in the voice of Nicolas Cage as hit man Joe in Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
it takes an emotional resilience to be on the outside,
year after year, required by law to leave
the country every three months for a new visa.
that may sound like a small thing, but it gives life a bite,
a spin. concessions must be made. dreams
and desires are changed and shaped.
i sit down to play chess in a white tuxedo as the drama takes shape. my opponent is a deaf mute girl who works at a pharmacy. i stand outside looking in. small glass vials clack against the counter like knights dreaming of pawns. i want to manipulate the material and leave, impose some order, but Bangkok bites. here i will eventually break all my rules. for example, my heart is already accidentally visaed,
lines stamped and drawn, a 2-color print-out. all my clothes, cash, credit cards and paper visas fold up into passports—in silence i decide which country will take my shape, which metropolis will grant me anon. it doesn’t matter that this is a remake; i bite my tongue and say to the customs agent, “holiday,” never taking an interest in people outside of work. emotional attachments leave only sacrifice and abrupt cinematic ends to dreams
i allowed myself to want. in the original, my dream girl speaks and i am a deaf mute. without a visa to enter her world i am stuck within a country i cannot leave. it begins and ends in silence, a breakage that shapes sinew and severs it from bone, separating feeling outside
of action—blown up, bitten.
i am impenetrable on a black BMW K1200R, but what bites into the consciousness of this lonely assassin is a dream: a kid with jasmine flower, fragile in the alley, interrupting my getaway. outside, numbers are uneven, i’m always a split second too late, visas expire in my pocket. the shape of my future has upturned the elephant’s trunk. the unlucky often leave
in search of another chance, so i cross the border again. leave. try to speak to the girl who can’t hear me. and when i take a bite of my target, i imagine the gunshot naked, a silent picture. death takes shape not with sound, but with its silence, and when i dream i have no ears, no mouth. i ask for a visa to her heart. she smiles and collects her things outside.
on the outside i can leave,
come again on a new visa, bite
but never taste the dream’s silent shape.
Jai Arun Ravine
*DID YOU KNOW? This diary entry features a quote by Christopher Moore regarding the expat life, cited by Jerry Hopkins in Bangkok Babylon (99). It references Nicolas Cage’s character in the 2008 remake of the original Bangkok Dangerous (1999) Thai film. In the original, the deaf mute character is the hit man, but in the remake, Cage’s love interest is the deaf mute. The reference to chess is taken from the Murray Head music video to “One Night in Bangkok,” which was a song written for the musical Chess (1984/1986).