He was a Tom who insisted on being a Thomas. He was sullen and unsmiling, without charm or charisma. He was spectacularly unpleasant.
We lived in a two-story apartment in Taipei with three others. Two of them were relaxed and garrulous guys. We would sit on one of the balconies chatting, them smoking pipes of hash while drinking beer. I don’t think Thomas and I had a conversation nor do I remember one between him and anyone.
He taught English. He was a DJ, and represented himself as a musician. He benefited greatly in being a white foreigner in Taipei, something which conferred authenticity to what he did. His large and ungainly head was swollen by the expat life and its unwarranted adulation, and he made the most of his entitlement.
He had little thought for others. In the spring and early summer, a time of drought and water rationing, he would not take a less than a thirty minute shower, even on the days on which the water came from the rooftop storage tank of the apartment building. He had no hair to wash and spent little thought on his appearance, preferring shorts with t-shirts and flip-flops, so his shower habits were baffling and aggravating since there was one bathroom.
The bathroom door was between my and Thomas’s bedroom doors, in an alcove off the living room. One morning I got up and opened my door just in time to see Thomas’s naked, empty- flour-sack ass as he took the two steps to his door. Any assness had long been transferred to his gut, which was round and protruding and solid in the way of well-set beer guts, and this left the skin to droop like wattles. The door closed quietly behind him.
I moved out a little while later, taking my things and that image.