Christopher is in shock.
He has just seen his girlfriend in a promotional video for a full moon party at Koh Phangan at a club called Rocx. His girlfriend is at present snoring quietly, leaning on his arm, her drool lightly puddling in the crook of his elbow. His girlfriend has obviously not seen this video. She’s told him this is her first trip to Koh Phangan. She’s been very excited about their trip and planned everything and made all the bookings. This trip is technically her gift to him, since she’s paid for everything so far, but Chris has felt that she’s just making excuses to herself because she wants to go to Koh Phangan.
But now, on the ferry to Koh Phangan, Chris realizes that everything is not as it seems. He thinks back to the first time he met Sharon- six months ago. He was at Kashi art cafe in Fort Kochi, sketching. Sharon was at the table next to him. She smiled and he smiled back and one thing led to another and they were living together in her apartment above the cafe she managed. Christopher had only come to Kochi to paint murals for the Kochi Muziris Biennale but he’d met Sharon and ended up staying.
Now, six months later they are in a lovely white yacht approaching Koh Phangnan and Sharon is asleep and Chris is afraid that he is going to be sold into slavery. Sharon is obviously a villainess who befriends handsome young British artists and lures them to the smaller islands of Thailand so they can be sold as sex-slaves to the brothels servicing the perverted rich people who frequent these tiny permissive islands.
Christopher is horrified. Christopher does not know what to do. He knows that his life and his butt’s integrity are in danger. He wonders if there will be Thai strongmen waiting at the pier to take him to his brothel, or whether Sharon will first take him to their AirBnB, give him a drink laced with Rohypnol and he will wake up chained to a Sheikh’s bed in a boat sailing the Andaman Sea.
The promotional video comes on again, and there is Sharon again in a little neon bikini, covered in fluorescent paint and waving at the camera. There seem to be some seriously unsavoury men lurking around her at the party she’s been photographed in. Men who would do unspeakable things to Christopher once they owned his firm young body.
Christopher decides that his ferry cannot reach Koh Phangan.
He gently eases Sharon’s face off his shoulder and props her up on her seat. A few quick steps and he’s at the captain’s cabin. He knocks urgently but quietly. He does not want Sharon to wake up, for obvious reasons. A lady in uniform comes up to him and asks him what he wants. The captain’s cabin remains shut. He tells the lady that he needs to speak to the captain. He is being kidnapped.
The lady in uniform is used to telling people where the bathroom is and what time the ferry will reach. She even knows how to deal with seasickness and lost baggage. She has once calmed a crying baby and a crying mother. She has considered herself a veteran, someone who cannot be surprised. Christopher saying he has been kidnapped surprises her. She considers briefly pretending to not understand English and forcing Chris to return to his seat but thinks the better of it. This man has true panic in his eyes, the kind of panic that makes people participate in a stampede. She knows this panic is infectious and she does not want a ferry full of panicked people. She considers it unsafe. So she quickly and quietly lets Chris into the captain’s cabin.
The Captain is an old British drunk who could not acquire gainful employment in his native country but managed to be a captain in Thailand because of the premium placed on white skin. The Captain is happy to see Chris. He doesn’t get to hang out with other Britishers very often. Every time he tries, he gets the old brush-off. This is mostly because he is a pompous drunk with a chip on his shoulder, and most Brits he meets in Thailand are just here to relax and don’t have the time for his shitty life story.
Chris looks like a sympathetic young man. Chris also looks panicked. The Captain sizes Chris up as a good listener. He is wrong. Chris is not here to listen. He is here to ask the captain to turn his boat right around and take him to safety.
The Captain listens closely to Chris’s tale of woe. In Chris, the captain sees a kindred spirit — another man cheated of glory at home and forced to look for it among the natives. The Captain decides he would like to help Chris.
So he calls in the two sturdy young men in his command and commands them to watch the video and then go and arrest the girl from the video.
The young men are a little confused by this, since they are merely contracted to help with the bags on the yacht and don’t have the authority to arrest anyone. But since the Captain is white and Chris is white, they agree to at least watch the video. Secretly, both hope to bust Sharon the sex-racketeer and be handsome heroes and be interviewed by local TV channels and have the local girls ask for their handsome, heroic numbers. Chris excitedly points out his seat to them, and they quickly take pictures of the bikini-clad Sharon from the promotional video on their phones for reference. Then they square their shoulders and go to Sharon’s seat.
Chris sits in the Captain’s cabin, nervously rehearsing what he’ll say to Sharon (Is her real name even Sharon? The more he thinks about it, the less likely it seems. She doesn’t look like a Sharon.) The guards take an awful long time. Both Chris and the Captain have a beer to calm their nerves.
Then the guards return. Chris quickly swallows his beer.
The guards do not have Sharon with them. The guards look puzzled. They confer with the Captain and then take him out into the seating area. They are gone a long time. Perhaps Sharon is violently resisting arrest. Perhaps she has accomplices on board who are even now overpowering the Captain and his crew and taking over the boat. Chris is sweating. He finally works up the courage to peep out of the little glass window in the Captain’s cabin.
The violence he fears has not manifested. Instead, in the seating area, the Captain is having a huddle with the two strapping young baggage handlers and the attendant. They occasionally turn and look at Sharon, who appears to still be asleep in her seat, unaware of her impending doom. They turn and look at Chris, staring at them through the little glass window. He gives them an encouraging wave.
They silently troop back to the Captain’s cabin. Chris is on pins.
What has happened?
The young men and the attendant stare at Chris accusingly. This startles Chris. He asks the Captain what the hold up is.
The Captain clears his throat and tells Chris that the girl in the video is not Sharon, just a girl with similar dimensions. Chris is not being kidnapped and sold into sex-slavery. Chris is merely racist and cannot tell the difference between two similar-looking Thai girls. Chris should apologize to these people for wasting their time and getting their hopes up.
Chris refuses to believe the Captain. He accuses him of being Sharon’s accomplice. In response, one of the strapping baggage handlers pulls out his phone and shows Chris some pictures of his friends on Facebook. They all look like Sharon. Chris accuses the baggage handlers of being sex-slavers. So the baggage handler video-calls his ‘friend’ who is actually just Sharon. Sharon answers. Chris runs out into the seating area to find Sharon still asleep, drooling slightly.
He returns to find 'Sharon' still on call, wondering why her friend is making her talk to a confused white boy.
Chris apologizes to everyone.
He goes back to his seat.
He gently eases the real, sleeping Sharon’s head back onto his shoulder. The yacht reaches Koh Phangan. They disembark. Sharon is still sleepy and doesn’t notice that Chris does not make eye-contact with the baggage handlers or the attendant.
Sharon has a great time in Koh Phangan. Six months later, she marries Chris and they move to a nice White Suburb of London where Chris teaches art at the local school and Sharon manages a cafe.
They travel often, but never again to Thailand. Christopher’s secret is safe.