Stickman Readers' Submissions June 8th, 2010

Kata Beach Nights

It was back in March, 2003. I headed down to Phuket with my Thai girlfriend, Ta. In Bangkok the days were drenched with a steamy heat, and Kata Beach Resort offered the promise of escape, a chance to relax.

Arriving in the middle of the day at the resort, everything appeared dead. After exploring, taking a swim, and having a massage, we retreated to the sanctuary of our air-conditioned room, to sleep the hazy afternoon away.

He Clinic Bangkok

In the late evening, Ta and I ventured out and headed down the beach. The smell of wood smoke drifted on a light sea breeze. As we walked, hand-in-hand, I took in the crescent thrust of the beach. The full moon, suspended low over the bay,
illuminated tiny Puh island a few hundred metres offshore. Fishing boat lights bobbed on the moonlit water. We removed our sandals, and, laughing, splashed in the shallows as we made our way further down the beach.

Up ahead small restaurants appeared, their candlelit tables cozy, simple, inviting. We stopped at one. We hadn't yet eaten. We sat at the table nearest the sea, feet buried in warm sand. A waitress and two menus materialized, shortly
followed by a couple of ice cold Singhas, in their own little insulating jackets. From the hotel set further back behind us, the sound of laughter occasionally broke the silence, a reminder that we were not alone in our little slice of paradise.

We ate slowly, savoring a tasty rice dish with fresh fish. Watermelon, papaya, and more ice cold Singhas followed. We drank, we laughed, we talked of our hopes and dreams, our passions and interests, the vagaries and brevity of life. This
was as good as it gets. A beautiful and fun lover. Great food, ice cold beer. The sea, the beach, the moonlight. Freedom. Time passed languidly. I could have stayed there forever.

CBD bangkok

Eventually, we started to amble back, slightly drunk. I hauled Ta lightly on to my back. She seemed to weigh no more than a child. As I charged towards the water she shrieked and I laughed. At the last minute I stopped, threatening to tip
her into the water, then continued to gallop here and there. After a few minutes we were both having problems breathing, she from shouting and laughing so much, and me from charging up and down like a crazy horse. I slowed to a walking pace, Ta
still on my back, both of us laughing now, and slowly catching our breath.

Ahead, a family came towards us through the night. The guy walked alone in front, fat western wife and a couple of kids in tow. They were not laughing, they were not holding hands. They walked apart. They all appeared as serious as the grave.
A family of the living dead, their pale faces lit by the full moon. He glanced over at me and our eyes locked. The smile still on my face from my earlier escapades. He did not return the smile. I read a range of emotions pass quickly across his
face. Then, as if he'd suddenly became aware of what I'd seen, he wrenched his head from my gaze, faced forward, and continued on with his life. His wife's face was easier to read. Cold hatred.

That night sleep did not come easily. The guy's face kept floating into my mind. I saw there an image of myself just a few short months before. Lonely, worried, scared, bored, trapped, burnt out, unloved, marriage coming apart at the
seams, life drifting away like so much flotsam. I'd seen it all, briefly, in his face too. I wondered if he would do anything about it? I knew if he did, it would come at a high cost, emotionally and financially. But what price do you put
on happiness? Aren't even husbands and fathers entitled to something called life – or in the rush to sexual equality did we forget that they are people too? When you are staring into the abyss you have to act. It is either that, or fall into
it and spend the rest of your days in misery. Who else will help you if not yourself?

I drifted back into a fitful sleep. Around 5:00 AM I awoke to feel Ta softly massaging my arms. She moved to my shoulders, then worked her way down. I'd never felt so alive, so…happy! Happy. Now there was a feeling I hadn't experienced
in a long time. I pulled Ta closer. Later, we headed out to see what the glorious new day would bring. It felt so good to be alive, the nightmares of the night before vanquished by the blue sky.

wonderland clinic

Days become days, and before you know it, more of them than you'd care to admit have passed behind you. In fleeting moments I remember those Kata Beach nights. I am so thankful that they happened, and that those memories will always
be mine.

Stickman's thoughts:

Absolutely wonderful and I could not agree with that which you imply. If you're in a shitty situation, you really do need to do something about it. We only have one life. Make the most of it!

nana plaza