It was Gene’s birthday. He wanted to go to Khao San Road, the very first place I went to in Thailand nine years ago, the night I fingered a menstruating hooker. I did go back there a couple of months ago, when a friend came for a visit, but we went during the day and the place was dead and dirty, the restaurant we ate at overpriced. It’s not close either, about a 30 minute cab ride.
“What can we do there that we can’t do here?” I asked Gene.
“We can laugh at hippies and dirty backpackers.”
We took two taxis, six of us. The street was packed, looked nothing like it does during the day. Now it was alive with energy and freaky people everywhere like bugs. Drunks from all over the world: midgets, East Asians, and dirty hippies. Different genres of music, from the different bars, filled the street. There were massage chairs to recline back in and get a foot rub.
We sat outside at a table like a picnic. A DJ spun house music. A guy behind me had a henna butterfly tattoo on the small of his back. “Let me get a picture of that tramp stamp my good man.”
Mixed drinks came in buckets. I stuck to beers at first, not wanting to get wasted because I carried my computer in its bag around my neck. Gene had asked me when I was at a cafe earlier if I wanted to return home and drop it off, but I didn’t think tonight was going to be one of those nights.
A girl sitting alone at the table next to us was crying. In between her sobs, she sucked down balloons of laughing gas, one after another, breathing in and out of them, while a middle-aged Thai woman filled them from a nearby nitrous bottle. “That’s the most broken person I’ve seen in a while,” I told Gene. “Why doesn’t someone cut her off?” “Money,” he said. After some more thought, I know a more broken person. This old man, a beggar, he has no toes and only two fingers and one eye. He lies on the floor in front of my train station. My friend Francis said don’t give the limbless money because it goes to Thai gangs who hacked them up in the first place and put them on the street.
Gene ordered us a round of balloons. 50 baht a piece, we took turns paying for them. I hadn’t done laughing gas since a neighborhood kid got me to take a hit from a whip cream bottle. His father used to leave him home alone all the time so he always had good instant food, like pizza pockets and whip cream. When you were at his house, he’d chase you with a kitchen knife for a laugh. I used to watch him play the original Resident Evil at night with the lights off, and was scared when the zombie dogs would randomly bust through the boarded up windows of the mansion and chase Jill Valentine. When he got pissed off at a game he’d beat his Playstation with the controller, often breaking it, but he always kept the box so his dad could return it for a new one at Wal-Mart.
Some of the balloons were big. At first sight, I didn’t think you could suck all that gas down in one hit, and you couldn’t without emptying your lungs completely.
Euphoria came quickly. It lasted shortly. The music swept you up like a wave. For a couple of months, after reading Lone Survivor and watching war movies, I was thinking about joining the army to be a Forward Observer, the guy who hangs with infantry and is responsible for calling in airstrikes, and blows up 100 Muslim extremists to smithereens. Now I just wanted to get high and listen to this song on Khao San Road. We requested it again.
The Dutchman, a traveler who’s almost completed his mission of visiting every country in the world, and who told me he doesn’t like how in America the waitresses wait to snatch up your plate as soon as it looks like you’ve finished, started dancing in his seat. I could see a vein in his head. He looked at me, squeezed his hand into a fist and said, “It’s fucking awesome.” I 100% agreed.
I’d thought we’d do two or three balloons, not enough to rub against your hair and supply a small African village with electricity, but it was fun. I didn’t know if you could kill over from too much nitrous, so I did a quick Google search with my phone under the table so Gene wouldn’t call me a fag. Unless you breathe in and out of the balloon forever, which we weren’t doing, then all is good. I did notice the Thai woman, as soon as we finished the balloons, would gather them from the table and reuse them. Essentially, we were all sucking each other off.
I didn’t get why it was called laughing gas until I took a balloon hit, held it in deep, and instead of house music “Wipe Out” blasted over the speakers.
On Khao San road, a lot of randomness can happen in a one-minute-high. After another balloon hit, while are heads were still spinning and the music went WOP WOP WOP, the crying girl who, still bawling her eyes out, said something to Nigga Steve, our friend the Canadian hotel manager. He ignored her. She threw a deflated balloon at him, jumped up, rushed to the balloon dealer, and started bitching to her while pointing a finger at us. “Oh my Zeus, the ship is sinking now,” I thought to myself in my drug induced paranoia. “Look at that midget!” yelled Gene. We all looked. Just then, two random girls approached Gene, one of whom he’d met before from Tinderr, and they sat down with us. A Thai woman held out a tray of black, fried scorpions. A tall, bug-eyed Indian-looking guy approached the table. He tried to sell us pills and wouldn’t leave, but stood there swaying and accidentally knocked over the Dutch Man’s bucket, spilling it on him. The Dutch Man, being a muscular and confrontational guy to begin with, stood up and was ready to throw down. The Indian sobered up quick, knew he was in trouble, and apologized.
Another guy in our group was Australian. He sleeps on Gene’s floor and Gene refers to him as the Bogan, but his real name is Jimmy. A friend of Jimmy’s joined us, a big guy in a black tank top, black and grey tattoos and a pierced eyebrow. He’s been in and out of jail for stealing cars and selling them for parts. It was his last night in Thailand. He sat down in the chair next to me.
I asked these two Bogan’s if they’d seen that video of the guy who punched the kangaroo. “Oh, mate, that guy was lucky,” said Jimmy. “You don’t attack a roo that size unless you have a boomerang or a gun. I couldn’t go to work one day because one roo, about the size of that big fucker in the video, lay by my car.”
“You couldn’t chase him off?”
“He wouldn’t move. I sprayed him with a water hose and he still wouldn’t move.”
“So what did you do?”
“I had to wait till he left.”
“I think you’re a pussy, Jimmy. You should have given that jumping rat a right hook.”
“All right, mate, you come to Australia and I’ll let you have a go at one. They hang out like cattle behind my grandma’s and as soon as you step outside, they all lift their heads and look at you like they’d like to box your ears off.”
I asked Jimmy’s friend if he’d like a balloon. “Come on,” I said, “you don’t know what you’re missing. It only lasts a minute.” Then I took a hit and thought it would be funny to mess with him. It was a good one, really carried me away. I turned and looked at him and yelled over the music: “I’m so far fucking gone . . . I ain’t ever coming back!”
The boys got up and went somewhere, some to the bathroom. I found myself alone, watching the table, with the two girls. I looked up, said hello and ordered another balloon; took a hit. “You’re crazy,” one of them said.
“Me? Nah. I’m only crazy for a minute but you’re crazy for life. It’s only a matter of time before they lock you up in the loony bin and throw away the key.”
She stood up with her friend and they walked away. “Hey,” I shouted. “I was only joking.” They didn’t stop. “Fine! Come back here and I’ll kill you!”
Gene returned. “Where are the girls?”
“I don’t know.”
We bought embroidered bracelets. Jimmy’s read: Lick my AIDS cunt. Mine — I toss cunt salad. Nigga Steve’s — I fuck retards. Gene’s was made custom — I love Pakis.
We got up and walked toward another bar, weaving in and out of the drunk crowd. There was this mulatto in pink yoga pants with an ass like the moon. The Dutchman slapped it hard. I expected her to shout or something, but she – a prostitute – turned around and smiled.
Nigga Steve voice chatted his half-Venezuelan friend back in Winnipeg to show him Khao San Road, the balloons, the buckets, and the crazies. In return, the Venezuelan opened his front door and showed us 20 below Canada and three-foot of snow. “How can a dog even take a crap out there,” I asked. “You have to shovel a path.”
Meanwhile, as Gene was talking to another girl, a hippy walked up and held out a rose for her. Gene smacked it out of his hand. “Apologize now,” the guy said. “Fuck off,” said Gene. The guy fucked off.
Eventually, we decided to head to Nana. First, we took a piss, having found a toilet down an alley and in a family’s home who charged money to use it. I waited in line behind a bed-ridden grandma watching TV.
A white girl tried to cut to the front and open the bathroom door. “Hey, there’s a line here,” said Gene.
“But I really have to go.”
“So do we all, now get to the back of the line, bitch.”
We decided to get one more balloon for the taxi, but the original Thai woman was closing shop. “Me no serve you. I finish.” she said.
“Give us the balloons now!” said the Dutchman.
“No me no serve you!”
“No, you speak no English!
“I speak English!”
“No you no speak no English!”
We found another Thai woman with gas. She wanted 100 baht a balloon. “No, 50 baht,” said Gene. “We know the price.”
Walking to the end of Khaosan Road, the Dutchman stole a scorpion on a stick. “Take a bite,” he said to me.
“I don’t know.”
“Just do it.”
I took a bite out of the scorpion’s side. It wasn’t good but it wasn’t awful. Crunchy. No strong taste. Mostly mental. Try it.
We took our balloon hits in a taxi van. The Dutchman had the taxi driver bump music the whole way, and he danced like a maniac in the front seat, hanging out the window and gave whoever ignored him the finger.
We went into a whore bar in Nana. There, we met a Chinaman, one of Gene’s Canadian friends from the oil patch. His name wasn’t Chow but it rhymed with Chow. “Oilfield workers are a bunch of racists. Everyone called me the ‘Chinaman,” he said, telling everyone about his job. “That’s what’s great about the oilfield,” I said, “you can say whatever you like.”
Chow pulled out a box of penis pills. “Where the hell you get those, Chow? Did you buy them off the street?”
“No, Gene told me a good place down the road here. I was supposed to have a Tinderr date yesterday but she flaked on me.”
“That’s too bad.”
“Yeah, I was so horny. I bought a prostitute instead. She ran her tongue up and down my gooch. It was amazing!”
“You think that was amazing, get an ass licking next time.” Jimmy gave me a fist bump.
“I fucked a ladyboy once,” said Jimmy.
“What the hell you mean you fucked a ladyboy, Jimmy? Was it premeditated.”
“Mate, you wouldn’t know the difference.”
“What did it feel like?”
“Like I said, you wouldn’t know the difference.”
“Well how would her box get wet?”
“I don’t know, a douching with a bottle of baby oil maybe.”
“How’d you know it was a ladyboy if you couldn’t tell the difference?”
“It told me.”
“Then what did you do?”
“I hit that baby oiled box again.”
“Oh, no, not you Jimmy, you got to be kidding me.”
“Mate, a box is a box. Stay in Bangkok long enough and you’ll understand.”
Chow opened the box of viagra. “What are you doing, Chow?”
“I’m going to pop two of these and bang two prostitutes, one pill for the both of them.”
“Well good luck. Make sure you come back here and tell us about it.”
Chow wobbled out the bar and into the street. “Hey,” Nigga Steve said, “When he returns we ought to put him in an ice machine.”
A prostitute approached Jimmy. He told her he’d show her a magic trick. Jimmy can make things disappear. He can eat cigarettes too. Gene once asked him if he’d ever taken a shit and seen a cigarette butt floating in the toilet. “I don’t look,” Jimmy said.
We all watched Jimmy’s hands closely, whichever one we thought the cigarette to be in while he did his sleight of hand trick. He we went down low . . . And there was his dick! Hanging over the top of his pants! It must have been 8 inches limp. After that we called him Jimmy Big Dick, short for Big Dick Jimmy the Magnificent Magician, the rest of the night. But we had to stop calling him that because every time he’d get your attention, and you’d look over at him, he’d have his dick hanging over the front of his pants like an elephant trunk.
“Jimmy, I bet you won’t put your nuts on that drum set,” said Nigga Steve. Jimmy Big Dick walked over and plopped his nuts down on it.
We went to Nana Plaza, to a dancing whore bar called Spankey’s. The last thing I remember was us smacking the women, and getting smacked, on stage with foam crackers, and Gene saying every woman needs a good beating once in a while.
I woke up on my bed fully clothed, my computer bag on the floor, thank god, and looked at my phone. I had a message from my mom’s boyfriend of eight years ago. What’s this? I opened the chat box.
“Goodbyes. You fucking cunt. You left Nigga Steve’s t-shirt. You bitch. Where are you. I’m gonna fuck your mother.”
“Elliott, this is Keith, what are you talking about? My mother died in 2002. And she was way too old for you. You must have been mistaken.”
I messaged Nigga Steve. “Nigga Steve, what happened last night?”
His reply: “I don’t know myself really. You got us thrown out of Spankey’s for taking pictures of the girls. The mamasan wouldn’t let us go until you deleted them. I woke up with a girl in my bed. She asked me to cum on her face in the morning. When I walked her out the condo and put her in a taxi, I saw my bracelet: ‘I fuck retards.’”