Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Superman in Isaan" by Newamba Flamingo




They met on a dating site.

He was 51. She 22.

Him: Failed marriage, 0 kids.
Decent job, car, savings, pension.

Her: One 1 year old.
Stays with the folks in Isaan while she works hospitality in Pattaya.

They’d Skype at night his time, morning/afternoon her time.

He called her “Sugarlips.” She called him “Superman,” his hair so curly, glasses always askew.
“Superman so handsome man!” she’d say in breathy nasal coos.

Superman had been sending Western Unions for Sugarlips’ mom’s operation on the English word he couldn’t understand her pronounce.

Soon enough he proposed and she gleefully accepted and he put on his tights and cape and flew out to Bangkok on a foggy day.

The immigration officers at Suvarnabhumi almost didn’t let him in, what with the cape and all, but his wallet full of rainbows ensured his passport got stamped.

The down payment on the house in Jomtien had been made. Superman thought about furniture as he made his way to the taxi line through smoke, ghosts, and horns, laughs and photobombs.

In the minibus he chatted with a ladyboy, using his Pimsleur Thai. Superman learned Laotian words for papaya and blowjobs.

Jet-lagged, but running on adrenalized fumes, Superman reached Jomtien Beach around dusk. Navy waves lapped at foot-stained sands. The Gulf was drinking what remained of a saffron sun.

Superman got to the bar, but Sugarlips wasn’t there. A tuk tuk driver stopped and pointed him in a direction.

Superman checked into the guesthouse.

His room was humid and smelled something of sex. It had a crude renderings of cockroaches and Shania Twain stenciled onto the ceiling near the fan. A half burned copy of Bangkok Tattoo lay by the bathroom door.

On his bed was a live rooster with a note duct taped to its right wing.

Superman, with considerable physical exertion, chased the animal around the room and was finally able to pin it down and peel off the note, which’d been rolled into a cone.

The note read: “You go Isaan. Roi Et.” An address in Thai.

Superman flew Nok Air the next day. He didn’t see any humor at all in the duck bill painted on the plane’s nose…

Superman had a mild case of diarrhea at the airport.

Beside him at the gate was a geriatric Brit with blackened teeth and beer breath who mumbled about Cambodia being better.

In the plane Superman was in the aisle seat next to two elderly monks, silently staring and smiling for the entirety of the journey.

Mild turbulence made Superman pass gas loudly, not once but twice.

Deplaning, he felt comfort in a leggy flight attendant’s mouth full of braces and graceful wai. His stomach suddenly felt better.

On the way to the village, Superman drove by a Buddhist funeral. Teenage girls and boys, in traditional Thai clothing and heavy makeup danced to soft music in front of a coffin awaiting cremation.

Onlookers in black and white clothes held paper flowers, chatted, and laughed. The wat nearby had intricate golden spires twinkling in the scorching midday sun. An elderly man in an AC/DC shirt sold cold drinks and ice cream out front.

The Grab driver deposited him. All Superman could smell was diesel fumes. Roosters screamed in the distance.

Superman faced a traditional Thai wooden house.

A skinny, heavily tattooed Thai man emerged from the house’s front porch, which had children’s toys strewn about.

The man had a dark cloth wrapped around his head and face. Sort of like a ski mask.

The man approached, speaking something of an Isaan tongue. All Superman could understand was “ไก่.“

The man then offered a pipe stuffed with an orange substance… “ไม่เป็นไรขอบคุณ.“

The man burst into a cackling, hyena like laughter, went back to the house, and, in near perfect English pronunciation, yelled out “buffalo” before slamming the door.

Superman summoned another Grab driver via telepathy and washed down a handful of Xanax with 100 ml of Hong Thong.

Then he went back to the airport, where he burned his rainbows and flew back to the fog.

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