Confessions of a Black Dog

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Chapter 16

It was not the dampness nor the musty smell that woke Figgis from his slumber.

It was Som.

She was his recently acquired girlfriend and she was screaming and dashing to the corner of the room dragging the sheets and duvet with her, shouting at him in indecipherable noises that he thought was her own language yet after a minute or so he realised that she was in fact speaking in heavily accented pidgin English. Figgis was still very drunk and he began shouting at back at her in an equally unfathomable version of the English language, known as Drunken County Cork.

As he turned on his side he rolled into a sticky and cooling wet patch of his own urine.

“Shite! Fuckin’ pish!” he shouted and he sat up sharply, not realising that the action of his fast movement, combined with the dull iodine stench of his body’s liquid waste product would release the contents of his stomach onto his already soiled bed and body. When the convulsions had passed, he looked up at Som with the sheepish glance of a repentant puppy dog that filled her heart with a mixture of revulsion and compassion but it lasted a mere second and was replaced by a flash of embarrassed rage in his eyes.

It was a look that she knew well enough from her childhood and her drunken father, a look that scared her so much that she instinctively clutched the sheets closer to her taut naked body.

“Fuckin’ derty bish!” screamed the pathetic figure as he dived off the bed and lunged wildly at the cowering girl.

“C’mere ya!”

He grabbed the tiny woman and dragged her to the bed, his squalid little hands wrapped around her head, pushing her face into the mess, pushing until she could not breathe, her senses full of piss and vomit mixed in with tears and snot and anger. Out of desperation she managed to grab his balls and pull them hard, sticking her nails into the soft flesh until he let go of her and collapsed onto the bedroom floor howling like dog.

With tears streaming down her face she ran into the bathroom, grabbed a pair of nail scissors and came bursting out of the door slashing at the dog’s hands again and again, the obscene noises of humanity again becoming beast.

All of a sudden the room became silent; the curled up figure on the floor gurgled and muttered holding his hands protectively against his twitching body, the small framed figure standing above him outlined against the oncoming sunrise light, all clenched teeth and heavy panting.

Som immediately began pulling on a t-shirt and shorts with the intention of leaving, not knowing where she would go, to friends, to her ex-boyfriend’s, anywhere, just leave, when there was a heavy thudding knock at the door. Som froze, but there it was again.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Gingerly she unlocked the door and became face to face with a large half dressed Thai man, his face carried the expression of pissed off authority and she recognised him as the police officer from down the hall. The man spoke quietly and firmly to Som, peeking into the messed up apartment, glancing at Figgis. Som began to feel anger twitching inside her at this almost stranger sticking his nose into their business, police or no police. It was then that she noticed that he was nonchalantly carrying a gun. The sudden clarity of the situation hit Som; the power she wielded just by speaking the same language, revenge on her dissolute past, revenge on all the people who had ever hurt her. Revenge for life making her lacerate her own arms when all she wanted to do was hurt others. The power was intoxicating and it would be so easy to have the man point the gun, to ingratiate her point of view, to flatter the authority figure, to bend his weak man’s will.

She did not have the policeman murder her boyfriend.

The power she now had over Figgis was enough, she watched with almost electrical excitement as the policeman gestured to the slumped drunk with his gun. She knew that she had won for today and that in itself was a worthwhile victory. She smiled sweetly and submissively at the policeman thanking him and telling him that everything was fine now, that if it happens again she would just leave. The policeman cautions her about becoming emotionally attached to foreigners and tells her that he will keep an eye on them but not report it, and just before he turns and leaves he gives her a hungry look up and down.

Then the door shut.

Som turned to face the mess.

With the whispered words “Feck ya!” Figgis collapsed again into unconsciousness.

The policeman wandered back to his room, passing a half opened door with a ladyboy seductively peering through the gap.

The man barked for the transsexual to go back to bed and the door swiftly slammed shut as Bangkok began to wake for another day.

Death is pretty much everywhere in South East Asia.

It is in the grotesque boiled pig’s faces hung up in Chinese food shop’s windows.

In the squashed rat’s carcass oozing brains, red and viscous on the pavement.

A victim of a motorcycle taxi driver’s wrath.

In the slow decay of wild street dogs bodies as they rot, looking at you, pleading with their eyes for you to kill them.

Until you try and they run away, barking and gnashing as soon as they understand your intent.

In the eyes of a Yaa Baa freak who doesn’t know whether to murder you or himself.

And on the roads.

Nowhere is there more death than on the roads. There are accidents everywhere. Sam, himself had almost been taken out by a stranger many times.

On buses, on bikes, in cars, even by ice cream vans.

He was stuck in a traffic jam, not I might add a particularly unusual thing in that city, but this was an especially long and tedious one, on a non air-con bus at the height of summer. So there he was, staring at the usual row of scruffy looking everyday shops, sweating profusely, his balls overheating, when they finally reached the cause of the delay.

An accident. A car had demolished a motorcycle. The bike was a mess, a right state. The car was hardly touched.

It must of merely nudged the bike, but not being a driver, what the fuck did he know?

All he knew was that there was a dead body in the middle of the road. The disturbing thing was the way the policeman at the scene of the accident had dragged the corpse into the middle of the road and just left him there. The poor fucker seemed to be merely sleeping. He looked so peaceful and there was no blood, not a drop.

So there he was, this peaceful lump of broken cooling flesh in the middle of the road and there was Sam’s bus, the weight shifting dramatically as everybody had to have a damn good look.

Behind him he heard mutterings in Thai of two middle aged women.

“Dtai lair-o, lor?” (Is he dead?)

“Dtai lair-o” (Yes, he’s dead.)

“Jing, lor?” (Really?)

“Jing” (Yes.)

The “Really?” in this conversation did not truly question the man’s demise, but was said as a matter of habit.

Just like his death, a matter of habit.

If Oz had died through a matter of habit, it was nothing more than the habit of spreading lies. Of assumption.

Sam got off at the stop and headed down the soi where his friend’s house had once stood.

He passed an old Chinese couple who sat at a table outside the little corner shop where Oz used buy his beer. They stared at him and the old man spat on floor next to Sam’s shoes.

Sam carried on walking. He turned to corner and saw the house. Or what was left of it. Sam rested on the railing of the front gate. The once white paint on the outside walls was smeared with black rising around the window panes. It reminded Sam of smudged eyeliner on a weeping woman. The windows were cracked and smashed. The door had bubbled and scorched. Sam didn’t walk inside, he didn’t want to see.

Where was the body now?

You can be so close to somebody yet realise that the relationship is always hanging by nothing more than a thread. You can lose contact while you blink.

An old Thai man sauntered over to him and asked him if he had known the man who had died. Sam replied that he had. The man told him that Oz had fallen asleep drunk and that he had left his gas cooker on, still burning. Something had caught fire. The police had found an empty bottle of whisky next it. It was probably the bottle that had caught fire. The man was sleeping so heavily that he hadn’t woken until it was too late.

The old Thai guy said that he was sorry that Sam’s friend had died. If he was dreaming of good things he would be reborn as something gentle. He would be reborn as a gentle thought. Sam thanked the man. Then he said his goodbyes and went back to catch the bus. On the way back the dead man’s body had been moved. There was only a blood stain left on the road. Cars ran over it.

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