Fear and Loathing in Pattaya

  by: Mark Jones



As I followed the colonel towards the interview room my mind and heart were racing. I knew it was dangerous to jump to conclusions but I couldn’t avoid considering the possibility that those two scum bags, that’d had killed Chris, had now kidnapped Nat. A scattered mind, and thought processes, was not what I needed in the coming confrontation with Ning; I needed to bring my emotions under control. I slowed down and began to breathe deeply, preparing for the charade I was about to enter into. As we stepped into the waiting area I bowed my head and took on the appearance of a forlorn, dejected individual; the look of someone who is genuinely under arrest and being held on pending charges. I looked across at the interview room and saw Ning through the rooms’ single window. She looked smug, even arrogant, as if already savoring her victory. She was dressed in a manner that suited her questionable past. Squeezed into a tight fitting, low cut, short skirt; everything about her screamed whore. Like many go-go dancers she was the epitome of all that was disgusting in that sleazy career; a bad attitude, greedy and selfish. She had a face like a hatchet after all the cosmetic surgery and, to make matters even worse, she had a nasty set of prominent eye teeth. I really didn’t know what Chris had seen in her because; in the cold light of day she really looked like one bad bitch. As loathsome a piece of Thai womanhood, as I have ever seen, I couldn’t help but make a comparison with Nat. Where Nat was educated, intelligent, and sophisticated, Ning was raw and unrefined; like something from the jungle. I followed the colonel into the interview room and continued to feign the appearance of someone under arrest and demoralized. Ning looked up at me and glared as we approached the now familiar interview desk. As I sat down she continued her hateful glare; it was pitiful really. I looked across at her and had to do all I could to restrain myself from breaking into laughter. In the glow of her misplaced confidence, she couldn’t restrain herself.

“Ah, it’s the bad man. How are you Mr. bad man? I hope you are feeling very bad because you killed my husband. I want you to go to the monkey house for a very long time” she said feigning sadness.

Colonel Prasert nodded to the two junior officers, also in the room, and one walked across to the door and locked it. He hit the power function on his laptop and then looked up at me.

“It is him. He is the one that did it” she said in an almost hysterical voice as she turned and looked at him.

The colonel smiled and nodded in a way that left no doubt of the class distinction between the two.

“Thank you. Before we conclude this Khun Johnson, is there anything you would like to say” he said in a cool and professional manner.

Even though I felt like diving across the table and grabbing the bitch around the neck, and throttling her, I kept my composure. Raising my cuffed hands above the table, I bought them to rest under my chin as I looked across at Ning. With her tattooed eyebrows, and plastic boobs, she was like some kind of manufactured Barbie doll. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course but so many guys, including Chris, seem to fall for these black hearted, manipulating mannequins. As I considered what I wanted to say to her, she continued to glare at me with venom in her eyes.

There are people in this world, many in fact, who are consumed by desire and it doesn’t matter how much they accumulate, or how many people they use to achieve their aims, they are never satisfied. Their character traits are normally greed, lust, possessiveness, tyranny, selfishness, lies and deceit. I was now looking into the eyes of one such person.

“Arai wa (what)? Bad man” she said not averting her eyes from mine

“How much is enough Ning? A condo, two go-go bars, five million baht from the life insurance; will you be happy with that or will you be looking for another man to deceive?” I said as I continued to look at her calmly.

“You are the one who deceive farang. Huh, you want everyone to think you are a good man but I know you are not. You are a bad man. You have too much of a hot heart, yes? So sorry, but you are just too jealous, yes? You raped your girlfriend because you are jealous and you killed your friend because you want to have me. Never, you are a bad man” she said tilting her nose in the air and turning her head away.

I continued to look at her calmly. Ning, like so many bar girls, lives most of her life in some kind of ongoing fantasy world. It’s world created in their heads and it’s built, mostly, on the web of lies and deception they weave as they use, and manipulate, men for money. It gets to a point where there is no real world for them anymore because, sadly, they lose any semblance, they once had, of being a real person. It’s life in a twilight zone where there’s just the fantasy world spinning around inside their heads. Rational conversation, or communication, to any serious level is just not possible due to the fact that the fantasy world, and the lack of education, gives them a Childs’ view of the world; a mindset that is self centered, greedy and grasping. Trying to reason with them, at an adult level, isn’t possible and, just like children, they need to be put in their place.

“Very interesting Ning but, as we both know, it’s a load of bloody, childish nonsense. Do you know why you are sitting here today Ning? You’re sitting here because of your karma, that’s why. Everything you’ve done, in the past, has brought you to this single point in time. There’s no escaping your past Ning, one day you’ve got to face up to what you’ve done. This is your karma” I said as I turned and looked at Colonel Prasert.

Ning looked confused as the colonel smiled, turned his laptop towards her and hit the play button. Her face went from a look of confidence to complete panic as the grisly scene unfolded in the video clip playing in front of her. Her fantasy world had just been turned upside down; the evidence was there, for all to see, and there was no escaping it. The panic and confusion were in her eyes as she looked around for something, anything, to cling to. And then, the smile came; the rat cunning of a cornered bargirl surfacing again.

“Hmmm, I not do it. Those bad, mafia guy do it” she said with the look of confidence coming to her face.

“Yes, but we’ve got a witness statement from you saying that you saw khun Johnson do it and these two men have made statements saying the same as well. If you had nothing to do with it, but you watched these two guys do it, why did you say that khun Johnson killed your boyfriend?” said the colonel as I sat there silently

“They say they kill me if I not say this farang do it” she said without batting an eyelid.

“Well you seem to have spent a lot of time in the company of these people who were threatening to kill you. We have photo’s, taken by khun Johnson here, of you, earlier during the same evening of your boyfriends death, having drinks with these people. You’ve also been seen regularly in the company of this man, Pradeep” said Colonel Prasert as he pointed to a photo of the tall, tattooed bad ass that had played a major role in killing Chris and raping Fon.

Pradeep! And then came to me in a flash; Baey was right after all. I’d seen all those strange, Sanskrit type tattoos covering his body and everything fell into place; Pradeep was Ning’s master.

“Considering all the evidence we have before us, Pooying (woman) Ning, I have no other choice but to place you under arrest for conspiring to murder Mr. Lane. Do you have anything to say?” said the colonel in a professional tone again.

Silence.

Ning bowed her head and the tears began to flow as she resorted to a bargirl’s final play; the pity card.

“Before we leave, is there anything you’d like to say khun Johnson?” said Colonel Prasert as he folded away his laptop.

I looked at Ning

“Who is your master, Ning?”

She raised her head and looked at me through blinking tears, her eyes wide and mouth agape.

“Who is your master?”

“I love him” she said as she began to sob uncontrollably.

“Then love is blind” I said shaking my head.

The colonel nodded to the two attending officers and, as they approached the pitiful, sobbing individual in front of me, I asked the colonel to remove my handcuffs. As he continued with the process of putting Ning into custody, I tapped out a short sms to Baey.

My name is Baey Srithong; I come from a humble background. I was born and raised on the outskirts of Bangkok, spending most of my youth hanging out with small time mafia guys and evading the police. When I was eventually arrested, for an accumulation of minor offences, I was offered a choice; the monkey house or the army. There was no choice really as I knew this was my destiny; my father was an army man as was his father before him. I served my country proudly and, even though I left my unit sometime ago, I am still an army man at heart. Nation, religion, king; that was my oath and it still is. I have seen the evil that men do to each other and I stood up to the forces of darkness, which threaten the sovereignty of this country, along our distant borders. I’ve had to reconcile with the fact that I’ve done things, whist in the service of my nation, which have put me at odds with the Buddhist precepts I hold dear to my heart; so much so that, following my discharge from the Thahan Phran, I spent twelve months, at an isolated temple in the far north, coming to terms with my violent past. In the end though I could not deny who, and what, I am; a soldier. I live a simple life with my family in Bangkok spending most of my free time training in the Thai traditional martial art known as Muay Boran. I have been quite fortunate in regards to my employment in that I have been lucky enough to work in a profession where I can use the surveillance skills learned during my time in the army. I have been working for khun Barry for the past five years. Barry is an ex military man as well; we have many things in common. He is an honorable man, a man of integrity, and, like khun Mike, he has a good heart. Mike’s weakness, like so many farang who come to Thailand, is mixing with the wrong type of woman; woman who are unscrupulous and who have questionable backgrounds. It is a weakness that, for the most part, has created the situation that I find myself involved in now. I judge no one; I just see things for what they are. If I see corruption, and evil, I will not turn away from it even if it has the potential to harm me. The corruption and evil of drugs is a scourge on my country; it ruins young lives and creates misery. Those who would profit from the ruination and misery have no regard for their own people or our country. They shun our Buddhist precepts and have allowed greed and avarice to infect their hearts. They have a thirst, or lust, for money, and material possessions, which blinds them to the misery they create. Their hearts are covetous, their senses drunk with desire; greed, and selfishness, permeates all that they do. They will stop at nothing, including violence against the innocent, to achieve their aims; they care for no one save themselves. They are people who show no mercy; killing others comes easily to them. Their hearts are black and, for this reason, they must pay for their sins. For people in positions of authority, and trust, their guilt is even greater for being involved in criminal activities. They abuse the power of their positions and dishonor their uniforms and their colleagues in service. Chalermchai, through his self centered actions, had turned his back on his oath to the people of this nation and, sadly, his King. I agreed to assist the police, in this sting operation, simply because I want to continue to honor my oath; Nation, Religion, King.

I am now waiting at the designated rendezvous point; the viewing platform beneath the large Pattaya sign, on Pattaya Hill, for the showdown with Chalermchai. As my previous army training dictates I’ve arrived much earlier, than the arranged meeting time, to reconnoiter the location and prepare for the confrontation. Earlier today Major Chaweng graciously returned my gear bag which contained the black fatigues and boots that I am now wearing. He also provided me with a flack vest and returned my nine millimeter pistol. These are both presently hidden beneath a loose fitting camouflage jacket that is becoming damp with perspiration as I remain hidden beneath the concrete viewing platform. Chalermchai may, or may not, arrive at the prearranged time but, even so, I have been waiting in position for almost an hour.

The weather is overcast and damp and my place of concealment, halfway between the two stairways leading down to the viewing platform, is not much different to the type of terrain I experienced during surveillance operations with the Thahan Phran; I am lying in mud on a jungle covered slope which is crawling with insects, lizards and snakes. I have no idea how things will pan out but I’m prepared for anything that may eventuate. Major Chaweng has provided me with an ear microphone, and a collar mounted comms set, to relay information, as events unfold, to a back up team hidden nearby. The unknown factor is which stairway Chalermchai will use to come down to the platform. It is for this reason that I’ve chosen to lay up at the mid-point between the two. I’ve positioned myself so that, whilst lying on my back, my head is level with the viewing platform, giving me a clear line of sight along its’ entire length, but, at the same time, remaining hidden under a covering of foliage. The overcast conditions, creating lower levels of lighting, will give me the element of surprise when I choose to reveal myself to my adversary. How he will react, I cannot say but I must consider that he will choose to fight rather than being taken into custody. I will try to stay true to our Buddhists precepts and avoid causing his death but, if I am given no choice, it will be him rather than me who will go to his destiny on this day. I have cleaned, and loaded, my weapon and it is in good working order. The other unknown factor, about how things will unfold, is whether, or not, innocent bystanders will get caught up in what may occur between me and Chalermchai. At the moment there is no one to be seen; the sky is darkening with approaching rain. Hopefully, the bad weather will keep the bystanders away. It is a few minutes before six pm; I can only speculate on what is occurring down at the Pattaya Police station right now. If everything has gone according to plan Ning will now be in custody for conspiracy to murder her farang boyfriend and Mike should have been cleared of any wrong doing. Farangs, they are a strange lot indeed. They are capable of complete stupidity but they can also be the most generous of people. Mike is not stupid, perhaps naïve, and he has shown himself to be very shrewd, and courageous, for someone from a non-military background.

There are footsteps, and the sound of a woman’s whimpering voice. A small group is coming down the stairway to my left; on the less used and more secluded access to the viewing platform. It’s Chalermchai but he has another man, and a woman, with him. The man is the ex Thahan bad ass I dealt to yesterday. The woman is tall and attractive; a hi-so looking type. They are moving out onto the expanse of the viewing platform. The bad ass has hold of the woman in one hand and is digging a revolver into her ribs with the other. Chalermchai looks confused.

“Romeo, November, Kilo, come back, this is Bravo Sierra” I said quietly into my comms.

“Yes Bravo Sierra, this is Romeo November Kilo. What is your situation?” replied Major Chaweng almost immediately.

“I’m in position now, unsighted. Our quarry has arrived, as planned, but there is a further development”

“What is happening?”

“The ex Thahan Phran mafia guy has turned up with him, and he’s armed” I said continuing to watch the group look around to see if I was about to show up

“Ah yes, Pradeep. He failed to show up at the police station with that bitch”

So Pradeep was his name.

“There’s more” I said as turned my head a little more to watch their movements.

“What?”

“There’s a tall attractive looking woman, perhaps early to mid thirties with them. Pradeep is digging a gun into her ribs”

Silence.

“Listen to me, my Thahan Phran friend” said Major Chaweng in a deadly serious voice.

“Yes?” I replied.

“That is my niece, the lady Nat. Whatever happens, do not jeopardize her safety. By all means kill that scumbag Pradeep but I implore you to ensure that my niece isn’t harmed”

“She’s been harmed already, she’s got bruising to her face” I said calmly

“Listen to me, this man is insane. He is a drug user but is also greatly involved with black magic. He is the bitches’ master”

Of course, I was sure of this already because of the Sanskrit markings covering his body; they are khmer in origin. It is a sure sign of involvement with the black arts. He is drunk with the power of his control over others. He is a weaver of sadness and misery for his personal gain. The bitch was really just his pawn.

‘What do you want me to do” I said as Chalermchai and Pradeep were looking increasingly agitated by my non-appearance.

“Approach them, have them produce the drugs and let us know straight away. If there is the slightest chance that Pradeep intends to harm my niece, kill him”

“Is that an order?” I said to confirm the majors’ words.

“Yes”

“Roger” I said as I felt under my back for the secreted nine millimeter weapon.

“Chok dee (good luck)” he said with finality.

“Ka Pom (yes sir)” I said leaving the comms turned on and starting to move out from the hide

In the encroaching gloom of a heavily overcast evening, I quickly rolled through the gap between the concrete platform and the lower rung of the perimeter hand rail. My timing was perfect; Chalermchai and Pradeep had their backs to me as they were scrutinizing the opposite end of the viewing platform. They must have sensed movement as they turned back to see me as I leapt to my feet. I stood there calmly with both hands exposed. In the increasing gloom, of the darkening evening, the pair of them looked a little stunned by my sudden appearance; it was as if a spectre had suddenly appeared in front of their eyes. Within a few seconds, Pradeep realized who was standing before him.

“So my colleague, you’ve seen the error of you ways have you? Tired of being a lackey for the foreigner and decided that you want your slice of the action as well, do you?” said Pradeep as he continued to man handle Nat and threaten her with his gun.

“I’ve got the SD card here” I said patting my breast pocket.

“Oh, very good” said Pradeep with the laugh of a madman.

Something isn’t right here.

“Where’s the Yaba (methamphetamine) you promised me Chalermchai?” I said continuing to watch their every move.

“It’s with him” he said nodding towards the mini pack on Pradeep’s hip.

Pradeep laughed.

“Did you really think that I was going to give him hundreds of thousands of baht worth of our merchandise in exchange for that silly little memory card” he said as he looked disdainfully at Chalermchai.

“But I made a deal with him; two hundred tablets for the memory card. That was the plan; that is what we agreed to” said Chalermchai as he glared at Pradeep.

“Well the plans just changed, hasn’t it sweetheart?” said Pradeep as he pointed the muzzle of his gun at Nat’s head.

“We had a deal Chalermchai, two hundred pills in exchange for this” I said as I slowly reached into my breast pocket, removed the memory card and held it up for them to see.

“Damn you Pradeep, if we don’t give him what he wants Ning could be incriminated by what’s on that memory card” said Chalermchai beginning to look annoyed with Pradeep.

“Don’t be so damned naïve; this lackey has probably made copies. If we agree to what he wants he could go on bribing us forever. That’s why I bought along this better bargaining chip” said Pradeep as he placed his face next to Nat’s and sniffed.

“I’m not interested in her, whoever she is, I want what we agreed to” I said trying to remain calm in the face of this mad mans erratic behavior.

“Oh I think you might have an idea who this hi-so bitch is, don’t you lackey?” said Pradeep as he continued to glare at me with his psychotic eyes.

“I’ve already told you I’ve parted ways with the farang and I’m not interested in her. Now give me the two hundred tablets” I said feeling the anger beginning to rise inside me

“No, you give me that memory card now or otherwise I’m going to put a bullet in that meddlesome farangs’ bitch here” said Pradeep as he pushed his gun into the back of her head.

“Give that mad man what he wants now” said Major Chaweng through the, still open, comms.

“Okay, okay, you can have it” I said as I slowly walked towards them.

“Your hearts too soft lackey, you would never have what it takes to make it in this business. No doubt you were a good soldier, who always followed orders but, unlike me, you were never able to take the situation into your own hands when needed” he said sneering at me.

“You mean murdering the innocent to gain for yourself?” I said as I held his gaze and slowly advanced towards him with the memory card.

“More like just taking care of business” said Pradeep with an evil laugh.

“Yes, the business of doing business with the enemies of our nation” I said as I held out the memory card.

“Get that memory card” said Pradeep nodding to Chalermchai.

“No, it’s a swap. The woman in exchange for this” I said still standing slightly out of reach.

“Do you think I’m an idiot? I need to confirm it’s what you say it is, first? Chalermchai, do you have a phone which will take this memory card?”

“No” he said beginning to get more agitated.

Buzz, buzz, it was an sms coming through on my TV phone. I reached slowly in to my breast pocket and pulled it out.

“I have this” I said as I read Mike’s message.

‘Ning arrested, tune into the Pattaya news now. Mike’

“Okay, that will do. Bring it here” said Pradeep as I pulled out the antenna and set it to TV mode.

“You damned moron, we don’t want to look at TV now. Set it up so I can see what’s on this memory card” said Pradeep as he dug the muzzle of his gun into Nat’s back again.

The Pattaya News flashed up as I stepped forward and faced the screen in their direction.

‘In breaking news, this evening, we have received video evidence, from an anonymous source, of the people who were responsible for the brutal murder of the Australian man, at his Jomtien condominium, two days ago’

They both looked stunned as the short video clip played through. Chalermchai appeared as though he’d been kicked in the stomach.

“Damn you to hell Pradeep. That was your idea and now my Ning will be going to the monkey house because of you” he said shaking his head in despair.

“Now” I said into the collar comms as I stepped away from the pair of them

“Roger bravo sierra, now” said Major Chaweng.

“Your Ning? You stupid, naïve fool Chalermchai, she never loved you. We were just using you to avoid the attention of the police in our drug selling operation. I am her master, she loves only me”

“No, you lie. I’m going to arrest you for murdering that farang” said Chalermchai shaking with rage and reaching for gun.

“You damned fool” said Pradeep as Chalermchai drew his gun from its holster.

Crack, crack, one round to the body, and another between the eyes; Chalermchai dropped to his knees and then toppled, face forward, into the concrete platform. Pradeep was momentarily distracted and that was the chance I was looking for; I dropped the TV phone, whipped out my nine millimeter and went down on one knee. Nat saw what was going on and, with all her might, threw herself to the ground. Pradeep was quick, but not quick enough and, as he redirected his aim towards me, I fired off three rounds in quick session; a double tap to the body and one to the center of the forehead. Pradeep crashed forward into the cement floor and remained motionless. Nat stood up and began to shake uncontrollably; the enormous emotional stress of the situation being finally unleashed. I walked slowly towards the two motionless figures - the tell tale deep red beginning to pool outwards - with gun in hand, waiting for any signs that they might stir; there was none, they were both dead. Just to be doubly sure, I used the toe of my boot, to move their weapons further away from their reach and. My concentration was broken by the steady wail of sirens moving rapidly up the hill towards our location.

A few seconds later I heard doors slamming and footsteps as the police, accompanied by Major Chaweng, came running down the stairway with their weapons drawn. In the dull light of the overcast, and darkening skies, I stood there motionless as the attending group fanned out around the corpses. Major Chaweng went immediately to his niece to comfort her as I stood silently contemplating the finality of death. I had broken a Buddhist precept but, in doing so, I had saved the life of an innocent. I am a soldier and I live by my oath; Nation, Religion, King.

“I am indebted to you my Thahan Phran friend. Thank you for saving her life” said the major as he turned towards me and waied.

“I have my oath of allegiance; Chad- Sassan – Pramahakasat” I said waiing back in respect to his seniority.

“This nation can be proud of you. How did they meet their destiny? Did you shoot both of them?” said the major turning back to look at the lifeless figures still lying on the cement.

“No. Pradeep shot Chalermchai and, in that small window of opportunity, I shot Pradeep” I said with a lack of emotion.

“This was one of the bad ones” he said nodding towards Pradeep.

“Yes, his path was surely to hell” I said reaffirming the major’s assessment of Pradeep.

“Chalermchai? Well, he was probably more of a naïve fool than anything else” said the Major shaking his head and looking at the police officers’ dead body.

“It seems so” I said nodding in agreement with the majors’ sentiments on his deceased colleague.

“His path was also the road to a pitiful reincarnation” said the major somberly

“What about Pradeeps’ accomplice?”

“The short fellow with the broken wrist?” said the major giving me a wry smile.

“Yes” I said remembering the altercation outside the Pattaya Memorial hospital.

“We caught him up in the car park, when we arrived, as he was trying to drive off; he must have been waiting for these two. We found a load of yaba in the vehicle as well so I think there’s a distinct possibility that Pradeep was looking to double cross Chalermchai. In the end, things didn’t quite play out the way we expected but, it appears that we now have a legitimate reason to back up your actions here. You will, of course, have the full support of the current Prime Minister over this. The local police will take care of this now. Colonel Prasert will probably need to get a report from you to close this out and, I would suppose, you may need to stay in Pattaya for another day, or so, to complete your report. I’m going to take Nat up to the hospital to attend to her injuries. That low life Pradeep gave her a bit of beating after kidnapping her from outside the hotel. I’m sorry, I don’t have much time but I want you to know that I’m indebted to you.

If you’re ever in need help, or assistance, in Bangkok please don’t hesitate to call me” said Major Chaweng as he handed me his business card

“Ka pom (Yes sir)” I said taking his card and waiing again.

“What will you do now?” said the major

“Probably go and have a few drinks with the farang” I said.

“Ah yes, the farang; khun Johnson. Quite a clever fellow really, I must say”

“Possibly a bit too clever for this Nation” I said smiling at the majors’ remark.

“Why do you say that?”

“You may want to have a look at the Pattaya News Service later this evening”

“Is there something we should be concerned with?”

“Possibly. Although I think we should always be concerned when a foreigner dies here and questions are left unanswered or an investigation comes to an unsatisfactory conclusion” I said reflectively.

“Yes, perhaps you are correct my friend. Give my regards to khun Johnson when you see him” said the major as he waied and turned to leave.

My name is Mike Johnson and I’ve had a checkered and, sometimes, an erratic past. I’ve been in the company of the best, and worst, of people in this exotic land. I’ve also experienced the best, and worst, that this country has to offer. I’ve been a business owner, hedonist, whoremonger, party animal, and self interested rogue. I’ve earned, and blown, millions of baht in the pursuit of pleasure in this hedonist’s paradise. I’ve seen what a lifestyle based on satisfying ones’ desires can do to man in this intoxicatingly sensual land. I’ve seen despair - and seen men driven to despair - caused by the lack of self discipline, and the poor choices made, of those whose way of life here is consumed totally by satisfying their desires. It is life in a fantasy world, where nothing is for real, where one poor lifestyle choice compounds another. It’s a lifestyle which ultimately leads to ruination, physical and psychological demise, and, quite often, death or self destruction. It is a path without mercy or pity; of lies, deceit, greed and selfishness. It is a path where a persons’ word is meaningless and it is path which is ultimately doomed; it was a path that, as sure as the sun rises in the East, led to Chris’ demise. It is now a path that I have looked down and turned away from.

“Khun Johnson, I’ve just had a call from Major Chaweng” said Colonel Prasert.

“Yes” I said nodding my head warily.

“Chalermchai and Pradeep are both dead. Pradeeps’ accomplice is in custody and your friend’s khun Baey, and Pooying Nat, are okay. It’s over now, you are free to go” said the colonel with a genuine smile.

“Thanks Colonel Prasert. Can I get all my bags?”

Fifteen minutes later I was sitting on a bench seat, on beach road, overlooking the calm ocean in the warmth of the evenings’ light sea breeze. The recent rain had cleared and was replaced by the fading glow of the suns last reflected rays on the horizon. I leaned on my gear bag and looked back across the road to a row of beer bars as a couple of Pattayas’ finest walked past and gave me the look. With the enveloping darkness, Pattaya’s nightlife was cranking into gear again. I looked back out over the ocean and reflected on what had occurred over the past few days; a friend had been murdered, a lady had been raped and a couple of bad asses had died defending positions that were largely defenseless. And, life went on. We live, we die and no one gives much in the way of pause for thought; time passes remorselessly and relentlessly in this town without a soul. We forget quickly. Caring thoughts fade in the chatter of our bombarded senses; another night, another girl, another hangover, another day of satisfying our desires until there is no memory of things that, at one time, seemed so tragic. The enormity of the moment dissolves into insignificance in the future until, what transpired is largely forgotten. I looked at my watch; it was seven thirty pm. I took out my phone and hit the speed dial for Nat’s number.

“Hello”

“It’s Mike, are you okay Nat?”

There was a couple of seconds’ silence

“No, not really Mike; it was terrible”

“Do you want to meet and talk about it?

“I don’t know at the moment Mike. I need time. I’m leaving for Bangkok tonight with my uncle. When are you leaving?”

“Probably in a couple of days, I’ve got a few things I need to take care of first before I go. Give me a call when you’re feeling better”

“I think I’ll need some time Mike, I’m still feeling really stressed out”

“Okay Nat, take your time. I’ll wait for your call. Take care”

“And you too Mike”

I hung up and considered there was a distinct possibility I might never see her again. I hit the speed dial for Baey’s number.

“Hello”

“It’s Mike”

“Is everything okay with you?”

“Yeah mate, I’m sitting on the beach”

“Do you want to meet up later?

“Yeah, I think that might be a good idea. I’m going back to my room in Naklua first to get cleaned up. I look, and smell, like crap”

“What did the colonel tell you?”

“He told me you’d served your country proudly”

“Yeah, something like that. When are going back to Bangkok?”

“In a couple of day’s time, there are a few things I need to take care of. I want to check in on Fon before I go. The colonel told me I should get out of town, fairly quickly, just in case the relatives of those scum bags want to exact revenge on me”

“You don’t think you should leave tonight?”

“No, fuck them. You and I are going to get blasted

“Sounds good, where do want to meet up?”

“Walking street”

“Is that a good idea?”

“As good as any I know at the moment

“Well, it’s good to live without fear”

“Yes mate, if there’s no fear there’s no loathing”

I hung up and looked back out to sea. A blood red tinge, of the suns final presence for the day, was being reflected off a thin sliver of cloud on the horizon; it was a last gasp farewell. The sky was clear and the rain was gone. I looked at the set square and compass insignia, on the ring on my right hand, and thought of Chris; farewell mate.

Hand to hand, I greet you as a brother. Foot to foot, I will support you in all your laudable undertakings. Knee to knee, the posture of my daily supplications shall remind me of your wants. Breast to breast, your lawful secrets, when entrusted to me as such, I will keep as my own. And hand over back, I will support your character in your absence as well as in your presence.

The last vestiges of daylight were finally enveloped by the encroaching darkness. As if to reinforce that scenario, a demoiselle of the night sat down beside me.

“Hello handsome man” she said taking my hand and looking into my eyes.

I laughed; in the state I was in I could hardly be termed handsome. She continued to look at me with that vacant stare that so many of them develop.

“I want to tell you something” I said feeling a certain amount of pity for he

“Yes” she said sparking up.

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and – in spite of True Romance magazines – we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely – at least, not all the time – but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”

“Mai kao jai (not understand)” she said beginning to look disinterested.

“Of course, are you hungry?”

“Chai ka (yes)” she said sparking up again.

“Okay, take this and go get yourself something to eat” I said pulling a one hundred baht not out of my hip pack and handing to her.

She took it, waied, and said thank you. As she wandered off into the night I pulled my Ipod, and headphones, out of my kit bag, loaded myself up and wandered off to look for a Song Thaew.

I used to be a rolling stone

You know, if the cause was right

I’d leave to find an answer on the road

I used to be a heart beating for someone

But the times have changed

The less I say the more my work gets done



‘Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom

From the day that I was born I’ve waved the flag

Philadelphia freedom took me knee high to a man

Yeah gave me peace of mind my daddy never had

Oh Philadelphia freedom shine on me, I love you

Shine a light through the eyes of the ones left behind

Shine a light, shine a light

Shine a light won’t you shine a light

Philadelphia freedom I love you, yes I do



If you choose you can live your life alone

Some people choose the city

Some others choose the good old family home

I like living easy without family ties

Till whippoorwill of freedom zapped me

Right between the eyes



‘Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom

From the day that I was born I’ve waved the flag

Philadelphia freedom took me knee high to a man

Yeah gave me peace of mind my daddy never had

Oh Philadelphia freedom shine on me, I love you

Shine a light through the eyes of the ones left behind

Shine a light, shine a light

Shine a light won’t you shine a light

Philadelphia freedom I love you, yes I do



“Excuse me sir, we’re getting ready to arrive in Bangkok”

“Uh, what, oh yeah”

Man, that was one hell of a dream; or was it?

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