I still need a cover for Sweet Smelling Water. I’m eyeing up the cover of Garuda’s Travels which is looking like a front runner for the cover of Medan Madness too.
‘’But you can’t use the same cover for another book,’ says Bernhard, who is hanging around like a bad smell. I can do whatever I fucking like, ‘they are my fucking covers.’ I can’t see him but he’s around. Maybe he’s hiding behind that decoration plant. Or just one of the many voices in my head.
‘I’m real and you know it cunt.’
That settles that one.
Sweet Smelling Water is mostly set in East Java. But I’d like to research a chicken farm or two before I’m done and snap a cover.
But I have a feeling it’s not going to happen. Medan has a very Sharia feel to it. I’ll be on my best behavior. Who knows, I might find a new angle for the book. Nonsense. I’m writing about terrorism and Medan is the best place to be. It’s far enough from the Thai border to give me some breathing space. I can explore Islam from the heart of it.
‘Speaking more shit again,’ said Bernhard. He’s really good at grounding me.
But for now, I need to sort out my sleeping.
‘Throw those pills away and have a good fuck,’ he advises, ‘that will sort your sleeping quick enough.’
He’s right. It’s been a long drought since the chicken farm in Bali over nine months ago. But I’m running on a tight budget. By avoiding the whore houses I’ve been able to stay in Asia longer.
‘You could have been in Oz earning real money in that time.’
I know the argument but I just needed a year off.
Bob is a professional tennis coach. But I suspect he makes his money in other dodgy ways. He’s hinted at it. He’s always hinting at another Bob. What you see is just a front. That’s the impression I get.
‘You stink and you are overweight.’
I might be but Bob is starved of Western contact, so I guess he just puts up with me. Medan isn’t exactly a clean city and I bet his toilet bowl is full of shit.
‘I just don’t like using chemicals.’
Tell that to your girlfriends. They find it gross for someone who is a professional tennis player from Europe who can’t even afford cash for some bleach and a toilet brush.
‘Got you there,’ I say. It’s only sparring for a few more days. He’s leaving Medan forever.
‘I need to track down that cunt who stole my money.’
Bali, Kuta to be precise, ‘and he’s maybe drinking the proceeds of your stolen cash at the Sky Garden at this very moment.’
Bob is never going to retrieve that cash. He’s not the kind to track down his stolen money. He’s really too kind for that kind of gangster behavior.
‘That’s what happens when you put your money in someone elses account,’ says the Brit, who can see why Bob is really pissed off.
‘I was using his ATM card,’ said Bob, ‘but I had no idea he’d eventually withdraw my eight thousand dollars.’ At first Bob thought somone had skimmed his account.
‘That’s how naive I was,’ he admits.
He’s not like his mate who I met the other day. He’s in the early sixties, quite trim, long flowing blond hair. He could be a surfer.
‘He does a lot of that,’ says Bob. The Brit was with a young Batak and was on his way to Lake Toba to find some more young Batak.
‘Did you know he’s carrying ten thousand pounds on him?’
I know he left most of it with a Chinese Malaysians in Penang and when he goes back, he’ll be lucky to find his friend who is holding onto it.
He says the Brit use to travel with his brother, a few years younger. They have been coming back and forward to Sumatra for years. ‘But his brother passed away last year,’ says Bob, ‘and now he is carrying on the tradition of whoring in Sumatra alone.’
And the Brit doesn’t really seem to miss his brother. He can’t wait to get to Lake Toba and smoke some cheap weed and find a Batak fuck buddy for a few weeks. He’s taking the local bus tomorrow. He had just shown us a cheap shirt he bought. ‘No need wasting money,’ he says. He’s an old Asian hand. Bob is going all starry-eyed. But I think he’s just a boring old wank bag.
The shirt the Brit is wearing ridiculously small and has a nasty seventies pattern on it. It’s shit brown too. The way he’s wearing that shirt, you’d think he hasn’t left the projects yet.
‘I’ll fucking gut you if you think about writing about me.’
Gut as in gutting a fish, yep that’s right folks.
He tells me he always carries a hunting knife, ‘just for such occasions.’
He’s a real git.
‘They still exist,’ said Bob who comments about the Brit’s new shirt.
‘Looks like the one I bought,’ said Bob. Oh, he’s talking about shirts. ‘I’ll bus it around Medan looking for the cheapest shirts.’ Bob is wearing a cheap polyester t-shirt. I tell the boys I only buy cotton ones. ‘Out of my price league,’ says the Brit. ‘As soon yo start buying natural materials, the price goes through the roof.’ I wanted to say that the Chinese in Penang didn’t feel that way and that he was probably buying himself a Gucci wardrobe.
Bob is wearing a cheap polyester t-shirt. I tell the boys I only buy cotton ones. ‘Out of my price league,’ says the Brit. ‘As soon you start buying natural materials, the price goes through the roof.’ I wanted to say that the Chinese in Penang didn’t feel that way and that he was probably buying himself a Gucci wardrobe.
Bob kind of idolizes the Brit. The mention of pounds sterling ‘ ten fucking thousand of them’ got his attention. It could be just another cock and bull story. The Brit tells us how last year he was ripped off by an Irish backpacker in Bangkok. ‘I’ll be paying him a surprise visit this leg of the journey,’ he says. He’s playing with his knife again. The cunt doesn’t even smoke. He’s not a hardcore Asian hand if he doesn’t smoke. ‘The cunt will be taking a swim off the pier when I meet him next.’
‘The cunt will be taking a swim off the pier when I meet him next.’
Only if you find him.
He’s just like Bob and he hates being ripped off. That ten thousand pounds he left in Penang, in Malaysia, is getting restless and wants to take a hike like the Irish cunt who ripped him off.
‘He came into my room and stole my money.’
That’s what happens when you stay at cheap backpackers.
When the Brit finds out I’m a journalist, the stories stop.
‘Why would anyone want to spend months writing when they could get wasted on good Sumatra bud?’
People like me who like exposing sanctimonious old farts like you.
The Brit is playing with his fishing knife.
‘I’ve gutted many fish in my time,’ he says then fucks off carrying his cheap shirts.
‘Bob, why did you tell I’m a writer?’ I asked.
Just to fuck with him, he says.
The old Brit has cut me off. His goodwill is going elsewhere. He wants nothing to do with me. It’s really no great loss.
I’m glad I didn’t stay in Lake Toba. The idea of comparing avocado smoothies with other tight wad backpackers might have just tipped me over the edge. I’ll take my chances with the Mujahadeen on the corner. It will be far more interesting than sharing old crusty Asian hand stories.