Tom leaned back and downed his beer. The liquid ran cold down his throat, bringing welcome relief from the heat. Despite the shade of the bar and the mild sea breeze, he had to wipe the sweat from his eyes every few minutes. Almost noon. Amporn watched him, red lips parted, tongue touching her upper lip. She wiped the deep-polished teak of the bar with a towel and leaned forward, resting her forearms on the bar, hands clasped. Her long, fine black hair draped over her shoulders and brushed his fingers as he leaned toward her, his arms on either side of hers.
She traced her fingers along his forearm, raising a shiver from him. “You want another beer?”
“Maybe. What time do you go home?”
“Two o’clock. Then I come back at seven o’clock and work until closing after midnight. You want to come with me?”
“Okay. Where will we go? To your house?”
“Where you stay?”
“Okay. I meet you after I finish my work at two o’clock. You wait me.”
“All right. What about when you get off work later tonight? Would you like to go to a club?”
“We talk later. I see you at Tropicana Hotel. Go now. Go. I see you.”
He jumped off the stool and started walking away when she called out to him.
“You don’t pay your beer!”
Tom laughed and walked back, paid his tab and tipped Amporn, then retraced his steps to the hotel. He window-shopped on the way back and bought a new shirt from a small street stand. The shirt fabric was manufactured to look wrinkled. He thought of Aida and the fit she would have trying to iron them out. Aida. He fluttered his lips. Aida. Well, so what. This was his last chance to have a fling before they were married. As long as Lek or Aida didn’t find out he would be okay. Once he got back to PI, it would be him and Aida again.
He met George and the others as he window-shopped – they were doing the same. George looked every bit the disco king with the top three buttons of his shirt unfastened and gold chains around his neck. “Hey, Tom, you’re going the wrong way, man, town’s that way.” George pointed toward the nightclub district. “Come with us. We’re going to the German Restaurant for lunch and then to Ben’s jewelry store to look at necklaces.”
Phil rolled his eyes. “You mean you’re going to look at gold necklaces. Like you don’t have enough already.”
Brian chimed in, asking Tom to join them. “Yeah, Tom, come on. We haven’t hung out since the last det.” Brian and Phil were old friends but they worked different shifts than Tom back in PI so the three of them rarely had a chance to hang out together.
“I can’t fellas; I’m meeting someone at two.”
All three looked up knowingly. “Lek?”
“Uh, yeah, Lek. She gets off at two, then goes back at seven and works until the club closes. We’re going to get something to eat and then go to her place for a while. I’ll catch up with you guys tonight. What clubs are you hitting?”
“George wants to go to the Caligula club,” said Brian, “but that place is nasty. Razor blades, hot wax, balls of twine. How deep does that stuff go? What if it gets stuck?”
“No way, man, I don’t want to go that raunchy place,” said Phil. “At least not yet; we have plenty of time. Let’s go someplace else. I picked up a nice girl at Apple Disco last time I was here. I’d like to see if she still works there.”
George looked disgusted. He tapped his foot. “Totally naked chicks, dancing naked, serving beer naked, and you guys want to go to a disco? All right, all right. We’ll go to Apple Disco. But you guys are coming with me to Caligula club next time.”
They all agreed and the three of them left. Tom promised to catch up with them later that night.
One o’clock. An hour to go. He went up to his room and lay on the bed.
A knock on the door woke him. Groggy, he got up, sat on the edge of the bed to collect himself. Another knock. He frowned. How long had he slept? The alarm clock showed he had been out just over an hour. Seems longer. I wonder if that’s…what was her name? Amporn.
He opened the door: Amporn. Her eyes flashed, and a look of consternation marked her face. “Oh, you. I wait and wait. Then I ask manager where is Tom room. He tell me here. You ready now, to go? You sleeping? Your eyes looking tired.”
“No. I laid down for a bit to rest. I left the Philippines early this morning and I’m kind of tired.”
“You want to stay in bed? I stay with you. You like massage?”
“I love a massage, but I’m hungry right now. Let’s go eat.”
“Okay. Where we go?”
“Anyplace you want to go is fine; I like Thai food.”
“Okay. You like Indian food? We go to Ali Baba restaurant by my house.”
“I’m famished. I could eat an elephant.”
“You eat elephant? Nobody eat elephant.” She laughed and linked arms with him, then leaned against him. He put his arm around her shoulders, her bare skin warm and smooth against his.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Hours later, he left Amporn at the bar and headed uptown for the Apple Disco at the southern end of Pattaya, about half a mile away. The heat had lessened with the setting of the sun, and the walk was pleasant and easy. Nightlife in Pattaya had few equals. The Wan Chai district in Hong Kong came close, but Pattaya had the exotic location and crowds of tourists that gave the town an air of thrilling excitement. Olongapo, of course, was easily the best for its resemblance to the Wild West: untamed, dirty, sleazy, unpredictable. As tourist attractions, Pattaya and Wan Chai maintained a strict standard of cleanliness, but Olongapo catered to Sailors, and Sailors were not particular when it came to the cleanliness of bars and nightclubs.
Already the sidewalks teemed with people returning from the beach, going to dinner, heading to clubs. Tom stepped aside for a young European couple leaning on each other; obviously tourists, probably honeymooners. He smiled as they strolled by, eyes only for each other, her head on his shoulder. He thought of his afternoon with Amporn.
After eating, they had gone to her place, a tidy, little apartment two blocks into town, about a quarter mile from the Tropicana. Boonsri, Amporn’s roommate, had gone that morning to visit her folks in a village north of Bangkok and would not be back until the weekend. Inside the spare apartment were few furnishings other than the beds and some living room furniture as well as a fairly well stocked kitchen, Tom had sat on the edge of the bed while Amporn went to get ice. After a few minutes, he lay back, not intending to fall asleep. He woke to Amporn leaning over him, shirtless, her long black hair brushing his face, her breasts rubbing his chest. She smiled when his eyes opened, and brushed her lips against his. He reached out to put his hands on her face and pressed his lips to hers. She sank on top of him, her soft round breasts pushing into him, her nipples hard points poking his chest. He was hard and pushed against her. She pushed back and they lay together, hips grinding, mouths mashed together, tongues seeking, licking, sucking, his hands rubbing along her spine, caressing the small of her back, his toes curled back, her feet pressing against his. He clasped her tight and rolled over, then, sitting up, he unsnapped the button of her long, white slacks, his eyes on hers, unzipped them, and pulled them down her slender, brown legs, his fingers hooked through the belt loops. Her teal panties stood out against the brown of her belly, her pubic mound dark under the lace fabric. Amporn unbuttoned his shirt and pushed it up, pressing her lips into his chest, his nipples hard now, and she wrapped her lips around them. He pushed her back. She moaned softly as he drew her panties down, his fingers in the waistband, his lips following against her smooth belly. Her soft hairs scratched his cheeks as he moved down and down and tasted the flesh of her thighs, and she flicked the panties from her ankles and pushed him up. She sat up, unbuttoned his shorts and pushed them down and then his briefs and she pressed her lips to his belly, kissing and kissing and searching, and finding him, before he pushed her back, back onto the pillows, the breeze from the fan wafting cool across his back as he brought himself into her and heard her long, low moan as he slowly pushed against her. “Ohhh, ya ting pom, ya ting pom. Ohhh, don’t leave me, don’t leave me.”
He had not wanted to leave her. He could not get the afternoon out of his mind and desperately wanted to spend another with her. The sensuousness of Amporn’s lovemaking stayed with him, and her scent filled his head. She exuded pure sexual energy without the hedonism. Giving pleasure seemed more important to her than receiving, but her every move had been an expression of mutual satisfaction, a simultaneous giving and taking of a fully satisfying pleasure. In three hours of non-stop passion, they had explored every bit of each other’s heart and soul and come away with two hearts blended into one. If such a thing as love at first sight existed, Tom might have fallen for her. He walked on air, his head in the clouds and a mist in his mind through which he saw Amporn as his future wife. Thoughts of a life with her, a family with her, filled his head; he even wondered if his parents would like her.
No, he had not wanted to leave her, but she had to work and finished too late for him to see her that night. They had parted with the promise that he would come to the bar tomorrow afternoon if flight operations allowed him the time. They kissed goodbye out of sight of the bar – it would not do to let customers see the barmaids favoring someone – and Tom walked away, reluctant to leave this little brown ball of passion. He wanted to sit at the bar with her all night.
He decided to come back a little later after checking in with George and the guys. Preflight wasn’t until seven in the morning, which meant he had plenty of time to wait for Amporn to finish work and then take her back to his hotel room. The van would pick up the crew at six a.m. He could shower and be ready in twenty minutes. Heck, if everything went okay, he could catch a few hours of sleep at the terminal.
He picked up his pace and a few minutes later arrived at the Apple Disco. He went in and looked around. It was dark as hell and he had to walk up to every table to see if the guys were there. He didn’t find them so he left and walked uptown to Ben’s Jewelry store, a popular place for Sailors who wanted to buy jewelry. Sure enough, they were inside. If he had only thought to look for them at Ben’s before going to Apple Disco, he would have saved a few minutes of walking. He was about to enter Ben’s and join them when he heard his name called.
He stopped and looked up the street. Lek.