Good Intentionsā€¦

I wish I could say that Newt, a lady masseuse who works at Friend’s Thai Massage in a nearbyĀ hotel,Ā is a personĀ I have a good rapport with.Ā Like so many single Thai mothers, she is struggling to raise her children while working in a fieldĀ bereft of glamour or good pay. Yet despite knowing her for over four years, things between us have never advanced beyond brief hellos and semi-annual massages in my room.

I think it stemmed from the second time I had Newt over, way back in 2012. As described in Making the Rounds, she wore a seductive dress and coyly let me know what the rate was for a beyond-the-rubbing roll in the hay. I was of course tempted ā€” a woman does not get through the door ofĀ my apartment without having some physical appeal ā€” but this time I hesitated. My lover-to-be hadn’t shown any real affection or desire during the massage and was now viewing me in a ratherĀ cold, calculating manner. Waiting to see if the mouse would take the baited cheese.Ā 

I ended up declining, though it was a close call, and from then on kept a certain distance. OurĀ rare massage sessions remainedĀ pleasant enough; at times I found myself enjoying her company. Things just never advanced beyondĀ that.

It was during one of our get-togethers back in June when Newt showed me a soreĀ bruise on the back of her head. Apparently she has an abusive boyfriend who had slammed her up against aĀ wall. Knowing the limits of what I could do in this situation, I nevertheless provided her with some extra money in order to return to the doctor. After we talked a bit more, I also decided to include cash earmarked for her son, advising her to go to a bank and putĀ it into a savings account.Ā During my half-decade in this country, I’d heard farĀ too many unhappyĀ stories about negligent Thai men and what absolute turds they could be. Better to keep any windfall out of his sight.

Two weeks passed. Then late one night, well after midnight,Ā there was a soft knock on the door. It was Newt and a friend, both holding grocery bags filled with clothes. Newt had decided to leave her boyfriend as well as her dead-end jobĀ and was stopping by to bid meĀ farewell. She was also clearly hoping I would provideĀ some more money to help facilitate what sounded like a courageousĀ move. No hay problema!Ā I got dressed, took her down the street to an ATM, and withdrew twenty thousand baht (almost $600). She then hailed a cab to the bus station at Mo Chit, on her wayĀ out of the city.

Now “Newt-less”

Before she departed, I got Newt’s phoneĀ number and asked that she text me the number of the savings account she had opened. It was my plan to provideĀ her with specialĀ assistanceĀ once she had resettled with her family(?) out in provinces. She clearly needed time to get thingsĀ sorted out.

And thatā€™s when it allĀ got strangeā€¦

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