English is not my first language, suggestions welcome!
Bold: The characters are speaking in English.
“Take responsibility for what you’ve done to my BMW. Or else… I will kill you.”
These words lingered in my thoughts. Unable to shake them away, I hastily got out of bed despite the feeling of sharp pain in every step I took. But the fact that my life was in danger was a more pressing issue than my sore hips. Glancing at the clock, I would be late if I stalled any longer. To tell you the truth, I had no clue why I was so afraid of Alexey. Yet, when I thought back to his menacing eyes, his full back tattoo, not to mention how he said in a half-joking half-serious manner that he was actually the mafia, made me uneasy.
Getting up, I leaned against the wall with my hand, feeling my way to the bathroom like a blind person. The reason for this is because… my heart was in shock!! There were traces of blood on my mattress and blanket, not to mention it was mixed with something white and sticky which hadn’t yet dried. Turning back to look at this scene, I felt my cheeks grow hot as if someone took a clothes iron to my face. Certainly that blood isn’t the blood of a chicken or duck butchered as an offering to some deity, but rather the result of ‘something’ which needs no recapping. This life, the next life, and the life after next… there was no way I could forget.
How could I ever forget when it was that sexy…that passionate… If it were an erotic film, the audience would all be experiencing severe nosebleeds! And for the love of god, why was I on the receiving end?
My phone rang and I hurriedly reached for it. A string of Russian spewed out of the speaker without any indication of pausing to take a breath. I listened but was stunned. “Ha-ha-hallo… soree miss– I don’t understand.”
“Mr. Alexander Nazarbayev told me to meet you.” The lady on the other end of the line switched to English immediately. “He told me that you were having trouble with the documents for your visa application. I’m currently waiting in the lobby of the condominium, I can only spare you fifteen minutes.”
I was stunned for another two seconds by the manner of speaking which was forceful and threatening, likewise to a certain someone else. “Ah… I…”
“Mr. Phachara come down in five minutes or forget about your visa. Your decision.”
Is your mom a military instructor? Talk about brutal. But this was my last opportunity so I hurriedly grabbed it. “Yes, yes, yes, I’m coming downstairs right this moment. I’ll be there in three minutes even, feel free to time me.” I quickly ended the call and began to run, hips protesting with a sharp pain to the point where my tears started to fall. But I wasn’t going to giving up woi! I’ll fight for my life to get this visa! And when I have it in my hands I’ll step on that hottie’s face and give him a crooked nose, just you wait!
Madam Yelena left, leaving my unconscious body still in shock on the lobby sofa.
‘None of your documents are sorted…’ She said. ‘…You’re missing important papers too, no wonder Alexey was frustrated.’
‘Alexey? Frustrated?’ I asked, voice weak.
‘Actually, frustrated is an understatement…’ Madam Yelena supplied in an indifferent tone, her eyes assessing me from head to toe. I couldn’t help but smile dryly. Yet I was more curious as to how that guy knew it was me who vandalized his BMW. I made sure to survey the surrounding area multiple times, seeing if there were any security cameras or paparazzis around. Or were his policemen/bodyguards hiding nearby hoping to catch me red-handed? Regardless of how much I pondered it over, I was unable to come up with a sound explanation. Alexey was probably livid right now…
‘But I’m curious. Visa applications are not in Alexey’s line of responsibility and yet he ended up calling me’. Her large green eyes glared at me ferociously, making my already deflated heart drop out of my chest. ‘In any case, I’ll get my secretary to follow-up on the invitation letter. She will be contacting you later.’ That said, she reached for her Marc Jacobs leather bag and slung it over her shoulder.
‘Wait, wait, wait, but nobody is inviting me. I’m going by myself.’
Madam Yelena paused before looking at me with pity. ‘There is no chance of entering Kazakhstan unless you have an invitation letter. Although Alexey could ask the ambassador to process a visa specifically for you, if any problem should arise then he will be the one to bear responsibility. I doubt that Alexey is that stupid. Hopefully you can sympathize. Instead, my secretary will sort it out for you.’
I was shocked.
That hottie is too arrogant! I’m going to have a word with him the next time we meet. Does he think that I’m going digging for uranium and oil in his backyard or something? And even if I was planning to for real, wouldn’t I contract cancer before getting my hands on said uranium? Digging for uranium isn’t as easy as ‘digging your own grave’ you know.
‘Please be on standby to pick up the call Mr. Petch.’
I thanked Madam Yelena two to three more times complete with a pair of imploring eyes; somebody please save me. She nodded her head in farewell and walked away, trailing behind the ‘tok tok’ sound of her stiletto heels as it made impact with the shiny polished floor.
What to do… Should I change my plans from Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-Kirghistan to Russia-Uzbekistan-and the Tran-Siberian Network instead?
And what if I’m forced by that hottie to cover the costs of the paint job? I’ll really become penniless, my vacation thrown out the window too. To lose my virginity but also my wallet to a single man, I can’t let that happen!
Turning left and right, I couldn’t think properly so I called P’Pun instead. As it happens, he was with his girlfriend NuDaeng… but they were in the middle of an argument. “Hey, what’s up Petch?”
I smiled dryly. “It’s a long story P’Pun.”
“If it’s long then tell me the short version– NuDaeng can you give ten minutes to deal with this call?”
“Hua, P’Pun resolve your problem with NuDaeng first, my issue can wait, it’s not a big one.” Actually it was kind of big. But to say that it is small, that is also partially true. Now that I mentioned it, I wonder which is more pressing? My loss of virginity or the cost of the car paint job; that hottie was definitely going to suck my blood dry.
NuDaeng’s voice traveled through the phone. “P’Pun, our conversation isn’t finished yet, is talking to P’Petch more important than me? It’s been like this so many times already, I can’t stand it anymore.”
“It’s not just Petch, NuDaeng! Be it work, eating, travelling, or the editor, all of these things are more important if you don’t quit being so selfish.”
I rubbed my nose, P’Pun really is too much. When it comes to being impatient, no one else could compare. “I’ll call you back later.”
So here I was, sitting and taking in deep breaths. This was my problem so I should be the one to fix it.
P’Pun called me back fifteen minutes later, his voice exhausted. “Sorry about earlier Petch.”
“Hua, it’s alright, I managed to solve my problem already.” I replied while ruffling my hair with a towel, it was almost dry. My mouth held onto a slice of toast as I pressed the power button on the T.V. remote. Once my hair was dry, I grabbed the shirt which was hanging in my closet to wear. Don’t even think to scrunch your nose because something smells off. One advantage that I had over the typical unruly photographer was that I was not as filthy. I wash and iron my own clothes. Not to brag but they’re extremely clean too. ‘Breeze Excel’ when are you going to sponsor me?
(TN: Thai washing detergent guaranteed to wash stains dating back to your grandma’s decade)
Before becoming a freelancer, I worked as a journalist covering politics for nearly two years. However, my editor at the time saw that I was unsuitable for the job. She said that I was clueless, often falling behind others. To be a journalist in the field of politics one must excel at speaking with a ‘hidden meaning’, as well as have connections to those in the government. In spite of it all, this career did make me pick up one good habit. As I had to come in regular contact with high profile figures, and given that I cared about my looks and enjoyed fashion to some extent, I became the only person who dressed presentably among my colleagues in the same profession.
(TN: Speaking with a hidden meaning – Thailand is underpinned by the Lèse-majesté law, as such journalists are required to ‘talk around’ sensitive subjects.)
After not experiencing any success in the field of politics, I was redirected to work in social news with a fellow senior reporter. This was especially nice. Although I had to juggle several tasks at once, the work was not particularly hard; girls love getting their photos taken after all. My seniors even teased me about how some celebrities normally regarded as ‘rarely smiling tigers’ agreed to all of my requests without fuss.
Luck was on my side when I became acquainted to a certain editor from a famous high-end fashion magazine. As such, I transferred from being a social news photographer to being a fashion photographer. I gradually became more well-known after taking photos for some famous names, be it stars or highly professional models. Whoever was popular at the time, I also accrued a portion of their fame. In fact, work was busy to the point where my mother asked whether I was renting an apartment for a ghost settle down in.
Yet, it was still curious that over the course of this past year and a half since fortunately landing this job, I had not once been invited overseas for work.
Nonetheless, life has its ups and downs. Having to travel here and there as part of my job made me yearn for a stable workplace. I was becoming slightly mental due to the perpetual fear of waking up late for work. Furthermore, my health was also deteriorating due to alcohol. After finishing a night out with one drinking group, I would repeat this process the next day with a different drinking group. However, a turning point occurred recently when I was hired as a photographer for a foreign male model. He was the lover of a well-known celebrity, but given his age he could have been her son. Recalling that night, me and him (I couldn’t remember his name) went drinking just the two of us. I threw back several glasses of white wine, glass after glass till I became extremely drunk. With no idea of how I returned back to the hotel, I could only remember sleeping uncomfortably due to a bear-buffalo creature lying on top of my body all night long. Later, I woke up to discover that there was trouble at the set. The forty-year old lady had gone on a rampage, hitting and slapping her young lover, in turn causing a huge ruckus. She pointed at me all of sudden and started to curse viciously, voice peaking at 180 decibels as she accused me of stealing and eating up her ‘kid’. Only a small amount of my ego remained intact. Although I felt resentful, I was forced to endure it. Getting more involved with this lady would only mean further loss of my reputation, as well as being officially branded as a foreigner stealer. Sorry but I don’t really like eating ‘foreigners’. They don’t taste good, especially the one I had last night, that was particularly horrible.
(TN: Eating ‘Foreigners’ – The Thai word ‘Farang’ has double meaning, it can refer to either a foreigner or the Guava fruit.)
After losing to alcohol, losing my job, losing friendships and losing money in that fiasco… I decided to ‘revolutionize’ myself, this being to only accept jobs which required no significant human interaction.
It was at this moment in which the same editor offered me a hand once more. I was entrusted to the oh-so-hardcore editor Chid from a separate major publishing house as a freelance photographer regularly dealing with columns about food, drinks, shopping and travel for nearly ten other magazines. He then entrusted me to P’Pun who would initially help organize my work schedule. In a way, P’Pun was also placed in my care, I aided him during times when he begins to lose his mind.
Although we worked in different fields, we became very close. It was to the point where several people often asked whether I was secretly P’Pun’s mistress. And why do I have to be the mistress? Does no one ever assume that I might be the sugar daddy? Who the hell knows. My figure may not be cut out for the role but my heart is all for it.
Fortunately, during this period I had amassed quite a sum of money and therefore was not in any difficult position. Yet I swore to myself then and there that… that what? Have a guess? That I would quit drinking? Hua, I’m not ‘that’ brave. You shouldn’t judge me so highly.
I just… quit drinking the cheap knockoffs. From now on I’ll only drink brand-name alcohols! Hu hu hu.
“Hey Petch, are you going anywhere today?”
I answered P’Pun that I was going to go to the embassy, then during the afternoon I had photography work at a practice graduation ceremony for a certain billionaire’s daughter. For the cost of half a day’s work, ten-thousand or so baht was more than worth it for a freelancer like me.
“Is that so? Uh, nevermind then. I was initially going to invite you out for a drink.”
Uuk!! From just that one word, last night’s incident entered my thoughts once again in a series of disconnected scenes, especially the moment in which xxxx– Ugh I don’t want to describe it, talk about embarrassing.
“P’Pun, I can’t drink right now, it’s Buddhist Lent.” I’ll truly have to refrain from alcohol this time. Although it might be a little late, it was better than having P’Pun follow after that hottie’s footsteps. I rather not have two husbands thank you very much, this isn’t something to joke about. Thinking about it made me depressed. If that hottie’s key card console stays broken for any longer, he’ll be setting up camp in my room indefinitely. I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Men who develop a taste for other men know well that what happens once is bound to happen again. With that said, how was he going to make me pay for his car? I was afraid to find out. Just imagining the possibilities gave me goosebumps.
“What the hell Petch, weren’t you drunk just the other day at Thonglor?” P’Pun trapped me with his words, his voice was oddly strained. “Just go… celebrate with me for becoming single.”
“Hua!!!” I shouted by accident. “You must be kidding!”
“I’m as single as I can ever be. It’s time to celebrate.”
“Weren’t you dating NuDaeng for over two years? How come you broke it off with her so easily?”
“Who’s this NuDaeng person? I don’t know them.”
P’Pun was overcome with Alzheimer’s all of a sudden. I scratched my head, eyes glancing at the time. I had an hour, hopefully I could make it in time. That hottie was waiting for me…
“I can’t drink but I can accompany you to dinner, are you interested? How about Phra Nakorn Bar around Rajadamnern?”
“…Mmm, I’m interested. I’m interested but I have to go catch an interview with the prime minister first. I tried calling the Uzbek embassy but no one was willing to cooperate. They’re so reluctant, it’s not as if I’m asking for a free plane ticket you know?”
I laughed ‘ha ha’, but then thought of how if it was the handsome and kind Sasha, he definitely wouldn’t reject P’Pun’s request. “I have something good to give you, are you interested? It’ll guarantee you an interview with the prime minister, but before that I need you to promise me two things.”
“Number one, you have to quit drinking with me until Buddhist Lent ends.” Going on strike by yourself is difficult, a friend is needed in order to share the suffering and achieve the end goal. “Number two, please treat me to free food at Phra Nakorn Bar tonight senior~”
P’Pun stilled before beginning to ramble complaints as if a bus had run over his foot. Regardless, he then let out a long sigh. “Okay okay, if it was somebody other than you I would have kicked them off their high horse already.”
“See you at 8 o’ clock senior~”
“Okay so how about that number, who am I calling?”
“Thank you~❤️️❤️️❤️️” I grinned…hu hu hu…although that hottie may force me to pay for the car paint job, I was getting a free dinner tonight. I had survived another day woi!
“I’ll think of it as charity work for the stray dogs and cats then.” P’Pun interjected languidly. “Stop playing around and give me the number already you cheeky pup.”
Aow… I’m reconsidering to hand you the number of a certain (alpha) dog hottie instead now.
Thump thump… thump thump… the fifth floor.
Thump thump thump… thump thump thump… the eighth floor.
Thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump thump… the fourteenth floor.
The elevator doors opened up to a large 1.5 meter walkway covered by a red carpet stretching out in front of me towards hell– Hua! I mean towards the hottie’s embassy. My heart drummed violently as if ready to burst out of my chest.
‘Take responsibility for what you’ve done to my BMW. Or else… I will kill you.‘
The closer I got, the more unnerved I became. I felt the traces of an oncoming stomach ache. Why is it that every time I visit this embassy, I feel dizzy like I’m about to faint.
Today was Wednesday, the visa section was open and there were several people waiting as usual. Every one of them looked defeated. The same frustrated tomboy girl was here along with the short Japanese man. The beautiful Vietnamese-looking girl was clinging to the arm of her European lover while speaking in a flirty manner. I licked my parched lips. Why did my heart feel so heavy despite not having done anything wrong?
I passed by the glass partition which had an extremely Russian-looking guy fussing over the person applying for a visa. Behind was a tall lady with golden hair, arms crossed and sipping at her coffee while making small conversation. I looked at my wristwatch. When do I go in? Also, should I apologize to that hottie? What do I do?
‘Knock knock knock’. Suddenly, the person behind the glass partition tapped on its surface and waved me over amidst the confused eyes of ten other people queuing in line. “Are you calling me?”
The man behind the counter beckoned with his finger. “Mr. Phachara, come in.”
The automatic lock unbolted and I waddled into the glass room anxiously (I felt like a penguin). The staff behind the counter pointed to a particular door. “Wait in the room over there.”
I lurched my head, peering into the room. The lights were dim and the entire room had nothing except for a long rectangular table, two chairs and a hanging lamp. The glass slot on the door had a metal sheet which you could slide open and close. This was clearly an interrogation room. I swiveled back to question the man with my eyes but he simply nodded back as if there was nothing wrong with this situation. “Alexander will arrive in ten minutes… Ah… he’s finished with the meeting.”
I followed the man’s line of sight, incidentally making eye contact with a pair of cold grey eyes. Alexey made an upset face and stared pointedly at the entrance of the room which was wide open. I hurriedly backed into the room and awaited my execution.
Was this hottie going to kill me? Butcher me alive? Oh father… mother… Eh!? I paused. Was God punishing me for not having paid the overdue one hundred boiled eggs and two packets of instant noodles?
The large figure stepped into the room and silently pulled the door shut. Sliding the metal sheet over the transparent window of the door, he then dragged a chair to sit opposite me. The chair which scraped against the floor made a screeching sound. It increasingly felt like I was being accused for murder.
“Was it fun?”
The tone was serious and frigid, making me waver. My heart dropped and fell to the floor, nearly unable to pick it back up in time. Come on Petch, what to do…
Alexey slammed against the table with a resounding bang. “Answer me!”
I flinched with every fiber of my body and sat up straight. My heart which was gathered up from the floor moments ago tumbled away somewhere again. I was terrified.
“Do you any idea what you’ve done? Why are you silent, answer me!!”
“I didn’t do anything!!” Forcing me to speak… fine I’ll speak. But it looked as if this was more like adding fuel to the fire. Alexey was on the verge of climbing over the table and breaking my neck. I retreated back up to the wall, assuming a guarding stance in the same style as Somjit during the match which won him a gold medal at the Olympics. “Don’t start accusing me so carelessly.”
(TN: Somjit Jongjohor – Thai professional boxer who won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics)
Alexey flung the chair, the furniture hitting the wall with a loud crash. He then proceeded to remove his suit jacket, loosen his necktie, and adjust his shirt collar slightly… I began to hallucinate and see him as an opponent boxer. If this guy was wearing boxing gloves, I would have already pissed myself due to fright.
“Don’t come any closer. Don’t come closer than a meter of me woi.”
The pair of cold grey eyes flashed immense fury. “What are you going to do about it? File a lawsuit? Do you even have enough money to hire a lawyer?”
Look at him! I was already scared to death of getting my neck snapped in two. “What evidence do you have to suggest that I was the perpetrator? I already told you that I know nothing about the car marks.”
“If I ever decide to trust you, I might as well go raise water buffaloes instead.”
(TN: Water buffaloes – The ‘unofficial’ national animal of Thailand, widely used to insult someone as an idiot.)
This foreigner’s mouth was truly feisty. To add, the more afraid I became, the more he assumed a bloodthirsty aura. I lowered my guard and made a solemn face. “Does your car not have insurance? Why don’t you let them pay for it?”
“The issue isn’t about the payment but how this morning I had important business with a certain figure… except what idiotic thing did you do, hm!?”
“Bring me the security camera recording, if I was really the person who ruined your car I promise to take full responsibility.” I challenged him. When I was marking his car I made sure to look left and right so that I wasn’t in the vicinity of any security cameras; if not, then who would be brave enough to do such a daring act?
The hottie yanked my shirt collar and my body floated in midair. I shut my eyes tight and struggled desperately. “Let me go, let me go! If you don’t I’m suing you for physical abuse, sending death threats–what else–doing obscene things with another man, stealing my virginity and nailing and bailing.”
“What are you raving on about, I’m the one who should sue you for drawing a lame-ass caterpillar on my BMW.”
Hmph! This hottie has eyes but he lacks appreciation for art. I glared in retaliation, this was clearly a direct insult.
“Like hell is it a caterpillar, it’s a crocodile!”
Alexey paused, then bared his fangs with a deep voice. “There it is. If it’s not you then who would know whether it’s a caterpillar or a crocodile?”
“Okay fine, I admit that I was the one who did it, but is that the problem!? I even put a caption on the bottom and yet you still read it as ‘caterpillar’. It’s also your own bad luck that you had to go meet the ambassador!” I wrenched his hand away, placed a hand on my hip and continued rambling. “You’re annoying and I hate your face so I felt like doing that, is it so wrong?”
“What kind of crocodile…”
“It’s a cock-co-die. Did your grade four teacher back home not teach you? In English, ‘crocodile’ translates to COCK-CO-DIE, remember it well Alexey.”
“How did you even graduate from preschool? What country spells it like that?”
“I guess there are no crocodiles in Kazakh, that’s why you mistook it for a caterpillar. As expected of an underdeveloped nation.”
Alexey raised his hand as if to slap me for being impudent but I hastily reached for the chair, using it as self-defense. In that moment I had no idea where I mustered the strength from, raising the chair above my head and proceeding to run away. “Stop Petch, or else you’re going to get it.”
“Try it if you can, I’m going to sue you as well! What kind of pervert tricks a drunk guy into getting fucked!” And then the game of tag around the table began. When Alexey moved left, I moved to the right. When Alexey moved right, I moved in the opposite direction. He made it seem as if he was about to climb on top of the table. I raised my chair up to intimidate him. If this guy actually tried to traverse over the length of the table, I swore I was going to dent his face with my chair. It was tiring, having to run around while heaving along a chair. Certainly it wasn’t as light as carrying an Olympics torch. Yet I wasn’t going to give up here.
After ten minutes passed, I made an offer. “Give me my visa first, then we can talk about the rest.”
“Visa?” Alexey laughed in his throat. “You must be crazy.”
“I’m here to see you about the visa, not about the car. If you want reparations that badly then go ahead, sue and demand for it yourself!” I finally set the chair down. Panting heavily and drenched in sweat, I squat down to the floor with exhaustion. God help me, being hired to stalk a Korean idol wasn’t even as exhausting as this.
“Do you admit now that you’re the one who put those marks on my car?”
“If I filed a lawsuit do you have the money to hire a defense lawyer?”
“No, I already spent the remaining amount on my plane ticket.”
The hottie made a disgusted face, scrunching his nose as if he could detect the smell of poverty.
“I really don’t understand why you have to act rebellious all the time Petch. Since meeting you three days ago there’s been nothing but trouble.”
“Maybe its time to cleanse yourself of sin by making some temple offerings because this is the most well-mannered I can possibly be.”
The pair of grey eyes looked down at me disrespectfully. I wanted to to slap his handsome face with my size forty-three shoe a few times.
“Who do you think you’re talking to Petch.” The large figure turned to look at me head-on, lips stretching out into a mischievous smile. “Are you sure of your words? I’ll give you an opportunity to take it back.”
I turned my face upwards as if to challenge him. What does he dare to do to me?
“Whoever you are isn’t important to my life, I will always be and act like this. I. Won’t. Take. My. Words. Back.”
“It seems that you really don’t remember. Even though I moved to Bangkok solely because of you…there were several eye witnesses as well…but if you don’t remember that’s also good. This way I can punish you easily.”
With my guard carelessly down, my body was yanked forward, lips meeting his in a kiss which tasted rough and angry; on the verge of making me melt.
“This is how you will learn your lesson for acting like an idiot, keep this in mind.”
The owner of the kiss slammed the door shut with a bang, leaving behind only me, standing ‘confused like a broken-eyed chicken’.
(TN: Confused like a broken-eyed chicken – An idiom referring to Thailand’s favorite pasttime: Cockfighting. Chickens use the claws on their feet to attack their opponent. If these claws happen to damage the opponent’s eye, it causes them to become dumbfounded and confused, hence the origin of this saying.)