CAVE ANATIS by Peter Nolan Smith

I spent the summer of 2008 on Palm Beach care-taking a haunted mansion and a crackhead Airedale for Johnny Zombie. The months of June, July, and August were very off-season, as the ultra-rich fled the fabled island for less muggy climes in France, Italy, and Maine.

The house off Ocean Avenue was a big change from my previous place of residence, Pattaya, Thailand. I also living alone instead of dividing my time between two women; my ex-wife #1 and our daughter and my pregnant girlfriend Mam. Pom Pom was a good companion. She only barked at other dogs. The snarls were saved for strangers.

I phoned Thailand everyday and sent money to both women once a week. It was not enough, for you don’t get paid much to take care of a crazy dog, even if it was on the most wanted list of Palm Beach county for mauling poodles.

My friend Lisa had arranged this job.

She was a single mom. This status didn’t score any sympathy for my situation.

Every day she criticized my lack of decision.

“You’ll have to make a choice one day.”

“But not today.” Thailand was 9000 miles away.

“Why not?” This rationale was unacceptable to her code of ethics.

“I barely have enough money for a cheap 1.5 liter of wine let alone a round trip ticket to Bangkok.” I did my best to not tell her ‘hoop bargh’ or shut up in Thai, but she was relentless.

One afternoon we rode over to the Thailand grocery on Dixie Highway to pick up Thai food. Lisa mentioned to the owner that I had lived in Thailand. The woman asked where and I told her Chainat and Jomtien.

“Why two places?”

“Because he has two wives.” Lisa answered the question for me.

“You are very Thai. Who you love #1? Mia noi?”

“She’s not my mia noi, but I love Mam.” My admission was easy since my wife had done many bad things over our six years together. I was no saint, but her sins were forgivable without being forgettable.

“Should he tell #1 about #2?” Lisa thought now she had an ally.

“Tell for what? For hurt two people. No way. Better to say nothing.” Boon was in her 50s. She had lived in America over thirty years. Her family was from Ban Nok same as both my wives and she understood country ways.

“If he tell wife #1 she angry and maybe cut off his penis.”

“Cut off his penis?” Lisa crunched up her face like she hadn’t heard right.

“Yes, Thai lady not want man have sex with other lady. She cut off penis and feed to ducks.”

“Why ducks?”

“Because unlike pig, duck eat everything. Better you say nothing.” She looked at me, as if to say never tell the truth until you have to. “Not telling truth not same telling lie. No one get hurt. Not him. too.”

It was sound advice, but after the birth of my son Fenway the lie was not a viable path.

Upon returning to Thailand I told my ex-wife about Mam and Fenway.

“I already know. I not stupid same Kwaii.” Buffaloes are considered stupider than farangs by Thais.

That night I slept in the other bed as I had since my ex-wife left me for another man.

I don’t think she would cut off my penis and feed it to the ducks.

She knows I love my daughter.

But it’s always better to play it safe with a woman from Bannok, so fellow farangs ‘cave anatis’ which is Latin for ‘beware of the duck’.

Like Boon said, “They eat everything.

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