Readers' Submissions

The Retainer



I am writing this submission "in-utero." For those of you who are as proficient in Latin as you are dirty minded, I don't mean literally. When I say that I am writing this in-utero I mean that I am writing this submission while I am still in Thailand. So here it is…

It's 4 AM and my ride to Chicago O'Hare Airport is arriving in exactly 1 hour. You know where I'm going otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. This will be my 4th trip to Thailand marking this airport taxi as a ride I surely would not want to miss. I have all the essentials of a 2-week millionaire dispersed across my bed with an empty suitcase in the middle soon to be filled with said essentials. Packing my suitcase is the last remaining obstacle between me and another episode of LOS. My process becomes interrupted though when I feel a lump in the front pocket of my suitcase as I pick it up to load it. Curious I stick my hand in the offending pocket to see what it is. I haven't touched this suitcase since I unpacked it from my last trip to Thailand 7 months ago. I reach in and pull out two objects and study them. I never use the front pockets of my suitcase and I don't smoke so why was it that I had in my hand a half full pack of cigarettes and a pink lighter. The pack was silver and green in color and was a bit wrinkled and compressed. It had Thai script written across the front and down the sides. The pink lighter was…well…it was pink. I pull out one of the cigarettes and smell it. More so as a memory jogger than for any other reason. Muted tones of menthol. It had the intended effect. It was mental chloroform as my memory laid down a path to the only possible explanation. It was about 7 months ago…

Her name was 'Lek.' She table danced at Mandarin in Nana. She was #xx. I typically can never recall both the name and badge number of a girl but I remember both for Lek quite clearly for reasons I'm about to disclose. I had just landed in Bangkok and decided to go to Mandarin in Nana because it's always what I do first when arriving to Thailand. I wasn't looking for anything in particular but she possessed everything that I had in mind. Most of the dancers “Bangkok shuffled.” Some seizured themselves around their poles occasionally hitting a beat by sheer accident. Not Lek. She danced in the middle of all this in a way that contrasted the other dancers but complemented her personality perfectly (I would come to find out later). Their uniforms were short, see-through, slightly flared skirts with sub-micro bikini tops. Perversely high heels with sliver ribbon straps that criss crossed up the calf and then tied right below the front of the knee. With a petite and tight body, Lek wore this uniform as she slow-motion swiveled her hips. She held on tightly to her pole with her arms extended, keeping her extremely high heels near the base of the pole, as she moved her hips in rhythmic geometrically sound concentric circles. Moving slowly towards the ground and then back up again. She kept the same pace and pattern no matter the music. Slow or fast, techno or mellow; she always sensually spiraled at the same rhythm while making half song revolutions around the pole. She paid attention to no-one. Not the other girls, not the music, not even the customers it seemed. She only looked at herself and would slowly run her hand from her hair to her cheek then down between her breasts then slowly across her mid-section whenever her half song revolutions had her facing the wall length mirror nearest her pole. She wore her hair in an untypically short bob style with one of her eyes completely covered and the other partially covered so it was really hard to tell what she was seeing in the mirror. Everyone else was in the Mandarin club in Nana. Who knows what world she was in. I paid the bar fine to see what the weather was like where she was.

I usually make 2 big mistakes on my first night in Bangkok. I got the first one out of the way when I asked a tuktuk driver at the Nana entrance to take us to a place that had good Thai food. Me overcharged and him over-commissioned I'm sure for the place that he took us to. While eating the overpriced food, Lek gave me a quick rundown of her story. She spoke quietly. She looked not as good but still great in her street clothes. One eye fully covered and the other partially covered by her hair. Age 26. She had worked at an a go-go for a couple of years a few years before. An eventual drug problem while dancing before had her sister and a farang sponsor helping her off the drugs and out of the go-go. She came back to dancing again just 6 months ago. She's been off the drugs for 2 years now. I took it all in because I always find these mini bios intriguing for some reason. With me having just landed from a 24 hour journey I suggested that we go back to my room at the Dynasty Grand. She had an opposing suggestion which was also the better one. We went to Foodland to purchase a large bottle of whiskey and a large bottle of soda to be mixed and consumed in my room. She led to me to the whiskey and I chose. She then led me to the cash register and I paid. She added a silver and green pack of cigarettes with Thai script on the front and down the sides, as well as a pink lighter, as the cashier was ringing us out.

Back in my room we toasted to the pure random occurrence that sponsored us meeting like this. We proceeded to polish off about half of each bottle. She would pause after each glass in order to light up and smoke a cigarette from the silver and green pack I had just purchased for her. She had to do it out in hall, blowing the smoke out of an emergency exit door, as my room was non smoking. After the drinking and smoking were done we checked off the last item. She performed exactly as she danced. Before she left I gave her the remaining whiskey as a tip and as a thank you. Not so much for the service but for not taking advantage of the 2nd of my 2 mistakes that night. I had allowed her to mix my whiskey and soda unsupervised. I thanked her for not drugging and robbing me.

The next day was quite uneventful. A double soapy, a short time, and then the rest of the afternoon catching up with past acquaintances at Big Dogs. My intention was not to barfine Lek again but there I was that evening at the Mandarin with Lek curled up in my lap as quietly sexy as could be. We both watched, transfixed on Som as she danced for us on our table. 19-year old Som pranced and danced on the stage with enthusiasm I don't see much anymore. She humped the stage, the pole, the waitresses, and the customers. Nothing was safe within a 4-foot range of her performance. Lek said that I should barfine Som so I did. While in the process of placing my order with the mamasan I decided to go double or nothing. To Lek’s partial surprise I barfined her again as well and left with two of Nana's finest.

We passed a young-looking, middle aged Thai man once we got off the escalator to the ground floor of Nana. Som spent some minutes talking with this man as Lek and I stood by in a holding pattern. The Thai man gave me a thumbs up as he finished up his conversation with Som. I assumed it was Som's Thai boyfriend and I asked her as such. Turns out the guy was actually her father! They used to work at the same go-go where he was the DJ and she was a dancer…a featured dancer at that. He would occasionally buy her drinks and watch her go off with customers nightly. They now work at separate gogo clubs but they often see each other in passing in Nana. He would often drink with her and her customers when they run in to each other but he had to go and was unable to join us. Even Lek had to take a minute to process that one.

Good thing I had two girls though. First reason being that Som was nearly lights out drunk by the time we go back to the hotel after hitting up a few bars. Lek came in handy when it came to assisting Som back to the Dynasty Grand. Lek was also a bit motherly (her being 26 to Som's 19) when it came to making sure that Som was ok and would provide the proper professional customer service that was expected of them both. It turns out that Som had been to this hotel before. Last time she was here she was paid 10,000 baht as the customer professionally filmed their encounter for website purposes. This piece of information caught Lek a bit off guard for some reason. Like she was finally getting the know the girl she'd been dancing next to for months at Mandarin.

Lek and Som both wanted to smoke so out came the same silver and green pack of cigarettes and pink lighter. Rather than smoke out in the hallway as Lek did before they opted to smoke out of the open windows in my hotel room. While leaning out the window, Som noticed a naked Thai girl in the bedroom window across the way. The naked girl sat on the edge of the hotel bed in her room and brushed her hair while watching television. All 3 of us watching as a customer entered into view, standing in front of the girl wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. Before I knew it the towel had dropped and the Thai girl in the window on the edge of the bed started to do some "smoking" of her own. Time for me to exit left. I retired back to the bed as Lek and Som stayed at the window and enjoyed the command performance going on across the way. I was actually enjoying my view as well. Each girl in my room was on her tiptoes leering out the window. They were both wearing the shortest shorts this side of the Mekong. It was a close competition to see whose shorts were shorter. An intense rivalry. Lek's blue denim shorts vs. Som's black denim shorts. It was Red Sox vs. Yankees, Brazil vs. Argentina, All Blacks vs. Wallabies. I was the obvious winner. I sat back and contemplated the scene as if casually contemplating a Monet in the Louvre. Two disparate words that I never would have paired together came to mind; "butt, cleavage."

Being that Som was apparently an internet sensation, her and Lek switched positions so to speak. Som became the mentor as Lek had never been with another girl before. No one at a time while the other waited in the bathroom on this one. Som directed while Lek listened and dove in head first. Eventually Som went from director to doing some heavy lifting as well as she posed us and constructed scenes that we played out through the night. Som was still a bit tipsy so she reverted to only speaking Thai while Lek translated her directions and such. When it came to describing Som two more disparate words came to mind that I never would have paired together before this moment; "sexual, prodigy."

It was a short time so the moment came when I held up my end of the bargain with some baht for services rendered plus tip. As a final farewell I watched those two walk down the hall to the elevators. I just couldn't resist. Had I been paying more attention to their possessions rather than their assets I would have noticed that Lek no longer had her silver and green pack of cigarettes and pink lighter…

No mobile numbers or emails were exchanged. So there were no text messages of “I miss you.” No emails of “I love you” upon my eventual return home but Lek had secretly placed these two objects in the front pocket of my suitcase before leaving my room that night. The silver and green pack of cigarettes and pink lighter were her retainer. Nothing overt to keep me on Lek's hook upon my return home but I found that these objects retained my thoughts of our night together thereby retaining my thoughts of her. Playing within the bars and gogos can be like being in a candy store where the only condition is you can only keep what you can retain in your memory.

The airport taxi is now patiently waiting in my driveway. I quickly "tetris" all of my items into my suitcase. My final decision is no longer my responsibility. I know exactly where I'm going first upon landing in Bangkok; though I'll probably stop off along the way and pick up a sliver and green pack of menthol cigarettes and a pink lighter first.


So that's pretty much it for this submission. I took pen to paper and started writing straight away while I was in the taxi on my way to the airport. I started writing on the back of my itineraries. I wrote pieces during my layover in Hong Kong as well. For this trip I decided to spend a day in Angeles City to get that experience; and a very interesting night it turned out to be there. I wrote more of this submission while I was sitting near Fields Avenue watching the expats and Filipinas go by. I wrote while I waited at Clark for my flight to Bangkok. I wrote more one afternoon as I sat at Big Dogs and drank heavily while watching the unstable ex nana girl prance around the streets and talk to herself all afternoon. The often pregnant Vietnamese shoe shine girl was back in Vietnam at the time. It started raining heavily so one of the girls at Big Dogs wrapped my written notes in a plastic bag and sent me on my way during a lull in the downpour. This submission wound up making the Nana rounds that night with me. A great night it was needless to say. Straight away to Pattaya where more pieces of the submission were written at Nid Bar 2005 on the corner of 2nd Road and Soi 14. I always stay at the Tim Boutique hotel so the girls at Nid Bar know me well and left me alone to write. Well…mostly left me alone. I wrote as I watched that crazy homeless German that wears all black trying to keep his shorts from falling to the Soi. How does that guy get to Pattaya from Bangkok anyway? More pieces were written on Jomtien beach while a good portion was written at the Click Bar on Soi 6 with Fon and Bee acting as my first submission reviewers. They liked it and stated with due confidence that they could do better than Lek and Som. I tried them. They didn’t but they rustled up close second. Not one but two consecutive bar closing Buddha days landed squarely in the middle of my trip this time. Rather than suffer the consequences of a shutdown Walking Street I escaped for two days to Isaan with my precious thief from my "The Gravity of My Hell" submissions. The last time I went to her village with her we got married. Who knows what was going to happen this time and being pushed by her and the bar closings in Pattaya I decided to find out. The 20 hour roundtrip on the bus was not appealing but I ended up writing major parts of this submission while sitting in Isaan near rice fields and getting drunk with her Dad and various uncles. They tied white cotton strings on our wrists this time as opposed to the yellow ones they tied last time. I finally finished writing this submission with Jet from Moon a gogo a few days later while we sat at Central Festival one cool evening. She agreed that the 1500 baht bar fine from her gogo was too much and agreed to meet me on her day off. She, as well as the time we spent that very night, is a submission in waiting. A great trip indeed.


Stickman's thoughts:

Sounds like you had a good time.