Minor Wife

A Vincent Calvino crime novel
Seventh in the series

ISBN 974-92126-5-7
Trade paperback 6" - 9 1/4"
2004, 280 pages





Now available on eBooks

Kindle $4.95



Sunan's 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 the room.

“The body’s in the bathroom,” said Calvino.

Her 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.

Pratt came out of the bathroom with the leather bag. He sat down at the table and looked through the sketches. Calvino stood over his shoulder.

“I wondered about the porno,” said Calvino.

“Who 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.

“What’s it look like to you?”

“Like 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.”

“Sunan said 8K was a painter.”

Pratt looked up, finding Sunan’s eyes circling the room. “Did your friend draw this?” Pratt asked her. “Chai kha,” she said.

While 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.

“You have heard of Manet?” Pratt asked Calvino.

“Doesn’t he run that bar on Soi 33?”

Pratt 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.

“In 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.”

“So I’m not an art critic,” said Calvino.

(back to book main)


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