Revenge is as Sweet as Chocolate
By Mike Bell
He had been told that Thais were extremely racist and this bothered him, for he was black. It was his first time in Thailand and Bangkok was disappointing: it was airless, polluted and the girls were full of themselves. Soi Cowboy, the newly renovated Nana Plaza even a run-down Pat Pong all seemed full of preening primadonnas who thought themselves too good for him. The pollution; the traffic jams and the hours wasted sitting in an immobile taxi convinced him to try his luck in Pattaya.
Leo noticed a difference immediately: the air was breathable without the acrid taste of carbon monoxide; the traffic flowed, slowly but it moved and the girls were friendlier. Every where he went he was greeted as ‘Chocolate man.’ It bothered him at first until he realized there was no animosity in the words like coon or Paki; it was just what the girls saw.
Two days into his holiday by the sea, he craved a MacDonald’s burger. He knew it was a hangover hunger from the night before but strolling along Beach road in the sunshine it just seemed right. It was busy inside and Leo stood back enjoying the coolness of the air con as he scanned the menu on the wall. Part of the crowd was a group of young Europeans, possibly German, who despite the hour, were already drunk and raucous. There was a young Thai girl between them and the counter and he watched as they pushed roughly past her hissing obviously lewd comments into her face.
He was no hero, drunk they maybe but there were four of them. He steadied the girl as she was jostled to one side as the group pushed past her on the way out. She smiled her thanks and he received some steely stares from the Germans. They were waiting outside; intent on trouble. The girl was first and this time the jostling was deliberate. Her drink was spilled as they pushed her first one way then the other. Leo could not help himself and put a protective arm round her. Then the violence began in earnest. He managed one solid punch before he was overwhelmed. They came at him from all angles and he fell to the floor and curled up trying to protect his vitals from the kicks that rained in.
He heard the girl screaming angrily and then mercifully the pain died away. There was blood trickling into his eye as the girl helped him to an upright position. Dimly he made out the group of whooping youths running triumphantly towards the beach. ‘What your name?’ she asked. ‘I am Rung,’ she added.
‘Leo,’ he replied shakily.
‘Come with me to my Mama’s bar, over there,’ she pointed with her chin. He allowed himself to be supported and slumped into a bar stool. Rung fussed over him, with ice and cold towels. Soon he felt well enough to accept a cold beer forced on him by mama san. She kept up an unending tirade of Thai which did not seem to be aimed at him. She was interrupted by a boy of about twelve who dashed up breathless and gabbled out some words; seemed to receive further instructions from mamasan and dashed off again. ‘My cousin,’ Rung began. ‘The bad farang stay at AA Hotel. They pay for ten more days. Then have taxi to airport.’ She sounded almost happy, a fierce pride radiating from her.
After another beer for which mama san would accept no money, he felt well enough to return to the Tropicana. As he turned to go, Rung caught his arm. ‘See me tonight.’ It was part plea, part command. He nodded with a radiant smile.
A cold shower took the ache from his bruised body. A spray of deodorant, a splash of Aramis and he was on his way. He wondered how the evening would go. Was Rung a bar-girl whose favours could be bought or had he already earned them? As the night wore on he realized it was the latter. He could not buy a drink and Rung snuggled ever closer. About midnight she whispered, ‘Will your body hurt to make love?’ Leo shook his head vigorously. And he was right.
The rest of his holiday was an unending whirl of experiences. Mamasan was a very important person and owned or had shares in many bars. Everywhere they went Rung and her chocolate man were feted. He had the perfect girlfriend experience. They wined and dined; saw all the local sights; had a day at Nong Nooch where he was allowed in as an honorary Thai.
On their final night, she gave him the most wonderful going away present: she told him what had happened to the Germans. They had been hassled for ten solid days. They could not get a drink at most of the classier bars. Rung’s cousin put the word in as soon as they ordered. They took to buying cans from 7-11 stores and were forced to drink them on the beach. One of them was arrested and fined for dropping a cigarette end in the gutter.
After a miserable and hostile holiday the taxi arrived on time to take them to the airport. They loaded their bags in the boot and prepared to shake off the dust of Pattaya for the last time. Inexplicably the taxi broke down on the motor way. They were not unduly worried when the driver phoned for a replacement cab. They grew increasingly alarmed as the minutes ticked by. Finally the other taxi phoned to say he was five kilometres away. Quickly the Germans unloaded their bags onto the hard shoulder and stood there waiting. If the cab arrived in the next five minutes and there was no queue at Emigration, they might just catch their plane.
Then a miracle happened. The original taxi’s engine roared into life. Before any of them could react they were left standing as Rung's brother drove off towards the next U-turn for Pattaya.