The rainy season had lasted longer than most Thais could remember. Many of Pattaya’s roads were inundated by the overflow from the sewers. One polluted pool stretched 100 meters along Soi Buahkhao. No cars or motorcycles were navigating through the floodzone. The black water was knee-deep, but Nai was in a hurry. His girlfriend was waiting for him at Soi 6 and she hated waiting. He drove his Yamaha scooter into stinking lake only to have the motor die halfway from the high ground of the other end.

Shopkeepers laughed at his plight from behind walls of sandbags.

“You think bike jetski?” A motorsai taxi driver shouted from a stand atop a stack of cinderblocks.

Nai’s blood boiled to a vapor and his eyes narrowed to murderous slits. One more word and the taxi driver would have a knife in his chest. The bystanders correctly read the twenty-three year-old’s vicious mood and everyone said nothing, as Nai pushed the bike to dry land. His struggle to kickstart the bike was futile. The carburetor was soaked beyond rescue. An enterprising repair shop was already servicing the other fools in a hurry. They wanted 300 baht for a new part. 50 baht was the only money in his pocket, but the ten ja-bah pills would give him 3000 baht and his girlfriend on Soi Six said her friends were in desperate need of a boost.

Business was good.

Nai decided to leave the bike before a farang beer bar. It should be safe there and he started walking toward Soi 6, his jeans dripping water with every step. At Pattaya Klang Road the rain fell in clots. His telephone and the speed pills were wrapped in plastic. The phone was vibrating against his chest. It could only be Oom. She was angry all the time now. Angry in the morning. Angry at night. The only time she wasn’t angry or moh-hŏh was when she smoked ja-bah. The drug took her someplace other than her here and she needed some ja-bah now.

Nai thought about jumping on a motorsai taxi, but opted to catch a baht bus or songthaew on 2nd Road. He might need the 50 baht in his pocket later and picked up the pace. The traffic light at the busy intersection was red and Nai bit his lip, thinkikng about his life.

His dream to be a pop star seemed set with his job as a singer at a karaoke bar on 3rd Road. Older women flocked to the club to hear the handsome Sakhio native sing Thai love songs. One had even said he sounded like Bird McIntyre, the #1 star in Thailand. That night she gave him a 2000 baht tip. Another night a gold necklace. Three days later the Yamaha scooter. Oom wasn’t jealous as long as he wasn’t jealous or huung about her customers from the Chic Bar.

“Farang only kak.” She used the slang word for customer rather than bor-rí-pôhk to show her disdain for her clientele. “Same old lady only rent you. Not same me. I steal our heart.”

Oom was right. He was only in love with her. She only had him. The old lady wanted to pay for a session in a music studio. His friend had written a great song KHITUNG TER SA-MER or I THINK ABOUT YOU ALWAYS. Two musicians were contacted to play as the band. He even had a name for the group. STRANGER. The bright lights of Bangkok were only 150 kilometers away from Pattaya and KHITUNG TER SA-MER was the ticket.

The light changed to ‘walk’ and Nai stepped into the street only to have someone grab his shirt. He fought to free himself. The hand was too professional to be a street thief after his ja-bah. Nai shut his eyes and surrendered his fate.

“Nai, what you doing here?” The chubby undercover police officer was not alone. His acne-scarred partner sat on a Yamaha 400cc SR. They had confiscated from a farang marijuana dealer.

“Going to Tops.” Nai pointed to the supermarket on the opposite corner.

“For what?” The officer was going through his pockets. It was only a matter of time until he found the ja-bah in his belt. He pulled out Nai’s phone and unwrapped the plastic. The telephone rang and the officer handed it to Nai. “Must be Oom. She must be thinking about you.”

The fat cop Uan liked Oom. She said he never went with him. Nai believed her about the farangs. Uan was a different story. The tam-luat or police always got what they wanted from women or men.

“Answer it.” Uan shoved him hard. The police in the traffic booth watched the confrontation without interest. They were only after motorcycle drivers without helmets. 200 baht from each pôo bàat jèp or prey. Easy money. Uan was after more. “Answer it now.”


“Where you?” Oom was furious.

“Not far.” Nai lifted his shirt to facilitate Uan’s search. “But have to wait nid-noy. Your friend Uan is talking with me.”

The tam-luat’s name provoke a silence.

“She want to speak with you.” Nai held out the phone. Oom would know what to say to get him out of this mess.

“Don’t go away.” Uan walked around the corner.

Nai thought about dropping the ten ja-bah tabs in the gutter, except Uan’s partner was watching him with a greedy vigilance. The older policeman was rumored to have killed three drug dealers during Thaksin’s war on drugs. None of them had been big men. Nai closed his eyes and mumbled a prayer to his favored spirit promising to change his life if he escaped the monkey house. The prayer was short, for Uan returned to the curb. His giving back Nai’s phone should have been a good sign.

“You’re lucky it’s the beginning of the month and I like Oom.”

“Why?” Nai asked knowing the word was already written on his destiny.

“Because I only want 5000 baht. Not 10,000.” Uan smiled with a flash of gold. Two teeth were capped with 22K. “If end month. Maybe 20,000 for ja-bah you have in belt. Not look surprise. I know everything about you. About Oom too. get the money. Tomorrow and tell Oom I’ll see her later.”

Uan punched Nai in the stomach. Hard. The impact emptied his soul and he dropped to his knees. The two cops drove off toward Beach Road. Someone helped Nai to his feet. A farang man in his 50s. No Thai would have interfered with police business.

“Thank you.”

The old man’s face was covered in tattoos. A criminal on the run. Oom said many of them came to her bar. They told her stories of gun, robberies, and drugs. Many were hiding from their own police.

“No troubles. Fucking filth.”

Nai didn’t understand the words, but the tone was unmistakable. He hated the tam-luat too. All they ever did was steal from people in trouble and he was in big trouble now. Not only with Uan but with Oom too. He wai-ed the farang and walked in the direction of Soi 6.

The lights of Bangkok seemed very far away.

A distance not to be measured by kilometers.

But by luck.

He had his looks and ja-bah and Oom.

Between the three of them something good had to come his way.

He could only hope it was the good he wanted and not the good someone else thought he deserved. Only tomorrow could tell what good that was.

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