It is 2:30 in the afternoon and I am rocketing down 2nd Road in South Pattaya in an old pickup truck. I am dodging, and weaving, and standing on the horn, and doing jack rabbit starts and stops, and running the slalom of traffic and pedestrians and soi dogs. The truck is a non issue because I had my friend Omar check it at his petrol station for brakes, and fluids, and tires, and steering. Beside me on the seat is my mother's blood. My mother is lying in Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok dying and if I can get this blood to her in time she will live. I love my mother. Her blood type is hard to find and particularly hard to find on short notice in Thailand. But my mom is lucky because she has me as a son. I am a time urgency motivated, western educated and trained, type A personality who is project skilled. This thing I can do. I found a healthy Swede in Jomtien with my mother's blood type and now I have a cooler full it sitting on ice next to me in the truck. I can do this. I can get this life saving blood to Bangkok and to my mom in time. The blood was clinic tested and is fine. The truck was Omar tested and is fine. In the truck bed is a Phantom motorcycle. If the truck craps out I'll use the cycle. No Plan C is needed. I can't fail.
I can do this thing. This delivery is possible. I have worked for five automobile dealerships, plus I have driven vans and trucks and school buses. I know how to drive. With the air-conditioning on, the radio off, my hands in the 10:00 o'clock and the 2:00 o'clock position, and my mental and visual radar on high aggressive defensive alert I can jack the truck to Bangkok in time. The doctor waiting at the hospital with his foam cooler tells me I have enough time if I don't dawdle. I can do this. I can save my mother's life. Afterwards, in the parking lot of the hospital, my legs and knees will start the post stress spasmodic shaking: but right now I am an efficient, smoothly operating human machine.
I am healthy and I am a good driver. This task is achievable. I am thinking thoughts of love and task completion. My mom will get to live and I will get to live as her son. I am filled to bursting with the adrenaline surges of love and giving. I am in a zone of focused athleticism and love. Nothing can break my concentration or disturb my laser beam mission. I am 54 and my mom is 79. In the last ten years we have become friends. We were not always successful in our younger years as mother and son. She was sometimes cool and I was sometimes unresponsive. But we were given enough time to fix and to amend. Now it is her and I against the world. Bonded by relationship and experience. Connected and connecting. Growing into each other.
I called her before starting for Bangkok. I told her that I had the blood and that I would make it to the hospital in plenty of time, and that I would save her life and that I loved her. She started to cry. She is lying in her hospital bed now waiting for me. Trusting. Believing. Needing.
Not every letter of experience gets delivered to every human being on the same schedule. The power and the joy of familial love came late for me, but now I am hooked into one of life's primal forces. My mother risked her life to give me life. Now it is my turn to pay back. I owe my mother and the debt is going to be paid. This act of love and duty will be the final capstone to my life on earth as a man, and as an adult, and as a matured member of the species.
Then I see her! Pounding up the left lane near soi 13, whipping around baht buses; my left peripheral vision picks up a woman in pink pedal pusher pants, clear plastic stripper heels with pink bows, pink crochet top, pink nails, dark skin, and a single off “center braid with pink ribbon that is hanging down in front. The crochet top is short. You can see the tight flat skin of her young brown stomach.
Without calculation or conscious thought my left foot mashes down on the brake pedal so hard that it bottoms out. The truck shimmies, and fishtails, and tries to stand up on the two front wheels. The top of the white foam cooler pops open, and bags of my mother's blood fly all over the inside of the cab, and smash up against the window and fall to the floor. The Phantom motorcycle cartwheels over the cab like a Midway Island gooney bird.
Before the last bag of blood hits the floor I am out and running. Her name is Nid. She is 18. When I put my arm around her she sinks into me like water. I can smell her hair. The bottom of her braid is tickling my arm. I completely forget about my mother! The bags of blood are heating up in the sun on the dashboard, and on the seat, and on the floor of the truck. I have also forgotten about the mission. Nid's head is against my shoulder. My arms are weak, and my hands are hot, and I can feel the pain in the tops of my eyes. Up close I can see her pouty lips, and feel the pelvic bone that is hot with need and with hormones. I say something to her. She says something back. The blood in the truck cab is laying in pools of bagged failure. My mind, and my brain, and my systems, and my love for my mother have all been trumped by an Isaan woman. I know none of this.
Standing on the sidewalk holding Nid's shopping bag I have forgotten all about the truck, the blood, the mission, the love. All I can think of is laying my head on Nid's stomach, or coming back into the bedroom at 3:00 in the morning and seeing the curve of her hip under the covers. I have forgotten about the truck with the open door blocking traffic, and I have forgotten about Omar the mechanic that I owe money to, and I have forgotten about the Swedish tourist donor, and I have forgotten about the doctor who is waiting for me in Bumrungrad hospital, and I have forgotten about the frail, needy, deserving old woman who is waiting for her son.
One of the bags of blood ricocheted from the cooler to the window to the dashboard to the edge of the seat. The bag burst. Blood is dripping on the floor. My mother's blood. My mothers hopes for herself and belief in her son. Other bags of failure are lying unloved, forgotten. Warming in the sun.
At the Beach road end of Soi 13 a prune faced, mud colored woman wrapped in rags was picking and poking for trash treasure left by vacationing farang. Bent double over the municipal trash can she could see them coming down the soi. Arm in arm. The farang with the jerky uncoordinated walk of the love stricken. The Isaan woman with the erect easy grace of the sex gifted. The Isaan woman's lips were moving. The farang was bent over listening as if Moses was receiving from God.
You could have fired a pistol and the farang would not have heard it. He had been captured. The fish was in the boat. The trash picker with the fat body and the filthy clothes smiled. At the end of her life of limited options and broken dreams she hadn't forgotten about love. Sometimes love is the last thing clinging to the life raft of broken dreams after everything else has slipped away. As the couple climbed the marble steps of the AA Hotel, the farang held the heavy glass door for the woman and the trash picker smiled. Ah Thailand: Land of Love!
Standing awkwardly on the top step holding the door, the farang suddenly had the end of a spyglass picture of the last twenty minutes. With the clarity of the insane, and the savant, and the fallen he could picture the abandoned truck, and the abandoned bags of hope, and the abandoned mission of filial duty on 2nd Road. The staring trash picker across Beach road could see his lips move. She could see his lady friend look at him questioningly. But she couldn't hear what he said. But the hotel doorman heard the words . . . .
© Dana. All rights reserved by the author.