Bäby Doc and the Dentist

QUENTIN MET BÄBEL ON KOH SAMUI, A PALM AND BANANA-TREE RIMMED RESORT ISLAND OFF THE SOUTHERN coast of Thailand. Bäbel was wearing a g-string at the time and was happily skimming a frisbee to some g-stringed Israelis. Quentin was wearing sandshoes and jeans but he nonetheless conspired, on the beach and all, to ask Bäbel for the time. He caught the frisbee as a pretext.

Caught UFO, on the beach

<<Who cares about the time?>> she replied, in a totally unabashed Bavarian accent. <<I'm on vacation.>>

Quentin left the island that afternoon and flew home to Australia. He forgot all about BBäbel, enticed as he was by James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy21, which he was reading then. It took him three months to get through it. When he was done he walked down to the shop to buy some groceries and saw Babel waiting at the service counter.

He assumed it was one of those spin-out situations, like when you're off your head in a club, when all you can do is gawk at everyone because suddenly everything, everything seems so familiar. Except, this time, she was gawking back. <<Oh?>> he said. <<It's you, isn't it? From Thailand?>>

Catching the moth-blown Windfield clock she replied, <<Oh yeah. It's twenty past six.>>

Quentin plonked his milk, bread and magazines on the counter, next to her tampons or something. <<This is quite strange, isn't it? Meeting like this again, on the other side of the world. It was fucking paradise, that Ko Pha Ngan.?>>

She stroked a bead of condensation rolling down his milk; he noticed the gesture but didn't wonder why. <<The day after I met you I came down with the shits. Then dengue fever in Kalimantan. I'm backpacking in this land of yours now.?>>

The scabby Greek behind the counter cleared his throat and said, <<Ten bucks eighty.>> Quentin took it as a sign.

<<I'll have to show you around?>> he said. It was one of his standards. He took her to Abu Hussein's for kebabs and pipe, Mascarpone for coffee and cake, the Burdekin Hotel for a bottle or two of e-33. If they'd met in the daytime a Harbour hug snapshot or trip to Manly would have been appropriate; being a Friday night, cocktails in the Luna Lounge were more in order. They saw Demi Moore in the foyer. Quentin bought some speed on Oxford Street and whisked Babel into SubDub.

The scene inside was hard house, handbag and spice. Quentin hugged Babel in the happier set and said, <<Just like Ko Pha Ngan, huh??>> He wasn't referring to the sweaty walls and boobs.

At 4am it was time for microwaved burgers in Seven Eleven, drowsy Opera House panoramas on the cab trip home, Quentin's shoulder as good a pillow as any. Cigarettes on the townhouse balcony, blister comparisons in the bedroom. The sun came up and the tour ended its vertical phase.

CASSIUS CROON and other characters copyright Robert Sullivan 1995-2000.