Several years ago my daughter was playing on our soi in Pattaya. A pick-up roared down the street like the driver had murdered his wife and was bell-bent for the border. From my perspective the bumper came very close to my little precious and I chased him on my motor scooter to verbally reprimand him.
At the corner I slapped his door with my open palm. A clumsy move and I swerved off my bike rather than zoom into the busy main street.
As I struggled to right the Yamaha, the neighbor who appeared to have such a small head through the windshield, got out of the car. The small noggins was attached to a King Kong body with football hooligan tattoos, which I only noticed a nanosecond before his first punch.
Lefts and rights broke my nose and gashed my eyebrow. Grappling his arms, I realized, “Shit this guy is strong and knows what he’s doing.”
Finally he was out of breath and asked, “Had enough?”
“Yeah, but you’re still a cunt for nearly hitting my daughter.”
We left it like that.
My Thai friends from the Buffalo said we have to get him.
Gae-kaen or revenge.
“But not today.” They advised. “Wait, we get him later.”
Their suggestions were a beating or vandalizing his truck. “We do. You not worry. You not call the police?”
“No.” calling the police only meant you had to give them money without any guarantee of satisfaction.
“Good.” The Thais like keeping the police in the dark. “No know. Good.”
My wife looked at my black eyes and bruised face. “What you want to do?”
“Nothing right now.” Taking a baseball bat to his windshield or slashing his tires would escalate the conflict to the point where someone would get hospitalized since Pattaya is packed with lager louts and hooligans avoiding travel in Europe now that Spain has an extradition treaty with the UK. Fascists to a man.
“Good. Better to have jai-yen.” She kissed my cheek and gave me a beer.
My farang friends asked, “What happened to you?”
I explained the situation, but changed the story to say that my assailant was an 80 year-old man.
“Some of these geezers are wiry and fast.”
“What are you going to do?"
“Nothing as long as he drives slower in the neighborhood.”
Doing nothing felt funny. George W Bush wouldn’t do nothing, but the Pentagon wasn’t in my back pocket. Nothing seemed wrong, especially when the skinhead lout drove by my house every day. With a pit bull in the back. At least he was going slower.
Doing push-ups to build up my muscles was a waste of time.
I’m no longer a fighter.
But I am vicious and spotted a cluster of red ants in my mango tree. Normally I would have sprayed the swarming tentacles with a pesticide since mot-daeng are wicked biters. This time I went into the kitchen and brought out a pot of honey.
“Winnie the Pooh.” My daughter called out as I coated the leaves with the sweet sticky honey.
My wife took one look and said, “Gae-kaen.”
I nodded my head and waited for the ants to gather their clan.
Red ants swarmed over the leaves to get at the honey. Within an hour the branch bent under their weight. By dark they numbered in the thousands, thanks to my attentive resupply of honey. My wife drove around the block and reported that the truck was parked on the street.
A week had passed. A month would have been better. But I wasn’t waiting forever.
I coaxed the red ants into a paper bag. It actually felt heavy and then I dressed in black. Camouflage for the night. I crossed through several backyards to the adjacent street. No dogs barked out a warning. The skinhead’s truck was sheltered under a tree. I snuck up to the driver’s door. A dollop of honey on the door handle. Another under the door. I checked the street and uplifted the bag . A little too fast, because the ants fell more on me than the door.
Thousands of them sought my flesh.
Hundreds of them found it.
I threw down the bag and ran into the darkness.
My wife spotted the welts. “Gae-kaen.”
“Better to have a jai-yen.”
Revenge is always best served cold.
Especially with red ants on hand.