Raid on Soi 5 by Paul Salvette

I have a good feeling about tonight. The small baggies of cocaine tied up with rubber bands jingle in my pocket as I work my way down the street. Vendors are hawking their crappy wares for the tourists, but they pay no attention to me. Since I’m one of their own, they know I don’t have any money. I chuck my menthol into the gutter and walk toward the mouth of Soi 5.

The usual gaggle of working girls are hanging out on the sidewalk, tits and ass hanging out for all of Bangkok to see. Two motorcycle taxi drivers are sitting on the ground playing checkers with bottle caps. They look up at me and grunt in disgust. It’s not my fault they have to bust their ass for crummy pay in this rotten city.

The old woman that’s always here with the fruit stall is cutting up a sour mango for a fat, middle-aged tourist. His hairy fingers are rifling through his fanny pack looking for small bills. She spots me and says, “Here comes the drug dealer. Always bringing trouble to my business. What does your mother think of what you do for a living?” The man turns around and stares at me, pissed that I interrupted this little transaction, but completely clueless of what she just said.

“Shut up,” I say as I chuck my empty Red Bull bottle into the plastic can by her feet.

A woman in heels and black fishnets steps out from the 7-11 and recognizes me. It’s my cousin Lek, who usually spends her time upcountry. She must be working the go-go bars again, probably ran out of money.

“Oh it’s you. You shouldn’t be here. The Nigerians are all over Soi 5 today. Be careful.” She slaps the butt of the gross man waiting on the fruit and puts her arm around him. Changing to her bargirl English she says, “We go now, honey.”

I make a left into the soi, and I can barely walk past the throngs of slow-moving gawkers. They stare up in wonder at the blazing neon hovering above the street. The girls in short skirts inside the bars are either playing pool or beckoning new customers to join the fun. Bald white heads reflect the light from the multi-colored chaos engulfing the thin road. These old bastards are going to need some coke to get their dicks hard tonight, and I’m going to be the guy to sell it to them.

On almost every night, the Nigerians control this soi, and they only allow me to sell by the shitty dive bar all the way at the end. The business down there is always lousy, just low-life expats instead of tourists flush with cash. They usually ask for a discount in broken Thai.

A group of three Nigerians are standing and chatting out in front of the stairs to Sexzilla. My English isn’t bad, but I can’t understand a word they are saying. I walk up to the one I recognize and say, “Hey, Eddie. How you man?”

“You can’t be here tonight. The boss doesn’t want any Thais dealing on this soi. Sorry.”

I notice some sex tourist with puke all over his shirt curled up in the stairwell. “What wrong him?”

“Man, just get out of here,” Eddie says, not even looking at me. His eyes are scanning the crowd for potential customers.

I walk back to the soi’s entrance and wait for the signal. Some little homeless kid starts tugging on my cargo shorts, and I tell him to scram in Thai. The kid must be Cambodian, because he’s not getting the hint. I give him a little kick, and he goes running down the filthy sidewalk barefoot.

The cop who tipped me off last night while we were drinking whiskey is making his way through the crowd. He’s the one who told me that the Nigerian mob boss was not being “cooperative” with the boys in brown, and a raid was going down tonight. He sees me and gives me a nod. A black paddy wagon comes screaming down the road with its lights flashing and pulls into the soi. It practically nails some poor tourist shopping at a stall with bootleg DVDs.

Five seconds later, about ten guys start trying to run past the cops out of the soi and onto the main road. The police are armed with clubs, and they start whacking skulls like it was fun. A group of black guys sitting at one of the outside bars, obviously not dealers, get tackled in the commotion. The police are manhandling anyone who is African and chucking them onto the steel benches in the back of the van.

Eddie ducks past one of the cops at the entrance of the soi and sprints down the main street. That nasty fruit woman who always bitches at me lets out a scream as he plows face first into her stall.  Watermelons and mangoes spill out onto the sidewalk and roll into the road. A cop grabs him by the scruff of the neck as blood runs down his face.

The white-skinned tourists are standing around and snapping photos like a bunch of slack-jawed idiots. The paddy wagon backs out onto the main road speeds off toward the station.

These fellas are going to be in jail or deported unless their boss gets some cash to the police real quick. Until then, I’ve got this soi all to myself.

I got real lucky tonight.

Paul Salvette is American expat who has lived in Bangkok, Thailand for two years with plans to reside in the country until he is deported.  His scribbles have appeared in New Asian Writing, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, and Thailand Stories. Learn more about him at


David Barber said...

Paul this was really gritty and tense, made even more so by the fact that it was 'loosely' based on a true story.

Well done!

Thomas Pluck said...

A taste of gritty realism from a tough place. Great work, Paul.

Paul Salvette said...

Thanks, guys. I'm really glad you liked it. There's no shortage of crazy shit to write about in Bangkok.

Red said...

Nice short, Paul. Very atmospheric, and although I don't know Thailand in any form, or the drug business, the way you painted Soi was completely believable and, I want to say authentic?

Short and punchy, I like that.

Paul D Brazill said...

A hell of a lot packed into this cracking story.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Steve- Loved this! Looking forward to reading more of you writing, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Good atmosphere and sense of place.

Bill Baber said...

really enjoyed this paul... way to show the story. never been to thailand but i felt like i was there.

Trey R. Barker said...

Sense of place, in so few words, was wonderful. And our guy standing and waiting, vulture-like, was great! Loved it loved it.

Anonymous said...

This seems real enough to me!