UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
BRYAN FOX

One night in Bangkok

Three days before Christmas and itís 28 degrees Celsius at midnight.

I step off a bus into dirt and sin on Khao San Road, tighten my backpack straps. Check
my side pocket instinctively to make sure nobodyís made off with my wallet yet, bursting
with hard-earned yen and stinking of the innocence of a new arrival.

The street is a bazaar of the bizarre. Throbbing Southeast Asian techno blares out of
bassless speakers, shag-haired backpackers mull about in varying states of revelry, 10
hawkers hawking, 12 pimps a-pimping, fruit juices and female flesh sold alongside pad
thai and fried insects. If you got the money, honey, somebodyís got whatever you need.
Protruding Adamís Apple and hairy high-heeled ankles mark a LadyBoy, darting eyes
mark a hustler on the prowl, and every wide-toothed smile seems directed at me, like Iím
the last one in the room to get a joke I didnít even hear.

20 baht buys a cold beer. I pull up a stool and settle down upon it. The sweated beads of
perspiration on the glass mix with those that run down my forehead in the palm of my
hand as it wipes back and forth between the two.

One night in Bangkok and the worldís my oyster, I slurp it down, slam the empty bottle
into the table, throw a 5 baht coin at the waiter and look for a place to lay my weary head.
The Marco Polo Hostel is as sinister as I feel. 200 baht gets a room with a bed and a fan
and a fly swatter which will be bloodstained by morning.

Enter Trouble, Stage Right as I am turning the key in the door to my little slice of hell.

Hi! smiles a tiny girl in a tiny t-shirt, daisy dukes, and moon boots. If they ever do a Thai
Spice Girls revue, sheís got a job for sure. But I donít say that.

Hello?
      Whatís your name?
says the Smile.
Bryan.
      Where you from?
America Ė New York
      When you come?
Tonight, just now.
      Youíre cute, you stay here?

No, I just have the key because Iím the new Super.
Yes, you too?
      Yes, with my friend.

And she opens the door across the hall to reveal a giggling companion, same age, but
heavy-set, with bad skin and a friendly smile. The Ugly Friend, I suppose.

My first cast into the depths, and theyíre biting already. I throw down my bag with a
wait here and come back out to join her.

Want to get a drink?
      Yes.


And itís just that easy. Five minutes later and weíre sitting in Gulliverís Travels, a bar
quite possibly contrived as a movie set to replicate what a bar on the Khao San Road
should be.

Life imitates art.

Under the warming glow of a neon Budweiser sign I sip another beer. She only wants a
Coke but I get her a beer anyway, and try to make like itís an honest mistake. Iím not
paying for sugar water, sweetie. And she sips it like a good girl and asks about my life in
the best Engrish she can muster. Her name is Suwana but call her Na, she is 21 years old,
sheís not from around here.

      Do you like Thailand?
Ask me in 3 hours.
      How are Thai people?
Small.
      What about Bangkok?
The bars are temples but the pearls ainít free.


Her bewildered stare, my declining care, run my fingers through my hair and drink beer
down quick like I was on a dare.

Sheís cute, but her language is failing and so is my patience. I lack the gumption to say
something bold, and maybe itís just the sweatsteam on my glasses, but I canít read her.
Besides, itís 8.30 in the PM and Iíve got a rendezvous with fellow travelers halfway across
town. I thank her kindly for the company and get up to leave.

Maybe Iíll see you again later? I enquire.
      Maybe! she says with a bounce in her step, already halfway across the street.

Strange country.

Fast forward 6 hours later and I am stumbling half drunk and half-cocked down the
crowded late night street. Some things have happened. I remember meeting my friends
and going to a Muy Thai kickboxing match. I remember at least several beers after the
bloodsport. I remember two girls who worked on the door and, small talk, and taking
them out for drinks. And me and another guy in the back of a bar with them playing
tongue hockey like secretive 16 year olds before they begged off and left us high and dry
for the confines and relative safety of their own homes.
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the god's a she
But my She-God stroked it two times and then just walked away. My friend and I left
dumbfounded and blueballed. Maybe if weíd of thrown a 50 at them, he suggests. Fuck
if I know. We part ways to respective hotels. I canít believe I find my way back on my
first night in the country.
One town's very like another
When your head's down over your pieces, brother.
But eventually things start to look familiar and Trouble enters again, Stage Right,
bouncing down the street like sheís taking steps on the moon.
I can feel an angel sliding up to me.
Hello. How was night? sings Na.
      Long, drunk, and unfulfilling.
Does not compute.
      Fun, how about you?
Good. Want drink?
      Why not? Iím already out.


And I donít know why, but weíre back in the same bar again, and this time the convoís
really a chore, because her English is tired and mine is drunk. We labor through one beer
and I say to hell with it. Live to fight another day.

Iím tired, Iím going back
      Ok


And it doesnít seem strange that she comes with me because sheís staying across the hall.
My door opens and so does hers. I pause a minute and think to turn around.

Fuck it.

At this point Iíd be happy enough just passing out and rubbing one off to the tune of the
girl I was kissing 45 minutes ago.

What you do now? Comes the question from across the hall.
      Dunno, watch TV, sleep.
OK!
she says, and walks into my room to sit down with me on the bed as if sheíd
read an invitation out of my response.
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me
I donít know whatís going on now, but five minutes later after no conversation at all,
she drops her head onto my lap and shakes it there, looks up doe-eyed and says
I donít want stay alone tonight
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me
And then we get physical. She lets me hear her body talk, and I crane down and kiss her
deep, still thinking of earlier loveís labors lost while we go at it. Smiling inside that this time
thereíll be no taxi escape to contend with. I get up to close the door, she pulls me back to
the bed and straddles me, baby tee off in no time. Her nipples are so hard you could poke out
an eye with them. She stands up and the hot pants hit the floor, body so tight you could
bounce a quarter off her ass.

Sheís back on the bed and I want to go downtown but she tells me the train doesnít stop
there. I let my fingers do the walking instead, tongue in her mouth. Iím playing her like an
oboe, just to see what sounds she makes.

Then sheís up and throws me back on the bed, rips off my pants like sheís shucking corn,
and puts me so far inside her mouth I think I may come out the other end. The scene,
backlit by blurry, flickers from the TV, in a language I donít understand, so good, but so
much I donít understand. I close my eyes and delight in the visceral.

The fan spins in slow concentric rings, me in her mouth sounds like a boot stomping in
mud over and over again. In a flash, my dainty diva produces a Durex from somewhere
like a magicianís assistant, hands it up to me without even stopping the mud boots. It
feels so good I pull her up and slam her down on top of me like Iím skewering meat.

Thai American fusion.

The beast with two backs groans and moans, and now itís a montage. I drill from behind
like Iím looking for oil, a fistful of her jet black hair to keep her in place. I nail her into
the wall like sheís a picture frame, and wonder what the neighbours think. I spin her
right round baby right round, like a roulette wheel till I hit the Come Bar, and when I do,
all bets are off.

And when itís over, we take the red eye to Dreamland, her in my arms.
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
I choose the latter.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Morning breaks and I awake, sleep-crusted eyes and a dead cat in my mouth, hangover,
rollover. Her layover is ending. She is up and dressing herself.

Where are you going?
      Today I go. Can you give me 1000 baht?

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
And all of a sudden my breath catches on a hinge on the way out. I stifle the gasp, taste
bile where morning breath should be, and suck in air through teeth as 1000 realizations
vie for space in my head. The furies still rage from last night and all I really want to
know is how I could have not seen this one coming. Itís never fun to be the last one in on
a joke.
Tea, girls, warm, sweet, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite
And my Ďwhat have I done?í is answered by Ďyou know what youíve done.í All that I can
escape with is my pride, which I look for underneath my boxer shorts and socks. I find
my pants and then my wallet, give her the money without making eye contact, like itís
just the realization of what has transpired that causes guilt, and not the act.

Wile E. Coyote never fell off the cliff until he looked down and understood where he
was.

Perhaps the mark of a true man is somebody who can look a hooker in the eye when heís
paying her. We make small talk like two people stuck in an elevator that just wonít rise
fast enough, and when she goes, I hear a soft refrain:
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble,
because if I hadnít been so goddamned hard, none of this ever would have happened.

Two days before Christmas and itís 28 degrees Celsius at 10 in the morning. I wipe my face
on lovestained sheets and crank the fan up as far as it can go. I lie back slowly, the tastes
of confusion, remorse, and her sweat still on my tongue. In the background, the TV flickers
like a dying lightbulb. I breathe deep and will away the guilt of my indiscretions.


After 9 years spent abroad crafting his own private bildungsroman, Bryan Fox returned to
the United States in 2005. He currently lives, works, and occasionally sleeps in Brooklyn,
NY. He is the author of several travel articles and a largely unpublishable but extremely
cathartic memoir, "Scripting Ends". He can be contacted at scriptingends@gmail.com.







© 2006 Underground Voices