I want to leave Hua Hin. I want to go home. “What’s your rush, my boy?” Terry says, drinking another beer. The six-pack is down to one. The movie is over. Wayne Newton lives. Robert Davi dies. “Let’s all go to the beach,” Terry suggests. I want to refuse. But the light breakfast has only awakened my appetite. And it is lunchtime.
The three of us leave Will’s apartment. It seems friendlier in the daytime, when there are no shadows to peer into. When the darkness cannot conceal villains who will mug and rape and kill and rape me. There is even a pool. Some of the tiles are in the shape of a dolphin. A friendly dolphin. An elderly couple passes us on the way to the elevator. Will greets them. They smile. A friendly smile.
On the beach a phalanx of umbrellas forms a canopy over our heads. There are only a few people here. “The Thais never go to the beach,” Terry tells me. “They wouldn’t want their skin to get any darker.” Will seems to agree.
Terry asks for “Chayng”. Will and I ask for water. I open the menu. It is, naturally, written in Thai. Indecipherable to my eyes. The few items which are translated include such world famous Thai dishes as “fried rice and crap” and “three testes soup”. While neither of those sounds promising, at least they are more descriptive than whatever “time canned sh hand” is. The outside of the menu is covered with teddy bears and daisies. There are also many pictures of hot dogs, hamburgers and milkshakes.
The waitress approaches. I ask for a hamburger and a milkshake. “We no have,” she says. Her tone is like a parent talking to a foolish child. “Those only picture.”
I decide to let Will order. He spits out the names of several delicacies that I am incapable of pronouncing correctly. The waitress writes down the order and turns to leave. He stops her and says something. She looks at me and giggles. Then she shakes her head and walks away. “I tell her what you want,” Will says. “But she no have green pussy.” I force an embarrassed smile.
Down the beach a child approaches a foreign couple. He has a cage with about a half a dozen birds inside. They talk for a while. Money is exchanged. The boy gives a bird to the woman. The man takes a photograph. She releases the bird. It flies away. It is free.
“They sell you the bird,” Terry says. “You release it and then they walk down the beach and catch it again. It’s another scam. That bird has probably been freed by twenty other gullible farang. Remember the big H, my boy.”
The food arrives. Tom young goon. Som tom. A rather typical Thai assortment. I stay away from the spicier fare and stick to the fried rice and crap. My stomach thanks me.
A young boy approaches us. He is selling novelties. Terry buys some wind up insects. They scuttle around the table a bit. He finds them entertaining. He also buys a clown wig. “I like to wear something like this at the assemblies. The students get a kick out of it.” He takes it out of the plastic and tries to put it on Will’s head. “I don’t like it,” Will says. “Don’t be a silly boy,” Terry says and tries again. Will refuses. “Put it on,” he says. His tone is non-negotiable. The mood has shifted. It is one thing to be demanding at night, in the privacy of a bedroom. Quite another to do it in daytime. “You Thais never want to have any fun. It’s like you were all born without a sense of humour. I have never seen anything like it.”
I can sense something change in Will’s attitude. Terry seems oblivious to the shift. “Let me try it on,” I say, even though I think it is stupid. I put it on my head. It is made for children. Terry laughs. The sight of me in a red and blue wig gives him no small amount of pleasure. “You see. It’s funny,” he says and gives Will a smack on the head with his wallet. Will recoils. I see a brief flash of emotion in his eyes, then it is gone.
When the check comes, Will makes no attempt to pay. Terry tells me how much I owe and asks Will how much for the night. Terry pays for the master bedroom. I pay for the couch. We both pay for the food.
There is little conversation on the ride to the train station. Terry sits in the front, occasionally expressing further surprise at some aspect of Thai life or culture. One would figure that, after ten years, he would cease to be amazed by such things. One would be incorrect.
We arrive at the train station. Terry gives a brief goodbye and exits the car. I open my door. Will turns around, “It was nice to meet you,” I say. He extends his hand. I shake it. He does not let go. He gently pulls my hand towards him. He places my hand on the top of his head. He is very young. A few pimples dot his forehead. He is smiling, but his eyes are sad. “Kop kun kop,” he says. He lets go of my hand. I never see him again.
Terry and I buy tickets for the train. Another special express. I take a few minutes to reassess the place. It is still not that impressive, but it seems friendly enough.
I look over at Terry. He looks like just another third class farang. Bald head. Polo shirt. Sweat on his brow from the unrelenting heat.
Being a happy bunny is all he wants. I am envious of that simplicity. But I wonder what price must be paid for that small amount of happiness? And what is behind such a pursuit? Is it simple pain or some bigger hurt? How long can such a thing be sustained? How many will get caught in the wreckage when it all, inevitably, comes crashing down?
Terry tucks his ticket into his trousers. He takes out his wallet and looks inside. “Do you think I could borrow a hundred baht?” he asks. “I want to buy a beer and I am a little low on funds.”
“Sorry,” I say. “I think we’ve had enough.” I walk to the platform. It is 2:30. The 14:10 train should be arriving any minute now. Right on time.