about all this.
Before I could say anything or do anything May had already jumped off the bed and had opened the door. I half expected a heavily tattooed thug to burst into the room, but to my relief I saw one of the hotel staff standing at the door. She handed over a bottle of water. As my heart stopped pounding, May closed the door and then quickly re-joined me on the bed.
“Is he in Singapore?”
“I think so,” I tried to lie. I just wasn’t good at it.
“He must not come here.”
I looked into her beautiful big eyes. “Why is it so dangerous for him to come here? I don’t understand.”
She spoke very calmly, “I can’t see him, he must stay away.”
So much for information gathering, I thought. I couldn’t just hand over the money and walk out. I had to do better than this.
“Alright, but are you ok?”
“I’m ok,” She whispered, staring at the floor.
“Really? Are you really ok?”
“Yes,” she said curtly.
“I don’t think you are. Why did you send that message to Dave? He’s worried about you and so am I.”
She remained silent.
“May, I’m here to help you. Whatever it is, I just want to help.”
Her response stunned me.
“You should go away!”
With that I almost walked out of the room but something made me hesitate. She had put up a barrier so I had to try harder to work my way through. I tried to appeal to her financial senses.
“May, he still wants to give you money. He can get it to you in many different ways. Isn’t that important?”
“You should go.”
Her face was extremely stern. The more I talked to her; the icier she became.
She continued to stare at the floor, motionless.
I looked at her up and down for a few moments. She had such smooth toned skin, an incredibly curvaceous body and such a pretty face. Her brown hair was in a pony tail.
Then I noticed some discolouration on her arm, just visible below the sleeve of her t-shirt. I instinctively lifted up her sleeve. She tried to jerk away but I’d already seen the huge purple bruise on her shoulder. This wasn’t just any bruise; someone had really laid into her. One punch wouldn’t have done that kind of damage. I immediately felt so angry – someone had really hurt this poor girl.
May pulled her sleeve down and looked at me as if I’d hit her.
“Who did that to you May?” I said in a whisper, shocked by the sight of the bruise.
“It accident. Don’t worry.”
I had to admire how tough this girl was.
“Who hit you?”
“Who hit you?”
“I said accident, you don’t listen!”
I took out the twenty thousand baht and waved it near her face. “I want to know who hit you, don’t you want this? Tell me and it’s yours.”
“I don’t want!”
“What do you mean you don’t want it?!”
“Why you ask me? I not know you! I don’t want!”
“You don’t want it?! Well, sorry for trying to help. I’m getting tired of this.”
I stood up and threw the money at her feet.
I’ve done my part of the bargain, I thought. I had to give her the money and she’s got the money. My friend Brian had said she’d be full of it and in a way he was right, I couldn’t get anything out of her. I walked to the door to leave, but once again, I hesitated.
Something didn’t make sense.
Why didn’t she want the money?
I was about to turn around and say sorry when I heard wailing.
Not crying; wailing.
Wailing so intense it cut right through me and sent a shiver down my spine and made the hairs on my neck stand up.
I turned to see May slumped on the floor with her hands clutching her hair. I’m sure I heard some Thai words as she sobbed uncontrollably. For a few seconds I stood frozen to the spot.
“I’m so sorry May,” I said as went over to her. I knelt down next to her and held one of her hands and repeated the words but she couldn’t hear me. The poor girl just sobbed and sobbed.
Eventually I lifted up her quivering body and put her on the bed.
Nobody cried like that without a reason, so I knew there and then something more serious was going on than we all realized.
She lay on the bed with tears rolling down her cheeks. I felt terrible. Someone had hurt this poor girl and I’d just hurt her too.
“May, let me help you. I have friends here. We can all help you.”
She didn’t respond. I didn’t know what else to say or what to do. I hadn’t expected this.
A few minutes passed and the tears stopped. I stroked her arm as she lay quietly, paralysed with sadness. I so desperately wanted to scoop her up there and then and take her away with me to Australia. She’d be safe there. I’d never felt such an intense urge to protect another human being. I couldn’t just leave this beautiful vulnerable woman to battle on alone. She had Dave, but Dave couldn’t see her. He’d got stuck in Singapore.
I had almost forgotten about Dave for a moment. May was his girlfriend.
Eventually May managed to sit up.
She spoke very calmly and quietly. “Please Rob. Tell Dave I ok. Maybe I see him next year. Now I cannot.”
“May, how can I tell him you’re ok? You’re not ok. He’s worried about you and so am I.”
“I ok if he not come here.”
“I’m not sure that you’re ok and how does it help you if he doesn’t come here?”
May just looked at me with her lovely but weary eyes. She didn’t need to say anything else, I understood.
“I’m sorry May. At least take the money. It’s Dave’s money. He wants you to have it. I want you to take it. I’ll put it in your bag.” I felt so guilty, how could I have made this gorgeous girl cry? She had been abused and I’d just been abusive. I felt terrible.
She must’ve seen the guilt on my face because she suddenly gave me a quick smile.
“I ok. I think you nice man.” She said quietly.
I felt more guilt.
“Will you be alright?”
She gave me another unconvincing smile.
She then leaned forward and gave me a little hug. I put one arm around her. She felt so soft and warm and her hair smelt so sweet. I could feel her body trembling as she clung to me. The poor girl, she was so scared.
I felt the phone in my pocket vibrate again. I hoped her crazy boyfriend wasn’t on his way. Somehow I knew that would be unlikely. I checked the message.
It read: “Take the sky train from Asoke to Nana station. Brian will meet you there.”
I put the phone back in my pocket and chatted with May a little more. We talked mostly small talk. She didn’t seem to want to reveal too much. She was from Issan in the north east of Thailand. She’d lived in Bangkok for six years. I told her some of my life story. I didn’t mention where I was staying in Bangkok of course.
She had completely calmed down by now and even seemed quite relaxed. I couldn’t believe that of all the places in the world, I’d just had a very emotional experience with a woman in a short-time hotel in Bangkok.
I picked up the money and May’s bag off the floor and gave her both.
“Thank you,” she said.
I smiled at her.
As we went to leave she gave me a kiss by the door and then we made our way down the old wooden stairs and then back through the smoky reception. I said good bye to May on the street in front of the hotel.
“I hope I see you again,” she smiled.
“Ok May. I hope I see you again too. Look after yourself. Where are you going now? Are you ok?”
“I ok. I take Taxi.”
“Alright, see you.”
I turned and walked along the street until I got to the subway station which I went through to get across the busy main road. So, instead of just walking back to the bar, I had to take the sky train. I assumed this was to try and avoid being followed by May’s crazy friend, if he was lurking around. I didn’t find the sky train difficult to use. I got a ticket from the machine for a few baht and then went through the ticket gates. With the alcohol and the adrenaline everything began to feel very surreal. When the sky train pulled into the station, this effect became even more intensified. Quite a few people were on the platform but luckily the carriage I stepped into wasn’t crowded. I felt a little nervous standing inside the sky train. I thought I heard some Thai people talking until I realised I was actually listening to Thai television. I just hoped I wasn’t being followed. I looked around at the mix of Thai and foreign people on the train. Nobody looked too suspicious so relaxed a little.
The train very quickly arrived at Nana station. I got off the train and went down the steps from the platform with the other passengers and then through the ticket gate. As I looked around for Brian, I heard a voice from behind me.
“How’d it go mate?” He asked in his usual enthusiastic tone. He’d been standing near the ticket gates.
“Mission accomplished,” I announced.
We walked out the way of the ticket gates and stood near a small shop selling magazines.
“So how was she?”
“She was very nice, in fact very beautiful.”
“No, I mean in the sack.” Brian had a huge grin.
“No, I didn’t touch her. Well, she is Dave’s girlfriend.”
“Bar girlfriend,” Brian corrected me. “She wouldn’t have knocked you back, no way.”
“Really? But she knows that I know Dave.”
“It doesn’t make any difference if you’re offering money. These women are all the same. I keep telling Dave he’s a cock head but he doesn’t listen. Anyway, lets go, the other lot are going to meet us at the same pub we were at earlier.”
When we walked into The Pickled Liver, Pete was sitting at a table drinking Guinness. Brian and I grabbed a pint and joined him.
“Barry and John are on the way,” Pete informed us.
“So it all went smoothly? You were gone quite a while.” Pete said.
I sipped my beer. “I was trying to get some info out of her but she didn’t want to say anything.”
“Probably because she has a Thai boyfriend, sounds pretty typical to me,” said Brian.
I couldn’t believe how casually he took the situation. He hadn’t been in the room with May when she had cried her heart out.
“She seemed pretty upset, she really cried – a lot,” I explained.
“They do that all the time,” Brian countered. “They can turn on the tears like a tap. They’re great actresses these girls.”
I didn’t think May had been acting, but I didn’t say anything. I knew nothing about Thailand and these guys all lived here.
A loud belching sound from near the door made us all turn and look. Barry had just walked in with John. Barry’s face appeared to be very red. He’d obviously had a few. They both ordered a pint at the bar and then joined the table.
“So, it all went pretty well then?” John asked, looking happy.
“I guess so,” I said, “I gave her the money. Did you see me go in to the hotel?”
“Yeah, we were watching from a discreet distance. We didn’t see any crazy looking Thai blokes go in. We saw you come out and then once you headed to the sky train we got a taxi back here. So how was she? Did she say anything?”
“Not a lot. She had a huge bruise on her arm, wouldn’t say how she got it. Then she ended up crying her eyes out. She calmed down eventually and I slipped her the money. She didn’t want to take it at first. She said she’d be ok and that was that.”
“So no information then?” John asked.
“Not really. Trust me, I tried.”
“Ok, she got the money, that’s what Dave wanted,” said John. “You did check the tattoo?”
I looked at John and froze. I’d completely forgotten about the tattoo. Everyone had told me to check her tattoo to try and make sure we had the right girl.
Everyone stared at me in complete silence.
“The Tattoo, you did check it right?”
“Shit. Sorry. I didn’t see it.”
Brian put down his beer and clapped his hands a few times. “Well done everyone. How long have we lived here? Scammed again! I don’t know why we didn’t just put our wallets in a pile and dance around them in a circle.”
“The sacrificial wallet dance, nice one,” Pete laughed. Barry just belched and continued drinking. John looked extremely annoyed with everyone.
“Now hang on a moment,” said John looking at me, “I’m ninety nine percent sure that it’s her. Did she say anything about Dave, anything specific?”
“Not really. I talked about Dave a lot. She just said that she didn’t want to see him.”
“That doesn’t sound too promising,” said Pete.
“All that farting about just to give some money to a girl. Why didn’t we just take a photo of her and then email it to Dave to check? What a fucking waste of time and money. We don’t even know who the hell that girl was,” said Brian, half angry, half laughing.
I started to feel incredibly stupid.
Barry chipped in. “Well it’s not your money, so don’t worry about it. Dave’s got piles of money, he’s not gonna miss twenty thousand is he?”
“Listen,” said John sounding serious, “we don’t know that it wasn’t her and I was convinced it was her, that’s why I didn’t bother getting a photo.”
“This is crap,” said Brian, “we just got ripped off. She got offered a pile of money and surprise, surprise, she took it.”
“But it took me a long time to make her take it,” I protested, “She kept telling me to go and to keep the money. She really sounded as if she just wanted nothing to do with me or Dave.”
John backed me up. “And think about how much work it took tracking her down, whether she’s May or not, it wasn’t easy. When you’re throwing money around, most women around here aren’t fighting you off. It just doesn’t add up. All the effort it took to give money to a girl. It seems like this elusive May is making it difficult for us.”
Brian wasn’t convinced, he kept ranting that we’d just thrown away twenty thousand baht. However, something just didn’t seem right to me and John agreed with me.
“What’s the big deal? We’ll just look for her again in the same spot and check out her tattoo and get a photo.” Pete suggested.
Brian seemed really annoyed by the whole conundrum so I suggested that I’d look for May again. I was on holiday so I wasn’t exactly busy.
I handed John his telephone back. He immediately called Dave and explained the night’s events. I even spoke to Dave and tried to describe the girl I’d met. He seemed convinced it was May. I told him that she said she didn’t want to speak to him. He sounded dejected and worried.
I felt worried too. I couldn’t get the image of that awful bruise out of my mind.
And I couldn’t get the deafening sound of May crying out of my mind either.
Very nice start indeed.