Thailand, and, in my experience at least, Isaan, is full of ghosts, goblins, spirits, vampires, and assorted vaporous creatures that go bump in the night. Some people here believe half-heartedly, some believe fully, some don't know what to believe ... so to be on the safe side they pretend to believe and go through the motions regarding the rituals to appease these demons and spirits; and some, like myself, don't believe the dead are anything but dead, can't come back from the grave, and Vampires and such nonsense are good tales for a novel, but nothing more.
The latter of these, we unbelievers, don't give much thought about the whole subject, and look a bit askance at those who truly believe.
Until we are faced with something which rattles our beliefs in their cage, upsets our equanimity, and twists with unreasonable fear the place we have carved in our mind in stone of our place in the universe amongst corporeal beings. We, like Doubting Thomas, say, "Show me!"
This is a true tale of my conversion to believer. This tale is not fiction. If it were, I would tell you so. Some of you know me personally, some just through the internet, some not at all. I swear to God this story is true. (This should suffice, as I'm only an agnostic, not an atheist, nor a godless commie.) Would you like to hear my ghost story? Yes? Ah, I was hoping you would, because I have a need to tell it. Even if only for the setting of it straight in my mind, in ink as it were.
So, let's set the mood. Firstly, read this tale late at night, preferably after the witching hour of midnight. Shut off any lights in your abode. Draw the curtains and shutters to darken your room as much as is possible. The darker the better. After all, this is a ghost story for crying out loud.
I suppose the beginning is the best place to begin, right?
I've got the willies just thinking about this experience again! Brrrrrrrrr.
Actually it's not a scary story as such, but another village-life tale about the strangeness of this land and the people. It is true though. Jing jing!
The day dawned while I was still blissfully oblivious, just the way I like it to. It had rained the night before like all the angels in heaven were taking a piss on the earth after a heavenly keg party, all at the same time. That's some serious rain, believe you me! I had gotten up the previous night to pee; the sound of the drubbing angel piss on the roof having induced that primal urge to urinate that begets one an extremely painful erection while slumbering. One of the kind that I'd once heard referred to as a 'diamond cutter'. Mine, at that particular moment, could have split the Cape Diamond asunder rather easily I would think.
At the moment I realized in my sleepy head I had to go, quickly. I opened my eyes and noticed it was blacker than the inside of Dracula's coffin. I couldn't see a darn thing. Usually there is at least a dribble of light leaking in from the streetlight to the left of the front of my house in the village, not much, but enough to at least see my hand in front of my face from an inch or so away when in my bed. Not so now.
I wondered why, as I quietly, so as not to disturb my lovely bride, slid my feet to the floor, and haltingly, with hand touching the wall, made my way to where I knew the door to the bedroom to be. I fumbled for the knob, found it after a few sweeps of my hand, and opened it slowly, remembering for once the door sill on the floor, which I usually stub my damned toe on. This time I happily crossed the sill without damage. Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?
I noticed, once I stepped into the living room, that there was also no light from the streetlight across the street from my house down the road a bit to the right that serves me most nights as a night light, shining dimly through the darkened glass wall that makes up most of the front of my home.
Hmmm. The earlier thunder and lightning must have struck a bolt somewhere that tripped the main breakers for the village lights. It was black as, well, as black as night. True night. Not a light to be seen anywhere, and not a star to be seen through the lowering clouds and downpour of angel pee.
I found this intriguing. It's rare for a city boy like me to experience true darkness. I fumbled the lock on the front door and slipped outside onto the veranda. I still could see nada, squat, zilch. The rain poured off the front porch roof like gangbusters. I could hear it's hissing, slithering, incessant dripping and splashing just inches from my face, and the roar of the golf ball sized raindrops pounded the roof like the hooves of Santa's reindeer merrily prancing away while waiting for him to return up the chimney from depositing gifts for the good little boys and girls. I have no chimney, I've never been a good little boy, at least not for a whole year, and it's August. The rain storm was deafening. It was exhilarating.
I reached my hand out and cupped the sweet fresh cool liquid pouring down off my roof as though from a well pump spout. I tasted it. The taste was exquisite. Then the thought crossed my mind that I had no idea what the hell the tiles of my Isaan roof were made from. Asbestos? Shit.
As I pondered this I was struck with a major cramp in my abdomen. Damn! I have to piss. Being a manly man, and knowing there is a four inch wide by twelve inches deep concrete channel under my roof eaves, a 'ground gutter' I call it, which whisks away the rain water over to a ditch which runs down the side of the road, I decided 'what the hell' and whipped old piss-retaining, swollen Godzilla out from my shorts, and pissed away the tension. Who the hell would see me anyway?
A chill refreshing breeze brought goose bumps to my bared spine as I pissed away. When finished peeing I stepped forward an inch or two and let the cool rain water rinse my pecker of any remaining droplets of urine. This had the immediate effect of forcing Godzilla to shrivel in protest of this odd treatment, which made it easier to pull up my shorts. I chuckled at this, and inhaled deeply the cooling rain-sodden airs.
It was a beautiful night, even though I couldn't see a damned thing. I turned back to the door and carefully made my way back inside, blindly fumbled the front door lock shut, and made my way back to the bed as quietly as is possible in the utter darkness.
As I lay down I felt around on the headboard of the bed for my bottle of pain meds. I decided to take one so as to fall back asleep easier. Tylenol 2's these are, with codeine. I do have a serious spinal injury. I figured it would induce sleep once again much quicker than my lying about now thoroughly awake and stimulated by my excursion outside in the rain. I always have a hard time getting back to sleep after one of these late night pisses. I washed the pill down from a glass of water I always keep on the headboard of the bed for those nightly thirsts which always seem to strike late at night when you are loathe to leave the confines of the bed covers, or for some refreshment after a marathon session with my lovely wife, where I'm too exhausted to get out of the bed after. My back felt fine at the moment and I really didn't need the pill, but what the hell. It was better than laying awake the next two hours waiting for sleep and the sandman to return to me. Within a half hour I was sleeping the sleep of the innocent opiate drugged dead, with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.
And, without seeing any spooks or goblins, I slept through the dawning day blissfully oblivious until around 9:30 that morning. Just the way I like to.
Next morning, refreshed from a rather good night's sleep, I hopped up from my bed, gingerly, you never know how the back will be behaving in the morning, shut down the ever present oscillating floor fan, and stubbed my damned toe on the threshold exiting the bedroom door into the kitchen. Dammit! That hurts! I'm going to take a sledge hammer to that frigging thing and build a handicap ramp in its place. Might as well get the wheelchair ramp in place early now that I've turned 49. Not much time left actually.
While I was swearing up a blue streak and dancing on one foot in circles around the tiled kitchen floor my wife came through the back screen door, and chirped, smiling as always, "Good morning darling! You want coffee?"
I grumbled and moaned, still clutching my toe as I leaned on the kitchen table to keep from falling flat on my face, and said through gritted teeth, "Yes, darling. That would be wonderful. Thank you."
She started fixing a cup of 3-in-1 Nescafe instant for me and glanced at my grimacing mug with a bit of a smirk on her face. She's seen this dance of the stubbed toe many times now, (probably thinks I'm a bit retarded) and asked, "Sammi (husband) okay?"
I winced, while testing my foot with my weight to see if it would hold or if the damn thing was finally broken this time, and growled, "Oh just dandy my mia ba (crazy wife), just peachy keen I am this fine morning. There's nothing like a broken toe to get a man going in the morning."
She laughed, and said, "You think break?"
"No, but it feels like it that's for damned sure." I muttered back, looking at the toe to see if was bleeding, like it felt it was.
She handed me my coffee, if you can call Nescafe '3-in-1' coffee ... coffee, and, with a worried look said, "You want go doctor. Look at toe?"
I grinned and said, "No, that's okay. I'll just have my mia noi (minor wife) give it a big kiss to make it better when I see her this afternoon, okay?"
A scowl crossed her face and she said, "Why you speak mia noi, always speak mia noi."
I laughed at her scowling mug and said, "Hey, just joking, darling. You know, joke. Poot len (speak joke). If I had a mia noi I wouldn't be joking about having one now, would I?"
A small smile pulled her lips and she gave me a knowing look and said, "Yes, I know."
Errrr, crap. The damned woman has me all figured out already. I guess if I ever did get myself a mia noi I'd better keep up the mia noi jokes.
"You joke too much, darling." she said with that squint to her eyes that tells me she's a bit peeved.
I hate that look. It's as though she can see right through me, to the core of my soul, as though I'm a primary school reader-primer book, and she can easily read me.
I change the subject and shake the creepy feeling from me. Women are scary creatures sometimes. We are truly putty in their hands.
"What have we got for breakfast, dear?" I ask.
"Kow Tom Moo." she replies to my query. "You like?"
Ground pork soup. Screw that! I've eaten so much pork lately I'm beginning to oink when I snore.
"Uh, no thanks dear. I'll just have some wheat toast and marmalade please. Could you pop four slices in the toaster for me while I shower, please?" I plead.
"Okay, no problem." She smiles back.
She sets about making toast while I hobble into the shower and wash the night's sweat grime away.
(To be continued.)
(The Central Scrutinizer)
This story was written in 2003. All rights reserved by the author.