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Posts Tagged ‘Gun Girl’

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There may have been movement or sounds somewhere in the world but none that penetrated into my awareness as I sat there and stared into the wavering blackness into which she disappeared.

After what was probably only a minute or two, but seemed hours long to me, Gun Girl (as I renamed her) emerged from the building without the 45. She was smiling, accompanied by a slab-bodied young Thai man. They walked about halfway across the gravel parking lot, turned towards one another and weied.

A wei is the Thai version of the western handshake except it also does duty as a sign of respect. One places one’s palms together like beginning a prayer and bows to the other person.The height of the placement of the hands before the face and the depth of the bow signifying the degree or respect being awarded.

The weis’ completed Gun Girl continued alone across the remainder of the parking lot, opened the driver’s side door, got in and without saying a word and started the engine.

At almost the same moment, the rear doors opened and the back seat boys piled in, each taking the exact same position they were to maintain for the entire trip. I could never determine if this was a habit or had some complex social significance. I would have assumed, if it had been mere habit Mata Hari who sat in the middle would eventually object.

In absolute silence Gun Girl immediately drove out of the parking lot, gravel crunching beneath the wheels, and back onto the road.

After we had gone a short way and bursting with curiosity, I turned to her and asked, “Is the restaurant owned by your family?”

“Yes, that was my sister’s son. You met him once. He owns the place and works there during the day. At night he works as a policeman”

“Oh, then that must have been his gun?”

“No, it’s mine. I just thought it was best that I leave it with him for the time being. Sometimes when you drive through the city the police may stop you and confiscate it or…”

I could not make out what else she was saying as she lowered her voice below that that these old ears could discern. At least I now knew that we would be going into or through a city of some sort.

We continued through the forest and the roads got a little better. The subdivisions disappeared, replaced by a few isolated hamlets with Thai style wooden buildings on stilts. In my current state, I could only be reminded of Pan Tae, that village of murder and mayhem in the south of the country, that I lived family lived in for a few months. Buy that is another story.

Eventually, we came to a main highway heading in the general direction of Bangkok.

“You might as well rest,” she said. “It is going to take about four hours before we get where we are going.”

“Oh, where is that”.

She mentioned the name of a place I did not recognize, adding in response to my blank look, “I really cannot describe in English where it is located”.

About one hour later we stopped for lunch at a small town adjacent to the highway. Having eaten a large breakfast, I was not especially hungry and just ordered an espresso. I noticed they had a small espresso machine like those little ones designed for the home. Unfortunately, what they brought me tasted like they used instant coffee in the contraption.

The others ordered the ubiquitous Thai soup. The soup is a broth of some kind in which one requests various separate ingredients added, usually noodles, vegetables, and meat, chicken or fish. Sometimes fairly tasteless small balls of something or other are included. The diner then adds to taste sugar and whatever sauces he wishes from the options in jars provided on the table. The specialty of the house appeared to be a yellowish sauce that looked a lot like marmalade. I did not try it.

When we all had finished, I was expecting to be presented with the bill. To my surprise, Gun Girl paid for the meal. A little further on we stopped to gas up the car. I assumed that this time I would be asked for gas money. But no, Gun Girl paid again.

I was becoming more and more happy.

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I am called Pookie and although I am an American citizen, I currently live as an expatriate in Thailand at a beach resort city named Jomtien Beach where I rent an apartment in a large complex I dubbed “Paradise at the Beach.” Every day, I walk along the strand or swim in the pool, eat at one or another nearby restaurants and more or less blissfully enjoy doing the nothing that I had been looking forward to for many years.

One day a Thai woman I have known for a long time but had not seen for a while called and suggested we have dinner at a nice little Italian-Thai restaurant located adjacent to my apartment complex. I arrived early, sat at the bar and ordered a gin and tonic.

As expected, she arrived late.

She explained that she had just come from divorce court where she finalized her divorce from her Australian Husband. We sat down at the table and ordered dinner. She told me about her domestic travails as we ate. She said that she was feeling sad and to demonstrate the veracity of that statement she periodically teared up and cried. Eventually, she mumbled that she felt she needed to get away from it all for a while. She then brightly suggested we drive togeather up to Chiang Mai, that wonderful ancient walled city situated in the foothills of northern Thailand where I lived for a few months before moving to the sea-shore.

I thought it was a good idea since, being a bit bored myself, a trip up-country with an attractive woman would cure me of any creeping ennui I may have been experiencing. We agreed to leave in a few days.

I called some friends in Chiang Mai to arrange to visit them during my stay. Unfortunately, my intended traveling companion then disappeared. When I tried her telephone number, the recording indicated that the phone had been disconnected. So, I had to call my friends again and cancel the visit.

About two weeks or so later, she called me explaining that she had been in the hospital and could not contact me. Whether she was there to cure some malady or to dry out from drinking too heavily, I never got straight. Nevertheless, she again suggested that we go away together for a few days; this time not to Chiang Mai but to the nearby Island of Koh Samet where she and I had spent a lovely weekend a few years back.

Since my usual weekly massage was to be on Thursday rather than my normal Friday that week, we agreed to leave at 8 AM Friday morning. I planned to spend a day or two with her on Koh Samet then move on to Koh Chang or one of the other islands the area I had never visited but always wanted to.

On Friday at eight thirty in the morning she called and said she would arrive by about 9:30. There being no sign of her at that time, I took my suitcase and went to breakfast to await developments.

At about 10:15 she arrived. I invited her to join me at breakfast. She said she had already eaten and was not hungry and took my luggage to her car. When she returned, she told me that some friends and family would be going with us. I was annoyed because when a Thai woman tells a Farang (“Foreigner” in Thai) that friends and family will join them, it usually only means one thing, the Farang pays for all.

When we got to the car I discovered three young men in the back seat. Being Thai young men, to my Western eyes, they could have been anywhere from 17 to 35 years old or more.

One, seated in the back to the far left, clutched what appeared to be a well-worn large orange teddy bear. I was later to realize instead of a teddy bear it was a stuffed ox or water buffalo complete with large horns, but it was too late. Having failed to catch his name, I already started calling him Teddy Bear Boy in my mind.

The second, who spoke English fairly well and was sitting in the middle, I recognized. He  worked in a local upscale restaurant called Mata Hari as a waiter or bartender. He I named Mata Hari.

The third was a sullen-looking young man wearing a “S.W.A.T” T-shirt who said little during the entire trip.  I called him the Sullen One.

I got the impression that the Mata Hari and Teddy Bear Boy were gay. It would be a mistake however for a foreigner to take anything about a Thai at face value. This is not because it is the so-called inscrutable orient, but just that different cultures give off their own cultural signals. I learned this in Italy when I lived there during the late 60’s. What I thought were facial and gesture signals that would signify no in America, actually to my great embarrassment indicated consent among the Italians. But, that is another story.

Now with the three young men sitting behind me and being annoyed already, I became even more annoyed and a bit uncomfortable as we took off, not down the coast as I expected, but into the rural areas behind Paradise by the Beach where, for long stretches, the paved roads disappeared and every now and then a new subdivision named something like Grand View or Hillside suddenly loomed out of the jungle vegetation. For some reason, I pictured in my mind that scene in Godfather II where Clemenza sat in the back seat of the automobile behind Michael’s sister’s errant husband as they drove into the Meadowlands.

Finally, we came to a large barn-like building that in the US would be called a Roadhouse. We pulled into the gravel parking lot.  My friend drove to the far end of the lot and  backed up to the edge and parked so that we faced the entrance to the building looming in the distance black, shadowy and wavering in the heated air that rose from the parking lot.

She then reached down into that space separating the front seats where usually the change and cup holder reside. Instead of coins, she picked up a handful of large bullets that I had not noticed before. The casings were shiny brass and the blunt points, bright copper.

My first  thought was that since I recalled that she often engaged in producing crafts that she would then sell, she had acquired these to make some sort of strange jewelry.  As a little child, she would make those flower arrangements that are sold on just about every street corner in Thailand.

The image of the little 5-year-old flower girl quickly dissipated, however, when she then reached down  beside  her seat next to the door and pulled up a very large and very mean looking 45 caliber pistol. While admittedly it was not yet a Holy Shit moment, there was a sharp intake of breath on my part.

Then, with the gun placed next to her ear and pointing straight up towards the roof of the car, she shouldered the car door open and got out with what appeared to me to be a look of grim determination on her face. At the same moment, the rear doors flew open and the boys in the back scrambled  out and disappeared somewhere behind the vehicle.

I did not look for where they went because I was too fixed on watching her stride resolutely, gun in hand, now down by her thigh, across the gravel parking lot, up the two wooden stairs leading to the entrance of the building and then disappearing into the darkness.

I thought, “for a morning that started out so unpromising, it may turn out to be an  interesting day after all.”

Stay tuned…….

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