I’ve only seen Stand By Me once. I can’t say I remember all that much, other than the scene with the leeches. That, and the infamous line…
Do you guys wanna go see a dead body?
I’ve been hearing that in my head, on repeat, for the past 15 hours or so. The answer is, and should always be, a resounding No.
No, no I do not.
Last night, Rust and I took our regular 2 mile stroll to dinner. We HAD to go out to eat, despite it being a good hour or more later than we normally would have. You see, we had opted to not leave our resort at all the day before, and because of that, we had eaten every bite of food in the house. Literally all of it. We just don’t buy extra here, other than some emergency Ramen noodles for rainy days, in case it ever does rain. We ate those for lunch. No rain, just…it was the end of the food. So, going out it was.
I tell you this because somehow I feel it must be important. The HAVING to go. The 7-11 NOT having a single loaf of bread that morning for the first time ever, which meant not even toast for dinner was an option. And it being later than normal when we did leave. Because had we not opted to watch just ONE more episode of The Stranger, I would have worn my sunglasses versus my regular glasses. I ALWAYS, and I stress always, wear my sunglasses here. They are prescription, and even though we always walk home in the dark, I wear them. Not to be cool, but because I just like the anonymity they provide. But last night the sun was already beginning to fade, and I slipped on my regular prescription glasses.
Rust and I bickered in the elevator. In the hall. On the road in front of our resort. At one moment he even turned around to go back home…not that our quarrel was out of hand, it’s just, well, one of those fusses that comes from being around your partner for 24 hours a day, day after day. Just petty annoyance. So on we walked.
The road forks near our home, and we continued our bickering on the road towards uptown. As we neared the driveway of a neighbor- no home, it’s just a beautifully landscaped lot full of tropical shrubs and palms- I noticed one of the feral dogs rise up from his sprawl in the driveway and move towards the wooden fence. These dogs are tame, but unowned, perhaps a dozen of them live in the two acre forest/thicket across the road. Random residents come by several times daily dumping out dog food for them every 50 yards or so, so they are not starving, mean dogs. In fact, they do not approach people, even people carrying food with them, as we once feared. They just don’t care.
As we got nearer to the dog, in mid sentence of our petty fight, I told Rust to look. Look, I say. This mama dog has her baby puppy.
She was tugging at it, but I could mostly only see HER. I finally caught a better glance, but my mind, even as I think about it now, refused to process what I was clearly seeing in front of me.
All of this, speeding through my mind as I am still saying the words HER NEW PUPPY.
I’m not positive I got the full word puppy out.
I hear myself say Oh my God, babe. Is that? Is that a baby? Like, a real baby?
The dog was going back to try moving it again, so we shooed it away. Certainly not, certainly not a baby. Why would there be a BABY, in the dirty grass by a fence?
I remember saying aloud This Has To Be Important, right? And I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick picture without looking any closer. Maybe I could figure out later what this strange Thai animal was. Keep in mind, these past couple of paragraphs transpired in seconds. 5 seconds?
I had to look. I couldn’t keep going…I mean, what if? The dog didn’t want to leave it, but finally we got it to leave. I held my breath (protecting myself from…the inevitable?) and I stooped to look.
Yes. A baby.
A fully formed, face down, newborn baby. A few flies were on its back. My NCIS brain started spinning.
It’s not bloated. It’s not sunburnt. It’s trunk is blue but limbs are long and white. It has such a full head of clean black hair. It is shiny. It couldn’t have been out here LONG, right? I mean, someone, anyone else would have found it if so, right? This road gets pedestrians all day. 10-20 an hour, at least. Why me? Why now? Why ANY OF THIS?
You know that movie thing directors do, where the star of the show is lost in their head and the camera just spins around and around them? It feels EXACTLY like that. I see it now, us standing there in the dimming sunlight, and my cameraman is buzzing about me like a fruit fly.
What do we do? What? We need help, of course. We speak no Thai, really, other than things like hello and thank you, eat dinner, massage please, I go swim, strong, soft, good night, and hush your mouth. None of these phrases are helpful here. I’m looking back towards the resort. We can go get a security guard and bring him. But no. The dog. The dog keeps wanting to get at the baby. Someone has to stay. Someone has to go. Someone is coming on a motorbike!
I wave hard at him. Please stop. He passes but slows and looks back. I wave at him desperately to come back. Cautiously, he does. I point. I make the international symbol for baby. You know, like I’m cradling a tiny baby.
He sees and gasps.
He gets back on his bike and enters the driveway, even finds a man working there. The worker looks from 25 feet away, in shock, perhaps, and never comes closer. Together they call the police.
They coming, the driver says. Police they come.
We stand there. I feel myself shaking. My eyes leak. So much time passes. I wring my hands like I’m my Aunt Sylvia. I wring and wring. Still no police. The worker shakes a stick at the dog when she returns. He keeps the stick. 30 minutes pass.
Finally, one policeman arrived on a motorcycle. The sun is gone. He looks at us. Looks at the baby. He makes a call, no idea what he said. He points his phone at the baby, whose little body lights up under the flash. The worker with the stick makes a panicked gasp before the light fades. The phone turns and another photo is taken.
You Can Go, the officer says. Thank You, he says in Thai. I understand Thank You. It’s about all I can still understand today, Thai or otherwise.
So many questions haunt me. How? Why? Who could do this? How could they do this? Was it dead already, did it die here? Why here? Did they WANT it found? Did they not want it found? Why not bury it? Why was it not in clothes? A blanket? In ANYTHING? Was it hated? Is there some sane reason for this at all? My questions run in tangents getting deeper and more complex. More questions than I can muster to type here, questions I’ll never have an answer to.
I deleted the photo I took before I knew better. But I can still see it so clearly. It haunted me all through the night, so badly I took old prescription meds to finally fall asleep. I hope one day I can un-see. Maybe let it go and get my head somewhere more sane. Right now I’m still processing and maybe that sounds weak? Silly? Maybe it shouldn’t matter so much to me? But I’m one of those people who thinks things happen for a reason. Remember the no sunglasses? Had I been wearing them, I’d not have seen it. Maybe the dog would have finally carried it off, something I choose not to think about. Had we just gone out the night before, we would have simply stayed home last night…again, I wouldn’t have seen it. There are lots of little things that added up to US finding that baby, and maybe I’m not supposed to know why. I only know we did, and that some things are just beyond understanding, no matter how hard I try.