The Klong

The Routine

The Monsoon Season

One More For the Ditch

A Disappointment


The Morning After




"I think I like number thirty-two," Ty said, finally.

Alan looked down the rows, trying to find number thirty-two. It was nearly ten o' clock. He was tired and more than a little gassed, but the tank was doing a lot to perk him up. He took another sip from his bourbon and soda. "What row's she in?"

"Second row. Third from the end."

Alan checked the second row and found her. Number thirty-two was a husky girl. "Look at those arms," he said. "She'll murder you."

"Good massage," Ty said authoritatively. "See anything that turns you on?"

Alan couldn't really say that any of the girls in the tank turned him on, though he'd narrowed it down to a choice between number eight and number twenty-four. Compared with the darkened lounge on this side of the glass, the "tank" in Udorn's Holiday Bath House was bright as a hospital operating room, revealing every cut, bruise and freckle on the twenty-five or so women lounging on five rows of benches that rose level by level from the floor nearly to the ceiling. Some were reading Thai movie magazines with garish covers, some were knitting, others sewing. One group was engaged in lively conversation, seemingly in pantomime because of the thickness of the glass. Most of them looked tired. On the top row several of the girls were leaning against the wall, asleep. All were dressed in the uniform of the Holiday: a short, pink smock with gold trim and pink hot pants.

Number eight was in the fourth row reading a magazine. Maybe twenty-five, she had a pretty face with big eyes, full lips and a cute nose. He supposed she had long hair but she wore it rolled up in a bun. Average size, perfect legs, but her arms were a little too muscular, Alan thought, and she had a pronounced tummy. Number twenty-four sat in the front row and carried on a spirited conversation with two other girls. She seemed bouncy and full of life; maybe twenty-two, possibly younger than that; short and slender, almost like a doll. She let her straight, black hair hang to her waist. Not as pretty as number eight; her face was a little too full and flat and her eyes were small, but her skin was perfect, unblemished as far as he could see except for a heavy vaccination keloid on her left arm.

Ty went over to the counter and said something to the desk clerk. The man spoke into a microphone and most of the girls inside the tank looked up. Number thirty-two rose from her bench and started toward the door with a smile. Ty and the clerk sauntered over to Alan. "You make selection, sir?" the clerk asked.

Alan drained his bourbon and soda. "I think. . . Oh, number twenty-four I guess." The clerk gave a little bow and started back to the counter.

Ty searched the tank until he found number twenty-four. "She's pretty small," he said.

Alan picked up his empty glass, the half-full bottle of soda and his camouflage-cloth bottle bag. "Good massage," he said. "Want another drink before we go in?" Number twenty-four was on her way to the door of the tank. She was even smaller than he'd thought.

"Yeah, I guess so." Ty took the bottle bag, poured a generous slug of bourbon and topped it off from the bottle of Seven Up he was carrying. "If I run out I'll send somebody to find you."

"There ought to be plenty," Alan shook the bottle, poured himself another dollop of bourbon and filled the glass with soda.

Number thirty-two and number twenty-four were waiting for them at the counter. "Bath and massage. Two hours," Ty said to the clerk. "No steam."

"Yes sir," the clerk said. "Two hou, one hundreh baht." Ty fished out his wallet and laid down a red note.

"The same." Alan pulled out his own red, one-hundred-baht note.

Number thirty-two had a pack of towels and cloths over her left arm. She motioned to Ty and they started toward a door next to the bar. Number twenty-four was getting her linen from the clerk. "Sawadee, papa san," Hello, papa san. She looked Alan over candidly from the tips of his shoes to his graying hair and gazed straight into his eyes with a shrewd look. "Gib papa san numba one massage."

The doorway next to the little bar led to a long, dim hallway with doors on both sides at ten foot intervals. Alan saw Ty disappear through a door near the end of the hall. The whole place was one giant, barn-sized room cut into little cubicles with curtain walls that stopped three feet from the ceiling. All around him Alan could hear water running and splashing, giggles, flesh being thumped and slapped, and conversation whose muffled words were lost in the general background of sound.

Number twenty-four stopped at the third door on the right. "Ti ni," here, she said proudly, motioning for him to enter. "My loom." Inside, she stretched a clean sheet over a large padded leather table, hung a pair of towels over a rack on the wall, and finally, took off her smock and hung it neatly from a clothes tree in the corner, revealing a regulation Holiday-pink swim-suit bra and hot pants. She bent over the tub and began running water into it. "Papa san take off," she said in a tone of voice that implied Alan ought to be in the buff by now.

There was a small night-stand with a vase of flowers next to the table. Alan put his bottle bag and soda on it and after taking a long pull on his drink he put that down too. What the hell. Either you're going to or you're not going to. He unbuttoned his shirt and hung it on the clothes tree. As he stripped he began to notice how neat the cubicle was. Someone had taken the trouble to scrub it down regularly. There were three flower prints on the walls, and the night-stand, clothes tree, and a chair near the door were painted with bright flower designs.

"Every girl have own room?" he asked.

"Chai, my loom. I do evesing. See. . ." Number twenty-four pointed to the painted night-stand, the clothes tree, the chair. "I do with blush." She tested the water in the partially filled tub and fiddled with the taps.

"Who brought the flowers?" he asked.

"I bling. Ebely day I go market, bling flower." She paused thoughtfully. "Maybe ten, hifteen baht."

He wondered how much she got out of the five dollars he'd paid for a two-hour bath and massage. Probably not much. He was down to his shorts now and the room felt cold. He went over to the night-stand and drained his drink. The cold, powerful mixture gave him a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. "Bai hongnam," Go bathroom, he said. "Tinai?" where is it.

"Ti noon," there, she pointed toward the end of the hall. "Monee." come. "I show you." She went over to the door and opened it. Alan put his head outside and she pointed to a door at the very end of the hall.

He pulled his pants back on, slipped his shoes over his bare feet and flip-flopped to the end of the hall. The bathroom door was locked. He waited, looking down the long, dark hallway, hoping he'd be able to find the room again. He hadn't checked the number. Oh yeah. He remembered. It was the third door on the right after you came through from the lounge. What a weird experience. The bathroom door opened and two girls came out, giggled at him, and went down the hall.

When he got back to the cubicle number twenty-four was waiting and the tub was full. "Take off, papa san," she said. Reluctantly, Alan stripped and hung his pants and shorts on the clothes tree. The girl took him in from head to foot with one, not particularly curious glance. He wondered how many naked men had stood before her in this room. Hundreds at least. Thousands? "Papa san get in," she said, pointing toward the tub. He padded across the room on bare feet and lowered himself into the water while she held up his head and wedged a towel under it against the edge of the tub. The water barely covered him and it was colder than he'd have liked it to be. She took a sponge from the end of the tub, soaped it, lifted his right leg out of the water, tucked his foot under her arm and began soaping him, running the sponge along his leg with one hand and scrubbing behind it with the other. When she got to the top of the leg she flipped his penis up on his stomach and soaped his scrotum. He was glad for the booze. It was helping him keep control. She put his right leg back down in the water, rinsed the sponge, soaped it again, lifted his left leg and repeated the operation. This time when she came to his crotch she didn't have to repeat the flip. As far as he could tell she didn't even notice.

"Water not too hot, papa san?" she asked.

"Mai," No. "Maybe a little too cold."

"Mai, papa san. Not too cold." That was that, he guessed. She scrubbed his neck and shoulders, then his chest and under his arms, stopped, rinsed the sponge, re-soaped it and began working over his genitals. When she was through he felt like a submarine with its periscope up.

"Papa san turn over." She waved both hands toward his side and he began to get on his stomach. "Mai, papa san." She wanted him on his side. He rolled over and lay there while she did his backside with searching thoroughness. "Okay." She motioned him onto his back again, went to the end of the tub, lifted his right leg and scrubbed his foot. Of course! The feet last since to the Thai, feet are the lowest, most despicable part of the body. How strange, he thought, watching her over the top of his periscope. What a difference in attitude.

When she'd finished his left foot she pulled the plug on the tub and the not-warm-enough-but-still-better-than-nothing water began to run out. He could feel goose bumps rising on his arms and legs. "Papa san cold?" she asked.

"Nitnoy," a little, he confessed. That was a lie. He was more than a little cold, but at least it was down periscope. Every curse had its corresponding blessing.

"Dyelcon." Wait. She adjusted the faucets again, flipped a handle that brought the hand-spray to life, and played the warm spray over him as the water ran out of the tub. He began to feel drowsy. When the water was gone she got him on his side and rinsed the tub, then she rinsed him with the spray and her hand. Finally she put him on his back again and rinsed his penis with more than usual vigor, bringing it back to half-mast.

"Papa san get out." He stepped out of the tub and she began drying him with a large, fluffy towel, taking extra pains around his genitals and getting the desired response. When she'd finished drying his feet she said: "Papa san get on table." He jumped up and sat on the edge, not wanting to lie down with his flagpole in the air until it was absolutely necessary. She was washing out the tub with the hand spray and sponge. He hugged his anterior extremity with his legs, trying to keep it hidden but not having much luck.

There was a knock at the door. Number thirty-two poked her head in and dispassionately gave him the once over. "You fend want whiskey."

He considered telling her to get it herself so he could stay on the table. Oh what the hell. He jumped down, letting everything hang out, and went to the night-stand. With number thirty-two close beside him he poured Ty half a glass of booze. Number thirty-two took it and left without a backward glance. He poured some for himself, dumped in the last of the soda, and took a long drink. His erection was beginning to subside and his self-consciousness was going down with it.

"Papa san get on table." Number twenty-four was ignoring the interruption. He hiked himself up and lay down, closed his eyes for a moment and nearly drifted off. Woops, none of that. He pried his eyes open and for the first time noticed there was a mirror hung above the table on long chains. He looked at himself in it. Not bad for forty-two. He'd have to work on the little pot but outside of that he was holding up well. He reached for his drink on the night-stand and almost hit number twenty-four. She straightened up with a can of baby powder in her hand. "Papa san want powder?"

"Chai," Okay, he said. Why not? She went to the corner of the room, dimmed the lights, came back to the table, and began sprinkling powder on his chest, stomach and legs, smoothing it out with her free hand. He was composed enough or drunk enough that her touch didn't arouse him. She went to the bottom of the table, poured some of the powder into her hand and began massaging his right foot, flexing his toes. Incredible how powerful her hands were. He raised his head slightly and watched her arms. She ought to be built like an ox to have that much strength. He could see the muscles moving in her upper arms, but the arms were slender and she was very small. She finished his toes by jerking each one in turn, making the joints pop. At the first pop he nearly jumped off the table, but since it didn't hurt he lay back again. After she'd finished his left toes she put one hand on each foot and bent both of them upward, stopping just a fraction of a second after it became acutely painful. He concentrated hard on relaxing. She moved up and began working on his calves, digging her fingers into them with an iron grip that made him wince.

"Papa san lest," she said. "Not hurt." He concentrated harder on relaxing. After she'd finished his calves she started on his upper legs, working the tendons and muscles, staying strictly away from his groin. When she'd finished the kneading she worked up and down his upper legs with loud chops, using the sides of both hands. He really was beginning to relax now and the kneading and pummeling were starting to feel good. Finished with his legs, she moved up to his arms and hands, working them in the same way she'd worked his legs. "Papa san turn over." He flipped over and folded his arms under his cheek, watching her. "Mai." No. She fished his arms from under his head and smoothed them out along his sides. He let his cheek down onto the table. The smell of baby powder was overpowering. The can was directly in front of his eyes on the night-stand. "Johnson's," it said.

She worked over the backs of his legs and arms with more two-handed chops, and then stopped. He twisted his head around to see what she was doing, almost breaking his neck in the effort. She was climbing up on the table! She took hold of both of his legs, crossed them slightly, leaned forward and bent them nearly down to his butt. It hurt. He was glad he was more or less double-jointed. She took hold of his arms, crossed them at the wrists, held them up away from his body and leaned back, lifting his head and torso off the table. Fantastic, he thought. She doesn't look as if she'd weigh eighty pounds but she must weigh a lot more than that to be able to do this.

When she'd finished pounding his back muscles she straightened up on her haunches. "Papa san turn over." He was beginning to feel like a chicken on a spit. He rolled onto his back and she started working his legs again, this time pressing hard, leaning into her hands as though she were doing artificial respiration. When she got to the tops of his legs she put one hand inside each thigh and leaned down hard, holding the pressure. Her head was below her shoulders and she was staring straight at his crotch. The shades behind her eyes were down and her face was impenetrable. In a moment he felt an involuntary stirring and realized he was getting an erection. The pressure must be blocking the veins that drained his groin. She repeated the whole operation, beginning low on his legs and ending with the long pause below his crotch. After the third pass his mast was up again as far as it would go.

She retreated to the end of the table and stood up. "Papa san turn over." This was going to be tricky. With a good deal of fiddling around he contrived to get on his stomach without rupturing himself. The problem was going away rapidly he noticed. Evidently an erection induced by purely mechanical means wasn't a long-lasting phenomenon. She stooped over, carefully arranged the angle of his feet and stepped up on his right leg. She side-stepped all the way up the back of that leg and then switched to his left, repeating the operation. This time she kept going, standing on his rump for a moment, an operation which by now was physiologically safe and which he found stimulating, and continued up his spine to his shoulders. She pranced around on his back for several minutes, occasionally squeezing the wind out of him with a whoosh. She wasn't as heavy as he'd supposed when she'd lifted his torso off the table, but she was solid as a rock and heavy for her size and build. He decided he liked having a young girl running around on his back.

She jumped down from the table and worked over his back with side-handed chops; got him on his back again and worked over the fronts of his arms and legs. When she'd finished she took a towel off the rack, got a jar of something out of the night-stand and stood beside him holding the towel and jar. "Hand job?" she asked.

He'd known something like this was coming. "No," he said, pointing. "See. He's asleep."

"No saleep," she said in a positive tone of voice. "Can wake him up lao lao," quickly.

From his earlier performance it was clear she was right. "No," he said. "Have girl tonight wait when I go bungalow."

"Ching ching?" No kidding? "Papa san hab tealock," sweetheart "bungalow?"

"Chai," Right, he lied. "Have tealock - pretty girl."

"Where you stay bungalow?" He felt that somehow he wasn't really convincing her.

"Stay base," he said. "Have trailer."

"Papa san hab tealock camp?" He saw she wasn't so much doubting as confused. "Tealock wait you now?"

"Chai." At least the conversation had been steered deftly away from hand jobs.

She put the jar away, hung up the towel and began kneading her hips and doing back bends. "Do seben massage today, papa san. Tired mak mak."

What a way to make a living. "Okay," he said. "You rest now."

"Khawp khoon mak, ka," Thank you very much, sir, she said, and was on the table beside him like a puppy practically before he could make room for her. Her breath smelled of fish and strange spices but he decided it wasn't really an unpleasant smell. He looked up at the mirror. She lay on her back and he lay on his side. Both of them were slender. She was more than a head shorter than he, and in the flat perspective of the mirror her body was outlined by two classically feminine sweeping curves, hips wide but not too wide, shoulders straight. Her eyes were half closed. Her thick lashes shadowed her cheeks and gave her a smoky look. He wondered what she'd do if he reached under her back and unsnapped her bra. The idea stirred him. Number twenty-four's eyes opened wider. "See," she said. "He not saleep."

Suddenly a bell struck a single note. She was up from the table in a flash, all business. "Finit massage," she said in a sweet voice. She began gathering up towels. "Papa san put on." She gestured toward the clothes tree. He got down and she whipped the sheet off the table and used it to bundle up the towels.

When they both were ready to go he took out his wallet and gave her a hundred baht note. "For flower tomorrow," he said, nodding toward the night-stand.

"Khawp khoon, ka." Thank you, sir. She folded the note, put her hands together in front of her face and bowed in a wai. When she straightened she looked him up and down, much more curious now that he was dressed. "Papa san numba one poochai." Number one man. "Papa san mak mak handsome. Sink many pooying" women "lub papa san. Papa san hab numba one tealock wait him bungalow."

Suddenly he was ashamed of his lie. "I liked your massage," he said slowly. "I will come back again." He wasn't sure she'd understand straight English but he didn't feel Pidgin was appropriate to express what he wanted to say.

"Dee mak, papa san." Very good. Her eyes lit up. "When you come?"

"I don't know," he realized he probably was lying again. "Someday."

Ty was sitting in the lounge drinking straight Seven out of his half-empty bottle. "How was it?" he asked, watching number twenty-four walk off toward the tank.

"It had its ups and downs."

"Yeah," Ty agreed. "I know what you mean."

Number twenty-four sat down in the front row of the tank and immediately picked up her conversation with the other girls. Alan unzipped his bottle bag. He felt alive all over. "One for the road?" he asked Ty.




Sunday Morning


Sawadee (Hello)

The Island Paradise

The Drunk

The Christmas Season

Sawadee (Goodbye)