Blond-haired drunks donned their swimming trunks as they did their best Michael Jackson impressions. Sloppy girls fell all over the place regardless of whether they were wearing high heels or flip-flops. The only lighting was the sporadic blinding light that would catch you in the eye from one of the many disco balls. The DJ was merciless, slaughtering great songs to fit his beats per minute. The whole place reeked like a sun-tanned orgy of wanting romance and cigarettes. A small rubber pool took up space in a far corner. A guy was relieving himself in it.
“Isn’t this place awesome?” Ryan asked me as we stood next to a bar looking out towards the chaos in front of us.
“Yea.” I didn’t feel like explaining how I really felt because I’d probably have to repeat it a dozen times.
He tied the cloth band the bouncer gave him around his head like he was the Karate Kid. It read “Paddy’s Bar: Bali”.
“See! Aren’t you glad we came here?” Ryan said as he nodded to some girls still wearing their bikinis, hours after the sun went down. I scratched my head and avoided the question. He motioned to a spot in the club that looked like it was already oversaturated with people.
“Let’s go over there.”
He darted through an opening in the crowd without saying another word. I tried to follow but I lost him in the swirling sea of people. I looked around for a few minutes trying to spot him among the dancing mob. I hated this place. Subtle desperation and hollow conversation was not what I was looking for. I knew I shouldn’t have let him plan this trip. When we booked the flight to Indonesia, I was oblivious to the fact that Bali is essentially an Australian’s Tijuana. And I should have known that, to Ryan, visiting an Eastern Country is sitting in a cookie-cutter Western bar, waiting for something to happen. I had seen enough of that to know that I wanted something more. Realizing that was all the motivation I needed to leave.
I walked down the street against the never-ending flow of people to the club. I was drawn towards a massive illuminated stone that rested on a street corner. It was intricately carved and encased a large marble plaque. The plaque had the names of two hundred and two people that died in a terrorist bombing of the same club I was just in. I studied each name. Goosebumps crawled up my skin. Nobody else paid attention to the monument until an Indonesian casually approached it. He stood there lazily gazing at the marble for a few moments before he asked me if I wanted to buy drugs.
I was fed up. I walked down the street away from the commotion. I made left turns, I made right turns; it didn’t matter, I just wanted to think. Before I even realized what I was doing, I was lost. The constant bass thumping of the club was now only a light thud way off in the distance. The streets were clear and people were few and far between. I was rounding another corner when I almost tripped over someone sleeping on the sidewalk. As my eyes adjusted to the dark street corner, I could see a woman lying sound asleep with her four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. The girl’s clothes were tattered. The boy didn’t have pants or underwear on. The children rested their heads on a small rucksack while their mother laid her head flat on the pavement. They were open to the elements, vulnerable to anyone walking by, and closed off from the money being thrown away up the street. I could hear a guy hooting and hollering off in the distance. I didn’t know who he was, but I wanted to punch him square in the face.
“So, where did you go last night?” Ryan said to me in between brushing his teeth. “I could have used you as my wingman.”
“Oh, I was around, checked out different spots. By the way, I need you to front for me until I can get to an ATM.”
“You spent all your money last night?” He laughed. “I told you! Bali is crazy!”
“Yea…crazy.” I said as I looked out the window.
It was raining.