I'll write about this someday. The cracked, grimy ceiling that's there whenever I open my eyes. The raspy hiccuping of the fan. The momentary relief when it swings in my direction, air hot against my naked, eternally sweaty skin, but moving at least. The scents of frying garlic and rotting fish and stagnant water, the sing-song voices of the vendors under my window, the quavering pop music and the honking of the taxis on New Road.
Exotic Thailand. I'll capture it all, the mysterious complexity and the gritty foreignness. A brilliant cross between E.M. Forster and Jack Kerouac. Young man adrift, living on the fringe, self-abandoned in a strange land, victim of bad judgment and bad luck. A suitable subject for a talented writer like myself, full of irony and pathos.
Right now, though, my head aches. Even indoors, with the stained cotton drapes half-closed, the heat is a hammer, mashing my fine mind to incoherent pulp. I lie here paralyzed, arms and legs spread wide on the hard mattress to increase the surface area exposed to the limping fan. I lie here, as I do every day, waiting for the sun to sink low enough to make walking on the baked sidewalks tolerable.
Usually about five o'clock I manage to rouse myself, throw on a tee shirt and shorts, and do my daily business. My pilgrimage to the main post office, only a block away, my daily penance at the Poste Restante counter, the pitying smile from the plump clerk as she shakes her head yet again.
No, sir, no mail for Michaelson today. Sorry.
It's already mid April. When I spoke to her last month, Marcia told me she expected a response by the end of March. But publishers are unpredictable, and agents are notoriously busy. I can't afford to call her often, but I guess I'll have to try again Monday night (Monday morning in New York), try to catch her before her week is completely booked and shame her into badgering New American Library yet again. I'm no longer Marcia's top priority. Out of sight, out of mind.
Thailand. It had seemed like such an inspired notion when René proposed it to me over our beers last January. René was buying. I had just been laid off holiday duty from Barnes and Noble.
The gutters overflowed with gray slush. The pitiless wind whistled through the city's artificial canyons.
"I can't afford to live in the city," I complained. "But where can I go? Back to Illinois? That would be career suicide. No serious author ever came from Peoria!"
"Why don't you take a sabbatical?"
"Sabbatical! I can't pay my rent!"
"Sublet your place, take whatever money you can scrape up, and go to Thailand. Beautiful girls. Glittering temples. Fabulous, spicy food. No snow! It's incredibly cheap, if you know the right places. Phone and Internet are just as good as here. You can relax, have a good time, maybe do some writing, while you wait for the news about your novel."
Beautiful girls. Now that sounded appealing. Since Lisa had dumped me, just before Thanksgiving, my romantic landscape had been as bleak as the city streets.
I didn't miss Lisa, not exactly. But jacking off is a supremely lonely activity.
So the picture René painted of high-spirited, hedonistic Bangkok sounded like the ideal answer. Especially when he volunteered to join me for a week or two.
I cashed the savings bond that was my parents' graduation gift. I found a fairly reliable acquaintance whose boyfriend had just thrown him out to take over my apartment. I had a fifteen minute meeting with Marcia in which she promised to keep the pressure on NAL. I sent a letter to my mom and dad, vaguely suggesting that I had a writing assignment overseas. Once I made the decision, everything seemed to flow smoothly.
Now, two months later, I'm stuck here, mired in the gooey underbelly of Bankgok like a dinosaur in a tar pit. Money almost gone. Nothing left but my return ticket, my laptop, and my dubious genius. Sure, I could limp back home, a whipped dog with my tail between my legs. Back to what, though? Working with Dad in the hardware store?
I accept the inevitable. Dragging myself out of bed, I put on the minimum acceptable amount of clothing. The loose cotton shirt clings to my damp back. The zipper of my fly grates uncomfortably against my flaccid cock, but the notion of underwear is simply unbearable.
I pull my laptop out of its hiding place behind the scarred bureau. Tools of my trade. I've hardly opened it since I got here. I stuff the computer in a shopping bag and head for the street.
It's well past three. I weave my way along the fractured pavement, trying to stay in the shade. Whenever I fail, the fierce sun pummels me, pounding my skull despite my hat. A couple of bare-headed, red-faced tourists stroll past me, wearing cheap batik and gold jewelry. What's that saying about mad dogs and Englishmen?
I spend three quarters of an hour breathing exhaust on the open bus before I get to Pantip Plaza. The used computer places are on the third floor. I ride up the escalators, rock music and video game sound effects blaring from every shop. I catch the scents of Chinese incense and fried chillis.
When I find the stall I'm looking for, the transaction takes no more than ten minutes. I do my best to haggle, but the shopkeeper recognizes my aura of desperation. I stuff the wad of thousand baht notes in my pocket, sending one last regretful look back at my friendly Toshiba. The skinny young man already has it disassembled on his table.
Feeling flush, I splurge on a taxi back. Rush hour makes it a long, slow ride, but in the sterile chill of the air conditioning, I hardly mind. I close my eyes and lean back. The throbbing in my temples gradually dies away.
It won't be in vain, I resolve. Who needs a computer? Did Hemingway have a computer? I'll pick up a notebook tomorrow, and from now on, I'll spend at least three hours a day working. What else have I got to do, after all?
The irrational pattern of one-way streets means that the taxi has to let me off a couple of blocks from the guest house. That's ok, though. The sun has sunk below the horizon by now. There's even a hint of breeze coming from the river, stirring the muggy air.
I'm revived by the air conditioning and my fresh resolution. I stride down the sidewalk, maneuvering around the other pedestrians, avoiding the cracked bricks and crumbling curbs almost by instinct. Maybe coming to Bangkok was a good idea after all. After all, there's that old wisdom about having to hit bottom before you start to recover.
His body slams into me without warning. As I stumble and fall to my knees, I have a confused impression of tight jeans, flashy jewelry, silky black hair. Sandalwood cologne.
"Oh, I'm sorry, sir! Are you ok?" He helps me up, brushing the dust off my pants. "Please forgive me! I'm so clumsy." His voice is soft and musical, with the pleasing cadence of Thai-accented English.
"It's all right. Never mind," I tell him. His arched eyebrows are drawn together in a concerned frown, but a smile hovers on his full lips. "Mai pen rai."
"Are you sure? Can I help you to your hotel?" I'm suddenly aware of his manicured hand resting on my shoulder, light as a butterfly. His exotic scent makes me slightly dizzy. I look him over. His designer shirt, in muted stripes, fits his slender torso and broader shoulders like a second skin. His stretch denim trousers look painted on. He has gold rings on every finger, and one in his left earlobe.
He's a creature of beauty. I'm suddenly ashamed of myself, sweaty and unkempt, with two days' beard. I don't want him to see the dingy hole where I live.
"No, thanks, that's not necessary. It's not your fault. The sidewalks here are treacherous. It's easy to lose your balance."
"Ok, then. See you."
He saunters away, graceful despite the hazards of the broken pavement. I watch him for a moment. There's an odd tightness in my chest, and I still feel a bit woozy. Too much sun, I think, turning back toward my destination. I should know better than to come out during the day. At least I accomplished my goal, though. I pat my pocket, seeking reassurance in the fat mass of folded bills stashed there.
And feel nothing.
My pocket is empty. It's several seconds before I understand. Then I let out a howl that sends both tourists and natives scattering in alarm.
"NO!! No, damn it! You bastard!" I turn back in the direction I came from, trying to run, stumbling and cursing my own stupidity. The slick young thief has disappeared, of course. Before long, I'm gasping from the heat and pollution. Pain lances through my forehead. Black spots dance in front of my eyes.
I sink down onto the step of a shuttered shop, barely able to breathe. Despair washes over me. It's all over. No money, no computer, no future. I might as well be dead. Tears of frustration and self-pity spill down onto my shirt, already muddy with dust and sweat. I squeeze my eyes shut, willing the darkness inside my soul to take over my consciousness.
I smell him before I see him. "Hey, you." The voice is gentle, almost sad. "Don't cry. Never mind. Here." A folded wad of paper is pushed into my hand. "Take it."
Incredulous, I open my eyes. He's crouched beside me, thighs spread wide for balance. His hand is on my shoulder once again. He pulls a silk handkerchief from the pocket of his jeans. It's still warm from his body.
I look down at the beige bank notes in my palm. "It's all there," he says. "You can count it if you want."
He shrugs. "I like you," he says, his half-smile widening to a grin.
I notice a tourist police kiosk across the street, its occupant watching us curiously. I stuff the money deep into my pocket. I don't care whether or not he's telling the truth.
"Hey, you want a beer? My friends have a place down the next soi." He rises from his haunches with a dancer's grace and holds out his hand to help me up. "My name is Bom. And you?"
"Gary." I'm still suspicious, not sure I should trust him.
"Come on, Gary." He throws his arm around my shoulders and leads me away. In the brooding heat of dusk, I expect to find his touch unpleasant, but it's strangely comforting. I guess I'm not over the shock of my near-disaster.
His silk shirt slithers against the bare skin on my arms. I worry about the dirt on my own clothes, but Bom doesn't seem to care.
He leads me down a lane that dead ends at the river. A dilapidated wooden shack on stilts perches precariously over the muddy water. The door's wide open; inside I see several young men gathered round a table, and an inviting-looking plastic tub filled with ice and bottles of Singha.
Bom introduces his friends. Their monosyllabic names go in one ear and out the other. They're all dressed like Bom, skin-tight jeans and tailored silk shirts, accented by gold amulets and fancy watches.
Bom hands me an open beer. The chilled amber liquid slides down my throat, a sensual delight. He tips his head back to take a swig from his own bottle. My eyes are drawn to the elegant curve of his neck. He wears his hair long, in a ponytail down his back. A lock has come loose and hangs in his eyes, giving him a waifish look.
His friends are laughing and chattering in Thai. The polite host, Bom tries to make conversation. "Are you here on holiday?"
"I'm a writer." This doesn't really answer the question, but he nods as if satisfied. "I'm working on a novel."
"Ooh! Maybe you'll put me in it!" He grins with almost childish delight.
I take refuge in silence, taking another swallow of my beer. I'm surprised to find the bottle is already empty. Before I can even ask, Bom hands me a full one. I drink deeply, gazing out the open window at the twilight river traffic.
The barges make their stately way upstream, ponderous and silent. Swarms of longtail powerboats zip around them, buzzing like insects. A tourist dinner cruise sweeps by, a floating Christmas tree outlined in tiny flashing lights. I'm feeling quite drunk, and oddly peaceful. I let everything flow by me.
The place reeks of fish and rusted iron. Under these raw smells, I catch a whiff of Bom's sandalwood cologne. He has lapsed into Thai with his cohorts, abandoning any attempts to communicate with me. Still, he makes sure that the bottle in front of me is always full.
Overwhelmed by the beer and the day's events, I must have slept. I wake, disoriented, in near-darkness. A halogen lamp mounted on the next pier sends uneven shafts of light into the shack, but until my eyes adjust, I can barely see anything.
The chairs clustered around the formica-topped table are all empty. The table itself is littered with dozens of empty bottles. The room is quiet enough that I can hear the river lapping against the piles that support the building.
Then I recognize the sound of breathing. As this is sinking in, somebody moans.
"Bom?" There's a creaking sound off in the corner.
"Here, Gary." His voice is muffled. Someone bursts into laughter, which breaks off suddenly to become a groan of pleasure.
I'm beginning to be able to make out my surroundings. There's some kind of platform at the far end of the room. The platform is covered with pale, writhing, naked bodies.
"Come on, Gary," Bom coaxes. He is on his knees, poised above the prone body of one of his friends. Even in the dimness, I can see the gleam of his perfect skin, the smile on his ripe lips, the saliva dripping down his chin. He bends once more to the cock jutting up in front of him.
Another of his mates is positioned behind Bom's hips. He grabs Bom's buttocks, pulls them open, and begins lapping at his friend's anus.
I think that I should be disgusted, but I'm not. I'm fascinated. My cock hardens rapidly. If I were sober, I'd probably find this alarming, but at the moment, it seems completely normal. I unsnap, unzip, and wrestle my cock into the open air. It swells further, grateful to be set free. I stroke it slowly, root to tip, my attention fixed on the scene in front of me.
For a while the action is languid, dreamy, slow motion caresses punctuated every now and then by a sharp intake of breath or a sudden groan. My cock surges in my hand in reaction. I can hear the slurp of tongues against wet flesh, but it's a bit difficult to see the details.
Hardly realizing what I'm doing, I move closer, still stroking myself. The guy with his face buried in Bom's ass sits back on his haunches. He looks over at me and grins as he rolls a condom over his impressive prick. He says something in Thai. Bom hikes his rear up higher. He wiggles his butt in invitation.
The other man positions the tip of his rod between Bom's ass cheeks. He jerks his hips, and his cock disappears from view. Bom wails as though in pain. His partner pulls back, then rams his cock back into Bom's guts, raising another yell from my Thai friend.
I can't really see what's going on, but I can guess. My own asshole twitches in sympathy. My cock jumps with every thrust. I remember vividly the one time I had anal sex with Lisa, the way her hole gripped my cock when I plunged into her, the way her flesh gaped and shuddered whenever I pulled out. I remember her roaring orgasm, and her tears afterward. She wouldn't let me do it again, and she flatly refused to stick even one finger up my ass.
I can't imagine what it would feel like, to have that huge, rigid prick boring into my butt. Just thinking about it, though, brings me close to the edge.
The action's rougher now, and louder too. Another couple is fucking, between Bom and the shed wall. The one's who's taking it is on his back, bent double, his legs practically by his ears. His partner straddles him, drilling into him from above. My eyes are better adjusted to the dimness now. I can see the corded muscles of the fucker's thighs and the sweat dripping down his back as he pistons in and out of the the other man's hole.
There's a fifth guy, the one that Bom had been sucking. He's still on his back underneath Bom, jerking off energetically in time to the cock pounding Bom's bowels. Just as I notice him, he screams and lets go. His come geysers out, showering Bom's face with thick white droplets.
I'm almost there myself. The ache in my balls is unbearable. I jerk and pull on myself, faster, harder, close but somehow unable to get over the edge.
"Gary," Bom says hoarsely, rising up onto his knees. "Closer. Please." His partner has paused, cock still buried in Bom's hole. I move to the side of the platform, squeezing my aching prick.
Bom puts his arm around my neck and pulls my face to his. He tastes of stale beer and bitter semen. He smells of sweat. His tongue coils inside my mouth, exploring the possibilities. It's muscular and playful and not at all like kissing Lisa.
I kiss him back, rubbing my swollen prick against his naked, come-smeared belly. Nothing has ever felt so good.
Bom smiles when he feels my cock poking at him. He grabs it, pushing my own hands away, and laughs softly, then pulls my pants down around my knees. "Very nice. Oh yes, I like it. Can I have it?"
He doesn't wait for permission. Bending back down, he sucks my cock into his eager mouth. Sensation overwhelms me. Sultry jungle heat swallows me up. His tongue sweeps up and down, massaging, teasing. I want more and so I take it, ramming my cock down his throat. The bulb mashes against his pallet. He gags, then opens wider, taking my whole length. The next moment, he's using his teeth, nipping at the ridge under the head. I roar and slam my prick back where it belongs, as deep into him as I can go.
All at once, his body shakes with a new rhythm. He's being fucked again, I realize. He moans around my cock. I fuck his mouth while his friend fucks his ass, thrust for thrust.
I'm ready to explode. All at once, the guy reaming Bom yells and shudders. He pounds his hips convulsively against Bom's butt cheeks. I know he's pouring his spunk into Bom's hole. The image brings me right to the edge.
Bom writhes against his violator, but doesn't let up on the suction. I feel hot jets of viscous stuff landing on my bare thighs. Bom is coming all over me.
I can't take anymore. I swell and explode, spurting my come into Bom's mouth, rivers of it, a flood that goes on and on. He swallows, sucks, swallows again. The pleasure is outrageous. I'm totally lost in the sensations. My cock is starting to deflate, yet still I shudders and jerk like a puppet, each convulsion sending new jets of semen onto Bom's eager tongue and a new thrill up my spine.
Finally, my cock slips limply from between the Thai man's lips. He's smiling. Remnants of my come dribble from the corners of his mouth. A Buddha image hangs on his hairless chest, between tender-looking nipples.
I'll be damned if I don't start to get hard again.
Without saying a word, Bom turns his back to me and presents his ass. Dripping down the cleft between those two pale moons, I see a trail of wetness.
I can't help myself. My forefinger reaches out, tracing the path of the other man's come downward until I brush my fingertip over the velvety skin of Bom's scrotum. He sighs with delight. Fascinated, I slide my finger back up through the crevice, and sink it into that slick, dark orifice that beckons irresistibly.
He tightens around the invading digit; I slip in a second finger next to the first.
Somebody hands me a condom.
I'll write about this some day, this crazy night outside of time. The boats chugging past in the distance, the scent of rust and garbage, the mournful folk song filtering in on the tropical breeze. The alcohol-induced haze that makes everything beautiful and unreal.
Right now, though, all I want is to fuck this gorgeous, seductive, treacherous creature until we're both senseless.