Some Observations and Stories of Middle Class Thai Guys
One neighbor in particular who amuses and entertains me almost daily is EminEm, as I call him. He’s a crazy old coot. Something about his face and demeanor just remind me of that skinny white-boy rap star, that, and his foul language when he’s drunk. EminEm is an older guy, in his mid sixties. He’s a retired Thai Army lifer, career military for those who don't know the term 'lifer', and lives a few houses down from me with his wife. I can recognize his laugh without seeing him, and hear it from quite a distance too. It’s the laugh of a maniacal hyena it is. His laugh is very distinctive, and very loud, and is one of those laughs that grow on you after a while. You know what I mean. It’s one of those laughs that over time always bring a smile to your own face, no matter how irritating or crazy it sounds. It’s infectious, and many times I’ve seen others just walking in to one of our little beer drinking get-togethers start smiling broadly when they hear EminEm’s obstreperous cackling. His laughter just seems to emanate from somewhere deep within him, and never seems forced or phony. He’s a happy man.
He’s also a man who has killed many other men, up close, and personal. When he’s describing his tales of slaughter and throat slicing of his Viet Cong enemies of old to the truckling hangers-on who attend his nightly bullshit sessions in our shop is when his laughter is at its most sparkling cheerfulness. He’s happiest when telling, and acting out vigorously and adroitly, the part of his life’s play in the military of the government, and a raconteur without equal when speaking of the murders done in the name of King and country by himself as a younger man. Not for the squeamish these tales.
His favorite manner of dispatching a Viet Cong seems to have been the stealthy approach from behind through the jungle foliage and the slitting of the poor bastard’s throat with a bayonet. His face lights up when recounting this particular means of execution of an enemy, and I can never feel comfortable when he’s behind me where I can’t see him for any considerable period of time. EminEm just seems to have taken much pleasure in his war days killing the enemies of his country, and mine actually.
From what he says he was, along with a group of his fellow Thai soldiers, working for, or with, the military, during the Vietnam War as we called it. I was in the US Navy myself at this time, so he sees me as a kindred soul. Glad to hear he was on our side actually.
He says they worked for the CIA and with our special forces, and from what I understand his unit was an elite force of Thai special forces troops loaned to help the government fight the commies of and the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. From what I gather from the Thai men I’ve met and associated with in the LOS there seems to still be no love lost between the Thais and the Vietnamese. This being so, his vivid stories of death and destruction delivered by his hands to the Viet commies is greeted with great enthusiasm, and his mimed slaughter and throat cutting is cheered by his drunken band of brothers. I find the flat, blank, stony-eyed look in his inky black eyes that occasionally creeps onto his face during his mimed murder of an enemy soldier as he gets drunker and drunker over a night’s time a bit disconcerting at times though, and recognize it as the same look my friend Big Wayne gets when he is drunk enough to recount his tales of the death and killing done by himself and his brothers in arms during his two tours of duty in the Nam. It’s not a comforting look, unless they’re on your side I suppose. It’s amazing the brutality we humans can impose upon each other for the ideologies of our governments.
EminEm loves Americans, of which I am one, and loves to sit around with me over a beer to chat, for which I am grateful. He says he had many American friends during the war, and was sad to see the Yanks go when the war was stopped. I don’t think I’d want this bloodthirsty old coot as an enemy. He still seems to be in good enough shape to do some serious damage, and his spirit and blood thirst seems far from being slackened over the years. He likes me, and I like him. He is a cheerful and outgoing guy, always waving and smiling whenever he spots me out and about around the neighborhood. If I ever was in a beef I’d want him by my side, no matter his age. An interesting, experienced, and deadly, old gent.
One among the many Thai people I’ve met there in the Surin neighborhood.
(To be continued.)
(The Central Scrutinizer)