small, slender body seemed to shrink in size as the police officers
walked through the door, guns strapped to their hips, walkie-talkies
squawking, no-nonsense, tough faces, staring at her, looking around
body’s in the bathroom,” said Calvino.
lips tightened, she sat with her arms folded across her breasts.
The cops looked at her for confirmation but she said nothing.
This defensive posture must have been used a thousand times from
early childhood when confronted by poo-yai, an authority figure.
She was a Bangkok ying, who had come from a lower-middle class
family one generation out of the rice fields. Her posture betrayed
no sense of defiance; it was one of passive submission and acceptance.
There was no hint of resistance or challenge.
came out of the bathroom with the leather bag. He sat down at
the table and looked through the sketches. Calvino stood over
wondered about the porno,” said Calvino.
said it’s porno?” asked Pratt, turning over a drawing of a nude
Thai woman on a beach blanket with two farang with handle-bar
moustaches and mutton-chop sideburns. The men were dressed in
old-fashioned suits and ties.
it look like to you?”
someone who has studied Manet. Whoever drew this used Luncheon
on the Grass as a model,” said Pratt, turning the drawing over.
“And whoever did this had talent.”
said 8K was a painter.”
looked up, finding Sunan’s eyes circling the room. “Did your friend
draw this?” Pratt asked her. “Chai kha,” she said.
in New York City in his early twenties, Prachai had spent most
of his time auditing classes at the Pratt Institute when his parents
had every reason to believe that he was studying hard for a law
enforcement diploma at NYU. No American could pronounce “Prachai”
and it had been Calvino who had first started calling him Pratt.
More than anything Pratt had a burning desire to become an artist.
Calvino had a couple of Pratt’s watercolors from those days, the
early days, at the beginning of their friendship.
have heard of Manet?” Pratt asked Calvino.
he run that bar on Soi 33?”
has fallen in love with Velazquez and Goya in New York. Seeing
the drawings had taken him back to the 70s—a lifetime ago—and
now he looked up at Calvino, and remembered the young man he had
first met in Washington Square. It was as if all those years had
happened moments before.
nineteenth century Paris,” said Pratt, “the Academy deemed Manet’s
paintings vulgar. Pornographic. He was kept out of the Salon.
His paintings were too real. They made people uncomfortable. And
what do people say when they see a painting that makes them feel
uncomfortable? They call it porno.”
I’m not an art critic,” said Calvino.