The Reunification Express: Part Five
by B .
Editor’s Note: This is a continuation to a serial fiction piece written anonymously by Docket committee members. Each month, The Docket will feature a new installment by a different committee member. To review past installments, visit http://www.denbar.org/docket.
Logan did know the complete Thai name for Bangkok. In his twenties, it had seemed wonderfully irrational that a city would have a name longer than 140 letters — he had counted them. Stopping briefly for a red light, the driver reached a few baht out to a woman beside a smoky-looking grill and handed Logan a baa mii, chicken and Chinese noodles in a small wrap of wax paper, keeping another for himself.
"You know our great King? King Bhumipol?" Miami Vice pronounced it "Poo–me–pone." A poster showing a severe-looking middle-aged man in a white uniform stared out from the back of a nearby bus shelter. But it was the poster beside it that caught Logan’s eye as the tuk-tuk bolted forward. "He is very great. Played your jazz with your Benny Goodman. Woody Herman!" Miami Vice was saying. But the adjacent bill brought a different ‘King’ to Logan’s mind. The advertisement displayed a neatly-dressed Vietnamese singer ostentatiously identified in lettering across his chest as Elvis Phuong. Suddenly Logan realized that he knew much more about Mickey Thornton and his doings than he had consciously allowed himself to acknowledge. Logan knew of Elvis Phuong, and knew he had been around for decades. And here’s what else he now knew he knew:
Crittenden County was just over the river from Memphis, and only recently — Logan recalled an article from sometime in the summer — employees of the Crittenden County jail had been charged, in a well-publicized scandal, with selling drugs.
MiWan would keep "losing" money as long as Mickey kept sending it.
Even among the teeming masses of Asia, where, at times, humans seemed as cheap and plenteous as dharmic knickknacks, one life still mattered.
The life that mattered most to him was not Tran’s, if Tran even existed.
There was a good reason why Chinese noodles and chicken figured importantly in the story he had been told of Tran’s death.
At the moment Logan had this realization, the tuk-tuk pulled up to a pillared façade thirty stories tall and Miami popped out his side like an uncoiled spring. Logan emerged more slowly, still in a thoughtful daze, looking around uncertainly. "Are we going to the Hotel Erawan?" Nothing looked familiar.
"Yes, yes! I understand you absolutely!" Miami announced brightly. "Grand Hyatt Erawan. One of the very best hotels we have in our city!"
Then, in the dim light in the center of the square, Logan recognized the winged shape of the Erawan Shrine. Merely an elaborate version of the spirit houses seen outside homes and buildings all over Thailand, it had been set up on a grand scale to accommodate the animistic spirits who, it was hoped, would protect the hotel and its guests. Sadly, the spirits must have gone AWOL, because the shrine, Logan saw, was all that remained of the quaint Hotel Erawan now. A massive Hyatt had taken its place.
You could go back to the same places you had been 30 years earlier, Logan thought, but nothing would be the same. It was a silly mortal conceit, the Thais would say, to imagine he would see the same things as the last time he was here, even if they had still been there, because after all, he had changed. Logan watched a moment as two women in business suits laid flowers on the steps from the shrine down to the traffic circle.
And then, in keeping with the peculiarity of the moment, Logan heard the most unexpected sound. Old-fashioned calypso, or reggae, with a rippling accompaniment of steel drums, it splashed out of the new hotel and into the night like sunlight on a lagoon.
The dim façade of the Hyatt loomed over Logan in the overheated dark; his thoughts reeled with a new realization: that he had never seen evidence of Mickey Thornton’s early real estate holdings (all Logan knew from first-hand knowledge was that Thornton owned a lot of real estate now, property Logan had helped him buy); and, as he turned to pay Miami Vice, still anonymous behind his sunglasses, two things happened simultaneously. As the driver took the bahts and vanished, Logan noticed that the ring on his hand was emblazoned with the symbol of the Phoenix; and one of the two women he had noticed beside the shrine stepped forward, and for a moment, Logan imagined it was MiWan returned to him.
"I am Phuong — Phoenix," the young woman said.
Stay Tuned. ...