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OK, how about this one-'The Days Slide By'

Central Scrutinizer

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Anyone claim this one, or know who wrote it for the contest? -Cent



Entry 3 â?? The Days Slide By


"...the days slide by, should have done, should have done we all sighed..." a verse from Warren Zevon's "accidently like a martyr" Awoke me on Monday. Seemed appropriate I thought, 20+ years in the airline business, and nothing to show for it. Nothing except 2 failed marriages, alcoholism, eating disorders increasingly smaller paychecks, diminished job security and more stress than a mental ward. Other than that, I had no complaints. I showered, had the usual breakfast, Anti-acids, headache pills, and coffee. I really should quit coffee I said to myself. I headed out the door.


It was another bleary day in San Francisco. Drizzle her, sun there, the car started, rumbled, and smoked I really should get this fixed someday I thought. I headed to work in the usual manner. Just another boring day I thought, more rumors, bad news and a mix of pep talks and warnings. I arrived and parked in the same spot I had parked in for the last 8 years. I got out of my car, and saw Giap, my Thai coworker, we always park next to each other and walked in together. "Anything new?" he asked "NO" I replied, nothing new so far. He seemed down.


I changed clothes got more coffee and went to the ready room to await my assignment. "O.k. listen up, this is important" said the foreman. It was always something "important" for this guy, a loose bolt on stall door in the men's room was a crises for him. "We have a 777 with a bad engine in Bangkok, we need a volunteer to go change the control valve and do a run up. I got 2 qualified, Smitty and you" He said as he pointed at me. "interested?" "Who me?" Well, if will get me outta here for a few days "why not?" "O.K. go to the stores office and pick up your stuff, you leave tonight." Great I thought, I'm going to Thailand. Well, at least I'll get some field pay, and a chance to eat on the companies nickle. I had been there before on a field trip, and thought it was o.k. but nothing special. Perhaps I had become cynical in my old age.


The flight over was nothing special. Of all the beautiful women that passed me during the boarding, I got stuck next to a drunken 20+ guy with a British accent, from Yale no less. Seemed way to interested in my activities, luckily he faded off to sleep pretty fast. When he awoke, we exchanged names and a few basic pleasantries before landing. "where you staying" he asked "some place called the Federal" I said as I picked up my bags. "Well, see you around maybe?" he said "Yeah, maybe" I said trying to be polite. I checked into the hotel, decent enough place, drank a few beers and slept.


The next morning, I awoke and headed to work. A 3 hour job I thought, should have this finished and be back by the pool before 6p.m.! I was an arrogant bastard sometimes. But do the job long enough, and it all seems easy. I met the crew at the airport, and got started. 2 hours later I was finished! 72 hours down time, the weekend, and then head back to work Monday, and easy job, and a lot of money! "looking for anything special?" asked Pong, the crew scheduler. He was always trying to get me laid or drunk or whatever. Rumor was he was queer, and liked "farangs" What Thais call foreigners. "No I think I'll just head back, this heat is killing me!" "Oh me too!" He said with a flakey smile. I had no idea what he meant, and didn't care. I got back to the hotel, and showered. I rested briefly, then decided to walk around and see what was going on around the main shopping area.


"Mike, Mike," I heard someone calling me. I turned around and saw Jake, the Brit from the plane ride. "Thought I might run into you" He said as if I was his only friend. "how about a few drinks, I'm buying!" Well, he was polite, and I was thirsty... We found a small sidewalk bar and a few hours later we were like old drunken friends. He wasn't so bad after all. "hey, ever been to Soi Cowboy?" he asked. "No, what's that?" "come on, have a look then!" and off we went walking along Sukhumvit road. I seem to recall hearing about this place somewhere, maybe from a cousin who passed through during the Vietnam war. He was always blabbing on about bars and pick up spots.


As we passed a department store, I tripped over a large envelope. "holy shit!" I said as I bent over to pick it up, "this damned thing nearly killed me!" I'm always exaggerating. "I'll have a look later when I get back to the hotel" I said and put it in my bag, and kept walking. We got to Soi Cowboy, a bar lined street with lots of hookers walking around. I like streets with bars and hookers. We went into a place called Long Gun and sat down. Jake explained he was a graduate student from Yale University, here to do research for his thesis on Journalistic Anthropology. I had no idea what this was, but he seemed a decent sort, and certainly had no problem buying drinks! He spoke excellent Thai as well, which came in handy. We ordered drinks, and I remember the envelope in my bag. How odd I thought, you are in a bar full of women, and all you can think of is an envelope? Perhaps I was getting old.


The waitress brought our drinks, and I decided to have a look between dance sets as the girls changed shifts. I pulled out the envelope, a large "office type thing" with a string that keeps it shut. I undid the string, and looked inside. At first I thought it was a dream, it couldn't possibly be what I saw, so I looked again. It was unbelievable, a 1/2 dozen large wads of Thai currency! All neatly bundled in 3 inch stacks! "What's it then?" Asked Jake "Oh, nothing" I said "but the next round is on me!" "As you go then!" said Jake lifting his glass. For the next hour, I sat there watching dancers and wondering how to spend this money, and wondering where it came from. For the most part, Bangkok is a poor city, so for some guy to be walking around with this kind of money was rare at best. Maybe he was a criminal I thought, and didn't deserve the money! I thought. Or maybe it belonged to a poor shop keeper, like those I had passed on Sukhumvit. Maybe they would go out of business if I didn't give it back! Maybe it belonged to a charitable organization that helped starving children, who would starve with out it! I decided I liked the first scenario best, and stuck with it. The only concern was how to spend it! "Buy me one cola please!" A pretty young girl said. Suddenly it dawned on me, I could spend some of it on her!


Tae was from a place called Issarn, the North east part of Thailand. Here village was near a place called Nakon-Noware which she said was very poor. Her parents were farmers, and had little money, so she worked here. Her dream was to own a small food shop. Fair enough I thought. We talked for awhile, and had a few drinks and I decided to buy her dinner. "o.k. pay bar" she said, so I paid up and Told Jake I'd see him around "cheers Mate" he said above the music as Tae and I left.


We ate at a nearby place, decent food and fair prices I thought, and then decided to see a movie. After the movie we went to a jazz club called Brown Sugar, which was really quite nice! We then retired for the evening. The following morning I woke up and Tae was busy putting away my clothes! Wow I thought this is something. "Hungry me" she said, "Tae go eat!" "O.k. o.k." I said and got dressed. We headed downstairs for breakfast. I ordered coffee and a newspaper. Still drowsy from the night before, I sipped the coffee, when something jolted me wide awake! It was the headline "police seek lost money." The article went on to say that a high ranking member of the Bangkok police had lost an envelope containing over one million bhat about $25,000usd. while transferring it from one police facility to another. Holy shit I thought, at least this explains where the money came from. So much for the poor shop keeper! I finished my coffee and told Tae I'd see her later. and gave her a few bhat for cab fare.


When I entered my room, I decided to count the money and see how much I had left. When I was done, I had over 3 million Bhat! But the paper said only 1 million. It made sense, take 3 million in a criminal bust, pocket 2 million and report 1 million to the police property room, it had been done a million times. Trouble was, he hadn't removed his cut yet. I couldn't believe my luck! I decided to stay in Bangkok a few days longer and really enjoy myself. I was allowed one phone call home a day, so I decided to call my boss and tell him I had tropical respiratory syndrome, a new virus which was sweeping Asia. I told him I would be quarantined for a week longer, and would bring a doctor's not when I returned. How hard could it be, I have 3 million bhat! He said no problem, and hung up. He was a gullible and dimwitted man, and that is what I liked about him.


I phoned Jake, and told him I was interested in sightseeing after all. He said no problem he'd be over in a bit. About an hour later we got in a cab for the grand palace. "Hey did you hear?" he asked "Hear what?" "Some cop was found dead this morning, he was the guy who lost the 1million bhat! This is turning into a typical Thai police drama! Apparently, some of the bills were marked and recorded. The news said they are showing up in bars around Soi Cowboy, this morning a girl cashed one in Tonglor The police are still looking for her, but they haven't got a good description" This is getting exciting I thought, just what I need! But I wasn't about to give up $75,000 and what were the chances of a problem? Jake and I toured around the Grand Palace, and decided to have a look around Ko SanRoad, a nearby spot with lots of backpackers and hippie types. We had lunch, and decided we'd meet up that night at Soi Cowboy, Long Gun was fast becoming a favorite spot. He headed off to take care of a few things. I headed back to the hotel for a nap and a shower.


I awoke around 6p.m. and headed to SoiCowboy. Along the way I stopped at a store to by water and cigarettes. As I left the shop, The window exploded, and glass flew everywhere! I had only seen things like it in the movies! As I got my wits together, I saw a car speeding off, a dark BMW and a man leaning out the rear window. I decided I didn't want to stick around, and walked away as fast as I could towards Soi Cowboy. Along the way, I felt something odd, almost as if someone was following me. A second later, a motor bike rolled up on the side walk, and the passenger made a grab for my. His attempt failed, no lose if it hadn't, a few condoms and a cheap camera, but I resented the attempt. In one piece, but a bit ruffled, I made it to Long Gun.


Jake was already there, and seemed a bit shaken. "what's wrong?" I asked "oh, nothing really...ah, do you mind me asking, what was in that envelope?" "What envelope?" I said trying to play dumb. "The one you found yesterday, you know, the one with a million bhat in it..." "What?" I said "if I had a million bhat I'd be..." "Right here trying to play dumb!" Jake snapped. "I work part time doing freelance writing for a few newspapers, I know a few cops, and they are investigating the lost money you may have found." "What makes you think I have it?" I asked. "Well, how many red headed farangs with a rose tattoo on their right arm do you know?" He asked "None" I said trying to cover up my arm. "Look" he said. "You, WE were seen yesterday, seems the guy who dropped it saw you pick it up and followed us here. He saw you leave with Tae there, and is sure you still have the money. Long story short mate, he wants it back. Further more, the money is traceable!" "Well, if I had it, and wanted to clean it up a bit, how would I do that?" I asked. "I mean assuming I still had any of it left. "You son of a bitch, you do have it, look, I don't want any of it, I just want to stay alive! today, I nearly got run down twice!" "Well, BKK is a dangerous place, lots of traffic, bad drivers etc..." "Look mate, BKK is a dangerous place, and the cops make it so! No sense thinking you can get away with this and leave, the money is traceable." Jake looked worried, and I figured if anyone could help me, it would be him, after all he was the only guy I knew in BKK, and he seemed to know his way around.


"O.k." I said "assuming I have the money, what would you suggest, and what's in it for you?" "First off, I'd say get rid of it, laundry it, pass it through some different sources, in a different city maybe." Seemed to make sense I thought, but then a lot of stuff made sense at times only to bite me later on. "O.k. help me out, and tell me what will you get out of this all?" "Nothing, just my neck and a few bhat for my trouble, I know a guy in Pattaya who can help us, deal?" "sure, why not?" I said, I had made dumber decisions in my life, and this all seemed to make sense. We headed outside and got a van ride to Pattaya, I decided to bring Tae along for company..


We arrived at the "Happy Man's bar" on Soi 8 and the place was in full swing, women and beer all over I could get used to this I thought, no more work hassles, no more alimony payments etc..."Bon Swa Jake!" A man yelled through the crowd "This way!" He gestured us into a small room, away from the noise. "Mike, this is Harvey" Jake said. "He can help us here." "O.k., and I suppose he'll need a few bhat for his trouble as well?" "Vell of course" he said with a thick French accent "after all, I have my bills to pay as well" he smiled. "Now then, you have about 1 million bhat to clean up?" "Aah yeah, sure" I said failing to mention the other 2 million, if they didn't know, I didn't! "well, just hand it to me then, and I will take care of it all" Harvey said. "Hand it over? You think I have it all here on me?" I asked. "Well, WHen will you have it" Harvey asked "Tomorrow morning I'll bring it by" I was enjoying this excitement! With that, Tae and I got up and went for dinner.


The next morning, I woke up, and hide the 2 million bhat in the room, and headed to Harvey's. We had agreed to meet at 10 a.m. As I was walking down walking street, I heard a loud crack, on my right and breaking glass to my left. I recognized it as a gun shot that had missed. As I picked my self up, I saw a car speeding away, the same black BMW from the other night. Who ever it was knew who I was and knew I had the money. I quickly ran back to the hotel. My idea was to get the rest of the money, and Tae and get out of Thailand ASAP! When I got back to the room, Tae and the money were gone! Now I was pissed! I don't mind a near miss on my life, but a woman lying to me and taking $50,000 really pissed me off! It was too much like my last divorce! I ran out of the hotel, and headed back to Harvey's. I arrived at his bar and was ready to tell him and Jake I was outta here now!, but when I entered, the was Harvey, Jake, a man in a police uniform, and a man in a dark suit. I also noticed a younger man who I recognized as the man who had just tried to shoot me "Don't worry" said the man with the suit "The shots were just my warning. You have something very important to me, an associate of mine dropped and envelope 2 days ago on Sukhumvit road, I believe you have it." "All this over an envelope with a shopping list and pack of Kleenex?" I said. "You have until 10p.m. to return my 1,000,000bhat, it was stolen from me by an over anxious associate, who is now crab food, unless you wish to join him, you will do as I say " with that he left, and his associates followed.


"You have to give him back the money" Jake and Harvey yelled! "and sooner the better, if we are lucky, he'll only beat us severely!" "none sense" I said, "he seems reasonable, besides, there is something more going one here, or else he wouldn't have given us any time, he is worried about something." "Look, just hand it over and we'll call it a night!" Said Harvey. "Well, o.k. but I have to go get it, no way I'd walk around with that kind of cash. " On that note, I left. I walked around Pattaya for a few hours pissed, I couldn't believe Tae had done me like that. I was seriously pissed, but nothing I could do about it. I stopped to look at the sun set. It was great, I could really get used to this place I thought, lots of cheap eats and drinks, and women, and never a dull moment. I decided to go have a beer. In a few hours I would be poor again, and I didn't want to face that sober.


I walked into a bar called "The cats Mads" and ordered a beer "Wot the fuck you thinkin' yank?" I heard a voice say with a rough british accent "This is an Proper English mans bar, and you ain't a proper British man now are you?" I turned to see a large man with hair as red as mine "Aah no" I said, "I came in so I could leave, see ya" and before I could take another step, he punched my stomach hard, and I nearly fell over "well, you'll be wantin' ta take that with ya..." With that, I stumbled out the door. Great, I thought, all this, and I'll still go home broke, the thought that I might not be going home never occurred to me. I stood there for a second, and a beer bottle whizzed passed my head "I said git goin man, you don't want me commin' out there now do ya?" and off I walked. I got about 100 meters down the road, and was feeling better, starting to think of all the things I should have done to the guy, when all of a sudden I felt a hard shove push me down a small alley. "Well mate, looks like we'll keep the fight going!" said the man from the man from the bar "Got notin' else better, and I'll learn ya about comin' where ya don't belong!" He pulled his fist back and I was awaiting the punch that would alleviate the need for future dental work, when he just sort of stopped, I heard a gunshot, and a car roaring away. The man from the bar just stood there with a blank look on his face and dropped. I stood there with a blank look of my own, when I heard a Tuk Tuk come up from the other end of the ally. Hey, Mike, here!" It was Tae "You bozo guy, you leave big money in room, you know some girl steal money from man, I no steal money you, I love you to mut! you good man, have big heart for me, I think good! Why you no come back room, before I go? Hey, you butterfly on Tae? I no like butterfly man! only want man love Tae!..." I couldn't believe this, I was standing over a guy who was most likely dead or about to be, and I was being read the riot act from a girl I'd know 2 days. This was all to familiar to a twice married man. Before I could get out a "sorry honey, won't happen again..." Tae looked at the guy on the ground and asked what happened. I explained the whole thing which actually took a surprisingly short amount of time. "No problem Tae help you, me love you! no problem honey" We loaded the dead guy in the tuktuk, and headed out of town. I now had 3 hours to get the money back to Harvey's, or face severe consequences.


We pulled into a small row of shops, and Tae began talking to some old guy. She explained to me that she told the guy our friend was quite drunk, but had expressed interest in a rose tattoo on his right arm...! Brilliant I thought, I couldn't believe she'd thought of this! She also made a few calls on her cell phone, no idea what she was saying, or to who. I was amazed with the energy she was putting into helping me. Her resourcefulness was really quite a turn on. "O.k. o.k. sep, finit!" said the man with the tattoo gun "just like yours" Tae said pointing to my arm. Yeah, imagine that. We loaded the guy back into the Tuk Tuk, and went back to Harvey's We pulled around back, and we dumped the guy in the klong. We had about fifteen minutes to spare. We were hiding behind a wooden fence behind the bar when Jake and Harvey came out having heard the splash and tuk tuk. a second later the man in the suit and the cop appeared. The cop and the younger man went to the bank of the klung, and pulled the dead guy out, "yes it's him" they yelled in Thai "see" they said pointing at the tattoo. they also fished out my shoulder bag, which now contained about 800,000bhat more or less...the guy in the suit seemed pissed, but also seemed happy to get some of his money back. It was all part of some big graft scam I would never understand. "yeah, him all right" said Jake, I'd know him anywhere" "Yep, no mistaking that tattoo and fat gut" Said Harvey. Both seemed confused, but appeared to be playing along. The man in the suit seemed happy with this, and most of his money, and left, shouting a warning to Harvey as he did so.


Tae and I jumped in a Taxi, and I laid low. She gave directions, and we were soon at the bus station boarding a bus for some southern part. "how did you figure this all out?" I asked "...oh, very simple, Tae smart, I listen when I hear, one time, friend sister me has the problem, and she call pong, he tuktuk driver, he brother friend my friend cousin, so he help me..." Somehow, this was making too much sense, and I leaned my head against the window of the bus , and went to sleep.


The sun Ko Lanta is great, and the beach exquisite. It had been 3 years since that exciting weekend in BKK. My dreams of working until I died and then some had been replaced by early retirement in a tropical paradise. I finished my beer and was ready for lunch. I knew a great place on the beach to eat, it was called Tae's and the tourists and locals loved it. SHe had her whole family working there, and other than them limiting me to 2 beers a day, I found them all quite nice. Tae and I had a place up the beach from here, we had bought with some of the money, and the restaurant and my retirement checks were way more than enough. The scar from the laser tattoo removal had healed, and I was getting used to my shaved bald head. Jake and Harvey stopped by once in awhile. They had turned out to be good friends after all. Didn't even want a cut of the cash, just a free meal now and then, which didn't set well with Tae's mom, but we always explained it away. Jake never did make it to Yale to finish grad school. He married a LongGun dancer and got a job teaching at the main University in Bangkok, English literature I think. Harvey wasn't married, but did have the same girlfriend he'd been passionately arguing with for the last several years, say what you will, but when it comes to love, those French men never give up! And I doubt I'll ever give up on this life, or this dream.



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