Thai Birds

This piece was originally posted in June as part of a writing challenge.


The flight was long and then I had five hours in KL airport, not just an airport but the Low Cost Carrier Terminal. I braced myself for a long wait. The only place with a table was a small cafe. I’d need to buy something to legitimately sit there. I had been through the terminal a few times before and knew that the veggie curry puffs were excellent and the coffee not bad. I’d had worse. Last time I’d been in KL had been for a Muslim wedding. The daughter of  good friends. I smiled as I remembered the weekend. She had had a difficult time since she had been orphaned when she was twelve years old. She had been whisked away from  life in the USA to be immersed in the religious household of her grand parents. Now in her twenties, I felt confident that this man she had met would allow her to continue to grow and blossom in the way I had seen in the last few years. I had no concerns that this marriage was based on anything other than equality.

I sat down and started to nibble on the curry puff. Crumbs of the delicate pastry fell in my lap. I brushed them away then sipped the coffee. It was better than I remembered. With a sigh I sat back and looked around. A couple of  men sat to my right. They were drinking beer and talking. Their voices boomed throughout the cafe. This wasn’t their first beer of the day.

“Oh shit mate. Sounds bloody tragic,” said the one wearing shorts that had slid down exposing the crack between his cheeks. Builder’s bottom we used to call it.

“I’m going back to a law suit against me,” said the other man. He wore a Chang Thai beer T-shirt. Two elephants under a palm tree. His arms were folder, resting on his ample belly. Both arms were heavily tattooed.

“I’ve got a nine month old in Thailand”

“Those Thai birds”

“Did she sting you for money?”

“Aren’t they all like that?”

“60 grand – two million bhart.”

“Got the baby and the bird and no money.” Builders bottom took a long deep drink of his beer.

“They can be brilliant.” Tattoo gives his new friend a lurid grin and wink.

“Thai birds eh.” He lifts his bottle. “I’ll drink to that.”

“She runs the wheat farm. Knows where the money is, knows which truck is on the farm, who the driver is. A tight ship.”

“Found yourself a real good Thai woman.”

“I go for a swim and she’s sitting waiting for me. She says you don’t worry ’bout me. You swim. She’s sitting on the beach, mate, waiting. I ain’t used to that. Then the baby comes. Different story. I’ve a nine month old son. Looks just like me.” He puffs his chest out. “That’s a big thing, mate. But she’s gone village.”

“They all go village, mate.”

The clip clop of shoes announces the arrival of a petite woman or was it a girl?

“Oh grab us a couple of beers will you,” Builder’s Bottom says, “if you have any money left.” He eyed her shopping bags nervously.

She deposits an assortment of duty-free shopping  on the seat next to me. She is serene and quite beautiful. Close up she must be in her thirties. She smiles at the two men, then walks to the counter.

I wonder what is behind her smile.


Size Matters – or does it?

It was unusually hot for September. I pulled at my school tie that clung too tight around my neck and wished I was home. I still had another mile to walk. I glanced right, towards the market cross before dodging the traffic and heading out of the centre of town. I was soon on Belmangate, the street where I lived. The first half of the street was terraced housing, two up two down, with their  sash-windowed front rooms and doors that lead straight onto the street. As I walked further up the hill the houses increased in size and some had gardens. Once I passed under the bridge of the disused  railway line, the houses became more modern, larger still and swish driveways lead to carports and garages. High hedges or fences made it hard to see inside some of the properties. Only the ones with miniature walls, flowerbeds and lawns offered a glimpse of the grand houses behind.

Ours was one of the last houses just before the ‘turnaround’ and cottage hospital. Beyond this was a track leading uphill to the forestry and eventually the North Yorkshire Moors. I reached my house. Just before the open gate, a stream, currently a trickle of water after a month of no rain, ran under the drive. Almost in the rose bed that bordered the drive, our cat, Ginger, basked spreadeagled on his back in the sun.  Through the kitchen window I could see Mum was standing at the sink furiously scrubbing something. She saw me, smiled and raised her hand in a wave. Mum always said that she had designed the house with a kitchen at the front, which was uncommon in the older houses, because she wanted to be able to see what was happening as she worked. The door to the garage, on the left of the house, was open and her red car was inside. My younger sister’s bike lay abandoned in the carport, but I could hear her voice singing to herself in the back garden.

I headed for the back door and climbed the steps two at a time. “I’m home,” I called out of habit. Kicking my shoes off, I dumped my school bag on the floor of the kitchen and pulled off my tie.

“How was school?”

“We have a new teacher for geography,” I said heading for the sink. “I’m thirsty.”

“Have you any homework?” Mum took a glass and filled it with water. She saw my wrinkled up face and understood that to mean I did have homework. “After you’ve drunk that can you take your bag into the study and run upstairs and change out of your uniform. Then I made some ice lollies, so you can take one out to Jenny and eat them in the garden.”

I gulped down the water and ran out of the kitchen, sliding in my socks as I hit the wooden parquet floor of the hallway.  I caught sight of the cat again as he had followed me in and was now heading through the dining room to the french doors that led into the lounge and his favourite window seat. Then I bounded up the carpeted stairs trailing one arm against the wall, while the other one ran up the banister. I changed quickly. The idea of leisurely eating my ice lolly while sitting on the swing was foremost in my thoughts. My uniform lay discarded on the bedroom carpet as I knelt on the bed to get a better view of the back garden and check Jenny wasn’t on the swing already.

I needed a pee and was on my way to the bathroom and standing in front of my parents room when I heard my older sister climbing the stairs. She grunted a greeting. I knew better than to comment. I watched her walk down the landing to her bedroom. A loud bang announced she had slammed the door behind her. I ran to the bathroom before she changed her mind and went in. I loved the bathroom. It was always filled with light and Mum nearly always had the window open – even in winter. I could also look out while I sat on the toilet and see the sheep or cows in the fields behind the house. I could daydream here. It wasn’t like the small toilet downstairs which was dark and cluttered. There was also a family of spiders that lived in the corner of the window behind the toilet. I couldn’t daydream there.