From Slave to the Passions

            “What about me?” said the female figure, adding virtuously “I brought him back.”
            The figure’s voice informed Suk that Redhead had picked up a ladyboy or transsexual or somebody of that kind or perhaps he or she had picked up him.
            “He’s not interested in people like you,” said Suk. “This is his girlfriend.”
            “No, I’m not,” said Kuad immediately.
            “I don’t want any money,” said the transsexual, full of her own righteousness, “I just want some thanks.”
            Suk thought that nonetheless she was angling for a tip because she was in no hurry to depart.
            “Just because we’re different from other people doesn’t mean to say we aren’t honest,” the transsexual said, exuding more virtue.
            “How did you know where to bring him?” asked Suk.
            The transsexual said that Redhead had been carrying the inn’s card. She pulled Redhead’s wallet out of his pocket and showed Suk. The card was in Thai script on one side and in the Roman alphabet on the other. Either way, Redhead had been too drunk for this information to be of help to him. There was money in the wallet as the transsexual obviously wanted them to see. She had not robbed Redhead. Suk took three hundred baht from Redhead’s wallet and gave it to the transsexual.
            “You can help us take him in,” she said. Redhead was not colossally built but it was still convenient to have two women, Kuad and the transsexual, to half-drag and half-carry him while Suk opened  doors so that they could put him in his bedroom without too much fuss from the proprietress, at her counter in the small reception area.
            The proprietress did not look too pleased at Redhead’s condition but not greatly shocked either. She had been waiting for their return and wanted to lock up.
            The three of them dragged Redhead down the corridor past the rooms of the other Americans. Pastor stuck his head out of the door and watched their progress. He looked surprised or disapproving, then concerned and offered to help.
            “No, don’t bother,” said Suk hastily. She did not want the respectable portion of the group involved.
            Once in Redhead’s room, they pushed him towards the shower cubicle to prepare himself for bed. They could hear him attempting to take a shower but he was in a bad condition and was soon retching and choking. Suk opened the door and peered in. Redhead had been sick, mostly, but not entirely, into a wash-basin. He had collapsed again, half in the shower, and his trousers were around his ankles.
            “Go, Kuad, get something to clean him,” said Suk. Kuad departed, returning with the proprietress. She handed them kitchen roll and cleaning implements and then departed, thinking that she had done enough.
            “You’ll be cleaning the loo, Kuad,” said Suk. “Punishment for your failure.”
            Suk and the transsexual lugged Redhead out of the shower. They pulled off his clothes which were soiled by his vomit as well as wet. The transsexual wiped Redhead’s mouth and Suk roughly dried him. All three hauled him to his bed and dumped him there on his back.
            Redhead’s body was pale-skinned. His body and pubic hair were the same colour as his head and moustache. He did not look manly, more like a concentration camp victim or a saint who had suffered an unpleasant martyrdom.
            “Men,” said Suk in genuine disgust. “No wonder you didn’t want to be one.”
            “He’s not circumcised,” observed Kuad.
            “That’ll be useful next time,” said Suk.
            “We can’t leave him like that, he’ll choke,” said the transsexual.
            They rolled Redhead over onto his side and partly covered him with a sheet. Suk and the transsexual sat on the bed and talked, waiting for Kuad to finish cleaning the wash basin and shower cubicle. 
            “I heard a voice inside me,” said the transsexual. “Become who you are! It was a female voice,” she added.
            Suk was impressed even though she thought the transsexual was overly dramatic.
            “My life was to be my work of art,” continued the transsexual. “I was to make myself and like myself and not be discouraged.”
            The transsexual did not give the impression of being wealthy and the re-creation of her body must have cost a lot. Viewed from the outside there was an element of comedy about her situation but it was not comic for the transsexual. Her making of herself was so far somewhat self-centred but Suk thought that the individual had to make herself first before she made the world or at least helped others to improve it.
            Suk asked her about her operation. The transsexual said that her transformation had started with her breasts and offered to exhibit them to Suk. Without waiting for Suk’s  reply, the transsexual opened her blouse and undid her bra and a pair of neat and modestly-sized breasts were immodestly revealed. With the enthusiasm of a child who wants to display its newly won trophy to its parent, the transsexual then offered to show Suk her refashioned genitals.
            “Ooh!” said Kuad, emerging from the loo and curious.
            At this point Redhead showed some signs of life and even interest in his surroundings. Kuad bent over him and slapped his face in the manner of someone trying to bring a person round from a fainting fit. “Are you alright?” she said, showing a little concern, but since her question was in Thai, her concern was wasted on Redhead, assuming it could have penetrated his stupefaction.
            Nonetheless, Redhead’s eyes opened and no doubt observed three women around him, Suk and Kuad almost in his face and, to their rear and sticking out her boobs in a proud, exaggerated manner, the bare-chested transsexual, lost in wonder at her own mammary magnificence. Redhead made an incoherent noise of appreciation, half sat up and then fell back and passed out once more.
            The proprietress appeared again and said that she wanted to go to bed. The transsexual would have to leave or register and stay the night. Suk took another two hundred baht from Redhead’s wallet and gave it to the transsexual. She saluted and thanked her and the transsexual responded as formally and departed into the night, sheathed in her existentialist virtue.

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