John peers at me from under the brim of his worn khaki cap. Slightly squint and hard of hearing, he cocks his head and focusses his good eye on me. “You wanna smoke a bowl?”
John is American, and spent most of his life in Hawaii, an island dude, in the mountains and in the surf. Now, he’s living more or less permanently at the guesthouse I stumbled into, helping out the old Thai lady who owns the place, he says, because her English ain’t so good and he knows a bit of Thai, so he helps out. I buy him a Sprite from 7 Eleven, and we have endless chats on his porch. He used to be in a band, back in the day, his long grey hair a wispy tribute to rock ‘n’ roll days long past. He talks about motorbikes, opium dens, travelling, bad bitches and music.
“This one time, Willa …”
Now, his days revolve around watering the guesthouse garden. Every morning, and every evening, like clockwork, John meticulously waters each pot, each flower, every blade of grass. Stricken by arthritis, he hobbles along on crooked grasshopper legs with the garden hose on a well-worn and familiarised track, muttering to into his bristly grey moustache. Never mind that the garden is still dripping wet from where the old lady had watered it not even an hour ago.
Other than his weed, which he rolls in fat joints and puffs throughout the day, John loves his little adopted poodle, Sausage. They’re mutually in enamoured, and follow each other everywhere. She takes him for walks, he takes her to have her hair and nails done. He protect her against “Asians who are obsessed with small fluffy things” and she curls up and sleeps at his feet.
“Hey Willa, come on over!”
John used to be a badass, a rocker, an adventurer. Now he’s just another old white guy with a bad back whiling away time in Thailand. Desperate for company, desperate for a chat. I dodge him with vague excuses, and he resigns himself to nights in with Sausage and yelling at shit on TV.