I didn’t sleep that night.
By the time I left the hostel the monks were walking barefoot on the beer and urine splattered pavement, carrying their alms bowls. There was an Irish boy with a dark beard and a gray cashmere sweater. We had been kissing since before dawn, when the birds started chirping right at the end of the darkness. I had turned away two other men that evening to be with him, going so far as to wait when he fell asleep for nearly two hours on the cushions outside the hostel. The prospect of taking a taxi alone in the dark to my empty apartment didn’t appeal to me.
While the Irish boy was sleeping the other men came outside. They had already gotten laid and were smoking cigarettes in their boxers, ganging up on a boy whose girl of the night had banged two other men in the past two nights.
“Did you use a condom?” The accent belonged to another Irishman, name Richard, tattooed and muscular, who had run off with a tiny Japanese girl halfway through the night.
“We were in the shower.” This poor sap was an English boy with a decent face, though just less than handsome in my taste. His name was Alex
“Ah, you’ll be fine mate; the clap’s the best of the worst anyway.”
“Don’t be sore. I would have done the same.”
“Me too,” said a skinny Londoner. “Even if I knew she had the clap and she asked me to fuck her bareback I would still do it. She’s fit.”
“She is fit.”
“Fuck off the both of you.”
“Eh mate, it’s just one pill.”
“As long as it’s not aids you’ll be fine.”
“You guys better be fucking with me.”
“Two guys in the past two nights. I swear it on my life.”
“Are you serious?”
“Hey, don’t feel bad mate. We both would have fucked her too.”
“Maybe you were the lucky one and the others both wrapped up.”
Richard and the Londoner laughed at that. Alex hung his head in his hands.
“What happened to him?” Richard turned to my boy, asleep with his mouth open, his arm still laying where it had wrapped around my shoulder.
“Weren’t you kissing him earlier?”
“He’s out cold now.”
“You should start kissing him again. Maybe he’ll wake up.”
It had been typical for a night on KaoSan Road. I had arrived at the hostel around 11, and found the whole place in a drunken revelry. My friend Laura, with a platinum blonde sheen of hair and an impeccably proper English accent, told me I would have to play catch up. We bought beers at the 7-11 and set out en mass for the crowded streets pumping house music, lined with coolers full of Leos and Chan, crawling with stumbling, screeching, drunk white kids and knee-high Thai children with their hands on their hips, hawking red and white roses for 100 bhat a pop.
We drank and lost each other and drank some more. There were two cousins from Ecuador with loose afros that I spoke with in broken Spanish about my plans to go to Rio for the world cup. There was a German boy who sat with me on the curb while I cried for an hour, refusing to go inside and dance. There was a Thai girl who threw her arms around me when I gave her 100 bhat for a red rose. She came back and gave me four more wrapped in plastic, then put a clipped white rose in my hair and a red one behind my ear. I gave her the 100 bhat because she had wiped tears from my face, telling me “No cry; no cry,” in a grown-up voice that made me feel frivolous and self-absorbed.
I had wandered back to the hostel sometime after 3am. I had lost Laura and found the Ecuadorean cousins inside a 24hr Burger King. I had almost hailed a tuk tuk from there but changed my mind when the driver asked me if I wanted weed. (I did, but not from him.) The three of us walked back through a narrow alleyway full of scurrying rats and clothes hung out to dry. When the yellow glow of the hostel lights emerged at the other end and I saw the Irish boy with the grey sweater sitting on the ground, my spirit rose. I wasn’t going anywhere yet.