1910 Eastman Gang leader Chick Tricker’s Park Row dive bar is closed by the New York City Committee of Fourteen. However he is able to move his operations to the vice district known as Satan’s Circus purchasing Dan the Dude’s Stag Cafe on West 28th Street later renaming it the Cafe Maryland.
Pookie’s continuing adventures in Thailand:
About two weeks ago I had dinner with a long time Thai woman friend of mine. I will call her M. She had just come from divorce court, having divorced her husband and was feeling sad and she cried a lot. She said she needed to get away and suggested driving me to Chiang Mai so that I could visit Cordt, Choti, Gerry and Leo. We agreed to leave in a few days but she then disappeared and I had to cancel the trip.
On Wednesday last week she called, telling me she had been in the hospital. Whether she was there to cure some malady or to dry out from drinking too heavily, I never got straight. She suggested that we go away together for a few days.
Since my massage was to be on Thursday rather than Friday that week, we agreed to leave at 8 AM Friday morning. I was expecting to spend a day or two on Koh Chang or one of the other islands I had not visited but always wanted to.
On Friday at eight thirty she called and said she would arrive by about 9:30. There being no sign of her at that time, I took my suitcase and went to breakfast to await developments.
At about 10:15 she arrived. I invited her to join me for breakfast. She said she was not hungry and took my luggage to her car. When she returned she told me that some friends and family would be going with us. I was annoyed because when a Thai woman tells a Farang that friends and family will join them, it usually only means one thing, the Farang pays for all. When we got to the car, I saw that there were three young men in the back seat. Being Thai young men they could have been anywhere from 17 to 35 years old or more.
One seated in the back seat to the far left was clutching what appeared to be a well-worn large orange teddy bear. I was later to realize instead of a teddy bear it was a stuffed ox or water buffalo complete with large horns, but it was too late. Having failed to catch his name, I already started calling him Teddy Bear Boy in my mind.
The second, who spoke english fairly well and was sitting in the middle, I recognized. He worked in a local upscale restaurant called Mata Hari as a waiter or bartender. He I named Mata Hari.
The third was a sullen looking young man wearing a S.W.A.T tee shirt who said little during the entire trip. I called him the Sullen One.
I got the impression that the Mata Hari and Teddy Bear Boy were gay. It would be a mistake however for a foreigner to take anything about a Thai at face value. This is not because it is the so-called inscrutable orient, but just that different cultures give off their own cultural signals. I learned this in Italy when I lived there during the late 60’s. What I thought were facial and gesture signals that would signify no in America, actually indicated consent among the Italians.
Now with the three young men sitting behind me and being annoyed already, I became even more uncomfortable as we took off, not down the coast as I expected, but into the rural areas behind Paradise by the Beach where the paved roads disappeared for long stretches and every now and then a new subdivision named something like Grand View or Hillside would suddenly loom out of the jungle vegetation. For some reason, I pictured in my mind that scene in Godfather II where Clemenza sat in the back seat of the automobile behind Michael’s sister’s errant husband as they drove into the Medowlands.
Finally we came to a large barn like building that in the US would be called a Roadhouse. We pulled into the gravel parking lot. M. drove to the far end of the lot and backed up to the edge and parked so that we faced the entrance to the building.
She then reached down onto the area separating the front seats where the change and cup holder usually reside and picked up a handful of large bullets that I had not noticed before. The casings were shiny brass and the blunt points, bright copper.
My first thought was that M., who often engaged in producing crafts that she would then sell, had acquired these to make some sort of strange jewelry. When she was a little child she would make and sell those flower arrangements that are sold on just about every street corner in Thailand.
The image of the little 5-year-old flower girl quickly dissipated however, when she then reached down beside her seat next to the door and pulled up a very large and very mean looking 45 caliber pistol. While admittedly it was not yet a Holy Shit moment, there was a sharp intake of breath on my part.
She then, with the gun placed next to her ear and pointing straight up towards the roof of the car, shouldered the car door open and got out. She had what appeared to me to be a look of grim determination on her face. At the same moment the back doors flew open and the boys in the back scrambled out and disappeared somewhere behind the vehicle.
I did not look for where they went because I was too fixed on watching her stride determinately, gun in hand now down by her thigh, across the gravel parking lot, up the two wooden stairs leading to the entrance of the building and then disappearing into the darkness.
I thought, for a morning that started out so unpromising, it may after all turn out to be an interesting day after all.
I apologize but my recent trip so occupied my time, that I was unable to prepare anything to send.