May 7, 2011

Second Submission - Scavenger

To push my luck, I tried for a second submission today after putting on a paper a 500-word idea about a dumpster baby.  I submitted this one to Microhorror, and the editor sounds like a decent guy, who doesn't have a bunch of condescending legal speak crap on the submissions FAQ.

I'm hoping that this flash fiction will be part of a series I want to do about an apartment block in the On Nut area of Bangkok.  I live in this neighborhood, and you wouldn't believe all the strangeness going on.  Basically, each story will be about one tenant at the apartment or someone associated with the place.  More to follow.

Here's the story below (also in PDF):

by Paul Salvette

            Pong slowly wheeled his cart down the narrow soi on the left-hand side as motorcycle taxis, pick-up trucks, and the occasional youth on a bicycle maneuvered around him in the orange dusk of Bangkok.  His three hours of work had been somewhat productive today, and he had acquired about 4 kilos of crushed aluminum cans, a massive stack of cardboard, and some galvanized steel that was carelessly left behind a machine shop.  This would net about 300 baht at Mae Sudha’s scrap yard when he finally reached there.
            For his last stop of the night, he parked the cart next to the Fun-Zone internet café, as the owner sometimes left broken keyboards and mouses outside for him to pick up.  This evening, however, the owner peeked out over her cash register and dismissed Pong with a wave of her hand behind the large glass pane.  Undeterred by this lack of good luck, Pong decided to have a look in the two rubbish barrels on the side of the shop.
            Pong tied a bandana over his face and sifted through the usual trash he found in this working-class neighborhood of the city: stryofoam bowls of rancid noodles and broth, moldy fruit, used condoms, and absolutely nothing of value.  Pong grabbed onto a piece of broken plywood to examine it and saw what looked like a large baby doll. He cleared aside a wad of tissue and noticed that this doll was breathing slightly.
            The baby was badly dehydrated, had cigarette burns on its face, and could barely move.  Pong gave the baby a slight poke in the ribcage, and the baby let out a muffled, but ghastly, cough.  How could someone do this to a poor, innocent child?  Pong surmised that the discarded infant belonged to one of the teenage gangs he always saw racing up and down the street with their chopped exhaust pipes and outlandish haircuts.  How repulsive.
            Light suddenly glimmered on the discarded CDs hanging on the back of his cart.  These functioned as reflectors while trudging down the street, but they also came in handy when nosy authority figures wanted to give him a hard time.  The security guard for the adjacent Baan Nguu apartment block stepped around the corner with a flashlight, and Pong discreetly covered the baby with the wad of tissues.
            “I have told you before, Pong, that you should not come here when the Manager has not yet gone home.  You should only scavenge after 7pm.”
            “No problem.  I will leave right away.”
            Pong could not inform the security guard about the baby, because it would certainly invite the attention of the Phra Khanong police.  He still owed them 1,500 baht after being caught playing cards two nights ago, and he did not have any money on him at this time.  He knew that one of his fellow scavengers, Sirithip, would be making the rounds on this same soi in about two hours.  She would know what to do with this unfortunate baby.
            Pong wheeled his cart onto the soi heading towards the scrap yard to collect his money for the day.

Soi - a side street or alley
Baht – Currency in Thailand (300 baht is about $US10)


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