Yellow Teeth – Part 1

SEMI-FICTION by Pascha Ray

I’ve been arrested several times in my life.

Age 12 for vandalizing an abandoned missile base. Age 21 for driving over a bed of flowers at a girl’s college. Age 25 in NY for running an after hour club. Age 31 in Paris for writing a love poem on the British Embassy wall. The gendarmes thought the words were an IRA tirade, instead of drunken verses to my girlfriend working across the street at the Azzedine Alaia salon across rue St. Honore.

None of them were very serious and I avoided any complications with the law for 22 years, however my lucky streak was not destined to run forever.

This past January I came home after a pleasant lunch in Jomtien. A grey Toyota mini-van stopped behind me. At first I thought it was my brother-in-law coming for a beer and then I wondered why he brought so many friends.

Because it wasn’t Pi-Wot but the Bangkok police to arrest me for selling counterfeit goods over the internet. The oldest officer in a black suit presented a search warrant. The other cops were undercover in jeans, tee-shirts, and sneakers. I was wearing sandals. running was not an option, so I opened the gate, then the doors to my office.

They politely took off their shoes and entered my office. 20 shirts were on the floor. They seized the merchandise and the ranking officer asked, “Where’s the rest of it?”

“That’s it.” Business has been off this year. “Can I go outside?”

The commander nodded and two cops accompanied into the garden and I hyperventilated, as a series of prospective scenarios played in my head. Most of them were located in jail.

One of the younger cops told me to calm down, “Jai yen. Jai yen.”

Easy for him to have a cold heart.

He wasn’t being arrested in a foreign country.

“No big problem. Maybe 2000 baht.” He explained the fine would be about $60. “We take you Bangkok. You pay bail and then go home. Mai pen lai.”

I didn’t believe him and feared the worst. American detective from Quantico Ltd. was supervising the operation. His company had been looking for me a long time. He was from Texas. I had mailed him merchandise. I had used phony addresses on the envelopes. How they had tracked me back to here was unimportant, but Rusty also said it wasn’t such a big deal. “Not the first time. Next time you go to jail.”

“Message well taken.” I had been trying to quit for ages. This would be the final push. ”I don’t want to go to jail.”

Jail in Thailand is a bare floor with 30 other misfortunates.

“You won’t.” 

The old lady on the street said these cops were the most honest in the nation. No cuffs and I could use my phone. Certainly not the procedure I had often witnessed on Sophon Cable.

After two hours of checking my computer and packing the merchandise, they transported me to Bangkok in an air-conditioned mini-van. 

Halfway to the Sathon Police Station they stopped for food and bought a bag filled with McDonald’s Happy Meal. This was not my last meal and I realized I was fortunate to have been arrested by Federal police.

A Thai friend in Bangkok met me at the police station. His face says COP same as mine. He works as a chauffeur. Khim helped explain matters. “Small problem. You get bail. Go home.”

Strangely everyone was very polite to me. My holding cell was an office with AC and a TV with my choice of DVDs. I didn’t feel like watching anything as I was reading Peter Hopkirk’s THE GREAT GAME.

Later TV crews showed up for a presentation. The commanding officer for copyright infringement pointed to a pile of 2000 shirt. “This farang was caught with 4 million baht and 2000 shirts.”
“No, khun tam pit.” I whispered under my breath. He had made a mistake and I pointed to a single bag down the corridor. ”Those are these.”

“These?” Someone had properly not briefed him.

“Yes, 20 shirts. Nothing more.”

He waved to the TV crew to shut off the camera. End of interview.

The arresting officers laughed at their boss.

I sat in an AC office watching TV. Movie of my choice. INSIDE MAN. I was fingerprinted and filled out an arrest form. When the cops announced bail of 50k. I said I didn’t have it.


Mai mee kap.” Speaking polite Thai helps in situations like this.

“30?” There was no way they were dropping to 20 or 25.

30 it was. A little less than $1000.

Khim and I said, “Yet mah.” or motherfucker.

We were short the bail. I had 15 k in the bank and Khim had 500. Nu couldn’t sell a motorcycle until tomorrow. The monkey house loomed as a probability instead of a possibility. No beds, no blankets, cheap rice twice a day, and lots of mosquitoes. The antithesis of any hotel in Bangkok.

I made one phone one call. Alan Platt lived in Bangkok. I knew him from New York. I asked for 20K. He had 15K. Khim drove over to Soi 4 and picked it up. Without Alan I would have been in the monkey house for who knows how long. I call him to say thanks every few days and also let him know I’m still broke. “No problem man, you get it when you get it.”

The whole process from raid to release took 7 hours with a 2 hour trip to Bangkok thrown into the program. The Fed cops had me sign an affidavit confirming no one had asked for a sin bon or bribe.

After the money was paid they cut me loose. Khim spent 200 baht on 5 bottles of Khang. It gets you drunk. I drank 3 of them myself.
My wife was happy I didn’t spend any time in the ‘monkey house’. No chairs, no fans, and lots of mosquitoes as a prelude to the Bangkok Hilton. Koong Toey jail.

I appeared on national TV that night. Channel 5. The Army station.  The police had said, “Not worry. Not many people watch Channel 5.”

Everyone on my soi saw the newscast.

Several Thai friends said I looked handsome. They couldn’t care less that I was arrested. It’s something that happens.

Everyone was astounded by this revelation of how much money I had. “You have 4 million baht. Why you not live with wife in country? 4 million baht good forever in Ban Nok.”

Ban Nok or village of the birds is the Thai euphemism for the ‘boondocks’.

My old lady who cleans my house knew the truth. I was broke and wished I had the 4 million baht. Life in Ban Nok is not so bad. I could get a job at the local school teaching English and make about $300/month. 10,000 baht. 300/baht a day is a big comedown from 3000 baht a day.

This story is far from over, since the cops said it would be at least 6-10 weeks until I go to court.

Another day in paradise has gotten a little less paradisaical.

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