Only five days to go and I will have completed my first full month of sobriety for a very long time, and the way I am feeling at the moment, I see no problems in passing that mark with flying colours. There have been odd occasions when I have felt like a drink, but they have been few and far between and they seem to be getting rarer as time goes on.
I was watching some rubbish on TV last night and was contemplating on my present state of mind and health, now I am 26 days clean of alcohol. My physical state is not particular brilliant. I am still clearly very unfit, overweight and I do find it difficult to stir myself to do much about it.
I am still sleeping about 9-10 hours per night, and I find great difficulty in stirring much before 10 o’clock in the morning which I mainly put down to the side effects of my anti-depressants. This seems to be borne out by the fact that I often seem to be at my brightest late in the evening, when the effects of the previous day’s antidepressant are presumably at their lowest, and the new tablet has yet to take full effect. I did try to cut back on the medication but for some reason I gave that up after a short while. Maybe I should reconsider this option as I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in ‘zombie-land’.
I started to take evening walks around the lake with my dogs, but haven’t been doing it lately as I have just felt too lazy and I have used the excuse that my golden retriever, Cookie, has been lame. Yes it’s a ‘lame excuse’ indeed! I could have easily taken a walk without her.
But in other ways, by my standards, I have achieved quite a lot so far in 2011. I have made a good start on my novel and have written over 35,000 words. I have sorted out all my personal paper work and set up a new filing system. I have completed my long delayed tax returns. I have sent off an application to get my state pension activated later this year. I have also reviewed my financial situation and had a good meeting with my investment adviser in which we have agreed a new way forward. I have re-marketed my house to a new agent, but much more effort needs to be put into this part of my life.
As far as my lifestyle is concerned, well I can confirm that my visits to bars during the past month have been few and far between and have been mainly confined to a single Saturday afternoon per week when I catch up with one of my few remaining friends. For the rest of the time, I have been with my darling little Noo and we are trying to settle down to a life together. We do many things together, including watching TV, playing on our computers, cooking, going shopping and of course we took a long three day trip to Noo’s home province, Non Khai, where we had an enjoyable time and I met her family. I cannot claim that I have been ecstatically happy, but neither have I been particularly down or depressed. I have to keep working at this and am hopeful that life will gradually become more satisfying and fulfilling.
On the medical front: I have seen my diabetic specialist and had a full blood biochemistry run, I have seen my prostate specialist and had an update on my enlarged prostate condition, I have had my teeth cleaned and have made a huge effort to get my gums back to a healthy condition. I have yet to see an eye specialist to check on my glaucoma and, critically I have yet to see my coronary specialist to ascertain the current state of my heart. An appointment is scheduled for next month.
So I think I can congratulate myself at my personal achievements during the last month, but acknowledge that there is still much to do. One thing I know, with unerring certainty, is that very little of the forgoing could have been achieved if I had been drinking. Of equal importance is the fact that I could have never stayed away from the demon booze without the love and devotion of my dear little Noo, to whom I will be eternally grateful and to whom I already owe so much.
So I think I’ll give myself a 7 out of 10 and Noo a 10 out of 10.
The Alcoholics Anonymous organisation states that it takes a full year before a long term alcoholic can be totally free of booze and be capable of making life changing decisions. Well, I don’t know about life changing decisions, except perhaps the crucial decision to stop drinking, to stay away from bars and to carve out a relationship with a new lady, but in other ways I am thinking there might be something in it.
Yesterday, I was contemplating my current state of mind and concluded that I am still quite a long way from being a normal, well- adjusted person. Maybe I never will be – maybe I never was – but I hope that over time I can become more ‘normal’ than I am at the moment.
So why am not normal? Well for starters, as already stated, I walk around like a zombie for half the time and the cause of this is my anti-depressant medication. The fact that I take them at all means that I am not normal, and although I am in no particular hurry, I do look forward to the time when I can get through the day without resorting to antidepressants to keep me from the proverbial razor blade. Then there is my laziness, lethargy I suppose and in spite of my medication, there are still days when I feel quite ‘down’ and I still wonder what I am doing with my life and if I will ever achieve any measure of real happiness?
I can also be very moody – grumpy really. I know this is a common affliction of men as they reach their dotage, but it doesn’t make it right. I am grumpy with myself, I am especially grumpy with poor little Noo and have even been grumpy with house guests. I am fully aware of my bad moods, hate myself for it and feel really remorseful afterwards. I seem to get them mainly in the morning when I am still fighting the effects of my meds, so maybe if and when I cut back on them, my morning moods will improve. I am so lucky to have Noo as she never gets upset or angry with me. She just stays silent and by now she no doubt realised that if I have been particularly grumpy at her, then as my mood changes, I will apologise to her.
Last night as I watched TV, I realised how close my emotions were to the surface. Almost any silly event in a movie or TV series is enough to set my tear ducts off and if it is a ‘weepy’ movie, I have used up a box of tissues before the movie is over. I was watching the new series of ‘American Idol’ last – I know its all rubbish, but I love it – and the programmes were full of all these idiots doing auditions in front of celebrity judges. Every time a would-be ‘idol’ had a hard luck story on their way to the audition, I found myself empathising and crying along with them. I never used to be like this and can only conclude that this is a side effect of getting my brain to work normally again, after so many years of abuse.
Anyway, it’s onwards and upwards and I have much to do over the coming months if I am to achieve my personal, 2011 goals. At the top of the list is the need for me to regain some degree of fitness and lose between 5 -10 kilos in weight before I go to England in August to attend my daughter’s wedding and visit with my family. Of course I must continue to keep away from the booze, try to cement my relationship with Noo and complete my novel. Another urgent task is for me to redouble my effort to try and find a buyer for the marital home, for it is only after this has been sold that I will truly be able to put the past behind me and forge a new life with Noo.
A new item on the agenda for 2011 is to get back into my charity work – long since abandoned – with the Mercy Kids mission here in Pattaya. I will wait until I’m totally confident that I am not going to fall off the wagon, before making contact to see what I can do. Maybe around March or April will be the right time to think seriously about this.
I might even lash out and buy myself a new camera to replace my stolen Canon. I can’t really get used to mobile phone cameras; to me they are a very poor alternative to the real thing – but I don’t have to spend a fortune as there are some very good compacts out there at very reasonable prices. Also, I believe I have previously blogged that my external hard disk that contains all my pics from day one, has failed. After trying a number of suggestions on data recovery, I am now left with the stark reality that the only way I will be able to recover them will be to send the disk to a disk recovery service, which will be pretty expensive. But I do enjoy taking and collating the photos which represent a pictorial history of my life and times, so maybe I’ll just’ bite the bullet’ and do it.
I am publishing Chapter 4 of my novel today. It has been completed earlier than I thought, mainly because it is quite a bit shorter than I had envisaged. I have not cut anything or changed the structure of the chapter; it’s just that when I got into the ‘nitty-gritty’ of the writing, I realised that the content would be much less than my previous 3 chapters,. So here it is, all 5,800 odd words of it.
Bobby and Na looked on, transfixed, as the smoke and dust started to clear from the scene of the accident and the full extent of the carnage became clearer.
The two parked cars that the BMW had careered into looked as though they had been ripped open by a giant can opener. The passenger- carrying pickup truck was lying on its side; with its driver’s cab partly caved in and although they could see that the driver was still at the wheel, it was impossible to know for sure if he was alive or dead. They turned their attention to the beamer. The front end and nearside was so badly mangled that it was difficult to imagine that it could ever be brought back to its former glory.
There was still an eerie silence. The one -way the traffic behind the scene of the accident had come to a halt and most of the drivers had cut their engines and were climbing out of their vehicles to get a closer look at the horrific scene ahead.
Suddenly, the uneasy peace was broken by the scream of one of the pick-up truck’s passengers, who yelled out in agony. It was a young lady, lying on her back in the middle of the road with her legs spayed out at an unusual angle. But it was her head that drew the onlookers’ compulsive attention. It was dripping with blood from a nasty gash on the side of her forehead and the poor girl was clearly in a very bad state.
It was as though the lady’s screams of pain was a signal for a general commotion to begin. Other passengers – those who weren’t already dead or dying – started shouting; countless people started to stream out of the bars, shops, restaurants and backed up vehicles, to invade the scene of the accident and see what could be done to help the injured.
Bobby, still single-minded in his determination to confirm his suspicion that it was Toby who was the perpetrator of this nightmare, peered through the darkened windscreen of the BMW, while Na joined her fellow Thais in trying to do what she could for the wounded. They were trying to make them more comfortable, covering them with jackets and makeshift sheets that the people living and working nearby had quickly rustled up and donated to the victims.
Bobby had forgotten about his whore, and Na had forgotten that she was hungry. The shock of what had happened in front of them had jolted them to their very core, especially as they were both almost certain as to the identity of the person who had caused this terrible mess.
Two Thai men, both motorcycle taxi drivers, tried to open the front doors of the BMW, without success. Both doors were locked and wouldn’t budge. Bobby joined them and peered inside. He could make out the sight of a farang inside, his head lying at an odd angle against a now partly deflated air bag. He was clearly unconscious, and as he looked closer, Bobby confirmed his suspicions.
The driver was indeed Toby. The height of his earlier fury had now abated, but he was still very angry.
‘You mother fucking bastard!! You cunt… you drunken cunt….’ He yelled. ‘Wake up, you fucking cunt!’
One of the Thais tried smashing the side window with a brick he found on the kerbside, but it didn’t even crack. By now, something akin to a lynch mob had surrounded the car and they were all trying in different ways to smash their way in, but the doughty beamer was having none of it.
Inside the car, Toby was slowly regaining consciousness. At first he didn’t know where he was; he just felt some sharp stabs of pain in his legs, arms and face. As he came to and opened his eyes, he looked at the airbag and realised he was in his car and that he had been in bad accident. But he had absolutely no recollection of what had happened. Through his pain he tried to think back. His memory started working. The last thing he remembered was walking along beach road, very drunk and looking for a friendly whore who might agree to go home with him. ‘What was he doing in his car? How had he had an accident? He couldn’t remember a thing after that drunken stagger along the beach. Where the fuck was he?’
Then he looked at the screaming Thais who had surrounded his car and were shouting and gesticulating at him. What were they shouting? He couldn’t make it out. He closed his eyes momentarily in a futile effort to force his brain to work a bit better. But nothing was coming, and to make matters worse, he was still very drunk – that was all his addled brain was able to register. Then he opened them again.
‘They don’t look very friendly’, he thought to himself, as he finally realised they were screaming at him to unlock the door.
He reached out to release the door lock before quickly thinking better of it.
‘This might not be a very good idea,’ he told himself. ‘Those people look like they want to string me up!’
He removed his hand from the side of the door and sank back down into his seat, which provoked an even louder hullabaloo from the angry crowd outside. His aches and pains were suddenly forgotten; he started in panic when he saw the crowd, yet again, trying to break the windscreen with stones they had found nearby.
‘Jesus fucking Christ! They really mean to have me!’ he said under his breath.
Toby was on the point of literally ‘shitting’ himself when he caught the sight of two Thai men in police uniform, who were trying to force their way through the crowd to the side of the car. Never in his life had Toby been so happy to see the sight of two Thai cops. He watched as the two men broke their way through and came alongside the driver’s window, angrily gesturing to him to unlock the door.
‘Will I be safe?’ he asked himself.
He soon realised that if he didn’t do as he was asked, sooner or later they would succeed in breaking in, so with much apprehension he flipped the lock and the door was immediately swung wide open.
The pains from his injuries returned with a vengeance as the two cops dragged him out of the car. He managed to stand upright and for some unaccountable reason, the crowd backed away – staring at this farang who had caused all this death and destruction.
Toby looked a mess. Some of his long, thin, blood-caked hair had stuck to his face; there was a nasty gash on his temple; he had several days’ growth of a stubbly, ungainly beard on his chin and his dirty, beer-stained, white shirt was also splattered with his own blood. The shirt was partly unbuttoned, revealing his sweaty, potbellied stomach. Further down, his jeans were in a positively filthy, wrinkled state, looking as though they had been slept in for the past week. To complete the picture, he had a single flip flop attached to his left foot, but his right foot was bare, showing a dirty, smelly extremity with black, broken toe nails.
He looked at the scene in front of him. Despite the fact that he was still very drunk, the terrible realisation of what he must have done started to dawn on him. He looked around , blinking his eyes in disbelief as he took in the sight of the four wrecked vehicles and the plight of the wounded and dying who were scattered all over the road.
‘My God!’ he muttered, ‘Holy fucking God! What the fuck have I done?’
The sound of a siren pierced the air. Two Sawang Boriboon ambulances were fast approaching the scene of the accident, driving the ‘wrong way’ along the one way road. It was the only way to get through, as by now, the road behind the accident had backed up for several kilometres, but in front, the road was virtually empty, except for these two ambulances that had by now arrived and were parking up alongside a police truck which had arrived moments earlier.
Toby watched as the two ambulances parked up and the drivers and medics ran over to the scene. He knew how the so-called Sawang Boriboon Foundation operated. The ambulances were little more than glorified ‘pick-ups’ and were privately owned by an organisation who received ‘commissions’ from local hospitals for bringing the sick and injured to their doors for treatment. The more expensive the hospital, the greater the commission, but they had to make sure that the ‘victims’ had the ability to pay, or they would be refused admission and the ambulance workers would get nothing for their trouble.
The medics from one of the ambulances immediately started treating the injured passengers from the pick-up truck and two men from the second ambulance approached Toby to see what they could do. They had seen the BMW with its farang driver and immediately surmised that there would be an excellent commission in this if they could get him to the expensive Bangkok Pattaya hospital.
Toby breathed a sigh of relief as soon as he saw the medics approaching him.
‘This is a stroke of luck,’ he thought.
Despite the presence of the two policemen, he was still in imminent danger of the situation getting out of control. The Thai spectators were looking at him in a hostile manner and he spoke enough Thai to know that they were very angry with him. It was by no means impossible that the crowd would attack him and even kill him. It had happened before.
He was thinking that he could persuade the medics to take him to one of the cheaper hospitals – for he knew he couldn’t afford the Bangkok Pattaya – he was pretty much broke. He was starting to suspect that his injuries were more serious than they looked and it was thanks to the fact that he was still only partially awake and still very drunk, that he was able tolerate the pain. He had to get out of there and into the emergency department of a hospital as soon as possible; these medics were the very people who could whisk him away and forestall any attempts by the crowd to turn into a lynch mob.
But the decision was taken out of his hands, as the two policemen, who were now holding onto Toby to stop him from collapsing, were having none of it. As far as they were concerned, they had arrested the drunken perpetrator of this criminal act and they were going to take him to Pattaya police station, just around the corner, so that he could be formerly charged and locked up. It would be up to their boss to decide whether to send him to hospital later.
Toby tried to object, but the cops didn’t care about his injuries and told the ambulance men to attend to the remaining Thais lying on the road, who were still awaiting treatment.
Toby tried again in drunken, bad Thai to persuade his captors to let him go in the ambulance, when Na, who was standing nearby and watching the proceedings with interest, decided to intercede. She pushed forward, towards the policemen. Toby looked at her, recognition dawning. He smiled a weak smile of relief at the familiar face, even though he vaguely recollected that the last time they had met, they had departed on very bad terms.
But, he thought, ‘any straw in the wind’.
He decided that the arrival of Na must be a lucky break. Yes, his luck was definitely in, now he would have someone to help him. He tried to listen as Na, spoke to the police is fast, angry Thai, but he couldn’t make out what she was saying.
He turned to her in desperation: ‘Na, thank God you are here. Please tell these cops to release me; to let me go to hospital. I am badly injured – I need treatment. I won’t run away. I promise…..’
Toby fumbled in his pocket and produced a plastic, laminated copy of his passport. ‘Here give them this…….’
Na looked at Toby’s pathetic, drunken face and the stupid plastic card that he held out to her. She took it, gave it a cursory glance and threw it onto the ground in front of him.
‘Help you?’ Why the fuck should I help you?’ she snarled at him. ‘You never did anything for me – you drunken bastard! Look at what you’ve done now!’ she shouted, waving her arms at the scene in front of them.
‘You can’t get away it, not this time, Toby. I’ve told the cops to put you in cook and throw away the key. I hope you fucking die!!’
Toby was bewildered as Na’ stinging remarks sunk into his alcohol-sodden brain. ‘Why would she do that? We used to be friends….’ he thought to himself.
The two policemen wasted no time in dragging Toby to the waiting police pick-up truck where they half carried and half threw him into the back. He lay there, in agony, knowing without doubt that he was in the worst trouble of his life. How the fuck was he going to get of this? He lay there for a few minutes while the police took notes and chatted to some more cops who had now arrived at the scene.
He was in serious shit and God knows who was going to get him out of this when he heard a voice, shouting to him in English. His heart missed a beat. That sounded like a farang – a farang who actually knew him. He tried to lift his head from the floor of the pick-up and looked outside. Then, miraculously, he heard the sound of someone shouting his name.
‘Toby! Toby! Are you still alive?’
Toby peered out again.
‘My God! It was Bobby. Crazy -Yankee – Bobby! The sober alcoholic! What the fuck was he doing here? He hadn’t seen him in months.
‘Bobby,’ he shouted, ‘is that you?’
‘Yes, you fucker, it’s me – Bobby!’
‘Bobby, thank God you’re here. I’ve had a bad accident – I’m injured, but these fucking cops won’t let me go to hospital to get fixed up. I’m in serious trouble, Bobby. They’re taking me to the police station – it’s only just round the corner. Can you meet me there? Maybe you can get hold of Ying for me? Anyway mate, see what you can do, please?
Bobby looked in at the drunken pathetic slob that used to be his friend – before they had a mega falling out many months ago.
‘Meet you there? See what I can do? Mate? You must be fucking crazy! The last time I saw you, mate, I warned you to never drink and never, ever to drink-drive again…. Now look what you’ve done! I hope you rot in jail, you stupid motherfucker….!’
Bobby spat into the road in front of him and stormed off into the crowd to find his lady. But the traumatic events of the night had taken their toll on the nerves of many of the onlookers and Bobby’s ‘lady’ had long since melted into the crowd and wandered back to the beach in search of more peaceful pursuits.
When Bobby realised that his lady had gone, for the second time that night he found that he couldn’t control his temper.
‘That fucking Toby – he has a fucking, drunk accident – kills and maims I don’t know how many Thais and now my fucking lady has walked out on me – all because of fucking Toby!
Well fuck her and double fuck you – Toby!!! I hope you fucking die a slow, painful death in a fucking Thai jail……’
It had been a slow night in the Pattaya nick for Police Lieutenant Somkid and Station Sergeant Thongbow. There had been a few drunken farangs early on in the evening who had been fairly generous when they had been obliged to make some kind donations to the police exchequer, but since then, almost nothing.
Just the slow drip feed of 200- 400 Baht bungs that had been obtained from farang and Thai motorcyclists alike, who had been stopped at various police traps set up throughout the city to extract ‘fines’ from unsuspecting motorcyclists. Anything from failure to wear a crash helmet, to failure to produce required vehicle documents, or, when all else failed, failure to drive their bikes in accordance with Thai road traffic regulations would result in a small, off-the-record fine. But this paltry, unofficial police income had to be shared between the entire Pattaya police force, and even on a good night, it barely provided each cop with the price of a decent meal, let alone assist them in making a finance payments on their cars, or fund a good night out at one of the local karaoke bars.
Occasionally, drugs would be found in the belongings of a motorcyclist and this would double, treble, or in the case of a farang, produce ten-times the normal ‘bung’ for the police benevolent fund. On a slow night, the cops weren’t even averse to planting the odd yaba tablet – especially on farangs, to augment their meagre night’s takings, but in all cases involving drugs, they had to tread a fine line, as they didn’t want to upset their own ‘sponsored’ drug dealers who were allowed to travel the city with complete immunity.
The young Police Lieutenant was thinking dejectedly about the seemingly never ending drop in police ‘income’ from ‘Walking Street’, the long pedestrian thoroughfare, jam- packed with go-go bars, massage parlours and other sex establishments located in the very heart of Pattaya’s red light district. The recent riots in Bangkok and the world recession, together with the strengthening of the Thai baht had caused all but the most hardened of farang sex tourists to stay at home or find cheaper, safer places to indulge their perverted sexual pleasures.
Even the income from a hitherto inexhaustible supply of naive, farang bar owners was drying up, as many of them had run out of money. They had either sold up or disappeared, leaving Thais in their place who had little or no money to pay off the cops for perceived breeches of the law, such as illegal late closing or employing underage girls – or boys.
Then, to top it all, the fucking Bangkok cops had ‘invaded their turf’. They had descended on Walking Street and the surrounding sois, closing down everything in sight; extracting ‘on the spot fines’ from anyone who, in their wisdom, they decided had money to pay – bar owners, bar staff, tourists, anyone.
This massive raid had occurred the previous weekend and had upset the whole community; from the tourists to the bar owners to the shopkeepers to the hotel owners and of course, the local police. The police co-existed with the local community with a tacit understanding on how each party would behave , what laws could be broken and how much had to be paid in order to be ‘left alone’. Now this delicate balance in the finances of the community had been upset by the fucking bastards from Bangkok. As a direct result of this raid, the bar owners had no money left to pay the Pattaya police and the police had no money to finance their lifestyles.
Somkid’s immediate boss, Police Captain Chamlong and the ‘big’ boss, Police Colonel Aroon, had been furious and had vowed revenge on the bastards from Bangkok. But he knew that the police forces throughout Thailand were hurting. The political riots and drop in tourist numbers were affecting everyone, and in normal circumstances the Bangkok cops would never have dared to muscle in on Pattaya’s turf. They were clearly desperate – as was the handsome young lieutenant Somkid, whose debts were mounting by the day.
These thoughts were still running though his mind as he spotted one of his police vehicles park up in the station car park, just off Beach Road. He watched as two of his constables climbed out and walked round to the back of the vehicle where they were now trying to drag out a half conscious farang . His sergeant had told him a few minutes earlier that there had been a bad pile up on the adjacent second road, just behind the police station, and had dispatched a couple of police trucks out to get the road cleared; but at this late hour of the morning, he assumed that the accident would have involved purely Thai drivers and he wasn’t expecting anything too much, in the way of ‘income’ from it.
But now they were dragging this injured, elderly farang into the station and his interest picked up. Maybe this farang had some money – maybe a lot of money. There was a twinkle in his eye and the makings of a smile on his lips as his two constables succeeded in getting the farang into the station where they dumped him into a chair, opposite the long counter where the eager Lieutenant was now sitting.
Toby was in agony. The shock of what had been happening was rapidly sobering him and he was feeling the pain from his injuries more and more. The journey in the police truck had been mercifully short, but long enough to shake him and send him flying onto one side of the truck when the driver had taken the left turn into Beach Road at speed. When they had arrived, he couldn’t move and the two officers had to lift him out of the back where his legs dropped onto the ground, jarring his injuries yet again. They then dragged him with his toes and tops of his feet rubbing along the ground, scraping off the top of his skin as they did so. He was grateful to be at long last in a chair where he could rest his badly injured body.
The two constables quickly briefed the Lieutenant on the background of the accident, and although Toby could only understand a little of what was being said, he did catch the words ‘BM’ and saw a smile appear on the face of the Lieutenant. When the three had stopped conversing, Somkid looked at Toby, and spoke to him in English.
Toby replied in Thai. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have my passport with me – it’s at home.’
He rifled in his pocket for the small, laminated copy he always carried with him. Then he remembered. He had given it to Na but she had thrown it on the ground.
‘My God! What do I do now?’ he wondered.
He was trying to explain to the officer that someone had thrown his ID away, when one of the constables put his hand in his back pocket and produced the missing piece of plastic and handed it over to his superior.
‘I found it on the ground next to him.’ He said in Thai. ‘He must have been too drunk to know he had thrown it away,’ he added, laughing.
Toby received a sigh of relief at the sight of his ‘ID’ and made a grab for it, but Somkid was having none of it.’
‘No! I keep this!’ he snapped at Toby in English.
He looked at Toby, trying to assess the man and determine how much he might be worth.
Driving licence!’ he shouted.
‘I – I haven’t got it. I lost it a few months ago.’
In truth, Toby had lost it one drunken night over a year ago and wasn’t even sure if it was still valid. He had told himself over and over again to sort it out and get a replacement, but his drinking always took precedence and he hadn’t yet bothered to get round to it.
‘Toby! You in big trouble!’
He knew that.
‘You drunk! You have bad accident! You kill Thai people! You go to jail for long time – very long time…..’
Toby looked at the officer. He didn’t know what to say.
After a few moments of silence, the officer continued.
‘Toby! You married? You have Thai wife?’
‘Yes, I have Thai wife,’ he replied.
‘OK, you call her. Tell her to come here. I want talk with her.’
Toby felt in jeans pocket and breathed a sigh of relief when he found his mobile phone. He pulled it out and it was still on. He looked at his phone, and was on the point of calling Ying, when he thought better of it. He looked at the officer.
‘I – I’m sorry. We not live together. She – she won’t answer my call. I know she won’t.’
‘Why? Why she not answer?
‘Because she hates me’ She won’t come here – I am sure!’
Somkid thought for a few moments. He would never tell a farang that he wanted money, a bribe. It had to be done through a third person – a Thai. He knew how to speak to a Thai – using certain ‘code words’ that indicated that money might solve a particular problem, without completely incriminating himself. It was the way it was always done. If Toby was a Thai, he could talk the ‘coded’ talk, but to a farang, in English? Never. He had to talk to his wife or to a Thai friend. He looked back at Toby.
‘This man must have money’, he thought, ‘He was driving a BM, wasn’t he?’
He leaned across to Toby. ‘Your phone. Give me your phone!’
Toby did as he was bid.
‘Your wife name? What her name?’
Toby told him Ying’s number, one of the few that he knew by heart, but with little hope that his wife would answer a call from his number.
Somkid dialled the number, waited a moment and then nodded to Toby and spoke into his phone.
The conversation was in Thai but Toby got the gist of it. The cop was telling Ying that if she didn’t come down to the police station, Toby would be locked up, and he might even die.
Toby wondered what Ying’s reaction would be to this startling piece of news.
Somkid closed the phone and put it on the table in front of him.
There was a long silence.
‘Is she coming? Is my wife coming?’
On the spur of the moment, the financially distressed lieutenant looked at Toby and decided to break a rule of a lifetime.
‘Toby! You have money?’
‘Money? Why? What about my wife?’
‘Your wife say: ‘Fuck You!’ She not come! I want money or you go cook!’
Toby started to shake in fear, he couldn’t stop himself, he was truly petrified.
‘I – I no have money…’ I’m broke!’ he muttered, in English.
‘No money? You drive BM and you no have money! You gohock!’
‘No, I not gohock – I’m not lying. It’s… it’s complicated…. But there’s no money in my bank….’
Somkid was becoming angry. He wasn’t going to get any money from this fucking farang. He stood up, suddenly becoming bored with the whole, miserable affair.
‘OK, you drunk, you no have driving licence, you have accident, you no have money! You – farang – go to cook!!’ he screamed in English at Toby and immediately barked orders to his sergeant and the two constables to take Toby away.
Toby knew that the Thai word for jail was cook, and at the sound of the dreaded word , his heart, which was already beating at the rate of knots, suddenly felt that it was about to explode.
‘No! No! No!’ he screamed at the Lieutenant who was now towering, angrily over him from the other side of the counter.
‘You have money?’ he asked, for the final time.
Somkid looked at the grovelling, filthy, dishevelled drunken pot -bellied- ‘dead-beat’ in front of him and he grimly concluded that despite the fact that he was at the wheel of a BMW, that maybe he was speaking the truth – maybe he had no money. He certainly didn’t look as though he had any.
‘Take him away’, he shouted to his men, ‘And make sure this shitting farang isn’t given any help in there. He is a fucking, drunk killer and I want him to suffer!’
With that, Somkid picked up Toby’s phone from the table, dropped it into his pocket and strode away in disgust, effectively washing his hands of the whole sordid business.
The Pattaya holding cell was located on the second floor of the station, and the three non-commissioned officers grabbed hold of Toby; two at his shoulders and one at his feet and lifted him off the chair and manhandled him up the stair-case to the second floor, whereupon they dropped his feet onto the floor and dragged him across to the waiting cell, and literally threw him inside.
The whole incident, including the rough handling he had just received, was all too much for Toby’s injured, sick body and when his head hit the hard, concrete prison floor with a dull thud, he completely lost consciousness.
When he slowly came to, he didn’t know how long he had been lying there and within seconds, the tortuous pains from all parts of his body returned with a vengeance. He opened his blood -caked eyes and looked around. He could see from a barred window on the opposite side of the large room that the sun was now up and he immediately felt the heat permeating his body. He was in the shade, but there was no fan and it had become stiflingly hot. He looked to see if there were any other inmates, and saw that that floor space next to three of the four walls were completely occupied by maybe eight or nine Thai men, either sitting or lying down, but he could only make out one middle aged Thai man lying down against the fourth wall on the other side of the large, open cell.
Despite his injuries, Toby felt the need to sit up and lean against a wall. He opted to move to the wall that was almost empty. For some unaccountable reason, the floor space near to that wall seemed to be a lot cleaner than the floor around the other walls, which was full of refuse and stunk to high heaven. He started to drag himself towards the almost empty wall, when he was suddenly assailed by his fellow inmates who angrily screamed at him, not to go there. He stopped and looked at them, and asked them in Thai what was the matter?
He was told in no uncertain terms that the clean floor space and far wall was reserved for ‘special’ prisoners and that if he tried to go there he would get beaten up. He was still feeling groggy, but the message got through. The clean wall was a ‘no-go’ area and he managed to construe that the area was kept for drug dealers; they were a special category, apparently because they always had money and ‘influence’.
He looked for a small space amongst the filth and mess alongside the other walls, but every time he managed to manoeuvre himself into a gap against the wall, he was either kicked or slapped and he had move away again. Eventually, he gave up. He didn’t have the strength to try any longer and he just sunk back down onto the hard, unforgiving concrete in the middle of the cell and closed his eyes, trying to blank out the pains that were racking his tired, injured body.
He felt his heart; it was racing along at well over 100 beats to the minute. It had been more than twenty-four hours since he had taken his beta blockers and other heart meds that usually kept his heart rate under control. He was so tired and sleepy, despite the fact that he must have slept for several hours when he was first thrown in the cell, and he knew that this was at least partly due to his high blood sugars. He was a diabetic and had to inject insulin four times daily to keep his blood sugars at normal levels, but all his medical stuff was in his bag, presumably buried in the wreckage of his car.
His car. He remembered seeing it before he was thrown into the back of the police truck. It was a terrible mess, as were the vehicles he had hit. He was suddenly seized by another panic. If he couldn’t produce his driving licence, his insurance company would refuse to pay; the Thai insurers had become very strict on this. He was in very bad shit. If the insurer wouldn’t pay, he would be held personally liable, but he had no money – it was all gone. His last remaining asset was his car – and now that was probably worthless.
Toby was slowly sobering up and the awful realisation of his dire plight began to sink in. In spite of his injuries, abnormal blood pressure and high blood sugars, he was starting to feel a bit peckish. He hadn’t eaten for at least twenty four hours, certainly not since he had started his drunken binge a day or so back. But he knew he had little or no chance of getting anything palatable to eat in this God forsaken police cell.
He was able to eat properly prepared Thai food provided it wasn’t too hot, but after recent problems with his digestive system, no doubt brought on by a lifetime of alcohol abuse; he would never be able to keep down the unhygienic Thai gruel that they would offer him in while he was in custody, if indeed they offered him anything at all. He had heard many stories of prisoners in Thai jails starving, if they had no money to buy food.
What a fucking mess! He realised with a blinding certainty that with his severe health problems and his current, weak, medically untreated condition, that he wouldn’t last more than a few days if he wasn’t released from custody. He was staring death in the face and he knew it. Why? Why had it come to this? Lying on the floor of a concrete police cell in 35 degree heat and 95% humidity; a guilty criminal, with no money, family or friends to rescue him or even ease his plight. He knew he deserved to die – but like this?
He closed his eyes and his mind began to wander – a long way back, to the time when he was a child – a child of post-war, dour, economically depressed England – a ‘baby boomer’ who had grown up in the longest period of sustained peace that the world had ever known. Such a long time ago – such a different world………..
© Mobi D’Ark, 2011