He sat alone in a non-descript beer garden, on a non-descript soi somewhere off Silom Road. Despite the early hour he had a beer on the table, it sat there untouched, warm. His hand, trembling, lay gently on an opened letter.
He stared straight ahead, his eyes locked on some memory or other, far away in place and time. A ghost of a smile crossed his lips at the image from the past – his children playing in the treehouse he had built in the back garden.
“Hello handsum man.”
The bargirl stood brazenly by his table in a short skirt and skimpy tank top. There was a time when he would have welcomed her. Now the sight revolted him. He thought back over the years to the girls, no let’s be honest, prostitutes,
cheap tarts, who had strutted on oversized high-heels through his life. It was a parade of the poor, the mentally ill, the addicted, the abused, the unloved, the disowned, the diseased, the sick. And he was the main character, the unpaid actor
who performed the starring role in the porn film that his life had become.
The hooker, not getting any reaction from the punter, mumbled in Thai and drifted away.
Once, things were different. He had been happily married with two kids, a successful engineer with his own business, a large house in an expensive area of southern England, his dream car in the double garage. Then his wife met someone else.
He’d lost everything in the divorce, the business assets sold to pay off his ex’s demands. He’d lost his living, his home, his dignity, his children. The injustice of it still caught in his throat like a chunk of vomit.
After the divorce he’d lived for a while in a rented caravan, before the demands from creditors got too much and he’d fled to Thailand. He’d been able to lose himself in the dark sois of Bangkok nights, numb himself with
alcohol, and forget in the arms of a rented girl. He had escaped to Pleasure Island, a land of illusion. And as in Pinnocchio’s story he had been turned into a donkey, stupid and ignorant, by his desires and weakness.
Sometimes he had thought of his children – a son and daughter. Over the years he had occasionally received news of them from his brother. His son had moved away from home at 18 to make his own way in the world. A tall, good-looking boy with
a mop of floppy dark hair, happy, loving, kind and intelligent.
His little girl he remembered as cherubic, always laughing, with red-blond hair. She’d been loved by everyone who knew her. She always had so many friends. Daddy’s little girl. He remembered how he had sung her to sleep with
“You are my sunshine” and he had meant every word.
Now his little girl, aged 19, lay dead on a cold slab in a mortuary.
Multiple injuries the letter said, car accident.
He prayed she had not felt pain.
He thought of the lost years spent 6,000 miles from home. Picnics under the Summer sun never enjoyed, movies never watched, giant boxes of popcorn never eaten, meanderings through the park to admire the Spring blossoms never taken, first
boyfriend never met, crazy photos never posed for, hugs never held, words never spoken.
He had never been there for her – for the successes, the failures, the good times and the bad. He hadn’t said he was sorry, asked for her forgiveness, told her that he missed her, showed her that he loved her.
Now she was gone.
He rose stiffly, roughly wiping the tears. Throwing a couple of tattered notes onto the table he turned to leave.
It was time to go home.