Back in 2012 I was in Thailand. I no longer resided in Pattaya. Too many Russians, retirees, and I preferred Sriracha up the coast, where I lived with my son Fenway and his beautiful Mom. Sriracha was a totally Thai town and I was comfortable drinking beer with Mam and playing with my son, but Mam understood my need to see old friends and one night I received a phone call from Ed. The Hollywood real estate broker had just divorced his wife in LA and needed a guide to the go-go bars of Pattaya.
"Go see your friend. But not see any women." Mam kissed me good-night at the bus stop on Sukhumvit. Fenway eyed his father with suspicion. The two year-old had no reason to worry. My body and soul belonged to his mother.
"I'll be back early." The sun was setting in the Gulf of Siam. I would be at the Buffalo Bar by 7. Ed couldn't be fussy after 25 years with the same woman. "Before midnight."
"Ha." Mam knew men better than me. "Come home when you want."
"Pai." Fenway waved me onto the bus. I blew him a kiss and he wiped his cheek with a smile. He was a good jokester.
The ride to Pattaya Klang took 30 minutes. The motorsai taxi was another five minutes to the Buffalo Bar. Ed sat with the owner, Eddy. She was my age and looked older. Jamie Parker was by his side. We all knew each other from New York in the 80s.
“Ed thought I was dead.”
“I heard more than one version of your death.” Ed and Jamie had been bad boys at Max's Kansas City.
“None close to true.” Jamie had been a good boy in Pattaya. Most of the time. He excused himself to speak with the owner. We ordered beer. The first was good the second cold. Used to Manhattan prices, Ed laughed at the bill. “The girls in here seem friendly.”
“Friendly as Fereghinis.” Thais bore no physical resemblance to most venal of Star Trek races. They were more beautiful than any woman on Melrose and twice as thin.
“I thought we were farangs.” Ed ordered two drinks for the bar girls who had appeared to massage our necks.
“It’s what they call all of us.” The word’s meaning depended on how it was said.
“Not me. I’m a farang lao.” Jamie returned to the bar.
"Only because you eat insects.” The CIA called his kind 'snake-eaters'.
“And speak a little Lao.” Jamie paid the bill and asked, “Are we taking Ed on a Black Diamond run?”
Jamie’s no-hold’s barred pilgrimage to Pattaya’s night spots included most hellholes not of the regular visitor’s radar screen.
“Let’s stay with intermediate slopes.” Ed was no stranger to Jamie’s taste for danger.
We got on motorsai taxis and headed down to Walking Street. 8pm was early and Jamie suggested the Tiger Lounge. “It has great AC, they’ll play anything we want, and the two early girls are the best-looking on the street. If we're lucky neither has been barfined yet.”
Ed was a happy man. Both girls were in the bar. Their combined age didn't add up to that of his ex-wife.
Beer, AC, The Ramones, plus Wan and Fah stereo-massaging his back.
No man could ask for more and Ed recounted the damages of the divorce from his wife. “Malibu house gone. My firm considered me a pussy for not fighting the divorce and axed me from the board.”
“And that was bad?” Jamie’s history was nightlife and prison. He only worried about parole boards and that was a long time ago.
"From where I sit now it was a good thing.”
“And it’s only going to get better.” Jamie dragged us to Living Doll 2, where he harangued the manager about an erotic hot dog eating contest coupled with the most hot dogs you can eat contest. The manager deemed the idea a little too 'lo-so' for his clientele. Ed disagreed. “A bunch of fat guys sucking down dogs followed by go-go girls eating hot dog. Nothing could be sexier.”
“Really?” I asked, since Ed was seated with twin sisters. The skimpy bikinis revealed that some farang had their silken skin tattooed with the same craven images front to back. Thankfully none showed his name.
“Maybe I’m wrong.” Ed had supported the arts. None more than exotic dance.
“I show you wrong.” Jamie signaled for the chek-bin and we were off to Heaven Above. The white interior reminded Ed of Clockwork Orange and my old club off 7th Avenue. 1986. “The Milk Bar.”
“Except these girls are real.” Jamie had been saving the best for last. Ed rang the bell. The 49 year-old was avalanched by beauties and for the first time in a long time he was happy. An hour later he disappeared. No one had seen his departure. Jamie and I wandered off Walking Street and he dropped me at a taxi stand. The fee to Sriracha was 1000 baht or $30.
I made it home at midnight.
Mam and Fenway sat on the couch watching Ultraman.
My son sniffed at me.
"No perfume." I was ever faithful to my wife. We fought over that fact and made love once little Fenway was asleep. We held each other as if neither of us wanted to let go.
In the morning Ed called me and explained the rest of his night.
“I went back to the Tiger and barfined Wan for the week. I'm taking them to some island not so far away. I’ll call you when I get back.”
“Sure.” Koh Samet was an hour down the coast. I didn't warn him about not falling in love. He had been alone with a woman that didn't love him too long. His holiday might stretch to a week, because time goes fast when you’re having fun. I know, because I've been there too.