A man sat slumped at the back of a beach in the shade of the coconut palm trees above him. He was fully clothed in thick faded jeans and a baggy polo shirt. His bloated face drained of colour and scabby legs looked out of place in such an idyllic environment. He squinted at a young couple frolicking on the wet sand further down the beach in front of him. He saw that rare look on the woman’s face. Her eyes shone as brightly as jewels with love. The man looking on imagined she’d fantasised about having this man as her boyfriend and now her dream was a reality. He watched the way the young man tentatively touched her firm tanned body in her tiny, almost transparent white bikini, as if he didn’t really know what he was doing and he wasn’t completely comfortable so close and intimate with a woman.
‘Don’t worry, son; you’re young but you will learn,’ the lone man said to himself, eyeing the young tanned man and then ogling his girlfriend’s perfect Scandinavian thighs and buttocks. And what a girl to practise on, he thought. “Crikey!” he said out loud and chuckled to himself, before breaking out into an uncontrollable chesty cough.
Then his dim eyes grew dimmer and sad and hinted his mind was drifting elsewhere.
“I was living your life not so long ago,” he said out loud again to himself “before this shit got me!”
There had been happier times though. He’d had girlfriends back in England. Not many; not like he had once he’d sold off his house and moved to Thailand; then he had a different girl everyday. But he always had someone to keep him company. Maxine was a good girl, he remembered. He was never truly excited by her and he started to grow tired of her nagging towards the end of their relationship, but she was faithful and reliable; and he believed she loved him; and he felt he loved her too. She always had his dinner on the table when he got home from work after a long day on the building sites he worked on; and she never forgot his birthday or the little things that always slipped his mind like doctors appointments and which day the dustmen came. And she really loved her kids. He loved her kids too. He treated them like his own. But they were also the reason she could never relax or be spontaneous; she was tied down; an old maid before she was thirty.
He wondered how his life would be now if he hadn’t left her and for Clare; a girl ten years younger than him who worked behind the bar at his local pub in London. He was smitten with her, but just a few months after they got together she grew bored of him and moved on with someone else. The break up her with really sent his world crashing down around him: One day he was thinking about taking her on holiday and potentially spending the rest of his life with her, and the next day she was gone. That episode was one of the main factors that made him move to Thailand in an attempt to make a fresh start.
He wondered where Maxine was now; and Clare. He thought wherever they are they must be doing better than him. For the first time in a long time he wasn’t drunk and he was thinking clearly. In this moment he knew his move to Thailand with no purpose was a mistake. A move to Thailand for expats can be a productive and healthy and a beautiful experience. But they need a purpose; a way to fill their day. Without one life is just a downward spiral of reckless drinking and debauchery; and in five years that had been his life. He hadn’t worked or studied or found any hobbies in that time.
He watched the young couple he’d decided were Swedish throw a frisbee back and forth; and throw their arms around each other; and screech with laughter every time a throw went amiss. He watched a stray dog, with patchy brown fur and a face that seemed to almost smile, approach him. It sniffed at the urine around the tree the man was sat beside and added some of its own. The man rubbed the dog’s head and looked into its eyes. As he did the dog seemed to look back into the man’s dull lifeless eyes and its smile seemed to broaden.
“Are you laughing at me?” the man asked the dog.
He held out a piece of watermelon he had in a plastic bag beside him and pushed it under the dog’s nose, but it didn’t want it.
“Sod you then!” he said and staggered to his feet. He appeared momentarily dizzy as he stood up. He looked both ways along the beach, before turning and limping back up the sand bank towards the main road and his guesthouse. He snatched one more squinted look at the young lovers now sat snugly side by side on a towel, intimately talking with their faces no more than a couple of inches apart. He imagined what the girl’s young hot breath smelled like. He imagined how she’d taste. And then he was on the main road and they were out of sight.
His swollen knees felt like they were crumbling underneath him with every step and he limped to try and ease the pressure. But his limp rocked him from side to side, and every now and then it looked like he’d rocked himself a bit too hard, and he was going to topple over and fall into the boggy ditch that ran along beside the road. But somehow he stayed on his feet. He passed a massage shop on the way back to his room. A smiley plump lady sat outside, dressed in a polo shirt and tight slacks called to him seductively, “Hello, welcome to massage!”
He slowly and with a painful grimace angled his neck round to look at her. She wouldn’t care about the illness, he thought. She’s only thinking about the money; she’d sort me out. But something made him pass on a massage.
“Not today, thank you. Maybe tomorrow,” he croaked, forcing a painful smile from his thin cracked lips before shuffling on. All he wanted to do was sleep.
Back at his little bamboo bungalow he took a cold beer from the fridge and then sat on his porch, watching the shells and wind chimes hanging from the ceiling above him gently dance in the humid air; and the small colourful birds with long, thin beaks sip nectar from flowers and skip along the tree branches. He never normally noticed them or their shrill chirp, but today they seemed to be all around him. He felt at peace. He finished his beer and belched loudly but the birds didn’t seem to mind. They just flinched for a second and then sung back at him. He shuffled inside and lay down on his bed. He lay under the fan. The fan felt cool and soothing on his hot blistered skin. He hiccupped and tasted his hoppy beer again. Then he fell asleep and died.
Copyright (C) Sunny Meadow 2009-2017
The author can be contacted at : [email protected]