สิบสอง. Our Selfish War Part 2

A Thai soldier adjusts his steel-rimmed sunglasses. He stands legs astride, feels the tension in his thighs, holds the gun from the hip. He raises a bottle of whisky to his lips, eats glass he does and watches old American war movies. Likes to sprinkle bullets in the air when he’s alone, and when he’s not he fucks with boots on. She can see her face in the shine.

Mohammed

The soldier watched the newcomers approach. His eyes followed them from behind his sunglasses. As they passed by he turned around and his eyes followed them into Burma.

Presses the metal against his hip. They can feel the barrel on their necks, fingering the trigger with sensitive caress.

The Westerners crossed the small bridge that forded the stream on the border.

The soldier unwrapped a betel nut and put it in his mouth. He chewed it like red meat and spat red into the stream and he watched them disappear into the distance. The betel nut was numbing his mouth.

The village had been evacuated. The road had almost disappeared beneath tyre tracks and rain. What may have been shops once alive and bustling with trade were faceless buildings boarded up and empty. A grey, rain-sodden dog limped along with them, part of the way then it sighed and sat down in the mud. The sky was still overcast.

Mick swung his umbrella as he walked. It was as if he’d ambled onto a film set but it was the wrong film. The players were taking a break. They had all gone to Thailand for safety. They drank tea in cafes the other side of the border while the Westerners traced a path through artificial mud in search of the lead role. They felt like reporters with nothing to report. They tried to feel the tension but like a corpse has no feeling, the village lay bare and exposed, expressionless and unphotogenic.

Further on, they came across a few of the Mons. They stood in the porticoes of huts wiping their rifles with black, oiled rags. They smiled at the Westerners. None of them was older than eighteen. A young child, not yet a teenager, and dressed in coarse sacking, stood in the middle of the road and waved his rifle around his head to disturb the flies. Swollen silence filled the air.

Beyond the Mons village, lay the Karen. A large wooden gateway announced the township of Kaw Thoo Lei, Karen State Union. From the lintel the sign swung on two large rusted hooks and the flags of the Karen and Mons hung limp on either side. It was the only way of telling where the Mons village ended and the Karen began.

MG stood under the gateway and arched out his limbs. “Welcome to the front line!”

สิบเอ็ด. Our Selfish War Part 1 ဆယ့်သုံး. Reporting from Rangoon Part 1
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