IÃ¢??ve never known whatÃ¢??s good for me, this much is true. I try to do things right, have a good time, no body gets hurt, but... there's always a hitch. The story, basically, starts here, in the Pattaya Marriott lobby at noon on a Tuesday in June, where a Korean tour group gawks at me like IÃ¢??m part of the RipleyÃ¢??s Believe it or Not exhibit Ã¢?? or maybe theyÃ¢??re looking at my 35-year-old drop-dead wasted Pattaya freelancer Neung, or perhaps itÃ¢??s the two of us combined thatÃ¢??s shocking them. Anyway, Neung and I, weÃ¢??re doing our best to look casual while near cross-eyed we parse the couches through cheap faux-glamour Walking Street sunglasses, stalling flat-footed in the lobby to suss out little Tou. This Tou, sheÃ¢??s a regular of mine, due to meet us here about half an hour ago, straight off the bus from Bangkok. NeungÃ¢??s never met Tou before, but she spots her before I do Ã¢?? I guess the giveaway is TouÃ¢??s swollen belly under a long t-shirt, and the fact that TouÃ¢??s a cheap-looking Thai girl sitting alone in a nice hotel. Neung pulls on my shirt and points to a chair where a nervous white-skinned girl is holding a magazine and trying to appear comfortable. NeungÃ¢??s right, for once, itÃ¢??s definitely my Tou: the sharp nose and chin she had done when she was eighteen, gift of a Japanese customer; the loose t-shirt that tries to hide the pregnant belly; the skittish look, cheeks drawn, of a Thai street girl who hasnÃ¢??t taken care of herself for years. I hate being this fucked up during the daytime (call me old-fashioned), so IÃ¢??m hesitant to yell or whistle to get TouÃ¢??s attention. Nonetheless, before I can start towards her she looks up and sees me, her Kim. ItÃ¢??s that telepathic thing the girls have, they can feel someone look at them, and go immediately into action. TouÃ¢??s out of the chair in a second, running to me, and though part of me wants to blend into the scenery I canÃ¢??t help but give this tiny girl a hug and swing around big enough to catch everyoneÃ¢??s eye. Fuck Ã¢??em: when that wide-eyed group is back in Seoul theyÃ¢??ll be wishing they were in my crazy shoes. IÃ¢??ve known Tou for three or four years, sheÃ¢??s played various roles and she hoes a hard row, and what IÃ¢??ve learned over time is that sheÃ¢??s got a great heart and spirit. These days IÃ¢??m always happy to see her, especially alive and smiling. Once weÃ¢??ve had our hello, itÃ¢??s off to the elevator as quick as I can herd these two Ã¢?? thereÃ¢??s a joke in here about herding Thai pussy, but IÃ¢??ll skip it. Before coming back to the Marriott, Neung and I were at JP bar from about 6 am, and we are looking well the worse for wear. Neung and I go back a couple years, probably because we feed our own worst appetites, and the past evening has been no exception. Even skulking through the lobby alone, we turned heads. Now, with a clearly pregnant little white-skinned freelancer from Bangkok thrown in, weÃ¢??re obviously the main attraction for staff and customers alike... Damn dirty freak-pervert farang. I press 9, the door slides closed, and here I am: 34 years old, on a supposed holiday, and in an elevator with two lifetime hookers well past their prime, one just out of jail, and one at least three monthsÃ¢?? pregnant with the child of an unknown customerÃ¢?Â¦ Where did I go wrong, I wonder again? One day, but not today, IÃ¢??m gonna write a trip report about the 10/10 stunner I took from some go-go, and the great sex we had, and how I love Thailand and how IÃ¢??m sending her money now. One day, but not today. This trip started five days ago, in Bangkok, off the plane from my current home in south Asia. I spent a couple disappointing days in Bangkok, then two in Siem Reap with friends from the States. From Siem Reap straight to Pattaya, it was about 4 am the night I arrived when I got a call from Tou, who explained her current dilemma: a few monthsÃ¢?? pregnant, she couldnÃ¢??t work Sukhumvit anymore, but she didnÃ¢??t have anywhere else to get money from. [Enter Kim, stage leftÃ¢?Â¦]. SheÃ¢??d meant to get an abortion once sheÃ¢??d found out about her missed period, butÃ¢?Â¦ well, time just passed and she never had the money, and she thought that next week would be fine. Now, with Kim back in the country, she hoped I could help out with that. Of course, at the first mention of pregnancy, IÃ¢??d pulled out my abacus and started doing the mathÃ¢?Â¦ and figured that even with the widest margins of error, the most freakish biological deviations, and the effects of the ancient Chinese calculator, there was no way I could be the father. After that, things took on an academic flavor, I have to admit. This is what she tells me while IÃ¢??m trying to find a quiet space on Walking Street in the early morning, somewhere quiet enough to hear her pathetic story. In yet another of my many moments of poor judgment, and in a poorly-considered attempt to get her off the phone, I told her to get on the bus and come down to Pattaya, where we could talk in more detail. It bought me time to party a few more hours, but also meant weÃ¢??d soon be face-to-face. Oops. Get on the bus she did, and thatÃ¢??s how I found myself in my Marriott room with Neung and Tou in the early afternoon, listening to Neung and Tou discuss TouÃ¢??s options. You might wonder how Neung and Tou share an interest, and why Neung would be trying to help Tou out at all. I really canÃ¢??t understand it myself, but thereÃ¢??s a strange Ã¢??honour among thievesÃ¢?Â with these girls, and girls who can link themselves through a specific farang Ã¢?? Kim, say Ã¢?? can in a way expect some kind of consideration. A few months ago there was a fire on lower Sukhumvit and one of my very ex-regulars, Pom Yao, lost her room and possessions. Among the freelancer crowd, consensus was clear: because Pom Yao was an ex-Kim girl, and because Tou was a semi-ex-Kim girl, Tou should help Pom Yao out during her time of trouble. And Tou did, letting Pom Yao stay with her for a couple months, until she got back on her feet again. Strange. Anyway, this particular bizarre Tuesday afternoon Neung tried to help Tou with her problem, while I stood witness and watched the problem grow ever greater Ã¢?? well, I mean, not literally, her round belly stayed pretty much the same, but our understanding of just how fucked she was grew immeasurably. Initially, Neung took Tou down to Soi X, where thereÃ¢??s apparently a helpful clinic. There, the first problem emerged: Tou has no ID card, having lost it at some point in the past couple months. Neung (who would have loaned Tou her own ID, except that a friend stole it from her a couple months ago to try to force Neung to pay back debts Neung alleges she doesnÃ¢??t oweÃ¢?Â¦) tries to be helpful, making her way through her mobile phone memory until sheÃ¢??s found a friend who will rent her ID for 1K baht Ã¢?? and a promise that Neung will go to the wat and tamboon for the life lost during the abortionÃ¢?Â¦ Arranging this whole transaction is taking a while, and just after Neung has finalized everything, pregnant Tou arrives back at the room: the clinic canÃ¢??t do the procedure, with or without the ID. She doesnÃ¢??t say exactly why, but she says the clinic referred her to another doctor on Soi Y, who can do it, but it takes all day, so sheÃ¢??ll have to go in the morning. For the time being, thereÃ¢??s nothing to do but wait. Tou begs to stay in my room with me and Neung, but IÃ¢??ve had it with this kind of nonsense so I hand her some money Ã¢?? enough for the room and the procedure sheÃ¢??s going to need Ã¢?? and send her out to find a cheap room somewhere in Pattaya. Poor baby, here she is, how many months pregnant, and sheÃ¢??s being turned out on the streets of Pattaya while Kim and his newer girl go out all nightÃ¢?Â¦ Sometimes I think these girls play me like a violin, other times I think IÃ¢??m the height of cruelty. Whichever it is, kind or cruel, at 10 am the next morning, Wednesday, IÃ¢??m still out with Neung when I get the call from Tou: the clinic wonÃ¢??t do the Ã¢??procedureÃ¢?? for the 10k that was estimated. TheyÃ¢??ve done an exam and, well, sheÃ¢??s not four months pregnant, sheÃ¢??s six. That doesnÃ¢??t mean a total bar, however: rather than the usual 10k, theyÃ¢??ll do it for 65,000 baht, but itÃ¢??s her risk. Neung, who says sheÃ¢??s had a friend die recently of a botched abortion (but who canÃ¢??t entirely be trusted, given that Tou does still pose something of a rival vis-ÃƒÂ -vis Kim), advises Tou not to do it; more relevant, I tell her that IÃ¢??m not willing to sponsor her Ã¢??healthcareÃ¢?? at that level, soÃ¢?Â¦ thatÃ¢??s that. An hour or so later, we meet again at the Marriott for a goodbye. Tou is upbeat, as always, laughing about her endless bad luck, and agreeing that her best move is to go back to Bangkok and try to move in with her brother and his family until she delivers the baby. No one talks about what she plans to do with the baby, or with herself, for that matter. She asks to stay and sleep a few hours in my bed, but I just see more trouble with that and take the easy way out: pack her palm with a bunch of US twenties and Thai thousands, and send her to the bus stopÃ¢?Â¦ I tell her IÃ¢??ll try to stop by Bangkok before I fly out, but she and I know itÃ¢??s a lie, and in the end that doesnÃ¢??t happen: I go direct from Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi with minutes to spare, and no time for Tou. ItÃ¢??s about a month later now. TouÃ¢??s resolved to have the baby, although she refuses to call it her baby in her messages and phone calls, instead referring to it as the Ã¢??gik insideÃ¢?Â or Ã¢??my friendÃ¢?Â, as in Ã¢??my friend inside come out 2 monthsÃ¢?Â. She says sheÃ¢??s still working Sukhumvit, and I can only hope that means selling beer on Soi 4 after hours, not on her back. Neung, meanwhile, still seems unable to get it back together in Pattaya after her stint in Ã¢??Hong KongÃ¢?Â (aka Monkey House), and is floating from friend to friend, no room of her own. ThereÃ¢??s some Finnish chump in Sweden who might sponsor her someday, but for now, sheÃ¢??s looking at nothing, wishing it was something. I guess what I mean to say in all this is: you never know when a holiday will not really amount to a holiday, and if a girl ever mentions sheÃ¢??s pregnant, donÃ¢??t invite her down to see you in Pattaya... But most of all, if you see a light-skinned pregnant girl selling beer down around Suk 4 in the early hours, buy one for you and one for me, and tip the kid big, because sheÃ¢??s a sweetheart and has little else going for her.