Wesley (from the USA)
Lek is one of the Thai girls from my past, I hadn't seen her in a long time. We'd had a brief romance four years earlier, but various forces had driven us apart for a time, though we'd maintained some contact. She'd had a child, a baby girl, and the dad was a deadbeat, kind of aggressive too.
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Fate would have it that she'd driven him out just as I'd separated from the woman I'd thought would be my beautiful Thai wife – cue beach at sunset, posing for pictures over special dinners, joint projects and business ventures with grand ambitions of a happy, well-healed old age spent tending the garden and enjoying each others company. None of which was to play out as hoped.
The whole thing blew up into a
series of meltdowns that went as far as caustic hygiene products being
thrown in my face, bottles being smashed and flying around, and large
knives being brandished. There was an unbearable tension at home; we
lived together and shared everything, and I dragged around the fear that
I'd fail to contain one of her outbursts or escape it and one or both
of us would get badly damaged. Thai girls are not known for their
restraint once they've lost their cool; I had to get out quick.
I called Lek the morning following the freak-out that had pushed me through the door. I'd thrown some things in a bag and run out of the apartment, gotten in a cab and gone to a coffee shop I'd not been to in years but had been a fixture at once upon a time. Lek didn't want to do anything so quickly after the breakup with my girlfriend and told me to get back in touch after some time had passed. I spent a few days at a hotel watching movies and lounging around the hot tub and sauna. When the situation at home had cooled off I went back and began the long, painful process of separating our lives.
A few weeks later Lek messaged me on Facebook, asked how I was doing, and if I'd managed to work things out with my fiancée.
opened a small pub called Crave Bar and told me to come by any time for
dinner, no worries if I was short on cash. I wasn't going to start
trying to rekindle a romance by coming around for free food. I was
definitely planning on some rekindling though, and as soon as I'd gotten
my finances re-settled I set out for Lek's place.
It was on a narrow and heavily travelled soi that ran between Ramkhamhaeng and Lad Phrao, so it was kind of tricky to get to, hard to spot too as I'd never been out that way before. The place was nice though; it had a cool indy-arts motif and was set up with plenty of tables and comfy chairs. More like a lounge than a pub. It was outdoors, running right along the soi in a converted parking lot. There was an aluminium awning extending over the stage in the centre and a larger aluminium roof over the bar to the right and the kitchen behind that. To the left the space was completely open to the elements and had been filled with gravel, flat, round stepping stones, and potted plants with a big projector screen at the edge of it serving to complete the illusion of there being some enclosure to the place.
Before I got to the gate I was greeted by one of the Thai girls that were working there. She smiled and showed me to a table and brought me a menu. I ordered a pitcher of Chang and told her I was a friend of Lek's and could she tell her I'd stopped by.
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I was brought beer, ice, and a snack mix and I was told Lek was quite
busy but would be with me as soon as possible. I wasn't in any sort of
rush so I kicked back and listened to the guy on stage play. After a few
minutes another of the Thai girls working there (they all had matching
shirts) asked if my shoulders were sore. I said that yes they were, I'd
injured my ankle running and had been walking with crutches for a few
weeks. When she asked to rub my shoulders I was surprised, this was not
at all that kind of establishment, but I was in no position to argue.
While I've found many Thai girls to be gifted with talented hands, this girl's hands were superhuman. I was having lavish visions of lush gardens attended by gauzy women with dishes of fruit and feeling very kingly as she explained to me that she was studying to work as a massage therapist, and that Lek had suggested she come practice on me. My sense of kingly entitlement swelled to heights I'd not experienced in years.
Just as the massage got to the karate chopping bit at the end, a plate of mixed satay with peanut and chilli sauces was brought out and placed before me. I was getting so stoned on all of this red carpet action that I had to try very hard to keep cool and act not too overwhelmed by it. It was so unexpected I wasn't sure how to react, but it was more than welcome. When Lek finally came out she was carrying a bowl of soup.
She'd only gotten more beautiful with time. Her high, deep features now wore that sharp expression that only comes with experience and trials but none of the engravings that so often accompany it. And while she was still very slender of waste and limb, childbirth seemed to have done very good things for the shape and size of her hips, butt and bosoms. The only features I'd been a little bit crazy about the first time through; I'd been completely crazy about everything else.
“You like my cooking?” she asked after we'd hugged and gawked at each other for a minute; I was lot more muscled and fit than I'd been when we'd first dated and she was a bit shocked too.
“Yes, it's delicious! Do you have to cook and manage this place?” I asked, shocked and impressed.
“No, my cook call in tonight. Can not come. One drink maker can not come too, and you see quite busy tonight.”
I looked around as if I was just taking notice of the size of the crowd. I had noticed of course, but I was drunk on the royal treatment and I wasn't really piecing together complete thoughts or any sort of conclusions based on any observations I might have been making. I nodded, “Yes, quite busy indeed, is it usually like this?”
“The weekend...” one of the serving Thai girls walked up and cut her off, handing her a piece of paper with an order. “I'll be back as soon as I can, order anything you want, I'll send some snacks out too.”
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She came back after a few minutes with another pitcher of beer and some chips. “My staff say you are so lovely, you think you like any of my staff?” she gave me a sly smile and manipulated her eyebrows in that way that only Thai girls can, projecting all the emotional content of a sonnet with a few brilliantly articulated arches, curls and twitches.
As the evening wore on and the crowd thinned out, we got more and more of our catching up out of the way. She told me all about her life now, alone with her daughter. I commiserated here and there and listened as attentively as possible, and after the last of the staff had gone home and everything was packed up and turned off, we sat alone in the pale glow of the street lamps nursing the last of our drinks.
“So you live near here?” I asked, hoping it would turn out to be a leading question.
“Oh yes,” she said, “very close. Would you like to see?”
“Great! Yes! I'd love to! Are you ready to go now? Should I go get us a taxi?” I'd moved to the edge of the seat and was teasing my weight on and off my toes, ready to spring into action.
“We go whenever you want, can take beer too.”
“Okay, you sure you want to take the pitcher in the taxi?”
“I live upstairs.” and she pointed to a door and then a lit second story window I'd yet to notice.
“Oh wow!” I said, and tried to conceal me glee at the nature of the situation I'd found myself in with the question “Do you ever get tired of being so close to work all the time?”
“Everyday” she said. “Maybe now it's not so much lonely though.” and she took my hand and led me into the darkened backstage of the Crave Bar.
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