“Alright, I’m going to bed,” Richard announced to the few of us who were left. “Goodnight mate. Good night. I’ll see you in the morning. You’ll be at the hospital so I won’t see you.”
Nodding towards the sleeping guy he said, “Seriously, you should take advantage of him, he’s a good guy.”
“Goodnight,” I replied.
Alex and I had to shake him awake.
“It’s morning,” I said. “The birds are chirping. You have to get up so you can go to sleep.”
We pushed him until he lurched up and shook his head suddenly.
“How long was I asleep?”
“An hour at least.”
“You were out like a light man.”
“Agh, I need some water.”
“Want to go to 7-11?”
“Yeah, let’s do it.”
We said our goodbyes to Alex and the skinny Londoner and set off with arms wrapped around each other’s waists. In the street he began to kiss me.
“Not in the street,” I laughed. “Here, on the sidewalk at least.”
There was the heaviness of a night without sleep and the sound of birds, the grey and swiftly rising light, and my hands tugging at slender hips under a layer of cashmere. Then there was the sidewalk, jutting slabs of broken cement underneath, and my back against the wall in an alley as wide as a set of handlebars. Gripping on hip bones under something thin and meant for winter.
An old man pulling a cart covered with a tarp emerged from the alley and we broke apart.
“Water,” I said.
“Water,” he replied.
The fluorescent shock of the 7-11 smacked up against my stupor—all those clean, white, narrow aisles full of plastic-wrapped junk food. The open refrigerators with their packets of ham and cheese toasties, cold gyoza complete with single plastic packets of soy sauce, tiny sugar bombs of activia yogurt promising to make girls skinny and whiter. The refrigerators hummed, and the Thai twenty-something year olds stood in their pale green shirts and rang up a large water with a loud beep of a hand held scanner.
I could never walk into a 7-11 without thinking of Rob. A memory flashed of him in his stifling hot business suit and ridiculous long, pointed black shoes of fake alligator skin. There was me in my teacher clothes with my brown striped skirt and flat soft shoes. Inside the air-conditioned relief of 7-11 I giggled deliciously while he snuck a grab for my ass the store clerk pretended not to notice. We would come back to the office loaded with crispy, hot sandwiches and boxes of sugar flavored vegetable juice and pretend not to care that every teacher in the office knew we were fucking.
Back on the street the Irish boy pushed me into a bus stop and began kissing me again.
“No good,” he mumbled.
“I can feel your rigidity.”
“We are standing on the street, outside of 7-11.”
“Would you like a massage?”
“I would love one.”
We went back to the cushions in front of the hostel and sat while he rubbed my shoulders. It was proper morning now and the staff was beginning to mill about. He was a clumsy masseuse, but it didn’t matter.
“I have to sleep,” I told him.
“I know you don’t want to cram onto my tiny bed, so I won’t ask.”
“Is it private?”
“I have an empty apartment in Huai Kwang.”
“A fifteen minute cab ride from here.”
The monks were beginning their alms rounds when I hailed a cab.
“Last chance,” I said, slipping from his arms into the back leather seat.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Ah, I’ll hold your friend hostage so you have to come see me.”
He shut the door.
“Haui Kwang,” I said to the driver. “Ratchada soi sip sii.
The cab proceeded in silence.
The sun was up now, piercing light above the tops of concrete buildings. Everyone who was out was wearing business suits, black heels with tight pencil skirts, briefcases and purses, headphones in and heads tilted down toward the sidewalk.
That day the Irish boy named Cam left on a bus for Cambodia. I never saw him again.