He was a lost soul struggling very hard to survive.
It was Bangkok 1990.
An intelligent, harmless 40 year old American with a great memory for telephone numbers.
He drank a little too much and took pills for his heart.
The Embassy was fed up with him. He’d lose his passport, lose his money and end up in trouble with cuts and grazes to suit. I suppose he was a rough sleeper in Bangkok.
At first I just laughed and called out, “Hi Toby!”
“Hi Ace,” he would reply, (Ace being my nickname at the time). “Got ten baht I can borra’?” If I did I’d hand it over.
Many months went by and we’d see each other here and there. But things got worse. He lost his glasses (again). He was bashed about a bit and he was not well. He was in a terrible state and close to tears.
“Can we help Tobe’s”, I said, and he sighed and he wept and he let it all out.
We called his dear Mother, (over 90 years old). She sent him $10,000! We grinned. We walked into the bank, withdrew a chunk, bought him a new passport, new glasses, a suave set of clothes and booked him into a hotel. We sat him down in the barbers and as he slept leaning back in the chair, a new man emerged.
Toby beamed and glowed as he walked down the Khao San Road. He was not a new man, he was ‘The’ new man.
We got him a ticket back to San Fransisco. I nearly went with him. “Goodbye Toby”.
They had to stretcher him off the plane when he arrived. He had drunk too much and passed out!
He saw his beloved Mother and after 6 months in rehab he slid his way back to Bangkok.
It wasn’t long before passport was lost, whisky was drunk and he cried for his friends. But no one bloody listened.
I returned to Thailand to visit a friend in jail and was told Toby was around. I couldn’t believe it! I went looking for him but couldn’t find him. Something was wrong. I called the Embassy and they said he was a loser. I said he wasn’t.
He was a lost soul, dirty, unshaven, kind and intelligent. He had died peacefully in the night in a comfortable bed in a hotel room.
That fellow was my friend. I sat at the bar at the end of Khao San Road and cried into my beer. Rest in Peace Carl ‘Toby’ Wooley.