The woman is a spindly monster. She has that ruddy overdosed on the tropics look white people get after a few months in the country. A Thai in his thirties is walking up the beach with these glow lamp things attached to each other on a string. The monster woman lurches forward and snatches them from his hand.
The guy is thin. The hunger in his eyes maybe is from speed. He’s been carrying those fucking lamps up and down the beach all night. He tells the woman that they cost 50 baht.
She’s screaming at him, holding the lamps away in her other hand like a schoolyard bully. He steps back to the edge of the light and lowers himself onto his haunches, waiting.
She spins the lamps in wide arcs that are somehow out of time with the music. Her husband slouches further down in his beach chair. The lazy grin on his face might obscure a grimace. She stumbles. Everybody’s hoping she falls into the fire but no luck. Her foot slams into a big bottle of beer which makes a satisfying thunk. She hops around on one foot for a little while. The Thai man wipes sand from his face and moves his crouch a little further back.
A tourist kid is now waving 100 baht in the Thai man’s face. He’s screaming over the music and making an exaggerated marijuana pantomime with his other hand. A couple minutes later there’s a handoff.
The kid settles a few meters away. He passes the joint around to his friends. A new guy shows up and the kid points him to the Thai man. He’s doing that pantomime again.
“Bon,” the Thai man says when the guy introduces himself. The single syllable of his name is short and ends with a swallowed n. The kid chortles, repeats it back, this time making a swirling motion with his lighter hand. “Like Bong! This guy’s name is B-O-N-G!” He gives a thumbs up. His friends cheer.
The lady has dropped the lamps. Bon skirts the shadows, moving toward his property. The woman is standing upright, slumped forward like a sleeping horse. He’s close. One of the lamps flickers when he touches the string. The woman lurches to attention. Now she’s screaming at the top of her lungs, spittle is hitting Bon on the cheek. She swings the lamps above her head like a gladiator. Thock. One of the glowing bulbs bounces off Bon’s head. He smiles with his mouth only. Backs away.
The lady moves, swinging the lamps close to her husband but he passed out a while ago. The balls of light whoosh past his open mouth in long arcs. The lady laughs in these intensifying fits. She loses her balance, falls in a heap. There’s a muffled pop. She landed on one of the glow bulbs.
Her face freezes in confusion. Time comes to a halt. The confusion turns to horror. Her face is twisted but no noise has yet escaped. The potheads nearly beat her to the punch, erupting into a chorus of guffaws right as she starts screaming. Now everybody’s looking. The guys that have been hanging out on that big driftwood log are staring in silence. They had happy shakes earlier and are trying to figure out if this is all a dream.
The husband is awake now. He’s at his wife’s side. Three of the beach boys from behind the bar are approaching. Everybody around the woman is moving in little jerks. Too much speed. You can almost hear their teeth grinding.
And she’s up.
A wide streak of blood and sand runs down her leg from just under the ass. She’s blubbering, gingerly brushing against the cut, trying to get a better look without falling over. The beach boys are helping her to the parking lot.
Bon stretches like a cat. He takes a few glances across the crowd. They’re busy retelling the scene, sculpting the memory. One of the lamps is still on. He winds the string, pulls out a new bulb and goes to work. When he’s done he kicks sand over the broken glass before giving the repaired globes a little test drive. The stoners applaud.
A few minutes later he walks up the beach to see if anybody else wants to dance with the glowing lights.