Hiding Out in Hanoi With Hookers and Hangover: Bang, bang
Into the nightlife… Said Henry Miller. Somewhere. And I guess I wasn’t thinking about that while lying in bed with two Vietnamese hookers. No, I was trying to get at another story. In fact, I wasn’t really lying in bed with two women. Rather I was back at my AirBnb studio apartment thinking of something new to write about … yeah. That’s it.
When I first got into town on Wednesday night from Chiang Mai, Thailand, I’d been drinking a bit. When I woke up. At the airport. On the plane. Why not?
It was my usual malfeasance. Getting into town with a buzz.
“I’ll get right to work,” I told myself. “I won’t miss a beat.”
What’s the point of discussing my entrance and how I got here and the other introductory bullshit? I’m not writing an article here. Let’s get right into the drinking … or if you feel like being grammatically correct: let’s get to the part where I began drinking in the city of Hanoi.
I left the alleyway situated between two crescent moons. It was damp, dank, dark, secretive. There were shallots, mollusks, cucumbers, pianos playing in minor chords only, toothpicks, empty cans of Redbull, and the shellacking of thumbnails ricocheting from nail clippers directly onto the concrete. There was an overpass over a busy highway that ran north-and-southbound. I crossed it. It was highly overwhelming. The first place I saw that sold beer out of a cold glass case — I went there.
I sipped the beer and walked out onto the busy streets. People were like steers riding into nothingness. They were caressed by their own spittle, toothaches and all. They had cellphones to calm their distress. They ate, shit, picked their noses, scratched their asses, wiped, washed, went back to their tables never saying what they really thought about each other until five or six beers later or maybe five or six years and then the truth finally came out. So I walked alone.
There were friendly faces too. Mostly I studied the older Vietnamese women even though all the Vietnamese woman were incredibly beautiful, slowing down my brain like a rudimentary turd nugget disconnecting from the missing link.
“Hey, you haggard balderdash. Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
I ignored a woman in a beautiful dress, black. Leg sticking out from the slit.
“It’s fine,” said I under my breath. “You’ll ruin somebody else’s night.”
Up and down the streets, I went. In awe. Dumbstruck. Floundering. Without wings. Drenched from head to toe, in spirit and soul. Needing another drink.
I stumbled upon a dude who was straddling a motorbike and little did I know that I hit a fucking bullseye, the most insanely generous dude in Hanoi. He slung his hook into the side of my face and I just sat there as he asked me multiple questions about where I was going, what was I doing there, and did I want to see pictures of his wife and kid? Sure! I said. I’m the type (yes, I switch tenses) to always nod along to whatever somebody is saying and if I don’t see an out I just hang in there and wait for something real to come out of that fucker’s mouth. Yeah, hit me with it. What do you really gotta say? You bastard.
Somehow, after getting confused about where South Africa, South Dakota, or South Carolina was … he had family there (?) … he said he’d show me around and that his night was shot anyway.
“I’ll show you pho and karaoke … and women … cheap…” I was riding on the bike with a beer clasped in my hand. He rode in and out of the traffic and I felt like I’d been there for centuries instead of about four or five hours, probably a lot less.
We got to a place. He kept talking about all kinds of shit and I merely listened. He ordered me some food. There were peanuts and beers before us, before that. “You’ll meet my family,” he said. Then he Facetimed his wife and kid. I said Hi.
Pretty soon, there were four of five other dudes at the table. They were gallivanting along with their Vietnamese tongue … talking shit … we kept drinking. And that’s when the cheers began. Over and over. From there on and into the rest of the night. Clanking glasses repeatedly to the point where nothing made any sense and I didn’t understand why or what for … sometimes I even chugged my beer so as not to be rude.
Then they asked what had happened to my knee.
A kid lifted up his pant leg and I saw a scar that went along his heel, halfway to the back of his knee.
So I did.
We went to a karaoke bar. But what the hell’s the point of writing about that? We drank, the four or five of us, 10 beers at a time. Round after round. Until some of them got nasty and some of them got even more friendly. Too friendly for my northeast USA soul.
“Here, eat this.”
One of the dudes, actually the dude who’d been the friendly fucker, threw a lime into my mouth. That’s when I felt like I’d have to look for my Out sooner than later. I’d be making a faux pas of some kind. (I don’t really care for dudes to be throwing fruit into my mouth…)
“It’s for drinking and smoking too much … we’ll be singing.”
“Uh huh,” I said. I still didn’t let him do it again.
“Fuck limes,” I said.
Nobody heard me.
More beers came. We drank them in about four minutes and eighty-five seconds. Okay. Five minutes.
Ummmm. It was getting to the point where we’d be getting into a fight or just leaving. So we left after divvying up the bill.
“Money,” I kept saying all night. I should say that … “Money, don’t you need some money from me?” A writer! What a piece of shit.
He’d slap my back every time I asked him. He’d get insulted.
“You’re a funny guy.”
“That’s right,” I’d finish my drink. “Mother fucker.”
We were on the motorbikes again. Went to another bar. We’d lost two of the dudes. Three of us. We were drunk.
“Hey, man. I’m outta money.”
I bought three beers. Why????
We were roaming around in some bar. The music was loud and unforgiving, terrible actually. I felt good though. Heavily intoxicated. But I had my shit together.
The other guy, my friendly host of Hanoi. He was another story.
I looked up and saw that he was getting into some shit with some tourists at the bar. I walked over, getting up from the table. The other dude was just hanging on … he was the one who was supposed to be driving me. Another taxi driver. Nearly shitfaced.
“Hey,” I said. “What’s going on over here?”
I realized they were trying to throw him out. Some big dude without shirtsleeves. An Aussie? Talking shit to my generous Hanoi friend. The Aussie had about a foot on him. I was tall.
“Okay,” I said to the guy. “What’s up?”
“He’s gotta go. He’s too drunk.”
“Is that right?”
The guy looked at me.
“Does it make you feel big? Picking on a dude half your size.”
“I feel like you’re being sarcastic.”
Do I fight or do I leave?
I got on the scooter with one of the fuckers. “Man, I was about to defend your honor!”
“Where are we going?”
“I don’t know.”
There was traffic. I jumped off the motorbike. It was impossible for the other two dudes to stop.
“Just go,” I said.
Then I walked. Alone.
“Hey, hey. Why don’t you come with me?”
I had no idea where I was, no idea what I was doing, not a clue where I was going. She had me. Some short skirt with a fancy design. Long legs. Heels. White. (The heels.)
“Are you beautiful?” I asked her.
She led me up a set of stairs.
There was a short hallway and at the end, there was a room. She led me there and opened it up and there we were together.
“Two million,” she said.
“Can you believe,” I responded, “that they still don’t have water in Flint, Michigan?”
“Two million,” she repeated. “Bang, bang.”
I laughed. Nodding. I said, “Oh, okay. Okay. I get it.”
There was a beer in my hands.
“Hey!” I said. “How’d this get here?”
“You have money?”
“What? So you speak English?”
“Two million. Bang, bang.”
“Wait. What about,” I hiccoughed, “global warming?”
She looked at me. I couldn’t tell if her stockings were black, torn or neon pink.
“You want bang, bang?”
I laughed my ass off!!!
She came over to me, grabbing my wrist.
“Oh, you must be a tour guide.”
“Bang, bang. ATM.”
She led me out of the room, back down the hallway and the steps. She had a motorbike. I was getting tired of them but I couldn’t think straight.
“Wait,” I told her. I’d left my beer back in the room.
We were cruising in the night and I felt invisible. Not in any dreary sense. But just that I didn’t give a shit about anything. I felt warm in her presence. I was hammered. Drunk. Jesus.
“What the hell?”
I laughed and she crossed the road on the motorbike at about two or three in the morning, expertly.
There, sure as shit, was a good ATM.
So the hookers know where the international ATMs are? That makes sense. I got off the bike after she parked and without thinking I went up to the ATM and took out as much money as I could at once. Then I hopped back on the motorbike. It all felt natural. Very.
We were back at the room. For whatever reason, it seemed to me that there was a lot of talking going on between us. We were on the bed together. I think she was naked. Well, I guess she was because there were her boobs. She was tan. They were nice. I kissed her neck.
“Bang, bang,” she said.
She grabbed me. And I know literary people say that sorta thing when they wanna say cock, balls, dick, pussy, etc. Whatever. She had my dick in her hands. I felt stupid.
“Wait,” I said nearly laughing.
I couldn’t understand it.
Then I thought of the girl I’d met before Vietnam. She had somebody in her phone by that name. Bang, bang. I’d seen it when we had gone out to rent a scooter together and she needed her personal information which she got from her phone. A kissy face emoji. Bang, bang.
I reached for the beer on the nightstand.
“How long?” I asked her.
She didn’t seem to understand.
I reached for my phone to translate. She said, bang bang … no, I said, overnight. Oh. 7:30. She was making it up. I put the phone down.
“Two million,” she said.
I got my wallet and she snatched it from me, pulling out a few bills. Brazen, I felt. That’s what she was. Well, I saw her take the bills from my wallet. She wouldn’t take it all. Would she?
We were on the motorbike again. I was laughing my ass off.
Back at the room, repeating our gestures. I was kissing her neck and shoulders and naked body and she was talking all kinds of shit, saying that her friend would join us. I said some gibberish, grabbing her tighter to me.
After about two minutes, another girl was sitting on the other side of me. She was a little bigger than the first girl but not by much. Her lipstick was orange. I kissed her neck, rubbed her crotch. She looked at her friend in a slovenly glance. I stopped.
“Wait,” I said. “What the hell’s going on here?”
They started talking in their language and I felt like they were saying something about me. They could’ve been talking about how I was drunk and just shelling out cash like water … or they could’ve been mentioning that I actually tried to kiss them on the mouth.
I was on the motorbike again.
This time, the ATM told me to go fuck myself. Both of them did. The girl seemed to be defeated when she saw that I didn’t have any more loot. She rode me back and I laughed at the stupid night.
We got back and she just sat there, getting off the bike and talking to the few women who were seated at the curb across from the hotel’s entrance. I went upstairs to the first girl. In bed with two hookers. Hmm. They’d been grabbing at me. And all I could think about at the time was whether or not they’d actually want to be in that situation with me. So naturally, it was an easy scenario to self-sabotage. Too weird for my sensitive, poetic soul…
“I have this really great idea,” I should’ve told them. Instead, when they’d asked me for more money I had thrown my wallet on the floor.
“Fuck money! I’ll get more money in the morning.”
They didn’t operate like that. Bang, bang.
I got into the room.
“Come here,” she said.
It’s the morning of my departure to Da Nang. I’m sitting up in bed drinking a beer. The apartment is half-dark and the light is coming in through the slits at the curtain covering the window. I hear a car horn honking and a chainsaw going at the construction site hovering somewhere around this apartment building. I have to be at the airport in less than a few hours and I still haven’t packed anything.
I’ll drink to that.
Packed and getting a slight buzz — 9:46 AM local time — I was writing about a story from my AirBnb in Hanoi, somewhere close to the Old District — a place where you could walk and there were numerous tourists each night getting drunk and clogging up traffic while I noticed that they were all taking to the spirit of the holiday — Christmas — everybody in the city, mostly.
Anyway, I’d reached for the Sahara Desert and wrote it into the story where she said, “Bang, bang.”
She got my dick again. Two girls in one bed. Wait. Now there’s only one.
She was good, getting the condom on my dick. There were about four or five condoms in the bed — she’d also taken those outta my wallet … and two million … then another two million … and my bank had cut me off like that in Hanoi — no! And we got to it, her staring at me in the mirror to the left of us in the bed (my right). My hair was wild. I was shirtless, heaving. Not really. It was strange. I was writing about something a few miles away from where I was banging a Hanoi — a hooker in Hanoi. Was she Vietnamese? I think she was, her breasts underneath my bare chest.
We kept going, or I did. And she made noises. Like she couldn’t wait to get away. And that wasn’t good, no. Wait. I stopped. Then I kept going, faster.
Now she was making some noise.
I slowed down, waiting for my breath to catch up with the moon. What? I kept going, my hair wild. The room nearly spinning. “Uhhh.”
I looked down at her, she was staring at me in the mirror. That was terrifying. I went faster. She moaned some more. Somewhere a few miles away I was typing faster and faster … going … typing … pumping … writing about real life. Electrons are like that, they can co-exist simultaneously in a non-locality that boggles the mind when we think about direction and time.
I pulled my dick out and felt like I didn’t wanna fuck her anymore. Writing about it, that is.
Then I came.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
I got up and went to the bathroom.
I’ll get her again, I told myself, I paid for the entire night. What time is it anyway? I wiped off with a banana leaf.
When I came back out, she had her skimpy multicolored skirt back on.
“Wait,” said I. “Where are you going?”
“Going. Bang, bang. Over.”
She was putting on an earring or something cliche. Walked outta the room. I followed her. Naked. Or maybe I had my underwear on. No, she handed it to me.
Then she left.
I screamed into the hallway.
She slipped on her heels, spinning. Took a few steps toward me. She looked like she felt bad for me, only a little.
“Come back, I want to try and understand what’s going on here.”
She relented. Then she looked at me and she knew that I was a sucker. Drunk.
She took off back out and down the hallway and she turned on the steps and I decided that I should just let her go. It’s finished. You fucked up. What the hell happened here tonight? I’d just gotten into town!
Then I followed her, hollering. Shirtless. Suddenly I realized that she’d gotten four million outta me.
“HEY! WHERE ARE YOU GOING! WE NEED TO PRACTICE SELF-REFLECTION TO UNDERSTAND OUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE! GET BACK HERE!”
I raced down the steps and past the motorbikes all lined up, dudes with hard and soft dicks being taken by women with quick hands.
Out into the little street, I looked left. Nothing. I turned around and stared long and hard down that street and it was tough to accept.
She was gone.
Coming back to the hotel with a cinder-block, smashing it to bits. I’d lit a cigarette somewhere, my eighteenth of the night.
“Yes, this is good. And here I’ll write about what happened after he got taken by a hooker and he lost his shit, throwing things, plants, brooms, anything that was around the vicinity of the entrance to the hotel, and he yelled at the owner, getting in his face, accusing him of shaking down tourists, he was terrified, the women out front were listening to him … some lunatic with a wild tongue, drunk and out of his mind…”
“I’m a fucking animal!” he screamed. His hands slightly bloody. From what? He didn’t know.
Then he went up to the room where it all happened. Lifted the bed from the floor, slamming it against the wall. “RAAAAAA!!! DON’T LET THE HOOKERS IN THIS HOTEL TAKE YOU FOR YOUR MONEY! THEY’LL RUN OUT ON YOU! THEY WON’T EVEN STAY BEHIND TO DISCUSS LOCAL POLITICS OR THEIR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONGS!”
He went out of there, enraged. Another girl on a bike came up to him. She was lascivious and sensual — her eyes spoke to him.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
He was shirtless, holding his underwear.
After a few minutes — the episode had subsided. He was walking down the street in the dark at four in the morning before he realized that he was going the wrong way…
It took him a bit to get back and he had to pass the hotel a third time — “I’LL BE BACK TOMORROW FOR MY RECEIPT!” — everybody had cleared the area and there were remnants of flowerpots smashed and other tomfoolery in the wake of a hooker’s dream.
When he sat down at the step, he realized he might not have his key. Four in the morning. The first night of staying at the AirBnb. How was he going to explain himself? Maybe he could climb in a window. (Impossible!)
Then he reached into his pocket, the left one (he’d been keeping keys in his right pocket since he was ten, what?) and there it was. The key to his room.
“Shit,” he said. Shirtless and bloody. Just a bit.
I stopped writing. Hmm. Pretty good. That’ll make a good INTRO to a script someday.
I guess I should take a cab to the airport now.
Da Nang! Here I come.