The Sunset over the River of the Kings

By Janpha Thadphoothon

I had been waiting for three gown-up men. They were big boys. Old friends never die, as they say. The promise made was that Thongchai, Pongsak, and Noppadon would not make me wait for them for too long, the best would be only half an hour. Waiting was not my cup of tea. I don’t normally drink tea in the morning.

I was getting bored. Luckily, the coffee I was having tasted quite good, and this helped making me feel good about waiting. Coffee at House Number One tasted exceptionally good, compared with other houses and shops on the island.

The last time we had a foursome meeting was almost 5 years ago. In fact, it was the meeting over beer by the river at Prachan pier. The occasion was a celebration of my graduation with an MA from an old and reputable university, said to be one of the best in Thailand.

We were sad when the meeting was over. “We shall meet each other again. Soon, I am sure.”

As I was sipping my Americano, my memory played many tricks on me. Thongchai face popped up in my mind, a sign activated. The last thing I remembered was that Thongchai did not graduate. He failed to submit his thesis. Noppadol broke up with his wife and ended his study. As for Pongsak, the most good-looking guy in town, had health problems and could not afford to finish the study.

I was the only one who survived the ordeal of getting an MA from one of the toughest programs in the world. I was not the smart one, but I was stubborn, never gave up.

 “Wait for me,” Pongsaak said, “I will be there before midday.” He told me he knew where the island was and had been there before. I believed him.

I looked at my watch. It was exactly half past twelve. And I was still sitting alone. The barista gave me another warm smile.

“Do you want some more coffee?”

“No, thank you, not at the moment,” I told her. “I will make a bid order soon.”

I was an optimistic remark. I could never be sure about anything.

“I will be there on time,” Noppadon said. “As you know, I am never late.”

I told Noppadon that I always believed his words, his promises.

I picked up the phone and called Thongchai whom I was confident to be reliable and punctual.

Thongchai paused for a while. “I might be a bit late. You know I am very reliable and punctual. He was not lying. I knew from his tone of voice. Again, I could be too optimistic.

I signaled the barista again. “ A glass of water, please.”

She smiled and bright me a big glass of chilled water. “Thank you,” I said.

The time was almost 6 o’clock in the evening. I was alone sitting in an old riverside pavilion watching an old man fishing at the pier. The sunset over the western bank of the river was magnificent.

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