The Wrestler executed a flawless triple suplex on my throat as I slugged it down with what remaining vigor I had. My conk was pounding from a bruising obtained in a Chinatown alley last night at the hands of some Sicilian mugs. Or were they Russians? Either way, they shouldn’t have been in Bangkok. Then again, who was I to talk? Well, since you’re inquiring, I was McCoy, P.I.: Bangkok’s lankiest detective.
As my head moonlighted as a paperweight, I was drifting into a beautiful dream of sit-down toilets and tuk-tuk hawkers suddenly struck mute when… BANG (last name Buttaporn, my receptionist of six years) buzzed in on the intercom. There was someone here to see me. Just my luck.
“Tell ’em to breeze off, it’s a holiday.”
“What holiday’s that boss?”
“The uh, King’s saxophone’s birthday. Very special.” This one always worked.
“Too late boss, they’re coming in.”
Faster than a stray dog on the hunt for tossed out khao phat pu, a Dame stormed in with murder in her eyes, a lethal stack of papers in her hands, and a bullet with my name on it. That bullet being a case file, and not a real bullet. Black hair past her slender sun-kissed shoulders, and a pair of getaway sticks up to here – no, wait… here – the first glimpse of her shuddered parts of my gut I didn’t know I had, at least since dining exclusively on Thai cuisine. She was ringing all the right bells in all the right places, but especially the one in my thinking box, what was it about her that I recognized?
“Here’s the file, boss. They decided to leave.”
The words swam on my page like skin-eating fish around a fat German tourist’s feet. Delegating expertly, I had Bang explain the case to me. From the elevated shrillness of her voice it sounded like trouble – trouble of the big variety. Not like anything I hadn’t dealt with before, but of course, all of those cases ended with me being inches from meeting The Big One (or the requirements of the Pattaya Ladyboy Choir). I did what any seasoned gumshoe would do when faced with such danger, and began the process of faking my own death and fleeing the country toute suite. Right as I was about to confirm the purchase of my tickets to Argentina, however, Bang pried my tear-strewn face away from the computer monitor and laid the scene out as simply as she could:
“Follow this guy!”
“A ha! An open-and-shut pedophile trailing case! That’s easy money! Eggs in the coffee!”
“No… Well, maybe. But worse! He’s got a mysterious ailment in his drawers, and if it goes unchecked it could ruin everything!”
“By everything, you mean… society? Or… his trip?”
“Everything! Now go!”
So I hit the streets in search of answers and a 30 baht meal. The second was easy to come by, the first not so much, but in the tropics this kind of case was usually over by the time the next pre-teen muaythai championship rolled around, so I ate my pad see ew in relative peace.
So this shmoe’s got a dilemma downstairs, I thought, big farangin‘ deal. In all my years as a Privates Investigator I’d seen all manner of pustulated, scabrous, and rashy naughty regions, but there something about this case that was raw – something personal and in my face. This may of course have had something to do with the shmoe standing directly in front of me, joined by a handful of nances in short shorts.
Cool as a freeze-dried Chinese cucumber I followed their movements and puerile conversations – first with my eyes and ears, then with my whole body – as we navigated past street stalls and curbside cripples for . It wasn’t hard to tell my mark had something gnawing at him, as his hand was constantly fiddling with his unsightlies.
After he and his bevy of rag-a-muffins spent far too much time in a 7-11, I jostled one of the more frail employees to see what he’d seen. He’d eyed a goochie purse on my mug, stuffed with a British passport and a few baht crumbs he clung to far too dearly. I made sure to only rough the guy up lightly for his help.
A goochie purse, eh? Having that clinging to one’s crotch all day in this heat, walking 5-10 miles per diem like these dingbats were doing – definitely a likely probable cause for a case of Grade A Chaffage. I jotted it down in my notebook.
The next week was spent watching the palooka gorging himself and sitting in the steam room of a swanky Bangkok expat apartment complex. While he sat by the pool one day I caught a glimpse of his thighs through my binoculars. Nothing could’ve prepared me for those singed red blotches, flaky and weepy all at once. But that’s not what detective work is all about – being prepared that is. At least, no one’s ever corrected me when I’ve said that. And I say it often.
Scratchy O’Goochton and his boys finally teamed up with a couple of skirts, and they all left for the monsoon-kissed shores of Phuket. Trapped inside by the rain and a lack of desire to see fat, scantily clad Russians everywhere I turned, I went through my traditional tests to fix this bozo’s predicament. One afternoon I stole his underpants, so he had to go commando on a few occasions, but the fresh air did nothing for him. I paid his friends off, telling them to jump into the ocean (my exact words were “go soak your head,” but still), but when he followed them the salt water seemed to make things worse. The diaper rash ointment I slipped into his bag may have eased the itching, but it left his drawers stinking of seafood all day long. None of my old tricks were working; maybe it was time I just observe his habits and see how he helped himself.
Naturally this did neither of us any good. Leaving this guy to his own devices was like tossing a puppy into Bangkok traffic – fun to watch, but bad for your blood pressure in the long run. His first attempt to solve the crisis was to try stealing a handful of pink calamine lotion in a beach market on Kho Phi Phi. The cashier, after watching him craftily squirt lotion down his pants then try to leave the store, forced him to bleed $1.05 for the entire bottle. The stress and shame from that experience probably worsened his condition, but I didn’t feel like inquiring further. Plus, since he was no longer swimming in the ocean on account of the pain, I couldn’t get a closer look at the danger zone.
Later, back in Bangkok, he scored some hydrocortizone and applied it a few times a day. I thought that a smart move on his part, since I was beginning to think this was all caused by some bed bugs (the only action he was getting in the sheets – BAZOW!).
But it was all just a ruse, because the next day I was trailing him into Cambodia, a country-sized sweatbox where he insisted on riding a bike 3 hours a day through jungles. Though Bang had assured me he wasn’t retarded in any way, I could only think otherwise when I saw him, after brushing his pearlies one night, smear an anti-itch cream for bug bites – almost pure ammonia – to his rash. Within seconds he was screaming uncontrollably, as he doused himself under the shower and his two friends fell out of bed screaming, expecting a murder to be taking place.
By now my nerves couldn’t take this sap, or this godforsaken case, or this article any longer, so when I found out he and the other two bozos were headed up to Chiang Mai, I tipped off their guesthouse owner to direct them to a nearby, Harvard-educated dermatologist. Once he arrived there, I cleverly disguised myself as a nurse to sit in on the proceedings…
Huh. Now, while I hadn’t thought of the fungus angle, I guess it all added up in the end. As I cleared my head of this case with a couple Changs, I perused the doc’s prescribed treatment for this particularly pestilence:
- Two antibiotics, twice a day, for at least two weeks
- No alcohol for two weeks
- No warm showers for a month
- Apply antibiotic cream once in morning and once at night, after a cold shower, for up to 6 weeks
- $27 please!