I lay on my bed with May after a night out drinking. It was morning with the blinds closed. I looked at her wrapped in my arm and thought she wasn’t very beautiful. Maybe only from certain angles, I thought. Her nose was big and aquiline, yet with her dark hair down, she commanded a pastoral beauty. She always wore her hair up, though, and when you had done something wrong, she smiled with her lips and held her chin up the way prim girls do. She was also a 25-year-old virgin.

I pulled up her shirt and put my hand flat on the warmth of her back. I slid a few fingers into the waistline of her black jeans and followed the edge of where I wasn’t supposed to go. I reached higher from her stomach to her breast and that’s where I felt a pointed elbow.

“How many times you gonna do this?”

She said nothing.

I rolled back to my side and closed my eyes for a few minutes.

“Did you go home alone last night?” she said in the dark.

“Yes,” I said, “I told you.”

***

The night before, I came home from work in a divided mood. My room had as much decoration as a CIA torture cell, and the thin long tubes of pale white light on the ceiling were the kind you usually see in places below the poverty line, the droning buzz breaking the silence of night and various bugs flying round and into them. I threw my bag on the bed and sat for a few moments, thoughtless. All my friends were busy that night, but the moon was full, and rather than spurred on by a sense of adventure, I was to avoid the misery of home. I put on my blue cap, popped the last few benzodiazepines from my prescription, and went to the convenience store to drink a couple beers and smoke some cigarettes before I left.

Outside the store, I was alone at some stone tables drinking. I noticed a young Indian man on the farthest table staring. I took my notepad and pen out of my back pocket. Nothing.

At my bar on Khao San, there were twelve tables outside the place that stretched out from the rickety door in the wall to the main vein of the road. The staff wore blue T-shirts and held out cardboard signs with prices at the constant flow of people on the road. Near the front of the entrance, there was a DJ set and an MC with face tattoos who echoed words to rap and pop songs. He had dreadlocks and wore a black hat with a colorful marijuana leaf. Bright dancing lights came from the sound system and fell upon the girls’ faces I looked at.

I ordered a beer and laughing gas and took out my notepad to write again. The Cambodian staff there were always friendly and gave sincere eyes. The one I liked was Soriya. We talked awhile, but it never worked out.

The music was loud and I jotted some senseless words in cursive. I kept this up for as long as I could through a cold beer and some more balloons. I put the pen and paper away and looked around. There was a chubby girl in yellow at the table behind me and she was turning her head to meet my eyes.

“Do you want come sit with me?” she said as she made room. Her prettier friend across from her smiled weakly and leaned her chin to her palm.

I saw Soriya walking down through the aisle of tables giving me a furrowed look. As she walked between us, I gave her a tickle on her stomach and she slapped my shoulder as hard as she could. I turned back around.

I sat there for more time, staring at the sweaty troops of foreigners and the beachy Thai girls. Some were shy but none to show their legs. They wore dark crop tops, chokers, and frayed white denim shorts cut just above the upper thighs, sometimes with a white pocket or two hanging out. There were the sun-kissed ones with words tattooed above their hearts who smiled carefree and danced and sang like they were alone. There were the lighter ones with a hint of Chinese who were taller, more aristocratic and aloof. They wore slightly longer clothes and didn’t mix much with foreigners. There were midriffs and high thighs all around, but all the breasts belonged to farang women.

Out of nowhere, an Irish girl came and sat across from me, asking if it was okay that she sat there after she had sat. She said she lost her friends, so we said cheers and made small talk. She was full of energy, gesticulating with long arms in a masculine way which reminded me of why I like Asian girls. Her body was large but not fat. Her pale blue eyes were pretty but not attractive. The rest of her looked like every other Irish girl, except that she was tall. The best thing about her at that moment was that she liked me, though there didn’t seem to be any reason why this should be the case.

We left quickly and went to a club at the other end of the road with linked arms. We walked in through the narrow kaleidoscope entrance and made our way to the bar. We ordered drinks and said cheers again. The music was the same as before, except louder now, and the darkness was heavier and the colored lights brighter. On the dance floor, she pressed up against me. She shook her hair back and looked up at me in anticipation. We kissed and then did it some more and the way we looked at each other in between was cheap and as I looked at her veneer of personality she did a sexy dance. I left for the bathroom.

When I came out, she was talking to a blond European guy, and as she saw me she came closer to me. Then she stepped a few steps back to him and then back to me again. I went to the bathroom a second time. This time I came out and saw her with him again, so I walked through the crowded dance floor to the exit. I got out of the building and walked away to the other end of the street. I stopped to eat a kebab and with a mouthful looked back at the club.

I started off for home in the back of a tuk-tuk. I watched the old city of Bangkok pass by, the golden bell spires of the temples, the 18th-century fortress, and the large portraits of the royal family. The engine was monotonous against the grandeur of the inner city. We picked up speed and the wind blew off my hat into the road. I let the warm wind blow my hair around in ways I felt ugly.

There was a shady little red light bar near my apartment that my friend had told me about. I had walked by it before, but was never brave enough to enter. I told myself I would check it out.

I saw it cornered on the opposite side of a busy road and a sleazy man with a flashlight soliciting women to people who walked by. Many lady, he said. I wandered past him and up to the red door. Inside, the place was empty and green carpeted. The dry air smelt like stale smoke. On the left of the entrance was a long bar with several fridges full of green beer bottles and two worn old ladies sitting fat behind the bar. I wondered if they used to be whores. Neither of them were friendly as I ordered a beer, and on the right of me sat an older Japanese man smoking. He spoke to them in Thai and as if they were still beautiful.

Behind me, there was a pool table with a small, nubile Thai girl in ripped denim shorts moving her hips side-to-side leaning on a cue stick and playing with a much older white guy. He was hunched over in a black T-shirt, cargo shorts, and gladiator sandals. Along the back wall of the place was a low carpeted seat that stretched around the corner of the building. Pink neon came from under the seat which set the atmosphere of the bar and was the focal point of attention, although at this point, there was nobody sitting there. The time was around half past two. There were two other girls to the right of the bar staring at me and smiling while playing a board game, and in the bar, which was rather big, there were no other people yet.

The Japanese man turned towards me and began to talk. He told me that the police came here sometimes or that the police owned it. He said as it got later, the girls from Sukhumvit would come in here and wait for new customers, and as he talked and talked, they came in.

A bald white man barged into the bar and stumbled at the first couch. He was huge and muscular with a black tank top. He looked like some cockney gangster, and as he marched through the bar, a pimp scurried behind him obsequiously to the whores. He picked a pretty tattooed one in a blue silk skirt and top. He paid at the far end of the bar and they left together holding hands.

I turned to the Japanese man and asked him which one he preferred. He said he didn’t know and asked me back. I pointed to a girl conservatively dressed, wearing a gray turtleneck sweater that covered her stomach, but she wore an elegant smile from across the hollow bar and a stare that I can only describe as feral. The Japanese man asked me if I wanted to invite her over for a drink. I accepted and the bar host collected her and brought her over to me. As she walked over, I thought woman was most attractive the first time you see her; I figured this was part of the appeal of whores.

I bought her a whiskey and coke and she sat up on the bar chair with me in my lap. She was grabbing the back of my hands as she spoke with the Japanese man in Thai and he translated things to me. He said that she used to work on Koh Samui at a restaurant and sometimes did this on the side. He laughed. He asked her where she had been tonight and she told him it was a secret. There were jokes about her breasts and she called them lemons. She put our hands to her stomach and leaned back into me and I realized there was no way back.

I nodded my head, put my hands on her warm thighs, and we stood up. The bar host asked if I wanted to take her and he told me the price.

We held hands on the way back to my apartment. The alley was quiet and the neighborhood was asleep. The corrugated fences hid dense poverty and squat toilets and the street dogs were yawning and lounging on their paws. We walked past a house with red Chinese lanterns and garaged shop houses. She asked me if I had condoms. I assured her and we kept walking on in the gentle night where I walked in thoughtless surrender.

As soon as we got to my room, I took a shower and lay on my bed. She did the same and came out in my blue towel. She turned off the light and climbed onto the bed. I took off her towel and we began kissing in the dark like lovers. The city skyline from my glass balcony doors gave my room a dim starlight and I could see the peach color of her body and her shapely figure and her lemons. I put on a rubber and slid inside of her gently. Her moan was meek when it first came from underneath me; I grabbed her breasts and looked down to the thin rolls under her flat stomach and to her dainty black forest. Our faces grew closer and our tongues played with each other between the thin film of warm saliva. She got up towards me and crouched low on her knees to take off the condom and she forced me into her mouth. Passion grew as quick as anger, and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I put on another and I opened her legs from behind with her head hanging off the bed. I watched the top of her brown bun bounce and the silver light on the dimples of her lower back.

I woke up again in darkness to her standing up straight at the foot of my bed, asking me the way back. I walked with her downstairs and the black of night was thinning to blue. I showed her the quiet road where we came from. That was all she needed and we said a goodbye. I came home and collapsed on my bed.

***

When I woke up again, it was dawn and part of me was confused about what I had done. I felt I crossed a line that could not be uncrossed and that now I was free or condemned, but that either way, there was a destiny. I smoked a cigarette and looked at the angled light of morning across the skyscrapers of Bangkok.

Having no fears anymore, I went on the Internet and browsed the girl services. I found one I liked that was cheap. From her pictures, she had a perfect ass and her age said 26. A customer service representative called me to confirm and asked me to take a picture of both my room number and my house key. I went to the store to buy an energy drink.

***

She was an hour late and didn’t show up until around half past eight. I went downstairs to pick her up and we both looked at each other unsure. She mouthed my name and I nodded. She went to her clean white SUV, opened the door which was almost too tall for her, and took out her purse. The sun was glaring now and I couldn’t get a good look at her in the brightness, but I knew for certain she was not 26 years old and her photos were doctored and she was not as skinny as she had looked online. She was short and had large breasts. That was enough. The apartment guards watched as we made for the apartment.

We went up to my room and sat on my couch. She began to complain about traffic and asked me if I had been drinking. She laughed and put her hand on my leg. Eventually, she went to the bathroom and I sprawled out and put the blanket over my face. When she came out, she lay next to me and we faced each other. I said nothing and she began to play with me through my shorts while she looked into my eyes. Soon she was tugging me and climbed on her knees to my waist. She pulled her hair back and I watched her head fall on me. Her hands moved below my shaft and she put her cool fingers around them as her head moved up and down gently. I grabbed her head and sped up the motion.

She came back up to where I was and took her shirt off. I could see the dough rolls between her top and bottom lingerie, and when she took off her large underwear, her lower stomach was covered with colorful Aztec tattoos which were deformed and random among the sweaty crevices of her fat. As I put on a condom and entered her, I looked down at them again. There was another dyed layer of bulge extended out just below her navel, like a body part I had never seen before. It looked like a pudgy Egyptian scarab. When I moved against her fast, I didn’t look at her eyes, but her legs, and I watched the way they vibrated as I beat into her.

We switched positions and she got on top of me facing the foot of my bed. The thick layer of fat around her thighs made her ass look baby-like and misplaced, and I watched her move up and down on myself but was losing strength. She got up and the condom came off of it and dangled from between her, stuck up there.

“You come?” she said.

“No.”

She pointed to me. It was covered in it.

“It’s okay. I will do again later,” she said.

I passed out on the bed, and when I came back out of sleep again, she was on my couch. She got up and asked me if I had a pen. I pointed from the bed and then she wrote her phone number and name on a paper and said to call her when I woke up.

After a couple hours of more sleep, I woke with a damp neck to the heavy heat of midday. I opened the blinds and the time outside made me feel late, although I had nothing to do yet. I threw away the paper with the phone number. I gathered all the trash together and the used condoms in one bag and put it outside. I took my sheets down to the wash and sat on the curb in front of the machine with my arms over my knees while I waited. May was coming over soon.