100 Hours of Humo(u)r – Hour 11: Gecko Crime Scene
By Dave Fox
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
It was a delightful little hotel overlooking the Sisowath Quay, where the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers converged. It was a family run place with an exceptionally friendly staff — the sort of people who felt more like your friends than hoteliers who you were paying to have a roof over your head.
For 25 US dollars a night, we had a room with a balcony, a waterfront view. It felt idyllic.
I had no idea of the horrors that were happening downstairs in the hotel restaurant.
The restaurant had a friendly vibe, just like the rest of the hotel. It reminded me of Beth’s Cafe, a breakfast dive in Seattle, famous for its 12-egg omelets (no sharing allowed) and the crayon drawings that covered its walls. Like Beth’s, this cozy hotel in Cambodia had similar wall coverings — quick sketches by restaurant patrons, and notes praising the food.
But there was one such drawing at this hotel in Cambodia that left me feeling unnerved.
It was the outline of a gecko — the same sort of outline one might see at a murder scene in America, where a dead body had fallen.
I gazed in silent horror at the crime scene outline, which is when the unthinkable happened. A real gecko, in broad daylight, strolled up to the outline. He looked around for a moment. Then he just stood there, nonchalantly, as if all was well.