Brightways loved his pickup. It was the kind of doting, paternal love you’d extend to a large dog. A bull mastiff, perhaps, of shuddering weight, who barked at your enemies, understood nothing and trusted you implicitly. So it was with the pickup. Brightways loved the way the engine started the first time, with a jolt like the detonation of a small bomb under the bonnet. He loved the steady vibration of the cab, the deep three-litre, diesel-consuming growl.
Also, driving it made him feel more Thai. For two years now he had been collecting such feelings and marshalling them as evidence he presented to himself: he could live here. His flat was one such proof, his girlfriend Ning another. And now the pickup. In the cab’s elevated height, on Bangkok’s choked and dusty roads, among the other pickups and thundering lorries, the weaving motorcycles and buses groaning with human freight, Brightways felt that he belonged and in fact, was surviving.
It hadn’t always been thisway. He’d spent six months travelling on the buses himself and had frayed at the edges, taken apart by Asian entropy. The hindering crowds, diseased street dogs, splattering overhead drains, odours of rotting vegetation wafting up from black-water canals. He’d bought the pickup to escape from all of it.