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Title: Corpus of a Siam Mosquito
Author: Sills, Steven David Justin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Copyright (C) 2002 by Steven Sills.


                   Corpus of a Siam Mosquito

                       --Steven Sills



"So he spoke, and the bright-eyed goddess, Athene, was pleased
that she was the god he prayed to before all the others.  She
put strength in his shoulders and knees, and set in his heart
the daring of a mosquito, which, though constantly brushed away
from a man's skin, still insists on biting him for the pleasure
of human blood."

--The Iliad
  Homer



                     Book I: Palaver



                        Chapter 1


     They, with their driver, went down Ramkhamhaeng Road singularly in
the scope of their thoughts but conditioned into repudiating their
aloneness. It was an early Bangkok morning with a new day tripping over
the corpse of the earlier one the way dogs on the Bangkok sidewalks
were walked on. It was early in the relationship of the two passengers
and this nascent association contained the complex and awkward
ambiguity of not being clearly professional or personal and he and his
prostitute-model were tripping into each other. When she put her hand
on his leg he would stiffen and both his legs would slightly slant away
from her but when she removed her hand and kept it away from him for
some minutes he would put it back there closer than ever to his thighs.
Even he had to admit his actions made no sense given the fact that he
flaunted her, and others like her, wherever he went; but it was part of
the game of being desired. Although he wasn't even conscious that such
a game was being played, she was fully cognizant of these subliminal
calculative moves and how a woman was played.  She knew that she was
desiring him more as a consequence.  She also knew that being desired
required adhering to the rules of withdrawing from the neediness of
wanting to be linked to a man and of transforming herself into the
metamorphoses of self-contained fantasies that he would desire.

     Despite Thai's reverence for royalty, the three of them went down
Ramkhamhaeng Road without even thinking about the king behind the name.
He, his whore, and perhaps the faceless one at the steering wheel as
well, thought of themselves as a unit albeit an insignificant one.
They had that sociable tendency to chat at each other to reduce the
drone of one's solitary and melancholic thoughts but it was less the
case with the pensive passenger, Nawin (formerly Jatupon) who,
Aristotelian and poised as a Garuda, was a surly contemplative despite
lordly debauchery.  Through being whirled in vicissitudes he felt that
he could withstand anything fate had to offer.  Unlike the others, he
did not need to escape his thoughts as much as a bull from a corral.
Instead, he befriended his morose tendencies.
     Basking in the grandeur of his new stature, the back seat Nawin
was dwelling on himself continually in the concern that his fame,
isolated as it was, had not happened totally from the merit of his
work. He wondered how much the licentiousness of his life and the
salaciousness of the subject matter were the real color of what could
be marginal talents.  He wondered if he should change his subject
matter proving himself as an artist even if it reduced the virility he
felt as a type of swarthy Thai sex symbol. How strange it was, he
thought to himself, that despite the fact that being dark was never an
attractive trait in Thailand where the lighter, Chinese skinned Thais
were thought to have more material success, sensuality, and beauty, he
who was not particularly handsome from being dark as a shoe's heel
should be sexy from his wanton disposition.  Likewise, his thoughts
were dark in a land of frivolous irresponsibility. To Thai's the word
"serious" had a negative connotation and he was that.  Unless one was a
monk, being contemplative was a tacit violation of laws in the Land of
Smiles.  He had become the rescuer of whores humanizing their sorry
plight. Their only sins were to be born poor and to be loyal enough to
not pull out of the loose fetters of family obligations.  They
continued to remember shadowy figments of obscure rural relatives whom
they needed to feed. Still being a hero was burdening him with a
singular motif and he continually shot this thought through his
neurological circuitry until the taxi driver spoke, parting his
thoughts like Moses and the Red Sea or Buddha sabotaging a bit of the
recycle factory of the human soul.
     "My son flew into Chaing Mai recently. I've been wondering about
airplanes ever since-just thinking about how things get off the ground.
 Have you ever wondered that?"
     "Ka," meaning yes, the woman in the backseat croaked like a crow.
"I'm trying not to question it.  Wondering such things would make me
scared that they don't stay up in the sky," she laughed.  Her name was
Jarunee but her nickname was Porn. "This will be my first plane ride
soaring off with the birds."
     "Thais don't often fly," he said.  His idea was tinged with a
bitter undertone as if poverty turned one's bones to lead and he found
that his idea put him back in the solitude of his thoughts for only
silence ensued.  He decided to sound happier. "You sound excited."
     "It has been my dream."  She leaned her head against Nawin's
shoulder.
     "Flew off to Chaing Mai. He lost his job during the financial
meltdown of 96.  3000 baht.  That's what the family lived on each month
for a good many years.  Then she was pregnant and laid off from the
restaurant and they stayed with us for five or six months. Of course
they could have stayed longer.  After all, they are family."
     "Yes, of course. You sound like a good father. I'm sure it will
get better for everyone soon," responded Porn as she looked up at the
old face in the mirror hoping with softness to make the tenor of the
conversation gayer.
     "Krap," he said meaning yes although he wasn't in agreement. "No,
he continually got more depressed and then no matter how many job
interviews he went on, he came up empty handed.  Then she took their
children to her parents. He came up there a bit later.  The in-laws had
him but didn't want him. He hadn't been trained at anything but working
in the factory.  He didn't know how to plant rice or maybe he was too
depressed to learn. It wouldn't seem there would be much to learn. You
just put them into the ground. Anyhow, he was walking around in a daze
all that time.  That's what she claimed they said about him. Soon he
returned with us but before we knew it off he went to Chaing Mai.  I
don't know why.  I got a post card from there.  It didn't say much
other than he had taken his first flight. Can you imagine just buying a
ticket, leaving, and not saying a word."
     "Ka, not really.  I can't imagine anybody doing that...unless he
just didn't want to worry you.  Maybe he didn't want to worry you about
if the idea was right or wrong financially.   I bet he has friends
there and they'll help him to locate work."
     "Yes, it is the best thing. I've been going to the temple to give
food to the monks and blessings will follow. I'm sure of that. I've
never gone on a flight. Where are the two of you going?"
     "To Montreal."
     "Where's that?"
     "To Canada."  She smiled but the word, favorable as it was, didn't
have the flavor of Paris or cities in America.
     "What will you do there?"
     Nawin wondered what she would be doing there.  She had escorted
him around galleries, parties, and auditoriums where he gave speeches.
Bangkok gossip columnists had sometimes even mentioned her presence
with him.  What would she be doing in Montreal while he attended
post-graduate classes?  That was a fundamental question he had no
answer for. He had granted unto her a new profession where she didn't
have to spread her legs to anyone but him. He had rescued her from
stripping and whoring in a bar in Patpong but perhaps that would not be
enough.  Nobody was content.  Like any animal, a human always yearned
for more.  They were trying to build up on themselves so that they were
free of all discomfort.  A woman was more that way than even a man
based on his judgments and to be left alone in an apartment in a
foreign country would be one major discomfort she would not tolerate.
He began to miss his wife:  she didn't need anything--not even sex with
him.  She was free to love other things than him--higher things and he
was free to love higher things than her as well as the lower things
like Porn.  It was for this reason that he loved her but he didn't
desire her so much except as an intellectual companion.  This one he
desired and that love certainly had more thrust than the former one.
At least it appeared to be stronger.
   The sky had tubes of light paint oozing out into the darkness and
the sky could not ascertain if it wanted a moon or a sun in its
presence. The ride was just beginning and yet it was monotonous in the
darkness and the light of the street lamps that refracted glaringly.
The three of them still remained as little conscious of the moon or,
dependent on the limitation of their eyes, the corona of the moon, that
they happened to glimpse as accompanying them on their early morning
departure as they were of the monarch, Ramkhamhaeng, that was the
source of the road's name. The taxi driver was near-sighted so to him,
as most things at a distance, the reality of it all was begotten as a
blur.
     The back-seated Nawin with the cigarette fuming and the legs
sprawled out and thumping to his portable CD player and his model or
whore with her hand again on one of his legs had their thoughts parted
once more in the kinetic movements of linguistic moans.
     "What airline will you be flying out of?" asked the taxi driver.
Following patriarchal social etiquette he was addressing the man
instead of the girlfriend despite not liking the smoke.  The man was
more than a customer but a member of the more affluent class and this
by Thai, although not Buddhist standards, was well revered.  How swift
one's encroaching aloneness was purged and thwarted in the retreat
engineered by the batons and water cannons of one's linguistic moans.
The whore, whose self-image had been disparaged by the unconventional
positive endorsement of her activities by the wife, was grateful to
gain the parting of her thoughts from the driver's voice.  She was
pleased to be once again hearing anything--even the least little
unenlightening fact-about their trip.  She smiled.  After all, it was
the land of smiles.
     "Thai" mumbled Nawin's voice from the back seat.
     "Domestic or international?" asked the taxi driver as if amnesia
had wiped away a whole section of memory. Porn released an alien
chortle that made Nawin think that he was sitting on the back seat with
some type of mythological, hybrid animal he was in the process of
taking on an overseas journey.  How quickly she had gone from
seductress to a callow calf and kid.  He smiled at the man's ignorance
without laughing. He felt that his girlfriend was ugly and noticed how
mutable the sight of anyone was: at one-time ugly and at another time
beautiful, at one-time virtuous and another point wicked, and at one
point victim and another time slut.  It was not only the physical
dimensions that could vary from moment to moment.  The perception of a
whole being could change.   He moved himself to the window to get away
from her hand and feigned a curiosity with the world outside. He rolled
down the window. At that moment they both had a similar jejune feeling
of the repetition of old things and new things not fully connecting.
It was indescribable to them both.  Porn kept asking herself if she was
doing the right thing in forsaking her responsibilities with her
clients for the unknown of traveling with him.
     "You look like you are car sick," said the driver.  "My son always
got that way even a kilometer down the road when he was a boy.  Matter
of fact that happens to him now--not quite as bad, though.  I can't
think how he survived the flight to Chaing Mai.  That I'll never know."
Nawin, to show proper deference to an older man and to prove to himself
that he wasn't churlish, looked toward the mirror and front windshield
and gave the whole frontal world a nod. The boy born of the name
Jatupon was bleeding inside him.  His brain waves wiggled around like
noodles.  He was no better than this man. They both had been born poor
with limited opportunities.  He couldn't laugh at him for any reason.
     "Are you going international or domestic," asked the driver of the
twenty-five year old.  Again there was a chortle.  "Why does that
question seem to make her laugh," asked the taxi driver. "That is very
strange.  That is a strange young lady."
     "Krap," said Nawin gruffly, "I don't know why she is laughing."
"We are going international.  Eva Airlines. Eva Airlines, an
international flight to Japan," reiterated Nawin. He kept it simple.
He didn't even want to think about Montreal.  The thought of
accompanying an animal, of sorts, to the other side of the world was
too much. No sooner had he said it than she reminded them both of the
fact that she would be going to her home first.  Nawin had fallen into
his own pensive inclinations but unlike them he wanted the completion
of his thoughts.  He was scanning his mutating neurological circuitry
for a possible answer to the enigma whom he called his wife.
Noppawan's flippant comment that the stoplight wouldn't get any greener
as she smiled and shut the door on him and his whore troubled or
inveigled him.  One's driveway wasn't exactly equipped with a stoplight
so that one sentence bordered on sarcasm.  Her placid demeanor was like
plastic and how she behaved belied everything so how was he to know if
she was discontent with this arrangement if not jealous of it.
     It was the first time that he would be leaving her to travel
abroad.  He had offered to delay the trip by a week or two until she
had submitted her grades at Assumption University, which Thais called
A-back.  Maybe having his Porn stay over at their house the previous
night was disrespectful to his wife but nice or offensive behavior was
based upon one's guesswork on how society would interpret such
situations and unique situations like this were all the more impossible
to judge.  His wife was definitely different.  That was for sure; but
she was still a woman down deep even if she denied it just as his
American passport and name-change made him abstain from bits of
himself.  A woman had instincts at suspecting a man's activities.  A
woman had jealous rages and seductive lures that had a chance of
keeping a man with her: genetic programming from hundreds or thousands
of female ancestors who had experienced the promiscuity of husbands and
were afraid that they and their children would not be properly taken
care of. But there was certainly no chance of children.  She slept with
him a few times as husband and wife in a motion of fulfilled and
completed consummation never to be repeated.   Then she went in to get
herself sterilized.  Why she needed to do both was unclear.  She was a
mystery and steadfast in committing herself to that vow they had made
to each other when they were 14 or 15 years old to not live petty
lives. Such was the gray in the gray matter that enveloped them.  Life
with Noppawan had the insatiability of an itch to a mosquito's bite and
contained the same pleasurable discomfort.
     "Taking a trip to Japan" thought the taxi driver sarcastically.
He wasn't certain how anyone could afford to go there.  He was stuck to
the boundaries of the car and he resented it; although from it, despite
its limitations, he was always introduced to people so different than
he was.  They were the favored ones whose ideas were not curtailed to
traffic jams exacerbated by infuriatingly influential traffic lights
and accidents.  Traffic accidents were such chaos because smashed cars
could not be moved until insurance agents came to the scene to make
their reports.  Traffic policemen, who could easily be bribed, were
never to be trusted.  The favored people did not have everyday to roam
the streets like homeless but highly mobile mendicants, their every
movement enslaved and dictated by the pronouncement of street names
called out from the back seat. "Do young people like you have money to
go off wherever you wish?" The words pierced out of one who was
pierced.  The ache tore open like a tenuous newly heeled scar with the
blade coming up to slit others.  He knew that he had behaved contrary
to social instinct but he hadn't been able to stop himself.
     "Don't you know who this is?" asked the whore with arrogant
vehemence.
     The taxi driver looked in the rear view mirror at the brown-faced
Nawin or Jatupon and asked, "No, should I know you?"
     "No you shouldn't.  Neither one of us should know the other one.
Just drive!" said Nawin although again he winced from his darker alter
ego that only became him when he uttered its thoughts.  He wasn't
totally devoid of societal programming of right and wrong no matter
what he claimed to Noppawan.  Being respectful to one's elders and
giving the prayerful gesture of the "wei" (pronounced as "why") to
one's superiors did exist in him at certain times. He would always
stand up for the tribute paid to the king prior to a movie although
that was more from the idea of not offending the sensibilities of
others around him or, less altruistically, getting himself possibly
thrown out of the movie theatre. Furthermore, the Jatupon who had
brought cups of ice to customers when he was a boy, the uneducated
slave who had found himself spun up in noodles of sidewalk restaurants
until he was 15, often began to stretch like a 26 year old fetus locked
up in a heavily fortified placenta.  He would feel how disparaged
Jatupon often felt.  He would feel guilt when he disparaged others that
seeped into his veins while ghosts of yesteryear suddenly vexed him
making him feel numb and cold inside.
     He too wanted to stop thinking and he wished that his thoughts
could be intruded with conversation.  "I just mean that I'm nobody
important.  I paint a little.  I'm going to Montreal for that reason."
The taxi driver was reticent.  "Do you have many hours left driving
today?" Nawin asked him.  Still there was no answer.  He threw the
cigarette out of the opened window.  "Do you want a stick of gum," he
asked the girl.
    "I have a tick tack in my mouth now but I'll take your gum and save
it for later.  You might not offer it again."  She giggled and he
smiled at her with the tightness of his closed lips. She had lost her
animal, and there she was as his seductress.  He kissed her and
returned the headphones over his ears. The savory taste of her mouth
was in him.


                                           Chapter 2

        The acceleration that took them out of Huamark and through
other adjacent sections of the city eventually led them to her area.
He did not remember the name of it:  Bangkae, Bangplad, Bang-something.
 He paid little attention to what his mistress said.  Her voice often
seemed the strident spluttering of burning fuel in an engine that
couldn't produce motion. King Ramkhamhaeng was a bygone entity.  As
soon as his model picked up some of her things that she had forgotten
to bring with her the previous day and they had some breakfast, then
Thailand would be a thing of the past too.  For how long he didn't
know.  He was married but it was one signature on many sheets of paper.
The significance of spilled ink could not be read unless, like many
superstitious Thais, he were to seek a fortuneteller-mendicant sitting
on a sheet or straw mat on a sidewalk or in a park.
      Noppawan had her chance to go with him.  He had asked repeatedly.
 He had tacitly exhorted (mostly with his eyes) but she had refused
him.  Maybe she needed him to command her presence.  Maybe in this
nebulousness of strong selfishness and altruism called a personal
relationship, so immediate and personal like finding oneself enveloped
in smoking and fiery dust, she needed constant reminders that he cared
about her more than any other entity selfishly and altruistically. That
would be the woman in her if there were such a woman.
     He tried to contemplate what love was like for normal people.  It
was surely a dust storm one invented in one's mind to escape loneliness
but then it became intertwined in more neediness and consciousness of
the other's feelings and thoughts so as not to be vanquished to
aloneness.   An individual who was able to overcome the grief of the
loss of dopamine in the ephemeral and moribund high of being in love
would cling to his former pleasure-inducer as a source of meaning in
life's vicissitudes.  He and Noppawan had done the same but they were
less like individuals finding themselves separately cast onto lifeboats
in an ocean of random waves for they found oceans of thoughts within
themselves that seemed more navigable to solid chunks of reality.  They
needed each other less; or so he thought.
      Thai women generally had obsequious crying bouts in their rafts,
but Noppawan, he argued, was not a woman.  She was female without
womanity.  She was a female who advocated overcoming petty human
existence for a love of ideals, compassion, and the attempts at
understanding the human predicament.    He couldn't see into the future
to know if he would be returning to Thailand anytime soon to be peered
at through his wife's thick dark framed glasses.  At present there were
only the wills of three individuals cowardly seeking meaning for
themselves in a unit.  There were only these socialized wills rolling
along on a road in marginal darkness under the specious assumption that
there really was a destination.  The sensory input of traditional Thai
music was coming to them from the front and back speakers of the car
that was their confinement.  The radio music, no matter if interpreted
as harmonious or strident by the three individuals, was a levee helping
to block their pervasive inundation of self-absorbing, mordant thoughts
and reminded them (the patriot and the pending expatriates) of their
commonality as Thais.
      They passed a mall where he and Porn had gone shopping a month
earlier.  That day they had spent together there was the levity of the
stroll and the shiny flash of credit cards in this Thai way of
forgetting one's impoverished roots. Feeling on top of the world, he
comported the male gesture of having one arm clutching the other one
behind his back.  It was a gesture of affluence in the stroll of the
shopper's quest.  At least twice when he encountered friends of his
from Silpakorn Art University with bags in their hands he would talk to
them for a half hour and somewhere into the talk he used another male
gesture of affluence.  He would slip a foot from a sandal and then slap
it onto the floor loud as a firecracker.  The sandal would hit the
floor like a hand slapping against an impoverished peasant.
      They stopped in an alley smaller than a side street called a
"soi." It was in between many Mom and Pop businesses and there, crowded
within, was her apartment.  He knew rooms like this well.  They were
rented out for fifteen or twenty dollars a month (600 or 700 baht),
barren, hot, and unventilated as an attic. When she had gone in to get
her bags he felt less lonely to be momentarily rid of her.  Even now at
age 26 but with thoughts at certain moments suffering and dragging like
a man of 50, there was just himself, the real unit of one, and delude
himself all he pleased he knew that he could not find anyone more
significant than that.   The only thing next to his heart, in the
pocket of his shirt, were the slides of his art depicting the naked and
dejected whores of Patpong that had ejaculated him into fame and puffed
up a latent ego in himself that thought that he was a higher being than
other Thais.  He was keeping them there that day because he wanted to
momentarily hand them over to airport authorities so they would not be
harmed in airport security.   When she returned with an added bag that
the taxi driver plunked into the trunk the two men smiled at her and
she smiled back.  After all, Thailand was the land of smiles and every
infant understood the advantages of smiling.  To bypass his surly
temperament and increase friendly relations, Nawin offered more breath
fresheners or chewing gum for everyone.  No Thai would refuse such
friendly gestures and the two of them took from his hand greedily like
tamed birds.  Then he began his old contemplation of why 2 was greater
than 1 or why 3 was greater than 2.  It was an old argument of his
wife.  The first time she posed it to him they both were 16 years old.
He had made the mistake of asking her to a dance.  "Why do two things
coming in close proximity to each other have greater value?"  she
asked.  His only response had been "A le nah?" meaning "What did you
say?"  Neither one of them went to the dance but straight to their
bedrooms and their sullen thoughts.
     Porn was, according to his thinking, an "all right whore."  She
didn't cause him any problems at all and it was for this reason that he
carried her along with him as a personification of his intellectual
decadence thereby increasing public intrigue with him.  She was the
pretty doll he could swing about as a reminder of his one-man school of
art.   He, Nawin Biadklang, could flaunt her around as the premier
example of the dark vision in his mind and the sexual slavery of his
nation all meshed together.  He would have to draw a lot in Montreal
and sell everything he painted to pay for any expenses the scholarship
would not cover.  She preferred her title of model.  He was not so
heartless to deny her this euphemism.  She successfully relieved him of
the tension of his body and to be emitted of it like a squeezed
tangerine in such a good rhythmic fingering would well compensate for
the stress level of having to spend so much time with her.  He desired
her a lot of the time so by most accounts of love he did truly love
her.  Foremost, Noppawan did not object to her.  Matter of fact, she
wanted Porn to relieve him.  She wanted him squeezed.  She wanted the
pus squished from his brain without having to get dirty.  She wanted to
continuously wear the glasses that caged her tepid orbs and to not
succumb them to rapturous non-Buddhist primal yearnings.  She did not
care to dodge the aloneness of her thoughts through a rapturous
delusion that she was one partial being made whole in sex and love.
And yet by her account she did not want to mandate his awareness.  It
was only by tripping on shadows and feeling vapid equanimity that came
after having absurdly given oneself over so entirely to the sensation
of pulling on one's genitalia that a man actually knew anything.
      This whore was and was not his typical whorehouse girl.  On the
day of their first meeting he had been sketching runners and trees at a
stadium near Assumption University where his wife taught.  His head was
resting in a fog until she materialized. There she was casting a shadow
onto the sun that was sedating him and wrapping him into himself in
sleep.  There she was questioning him on his art and pointing out her
mommy, a skinny and frail thing, sitting on the other set of bleachers.
 He found out that she was a dancer.  There was no surprise there. Her
flirtatious gestures and the presence of her frail mommy looking over
at them and hoping the purchase would take place were tacit but
undeniable clues that she was poor and wanted a male companion.  That
was no surprise either.  Yet beyond this calculated small talk or
artifice was an ingenuous mouth that glistened in guileless desire. She
was a money girl.  That was obvious, and yet there was more.  There was
infatuation and an accompanying mommy who was like an SOS. Porn was a
whore, but if he hadn't been married, she could have been more.  Except
for Noppawan, who was a flagrant novelty, he couldn't quite decipher
how whores and wives were all that different.  Both baited the man for
the fecundity of prosperity and progeny.  It was a survival response
that was selfish in base primeval instincts.  It was human and
beautiful.  It was filled with womanity.

         She turned up the volume on her tape recorder and repeated,
"Excusez-moi; au revoir; oui; toilletes; papier hygienique."
         "Was that the main reason for coming to your apartment: for
the tape recorder?" he asked.
        She turned off the machine without the least concern about a
distraction deferring her scholarship. "Oui," she said, "but also my
favorite blouse, jeans, a necklace-see, isn't it beautiful--lots of
things.  A tape recorder is rather important, I think. You don't want
me to be unable to talk."  He nodded his head as he frowned wishing
that she couldn't speak at all.  She would have been all the more
beautiful mute and deaf.  He had proposed getting up early initially to
compensate for his slow, pokey movements but not as early as this and
he resented having lost sleep for such knicknacks.  He didn't feel that
he should be subject to listening to her palaver in Canada. His nod was
that of acquiescence the way the King Ramas had agreed with planned
activities of the imperialists to divert their attention.  He, however,
was trying to divert a headache. He looked at the booklet that was on
her lap.  She was unsuccessfully trying to imitate a product published
in Thailand as he had guessed a minute earlier from the fact that the
speaker on the tape sounded Thai.  It was the blind leading the blind,
he thought.
      "You do know some English, don't you?" he asked.
     "No," she said.  He could imagine the palaver she would be saying
on the streets of Montreal and he yearned for his wife, Noppawan.  He
got the taxi driver to turn right and park on the side of a street.
His eyes were fixed on a barren serenity of gravel and weeds that was
in the vicinity of a pier.  The sun was now rising fully and aided by a
golden roofed temple on the other side of the river, there was a
silvery and golden glaze in the waters camouflaging the sooty sediments
that were diluted within.  He wanted to go to the gravel and eat along
the side of begging dogs of which the bodies were deflating like tires.
 He wanted to sit at one of the red metallic tables on a plastic stool
among a group of saffron robed monks, with the scents of rice or
noodles penetrating his nostrils.  He had to smile that such an
aversion as twenty baht meals still called to him pleasantly because
they were the foundation of memories that constituted his verdant
youth.
     "What are we doing?" she asked
     "We're eating," he said.  "Come on, it will be fun to act like
common people," he chuckled.
     "Common. I know common. Common is having a treat of eating fried
insects on the dirt road, Nawin.  Common is sleeping on a rug because
you don't have a bed.  Common is praying for the opportunity of having
one's sandals fall apart or getting them trapped deep into the soil of
the rice field so as to have an excuse to get out of the hamlet.
Occasionally we paid an arm and a leg to the owner of a truck who came
once a day ten miles down a muddy road to pick people up. Common,
Nawin, is collecting rain water in those big ceramic tubs that sit in
front of the house, being stingy with every drop of water when you wash
your body, and then go to bed exhausted without even eating dinner.
Common is getting up at 5 a.m. to feed the water buffalo so that at 6
a.m. your father can use it to plow the field.  You don't know anything
about the word."
     He did know.  He bled from knowledge but he frowned and for a
moment he was taciturn fighting back anger and memories.  "Well, do
whatever you damn well please.  I need out of this car and that is what
I'm doing.  You can feast on what remains of the breath fresheners.  I
for one am dining out.  I'll be back in ten minutes."
     "When do we need to get on the plane?"
     "There's plenty of time," he said.  "Plenty of time to eat another
meal in the airport before departing. You'll get a high price western
meal at the airport.  I guarantee it."  He left the taxi and sat down
meditating on the river flowing at a distance.  Soon the anger
dissolved and his memories were imprisoned.
       The idea of paying on a taxi where the meter continued to rise
without his presence enthralled him.  Having lots of money was a
novelty and flaunting this novelty to patrician and plebian,
proletariat and CEO alike still engrossed him.  Thais were culturally
programmed to give the "wei" to the Buddha and the monk but in their
hearts that steamed with greed as they cooked their food on the
streets, sold their trinkets from their sheets, worked in office jobs,
were government officers, part of an educated middle class, and a
million other activities, classifications, and identities, this
traditional greeting with the folded hands in front of the face was
deeply given in the secret regions of subconscious ideas for those whom
they thought of as rich.  And as he ate his pork laden noodle soup
while the meter ticked on he picked out the pork to feed the dogs; but
in so doing he glimpsed someone.  Past the gravel were sidewalks and
stores and further was a department store.  Next to it, beyond the
gaunt old woman on the sheet selling and squeezing rubber duckies in
the hope of selling a few and having money to eat, a man clanging bells
with handless hooks above his cup, shoe repairmen fixing soles, a kiosk
of a key maker, and a blind mendicant with a speaker and a microphone
singing a strident folk tune, was someone.  It was a person who turned
him to stone, froze him like an iceberg, mortified him, and pulled out
his wounded child.  It was a strange composite: at one moment appearing
a bit like his brother, Kazem, and at one moment like the youngest of
his elder brothers, Suthep.  For a second or two as he saw this cook at
a distance, he couldn't remember the name of Suthep-he who had been so
innocuous but in his apathy had harmed him the most.  Ten or eleven
years had gone by.  He wondered how he was supposed to know anymore:
was this man one or the other or neither of them.  Another blind beggar
began to sing a song in a microphone linked to a portable speaker.  He
was being led by his wife.  They came to his table singing a louder
song more stridently than the one he heard at a distance.  The sun was
feeling hot and it made him dizzy and mad as Akhenaten in Ancient
Egypt.  Nawin, the legal alias of Jatupon, was feeling a weight death.
His whole ideas and feelings were discombobulated.  He took out twenty
baht wedging it under the canister containing vinegar and peppers.  He
walked quickly to the car and cowered himself in the back seat in
movement toward the airport.



                                        Book II:  Many Lifetimes Ago



                                                        Chapter 3


     Their parents were dead; the cremation ceremony was over, and life
went on: he internally recited, swallowed his whispered whit of air,
and regurgitated the aphorism.  Its cold, laconic and impersonal
meaning was assumed an efficacy to change on this propelling Earth like
the odious taste of medicine and so he could not fail to believe that
it was true since there was nothing to his knowledge to replace it
with.  The present moment ravished and trashed all former beings and,
like a mountebank, sold its new products as the true goods. To Jatupon,
the youngest, there was a vermilion color to the day.  It was no
wonder. The present had come upon him as inconspicuously as the gait of
the monk's orange robe in the subtle movements that philosopher made
during their time of mourning.
     Carrying suitcases and bags with his brothers and a woman of
Chinese complexion, he sensed the rapacious discord of Bangkok--
virulent and paralyzing as ennui for the rich and servitude for the
poor--and so he lagged behind them.  There had been a time that he
would have sniffed at this new city like one of the myriad crazed but
gently starving dogs (after all, in certain areas of the streets,
pheromones and urinary molecules dominated over the odors of car
exhausts) but, as he guessed, Bangkok was always more tempting from
afar. Even though he had repined for a more promised land he did not
expect that even if he were to live somewhere in "Euro-American
Bangkok" (Banglampool, Silom, and Sukumvit roads with their seven day a
week travelers check cashing windows) his life would be any different
than his situation at present; nor would it be any worse than his life
in Ayutthaya unless he were to starve.
      Still, he felt apprehension; and like a restive boy he slowly
dragged his suitcases. He imagined remote Hill Tribe villages on the
sidewalks and himself taking his suitcases through the bedrooms of
naked girls as if, like one of the kings of the Chakri dynasty with his
many wives, he were to declare to them "Honeys, I'm home." The
dreaminess belied a gloom.  If Jatupon were to think of one positive
trait about himself that late afternoon he might have thought that the
ejaculation of his semen, which he conducted alone, disgorged extremely
far-- so far he had sunk into a shaky gray within himself that he
couldn't see outside of any void unless it had a rope attached to it.
Even the fetid air intimidated him.  He felt intellectually obtuse.  He
was like a dog carried by an owner (a woman in a skirt, riding side
saddle on a motorcycle) that squealed its head off when the motorcycle
skid and floundered onto one side.
     Staring down as his brothers, his owners, pulled the invisible
leash, he knew that they condemned him, the laggard; and nominally,
that condemnation made him feel compelled to look down more often than
he would have done otherwise. Still, when they crossed over to
another sidewalk bustling with pedestrians he was forced to look up
since he was inadvertently bowling his suitcases against the pins of
strangers.  In so doing, he noticed a store windowsill besieged by an
orderly society of ants.  He was beginning to acknowledge that Buddhist
principles were curtailed by reality: a few ants allowed to live with a
human became a hundred easily; multiplying mosquitoes brought disease
and pain, and one's immune system killed bacteria, viruses, and
protozoa because murder was stamped into the natural order that no
human will could bypass.  And yet this demonstrated that the Earth,
herself, was alive and full of creative potential.  It was this
mesmerizing dynamism that most lured his eyes.
     The city was fetid as his older brother's shoes in the back of his
girl friend's car (the car that had brought them here); and yet its
billboards and tall buildings were opulent.  He imagined them glazed in
morbidly saffron or vermilion dust the color of a monk's robe and the
color of blood and death. All the pedestrians were individually and
rapaciously galvanized but banging against each other less
systematically than the ants.  They were ebullient like the bouncing of
hair on a schoolgirl's back since most of them were shoppers.
     The brothers and the Chinese Thai woman passed another street.
Near it was the edge of a small park with one blended shadow of the
fronds of palm trees spread out among a patch of grass and providing a
visual respite from traffic exhaust and pavement that seemed to define
the city.  Here he was slithering about like a snake acclimating to
both a foreign environment and the alien skin that he was now wearing.
These three weeks had made him unreal.  His parents had ridden in the
car alone; there was the car accident; then a cremation and the selling
of property; the drive from Ayutthaya; the night at someone's house in
some type of a fever or hallucination; mosquito bites under a net; and
himself turning into some type of caricature in a comic book or
cartoon.
     Whereas many other boys had books and knowledge he had his comics.
He didn't know anything about the techniques of art although he had
thumbed through some pictures from a book at a library in Ayutthaya. He
had never even been exposed to algebra or other intellectual exercises
that brought one in touch (so to speak) with abstract realities. He had
heard of the Internet and assumed it was the brand name of a certain
computer but wished to know for sure. He knew that his poverty created
his ignorance and felt his ignorance made him stupid. For him there was
nothing but day to day living twisting about like a noodle fried in the
juice of itself under the hot Thailand sun.
     There was a secondary trait about him that despite his bleakly
gray and vermilion self-deprecation he was pleased that he possessed.
His 14 years of life had provided him with at least enough acclimating
instinct or reflexes that, as they crossed the road, zigzagging through
stalled traffic, his feet and ears performed a specific cautionary
duality of quickness in speed and breaks.  This allowed him to retreat
from motorcycles without headlights that were swerving around multiple
lanes of cars.  Even within Ayutthaya, which was conspicuously absent
of operable traffic lights, he had never had an accident. There was
that time that he had flown off of a motorcycle taxi and over a vendor
who had been wheeling his cart when the motorcycle had run into his
toasted buns glazed in feces-tinted Ovaltine, but that was a different
type of incident altogether.
     Across the street culinary workers of the sidewalk poured soup and
scooped rice dishes into plastic bags sealed with rubber bands or put
the plates of food on metallic tables. So many city residents (all of
whom lived in apartments) did not possess kitchens from some law or
another. This, he supposed, was good. It had provided he and his family
with an existence.  It did the same for them. One worker who rested on
a red stool enthralled him.  Without any specific gestures or words
sent to him, he nonetheless felt her listlessness and knew her anguish.
 He knew the 4000 baht that many indigent souls received.  It was their
permit to live; and to get this permit to ride in life they had to
harness and ensnare the creative force that had conceived them and were
them, and then allow themselves to be subservient seven days a week in
their robotic roles of reflexes.  He saw another one wring out a
washcloth and clean another table.  He could imagine her travail just
as he understood the travail of those around him on overpasses: the
emaciated elderly with cups in their hands seemed to cluster on and
under every pedestrian overpass.  To be homeless, he thought, would be
more horrific than the moments at one's death: a travail of being
worthless and lost, where dangling blue from a rope inveigled the
imagination that could not fathom a means to get 6000 baht and pull
oneself off of a park bench. He felt: "I have been where you are with a
hair net on my head, many late nights splintered on a wooden stool, or
placid on a red plastic stool, strength thwarted, and with angular
crowds stumbling over me."  Almost without thinking it, he felt the
horror as he struggled for words; and since he did not have his journal
with him, he tried to memorize the feeling.
     He remembered those years of nights in Ayutthaya when his work had
ended and he was free of the vending cart, and embraced within the
black smog of busses.  Then there was a reprieve from the gaseous smoke
of cooked food (grilled pork and chicken) trapped between canopy roofs
and sidewalk. His reprieve and liberation was only in comics borrowed
from a newsstand. It was a personal life--a bit of himself in a
vicarious existence.  The words under the pictures would often zoom
across the interior of his skull in his drowsiness like cars on a
speedway and he would not comprehend anything much before falling
asleep at one of the tables.  In sleep he would not exist.  Cartoon
images would run amuck.  His pent up needs would flow in action and
adventure although his likeness would not be in the dreams.
     If thought were a product made from the raw material of feeling,
he felt more than thought: "Your reflexive and monotonous perfunctory
days and nights are gloomy in starlessness. Face draped on the backs of
your hands folded on the table, you almost look as if you are making
the gesture of 'wei' or praying to Buddha." He remembered that seconds
before he was in those minutes of sleep, at the end of the work nights,
he prayed for a way out or that community and connectedness could be
gained within his limited life.  He walked by the stranger. He walked
past twenty others. With his eyes he bestowed onto them blessings.
     He continued to follow his brothers through perennial steps and
time and swayed alone as lifeless as wet laundry hanging on balconies
during the dry season. The fetid one slammed him with poignant
expletives to which the second eldest smiled and nodded his head.
Suthep, however, had childish sensitivities of his own that life had
not yet hacked from him but when Jatupon quickened his pace to walk
near him Suthep looked over toward him with silent rage.  Jatupon just
turned away and sucked in his bottom lip. It was true that weeks had
passed since the death of their parents and it was so that life went
on--that it was quickly manufactured and quickly hit the dust bin like
any worn out or broken commodity; but, he argued to himself, an
admission of their own pain and a kind smile would have helped to keep
his boyhood suppressed and his manhood poised.
     Jatupon was still nonplused. The present was an undercurrent in
his inundating thoughts.  His vision was often cracked and misted in
suppressed tears and his eyes burned from his sweat seeping into them.
He felt disoriented and although it was apparent, it didn't seem to
evoke sympathy. In virtually his first words that day he hoarsely spoke
incommunicably, cleared his throat, and then yelled over to Kazem, the
second eldest, that he needed to go to the bathroom.  Kazem stopped
walking and told the youngest, Jatupon (to whom he nicknamed
"Jatuporn"), to hold his water until they were "home."  The word "home"
did not make any impression on the youngest who was now wondering if
they would be spending the rest of their lives walking in this fashion.
                   He felt that they were sinking in an abyss of
negative probabilities.  Concerning the pejorative comment about
holding his water, it was no worse than being called "Jatuporn."  He
was used to it.
     A facial muscle below Kazem's left eye began to twitch immediately
before they again started walking. Conscious of Kazem's disposition,
Jatupon became less disconcerted and more guarded, hurrying but
maintaining a consistent space between himself and his brothers.  How
strange, Jatupon thought, that the fetid one did not have the same
physical antagonism: it was strictly mental as if the thought of the
youngest was so repugnant as to be beyond a physical response. He began
to stumble with the bags until Kumpee's girlfriend stopped their
advancement to help him carry some of his load.  Her smile was wide
against her pale pigment; and her Chinese complexion looked at odds to
Kumpee, the oldest and darkest of the fraternal misadventurers.
Jatupon was jealous of her relationship with the fetid one but this
gesture of pulling away from his brothers to take one of his bags
ameliorated any negativity that the appearance had not counteracted.

     The journey from the parking garage and down through the hectic
whims of Bangkok traffic seemed inordinately long to him and silently
he objected to being led this way forfeiting friends and consistency he
had always known in Ayuttaya. The sidewalk and road went over a canal.
A woman with baskets of fruit dangling from the ends of a bamboo pole
that was on her shoulders must have made Kumpee's girlfriend hungry
since no sooner was she back with her beau than the exigency of eating
had driven the herd to seek a bowl of tom yam soup with noodles.  Under
the canvas, eating and sinking morbidly into himself as he looked out
over the cabin-shacks that were along the canal, he listened to Kumpee
and Kazem.
     "You're the one who wanted to move here and so I said, 'Yes,
little brother.  Let me fulfill your wishes and needs.  It is my duty
as an elder brother."
      "I never said that."
     "You were always saying that."
     "Back up.  That was before the accident and it was just talk."
     "Man, you did not make any objections. We sold off their things
and there wasn't one objection from any of you."
     "I didn't know then that you would be pocketing the money."
     "In other words, you wanted to move over here and now that we are
over here you are raising objections as if now we should just get back
into the car and go back.  That is crazy."
     "I was in a daze. I admit it.  I let you lead us around.  We don't
even know anyone here."
     "That isn't entirely true; but even if it turns out that he
doesn't help us any at least we are in a large city where there are
more opportunities than working in restaurants like this one."
     " I want that money-or a share of it at anyway."
     "For what?"
     "So that I won't have to beg for a bowl of soup in places like
this-so that if you and Natenapa take off somewhere" (Kumpee's
girlfriend, who was listening to them, now looked away and reached for
the pitcher of water that was at the table) "that the money doesn't go
with you."  She poured water into her glass, sipped it once, and
reached into her purse for her makeup.
     "It is Thai tradition that the eldest brother is supposed to keep
the inheritance for the younger ones.  If you question that you don't
have any sense of right and wrong. If you have a problem with that you
have a problem with the way things are and have always been.  But even
if I were to run away tomorrow you wouldn't have lost much.  None of it
was worth anything.  Look at these jeans with the holes in the knees
and the pockets.  If I want to start spending everything for myself I
would have started with some new clothes and instead of dragging you to
Bangkok with me I would have left all of you in Ayutthaya, wouldn't I?"
    "You buy jeans and cut out the areas around the knees so that
doesn't prove much.  Just see to it that the money doesn't fall from
the holes and that you keep remembering the duties of an elder brother
to the younger ones."

     On foot again with his brothers and the China woman, he kept
wishing to be a boy that year that his parents opened what they
referred to as a real restaurant.  He wished for the strange faces in
the familiar space: an area no different than a garage with some
metallic tables and chairs in the center and woks, burners, a
refrigerator, and Coke machine in the front. It had taken the family so
many years of working on the street to be able to afford this space.
This restaurant was more legitimate and less beggarly in appearance
although not exempt from taxes.  His parents were exhilarated for a
while until they discovered that the added customers only compensated
for rent and taxation and the same subsistence level prevailed. Soon
the mundane set in and the discomfort of working on the streets was
forgotten. Then he thought of a better time: that sweet time that very
young children have in harmony with the parents' wishes and the
fruition of love.  He could see himself pouring ice and water into
small metallic cups and bringing them to the customers on the sidewalk
or making his foray into salesmanship by draping from his arms the
jasmine rosaries that his mother linked together from a long needle.
     One day, as that boy, had he not just looked down briefly to zip
his pants and found that they did not fit all that well; and that, no
longer a cute or special one, he wasn't the same (or wasn't perceived
the same) being within his new clothes?  A metamorphosis had altered
him to a taller and more aggravating expense and only by working hard
could he avert the faces of scorn.  In those years in some bedroom or
another he found some peace. The plastic blinds had the same sounds of
fingers wedged between them as they bounced around in the December
breeze or in a June storm; and the piecemeal environment seen in the
crevices of those blinds were of the same trash cans on the same
pavement near some gravel. That had been reassuring to him. Now, he had
been extracted from that environment.
     Walking on, morose as the abyss of his subconscious disgorged like
a geyser, he thought of his boyhood in school satiated in learning.
There had indeed been such a boyhood in such a time brief as a few days
of Bangkok winter that makes homeless dogs and cats shiver before
temple walls when fortunate enough to wander into such an animal
sanctuary.  Learning had been a series of refreshing stimuli slapping
up against him like a cool breeze. It had stimulated him and had
planted in him an appetite.  It was then taken away from him leaving
only the wistfulness and the barren days squirming around like noodles
in pork soup.  At the aunt's insistence his mother and father had paid
for him to go to a poor Buddhist school run by the monks. The monks had
been impressed by his academic cleverness, and soon, at their
persuasion, his parents had paid for him to attend special classes as
well. During those three years he had only worked in the summers; and
the last of those summers was the end to a consistent time of academic
learning. They rented him off to pick coconuts from a woman's orchard
and didn't see much point in dismissing the added revenue. The aunt,
with her excess of money, intervened with special tutors and
home-school teachers.  It lasted for a time until she became bored with
overseeing it.

     During the trip here an accident had occurred on the highway from
Ayuttaya to Bangkok and the congestion made irascible beings used to
the quick weltering motion of freedom trapped in their own thoughts.
Horns, at that time sounded from all directions and Kumpee, the fetid
one, at times irascibly chewed the fetid fruit called durian or slowly
slurped from the beer can in his hands allowing the liquid in his mouth
to spread and re-spread before swallowing.  He wanted to step out of
the car and punch someone but instead he bit into the heart of the
durian.  When the girlfriend's car gained enough freedom to interweave
within the slowness (a slowness that caused their minds to be more
lamenting), Kumpee, at that time, made their way out of the last lanes
and pulled into a town to get another beer. He had hardly entered the
town when he fell asleep for a second and swerving to escape hitting a
tuc tuc upon awakening (a tuc tuc being a big golf-cart taxi) or a
bicycle rickshaw, the car nearly hit a truck and then nicked a fruit
cart that was being pushed along the side of the road. Kumpee, burdened
and desiring for speed and escape, drove on. During that second of the
near miss with the truck, Jatupon felt that it was their destiny--their
karma-- to have the same fate that their parents had experienced weeks
earlier. He found himself disappointed to be alive but sensed that he
was alone in this. Even if such a thought flashed before his brothers,
they were older and quickly regained that cold detachment as if their
psyches were fully evolved as separate entities. They portrayed, in
legitimate or feigned smiles, that they no longer felt that the fate of
the parents was interlinked to that of the sons. Suthep, who was just a
year and a half older than Jatupon, had not been so convincing.  When
he felt that he was unobserved he seemed troubled and twice looked out
the back window.
     Kumpee, deciding to sleep, drove a little further in the same
direction to his friend's house.  He was apologetic.  After all,
Bangkok (or Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) was only 45 miles from Nakhon Si
Ayutthaya but to experience traffic problems in Thailand was like no
other, and to have sold the parents' possessions after burning the
bodies of the mother and father before the inevitable rot (a ubiquitous
ordeal so individually personal) was like no other. They were exhausted
and needed someplace to stay. The friend welcomed them in without the
least reservation.  Kumpee and Kazem put rice mats on the floor. Then
they began to tie up the tent of the mosquito net by stringing it up
against light fixtures and unused nails that stuck out of walls.
Suthep and Jatupon became aware that their masculine images of
themselves were dependent on being a builder of the house, and so they
quickly secured two sagging corners so that they would not be badgered
for feminine subservience.
     That night, under the net, Jatupon considered the mosquito
stealth: that it waited for the concluding restless mumbling of his two
eldest brothers who were rehashing where they would go long-term and
what they would do. The mosquito waited; and the minute that they fell
asleep its wings cut through the black air and time with the buzz of a
monotonous chant.  The mosquito carried a wicker fan called a "balabot"
that monks used to hide their faces as they gave the air their morbid
and sonorous drones.  He heard the mosquito shuffling around the room
under the net.  There were times, throughout the night, that he
questioned if some less supernatural version of a mosquito had bitten
him and had given him dengue fever which might have brought on these
hallucinations, or if he was experiencing withdrawal from not having
used drugs or sniffed glue for a while. It did not occur to him that a
third possibility might have been the variety of chemical substances
already in his body mixed with the new amphetamines that he had popped
into his mouth an hour earlier while in the bathroom of Kumpee's
friend.  It was a well-known fact that metropolitan bus drivers in
every city popped amphetamines; and so to him it had been vitamins
fortifying him against depression and lethargy.

     As he walked with his brothers and the "Chinawoman" through the
heat and smoke of the sidewalk restaurants, he remembered having been
very hot the previous night and how he had felt so miserably trapped
under the mosquito net like a fish in the web and snare of its net.  He
was sick but it did not last for very long. According to his memory
this strange entity as large as himself shuffled under the net from one
corner to the next and the sickness of his stomach was replaced by a
queasy and tightening horror while he cowered in the embrace of his
legs. Thinking himself in a net where there was no extrication he
experienced the adrenalin of bravado.  He wanted to confront his fears.
 Trying to reach for a religion to formulate a rational perspective in
the irrational, he argued that the snare outside had to be less
poignant than the snare of gluttonous appetites that were the cell, the
bunk, and the chained wall within the underground prison that was he.
This mosquito evoked in him, or he invoked in himself, such trepidation
that he imagined an equal: prehistoric peoples of Thailand watching
their halcyon harmony with nature execrably disparaged in the vehement
winds of a hurricane--the trees along the river, which had offered
protection now torn and lethally slapped at them.
    The mosquito landed, crawled, and looked at the bodies on the
floor.  "Everyone is separated out into little forts. The others are
under two different nets," it flared its voice in a quasi-question
without looking at Jatupon's face. "Who are these creatures?" it asked.
    "My brothers"
    "There's one woman," it said pugnaciously.  "They can't all be your
brothers. Let's have an inventory. Be specific!"
    "My eldest brother's friend and my brother, Kazem, are under one
tent. My brother, Kumpee, and his girlfriend are in a second tent.  My
brother, Suthep, is here with me."
     "And you I know.  Don't you think this is a bit overdone: three
forts around a few microscopic insects?"
     Jatupon opened his mouth but failed to say anything. Then he
closed his mouth in fear of an insect flying into it.
     "At any rate, why isn't one tent used throughout the room."
     "I don't know.  I didn't ask."
     "Aren't you a little dummy," it said.  "Considering the fact that
one large tent spread throughout the room would be a more economical
investment than three smaller ones, one would think that you would care
to inquire about it logically."
    "We aren't renting them.  They are the host's and it would be
impolite to ask such questions."
     "'They are the host's and it wouldn't be polite to ask those
questions,'" it mocked. "You are so Thai through and through: one dummy
in a nation of dummies. Here, let me look at this dummy."
     After a thorough examination of Suthep's body like a doctor or a
depraved sexual stalker, it turned away from the one sleeping and spoke
Jatupon's disparaging nickname of "Jatuporn" disdainfully.  Then it
told him that he and it would be playing cards.  It shuffled its body
from corner to corner and then shuffled the cards.  One card became
thwarted and dislodged from the uniform movement.  It flipped face up
and showed a still life of his parents who were expressionless as
mannequins. They were a couple of a dark pigment (he from birth and she
with her Chinese skin all burnt and wrinkled brown).  She was naked but
wearing a hair net and he was without his usual cap but was wearing a
loincloth that had been soiled by his weekend work in the rice fields
in the rural outskirts of the city. The mosquito quickly buried the
card into the others face down.
      "Lets talk of them, the ashes that they be.  They make up one of
two groups of people in your life and these categories of individuals
need to be discussed."
     "Why are you crying?"
      "Seeing them makes me miss them.  They died in a horrible
accident."
      "Accidents abound."
      "  We had to burn their bodies."
      "That's done.  You don't want them rotting in the streets. From
what I heard, they made excellent firewood in the incinerator.  What is
there to cry about?  They fulfilled the quest of their lives.  It was
the only decent thing they ever did: becoming a fireball.  What is
there to cry about?"
     "They are gone.  They were my parents and I loved them."
     "You are sorry for the pain they experienced.  I suppose that is
decent of you; but most of that love is just like not questioning why
there are three nets in this room instead of one.  You, Thais, are so
subservient to your cultural definitions of right and wrong.  What
silly things you all are.  You are specifically foolish having the
loyalty of a dog that is kicked, fed, and comes back for more.  You are
too Thai. It is absolutely sickening."  It again glanced at Suthep.
"Tell me about this one on the mat with you.  Is he as stupid?"
     "Are you going to hurt him and me?"
     "Possibly; or just allow you to hurt yourselves."
      "Tell me about him."
     "He is the third eldest brother.  He is a litter older than me.
He likes Thai boxing and snookers.  I don't know what to say. I don't
know what you want.  He is my brother.  I love him."
      "There you go with that word.  Do you think that they, your
parents, loved you?"
     "Of course."
     "That's what you think but that isn't what you know.  I want what
you know from what you have repressed.  I want the truth.  I want to
enlighten you, or for you to enlighten yourself.  It's a misnomer, you
know.  It isn't really light at all in either color or weight.
Enlightenment is hard and dark.  Don't you think so?"
     "I've never considered it."
     "I know you haven't."   It paused.  "You know, I can read your
thoughts. Why are you trying to memorize everything I'm saying.  You
flatter me so."
     "I want to put it in my journal but it is buried in one of my
bags."
     "I see.  I'm glad you write.  I think you should write or draw."
     "Why?"
     "Why not? As an indictment of love if nothing else.  I'm wondering
what you think about your mother having four sons.  Really five
including the miscarriage."
    "I wouldn't know.  I suppose she loved Children. She loved raising
them."
    "She needed children.  Not only did her body push her to make
copies of herself to preserve her DNA but also she needed the
distractions from her own thinking-from love gone awry.  She had
married a tyrant.  The only thing they shared was the scheming of
easily cobbled projects to make a tiny bit of money they always hoped
would make them filthy rich.  The rebellion against her family and
sexual felicity with his large genitalia had been eroded in time. She
became conscious of his piggish habits.  She was always thinking about
being alienated from her former family, which, if she had stayed with
them, would have allowed her to live a comfortable life.  Children were
her distraction but when they were older she resented their
independence.  As far as your father is concerned, he loved you even
more:  he loved chasing after you as if you were a cockroach that he
wanted to smash.  He got your brothers to help him stomp on you."
     "How do you know that the need to preserve DNA makes a mother
love?" Jatupon whined sullenly.
     "I read it in a comic book."
     Jatupon became taciturn.  His head hurt and he wanted to vomit.
He couldn't get up.  He tried to stand up but couldn't do so.  He tried
to vomit in a cup but nothing came up."
     "You might as well stay where you are at.  If you go into the
bathroom for more pills or slip into your bag for some glue you might
be able to discombobulate my voice like a child spinning around in the
grass but ultimately you'll fall into me and the mordant words will be
all the more deleterious. Besides, it is still my hand and there are
more cards to play. It tossed another card from the deck his way.  It
was Kumpee's girl friend.  It was her face and shape.
        "Yes, Jatupon said, "She's a lovely card" and the mosquito
nodded his head disdainfully.  Then it clapped its feet and said, "One
baht for the human's ability to at least recognize physical beauty."
Jatupon looked on the table and there appeared a one baht coin with a
naked China woman engraved on it.  He picked it up.  It's weight, which
was always equal to that of play money, had become less; and there was
a continual sensation that even though it rested in his finger tips it
was being pulled lightlessly away from him to fall endlessly into an
inconvertible currency. He watched it vaporize into a gas.
    "She is one of the second group who has no special significance to
you at all and yet from her your life has been changed.  People like
this might be helpful and even compassionate but at the end of the day
they won't stay with you.  They are evanescent nectar in the
dissolution of events and time."
     "Only two groups?"
     "Only two unless you make up a third.  All I know of the future is
from the perspective of today."
     Catered to the limitations of Jatupon's entomological knowledge,
this gigantic mosquito was male and a bloodsucker nonetheless.  It
looked into his intimate space with such a bold stare that he felt that
it could easily seduce him in as its prey--that the survival of the
fittest reigned with the hegemony of its kind just as micro-organisms
always get the last meal. As he saw its eyes he suddenly knew the
sadistic fun it was having with its mind games, and the cruel hunting
games of cats and their dead mice.  Deeper into its eyes he saw a
starving child and a vulture awaiting on a rock, the fight for dominion
of species and nations, and the sexual aggression of making love among
mankind.  He felt like walking meat; and he knew that all animals felt
the same of their own lives ceaselessly. He grieved for them.  The
mosquito knew this intuitively and began to laugh at him for his
sensitivity and his naïve animistic thinking, which like a child, made
animals conscious and sagacious.
    "You aren't real, you know, but the fever of my own brain," said
Jatupon to curtail his vision.
     "Oh, let's not start the reality game.  I'll make this simple so
that even you can understand it.  It foils others I enlighten who give
me the same argument.  I say to them that they, who create ideas, will
die in a hundred years but an idea that they might have has the
possibility of living on.  To the idea, I say, the man would not seem
real."  Then he obfuscated. "Didn't you read in an encyclopedia one
time that the American president, Abraham Lincoln, said, 'In the civil
war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from
the purpose of either party--and yet the human instrumentalities,
working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect his
purpose.'"
     "I don't understand what you are meaning by that.  I didn't
understand that long sentence when I read it anyhow."
    "You don't understand subtle and abstract meanings because you are
uneducated.  You sometimes dabble here and there with an encyclopedia
in the library and then you forget everything you've read when you
understand it at all," said the mosquito in a contumelious air. "Only
the dreamer is the illusion.  Not the dream. The dreamer sinks back
with the dirt."
    It tossed that card like a coin from its gangling talon tips. The
card enlarged to a life-sized form and moved toward Jatupon. He almost
felt seduced by it as it moved around him in its mating dance.  The
mosquito laughed harder and then said that not only had he and his
brothers relinquished their homeland in Ayutthaya on account of her but
that she was a trap or a symbol of a trap. It was not just she, he
explained.  It was all of them.  Love and marriage was a specie ** specie ? or
species ? **
preserving drug induced into a man to keep him bound and limited
through passion, fear of loneliness, and obligation."
     "Then I should feel sorry for my elder brother if it is a sickness
like how I'm feeling now.  I mean I was feeling really sick but now I
must still be sick if I'm imagining you.  I wish I were able to tell
what is happening to me now.  It is like suffering the withdrawals or
dengue fever."  Slowly forcing himself beyond his cowardly pose,
Jatupon got up and opened his suitcase.  He took out two warm cans of
Coca Cola.  He opened the tabs and slid one to the mosquito that drank
up.
     "It isn't quite the nectar of blood but it is okay when one is
thirsty," it commented.
     He was like a wounded soldier who perceived that the enemy was
another victim in the war and so he wanted to sit down near this
opposing peer.  Jatupon crept near it and gradually sat on a mat. A
minute later, after not being eaten, his confidence grew and he felt
like confessing his soul to the insect as if the mosquito's appearance
were only that mask Thai monks hid behind when they said their chants.
"Kumpee said he would live with us but I guess he might mean that now.
After all, his girlfriend is with him.  He only talked to her on our
way here." He paused and thought deeply once again. "I don't like what
you say but it's honest. I have no one to talk with, you know."  He
thought of this mosquito as a spirit who came through the burning of
incense placed at a stupa.  "I don't have anyone to be honest with me
and all of the friends I once had I've had to leave. Would you visit me
in Bangkok?" He spoke with such innocence that the mosquito had to
smile bashfully and look away from the awkwardness of knowing that only
a child believes that mother and father are extensions of his own body;
only a child walks into the forest with a kind stranger where he is
bound to a tree, raped and murdered; and only one warped in the wisdom
gained in tragedy finds himself inseparably bound by every stern,
euphonious truth uttered by a monster.
     "Would I accept the invitation to come to Bangkok to bite you and
inject you with malaria? No, I'm afraid I would not be able to accept
such an invitation at this time and you shouldn't be extending it.
Always remember that truth is lethal.  To know and to be aware of many
things is like a man too fat for his house and this obese pig of a man
is forced onto the streets where he can't tolerate the heat and cold
because of his flab; and then I come along and suck through his
baboonish skin before he knocks off.  I certainly would accompany you
if it were not for there being truth in the adage that a mosquito could
never live in Bangkok because the pollution would kill him off."
     Then the mosquito's eyes were those of the second eldest brother,
Kazem, and Jatupon was with him in the bathroom where he had taken the
pills.  Kazem lifted up "Jatuporn's" bare legs onto his shoulders;
inserted himself; and rode. Jatupon realized that he was hallucinating
this because there was the mosquito before him. He felt ill.  He just
wanted to get out of the confines of the mosquito net.  He just wanted
to brush his teeth.
     The next thing Jatupon dreamt or knew the third eldest one,
Suthep, put a cold washcloth on his forehead and then had him take some
aspirin. As Jatupon gluttonously swallowed the pills down his gullet he
kept wondering if it were cocaine. Suthep vanished and then there was
the mosquito again. In a transformed madness, the mosquito became
Kazem; and this brother kept riding him painfully while Jatupon
wondered if Kumpee, the fetid one, had run off permanently with his
"Chinawoman."
     Somewhere into the night--had it been in the bathroom when he was
vomiting or when he was back under the net with a washcloth on his
head?--he could not place where he was at; and then odd thoughts came
into his mind. "If love oils are a way to make the anus and the vagina
something that they aren't designed for maybe I'm pregnant with my
brother's child?  Does he love me?  What is love?  My bottom has spread
out like a damp shirt when stretched"
     Then it was the mosquito again.  He asked what were Jatupon's job
aspirations in Bangkok. "Oh, I don't know," the boy responded. "I have
thought many things."
     "Such as..." it asked.
     "At times I have thought that I could become a monk--one of those
real monks that live in the cave, eat only vegetables, and have no
needs or wants."
     The mosquito scoffed.  "What a bloody idealist.  Deny your hungers
and you deny the animal that comprises so much of the human being-the
animal that developed a high degree of consciousness to fight his way
up as the dominant species, the animal that nonetheless behaves
according to instinct.  If you deny the human you will have wasted your
life not living it at all.  That is what will happen if you are lucky.
If unlucky, I suppose you will eventually snap like a crazed
immigration officer who begins to shoot tourists.  You are an animal
not that you have to be swallowed up whole into your hungers.  The
illusions of being in love, the ambitions that have allowed you to
subdue the Earth under the illusion of gaining some happy plateau after
making your conquests, are hardly instincts one can extract.  One
shouldn't extract them. These instincts have filled your kind with
purpose thereby making brief existences on a meaningless planet
bearable. Most importantly sexual desire keeps your race proliferating.
Tell me something a bit more practical."
     "Well...sometimes I have thought I could become a money collector
in a city bus. I would be a Bangkok Metropolitan Transportation
employee--BMT."
     "Well, being prime minister would never suit you.  I must say that
this is certainly less extreme and easily in your reach.  What attracts
you to the profession of ticket tearing?"
     Jatupon imagined the money collector clicking the lid of his
metallic cylinder while shoving through the people. At times he would
sit on the monkey bar near the open door feeling the artificial winds
created by this fast moving green tube full of standing contortionists.
 When new customers came in he would put their money into the tube and
extract tickets, weightless as stamps, from the same container. He
would click and click to get their attention. When the bus was
inordinately full, barefoot or in sandals, he would stand on the last
step an inch from death like a parachutist without a parachute.
     "I just think that I could do it," he told the mosquito.
     "Yes," said the mosquito, "but could you count change to the
satisfaction of the mass transit department of Bangkok?"
     "I'm not hardly a dummy," Jatupon said angrily.
     "Let's not go into that," the mosquito said.  "I know you can
count.  I'm just not sure if it goes beyond ten.  That's all.  What
other fun things could you become if needed-any type of job that can at
least grant you eighty dollars worth of free falling baht each month?"
     "I don't know.  I'm tired of thinking about it.  It is such an
anguish to worry about surviving continually."
     "Indeed.  Just like you were thinking before: animals that have
insight into the fact that they are nothing but ambulatory meat; only
you are the meat of the richer classes.  Your life will be consumed at
work for their pleasure."

     The girl friend handed her sun burnt Siamese a key to the room and
excoriated him for not believing her about the distance of the
apartment building from the department store.  She snubbed encountering
extensive numbers of the underclass even though her father owned the
building.  She stood aloof and contracted the muscles of her face even
before the evaporation of urinary molecules from the façade of the
building attacked her nostrils. She disheveled Jatupon's hair and then
maternally combed it back again with her fingers.  She told Kumpee that
she would take a taxi back to the department store and wait for him at
McDonald's. Then she left them in repugnance.
    Within a glance each of them saw all there was of their apartment
burrowed under the building and became sullen. Kumpee lied that he
would leave his bag in the apartment and then see his girlfriend back
to her home.  Jatupon lay on the floor. Suthep unpacked and put the
headphones of a Walkman around his ears.  Kazem took a shower.  The
subject of his departure was forgotten.  Kumpee sat on his case for a
half hour eating his durian.  Then when there seemed an inconspicuous
exit he picked up his bag and went away.  They felt his missing
presence prod the vacuous air an hour later when they noticed that the
suitcase was gone.



                                                     Chapter 4


     It was 2 a.m. and the mosquito came into the scenes of his REM
with wings piercing through and dominating over every brief episodic
nightmare. It was wearing an orange monk's robe and superciliously
imposed its own presence on all scenes that Jatupon alone was supposed
to rehearse.  It altered a script that Jatupon's brain had conjured in
the hope of figuring out how to interact with his environment and live
with himself harmoniously.  Initially his sleep consisted of nascent
dream-roles to find out if feigning a serious illness would have
altered his parents' journey of early demise.  Later there were others
such as trying to persuade the fetid one's Chinese girlfriend to buy
him a white shirt and necktie so that he could apply at the Bangkok
Metropolitan Transportation Department and thereby resurrect himself as
an economic deliverer and a masculine force to be admired instead of
dog excrement on his brothers' heels that he perceived them as
perceiving him to be.  There were also briefer skits in the random
feelings, thoughts, and perceptions he was trying to categorize.  One
was of trying to successfully bite his shirt to stop himself from
crying out when Kazem's riveting night sports were too painful and
another one was of attempting to remember the few neighborhoods and
streets of Bangkok that he had learnt in past visits and perhaps link
them to various names that only sleep could recall.  Throughout it all
was the buzz of the mosquito.  This insect-monk buzzed no differently
than a bee.
     "And where were you today and yesterday?" it asked.
     "I didn't get out the glue and there were no pills to pop."
     "Why didn't you get out the glue?"
     "I want to do this for fun.  I want these trips to stay what they
call "recreational."  I'll take them only when I need out.  I don't
want to be an addict."
    "You aren't an addict.  If your body really wanted it, you wouldn't
have been able to resist it for over 24 hours.  Still, even though this
is noble and good, you don't want to walk away from your friends."
     "I know."
     "What did you do this afternoon?"
     "I went to fly a kite near Wat Phra Kaeo."
     "Do you mean you masturbated in the temple housing the Emerald
Buddha?  I mean that's fine if it is true.  Surely another person or
two over the past two or three centuries has done that also.  All the
same, please refrain from using Thai slang.  You don't want to sound
like a dummy when you talk to me."
     "No, I mean it literally, Ajarn," said Jatupon.  Ajarn meant
"respected teacher."  "I went to the area outside of the Grand Palace
in Sanam Luang.  In front of the golden and pointed domes of the
entrance there is an oval football field of dirt.  The radio mentioned
that hundreds of boys and girls were flying kites there.  I was
planning to buy a kite and fly mine with the hundreds that were soaring
next to each other but there was no one my age doing that."
     "Neither a boy nor a man: what an awkward state to be in.  Anyhow,
so you wanted to fly a kite near the golden pagodas and cupolas of the
Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo but you didn't do so.  I assume it was
more for lack of money.  Is that right?  Is that all?   I can't imagine
why you would think that you could use money for such extravagances
considering your present predicament."
     "I had some.  I always get some."
     "How?"
     "I go through Kazem's pockets when he is asleep."
     "Do you mean you steal it?"
      "Not really.  He knows I do it.  It is kind of like a little
game...sort of."
      "Oh, I can pick it from your simple mind so easily. The rule
being that after you provide your sexual services to him he allows you
to pickpocket from the pants that he drapes on a chair.  If he awakens
he beats you or disparages your existence in front of the family but if
you are quiet you can take most of what he has in his pockets and run
away throughout the day."
     "When I'm not working. That is kind of how it has gone. He has
always been kind enough to see that I get a vacation every week.  He
was always telling Mother that I needed to be something other than an
illiterate slob and the least they could do was allow me to go to the
library once a week. I would usually go there...sometimes a movie or
standing at a newsstand reading the comics.  That is sort of how it
was.  Now we aren't working so I didn't take very much yesterday.  Hey,
if you can read my simple little mind so easily, why do you bother to
ask things?"
     "To amuse myself a little.  Did this pickpocket game occur when
your parents were alive?"
    "Yes, it began when I was eleven.  What could I have said to
anyone?  I was hated.  You said so yourself.  I wasn't going to make it
worse by humiliating myself that way.  They wouldn't have believed me;
and they wouldn't have wanted to think about something so disgusting.
Anyhow, Kazem always had me swear that I'd keep it secret and he is the
only one who has really cared about me-as much as people care about
others. Maybe not so much."  He became taciturn.
     "Quiet!" said the mosquito belatedly.  "I hear something."  It
paused and looked through the small window of the basement apartment.
"Oh, it is your mother driving up now."
     "She doesn't drive.  She doesn't own a car."
     "She does now."  Jatupon remembered that she always did buy
lottery tickets that mendicants sold from wooden attaché cases hung
around their chests.  "I thought she didn't have the chance of a
snowball in hell of winning" commented the mosquito.  "Anyhow, here she
is and it is grocery day.  You need to help her bring in the bags."
     It was raining but he nonetheless heard the car. He sauntered out
of the kitchen of the river cabin as the screen door sprang back behind
him.
     "Mother," he yelled in a surprised tone.  "You're back."  The
engine stopped.
     "Of course I'm here.  You knew I'd be back in an hour.  Where else
would I be?"  Her voice screamed out belligerently but it was hollow
and virtually inaudible in the container of the car. The Mercedes Benz
was flaxen and waxed and the woman inside was a bit of the same self in
an idealized way.  She was even more young, beautiful and poised than
Kumpee's girlfriend.  Her skin was also whiter than the fetid one's
infatuation and instead of being dark, thick, and puffy like a durable
and well tread tire she was a thin sheath, almost like a transparent
condom, and perfectly unblemished.
     "Did you go to Ayutthaya?"
     "Have you really forgotten where I've been.  Even you can't be
that stupid.  I told you before I left.  I went to Thee Nhai." Thee nai
was the word "Where" in Thai; but she spoke it with such certainty that
he believed in its legitimacy as a city name like Chaing Mai. She spoke
even more loudly from her encasement inside the car but was still
barely audible.
     "To see Grandmother?"
     "And grocery shopping.  After all, it is grocery day. "  She
stopped frowning and slowly made a partial smile. "I have something for
you." He felt surprised. He wondered why he would be given something.
He couldn't remember having ever been given a gift.  In Thailand (the
real Thailand as lived by the poor masses) children were instruments:
tools to ease the task of making a living, and later they were
sustenance and emotional pampering for the aging parents. Above the
steering wheel she showed to him a small rectangular box that she
opened like a coffin.  In it was a large golden pen that gleamed like
the roofs of a Buddhist temple. Minutes passed.  She continued to
exhibit the pen and her half-smile while staying encased. All of the
car windows were rolled up. He kept wondering what good the pen would
do him if it were just a visual appearance seen through the glass of a
car.  He forgot the pen and concentrated on his mother who was as
intangible.  He heard the sound of her calmly wrestling unsuccessfully
with a door handle that would not unlock.
     He or it--this mordant mosquito-- came with wings piercing through
sleep.  He again spoke of her, the girlfriend, as "Chinatown skin" and
drawing her from a deck of cards, the mosquito threw her. The card,
animated like an email greeting, clicked around as if on high heels.
The woman's form, detaching itself from the shell of the card, sang and
danced her dance. Jatupon and the mosquito both lusted for her. Jatupon
wanted to rush into the toilet the way he had seen a man in his early
twenties rush into the public restroom at the movie theatre, Major
Ciniplex in Ayuttaya, a week before his parents died. On that occasion,
or misadventure, Jatupon, who a minute later went to relieve himself in
an adjacent cubicle before going back to his cart of noodles, heard
pumping noises. Then on his side of the crack he faintly saw a shadow
of a hand stroking a penis on the tiles to the left of his feet.  That
man had sought pleasure in marginal solitude; but for him, with a
mosquito staring him down with emotionless black eyes, there was no
privacy. His masturbatory time was limited by his hallucinations.
     He tried to suffocate the thought of the Chinese Thai woman in an
imaginary pillowcase.  He tried to extinguish the sparks of his own
desires by deluging them with more abstract and tenuous thoughts.  He
wondered what would be some other choices of jobs he could pursue to
break away from what was left of this fraternity and become an
independent being.  The idea hurt him.  He then told himself that he
never wanted to leave his brothers.  He told himself that he would go
out to find Kumpee, the fetid one, if he only knew where in the big
city to search.
     Jatupon saw his own pimpled face staring at him; his childhood
friends who moved or became people he could not relate to; and his
parents that no human sense of bonding, volition, or imagination could
bring back. Orphic memories gleamed and sparkled opaquely like the
moving shadows of leaves on the pavement. "So, I can not see my own
reflection without cringing.  So, I felt that sense of fear that came
from thinking that my classmates might not want me to play takraw with
them and that feeling has not left me entirely.  So, I'm scared of
losing people, like fumbling with the bamboo ball, as if their
departure would be the end of my own personal essence!  So, in the end,
we all come down in a cruel fate." He could not formulate these
abstract thoughts.  It all was a base and indistinct feeling.  He was
attempting to channel the fears that constituted so much of his being
so that they would not burst into his consciousness.
     "So, have you finished falling so fully and foolishly into
yourself," asked the mosquito.  It paused and looked back at the girl.
"She is Chinatown skin, the kind every man pants for: all beautifully
white, each aesthetic non-deformity ranking her in the realm of
desirability in every Thai man's mind.  'Won't she, in this
quintessence of beauty, have virtually no chance of making a deformed
baby,' screams the man's ingrained DNA programming that composes each
and every cell.  'Won't she, in this quintessence of beauty, have
virtually no chance of making a deformed baby,' scream's the
psychological programming created by the influence of his peers who
think that her money and education have made her as valuable as white
ivory -the type often used in Buddhist statuettes.   Hormonal
discriminatory passions ensue, dopamine hits the pleasure receptors of
the brain, and make him an addict for a hormonal pleasure with her."
     "Is this love?  Is this all that we are?  Love is the best part of
us and yet it is as this?  I can't believe that," retorted Jatupon.
     The mosquito, the big "it," guffawed. "You are truly ingenuous.
You are contrary to the natural world around you-a true babe focusing
your trusting round eyes so eagerly on the savage world around you.
Personally it is a novelty to me and I don't mind it at all. Do you
remember how you felt when you were young?"
     He remembered the warmth he felt toward his mother even though she
did not like him. He remembered how she cared for him despite thinking
him a burden.  She was the good birdie feeding his mouth.  Had he not
believed all love to be something like a mother's love and that this
mother's love was pure?   Had he as little as a few days earlier been
inveigled in the optimism of being free from the consideration of how
instinct is passed down in genetic transfer from generation to
generation?  Had he not imagined a desire for a woman and being "in
love" as something more spectacular than bottle rockets and Roman
candles lit from the bridges over the Chao Phraya River in the Loi
krathong celebration?
     There were times he had even considered love to be a preordained
gift bestowed onto each being in subtle and illuminating graces.  It
was a bit like a lit candle on a krathong, a hand length banana-leaf
boat sent out onto waters during the Loi krathong holiday.  A given
krathong would perhaps sail a hundred meters on a river before being
tipped over in waves and winds along with one's negativity and
culpability; and for this exorcism the river goddess would bestow onto
such an individual a new year of blessings.  As a boy he had thought
that this universal love was so pure that it was colorless and
translucent.  He believed that it was so ubiquitous and protecting like
a mosquito net around the world, but alive, sensitive, and full of
feeling; and that from it came the babies...the babies.  Certainly as
the years were placed on the tables like plates of rice and bowls of
noodle soup it was harder to believe that brotherly love was equally
dispersed among mankind. It seemed that the darker the pigment of a
Thai, the more likely he was to do his menial tasks and the whiter he
was, the more such Thais seemed to own the enterprises of the country.
To his brother, Kumpee, like the father, he had existed as a verbal
punching bag to relieve stress. "Night sports" was the term that Kazem
called his form of brotherly love.
     "Now..." scoffed the mosquito as it smiled maliciously, "Now, you
know the truth.  The truth shall set you free.  Babies come from the
desire to both eat healthy human flesh and crawl and slither around in
its beautiful skin."
     He woke up startled to a void and a room that was at first
unfamiliar in the darkness until memory seeped in and he knew where he
was at.  As he was feeling depressed looking at this basement room
where they were caged and smelling the stagnancy of air stinking of
mens' bodies more eclectically than just their armpits, he fought with
the rectangular window to which leaned weeds and grass.  He barely
budged it open.  The patch of greenery flushed its grassy smells as
well as the urinary ones with a gust of wind. Even decay was in the
grass and such smells were beautiful.  He watched the blades moving.
They whispered of impermanence.  They reminded him that as dictators
die, civilizations ultimately become nothing but a few buried artifacts
and bones, and palaces crumble, he would not stay in this cell forever.
 Everything would change; and change at times had its advantage.
     And yet the child in him resisted change.  It yearned to declare
every dust particle that had been trodden on its friend.  It did not
like parting and it, in him, hated the idea of Kumpee gone.  He felt
jealous that this woman had taken him. He hated her despite her earlier
friendliness to him.  He hated her white skin and hated Kumpee for his
ugly dark skin, his abandonment, and his fetid ways.  Mostly he hated
his contemptuously tinged use of the nickname, "Jatuporn," showing that
he knew everything about this relationship with Kazem.   The apathy in
the pronouncement would have been bearable.  The contempt would have at
least shown concern.  But that particular mix spelled out that he,
Jatupon, was really the fetid one and he hated the fetid one for it.
     Stagnant and morose in feelings and thoughts, he dripped in the
sauna of his own sweat; and, careful not to stumble over his brothers
in the night, he opened the door for more breezes, for a passing
mosquito, for voices, and the dispersing of crowded thoughts.  He
recalled untainted and simple memories of Kazem telling Suthep a joke a
customer had relayed to him making all four of them laugh until they
turned red; the shapes and slight variations of the colors of clouds;
and lying on his bed in their parents home hearing the sounds of
locusts somewhere in the swaying tree limbs cradled in the wind's
caresses.  He knew that such trivial and yet poetical experiences were
what constituted human happiness.
     He stepped outside and then walked a couple of blocks in a still
relatively unfamiliar terrain. To him, the surveyor of the night, the
city spilled out in the oozing newness of black and yellow tubes of
paint. There was a larger road and across the street was a Seven-Eleven
convenience store.  He stood there and his eyes followed the traffic
that went directly in front of it. He rummaged through one of his bags
until he found his glue.  He inhaled its fumes and popped some
amphetamines he had purchased at the drugstore with Kazem's pocket
money.
     He remembered that Suthep and Kazem, like curious beasts, had
occasionally looked in on him during that time, a year ago, when his
body had its opiate force (really a mixed drug combination adversely
affected by beer he drank during the Songkran New Year's water fight)
poured from it like water from a colander.  How sick he had been. From
Kazem's suggestion, it had been a monk--a former teacher of his
boyhood-- whom he had stayed with while he was stiff and shaking. The
periodic vomiting and shaking had seemed so incessant although it, like
all, was fleeting. It had been too intolerable for his parents and yet
for all the talk of the father getting rid of him completely by shoving
him into a monastery, they had been happy to again gain their worker.
    Lost in the myriad dimly lit trails of his own thoughts, he at last
returned and went back to his bed of clothes.  He smoothed them out. He
made them even.  He thought that he might be reprimanded about leaving
the door open for insects to fly in.  It was to his satisfaction but it
probably wouldn't be to theirs and these brothers might easily awaken
from the dogs that could be heard a block away.  He got up and shut
both the door and the window. Then, for a few minutes, he listened to
the howling of dogs muffled through the closed door.  For a half hour
his positions changed restlessly on the wad of clothes. He thought of
the postcard pictures of temples and palaces; of possibly being a money
collector on the city busses, standing on a step and hanging out of the
continually opened door of a green bus; of--
     "What a pathetic existence.  You haven't even paid any rent on
this room. Gifts can be taken back, you know. You could be thrown out
at any whim: Kazem's, the girlfriend's, her father who might hate him
enough to kick you out.  You have no money or jobs.  What will you do?"
     "I thought that you weren't coming here."
     "Here?"
     "To Bangkok."
     "Did I say that?" it asked for the first time in a tone that was
introspective and self-conscious.
    "You said it.  If you make yourself out to be this monster of
truths I can't see how you can lie like this."
     "I was with you earlier in a less bright, more murky form of a
dream when you were anxious that you hadn't gotten any privacy to fly
your kite.  You didn't seem to remember quoting me then."
  It did not like the merit of its own veracity scrutinized.  It turned
away and paused.  It scratched one leg against another thoughtfully the
way one might a scalp.  Jatupon wondered for a moment if the insect
would disappear wordlessly from the weight of it's own waning
confidence but there was no chance of that. It reasserted itself,
attempting to discard its solemn self-interrogations for a more august
posture and attitude.
     "You would be the aimless kinetic movements of other dust just
like your kind if it wasn't for me giving you consciousness and a soul.
 You impudent little dummy, you should not speak to your ajarn this
way.  Your blood only has worth as the nutrients of my posterity.  That
is its purpose.  If you become so calculating and crafty with me I'll
reevaluate our relationship."  One of its arms reached over and
caressed his skin.  "At a distance," it said, "the brownness makes it
look as solid as a rock.  I forget that it is so tender.  Your naivete
also seems so obdurate that I often forget the self-serving and
disingenuous muck underneath it all."  It brought back its arm, opened
its mouth widely, and spat at the boy.   "Here have an early Songkran,"
it said.  Songkran was the New Year's water festival in the hottest
month of April.   The month was really March of the year 2445 according
to the Thai Buddhist calendar. "I come and go by the dictates of my own
intelligent, restless brooding.  I move from one rock to another hoping
to get satisfaction or at least a reprieve from dissatisfaction.  I, an
intelligent being, must delude myself that the composite of rocks that
make up this planet are something other than hardened shells of dirt
and that I, wandering from one rock to another, am really living
experiences instead of hallucinating pleasurable sensations for my self
to stay sane.  Only seeing other life forms scrambling around the rocks
to be my appetizers engender me with purpose.  It paused.  "There is
nothing too peculiar in me wandering around in contradictory paths. All
intelligent creatures are the same. Boredom drives them to reshape
their environment to serve their petty and selfish goals. This might be
entertaining for higher creatures but it's an absolute curse for the
highest."  It wiggled its face and then pointed with an arm.  "I must
relieve your mind of worry.  As they say, ignorance is bliss. You have
little risk of finding boredom so insanely strong even if you stay
bound to noodles all your life.  Boredom makes me curious. I want to
know many things.  I want to know about you boys."
     "You are a bit like our guardian, aren't you.."
     "Yes, if that is what you need-- a surrogate uncle: that is what
I'll be."

     His vision, his mosquito-uncle and deus ex machina, smashed like a
fly against a car window.  Jatupon was exhausted and his mental
alertness relaxed in preparation for sleep. In a REM more troubled,
incoherent, and weltering, there were flies seemingly caught between a
window and a screen. The screen was opened a crack and yet the crack
only demarcated freedom and the self-imprisonment of the mind for they
climbed around the screen and yet never found that opening that had
allowed them to enter.  Then there were rocks with a bit of honey and
flies swarming in it; and himself echoing the mosquito's question on
how the three of them would be making a living.  He disparaged himself
by casting that self as a cartoon of a motorcycle taxi driver sitting
sidesaddle with a group waiting patiently in a queue for customers to
arrive.  Stationary with time passing amuck, and content with empty and
drowsy space and flies buzzing about his face, his life defied money
and motion.   "Get out of the way.  If you can't fasten a doorknob take
a broom and sweep up that mess in the back of the restaurant.  I don't
know what you are going to do when you get older.  You can't even cook.
 You can't do anything and even walking you trip over your own shadow,"
said his father. "You should see his cartoons," said Kazem.  "The boy
can draw." The cartoon of himself had signed the wedding papers and he
and his cartoon wife were standing near a monk as relatives came by
with bowls of water rinsing their hands.  Flies buzzed around their
faces.  A worker, selling Buddhist statuettes, necklaces, and rosaries,
picked her child up, pulled down his pants, and let him urinate in the
parking lot.
     "Love," said the cartoon of the mosquito, "makes up the vernacular
of pop culture.  It is innate as a quest.  It lances life's old festers
granting a mood of the new.  For the male it is a consistent
alternative on nights when the hunt for new females becomes
unsuccessful. Both sexes need to believe that their own physical
attributes will be passed on to posterity. For sociable creatures the
illusion of having a permanent foundation for their lives in marriage
and family is indispensable. So much goes into this ineluctable lure
called love and marriage: most of all a void so enormous that we chip
through other skulls to record the memory of ourselves in that watery
mass called a brain. On overpasses and sidewalks you've noticed those
weak starving dogs with patches of fur missing from their bodies. They
too sniff around other dogs in the hope of confirming and making some
permanent documentation of themselves on those brains.  Even if they
don't have energy for sex they still document themselves. Men are
programmed to deliver the raw material of themselves in any dark alley.
 A woman's love, once devoted to he who has pierced into her-he who has
engendered in her that overpowering feeling of one inside her-- now
devotes herself to motherhood and seeing that the child is...
     His ideas were erratic.  They hopped and skipped over each other
and he held tightly onto parts of the clothing he lay on.  Then with
photographic images, he dreamed of trees, waterfalls, and Thai islands
he had never seen before and his hands relaxed their grip on the
clothes.   There was a panoramic view of Thailand-rural, Khmer and
Burmese individuals smiling in the northern regions and stolid Moslem
and Indians in the south.  The rural views in sunrise and sunset were
more real than reality and then the aerial focus went down and down and
veered back up to the center.  It was Bangkok again and there was
Lumpini Park.
      An unknown girl was sitting on a mat in the gravel in a far
corner of the entrance to the park.  Immediately behind her was the
gate and in front of her was a large statue of King Rama V.   A car
entered the circular drive that went around the statue.  She got up to
guide its driver where to park. She hoped that by helping to ensure
that he didn't crash into parked cars that he would pay her a few baht
as others had.  She did not beg.  She did not prostitute herself. She
only did that.
     "I could do something like that.  It's honest," thought Jatupon.
 She continued to use hand gestures as the driver backed up according
to her directions.  "This is a good girl.  I want someone like that to
become my wife," he thought.   No sooner had this idea come to him than
the car sped up and ran over her. Then it stopped and the driver
hurried out. The driver held her in his hands and Jatupon felt her
pulse.  There was none and he dropped the arm.  He walked through the
gate to a woman sitting within the park on a sheet on top of a grassy
knoll.  He sat on the sheet in front of her and before the spread of
fortune telling cards.
     "I don't see much future in it" she said.  "Being in love with an
elder brother.  There is no future in it from what I see."
     "Those are just cards.  How would you know?" he whined
     "Yes, those are just cards but you don't even need to look into
the cards to see something like that."
      "How should I live?  He's had sex in me.  I should kill myself.
A boy fucked in the ass can not be a man."
     "No, probably not; but you must continue to be the best of what
you are.  Man, yes, some-a few-- might say.  Some would say something
less than that.  Whatever you are, maimed or full, you have to continue
to continue.  We all should go through the whole show until the winds
carry away our ashes and the soul returns for more learning, more
suffering."



                                           Chapter 5


     Bound for his uncle's home in the far north of the city, Kazem was
forced to reposition himself in the back of the bus next to a bucket of
swishing water and rags.  He swatted the mosquito that was hovering
over its sodden progeny.  He beat it towards the baldheads of a couple
of monks in front of him who had usurped his seat impudently. From his
new and more uncomfortable seat, which often lost its cushion as he sat
there, he looked out of the window and tried to beat back the inferno
of hate for Kumpee that flared in the nerves throughout his body. He
stared down at what appeared as the moving edge of the road from which
businesses and pedestrians, from the corner of his left eye,
ricocheted.  He fingered a slit of the vinyl blue upholstery of his
cushion in a vaginal preoccupation passed onto males through the
inheritance of this cellular knowledge called sexual instinct.  Low
levels of guilt oozed from him more subtly than foaming breakers of
beer in a mug and yet he didn't feel that he had done anything wrong.
     This moment was no different than other times of malaise in the
past. He wasn't specifically troubled about the fruition of his wanton
fantasies to meet his uncle in the hope of using him for some money.
Money should never rest.  It should be spent or invested.  If it were
invested it would be used to make more wealth or for philanthropy that
ameliorated thievery.  He agreed in a vague way with Kumpee who vaguely
inveighed something to the effect that a bit of money from a more
affluent pocket into a poorer one helped the economy and was a just
act.  Likewise, he was not bothered by the release he had gained
earlier in a bit of sex with his youngest sibling.  This activity was
to him just an extension of a back rub in a good massage compounded in
a bit of sportive wrestling.  It was a due owed to him for undergoing
the stress of looking after the younger brothers and keeping the
principle of family alive. He was acting his part of the big brother no
different than he always had since Kumpee was continually negligent in
performing the role. There were no specifics to this malaise he felt.
The malaise was brought on by the wistful craving to go beyond the
confines of his containment and yet reality, petty and limited, told
him to use what was there under his feet, in his sight, and what he
could touch. A man in the confines of his life used what was under him.
 What being did not use the Earth?
     He continued to finger the slit of the vinyl blue upholstery in a
vaginal preoccupation. He wanted to feel beyond the hole of malaise
that was as empty as the hollow whistling of a wind through a cracked
door or that numb sensation of lying alone, the fantasy of his
masturbation eluding him, and his semen flowing on his skin in a last
vestige of a river. Using others was as unconscious as a reflex but the
malaise came into the equation when he saw what he had to use.  Why
didn't he have money to wine and dine a female in the mating protocol
like any male black-tipped hang fly?  Why did he have to cajole, beg,
or charm an avuncular affection from this remote individual who wasn't
related to them by blood?
     He began to stare at the driver and a boy who sat near the front
window in a padded hump that went over the gearshift.  It was just like
seeing a self in miniature that had gotten lost and ensnared in the
thickets of time: father driving the bus and this boy seated on a
padded metal covering that went over the transmission.  At times the
boy touched the clutch hoping to one day guide the mammoth beast like
his father (the boy believing that his father was the perfection of all
things possible). A plastic red container of ice and water was on this
pedestal where the boy sat and from it a straw stuck out of the lid and
he drank and ate fish chips that were in a plastic sack.  He just ate
and drank as the bus circled around its route of the city.  How drab it
all was but for a boy and yet believing his father to be the perfection
of all things, such self-restraint was possible.  Their father had had
such a job when Kumpee was a young boy.  For a year or two of such
journeys, sitting there with the highest admiration for a father, he
was filled with the highest love that was initiating him into the
positive dimensions of manhood and responsibility.  When his father
lost his job and worked on the street alongside of their mother, he
launched his tirades against the younger brothers who were
"suck-calves" on his wife.  He hated their neediness and as the
spankings continued, Kumpee began to oppose these gestures.  Such
self-abnegation caused him to become the full brunt of the beatings.

     Having been given time alone, Jatupon scraped up his stolen
collection of loose change and ran off hand in hand with his freedom.
Having no responsibilities for the first time in his life apart from
the night sports that usually happened in the mornings, his life was
becoming a purposeless abyss.  He personified his freedom and together
they broke beyond small basement windows and imagined portals to real
places.  Together, they went to see the life that fulminated within the
streets of the city of Bangkok.  Kazem was gone so they did not have to
be there to hear his expletives about the older brother's thievery and
the younger brother's disappearances.  The disappearances were ones
Kazem attributed to Suthep chumming up with Kumpee to have a bit of
money to play snookers. For hours and hours they were lost in the
movements of traffic, the brown and Chinese faces, movements of
strangers on the sidewalks, and the swirl of infinite numbers on the
quest for money, happiness, and adventure.  He read faces and movements
from his spreading feelers. They too wanted money bestowed onto them to
squander at will in all forms of self-indulgence.  They too wanted to
squelch their routines to live their dishonorable lives in the quest of
sensuality.  To have resources and freedom to run around loose as a
goose in a department store was something they all yearned for and
seeing these pedestrian shoppers of the sidewalk, with more money than
he, made the boy hunger for better things.
     Freedom was becoming old as he continued to walk with her into the
crowds but she rejuvenated lasciviously when his eye spotted someone
not in the shopper's swirl. The cravings so attractive to Jatupon were
missing in those deadened eyes and passing from him he fell into the
others. Membership was free.  It was lack of hope that was given so
generously to the majority of the world's populace that was
indispensable to them.  Lurid as family, fetid as Kumpee's shoes, here
they were and here he was with them; and yet they were his own or what
he assumed was his own--the little that he knew of himself.
     It was a family of addicts, addicted to family or even a
concoction of family, cobbled together within the affinity of pain and
the tangles of neurons like brambles pricking their consciousness with
old travail at every turn: memories that they couldn't free themselves
from.  Within this desert of cacti and brambles they poured destructive
chemicals and suicidal inclinations to kill and enlarge their brambly
world. They were landscape artists of their personal deserts: hating,
destroying, and replanting their cacti and brambles with each new whim.
Here he was with a new family--a mosaic of complete strangers who were
not related to him nor were they relating to him or much to each other.
 Still, it was a surrogate family nonetheless succumbing to an infinite
current of darkness to which they all had understanding.  In many ways
they were wiser: they knew that the insatiability of desire that made
one propelled to breed, work, and buy was not going to stop.  They knew
that no one in such circles was going to find contentment.  They were
all going to fail miserably. They knew that there was a deep discontent
in the human psyche that yearned for destruction and death. In the
course of being degraded by significant others they had somehow gotten
excluded from the participation of such narcissistic, consumeristic
appetites and that the salvation of compassion would not be
forthcoming.  This benign pastel family sat together on the slab of
cement under the overpass while over them, on the overpass itself, were
the trinkets sold by salesmen, homeless elderly women, mothers, those
who stunk from being unable to bathe off their rotting surface of
scaling skin, and deformed slabs of flesh spread out on parts of the
overpass with fidgeting partial limbs. They all had nearly empty cups
of one baht coins and the most unfortunate of them could testify of
dark currents deeper than regular people could imagine for one moment.
They, his surrogate family, knew that there was not just one blackness
but despair had myriad blacker and bleaker hues.
     Under the steps of the overpass sniffing his glue while these
transients already riddled in amphetamines and alcohol (at times
borrowing his glue) smoked cigarettes incessantly, his mind swept away
from him like a butterfly fluttering by.  When he first met them in
this spot their first words were to offer to him cigarettes but he told
them that if he were to put one in his mouth it would remind him of the
fetid one with his fetid shoes and socks littered everywhere, the one
who had stolen his parents property upon their deaths and had abandoned
them to starvation in the great city of Bangkok.  These transients had
the understanding and listening skills of trained psychologists and
offered unto him a piece of bubble gum instead which he gratefully
accepted.
     Still, a thought preoccupied him off and on. He wondered why they
were all seated there in such a confined space; but within a few hours
the storm clouds moved overhead and the rain deluged the streets making
him forget about one man complaining of his jock itch and scratching
himself, another that cried and looked up into the clouds, and a third
that kept wanting to barter off his torn sandals for Jatupon's sneakers
and kept calling him "uncle" even though he was ten or fifteen years
the older brother.  Across the road he occasionally saw umbrellas sail
out to the gray of the clouds.  One of the other five transients was
repulsed by a spider that crept onto him in its effort to escape the
rain, cursed at a rock in his shoe that would not leave the obscure
crevice of the sole, and then in one of his shifting moods made a
declaration of happiness that they had found such an inconspicuous spot
where the police rarely harassed them.  The woman transient gave
herself to her man so completely that when he was angry, happy, or sad,
she was more this way--so little did she understand her own mind,
having become nothing but an extension of his pleasure and pain.
     Sometimes silent and tacit, these transients who were continually
judged by others, judged the sincerity of his callow rebellion with
their stares.  A few times they went beyond that to a more pronounced
judgment.  "Don't you have a mamma to go to?  Your mamma's calling for
you to come to lunch," said the one with the woman.  That time the shoe
barterer laughed so hard it churned up mucus into his mouth, which he
spit into a crack in the sidewalk that already had its share of gum and
cigarette buds.  "Mamma's calling," said the woman.  "Lunch is ready,
honey. Mamma's calling," she repeated or at least he thought she
repeated.  Maybe none of them had said anything.  He wasn't quite sure.
     Jatupon turned away from them and slipped off his tennis shoes,
smelling their soles to make sure that they weren't overly fetid.  He
looked at one of his bare feet composed of roadways of veins and early
wrinkles of epidermis.  He thought to himself that an unrecognized
universe had existed right there in his shoes.  He sniffed his armpits.
They were fetid as glue but he liked the transmission of the sweat
molecules up his nostrils.
     He deeply inhaled the glue and then held his breath allowing the
fumes to permeate within. He repeated the process four or five times
and for the most part he, they, and all went away in a haze.  It was
like being blindfolded but instead of darkness there was a soft patch
of white haze. At first it startled him and he wondered if this
ethereal gaseous mist was Saddam Hussein's lethal spray upon the world
and yet he felt giddy in this laughing gas. When his mind was able to
register the fact that they were seated next to him, the haze made the
man and his woman, the shoe barterer, the sky crier, and all
(transient and non-transient, imagined and remembered) such special
creatures.  These transients were sordid and brainless but, especially
in the intense inundation of fumes they were the most extraordinary of
life forms. He was almost moved to kiss each of them on their
foreheads. From this pillar of light the mosquito, dressed in Buddhist
attire and carrying its mask, came with the force of God.  Its feelers
were like acid and when they touched Jatupon his clothes seemed to
sizzle and burn away.  He was naked with a smashed ant sandwiched
between a fingernail and skin.  He remembered that a minute earlier he
had been trying to direct it away from his leg and in his clumsy
misdirection at the appearance of the pillar of light there it was
under the nail curled up in fetal agony.
     As the mosquito slowly descended he could see tragedy more clearly
than he ever did when not snorting the fumes, and yet it rolled off his
mind weightlessly. He was giddy in brotherly love and yet naked, he
wanted to copulate with the world.  Even more, he wanted to reproduce
his ideas with her. He sensed that all humans fell victim to this
substance: they got giddy in love and reproduced, they gained meaning
in their lives from this feeling, and then after nature got them to
beget children, she plugged up the dopamine somewhat like the waning
high he felt with his brother. He felt the insect monster inject him
with the malaria of tragedy: random images were kicked about in his
mind like starving dogs allowed to propagate on the streets incessantly
from the non-interference of Buddhist principles.  He saw all the
suffering species from an aerial perspective for he was being carried
around on the wings of the mordant mosquito that had scooped him up on
its back. Buddha knew that tragedy abounded in recycled life but
Jatupon could not figure out if Buddha tried to break the recycling of
life like a coward who couldn't endure pain or if he left his
protective palace to understand the magnitude of human suffering for
the masses.  The story was full of contradictions. He thought, "Where
are you taking me...straight...now spinning...now plunging...more
G-force than I think I can stand."
    "Into yourself," it shouted.
     "That's a cruel place to be," Jatupon said.
     "Yes, it is," admitted the mordant entity.  From their distance
distinct forms were difficult to ascertain but he knew that he was far
outside himself and to be outside of it into a world of motion and
forms made him feel relieved.  But from a couple of indecipherable
forms in movement he halfway made out and half way imagined a
half-naked baby crying on the outskirts of a park.  It crawled alone at
a distance from a cook.  The cook halted her work to get him.  He cried
loudly at each initiative at trying to appease him.  He didn't like
being held.  He didn't like the banana put in his hands. Finally, she
placed him in the bucket of water that contained her dirty plates.
     "So innocent and yet calculating," said the mosquito.  "It was
wanting in that tub of water all along."
     "Oh, do you see them too."
     "No, not really.  Anyhow, based on what you see, wouldn't you
agree?"
     "Agree that he crawled away so as to cause his mother to put him
in the water?"  He laughed.   "No, he is just a baby.  I don't think he
is that developed.  I don't think he is that self serving."
     "Are these two forms you are now seeing outside of yourself too?"
asked the mosquito.
     "Of course," he scoffed but he did not know.
     Then he was descending or falling --falling in a diagonal descent
on the mosquito's back, falling onto its feelers, and falling from it
entirely. There he was a brown boy in the pool on the roof of The Mall
Ayuttaya with goggles on his face and wearing spandex swimming trunks.
He looked so fashionable despite his poverty but the poor and
discontent always found their stealth means to master petty thievery
and a sullied self-image was easily forgotten.   There were imitation
mountains and waterfalls all around. He swam to the opposite side of
the pool and said hello to a foreigner who sat on a rock letting the
force of the fall hit his feet.  The foreigner ignored him and again
started swimming his laps.  Then, feeling that he had been rude, he
returned to the boy and asked him his name. The boy smiled and said an
easy two-syllable name, Nawin. It seemed like an easy name for a
foreigner to remember. After an uneventful attempt at conversations in
two different languages to which neither party could understand the
other one, the foreigner swam off.  Still the boy was persistent,
swimming over to the foreigner when he rested.  This prompted the
foreigner to go to the locker room to change sooner than what he would
have done otherwise.  The boy followed him.  He accosted him while he
was at the urinal and looked down onto him.  He tried to come in when
the foreigner was in his cubicle taking a shower.  His motives for
doing so were ambiguous ones: he wanted a foreigner friend even if this
man was so much older than he was, he wanted to really learn the
international language, and although he did not really have sexual
feelings he would have done anything for a bit of money.  As the man
dressed on the bench Jatupon, the boy, put his hands together in a
mendicant grasshopper pose with palms sandwiched together and held
before his face in the "wei."  He opened his hands with the opening of
the wallet.
     A door of a shower booth opened.  It was the mosquito drying
himself with a towel.
     "Nothing like a good swim followed by a warm shower.  You got to
meet an old friend today.  That's nice.  Earlier you never mentioned
this memory.  I guess it wouldn't have been a particularly flattering
portrait to share with anyone.  It borders on prostitution.  Just when
I was feeling sorry for you as the abused brother I learned of this.
It adds a more complex intellectual dimension to your character, don't
you think?  It makes you less moronic somehow."  Jatupon felt a
metamorphosis and returned to his 14 year old body.  Again he was
riding on the mosquito's back naked as a blue jay and his hair dripped
water.  He couldn't confirm or negate the previous memory.  It was
vaguely familiar.
     "Don't you believe that was you?"
     "It doesn't matter," Jatupon said indifferently.
     "You don't think so?"
     "No it's not, is it?"  He began to choke on his saliva. He
coughed.  "Why?"
     "Oh, dear.  Are you okay?"
     "Yes. Why?"
      Why what?"
     "Why is the self such a fearful place?"
     "Why not?" said the mosquito.  "Alone, shut up in one's own
hardened shell there is no logic--just passions running amuck."
     Tragedy and suicidal wishes clogged up his head.  He did not like
seeing bits of himself crawling around naked as a baby's ass.  He hated
wondering if any of his brothers would come back to the apartment or
fearing having to beg alone.  He got up.
      "Did you decide to finally go back to your mamma?" asked the man
who had the woman resting her face in his lap. The woman picked a wild
dandelion from the crack in the sidewalk and then reached her hand up
to Jatupon's shirt.  She put it in his pocket.  "Here is a flower for
Mommy. You can give it to her when she fixes you supper."
     "My mother's dead" yelled Jatupon with vehement hate and
repugnance as he wadded up the flower in a fist and threw it onto the
sidewalk. Then he walked away.
     A tuc tuc driver, slowing down in passing, beeped the horn at him.
The taxi looked like the distorted shape of a fly.  He wished that he
had just a chunk of the money Kumpee had plundered.  With it, he told
himself, he would buy his own motorcycle and become a self- employed
taxi driver for his age surely restricted him from getting a job with
the Bangkok Metropolitan Authorities. This, he told himself, would be
far better than sitting on the monkey bars near the door of a bus
clanging the tube of money upon one's knee.  Besides, he didn't
especially want to be one of the many nameless beggars applying for
jobs with the Metropolitan Transportation Authorities.
      He veered somehow from the sidewalk into a labyrinth of outdoor
hallways that ran between stands and quasi-stores, under canvas
canopies and through the smell of incense that came from a table that
contained a 2-foot Buddhist statue.  Upon finding his way out by
charging through crowds and hangers of clothes, he heard the blaring of
pi phat music, saw a vegetable market, and smelled redolent papayas,
durians, watermelons, pineapples, guavas, and tangerines.  Further
along he smelled tom yam soup, grilled squid, goo-ey tia nam (rice
noodle soup), khow laad nhaa gai (rice with chicken and bamboo), and
other dishes in an outdoor restaurant.  He passed silk stores, jewelry
stores that catered toward ruby and sapphire-loving foreigners, and
fast food restaurants.  Then he went into Robinson Department Store.
     In the restroom he relieved himself at a urinal that was furthest
from the cleaning lady since her mopping presence there made him
nervous and had the possibility of clogging him up.  Then he sat down
in the food court.  His head was in vertigo like small children turning
themselves around in the grass or the routine of one's petty kinetic
life.  He often noticed affluent men walking around with girlfriends or
wives in that male gesture of the hand of one arm clasping the other
arm behind the back. The gesture conveyed that they were beyond the
third world now.  They had money, Bangkok had everything, and they
would shop as befitting their status.  He wanted to be them.  He wanted
out of his own skin to be a different person entirely but there was no
exit for him in fast motion.  The only consolation was in always
evolving beyond that one seed, that one dividing cell that had started
his life.  There was still hope.
       He saw a father and two girls with their many bags.  He wanted a
father like that instead of the one who had made him afraid to stand
up, sit down, comb his hair, put on his pants, talk, or be silent
without being excoriated. Only arduous work had offered him a respite
from that man's criticism.  Only work had offered him that escape from
being the cockroach running from his heels. Family wasn't so ideal.  At
least his wasn't.  He was always cravenly scurrying away from one or
more of them and vibrations they made. His mind spun around more
wildly.  He kept wishing that it would stay stolid and poised as
statues of the Garuda and Kinnara, mythological creatures that
permeated Thai art, literature, and dance.
      He tried to focus in on beautiful ideas of family.  He tried to
breathe them in like the smell of drying clothes in the breeze or the
smells of life replicating itself eternally in the verdant greenery on
the outskirts of the city.  All he could do was summon memories of
Kumpee and their parents incessantly driven toward chasing any scheme
that would put a few extra coins in their hands; Kazem's secondhand
treatment of his destitute brown Burmese woman a couple years earlier;
Suthep whom he shared certain childish sympathies; and Kazem who was
his protector.   His head hurt and span: in school, out of school,
struggling for subsistence as a group, the heads of the group dying,
the move to Bangkok, and a thousand phantom faces that plagued his
mind, exacerbating the throbbing. He tried to think of monks in their
saffron robes with strapped metallic bowls dangling from their
shoulders in which shopkeepers requiring blessings placed rice; the
sweet taste of rambutans when the spiky core was broken and the
transparent succulent egg was overtaken; and motorcycle taxi drivers
with cardboard and pop bottle games that, with the tap of the nails of
their fingers, kept their time of waiting from overwhelming them in
boredom.  A persistent fly over the table made him nervous and he
thought that perhaps to counter the truths his subconscious spewed out
in the form of the insect and his own need for stability (not just his
environment changing but he, himself, was continually changing) he
needed to invent a god for himself if nothing other than the God of
Dirty Underwear.  The persistent fly continued to besiege him so he
left the department store and returned to his friends.
     The "friends"--he did not know their names--seemed content with
their circumstances. They, like he, were cuddled together under the
overpass consuming and inhaling their amphetamine and glue molecule
treats, which inadvertently gave them ice cream headaches. This intake
delivered them from bleak realities to that of twirling and dizzy
children while fantasies stepped forward as emperors of the spinning
domain. At times when they were more conscious of their existence and
surroundings (especially when feeling intensely hungry) these
transients would beg.  They had a method.  If someone in a suit
carrying a cellular telephone were standing in front of the cash
register at a nearby convenience store with a long serpentine tail of
customers waiting behind him, one of them would enter the store.
Shocked by such a lugubrious display and needing to quickly expedite
his exit with his bags, such an individual would give generously so as
to not be perceived as parsimonious or niggard in the reaction.
      It occurred to him that this word, "friend," was not really what
it at first seemed.  If indeed people were all users attracted to
others who gave them fresh insight into life or a respite for escaping
it, these people were dismissed when that resource was exhausted.
Still he wasn't all that fond of them so the issue did not really
matter all that much. He tried to smile at them but he could not. He
was feeling sick to his stomach and their faces sometimes spun around
in an erratic orbit.
       It was like feeling the rush of air and dizzying changes of
streets and buildings from the open portals of an old doorless bus that
cast its shadow onto a bridge connecting Pinklao street to the area
around the Grand Palace--how palpitating was this glue and amphetamine
trip.  At times it was a stronger feeling of thrust and omnipotent
dominion like a surfer who could easily be plummeted by the waves he
was riding.  The waves, however, were verdant and edible. It was
verdant the way nature at times looked like a green-berry cheesecake,
and bovine, he wanted to eat it.
     Seated under the stairwell of steps doing nothing in particular,
he at times took out his pocket knife and engraved a puppet man driven
on forcefully by its master to the pleasure and frenzy of rape,
depositing its seeds in every possible hole (fertile or fallow).  This
alone was his only conscious achievement that day in a drug induced but
sobering mind where subconscious images usurped their rational rulers.
Careful not to look threatening with a knife in his hands, he timidly
scraped out a master controlling the puppet man depositing himself in
that meek lowly being.



                                       Chapter 6

       "Nawin!" Porn whiningly bantered as she confiscated his
headphones that were plugged into the arm of his seat and punched him
in his chest. "Why aren't you talking to me?"
         "Rachmaninoff," he said.   She did not understand. What did
she know beyond the kinetic rhythms of pop culture?  It was in her
blank stare.  The word had not penetrated.  He wanted to tell her.  He
wanted to introduce if not explain something so ineffable and orphic to
which a mortal could only awkwardly utter that inadequate word,
"beautiful."  He wanted to see the countenance of one being extended.
He wanted to change her and take her far beyond the limits she had
placed upon herself.  It was the best of him that wanted to bring the
love of great things to others. It was one altruistic motive in his
many selfish motivations for inviting her here. But he knew that like
earlier, when they were waiting in the airport, she would continue to
bury herself in comic books and the latest American sounds when not
engrossed in her French palaver with the cassette recorder.  She would
continue to disconnect the ideals and harmonies from the plug in the
arm of his chair.
     "I want to know what you are thinking," she said.  Her countenance
was puzzled and remained so for a couple seconds.  He loved her so much
then. He breathed in deeply and wished outside himself to the cosmic
forces that she could stay with those features forever: puzzled,
probing, and beautiful!
     "Why?"
     "Sometimes you leave me, Nawin, and I want to know where you go in
those thoughts of yours.  Were you thinking of her--Noppawan?
     "I'm always thinking of her.  I'm married to her."  He reached for
her hand but she rejected it and so he smiled brightly, kissed her on
the cheek, and gave her a hug.  "No, I was probably riding in my artsy
whims."
     "Not a woman."
     "No, actually not a woman."
     "That's not natural."
     He chuckled. "There are other things than loving people."
      "You are an unnatural person, Nawin."
     He smiled and thought.  Maybe dopamine, norepinephrine, and
serotonin, the components of love, were at work whenever one cared
about something.  Maybe being troubled by Palestinians blowing
themselves up was love.  Certainly Rachmaninoff was love.
     "Her glasses are ugly, you know.  They have thick frames and what
really makes them ugly is that they are dark against her dark skin. No,
what really makes her ugly when she wears them is that the lenses are
thick like binoculars. I bet that even when she removes them every
night before she goes to bed she probably looks as plain as burnt
toast. Your wife isn't pretty, Nawin."
    He chortled.  "You're right," he said as his eyes looked down
shamefully.  He thought about telling Porn that Noppawan never removed
her glasses when she went to bed. It was partly true.  He had even had
sex with her once or twice that way.  Then he had second thoughts and
decided that some things were better left alone in the dark. "Can I go
back to Rachmaninoff?" he asked while mildly shaking his headphones in
the air.
     "No you can't.  Thanks for asking.  When are we going to New York
City, Nawin?"
     "We haven't arrived in Canada yet."
     She stood up, stretched, and then crawled over his lap
lasciviously as she looked out of the window. "This flight is too
long," she said.
     "Maybe the pilot, co-pilot, hijacker, or whoever is driving can
park for a few minutes on a cloud and you can get out," he said.
      She sat back in her seat.  "I think you are angry at me for
saying that about Noppawan."
     "No," he said indifferently.  He liked hearing truth but he felt
guilty being amused by some of it.  He changed the subject.  "Do you
want to change to my seat so that you can look out?"
     "I'd get sick looking out onto that sea of clouds for long."
     "Why do you want to go to New York City?"
     "What's in Canada, Nawin?  It's got a few walking snowmen but what
else?  Snowy landscapes and cold temperatures good for penguins.  When
someone thinks of Thailand it is always Thai silk, temples, Buddhist
statues, nightlife, and beautiful girls like me.  What is the symbol of
Canada?"
     "Snowmen," said Nawin as he chuckled, "and Canadian dollars."  He
was enjoying the conversation.
     "What are they: these snowmen?  Are they just Englishmen?"
     "That but also Americans who didn't want to fight against King
George...  Frenchmen, of course in Montreal."
     "Why don't they have kings now?"
     "Well, Canadians do have the British monarchy.  Canada is a
commonwealth."
     He didn't go further because she sighed from intellectual strain.
     "Didn't you like Noppawan at all?" he asked with childish
vulnerability.
     "No," she replied thoughtfully.  "I liked all things about her.  I
liked her completely.  It is hard to believe that anyone should be so
wonderfully odd."
     He liked that response exponentially.  He knew that she would
never say anything so true.    "Montreal will be fun.  A little bit of
Paris and a little bit of New York City."
     "Laos, Nawin, is a little bit of Paris with a lot of dirt poor
Thailand."
     "It will be like going to the Thao Suranari fair in Nakhon
Ratchasima."  That was one of the largest fairs in Thailand.  This
thought triggered his memory of a smaller fair in Bangkok.



      This avuncular stranger, a member of the parliament and the
former governor of Pattaya, had informed Kumpee that the fair held in
March was coming to a close this year.  This fair, run by government
ministries to raise funds for the Red Cross, was near the Parliament in
the area called Dusit.  Tickets to enter were sold at 200 baht each.
The two other brothers--all, like him, boys with layers of manhood like
aluminum foil wrapped over the small crumbling pieces of cake that were
themselves-did not utter questions.  Had Kazem robbed Thai Farmers
Bank, Siam Commercial, and Bangkok Bank entirely it wouldn't have made
any difference.  The psyche needed a degree of ebullience.  This was
their respite from worries about survival to which drugs or snookers
had been ineffective distractions. A bit of it insulated them from the
attitude of doom that would eagerly zip them up into its body bags.
     A woman wearing a pointed straw hat, who had a 2-year-old baby
cuddled around her neck, thrust herself before them.  She solicited
them to her table of snake blood refreshments seasoned with dried
monkey brain. She was one well-seasoned in salesmanship.  She knew the
cajolery to lure daredevils who would come to such a fair as she knew
the approach to children whom she would sell her krathongs, banana
boats of flowers and candles attached to banana leafs and Styrofoam
sailed onto the river for good fortune during each Loi krathong
festival, or Buddhist rosaries and necklaces to old women during
religious holidays.
      " Please come over to my table, boys."  They smiled and came. " I
know you.  You think I don't but I do.  I can see into hearts-hearts
wanting to be men, wanting to end boyhood.  You've heard those stories
about men who became more than that from drinking a bit of this.  The
stories aren't true.  They are stupid.  Nobody has ever done anything
like that; but the real parts of the stories are gaining courage and
strength. My husband was in his teens when I saw him for the first time
doing what you are about to do.  I watched him the way those girls over
there are watching you now.  Anybody would have second thoughts about
this.  Anybody would. It tastes horrible because it is strong in
courage and strength for those with the courage to drink it. If you can
do this you will never run away from anything again. Instead, you will
have it on the run. This is your only time to conquer your fears and do
something naughty while the police are sleeping.  Whatever you do, make
sure that you put a few coins in the box to help the Red Cross."  She
pointed at the plastic box at a distant corner of the table.  While
Suthep inserted a few baht into the hole she directed herself to Kazem.
"Are those two your brothers?"
     "Yes," he said.
     "I know you won't make them ashamed of you. It's just fifty baht
each.  Look.  People are staring at you. You've got to do it.  Drink!"
     "Drink, money man," reiterated Suthep.
      He glared at Suthep. "Hey, I'm not paying for me alone.  I'll do
it for the pure pleasure of seeing you stand there all night looking
into your cup." Kazem paid for three cups.  Jatupon stood there stiff
and frightened. Starting from the oldest to the youngest they drank
down their beverages.  The liquid molecules of hell were a hundred
times that of the airborne ones from Kumpee's socks and shoes.  All of
them choked and coughed.  All of them swallowed some of the blood
heathenishly but spit out most.  It was followed by a sip of watery and
caffeinated whiskey that had been diluted and adulterated in cola.
Normally such open liquor drinking would have gotten everyone arrested
especially when it involved selling to minors but since some of the
proceeds were going into the public fund on this day it was overlooked.
 While the brothers were given a second shot of whiskey again diluted
in cola, new customers came to the woman anxiously.  She led them to
her table and sat there with the squalling, squalid child.  The baby
was restless on the apron that she wore.  Conscious of how a repetition
of her spiel could spell out insincerity and a customer's aversion, she
attempted to wait silently as they debated doing this. She muted the
child with a firm hand pressed against its mouth. Before she could make
the sell she reflexively responded to the smallest degree of wetness on
the apron and let her child urinate away from the sidewalk and her
virility stand.  The ground did not eagerly swallow the fetid and sweet
liquid and his recidivist urine came back to the sidewalk with the
insistence of a foul stream. Past shoe salesmen on a sheet, shoe
repairmen, comb and battery salesmen, noodle workers, and lottery
representatives-- unlicensed businesses that abounded everywhere- they
entered the gates of the fair. At kiosks, the three of them threw
darts, shot basketballs in moving hoops, and bounced balls against
walls to knock over bottles for prizes.  They continued doing this
until the infancy of night murdered the sun allowing it to slowly die,
languishingly sliding off golden rooftops of temples.  When darkness
unfolded around them, they paid to see a woman put her face in a
plastic box of scorpions,  elephant trainers whose elephants walked
over them to enter into the crowds where they picked up humans with
their trunks, and oarsmen in the facsimiles of royal barges competing
against each other.  The boats had the same body and countenance of
dragons just like the television shows they had seen of the kings'
ancient boats that were housed in the Royal Barge Museum.

         The night and its dark appetites were mature in full
insurrection.  They had eaten their share of rice and chicken topped
with cotton candy, and yet not cowering, their stomachs craved for beer
so they headed to a nearby bar.   Before them a child was walking
slowly on the steps that rose up to the bridge that went over a canal.
He slammed his fire-snappers against the cement watching the air burst
before his feet. They passed him to quickly fulfill the surfeit of beer
that was part of their general yearnings. They yearned for so
much--these three young men.  They yearned for relaxation with beer;
they yearned for friends and places away from this fraternal group that
they had been conceived into and forced to work with; and, except for
Jatupon, they each yearned for a love to come their way so that they
would not be lost in themselves. Jatupon yearned most to be naively
complete like that boy they had passed.  Jatupon had once been like
him: fascinated by his own thoughts and sensations and self-contained.
In late boyhood a boy mastered independence that in infancy and early
boyhood he struggled to achieve.  It was all thwarted, however, by the
upsurge of sexual feelings which made a young man want to bond
cohesively and addictively to others.  The progress of late boyhood was
razed in a brief year or two.
        Strangely, the world was a dreamy place and from the modest
display of fireworks being shot over the canal there was a dreamy idea
of connectedness and fraternity in the psyches of these young men
although such ideals varied from moment to moment based upon their
interpretations of the environment. Lagging behind in serpentine
movements of dreaminess but eager for connectedness, Jatupon hurriedly
caught up to his brothers only to lag behind them again.  It was time
for Heineken, Singh, or Bush (not those two presidents).  It was a time
to celebrate and dunk the self in artificial dreaminess like one
bobbing for apples.  Jatupon looked up at the sky when he and his
brothers reached the other side of the bridge. Then he looked down at
his chest. A sweat bee hovered over the glands in his opened shirt like
an oil worker ciphering the ground. He shoved the industrial exploiter
away.  He felt awe in how complex it all was: one thing feeding on
another.  He wondered if, after the immune system conquered a virus, it
consumed it.  He wondered how much of his parents' bodies would have
been consumed by bacteria in decomposition if they had not been
cremated. He wondered if things were so clearly defined.  Maybe a part
of his parents was alive in ways that could be sensed but never
understood or explained.
     It was no wonder, as they sat there drinking beer in a pub on the
other side of the canal (remarkably able to afford drinking beer at
all) that Kazem was happy: after all, the uncle's gate had opened up to
him when he talked into a speaker.  It was also not so strange that his
mood of elation had for a short while, when viewing the scorpion lady,
gone awry. Seeing the son of the Ayutthaya landlord who had rented his
family that small space for their restaurant was depressing.  There he
was in his fine clothes with his wife and two small children.  Kazem
had thought to himself that as a rich man poverty had not ruined his
inclinations-this man, not much older than himself, copulated in the
right hole.
      Suthep, sandwiched between his two brothers, drank voraciously
without any strong inclination to run away.  He preferred being
elsewhere but elsewhere without money was nowhere.  He preferred
playing snookers and trying to woo a young girl to be somewhat
interested in him while playing against his buddies.  Here, however, he
had no friends.  The city was entirely new and he didn't know anyone.
Once, in Ayutthaya, he had gone with a herd of those wolves to capture
a park whore.  He and his buddies took her to a cheap guesthouse where
foreigners often went and had their spasms within her. It had been his
first time. He would prefer to be with his friends but this wasn't so
bad.  Drinking with his brothers was like playing football with them
once again or fishing with them at the edge of the river.
      Somewhere into things the beer changed to whiskey and it was from
that bottle of whiskey that the mosquito and his female counterpart
climbed out and shook off their wetness. When this canine shaking of
the wetness was not enough, they used the paper towels as bath towels.
They were less grotesquely large at this point but returning to their
monstrous shapes by the moment.



--What was the dinner like that Kazem attended?
--It was not a dinner, but the sip of the man's coffee in the den. It
consequently led to the proposal of a dinner.
--And did he accept the proposal?
--He did.
--On behalf of the family of brothers?
--That would seem to be a correct assessment although the eldest was
not expected to attend. No definitive date was scheduled because the
senator hesitated about this issue.  It was a tacit declaration that
could only be read in a scarce trace of caution on his countenance.  It
indicated that he was reluctant to be associated with these thugs.
This irritated Kazem and yet he pretended as if he wasn't bothered by
it.  He probably told himself that he needed the time to rehearse his
lines.
--What would he need to rehearse?
--His part as the benevolent older brother.  He thought he was that but
he had trouble convincing others of its veracity.
--I don't understand.
--A typical female reaction.  Let me be more lucid.  It is my
impression that he intended to use this first meeting for future ones
where he could use sympathy as a way of extorting money from the aging
man for this group of leeches and quasi-pariahs.
 --As Kazem and the senator/former governor of Pattaya/former
uncle-in-law drank coffee together, what was the lure that kept him
interested in these boys?  After all, he knew them only by name apart
from that time or two of being irritated by their noise when the two
families came together. That was over a decade ago. Isn't that right?
--Yes, you are not ignorant.  It was 11 years ago.  I believe his new
founded interest in them was what they call empathy?
--Empathy?  I know about that.  It is a rather rare and abnormal form
of behavior sometimes seen in those evolving beyond their species.
From the research I've done on such aliens empathy and compassion seem
to be the only emotions that aren't destructive and hedonistic. In
small quantities all emotions aid judgment calls in social situations
but unfortunately they are produced and expended in bulk. Unlike other
emotions that are rampant, empathy and compassion tend to be quite
rare.  Could you elaborate on his nascent burgeoning of empathy for
them and the disingenuousness that prompted it?
--It was no different than their aunt who hustled a marriage out
of him years ago. Kindliness and loneliness, from what I can tell, have
always been his weakness.  It was a simple calculating maneuver on
Kazem's part, really. Kazem affected being uncomfortable and shy.  He
waited until this uncle asked directly about his circumstances and then
he gave a modest biographical summary of their move to Bangkok after
selling their parents assets.  He was careful not to mention Kumpee,
the need for money, or any real description of how they were living.
The uncle's attempts at finding out information on those putrescent
issues were only marginally successful.  As a result, it seemed to the
senator that Kazem was earnest and unassuming. He became more curious
and anxious to help these pariahs as a result.
--And can you be more specific on how this was done?
--It's rather mundane. I don't wish to really.
--Human studies and our intellectual copulation require more
information. One would have to be ignorant to not know that or male.
--He chitchatted, my dear, in a logical sequence that was a bit
desultory at times. Humans call such an inexact order "variation."
After he told the location of where they were living and that the move
had taken place because of Kumpee's desire to be near his girlfriend,
he answered the senator's question on what his brothers were doing in
their state of unemployment (Jatupon with his comic books and Suthep
with his snookers).   Then he moved to large ideas outside of his
personal life: the upcoming elections for prime minister, the question
of the government's role for the flood victims in Hattayai, and if the
senator would run for re-election in a couple years.  It was done to
create a mystique about he and his brothers as well as to elicit the
approval of the senator who preferred people who could break out of
their own skins.  It was deferential.  It was noble.  It was all of
those things that were manipulation in a consummate performance.  Kazem
played the part so well that he even began to think that he was this
shy, vulnerable, unpretentious, and caring person despite trying
circumstances.
--Did he directly attempt to exploit the man's feelings of sympathy for
their plight or the senator's loneliness?
--In some respects he did. He reminisced about his mother whom this
high governing uncle had sympathy.  The senator of course entertained
this sympathy because his wife (their mother's sister) had always
carped, disparaged, and vilified her for such a marriage to an
illiterate street person.  The senator never forgot his sister-in-law's
birthday even after his divorce. To be specific, Kazem was seated
before the senator drinking coffee and eating doughnuts when he
ironically spoke of how he missed the scents of flowers his mother
would bring into the home or the smell of a freshly cleaned floor. It
belied the truth of this porcine creature whose domestic tendencies had
surrendered to male nastiness early into marriage and motherhood. The
sad lonely tone resonated with the senator.  It strummed the harp of
his heart.
--What are these three brothers doing at present?
--At present they are drinking beer and celebrating with some of the
money that the senator gave to them.
--Did the senator give money that quickly?
--No, he dismissed Kazem after tiring of him.  He said that he needed
to return to his work.  And then as the teenage boy was leaving a
servant told him to return the next day.  It was then that a sizable
amount of money, by the standards of regular Thai people, was given to
him.
--Suthep doesn't seem as happy as the other two.
--He is happy with the money and the beer but his happiness sinks down
with the dying fizz of the beer but it rejuvenates again with the fizz
of the next beer.  His behavior can be attributed to a bit of
repugnance toward the two companions at his table and a bit of general
moodiness aggravated with alcohol consumption.  He really has been so
moody ever since becoming a teenager. He was so nice to Jatupon as a
child.  Oh well, the world is continually in flux.
--The youngest brother whom they sometimes maliciously nickname
Jatu-PORN now seems to be sad.  What could he be thinking at this most
auspicious evening?
--He is thinking of Suthep thinking that these lovers are repugnant.
--And I assume that Suthep is now thinking that he is thinking this.
--Now you understand why these creatures never go anywhere.
--How alone these fickle creatures must be never sure of the acumen of
their own ideas.  These ideas seem to change from minute to minute
based upon the chemistry of the food they put into their bodies, their
perceptions of their own failures, the limitations of work and routine,
their hormones, the firing of neurotransmitters left and right, the
pleasures gained in social interaction, memories from the past, the
mood generated from the environment, and the well-being of the body.
How lost they must feel wincing from their forlorn inner selves by
clinging to others around them.  Is not one of them self-contained?
--No, my dear, I'm afraid not.
--Your summary is very orgasmic, my husband.
     Mosquitoes 1 and 2 changed angles, this time looking into each
other's left eyes.  They were mesmerized in each other's beings and
their wings flickered from the internal fire of passively
intellectualizing life's energetic insignificance.  Then they looked
away from each other and breathed deeply before once again looking at
each other face to face with less intensity.
--Wouldn't you say that the older brother, Kazem, possessed a lot of
effrontery to go to the speaker on the brick wall connecting to a gate,
push the button, and talk so glibly? Could a clarification be gained on
how it is that he could have acquired that entrance?
--It could.  Such an individual gained entrance by stating that his
mother, prior to her death, had prepared a gift for her brother-in-law
in celebration of the Songkran Thai New Year's festival
--And what gift did he present to the man as they drank tea and coffee?
--He presented to the man a Buddhist necklace his mother had given to
his father.
--And the politician took it?
--Not immediately.  He of course resisted; but Kazem argued
persuasively that it had been intended for him.  It looked new,
although the politician wasn't under much of an illusion that it was.
Still, in case it was a gift from the dead, he couldn't really refuse
it.  That would have hurt the brothers and the memory of the woman.
--And as the brothers drink beer together, do the younger ones notice
that this somewhat expensive trinket that Kazem had heretofore claimed
as his own and had worn around his neck is now missing.
--The more perceptive one called Jatupon notices this and infers that
he really did give a gift to the senator and it was probably the
necklace.
--They do play their games of trying to affect future outcomes.  They'd
be better being as insentient as cows.  The youngest should drink his
beer and be happy to be with the big boys engaging in the naughtiness
of illegal alcohol consumption. Instead he seems worried.
--He'll be returning like a bound slave.  The noodles will bind him
once again when the equipment needed for the sidewalk restaurant is
purchased.  He feels that he did not take advantage of the brevity of
freedom.
--To do what?
--He doesn't know either.  Even more troubling, he is also assessing
that his brothers are growing up.  He wonders if they will soon desert
this first family. He wonders if for the pleasure of women they'll
jettison the earlier notion of family as insignificant, weighty, and
likely to cause them to sink.  He wonders if they will cast it out like
a bad dream that they want to forget. He knows that they are
biologically driven by hungers like a mouse cognizant of the trap but
eating the cheese anyway.
---What would he do as a cast away?
--Well, there are ways of survival.  One can be out there selling his
body one moment and then find his head shaved and a robe on what had
been out there as a marketable commodity.
--Such a transformation from prostitute to a monk really occurs?
--Indeed, it does.  When the goals of money don't arise well from
prostitution, being a monk is a position that commands respect and an
escape from destitution.  It has a morose facade but in such a somber
demeanor like that of Jatupon it has its own splendor
--What splendor can be had in such a pointless and austere profession?
--Well for one, a given monk might put on some military clothes and go
off to the local masseuse for a Thai massage of the most dissolute
dimensions.  It is an easy thing for a young monk to do: just take the
expense for the whore out of the monastery coffer
--When Buddha was born in Lumpini Park in Nepal was it so that men
might engage in the recidivism of their animalistic natures?
--All you need to do to answer that question is see the types of whores
parading themselves in Lumpini Park in Bangkok, Thailand not to mention
the male prostitutes waiting for money and sexual experiences in the
shadows of the trees. Everything changes.  Good men are distorted into
Gods, and philosophy is made into a sordid religion. Buddhism,
Christianity, Islam, Hinduism-it is all a perversion of the founder's
ideas.
--How do you know these things?
--What things?
--About the meeting with the senator
--How do I know about the meeting with the senator?
--Yes, how do you know this?
--How do I know this? mumbled the mosquito confoundedly.-They are in
Jatupon's head.
--And how does he know them?
--How does he know them?  Because of the night when they were drinking
together...the night of the fair...were you sleeping when I was talking
to you?
--No, I heard you earlier.  So it came from Kazem's mouth and Jatupon's
conjectures.  Those doesn't seem like reliable sources.
--What?
--Those don't seem like reliable sources.
The two mosquitoes stared at each other nihilistically.  There was
silence.


                                      Chapter 7

      Childlike, Jatupon had assumed that togetherness, firecrackers,
celebration, and the proud moment of that manly initiation of cold beer
(not that it was his first) to be the ending of negative events.  The
day had resurrected him the way Kazem had once pulled him out of the
lake on the outskirts of the city, Kanjanaburi.  He was wading then in
gradually deepening waters when the sludge beneath his feet suddenly
dipped and he was thrust off the precipice into a watery abyss. He was
just a boy then but one who owed his life to his brother.  When he was
older and they had returned to Kanjanaburi on a two-hour train ride,
Kazem refused to allow him in stagnant waters.  This was fortunate
since a few days later two people died from a protozoan infection.
Kazem had saved his life in both occasions and delivered his spirit on
this one.  He had never deserted him.  Unlike Kumpee who despised work,
Kazem could have gotten a slave labor position by signing an employment
contract for construction work where he would have found himself
assigned to one of such places as Taipei or Abu Dhabi.  A few years
there would have added a solid savings that he could have used for
vocational training that would have broadened his opportunities.
Broadened opportunities and a bit of a savings beneath him would have
provided a chance of luring a woman who wasn't a noodle worker.
Instead, while knowing escape was an option, he fulfilled his high
shepherdly calling.
       As he entered the basement cell that they lived in, Jatupon
couldn't remember a time more linked in fraternity than this one except
for the memories of early boyhood. Boyhood was summarized in that one
photograph Kazem had salvaged out of a box of pictures that were thrown
out with so much from the move.  It was a photograph that prompted a
solid memory (imagined or real).  It was of the four boys.  Jatupon,
three years old and fully nude, trailed behind.  Kumpee led the way.
Kumpee had on a cap with the visor inverted to the back of his head.
The four of them were walking down a sidewalk that went along the
canal.  Immediately to their left and across the canal were row houses
of tiny wooden cabin shacks with metal roofs that housed residents and
their scavenging businesses.  The four of them were going to purchase
some candy.
--They are copulating?
--Yes, and he has just awakened from the brother's penetration of him
on the basement floor.  The belief that the world has been resurrected
in pure and gentle intentions has been thwarted.  His brain waves are
still discombobulated from the liquor and none of what he is presently
experiencing seems real. It is though.  Innocence has been disgorged
like a squeezed tube of love oil in a ride more painfully and
physically intimate than any intimacy he has yet experienced.
     His head was spinning and he couldn't grab himself in all of the
spinning images: sounds, smells, and visions all spun randomly.
Finally there was a bit of a shape and texture to his thinking and he
dressed himself. He wanted to use the wave of consciousness to exit.
--My dear, pain and pleasure have become inseparable in his young mind.
 In this act a few minutes ago-maybe a few hours ago-- there was a
yearning for this violation. The abuse was aggravated by too much
alcohol consumption but it wasn't entirely unwanted. Being a creature
of habit and addiction, Jatupon yearned for his brother-only his
brother-since he vaguely felt that sexual experiences with two people
are totally unique and the physiological and emotional feelings his
brother induced could not be duplicated by any other person.  The
madness of wishing to be overtaken, however, was confuted by painful
sodomized lances and an ejaculation of the one who did his stress
workout within him.  In other experiences like this one Jatuporn, as
they call him, always masturbated to allow the desire to peel back like
a tide but this time his highest hopes were limp like a noodle. He is
opening the door.  He is glancing at himself to make sure that he isn't
wearing his underwear outside of his pants.  Now he is outside as
insentient as a fleeing animal after it has been attacked.  Here he is
feeling better in the open air.  He is returning.
     Jatupon reentered the room.  For the first time, since awakening,
he noticed that Suthep had not returned. He had not come "home"-whatever that w
ord meant.  Jatupon scavenged the pockets of his
brother's pants that were wadded in the corner near Kazem's sleeping
head.  In it was money and a sheet of paper.  He put it all in his
pockets. He got on the first bus he could and paid the ticket salesman.
The idea crossed his mind that being a coin collector on a city bus was
not anyone's best choice. It would be much better to be one of the few
men who jumped onto the piers or docks to tie the city boats.  Such a
Bangkok Metropolitan Authority would give three brief whistles so the
boat driver would give a backward thrust as he tied it down for the
customers to enter or depart.  He could picture himself whistling once,
untying the boat he was assigned to, and jumping onboard at the last
possible second.   The second mosquito spread out its wings and
copiously fluttered them about femininely.  Jatupon began to be a
little conscious of himself as a man coming out of anesthesia.
--But the instinct of a man is to fight off predators.  Is Jatupon
never tempted to take a knife and slit his brother's throat?
--No, not for the most part, my dear.  He loves his brother; and in
some ways there is intense intimacy and pleasure involved in the novel
act that he would hardly rid himself of despite the pain and
humiliation that is involved.  I explained that earlier.  Were you
sleeping when we discussed this issue?
     There was nothing.  There was movement while he sat in a city bus.
 All elements had burst out of the Big bang.  All things (even ideas)
were conceived violently in movement.  And so he moved, switching to
busses only when the former ones parked and all passengers had to
leave.  He did not know where he was.  He didn't care. In one bus ride
he suddenly became sentient to the feel of stiff paper in one of his
pockets.  He pulled it out and looked.  It was his uncle's name and
address.  That was no surprise.  The bus was stalled in traffic.
Riders of busses who were near their destination began oozing out of
them like leaking oil.  He realized that he was on a bus going on a
street that he had traveled on earlier in the day.
     "Ajarn, Do you know what street this is?" he asked a monk.
     "Sukumvit" the monk said.
     "Which soi are we passing?" asked Jatupon.
     "Forties or fifties" said the monk.  "I really don't know."
     Jatupon looked at the sheet of paper.  It read, soi 51 Sukumvit
Road.  He got out and ten minutes later he was standing at the wall of
the opulent mansion that Kazem had stood at.  He didn't stay long.  He
needed to go to the bathroom.  He didn't want to wet his pants and he
didn't think that being a distant relative with a hangover and urine
splattered pants would be very impressive to the senator.  In a
bathroom at a KFC he looked at his face.  It was of a dark Laotian or
Khmer.  He was from a family with the last name of Biadklang from the
North.  His face was as dark as the soil. He looked into the mirror.
Just with the amount of light, darkness, or expression one appeared
like a totally different person from one moment to the next.
     "Where do you want to go?" he asked the reflection in the mirror.
     "To Sanam Luang to see more of the kites" the reflection said.
     On the bus ride to Sanam Luang he had to stand.  He noticed the
other people.  They were also wistfully discontent for their own
personal reasons.  They wished to sit down when the space was congested
and there was nowhere to sit; and in times of sitting they yearned to
have vacant seats next to their own so that they would be free from
having to sit next to strangers and could have a little area of their
own to monopolize.  They were all so petty and he told himself that he
did not want to be like that.
     At Sanam Luang he bought a kite from a mendicant kite salesman.
Feeling chagrin that the forlorn child within him had taken over his
thoughts instead of the man, he flew his kite in a more obscure area.
He was somewhat relieved to find an innocent pleasure to engage in.  A
half hour later the child diluted into his manhood and there he was in
full embarrassment of himself.  So he reeled in the kite and sat down
on a park bench.  A sidewalk salesman smiled at him.
     On a rug this mendicant had six-inch motorcycles crafted from
bamboo.  Nobody knew the art of a smile like the people in the Land of
Smiles.  Toothless as babes they contrived smiles with the curl that
has distinguished a smile from a bite with a full opening of the mouth.
Thai infants and toddlers knew.  They intuitively knew that with
enough naughty actions a toss into the trashcan was not inconceivable.
They intuitively knew big sister would be sold off to a man when she
turned 14 and the fetus that was little brother or sister had been
forced out by deliberately rowdy sexual liaisons, making his or her
exit no different than menstruation.  With enough shaking of the can of
soda pop all beings disgorged the same when the tab was opened.  Thai
babies knew.  They had their instinct to smile because of the cellular
replication planned by the DNA architect who made all Thai babies the
same as an American subdivision.  How gullible was a human to the wish
of being struck down with pleasant feelings.  When a mendicant salesman
with teeth sparkled them from his tanned face even an impoverished Thai
couldn't resist the inclination to buy. It was the congenial feeling
more than the product itself that a consumer wished to gain.  Consumers
bought to get a fuzzy feeling and forget the hostile 9 to 5 working
world (9 to 9 Thai time). How manipulative were the benevolent lies of
Thais in the business of survival.  Jatupon bought one of those
purposeless products.  He argued to himself that he could put it on a
shelf-that is, if he had a shelf to put it on.
     On the bench he pulled out of his book bag the Lao classic, "Thao
Nok Kaba Phuak which in English meant "The White Nightjar."  The back
cover said that it depicted the second queen consort's birth of a bird
and her exile from the kingdom.  The preface stated that both Laotian
queens had prayed that life be recycled in their wombs but only the
youngest became pregnant.  At the consort's request, the oldest queen
blindfolded her when the labor pains ensued.  She solicited the help of
the court magician in particular to take advantage of the younger
queen's squeamishness over the sight of blood by using the time to
switch the baby for that of a bird.  When the child was replaced the
soothsayer could then deceive the king by making him believe that the
younger consort had had sexual relations with a foul bird months
earlier.  This was not needed since the consort actually begot a bird.
Jatupon stopped reading the preface.  It was spoiling the book.  He
began to read the first chapter.  "I, who have composed this narrative
fled far away just like the little one for I, your servant, sleep
alone; I am very lonely, in my bedroom, with my arms dangling empty.
It is destiny that keeps me away and prevents me from embracing my
beloved.  I am here, without my younger one, since I left my home to go
among the Thais where I have no friends..." Jatupon thought about his
basic nature.  He had lived for 14 years in Thailand but still he did
not feel particularly Thai.  He wished that he had been born in some
other place like America with a nice American family.  As he was
falling asleep he heard the counterparts:
--What will happen to him on that bench?
-- I can't imagine anything good happening from it.  He could apply for
a job but instead he plays with his kite and sits on the bench.  He
wants to be an aristocrat.
--You don't say.
--Yes, it is true.  He thinks that all whores, laborers, and
professionals are slaves.  He thinks that they all have petty lives.
--How would he gain such conclusions?
--Partly from me.  Partly from the amphetamine-poppers under the
overpass.  Partly from his own original thoughts. I am surprised to see
that he is half way intelligent.
--There isn't much chance of him being an aristocrat.
--No, none.  He will soon be accosted.
--By whom?
--By a man desiring to have sex with him.
--Explain this approach.
--The same as any other I presume:  hello, hello, how are you, I'm fine
and how are you. The man will be thinking to himself, while engaging in
small talk, that he'll put twenty dollars into Jatupon's underwear when
they are alone in his apartment. He will not have any doubts about
being able to buy him.
--Just for the feel of human flesh?
--For a human that feel is indispensable.  They are gadabouts and they
expend themselves in motion as a defense mechanism by which to avoid
their own thoughts.  It is the same for feeling the silk of other skin.
 It breaks them from isolation.  They find their thoughts such a prison.


     He and Porn had an American style apartment.  She was content with
it for a few days and then became discontent with the furniture.  The
chairs and the sofas, despite their padding, were still wicker and
stiff. He knew that having the landlord take away the furnishings and
using his credit cards fully for the purchase of her wishes would not
ameliorate the discontent that all beings had and few could rein in.
     He had met her and her mommy on the bleachers of the stadium on
Ramkhamhaeng Road while sketching out a field and trees and yet still
Nawin felt that she did not know who he was.  He went to classes in the
morning and from late afternoon he was busy painting.  He couldn't
understand how she thought that he should just conjure up images
instantaneously with his brush, spend money, and take her places.
     He kept avoiding the issue of taking her across the border.  She
had a student visa since she was technically enrolled in a language
school (although she rarely attended) so it wasn't in fear of her visa
status that made him want to avoid the issue of the border.  He had
his American passport and yet he still had never spent a day there. He
told himself that he should.  And yet it continued to seem to him like
such a dreadful place.
     He told himself that it had been a mistake to bring her here.  He
hadn't known how far the campus was from the city.  In part he chose
the location with Noppawan and Porn in mind.  Still, it was a mistake
and he knew it all along.  In Thailand she had seemed so excitable.
She was a gadabout and she always made friends out of strangers from
adjacent tables in restaurants they frequented. She had seemed so open
to the world.  Now she seemed like such a Victorian whore, jumping
around in motion but prudishly obdurate to change within.  She was
conventional-this Victorian whore of his.  Like virtually everyone
else, she was part of the big band and the universe of movement fully
cognizant that the most popular and sexy people were the ones who could
twist and turn with universal movement.
     He was the oddity.  This Nawin, the romancer of whores, was all
for show.  Deep inside was not impetuousness but paralysis.  This
artistic brooding was not part of the natural course of events and who
was he to chastise her normalcy.  He just smiled and evaded her wishes.



                            Chapter 8


     A little disparate to the poem, Thao Nok Kaba Phuak, he dreamt he
was a black version of a nightjar cradled by the Laotian queen whose
pigment was as light as a northern Chinese woman.  He suckled at her
nipple with the violence of his beak as she scavenged for dew to
appease the parched walls of her throat and berries that would provide
her with fortitude against failing strength. Her breast bled from his
appetites. She grappled with waning confidence that she would find a
way out of the labyrinth of trees that overtook her.  She wanted to
kill this disgusting child that by its birth had usurped her of status
and had prompted her exile from the kingdom.  This feeling embroiled
her psyche but feelings did not thwart her motherly instincts for the
strange creature that she named Jatuporn.
     Then, immediately in front of the park bench there was a woman
before him who carried two heavy buckets of ice and drinks.  Startled
to an awakened state by the woman asking if he wanted anything to
drink, at first he gave a negative answer, "Mashai" but then he changed
it into a formal feminine ending, "Ka" which could mean "yes."  How
absurd he must have seemed to this woman speaking like herself instead
of using the masculine word, "krub" or the neuter yes-word, "chai," but
at the time, he had thought of himself as a bird when he spoke and so
there had not been any gender confusion whatsoever.  He paid the woman
for a bottle of water.  Then a man with his stinking body holding a bag
with little bags inside came to his bench. Jatupon bought two of his
bags and began strewing the ground a few feet from the bench with the
dust of crackers, breadcrumbs, and corn.
     He did this slowly while trying to solve his indecisiveness on
whether to stay or go home. The thought of suicide seemed to him even
more repellent than the two major options but it was a tiebreaker he
wasn't going to reject absolutely. He had a pocketknife.  He thought to
himself that when night came upon him he could find an obscure area of
a tree's shadow in complete darkness away from the gas lamps and slit
his throat. He looked down.  Pigeons were beginning to come to him and
eat what he had allotted to them.  He liked giving to ostensibly small
and insignificant creatures.  When the bags were empty he saved himself
by his impetuousness and returned on bus #203.  He dangled from the
steps because of the lack of space provided to him. Standing there on
the precipice of the step he looked in the bus at the crowded Siamese
passengers. At moments this mosaic fusing of contortionist-bodies
seemed as a mass of amorphous human flesh, a multi-head, body, and limb
monster, which choked air and breath from the bus and, worse, had the
outline of Kazem.  Bus #203 zoomed along the river and then over the
bridge of the Chao Phraya River.  The cool breezes slapped hard against
his flesh.  He felt like the 15-year-old nightjar that took its first
flight from home, strutting its bird-body independently and finding
itself watched attentively by the princess, the older queen's
daughter-- only in his case he was homeward bound and no one was
watching him.  Matter of fact, he thought, if he were to slit his
throat his body might after some hours just be kicked off into a corner
of refuse somewhere to rot.
     When he arrived in the basement cell no one was there.  He sat
down in front of a strange box.  His kneecaps never splayed in the
normal outward direction of crossed legs.  Moreover, attempted prayer
and television trances in imitation of the usual posture had always
brought to him extreme pain making many people over the years perceive
him as someone who was both anti-religious and, worse, counter
pop-cultural.  Kazem and Suthep had vehemently criticized the shoddy
construction of his kneecaps. Kazem had always been pleasantly
indifferent to this subject. As always, all he could master before the
box of chocolate was an irregular sitting posture that looked like the
letter M or W depending on the perspective; and most likely, and most
comfortably for him, the letter N as in Nawin.  It was indeed a strange
sight: the letter "N" in front of a small box of Russell Stover
chocolate candies with the parent company of Kansas City, Missouri, USA
on the label.  Inside, more than half of the chocolates still remained.
 He helped himself, almost feeling like an American spreading out
relaxingly over the world with Thailand and other countries as his
footstool, carefree and gormandizing chocolate down his gullet. He
almost felt that nothing bad could ever happen to him again. And then
he remembered being six years old standing with another dirty boy in
front of the Dunkin Doughnut shop near a mall in Ayutthaya looking
through the glass window that was a partition between them and the
customers who were inside. Even more, it was a partition between
feeling hungry and dirty to the immaculate ones consuming their
doughnuts within.  He made funny faces and danced in front of the
window where a young man and woman sat at a counter looking onto the
commotion and air pollution of Bangkok.  He pretended to kiss the woman
through the glass. She laughed and he kissed her more. Then as the man
was putting his doughnut into his mouth, Jatupon opened his own mouth
widely as if, through the glass, to rip it out of the man's teeth with
his partially rotten fangs. The couple laughed and the man motioned
them inside. They ran in and were given doughnuts.  Like then, sweets
had an antithesis of meanings for him.  They made him feel as one of
the elite, carefree and happy and yet at the same time reminded him of
the disparity to which he was one of the largest masses--that being the
underclass.
     Half an hour later, from his gluttony, the box was empty. He drank
some bottled water and fell asleep to more images of Laotian queens
walking through cocoa fields with their little black birds. When Kazem
came home with more shopping bags and saw the symbol of a more
auspicious life that he wished to share with his brothers totally
devoured by one alone, he wanted to vituperate him if not slap him
around a few times.  He restrained himself since, for other reasons, he
did not want him to again run away.  He saw that Suthep was not in the
room for whatever reason and this absence triggered in him a desire to
molest the youngest. It would be a punishing pleasure, a desperate
hegira from one's solitary domain to brief moments of coupling, banging
onto empty walls, the release of stress, and the intimacy of "love".
And yet he again restrained himself by comparing it to the gloom after
masturbation.  To Kazem, a boy shoved off into manhood, sex with
Jatupon was an innocuous pleasure like some marijuana or a brief roller
coaster ride but the gloom was of being a puppet of wanton desire for
something that was far from his ultimate wish. And gloom for a man of
little self-respect was deleterious.   It was fine for the brain to
forfeit logical restraint for that relaxation of fleeting pleasure that
couldn't be sustained or for one to use whatever was before him, but
someday he wanted a wife as much as he now wanted to think that he was
living up to his ideal of the fraternal benefactor.  He didn't want his
whole life obsessed by the inconsequential pleasures of his night
sports.
       Kazem disheveled Jatupon's hair with his fingers and slapped him
on the head.
     "Where the hell were you all day, you bum?" he asked.  "You
thought we'd start work again so you took off." He laughed and sat down
on the sole wooden chair that was the furniture of the apartment.
     "I don't want to talk to you," Jatupon said.
     "I bought you both some clothes.  I don't know if any of it will
fit since neither one of you came with me.  Also, I had to see a movie
all by myself.  Suthep could have had some type of a tom yam tasting
popcorn.  They called it Mexican."
     "Why didn't you get a girlfriend and bring her with you?  Isn't
that what they are supposed to do: go with you shopping and to movies?"
Jatupon sneered.
     Kazem felt an icy sword in his heart.  "I wish I could take these
clothes back.  Neither of you deserve anything."
      "Why don't you get a girlfriend and leave me the hell alone,"
continued Jatupon as he turned over on his side and glared at him.
     Kazem lit a cigarette, smoked, and blew it into his brother's
face.  "Because you love it too much."  He paused.  "You're right about
me getting a girlfriend.  I should get a nice Chinawoman like your
brother Kumpee and then run off with her leaving the two of you to eat
worms from the sidewalk.  What a good idea, Jatuporn."
     Jatupon turned away from him and feigned sleep.
     Sometimes he hated all of them--they who had made a funny
vulgarity of his name; Kazem, the creator of the nickname, who solved
his stress by physically accosting him; Kumpee who always flayed and
flouted him at every chance; and Suthep who treated him with the blades
of indifference (the worst of all weapons).  He vehemently hated them
sometimes and yet--
     He imagined the mosquito speaking to him.  "And yet you'll gain
the antibodies of hard, fortified indifference from the illness of
hate.  It isn't so bad.  It is a practical emotion that has been
demonized as of late by Buddhist and Christian practitioners although
thoroughly embraced by the Jewish, Moslem, and Hindu world.  I'd think
it over carefully before exorcizing myself of it.  It is just one more
darkly pragmatic aspect of life as needed imperatively as
microorganisms are needed to lunch on the deceased."
     "I don't want dark things.  I don't want to hate them.  Tell me
what to do so that I won't hate them."
     "Hmm...You are such an idealist.  Well, Suthep couldn't care less
about you except when he cares to sting you with not caring but he is
the one who taught you to play football and takraw, and although Kazem
violates you repugnantly in painful tactile thrashings much worse than
Kumpee's socks and sneakers ever did to your olfactory nerves he is the
one who saved you from drowning and being beaten to a pulp by your
father.  Also he probably does genuinely care about family despite his
bombastic proclamations of now being the eldest brother.  He is the one
who stifled the sadistic belittling of you that would have pulverized
your self-esteem to dust had the father and eldest son been left to
inveigh against you incessantly. When you are financially free and
independent you can kill off all three of them from the present and
remember the children they were.  Then, you won't hate them any longer.
 Maybe then you will even feel love but you will have to kill them off
first."
     If only good things beget good things and bad things beget bad
things then, thought Jatupon, there would be divine order.  Then, the
invisible presence of God or the forces that be would not matter.  Dead
or bored as God might be, still the laws of the land would have been
laid out like that of a deceased founder of a company.  The principles
of Buddhism would be in place and operative.  But such was not the
case.  Kazem was not a devil and he, Jatupon, was not a saint.  He
loved having Kazem's tongue enter his anus prior to his entrance.  This
"priming up" was a pleasure that he was addicted to have.  Wasn't his
resentment of his brother this evening more from the fact that such
pleasure had not been given to him throughout the day?  Wouldn't it
have been lovely if he had been made into a sexual slave 24 hours a
day, totally free from logic?  Somehow, he felt that the mosquito would
agree on this point.

     The politician, judging aptly that a deposit of 20,000 baht would
be like asking a pack of dogs to put the chicken in the refrigerator,
had one of his aides escort the boys to Chatochok Market which had
almost everything for their business (woks, burners, gas canisters, ice
coolers, utensils, glass vegetable shelves, carts, oil, noodles,
cabbages, bean sprouts, tomatoes, meat, cucumbers, and rice).  It was
one of the world's largest outdoor markets and Thais always gloated
that everything in the world could be obtained there.  The purchases
were made in double since the senator believed that they needed more
than one joint livelihood and a hungry pack with meager resources
forced into the same struggle for sustenance would foster acrimony.  He
hadn't exactly thought that they would be jumping onto the same prey
viciously.  He didn't really have many thoughts about it. He hadn't
given this issue, or them, much thought apart from how to best unite
and part benevolently within the space of a week if not sooner. This
was just his assessment of males in general.  He saw males in action on
a daily basis in their debates on various bills.  These were rich men
and yet their lust for sinking their teeth into prey was great.
     He did care up to a point.  He felt that he had aggrieved them by
not attending their parents' funeral.  He hadn't wanted the discomfort
that his ex-wife would feel standing beside him again. Being human, he
hadn't wanted it for himself.  It would have made him feel
uncomfortable and more out of place being there. It hadn't occurred to
him, then, that she wouldn't attend.  Furthermore, from what little he
believed in Kazem's answers to his questions, he felt that he should
have protected these three from having their parents' assets sucked up
into some unrevealed bank account.  They had been clinging onto the
idea that ultimately Kumpee would act the part of the oldest brother.
They had watched him go away without accountability and did this with
hardly a whimper.  The senator could have taken it upon himself to hire
an auctioneer and then could have put the money into his own account.
He would have given out the money when wisely warranted.  He hadn't
acted responsibly and he regretted it.

     Jatupon stood by, inert and despondent, as these purchases so
abstract and foreign to his hopes were loaded off onto a mover's truck.
 Despite his wish to survive being fulfilled, it was the aristocratic
life he yearned for.  Only leisure was life.  A laborer was just
movement and reflexes.  A laborer did not run barefoot through the
weeds and allow the smells to be one with him, transfer the beauty to a
complex style on canvas when the beauty passed through his complicated
mind, or attempt to understand why the pollen attacked him like a
sickness.  He wanted someone to grant him the honors of placing him in
an orange robe, which he felt he was entitled to have--that special
robe not of monks but of the type that surely belonged to aristocrats.
He wanted leisure to see the rhapsody of every small movement under the
lambency of both sun and moon.  He wanted to meditate on coruscating
city life as the Buddha of Bangkok.  He wanted to be free of the
noodles that were winding about him tightly and to grasp the leisure
that should be his and no doubt was his in an earlier life.  Poverty
ravaged the mind in desperate acts--the mind ached in one continual
groan for something within or without that might be sold.  No
appreciation of the present moment could be had in such a state.  He
wanted to know the splendor of the veins of each distinct leaf towering
over him.  Still it had been determined by the powers that be that he
would float between the businesses of the two brothers who would have
their separate livelihoods in different parts of the city.
     Still, there was something to be gained in being so lost from
memory and he was inured to being forgotten.  The baby of the family
that he was, he had been pulled out of a cranky woman tired of having
children and responsibilities.  Nursed and taken care of like any
child, still as the years passed he often felt guilty for being his
mother's burden and his attempt at being his mother's little helper did
not engender her appreciation. Forgotten again this time, he would
nonetheless be the instrument that fused the two carts into a family
business and he could get along with both all right, he supposed. He
didn't think that his brothers were so different than himself: like
him, they would work hard and feel themselves, at times, strangled in
noodles.  Suthep would be seeking an alternative being in video games,
snookers, Thai boxing matches, and movement; and Kazem would seek his
being through sickening carnal releases on his brother the result of an
imagination that could make Jatupon into one rapturous whore or
another, and a propensity to always take things apart, beat on them,
and put them back together.  For Jatupon, his escape came in his ride
of feeling in love (tame as it was for new love), comic heroes that
pulled him into more noble pursuits, and dreams of an aristocratic
life.

     There was a garbled mass of half-remembered faces that gnarled
Nawin's thoughts when he woke up one morning.  No different than noodle
workers toward customers buoying in their brains at the end of the
night, he had to let these myriad faces-most of whom he had encountered
in high school and at the universities he had attended -to gradually
subside into forgetfulness. He sat up in bed and rubbed his forehead.
His mind felt like one whose shoes were trapped in the coils of fallen
barbed wire.  He looked at Porn, this woman with whom he had mentally
signed a contract to serve her needs and she his.  Her hair billowed
against her pillow like feathers.  He thought to himself that she,
being a prostitute, and he actually establishing a relationship with
one, were so different from all other human beings. Maybe they were
surviving hominids. They were definitely a divergent species of animal.
    He thought about Songkran Festivals.  All of his grandparents were
deceased early into his boyhood.  In his family there was no tradition
of each relative taking bowls of water and cleansing the hands of the
older family members and this tradition of offering good luck for the
New Year, respect, and deference had never really embedded itself into
his mind as a moral duty. He had never been Thai. Circumstances had
made him into a hominid. He wondered pityingly about the circumstances
that had maimed and freed her.  He stared at her face with great pain
and pathos.  Tears weltered in the corners of his eyes.  He did not
know what to do with this feeling so he buried it and made love to her.
 She took him in her mouth.  The quicker and deeper she went the more
pleasurable it was. Little did he care if she choked on it. When he was
ready to ejaculate he pressed her head so that he could penetrate more
deeply.  His body had its cellular knowledge that a quick thrusting and
a deep penetration would be more pleasurably exciting and the
excitement and especially the depth of the penis in the vaginal opening
would cause the male to ejaculate more semen that had a greater chance
of impregnating a female. Such was the primitive making.  When his
savage frenzy had ended he knew the extent of his own selfishness and
was relieved to be exorcized of it.  He felt a humane sensitivity
descend on him.  He knew that of all the selfish and negative energies
that influenced his thoughts, they were, for the most part, not him.
With the exception of times of sexual frenzy, he was able to find a
deep and benign part of his nature and knew it to be the true Nawin,
the artist who drew the oppressed and had sensitivity to the pains of
others, the one who wanted to enrich Porn and all he knew intimately in
truth and beauty.

     Perpetually the same, those of leisure yearned each year for the
halting of time and, in dissatisfaction gained from comparing
themselves to others more youthful, yearned for a return to earlier
times of higher pleasures. But it was the laboring classes who
continued to labor in insentience without reflection.  They cooked
their rice and noodles ceaselessly.  They clung to their jobs like
tiny, sedentary, clinging salamanders to windows during a storm.  They
found their beings (their minds and the feelings that would be refined
into thought within them) lost to the reflexes of the day. Months blew
away like empty bags skidding on the pavements.  Evanescent and mutable
to their ultimate end, their lives passed by blandly in dizzying
headaches caused by the sun of the weatherless country during the dry
season.  When the rainy season set in there was the discomfort of
leaking and wind-swept canopies, the lack of customers, and being
drenched by the rain; but these issues were minimized by the fact that
varied weather made each of the days more memorable.  The brothers,
transplanted into Bangkok with a livelihood, continued on as if in
Ayutthaya.  Memory of the uncle's unfulfilled promise of a dinner had
worn away like the memory of their parents or the abandonment of Kumpee.
     At first Suthep strutted around in his independence like a
dominant rooster but as the months went by the independence underwent
the metamorphosis to loneliness and by 1 a.m. of each early morning, an
hour or two after Jatupon would leave him, Suthep would often feel the
chill of adulthood.  One late night/early morning as the smoke of
charbroiled fish and the steam of rice, noodles, and pork soup rose up
the sweat-profuseness of his face and into his hairnet, he watched a
girl giggle and slurp up her noodles with her boyfriend.  He imagined
all traffic on the streets and sidewalk gone and that there was just
the three of them.  He imagined those customers leaving unhappily.
Then, as they were beginning to walk together, there was a dispute that
intensified to the point where he attacked her.  He imagined him
dragging her by the hair, slapping her down, and denuding her.  Suthep
imagined himself walking over toward them and watching their canine
copulation for a period of minutes. Then an idea possessed him and he
started up his motorcycle and circled the couple, eventually chasing
off the body that had been forcing itself into her.  He imagined
himself helping the trembling body of the female dress.  He didn't want
to cover her but he did it to comfort her so as to gain her confidence
to obtain a new round of banging that would involve himself and would
last longer than if he were to force another encounter on her now.
Pleasures that had the potential of being perpetual were always the
best. He imagined that he learned about her life with contrived
sensitivity and with time secured himself as the being whom she yearned
for.
     Then the happy couple was again a reality and he was standing
alone in front of his cart.  There they were at the table slurping
their noodles joyfully.  Adulthood was the maturity to relinquish the
rebellion against society for relegating one to his petty station in
life bereft of the pleasures he sees around him.  Being wise was
realizing that most of such pleasures were neither good nor beneficial.
Although Suthep was an adult, he was a bitter man and he bit his lip
in the thought of all the pleasures that were out there waiting for so
many others and not for him.  He resented being such a lowly clod.
After the couple paid for the meal and left he sat at their empty table
and looked out across the cars that veered near a discothèque until at
last he fell asleep.  For a moment or two of REM he dreamed of his
youngest brother dangling by some friend from an open window of an
appliance warehouse only to have his shoe slip off in the friend's hand
and the body unwillingly succumbing to gravity with his force tripping
off the alarm.  But unlike what really happened two years ago to
Jatupon and a teenager once they extricated themselves and arrived in
the big city on a bus, he, Suthep, was the friend and when the shoe
slipped off he laughed and ran.  He woke up, shook off his sleep, and
then began washing his dishes in big plastic bowls.  He felt a
loneliness eat up on him.  Each evening it seemed to be exacerbated.
      The next evening he was struggling in ambivalence on continuing
to work or closing early.  Feeling forlorn and lonely, and yet needing
to talk to Kazem about a decision he had made, he chose the latter.
And when he arrived near Kazem's cart with a hairnet still on his head
Kazem's countenance was at first chiding.
     "You couldn't have lost your shirt already," he said.
     Suthep took off his shirt, wadded it into a ball, and threw it at
Kazem. Kazem wadded it up and threw it back. Soon the three, in
hairnets, were Thai boxing and laughing with each other.  The few
customers they had were ignored. It was dereliction of responsibility.
It was a hiatus. It was bantering.  It was enjoyment of each other. It
was a bit of love followed by the sharing of duties.
       On that fine evening of gentility Jatupon was able to leave
earlier than usual.  While the other two brothers washed dishes,
wheeled away the cart to a parking lot,  chained it up to a fence, and
took supplies they couldn't lock up into and under the cart back to the
apartment, Jatupon went to Sanam Luang.  Once there, he walked on the
long cobbled oval track; interweaved aimlessly around trees and
pedestrians; and watched the wind animate a bag with absolute breath
and power. The wild, breathing plastic, reminded him of being--the
putative lightning that struck the ocean and caused the crystallization
of elements.
     Six adroit teenagers playing a game of takraw were in a crescent
position like the broken face of the moon.  They hit a bamboo ball back
and forth with their feet and heads in a motion that depicted
continuum.  Perhaps they needed to believe in the continuum of action
and being (the random balls of matter that they were).  Inside the
stadium-shaped park were homeless families lying on their thin sheets
of rectangular bamboo mats and towels.  Above the center of this
football field of dust he saw a few prolonged kite flyers and their
instruments swishing as mad serpents of the open night skies under gas
lamps.
      He felt the lifelessness and perfunctory movements of being a
noodle worker further exorcized from him and became enriched in the
freedom of his own impulses.  Still, he told himself that even though
he was almost as poor and homeless as those strewn about him, he should
not be out here to be possibly robbed.  It was an inherent defense
because, more than fearing robbery, he knew that he would most likely
do anything for money. Also there was a secondary voice of a cruel
conscience that taunted him for being such easily sold goods even
though he had never really put himself up for sale and had never been
bought.  As American as he wanted to be, in Thailand (even Sanam Luang
in Bangkok) there was little chance of being robbed or murdered. He
realized that he wasn't really worried on that score.
     He was the same as the visual images of street life that had come
to him earlier that day: dogs that gnawed through the trash; a man whom
he had seen in the middle of the afternoon holding a tree of hooks
attached to small plastic sandwich bags where water and goldfish
dangled within (how his child cried particularly for the sake of the
fish); strangers pushing against each other in the mad rush to sell
something and improve the lot of their lives; and a blind man who had
screamed a song into a microphone to gain the one baht coins he was
begging for.  Like them, he would do almost anything for survival and
the gaining of a better life that would shake in the pockets of his
pants.  Life was rained on one like rocks thrown at the emaciated dogs
as they scavenged for their food or listlessly lay in the center of
congested sidewalks.
     Like those homeless individuals on their mats, he wanted someone
to look into his eyes and confirm his humanity.  He wanted to hear a
voice in the solitude of the night that would give him hope that life
was not entirely random and that he had an importance.  He wanted to
believe in illusions.  He wanted to believe that the incidents that
happened in one's life were for a good reason and that they were the
iron scaffolding that built up his life into one monumental edifice
which would go on and on.  And yet if his family didn't care to deceive
him into seeing connections and connectedness in random events and
time, no stranger out there would be benevolent enough to attempt the
task.  He was a rotting organism there to be trodden on like any
insect.  He sat on a bench and reread the earlier part of his Laotian
poem: the queens' prayers; the youngest queen's pregnancy; the oldest
queen's plot foiled by reality stranger than the plot; the birth of the
bird; the exile; the growth as a boy in the shape of a bird; the
growing independent striving of the boy-bird and the longer flights
away from home; the princess who saw the bird and wanted it...
     "Who are you?" asked a girl who was around his age. Jatupon felt
nonplused.  Beauty and truth were extracted from him.  He was forced
out of himself and his reading like a boy who stared at the light so
long that when he walked away from it he fell into a ditch.  Stupefied,
he did not say anything to the dark skinned glasses-girl.  "I'm
Noppawan Piggy," she continued.  "What are you reading?"
     "A poem.  It is from Laos."
     "Are you Laotian?"
     "Not really.  I don't know what I am."
     "Why wouldn't you know who you are?  If you were born here from a
Thai mother or father you are Thai and if you weren't you are a
foreigner.  I can't think of anything simpler.  By the way, your
grammar is awful. It's 'who I am.'  Not 'what I am.' Maybe you are
Laotian"
     "Well, I do. I do know who I am. Maybe I'm just wishing to not
know."
     "And you are reading poetry to not know?"
     "Yes..I...I know its different," he said with diffidence, "but I'm
wanting that."
     "You are wanting to become a different person by reading poetry or
poetry will make you someone different?  Maybe you are wanting to be
different than other people"
     "All of the above. Why is your name Noppawan Piggy?" he asked.
     "It is a nickname."
     "Noppawan isn't really a nickname, is it?"
     "No, Piggy is.  I got that from watching too much of the Muppets
and Sesame Street when I was a girl."  She laughed.
     "People don't have last names as nicknames-only their first names."
     "Well this person does."
     "Why?"
     "Why not?  I don't like my last name."
     "Well, it has to be the same name as your parents."
     "Now you understand why my last name is a nickname.  It would be
rather dumb to have two nicknames."
     "I can't see that I understand at all.  And no, I'm not Laotian;
and my Thai grammar is impeccable.  I'm not stupid.  I am a self-taught
individual."
    "Good for you," she said.  "They are the best kind."
      He slapped the park bench with his hand and moved to a corner so
that she could sit down.  She sat there. "So explain your reason for
the last name as the nickname."
     "I thought I did.  Well, I've chosen to make the last name a
nickname because it is my decision to do so; and foremost, I want to be
divorced from my parents."
      "Children can't get divorced from their parents, can they?"
     "Watch me. "
     He chortled. "You are so honest.  Most Thais aren't that way.
Sometimes they act like servants and sycophants and then talk behind
those people's backs.  Sometimes they are scared to say anything at all
like about the kings or anyone higher. You say everything openly even
though you don't even know me.  I'm beginning to think you are the one
who is not Thai. I've never met anyone like you."
     "I'm one of a kind," she said.  "I've never met a poor boy with an
educated head sitting on a park bench before."
     "I'm one of a kind," he said.
     "I like people who read something different and imagine something
different.  I hate people who read comic books and play video games all
of the time or buy lots of things from the malls each day, don't you?"
There was no answer.  He had trouble denouncing these items that seemed
to him so alluring although already his rash flood of feelings
prematurely told him that she was the best thing that had happened to
him while living in Bangkok and he didn't want to destroy an emerging
friendship with honesty. After all, at present he had no friends.
"Aren't you going to ask why I'm out here?"
    He couldn't let it be shown that he was feeling scared to speak for
fear of saying something that would make her turn away from him. He
didn't realize that his vulnerability could be read from his
countenance and the sweat that was beginning to come from his forehead.
 "Well, why are you out here so late?  Are you a homeless orphan?"
     She laughed.  "Listen, funny guy, see the pendant on this 14
carrot gold necklace."
     "Yes, I do.  Maybe you should take that off.  It would be safer.
Put it in your pocket."
     "Oh," she said diffidently.  She took off the necklace and stuffed
it into a pocket.  "Thank you," she said.  She paused and then went on.
 "I have parents and they are very rich.  I live in a nice home.  I'm
just running away from it. I'm running away from them. You have a kind
face but you should wash it more often.  I see a pimple."
     "So.  I've got oily skin.  It doesn't mean I don't wash it. Now
it's my turn to give a question to you.  Your parents did something
that upset you.  You are running.  From what?"
     "I wish I could slip into your poem."
     "It can't happen but if you read it you can let the poem slip over
you.  That's better really because that way you don't slip away at all
but just put on some modern armor.  It is like feeling invincible--like
slipping on a soldier's uniform and strapping on a new gun."
     "I like that idea. That is beautiful. What's the book about?"
     "How a prince born as a hawk changed into a man through love and
atonement.  I've read it before.  Here."  He gave her the book although
he hadn't completed the poem itself but only the preface.
     "You won't read it again?"
     "No."  He lied.  He wanted her to like him. He wanted to give her
something so that she would remember him.
     "Did you know that my father owns three factories and is a high
official in the government?"
     "How would I know that?  I just met you." He felt that it was
strange that someone so dark should have parents who were entrepreneurs
and high government officials. He also felt that it was strange that
she should think that he would know her so deeply. Still, their
conversation seemed to him so uniquely intimate like long established
friends.  "Here's a pen and the book.  I want you to write your name
and address on the front cover."
     "Okay." He took her pen and wrote it there.  She took back the
book.
     "Jatupon Biadklang.  No email address?" she asked.  He didn't
understand much about such things.  He just said "No" and shrugged it
off as if it lacked importance. In his heart, however, he wanted to ask
her questions about this technological age.
     Then the girl said goodbye and went away.  He did not understand
this needy feeling suddenly brewing within him that yearned for the
presence of another to stitch his open wounds.  He wanted her to come
back to him and he waited there on that bench for an additional hour
with that one thought dominant in his mind and a foolish expectation
that she would come back to converse with him further even though
neither of them really knew the other.  Still, when he eventually left,
he felt hope in something within his disappointment that she hadn't
returned.  He wasn't quite sure what the nature of this hopefulness
was. Like lightning flashing once to which the unaccustomed eye blinks
twice it pierced darkness and restored faith in forces beyond mortal
knowledge.  Like the refracting rays of the sun coruscating at 5:00
onto the Chao Phrya River in round wild and random organisms of light
before motor-gondolas and barges, so he felt that something brief but
beautiful had happened to him and that the residue of it would always
stay with him.

      Born in boredom and anguish at seeing snow fall while doing her
dishes in front of the kitchen window, delivered meals, disposable
plates, and throw-away silverware of plastic came into being.  They had
seemed at first to her the perfect tools to minimize discontent.  Then
she kept the drapes shut at all times to keep from seeing the snow.
Still it did not help; and one evening she beat on his locked studio
door and screamed to it that she was going to her language class.  She
hadn't been there but once following her enrollment.
     While she went out with the snow and the wind, Nawin still
remained locked away but free in his colors.  They flowed in tight
brushstrokes of an earthy tone.  They were of French-Canadian
mannequins performing their perfunctory duties of marriage.  A summary
setting of a banquet table was under the window.  A profuse ochre
sunlight poured through the window permeating the scene at the wedding
banquet.  The table cast a shadow that inundated around the feet of the
mannequins like a pool providing the scene with form and volume.
However, greatness was in the details and that he was still lacking.
He was listening to Thai news from his computer.  The anchorman said
that Moslems and Hindus were burning houses in one Indian community.
Hindus were throwing Moslem children into bonfires, telling them they
would meet their deceased fathers.  His pastel colors began to have a
fiery gray bleakness.  He felt great despair.  He wondered why in the 3
million years of Australopithecus through the 100,000 years of his
species (if his species was to some degree related to Australopithecus)
humans had not learned love.  They had learned speech and social skills
for society to exist but they hadn't learned love.  He wondered if this
word was totally empty without substance. Maybe it was a make-believe
word to make humans feel better about themselves. He wondered if there
was anything outside of human selfishness.


     He had once gotten out of noodles--Noodles stirred in a wok or
alive, like worms, in a vat.  Briefly, he had gotten out of his boyhood
assignments of washing bowls in tubs, being the seamstress attaching
jasmine flowers into rosaries from a long, thick needle, selling them
on the streets in the traffic, and then returning to wash more bowls.
There was a time when his aunt had had mercy on him and had come into
his life despite the inauspicious marriage that her sister had made. It
almost seemed like a dream. Hadn't she first enrolled him in a Bible
School class?  Within that class so long ago, from a lost being of
himself, had he not taken a paper image of Christ and varnished it onto
a piece of wood?  Then his aunt let him dabble in education and gain
the full thirst on the new taste buds. Neurological responses burgeoned
and bifurcated within him. Now this wooden, shiny-faced Christ or the
ashes of it were somewhere in a colossal garbage heap with so much
Kumpee had coerced them to throw away or sell "to have as savings."
That image of Christ or the conceptualization of it in his head had not
spared either himself or it from the trash heap.  He was, nonetheless,
fond of it. Strangely, Bible school for him had been the initial stage
of his education at the temple school. He wished that he had that
plaque to keep forever.  If he were to have that plaque now it might be
precious proof that a young scholar had actually lived.
     This part of him was undeniably gone. Gone it was, for he
continually slid out of his skin so fully and naturally even though he
was rarely cognizant that this continual sliding away from himself was
taking place.  He was just slumbering as all slumbered. This was life,
and unlike a movie, music did not accompany it's plotless plodding of
time. The sliding out of his skin happened every minute of his life and
yet there was perhaps some consistency one might isolate as a Jatupon
if one were to imagine such a being when Buddhism stipulated that the
self was nothing but a delusion.  Whenever he saw an emaciated dog
wadded into itself like crumbled trash or sprawled out onto the
pavement as if dead he would always say, "poor baby dog."  It was a
long embedded sensitivity that he had developed in Ayuttaya from early
boyhood. In Bangkok where they seemed even more pathetic, the
sensitivity was exacerbated and he repeated this phrase over and over
again no different than when he was six years old. This was surely
proof of a bit of a consistent self.  Friends always went away after
they learned, shared, or enjoyed the company of a given person for they
needed to evolve to the next level and forget previous levels.
However, one surely did not lose himself completely.  He did not know.
      Still he was changing and within the darkness that was
subjugating him into doziness a new embedded consistency was
formulating. His mind kept flitting back to the thought of this girl,
Noppawan, and his imaginative curiosity invented a mansion where she no
doubt resided. He could imagine her governess and feel how contained
and alone she might be within a rigid schedule of private teachers and
tutors. He imagined her accompanied by servants while her continually
busy parents remained remote and detached from her life.
     He was as happy to be returning to his sordid smelling cell as
that time when he had returned from the fair.  With hairnet as a tail
in his back pocket, his eyes gleamed of hope, and curiosity brewed
about Noppawan.  Change also marked the life of Suthep, who was sitting
on two bags of his clothes, latent with the night, when Jatupon
approached the apartment building.
    "What are you doing?" he asked.  Suthep was smoking near a tree.
     "I got an apartment. I'm about ready to leave.  I thought I'd tell
you goodbye but maybe get you to help me with a bag if you don't mind."
     "You're leaving?" He felt nonplused.  His senses tingled and
throbbed in confusion like the onslaught of the mosquito when drugs had
conjured illusions and excavated buried, opaque truths.  "If you want
to leave us, why were we all working together earlier today?"
     "For old time's sake.  I'm not leaving completely--just from time
to time when I'm tired and want to be able to sleep without having to
come all the way back here."
     "What does Kazem say about this?"
     "What he says doesn't matter.  What does it matter what he says?"
     "I guess none but I want to know."
     Suthep paused.  He wasn't accustomed to confessions in the
confessionals of tree branches. He sighed and spoke with begrudging
reluctance. " I've explained this to him for months.  He has told me
many times that he wants me to stay here.  He always gets angry
whenever I talk about it. Now I've stopped talking and am doing it,
aren't I? No, he does not want anything to interfere with his notion of
what big brothers ought to do. He acts like he is a lot older than I
am. Anyhow, he is obnoxious: always dropping by my business when he
can't catch me here pretending to be concerned that I might need
something.  Most of those times he was just trying to persuade me that
we need some type of joint savings."  He coughed a deep chronic
continuum that shook his body.  He was of an average build but seemed
to Jatupon as gaunt and sickly at such moments.  "I laugh at his face
each time he does that.  I've been there, done that.  Kumpee made us
saps enough."
     "After Mother and Father's death we were stunned."
     "Maybe.  Maybe or just believing that only bad things would happen
which is probably about right. Anyhow, I'm more or less gone.  You both
should be thankful to be rid of me so that you can carry on without
being witnessed."  He laughed.  "Go ahead and look innocent and
confused."
     "I don't know what you mean."
     "About looking innocent and confused?" asked Suthep in a chuckle.
He also wanted to keep the conversation murky.
     "About any of it."
     "Good, stay that way.  None of us want to know anything-least of
all me. Here, you can help me by taking a bag." As Jatupon reached for
a bag he uncorked his flatulent gas.
      "How disgusting!  Are you going to fart all the way up there?"
      "Where is your apartment?" asked Jatupon, anxious that the
subject be changed.
      "You need to have a doctor check you out with all that farting
you do" said Suthep.  He was enjoying Jatupon's embarrassment.  "A fart
doctor," he said.  They both laughed.  They began walking down the soi
to the main street. Suthep smoked and coughed.  His face cringed and
then he spat out some mucus in front of a 7-11.  He buried it with the
sole of his sandal.  They began walking again.  Jatupon was feeling
even more reluctant to experience change and this reluctance spoke to
him in the scraping shuffle of their talking sandals.  Jatupon did not
know what his brother knew and his mouth opened a couple times as if
wanting to ask him.  Still, he could not speak such things.
     "How much is your rent?" he asked at last as the two of them
waited for a period of minutes for a bus. He was anxious to wedge them
out of the coffins that buried each of them separately into themselves.
 Only words and actions were his crowbar.
     "Just a thousand" Suthep grumbled. But from there the journey was
a wordless void.
     Before they arrived at the smaller cell Suthep bought a couple
cartons of beer from a convenience store and the two of them sank into
themselves within the barren room.  Exhaustion stung them and yet both,
wishing to find a chamber of themselves not mandated by work and sleep,
let the liquor and marijuana smoke toss about their beings--beings that
were sprawled on pillows on the tileless wooden floor.
     Suthep stared at him so directly for a period of seconds with a
face that looked like his aunt when she had peered out at him from her
glasses.  His stare seemed incessant and those eyes burned his face
that blushed from the worry of what the stare and the invitation to
visit here all meant.  His aunt's stare through her glasses had long
ago been like a version of the sanphraphun, the dollhouse of the
spirits that was often placed in front of businesses and residences.
At such sanphraphuns Thais put down plates of food and lit incense that
would carry to the gods their wishes.  She had been his guardian spirit
in a sanphraphun of those glasses and yet she had abandoned him. Like
the aunt, Suthep's eyes were probing.  In the smoke of the cannabis he
too seemed like a spirit.  Suthep's gaze attempted to measure the
traces of manhood that were in the youngest brother.  They attempted to
not be repulsed by the boy, the victim, that still surfaced.  Suthep
noticed that even in the masculine activity of beer drinking Jatupon
sipped the beer in little suctions like the infant to its bottle.
     "Go ahead, little man, swallow as much as you can in one gulp."
     "Why?"
     "Why not?"
     "I'm not so little.  We're nearly the same age and I'm taller than
you."
     "Age and height don't make one big.  It is experience, and you are
lacking experience."
     "Lacking experience in what?"
     "In what?  In everything.  In women, in outlook, whatever.  You're
a child."
     "And you dragged me here to tell me that?"
     "I didn't drag you.  You are making yourself the victim again."
Suthep chuckled.  Jatupon avowed the truth of this with a smile.
     "You make it sound like Mother and Father defended me as the baby
boy" he half joked.
     "Well, Kazem took up that role when we were out to beat you
senseless."
     "Don't you ever want to return?"
     "Return where?"
Jatupon swallowed in larger sips while his head was like a boat swiftly
churning its propellers but going nowhere.
     "To what we were. Like when we were able to finally afford a
restaurant and Mom would come with Kumpee in the taxi and they would
slide sacks and boxes of vegetables, rice, and pork that we would put
away enthusiastically; or when we ordered a plastic ball from box tops
of cereal boxes like the one that we spent months getting...the spacey
one with many suction cups...it would stick to about anything when wet;
that one Sonkran where we were in the back of a pickup truck with a
barrel of water for ammunition, aiming at every moving target.  Father
had rented a truck to pick up something.  I don't remember what.   But
then, for some reason, he changed his mind and took us..."  They both
sank into their father's rare episodes of kindness and then their minds
switched to the pure fun of Songkran chaos where society became freer
and fragmented to thoughtless instinctual responses of guerrilla
warfare where aiming guns for the open windows of busses and targeting
other rival gangs had no consequences.
     "I am a man now.  I don't want to hear bullshit about returning
back.  What good does it do to be sentimental, anyhow?  Chance took
them and if they are looking down on us it will be with as little
concern as when they were alive. As I see it, whether we honor their
jars of ashes at the temple or spit on them it doesn't much matter.
Their spirits didn't keep Kumpee from running off with what he could.
Do I want to return back?  Back wasn't any good either; so, no, not
really if I were to be honest about it."  Only the high he was
experiencing allowed him to be so honest.
     Anxieties began to wreak Jatupon's sensitivities.  The rag of a
drape hanging against the window in a knot looked like a gigantic
condom.  There was a huge hole in the wall symbolic of life being a
void. His brother was a person whom he was beginning to know well at
one moment and a stranger with a strange face reminiscent of an aunt,
dreamed or real, the next moment.  He thought how odd it was that the
whole perspective of someone he had known his whole life was
interchanging so randomly with the worst moments being when his brother
seemed to have a stone alien countenance.
      He let another golden wave hit his tongue.  It was like being hit
by a wave from an ocean all bitter and suffocating.  He began to laugh.
 He couldn't help it. Pains and pleasures seemed to him as such an
irrelevant and comical absurdity slapping a person around in its
inundations.  One moment he would be here and happy and then he would
be there and miserable. He drank more of the beer and laughed.
     "Chug it all down!" repeated his brother.
     He thought to himself that here they were-- two very young men who
had once run freely together through puddles on the streets and yet
despite their history (regardless of it not being a particularly close
relationship) Suthep and all that should seem him was tenuous and
frothy when it should be solid in his memory.  Staring at him for a
couple seconds, somehow he couldn't believe that someone who said "Chug
it all down" was his benefactor.  He looked down.  As he did so, he
sensed that the bubbles were increasing in his can of beer.  The
mosquito, that had been folded, spread out its large mass once it
climbed out of the beer can.
     "I don't want to be lectured to by you," said Jatupon in his mind
to the mosquito.  "I might want an education but not some garbled ideas
of an insect created by my own inebriated brain."
     "You get what you pay for. These opportunities of hearing me on my
soapbox is as much truth as any noodle worker will be exposed to."
     "I know you are horrible but I don't mind it anymore. I'm not
scared of it anymore. I'm used to it. If I can't get rid of you, at
least you will no longer upset me."
     "So quickly you people acclimate and adapt to rough ways.  How
have you been?"
     He felt stunned.  How good it was to hear those words. "Okay."
     "Is the job going okay?"
     "It is the same old thing."
      "Don't you feel proud being there enslaved to the needs of higher
classes than yourselves-especially when they are rather lowly to come
to you to begin with?  All of these department store workers and so
forth."
      "It's all right.  I don't know any better.  I want to know why
you like blood."
      "A bold childish inquisitiveness without considering order or
propriety. You really aren't afraid.  You are getting bolder by the day
in a more childish way.  Why do you like chocolate?"
     "I don't know.  I just do."
     "But why do you think that you like it so much?"
     "I wouldn't know."
     "You can guess if you follow your instincts.  If you follow your
instincts they will take you into prehistory when the sweet taste buds
formed for succulent bone marrow.  Which came first: the taste buds for
what was sweet or the experience tearing into bone marrow?  For the
answer to that question you don't need a PHD.  You just need to follow
your instincts and they will let you know everything."
     "I guess people in the past were often desperate for nutrients and
found that they could survive by eating bone marrow. Nature began to
instill man with a taste for that which was sweet so that he would more
likely eat bone marrow when in a desperate situation."
     "Excellent.  In answer to your question, maybe the boredom of
flying around this rocky planet causes us to need to bite into
something deeper.  Anyhow, I came to find out how you were doing
financially now that you have employment"
     "We don't need to worry about staying alive."
     "What more can you expect from life than that?"
      "Jatupon!"  There was a pause. "Jatupon!"
       "A le nah? (what is it?).
      "You are fading off completely," said Suthep with a grimace.  "I
think you need to get the hell out of here.  Your lover's waiting for
you.  Thanks for helping me bring some of this junk."



                            Chapter 9

     Nawin fell asleep in the suds of his bathtub and when he woke up
his thoughts were frothy. Melancholy dripped from the shower nozzle and
from time to time hit his head (the contents of which emulated the slow
and sad repetition of the dripping).  A year earlier it had been in
such a bathroom at an artsy party at a friend's house near Silpakorn
University that he went away from the crowd to sit on the edge of the
tub and weep with the fatuous wrestling of personal pain.  Noppawan
came into the bathroom to find out what was wrong. She sat on the edge
of the tub next to him and heard about the crash of the United Airlines
jet. Without words she took one of his hands. Without trying to absorb
the sadness of his face in the emotion of sympathy, he could tell that
she was imagining details beyond his relationship with his deceased
uncle or the explosion of the plane. Seated there, quickly overcoming
personal loss in favor of a more philosophic stance, he believed that
America was a self-centered bully and the Moslem world would continue
to attack her for being so opulent in a famished world, controlling
world policies without giving smaller nations a voice, cuddling the
Zionist entity of these self-professed "Chosen people," and for having
the dominant culture of individual freedoms that went contrary to their
Islamic tyranny.  The couple looked out into nothingness with similar
thoughts.  Both knew the naturalness of hate in recreating civilization
and that destructiveness in society was no different than the kinetic
universe as a whole.  Both knew that only hope came in recoiling in
one's passive intellectual pursuits. At that time he felt sick like
when one hadn't eaten for days: people who should have been important
and salubrious spun around in his head as hollow as all the others.
Only his uncle, a man who did not love him and had no particular
self-interest in the boy had saved him. Only Noppawan, during his time
of mourning, kept him from complete despair.  He wiped off his hands
and arms and made his call on the telephone as his body leaned stiffly
to the edge crushing through frothy embankments of his bubble bath.
     "Piggy?"
     "Yes?"
     "Piggy, is that you?"
     "Yes, Nawin."
     "Piggy, I feel tongue tied here.  This shouldn't be a question a
husband poses. I...I don't know what to say.  We are married
technically. Technically, and emotionally from my standpoint, that is
the case so as a husband don't you think I'd be curious when my wife is
going to start making love to me?"
     "I have, Nawin, but there isn't much I can do with us on different
sides of the planet."
     "Well, you should be here and she shouldn't.  I asked you to come."
     "And I said that I had papers to grade and research to do."
     "I understand all of that.  Nobody is to blame.  I'm not even
talking about that.  I'm talking about three times before we got
married.  2 1/2 times afterward. We're newlyweds. I need for you to
need to smell my feet, massage my back, do womanly things I can't talk
about on the telephone.  I need you."
      She thought to herself that appetites were not the substance of
memory.  She wanted to lecture him but only muttered,  "Did Porn leave
you?"
     "No, she is here.  But that is not the point.  The point is
figuring out if you will ever need me like a wife."
     "The way Porn does?  Honey, she is a businesswoman.  I'm sure she
enjoys you immeasurably but you would go broke paying for both of us."
She laughed. She was fully amused by herself; but then she noticed that
she had caused him to retreat in silence.  "Hello?" she said uneasily.
She picked up the poetic story, Thao Nok Kaba Phuak (The Nightjar) that
was on her bookshelf. She opened the book, which had his name and
address on it when he was 14 years old and her name since he had
dedicated the book to her.  Her fingertips caressed the illustration of
the Nightjar on the cover page.
     "Yeah, I'm here.  You continued to encourage me to have my
relationships after we were married.  It was crazy but I went along
with it.  I thought it was a game: playboy artist encouraged by his
wife to continue to draw saddened whores. I even went to the airport
with Porn thinking you would come there and stop us."
     "Surprise, surprise!" she said.  She laughed lovingly.  "Men
explode, Nawin.  They get it out of their system for a few hours but a
woman percolates romantically throughout the day.  She loses all sense
of reason. She does everything for the sake of that relationship.  She
loses herself."
     "So-no one wants to reason 24 hours a day.  You can't think that
people get married to stop sexual intercourse.  If that was your idea I
wish that you had told me before we got married."
     "Nawin, the reason I married you was not to percolate nor was it
to be a recipient of your explosions when you can't get any temporaries
to service you. I realize that temporaries are more erotic than wives,
Nawin, the same as temporaries are probably more erotic than husbands.
Anybody new will not be like stinking socks kicked off under the sofa."
     "Is that what I am?"  He remembered the stench of Kumpee. She
couldn't have chosen a more grotesque image.  He again felt like the
ugly dark skinned Jatupon with his pimples.
     "You understand what I mean."
     "I don't understand you at all.  I don't understand what we are,
honestly.  Do we even have a relationship?  Do you know?"
     "Of course, we've known each other forever. We're just trying to
figure out some new movements-our own ways of behaving."
     "I just want us to behave like normal couples do."
     Both of them were silent, digging deep into their brains for
memories of what normal families and normal couples did.  They couldn't
find what they were seeking.  Both exhumed half-dead children of
themselves whose eyes were blinded by pain and too much exposure to
darkness.  What did they know of families, couples, and what normal
people did?
    "We have a relationship but it's a peculiar thing.  It is one of
those rare finds based on understanding and admiration.  One great
thing about you that I admire is that, despite your moral turpitude, I
don't have to worry that you will someday become a bitter old man who
hates life.  Bitter old men, Nawin, tend to be that way because they
resent young men off having pleasures when they can't engage in them
any longer.  You have your art, your permanent window on the world. You
aren't just wasting your life on the next thrill-I mean not completely.
You'll have something to show for your life."
     "I need intimacy with my wife."
     "Isn't what I'm doing now intimacy?" she spoke with a bit of anger.  "Isn'
t going to an art museum even a higher intimacy?  Isn't
being an artist or in my case sharing my research on zoology to a
conference intimacy at its highest degree. You're ignorant but you
aren't stupid. You're not even so ignorant: just a victim of too much
testosterone clouding over your senses."
     "I need tender love."
     "Tender love isn't in a man's lexicon. You think you need women to
be tender enough to let you bang away on them. Pleasurable banging, and
one or two women as your permanent trophies: that's your need.   I
don't think it is much of a need. Wanting the right people is good.
Needing them isn't."  She paused and waited but his voice was not
forthcoming.  "Nawin, are you still there?."
     "I'm still here. Piggy, you haven't contacted me in weeks. I was
beginning to think that you were filing for divorce."
   "The line was too large at the lawyer's office" she joked. He
chuckled.
    "Are you okay, Piggy?"
     "I'm fine, Nawin.  Thanks for finally asking.  How are you and
Porn? How are your classes?"
     "The class on the influence of Caravaggio is useful.  All of the
classes are fine. Noppawan, I think that Porn hates being with me now.
I think she is disappointed being here with me."
     "Why?"
     "I'm too busy to take her wherever she wants to go."
     "Where does she want to go?"
     "I think anywhere but here-New York mostly."
     "Why don't you go?  It is just a day's journey, isn't it?"
     "I don't know," he sighed.  "Piggy, I've tried to call you twenty
times.  Why are you at your sister's?"
     "Oh, Nawin, that is a good question.  You know how the landlord
let four Chinese students rent out an apartment near us."
     "Yes."
     "Do you remember that we always heard that sizzling sound of them
frying food in their woks."
    "Yes, so-"
    "Well, they fried most of the apartment building.  The sprinklers
didn't turn on. No one was hurt fortunately.  You had only a few
canvases.  I took out your paintings and my computer and ran out before
the flames reached our door.  Our ideas are safe."
     "Thank God!  Thank God, no one was hurt."  He imagined the horror
of having all his canvases in that location and his image emblazoned in
light, heat, and smoke.  What a way of setting his reputation on fire.
What a way of enlightening the world.  And yet, in accordance with Zen,
burnt canvases would nip his ego and remind him of the true traceless
aspect of being.  If this had happened, to which his whole being poured
out praise to whatever forces of the cosmos intentionally or
unintentionally caused it to not occur, it would have taught him the
awareness that permanence was an illusion. It would have taught him an
acceptance of fate and an appreciation of the simple pleasure of just
being. He thought of the time that he and Noppawan were in a Songkran
Festival water fight in Banglampool.  Both were unlucky enough to have
both sides of their faces shot with water containing some form of
caustic chemicals that burned lacerations which later changed into
black eyes.  For a few weeks the friends had been freaks but then they
were always freaks, and at the age of 14 or 15, the inception of their
friendship, they had attended the natural science freak museum at
Siriaj Hospital.  In Thailand no one told the truth.  They were careful
and obsequious with their "wei," their traditions, and their buried
tongues.  They were in favor of just getting along.  To Thais, he and
Piggy would be perceived as intractably strange.  The couple couldn't
claim to be comfortable as freaks although freakishness was their
natural order.
     "Also, the monkey, the cat, and the parrot: I got them out too."
     "Noppawan?  Noppawan Rongthang" he said timidly in the fog of
self-doubt.
     "Jatupon Biadklang" she mocked him and laughed at his insecurity.
     "Why didn't you move into the condominium?"
     "My sister's apartment is near the university."
     "I'm feeling lonely," he said while laughing at himself.  "I love
you but I'm doubting if you love me."
     "Feelings come and go, Nawin.  We have a commitment to each other
as friends and we're married.  The way I look at it that is more stable
than what most people have.  There is me and there is you and from
those two important things we create us.  Where's Porn at now?"
     "She went to her language class."
     "Oh, is she now trying to learn Thai?"
     He laughed victoriously choking on his saliva.  He coughed. "You
are jealous!" he said gleefully.  "You do love me.  You are jealous out
of your mind."
     "Dream on, Nawin."
     "Piggy is jealous."
     "In your dreams, Nawin."
      He stopped laughing. "Piggy? I want to tell you about something."
     "Are you whining, Nawin?"
     "Well, I was ready to."
     She felt that husbands used women to rape or as confidants for the
release of their suffering boys.  She found it vertiginous and a bit
nauseating.
     "Yes," she said coldly, "What is it?"
     "I just want to tell you something that happened...I think I saw
my brother-one of them when I was leaving for the airport."
     "The one who beat up on your face when I first met you."
     "Yeah.  Maybe.  It's nothing.  It is just on my mind."
     "Did you talk to him?"
     "No, just saw him from a distance."
     Hanging up, he got dressed and, paintbrush in hand, he returned to
his dreams: dreams of people in movements imitated from their fathers
and forefathers-those in traditional marriages and traditional jobs who
were in their movements as perfunctory and dead as noodle workers.  He
swept color on his canvas.  He made imagined forms of those who had
not, in their early childhood been maimed in this mechanical apparatus
called family.  For selfish reasons, like those tiny salamanders
clinging to windows during a storm, he thought that he should spend
time with Porn, know her in more detail, listen to her, and understand.
 In part he was able to click into that tender inquisitive probing and
non-judgmental listening called empathy, but the thing that clicked his
brainwaves in this circuitry was often selfish.  He knew that he, his
wife, and his Porn were all maimed ones.  They were indeed a family.
They were part of him and he did not want to lose them.  Both brought
him pleasurable respites from himself who was often attuned to the pain
that was rife in all things.  When Porn came home he went to her.  He
asked how her day was.  He listened to her complaints.  He paused and
waited.  He understood her isolation.  Still he did not promise to take
her to New York.



     Impermanence was in all things. Galaxies collided or were pulled
into joint oval orbits.  Planets were sucked into those suns in the
realignment. The suns themselves eventually flared up into supernovas
consuming all planetary bodies orbiting their realm and died. Long ago
while the senator was in his first year of law school his sister had
become one of the hundred women on a given day that sought to get
traveler's visas at the German Embassy escorted by their boyfriends so
as to begin a departure that would keep them in exile. His parents were
now beginning to act the parts of invalids and leeches.  To his parents
he had failed them by being divorced and not having children that would
have fostered the illusion of continuum. They also thought he had
failed them by not inviting them into his home. The result was a
continual stream of their calls on his mobile telephone where the
mother and father diagnosed themselves and each other, listing all
symptoms and proposing materialistic requests and more time together
that would alleviate or distract their mental and physical suffering.
Women whom he had thought of as having permanent relationships gained
new perspectives from the intake of new information.  They also gained
more immediate and dominant feelings engendered by newer relationships.
They went on and became something different without any way of relating back si
nce, like the expanding universe, it all needed to go forward.
With aging parents and relationships awry came the growing daily
awareness of the limits of his lifespan making him all the more
glutinous to have money, status, and women who could produce for him
children.  But with each year of impermanence his identity of himself
fell on its own weight like a black hole and he did not know who he
was.  The loving neediness of wanting that special woman who would
take care of his sexual needs, give him children, and not extort him of
finances with a divorce grated against him stridently.  There was no
security against another mishap especially at his present age of forty
when his physical attributes were diminishing and a woman would not be
likely to marry him for how he made her feel.
     Jatupon wanted to be an aristocratic bum.  He wanted to commune
with inner voices within himself and to have the relationship of green
blades of grass firmly poking into the crevices of his toes when he ran
about barefoot in a park.  He wanted to return to that state of knowing
perfectly what to say when others asked him, at age five, what he
wanted to become when he grew up. "I want to become a tickle-man," he
would always tell them and then he would try to tickle them before they
tickled him. A decade later, this old long-lost game with Kazem in
particular could not be surpassed.  He still couldn't think of a better
vocation than a tickle-man.
     Outside of the continual wish to have an aristocratic life free of
the specious ambition to either sustain himself as a working class
slave or by the stretch of his imagination a CEO slave, a doctor, or a
senator, Jatupon's inward feelings were beginning to subtly change away
from his love of his brother, Kazem. His ideas and feelings were
shifting toward impermanence with each letter he received from Noppawan
Piggy.  Finally, he had a friend although for the past few years
Jatupon had virtually had none. As much as new manhood awakened old
instincts deep in cellular memory for the odor, the touch, the pleasure
and the pounding of any type of sexual activity where the differing
force of the thrusts and the stirred waves of his hormones all whizzed
him in a unique frenzy for a brief time, he yearned more for Noppawan.
He yearned for her ideas and her presence.
     He considered his need for her one time as the two brothers lay
naked immediately after a sexual encounter under a ceiling fan that was
newly installed.  He watched the blades chopping through the musty air
and in a very minute sotto voce of his thoughts he yearned for
destruction.  He wanted for the wobbly fan to fall and guillotine his
head.  For the most part, however, sexual acts like this one were his
rocket fuel to Nirvana.  It always brought him into a religious state
that he couldn't duplicate in any other way.  That one moment after his
brother's sexual act and his own masturbation, he was free of wanting
anything.  At such times he just lay there breathing in the oxygen
deeply and feeling fully satisfied with being.  This too he yearned for
and only his brother was able to grant him Nirvana.
     At last he had a friend. This relationship gave him more meaning
to the days than even the rain.  Sustained reflexes as an assistant
cook had caused the days to stumble along on deformed feet so
uneventfully after his parents' death. Now it wasn't so bad.  After the
washed-plate monotony of late evenings he would often pull out of his
back pocket a letter that he had read many times before.  At both
restaurants Kazem and Suthep individually razzed him about his new
girlfriend but they believed that he did not know anyone. To them the
girl had to be some remote villager wanting to learn about life in
Bangkok by advertising for a pen pal in the back of the comic book
pages. On one night of one particularly troublesome week without a
letter he went to sleep from his banal world at an empty table and
dreamed his anything but banal dreams.  Within Jatupon's sleep there
were at first tire swings and butterflies nestling on succulent flowers
but then on the flowers there was the perfidious couplings of
mosquitoes.  He smelt the pheromones that the male had emitted to make
the female believe that it was following a whole army of male hunters
who had procured food when really there was just that one male poised
relaxingly waiting for the ovulating specimen to come to its perch.
The female was as white as Kumpee's Chinese girlfriend and she hated
and loved the guile as much as the deceiver in that unique mix that
makes sex such a delight.  Then, after finishing its frenzy, the
mosquito was back with him.
     "I don't understand this delay in meeting" he dreamed of himself
telling the mosquito.
     "Still, after nearly four months in this city, you think that the
senator is really trying to fit you into his schedule of dinner guests
and your sweet mother and father are going to return from the dust."
     "Something like that.  I don't want to be forgotten.  If Mother
and Father are really dead in the true sense of the word I won't be
able to see them again."
     "Dear me, when are you going to shake your boyish Thai ways? Being
respectful to a couple morons who accidentally conceived you in their
sexual frenzy is too preposterous.  Regarding death, I can't see
anything wrong in just plain death. You kill enough of us when you do
your laundry each week.  I see you emptying out puddle-remnants of the
previous week's water from your plastic buckets where we are laying our
eggs and then pouring in new laundry soap and water. You attempt to
flatten us with the palms of your hands.  You never seem to consider
death such a tragedy in those circumstances.  I can't see why any
being--mosquito or human--would want to continue on for thousands of
years anyway.  A being continually growing from the same old bud in an
environment not all that conducive to growth becomes as fallow as the
world around him.  So much negativity from all of those disillusioned
experiences withers one in ennui-I can't think of anything more horrid!
 Then comes petty greediness to have something; and no one is pettier
than old men whom you give the "wei." Thais extend this deference to
these beastly wrinkled beings as if age makes such grumbling,
maundering creatures continually thinking of their mortality and their
aches and pains enlightened beings. I can't see that it would be good
to live forever.  It is better to die off completely and let the energy
come back as something totally different.  This new being will dance
its dance and celebrate the novelty of the world before adulthood hits
him across the face with a mallet."


     When they got home it was sleep again so that they would wake up
with energy and motivation to do more work. Before Jatupon awakened
naturally to the sun-god (the night having deadened his soul and put
him to sleep as any ancient Egyptian laborer long ago believed of his
own life), so Kazem in darkness came to his startled awakenings with an
alarm clock as well as the alarm of and in his own brain that yearned
for sustenance and more which always came from money.  With no love
oil, and no rimming, he took Jatupon with maximum thrusts engendering
within him the inclination, if not the incitement, for violence.
Jatupon's first thoughts of the morning were that he wanted to slit his
brother's throat.  He wanted to cut off Kazem's head, stuff it, and put
it on a bookshelf had they purchased a bookshelf.  It was no wonder, he
thought, that this one had no girlfriends.  Who would care to have one
so large-so large!  As the lovemaking subsided, it tossed Kazem back
into a nap like the soothing backward movement of the tide. Jatupon
felt that he was bleeding and so he went to the toilet and sat on the
stool feeling beneath him from time to time to see if there was blood.
There wasn't any. He sat and sat virtually thoughtless until the idea
returned that he could kill him.  He wanted to kill him veritably.  He
could take one of the new television sets that Kazem had purchased for
he and Suthep and smash his head while he was sleeping. He could spray
paint the walls with air freshener and light a match.  The whole room
could be set ablaze like a funeral pyre.  He got up and dressed.  He
needed to escape.  He needed to run away to the street people before
his actions matched his thoughts.  He needed to be with the street
people.  He told himself that he loved them veritably. He scavenged
money from Kazem's pants and took a taxi to an abandoned railway
station with its severed tracks where weeds or moss grew a little on
most of everything and homeless, crippled dogs with one or more smashed
paws found a respite.  He purchased some amphetamines from one of the
street people and, done in sync with his glue, his head began to spin.
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which he was exposed to from a movie on the
television earlier that week, played in his head and the dogs with
their mangled paws began dancing.   Plaid or corrugated he thought two
things intermittingly as the dogs continued to dance:
* Kazem, when he thought of Kumpee, wanted to twist off his head like a
crawdad-he who had stolen their money and put them in this hole.  Then
his anger subsided by again recalling a good thing that had come out of
it.  He, as yet, did not have to pay for rent or utilities.  Also the
two of the siblings were gone allowing him to be liberated.  The idea
of being a teenager free of mother and father had been intriguing to
him.  As much as he mourned the deaths of his parents, their deaths had
seemed to him liberation to manhood and his own sexual fulfillment.
The same was true of Kazem and Suthep. He didn't resist Kumpee's plan
to replant them in the modern sordid capital of Bangkok.  He sensed all
along that Kumpee would leave them and he didn't murmur a word.  His
opposition to Suthep's departure was mostly a show. He wanted to pursue
that liberation with impunity.  He went to work .
* "I can't stand the boredom of everything around me"  "But you have to
survive," said the mosquito.  "All animals have to survive."  "I am
declaring a day off.  Besides, when I see you I can't do anything
else."  "Aren't you the lucky one?" said the  mosquito.
* Kazem liked how obscure his petty actions were in the city.  No
matter what one did here it was obscure.  Here no one pretended to
care-so absorbed they were in making sure that their own sordid
activities were kept inside that they didn't need to feign being
shocked or to gossip about human anomalies all which were as old as the
species.
* "Why aren't you sitting.  You are just leaning against the building,
staring across severed train tracks."  "I'm in pain.  I can't sit."
* Long before light or orange robed monks made their alms he hauled his
cart from a lot where he stored it for a fee.  Hauling it on the edge
of the street like any other hapless ones, occasionally he met gaunt
dogs, salesman of real stores helping the deliverymen get their produce
off the trucks and dragging the boxes to the sidewalks, ice-cream
salesman on tiny bicycle-driven stores, and the glass aquarium fruit
cars with their gravel of ice that other hapless ones pushed along the
street; and from it all it was hard to feel alone.  Sound and motion
beat off the cruel static morbidity of his own thinking that had the
compunction of criticizing him for his actions with the youngest
brother and saw no future outside of monthly drunken vigils with fellow
restaurant workers and those rare occasions when he went off with
Suthem to ladies of the night he paid for.-is he thinking about me,
thought Jatupon.  -as he sets up the restaurant, is he thinking about
me?
* "And taking that makes you feel less blue?"  "At least less alone."
"Maybe you are an addict."  "I don't think so. It is recreational."
"Sounds like a venereal disease.  It sounds American."
* He liked being unmonitored.  Sure, there was adrenalin gained from
the hunt of a woman but more came from the more forbidden pleasures. A
man with money was more alluring to a female who needed this more
vehemently than sperm for the making of offspring.  What did he have to
give a woman.  He had dated before.  He was big.  It fascinated but
repelled them.
* "I told you.  I was feeling blue; and I like how the world turns
around like a carousel of caricatures when I mix the glue and the
pills.  Tracks, dogs, and the old abandoned railway station seem to be
breathing.  I don't have anyone else.  Sometimes I like hearing from
you."  "How kind!" said the mosquito stoically.
* Suthep's apathy had come from the acceptance of something deeply
sordid in himself.  Policemen were paid their paltry sums and had
bigger crimes to corner than family perverts. His was a business so
meager that it retained a tax exempt status by the nature of no status
at all, a business existing with no address although this oversight was
compensated for by a policeman who came to extort money from Kazem
weekly. Being sordid was a type of wisdom.  From it he was cognizant
that such instincts to conquer sexually were part of the sadistic
imaginings of the creative force or the pragmatic cause and effect that
engendered the floundering of human existence and he was hardly the
god for redesigning it all-especially he who rarely thought of it as
being essentially wrong in theory despite feeling nominally guilty.
* "Do you think that he loves me?"  "What definition of love are we
using now?"  "The real one.  I'm older now-almost 15.  I know.  Do you
think he loves me like someone with a great sickness inside of him who
desperately seeks medication or a yearning to slam himself into me
fully like one entity?" "Okay, I'll grant you that one," said the
mosquito and then it guffawed.
* And so, unchaining the tables from beneath his cart, pulling out the
plastic stools underneath, and kicking away a few sleeping dogs that
were lying there to be tripped over like disheveled rugs, alone he
started his business.  He chatted with those he encountered and felt
the light commotion of an awakening world fill him with its harmony
before routine tasks dominated over him.
* His father had tried to squash him.  He was excoriated for standing,
sitting, combing his hair, where he parted his hair, the food he ate,
the meat he abhorred, and the clothes he put on.  He couldn't do
anything.  He wasn't anything.
* Stirring a pot of rice deep memories ran by him in glimpsed ghostly
passing stirring up raw negative feelings that created the hard product
of his thoughts.  His father had been an aggressor at all times who
never mellowed any to his death.  For many early years Kazem's ears had
been pulled daily.
He had been dragged by the hair.  He had been forced to sit daily on a
little red footstool next to his father as punishment for not only
youthful exuberance (youth which ran around on two feet whereas he had
to flounder with a cane) but for the intractable insolence that would
interfere with his punishment of the two "suck-calves" of the youngest
brothers whom he hated.  Kazem still had the scars of cigarette burns
in his brown skin as palpable and tangible proof that the man had
really existed.-No, more than that.  His love for me is more than just
a sickness although it has that in it, said Jatupon to the mosquito.

     He couldn't tell where he was.  Faces of his parents, Kumpee, the
aunt and uncle,  the monks at the temple school, and that boy he had
been friends with for so many years (the one who had been with him
begging in front of the Dunkin Doughnuts shop and, a couple years ago,
had allowed his feet to slip from an open window that time they had
made their petty attempt into major thievery on that runaway trip into
Bangkok) all were without faces but wandering around like ghosts in his
thoughts. He could see the forms of these people in his head but only a
few of them had the slightest trace of a face.  He had somehow defaced
them.  Time had defaced them.  Memory was fading. As the hours passed
uncomfortably he became more aware of himself.  He forced himself to be
more rational.  He was hungry and tired.  He wanted to go home.  He
told himself that he'd kill his brother the next time he did something
like that. And yet, when he was about ready to be put in jail that time
in Bangkok it had been Kazem who had stolen money from their parents.
It was Kazem who had paid off a police officer.

      Nawin reflected Porn's feelings.  "So, you don't feel purposeful.
 You are in a relationship with a man who spends his time with his
paints leaving you alone in the cold of Canada without feeling
purposeful. You got so sick of washing dishes that we've now gone to
paper plates."  He chuckled.  She smiled. " I care about you.  I'm glad
you are here with me.  Regarding purpose, we'll work on that.  I'll see
if I can get you a job on campus.  I'll definitely stop things from now
on anytime you want to talk.  If you want to go out to a movie, I'll go
out with you."
      "I want to go to New York City."
      "That is something to be considered too," he said evasively.  He
changed his cynical ideas.  It seemed to him that empathy was love.


                                               Chapter 10


        Jatupon agreed to meet her at Siriaj Hospital.  From a bus he
took an express boat.  Seated there, he tried to read the Student
Weekly published by the Bangkok Post but attempts at understanding
English were to no avail.  The sun and wind together shot him with
tranquility darts that took him to an ethereal, unearthly peace exempt
from the conflicts of consciousness but also from assembling
understanding from the fragments of the pieces to the day that came
through his senses in a mosaic.  He wanted to understand his place in
the world.  He wanted to understand the premise of his life that
constituted a compromise of the internal conflicts of the mind.  But he
also wanted peace of mind and he sank in with his ease until he was
asleep.
     He woke on the hard orange chair inside the boat to a splash of
polluted water against his face. Once again he was staring at the
waters that gyrated against the boat. He watched the frothy mist from
the motion of the boat arise to the window-sized glassless hole that
was beside him. Again he was in the world of conflict and for a moment
he resented being there as if breathing and thinking deigned him. His
conflict was what he was doing now.  He was continuing his part as the
absent employee and he worried about the consequences. He thought of
going back.  All he had to do was step out onto any dock and wait for a
boat going in the opposite direction; but his legs were like stone.  He
would not budge. The boat was moving forward and so would he.  He
removed his sunglasses, put his hand into the water, scooped in a
residue of the moisture that did not fall from his fingertips, and
cooled the hot throbbing of the swollen blackish blue skin beneath his
left eye.  He was proud of his courage.  Four nights ago Kazem had
finally given into his demands for his mail but it had been a
calculative maneuver to mitigate their protracted altercation that had
gotten out of control over his noodle soup/fried rice-truancy.
     His thoughts carried him piggyback at a gallop.  There were savage
impulses amuck in that instinctual need to dominate in procreation and
yet how was it he had let himself become the one who was ridden on
instead of the one riding?  It was a mystery as to why he should be
content to a role so clearly defying the male instinct to be the sexual
aggressor. Maybe, he half-wondered or felt in some murky and illusive
way that failed to come together as a cohesive thought, it was from not
taking on that masculine pose of one ready to preempt his own selfish
and sadistic impulses onto others for his own self-gratification.
     He wasn't addicted to drugs any more than he was to love, he told
himself.  One needed a bit of both.  He wasn't weak.  Except once of
clearly finding himself addicted and being forced to go through
detoxification with some charitable monks (that had been the cocaine
period the result of frequent raids of the cash box and an episode of
thievery in Bangkok), he believed that his mentality was a strong one.
Of course, until the move to Bangkok, the family had ensured that for
the past two years he was rarely allowed out of their sight and never
came near the cash box.  This had assisted his lack of addiction.  Even
now his interaction with customers was overseen suspiciously.  And
laboriously friendless as his life droned on (with this new exception
if indeed she cared to really be his friend and he was anxious that she
should be such) he perceived himself as a freakish aberration to so
many boys his age that had normal if not exceptional lives.  They
walked together in throngs-schoolboys in their light blue knit shirts
and dark blue shorts walking the streets, entering 7-11s, clustering in
for "All You Can Eat" Pizza Hut specials, or walking hand in hand with
girls to the malls.  He half hated them.  He hated their laughter,
which seemed to deride him.  Sometimes he wanted to hit against the
wall that entrapped him.  It was like he was a Mexican and America had
deliberately concocted a wall to keep him out. If only it were an
eggshell, he thought to himself, he would be able to peck his way out.
       And here he was at the Siriaj pier.  There was a Dairy Queen,
and a Black Canyon Restaurant near the pier and a long winding outdoor
market.  He wondered why she had chosen Siriaj Hospital for their
meeting place and why, given the location, she had not chosen for them
to meet in one of those restaurants.  Instead, he was supposed to meet
her in front of a museum. He meandered in different pathways throughout
many buildings until he noticed her sitting on a stoop under a sign
that said "Museum" in English.  Her hair was shorter than the last time
he saw her and her cheeks seemed chubbier.  She was dressed in her
school uniform.
     "Sunthon Phu, there you are," Noppawan said.  Sunthon Phu was an
important poet long ago who had risen from humble parents to become a
private secretary for King Rama II because of his literary abilities.
     "Here I am," he said. He smiled glowingly.  There was nothing
about it that was affected. He came nearer to her.
     "I was worried that you wouldn't get my last letter."
     "I got it yesterday in my new mailbox at the post office" he said
with pride.
     "Good.  That brother of yours was really keeping my letters, was
he?  What a scoundrel ."
     "I'll always get them from now on. Do you want to go into the
coffee shop?  I can buy our coffee."
     "What happened to you?"  She was staring at his left eye.
     "Oh."  He realized that he had forgotten to put the sunglasses on
his face.
     "I got into an argument with him."
     "Over stealing the letters?"
     "Yes."
     " Is he the brawny one you told me about before-the oldest one?"
     "Yes."
     "Well, then he should be put in jail for thievery, assault and
battery, and being a brawny moron."
    "I have money. Do you want to eat at Black Canyon?  You might not
want coffee.  I never drink it.  Just water and cola."
     "If we were to eat at Black Canyon or someplace less dingy--
really elegant-- I'd make sure my father paid for it.  We wouldn't need
money.  The whole day could be put on a credit card."
     "No, as the man, I insist on paying."
     "Maybe later," she first spoke in irritation.  She wasn't
interested in his chivalry. " I want to go in here now.  Have you ever
been in here?"
     "No, what is it?"
     "Do you like museums?"
     "I love learning.  That's all I love."
     "Not just Laotian poetry?"
     "Everything."
     "Now you know why you are my friend.  When I saw you reading on a
bench-and reading an English translation of a book-- I knew that we
would get along well. This is a special place.  When I run away, I
often come here.  I spend hours not just learning about natural science
but becoming friends with it if that makes sense." She took his hand
and led him in.  "Don't be alarmed," she said, "Things that are
beautiful are often ugly, and what is ugly is often beautiful.   I like
coming to someplace where everything is true.  I hate lies, don't you?
Even ugly truths are better than that?"
      He thought about what the mosquito had said. "I've been told that
truth is sometimes a little ugly."
      "I think it's always ugly and beautiful-not just a little bit."
They climbed up three flights of stairs.  The air in the building
smelled like a biology laboratory during the dissection of frogs.  They
entered: internal organs in glass boxes of formalin; brains; an ear
with a joining canal; and then there was an entire baby standing there
also in formalin and also inside its large glass aquarium.  The child
was hauntingly ceramic in a grayish orange or ochre complexion and his
body was so tightly rigid.  It had calcificans congenita and, she said,
it must have been born as a non-movable rock.  Then there was a child
that had a gigantic, alien head.  It had suffered from internal
hydrocephalus .  It was all there: babies born with amencephaly (some
with partial heads and all with no brains); fetuses; four month old
fetuses with placentas and umbilical cords (one with hands together as
if it were praying or gesturing the "wei"); fetuses that were zygotic
twin quadruplets; babies born as Siamese and conjoined twins such as
pycopasus twins that were attached from their buttocks and Siamese
epionathus parasiticus that each had a brother's foot inimitably in a
mouth; full term fetuses with their chests dissected so that their
internal organs were exhibited from the slit; gigantic skeletons; dwarf
skeletons; twisted adult skeletons; regular skeletons upright in glass
cupboards or in standing coffins each with his photograph above his
skeleton--a photograph of what was; fetuses of all sizes and ages; and
a naked man and woman in whole with the front skin, muscle and skeleton
removed to give full view of their internal organs as one saw their
private exterior organs.  There they were more than naked and fully
intact as if basking in a tanning booth in order to get a suntan-only
they were ochre and stiff as ceramic vases and floating in formalin or
formaldeyhyde.
      He told himself that that from which one should hide he should
appreciate since it delivered him from the way he wanted the world to
be to what it really was. He repeated this to himself many times to
quell the weltering tremble of nausea and to hide his horrified child
in the presence of Noppawan.  He told himself that seeing this almost
delivered him to a new level of maturity.  If one could confront this
without losing his nerve, he reasoned, he could break from the ghosts
of mother and father, the innate need for family, and the wish to be a
less damaged "good for nothing."  He could sense the nuance of manhood
begin to brew up through him like a hot spring. Passing through another
aisle of stocked fetuses, he wondered about his conception.  Had it
been from loving caresses or a desperate release of stress and
frustration on one who had capitulated?  Yes, the exhibition was
beginning to deliver him into a new awareness and the two of them could
sense that it affected the other in the same way and also thrust that
individual into a soft sensitive regret for those who were never given
a chance to sense themselves against the tactile sensations of the sun,
the warmth, the feel of grass under bare feet, the wind, the caresses,
the rain, and the respite from inordinate heat and sun.  Feeling virile
and assured of this new manhood within him, he grabbed her hand swaying
it in the pretense of joy as they interweaved slowly around the myriad
cabinets.  He stared at it all as fully as he could.  It was there
shelf after shelf with some of it towering so high that he couldn't see
it very well at all.
     "I'm so happy that you aren't afraid.  When you come enough it
almost seems like there is a spirit hovering above it all and that they
appreciate someone being there for them.  I know that is silly.  I'm
not even religious.  Maybe it is just that it is very quiet.  I often
bring my books to the table near the skeletons. I just do some reading.
The doctors, the nurses, and the museum curator don't seem to mind.
They just say, "Hi, Piggy."  And again, it is a good place to run away
from it all.  Maybe it is a bit of a strange place to hide out for most
people but most people are scared of their own shadows.  If nothing
else this museum is a good place to know what death is-or at least come
as close as one can. Most people haven't a clue what really happens to
one's body after death.  Decaying corpses would of course be better
than this but they are vile to one's nose with everything going back to
the elements and all." They descended the stairs.  She sensed that his
hand was very sweaty.  "You are glad that I brought you, aren't you?"
     "Sure" he said although he wasn't fully.  He knew that seeing this
had made a dark impression on him that he would never be able to shirk.
 He suspected aptly that this friend of his had intentionally stabbed
the little innocence that was in him to match that of her own.
Enlightenment had punctured his innocence.  Outside, he stuffed his
hands in his pockets.  He felt a cold numbness in his limbs, a slight
coldness toward her, and ennui from memories of his peculiar history
that would impair his future relationships with girls.  They sat on the
stoop.
     "I hope you don't want to run away from me."
     "I'm not running.  I'm sitting here with you, aren't I?"
     "Okay, I guess so."
     "When you said "at least this was not a lie," what did you mean?
I mean what are the lies?"
     "In society?"
     "Yes."
     "There are too many to count."
     "Mention one."
     "All right-religion.  My parents are Christians. The servants are
Christians.  When I was little the servants took me to Sunday school.
There, the teachers would always talk about heaven. I couldn't figure
out why if one would be with her family in heaven after she dies, as
the church teaches, that wouldn't mean being there with all humanity
regardless of religious preference.  If one were to be there with her
father and mother, she'd be there with hers, and she with hers, and she
with hers, and that seems to me like everyone. After all everybody is
supposed to be related to Adam.  That to me would mean that heaven is
some type of polluted hellhole a million times worse than Bangkok with
overcrowding so that you can't turn around without banging into
someone. I don't know.  It isn't important really.  It just shows that
nobody thinks anything out.  Maybe Heaven is just a Country Club only
for Christian Hara Krishnas who say Christ is salvation in rote but I
can't see how they'd extend much of an invitation to me. I never have
been much into rote." Jatupon didn't know who the Hara Krishnas were or
what a Country Club was but these items didn't detract from his
positive impression of her opposition to sententious punctilio.  He
smiled.  This was certainly better than talking to a mosquito.
     "Tell me another."
     "Another? All right.  I can keep firing them all day.  I can't see
how they can claim that King Phraya Taksin was really insane.  I mean
the man created military strategies that were successful at getting the
Burmese out of the country, or at least removed to Chaing Mai.  Then he
decided to control the church as well as the politics.  He became
arrogant and said that he was now equal to Buddha and could dictate
doctrine and political laws.  The people said that he was insane and
his military executed him.  He didn't just go from being a great
military strategist to insanity and if he was insane, that's a sickness
and they wouldn't have executed sick people-just people they were
scared of."
     "How do you know that?"
      "It's easy, Jatupon.  Just think it out.  Use some intuition and
common sense.  He just was overly ambitious and they hated him and
today we aren't supposed to think of him at all except as someone who
was insane.  We don't even have a road with his name attached to it.
Have you ever traveled on Taksin Road?  It doesn't exist. Back then
they put the first general in his place and declared him King Rama I.
Kings emerged from the Chakri Dynasty when really it should have been
the descendents of Taksin.  I don't even know why, in such a poor
country, we throw away tax money on these guys."
     "Be quiet.  Someone might hear you.  We could get arrested."
     "Do you really think they'd arrest 14 year olds?"
     "They'd arrest a 14 year old's parents."
     "My father should be arrested."
     "Why?"
     "Do you promise, as my best friend, to not tell anyone."
     "Sure."
     "He raped me.  Don't run away from me Jatupon.  Promise you
won't."
     "No, of course I won't." He felt nervous.  He didn't know what to
say.  "I'd never do anything like that," he affirmed.
     "So, you will buy the coffee?" she asked; and on the second floor
of Black Canyon the fumes of the molecules of coffee steam and "love"
slapped his senses. From the window of the air conditioned restaurant
they watched motor gondolas and express boats stir the waters the way
housewives in America would watch as their electric blenders stir cake
mixes-each wave falling, being sucked into the force that pulled in the
new part of the wave and then being pushed out into the wave again.  It
was all so fast and all so interconnected and systematic that each of
the waves looked like frozen motion or like society itself.
     He became mesmerized in the weltering waves.  He spoke glibly.
"Families are supposed to be shelter.  They're really just walls
cobbled up from dirt, you know.  Mine doesn't even exist but in Kazem's
head.  I feel sorry for him in ways. But sometimes I think I should
just run away completely and become a monk."
     "Why don't you?"
     "Monks don't have sex.  At least they aren't supposed to.  As you
said, lies."
     "Do you have sex?"
     "No, of course I'm a little young for that," he lied.  He looked
around the restaurant to make sure that others were not listening to
them. "But I don't want to give up that part of me.  I don't think that
is right."
     "My Auntie --well, really the servant but sort of the same except
that she must obey me usually-she says I should never come ten feet
near a monk since they are sexually repressed and might try to reach
under a girl's skirt."
     "Maybe but I've never heard anyone talk that way about monks.
The newspapers rarely but that is with individual monks accused of
crimes-- not monks altogether."
     "My family is a bit different that way. It's their only good
attribute."
     They sipped their coffee and then went to Silom Road on the
express boat. The annoyance of standing there in a crowd without a seat
became an ethereal essence of truth and beauty for him. He could not
remember being so happy. It stayed with him as they road the bus to
Lumpin Park.
     At a lake, in the park, they rented out a fishing boat.  They
paddled it chasing one puff of cloud in the hope of using it as an
umbrella.  They had cheese sandwiches, cola, sticky rice, and potato
chips that they consumed intermittently.
     "If I stay much longer," she said an hour later, "they will start
looking for me-or at least the servants will.  I usually only run away
on Saturdays and Sundays.  I don't like missing too much school."
     He knew what he had suspected on their first meeting: that her
rebellion was far larger and more personal than anything he had
witnessed before.  She kept mostly to intangible subjects like religion
because her repugnance toward religion had been easier for her to
communicate. He felt her rebellion.  It stood out like a Long Necked
Karen (the native Burmese people living in Chaing Mai who had the
tradition of distorting the growth of their necks).  He felt her
rebellion and it was a novelty for him.  It intrigued him and it felt
wholly real.  He thought, in Thailand one gave the "wei" to Buddhist
statues, stupas, shrines, temples, and people who were older and of
higher classes if such individuals exerted a powerful role over him;
and yet one did this not understanding why it was done. It occurred to
him that it was all ludicrous in a way and not just limited to Thai
customs.  How could she or anyone communicate the exact items that they
were rebelling against?  Rebellion was seen in the eyes but it could
not be readily explained and in ways it went contrary to nature and the
social response. Greed and aggression were entrenched in the survival
of a being and lay latent but active within every cell but those cells
were sugar coated with that cloying substance of Thailand, the land of
smiles.
     As they paddled back she looked up at the puffy whiff of clouds
above her and said, "This is real.  Relaxing and being part of the
clouds and the second, attaching to the mystery of it all . . . the
universe and time-that is the only thing that makes sense, don't you
think?"  He smiled and nodded his head in pleasure.  Yes, this was
certainly better than talking to the mosquito.  How strange they were.
Their serious probing of life and their awareness of the geyser of
unique thoughts that erupted in them certainly didn't seem Thai.  A
typical urban Thai yearned to languish if not extinguish himself or
herself in strolls in a shopping mall, a movie, a video game, laughter,
cellular telephones, beer, and comic books.  Jatupon did pursue the
pejorative in comic books as most Thai males from five to fifty and the
two of them were pursuing their quest of leisure as lazily as the best
of Thais; still to him they seemed so different from all others.
     She asked about his parents and was saddened to hear of their
tragedy. She probed into it further in interest and then backed away
when she saw his pain.  Kindness and empathy illuminated her
countenance.  She tried to mitigate his pain by becoming absorbed in
her own that she pursued philosophically exempt of emotionalism. "My
parents are always moving around in the future. Ambition moves them
around like the places on a board game of chess-or draughts played by
motorcycle taxi drivers when they wait-with the pop bottle caps-have
you seen them?" He was startled by how her ideas had such confluence
with his own.  She was an augmentation of his own thoughts.
     They left the park reluctantly.  She did not want to leave at all
without assurances and he offered them.  He told her that his brother
was not a violent person.  He said that Kazem sometimes belted him when
he really deserved it but that there were plenty of times he deserved
it and yet his brother wouldn't touch him.  She seemed to believe his
assurances and went away.
     As she vanished from his senses his empty hollow mind was filled
with images of half-headed beings, twisted skeletons, rigid corpses
like old ochre vases, the naked man and the woman floating in their
formaldehyde glass coffins with their fronts carved out for the display
of their entrails, the fetuses and their placentas, one child that had
such a gigantic head and another one that had been born like a solid
never feeling motion. These images attacked his consciousness.  It
seemed to him that the world was a loveless and ceaseless factory that
replicated over and over again manufacturing slightly damaged and
terribly damaged products with impunity.  He paid his two baht to the
lady in the glassless window and went into the public bathroom.  He
wept for those who had deserved better than this.  Then his weeping
poured into himself.  He knew that after what he saw he should not want
anything more from his life than the noodles that sustained him and yet
he did.  He knew he should not want a more purified love than what
Kazem extended to him and yet he nonetheless did.


    The hours of that spring day came and went indistinguishably from
other seasons, and all days were clones with stoic dispositions. His
majesty, King Rama IX, a few hours earlier, had changed the seasonable
robes of the Emerald Buddha like a girl dressing a doll.  He then
presided over the plowing ceremony with its blessings to the rice
goddess; and watched one cow predict the agricultural future of the
nation from its bovine appetites--the cow wandering over to preferred
troughs filled with anything from brandy to barley, beans and rice, or
just plain water--instinctively consuming something or another
interpreted as conditions prosperous or economically disparaging.
     Further into the heart of the city, Suthep slept removed from the
mooing of omniscient cows in Sanam Luang which stood on an island of
dirt where kites had flown surrounded by inundating dark black exhaust
fumes and fast, obnoxious wheeled beasts, honking their loud voices as
they passed each other. Tucked in his smaller cell he rode the REM of
being.  He dreamed he was on a motorcycle leaving his uncomfortably
tight partial apartment that was comfortably free of brothers and
awkward moments of catching them together.  Hired to cater his fried
rice with chicken he cooked it, put it on paper plates, and sealed the
plates with plastic wrap. Then he put them in baskets on opposite sides
of a bamboo pole.  Balancing the pole of baskets on his back, he drove
to a government building.  Why the banquet only had that one dish of
"kow pat" (fried rice) was a point that the dream did not address.
Also the street names were not those of the Dusit area but those of
central Bangkok. As he came near the building , a limousine hit him and
hurried off.  Blood poured from the orifice of his face. There was
nothing but gray and a firm belief he would die.  The ambulance
drivers, none of whom were paramedics, came to pillage him of his
wallet and watch. He got up, Thai boxed them for his things, and
realized as they ran from him in fright that he was as ethereal as a
cloud. And then his parents came out of nothingness and he told them
that they needed to go away since he (ghost or man) was now a free
agent and did not need them any longer.  As he got back on his
motorcycle someone knocked on the door.
     He woke up but his brain was retarded in an earlier being.   As he
heard the knocking he imagined that Jatupon was lying beside him and
listening to his scurrying feet move toward the door.  So many years
they had slept in the same room.  They had slept side by side until a
few years ago.  Did he love his brother so much that he would wake up
with him skirting around in his dreams?  Maybe he did since the habit
of being with him was long.  The youngest sibling was so much of his
past and he had been accustomed to him without major aversion.  The
habit of being with someone without major repugnance was indeed the
only thing that constituted fraternal love; and yet, little as it might
be, it was what the particles of black space in the universe were
created for.
     Suthep, slapped a cap on his head with the visor inverted to the
back of his head and greeted the knocker in his underwear.
     "A le nuh?," (what is it?), asked Suthep as he straightened the
cap. It was a man in livery asking the surname of this family of
impoverished brothers.  Suthep imagined the stink of his armpits as he
addressed the guest and the staleness of air in the room which was in
deep need of a deodorizer. He began to feel foolish but he kept his
boyish poise while the man tried to withhold his laughter.  He didn't
hear the question.  The man repeated it and Suthep wanted to
prevaricate.  Then he reluctantly said that his last name was
Biadklang.  It was the senator's page and they were finally invited to
meet the apotheosis that had given them their living.


                              Chapter 11

      It was no wonder that one set of freaks felt cognate with another
set.  For him, the sight of the formaline or formaldyhyde-laden corpses
at the Siriaj Hospital Museum as well as the girl who introduced him to
them seemed to have exhilarated a nascent courage, an oozing, a growth
hormone of the mind.  New neurological connections were burgeoning or
the same ones were reconnecting in different patterns. Anyhow, he felt
the inception of something new that made him feel that he wasn't quite
the same: that he was outgrowing patterns of behavior.  He was not able
to distinguish if his freakishness was exceptional, deficient, or
exceptionally deficient to the point of being inept. Certainly if his
gray matter made him innately exceptional, his noodles made him less
than ordinary. His gray matter was becoming grayer with each dusk of a
dying day.  Being with noodles so long no doubt loosened this compact
tissue of brain into something quite slimy. The use of his brain in the
mundane tasks of thinking about the size of meat he wanted to cut with
the butcher knife had perhaps cut his corpus callosum.  At least he
thought so.  But regardless of being superior or inferior in his
freakishness, this was who he was. There was a history: the history was
of being maimed.  There was the character of Jatupon: there were dark
prodigious forces inside and outside that frame that were ineluctable.
No celestial power would rectify his life by making family better than
what it was or himself, the sordid bastard that loomed there, as
hallowed and saintly as what he once believed monks to be.  Nature
begot freaks of the worst kind and so becoming a freak in the tossing
of the passing years was understandable.
      Jatupon's ego was not turgid.  In ways it was self-deprecating.
That which hadn't been squashed by his father and eldest brother,
poured into countless bowls, or slapped onto myriad plates had such
deformed and stunted growth. He had trouble making opinions about
people.  He did it with shy reluctance and usually the feelings he had
about them never emerged all that much in a cohesive thought. He
considered Noppawan Piggy to be his superior in intellect and yet there
was one thing about her he had to admit that he detested and that was
the abhorrent smell of baby powder that came from her body.  It made
Jatupon feel like his nose had gotten trapped in a dust storm in which
naked and screaming babies flew with the dust in an attack against him.
Not all girls and women in Thailand smelled the same but those who had
abhorrent smells, although not abhorrent themselves, couldn't be said
to be totally agreeable.
     Upon leaving the park his intention was to go to the library and
look up information on the peculiarities he had seen in the museum that
had smiled upon him freak to freak but he found himself distracted by a
large comic book kiosk that whisked him off from this world to that of
another.  One such comic book was set into the future of 3000 AD and
non-existent creatures with little resemblance to anything extant
propelled him into problems of their non-existent agricultural and
mining planet-colonies and he lost himself there for an hour.  How
splendid it was to lose oneself wholly and he savored the time there
until his left foot fell asleep while he was seated on a plastic stool.
Then he stood up.
     "Your time is up again."  Jatupon faced a scrawny teenager with
glasses who was a year or two older than he was.  "Are you reading or
buying?"
     "Reading" he said; but afterwards he stretched his neck only to
see his reflection in the store's anti-theft mirror.  The skin around
his eye looked darker and it felt even more painful.
     "You need to pay another fifteen baht to continue reading."
     "No, I guess I'll stop reading.  I'll go," he said.
     Standing there ready to go, his taciturn heart pardoning Kazem
who had been the only one who cared about him, he tried to not think
about the hot stinging of the swelling around his eye.  Instead, he
thought about this uncle whom he had only met on rare occasions long
ago.  It seemed that it only took the frequent utterance of his name
and they had been granted a livelihood--a continuing sustenance as if
by magic.  And yet it had not exactly been much of an effusion of
magic.  It had been the most niggardly and scanty display that any
affluent magic man could bestow and it brought the renewal of their
servitude. Before they were restored to a similar but diminished
livelihood, they had often spoken of this vaguely real or super-real
entity (this uncle by a marriage) as one might think of the early king
Ramas of the Chakri Dynasty.
     Walking away from the kiosk, he wanted to return to early
childhood: of hopscotch, climbing trees with his brothers, Suthep
teaching him how to throw a ball, taking cups of ice to the customers
so that they could pour out the water in pitchers that were on their
tables, skin around the eyes that wasn't black and swollen, and the
time when his body wasn't being invaded.  He could run away for good;
but where would he run?   There was nothing in Ayutthaya and if he
really wanted to run away he would be more invisible in Bangkok. He
would need money.  He considered becoming a Luk Thung singer of
Traditional Thai music.  They wore their heavy makeup and pointed
golden tiaras for beggarly bits of baht. However, he told himself that
his voice probably wasn't as good as the worst of them and even if it
was he did not want to do tricks for a few baht.  It was too demeaning
and contrary to the aristocratic life he envisioned. There was a famous
Swedish Luk Thung singer named Jonas Anderson who had lived his whole
life in Thailand but only someone with vocal training and boldness
could persevere to be someone accomplished in this musical genre.   He
could run to Noppawan Piggy's home.  He had the address on the mail she
sent to him. But there would be no sense in running to someplace that
Noppawan herself was running from and the likelihood of a rich family
taking in a strange teenager, and an ex-burglar and quasi-drug addict
at that, was more than a remote possibility.  An emaciated dog with
clumps of fur falling out had a greater chance of being made into a
pet.  Just as the need for the enzymes of animal protein was one trait
of many linking the human to and as an animal, so enmeshed in soul,
sentiment, and survival he clung to Kazem for his sense of home and
family.
     He knew that he was just a collection of molecules being shot out
into space and time.  Others were the same but they flew away from him
in their own deviant paths.  He knew.  He thought he knew.  Did he
know?  Did he really know anything?  Thoughts were so dreary.  They
enervated him. He got on a bus to go home (that stationary foundation
from which outlook, experience, thought, and restoration of energy for
movement were generated). Even on such a simple event as going home he
was lost in the intricate circuits of his brain, lost in the labyrinth
within himself.
     But through the window he saw the clear beauty of other beings
that passed; and even in the ugly faces there was a posture, a smile,
even a vehement depth of lonely despair so uniquely beautiful and yet
universal.  The bus passed four stores each of which seemed to alternate a pres
entation of boys, dogs, and combinations sleeping
against the facades of buildings. The passing was quick like fingers
moving against a keyboard and the sight was as euphonious as melancholy
in sound.  Then for a second, in stalled traffic, Jatupon found himself
looking into the deep eyes of a deformed boy beggar. Jatupon was inside
the bus and the boy outside of it, but they both saw an affinity in
each other.  They were the same.  They were both unfortunate beggarly
outsiders beaten up by life; and yet he was riding around in an
air-conditioned bus.  He was not one of the 2 billion people who lived
on 2 dollars a day in a rural area on the verge of starvation.  Inside
the bus the facial expressions of the money collector were stone as
death with monotony that was distinct, ebullient, and luminous as
sunlight against wind-rippled leaves. A woman sleeping in a seat to his
right had a head that fell toward the aisle, straightened, fell again,
and straightened like a pendulum.
     He might have gone back to work to appease Kazem.  He might have
started taking orders from the customers with no explanation and let
the hours make the whole issue of his long absence mute.  His brother
would not have made an embarrassing scene in public.  The hours would
alone have just slowly uncorked it all allowing the rage to disperse
slowly and unnoticed.  The restoration of old habits would have made
the past issue so irrelevant that a bit of the mind would have
questioned if his absence had even occurred.  It had been his intention
to do so when he left the comic book kiosk and it continued to be his
intention when he sat on the seat in the bus.  Yet a human being
fulfilled few intentions.  Scholars were sociable creatures who needed
meaningless action and cacophony even when it adulterated their aims.
Petty government officers on their meager salaries, as well as the
well-paid top tier, didn't need to be cloistered in the political
issues that mired the day but yearned for sports columns in their
newspapers and genuflected to the action effusing from their television
sets. And tired people on Bangkok busses that were plodding their way
slowly through traffic had intentions other than sleep but yearned for
rest and an easy way home.  He was one of the latter that needed sleep;
and yet when he was in the cell, which was his home, his mind was
active in dread.  Its color was gray, its texture coarse, and the
molecules that oozed up from it acrid.  Within the space of his own
head he was vanquished in the gloom, the nothingness, the vanished
thoughts of the hollow cavities that were part of one waiting for
punishment.  He lay on the floor with an old, previously read comic
book in his hands.  His head was so preoccupied with the barrenness of
thought and the feeling of dread that he didn't understand the pictures
and the words.  He got up.  He dipped up a bowl of rice from a rice
cooker, drenched it in soy, chili sauce, and a bit of pepper and
vinegar. He did his pushups in front of a televised soccer game and
when the game was over he shut off the set and in an hour sleep
percolated over him.  In his dreams he was in a penthouse on the
fifteenth floor and below him were beggars like moving dots.  Above the
moving dots were moving golden skies of sunset.  Gigantic clouds moved
through the air in the shape of viruses.
     Then there was a punch on his face and it reopened the facial
wound causing blood to rush on the floor.  In that second his dream
fragmented into many dreams and spun out of control.  He was no longer
in a penthouse but was a sidewalk-based seamster with his little
antique sewing machine, a pedal, and a hill of torn clothes he was
supposed to sew.  He was all alone on a cement cover of a city sewer
that went under the sidewalk. Then he fell into the sewer.  Self was
gone. In the last of his dream or dreams, before he completely
awakened, there was no self.  There was just the scene of a large park
ahead of him, the aesthetic glow of a withdrawing sun, and an old man
who bought some phad-thai and found a pavilion near a lake.  He sat
down and began to eat his noodles, watching the lights of skyscrapers
and the fast moving traffic far beyond the lake.  The cacophony of boys
playing football irritated him because he was envious of it.  He put
his empty Styrofoam container back in the plastic bag and laid it down.
 A rat scurried from one flower and fern bed; and dragged the bag into
another flowerbed.  The old man could hear the gnawing of the
Styrofoam.  Jatupon sensed that the rat might be himself.
     He felt blood oozing from him and uniting as a puddle under his
face.  Kazem, dumbfounded by the vehement rage that disgorged from him,
floundered a few steps in the room, sat down, and whined, "It's all on
me. If you are on drugs or stealing something, I've got to get you out
of it.  It's all on me. I have to be responsible for you but you just
do whatever you please."  His voice trailed away and faltered.  He
cleared his throat. "You don't ever behave with any responsibility
toward me. I give you days off here and there.  I don't get any.  You
work or don't work or work for one of us and not the other based on how
you feel on a given day.  You steal money out of my pockets and I don't
say anything. Don't blame me. You've brought it on yourself."  Jatupon
sat up and glared with one eye.  The second eyelid was already drooping
from swelling.  It wouldn't open fully and it squinted from a bit of
blood that sank into it.  He intuitively guessed that his brother knew
he was losing control of him.  He waited and observed the guilt-ridden
countenance and the gauche retreat from the offensive.  He judged that
the assault had been a desperate one.  Jatupon smiled malevolently as
of a masochist exuding pride that the pain had only brought the
opposite wish of the inflictor.  Kazem's unpaid noodle worker who
wasn't allowed to loosen his fetters and shackles had slipped from them
anyway.  He had gone out to see Piggy and there was nothing Kazem had
been able to do to stop him.  Jatupon smiled wider.  Then he guffawed
scoffingly like a lunatic although the pleasure soon extinguished
itself.
     "Do you want me to come over there and squeeze the juice out of
your head?"  The muscles in Kazem's arms and legs suddenly stiffened
like one ready to suddenly stand and attack.
     "I'm not listening to you," Jatupon spoke firmly. "You are a
pathetic bully-a fucking ape--and it is the end of it for me.  It is
the end of it!" Manhood's conviction and effrontery reeked from his
mouth like foul breath and Kazem, who already wanted to wreak havoc on
his impudence, flipped him over with the elastic of his underwear like
a pancake.
     "Okay, swim in your own blood. Swim! Let's see you drown in it."
Jatupon's hair was twisted in Kazem's fingers and his face was in his
own blood as the thick leather hand swatted him a few lateral slaps.
Then Kazem's compunction again caused him to flounder back to his seat.
 It was the only chair in the room.  He put his elbow on his leg and
hand on the forehead of his genuflected head.  His ideas were
discombobulated.
   Jatupon was floundering too from more than the nausea of lost blood.
 He was half a boy and half a man and this newly begotten half called a
"man" was having manhood castigated, excoriated, and leaked from him.
Callow as he was, he was not just half a man or half a boy the way the
Nightjar poem concerned itself with a bird-boy. He was a hybrid of
boy/man and God with vast wisdom from fathoms of himself examined from
suffering.
     He again stared at the other presence in the room.  It was a
monster, a being of violence, and an unknown phantom. Still this
monster was the one who had delivered him from the watery abyss, the
one who did not chastise his addiction (at least then he didn't) but
was with him through the withdraws, the one who fixed his bicycle, who
had introduced him to basketball and his first beer. Appearing like his
brother it was the brother mixed with some type of shadowy creature he
could not comprehend and this being, familiar and unfamiliar, he
loathed.  The elastic of his underwear had been encroached.  He had
been violated with those fingers. His body had been flipped over like a
pancake.  He had felt his face pushed in a puddle of his blood.
Sitting on the floor, piercing him with his eyes, he wanted to purge
this beast from his life.  Then a few seconds later his next conscious
assembly of understanding only made him want to vanish.  He wanted so
much of the impossible that second: for the substance of his own life
to vaporize swiftly and meaninglessly and opposite of this, to kill the
monster and resurrect his dwarfed manhood in his own eyes. Sitting
there he felt as if time had ended and that all entities on the Earth
were waiting and watching the two of them in silent dread but neither
god nor man cared about any aspect of this relationship at all.  Things
went on as cruel as death.  In one second a fly flew and landed in a
bottle of water, a dog barked from outside, a rat scurried around in
front of the building for food, a family was feuding in the apartment
above him, and a car came onto the thin long back-road called a soi.
     Kazem looked onto this bludgeoned ugly little face reluctantly and
Jatupon felt like a piggish or bovine woman whose acquaintance said,
"We could never be more than friends, you know" and she--Yes, she could
see. She could see--hadn't she seen it before?  Had she really
dismissed those countless earlier smirks of repugnance aimed at her fat
enervated face and her clumsy tense body both of which made her
nothing.  Mother nature made the being breed with the best of bodies to
create a good physical specimen in the baby.  Sex, romance, or just an
intimate talk with a man would not be hers since she could not trigger
the pleasure response--not even intellectually.  Romantic and sexual
inclinations were discriminatory.  They were as cruel as death and she
would tell him that sex wasn't intimacy although she wouldn't believe
it.  She craved such intimacy more than she could ever articulate and
she would not tell him that. She would tell him that being in love was
a delusion that one biologically craved to propagate the species. She
would say that she did not want to go through the brief illusion of
being in love.  She did not want to be high in urinary molecules from
his underwear flying into her face when he had her denuded and lying on
a bed littered in clothes. She would tell him that one generation after
another would dance its sexual dance before passing and that she had
been fortunate enough to be born a disagreeably unaesthetic thing with
a face like a mushy old apple.
     Feeling sick and weak, his mind was running away from him.  His
head was thinking himself a different gender. He was believing that he
could hear the content of the feuding family upstairs.  The eldest son,
having gotten his girlfriend pregnant, had been compelled to bring her
into the home and the fight was about him running away from the family
every evening after work to drink with his buddies.
     Then suddenly, without even knowing it, he stood up, grabbed the
television that Kazem had given to him as a gift, and he was running
toward him.  There he was aiming the television at his brother's head
only to have it reflexively snatched from him by Kazem's dexterous
fingertips.  Finally, there he was peering up at it and backing away
into the corner where he came from, realizing that one impulse
materialized in action had caused a counter action that was about ready
to kill him.  It had been just one unrestrained impulse that, repulsive
to the consciousness, he hadn't even considered; and it had slipped
from his brain slimy as a worm.  It had materialized in action and now
it had lethal consequences.
     "Don't play so hard, boys" said Kumpee.  In Jatupon's perspective
the stink of his smoke-ridden clothes and the beer of his breath gave
an acrid and fetid cloud which was miraculously saving him.
     Kazem lowered his arms.  "Where the hell have you been?" he asked.
He put the television on the floor relieved at having escaped the worst
passion that can fulminate in a man and lose him in the deepest abyss
of regret.  Sweat poured from Kazem's forehead and his face became a
deep red in chagrin.
     "With my woman. If you were to have a woman you wouldn't have so
much time to play with your Jatu-PORN."
     "Where's our money?"
     "Invested."
     "Invested how?"  He grabbed the chair and sat down.  He wiped the
sweat from his forehead.  Jatupon was already seated in a corner with
his puddle of blood.
     "But your worries have ended.  The senator's page visited you,
didn't he?  Maybe he was our uncle's chauffeur.  I forget now.  You
look confused.  He came to my apartment to tell me the definite date
for the agreed dinner after somehow finding Suthep and informing him.
Well, anyhow, it happened because of my own efforts."
    "You visited him and got him to agree to see us?  You? How could
you do that looking as you do? I tried many times.  I don't believe
you."
     "Well, there's nothing I can do about your hateful beliefs, but
all the same I'm telling you the truth."
     "So, you are the big brother looking after all of us now" said
Kazem incredulously. He snickered.
     "Sure. It's obvious by age and merit.  I've never tried to kill
one of you in the entire duration of my 18 years.  Aren't I the lucky
omen?  I saved you both from killing each other and had some additional
favorable news to spill out."
     "What was your reason for coming here?"
     "Nothing.  Just to make sure you were coming."
     "When?"
     "Next Saturday."
     "Time?"
     "6 p.m."
     "You can deal with him.  I don't want to stay here tonight.  I'm
finished watching over these two.  I'm leaving."
     "Two?  I only see one.  The other monkey didn't like you and ran
away.  And where, might I ask, are you going?"
     "A Hotel.  A bar.  A massage parlor.  Anywhere I like although it
isn't any of your business."
     "It seems rather wasteful to me when I have provided this
apartment for you rent-free but I guess you can go ahead."
      Kazem laughed sardonically for a minute.  He needed to release
the shock of discovering the vile hatred that had arisen in himself and
Jatupon and the serendipitous arrival of Kumpee, who if worthless at
everything else, had delivered them from being sealed into the body
bags of unrestrained emotion.  "It hasn't been rent free for a long
time. We get billed from the father of your Chinese bitch and we pay
the money like responsible tenants-bank transfers."
     "She was a bitch," said Kumpee pensively.  He became preoccupied
with this self-absorbed thought. "And her father just couldn't warm up
to what could have been his son in law.  I'm seeing her sister now."
Then he stared at Kazem with a specific intent.  "Just remember the
appointment and that you need to be punctual.   Since you need some
time away I'll look after the little one."  Jatupon mumbled a response.
 "What did you say?"
     "Nothing."
     "No, come on.  What did you say?"
     "I don't need you.  I hate you worse than I hate him," said
Jatupon.  Kumpee laughed and then all of them were taciturn for a
minute. Kazem folded some clothes and put them in a bag.   Kumpee got a
bottle of coca cola from a carton in the corner and pulled off the
bottle top by wedging it like a lever between the drawer of a cabinet
and its handle.  He drank slowly savoring every sip.
     "Maybe that attitude toward older brothers is what has caused your
head to be kicked around like a football," said Kumpee after Kazem
left the apartment and he heard the door shut.  "What do you think
about that, you little monkey," he said as his fingers disheveled
Jatupon's hair abrasively and then pulled his ear playfully.  "Just you
and me, Jatuporn.  Jatuporn.  Why do you think that you are called
Jatuporn?"  Jatupon slithered into a dry corner and began to shake.  He
tried not to cry.  "Why did you do that?  I'm not going to hurt you,"
said Kumpee; but it was really the loss of blood, the trauma, the
opaque surrealism of what had occurred that made him tremble.  "I see
your eyes all watered.  You want to cry, don't you?"
     "I want to sleep.  I don't understand any of this.  I don't."
     "You've got to know more than I do about it."
     "Well I don't"
     "Mmmm.   Well, he was ready to put you in the television.  You did
something you shouldn't or maybe you just wouldn't let him put himself
into you.  Have you become a frigid bitch?  Have you, Jatuporn?  You
thought I didn't know about that, didn't you?  You thought that the
nickname we created for you didn't mean anything but just meanness but
we had a reason for giving it to you."  He chuckled.  "I keep an eye on
my boys.  That you can be sure of."
     Kumpee sat down beside the sprawled body of his brother and drank
his cola in equanimity, from time to time placing the bottle between
his legs.  "I needed more from my life than this, you know.  Do you
remember when we were kids and we collected bottles like this.  We got
a few baht from the stores for every twenty we brought into them.  We
thought we would buy a Chinese restaurant for father and mother with
air conditioning and an electric juke box."  He laughed.  "Maybe you
don't remember.  You were four or five."
     "I do." Jatupon really couldn't remember this but yearning for
some unadulterated version of innocent love or compassion not linked to
the selfish inclinations that were part of being human, he halfway
believed that he remembered and he put his hand on his brother's arm.
Kumpee's posture tightened.  The eldest brother felt squeamish from a
man's hand on him but, not wanting to reject the youngest outright he
did not move his arm.  Also, a sick curious depravity began to flood
out of the squalor of the recesses to his mind.  He looked at the
half-empty phallic bottle, picked it up, and said "What about this
bottle?  Would you take in anything hard?" But the youngest brother was
asleep and so, a minute later, he removed the hand and abandoned him.



                                                         Chapter 12


     It was their third time playing the board game of Monopoly that
week and Porn sensed that another ineluctable habit was being imposed
onto her more from within than without.  She often deliberately tossed
the dice directly into his token when it was near her side of the board
but mostly her rolling was with a lethargic rattling in her palm and
the apathetic dropping of dice from her numb fingertips. Once she
spilled the content of her glass, which then flooded over Marlborough
and Vine Streets as well as Community Chest. She snowed her popcorn
crumbs over two colors of property. He silently blamed her clumsiness
on the vodka that she had mixed into her cola.   From time to time he
could see irascible facial expressions cutting through her guile of
complacent concentration and close lipped smiles but he told himself it
was just a bit of competitive strife or tipsiness even though he knew
better. At the beginning of each game, for the brief period that it
lasted, he felt for certain that she enjoyed playing and discussing
life with him.  He was right about the former.  For her the beginning
of the game brought the rush of accumulating play-money, gibbering her
attempts at English to play the game, and having one monotony replace
that of another.  The game was one way of killing an hour or more of a
given day as sedately as a hot bath.  She hated cold weather to such
extremes that, outside of her irregular attendance at the language
school, the nearby grocery store a block or two away from this distant
campus had become her only cultural attraction.  She was waiting for
spring but meanwhile her life was becoming as frigid as a housewife.
     "It certainly is coming down," he said as he heard hail beat
against the windows. "You surely aren't thinking about going out in
this."
     "I never do," she said.
     "I mean you can if you want."
     "Yes, master."
     "You get to massage my feet for that comment, dearest.  I
especially like it when you go down on each toe the way you do; but, as
a gentleman, I don't force that on you."
     "No, master."
     "Do you like anything about the classes at all?"
     "The students and the teacher are old, Nawin. There's nothing to
say."
     "How old?"
     "Old.  Retirement age. "
     "Hmm... it is strange that they should be immigrating to Canada
at an old age like that."  She ignored him.  "Don't you think so?"
     "I don't know Nawin.  Roll your dice."
     She knew that the only force really binding her on that chair at
the kitchen table was herself. She was uncomfortable with his
tenderness because it shackled her at his side but out of courtesy to
him she tolerated the situation with only a few major grimaces. This
quality time together had occurred for her sake but she minimized its
effects where she could.  She cynically told herself that these games
were his pathetic way of finding relief from his solitary ways. She
felt sorry for him and this sympathy ameliorated the loathing she was
beginning to feel for the introverted bore.  Looking back on what she
knew of him, she assessed that this wooer of whores had always stayed
in safe circles.  In Thai parties that they had attended following his
exhibits he had never been much of a mingler and had relied on her to
be his public relations gadabout.   Here in Canada he wasn't a
celebrity.  For him there were just classes and an occasional sale of a
painting.  She had no role with him here.  She was a bed partner and a
grocery shopper.  Even when fulfilling the wifely forgery of grocery
shopping, she was curtailed by financial considerations.  If she didn't
buy generic food of inferior taste he reprimanded her for overspending.
     Porn asked if Park Place and Boardwalk were real properties and he
told her that they might be.  It was a question that she had also posed
two days earlier but Nawin responded to it with the same cheerfulness
as if there had been sense in asking it a second time. She asked if he
thought they were well known New York City properties and he told her
that was quite possible.  She glanced at their quality time together
through the slow perennial movements of the second hand. These
movements of the long second hand were so wobbly as if 60 seconds were
like climbing over a mountain range. She would not only glance up at
the kitchen clock but also the window as if expecting the snow to be
melted and birds singing in her window.  She had wanted his attention
and now that she had it she realized that this was just aspirin dulling
the headache.  There was a bigger problem.  Being poor and lacking
choices had caused her rabid craving for more of everything just as
something long ago down deep in him was probably responsible for his
artistic brooding.  The past was always sucking one into its whirlpool.
     He rolled the dice and moved his token.  "Oh, Old Kent Road-I want
that."
     "Why do you want worthless properties like that?"
     "I don't think either of those two properties are worthless."  He
smiled as radiantly as a child pleased to have one of his best friends
participating in one of his favorite games. He closed his lips in a
tight thoughtful smile.  "You know what I've been thinking about?"
     "No." She didn't really care.
     "When you met Piggy for the first time."
     She frowned.  Was this what they had become: a couple of tycoon
wannabes, two individuals acting like a married couple, or worse two
people acting like an old couple reminiscing about their early days in
front of bored games or a deck of cards?  They did not have years
together-just two or three months of knowing each other--and she
thought he had no right to reminisce about anything.  As much as she
hated the past, the present was equally bad at absorbing one in its
reality. She had now become his wife because she was with him at
present. His wife had been relegated as one force that had brought them
together because she was not immediately accessible nor was she sexual.
"Oh," she said disinterestedly. She rolled the dice with more force and
moved her token from the present to the future. "I'll take that
railroad," she said.  Still she couldn't help being influenced by him
and for a couple seconds she was absorbed in that immediate past.  That
day had been good but strange. After Noppawan had taken her shopping at
Chatuchok Market for clothing, they briefly went into the Butterfly
Farm and Insect Museum (a neutral alternative to the deleterious
proposal of Siriaj Hospital's dead people museum that made Porn gasp).
The butterflies were fine.  She enjoyed seeing their colors flittering
around the caged park although the encasement of dead insects in the
adjacent room was not to her liking.  The face bug with its human
camouflage on its back was for her as frightening as it was fascinating
to Noppawan.  She watched this wife of Nawin.  She was the type that
would put her nose and glasses up against, in her opinion, the
damnedest of things. When they arrived at the married couple's second
home on the opposite part of the city he was fixing a meal for the
three of them.  He was preparing salad, toasting hamburger buns on a
barbeque, and microwaving meatless tofu hamburgers in a culture that
was all his own.  As the two women chatted on the balcony Porn tried to
overcome feeling like a face bug caught in a key chain. As they ate,
dusk elongated and then intertwined their shadows before night
approached. Soon the remnant of the day became a violet, a purple, and
a black and she felt like a child first introduced to colors through
crayons.  They watched the lit barges on the river and gorgeous glassy
skyscrapers with lit angular tiaras.  Strangely enough she felt at
peace with them as if they were more than friends but family and the
words of model or prostitute did not exist. Still it was strange and
uncomfortable because it was so strange.


     He dreamed that he was in her mind, that there was adrenalin in
the rebellion, that this adrenalin was the meaning of it all, and that
the meaning of all luminesced from her.  Immediate relatives and some
more distant ones had her life planned for her; and her parents, the
main instigators of the status quo in their family, were rocks.  They
didn't change apart from greed that intensified with years and tiers.
Stratums of higher and more violent winds raged them in insatiable
appetites.  Wants fed more wants insatiably.  They stayed on the same
growing pieces of land, had the same opulent homes and efficient
factories (although more and more of them), matched political ideas to
whatever brought benefits to their wallets, and with these government
positions they implanted such aspirations on the little brother's mind
with the idea that he was clay by which a conqueror with a double edged
sword of business and politics was formed. After going into the
monastery to have his foray as a monk and finishing his university
education he would be this and once she found a man in college she
would be that.
     She, the girl, would be less of the plan but still, years into the
future, they would partition a piece of their land and give it to her
husband.  She would be expected to reproduce her higher beings on their
land allowing the elderly parents to be spared loneliness by the
sounds of young voices.  She would be expected to take care of them as
their servants had taken care of her and to absolutely inebriate them
against any suffering as if Buddha's attempts at bypassing human
suffering had been an avoidance of it. This would begin in a decade or
so (such a quick passing of time).  She would be expected to succumb to
female yearnings-this needing of another to escape the lonely void,
this need to reach out for the silk of human flesh, to consume, to
care, to be intermingled entities in love, and reproduce.  And yet she
had been nothing but a little doll that they had shown off and shoved
into a storage room especially when she was dirty or naughty.
     And then her bedroom became a limb of a tree and there she was
transforming into an adult female mosquito and he was becoming a male
one.  There they both were in complete maturity.  He did his dance and
he rubbed his legs so as to attract her with his sound.  She was
ceramic in her stiffness.  Her skin was ochre like the dead bodies at
the Siriaj Hospital museum sunk into their glass caskets of
formaldehyde.  Yet her eyes were lively even though they looked at him
so askance and distant.  She smiled with her closed insect lips.  The
smile was ingenuous and warm but wry.  He could tell from these
infinitesimal muscular contractions and relaxation in her stony insect
face that she did not want him to think of their friendship as a
relationship and the words passed from brain to brain (hers to his, his
to hers, and hers to his like a mutating ping pong ball) something to
the effect that a being was born selfish and two selfish beings
together were a compounded selfish knot and so something new was in
order.  Something new was in fact in order.  There, ardent in her eyes,
was the relationship of her parents: it was based on hoarding property
and power.  It also was based on begetting emotional servants for their
old age and that in particular was abhorrent to her.  But he, the male
mosquito that was programmed for copulation and no other task, loved
her.  He had to since he needed her for the satisfaction of his hungers
and a deliverance from the past.  He continued with his male-on-the-make dance.
  She bit into him.  His blood was on her lips.
     And when he woke up he wasn't himself.  His ideas were
discombobulated and he could tell that his consciousness or sanity was
like a loose button on a thin thread dangling from his shirt.  He was
ill and numb as if all of his senses were bandaged over in gauze.  He
woke up fully, checked his face in the mirror to see that it was still
the same, and washed it.  He tried to desist from many thoughts.
Thoughts were pins stabbing him. He turned on the television, muted the
sound, and saw images as the hours of the day became vanquished.  Then
Kazem came back early to bring him some food and in so doing he
suspended their mutual reticence briefly.
     "I have some food for you," he said in disgust.
     "Thanks" Jatupon responded in insolent despondency.
     The next day it was the same.  Kazem came back briefly with some
food and a new pair of sunglasses for Jatupon's face.
     "I have some food for you," he said in disgust.
     "Thanks" Jatupon responded in insolent despondency.
     "I also have some sunglasses for you" Kazem said in disgust.
     "Thanks" Jatupon responded with a surly and begrudging tone of a
nearly mute volume.
     He controlled his contempt out of an instinct for self-
preservation.  He wanted to keep himself from being bludgeoned with the
sledgehammer of his brother's fist or beaten with the leather skin of
his slaps.  Kazem wanted to ask if Kumpee had said anything more about
their dinner engagement with the senator as an effort to establish its
veracity-a senator they called uncle as a disingenuous ploy to bring
them into a greater stratum of wanting and needing, winds of higher and
more pleasurable velocity.


     The mosquito buzzed around Jatupon's blackened eyes and then
around the opened bottle of glue.  With his wings he made a pejorative
click the way people use their tongues when they shake their heads.
Jatupon was not glad to see him. He did not want the condemnation. At
first this glue-begotten ride had been an enjoyable thrill.  The
newness of a newborn was at that time gleaming out of his orbs.  He was
like a child in wonder of himself flossing his toes in the grass,
having his hair massaged by the winds, and chasing god in the clouds.
Now the mosquito was here spoiling the solitary party of one which was
steadily waning.
      The mosquito greeted him in English. "Hello, little man." He
thought it was Kumpee at first but, to his knowledge, Kumpee didn't
know any language apart from the strident sounds of Thai and was more
in favor of using the word "monkey" in place of "little man."  Jatupon
looked down at a gigantic insect that was nonetheless smaller than
himself.  He responded in the same international tongue with a hello.
"Where did you learn your English?" asked Jatupon; but no sooner had he
done this than he realized how foolish the question was since the
mosquito was an extension of himself.  For some reason he was both
cognizant of the fact that the creature didn't exist and yet believing
in him.  It was undeniable that if Buddha was right in claiming that
the self was a delusion there was a chance that instead of the mosquito
being less real it might be more real than himself.  It was true that
the mosquito wasn't afraid of a man but a man was afraid of a mosquito.
 Wasn't that, he asked himself, proof that the one who wasn't afraid
was more real?
     "Where did you learn your English? "asked the mosquito.
     "Music, TV shows, story books from the library, Newsweek in my
more ambitious times, cartoons mostly."
     "Well, then, me too" the mosquito said. It paused and then pulled
out a cigarette from its gums and lit it without a match by striking it
against the metallic hair on one of its legs. "Another day without
going to work?"
     "Another day."
     "Taking it a bit easy?"
     "Taking it a bit easy.  Yes," answered Jatupon.
     "I would like to know why you have a black eye and a swollen face."
     "You know everything and yet I'm supposed to believe that it
hasn't it occurred to you that I'm not wanting to think about
this-about this situation I'm in."
     "I understand that but am nonetheless curious what you have to say
on the subject."
     "Very little, if you don't mind."
     "All right.  Are you snorting glue because of what has happened to
you?"
     "Why ask so many questions?"
     "Because I am cruel."
     "Yes, you are, you know."
     "You don't like me at all?"
     "Oh," Jatupon sighed, "I do like you in ways."
     "What a charming endorsement! I elicit the same response
everywhere I go.  Oh well...truth doesn't have to be a comfortable
realm.  It rarely is."
     "Yes," said Jatupon pensively, "I imagine it rarely is."
     "The pain is so overwhelming you can't work?"
     "The boredom is so overwhelming I can't work.  It is a rot-a rot
under my hairnet.  I can't do it-reflexes every day and not with-"
     The mosquito waited to hear the word "him."  "Go ahead and say
it" was in the mosquito's thoughts but it was Jatupon who articulated
this oblique command, "Go ahead and say it!" to twist the direction of
the conversation .
     "I don't understand," said the mosquito.
     "Aren't you wanting to give me your lecture that I have to
survive?"
     "I wasn't going to say anything but you are meant for more than
this dizzying work and the instinct to survive is thrust on all living
things in all actions. You can't but help obey it to some degree."
     "I can't do it any longer."
     "You might have a nervous breakdown if you were to continue.
Kazem was your link. It's gone now."
     "I'd rather die than go back to it now.  Die in the streets if I
have to."
     "I think you are zipping up your pants again and finding them too
tight.  You are shedding your boyhood."
     "Do you really think so?"
     "Yes," said the mosquito pensively.  "Unfortunately, it was your
best trait."

     The mosquito dissipated with the smoke of Jatupon's cigarette that
he rested and twirled in his fingertips.  Smoking was his new habit
that he pursued in the hope of having a more insouciant image, which
with practice, he could learn to believe in. Boys of himself at earlier
ages came and pressed their noses near him as he had done long ago to
the glass outside the Dunkin Doughnuts Restaurant in Ayuttayha.   Long
lost versions of himself at various ages passed up against him and
passed him by.  They too dispersed with the gaseous midst of black
carbon smog released by the traffic.  His head was spinning around
skyscrapers and billboards.  They, he, a single homeless woman who
rented out babies to increase the chances of getting more substantial
alms, two dogs copulating, and all, were dwarfed in advertisements for
shark fins for the man with refined taste, Electric piecemeal
billboards for Singh Beer and cellular telephone companies with new
images rotating with the pieces, plain billboards of pimpleless white
skinned Thai models selling or hustling some facial cream, flashing and
mutating signs advertising various self-improvements seminars at
different universities and at the Convention Center,  neon animations
of Barcelona's Bangkok tour for the Invitation Cup Football Match, and
advertisements for every international and domestic product imaginable
thrust into the hands of consumers in the form of flyers.  Indeed, it
was obscene enough to make a man become a monk: orgasmic organisms,
sensation of void.



                                            Chapter 13



     The glue-induced waves of befuddlement came to him curled like
talons and this twisted and grotesque inundation beat his shore pulling
and pushing bits of himself fervently in all directions.  It was as his
father had told him often:  he did not know if he was coming or going.
He was both becoming more conscious of himself and his environment and
yet more despondent with strange thoughts fulminating out of his living
carcass, controlling him. He was moving toward reality and yet
diverging from it.  He believed that he was downtown with Noppawan and
that they were wasting some time before the meeting with this former
avuncular image.  They were walking through a mall and he was thinking
how long ago in boyhood he and his brothers had entertained the thought
of this man really being family to ease the pain of routine
constricting them in noodles.  In the hallucination they left the mall
and went into an adjacent 80-story building and then took a high-speed
elevator to the top of that skyscraper.  There the couple sat in the
opulence of the Baiyoke Sky Lounge revolving around glass windows and
ordering their cappuccino.
     Then he wasn't there.  He was in his room, his cell, staring out
of the window. He was watching a tiger watching the descending sun.  He
was startled.  He hadn't known that animals would look out at the
beauty of a descending sun.  The tiger noticed him and got up; but
discerning this human's own benign posture directed toward the same
sunset, the tiger returned to where it was at and once again revered
the sun.  Then he was walking the streets and feeling such a crazy
loneliness.  He began to mutter nonsense and he felt himself numb and
slipping on his own frozen thoughts. It was very strange for he wasn't
moving and yet the streets moved him--strange as the fetid one, Kumpee,
having been the angel who had come at the right second delivering him
from his worst impulses to kill Kazem.  If anything had given him food
for thought that week of idleness and recuperation in his cell, it had
been the irony of the fetid one as his guardian angel.  If the fetid
one had not stepped in nothing would have intervened and he would have
murdered his brother or been murdered by him.  If Suthep had come at
that instant, instead of Kumpee, he would have believed in Buddha or
God.  As it was, he believed in Glue and its power to imitate the
strange magic of the world that was all around him.
     His hallucination took him through the drenching storms of heavy
rains and again to the heavily billboarded world of downtown opulence:
iridescent Isuzu Ascender, its back wheels aired above a city, front
wheels ascending toward the fiery black nothingness of space, ascend,
it says, ascend, as if it, a thing, were the portal to creation, the
why, the reason of it all, ascend; Compaq Computers, don't be left
behind, don't, easy just a don't; large, sprawling cursory sentences of
lumination on these black moliminous rectangles towering above all the
tiny traffic, tiny cars and tinier lives, advertising self-help and
get-rich seminars; a more conventional but gigantic billboard placed
near a skyscraper lit like stage lights on an actress, a gigantic face
of a beautiful Chinese Thai with clean and white Chinese skin that
stayed pimpleless with Johnson and Johnson's Clean and Clear. There
were electric rotating piecemeal signs advertising cellular phones and
internet providers (instantaneous messages not for his patronage).
Advertisements were on the sides of busses and bus stops of happy soap
families and big-breasted bra wearers both of which made the saliva
increase in his mouth the way an orange would. Shop signs crouched low
with sidewalk beggars, international fast food restaurants and flyers
thrust into hands: and it all spoke of the city the same as the
skyscrapers that alone were the epitome of opulence and disparity.
"What do you want from life?" said the whore at her door.  "Enroll at
Siam University and find new opportunities.  Don't let bad grades stop
you," she continued.  "Come in, and I'll give you a massage that will
make your body feel in ways you've never imagined," said the shark
restaurant worker who made a commission luring those of supercilious
tastes to a cuisine laced in marginal traces of mercury. "Shark Fins
this way," said the tuc tuc driver eager to compound a taxi fee with an
agency's commission for bringing a foreigner to a beloved half-hour
lady of the night. "Want a girl?" asked the white robed female Buddhist
nuns who had shaved heads and collection canisters in their hands as
they stood on the steps leading to the platform of the sky train like
Hara Krishnas.  Jatupon heard the door open.
     "Oh, God," he heard Kazem's voice. Surprisingly, it wasn't angry.
He heard footsteps of restless movement.  "Oh, God," he heard again.
Then he heard the footsteps move toward him.  The movements were slow
and careful.  He opened his eyes and saw his brother. Kazem was
scratching his head in confusion.
     "I'm sorry buddy.  I'm so sorry. I know I'm late saying that, but
fuck, you were ready to throw a television into my head. I don't know
how all that happened, but what a mess.  Why did you have to get
yourself all doped like that at this time-especially this time; and oh,
fuck, did you get into my whiskey?  You did, you little thief!  Right?
Right?  Was that a nod?  Was that a nod? Do you like that?  I'll pull
your ears off the way father nearly did.  Man, we've got an
appointment!  Did you take anything besides sniffing this stuff? I mean
besides drinking my liquor and sniffing glue was there a third thing?
Think:  I've got to know how serious!" This had been one of Jatupon's
only times of being in the cell and flying within his own head. Nearly
all the other times he had gone out to the streets to gain his high and
stayed there until he was able to return home halfway sober and feign a
sickness successfully. He regretted being witnessed and scrutinized by
Kazem. The environment was bouncing to the cadence of Kazem's voice and
stung Jatupon's hands through the conduit of the rubbery stickiness of
desiccated glue that still hung in patches from some of his fingertips.
He was pulled into the shower with underpants still on.  The hair of
his head was locked in Kazem's fingers. He could smell the sweetness of
his brother's sweat.  He could smell his body odor like any dog getting
its molecular high.  Jatupon thought it was very romantic.  He smiled
widely at Kazem whose fingers clenched him by the throat pinning him
against the back wall of the shower as the cold waters ran over him and
through his underpants. Jatupon fought like a suffocating fish and when
he was free from the loosened grasp he gasped and then kissed and
licked the body that he was denuding--the same body that had brought
him near death but the same one who had saved him from drowning long
ago when he was a boy.


     Then after a good long vomit and a brief nap he exited with his
brother into the light rain and they were off to see the wizard.  They
went by taxi with the idea of picking up Suthep along the way. Kazem
waited in the taxi while Jatupon knocked on Suthep's door.  Jatupon
knocked, stood, and waited repeatedly for five or ten minutes without
success.  Then he began to return to the taxi looking down and
scrapping his feet against dirt and rocks like a child preferring to be
left alone in his imagination.
     But when he returned the taxi had turned into a limousine like a
pumpkin into a carriage. He wondered if he was hallucinating once
again.  Then standing there like a diffident and disconcerted child in
total confusion, he noticed the window descending for him and out poked
the head of the fetid one but his hair was cut, greased back, and
nicely groomed, his face was shaven, and the cologne or aftershave
lotion that he was wearing had molecules that poignantly bit into
Jatupon's psyche favorably.  Here was a dark but handsome man.  He
never knew him, before, to be such.  "Get in you little Monkey--up
front with the driver." When Jatupon was seated comfortably in softness
and space he glanced back at his three brothers who reclined in an
opulent shadow.
     "Cheers, Jatuporn," said Kumpee.
     Kazem clanged his glass against the glasses held by Kumpee and
Suthep. "Cheers to every boy, girl, hollering hound, and wide spread
whore on the planet," said Kazem.  Suthep and Kumpee laughed.
     "Yes, I'll have to say my cheers to them too," said Kumpee.  All
three brothers were drinking wine in the back seat.
     "Should we give him something?" asked Suthep.
     "Are you kidding," said Kazem.  "That boy goes places we can only
dream about.  No more fuel for that tank.  He's been there, done that.
He's gone on one round trip today. That's enough."  He drank more of
his wine.  "Sometimes I have to sleep with one eye open to make sure he
doesn't drift further into mischief."
     "Did you like how we fucked up your mind?" Kumpee asked Kazem.
"It was Suthep's idea of parking on the corner. When you didn't leave
the taxi we still waited a little until you fell into a smoking
addiction.  Suthep said, 'Just wait, he'll go into the 7-11' and that
is exactly what happened.  While you were in there buying your
cigarettes we paid off the taxi driver and sent him away.  Then we
parked in his place."
    "Well, if that trick was for me, it didn't do anything.  I wasn't
even surprised let alone shocked.  I definitely didn't think I was out
of my mind."
     "Well, Jatuporn sure thought he was seeing things," said Suthep.
     "He looked like the Emerald Buddha was talking to him," said
Kumpee.
     The brothers laughed.  Suthep farted.
     "Bangkok bus exhaust.  Plug your nose," commented Kumpee. Their
laughter intensified. Even Jatupon was laughing with them.
     "I want to know why Jatuporn is wearing sunglasses," said Suthep
anxious to diffuse their thinking of his odor. Horrific odors were
usually attributed to Kumpee and he cared to keep it that way.
     "You know already," said Kazem. "Leave it alone.  Why are you
wearing that gold chain around your neck?"
     "A girl gave it to me" said Suthep.
     "What girl?  Some girl behind a cash register.  Did you pull out a
gun and make her believe her brains would be splattered?"
     "That wouldn't have been me.  I am a woman lover.  I don't make
war," said Suthep.  "Show me your eyes, Jatuporn."
     "Leave him alone," said Kazem.
     Kumpee grabbed Jatupon's head, yanked off the glasses, and twisted
the face so that Suthep could see it.  "A regular raccoon, that one is.
 "No, even a raccoon is lighter than that.  Maybe it's like watching a
raccoon after he and a bear have been going at it:  the bear with a
television in his paws and the raccoon cowering near his puddle of
blood.  Thai boxing doesn't get as exciting as what I saw.  I just
regret not having been there for the whole show."
     "Stop it!" ordered Kazem.
     "Does he always give orders like that?" asked Kumpee to Suthep.
Then to Kazem he said, "Hey, remember that I am the oldest one here.
Could you say that in a more pleasant tone?"
     "I would like for you to stop picking on him.  Look at him up
there." Jatupon's eyes were withdrawn and his head was slightly tilted
to the dashboard.
     "Here are your glasses," said Kumpee as he stood and bent forward
with effort to give them back. His hand disheveled Jatupon's unkempt
hair even further. "You need to comb that mop."
     Arrows of the past, mostly from his father and Kumpee, shot out of
the neurological circuitry of his brain paralyzing him in a numb
withdrawal of survival.   It was no different than at earlier stages of
his life when he wondered why things didn't move forward but at the
same time was fearful that they would.  He was back in the horror known
as family withdrawing himself from it, living in his protective bubble
of withdrawal.  "You are afraid of your own shadow." "Are you preparing
for a flood?  Those pants look stupid on you."  "What are you doing
sitting over there?  Get out of that seat?"   "I'll mop up the floor
with you one of these days." "Why aren't you working?  You are
absolutely good for nothing." "What do you do in that back room, you
pimple faced monkey?  Get out of that cage of yours and put down those
books.  No use you thinking you are any better than the rest of us."
"Get out of my seat you ugly little fart." He heard it even though none
of these disparaging ideas were articulated in the limousine.
     Jatuporn, Jatuporn, he thought.  They knew and they mocked him
with his ignominy.  If he had been a girl and someone had sexually
abused him he could speak of it and have a good purifying cry cleansing
himself of his stress but his situation was different.  It was one he
had invited upon himself.  He'd sleep with the others as well if it
would make them kinder to him-so vehement was his need for their love.
 How horrible it was to meet this rich avuncular stranger, he thought
to himself.  It would be horrible enough meeting a bag lady with a face
that looked like a raccoon and an aching in his raw bottom.  He put on
his sunglasses.

     In an odd way for him it was like traveling on a poor man's cattle
train back to the town from whence an exodus from the rice fields had
occurred.  No poor man would want to return to his farm and admit that
he couldn't obtain employment in Bangkok and no one with any real
self-esteem wanted to link again to a wealthy man who, for good reason,
had been reluctant to have any association with his ex-nephews-in-law.
His father had tried countless times to get money from the senator.
His mother had been subtler and more industrious.  She got a campaign
drive active in her neighborhood to do her little part in trying to get
him reelected.  The senator never forgot such hard working activists
and always remembered her birthday with a gift.  She was content with
that but for her husband it intensified his yearning for better things.
 And so it was with his brothers: they thought about how their dreams
could be effectuated with a bit of the senator's savings. Jatupon did
not adhere to this disingenuous wish for a family reunion and so
trapped in a moving box with brothers who had one converging theme that
was not his own, he felt like an unemployed laborer returning back on
the poor man's train even though he was riding in a limousine.
     The recurring idea that the aunt and the uncle had not gone to the
funeral made him even increasingly repellent toward this meeting with
the senator.  He halfway wanted to jump out of the door and let a
physics lesson ensue.  Would he just drop or would he be thrust out
like a projectile. Would his blood ooze out or would it disgorge like
the insides of a tossed pumpkin?  He looked out of the window at the
quick passing of buildings and then up to the billowing clouds.  They
were gas with distinct and individual form.  They were energy that was
distended and fomenting.  How mysterious it all was. When one was
cremated he would be such gas. Man was ephemeral noise but nature was
reticent and swelling.  Distending and distending, it extended him
beyond his petty thinking.  How good it all was!
     Well, he thought, there was no resisting the inevitable.  He
would be entering the senator's house mortified from his sunglasses and
black eyes but the issue was petty enough that there would not be any
serious consideration about avoiding this eventuality through jumping
out of a moving car. Kazem had attempted to put a story into his head
that might save them from being scrutinized about this subject.  It had
seemed plausible enough: an injury from the recent Songkran festival in
Banglampool gained from a water fight where some water in the plastic
guns had been adulterated with some caustic chemicals.  However, he did
not like casting shadowy illusions into the senator's mighty halls.
No, he shouldn't be with this chain gang of prisoners going to the
warden's home, dragging the noodles that bound them, asking for him to
remove them.  This avuncular stranger hadn't come for their parents'
funeral.  He hadn't wished them condolences.  It would have been such a
little thing to do; and since it wasn't done it was monumentally wrong.
     Reticent and deep in himself so that his brothers' pejorative
comments did not hurt him tremendously when they pierced, he
implemented the same defense mechanism that had saved him from
psychosis in such a family all of these years. This withdrawal made the
rational self into a deadened membrane and shield.  This shield
deflected their arrows. How profoundly intricate the psyche's defenses
were.  What wouldn't the brain do to spare itself wounds!  The mind,
perhaps, did the same with love.  Within life's physical titillations
in this sordid realm through the smell and feel of breath rhythmically
sliding onto his nose from the spewing mouth of his mate --a warm
soothing wind crossing the hill of his nose; the tactile wearing of
another's skin by touch more luxurious than any silk; merciful orgasmic
clemency from logic; the moving of a chest; the heart beat; and yes,
the feeling of being in love addictive and sensitive toward another
human presence, one's ideas of life were whitewashed and exhilarated.
For him, sex in the shower had annulled his hatred of Kazem.  It had
made the world into less of a hostile place. It had provided the
specious idea that he was not alone. He looked out of the car window.
The palm trees seemed like rock solid Cyclopes eating away the remnants
of the sun.  He noticed that the car was stopping. The gates opened to
an acreage far from balloon peddlers, sandwich salesmen with a box
strapped onto their chests, holy jasmine makers, goldfish in the bag
mountebanks, car window newspaper accosters, and the sidewalk noodle
workers.
     "Will he be alone?" asked Suthep.
     "His staff will be there," said Kumpee.
     "I mean women.  An Old guy with lots of money must have new ones
around each week.  I mean they wouldn't like him but they would feel
important and ornamental to be there at his home."
     "I wouldn't know one way or the other."
     "What did you do when you were together with him?" asked Suthep.
     "I wasn't really.  It was through a speaker.  I finally got him to
talk through the speaker after pleading with all his servants that way.
 I made him feel guilty.  I told him he should have gone to the
funeral.  I told him he needed to help his relatives or I'd see if a
newspaper reporter would talk to me."
     "You said that!" yelled Kazem angrily.
     "Oh, he agreed with me that he was wrong.  He said that he wanted
to see us.  He told me that.  Then we got visits from his men and this."

     When they arrived into what was to them an opulent mansion (a
couple of the dozen rooms that were only marginally spacious by western
standards) they saw him in the living room in front of a big screen
where, what to the gods, were tenuous carbon copies of men falling from
the windows of a skyscraper with their myriad papers.  America
(specifically New York City) was under siege.
     The boys gestured the "wei" to him.  He saw prayerful hands in
front of faces and, except in the youngest who was hidden behind his
sunglasses, their beggarly downtrodden expressions depicted their
unworthiness to meet him. That was their ploy. He gestured the "wei" in
return. He was begrudging of their entrance in his life and resented
having to comply with the wishes of the eldest that the meeting take
place.  However, his plan was to neutralize the possibility of negative
publicity.  He just wanted to allow these meetings to take place from
time to time.  If the "thugs" thought that he would be giving them
anything more than an occasional meal it was their own delusion and in
the meantime he would be keeping any problems from occurring like the
unlikely eventuality of an newspaper article scathing him for lack of
interest in the welfare of his relatives and making an assumption that
he wouldn't be interested in the welfare of others.  Something like
that, unlikely as it was, could nonetheless happen if he didn't pacify
those who had the power to possibly create such problems.  "Come in and
sit down over here," he said.  The tone of voice of this avuncular
stranger was grave and his face hardly glanced at them as their
barefooted feet ascended into his domain. The television tugged in
their diffident movements to plush, white, upholstered chairs and these
chairs kept saying to Jatupon that he and his brothers had no right to
sit there. Still and seated, they became like spectators at the
Coliseum.  It was a CNN glimpse into the future: skyscrapers ablaze
from passenger jets deliberately being slammed into them.  They were
being made aware of horrific ways of dying and since it was so horrific
there was no self-centeredness and movement by which to callously
disregard it.  They were empathic and there was no escape.  Jatupon
wanted to shake the gods from their slumber, to knock the emerald
Buddha from its pedestal, and to hijack fate and turn it around at
gunpoint from the cockpit.  He wanted all life to cease and start again
in parity and respect.  He wanted deliverance for Siriaj Hospital
freaks, the aborted, the stillborn, deformed, diseased, and the
downtrodden, those who die from malnutrition, old men who always think
that their lives have been for nothing, the elephants that lose their
molars and so search for a soft shaded area of grass to lie down in
comfortable death, weaker animals not yet dead fallen as prey, soldiers
who must lose their lives in war, and child soldiers whose short lives
were as instruments of hate.  To him it was no wonder that they
(humans) were bad.  They were all conceived by greedy sexual devouring,
these selfish absorptions and attempts at fitting into silk skinned
robes and hallucinogenic shadows.  The World Trade Center disaster was
proof not only that people were bad but that there was no god overseer
above looking at this clashing of wills.  There was just malicious and
inane preying on others and this time it might well be that these
hijackers had not even been incensed at opulence and starvation which
stood back to back like America and Afghanistan or a domineering state
like America to a stateless one like Palestine.  If this had been
planned by the rich ex-Saudi, Bin Laden, it was just hate (senseless,
irrational hate that existed for no particular reason at all), the
desire for power, the idea of heroism and a sure ticket to heaven, and
the dramatic thrill of destruction that would go down as historical.
     It was strange that people should perish so terribly and that
those perpetrating this action could rationalize America as a monster
worthy of monstrous actions that would humble this one nation under
God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.  Foremost it was
strange to him that such suffering could be ignored, if not partially
forgotten so quickly when Vanont, the servant, came in for the third
time telling them that the dinner was getting cold and he wasn't going
to warm it up for the second time.  No longer mesmerized, they came
back to themselves. At the dining room table they began their banal
chatter. They asked about the number of his servants, how long he had
lived here, his typical working day, and what he did when he returned
home.  They wanted to ask about their aunt but they had determined as
they rode over here that the subject might alienate their host. Except
for Jatupon whose lips slightly frowned, the brothers gained pleasure
pointing out various items in the room, asking questions about them,
and feeling pleased to be in such opulence.  The senator asked about
Kazem and Suthep's restaurant businesses.  When Suthep made a more
obvious attack to evoke sympathy for their nominal existence the
senator said, "You are young.  It is a first business." Then to avert
hearing anything more on that matter, he switched to Kumpee who had
extorted this family reunion.  He asked what he did for a living.
Kumpee's circumlocutory answer was no different than any hustler's
grandiloquence about selling one thing or another real or imagined.
His quick words were inarticulate and glib.  Nobody understood what he
said for the words were mountainous heaps of illusion.  The senator did
find out that Kumpee had fathered a child.  He had a baby girl.  Kumpee
took out the photograph from his wallet and then he passed it around.
The senator affected a smile when he saw the picture but he conjectured
that "this boy" was living from this arrangement with the girlfriend
and the baby he had fathered.  Jatupon, surprised like his other
siblings, found pleasure in the thought that he was now an uncle.  For
a moment he felt love for this unseen entity and a desire to ensure
that her life turned out better than his but then he realized that he
would never see her, and being the child of a rich Chinese Thai, she
would have a better life than he had.
     The senator asked Jatupon why he was wearing sunglasses.  He gave
the rehearsed answer and then had to remove the sunglasses at the
senator's insistence.  "The Songkran festival ended over a month ago,"
said the avuncular stranger.  "Why do you still have black eyes now?"
     "Yes, but my face was really hurt badly" Jatupon responded.  The
senator looked at him sternly.  He didn't want to waste his night
hearing their lies, and if they were all like Suthep, he didn't want to
hear the truths either.  Kazem opened his mouth.  He was prepared to
say that Jatupon had gotten himself into a fight but when he saw the
stern expression of the unbelieving host his words retreated.
Jatupon saw himself and his brothers shaded in the dismal gray of those
who could not be trusted.  A man's mind was a tenuous object swayed in
the winds of discourse so when it sensed a disingenuous response in the
surreal uncertainty of understanding a matter fully it cringed.  He
felt like he was casting shadows onto the senator's grand walls like
children using their hands to project shadows of rabbits and dogs.  But
then his conscience waned. He again remembered that the aunt and uncle
hadn't attended the funeral of his parents.  He remembered his aunt's
magnanimous crusades to become so important in his life, seeing him
educated by paying his tuition and sending him to private tutorials,
the Bible school, the varnishing of Christ's picture on wood, the taste
of punch at the Bible School, and how outside the building there was a
soccer ball tied to a string and a pole and how the children tried to
compete to get the ball wound up on their side of the poll.  She would
sometimes come to pick him up and take him to an ice cream parlor.  She
didn't have any children of her own.  He frowned at the senator's
scolding facial expressions.  He met angered glances with those of his
own. The family chatted on.  The senator seemed friendlier and Jatupon
even began to look up from his plate.  The distrust had diffused to the
point where it ceased to matter.  They chatted and their chatter was
irrelevant.
     "Why did this happen?" blurted out Jatupon from nowhere.  "If it
is Islamic terrorists how could they hate that badly?  Is it envy of a
wealthier and more powerful country, or the hatred toward Israeli aid
from the United States?  I don't understand it.  We talk and talk and
yet people are falling out of windows of 100 story buildings.  How can
we eat and carry on with things?"
     Kumpee and Suthep scoffed at him.
     "It is barbaric, barbaric no matter what line of reasoning they
use to justify their actions.  Do you know anything about the Islamic
world and why it dislikes the west, Jatupon?"  The choice of his words
were influenced by his Moslem background."
     "I don't really," he said. " If Bin Laden is so rich it isn't
inequality that he hates. Tyrants like building up empires but he
doesn't seem to want one-- just wants to destroy the west.  I don't
understand it at all.  I know that there are 7000 American soldiers in
the holy land of Saudi Arabia to protect that area from Iraq's
aggression and-" He swallowed hard.  He knew that his brothers would
hate him.  "I know that America continues to supply Israel with
millions of dollars in aid and billions of dollars in weapon sales even
though Israel still occupies what was once Palestine."  He knew that he
needed to summarize these issues with some scanty understanding to
impress the senator.  "America imposes sanctions against Iraq out of
fear of its military buildup but these sanctions cause thousands of
people to die from malnutrition.  America financially backed Iraq
against Iran in that war and the Taliban against the Soviet Union and
now those regimes were the wrong choices. The enemy of my enemy is my
friend was the wrong philosophy.  Those were bad foreign affairs
blunders.  They continually interfere with the policies of Moslem
countries so that the oil that drives their economy doesn't cease. It
is economic considerations that cause them to back the governments of
Algeria and Egypt that they can influence even though those governments
are not democracies. They've made Iraq and Iran as strong as America."
     The senator knew that this was a good understanding for a
14-year-old boy.  "How do you know these things, Jatupon?"
     "He reads a lot of comic books," said Suthep.  They laughed.
     "I go to the library when I can," he said modestly.  "Sometimes I
go there just to read comic books and once in a while I read Newsweek."
     "Do you know English?"
     "Yes, I do," he said proudly.  The senator found himself
interested in the boy the way his ex-wife had been. Her reasons,
however, had been maternal ones and her disinterest had been from the
same source.  A voice of an alter ego that was fettered in a private
chamber in the cellar of her mind shrieked stridently that this was no
child of her own and it had been for this reason that she had dropped
him from her life suddenly.  His interest was of a man who sees
continuum of what he is or a rejuvenation of what he was.  Both
reactions were selfish ones but this was the planet Earth where most
good actions were dictated by egocentric realms.


     Vanont yelled that one of the buildings was imploding and the
senator got up from the table. "Continue eating," he said as he exited
the room. Jatupon looked out of the window.  Thai thunder crackled the
skies like an empty bag of potato chips.  Lightning streaked across the
Thai skies naked and ominous. There he was seated with his brothers in
that home they had always wanted to enter for so many years.  And yet
instead of being the happy family members visiting the relatives, they
were nothing but a group of extortionists who had manipulated their way
through locked gates. This fraternity of boyhood had evolved on higher
tiers of wants into a Tower of Babel, a tower of thugs.
     Low levels of hate still exuded from him toward Kazem who had done
this to his face.  He was sedentary in his own guilt for his attempt to
murder Kazem, which later led to the best sexual experience he had ever
had. Hate and the frenzy of love were rotting the best aspects of him
that was so neatly named a soul.  Hate and love had been horrible
fulminations of neediness that ignited a person into another being,
possessed will, and thrust reality into chaos.  Sure this release of
sexual tension, in the acme of ecstasy, led to Nirvana like any well
thrust missile but each intimacy was like a cow that jumped over the
moon.
     He heard his brothers talk but did not listen to anything.  Talk
was a kinetic sport. The mouth was a spout. In it emotions were like
boiling water steaming out the teapot. For him, the introvert who
communed with the original wisdom deep in the stagnant pool of his
being, there was only the window and a landscape of waxy greenery in
the rain.  He was mesmerized in the mellifluous monotony of rain
slapping against the window.
     Men falling from the windows of the World Trade Center in New
York: the world was an evil place and he wanted to sink under the veil
of Childhood for it was benign.  Guileless, ingenuous, innocuous,
worriless childhood was where the imagined was tangible and personal.
Planes deliberately crashed into skyscrapers incinerating buildings and
people: this was solid proof that it was a godless universe, but then
he had always assumed that it was such.  Still to take a deep breath
was amazing.  To be thinking was amazing. To see from the window such a
beautiful verdant acreage and rain pouring onto it making it greener
yet was like fecund life commencing after the destruction of a forest
fire. His parents died but in so doing here he was in the senator's
dining room: wasn't this an amazing chain of events even if their
arrival had been obtained badly?  The senator called them to come in
with their plates and drinks.  For Jatupon it felt like they were a
family huddled together in front of the television--images of tragedy
shared together in common.
     A half hour later the senator found himself irritated by the one
likable thug looking the part.  "Can you see anything with those
sunglasses on?" he asked bitterly.
     "Not much" said Jatupon.
     "I've seen what you look like.  Take them off."
     "Take them off you little idiot" said Kumpee.  Jatupon obeyed but
glanced at Kumpee with a strong glare of hate.
    "Did you really get that from Songkran?" asked the senator.
Jatupon sensed that the senator's tone was jocular.  He could tell that
the avuncular stranger, like them all, just needed a respite from the
grave images they were witnessing.
     "He's always getting into fights" lied Kumpee stealing the words
that still wouldn't come from Kazem's mouth.
     "Is that so?" asked the senator but it was to no one specific.
     "All the time" confirmed Suthep.
     "Is that true?" the senator asked Jatupon.  "Who with?"
     "I can't imagine who.  I guess myself," said Jatupon while he
stared into the senator's eyes with a bold earnestness.
     The senator laughed  "I'll interpret that as a need for privacy,"
he said.  He backed away from the truth.  He sensed it already and it
was really none of his business.  In a strange way he was even
beginning to like their presence.  It was the closest thing he had to
family, and so he told himself that maybe he should enjoy it.
     Jatupon looked out across the senator's spacious living room and
then returned to the center where they were.  He noticed a bowl on an
end table.  The bowl contained wrapped caramel within it.
     "Help yourself," said the senator as he passed the bowl first to
Kumpee who was seated nearest to him.
     They chewed.  The senator continued translating pertinent bits
that were anchored on the news program.  "America under attack" was the
logo at the bottom of the screen.  The brothers had no label for this
snack but they knew that it was catered to the higher status of palate
and because of this they ate it gluttonously.  The taste and the gummy
texture were foreign to them.  Jatupon thought of his own insatiable
need for sweets any time he saw his aunt.  If she continued to buy
candy necklaces for him to slobber on she continued to care and it was
for that reason that he craved for sweets so voraciously.
     "The wrappers are labeled with the names of American states on
them."
     "Yes, I like caramel. I always have since Chusanee and I were
married.  She liked them so much. Anyhow that's over now.  By the way,
I'm not sure if you know this, Jatupon, but after your mother and
father separated briefly, your mother went away to the states. You were
born in America." Jatupon sat there in numb surprise with a caramel
square smashed into the back of his mouth.  He didn't chew or swallow
as the senator elaborated on a trip that their aunt had arranged for
their mother to give her some time to think.  "I'm mentioning it to you
now because you are American and you should know that fact if ever you
have an opportunity to travel. It is easier with an American passport."
 Then his face focused on the images.  A second tower imploded.  How
many thousands were dead and dying was anyone's guess. It was a
horrible thing and yet he felt that they all, rightly or wrongly, were
linked together in the belief that gluttony and poverty were the main
instigators.  He wondered if his brothers thought that justice was
being rendered.
     Later, when Jatupon was returning from the bathroom, Vanont
stopped him and asked him to go into the study.  Ten minutes later the
senator came in and sat down at his desk.  He handed Jatupon a can of
Coca Cola.  The senator had a second one that he also opened and drank.
     "Why do you think that your brothers have been so persistent about
seeing me?" asked the senator.
     "I don't know for sure. That's the truth. I don't think there is
anything too planned in it. They're selfish.  I know that.  It was
wrong how Kumpee arranged the meeting.  Even Kazem thinks that; but it
isn't so calculating for a bunch of boys with no real family--not even
with each other--to want to know their uncle.  I know that you aren't
married now and it isn't as if you are an uncle like blood or have to
have anything to do with us. Anyhow I think more than anything they
just wanted to meet someone respectable when their lives aren't of any
consequence.  At least that is how I feel about it.  Maybe they think
that they can get something out of it but I don't think they've really
isolated what they want.  Maybe it isn't much more than just wanting to
feel a bit linked to you.  I guess I want that in ways, but in ways I
don't.  I mean you've been really nice but I don't understand why you
didn't go to my parents' funeral.  There was nobody really but us.
Nobody came at all really."
     "Maybe I should help you," said the senator." The words ran out of
his mouth like a loose dog.  He was surprised to see them running away.
Jatupon could see that he regretted the words.
     "I need out. I don't mean to come here with you.  I want, on my
own, to break from them. I can't go back there again."
     "Which one beat up on you like that?"  Jatupon didn't say anything
but looked down at his legs.  The senator asked, "Does it happen very
often?"
     "Well, I'm not a kid."
     "You're 14, aren't you?"
     "Yes."
     "Well, that isn't manhood yet.  It is an awkward age."
     "I won't return.  I hate him for doing that to me.  He just left
me in the puddle of my blood.  I hated him so badly I wanted to kill
him afterwards."
     "Which one?"
     "All of them hate me.  Suthep and Kumpee resented what Aunt
Chusanee tried to do for me but I don't hate them."
     "She always said that you were clever."
     "I wish I could go away and be somebody different than what I am,
and yet I wish that I could be important to them and that the four of
us could be a close family. You too, if you want."
     "Jatupon, families aren't forever.  Boys grow up and they gain
their own lives.  They have children.  Those children grow up.  I don't
know what you might or might not have done to get into a fight with
them or one of them but it didn't deserve a fist in your face.  You
look awful.  Give me a week.  I want you to contact me in a week. I've
got some work I need to do and Vanont will show you and your brothers
out.  He'll point you in the direction of the bus stop.  It isn't all
that late.  All the busses should still be running.  Tell your brothers
that we'll try to get together again in a couple months or so."


     From the window of the classroom, Noppawan saw the wind kick about
the branches of the trees in an anomaly not characteristic of Bangkok
weather.  She hated feeling hostage to proctor the eye movements of
these students, to walk every several minutes through the aisles of the
desks, and to scrutinize wanton little individuals prepossessed of
schemes for cheating that could improve their chances of getting good
grades and hasten the end of the tests.  Their main wishes were for the
resurrection of their still cadavers to the kinetic movement of going
with their friends to the next Hollywood movie, the next shrill of
laughter, gossip, and karaoke booths in the corridors of malls. She
liked the wind's attitude of just knocking around the day, kicking off
the old leaves, and dancing about.  She wondered why she admired
kinetic movement in nature and not in the uniformed idiocy of the
students before her.  It was, she answered to herself, because each of
these uniformed specimens probably did the same exact actions of their
fathers and mothers before them.  Certainly year after year new groups
of freshmen were identical to each other. They engaged in senseless
programmed activities like ants: the mating frivolity before working
and hoarding.  As rich as they were (these future owners of their
parents' factories) they were walking down the same hill toward their
deaths no different than the worker ants.  None of them contributed to
the permanency of thought and understanding.  They just followed and
followed.
     Nature experimented, she caused uniqueness in form if not
attitude, she continentally drifted lands for the hell of it, she
erupted volcanoes and earthquakes in the damnedest of places and let
her creatures adapt or perish.  Nature was an alchemist and a lover of
the extraordinary.  Noppawan wanted to open a window.  After all, the
students were cold in the air conditioning and she wanted to feel the
breeze, but some fool or another who supervised proctors would complain
that something in the room wasn't orthodox.  She didn't want to get a
letter in her mailbox complaining that she hadn't sealed up the
envelopes of the tests with enough tape or another odd irrelevant idea
because she hadn't been as orthodox as she should have been.
     It was the administration that consisted of desperate fools during
times that were irregular.  She had been forced to teach an
anthropology class this semester.  How that was related to zoology she
couldn't say unless the administration was privy to the philosophy of
mice and men. All she knew was that the anthropology teacher ran away
and they were in desperate need of someone to fill the gap as well as
perform her regular duties.  A numb throbbing of life's dreariness
overtook her as she walked around these handsome faces and thought to
herself how she really wanted to open the window.
     Her husband had not throbbed his body in her inordinately so she
did not understand why she was jealous of his activities, and yet she
was. It was this beyond all other things that was a gloom over her
sedentary thoughts that were constricted to monitor the eye movements
and actions of the students and to be the perfect guard of these
prisoners that had been assigned to her. She looked at the girl test
takers.  Unlike Porn, whose focus was business, they were disrespectful
whores whose interest was only in sucking up the pheromone fumes,
having babies, and raising them to fulfill their need for stability and
permanence.  To have a role in the world (that of being a mother) would
override the love needs of the contributor of the sperm, and they would
cling to motherhood as salamanders in the rain.  That  "salamander in
the rain" idea had been one of her husband's more clever thoughts that
he attributed to the lack of creativity he saw around him.  He was
clever and she had liked him so much for so many years. She hadn't been
in love with him until his departure.  If she had been like all other
women she would have succumbed to these feelings and thoughts that she
needed her man terribly. Their overwhelming power tried to destroy her
resolve and only the idea that these feelings were illusions was she
able to maintain her integrity. The feelings were unadulterated
neediness because of his adultery-the jealous biological programming of
a woman. This feeling of love, this motif of women and pop culture,
vexed her.  It was annulling her marital contract that had been
engendered out of friendship of two people who were complete unto
themselves.  Well, he wasn't so complete.  He did whine.  That was for
sure.  There was a boy that came out from time to time needing a mommy.
 It had been nauseating to tolerate to say the least; but she had done
so under the firm belief that most men were worse than he was on this
point. And for her, there were female vulnerabilities but earlier she
had been prudent enough to get herself sterilized and minimized her
sexual activity.
      Before she came into the classroom she had encountered a couple
of her colleagues laughing shyly.  In the couple seconds that she drew
near them before passing they were tacit in the shamefaced ways of
Thais. She knew that many of them gossiped about her who was the wife
of a man celebrated for his adulterous debauchery.  She could have been
their holy martyr as the object of sympathy and the icon of women's
suffering but her frank endorsement of her husband's activities to
newspaper reporters had made her the subject of ridicule.  A man would
be totally lost if he didn't have his extramarital affairs, she said.
He would have no knowing of the nothingness of his misadventures unless
he were to experience minutes of despair after the orgasm was complete.
 This is what she told the reporters on a few occasions-each time
expanding on her ideas and making them more colorful than at previous
times.  She was proud of creating the Noppawan doctrine and she knew
that because of it the university wanted to get rid of her.  In ways
she was proud of being sneered at but it was uncomfortably lonely. She
imagined the thoughts of these two instructors who passed her, "Craggy
thing, no man would mount you. It is no wonder that you're forlorn for
the whores." No, they'd never even say anything like that even to each
other. They wouldn't even consciously think it. Thais were too polite
and too deferential to even the despised for that: instead there was
that shamefaced laugh and that reciprocal glance.   Then, as she was
walking to Building P with the tests that she had picked up from the
administration office, a boy and a girl were in front of her.  This
pair, holding hands, were taking up the whole sidewalk and blocking
everyone from passing in their slow movements.  The girl had books on
her head that she was trying to balance.  The boy watched her lovingly.
 She wanted to smack them-these dummies who were dopamine gluttons.
Everywhere she went it was young couples in love.  She wanted to get
out the biggest can of Raid and perform a major insecticide/genocide
that would give Miloshevik a companion in the Hague; but being a humane
individual such hideous thoughts could only instigate a wry smile or an
occasional chuckle.  When she saw such couples everywhere it made her
feel an antithesis of things: like an uncomfortable young girl
experiencing the wetness of blood being absorbed into her tampons for
the first time and as of a 26 year old tripping around in her days with
an old woman inside of her.
     This subject she was proctoring was business law, a subject so
unrelated to her field.  She unfastened a sheet of paper that was
posted on the window and looked at this list of student names. She
matched their identification cards to the list of names and got each of
their signatures. Weird ideas took over her brain as she looked into
their faces one by one and at their photographs on their student
identification cards.  "Surawit ,without glasses you would be as ugly
as with them; Wilawan, that bun of a pony tail is one thing that has
just got to go; Sira, you have nice swarthy skin so fuckable but that
nose is like it came from the days when wild boars used to roam the
whole planet-totally obscene and pugnacious; Kanoknant, really are you
the same girl in this picture I.D?  How strange! It looks like your
older sister and you look like you'd be one of the proud little girls
who possess one of these book bags near the white board with little stuffed ani
mals dangling from them-oh, god, I bet your parents hold
their heads in chagrin after giving birth to you;  Pornpitcha, ya'
frizzed orange hair is of a disco queen; Wiliwan playing beauty shop
with your pony tail-better on yourself than on other girls since that
is the usual preoccupation in classes; Pawisar, wouldn't that fat face
be less obtrusive if your hair was put in a pony tail-well, maybe
not...maybe it would be worse but still that hair is dangling into your
face distracting you from taking the test and more importantly looking
downright uncouth and stringy; Ekkachai, you certainly have a long
tie-I wonder how big your penis gets."  Those thoughts droned on and on
in the same pattern of crude novelty.



                                          Chapter 14

          Restless in the dewy grass of the hard ground, he was asleep.
His dreams registered what, numb, he hadn't comprehended so well the
previous evening. His brain rehashed those images surreal and slow:
Vanont slipping them a thousand baht; the decision on the sidewalk to
go to the whores; Kumpee saying that he, Jatupon, was a ladyboy and
couldn't go with them as if he had wanted to go with them (He might
have wanted to go but not with them and not with that thousand baht);
his numb malevolent smile at their laughter; being handed some loose
change to go home with; and then getting on a bus randomly, handing the
ticket tearer ten baht and pretending to be mute and dumb when asked
his destination since there was none.  He hadn't even said goodbye to
his brothers and all of those years together.  He just contemptuously
smiled at their contempt and disappeared. One day he would be in
America.  In time, he told himself, in time.  Being the cockroach had
passed in time. He had lived in the world as that of an insect all
those years. These family members didn't even have to ferret out his
miserable little existence to stomp on him daily.  It hadn't been much
of a sport just to see him scurry around in the same space within his
pain and yet it had been their main preoccupation.  Bad as it was, it
had passed without the necessity to kill himself. He just said to
himself that it would pass and it had.  He was no ladyboy. Maybe his
serious intensity made his limbs rigid and his movements circumspect
and gauche. Maybe it was strange that he rarely walked with his
brothers but instead walked behind them.  Undoubtedly he had been the
sexual recipient. Still that didn't make him into a ladyboy nor did it
make him gay. He was liberated.  He was a changing creation.  Past
actions did not have to define him. The word, ladyboy, for once did not
hurt him deeply since he was undergoing the metamorphosis of manhood.
Manhood was indefinable since it could be anything one slipped off and
slipped on at will during times that were critical junctures, as he
knew this was.  If he were to go back to Kazem or scurry over to the
senator so begrudging innate inclinations to help him, he would be a
man but a dependent one with childish yearnings to be shaped by others.
 He told himself he would smell like the fetid one, he would let the
sagging elasticity completely peel off his underwear embarrassingly,
and he would eat stray cats in the park but he would not sacrifice his
newly discovered integrity for the sake of comfort.
     In the early light of morning he woke up with maximum
determination despite the lack of solid sleep and seeing that his new
home was on the outskirts of a park.  It was a grassy fringe that went
behind the wall and gate that enclosed the actual park.  The sprinkling
of rain was falling onto him and he could smell the stink of his damp
shirt as if the metamorphosis to manhood had made him into the fetid
one.  Behind the wall he heard the squeaking chains of empty swings
being moved slowly in the wind.  Cars that infrequently passed the park
were unreal and eerie as descending ghosts. No sooner had he awakened
than a middle-aged woman in a red jacket rode up beside him on her
bicycle.  "Fortune teller?" she asked.
     "No," said Jatupon.
     "Don't you want your fortune read?"
     "No," he said. He knew he didn't have one.
     "I teach English too."
     "No," said Jatupon.  "I don't have anything for you."
     "Here.  Give this to someone who needs it."  She gave him a
business card that was nothing but a sliver of paper with a computer
printed, reduced, and photocopied message of Thai on one side and
English on the other. In her palm she had a whole stack of these tiny
square bits of paper.  As she rode away he read the English.  "Nattanat
near Lumpini Park.  (13:00-21:00) Office 3761/296 soi Yudee 9 Chan
Road Tambon Bangko, Kate Bangkolaem, BKK 10120 Thailand.
Tel.02-673-1436  Time call 04.00 AM or after 10.00 PM  Fortune Teller:
I give you many gifts  I am teacher English teacher/ Thai language
Ride big bicycle." She was one of the lucky ones.  Occasionally she
probably was able to find a foreigner who wanted to learn Thai and each
day she was able to give some fortunes that allowed her to have her own
little room and a telephone.  Thin as she was, she was able to live
even if, in part, she had to seek clients in the beggars themselves. He
waited around for the park to open.  Slipping into numbness with
nothing industrious to do, his integrity was shaken. He didn't want to
be here.  He could still go back to Kazem, he told himself.
     Kazem had always been "kind" in the respect that he had domineered
over him and protected him from harm except for times when he harmed
him; and this interestingly contradictory reality was what made their
relationship more sexy and beguiling the way a similar one might
beguile a battered woman in love to have more sex and children despite
her wish to leave him.  Sex (heterosexual or homosexual, conventional
or incestuous) was a passion of frenzy based on pleasure bonding and
emotional dependency, an inordinate amount of semen and sperm needing
to be ejaculated especially after a few days of sexual abstinence, and
force and self-consumption in a hunger to defy aloneness in rhythmic
banging and basic hedonism.  Kazem was strong and being a force that
could reckon with the world physically, he engendered in others an
instinct rife in interpreting powerful figures such as him as a prime
breeding experience.  A kind individual could never elicit the same
response.  For Jatupon a muscular presence that could harm him oozed
not only a pheromone but triggered in him a yearning to breed with a
prime specimen who asserted his will. If he had been a woman a baby of
this kind might well be created.  It would be a baby who would become a
man well equipped to survive and be sexy enough to perpetuate another
generation of this kind and deep in the psyche of every human was that
wish to breed with the best physical specimens.
     This being "in love" was an addictive rush and despite his mental
convictions, his body craved for the beloved.  Still one night had
totally passed without him and there would be others.  The time on the
ground had been uncomfortable but he knew he could be inured to it.  He
could numb himself to survive and it wouldn't be all that bad. This
wound Kazem had given him was a blackening of perspective as well as
the eye.  It was the only gift he had really given him: the gift of
maturity.
     He did not know what he was to do with the day.  Was he to spend
the last of his baht on bags of breadcrumbs that, like an old man, he
was to spread out for his friends, the pigeons?  He paid a couple baht
at a public bathroom.  After relieving himself, he took a partial bath
by cleaning part of his upper body in a sink.  Then he went into a
booth that had a faucet, which leaked water into an Asian style toilet.
Through effort he was able to catch some of the water before it went
into this urinal that was embedded into the floor. He was able to wash
off a bit of his lower extremities by these sprinkles.  He didn't want
to splash too much water or he might be fined or arrested.
     Numb and wary how to proceed with the hours of the days, he did
not know what to do with himself or how others in his predicament
wrestled with their time.  Was he supposed to meander along with
nothing to guide his walking?  Was he supposed to follow behind those
who seemed like herds and those who seemed like flocks?  If so, he told
himself, it should be with those who were homeless. By following them
he could learn how homeless people survived best and fulfill, at least
in a minuscule way, one's innate need for society.  He felt loose and
disconcerted.  His thoughts insurrected him and it felt as if they were
towing away bits of his brain.  The post office would open in a few
hours.  He could make the long sojourn to his mailbox and see if he had
a letter from Noppawan Piggy but public transportation cost money so he
just needed to comfort himself with the ideas that she had presented to
him.  She often said that everyone from ambassadors to beggars sewed
such petty lives for themselves. At least he thought those were her
exact words. She said something to that effect.  Each time that he
tried to remember exactly what she had written to him, and what she had
spoken from the boat, it became different.  It was distorted by the
impermanent neurological circuitry of the brain (so little did one
possess himself). The world was godless, love was a selfish realm, and
from what he knew of friendship, it was with people who used each other
to grow for a certain time or share similar attitudes in the hope of
not feeling alone when going through certain stages of life.  He
wondered if even his friendship with Noppawan was evanescent as a whiff
of clouds.  Why should she write to him, he thought to himself.
     If there hadn't been a bit of a thrill in becoming independent
and killing off past associations with family, he told himself, he
would commit suicide.  He couldn't really see much point in survival
anyhow with the inevitability of death biting at one's heels.  It was
good to kill off past family associations.  His aunt, he thought, had
invited a boy of his realm into her domain only to find that he had too
many needs and wasn't worth the trouble-the dog that needed to be sent
back to the pet store.  He resented her and was pleased with his
independent stance at severing family from his mind.  He tried to
forget the comfort of sleeping in his cell and never having to worry
about having money for meals and public toilets.
     He slept intermittently on park benches throughout the day.  To
avoid hunger and thirst he took a cup he found in the trash and begged
outside the park.  He watched a blind old woman with a wooden attaché
case of lottery tickets, a jasmine rosary salesman with merchandise
looped around his arms like long bracelets who went from car to car, a
woman at a table stringing them for her own sales (even the mendicants
had to compete with each other to gain a mere sustenance), sidewalk
seamstresses with their antique foot pumped sewing machines, and a man
with a bicycle-pulled ice-cream cart who stood there scooping out a dip
for someone.   A sock salesman at his table sat on a stool with his
hand poised under his chin when the rest of his life was faltering.
They did have such petty lives.  They, no different than the rich,
consumed food and expended their kinetic energy and liquids in the
bedroom in this perennial trap that human instinct and physiognomy
concocted.  He put on his sunglasses to blind himself from the motion
around him and time became stagnant as a traffic jam he was
witnessing-the people finally oozing out of trapped busses and around
halted vehicles like leaking oil.  The hours passed somehow and again
the park closed and he slept on its fringes with many others.
     The next morning taught him that breakfast could be waived if
begging from the previous evening had not gotten him the twenty baht
required for a meal but he needed to always keep some coins in his
pockets so that he could go into a public bathroom. Around 2:00
sidewalk restaurant workers tended to need their own respite from
drudgery and a barter arrangement of a meal for an hour's work could
sustain him and keep him from having to buy food. As non-preferable as
it was, the police did not badger one if he washed away his rotting
layers of stinking skin in the polluted canals or the Chao Phraya River
so long as he entered and exited with his underwear on.  The waters did
give him a skin rash, after a few days of bathing in this manner, but
this itch around his thighs was bearable.  Lucrative ventures came
every now and then when men wanted him.  He, at such times, was
sufficiently numb and insouciant in manhood and he would go there and
serve them safely without letting the whining child within him clamor
out.  He performed, was paid, and left never combining emotions with
such a physical act.  These men would not be his deliverance.  He had
to force that idea into his head and fight off his wish for a savior.


     Within a month and a little bit of persistency against refusals,
the metropolitan authorities scheduled him for an interview as a money
taker on a city bus.  He was scheduled with a score of others despite
his age.  He might not have gotten any job at all let alone a better
one than what he was applying for had English not rescued him.  They
needed someone knowledgeable of English in the information booth in an
air-conditioned cubicle at a skytrain station.  He would not be wearing
the grungy blue suits of the money takers but white ones that looked
like a captain. The thought of it filled him with pride.
     They gave him an advance so that he could buy this clothing, rent
out a cheap room, and not fast when it came to purchasing his lunches.
They didn't give him a day off but outside of making change for the
customers that needed to be done quickly, the work was easy.  It just
required a familiarity with major landmarks around each of the stops
and that he be able to direct foreigners where they needed to go.
National holidays (when he got them) were spent in the vicarious
borrowing of a personal life from a movie at a theatre.  He didn't
really know his coworkers.  Since it was his first job, and a new one
at that, he kept quiet and focused on his work.  He looked gauche and
foolish and he worked around them trying not to get into much contact.
They gossiped about others whom he didn't know (perhaps himself as
well) and repeatedly asked how he knew English so well.  Their tones
always became more caustic in addressing him; and when it came to
justifying his knowledge of English he would always vary his answers
fictitiously so as not to feel that he was buried in a rubble of
monotony.   His introverted awkwardness was at variance with their
complacent self-assured movements, and he withdrew into a world of
shadows surreal as being sucked up into random scenes of a silent
picture show. He was friendless and alone.  Outside of Noppawan, he
couldn't even imagine anyone who really cared about him a little; but
he did not have time to go to his post office box and he feared that
she was lost to him forever.  A solitary person usually needed to
invent a commiserating individual out there even if that person did not
really care; but he did not know anyone with whom to fool himself and
he saw that despite the Noppawan Doctrine against pettiness, he was
securing a petty life for himself like everyone else and the
exhilaration from his independence was waning.
     As Vanont slipped 40 baht through the hole of the window, Jatupon
changed it, attempting to keep his eyes steady in a marginally sunken
poise of professionalism without any special recognition of the
customer wanting the change.  The old man smiled at him warmly.  "Where
have you been, my boy?" he asked.


     Nawin Biadklang: it was a label, just a simple and different group
of words in which an entire metamorphosis took place.  He was new and
glorious and the lost and forlorn being that was Jatupon had fallen
from him effortlessly like the stink of scathing skin that he had
showered away in the morning.  Nawin Biadklang stood near the
Hualampong train station, watching the mosaic of light and shadow at
his feet like a child fully in the splendor of the present moment.  He
was drinking milk at a newsstand and thinking about his recent meeting
with Piggy in the Siriaj Hospital Museum.  He had asked her to go with
him to Wonder World Amusement Park but she wanted the silence away from
the meaningless of action. He turned to the headlines of the Bangkok
Post glancing at the cacophony of human relations.
     He read that a very passive anti-war demonstration had occurred in
Pattaya.  10,000 Thai Moslems had prayed for peace.  Well, he thought,
it was certainly gentler than placards and banners outside the American
Embassy in Bangkok, equating Bush as Satan; however it was probably
less effective.  Was the God who allowed thousands of people to be
incinerated in fire and melting steel caring especially about the fate
of the Afghans from a meditation and a chant?  He thought that it was
no wonder people tried to shut out larger issues than themselves and
seek comfort in the personal domain of their petty lives.  He turned
away from the newspaper. Four filthy boys came to him forcefully.  They
wanted milk from his grocery bag.  They wanted the same as what he was
drinking while reading the horror of the daily news.  He gave part of
what he had but he didn't want to give out the rest.  He was already
becoming coarse in his luck and he knew that he was guilty for
providing them with a nominal gratuity and shooing them away.  He went
inside the building, looked for more food and magazines to take with
him on his trip, and then entered the train.

     When the train began to move he went into a corridor connecting
two cars and rinsed his face in the sink.  He looked into the mirror.
Even his reflection seemed different.  His eyebrows seemed more bristly
and masculine.  He wasn't Jatuporn any longer.  A good son must join
the monastery for a while to fulfill his mother's wish to see her son
take on such holy head-shaven rites.  A good son must fund the
livelihood of his middle-aged parents who wanted to be free from the
hardship of work. A good son must renovate and extend the house of his
elderly parents. A scenario of filial loyalty to serve the parents'
wishes abounded in Thais' simplistic notions of "good" behavior but
tragedy had freed him from it.  Then abuse disabused him of fraternal
loyalties.  Now he would be educated and find new compounds in his
sunrises and sunsets.
      A train officer asked him to get his luggage out of the way of
the aisle. Jatupon put his suitcase onto the ceiling rack and sat down
watching the scenery go by-watching Bangkok zip past him and become the
vanishing point from which something different would emerge from his
experiences at Chaing Mai International School.  He pulled the postcard
out of his pocket.  He read the words again and again, "I got them to
allow me to come to Chaing Mai.  I'll transfer there.  See you in a
week."  He smiled, slapped the postcard against his lower lip, and
watched the departure from Bangkok where the scenery became
increasingly green.


     When he came home he opened the door onto plentiful space.  His
body became stiff and cold. He needed to give directives to his legs in
order to move. The movements of his splayed legs when he walked were
like parting ice cycles even though the furnace was operating and it
was warm inside his apartment. Nearly everything movable by two hands
was gone, as well as most that would have required an additional mover.
 Only the heaviest things remained although clavicles of hangers
dangled from the bedroom closet and pots and pans were loyal and
steadfast.  The sofa remained.  It had been difficult to get in.  It
was no wonder that it hadn't been budged.  His socks and underwear had
been knocked out of the dresser before it was taken. He sighed.  His
canvases were gone and from them his new leitmotif that was maturing
beyond Patpong whores in Bangkok to something more thoughtful and
original. True, most of those canvases had been of her so she must have
thought that she was entitled to them as well. She was the model and
more who was seeking justice, he told himself, and justice was equity.
He hadn't paid her so she was seeking compensation.  All relationships
were a contract. All contracts were based upon the two parties gaining
some entitlement from the agreement. Was there nothing better than
this, he asked himself.  There wasn't.  He had thought that he was
helping her, that he was enlightening her, and that he was involved
with her. A tear rolled down his cheek.  She thought that she was
entitled to the canvasses too, he repeatedly thought.  She thought she
was entitled to it all.  Then, for a second, his attitude changed about
the stolen paintings and he was glad that, at least, she had cared
enough to take them. Then he knew that she would shake sentiment from
them no different than tossing out the contents of his clothing from
the dresser. She would sell even those portraits of herself wherever
she could.
     He backed against an empty wall and slid down it squatting like a
dog ready to defecate. Then he pulled into himself in a fetal position.
He was Jatupon in his puddle of blood yearning for the love of the
violator.  If love was mixing oneself into someone like vodka and cola,
he loved her.  If it was a child crying over the loss of his favorite
toy, he was feeling that.  Should a Thai newspaper reporter get a look
at him now, he thought, the nonchalant seducer of the souls of Patpong
girls would seem to him as a fraud.  The reporter would be
disillusioned that this young man championed for his bit of hedonism
had been an illusion.  His head throbbed.  He needed love from anyone,
sex with a stranger, anything that would stop the pain in his head.
With difficulty he slowly removed his winter coat and gloves with the
awkwardness of a child.
     Love, glue, or cocaine-it was all the same.  It was all molecules
of smell and taste.  It was a vertiginous freedom and insobriety of
action exempt of logic.  It was the personal adventure in a world of
impersonal actions.  It was admiring certain characteristics that were
lacking in oneself and it sometimes contained some degree of friendship
and caring or wanting to be cared about.  Maybe it was a vulnerability
of a human's weaker domain that wanted to merge with another being to
seem to himself as if he were less petty than what he really was or to
record himself permanently in the thoughts of another being.
     It was all gone including those canvasses on French Quebec
mannequins.  His evolution as an artist had been stunted.  He wanted to
cry but beyond that one tear there was nothing.  All he could do was
moan and pick up the telephone.  He needed a connection.  He needed
Noppawan.  Her sister answered.  "Nawin," she said nervously,  "she
moved.  She got a different teaching position.  She wanted a change.
She doesn't want to see you-I'm not really sure why and I don't think
she means it permanently.  Well, I do understand why. She's moving on.
I don't think that she sees it as much of a marriage. Surely you
understand that point. I like you but-"  He clicked off the telephone.
He couldn't help himself.  The void was sucking him into its black
hole.  He wanted to lie on his bed.  He was thankful to still have one.
 He wanted Kazem to materialize and to copulate with him on that bed.
He remembered then, long ago, having his thoughts in a black hole and
doubting if Kazem's love was real, seeing the abstraction of love in
colors and design like cubism, and how hungry he was in love with Kazem
especially when doubting that love.  Nothing had changed.  He loved
Porn and Piggy each in their own way as desperate as a clinging
salamander in the rain.
     He called Thai information.  He asked the operator to search for
Suthep, the youngest and the one closest to his sympathies. At least he
used to be. Then he had her search for Kazem and even Kumpee.   None of
the three had phone connections in their names.  His aunt, if she were
still living, would be married to someone else.  How would he be able
to find her again in this vast and mutable cosmos?  He wouldn't.  The
operator gave him the number of Amorn Tuwayanonde.  Maybe it was the
same one whom he had sometimes begged and played with as a boy-maybe
the same one who had grabbed his shoe instead of the ankle causing his
dangling body to fall from the window and into the warehouse triggering
off the burglar alarm.  He dialed the number.  A man answered.  Nawin
did not know what to say so he hung up the telephone.  The one he
really wanted to connect with was his uncle and he was dead.  And yet
they hadn't really had a relationship.  It was strange that the man had
paid for all of his tuition and stay at the international school, all
undergraduate and graduate expenses, and yet had remained a stranger.
He had been the man's son, in a way, and outside a couple times of
staying at his home, during Songkran, he had not known him.  When he
died he did not inherit anything.  He didn't even want or expect
anything.  He was grateful for the educational transformation that had
been bestowed unto him.  What happened to the man's money was anyone's
guess.
     If only he could commune with him somehow to again thank him it
would solidify a meaningful connection in his barren heart.  The cards
congratulating him on his first art exhibition at the art museum at
Silpakorn University and later, the temporary exhibit at the National
Gallery showed that he must have cared about him. He must have been
proud of him.  "Congratulations on the showing."  That was all they had
said.  Nawin guessed that the man had read about him in the newspapers
and knew of the exhibits that way. It was all strange.
     On his knees he scurried through his socks while discarding his
underwear in a pile.  Most of those socks that she had littered on the
floor were folded into each other as mates, but not all.  He felt
inside each sock and when he couldn't find anything he would throw it
into that pile like a dead fish.  Within the toes of one pair he pulled
out four plastic bags of cocaine.  It was his stash for periods of loss
and he monitored what he took according to the dictates of his third of
a teaspoon rule for self-rations.  The Nawin rule stated that once
every three months if an emergency arose requiring exhilaration or
thrust away from the void, then he might administer the prescription.
Such was his doctoral degree of addiction and from this philosophical
islet inundations from void and addiction could not take him away.  He
sat on the unmovable sofa and snorted the cocaine from one of its
wooden armrests.  He could feel it like a Thai massage over his entire
body and the insouciance it brought to his thoughts.
     He put on his winter coat and gloves and got in a taxi.  He told
the taxi driver to take him to a go-go bar called "Foxy's."  He had
been there several times before.  He watched women twisting their
bodies around poles as if each movement of being a woman was centered
on waxing the shiny phallus.  Tissue paper probably enlarged their
bosoms but he didn't care.  He would eat the juicy fruit and its
wrappings no different than any nigger his melon.  He wanted to relieve
himself in one or more of them.  Lost, he wanted to be lead by the
hallucinations of his mind.  When one who was on break said her hellos
and sat down on his lap, he put his paws on all parts of her body.  She
told him that he was a "naughty boy" and asked him where he was from.
He told her.  She said that she liked Asian men since they were so
small.  He told her that he wasn't small.  "I've seen them before.
They are itsy bitsy small." She used her fingers as a measurement.  It
wasn't what he cared to hear and although he wanted to pierce her with
his lengthy sword, he left in disgust.  He walked further down the
street to a male go-go bar that he had never been in before although
his wistful eyes had scanned it numerous times in the past month.
     When he entered young men from their angles of the platform were
pulling on their genitalia within dark frothy briefs of an opaque
translucency that made the movements of their genitalia obvious.  He
watched and waited not understanding why it was erotic.  He watched and
waited for the midnight all-legal fuck show.  He was tempted to take
these sly masturbators by force until what little was rational in his
brain contrived a belief that he was shackled against the wall waiting
to be attacked by them.  That portion of the brain said to him, "Even
if you were to get out of your shackles and fetters it would be bad
manners to attack these men before they come to attack you."  He
watched their contortionist-twisting and the surreal images on the
stage became more like flames and smoke.  The why-the reason that the
movements were erotic--eluded him.  The why-the reason-that flames and
smoke plumes made these adonises erotic in a spinning room of gnarling
metallic walls was a mystery.
     He wasn't sure if it was a dismembered part of a woman, a
transvestite, or something amorphous and alien, but lips in the sky
spoke to him.  "Do you want to take one home, honey?"
     "I want all of them," he said.  She laughed.
     "Do you have that much money?" she asked.
     "Maybe for one," he said.  "I need one to fuck me and my
girlfriend throughout the night."
     "That will be double the price, but well worth it.  We'll see to
that.  Satisfaction guaranteed. What's your girlfriend's name, honey?"
asked the lips.
     "Foxy's," he said.
     "Foxy's, like the girl go-go bar across the street?"
     "I don't know her name," he told the lips.
     "You don't know your girlfriend's name?" guffawed the lips.
     "I never checked the birth certificate."
     "Never checked the birth certificate! What a crazy mother fucker
you are!"  The lips laughed hysterically.
     "Do you have paint and canvases?"
     "Do I have what?"

     "I need paint.  I'll paint the fuck show on the walls.  I'm a
famous artist in Thailand.  Don't you know?"
     "No, is that so?"
     "I have to draw when the fuck show begins."
     The lips laughed hysterically.  She coughed from choking on her
own saliva.  "Wanting to pay in paint?" she asked.
     "Wanting to paint a fuck show," he said. He looked through her
mouth. He could see down her throat into her entrails.  Her brain was
where her stomach should have been.

     "Where to?" asked the taxi driver.  The voice again seemed like
one he could vaguely recall.  A boy who had been on top in the fuck
show (a boy 18 or 19 who was a snowman with a bit of a French
complexion) was seated next to him.  He remembered paying top Canadian
dollars for this boy.
     "Just keep going."
     "You said that 15 minutes ago but I need a destination."
     "Foxy's" he said.
     "We passed that long ago. It was right across the street from
where you were at," said the taxi driver through his gray balding scalp.
     "Okay, just take us out of the city.  Someplace rural."
     "Okay, I'm now turning on a highway going north."
     "Do you still want me with your girlfriend?" asked the boy.
     "I was going to pair you up with a girl: voyeurism.  I've had
second thoughts."  He kissed the boy on his lips.  He wanted to drain
him of all liquids including his breath.
     The boy pulled back his face to come up for breath.  "Where are
we going?"
     "I don't know, really.  Maybe we should go to a hotel.  I guess
we can't do it in the backseat here, off of a road somewhere."
     "Yeah, the back seat of a taxi thing wouldn't be too comfortable
for anyone."
     "Yeah, okay."
     "There's a sign pointing out a Best Western," he told Nawin.  "Can
you take us to that hotel?" the boy asked the taxi driver.
     "Excuse me.  Is that the decision?  Best Western?" asked the taxi
driver.
     "Yes," said Nawin.
     Turning to Nawin he interjected, "You aren't a psycho, cannibal,
or anything, are you?"
     "I'm a vegetarian," said Nawin.  He chuckled.  "Don't worry.  I
won't cut you up into pieces.  I'm harmless, and I hope the same is
true of you."
     "Sure, most of the time," said the boy as he yawned.
     "Jatupon, don't be shocked!  Look at me in the rear view mirror.
Face your fears," said the taxi driver.  Jatupon looked up.  He was
startled but he wasn't horrified.  He saw that the mosquito was in the
old man's form.
     "I made a merger," said the mosquito.  "I bought out the stock of
his blood.  With controlling stock I am the head of the company.  I
control all movements."  He laughed.  "How do I look?"
     Nawin did not know what to say.  "My God, I haven't seen you in 12
years, my boy.  You've grown up.  You have money and nice clothes.
Who'd ever think we'd meet again and in Montreal of all places."
     Nawin laughed bitterly  "Don't use that word, Jatupon, with me.
Okay?  I hate that word. You didn't need to emerge.  My lessens about
life are all my own, now."
     "Can you face life without clinging to anything?"
     "It is the way of the Buddha"
     "But is it your way?"
     "Sure, why not?  If I choose so I can do anything.  If I choose, I
can swat you out of existence."
     "The only friend you've ever had?"
     "Sure, why not?  Just like with a gnat." He slapped him on the
head and the mosquito seemed to shrink.
     "Please don't.  Who will drive you then if you get rid of me? You
killed my ancestors in your buckets of laundry soap and slapped them
into your palms like a sport. I think that is enough."
     "I can get into another cab if I choose. I can stop the coke if I
choose.  I don't need women or anybody least of all you.  But you know,
you aren't so bad.  You certainly aren't scary any longer.  Maybe I'll
let you stay."
     "Gee, thanks."  The mosquito paused for a moment.  "Why do you
have this go-go boy in here?  Who is this boy? " he asked.
     "Someone I'm ready to fuck"
     "I gathered that; and that the tenor of the conversation had
turned against back seat liaisons. I'm just puzzled by these changeable
sexual patterns, Jatupon.  Something's not right in your head."
     "Listen!  Don't use that name with me or I'll take you by the
fucking neck and smash your face against the windshield"
     "Okay, Nawin, calm down."
     "For that matter, I could roll down the window and let you fly out
and drive myself.  I have an international driver's license.  Nawin is
a big boy, now, Mosquito."  He guffawed at the pest and slapped him on
the head.   The mosquito/man hissed and stuck out its fangs.  "You
watch yourself.  You are in forces over your head.  You're not even in
control of yourself.  Why did you get married?  Why did you bring Porn
here?  Why am I and this boy with you now?  What forces drive you?"
     "Hunger."
     "Porn?"
     "Hunger."
     "Noppawan?"
     "Union."
     "Hunger again.  Hunger for stability."
     "Okay, hunger again.  Women are a turn on"
     "Are they?  And here you are with a boy, Jatupon."
     "The name's Nawin," he shouted.  Then he calmed down and laughed
at himself.  "Yeah, it's Jatupon; and you're right, here I am with a
boy."  He laughed again.  "Variety is the spice of life. That is an
American aphorism, Mosquito; and Nawin here is a full blooded American
born in the states."
     "I don't see a Best Western.  How far out on this road do you want
to go?"
     Nawin looked at the boy next to him who had fallen asleep.  "He
looks like a child-a hurt child trying in sleep to just figure out how
to make sense out of his situation, survive and not sell himself out
too fully.  I should be saving kids like this-even in Canada kids can
be trashed."
     "Will you save him before or after you fuck him?"
     "Maybe I ought to just go home.  This guy on top or bottom isn't
going to stop me from hurting or from being hungry. It just propels me
quicker to the next hunger."  He smiled.  "I think I can get a grip on
me completely.  I really do.  Having people plug up my pain is the glue
that I disgorge into my nostrils, the caulk and the repainting that
hides the broken facade.  I don't want to be a wrinkled black
thing like you and still picking up prostitutes.  Piggy had the right
idea.  I might as well start the habit sooner than later."
     "She's left you.  She's gone now."
     "It's okay. Maybe she needs some time to grow away from being a
Biadklang.  Maybe she needs to get rid of my name completely.  I can be
alone.  I need a relationship with myself anyhow.  Maybe I'll see her
again and maybe not.  Anyhow, there's some Aristotle and Plato I want
to read-a textbook on tenebrism I need to get through for my Caravaggio
class. I'll have to begin my doctoral thesis shortly."
     "Hollow ideas."
     "To the impetuousness of human feelings, hollow; but not to the
mind. There the theory of forms is sensed as eternal.  Take me home.
Drop this kid off wherever he wants first."





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