I decide to take the next flight back to the Big Mango, meet her in person and give her the gift. I had to get out of Ko Samui. I had to get Ko Samui out of my system. That place had left me feeling cold and lonely. I needed to reacquaint myself with Bangkok. I had to get out. I had to see her. I had to see her again.
I check into the Miami hotel on Sukhumvit Road. The hotel used to be frequented by American G.I.’s during the war. The Hotel at one time displayed a certain faded grandness, large rooms, high ceilings, low rates. Now it’s just faded. Cockroaches gather in musky corners. The carpet smells as only old carpets can smell. The television never works, the fridge is empty. The kind of place where one could write a novel or learn to play guitar, if one had a novel in them, or owned a guitar. If one had the time and the means, they could achieve these things anywhere, but the comfort of despair often awakens certain creative avenues otherwise hindered by the emotional road-block afforded by five star accommodations. A certain LA writer once suggested that ‘nothing worth a shit, got wrote in paradise.’ I feel that I have to agree.
So here I sit. Musky carpet, peeling wall paper in a shade of colour that was perhaps once originally an attempt to suggest the sense of tranquillity, currently it only suggests tranquilizers.
So I hit the street.
A crowd of alcoholics congregate around the road outside the hotel. They will be here until the early hours in the morning. They drink cheap beer and whiskey and play guitar. They talk about the latest novels they are all writing. All the books they are writing are destined to be bestsellers, and their songs are destined for greatness. This, they are all sure of. In this, they are alone.
Sukhumvit road; it has changed immeasurably over the years. I remember all the beer bars lining the roads, the perilous wooden walkways above streams of sewage. The way the wooden floorboards used to creak underfoot and wobbly bar stools against bars that were just that bit too high. I remember the road before the Subway Sandwiches, Starbucks coffee, Sky train, Meter Taxis that I now walk past. I remember a few young girls that are probably now mama sans; isn’t life peculiar in the way it moves in circles?
I think about how she will react after almost a year apart. We have always kept in contact through emails and telephone conversations. Through thick and thin. But I know what her job is and I have made an effort not to visit too often. We will always keep each other close in our hearts, there will always be that connection. The problem is one of money. I understand that I do not have the money to take care of her. This she knows also. It is sad. But, it is the way it is. She has to work.
I walk over the footbridge and beyond the beggar holding a transparent plastic Starbucks cup between two stumps. I toss a coin and it bounces from the rim of the cup and he catches it between his teeth. I walk on. Prostitutes of every persuasion line the streets. Young men imitating women and young women encouraging men. This place is a jungle. I keep walking.
She is in her usual place. She is sitting in a hairdressers stroke massage parlour on the edge of soi number four. Soi Nana. The sex Soi. She looks surprised to see me. I do not know why she should be surprised. It is her birthday today, January 3rd, she must be expecting me. Maybe she has a client. I have a gift in my hand. A present bought from Koh Samui. Not much; just a trinket wrapped in purple wrapping paper. I had picked it out at the last moment at the airport souvenir shop.
But she is looking old, crows feet have begun to form around her large heavily made up eyes. Her once raven hair has begun to turn grey at the extremities. She wears a simple purple sarong held together loosely by a gold belt. She smiles gently as I approach. Her smile is warm.
I love her, what can I do but love her.
I walk into the massage parlour. Her place of work, since she left the bars. The masseuses wai me as is custom in this country. They are all pretty and recognise me at once. They all know me well.
I hand her the gift and speak.
‘Happy birthday mother.’
© Sisterray. All rights reserved by the author.
To order a copy of 'Bangkok Express' go to the author's website here: http://jamesnewmanbooks.com/bangkok_express