Notes From The Subterranean
I was dead broke. For years, I’d tried just about everything, I’d been a teacher, a writer, a soldier, a public relations man, a stringer, a realtor, an exporter, lastly a savant. None of it worked. You get used to the body blows with time, but this felt different. This time they meant to put me down for good.
I’d been walking along Sukhumvit Road doing my best to avoid Indian tailors, my mind deep in thought wondering where I was going to come up with ten grand. It was the end of the month, rent was due, and like I said I was dead broke.
To make matters worse, I owed just about everyone I knew. There had been a run on the banks back home and my credit line dried up. I had thirty baht in my pocket, enough for the sky train home, and I was walking to the Nana stop when I ran across the most beautiful whore I’d seen in a while.
Knowing I was broke, I didn’t want to complicate things by striking up conversation, but our eyes met in the darkness near the police box on street number 4, and she took me by the elbow and walked me further up the road to an outdoor beer bar run by a couple of young Thais. Before I could change my mind, I ordered a bucket of Mai Tai for 300 baht, and took several gulps before the whore propositioned me.
“Where you go?” she asked.
“Me?” I asked. “The road to hell if my luck holds.”
Road to Hell was a street in Khanom, way down south, full of women and karaoke bars, a favorite hangout for Burmese fishermen riddled with STDs.
“You go with me?” she asked, giving me this stupid yearning grin.
There was a short time hotel up the road, 200 baht for a few hours. It would be someplace I knew well from years of experience. I decided to break the news.
“I’ve got no money,” I told her. “In fact, I was going to ask you to pay for this bucket.”
“No money?” she stated. “No money, no honey.” She laughed.
I looked at my cell phone. It was close to midnight. The peak hours of the street, and it was picking up, with several older foreigners walking by, some so old they needed crutches, others followed closely by young Thai girls with dark skin and tattoos.
“No, really. I’m broke. I haven’t a single baht.”
“Don’t worry about money,” she whispered to me.
“Great,” I said. “Perfect.”
“You go with me short time?”
There were these young Thai men who worked the beer bars and served buckets. I knew from experience what happened when you didn’t settle the bill, having been down and out many times before. Serrated blades left deep battle scars.
“Seriously,” I said, “I need you to pay for this bucket.”
She gave me a shocked, hurt expression. Her eyes told me that this was not the first time a foreigner had tried something like this. I had immediately assumed that rejection and being constantly fxxxed over were things she could cope with. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that she was a prostitute.
There was a time, maybe in her youth, where she’d heard a story of a girl from her village who went to work at the bars, and returned a baht millionaire. She came to Bangkok to make her fortune. Slowly, with the passing of time, reality set in, and she realized there was no Prince Charming in Nana. There were only misers, scoundrels, and pontificators, myself included.
“How come you come to Thailand with no money? Don’t you know it foolish.”
“What’s money,” I said, “but printed paper with some ink on it.”
While I was in a conversation with the most beautiful whore I’d seen that day, there was some commotion across the street between a streetwalker and a bar manager. This was a territorial dispute. The streetwalker was causing the bar to lose customers with her antics.
“Look over there,” I said, “that could be you in 10 years.”
She was eying me up and down, wondering how she’d fallen in with a baht-less foreigner with her good looks and scant attire. She was just now beginning to realize she was on the road to nowhere.
“It’ll be something when they knock down these buildings,” I wondered aloud, “and put up billboards and highways.”
The alcohol was taking hold now, causing a displaced sense of optimism. It was the same every day. Mornings were the worst, and that feeling carried on to the early afternoon, well on into the evening when I clocked out and started to swill on God’s nectar. That was when the whores of the world took on a luminous glow.
There were people I’d met here in Bangkok that I’d probably never would have met anywhere else, because there was something about this city that attracted the scum of the subterranean from all over, and it was really something to see, these drunk cunts up and down the soi, smoking cigarettes, negotiating the price of the women down, while keeping a cool demeanor about them even as things began to spiral downward.
“I am a testament to the downward spiral,” I pronounced to the whore.
“Not tonight though, for you are my savoir and going to buy me this bucket so these cunts with the knives don’t knife me again.”
I was just beginning my plea, when out of nowhere this streetwalker smacks me something hard, her hand splayed out across my face leaving a deep mark from her ring finger, and I jump back, realizing it was the streetwalker from across the street who made trouble for the bar. Now she’s got it in for me. They all got it in for me.
The streetwalker started in, screaming and crying. My Thai was poor, so I could not understand everything she was saying, but I got the gist. There was so much emotion, an outpouring of emotion, years of rejection and failure and apathy and vice, all being unleashed on me, right now, a barrage unlike anything I’d seen before, and I thought for a moment she was going to slice me open with a razor she kept in her bag and let my insides ooze out onto the street. Of course, I’d never slept with the woman before, even though I could understand that’s what she was claiming, she was my lover, and by association with another whore I was somehow cheating on her. A crowd gathered around, a mix of streetwalkers, vendors, motorbike men, and tourists, just to see what would happen, if the bitch really would slice me right out in public. It was a goddamn show.
“Alright, you fxxxing bitch. Let’s see if you got the guts to cut me. G’head. Do it.”
The situation was so absurd, but it seemed to be happening more and more, in the streets, filthy bar corners, short time hotels, even on hospital beds. People wanted blood and by God I was going to give it to them.
“C’mon, you fxxxing bitch. Cut me! Slice me from nuts to guts!”
She hesitated. She wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction, obviously caught off guard by my violent aggression. It was as if I’d returned her slap in kind, only verbally – and now she didn’t know how to properly retaliate. Me, I knew exactly what the situation called for.
I grabbed the cunt’s bag and tossed the contents all over the street, and while she scrambled to pick up her mirror and make-up, I kicked her in the gut with a hard right, her face immediately contorting and rolling over into the filth of the gutter of the street.
“My baby,” she cried, “he kill my baby!”
“Bullshit,” I quickly retorted. “Your womb is shriveled up, dead. You’re a lifeless, soulless bitch and that’s about the half of it. Look at you. Fxxx. Cxxx. Jesus.”
I set into her with the left this time, really getting my body into it. She went careening into to the street. She stayed down this time, not uttering a fxxxing word. Her body writhed in a pathetic way. Blood began to trickle from her mouth and nose.
The crowd was staring on in disbelief. They had just witnessed something that they weren’t expecting, a kind of violence that stunned even them. I had nothing left inside me to give them.
“Fxxxing-a right,” I said.
I kicked the streetwalker in the face a third time, really attempting to put her out of her misery. I wanted to kill her. I wanted to lay her out right fxxxing there in the street with this crowd gathered around to witness it. That way, no one could deny it happened later, because if I only hurt this pitiful creature, they would blame it on the street traffic, say she got hit by a taxi, or tell them she tripped and fell into the street, crazy bitch that she was. No. There would be no more lies. I’d made a promise to myself long ago, and now I planned to follow through on that promise. I wanted to make a scene so profound it would burn into the minds of all who witnessed it, so that years later, when asked, they would be able recollect every fxxxing gruesome detail.
Still, no one moved. The crowd must have known my intent, after three hard blows to the head of this pitiful streetwalker, but no one stopped me. The motorbike men, I don’t think they gave a shit one way or the other. The vendors would probably have liked to see the bitch gone, obviously. But there were also families who were lined up on the street, tourists from western countries, probably shocked by the violence, but thinking that it was happening someplace far from their home.
I calmly walked over to the creature on the ground, carefully lining her head up with the pavement of the curb. Three hard stomps was all it took to crush her skull. It surprised me how easy it was, snuffing the life out of another human being. Her brains were all over the concrete, a thick mush of blue, red, and black. Hair was mixed in with the goop.
The crowd had still not moved, except to gather closer. It was obvious to me that people were finally coming around to what just happened, the shock of the initial violence beginning to wear away.
I could hear the women gasp in horror, and a child was crying somewhere. There were maybe fifty people now, on the street, gathered around me and the now dead streetwalker.
“Murderer,” someone uttered.
It was all over now. They could say what they wanted, but none of it mattered. What’s done was done.
“And I’m taking this fxxxing bucket,” I told the crowd. “Just try and stop me.”
Nicely put together – you really made me feel like I was there! If I'd read this even just 5 years ago I would have called it total fiction, but the downward spiral of the nightlife areas and its inhabitants makes me think that such a situation is quite plausible!