Dé Dale and I were brought to a dive far off the main strip. It was chockablock with young prostitutes sitting in booths, singing along with a karaokemachine. Aside from the bartender and a doorman, there were no men in the place, not a single customer.
My first thought was that we had been tricked into coming to a hostess bar where we would be forced to buy the girls drinks. Dé Dale was ready to bail right then and there, but the dealer persuaded us to wait until he came back.
“Fifteen, maybe twen’y minute,” he said, leaving us in the care of the bartender.
We sat down at an empty booth in the back that faced the entrance, and ordered gin and tonics.
Before long, some of the bar girls started slinking over like cats about to pounce on mice and asked where we were from.
Dé Dale replied that we were from Luxembourg.
More questions followed: How long have you been here? What are you doing in Thailand? And so on.
Dé Dale fed them a load of baloney about being orchid buyers for a flower-importing consortium. Why bother with the truth?
When one of the girls tried her best to curry favor with dé Dale, I told her: “You’re very charming, but, I’m afraid it won’t work. My friend here likes men. Little men. Hairy little men.”
Without missing a beat, the girls turned their attention to me. One of them sat down right next to me and grabbed my wimpy bicep.
“You very tall. Me like,” she said. “Do you have girlfriend?”
“Yes,” I answered. “I have four.”
“Butterfly boy!!!” They cackled with laughter.
The girl put her arms around my neck and begged for me to let her be my fifth girlfriend.
“I’ll think about it.”
“You don’ like me?”
“Oh, I likeyou all right.”
Not that she wasn’t pretty, she was, captivatingly so with her friendly eyes and natural, unaffected smile, but the thought of spending the next six months worrying that I might have contracted HIV or some other nasty STD was enough to make the water in me run cold.
Ten minutes came and went and dé Dale started tapping his lighter against the tabletop. “If the guy doesn’t show up in another 10 minutes,” dé Dale said, “We’re outta here.”
I had to agree with my friend. The longer we were forced to wait the more I worried we were becoming sitting ducks.
The bartender, noticing that the two of us were getting restless, came by and assured us the guy would probably be back in another ten minutes.
Dé Dale was ready to bolt. The Frenchman had the patience of a firecracker. When I suggested he have one more cigarette before leaving, he lit up and sat back in the settee, arms crossed, glaring in the direction of the entrance.
Before dé Dale could finish his cigarette, the dealer returned, short of breath. It had been nearly forty minutes.
So much for yaba being readily available.
As dé Dale was settling the bar tab, I followed the dealer to the restrooms in the back of the bar where, locking the door behind us, he pulled out a roll of ten pink pills, tightly wrapped in clear plastic.
“I only wanted a few,” I protested. “This is way, way, waytoo much for the two of us.”
“But I bought these for you,” he said. “Ten for five thousand. ($110)”
“Five thousand?” I was taken aback.
So much for the drug being cheap! Christ!
“I haven’t got that much on me.” I didn’t actually know how much cash I had on me and I wasn’t about to start counting the contents of my wallet before him. “I’ll take five for two thousand. It’s all I can afford.”
The dealer told me that was out of the question. He wanted to unload the whole lot as quickly as possible. It was far too risky for him to carry it around.
“Look, I only wanted five at the most and I’ve only got twenty-five hundred baht.”
“All for three thousand ($66),” he said finally.
I passed a wad of bills to him, took the roll of pills from his hands, and left the restroom.
Dé Dale was all ready to go, and, without so much as an adieubade to the girls, we beat-feet out of the bar. Once outside, we hopped into the fourth taxi we found and drove off to the Pratunam area where the Baiyoke Sky Hotelwas located.
Getting out of the taxi a good ten-minutes’ walk from our hotel, we dropped in at a convenience store to pick up some tin foil. Not finding any, we bought a chocolate bar, chewing gum, cigarettes—anything we could find that came wrapped in foil. We also picked up a fresh lighter, some tonic water, and, once fully accoutered, made our way back to our hotel, snickering like kids leaving a candy store.