The Suburbs of Babylon, Chapter 3 Part 2

Happy Friday, reader. Oh, did you forget what day it was, what with the constant monotony (constotony for short, copyright BKK7) of this coronavirus lockdown? You’re not alone. But you are in for 5 minutes of alleviated boredom, because I, Bangkok Seven, have posted below part 2 of Chapter 3 of my mediocre self-published novel, “The Suburbs of Babylon.” If you haven’t read part 1, you could go back and scroll down my homepage to find it—or not. It probably won’t make much difference. All you need is the setting, which is Baja California circa 1990…

The next day we woke up late and ambled out by the pool, where we soaked up the sun, drinking margaritas and Coronas, furtively watching a gang of girls one table over.  There was a particularly delicious-looking brunette in a blue bikini, who seemed the most popular with every guy who passed by.  She had enormous beautiful breasts, a tiny waste, a round, perfect butt, and long, muscular, shapely legs.  It took me three hours to work up the courage to say something to her, and when I did it went like this:

Me—“You know, the reason no guys have come up to you all afternoon is because they’re intimidated by you.”

She—“Well, you’re talking to me.”

Me—“That’s true.”

She—“Well then, you’re not afraid of me, right?”

Me—“Uh, I have to go.  My friends are playing basketball.”

She—No response.

OK, now, looking back on that little exchange, two things invariably come to mind.  One, I am a complete ass, and two, I missed out on something very, very big.  How I could have screwed that up so badly is beyond me, and yet perfectly understandable since I have never before encountered such a favorable response.  Most of the time girls give me the cold shoulder, and unlike many men, I take that as a hint and leave them alone.  The fact that she seemed to warm up to me completely threw me off, and when the pressure came to say something witty on the fly, I choked.  I had no choice but to run away.  Somewhere in my imagination I say the right thing to that girl and end up spending the rest of the week with her.  But in reality my life went the way it always does, and instead of the bliss of my dream of that girl, the next two days went like this. . .

After playing basketball with the guys, I went back to look for the blue bikini girl and found no trace of her.  So we had dinner in the hotel—lobster burritos, more margaritas, and several Coronas—and then headed out to Papas & Beer again, this time stopping at a new place called Rock & Roll Lobster (not to be confused with Rock & Roll Taco) for their promotional Grand Opening Special, one beer and a tequila shot for two bucks.  On entering, we found that we were the only clientele, which immediately made us wary.  The smell of what had to be cooking feces also caught our attention, but we carried on bravely, even when our tequila shots bubbled and gurgled in our hands like soda water.  They tasted more like rubbing alcohol, though, and after three more we made a quick getaway, watching each other closely for signs of blindness, salmonella, or scurvy.

Nothing exciting happened at Papas, save a brief encounter I had with a girl who refused to leave me alone, even after I tried scaring her off by telling her I only wanted to sodomize her, a notion which intrigued rather than repulsed her, to my chagrin.  Upon returning to the hotel, we found Art in one of the beds with a girl, which in our drunken and weary state proved less funny than it should have, and got even less so as the night wore on.

First, it meant that Norman and I would have to share a bed, since Alvin also had a girl with him, a petite young Latina with blond streaks in her dark hair, though he did have the sense to throw her out eventually.  And the idea of sharing didn’t bother me so much, until Norman started to saw wood like there was no tomorrow.  And then there was the noise from Art’s bed.  He argued softly with the whore for about an hour, trying to talk her into some horrible act, which she finally consented to (I know this by the familiar yet strangely inaccurate gagging sounds, and Art’s eventual frustrated coaxing to “just stop”).  And just when I thought it could get no worse, there came a knock at the door.  Now mind you, it was around four in the morning by this time, and the only thought I had about who this could be was that the Federales had come to take us all to jail for some fabricated crime.

It turned out to be hotel security.  Evidently, we had exceeded the maximum occupancy for the room, and would either have to pay more or get out.  I figured this out when I heard the guard say, “Oh, no.  Cuatro solamente.  Only four please.”  To which Art responded, “There are only four of us, you dumbass.”  Which prompted the guard to check for himself, at which time he pointed to us one at a time and counted, “one, two, three, four. . .five!”  The fifth person being Art’s girl, of course.  So Norman and I got up and began to pack as more security guards showed up, but then Art took out his credit card and threw it out the door.  “Here asshole, just take it and get the hell out of my face,” he said.  Suddenly the guards became more congenial.  They even allowed me to come down to the lobby and sign the receipt on Art’s behalf.  Now that, my friends, is service.

In the morning we decided we’d had enough of Mexico for one trip and scrambled to get out by checkout time.  As we drove sluggishly out of town, I was struck as I always am by the coating of filth that seems to stick to everything here.  And the stink, like human waste, as familiar as every other aspect of this place.  Stray dogs run wild everywhere and sleep in the few shady places around the street.  I had a momentary thought that the town’s dogs were the source of meat for things like the quesadilla I enjoyed so blissfully two nights before, but the image passed with relative ease.  Anyway, it wouldn’t matter to me.  I have no complaints, the food was damn good.

On every corner are dirty children pushing chicle with the determination of car salesmen.  I cannot fathom what they will grow up to be, or were they will go or what they will do.  I will know luxuries that they will never experience, and I wonder who is luckier.  Maybe I would have been better off if I had never met Jane.  Then I wouldn’t have to know what it feels like to be without her.  I know, it’s ridiculous to compare myself to children in poverty.  Disgusting, in fact.  But what do I know?  It’s all relative, and besides, what would be worse?  Taking this poor kid selling gum on a dirty street to Disneyland for a day and then putting him back, or never letting him know what he’s missing?  That’s what I mean about Jane.  If I’d never known, how could I know the pain of her absence?  Brainless sentiment, I know.  But aren’t we all caught up in our own stupid story?

The hills along the coastal road are littered (literally) with small shacks.  They are built into the sloping hillside, like post-modern pueblos.  Again I wonder about the lives of the people who spend day in and day out in this place, their triumphs and tragedies, their dreams (if they have them).  I hate myself for not being more grateful for what I have.  I was born and abandoned, yes, but the orphanage where I grew up was nurturing enough.  I always had good food, good teachers, and people who prepared me for the world.  What do I have to complain about?  I should be happy.  I should be content.

An hour later we stopped in San Diego.  We had lunch by the bay, where Navy ships wait silently for war, sleeping peacefully like tired dogs.  As I gazed out at the water and the sunlight scattered over it like glass, I had the image of flying out above it, skimming along the surface.  I likened myself to Icarus.

Maybe it’s an unconscious yearning for Heaven.  I don’t see an end when I picture flying away like that.  I see it going on for eternity.  Of course my logic says I’d sooner or later hit Fiji or Australia.  But the important thing is I’m always drawn by distances, long vistas, horizons.  I need to go somewhere.  It’s nagging me with foreboding persistence.

Could it simply be death?  The ultimate journey, the escape from this cycle, from the absence of Jane?  There is no escape from that except to be with her.  And at Heaven’s door, would God even let me in?  What have I done to earn that?  And even if I did, what happens then?  The thought of eternity horrifies me.  Going on and on and on with no boundaries, no parameters.  Right now the image is of going, simply moving.  To analyze it in terms of eternity would be to complicate its meaning exponentially.  Perhaps the answer is the opposite.  Perhaps I really do just want to go to Fiji and be a fisherman.

At any rate, the temporary solution is to let the thought go, since what I have to look forward to is simply more of the same.  Sleepless nights, self-pity, short trips to here or there.  Waiting for something to happen.”

I sometimes miss Mexico, though there’s really no reason to. Thailand is better in every respect. But something about being young and wide-eyed, and the new experience of a foreign country resonates with me now is different from how it seemed back then. There was a mixture of angst and turmoil then, as I wrestled with the dawning reality that most of my so-called friends weren’t real friends, and I was wasting my time and loyalty on them. Today, my male friends in Thailand can be counted on my thumbs, and that’s almost too many. I have my harem, of course, and they’re among the best friends I’ve ever had. Cheers to Thailand, and to my harem, and to the bygone days that led me here. Tune in next week for the first half of Chapter 4. Peace out.