LOVE YOU LONG TIME – CHAPTER 3 by Peter Nolan Smith

The young lady at the Malaysia’s front desk booked me into my usual room. 203 overlooked the pool. Go-go girls were drinking with their weary farang customers. I washed up and went to Kenny’s Bar. He wore my ring. The girls were older, but the beer was cold. The ex-pats told the same stories as always and I stayed the night and in the morning called Sam down in Pattaya.

“I have your room all ready. By the way tomorrow is the start of Songkran.”

“I forgot that.”

The Songkran celebration ushered in the Thai New Year and the rains ending the hot season. The festival focused on Wan Parg-bpee or April 15, when young Thais pay homage to their ancestors and pour scented water into the palm of an older person, who then whispered wishes of happiness and good luck. The practice was quite charming, but the tradition had changed in recent years and how much was revealed by my trip to Pattaya.

Traffic packed the roads into town. People drenched each passing motorists with buckets of water. It took the taxi an hour to reach Sam’s high-rise overlooking the Gulf of Siam. His girlfriend was a teenager named Dtum. She was eager to party with her friends.

Sam gave her some money to have ‘sanuk’ or a good time and we went to a beer bar on the Beach Road. Everyone threw water at everyone in sight. I soaked a girl. Her name was Vee. She was pretty, despite having one eye.

“I lose eye on motorsai. Lucky not dead.”

I have accident too. North of Chiang Mai. I die.”

“You die?”

“Yes, truck kill me, but only for a second.” I didn’t tell her that a second had lasted forever in another dimension and invited her to eat at a small restaurant. She said she wanted to go home with me. We spent the week together and she quit working the bar. Rob and Dtum didn’t like her and said she was money hungry. They weren’t wrong, but I thought I knew the score.

Small villages throughout the country had been modernized by bilked fools. We traveled up north to see her baby in Khorat. The house was poorly constructed, but her family was nice. I bought food and beer. Everyone ate like the world was ending tomorrow.

I found a photo of an Englishman.

“He just friend?” I asked Vee.

“Before than friend.” She looked to her child.


That evening we drove through the sweltering heat to a house in deep Isaan. No electric lines ran from the dirt road to the house in the middle of a vast rice field swallowed by the tropical darkness. I pulled into the yard. Candles illuminated the house. A line of women stood on the stairs. The men sat around a bonfire. Several ancient women huddled around a small fire, as if a chill haunted the sweltering night.

“This house Mae-mod.”


“Good witch.”

“You come here for what?”

“To see future.”

“About us?”

“No, about me and Englishman. Men stay there. Men go to phram. Shaman,” She pointed to the bonfire and she joined the queue.

I sat with the men and joined their state at the fierce blaze. They drank ‘lao khao’ or rice whiskey. They passed over the plastic bag. The whiskey burned my belly like fire. None of them spoke and occasionally lifted their gaze to the women on the stairs. I pointed to the other fire and the flickering fire transformed the six old women to disinterred mummies.

“Dead women.” A man muttered wit his eyes to the ground.

“Dead women?”

“Yes, one will die tonight. Man come take her to trees. Dead. The five go home alive.”

“No one kill anyone.”

“You stop. You die. Lawh te khun.” It meant ‘up to you’ in Thai.

Vee exited from the house.

“You find good future?”

“Good some. Bad some.”

I asked her about the old women around the bonfire.

“The old ladies are six. Not seven. Bad number. They picked a paper. One get 7. She go into jungle to die. Other women live longer. No one die. All show. Magic. Red-lum.” Ae’s eyes widened, as if to better envision the shadow of the woods. “magic.”

“Yeah, Red-lum.”

On the ride to farm Vee had later told me that the set-up was a scam and the same woman loses every week.

“I not do you magic. Only magic is the love in my heart.”

We left Isaan in the morning and the next day flew to Koh Samui. The beaches were beautiful and we made love in the warm gin-clear waters at sunset. I wrote a comedy about the first men to have sex in Space. I thought it would make a great movie. After six months my money ran out and Vee asked, “I wait for you?”

“I can’t see when I can come back.” I gave her enough money for a month.

“Mai pen arai.”

She had seen her future. There would be no long-distance phone calls. Three months later Sam called in New York to say she had moved to the UK. It was better that way.

Sam had parlayed his computer expertise into a corporation and he said, “Why don’t you come out and work with us. I’ll buy your ticket her. phoned with a job offer in Bangkok. Life is good out here, but you know that.”

After the New Year I flew to Bangkok business-class on upgrades. Rob had an office on Wireless Road. His company constructed websites for Asian corporations. My job was to write content. Most of his employees were paid a fifth of my salary. I didn’t deserve it and figured this was his thanks for having transferred that money from his wire scam. During the week we went to Bangkok’s trendy clubs and weekended at his beach house in Pattaya.

Rob called his plan, “Work Bangkok. Play Pattaya.”

I was free as the breeze off the Gulf of Siam, although Rob’s wife hated us going out even more than before. I never brought anyone home other than her mates. She had plenty of those, but I was tired of the nightlife

In truth I was getting old fast. My friends’ children had grown up. My nieces and nephews were attending college. I seemed doomed to end my life in the Last Babylon on Earth.

I was not alone in my damnation.

My friend, AJ, flew out from London. The cameraman/tai-chi teacher had told everyone that he was traveling to Thailand for a diving certification. Pattaya had plenty of schools for PADI courses and I took off the week.

One evening AJ and I stopped at a bar of Soi 8. A slender Thai girl danced on a platform to a boy band hit. A skinhead farang was obviously her date for the night. She winked over his shoulder with a mercenary mirth.

In 1970 BLIND FAITH issued an album cover featuring a shirtless blonde waif. This girl was her Asian twin and I memorized her hips walking away from the bar on Soi 8. A mischievous backward glance should have warned me to watch my freedom.

AJ and I didn’t go out the next night. He kept saying he had to get up early for his diving courses. I went to the bar on Soi 8 twice. The girl wasn’t there. The mama-san said she was on holiday with man from England. There were thousands of Brits in Pattaya. AJ was one of them.

After AJ departed for the UK, Rob’s wife banned him from going out with me. She had seen him with a girl at a disco. She blamed me. I moved to the Sabaii Lodge on Soi 3. It had a swimming pool and I didn’t have to listen to their fights.

I returned to the Soi 8 bar. The skinny girl wore a band-aid bra over a breastless chest. Long black hair snaked down a bare back. She hopped from the dance platform and sat next to me. She pronounced my name wrong and told me hers. I offered her a drink and Mem said, “I no drink lao, maybe drink coke.”

I expected her to rattle off the typical list of bargirl questions; “Where are you form? How old are you? You have a wife? How long are you staying?” instead she sobbed out a tale about a man leaving for London. “He a diver for Navy.”

“His name AJ?” Girls in driving hot spots in Belize, Manado, and Bali had also heard this tale.

“You know him?” She stifled a sniff.

“The very best of friends.”

“You think he come back?” She bit her lip in anticipation.

AJ was not one to fall in love during a ten-day holiday.

“Only Buddha knows.”

Buddha was a good counter to magic and I vowed to buy a medallion to ward off future evil spirits.

Her cascade of tears brought the mama-san to the bar. I didn’t understand the exchange in Thai and excused myself, “I’m going home.”

“I come with you. Same I stay with AJ?” The tears dried to a smile.

Saying no would have been easy. She wasn’t working the bar for laughs. If I agreed, then I was entering a financial agreement. Girls got 1000 baht or $25 to go with men. Ours wasn’t a match made in heaven, but I had money in my pocket. “You come with me, but I can’t say it will last forever.”

“I happy with one day. One week. One month. Maybe more.” She bid good-night to the mama-san and we drove to my hotel.

Ae faked orgasms like a porno star. The deceit charmed the old fool in me. Our one evening lasted the weekend. We lay in bed and spoke of our lives.

Ae was 24 and had a young son. Her English husband had deserted her for a younger woman.

Go-go dancing supported Dtut, although the real money came from going with men. Ae couldn’t count how many. Every month her British man wired money upcountry for Dtut’s schooling and this altruistic streak fooled most farangs into thinking they have met a saint without considering that these women have also abandoned the dirt-poor villages to forget their cheating ex-husbands and drunken boyfriends.

Neither side of the equation asked too many questions and neither did I and on a beautiful Monday morning Ae announced, “Today I say good-bye to Finland friend. Not boyfriend. Friend. Go see him to airport. He give me 5000 baht. After I come stay with you.”

The Pattaya Mail had recently reported about a westerner marrying a dancing girl. They had celebrated their wedding at the Royal Cliffs, the most expensive hotel in Pattaya. The next morning he had woken to an empty bed. The hotel staff knew nothing. The police even less. A week later his wife showed up at his house and explained, “Have old boyfriend come see me. He give me 50,000 baht. You not mind?”

Now I was posed the same question.

I said, “Sure. Stay. Go. Same. Mai pen arai.”

Saying anything else wouldn’t have changed her decision and two days passed without a phone call.

That Sunday Sam’s British partner reneged on the balloon payment of his investment and our company joined the Internet crash.

Kathmandu was three hours away by plane. The monsoons weren’t due for another two months. A small guest house in Annapurna’s rain shadow served pancakes in the morning. Life cost $10/day. Mustang lay to the north. A month’s walk in the sacred Himalayas erased my sins in the Last Babylon. I didn’t make it out the hotel door. Ae stood in the hallway and looked at my bag.

“Where you go?” She was wearing pink satin shorts and a matching tube top.

“To Nepal to see the mountains.”

“Mountains?” Her face scrunched up in disbelief and she swirling on six-inch heels. “Why you go see mountain, when you can see me?”

She had a good point and the hotel door remained shut for two days. We ate and drank from room service.

Our holiday on Koh Samui was like a honeymoon. We stayed a month. She was my sleeping dictionary and taught me Thai. I learned the words for love, caress, hug, kiss, and jealous. I said ‘Rak-khun’ more than a man my age should tell a younger woman.

On the idyllic beach fat female westerners gawked, as if I were a sex tourist.

In some ways they weren’t wrong. Ae and I had sex three times a day.

“It good with you. You not too big. Not too small.” She lay with her thighs clasped to trap me inside her.

“I not finish with men from go-go. With you all the time.”

“You say that to all the men.” I didn’t need to hear about these other men, because Sherri had told me how easy it is to fake an orgasm. She had done so in hundreds of films and real life too.

“Yes, say, but not true. With you true.” Her hand caressed my shoulder with a tenderness distance years. The gesture stretched back to Eve telling Adam about the Serpent and I reciprocated with a gentle embrace.

“When we return to Pattaya, will you live with me a little?”

“Long as you want.” She was telling the truth, but only meant as long as the money lasted, because the truth in Thailand or anywhere else in the world was an onion and onions have many layers.

We rented a utility apartment. Her youngest son Dtut joined us. Three of us in one room. Our love life suffered, but not as much as when her father got out of prison and came to town.

Den lived on a dirt road on the other side of the train tracks and shared a filthy room with his son and his drug addict girlfriend. Frog was six months pregnant. They drank heavily and played cards all day. My donations to Ae had improved no one’s lives.

$200 settled a gambling debt. Another $100 to buy off a police loan shark. I rented her brother and father a small restaurant. They transformed the enterprise into a ya bah or Methedrine den. Her children went shoeless. Crooked policemen came to my house for tea money. Loansharks for delinquent loan.

After this lesson in the futility of foreign aid I withdrew my sponsorship and said goodbye before her family. Their friends laughed at this sudden misfortune. They had lost face and Ae spat, “You not understand Thai life.”

“Pom khao jai 100%.”

My old boss, Richie, had called from New York. He needed an extra salesman for Christmas season in the Diamond District.

“I go back New York.”

“You want leave me. Go.”

“I’ll be back.”

“Same you say Vee. Same AJ say me. Lies.”

“No, I swear I’ll come back.” I had no idea why I made that promise until I thought of Senora Adorno. The curse had slid back in place only in another form.

Over the holidays I worked forty days in a row and sold 25-carat cabochon Burma sapphire to a well-known interior decorator, who said over dinner at a fancy Soho restaurant, “You’re sexy.”

Tony drove a Ferrari, owned a 5th Avenue apartment and a house overlooking a surfing spot in Montauk. Richie said I should marry him, if only to have him buy a big engagement diamond from his store. I didn’t play for that team and called Ae every day. I didn’t tell anyone. Not even Sherri and once more after New Year’s Eve I booked a flight to the Orient.

Ae met me at the airport and said, “I happy now.”

“I happy too. I want you.” I was happy as was every farang in the Hello/Goodbye Lounge. “No one else.”

“And Dtut?”

“Dtut can live with us.”

“You good man.” We moved into a house surrounded by swamps. Birds sang in the trees. Butterflies danced in the sunlight. Mosquitoes sucked my blood. Ae cooked triple fried fish and vegetables. I drank a beer. The taste was off and a green liquid had been smeared on the bottle, but I drained it. After all I was Irish.

In the morning my chest ached and my temples pounded with acid hammers. The empty beer bottle smelled funny and I accused Ae of poisoning me.

“Poison?” She didn’t know the meaning in English.

“Yeah, Ya Phis for love.” Thais draped talisman around their neck, inscribed their bodies tattoos against evil, and visited fortunetellers and witches, instead of doctors.

“Not magic. Maybe house have phi.”

“Ghost? Bullshit.”

“Phi Am sit on you in night.” The Thais loved the tales of a greedy man doomed to wander eternity with a worm-sized mouth.

“Mai ching. I can see ghosts well and know real magic.” Whatever potion had been in that beer bottle lurked in my belly and its spell was bound to emerge from hibernation at a moment of weakness. “I know what I know.

“Farang nothing Thai life.”

“No one knows life. Not me, Not you. Every stupid.”

“You stupid love me. I stupid love you. Come inside.”

Life settled down after that episode. I woke with the dawn to re-edit my novel on pornography in our air-conditioned bedroom. Thai bar girls were Olympic sleepers and Pi-Ek, the owner of Hot Tuna on Walking Street theorized that these bargirls preferred the drama of dreams rather than a mistranslated lie with a farang.

“Same you go prison in a foreign movie not have subtitles. Jep hoo-a.”

His conjecture was worrisome, since Ae had twice slept for twenty hours.

On each occasion she had arisen from these comas demonized by a tigress in heat. She knew nothing about the Red Sox, the coast of Maine, or CBGBs in the East Village. I had incorporated her breastless body into my novel without explaining my original attraction was based on a supergroup’s album cover. One quiet morning I rolled off her sweat-drenched body and she murmured, “You love me?”

“I say many times ‘rak khun’. Why not believe me?”

My heart was pumping too much blood to my head and the twenty-four year-old smiled quixotically. “You write book sound like monsoon rain. Why you love me?”

“Because I feel young with you.”

“You my khun garh.”


I was neither the oldest or youngest farang in her life, but somewhere in the middle and said, because a woman liked to hear what she wanted to say, “Yes, I’ll always be your old man.”

Ae resumed her sleep of the dead and I read Peter Hopkirk’s THE GREAT GAME about the intrigue of the High Himalayas. I wished I was in Jomson under Annapurna until I fell asleep with a hand on her shoulder.

Outside the distant hum of cars mingled with the buzz of mosquitoes beyond the netting. The night air was scented by jasmine. I rested the book on my chest.

Pattaya was so much different than my life in New York.

There I worked. Here I wrote. There I slept alone. Here I made love to Ae. She would tell me about her lovers. In some ways it was like listening to Sherri about her XXX films. The two had probably shared the same adventures. I was getting to think Pattaya could be home. Mrs. Adorno would never miss me.

The hot weather melted off my winter gut and daily swims at Jomtien Beach toned up my muscles.

A few friends from New York came out for a visit. We toured the go-go bars and discos. They wondered how they could stay here for the rest of their lives. I did too, since I had no money coming in from Sam.

In late March my cousin arrived from Boston with a Red Sox cap and a skimpy red dress for Ae. My mother had sworn me to take care of Bish. Ae modeled the skin-tight sheath. I saw the wander of his eyes and said to Ae, “Go out, have fun. I meet later.”

Bish loved the food, the weather, and the wide-open nightlife. We ate at a seafood restaurant on Beach Road. The hostess greeted us with a shy smile. Only a month in Pattaya Nu didn’t speak a word of English and Bish was impressed with my rudimentary Thai.

“I learned it from Ae.”

The sleeping dictionary.”


No Thai bargirl encouraged her sponsor to learn their language in fear of losing the communication chasm’s advantage.

“In the states every woman we know in Boston would criticize our going to go-go bars.”

“Anyone of them give money to the ballet?”


“Well, then your tipping these girls after a show is more charitable than a donation to the Boston Ballet. These girls come from the end of the road. Their farms grow one rice crop a year. They have big families. Usually a brother kills someone and to avoid prison they pay blood money to the cops by sending the prettiest girl to Pattaya, Bangkok, or Phuket to make money off some drunken beer lout.”

“You used to complain about not having served in the Peace Corps after college. Guess you are in the Peace Corps now.”

“Volunteer donor.”

We clinked glasses and after a long stay at the Happy-a-Go-Go and crossed Walking Street to the Marine Disco. The Chicken Farm was loaded with free-lance girls waiting for a short-time date. Most of the farangs were drunk enough to think these girls actually considered them handsome. Ae danced with Sam’s wife. Bish and I stayed on the other side of the bar. He asked, “Isn’t this spying?” Ae finally spotted me and came to bar, saying, “No fair, you see me I no see you.”

“And I see you don’t have a boyfriend.” The red dress clung to her body like a boa.

“Only have you, khun garh.” She dragged me onto the dance floor. Dtum asked Bish to join her. I became Brad Pitt and Bish was Clint Eastwood. Sam showed up from Bangkok. He had settled with his investor for a few million baht. We celebrated with tequila. The police threw us out at dawn. Standing on Walking Street amidst the flurry of transvestites, off-duty go-go girls, and short-timers, Bish said, “This place is Garden of Eden.”

“More the Last Babylon, but I’m not religious.”

“Now Hell is more like a suburban mall. Lots to buy. None of it will make you happy. Not like here.”

“I’m in no position to argue, counselor.” I drank more than Bish.

When Bish left for Boston, tears touched his eyes. He wasn’t looking forward to life in America.

“All my life I work. I have money. I have a good job. But no woman. What is wrong with me?”

“The same thing as me.”

“Which is?”

“I don’t know, but you ever think about moving move back into Boston?”

“I am where I am.”

Several weeks later Ae’s cellphone rang around 3am. Her hand snatched it from the night table with the speed of a cobra attacking a fat rat. She closed the bathroom door. The word tee-lat muffled through the wall. When she returned to bed, Ae read the murder in my eyes and flashed the number on the mobile’s LCD. “Sorry, friend call from Italy. He old boyfriend. Now finish.”

Too little of it was the truth, but a flash of jealousy strengthen the love potion’s power and I almost threw her mobile out the window. “So when is your teelat coming?”

“Not boyfriend. Friend.” She pounded her fists on the pillows and rolled over, revealing spread legs. “You not trust me. I never go with man. Only with you.”

“You expect me to believe that?”

“You are the one I want.” Ae might have possessed a grammar school education, but she played my emotions with the virtuosity of a concert pianist and we made love with an Armageddon urgency shadowed by the impending disaster.

Pizza and pasta were banished from our menu, as I painted a portrait of a young Italian with greasy long hair. He wore a Juventus football shirt and chain-smoked between bottles of wine. The hot weather exacerbated my temper as did the arrival of the Songkran festival in April.

Ae was trouble. I had another curse on top of Mrs. Adorno’s older one. I was trapped, but good.

The Italian might be the only one who could save me from both, especially since Songkran was on its way and Songkran was the crazy time of the year for the Thais and even more so for a man lost in Asia.

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