Global Warming, A Short Story
by Dick Headley
Arthur is in the ‘Seaside’ restaurant just off Soi Buakhao. He always dines there when he’s in Pattaya because it is cheap and the food reminds him of English transport caffs. They even overcook the cabbage just right. He likes to imagine himself years ago halfway up the A.1. Somewhere near Doncaster. The sort of place where you could eat well and still get change out of half-a-crown. Of course this was before they built the M.1.and Fortes took over the catering business.
Today Arthur is tucking into some roast pork with baked potatoes when he hears a voice nearby say, “Arfur!”
Oh dear. It is Gav and Kev. Or Kev and Gav. Arthur can’t remember which is which, his friends from Morning Night. They are sitting at the next table.
“How you doing Arfur mate?”
“Oh you know. I can’t complain. Well I can but what’s the point?”
“Know what you mean mate. What brings you to Pattaya, Pearl of the Eastern Seaboard.”
“Not sure exactly,” offers Arthur by way of making conversation. “I came on a whim. Well on a bus actually. I sort of found myself at Ekamai and you know I just sort of arrived here.”
“No need to explain Arfur,” says Kev, “we know how it is.”
“Orroit ’ere innit,” says Gav through a mouthful of chip-butty (made with proper bread), “Funny thing though, we came here to do a bit of shagging like and we seem to have got ourselves involved in something of a dystopia.”
“Well I wouldn’t call it a dystopia exactly Kev,” says Gav, “More like a parallel universe you could say.”
“Oh?” says Arthur.
“Yes. It started yesterday. I was screwing this Thai bird and she metamorphosed into my ex-wife.”
“That is strange,” says Arthur, “how do you account for it?”
“Might be the booze,” says Gav, “but I don’t think so. Same thing happened to Kev.”
“Yes,” says Kev, “this bird was sitting on my face and next thing I know she’s me bloody mum!”
“That must have been a bit of a shock.” Says Arthur
“Bloody right mate. I thought me mum was dead and buried. Got dressed smartish I tell you.”
“Don’t mind Kev,” says Gav, “he is given to a bit of hyperbole. It’s his literary side coming out. He loves stringing words together don’t you Kev? Specially after a few beers. So what’s on your agenda Arthur. We were thinking of popping down to Soi 6.”
Suddenly Kev says, “Bugger me look at that, it’s snowing.”
Indeed it is. Arthur can hardly believe his eyes. Snow is falling outside…not just small snowflakes either, bloody great gobs of it are drifting silently down causing considerable excitement among the Thais across the road. Some of the motorcycle taxi fellows have started a snowball fight. “Something to do with global warming I think,” says Kev. “We better get moving.”
There has been a noticeable drop in temperature and several inches of snow are settling on Soi Diana. Arthur is happy to walk along with Gav and Kev. They seem like pretty decent blokes and it’s better than talking to yourself all the time. Also Arthur hasn’t been feeling too safe in Pattaya just lately and he’s glad to have a bit of company. Arthur may be the only person in Pattaya who can’t hear a Harley-Davidson coming until it’s right on top of him.
And there are lots of other hazards. Arthur had been taking a quiet slash in a bar once when somebody dropped a hand grenade through the roof of the hawng narm. Being an old hand in Pattaya he took no notice…he knew it was probably a dud…still it made him think.
The balcony jumpers were starting to get annoying too. Nobody minds the odd one or two but lately it had become a cascade. It’s disconcerting when you’re on your way somewhere and you keep tripping over bodies.
On his last visit to Pattaya Arthur had nearly been flattened by a massive Scandinavian, bound and gagged as usual, landing just in front of him! In broad daylight! “Oh well, that’s life,” thought Arthur, but he wishes they’d be a bit more considerate about where and when they took the plunge. There should be designated landing zones, thinks Arthur, where…
“Watch it Arfur,” says Gav as another body hits the pavement.
“Bit chilly for jumping today you’d think,” says Kev, “some blokes just don’t care.”
“This is Thailand,” Says Gav as a team of uniformed Thais lift the huge farang into a truck, “you’d think they’d have ramps built on the trucks by now wouldn’t you? Save their backs.”
The three amigos trudge across Second Road where cars and motorbikes are being abandoned in snowdrifts. Arthur is wearing sandals (with socks of course) and his feet are feeling it. “This is serious,” he says.
“Bugger this,” says Gav. They decide to cut through Mike’s Shopping where Thais are scrambling to buy sweaters and quilted Chinese army surplus jackets. Gav, Kev and Arthur stop to buy a selection of soccer shirts. They put several on at once. “How do I look lads?” Arthur asks.
“Lovely,” says Gav, “not sure about Arsenal on top of Spurs though. Better hope nobody notices.”
Just a few Russians are left on the beach. Some of them are making skis out of deck-chairs and the vendors are doing a brisk business selling battery powered Speedo warmers. Gav stops to buy one. Further out in the bay figures are moving on the ice-flows.
“Katoys,” says Gav, “They club the baby seals you know. It’s all wrong.”
‘There should be a law.”
‘They don’t listen.”
“If a pre-op katoy has a post-op katoy up the council gritter,” asks Arthur, “is that gay?” Nobody answers, “Don’t mind me,” Says Arthur, “just something I saw on a message board.”
The snow is getting deeper. They finally arrive at Soi 6. where some Americans are parking their skidoos. Groups of girls are clustered round charcoal braziers. “Evening ladies,” say Gav, “nao nit-noi?”
“Nao mak.” Say the girls.
The girl Arthur selects is from Buriram and skilled in the art of genital manipulation. Arthur lets her work at it for a while then comes right between her tits. A most satisfactory outcome. Feeling much refreshed he goes downstairs to the bar where Gav, Kev and a group of stalwart yeomen are quaffing mead and clinking glasses in carefree ribaldry.
“Orroit Arfur?” asks Gav, “Get you sorted did she?” Arthur admits to feeling much invigorated thank you.
The snow has stopped falling but the streets are a mess. Fortunately an enterprising song-thao driver has harnessed a team of soi dogs to a makeshift sledge. They all pile on.
The sun comes out as they head back up Beach Road and by the time they get to Walking Street the icicles are dropping of the palm trees. As they pay the sled dog driver off Arthur remarks, “He won’t be needing the dogs anymore.”
“Probably run them to death then eat the buggers,” says Gav.
“Bastards.” Says Kev, “there should be a law. They don’t listen.”
“You already said that.” Says Gav.
“Well it’s true. So what’s next for you Arthur?”
“I’m a bit knackered,” says Arthur, “That was surreal. Think I’ll go home and stare at the ceiling for an hour or two. Relish the moments. See if I have any thoughts.”
”Good idea.” Say Kev and Gav in unison, “might have a lie down meself.”
The author can be contacted at : http://secondvoyage.blogspot.ca/