Stickman Readers' Submissions June 2nd, 2017

Letting Go


The first time I set eyes on her she was performing upside down as part of a 4 lady lesbian show, a speciality of this particular gogo bar in Sin City. She was wearing nothing but a wristband with her number on it – number 911. I’ve never been to the USA, but I know that that is their emergency services number. I’ve probably absorbed this fact by osmosis from excess exposure to all the movies they export. Anyway, someone should call the cops. She was so hot she could start a riot! I was transfixed. After the performance, she came straight over to me and asked me if I would buy her a lady drink. The place was full of the usual cross-section of Sin City aficionado’s; bullet-headed porn addicts, ageing Japanese & Korean big shots throwing buckets of balls at a 1,000 baht a pop, Viagra-fuelled divorcees looking for their lost mojo – and they’re the good guys.

Maybe I was the least noxious of a handful of pretty unappealing evils. She was 18 years old and I was 33. She told me she had been living with an American guy before working at this gogo bar. She was so full of life; she seemed to be living completely in the moment. I didn’t think twice, before I knew it we were in my room. I loved her. She liked me ok. We were together for 5 hours and 10 minutes. She made my life pure joy for 5 hours and 10 minutes then it was over and I can’t let it go. She was studying at college, don’t know what, I do remember her saying she had a 2-year old boy who was being looked after by her family back in Phuket.

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That was 5 months and 10 days ago, and here I am back in the same gogo bar looking to recapture that experience. I got myself sat down in the same location next to the stage, even though it involved shoe horning in between two guys – something I wouldn’t normally do. I took a gulp of ice-cold Singha to drain the beer so that it was level with the top of the sleeve and started to survey the scene. Everything looked familiar but I couldn’t see number 911. I became aware of the guy to my left who was clearly enjoying the spectacle before his eyes. He leaned towards me and pointed out one of the dancers. He said he thought she would look smashing in a West Bromwich Albion football shirt. I nodded my acknowledgement. We got chatting. He said he was from the rust belt of England and had had the full Thailand roller coaster ride. He had met, got hooked, married and divorced a Thai lady, cost him a broken heart and thousands of pounds but he had let it all go. He said he is now a broken man repaired. I thought about this! Why let it go? Why not hold on to the past? Why not keep reliving those memories?

I scanned the room. Still no sign of 911 but I could see a bizarre pattern repeating itself – some of the girls were doing their stuff with the customers, milking them for tips then heading to a big white cardboard box which was placed on a table near the exit. It looked like a collection box because quite a few of the girls were dropping some of their tips into it. Weird, not seen that before! Probably one of the girls is getting married!

This thought was interrupted by the guy to my right. He pointed out a dancer and told me in his American accent that it reminded him of a girl he used to know. He said her name is Vilai. He said that she didn’t speak much English and he didn’t speak much Thai, but they communicated just fine. Even enjoying moments of sharing misheard lyrics to songs from the ‘90s. He said he couldn’t forget her and couldn’t let go. I advised him not to let go. He said don’t tell me to let it go, thousands of guys have said let it go. I have told myself to let it go a thousand times. Three therapists told me to let it go. My ex-wife told me to let it go. It was loud in the bar, he misheard, I said DON’T let it go, keep a firm hold of the past and polish it every day until it shines brighter than reality. Who needs to live in the now when you’ve got the past to fall back on. What did Eckhart Tolle know! What we need is more power of the past. He nodded his approval over the noise that passes for music in these places.

I wasn’t letting go of 911 for sure! A lady came off stage and wriggled her way onto my knee and started the usual routine, what you name, where you come from, etc. I bought her a drink and proceeded to grill her about number 911. She not know, she only work bar for 3 week. Funny how it’s always 3 weeks! Pretty soon she got a little fed up and said she had go dance. I gave her 100 baht tip. I watched her go and drop it in the big white box in the corner.

I decided it was time to call it quits, I vowed I would return the following evening. I’m definitely not letting this go! I checked bin and said goodbye to my two new buddies and headed for the door. On the way out, I asked the mamasan who was guarding the white box what it was for. She said it was a collection for one of the girls who worked in the bar who was killed in a motorbike accident the previous night. A 10-wheel truck had jumped a red light at a crossroads and she was killed instantly. The money was for her 2-year-old son. I looked at the white cardboard box. It contained a name and number only. I couldn’t read the name. It was in Thai but the number was 116. Then I remembered that my lady was upside down when I first saw her. Like a shark breaking water the shocking realisation surfaced in my mind, my blood ran cold, my head started to spin. Now I can never let go…

The author can be contacted at :

nana plaza