In Bangkok, Face the Thing That Should Not Be

Bangkok Traffic Cop

Consider this curious, white-gloved creature of imagined import, stalking Phetchaburi Road–the middle of Phetchaburi Road, mind you, on a stretch of road that not even Thais will cross, not even in the safety of groups–in a thunderstorm of flailing arms and waving hands, the timeless, sexless mating dance of the bureaucratic Look How Busy I Ams. It is the implacable impediment to the very thing of which its life’s task is to prevent; one presumes irony, but the being’s existence is pure sadism.

See this abominable being in its natural habitat, daily oh cruel lord it’s there daily, conducting (in its demented mind only) the riptide of cars and tuk-tuks and taxis and buses, doing so with the aplomb of a dentist’s drill boring blissfully into teeth dulled insufficiently with lidocaine. Yes, adventurous traveler, walk to the westernmost driveway of Platinum Fashion Mall and you will spot it in the wild, this most unreasonable, illogical, white-gloved mammal, leathery skin stretched taut over high cheekbones, eyes hidden by (what else?) aviators, but first, before you see it, you will hear this deranged gollum wail.

Bangkok Traffic Cop

Hear its high-pitched birdsong, a satanic catcall forged in the dark recesses of Hades, dwarfing even the motorboat drone of the tuk-tuk engine, trumping the ozone-killing chug of the rotting public bus guts. Tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET! Tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET! Tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET! The whistled, rhythmic, senseless serenade of this beastial being can, at times, in fleeting moments of needful humor, it can at times prompt laughter at the absurdity of it all. The laughs die quickly, though, for listen long enough and the gollum’s piercing whistle rings in ways from which one cannot mine amusement. Listen long enough and, eventually, the sound of the thing that should not be consumes your waking life with its insidious dark matter, and even in those merciful moments when the gollum rests, eventually, inevitably, a part of it rests within you.

Dream horrific dreams of the gollum whistling his whistled cadence, for one cannot escape the jarring bedlam even in sleep, the whistle, the whistle, the whistle, the whistle. Tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET! Tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET! Tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET! Kneel at the sword, scream at the clouds!

Wake and the whistling apparition is already gone, slithered out of bed and returned to its devilish, white-gloved master, be it Tuesday or Friday or Sunday, for the unholy rarely rest, for the wicked rise early. Afflicted with self-inflicted deafness the torturer stands sentry once more, bright and early, a superfluous existence bonded in stone by the tricksy devil himself, for in reality this creature serves no valid, utilitarian purpose on Phetchaburi Road.

Bangkok Traffic Cop

Watch the natural ebb and flow of motorized vehicles on Phetchaburi Road, stopping and moving and jamming and clearing as a god intended. It is this thing, this fluid movement of traffic, to which the gollum is compelled to attend, though with each cruel, whistled cadence, tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET, hours upon hours upon days upon days, tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet-TWEET, every last one an avalanche of salt in the gaping wound that is human reason, it becomes clearer and clearer that his is an unnatural existence. It does not assuage as much as confound, flummox, and hamper, for what motorist is not startled by this moving roadblock, this tornado of whistles and hands and arms?

“Why is it there?,” wonders the motorist. “I must not kill it, whatever it is, this thing in the middle of the road, so I should slow down, perhaps I should stop so as to ascertain its purpose.”

Consider this white-gloved creature, one of countless absurdities on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. See it, and hear it, and watch it haunt its unnatural environ on Phetchaburi Road, standing sentry beneath the pedestrian footbridge connecting Platinum Fashion Mall with Krung Thung Plaza. Listen long enough, and perhaps you will understand what it can be like living like a local, dwelling in madness 18 floors above the thing that should not be.

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