Soi 6 was never quiet day or night. Motorcycles roared down the narrow street. Western and Thai music blasted from a score of competing sound systems. The conversations between the girls were in loud Thai accompanied to shouts at the farang men braving the gauntlet of bars running from Beach Road to 2nd Road.
"Hey, sexy man. You want sexy lady." The 23 year-old bar girl on the stoop of Chic Bar had yelled this same phrase over a hundred times in the last two hours. Ping had hooked two western men. Both had gone inside to the bar and upstairs to a bedroom for a short-time session of less than thirty minutes.
Ping was luckier than most of the bar girls. Her long silky hair and large breasts was a magnet to the lust-filled foreigners and she spoke reasonable English.
A shy 18 year-old in the back row of the girls on the terrace watched Ping's every move. This was Oom's first day. Ping was her 3rd cousin on her father's mother's side. Her brother had been arrested for ja-bah.
15 tua or pills.
Jott was languishing in provincial prison. The police demanded bail of 50,000 baht. Oom was the youngest and prettiest girl of the family and her parents decided that her beauty would save Jott from five years in the monkey house.
Two farangs stared at her. They were bigger than any man in her village. One of them was larger than her father's prize pig. Her olive eyes dropped to the ground, although she was not a virgin, since her boyfriend had taken his pleasure with her after drinking too much beer the previous Songkran. He left her for another girl a week later.
"Your brother stay in 'kook' long time, you stay so 'iang aii'." Ping pulled her out of the chair. "You shy family no pay police. Girl like you make big money. Go home fast. Forget here."
"I scared farang." Oom's long hair furled down her bare back like a black sail. Her stick-thin legs disappeared up into her sparkling mini-skirt. She weighted at most 41 kilos.
"Farang man. Thai man same. Want lady short-time. Go away. Leave you 500 baht." Ping had been in Pattaya five years. She had once traveled to Switzerland with a young boyfriend and traveled another time to France with an older man.
Neither had lasted more than 6 months, because Ping was 100% Thai.
Without green papaya salad or sum tam in her belly, she feared the loss of her soul, but maybe her luck would improve if she helped her young cousin.
"Men come here to see new girl. No one Soi 6 more new than you. I help you get good man."
Several men approached Ping.
They smelled of rotten meat and unwashed feet.
Ping said Oom was too good for them. Two young men asked if both girls wanted to go inside. They had nice smiles, but Ping shook her head. Afterward her cousin explained, "Young man fuck long time. Steal your power. Old man better. Not strong."
"How old?" Some of the men staring at her looked old enough to be dead. Ping knew many of them by name. She was very 'hit' or popular with these white-haired elders. The owner of the bar, Frank, was old, but he never touched any of his girls. He called Ping 'Liebsten' or the same as tee-lat in Thai.
"Last week I go with man. He 78. Not want sex. Only want to talk. One hour. Better he have sex. Faster. Not steal my time," Ping spoke hard as the gravel-packed road outside her u-country house. She had two babies from her boyfriend. They lived together in Pattaya, where Pi-et worked as an agent for a ja-bah dealer.
"I still scared." Oom didn't like the way her cousin's boyfriend studied her body. She could read her mind. One day he would try something. One day when Ping was with customer long-time. She couldn't not stop him. He was a bad man.
"Not scared. Here comes your #1." Ping nodded her head toward a tall farang. His skin was as white as paper. His pants were pulled high over his waist. Several bar girls laughed at his appearance.
"I no like."
"No like. This not TV movie with happy ending. This Soi 6. Your brother in jail. Family need money. Drac easy customer. All he want is kiss your underwear. No sex." Ping whispered to prevent the other bar girls from hearing this trade secret.
"Not want sex?"
"No, he kiss your bikini. He not take off his bikini. One hour 2000 baht."
"2000 baht?" No one in her village made that much money in one hour. Not even one day, except for agents selling ja-bah or the police or the headman who expected money from everyone.
"One hour. Get money after he finish." Ping called to Drac.
He came over.
Ping explained that this was Oom's first day and Drac smiled with yellow teeth.
He smelled nice, despite his sickly appearance.
Ping nudged her side and told the mama-san that Drac was taking her upstairs.
"Not worry, Drac. She know what do."
"Then let's go inside."
Drac led Oom through the darkened bar to the narrow stairway. The mama-san gave them a key. The farang asked several questions going up the steps to the second floor. Ooom didn't understand them and nodded with a polite grunt. Drac laughed at the doorway to room 7 and said, "You really are new?"
"No kohok. first day."
"You ever be with a farang before?"
"Then today is my lucky day."
Drac opened the door.
The bed was clean. It was early in the day.
"Now shower," murmured oom.
The mama-san had told her that you can see if a man's penis is sick if he is naked, and she said
Drac he shook his head. "We not have sex. No reason to have shower."
Oom didn't understand why, but started to take off her clothes.
"Not take off clothes."
Drac waved his hand and pushed Oom onto the bed, then tugged her short skirt over her waist.
He moaned seeing her underwear and undressed down to his underwear. His skin was the same texture as a plucked chicken. She shut her eyes when he spread her legs with his hands. His kisses on her underwear were hot and the hour lasted forever, but in the end he stood up and gave her 3000 baht.
"Thank you. I want you to have good luck." Drac dressed in five seconds and accompanied her to the bar. "Maybe I'll see you again. I like skinny girls."
The mama-san congratulated Oom's initiation and Ping entered the bar beaming with pride.
The owner, Frank, looked sad and said, "Drinks for Liebsten and her cousin, die schone Ping."
"Two tequilas." Ping held up her fingers and wai-ed the old German. The mama-san poured white liquid into small glasses. It smelled the same as 'lao khao' or rice whiskey and tasted like fire in her mouth and acid in her throat. Ping laughed at her younger cousin. "You will like it soon enough."
"What is skinny?" Oom coughed with her head spinning. She never drank lao.
"Pom and many farangs like girls pom. You big success."
Oom nodded her head, for while this wasn't the success she dreamed of as a child, she was a little closer to getting her brother out of jail. She was good in math and did the numbers in her head. Only seventeen more times with Drac and she could be a young girl again.
Maybe not in her moo-ban, but in Krueng-Thep anything was possible.
After all Bangkok was the city of dreams, where she could forget all about Pattaya.
It was something every girl believe in the Last Babylon.
Until they realized it was a lie.
But for today Oom was happy.
For Pattaya's new lcuky girl.