THE PRICE OF PURITY by Peter Nolan Smith

Several years ago during the monsoon season I sought refuge from an early evening deluge in a very ordinary beer bar off Pattaya’s Soi Excite. I parked my motor scooter under an awning and scooted for shelter. The rain cascaded off the roof like a curtain of water. No one could see in or out.

The girls at the Jeddi Bar were older and fatter than any establishment in the Last Babylon. Their cosmetic masquerade failed to hide the disdain for the old geezers at the bar. Most of the farangs were over 70 and these old veterans nursed their beers with practiced misery. The atmosphere was overwhelmingly depressing enough for me to contemplating returning to the rain.

The door to the ladies room opened for a sight for sore eyes. A 20 year-old sex goddess in a pink skimpy tube top and red hot pants emerged from the toilet and surveyed the bar for victims. Her dusky eyes found no takers until falling on me. At 55 I was younger than the other beer-drinkers by 15 years. She sauntered up to me and asked with a hush, “You buy me drink?”

“Whatever you want?” I had seen this vixen before on Walking Street. She had been the star performer at a popular go-go bar’s lesbian and S & M show. Sam Royalle said her bar fine was 1500 baht and short-time cost 3000. Way out of my price range.

“Tequila?” She led me to the bar. Each step in synch with the pop song on the stereo. Her sinuous body had been created to defy the music of a snake-charmer. The ancients would have labeled her a succubus on a mission to have intercourse with men. Repeated intercourse with this female dream demon sapped a man’s body and soul to the brink of death.

I was in no condition to resist her charms and we eliminated the usual chit-chat about origin, work, and romance within seconds. Her name was Nathalee. I was right about her age. She had been dancing since she was 15. We clinked glasses and Nathalee downed her drink like she had just been ransomed after a year’s imprisonment by the Taliban.

Natalee was sexy in a beach resort whose commerce revolved around sex. Her piercings and tattoos telegraphed a clear message to the male contingent of Pattaya that she was on the game and if they wanted to play then they had to pay. Riding her had to be like driving a Ferrari on ice and a man’s skill levels had to be honed to a professional level.

If they weren’t, Natalee didn’t mind as long the customer or kak paid his way

My history was short and sweet. American writer, 55, and single. I gave my name as James. Pattaya was a good town in which to use an alias.

“James Steele.” I was alone in Pattaya. My wife had abandoned me for a Thai lover in Ban Nok. My resistance to temptation was weak.

“Like James Bond. 007.” Her hand hovered a millimeter over my skin. My flesh tingled with want. Her teachers had instructed an excellent student.

“More 0069.” Succubus derived from the Latin word succubare “to lie under”. This Lilith believed in more positions than missionary. Most of them mercenary.

“I like that.” A serpent’s tongue flittered over her glittering lipstick. “I like everything.

“I’ve seen you before. On the stage of a go-go bar.”

“And you thought I was sexy.”

“You were much more than sexy.” I had caught her act on several occasion. She was no fake and his devotion to the exotic dancing earned top dollar for the owners. “What are you doing here?”

I ordered a beer and bought Nathalee another tequila.

“I have too many boyfriends in town. They have fight in Walking Street. I not want trouble. Maybe only trouble with you.” She looked at the rain. “We go short-time? Have good room. I show you good time.”

“I’d like too, but I have no money.” I only went out of the house with 1000 baht. The bar bill was already 300 baht and this dump’s bar fine was at least 200 baht. “Only 500 baht.”

“Oh. Too bad I like you.” Without a reward awaiting her sexual favors Nathalee shut down her powers. There was no sense wasting them on me. “I not always like this.”

“I know. Everyone was a young once.” I had spent a week at a seminary in my youth. My mother had prayed for a priest in the family. I had failed her, but for some reason people sensed his wishes for my devotion and confessed their sins to me for some form of absolution. Nathalee was in need of penance. Everyone in Pattaya was a sinner.

“I came here I 15. My mother work bar.” She downed the shot and signaled for a beer chaser. She let out her breath and the taut belly showed the early signs of a repeated investment in beer.

“You don’t need to tell me this.” My belly was worth millions.

“Tell you. Not tell you. Same.” Her hand rubbed an eye, as if a spot of dust was under the lid. “I see you before too. Have lady say you speak Thai. Have girlfriend and baby. She leave you for Thai man.”

“You heard this story.” I didn’t tell it to anyone but Sam Royalle and the Brit knew how to hold his sand.

“Pattaya small town. Ladies pood mak.” It was a good city for gossip.

“I’ve heard your story before. Girl comes to Pattaya. Has boyfriend. Boyfriend leaves her. She works bar. Can’t love anyone but me.”

“Not same story me. 15 not have boyfriend. My mother she not care me. Only care money. 15 she want sell me.”

“And you were a virgin?”

“Never kiss a boy.” Her hand moved higher on my thigh. “Borisut.”

“So why you want to have sex?”

“Not me. Maih.” Natalie swung between pidgin and perfect English. She had lived in the UK twice and Sweden once. “Maih need money to pay mafia. She like play card. Have old man come to house. he give mother 5000 baht. Not hurt he know how to make love to virgin. I not like the first time. Second time too. After that. Love it all the time. You want me show you?

“Sorry, I not have money.” Speaking bad English was contagious.

“I not care money.” A Thai daughter has to obey her mother. No matter what. No explanation necessary. “Only want good man one time.”

“Sorry.” Nathalee was once a good girl and I didn’t throw any rocks at her, for I’d only hear the breaking windows of my glass house. I wondered how many times she had told this story to a customer. Certainly more than once considering how sad I felt after hearing her confession.

“Sorry for what.” She was resigned to my refusal. “I go with many man. Sometimes good to not go with man. We be friend. Good idea?”

“Good idea.” I had survived my encounter with a succubus, but I recalled reading an explanation how some scientist considered the legend of a succubus to be a sign of alien abduction. I doubted it, since ETs never asked for a barfine.

“Here’s a tip.” I gave her 300 baht. Her story was worth more, but I wanted a pizza from Scoby’s on Sai 3. It cost 150 baht.

“Now I go with old man. Easy money. Only worry they die on me.”

“Anyone come close?” Viagra, 60 year-old, and a young succubus was a fatal combination in Pattaya.

“No, but sometimes think man will die.” She puffed out her cheeks. “Luat-keung-nah.”

“Blood makes their face go red.” I waved for my check-bin.

“Like red light.” Natalie doesn’t want me to leave. Not without her. Rain was letting up. “You want virgin. I play virgin for you.”

“Wish I could.” I wasn’t ready for Nathalee. My heart was dust.

“Mai penh rai.” She wai-ed gracefully as a 12 year-old tradition dancer and said, “You can run, but you can’t hide. One day I show you my pierced clit.”

“I’m sure you will.” I escaped before the downpour drenched the streets and came home to an empty house. My house will never know how hard I try to be good.

Only my soul.

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