I’m winding down on the The Laundry Man, meaning it’s really winding up.
If you can follow the financial logic of the fabled land of Off Sure (oops, another typo), then the author always rewards you with an ending running off a V8 engine. The power behind the story just moves onward and at this stage of the story, nothing, I mean nothing, is going to stop it being told. That’s the art of Needham.
It’s vintage in so many ways. Cheap Charlies is closed, so is Anna’s at Sala Dang and now the Q Bar.
But in the tradition of paying respect, I walk from the construction site, that use to be Cheap Charlies, and is now on it’s way to joining the other ranks of condominiums, to the location of the defunct Q Bar.
It’s a Ghost Town. I pay for my ticket and take the ride. The Thai Ghost Rides are the most ghoulish of them all.
There’s Rahim, the passport and people smuggler. He’s got that air of skullduggery and charm about him. If you need your passport doctored, he’s the man.
There’s Mr. Porn Star, the gaunt looking Brit who has the look that says I’ve fucked my way around Asia. It’s good to see he made the leap from Thermaes to here.
Mango Munny is sitting at a table, watching over the terrace. A packet of Marlboros sits in front of him. He taps one on the table and then lights it up. Jack is sitting at the table with him. Mango — now is that a reference to The Big Mango? – won’t let him drink a Singha, it has to be a Corona with a wedge of lime. Q Bar has appearances to keep.
The glitterati moths are working the smoke filled room, seeking out the dollar signs.
Look what I would have missed if I didn’t pick up a dog eared copy of The Laundry Man, I found lying around at some seedy expat bar in Jakarta.
It’s quintessentially a Bangkok not quite forgotten.
‘Living in Bangkok, I sometimes felt like I was playing out a scene from The Third Man – lurking warily in the shadows; picking my through markets, temples, and bars; dodging gangsters, conmen, and terrorists; trolling the streets of the city like Holly Martins searching the back alleys of Vienna for Harry Lime in 1945. Holly Martins did have one thing on me, however. At least he knew what he was trying to find.’
Jake Needham, The Laundry Man
It’s through the inconsistencies of the story that Jack is going to find out what the hell is going on. Some proactive street canvassing has got him here so far.
I light up a cigarette, take a hit of a Chang and buckle my metaphorical seatbelt.
I can hear the engine revving. I look around the carpark outside the Q Bar.
I was warned, and jumped out of the way.
The fucker tried to run me over.