Stickman Readers' Submissions August 7th, 2009

The Life In A Day

I have seen more altercations in and around Nana in the last couple of months than I have seen for years.

I swung myself up onto a stool on the high perch at Lucky Luke’s beside the watching man, the man hired to keep an eye on things while the owner was absent which is pretty well always now. We launched into one of our long rambling conversations about life, women, Bangkok, health, and, eventually, coincidence, chaos and string theories, such as we grasped them.

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I began with an anecdote about a friend from Canada who had been diagnosed with some sort of a ‘mass’ in his brain that had cause him double vision in one eye but he had been allowed to travel before a full diagnosis and consultation had taken place. The day after he arrived in Bangkok for a hit and run visit with me, I came across an article in the Bangkok Post about a man’s search for help after pressure in his brain caused him loss of locomotion and the ability to speak. Coincidence? the guiding hand of a god? or some interconnectivity between us and events that we don’t yet understand. This wasn’t the first time this has happened to me. I received word of the suicide of a former girlfriend, a Hindu, on the seventh day after her death in Toronto while I was at my bank in London – I just happened to pause to read a paper from Canada, neatly folded, full of yesterday’s news and found all the details on the inside page of the murder of her two children and the taking of her own life.

Well, we managed to get through the bulk of our chat before the low paid guy behind the bar decided the music wasn’t loud enough, maybe because he could see people weren’t staring into space and their mouths were moving – no fun in that.

There was sudden commotion across the way in Lollipop Bar and a string of dancers clad in green bikinis raced across the plaza and up the escalator. I went to investigate. It was the birthday of the enormously bosomed mamasan of Fantasia Bar – I wonder where she has her undergarments engineered and if steel cables are involved. The dancers had been drafted in to flesh out the place, if you know what I mean. Gifts were stacked at the end of the stage, balloons and party hats were everywhere and shots of whisky and tequila rang out across the bar to increase the scream level above that of the music. A Japanese guy came in, well he might have been Chinese for all I know, and he hauled his pudgy body up into a seat beside me just moments after my invitation to buy a drink for a sweetheart were accepted. He was well known and soon bottles of whisky and mixers were at his table. By the time I had made the requisite arrangements to leave with my new friend he was on the stage with his ass pointing in my direction while girls bounced ping pong balls off it. Thank God, or string theory, I had not delayed my decisions.

I was back in the fun zone in a little more than an hour – that’s all I need to keep me cool for a couple of days – and then to Nana’s parking lot because I had spotted some friends milling about. The crowd of girls began to thicken near the street end of the lot. Suddenly a blue taxi pulled in and the young driver jumped out remonstrating at three farangs and pointing to a panel on his cab that had somehow separated. I didn’t see what happened to cause the anger but the farangs displayed a sense of dismissive entitlement that they wouldn’t dare show to a London cabbie and began to walk away. Then some money changed hands but it wasn’t enough and by this time the driver was on his phone. Then something very strange happened, likely caused by what was said on the phone by the irate driver. As if a grenade had been rolled into the middle of this ruckus the girls began to scatter in every direction to get away from what they knew was about to happen. But then, just as suddenly, the farangs came to their senses and more money was paid, the cab left, and we all went back to chatting and looking one another over. Arom sia had flown away.

I excused myself from the lot after receiving many kudos from those who had seen me and the sweetheart leave the plaza earlier – it’s always nice to have one’s judgment confirmed by one’s peers. I re – joined my friend from Lucky Luke’s on the rail at the Golden Bar and we took up where we had left off. The sound of a bottle breaking drew our attention to the right.

There we saw a drunken, drugged up, heavily tattooed Thai guy being threatened by two other Thais. If I were to guess, it was over unpaid bills and the heavies were there to get their money or enforce the penalty for stiffing the mafia. A fracas ensued, the smaller stoned and helpless loser pinned in between the bar rail and a concrete telephone pole. Punches were thrown by the heavy, the druggie hit the pavement, blood flowed. The enforcer had hurt his hand when throwing punches and this made him angrier at his hapless victim and he rounded on him again. We sat in the comfort of our bar looking down on this like the gods of old bemused by the combat of mortals.

The security guard from the bar wandered over and looked at the affray like a referee – no, no illegal holds or blows struck, everything above the belt, box on. A girl shouted something but the Thais did nothing. Arom sia was back with a vengeance. As the thug got ready for another bash I could see the druggie was so far out of it he didn’t even know enough to put his hands up to ward off the blows. I shouted at the thug paw laew, paw laew. Oddly, he turned to me immediately and gave me a very high wai and dropped his hands, got on his motorcycle and sped off down Soi 4. Arom sia fluttered away like one of those sparrows released from its cage.

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The druggie went on with his suicide mission, stumbling around through traffic, wiping his blood on the rear red lights of taxis, trying to find his reflection in the mirrored headlights and eventually fell over a motorcycle flat onto the road. He disappeared shortly after that, not as we know, taken into custody, or gathered up by a team of medics, or helped to a shelter and scheduled for a rehab course. Another storm had passed and we went back to our drinks and fending off the elephants and the shoeshine girls. And in all of this someone had forgotten to turn on the music in the Golden Bar.

Stickman's thoughts:

It sounds like just another night in Bangkok…

nana plaza