UMM Thailand Ch. 12: Oh, one more thing.
What happened next was unexpected except if he thought about it, then it made sense. What happened next was: nothing.
He sat in the chair as Somsak and Apinya disappeared into the temple. After that, nothing happened again. Maybe this was the time in movies when they just deleted this scene as nothing happened. The director got his double macchiato and the crew went for sandwiches.
As nothing continued to happen, his extra sensory skills came up with the novel idea of standing up. He did that. A woman sat playing with her phone over under an umbrella. He went over and without exchanging a single word, paid her for the foot massage. Hands together, a slight bow, and he was free to roam about the country.
His no-award-winning commentary had earned him at least one coconut milk green curry. The whole vision of sipping the spicy hot liquid took over his mind so much that he walked in a daze out of the temple compound and focused only on what would make that happen: him sitting down eating that curry.
Being in Thailand and all, it wasn’t much of a wait. After a motorcycle repair shop, a shuttered storefront, and an excursion tour company, there it was: coconut milk green curry.
He ordered the curry with extra hot chilies and a Thai iced tea to cool off. He sat in a wicker chair looking out onto the street and planned to not think at all about what just happened.
As if he just done a strenuous workout, he felt immediately tired and the chair felt like he hadn’t sat for hours. Quite contradictory to the fact that that’s exactly what he had been doing. He let out a big sigh of a breath and let his eyes closed while he dreamt of curry and sweet milky tea.
“Weird, right?” came the voice almost immediately as the top of his eyelids met up with the bottom of his eyelids. It was so sudden and so well timed it must have been a coincidence or maybe the crashing of the two eyelids coincided with someone talking on the other side of the cafe and he just heard it clearly because of some odd bamboo acoustics. He kept his eyes closed. it would go away.
“The whole red checkerboard pattern, helping the girl, helping you,” the voice kept going. Very casual, quick with the language, and just plain way too close. He opened his eyes. There was no one in front of him. Then he saw her out of the corner of his eye.
“I mean,” she just kept going, “you probably expected me or at least someone like me, right? I mean, am I right?” she said and waited for his response.
“Uh, yeah, I guess so,” he said as his overworked brain could not keep up with the program.
“Yeah, I thought so,” she said and nodded and sipped her Thai iced tea. Charlie’s deepest, darkest thought at that precise moment in his monumental life was Is she drinking my Thai iced tea?
“Who are you?” Charlie asked because no other intelligent questions were up on the big boards of his mind at present.
“Yeah, I know, right?” she let go so many words and still said so little. “You’d think, see this?” she turned her head around and tied up in the bun of her long, blond hair was a fabric holding the whole concoction together. “You know, red, checkerboard, that whole thing,” she paused only to sip her drink.
“Then me, girl, backpacker-y-, 20 or maybe 30 something, you don’t know, probably needs some help, is, you know,” and she put both hands up and with her fingers made air quotes in front of her face, “lost traveler wanderer thing going on. Yeah, I get it. You thought it’d be me. I get it.” She seemed to stop talking just randomly, like a sketchy WiFi connection.
“But I was late, so, yeah, no, so that didn’t happen,” she said and took her umpteenth sip from her seemingly bottomless drink.
“You were late?” Charlie asked.
“Yeah, kinda missed the boat you know.”
“Well, not literally a boat, just a figure of speech and all.”
“You missed a bus?” Charlie asked, wondering why he even cared what she missed.
“A tuk tuk?”
“Time’s up. I was just late, that’s all. Ha!” She laughed and snorted a little and took another sip. “But it all worked out, right? I mean, you, blind massage girl, monk dude. You’re good, right?”
“Uh,” Charlie mumbled.
“But I’m glad I caught up with you here, right?”
“Uh huh,” Charlie said in a daze. Blond backpacker-y girl sat staring out into the street. Then, of course, she started talking again.
“Well, great talking with you Charlie, but I gotta split,” she said and looked at her wrist where there was no watch.
Charlie had exactly 87 questions for her, but he was learning that it was almost no use.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” she said as she stood. “I got you this.” She handed him a small package wrapped in Thai newspaper.
“Should I open it now?” he asked.
“Whenever,” she said. “Oh, one more thing,” she said and bent down and got a little way too close to Charlie’s face. He didn’t say anything. He was learning.
“Oh, one more thing,” she said and bent down and got a little way too close to Charlie’s face. He didn’t say anything. He was learning.
Her eyes, like now so many of these people he didn’t yet understand, were swirling and sparkling. It was mesmerizing, like a kaleidoscope. It freaked him out much less this time.
“You want to play, right?” she asked, her speech having slowed down from a law-breaking speedster to a turtle-powered lesson in English pronunciation.
“Yes,” he said without hesitation from a place other than his mind or his vocal chords.
Her speech popped back to her bouncy, cheerful self.
“Good, figured as much, but I have to ask, by law and all.”
“By law?” he asked.
“Just kidding, just a figure of speech, I guess.”
Charlie smiled and even almost laughed slightly.
Hair bun girl then brought her hands together, pulled them up to just along the ridge of her nose to the point where her fingertips reached the center of her eyes. She then closed her eyes slowly and bowed slightly.
Charlie returned the favor and also closed his eyes. As he opened them, she was gone.