“CHRIS, DON’T YOU HAVE to renew your Thai visa shortly?” The message was sitting there waiting for me as I logged on to Skype. Porn…, I thought. Hmm…, some ulterior motive in her question, some special reason for her query perhaps? Or… maybe she’s genuinely interested or concerned? Well, she’s not on-line right now, so maybe I’ll just type her a message in reply: “Yes, I’ll be in Bangkok early next month for a couple of days.”
Two days later as I was walking home from the office, a number flashed up on my mobile; a number prefixed with ‘668’. I pretty well knew who it was before I answered but, “Chris, my dear…, how are you?’ the voice began breathlessly.
“Hello Porn, long time since we’ve spoken. I sort of guessed it was you, how’s things?”
“I’m fine thanks, and you? Oh…, did you get my message on Skype?”
“The first one?” I replied to that.
“No…, no, I sent you another one, asking if you can add on a couple of days to your trip and come up to Chiang Mai with me, it’s, it’s… important.”
It’s always important with Porn, I smiled. What’s she plotting now? “Chiang Mai?” I queried. “What are you planning to do up there? And, more to the point, why do you need me?”
“Oh, er… this and that; and, besides, you said you like the city, like the mountains and the culture, the temples and so on. Come on… come along with me for a few days.”
Probably against my better judgement, I agreed, much to Porn’s delight. “But you’ll have to tell me what it’s all about before we go.”
“Sure,” Porn agreed all too readily for my liking. “Actually, mmm…, maybe we’ll have time to talk about some more stories. I’m really ready to write my… oh, sorry, I mean our next book. Are you?”
“Well, yes, but the last one has only just been published. We can’t keep doing a book a month. The market will be saturated.”
“Never mind. I guess the answer is ‘yes’,” I smiled, imagining the expression on Porn’s face.
“Whoa, hoah!” she cried. “See you in about two weeks then.”
What she hadn’t told me was that she planned to go to Chiang Mai by train. Whilst a flight is just on an hour, a train takes for ever and ever; something like eight or nine hours depending on how many times and where it stops.
“Brighten up, Chris,” cried Porn, presumably noticing my resigned, blank expression as I settled into the carriage seat. “Just think, we can spend all of the time on our book. Have you brought your recorder, or are you going to write it as I speak?”
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever you prefer Ma-daaam,” I intoned. “Your wish is my command.”
“That’s better! Now where shall I begin?” Porn looked out of the window as the train started moving, then suddenly slapped her hand on her thighs. “I know…, Kelly! Oh my, oh my…, you’ll love this story Mr Burrows. Just up your road!”
“Street…, Porn. Up your street.” “Yes, yours too. Now listen…this is exactly as she told it to me…”