Sunday, 29th March 2020 - 6:13:43 am
Cold sweat ran down my back as I jerked out of another fitful sleep reaching for a hand towel to wipe off the moisture. It was the same dream again. Those empty detached eyes looking back at me, and then the final prophetic words “I can’t take it anymore,” as he dropped into the black void of a Bangkok night. I stood up and walked across to the shuttered window, inhaling deeply to bring the heart rate back to normal. Light monsoonal rain was still falling steadily as I peered out, deep in thought, into the pre-dawn stillness.
It was just on eighteen months since Chris died and it had taken me a while to get over it. losing a good friend, in those circumstances was never going to be an easy hurdle but time and regular work commitments overseas had gone some way to putting it behind me. In the aftermath, of those turbulent few days in Pattaya I’d also been able to patch things up with Nat. It had been a stressful time for both of us but the emotional strain of those last hours being held hostage at gunpoint by a psychopath, had taken its toll on her. She’d been withdrawn and moody, in the months following. We’d eventually started seeing each other again and things were going well until that fateful night, a month ago, at the Long Table. We’d gone there to celebrate her birthday.
In the ensuing ambience of the champagne and spectacular night vista afforded by the open patio twenty six floors up, a distraught farang decided to end it all by throwing himself off the ledge. Why he chose that moment I’ll never know but fate often, unwelcomingly, intervenes into our otherwise settled lives. With drinks in hand, we had wandered out onto the open balcony for a bit of quiet romance. A few meters beyond us the distraught farang had been in an animated discussion on his mobile phone. Who he was talking to I had no idea but the level of his distress, combined with parts of his conversation I had overheard, made it abundantly clear what was going on. He’d been dumped by his girlfriend. After about five minutes of a heated exchange, he put his phone down on the low wall that skirts the fountain. He looked agitated but with no indication of what was to come. All seemed normal as Nat and I had continued to cuddle and look over the sparkling city lights beyond us. The champagne had had the desired effect on me and I’d become oblivious to everything except her sensual body held tightly against me, and the magic of the view below, when Nat had started shaking me vigorously and saying “the farang, the farang.” I’d turned to see the farang in a state of even greater distress, standing on the ledge, outside the safety rail. After putting down my drink I’d moved slowly towards him as Nat’s pleading words echoed behind me. I then had leaned out over the handrail but he withdrew from my reach and he had lowered himself further over the side of the building.
“Come on mate, give me your hand. Get back over the handrail and we’ll talk about it. Whatever it is, it’s not worth it,” I’d said, reaching down towards him.
He said nothing, just looked at me with big vacant eyes whilst Nat kept saying, “please don’t, please don’t.”
He’d had tears running down his cheeks as he continued looking into my eyes, his fingers gradually slipping from the ledge. With his final words, “I can’t take it anymore,” he dropped away towards the hard impact of the ground below. I’d stood there stunned as Nat let out a high pitched scream, attracting others from inside the bar. I’d tried to comfort her as she broke down offering a protective arm but she was in hysterics telling me she wanted to just get out of there. When I tried to push through the growing crowd with Nat firmly in tow, the bar manager had held us back and said,
“The police were on their way and we’d be needed to make a witness statement.”
Dawn’s first light began filtering through the mist outside as I came back to the present and filled a glass with cold water from the fridge. After such an event it would’ve been easy to sink into depression and go on a binge. Hard won experience had taught me alcohol was never the answer to an emotionally troubled state of mind. Numbing the mind with booze, to the effects of depression, only served to prolong that depression. In the immediate weeks following Chris’ demise I’d dealt with the unsettled thought processes by doing yoga. So much so I’d become a devotee of that most ancient Indian exercise system, as I began to understand the mind controls all we are and all we do. Our emotions are purely a by-product of thought processes and what we feel is simply an extension of what we think. Put simply, “what a man thinks, he is.”
I’d come down to Koh Samui Island a few days after the tragedy at Long table and was now in my third week of chilling out on Chaweng beach, spending a couple of hours a day doing Yoga at a local studio not far from the hotel. I hadn’t called Nat since that night and realised, in an odd Thai way, it would be better just to leave her to her own devices. I’d sent her a short SMS telling her I was waiting for her and contact me when she felt ready. Her reply was a simple acknowledgement and nothing more, “okay, thanks.” Time would tell, I guess.
The light rain eased up as the suns early, bright rays, welcomed the new day. I made coffee and moved onto the bungalows’ veranda. The simple things in life are often the best. Early morning rain and lingering cloud cover were helping create a cooler start to the day and, as I sat there enjoying my Java, I stretched in an effort to shake off the lingering sleep deprivation. I hadn’t slept well, and it wasn’t singly due to the recurring dream of the Long Table events. Late the previous afternoon I’d received a phone call from another buddy who, from the small amount of information he’d given me, had gotten himself into a bad situation with his Thai wife and was in need of a million Baht in bail money. I’d tossed and turned all night trying to think of valid reasons why I shouldn’t help him out but in the end realised, given the reverse situation, he’d probably be the only one to come to my aid. Pete was now locked up in the Central Police Station in Nakhom Ratchasima and was expecting me to front bail tomorrow. Still, I couldn’t help feel slightly annoyed due to the fact I was starting to settle into a nice daily routine I’d created for myself in this little corner of paradise by the sea. The air was clear, the ocean clean, the seafood great and I was feeling really invigorated from all the exercise I was doing. That was all going to come to an abrupt halt at two pm when I boarded a flight back to Bangkok.
To make matters worse I was going to have to go into hustle mode, back in the rat race, organizing the four hour drive to Korat the following morning. Just as I was about to make another coffee, my cell phone started buzzing. I checked the screen and saw a number I didn’t recognize.
“Hello, Mike speaking,” I said, a little intrigued as to who would be calling me at seven in the morning.
“Hello Khun Johnson. My name is Det and I am the lawyer for your friend Khun Peter,” said the voice a little hesitantly.
“Okay Det, how can I help you?” I said, warily.
“Well, I spoke with Khun Peter yesterday evening, at the Police Station, and he informs me you would be paying his bail money for him.”
I let the question hang there for a few seconds.
“Mr. Johnson?” said Det, hesitantly again.
“I’m considering it but, before this goes any further, I’d like some more information about what’s going on. Why has Pete been arrested?”
“Well, the Police caught him with drugs.”
“With drugs?” I said shaking my head incredulously.
“Yes, with drugs,” replied Det, assuredly.
“Are you sure?” I said still not wanting to believe what I was hearing.
“Yes Khun Johnson, I’m very sure. The Police in Korat caught him with drugs in his car yesterday afternoon.”
“Well, I’ve known Pete for years and he’s never touched drugs. This doesn’t make any sense.
“When I spoke with him briefly yesterday afternoon, he told me he had a problem with his wife. What do you know about that?”
“I’m sorry khun Johnson but I know nothing about his problem with his wife. All I know is he’s been arrested for drug possession. Could you please tell me what time you’ll be arriving in Nakhom Ratchasima tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. At the moment I’m still down in Samui. I’m flying back to Bangkok this afternoon.”
“Oh, I see. Do you think you’ll be able to make it to Korat by tomorrow?”
“Perhaps. Why, will there be a problem if I don’t?”
“Well, no, I suppose not but the Police are expecting Khun Peters bail money tomorrow.”
“I’m sure they are and I’m also sure they’ll be having themselves a nice little party tomorrow night?” I said with more than a tinge of sarcasm.
There was a suppressed laugh at the other end of the line.
“Khun Johnson, the law in Thailand does not work the same as it does in Australia. There is no presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. If your friend Khun Peter can’t, or won’t, pay the bail money then there is already a presumption of guilt, regardless of whether he is innocent or not.”
“I’m well aware of that Khun Det. Look I’ll call you later this afternoon, when I’m back in Bangkok, and give you an approximate time I’ll be in Nakhom Ratchasima tomorrow.”
“Okay, will you be flying up? I could meet you at the airport so we can do a final check to ensure you’ve got the correct amount of money with you.”
My internal alarm bells started ringing a little louder.
“I’m not sure, actually I may drive up. I’ll let you know this afternoon. I don’t mean to be rude but I’ve got other things I need to get on with. I’ll call you later today,” I said in a polite but firm tone.
“Okay, Khun Johnson. I’ll look forward to hearing from you,” said Det seeming to understand my growing impatience with him.
I put down the phone, made another coffee and sat down to make the most of the short time I had left for relaxation before getting into ‘city living’ mode again. Something wasn’t right. In all the years I’d known Pete he’d never touched drugs. The other thing that had me on full alert was Det the lawyer, sounded a little evasive when I mentioned Pete’s wife. I took a swig of my coffee and considered the intricacies of my planned trip up to Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima). Flying would be quicker but driving up would be the better option and would give me greater mobility once I arrived. The only problem was I didn’t know my way around there but I knew someone who did; Nat. I picked up my phone and scrolled through the numbers until I found hers. I was actually feeling nervous about calling her but knew I would have to one day as she had the patience of a Tortoise. I hit the speed dial for her number.
“Hi Mike, it’s about time you called. I thought you might have been ignoring me,” she said in her motherly tone.
“Hmmm, I seem to remember you saying something about me having bad karma?”
“I’m a Thai lady Mike. Sometimes our emotions cloud our thinking. How are you?”
“I’m not too bad, how about you?” I said feeling myself warm to her innate charms.
“You know … same, same. Still doing the real estate thing. What have you been doing?”
“Not too much really. I’ve been down in Samui the past three weeks.”
“Hmm, alone or with company?” she said, with an imperceptible hint of jealously in her raised tone.
“Alone actually Nat. Why? Do you miss me?”
“In a way,” said replied with her sensual laugh.
“What way would that be?”
“Well, let’s just say I’m quite tempted to get on a plane this afternoon and come join you in Samui.”
“As much as I’d like that Nat, you can’t.”
“Oh? She sounded surprised and suspicious. “So there is someone else?”
“No, I’ve told you that already?”
“Then what?” she said, with an increasing edge to her voice.
“I’m coming back to Bangkok this afternoon.”
“Great, you owe me a dinner.”
“How do you figure that?”
“For ignoring me.”
“Ignoring you? You could’ve easily called me any time you wanted,” I said feeling slightly exasperated at her reasoning for me buying her a dinner.
“Sorry Mike. You should know by now that’s not the Thai way of doing things. You are the man, it’s up to you to say sorry?”
“About what?” I was getting exasperated.
“About me being upset last time at the Long Table,” she said with an air of absolute certainty.
I gave in immediately. “Fair enough, I’ll buy dinner tonight but can you pick me up at Suwarnabhumi this afternoon? There’s something I need to discuss with you,” I said realizing it would be a waste of time arguing any point with her at present. She was immediately on guard again.
“I tell you about it when you pick me up. Let’s just say another friend of mine needs help.”
“Oh Mike, didn’t you learn your lesson after last time? I don’t like the sound of this,” She said with a sigh.
“It’s a different situation and believe me, I’m not looking for trouble,” I said, trying to sound convincing.
“Okay Mike but, whatever it is, please don’t include me. What time is your flight arriving?”
“Around three PM, I’ll see you then.”
“Okay, joop joop (kiss kiss),” she said, before the line went silent.
I took another slurp on my lukewarm coffee and sat back to enjoy the last couple of hours of relaxation before departing. It was good to be back in the groove with Nat again. Apart from the odd Thai female centric mood swing, she was a level headed reliable lady. Her background might have been slightly questionable but apart from her odd foray to Spasso’s, she was a self made lady. The idea of just latching onto a sugar daddy was anethema to her independent outlook on life. I had to admit I was quite taken with her and, even though she was in her mid thirties, she was still quite a gal to look at. Tall, at around one hundred and seventy centimeters, with a curvaceous figure to go with it! She definitely wasn’t your average looking petite Thai woman. Whenever I was out and about with her it wasn’t hard to notice the constant eyeballing of her vouptuous figure she received from other guys. Although a few pounds overweight she had the classic hourglass figure with a nice full set of large, natural boobs. Once a guys had a taste of something like that it’s hard to go back to the diminutive, short, shapeless figures one so often sees in the farang centric bars of the tourist areas. I’ve seen some comparable figures, shaking their booty in go-go bars, but a closer inspection usually reveals cosmetic additions to the chest. Many, with implants and facial surgery, have the apperance of some kind of manufactured barbie doll! Fake and unnatural. Ning was the classic example of that with silicone implants, nose and face jobs and even implants in her buttocks. From a distance she looked a million dollars but, once you really understood what she was about, the ugliness within completely cancelled out the artificial physical beauty. It had been a while since I’d given any thought to Ning. She was convicted for conspiring to murder Chris but not with the actual physical act. The two mafia thugs received heavy sentences but Ning was given just three years. The sentencing took place three months after Chris’ death and with good behaviour, it was likely she’d be back on the streets in a few more months. More than likely looking to hoodwink another naive, unfortunate punter. God help whoever she managed to sink her fangs into next time around.