Arthur has changed bars!! By some miracle he was able to negotiate the traffic on Soi 4 and we now find him entering the Morning Night. He’s aiming for a seat overlooking the street. Similar to his previous location but looking the other way. As good a place as any to contemplate the state of the world.
He spots what he’s looking for on Soi 4. A nice seat overlooking the street and he decides to go for it. Even though it means squeezing past a group of bulky soccer types.
“Orroit mite?” says one of them as Arthur slithers past.
“Fine thanks,” says Arthur avoiding eye contact. “This will do fine.” They seem pleasant enough but you can’t be too careful in Bangkok these days.
He gets himself settled and a waitress appears. Rather a cute one actually. “What you want dlink?” she asks.
“Beer Sing kap.” Says Arthur giving her his most paternal smile.
She soon comes back with a Singha beer and some peanuts. She stands looking at him for a while. He can’t remember seeing her before…small, nice proportions, tits just right. Hmmm. Definitely fuckable thinks Arthur. The soccer types have noticed her too. Sometimes you have to make a snap decision with these things.
But there are times when Arthur just can’t be bothered going through the whole process. With Duan it was different. Just watching her brush her hair was an event. Mind you this little waitress certainly has her charms. She keeps rubbing one of her charms against Arthur’s elbow and he feels a familiar twitch coming from the little head. Mr. Happy is getting ideas. “Here we go again.” Says Arthur’s mother’s ghost.
“Oh shut up.” Says Arthur.
“What you say?” asks the waitress. “You want me go way?”
“No, no.” says Arthur. “It’s just my mother’s ghost. She’s becoming a running joke.”
“No understan’ falang.” Says the waitress.
She is definitely cute and cuddly. Arthur decides to go for it. Why not? It’s only money and it will pass the afternoon away nicely. Whatever happens is always interesting in its own way. He is just about to start negotiations with the waitress when out of nowhere comes a random thought.
One of these days, thinks Arthur, I’ll write all this stuff down. I’ll shut myself away somewhere with no distractions and apply myself vigorously to writing a complete account of myself. Why? Well not for posterity. Posterity doesn’t give a toss. For my own amusement. To see if I can stay the course. But will anybody want to read it? Probably not. People want meaning. They don’t want to read about some old fart wandering aimlessly around Bangkok.
Arthur has lots of ideas for unpublishable books. It could be one of those books where nothing much happens for instance. Something along the lines of ‘Dubliners’, or ‘Notes from Underground’, or ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Some bloke just droning on about his life and sharing his deepest thoughts with anyone who’s interested. That might work. There’s enough bored people around these days, surfing the internet, They’ll read anything.
It certainly won’t be one of those post-modern books where all the characters are versions of themselves. Arthur has read enough of those. It might jump around in time and space a bit but the story will be fairly straightforward.
Should he try to appeal to younger readers? Those who missed out on the Sixties and Seventies for instance but aren’t too bitter about it.
Arthur imagines himself with a laptop somewhere…typing words in, moving blocks of text around. It would be a lot of work. And pretty futile when you think about it. Why would anyone commit himself to something like that? More to the point why would anyone want to read it? They’ll probably just skim through it looking for the sexy bits.
OK thinks Arthur. Enough procrastination. I’ll start right now. No time like the present. Strike while the clichés are hot. He finds an old envelope in his fanny pack and borrows the waitress’ pen. He writes…
I have finally decided to write something. But what?
“What you write?” asks the waitress.
“Oh nothing.” Says Arthur. Playfully shielding his piece of paper.
Why write anything? Did James Joyce ask himself why when he was working on ‘Ulysses’? Course not. He had a head full of ideas that just kept coming. Or did he get days when he just said ‘Fuck it! Nobody wants to wade through this tripe. Why do I bother? Perhaps I should have stuck to journalism. Or perhaps I should go back to university and study something useful. Gynaecology for instance. Stop all this writing nonsense and take swab samples.’
“Falang think too mutt.” Says the waitress.
“Yes, yes,” says Arthur, “I know we do. We can’t stop. It’s a disease.”
“Hab AIDS!?!” says the waitress backing off in alarm.
“Yes…er I mean no,” says Arthur forgetting whatever it was he was writing about. His train of thought has come off the tracks. Where did the good intentions go? And where did that waitress wander off to?
“Gone to get a new pen probably,” says Arthur’s mother’s ghost semi-seriously. “A nice new clean one.”
Thank you mother, thinks Arthur, for giving me my first case of writer’s block.
“You orroit mite?” a voice asks. Not his mother’s ghost this time. It’s one of the soccer fellows. The one in the Union Jack shorts. Arthur knows the type. First time in Bangkok and shagging themselves silly probably. Pussy galore. Like kids in a sweetshop they are.
“Fine. Fine. Thank you.” Says Arthur, “how about yourself?”
“Fucking brilliant mite. Come ‘ere wiv me mites like. We come every year. I’m Kev.”
“Good for you,” says Arthur, “Do you read much….er….Kev?”
“Wot books like?”
“Well I just finished ‘Don Quixote’,” says Kev. “In Spanish. I’m thinking of reading War and Peace now I’ve got a chance like. Bugger ’arry bleedin’ Potter.”
“I see,” says Arthur. Strange that. Kev hadn’t looked like the literary type. Just goes to show how wrong you can be about people thinks Arthur. He makes a mental note to himself …stop judging people.
“Where’s yer mite?” Kev asks.
“The little bit of Thai crumpet wot you woz wiv.”
Arthur starts to explain about having had second thoughts about having the waitress for lunch. He tells Kev he got sidetracked into a discussion with himself about James Joyce.
“Ulysses?” asks Kev.
“Well Dubliners actually.”
“You like a bit of the old internal monologue do you…er…”
“You like a bit of the old internal monologue do you Arfur?”
“That seems to be my genre of choice yes.” Says Arthur. “In as much as we have a choice in these matters.”
“Ah yes,” says Kev, “the old free choice. Now there’s a topic. Me and my mites had a go at that one on the plane over. See Gav over there?” Arthur assumes Gav to be the bald one with tattoos from ear to ankle. “Gav the Chav we call ’im. ’Ee’s something of a determinist.”
“Yes. And don’t get me started on reality. What is reality when you get right down to it,” asks Kev, “you tell me.”
“Reality was a waitress for a while,” muses Arthur. “I’m not sure I have a reality really. Not in the real solid tangible sense anyway.”
“I know wot you mean,” says Kev, “Existensialism can get lonely. That’s why I stick wiv me mites.”
“You’re a lucky man.” Says Arthur. He means Kev is lucky to have mites…mates. Arthur himself has always been rather solitary by nature. He isn’t sure why. Something to do with early toilet training perhaps.
Sometimes Arthur feels as if he has spent his entire life outside a house banging on the window trying to get in. People would sometimes notice him at the window but nobody ever responded. Usually they would just get up and move to another room. Is this what Baudelaire meant by Le Gouffre? “Let’s not go there Arthur dear,’ says his mother’s ghost, “you’re just feeling sorry for yourself again.”
Perhaps. But when you’re drowning in a sea of self-pity the natural tendency is to find objects to cling to. Solid objects preferably but how is one to measure solidity? Are ideas solid? What about philosophies and beliefs? Are they good things to cling to?
“’Ere she is Arfur,” says Kev, “Your mite. Miss Thailand.”
The little waitress has reappeared. She wants to know if Arthur will be ordering another beer Sing? Arthur thinks not. “OK bye bye,” says the waitress, “See you tomorrow.” Bit saucy that thinks Arthur. See you tomorrow? Is it a question? Or just one of those things they say? Then as an afterthought she says, “I like samok bik cigar.”
“Wot you waiting for Arfur mite?” asks Kev, “I’d go for ’er meself but I’ve already got 3 birds in me room.”
He draws the waitress closer and whispers “Short time?” in her ear. She smiles and says “Sawng pan”. Two thousand baht. Arthur says OK. The waitress goes to change.
“Bit of orroit that, no going back to fat slappers after that, right Arfur?” says Kev, no lightweight himself. “Give ’er one for me mite.”
The girl comes back and Arthur starts to leave…then remembers his bill. He reaches for the bamboo cup but Kev’s hand gets there first.
“That’s orroit Arfur mite,” says Kev, “’ave this one on me.”