Two brothers, so unlike and so disconnected, live separate lives until fate forces them to face one another and resolve their differences.
A Muddy Red River
D. A. Cairns
Reviewed by Jocko Lee
4 Stars out of 5
The Muddy Red River follows a short time period of two Australian brothers as they blunder their way through life. One brother, at home in Australia, is having to deal with his love for his wife and his attraction to other women. The other brother, on vacation in Thailand, mostly loves himself but finds himself attracted to a bar girl.
They both deal with death and escape, one from the law and the other from his guilt. How they cope with their circumstances brings them back closer together.
All through the book I found myself in a hurry to get to the next chapter. At first I was more involved in the conflict between Rob and Jam than the other brother. Cairn’s practice of alternating chapters between brothers left me, at times, feeling like I was watching a captivating movie and it went to a commercial break. I rushed through the chapters dealing with Shane and Angela just to get back to see what Rob and Jam were up to.
Later in the book Shane’s situation became as compelling as Rob’s and I was hurrying to read the exploits of both. This book has made me want to read more of this writers work.
EXCERPT: A Muddy Red River
The stage was dark, except for a voyeuristic single spotlight which shone on a nubile dancer. Dressed in nought but satin hot pants and a pink bikini top, she mouthed the words to Blurred Lines as she writhed awkwardly around the microphone stand. Australian holiday maker and hedonist, Rob Archer, took a seat at a small table next to the wall to the left of the stage and gratefully accepted a glass of beer without looking at the waitress. The dancer began to sway gently, apparently abandoning sexy for a vague semblance of cute. Rob compelled his mouth closed and disengaged his eyes in order to survey the room. The temptation to remain riveted to the lame, yet somehow sensual performance of the dancer was mercifully curtailed by the end of the song. He joined the polite applause which mumbled half-hearted appreciation.
To the right of the stage was a circular bar, with a small dais in the centre that was slightly elevated above the level of the bar top. Another two girls were dancing there, similarly dressed in the sleazy attire of good time girls. There were no hot pants for these two though; sparkling G-strings and stilettos adorned their lower halves. An assortment of desperates, mostly foreigners, watched enthusiastically, clapping and cheering whenever either of the girls bent over or thrusted her pelvis. Some simply sat and leered as they nursed drinks and lustful thoughts. These girls seemed more comfortable with the attention, smiling frequently and blowing kisses all over the enchanted men.
Hostesses, or perhaps girlfriends, who could say, decorated the arms and laps of some of the spectators. Rob noticed two groups; one evidently enjoying themselves, the other patently not. He guessed the former were hostesses and the latter, girlfriends. The hostesses maintained intimate and frequent contact with their men. They laughed and smiled, occasionally leaning close to whisper in their partner's ears or to stain their cheeks with lipstick. The girlfriends on the other hand, wore vacant, disinterested looks, wishing they could disappear inside the smoke haze and escape this appalling personal insult.
Rob pulled a cigarette from the packet of Klong Thips which lay on the table but before he could light it, a flame appeared, accompanied by a sweet voice.
"You like something else, sir?"
The smoke from the full strength Thai tobacco seared his throat as he inhaled it, igniting the slow burn of the coffin nail. He opened his eyes to find a pair of almond orbs solicitously violating him. He accepted the intrusion.
Rob returned her smile then nodded.
He nodded again. The waitress winked before walking away and his eyes followed her shapely backside through the dimness, as she headed for the bar. Lipstick was one of the quieter bars in the Nana red light district of Bangkok. Rob had been introduced to the erotic wonders of this part of town by an acquaintance with whom he had shared a few drinks and joints in a number of other sex bars which populated soi one and soi two on Thailand's world famous Patpong Road. Nana, he said, was way better. Lipstick had a reputation for offering friendly staff, reasonable prices and a wide selection of beautiful ladies, minus the so called lady-boys. So far Rob had found it thus, and he settled into the ambience as the music oozed from every hidden corner of the brooding premises.
The waitress returned, leaning across him and feathering his shoulder with her breasts. "Your drink, sir."
She lingered as he sipped the whiskey, savouring its bite. Her fingers caressed the back of his head, playfully tousling his hair. "Anything else, sir?"
Rob smiled as desire swelled and he surrendered willingly, inviting her to sit with him.
"Just drinks sir. You want friend? I send friend for you."
What a tease! He wrestled his anger into submission and dismissed the waitress with a wave of his hand. She smiled, evidently unoffended, and glided away.
Rob liked being called sir, and he loved the attention. The zing of lust which the waitress's delicate touch had elicited was stunning. Perhaps the atmosphere was pregnant with raunchiness and ribaldry. Perhaps he was desperate and lonely. Whatever the reason for his reaction, Rob felt cheated and frustrated by the waitress. Though he knew the game well, and happily participated whenever given the chance, it could still be incredibly annoying.
He took some more whiskey, appreciating its strength, knowing that subsequent servings would be watered down. The main stage was deserted now, the peephole spotlight swallowed by darkness. Rob turned his attention to the crowd at the bar, which dwindled as the dancing girls finished their routines and stepped down into the arms of the two men who had stuffed their respective bikini tops with the highest amount of five hundred baht notes. He had no idea how they kept track of their earnings when their bodies were engaged in such bawdy acrobatics, another impressive trick of their trade.
One Klong Thip chased another, in pursuit of a succession of whiskeys, as Rob sat and watched the next performance, then another. He pressed the side of his watch, raising it closer to eye level as he struggled to read the time. Then he called a waitress over.
"I'd like a friend, please."
"No poplem, sir. You like table friend, short time or long time?"
"What's a table friend?"
The waitress laughed and playfully slapped his arm. "First time you come, huh?"
Inebriation thankfully overrode irritation and embarrassment. "Yeah, first time here."
She moved suddenly, snatching a chair and placing it beside Rob's. With her backside perched on the edge of the chair, she pushed her face close to his. Much to his chagrin, Rob flinched, which made the waitress laugh again; such a cute titter. "I no bite you, silly man."
"Of course not," said Rob, as he closed the distance between them once more. "You surprised me, that's all. I thought you weren't going to sit with me."
Her finger was on his lips before he could utter another syllable. "You want to hear about table friend or you want blah, blah, blah?" Her free hand mimicked a sock puppet.
Rob listened attentively.
ALSO BY D. A. CAIRNS
Angus has battled an obsession with sex throughout his adult life. Although outwardly a model husband and father with a respectable life and a well-paying job, he has a shameful secret life which he has become highly skilled at hiding.
Cassy is married to Angus and has no idea about his secret life. In fact, with her own worries she has been pulling away from him, emotionally and physically which is making his behaviour worse. Although she does not know it, Cassy is fanning the flames of an inferno which threatens to destroy their marriage.
Lovesickness: the eternal bane of humanity, the inescapable affliction which we simultaneously crave and fear. For Angus and Cassy, already in the thirteenth year of their marriage, the painful journey to true happiness has only just began.
Lovesick is a brutally honest and confronting story of love, sexual obsession and hope.