GOOD AS IT GETS FOR GERMANS


My friend Fabo has heart of gold. This young Belgian is happiest with a Heineken in his hand and his eye on Gai, the Rubenesque beauty of the Buffalo Bar. He’s loved her forever. She loves him too in her own way. A long time.

I like drinking with Fabo, because he doesn’t talk the usual line of bullshit or merde, since we converse in French. He’s lucky enough to work on a oil exploration ship. One month in Pattaya. One month off-shore.

His haunts are the same as mine.

Welkom on Soi 3 daytime. Buffalo Bar nights.

Last month I found him in Welkom Inn’s garden.

He did not look happy. Most farangs flee sad stories as if sooner or later they would be asked for a loan. Fabo had a good job and I was broke, so there was no danger of my having to shed money for his company. I sat down and asked, “What’s the problem?’

“Poo’s been arrested for ja bah.” Poo was his wife. Ex-entertainer at the Welkom Inn. Fabo explained the police had come to their house to quell a family disturbance and Poo had been tested positive with the color purple showing for her urine sample. Straight to jail. The telephone rang and lifted his finger. “I have to go. My German cousin is helping me get her out of jail.”

The German was no cousin.

I said nothing as Fabo got on a motorcycle to meet the German.

Better him than me, because the German had a hair up his ass for me.

Why?

Because he came from Hamburg.

The German was Poo’s ex. He had left his Doberman with them, because petes weren’t allowed in his apartment. the German showed up every few days to make sure the dog was okay. It was a strange arrangement. Pattaya has thousands of them. Something sounded familiar about Lucien and when Fabo had a birthday party for Poo, I realized what upon seeing him.

Lucien was my height, but pumped by a gym. No steroids. Gym only. He was no fake tough guy. His body looked like he had been dropped through a meat grinder. His left arm bore the scars of many knife fights. His nose followed the route of an alpine pass. His eyes bore the perfume of murder. I greeted him in German.

“Why do you speak German?” His voice reeked of suspicion.

“I lived in Hamburg in 1982. Worked at a nightclub for a pimp. Nigger Kali.”

“Nigger Kali?”

I didn’t say the name often.

Nigger Kali was a pimp for the Gmbh. Hamburg’s biggest gang. He had been shot too many times to die from anything other than a peaceful death. “Yes, he worked for Thomas Bond.”

“Thomas Bond was my teacher.” Lucien’s eyes narrowed to razor blades.

“You stay here. You not go away. Are you police?” His fingers dug into my thigh like icepicks.

“No, I was the Tursteher.” I had earned my living as a doorman in New York, Paris, London, and Germany. I was no criminal. Maybe smalltime, but small time only. I had lived in Hamburg for a year. Summer was sunny and warm. Winter was dark and wet. Despressing too.

Nearing Christmas a pimp, SS Tommy, presented a bill for 20,000 Marks.

For sleeping with a girl.

Her never saying she worked for him didn’t matter to SS Tommy. He wanted his money. I gave him the keys to my VW and said I would have the rest tomorrow. I caught the midnight train to Paris that evening. I didn’t mentioned his name to Lucien

“I don’t believe you. You are maybe police.” He stared at me with his head tilted. “You can’t look me in the eyes.”

“I never lie.” I could only see one eye. “Telling the truth is easier.”

The leader of a Thai motorcycle gang showed up. Lucien stood up to wai his comrade. I decided this was time to leave.

Fabo later said Lucien missed me.

I missed him too like anyone misses someone wanting to kill them, for he was a man to avoid and be seen avoiding, however after that teary departure at the Welkom Inn, I met Fabo at the Buffalo, which he calls ‘le campange’ or the country. It had once been surrounded by coconut trees instead of the townhouses of today.

He was in a better mood.

“Now I can tell you story.” Fabo ordered us beers. “You know Lucien leaves dog with Poo. He comes every day. Friends of Poo are no good. They do jah bah. One day they start fight with Lucien. he beats them up. They decide that if they kill the dog, Lucien won’t come see Poo.”

“That’s some stupid thinking.”

“I did not say they were smart.” Fabo shrugged pleasantly, as if he acknowledged he was glad not to have seen this scene. “Lucien discovers his dog is dead and beats up the boys again. The police come. They are friends with Lucien. They arrest the boys, who say that Poo is taking jah bah.”

The story was getting sordid and it was heading toward more sordid.

“She had to go to jail. Now she comes out. 20,000 baht. have to be clean one year. If not, back to the monkey house. Lucien helps me with the judge. He knows everyone.”

“Good.” I could have told him the truth. ie that Poo won’t be able to say off the gear for a year. No sense. He knows that already, but I was surprised at how good Lucien had been through the entire affair. Fabo had been driven back and forth to Chonburi prison on the German’s bike. Many times.

And they say there are no good Germans.

Even the bad ones are good sometimes, especially if they make my friend Fabo happy.

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