Chapter 10 – Crinkle crinkle…
There is a man standing in the corner of our 250 Baht room. It is not a large room; it is a small room. It is a room tiled from foot-to-torso-to-head in brilliant white – surprisingly well grouted – tiles, each of which has a small, uniformed, singular floral pattern. There is a sheeted double-bed and a ceiling-fan in the room. Minus living beings and baggage, there is only a sheeted double-bed and a ceiling fan in the room. There are no plug sockets; the tiler may well have tiled over them during his fervous tiling. If there was a well-centred drain, it would be an adequate wet-room. This guesthouse on Koh San Road was recommended by Eli and is named ‘Live Good’; it appears that the family owners also breed competition Chihuahua’s. So far, the living has been adequately mediocre.
The man in the corner of our room appears to show no grace for my state of semi-conscious, half-asleep, half in self-induced delirium; a particularly ungrateful uninvited guest. The contents of countless bottles of Beer Chang and a bail of Sang Som Rum buckets have sapped the hydration from the grey matter of my skull, now a prune in a hot egg-shell, throbbing in time with the fan that pulses overhead with deliberate, consistent aggression. It’s clearly smug in awareness of its necessity. This room is alive, and thus, by law of objection and inanimacy, I am surely dead. Perhaps this is my tomb, these four corners, these tiles sealed so as not a soul could escape, the sadistic whirling blades mocking the memory of a fresh wind. Or perhaps I am just suffering with the onset of an irresponsibly un-nursed hangover.
The creature in my room, a morphing shadow in the light of early dawn, is undoubtedly a thief. He has stolen one of the three remaining corners in what has become my ever-receding burial suite, and I question my ability to defend the fourth in which the bed – the boat upon which I am sure to cross the river Styx – is moored. The confusion that he is causing (the broad back topped with a tangled black mane sways my conviction of its gender) is simply unbearable. I try to bury my face into the sheet for protection despite its feeble offerings – it is a shield worn thin and grey with washes undoubtedly into their thousands – but I am all mind and no body. I think therefore I am? No; I think where I am not, therefore I am where I think not. There is an innate separation where “I” is an understanding of “self” constructed in opposition to the body which is an animal; my body feels quite decidedly corporeal whilst my mind deludes with kaleidoscopic images of the creature, comatose eyelids allowing only the scantest of light from which to create an accurate image.
He does not recognise me and thus makes no attempt to escape through the door to his right, with or without the corner. I consider that maybe he is not yet a thief if he has made attempt to exit; I recollect my brother telling me that a security guard cannot apprehend you unless you have left the premises with alleged stolen goods:
“They can’t nick you unless you have left the shop with the stolen goods.”
So he said.
This thief of potential makes no attempt. If anything, he leers at his potentially stolen loot. He leans into the corner, lazy, lethargic, even. He must know I am trying to sleep, as the dark and devious intruder mockingly crinkles crisp packets to keep me awake. Crinkle. Crinkle. Crinkle.
Crinkling his crisp packets. Crinkle…
It takes me this long to engage reflexive thinking and realise that my delirium has quite noticeably begun to borderline insanity. Crinkling his crisp packets? Now, I do not aspire to logic but if this is my deduction then it is that of a madman’s. I open my eyes. And it is not until I open my eyes that I realise that they have not really been open at all throughout the entirety of my observation. Though eyelids may have been parted, however hairline (the coagulation of scum has left cemented skin folds like pavement cracks and I feel susceptible to blind-fold by dental floss), the relay of visual interpretation had been reduced to face value and the most basic of emotions: fear. Fear had deduced that there had stood a dark stranger stealing room-corners in a cheap Bangkok guest-house whilst mockingly crinkling crisp packets in a purely sadistic form of aural torture. Now, I could quite clearly see that it was not a stranger, a thief nor an unrecognisable creature; it was Luke. It was Luke, propping up the corner in a state more un-dead than my own, an animated corpse; a ghost ship. And it was not the crinkling of crisp packets which scratched at my eardrums but the continuous trickle of concentrated, dangerously high PH human urine against a warm, tiled floor.
“Luke…are you pissing on the floor mate?” The words are frail, surely thrown from afar as once they are spoken I cannot recollect having been the one to regurgitate those sounds. Barely managed, they are dry, hoarse; powder in the air.
The tangled mane turns, a misery of black cloaked in intermittently by shadow. The fan chops stagnant rays of light arriving through barred windows revealing under hypnotic strobe a man both perplexed at his own presence, yet solemn for an apparent absence. I am certainly concerned for his soul.
“Mate…you can’t piss on the floor in our room…it’s our room! You’re pissing, man, go to the toilet in the hall!” Robotic recognition; he turns, takes a moment to figure the door-handle and exits. He leaves the corner firmly where it should be, though desecrated with stale piss. I sink back into sleep, lay tight in my vessel, content that the boatman will guide the way for my two coins. Illusions pass as I am slowly seduced by sleep, illusions of Luke’s head hitting the toilet seat as I am certain of hearing a thud from the hallway, a thud which trembles the tiles with the threat of faraway thunder. In a brief moment of lucidity (a lamented thought) I wonder that a good friend should take it upon himself to check upon the conscious of another good friend. Then I figure that a good friend wouldn’t keep another good friend awake with incessant crisp-packet crinkling.