In the morning, Winston pulled a green shirt over his head.
“Hey, you can’t wear the same colored shirt as me,” I said.
He put on an orange shirt.
“You shouldn’t wear orange if your hair is orange,” I said.
He put on a black shirt.
“You’ve never looked more handsome.”
The breakfast buffet had everything except smores pop tarts and toaster strudels. This was my plate.
This was Winston’s.
He likes the sausage. I liked the toast. I liked the toaster. It’s a big metal hot box. You place the toast on a belt, as many as you want, and they’re carried through the inside like on an assembly line and spit out the bottom.
In every pitcher of juice, floating dead on top, was a fly. I drank the instant coffee. I did my Macho Man impression for Winston. “Ohhhh Ya! Cup of coffee in the morning.” But I was wrong. It’s “Ohhh ya! Cup of coffee in the big time.”
Winston, for an Englishman, knew a lot about wrestling. I didn’t know it had crossed the Atlantic. He knew names that I didn’t. Vitamins and milk, these 20 inch guns are coming for ya, he told me.
After breakfast, after packing our bikes, we rode to the driving range and bought a tray of balls. I placed a ball on a tee and swung first. Missed. Swung again. Missed. It hurt the back when you didn’t connect. When it was his turn, he missed repeatedly too. This gave us some laughs because we both like to watch someone try hard at something and fail.
Eventually our swings improved. He hit a lot of grounders, I hit a lot of pop flies. With the bottom half of the balls, we tried to hit the ball-picker-upper in his shielded cart. Winston came the closest. A couple more feet to the right, and he would have nailed him.
My legs were sweating in my jeans already. At the risk of looking like a homosexual hippie, I reluctantly gave up being a cowboy and changed into my Japanese pajama pants. They’re cotton, thin, and go down to the middle of the shin. My legs could breath. I took it one step further and put on my sunglasses. Dust and grit had been getting in my eyes while on the road.
Winston, just before getting on his bike, banged his shin on a turned over rusty truck rim. What reason it was there, I don’t know. Blood trickled down to his ankle.
We rode out of the golf course, waving to the Thai security. Instead of turning right to go back the way we’d came, we went left, hoping to find a country road that ran parallel to the highway we’d been on.
Thais waved to us from the middle of a pineapple field. I’d made it 30 years thinking pineapples grew on trees. Something like a palm tree.
Winston rang his bell twice. We stopped. He took out his bottle of listerine and poured some on his cut.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m disinfecting the wound,” he said. “You know how Kernel Sanders died?”
“No,” I said.
“He stubbed his toe and got septic.”
“He didn’t he go to the hospital?”
“They didn’t have hospitals back then.”
I took out my little notepad to write this down.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I have to remember this.”
“Look at you and your little diary.”
“It’s not a diary. It’s a journal.”
“I be you dot your i’s with little hearts.”
“Good line. I’m going to write that down.”
We were riding along, not very far into our day, when Winston got another flat tire. The back tire again. Luckily we were close to a mechanic shop. The Thai man and his wife gave us refuge from the sun under their shade. The man, witnessing our incompetence as we took of the tire, pulled out the tube and searched for the hole, jumped in and found the puncture right away, along with the cause, a metal sliver piercing the tire. He scratched the tube with sandpaper, applied the patch with glue and compressed it to the tube with the help of a hydraulic vice. In return, we gave him and his wife a few dollars, and then we were on our way again.
Our next stop, after a couple of hours of tedious highway riding and the occasional trucker waving to us, was at Tesco in the first city since leaving Pattaya. We locked bikes together in front of the food court where we could watch them from the inside. Winston went shopping for supplies, including bungee cords, while I sat down and went through a pile of napkins soaking up a gallon of sweat from my arms, neck, and face. He returned and we had lunch.
I decided to finally buy a nice phone. My $60 Microsoft phone took terrible pictures. The GPS was worthless. I messaged the Boon Crew, my friends in Bangkok who met us in Pattaya. They all had Samsung Galaxies and recommended me the J7. It was around $300. But they told me to barter with the sales staff, or try to get them to throw in a case and protective film. I visited four shops before finding the best deal.
Cycling through cities was more stimulating than along highways. We could look at people and shops and markets and smile at girls and fantasize about disappearing here and using our western currency to finance a harem and never have to cook, clean, or jack our own selves off again.
Since Winston had selfishly used all our spare tubes, we looked for bicycle shop as we kept on course. We went around a curve, missing a left turn we needed to take, and ran right into a shop. The owner and his wife were most helpful. He adjusted our brakes and tightened some screws which we failed to notice were about to fall out our saddle racks. We bought a new pump, doing away with my mini-pump that could never inflate a tire completely. Grown men from inside a store next door stared at the sight of us. Then we were on our way again, leaving the city behind.
We passed fields, water buffalo and a graveyard.
At one point a Thai man in a red cycling jersey blew past us on his own bike. He had the biggest calves I’d ever seen. We tried to catch him but it was hopeless. That man could fly.
The day was growing dark. The nearest hotel was 20 kilometers away. We did not want to be riding on the shoulder of a well-travelled road at night, especially when realizing my flashing red light that attached to the back of my seat had broken. However, cars wouldn’t prove to be our biggest fear.
As Winston was riding ahead of me, two black dogs emerged from the shadows like werewolves, snarling and snapping at Winston, who screamed and pedaled for his life. It was the funniest shit I’d seen since he vomited on the side of the road yesterday. The dogs paid me no attention.
We made it to the hotel, another resort, on a river. Twenty dollars each afforded us luxury accommodation in Thailand. Winston liked to blast the air conditioner as cold as it would put out all night, so he took the bed right underneath it.
I took a shower. When I came out, there was a golf ball and a bottle of lube on my pillow.