Notes From The Subterranean Part 4
I found Dez in his usual spot, just outside the school grounds at the bus stop, lighting up a fag. It was someplace he came between classes, when he had some downtime, because he’d been warned twice about smoking on school grounds,
and the next time they told him they’d fire him. He was easy to spot because he was one of those new age hippies that sported long dreads. I doubted he’d ever seen the inside of a shower stall.
“Today I’m rummaging for some wood,” he said.
The bus stop had a metal bench that was welded to the ground. It was painted blue. It also had a sort of cover, a blue aluminum top that hung over the bench and blocked out the rain. Dez, being the new age hippy that he was, and a fleabag
degenerate on top of that, constantly rummaged through the trash cans in the city of Surat.
“You wouldn’t believe the kind of shit people throw away. Yesterday, I found a dead dog with some empty soda bottles.”
“Seriously?” I asked. “A full grown one?”
Not that I cared what Dez scavenged in his free time. Honestly, I was bored talking to the Canadian couple, always on about different teaching methods, you know, that kind of noise. At least Dez was a straight talker, someone who didn’t
give a shit what you thought of him.
“The day before that, I found a perfectly good pair of runners.”
I looked at his shoes. They were covered in this black tar like substance, and missing the laces. They didn’t look perfectly good to me.
“Jesus, would you look at this.”
He pulled out two long pieces of wood, not two by four, they were a lot thinner than two by four, but they looked OK, for what you might expect to find in the trash at the bus stop. He was measuring them up on the concrete wall at the entrance
of the school.
“Eureka,” he said, admiring the two planks of wood.
“You’re not going to bring those into school, are you?” I asked him.
“Are you kidding? I’ve been looking for something like this all week.”
“They won’t like it.”
“If I leave them out here my competition will get them.”
We looked up the road, and sure enough, as though he’d heard foreigners talking about him, a Thai man with no shirt came striding across Talad Mai Road. Most Thais covered themselves in the daytime, to preserve their light skin, but
this guy always walked the street with no shirt, one of the darkest Thais you’d ever seen. He dragged a metal cart on wheels filled with scrap metal behind him.
“Don’t make eye contact,” Dez warned.
“Forget that. I don’t want any part of him. I’ll give you up if he asks me.”
“Cunt. Fxxxer,” he muttered.
He’d been carefully sliding the wood behind him, meanwhile lighting up another cigarette, his body rested up against the concrete wall, with his hands behind his back and a cigarette hanging outside the corner of his mouth, which,
for some reason, made me think of John Dillinger.
“Dez Dillinger,” I said.
He gave me a sharp look. “Shut up. I’m unarmed. Be cool. Don’t say a damn word.”
The teacher’s room was on the third floor. Most of the windows were glassless, without screens, and always open during the hot days. There were maybe six of us that year, me, Dez, this couple from Canada, Bob and Brad. We were amateur
teachers, young travelers looking to make a baht on holiday. Dez was from Leeds, a place harder than Liverpool, if you took his word on it. Tended the pub days, snorted amphetamine and whatever else he could at night. Bob was your classic alcoholic.
After about two drinks, you couldn’t understand a fucking thing he said. Brad paid the girls to eat pussy. The couple from Canada, well, what can I say about them? They were the only qualified teachers we had.
They had this schedule on the white board, who’s teaching what, and when. The names on the board were constantly changing. People came, they taught, they moved on. Something about the school I liked, something jived with me.
Dez was like me – no plans, no future, not a baht to his name. We were scavenging and seeing what turned up.
Once, during the final exams, I ran across Dez proctoring tests. He was sitting outside on one of the benches, marking grades. Since I had nothing better to do, I sat with him.
“How’s it going?” I asked him.
“700 stamps,” he told me, “three more o’ dese bad boys and it’s a free hot dog.”
Dez was collecting 7/11 stamps from the students for higher marks. He did this from time to time. I don’t remember Dez spending a baht on anything other than booze.
“I thought they warned you about that.”
“It’s better than money,” he said. “What? You wanna buy me a hot dog.”
Later that evening, after school had finished, we went down to a restaurant down by the river. There were some Thais who started in with Dez so we went to the park near the river and drank beer. It was, I don’t know, maybe 95 degrees.
“It’s another day in Paradise,” I said.
“You’re kidding, right?”
After a few beers, we decided to cool off at the only place we knew that had two ice coolers big enough to sleep in. The ice cream shop near O2 nightclub was a favorite spot of ours. Bob met us there. His girlfriend, some fifty year old Thai
born again Christian, taught across the street. The ice cream shop didn’t serve alcohol, but when they saw us coming they ran to the store for a few cases of beer.
It was close to five in the evening, and the first shift of girls going to the massage parlors started filing by the ice cream shop. They were all dolled up, ready to take on the scum of the subterranean, me included.
Bob called, “what time do they open?”
“Shit, I hope they don’t recognize me.”
The nights were cooler than the days but it was still ninety percent humidity. Bob sweat when he drank. Dez got that glassy eyed expression, and me, I became optimistic. A world dulled to the senses was a keen existence to me. Late night,
and we had a veritable castle of empty beer cans stacked on our table. Bob was utterly destroyed. He tried to get up, only to stumble into the stack of beer cans and knock them all about.
“Idiot,” Dez cursed. “ D’ya got any clue what those woulda fetched me on the open market?”
“Who the hell is gonna buy a load of empty beer cans?”
“Who the hell wouldn’t? At 2 baht a can, you get decent scratch on a case.”
Bob was incoherent at this point in the night, as was his custom. So we pulled the spark plug from his motorbike and left him passed out at the ice cream shop. The shop owners knew him, understood that in a few hours Bob would wake up, and
walk his motorbike home.
Dez and me walked down the street to this open air beer bar. The owner loved Dez, mainly because he was a dirt burglar himself. Another Rastafarian type. So when I went to said bar with Dez, this guy gave us a discount on drinks.
“Another day in paradise,” Dez said.
“fxxxing-a right,” I replied.
I am presently away from Bangkok on holiday and don't have time to make comments. It was either no comments or no subs. I chose to publish, but without any comments.