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THE CHOICE

George read the poster again. The Naklua Magik Band was going to be appearing at the Paladin discothèque. He had seen them in Bangkok and remembered the impact they had on the fans. He often played the audio tape he had bought when he left the theatre, which had turned him into an ardent fan. And now they were going to be in Pattaya.
 
People will be traveling from the outer edges of the district to get there; any weather. It was going to be an event no fan should miss. All their concerts were a sell out and the news had just broken. He had to get a ticket straight away. 
The man in the ticket agent took the elastic band off the new tickets and handed one to George. He would have to wait till the end of the week for the concert, so that was going seem a long week.
 
That evening he sat by the window in the hotel lobby and looked out at the lowering sun over Pattaya bay. The occasional speedboat disturbed the yellow blaze on the horizon and led his eyes across the panorama. The chair beside him had been vacant since a young lady in a slinky black dress did a deal with one of the guests and jostled him towards the elevator.    
 
A slim body made an unsteady descent onto the empty chair. Her head was forward and hid beneath hair that cascaded to the floor. She threw back her head and whip-lashed the black tresses from her face. Her eyes flashed at him. He gulped. She was a little the worse from the gin and tonics she had been consuming while waiting for a farang that never turned up. Her name was Lawan.
Her disaster-date faded from the conversation and they talked about Pattaya and her province in the South. George was impressed, not only with Lawan’s intelligence and good sense of dress, but she was warm and sexy, and spoke good English.

They also had something in common; they both worked in departmental stores. She worked at a boutique in the mall and he had been a floor manager at Peter Jones in Chelsea back in the eighties. Their parallel jobs gave a jump start to their conversation. He asked her if she would go to the concert with him — she accepted. He took her cell-phone number and said he would call when he had bought her a ticket.
 
He had to get to the ticket agent before they closed and ran most of the way. Three baht-buses full to the back rails had sped passed him and his legs were aching by the time he got to Soi Post-office. The ticket agent was closed. George banged on the door. The food vendor in the street outside stared at him and shook his head. George was going to have to wait until the next morning. 
 
The agent was still closed and it was getting on for noon. He missed the punctual nine AM tinkle of the shop doors in England, but Thai business hours were something he had to deal with. He could walk the block and that would kill ten minutes or get a coffee somewhere. In the next road the smell of freshly brewed coffee took his feet into the Fanny Galore bar.

He settled onto a cane settee that poked half way onto the sidewalk and sipped the hot potion. Thirty-minutes passed before he continued the stroll back to the agent. He rounded the corner; the queue outside the ticket office stretched for four shops. His heart plummeted. After an hour the agent came out and waved his hands at George and the other five people left in the line. There were no more concert tickets.
 
George sent a text to Lawan saying he could not get her a ticket for the concert but he would take her out that evening. Over the course of the week they became closer and when the night of the concert came around he was going to miss her company.
 
He took his seat near the side speakers next to a young lady in a low-cut pink dress which had ridden up her thighs. During the concert his eyes hardly left her long slender legs. Her responsive smiles sent shivers down his spine and all thoughts of Lawan faded. They talked over the volume of the music, and he never wanted to stop inhaling the perfume in her hair. During the interval her hand slipped over his and stayed there until the end of the concert. Her name was Tik and she had bewitched him with her soft velvet voice and feminine charm. 
 
He took her home and on the doorstep he kissed her moist lips. Her tongue found his ear and her hands smoothed the back of his neck, sending goose bumps down his spine. George was in love again and he knew that when he saw Lawan, he will feel the same way toward her. He had a choice; probably, the most difficult choice of his life. By choosing one he would loose the other. 
 
He secretly saw each on alternate nights, avoiding the areas the other might be. Trying to judge who would be best for him became a routine he hated and he was not going to sleep with either one until he had made his decision. He didn’t want sex to be the deciding factor.
 
He was at a Tiffany’s show with Tik and she suggested they eat some sea food at a restaurant in Walking Street. This was Lawan’s area. She often went there with her friends after finishing work at the mall. Tik stopped at a menu book outside one of the restaurants and scoured the well thumbed pages. George looked nervously around. Tik suddenly grabbed his hand and pulled him inside. George sighed with relief to be off the street.
 
The next day he saw Lawan. She was quieter than usual, and George did all the talking for the first ten minutes. She took her seat on the baht-bus next to him and sat erect with her hands in her lap. George put his arm around her and asked her why she was so thoughtful.
 
I saw you in Walking Street last night, and you were not alone.”
George knew he had been rumbled and had to come clean. He told her about Tik and he was surprised to hear that Lawan already knew her. They were in high school together and although ten-years had passed, Lawan had instantly recognized Tik. George took Lawan’s hand and told her of his choice. He had chosen Tik to be his girlfriend and could not see Lawan any more. Lawan sniffed into a tissue, and then pressed the bell. The bus stopped.
“I’m really sorry, Lawan,” George said.
 
Lawan looked up at him from the highway as the bus pulled away. “I am sorry too, George. I did not know you like lady man.”