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Stickman Readers' Submissions April 23rd, 2013

Notes From The Subterranean Part 4

The katoey sparked a lighter to the foil and inhaled deeply. A sickly yellow smoke distorted the air.

“Four thousand,” she said.

He Clinic Bangkok

I watched as she burned the foil and sucked through the straw the smoke and wondered how long it had been since my last hit. Days, weeks? The blood in my veins felt like needles brushing up against my skin.

“Two,” I replied. “That’s all I got.”

“You want to fxxx me or no?”

I thought about it.


“Then fxxx yourself.”

She crumpled up the foil and turned to go. There was an incendiary smell, and the pit of my stomach became a vacuous vortex, everything collapsing inward.

“Wait,” I said. “I can give you two and a half. Two and a half and a blow job.”

I was fumbling with the crumpled bills in my shorts, most of which I’d accumulated through begging under the sky train near the market with the yellow umbrellas. At first, friends and family members would wire me money. The passport once in my possession was now black market fodder, fetching a few thousand baht. You would find coins in the sewers where no-one dared to go.

In the Big Mango, you’d never starve. A passerby will give you a bowl of rice, some soup. Tourists are easy targets, suckers for a sob story from a fellow countryman.

She laughed.

“You pay to fxxx me. I no pay to fxxx you.”

“I could kill you,” I said slowly, “kill you, cut you up, and drop you in the canal. No one would give a damn.”

She laughed.

“You kill me?”

With a flick of her hand, she revealed a long razor blade hidden in her bag, its edge gleaming in the street lamp light. It was one of those blades you unfold out of a leather bound case. The kind of blade your grandfather used.

“Oh God.”

It looked like it’d been recently sharpened.

At that moment a flash of light trickled down the alley. I forgot to mention we were in an alley near the bars, standing in a puddle of raw sewage, because that’s where drug deals get done. You can get used to the smell of sewage and human feces, but rats the size of footballs will drive you absolutely insane. Their bodies elongated in the light.

“Let’s just do the deal. No need for that blade.”

She laughed like a harpie, then folded the blade into the leather case. “You good looking man, but you no look good like before.”

She was right. It was getting harder and harder to count the days between meals, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d showered, or slept in a bed – for that matter. The nights were getting longer and the days shorter. Time was becoming an abstract idea to me.

“What was the name of that hotel? That hotel we used to meet in, the one with the broken radiator.”

“What hotel? What you talking about?”

“Never mind. I’m confused.”

I flashed her the pair of thousand baht notes I’d lifted off a tourist only hours before. “Two thousand,” I said. Then I took out the change from my pocket. There was maybe seven hundred baht, give or take.

“Here. Take all of it.”

She took the bills and coins. “This no four thousand baht.”

“I don’t care. Give me half then.”

“You no fxxx me?”

“No. I can’t. I feel sick.”

She took out a small plastic baggie with a milky substance inside and opened it. “You no good. I thought you good first time. You no money anymore. I no want to fxxx you anymore.”

She took a little out of the baggie and put it in a separate plastic bag. She did this with the ease of a professional, a professional scumbag, and cutthroat. It was no way to treat a person down on their luck. At least that’s the way I felt about it. It was a rotten situation, and we were all a part of it, no one was innocent. It made you wonder how things had gone so far. It was the kind of sordidness that wouldn’t come off, no matter how many times you tried to scrub it.

“This isn’t half.”

“You want me cut you again?”

“Fxxx no. Just leave me alone.”

It was just a taste, really, nothing to a hardcore user like myself. The initial rush of the hit fell away in seconds, leaving me with a numbing feeling crawling up my spine. There was a time before this, places I’d been. The raindrops of memory fell in an agonizingly slow drizzle. Scattered scenes of love, hate, lust, remorse, redemption…and for a moment, I remembered a past life, a life in which I was young again, with the world in front of me, the potential of a young man who’d become a doctor, a businessman, an advertising man, even an insurance salesman. The possibilities spread out like spilled marbles. These thoughts were transcendent and felt real. But the nostalgia was killing my buzz. So I thought of something else.

Stickman's thoughts:

Play with fire and you get burned!