Staggering down Bangla road Brent did his best to avoid making eye contact with the gaggle of lady boys giving him the come on as he passed. He ignored the hoots and catcalls that followed him all the way to the corner where he found a convenient stop sign to steady himself with.
A couple of hookers eyed him up then turned their attention to a carload of Aussie blokes who were slowing down to check out the merchandise. Brent crossed the street looking for another bar. He had been in Phuket for six days and most of that time had been spent on Patong Beach doing what every other single man did in Patong, drinking himself stupid and fraternizing with the local talent.
As he got to the other side he felt his stomach flip and he turned down an alley to offload. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand he saw a figure out of the corner of his eye watching him from a dark doorway. It was an old woman in rags with a scarf covering her head that came down low over her eyes. Something about her made him uneasy and he turned back toward the street.
He had taken only a couple of steps when he had to pull up short to avoid running into the woman, who had somehow appeared in front of him. He did a double take and looked over his shoulder at the empty doorway where she had stood.
“Wha…how did you…”
She held out her hand in the universal begging gesture. Brent peered into her face but he couldn’t make out her eyes. The black rags she wore, the sinister aspect that seemed to rise off of her and the dead silence between them gave Brent a creepy feeling and without thought he reached out and shoved her aside and made for the bright lights of Bangla road.
His shove had been stronger than he had intended and he looked over his shoulder when he heard her crash into some rubbish bins lining the alley wall. She caught herself before she fell and he saw her whirl around and point a bony finger at him. As she did Brent noticed a brown speckled bird sitting on her shoulder that he hadn’t seen there before.
The bird was facing away from him but as she pointed it craned it’s neck one hundred and eighty degrees and gave a loud snake-like hiss as its eyes bored into his. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end and he ran for all he was worth down the street and into the nearest bar.
He got a beer and chugged half of it, his hand shaking so bad beer dribbled out of the corners of his mouth and down his shirt. He heard laughter all around him, shook it off and drained the rest of the bottle.
He couldn’t decide which had freaked him out more, the old woman or the bird. Those eyes. It was like they could see right into his soul. He shivered and ordered another beer. The loud talk, the raucous music, and the pulsing lights came together to calm his nerves and half an hour later the scene in the alley was behind him and he was back in full on party mode. He flirted with a couple of the bar girls and revelled in their attention giving half serious attention to their suggestion that they all retire to his room for a private party. Earlier in the evening he might even had taken them up on it.
As it was he knew he was too far-gone to enjoy them so he finished his beer and bade them a good night. As he made his way back to his room he was too drunk and too tired to notice the bird that sat on a low tree branch watching him as he passed.