All the signs were there that something wasn’t quite right. Those little signals, coalescing on the periphery of your subconscious, were becoming harder to ignore. It was too late now though; you couldn’t go back. The fact was there was
really nothing to go back to after all those years of lost opportunities. And besides, no one remembered you anyway. The physical and mental deterioration, after years of living a life in a fantasy world of booze and bargirls, was now propelling
you ever faster down that slow spiral of doom. Sitting on that bar stool you could only wonder where all the pretty faces that promised everything, but gave little, had gone to. When the money ran out, so did the teeruks. It wasn’t
so much the horror that ate away at you while you sat there thinking you should’ve left before it was too late, but Captain Willard’s prophetic words “I told you not to stop” that haunted you now.
Smell that. You know what that is son? It’s the smell of victory” (Robert Duvall)
I stood at the bar in a popular pub, on a small side soi, just off lower Sukhumvit. Physically I was there but mentally I was a thousand miles away. The reality slap of being a means to an end, for the past four years, was being reinforced by the scene unfolding in front of me. I couldn’t help thinking that living in this place has the feel of a continuous ground hog day; the same girls, doing the same shit and standing at the same tables. A drunken, laughing twenty year old catches my eye and waves me over to her table. I smile and give her the thousand yard stare of the experienced expat that knows the game; her, and her friends, need their drinks replenishing. Others have been trying to catch my eye. You try to hold out, because you’re looking for something new, or fresh, but it’s like running through slow acting quicksand. You think you’re making progress but you eventually just get sucked under by it. And, they know it; it’s just a matter of time before the drunk, horny farang will make his move. So, they wait patiently. Smiling, catching your eye every now and again, and playing the game that they play so well.
Sometimes things don’t go according to their well orchestrated, seductive plans. The door of the pub opens and there she stands like some kind of ephemeral dream. Tall and lithe in a dazzling sequined dress. Every guy’s head swivels in her direction, including mine. We make eye contact and there’s a connection. We smile simultaneously and she walks straight up to me and grabs my forearm.
“What’s your drink?” I ask with a smile.
“Bacardi Breeze ka” she purrs back.
I call the waitress over and make the order.
“I’m a little bit maow” she says as she folds into my body.
The anger of the final installment of the ex and I begins to recede as I feel the hard body of a lady that’s nine years younger than the ex, is two centimeters taller and has the figure of a model, press up against me. The focus comes back and the last pathetic scene, with the ex, fades into the distance. Telling the staff at the Paragon bowling lanes that I sell cocaine, while she was in a drunk, angered state was the final straw. The psycho in her had finally gone too far. The fact that number twenty one, from the Dollhouse, was two lanes over from us probably didn’t help matters. Even more so as number twenty one and I have shared the odd drink in the past and the tell tale glances, between her and I, weren’t hard for the ex to miss. After number twenty one and her beau departed, the ex went into a drunken fit. The sex had been great but there comes a point where being around someone for so long, who is an emotionally unstable time bomb, just makes one decide that enough is enough and it’s time to go.
“ Everyone wanted me to do it. Hell, even Kurtz wanted me to do it” (Martin Sheen)
And I did. I left her standing there with the bin and went straight down to Telewiz and blocked her numbers. It didn’t even matter now. The babe pressed up against me and kissed me on the cheek. It felt good. I was going back to work in three days' time. I had the perfect antidote for loneliness with me. Twenty three years old and smoking hot from head to toe.
“ I love the smell of napalm in the morning” (Robert Duvall)
Well, it ain’t napalm but it certainly felt explosive and it sure smelt good. Ever been in a situation that you think is too good to be true? Well that’s what this was. I had the babe, the hottie and it felt fucking good to see the drool running down the faces of the other guys jammed in there. I laughed. She looked at me.
“ Bpen arai teerak?”
I smiled. The past was rapidly vaporizing into a distant dream.
“Just an old dream disappearing” I said smiling back.
“ Kao jai” she said with an imperceptible hint of subconscious understanding.
She placed her face next to mine and gave me one of those Thai sniffs. Call it fate, call it the will of the gods, call it what you like. Sometimes Buddha does really get it right. The ex was fucking her new gig in Pattaya? Well the game had just swung back in my favour. We had two more rounds and then she told me she wanted to go somewhere else.
Somewhere else? Let’s make it a night to remember.
“Have you ever been to the Erawan Hotel?”
“No ka. Is it good?” she said looking at me intently.
“It usually is on Friday night” I replied.
I paid the over the top entrance fee – seven hundred and fifty baht a head – and strode confidently into Spasso’s with the babe in tow. Spasso’s, the high end of the Bangkok clubbing scene. Real hi-sos mingling on the restaurant side and the mid thirties, overpriced, over-rated, wannabe hi-so hookers congregating around the bar area. A previous score, from a couple of weeks earlier, glared at me – no doubt pissed that she wouldn’t be getting four grand from me tonight – as I walked past the dance floor and headed to the rear bar. We sat down and faced the dance floor. The babe said she’d worked as a model and a dancer previously. I pointed to the dance floor and she glided into the crowd and began to strut her stuff. She was as sleek and as svelte as a panther. She was mesmerizing and I didn’t doubt her previous employment claims for a moment.
“She’s beautiful. Where did you find her?” said a French dude sitting next to me.
“In a pub on Sukhumvit. Guess where she comes from” I said with a wry smile.
“Where?” said the French dude.
“Udon Thani” I replied while I continued checking out the babes dance moves.
“She’s from Isaan?” said the French dude looking wide eyed.
“Isn’t that the pisser. She’s as hot as any of these hi-so bitches in here” I said shaking my head and laughing.
After another fifteen minutes, of putting on a show for the crowd, the babe sat down beside me and gave me another of those sniffs. Maybe she was checking to see if I needed an apnaam. I don’t know but it was nice to be receiving the attention. We had another couple of drinks and then called it a night. The babe snuggled up to me as the taxi made its way back along Sukhumvit towards my condo.
I woke up around midday. The babe was still asleep as I sat on the edge of the bed and took a long gulp of water from the bottle I keep next to the bed for the ‘dry horrors.’
“You’ve been down this road before, haven’t you?” said that little voice.
What do you mean?
“It started this way four years ago and look where it got you”
Déjà vu. History repeating itself? I don’t know, it’s only been one night.
“Yes, but that’s how it always starts. Imperceptibly; one small moment at a time. Before you know it you’ll be going shopping and have her move in.”
I’m going to work in three days time. I’ll be gone for six weeks. She’ll forget.
“Will you?” said the voice
“Good morning, teerak.”
The babe was awake. How do they do it? They put you a comfort zone where your defenses just wilt. I’ve only been with her for a few hours but it’s like we’re already a couple.
“ Heuw kao” said the babe.
“I’ll order some food from the restaurant” I said as she gives me another sniff to the cheek.
“Can we go to Paragon today to look movie, teerak?” she says looking into my eyes and smiling that smile.
“Yeah, why not? It’ll be fun” I replied.
“There you go. I told you. It’s started already” said that little voice.
While we’re waiting for the kao pad to arrive the babe gets on the computer and goes to her email account. The cynic in me automatically assumes that it’s to check for messages from others who are smitten but are somewhere else in the world. I give my best imitation of being disinterested.
“Do you want to see my modeling pictures?” says the babe.
That catches my interest.
“Yeah, okay” I say, sparking up.
She spends the next few minutes showing me some of her hot bikini shots she’s got stored in her Hotmail account. I’m suitably impressed. The food arrives. We eat, shower and then grab a cab back down to soi 4, where she’s staying, so she can get a change of clothes.
Daylight doesn’t do lower Sukhumvit much good: it looks tired and worn out. We turn into Soi 4 and I feel as though the whole place is closing in on me. There’s nothing here to excite me anymore. That song from one of those old Vietnam War movies starts playing through my head; “we gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do.”
The taxi pulls up at the babe's cheap hotel half way down Soi 4. We get out and I feel my stomach start to knot up.
My heart beats faster as we head up the stairs towards her small room. I begin to freeze up as the voice starts over again.
“Four years ago, and exactly the same over at Silom, wasn’t it?”
“Are you ready to do it all over again?”
“The silicone implants, the English classes, the computer classes, the shopping expeditions, the condo?”
“Are you okay, teerak?” says the babe.
“Yeah, just the chili from this morning” I say patting my stomach.
“We gotta get out of this place if it’s last thing we ever do” says the voice.
I close my eyes, meditate and slow my breathing.
“Do I really need to tell you?” says the voice.
“There’s nothing to be gained from this except a piece of 23-year old fluff. It’s history repeating itself, you haven’t moved forward” said the voice.
The babe finished changing and we went back downstairs to look for a taxi. As we were walking back up Sukhumvit towards Nana BTS I started to relax a bit more. I promised myself I wouldn’t go back to that room again. The babe held my hand and smiled. The innocence of youth; it wasn’t her fault. She was just doing the best she could. As they all do. I was the only one that could put a stop to the roller coaster.
“ And then it hit me like I’d been shot with a diamond” (Marlon Brando)
I didn’t need to put an end to it. I was leaving in two days. Just relax and enjoy the ride. And besides, they’re not all the same.
“No they’re not but what they want is the same” said the voice.
“A better life care of Mr. farang” said the voice again.
This time it will be different. I’ll tell her she’s got to work in a real job.
“You tried that before” said the voice.
“You need to disappear for a while. Become invisible. Evaporate. Let people forget you exist” said the voice as the sky train rattled along the line towards Siam.
I will, I’m going to work in two days' time.
“About time” said the voice.
“ Do you think they’ll remember him as a kind man” (Dennis Hopper)
I doubt it. The only thing that matters is what they can get to advance their position in life. It’s cold, it’s ruthless but that’s how it is. Put up with it or go.
“You’re learning then” said the voice.
The babe squeezed my hand and smiled as we alighted and made our way down the escalators and walked towards Bangkok’s bastion of high end shopping. I reflected on all the shopping trips I’d done to the Paragon, over the previous four years, and how it all meant nothing in the end. Let it go man, just let fucking go. It’s not her fault you fucked up.
After the movie we got something to eat at the same restaurant I always went to down in the basement. The male staff there smiled and gave me the nod of approval for the new squeeze. Thai blokes know quality when they see it.
The babe had her issues as well. She’d recently broken up with a long term farang boyfriend who, according to her, was a bit of a control freak. I guess we were both looking for a bit of comfort, or healing, or whatever. She held on tight as we slept that night.
I woke up early. It was Monday morning. I kept to my normal routine and had a light breakfast and hit the gym while the babe slept. She woke around midday. She only needed to tell me she liked watching Thai soapies and I’d be looking for an excuse not to see her again.
“ Teerak, I need go my room for change clothes and then go to salon” she said rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“No problems. I’ve got to take care of a few things and pack my bag for going to work tomorrow. Give me a call when you’ve got everything done and we can meet up for dinner” I said.
“Okay ka” she said with that smile.
Three hours later she sent an SMS telling me she needed to go to the temple because she was feeling mixed up and wanted to calm down.
No problems, call me when you’re ready was my reply.
She hadn’t called by 8:30 PM.
It was my last night in town. I put on my going out gear and boarded the BTS for Asoke. There was someone in the Tilac bar that had managed to do something that I had promised myself I wouldn’t let happen again; she’d managed to get under
my skin. I’d barfined her seven times already and I was now going for number eight. At 22 years old, one hundred and seventy centimeters tall, a model's body and a full rack that wasn’t silicone, she even surpassed the babe.
She had a face like one of those Egyptian cats. She wasn’t even a good shag. There was just some kind of mental connection though that I’ve never experienced before with a Thai woman of any description. The kind of thing which, in
some ways, can’t be explained; we just look at each other and there’s a smile and a knowing nod. It’s like, you make me feel good. I’m fairly certain that Stick knows who I’m talking about. She doesn’t
look particularly striking in her gogo uniform but in street clothes, she’s a knockout.
The alarm on my phone started buzzing. I rolled out of my bunk and flicked on the light. It was 10 PM and the start of another day offshore. I’d been out here a week and I felt at peace. I was in my sanctuary; the mind was getting clearer by the day. I dressed and wandered down to the galley for a coffee. I took the coffee up to the conference room and logged on to Fastmail to check my emails. There were two. The heart started to race. The first one was from the babe. “I miss you mak maak. When you come back teerak?” The second one was from the Egyptian cat. “I miss you mak maak. Are you miss me?”
“ I told you not to stop” (Martin Sheen)
The babe competing with the first round of the AFL finals series for 2010.
I really think you *NEED* to read Patpong: Bangkok's Twilight Zone, by Nick Nostitz. It has been out of print for some time so you'll have to hunt around second handbook stores or search for a used copy on EBay / online. This is the book for those who can't tear themselves away form the industry, even when they know that involvement in it is doing them no good at all. And besides, this masterpiece will almost certainly be looked at as a book ahead of its time in the future.