Stone and Steel

[For a Thai-language version “สโตน แอ่นด์ สตีล,” click here]

I tell you there’s something fishy going on in this here city of gods.

The other day I proposed to a friend we could eat at Siam One and this friend said they had never set foot in Siam One before. Drawn to recollection of homestyle desserts true or false, instead we made for Blue restaurant down the main Siam street crowded as all hell then slantwise across a parking lot opposite the megastructure aforementioned. A watchman in uniform blue like the placename hit a button said press here on the other side of the glass door and the door slid open in its track, refrigerated air rushed from within. My friend asked after what’s special and not on the menu today. The watchman was at a loss. He held the button and so the door with one hand and the other he raised palm upward like a quack gatekeeper welcoming invaders to his protectorate. He said without certainty Come on in and see the menu, as if in putting forth their question my friend had upset some natural order, some routine repeated ad sanctitatem. Inside and tabled I looked out back the way we had come and up above heads that bobbed as they went along pavements or down alleys ill-lit in the blue failing of sun. A bright neon screen big as a ball court, rectangular pink splashed white with swirls and a whitefaced halfbreed white of teeth in an orange sweater who was proud to present this day some new age oil of snake or of dog in a cosmetic tube. The words out of his touchedup mouth meant nothing and the prominence cast no shadow whichever way.

What’s it used to be, I asked pointing across the lot and the street with a cock of my head or my chin or a thumb I don’t remember.

Used to be a theater, my friend said.

But what theater? I counted Lido and Scala and nothing else. I called up images from my junior high years when Siam cram schools occupied my Saturdays, and from the more recent AFAPS years during which Siam Square gradually turned from a regular to virtually my sole weekend haunt. Both times I drew blank. It was as if my inner reality of the lot had been visited by Stephen King’s Langoliers, those metaphysical ingesters of the past. It was as if certain new architectural configurations would not suffer their preterite obsolescence of form, of social and economic function, even in the vague recollection of their patrons. Further introspection revealed the existence of this void elsewhere in this here city of gods. Siam Paragon, Emquartier, World Trade Center twice renewed and twice afire. Now I hear of this new place called Siam Icon somewhere along the river of lords and I do loathe to know its exact situation.

Stone and steel has expunged this theater from my memory, I concluded aloud my halfassed hypothesis with a histrionic wave of hand. We didn’t order any dessert because there weren’t any homestyle and all there was was on the menu.

Since that day maybe three weeks past I still haven’t looked up this phantom theater on the interweb and probably never will. Records are man’s undertaking. We read epitaphs and nothing of the bones.