And Then What Happened


Now for some peace to follow the trauma. The girl is back, and we’re at the resort pool. I’m trying to blast a tan into my lily-white, KKK hood-colored visage. It won’t work. I’ll just get skin cancer instead. The pool deck is overrun with young Brits. Without exception, they all have matted hair and at least one too many tattoos. They look like they share needles. Young Brits are the opposite of their tea-and-monocle accents. Everyone here has a book that they’re barely reading. Because books are only props now. I’m the only one who’s made it past the first ten pages of mine. I should write pool books, with only the first ten pages filled in, because that’s all they’re gonna read anyway.

Later on I go to the gym and then get a haircut that makes it look like I’m trying too hard to look 23 again. I putter over to the tourist haven at Hoan Kiem Lake to buy some fake Ray-Bans before deciding to have a massive beer on a balcony, so that I can keep cooling my already-cool heels. I’ve had almost two months off from work and it’s still not enough. It might as well have been just one single day off; I’d feel no different. When I do go back, it will be same sensation as choking or drowning.

The beer slowly pollutes my bloodstream. Most of the tourists milling around here are European families or middle-aged couples using this vacation to try to work it out. Koreans with their fucking polo collars popped stride by quickly, appalled at the one-legged beggars, the chaos, the dirt, the reality that’s here. Rich Vietnamese are out too. The ones who, like me, don’t have to work. They have fat, haughty children in tow. I see womens’ thumbs scrolling, scrolling, scrolling down through the News Feed. That feature came out a decade ago but at this rate, they’re going to make it all the way back to the beginning.

Time to drive back to Skype a friend. Evening traffic is a grinding, oppressive experience.


What to say on Skype. What to talk about. I’m in the ether, I feel relatively at peace these days. And it’s killed my ambition. You can’t fucking win, can you.


9 thoughts on “And Then What Happened

  1. Fred you are such a sophisticated, world weary, cosmopolitan bachelor that I feel entirely renewed – I was worried there for a while! Maybe you let your defences down when you lost sight of your identity. That being an American in post-war Viet Nam.

  2. As a Brit, I find your description of Brits mighty gratifying. I always say Britons are the vermin of Europe. That’s us. We disguise it behind our accents but it always comes spilling out when we go abroad.

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