Heart of gold.
Mae Jing noticed the couple coming down the street. They were looking in all the gold shop windows. A big farang with his little Isarn pick-up. The security guard opened the door politely and they walked into the shop. Uncle was already busy with a customer so Mae Jing gave them a welcoming smile.
The girl said she wanted to look at some rings. Mae Jing put a tray of rings on the counter, some bracelets mixed in, because often these girls will see something else they like...especially if it’s shiny and right under their noses. This couple looked to be worth about a baht weight but you never know.
The girl picked up a small ring...not even half a baht, no Thai would be very impressed with that. She put it on her finger and showed the smiling farang who seemed pleased with what he saw. “Would you like to see some bigger ones?” Mae Jing asked placing another tray on the glass counter top. The girl’s eyes lit up. “This one is beautiful na?” The girl put it on her finger. “Suay mak.” Said the farang.
Gold, money, sex...all interconnected thought Mae Jing. These bar-girls were the best kind of customers if you didn’t mind dealing with them. But what was it with farang? What did these farang see in these girls? Perhaps they went for the lo-so girls because they themselves were lo-so in their own countries? But some of them seemed to have money to burn. Where did it come from? Of course Mae Jing isn’t a snob but she’s aware of social distinctions. She has light skin, a pretty nose and she dresses tastefully. She likes to think of herself as hi-so. Not upper class exactly but definitely a cut or two above the peasant people of Isarn.
The farang paid for the ring without any bargaining. That too was a strange thing with them. They would haggle with street vendors over a few baht but not in a gold shop over an expensive ring. Very odd. What must it be like to sleep with one?
They came back the very next day. Same couple. Oh-oh thought Mae Jing. Trouble. But she was wrong. The ring was fine. Could they have another look at the bracelet? Of course they could. And several other bracelets, very beautiful bracelets. Mae Jing was careful to address her comments to the girl. She also avoided speaking English even though she spoke it better than the girl. It was important to keep the customer/salesgirl relationship on a formal footing.
So they looked at some bracelets and settled on a biggish one. The girl gave the farang a big kiss. Right in the shop with other customers watching. The farang paid from a big wad of 1000s.
On the third day they bought a pair of matching gold chains. They seemed to know exactly what they wanted. About 5 baht weight in all. Out came the wad of notes again.
On the fourth day the police came to the shop. They wanted Mae Jing to identify a body.
In the morgue they showed Mae Jing the big farang laid out on a slab. This was the first dead body she had ever seen. He looked quite peaceful. Did they have spirits she wondered. “What happened ka?” Mae Jing asked.
“Well krap,” said the police officer, “he was found dead in his hotel room. We found receipts in the hotel room. But no gold. Tell us about the girl.”
Mae Jing described the Isarn girl as best she could. Dark skin, flat nose, high heels with pointy toes, sexy shorts, butterfly tattoo on her left shoulder and too much make-up.
“Anything unusual?” asked the policeman.
“Well yes,” said Mae Jing. “there was one thing ka. The shoes were uncomfortable I think. She kept taking them off. When she took them off I noticed she had splayed toes ka.”
“Thank you krap,” said the policeman, whose toes happened to be similarly configured, “I think that’s all we need.” Mae Jing wanted to ask more questions but she kept her mouth shut.
Back at the shop Uncle and the other girls had lots of questions too but Mae Jing didn’t have much to tell them. There was nothing in the newspapers so Uncle asked around the neighborhood a bit.
“Well,” he said later looking relieved, “nothing for us to worry about. The police think it was almost certainly a suicide.”