Ban Pae to Bangkok

The tiny bus depot at Ban Pae smelled like septic fish or a filthy woman’s menses. The water at the docks didn’t. The beach where the fish were poured out of nets didn’t. The depot did. It made him feel dirtier. He sat on a cement bench, trying not touch it with any part of himself or his clothing that was unnecessary. His back ached from this pattern of awareness. It was unlike Koh Samet just an hour before where everything had been so comfortable, so easy until the end. It was how he’d spent the whole week in Bangkok; in the avoidance of recline.

The bus was late. It made him mad. He hadn’t cared before how fast he got away from Thailand. It had taken effort. Because the bus was late he began to care. He went to the bathroom. It cost three baht. It was like a set out of a bad sci-fi movie. There were fat greasy cobwebs strung from wall to crumbling wall. Little light filtered through the boarded, chicken wired, and glassless window frames. He wouldn’t have been able to walk all the way in if he hadn’t had to urinate so badly. He wanted booties, goggles, gloves, and a tetanus shot just to stand there as long as it took. He didn’t breathe. He went back and rinsed his hands with the end of his drinking water.

The bus pulled up and let the passengers out. It let Angelo and the others on after twenty minutes. It was air-conditioned. Which meant that it was only distressingly hot, and not quite suffocating. More than a mild distinction to him and worth the twenty additional baht. He’d found himself thinking of ways to save five baht here and there. Five baht was scarcely more than a dime. It didn’t register to him. He only knew that five baht was a good chunk of money. It could buy a skewer of vegetables and chicken or a liter of water.

He realized on the bus that he was sick. He thought it was going to be okay. He casually tried to decide if it was breakfast, lunch, the water, or something airborne he’d picked up. He thought he could last two more hours to Bangkok. He watched the dull countryside remain dull mile after mile. An hour later it was dicey. He broke out his bathroom bag and drank eight ounces of pink bismuth. He’d carried that bottle for two years in Asia and never opened it. He emptied it and started breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth and focusing on his grip on the arm rests, not his abdomen. He had beads of sweat standing on his forehead. The airconditioning started to be too much.

His hands were tingling. His face was long numb and cold. When the bus finally reached Bangkok the traffic was gruesome. The trip had just received an additional hour and Angelo knew it. As long as he didn’t move though he was status quo. He held onto that.

He managed, with the effort of a lifetime, to make it to the bus station bathroom. He threw his bag in a sink and hit a stall. Everything in his stomach and bowels exited him simultaneously and with great force. He’d known both were likely. He’d never known they could happen at the same time, let alone were going to in this instance. He made it to squatting over the toilet in the floor but his vomit drenched the stall door. And by the third jet and last of it, he was a mess also.

A few minutes passed. He managed to stand, shaking like a junky. He had to attempt a step before he remembered his pants were down. He took them off. There was no point in pretending they could be cleaned up.

There were several men in and out of the bathroom. It was humiliation he could feel later. He was too sick to care just then. He stuffed his pants and underwear in the trash. He wiped himself down with some water and a handtowel, out of his bag, which he also threw away. He put on his swim suit, because it was thick, and his loose jeans. He took off his shirt. Men were staring. He wiped the vomit off his arms, mouth, and hands with the clean parts of the shirt. He threw it away too. He rinsed in greasy and reddish water. He put on another shirt he dug out of his bag. He rinsed his mouth with some toothpaste and swallowed it.

He went across the street and sat at a bus stop bench breathing dizzying carbon monoxide for an hour. When he felt strength enough to move again he caught a cab and asked to be taken to Khaosan Road where he got a room and slept for fourteen hours.

It was Christmas day.


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