I wake up this morning thinking that if we had gotten killed yesterday nobody would even know about it. Maybe Louise Patterson’s parents would hear their daughter was dead, even if she’s sitting right there in front of them in Aurora, Illinois, and if Oscar Petrovsky has a wife, she’d learn her husband had been shot down in Bangkok, even if she just kissed him out the door that morning on the way to work.
But me, Rosie, doesn’t exist, and neither does Sid. Not here in Thailand. If we get offed, we’re just not here. They’d wind up burying us in the Thai equivalent of a potter’s field, or putting us on a flaming barge with a bunch of other unclaimed people and sending us ablaze down the river, or whatever they do here to dispose of dead bodies. We’d save them the trouble of executing us and we’d just be gone, with nothing to show for it.
It makes me sad realizing this. Especially since Aunt Carol wouldn’t know her favorite niece was gunned down in Thailand. Not that she’d be too crazy to learn that anyway, but at least she would know what happened to me. I’m even sad that my parents wouldn’t know. I’m sure my mother would say something like, “See, I knew that little tramp would wind up like this.” At least she’d have the satisfaction that she was right about me. But my dad would probably actually be grief-stricken to know his little girl had died, shot down dead by Thai drug traffickers. “Did she suffer, or did she go quick?” That’s the kind of thing my dad would ask when the consulate called them. But they’d never know, and it would be like I just vanished out of the house that Thanksgiving night four years ago, never to be seen or heard from again. Just a picture on a milk carton, though I doubt I ever even made it that far. Not on any milk cartons I’ve seen. They knew I ran away.
Sure enough, Chantal would know something was real wrong when I didn’t show back up in Paris. And the culinary school and chef would suspect something had happened when I wasn’t there for the new session. Sid paid ahead, so they’d assume I intended to be there, and then they’d suspect something wasn’t right. But no one knew we were in Thailand, not Chantal, not the school, no one. Not even the airline. They only knew about Louise and Uncle Oscar. So unless they checked every country that comes close to the “exotic” definition, and there are probably a lot, we would have just vanished off the face of the earth. Gone in a burst of ill-tempered, whiskey-fueled gunfire in a Bangkok strip club.
All this makes me so sad I’m actually crying. Silently sobbing into the crisp white pillow case, the tears running down my cheeks and wetting the pillow. I don’t think I want Sid to see me like this, let him know what a pussy I am, but I don’t know that I can hide it from him. And maybe I shouldn’t. It was his wise-assery that almost got us killed. Maybe it’s time he realized what a jerk he can be sometimes. If he wants to get his own ass gunned down, that’s his business. But taking me with him, that’s way above my pay grade. No culinary school tuition, no apartment, no nice dress or shoes or lingerie are worth that.
Now I bet you’re probably thinking, too bad, you got yourself into this, so don’t go feeling sorry for yourself. I can understand that. I really can. And don’t get me wrong. Like I admitted before, I’m an excitement junkie, and I also know there are some risks that go with the job, for lack of a better word to call what it is I do. But I just never realized before what I woke up thinking today.
Until now we’ve mostly skated by, avoiding arrest and maybe pissing some people off, even some people with guns. Pissing off the Mexicans and getting out of Dodge, for instance. But until yesterday, I’ve never had a gun pointed at me, and it seems like a bad habit to start getting into. It’s made me realize that, while I may not be in love with my life, I’m not ready to surrender it yet, either. Sixteen just seems too young to bite it. I figured I’d at least like to make it to 28 or 29. And then something like yesterday goes down and I’m made to feel my own mortality.
I guess I’m shaking the bed with my quiet sobbing since it wakes Sid up. I feel him stirring and I just know he’s looking at me, even though I’m turned away from him and wetting the pillow with my tears where he can’t see it.
“Are you crying?”
I don’t answer. What am I supposed to say? No, furchrissake? Or, can’t you see, Sherlock? Or, I don’t know. Maybe. How lame is that? So I just don’t answer, though I wind up gasping as I try to stop the tears and that sounds even worse.
“Hang in there, kid. We’ll make it through. I know it was kind of hairy there for awhile yesterday, but we’re still alive, right?”
This really gets me, and now I don’t care if he sees me or not. I pull my head up off the soggy pillow and cran my neck around and glare at him through teary eyes.
“Kind of hairy? Is that what you call it? Kind of fucking hairy? You know, Sid, sometimes I think you’re oblivious to what’s going on around you. I don’t know about you, but that’s as close as I’ve ever come to dying, and I have other words for it than ‘kind of hairy.’ You know?”
“Yeah, I know. I was a little puckered-up, too. Never know what these dudes are going to do.”
“Well, shooting two foreigners who pissed them off falls within the range of what they might do, doesn’t it? Sometimes I wonder what the fuck I’m doing, Sid, getting involved in these things with you.”
“Tell me you don’t get off on it. That it doesn’t get you wet, all the excitement.”
“Now you’re starting to piss me off. Excitement is one thing. Bleeding to death on the floor of some groddy Bangkok strip club is something else entirely. But do you really want to know what I’m crying over? It’s not that. It’s that if I died, if we died, no one would even know about it. No one would know it was us. It would be freaking Louise and her Uncle Oscar, not Rosie and Sid. That’s what’s really making me so sad.”
Sid is silent a moment while he ponders this. He’s not stupid, like I said, but that doesn’t rule out being insensitive.
“Well, if you’re dead, what do you care? That wouldn’t be your problem any more, would it?”
Now I really am pissed. I sit up, pushing down the covers, and let it all hang out.
“Not me, you moron. What about my Aunt Carol? Michelle? My parents? My friends? Chantal? The school? Maybe you don’t have anyone you care about, or who cares enough about you to want to know if you’re dead, but I do. That’s what’s bothering me. That’s why I’m crying. Now do you understand?”
“Probably not, since I’m such a moron. You’ve known all this before, Rosie. This isn’t your first rodeo, you know. How many different people have you and I been? If anything happened on any of those trips, it would be the same thing, wouldn’t it?”
Damn it. Sid’s right. It would be the same. Even if we get killed in a plane crash or a car wreck, it would be the same. I guess staring down the barrel of a gun had an effect on me the other things didn’t. At least I never thought about it before. Now it’s my turn to be silent for a moment as I digest all this.
“Okay, I guess you’re right. Just never thought of it before. I guess what happened yesterday really got to me, got me thinking about this. But it’s true. If anything happened on any of these trips, no one would know. It makes me really sad, though, Sid. Really, really sad.”
“So what do you propose we do about it? Travel under our real identities? How far do you think we’d get doing that?”
“No, I understand that part. I don’t know. Maybe telling someone what we’re doing and where we are if anything happens?”
“Yeah, maybe signing in with the embassy, or registering with Thomas Cook or something. That’s a good idea.”
“Don’t be sarcastic, Sid. You know that’s not what I mean. I mean, someone we trust, someone we can tell. Like our emergency contact sort of person, only in reverse.”
“And who might that be? One of my other girlfriends? You know how long that would stay secret.”
“I don’t know. Maybe someone like Chantal. She can be trusted to keep a secret.”
“You think so? I’m not so sure. Besides, we’re not always going to be in Paris. How do you tell her then? On the phone? Send her a text? Not too smart.”
“I don’t know, Sid. Maybe there is no good way and I just have to get used to the idea.”
“Maybe. Or maybe you’re not cut out for this life after all. Maybe you should find some nice safe guy and go settle down in the ’burbs – Aurora, Illinois, sounds like a good place for you, come to think of it – and not have to worry about anyone knowing when you OD on pills out of desperation and they find your body on the bathroom floor. Everyone will hear about it then and know Rosie kicked off.”
“Don’t make fun of me, Sid. I’m being serious. I think I’ve done pretty well in this life, tagging along as the mighty Sid’s sidekick, helping you get away with things you’d never get away with on your own. But maybe you’re right, maybe this isn’t how I want to spend the rest of my life. What’s left of it, anyway. If things in Chiang Mai go like yesterday, there might not be that much to look forward to.”
“Now who’s being sarcastic?”
“Me, that’s who. Exactly who. I get to sometimes, too.”
“Says you. Look, Rosie, I know you were scared yesterday. And I hear what you’re saying about disappearing without a trace. But that’s just the way it is. It’s an occupational hazard of being in this business. Either you suck it up and deal with it, or you find something else to do. Now maybe we should get up and get ready to entertain ourselves for the day.”
“Well, I guess that tells me where things stand. And you’re right. You are. So I’ll think about it.”
There isn’t more I can say. By now the tears have dried up and it’s back to facing reality as it is.
“So what’s on the menu for today?”
I know Sid had the concierge make reservations for us on the overnight train tonight to Chiang Mai. We’ll have a sleeper and arrive in the morning. So we have most of the day in Bangkok before we have to be at the train station. I’m feeling a bit better, though the sadness is still there, down deep inside.
“I think I know what you need. I’m calling for a masseuse to come to the room and give us both a real Thai body-to-body massage. They’re really something. I think if anything will make you feel better, that’s it.”
“Hmmmm. Really, Sid? Okay. That does sound pretty good. Do I get the happy ending, too?”
“We’re in Thailand, aren’t we? Of course you do.”