Then There Was Buck
Bangkok serves many purposes one being a staging point for departure to the next world. Buck was in Bangkok for just that purpose. LA is a great big freeway so the song goes and Buck had made his fortune there feeding that freeway with autos. Prostate cancer and alcoholism had scuppered any dreams of retirement so armed with the swagger that had helped him amass his fortune he declared “ya can’t take it with ya” Bangkok it was.
The crew jumped ship in Taiwan. Finding them had been easy, who wouldn’t want a free passage to Asia in return for crewing a party boat for a few weeks. It wasn’t the party than ran out it was the ability to ignore an incontinent alcoholic misogynist given to violent rage. Buck left the yacht at its moorings, it was just another object that could not join him on his journey in Bangkok.
Five star hotels can pamper guests that are cooperative but Buck had had enough of such niceties and the urine and rage were narrowing his accommodation options. The internet offered anonymous accommodation so it was to be a two-bedroom condo with terrace just off Sukhumvit Rd that Buck retired. The owner, a business savvy women in her late fifties was patient with Buck, she had “boxed” worse or as she put it “I boxing him” and buried men younger and stronger than Buck. Buck was a mark for her and she was a guardian angel for Buck, they were a match made in if not heaven then certainly Bangkok.
Papers were shuffling across desks thousands of miles from where Buck lay in his new-found paradise that his landlady Pom had created, these papers would contort the passage to the next world. Pom ripped the carpet from her condo so Buck could pee in peace as she put it. Pom provided a permanent housekeeper, two street girls a day and all the booze and Viagra Buck could use. Buck was being escorted to the next world in Siam splendour and Pom had just put a deposit on a new condo.
Then the papers acted, a stop order was placed on Bobs accounts.
Action and reaction, goals and outcomes and a world-weariness in the tawdriness of it all, just another case for the LA attorney. About the only difference in this case from 100 others was the exotic location Buck had chosen for his final leap. Buck was too deep into the labyrinth to fully understand his situation and to Pom it was, of course, same same but different.
Pom was prepared to carry Buck for a time, he had been generous and she was well in front, if the good times returned well and good if not Bangkok would devour him as it had devoured countless wanderers before him.
There is something that makes one forgive the actions of others in the tropical madness of Bangkok and I suspect Buck forgave Pom. The tuk-tuk dropped him outside his condo around 1am after he had been thrown out of Nana plaza for pee peeing on the floor. Buck drunkenly swiped his card through the entrance lock and nothing. Again and again nothing. Calls to Pom just “rang out” Buck was alone and broke, more alone and broke than he ever had been before in his life. Buck knew he was a sick old man he felt fragile but not frightened more resigned, after all it was for this moment he had come to Bangkok. Buck walked along the dimly lit soi staring almost quizzically at that strange starless Bangkok sky.
Pom was 400 km away sitting in a roadside bar that her sister owned, she felt comfortable in the rural poverty she had fled some decades earlier and the simple melody of the Morlam music eased her mind.
Buck’s passage to the next world had not been as grand as the Pharaohs but there were parallels, a boat, plenty of court officials, arguments about gold and Pom had played the scheming queen as well as any Nefertiti. The US embassy took up the paperwork and Buck was cremated in Bangkok. Pom didn’t attend as she saw no reason. Pom has recarpeted her condo and a lovely old man from France is so happy there.