The Statue (2)
Time flies. It looks like I just met Ms Wang. But that must have been somewhere around 2027, already quite some years ago. Yesterday, we had dinner together. We both live alone, so we do this about twice a month. This time, we chose the Chinese family restaurant, which was the start of Bo Chen’s empire a few years ago. The place looks good. Much better than in the past few months. Especially the playground seems to be greatly improved. “Fat Dick bought it for Duan” says Ms Wang.
Fat Dick, the British construction worker who came to Pattaya at the time of the Chinese-Indian fights. Fat Dick is an understatement of the shape of his body. Although some bar girls were afraid that fat also referred to something else. After his first night, he checked his beer tap, and concluded that it was cheaper to buy the bar beer, than to keep drinking as a customer. The place soon became a meeting point for retirees on a low pension, and out of luck freelance girls. The only good things to say about it was that at least the smell of alcohol covered the smell of urine, and from the spots on the bar you could not really see if these were vomit or spilled drinks. Which attracted a clientele whose need for alcohol was larger than their wallets and love birds who had given up on finding love. Despite this, Fat Dick was well liked: his kindness and generosity for everyone who had hit rock bottom are a legend. For live, he filled his nights drinking beer with lost tourists, arguing world events with red-faced Simon and playing truth or dare games with Pierre and Günther when they were drunk. Games, which always ended in tears from too many drunken confessions and Nok, the ugly bar tender, giving blow jobs. One night, his so called friends set Dick up with a special dare: he would need to sit 2 hours with a girl in a Teahouse bar. Dick had always hated these bars: all talk and no action. The girl, new in town from some out of the way Thai village, had prepared her stay by learning Chinese from a Korean and English from an American with a speech defect. Their two hours were filled with confusion between Thinglish and whatever they speak in Scotland. The next day, Dick was sober. The day after, he started to give his bar a new coat of paint for a special visitor. Two months later, the two were married. The farm girl turned out to be a smart business woman. After a year or two, they owned the whole beer bar complex. After that, a guest house and a vegetarian restaurant which does a good steak salad were added. Her business sense, and his experience in renovation made them successful in picking up collapsing businesses, restoring these and flipping them for a profit. Their union was blessed by Duan, a girl as plump as her father and with the beautiful face of her mother.
Over our dinner, we are talking about how the restaurant is not as busy as it used to be. It is now 3 years since the revealing of Bo Chen’s statue. After that, he was not seen in Pattaya anymore. The boss gone, the eye for detail in all his businesses also seems to be gone. The Fillipino staff have left the restaurants, their jobs taken over by Thai who seem to care less. The atmosphere in his gogo bars is described as not as good as it was before. The Thai working in the bars look at their mobiles the whole night, the DJ’s again producing the noise which used to drive Farang customers away. Visitors looking as bored as in the early 2020’s. Ms Wang sees how the quality of men who come for partners in the Teahouse bars has gone down, and as a result less attractive women working. The Indians are taking over bars, changing these into places with cheap alcohol and fat women. Pattaya slowly seems to get the quality of Pattaya in the years before the arrival of Bo Chen.
“You two are together”, someone says, and we look up. Malee, the wife of Dick, with their daughter. Duan looks expectantly at her mother and with a short nod is send off to the playground. It looks like Ms Wang was the one who selected Malee as the woman for Dick on his night in the Teahouse bar. I talked to her the night she was at Dick’s bar for the first time. “Have many problem” Malee says when we ask her how she is doing. “You two good for me, help me find good man”. But there is another man in the game. Back home, in the village, the Thai boyfriend is waiting. Her parents tell her that she is now rich: she has many businesses which make good money. The farang is not needed anymore. She can now marry her cousin, which was the plan before she set off to Pattaya: get money from farang, bring it to the family. There are some people who for a small sum of money can create a traffic accident. Unfortunately, she had not counted on liking Dick a lot.
“I go pray to goddess”. The statue, which is still in its place. When it was there a few months, someone joked to a girl fresh from the bus that it represented a female god who can honor wishes if you make a small offering of something you like. The first night the new girl walked naked in the parade in the Chinese gogo bar her uncertainty and the high heels she wore for the first time in her life made her fall over. Over a small table, spilling beer on a young Chinese man who was a first time Pattaya visitor. His confusion about having a naked woman on top of him while being soaked in beer, and her clumsiness in trying to save the situation got a wide laughter from everyone in the bar. They ran off together. That night, in his hotel room, they both lost their virginity. The first shot produced twins, which makes her the adored daughter-in-law of a Chinese middle class family. Since that day, every night there are offers of fried chicken and som tan to the statue. The Thai Tourism Authority has accepted: a statue of a female goddess is easier to digest than the statue of a hooker.
And now the statue has not given Malee an answer. I am also lost for words. I always looked at the two of them as a good couple, despite their differences. Am I getting to witness one of these “Thai girl did me wrong” stories now? Accepting that organizing an accident is a solution to problems? Although I do not like his bar, I like Dick as a man. Why would he need to be victim to another bar girl trap? Ms Wang is calm. She is looking in the distance. We follow her gaze, and see how Duan is enjoying her time in the playground. The joy of a careless kid is felt in a wide circle around her. “Dick is a good father” Ms Wang says. Malee seems to be calculating. Like I saw her calculating the first night she went to Dick’s bar.
Let’s say that it was an interesting night. That morning, Dick had knocked on my door. By his incoherent ramblings, I understood that although I did not like his bar much, this night I had to be there because the bar had to look good, so he needed customers with some class etc. When I dropped by in the evening I saw all efforts that had been made. The traditional mess had been cleaned, the men who were there had shaved and showered (some for the first time in 2 weeks). Dick had handed out T-shirts to those badly dressed. Even Simon who usually looked like a tramp now more looked like a friendly grand father. Pierre and Günther had been given money to drink somewhere else. The ladies of the night tried to display some class which they did not have. When Malee arrived, everyone was desperately trying to pretend that this was the normal state of affairs every night. Of course, she was too clever not to see right through it all. She shared a drink with me asking far too smart questions, joked for a long time in Thai with the ladies to get an outline of the land. Her mind made fast calculations about the amount of money which could be made from all the stupidity around her. Weighing in the money, the job of opening her legs 3 times 5 minutes a week and the fact that Dick was not the worst man she had met in Pattaya, she said yes when he proposed. It would fulfill her family’s wishes.
I slept bad yesterday night. After Malee left, Ms Wang tried to distract my thinking, but with little effect. We said our goodbyes, and I made a long walk past Pattaya’s night spots. The door girls with their signs, the blasting neon, the “hello hansum man”, the drunks, the free lancers looking for a handout, the cycle seems to have never changed. That night, I could find no answer. Not knowing what to do, this afternoon I dropped by to have a drink at Dick’s bar. He was there, eating and chatting with Malee and Duan. In the province, a man had had a traffic accident.
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