Ta

FREE short story by Colin Devonshire

Ta

“Thanks a lot,” Jazza said to himself, he was unhappy with his bosses comment, even less happy with her suggestion. His latest task was handed via email which ended ‘my office door is open’. The other reporters hid their grins behind papers. He trudged towards the door at the far end of the building.

It was tough getting his work permit, now it seemed even harder keeping it. He was stumped. His boss was the editor of a provincial newspaper. Jazza was only the second non-Thai journalist working for them. To gain the work permit, he needed to prove he was doing a job that a local could not. He was sent on missions no Thai journalist would want. Garbage collection outside schools was the latest no hope article, two thousand words nobody will read. The editor’s newest scheme was to blow open the growing trade in ‘night-life’ workers from the provinces.

Her bright red lipstick annoyed him, so did her tight skirt and her blouse stretched the buttons beyond belief.

“Christ, mutton dressed as lamb, what would my mum say?” He could imagine his mother telling her neighbours, ‘My Jeremy, he’s doing so well, a high flying journalist in Thailand. Imagine?’

“Yeah, she wouldn’t be so proud now.”

He snorted, shook his head and marched through the door into the editor’s cluttered office.

“You want me to pretend to buy underage girls to learn their trade in a pretend massage parlour?”

“Yes, but not only girls, but boys can also be good at massage too, you know?” She laughed.

“Are you serious? You’ll get me shot,” Jazza was on the verge of walking out.

“Did you know that footballer you keep on about, he is coming to The Crest Hotel,” she flipped a finger at the window behind her, “over the road, with his wife when the season ends. I’ll need him interviewed. How do you fancy that little job?” she said.

Jazza suddenly perked up. “Really?”

“Yes, but I want an award-winning story about massage kids first.”

“I’m not saying no, but this seems perilous?” said Jazza.

“Look, we can’t use a Thai person, the girl’s dad won’t believe our story, it must be a European or American. You’re the man for the job. Remember, I have a contact high in the police force, he will be eh… monitoring your progress from a distance.”

“And expenses? I’ll have to spend, car rental, maybe entertaining and for the poor unfortunate child.”

“Yes, yes, you will need cash, the parents won’t have it any other way. For any bar or restaurant bills, you can use the company credit card.”

“Won’t that be a giveaway?”

“Yes, yes, it will. Use your cash, I’ll pay you back when you get back. And I need receipts.”

“I don’t think they give receipts in the places I’ll be going,” Jazza said.

He grumbled his way home, “Early to bed, early to rise,” he said to himself, preparing himself to meet the challenges of the next day. He was dreading buying food and drinks for some pimp. He had been given the name and phone number of the in-between contact.

Jazza could speak passable Thai but never mastered reading or writing. He had met up with the contact, short military haircut, immaculately dressed, a very upright person, at least in his demeanour if not his trade. He drank wine and enjoyed the steak dinner he was offered as he handed over details of the poor girl to be bought.

He was thinking about his chosen career, the good, meeting famous people, and the bad, having to deal with wicked folk.

“No problem,” he said to the car’s mirror, “I doubt if I need to read a contract with the farmer or his daughter,” he laughed, as he reached the up-country village.

As much as he hated the idea of taking a fourteen-year-old girl away from her family and school friends, he was excited by the cloak and dagger thrill of working undercover. He had drafted the skeleton of the article in his bed. Now he needed the bones, and a few shots with his iPhone camera secreted in his pocket.

Not only did the farmer not want a contract, he barely spoke. Dragging the young girl from a shed behind the house, she struggled and cried as she sat in the front of Jazza’s hire car.

The farmer counted the thousand Baht notes, grunted, and stomped inside.

“Don’t worry,” Jazza said to the girl, as the car moved off. “My boss promised to find you a safe and friendly care home where you can finish your schooling.”

An uncertain smile flicked across her face. Jazza wondered if she doubted his comment or was she laughing at his poor language skills.

The road was cracked, and the edges are broken and missing, as Jazza manoeuvred around potholes. Flashing lights caught his eyes ahead.

“Oh, no, I hope that’s not an accident?” he mumbled.

It wasn’t, police cars surrounded him in an instant.

He was bundled into the back of a pickup truck and cuffed to a railing.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

The uniformed officers sneered at him without reply.

“I want to speak to my boss, no, I want the embassy.”

They laughed, tapping each other playfully, high-fiving, happy with their arrest. His phone and wallet were confiscated, as he was charged with kidnapping at the station.

Later at the newspaper building, a well-dressed police captain strolled into the editor’s office, he threw his cap to a spare chair and plonked himself down and stretched his feet up onto her desk.

“That all went well.” He breathed. “I’ve got rid of a pain in the arse Brit for you. A new member of staff for my massage parlour, and recovered all your money. Happy now?” He asked as he leant forward and kissed his mistress full on the lips.

“Not in front of my staff,” she laughed.

“Oh, I’ve placed the farmer in the same cell as Mr Jeremy, do you think they’ll get on?” They both roared. She tore the work permit in half.

“Wait, you may need to use that again.”

“A permit for a female called Alice Drabble to use, ha, I doubt if I’ll be lucky enough to find another half-wit who can’t read!”

The END

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The Good Old Days

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire

The Good Old Days

“Back in my day, we didn’t accept any bad language. On our black-and-white tv, they hinted at foul jokes without saying the bad words. Adults would get the point without upsetting the children,” granddad said, before drifting off in another nap.

I loved granddad; it was always fun to be with him. He showed us paper and pen games, sometimes with one or two dice. Nothing electronic.

My brother, John, and I grinned and nodded at each other. John like his phone games more but would always join us, laughing and fooling around.

We messed about with our granddad, he always had a joke, with no bad language! He brought us the best presents for Christmas or our birthdays.

“God, is he sleeping again?” mum said as she popped her head around the door. Mum didn’t like granddad, we never knew why. He wasn’t her dad, maybe that was all? Or maybe because he used to sneak us chocolate bars? We would always welcome him, my dad, too, but not mum.

Granddad stirred, “Whose turn is it to make the tea? Must be you,” he waggled his finger at me.

I smiled and clicked on the kettle. I knew a goodie would be waiting as a reward.

“Do you want a cuppa, mum?” I called upstairs.

“Thanks, Jonty, can I have mine up here?”

She didn’t want to sit with us; I guessed.

“Now where was I?” asked Granddad.

“You were telling us about your old telly. They never swore in those days, you said.”

“Yes, and they never showed lady’s bits, either,” he said, we covered a snort.

John quickly covered his mobile’s screen, mine was in my pocket, I knew the topic would come up. Granddad always wanted to know what we were watching.

“You never told us what happened to our Nan? She died before we were born, tell us about her,” said John.

“Oh, you would have loved her, she was the prettiest gal in her village. She was clever too, had her own business at twenty. Very few girls ran businesses in those days. Men did all the work, women ran houses. Cooking, cleaning and having children, but not your nan, she…” he drifted into another thought. “Did you make me a tea yet?”

“You drank it.”

“Granddad, you started telling us about your tattoo, but you never finished?” I asked.

“This is the paratrooper’s badge,” he explained, rubbing his forearm.

“Were you in the paratroops?” asked my brother.

“Yes, I signed up when I left school.”

“So, you jumped out of planes?”

“Of course, we all had to.”

“Wow, that’s exciting, can we sign up?” John asked.

“Don’t joke about it. You may have a war to deal with,” Granddad said.

“Did you go to war?”

He sighed. I noticed mum leaning at the door.

“No, he ran away!” she said.

“I had my battle to deal with, back then,” he grunted.

“Yeah, sure, you started another family in Thailand,” mum said.

Granddad looked down and didn’t answer. Mum snorted and retreated to the kitchen.

John and I played on our phones. John played Fortnite, and I searched Google. The war granddad spoke of must have been the Falklands War, I guessed he must have been in his early twenties. I wanted to find out more. I would find out where Thailand was later. A strange thought struck me, ‘why had we never been to grandad’s house. I mean we had been there, we had been in his living room. But, nowhere else. Why?’ I wondered. I jumped up, signalled silence to my brother, and crept out. Rifling through granddad’s jacket pockets, I found his house keys.

Quietly I closed the back door and jogged the few streets to granddad’s house.

Looking around, to see if any neighbours were watching. I slid the key in the lock, click. I was in. Nosing in the downstairs rooms, nothing unusual. I don’t know why, but I silently went upstairs. Three bedrooms, the third was a box room, stacked high with stuff, taped and secure. The middle room boasted a double bed and not much else. The master room, granddad’s, was tidy, a made bed, a table with a book, James Bond, old and tatty, thumbed many times. In the far corner was a wardrobe, tall doors reached the ceiling, it was the drawers low down that caught my eye.

Looking around, like all the burglars I’d seen on tv. Inside was a battered briefcase. Locked. Oh, no! I whispered.

My hand searched my pocket, on the keyring was a tiny key. And yes, it opened the case.

Inside were several scrapbooks. Not my grandfathers, his father’s. The early pages boasted of a youthful boy winning races, cups, and other sporting events. A few pages on was a splash of a wedding, granddad’s. My grandmother looked beautiful, better than I could have imagined. She died before I was born. As I flicked further, a newspaper clipping of paratroopers preparing to leave for the Falklands. And there he was. Granddad is ready for war. Then there were official-looking papers. Mr J Jones is summoned to appear at Aldershot Military Court, on a charge of desertion.

There, glued to a page of the scrapbook was a section of The Pattaya Mail, which was a picture of granddad with a young Thai lady. Getting married. What? There were more booklets, papers, bits and pieces, I couldn’t face more news.

I let my tears stream, wetting the pages as I read of Mrs A. Jones found dead after committing suicide. My grandmother held a postcard with a Thai stamp, as she put her head in the gas oven. Granddad, what have you done?

The doorbell sounded along with a tap. Oh, no, I’ve been caught. In two minds, I decided to face the music; I started down the stairs. There were two people at the door.

“Hello, can I help you?” I asked.

“Eh, yes, we are here to see Mr Jones. Is he here?”

The men weren’t English, their accents were odd, they were dressed against the cold, even though it was warmish.

“He is not here. Why do you want him?”

“We need to see him. It’s personnel, where is he?”

“Um, can you wait here, I’ll get him?” I made sure the door was locked as I ran home. I looked back, the men had sat on the step.

“Mum, two men are waiting to see granddad.”

“Who are they? What do they want?”

“I’ve no idea, they seem quite nice.”

“See if your granddad is awake.”

I popped my head around the door. He was snoring peacefully.

“Come on then,” she said, “let’s see who these men are.” Mum lead me across the road.

“Hello, can I help you?” said mum politely.

“Eh, yes, but we need to talk to our father. Mr Jones.”

“What? Your father?”

“Yes, do you know him?”

“Not as well as I thought. I’m his daughter-in-law.”

“Hello sister-in-law,” they said together. “It seems we are family.”

“Jonty, wake him and bring him here, and I mean now.”

She guided the men through to the lounge, as I trotted off.

Granddad woke from a dream with a start, “What is it?”

“You’d better come quick. Some men want to see you, they say they are your sons.”

He lost all colour to his cheeks; he needed to steady himself on the armchair. Off we went.

“Hello boys,” granddad said.

“Hi dad, you look well,” one of them said. “It’s been a while?”

“We have a lot of catching up to do,” said the other.

“Should we go?” asked mum.

“This might take a while,” said grandad as he pointed to the door.

I was full of questions for mum as we sat in our kitchen.

“Not now,” was all I got. Google searched for Thailand. After reading about the sights and nightlife, I left mum in thought and returned to granddads.

I peered through the front window, the young men opened a bottle of what looked like alcohol, anyway, it wasn’t granddad’s favourite Scotch. Three glasses were handed around and they toasted each other. I pressed my ear to the glass.

“It’s taken a long time to catch up with you,” said one as he poured more drinks. I noticed my granddad was the only person knocking it back.

“Our mum worked herself into the ground when you left. She got us through school and then university. She begged you for help, you didn’t reply.” Both Thai men remained calm, as they poured more booze.

“She became sick, we worked to pay the hospital bills. She hated seeing us struggle for her. So, she ended it. It has taken until now to clear our debts and earn enough to visit you. Our long lost dad.”

“We are here now, have you anything to say to us?”

One man walked towards the window, I ran.

Dad came home from work, mum and I told him what happened. I admitted to spying.

“Leave them to their discussion. When the men go, I’ll see dad,” he said.

It was dark and past my bedtime, “Dad, I’ll pop over and see if they are still there?”

The bottle was empty, granddad sat still, the men looked like they were preparing to leave. I ran home.

“Okay, give it an hour and I’ll find out what happened,” said dad.

John and I were sent to bed. A short while later, sirens woke us, police cars and an ambulance hurried past our house.

My mum was crying as we went downstairs. “Your grandfather died this evening,” she said. I ran to granddads.

Dad caught me at the door, “Don’t go in.”

A policeman wanted to know what I’d seen. I told him exactly.

“But there was no whisky bottle on the table or in the bin, no glasses on the table or in the sink,” he said.

I pushed past him and rushed upstairs.

All the papers, the case, the lot, gone.

The policeman was on his radio, “Could be murder, put me through to Heathrow Airport security.”

The END

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Did You Hear?

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire

Did You Hear?

“Listen…” Tom tilted his scared and misformed head until his ear rested on his shoulder. He smiled, a crooked grin, he was happy.

“Listen to what? All I can hear is the distant rumble of thunder and the occasional crack of lightning.”

“No, it’s nearer. Listen.”

Tom’s changed ears and shoulders.

Brian hated it when his brother did that. “You look madder than normal,” he whined.

“I may be mad, but at least I can hear.”

Brian smiled down sadly and moved behind Tom, he started pushing the wheelchair towards their home. It started to rain. A few drops at first, in Bangkok at this time of year it meant a storm was coming. Brian hurried across the grass to the path which led them out of the park.

“Can you hear it now?” asked Tom.

“No, just the thunder above and thunder of traffic in front,” Brian said as he judged a gap in the traffic.

“Stop!” shouted Tom.

“What, why? We’ll get splatted by a lorry if we stop here.”

“Back to the park, now!” Tom pointed behind. Pointing behind was difficult, it was easier to aim his nose. Brian knew what he meant.

“It will pour down any minute.”

“I don’t care.”

“At least the rain is not cold here,” said Brian, shaking his head, as he retraced his steps.

“Now, listen,” Tom’s ear eased its way to the welcoming collar bone.

“I still can’t hear anything odd.”

“It’s a whisper, someone is trying to tell me something.”

Brian tutted and shook his head. “Come on, mum will worry.”

Tom leant further and further back with each turn of his wheels. Desperate to hear the whispers clearer.

Brian, one arm raised and waving madly, ducked between the traffic. Thunder broke above them, within seconds, they were soaked; they splashed to the other side.

“I want to go back. I can’t hear the whispers,” said Tom.

“Don’t be daft, you’ll catch your death of cold.”

“I’d rather die.”

They were in moody silence on the ride up in the lift. Tom fidgeted. 

The condo door closed behind them. Tom rocked his chair and wept.

“What happened, what’s the matter with your brother?” said their mum.

Brian looked at her and shrugged his shoulders. He told her, what little there was to tell.

“Tea, coffee, hot chocolate?” she asked after drying Tom and Brian returned from his hot shower.

Brian gratefully accepted a coffee, Tom ignored his mother. She placed a hot drink in his favourite mug on the table in front of him. He swept it to the floor.

“Tom?” she wailed, looking at Brian.

Once more, Brian shrugged.

The storm eased, boding farewell with a tremendous rumble.

“If it has stopped raining, pop to the store and pick up a few things, can you?”

He stuffed some cash and a shopping list into his pocket. He was pleased to leave his brother and his mood to their mum.

“Do you want to watch Netflix while I shower?” She turned on the movie channel, finding a Super Hero picture for Tom.

Tom smiled the first time for hours. He listened to the bathroom door click and let himself out. The lift was no problem to go down, coming up was impossible for him as he couldn’t reach the number ’32’ button. That didn’t worry him. Their condo block had a ramp at the rear entrance, he went that way. He wheeled to the Convent Road, crossing proved difficult, there was no break in the slow-moving traffic. Eventually, there was a gap, he edged out, horns blasted. His middle finger flashed at drivers. He would not stop. On reaching the other side, he had a new problem. Not only was sweat stinging his eyes, but the kerb was too high, he was stuck. Brakes screeched and horns blasted. A taxi driver jumped out swearing at him, but aided him up, quickly jumping back in his cab.

A huge smile spread across Tom’s face as he rolled to the park.

He cupped his ear and followed the sound.

“Whissss, whissp, wis.”

It got louder.

At the condo, Brian dumped his shopping on the kitchen counter.

“Did you get everything? All fresh I hope?”

“Yes, mum.”

The tv was blasting a Marvel character as she flew across the screen.

“What are you watching, Tom?” he called.

“He’s still in a foul temper,” called his mum, as she straightened her skirt.

“Where is Tom?” asked Brian.

They ran from room to room.

“I bet I know where he’s going. Do you want to come with me, or had you better stay here?” asked Brian.

“I’m coming, if he comes back, he can wait outside,” she grabbed her phone and followed Brian to the main road.

They danced between queues of traffic nearly colliding with a food delivery motorbike.

“There he is,” pointed Brian. They ran to Tom.

“Thank God, he’s safe,” his mum panted.

Brian slowed, holding her back.

“Who is he talking to?” he asked.

Tom’s arms were waving, pointing, and flapping up and down. He was holding a one-way conversation.

“No, mum wait, we don’t want to shock him. What is he saying?”

They crept closer, ears alert.

“That’s terrible, I am so sorry,” Tom said. “Who would do that?” He carried on.

Once more, Brian stopped his mum from grabbing his brother. He showed her he had opened Google on his mobile. He plotted in their position and looked for news.

The one-way chat continued. Tom was talking to a young Scottish lad. He had a new and beautiful girlfriend. Tom was now talking in Thai.

“He only knows, yes and no, good morning and goodbye. Where did he learn that lot?” asked his mum.

“Shh, he is talking to the girl, her name is Noo.”

Brian’s Thai was slightly better. “She was here with the British tourist. At least I think that’s what she told Tom.”

He started playing with Google. 

His face suddenly changed, no longer interested in his brother’s daydream. Fear crushed the smile from his face.

“What’s wrong?”

“Look,” he showed the small screen, then read aloud.

“A UK tourist was murdered with a female friend, in Bangkok’s largest park.”

“Did Tom read the paper, or maybe he saw it on the tv?” asked his mum.

“I doubt it. The gruesome murder happened ten years ago,” Brian said.

The traffic was crawling past, squeals, and toots were heard in the distance. Tom fell silent, his arms dropped to the sides of his wheelchair. Frozen for a second.

 Suddenly, Tom stood, he shoved his chair backwards with all his might. Brian and his mum dodged the flying wheels.

“Where is she?” Tom screamed.

“Who darling? Please calm down,” said his mum.

“My lassie, ma hen,” the Glaswegian accent was unmissable. Tom stormed off towards the red-light district.

“A club owner was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Khun Noo, and her Scottish friend,” read Brian.

The END

Change

FREE short story by Colin Devonshire

Change

“Today’s the day I change,” I said to myself. Swinging my right leg and booting Mrs Ricketts’ gnome from the front of her pristine garden. I chuckled as it smashed in the road. Her front door opened, and she came out waving her walking stick shouting and calling me names you don’t expect a woman of her age using.

It made me laugh as I jogged backwards, waving my middle fingers at her. I guessed she knew what it meant. 

I tripped and fell backwards over an overfilled shopping bag by the bus stop. The owner was not happy. I turned and ran. He was bigger than me. My guess was correct, he wouldn’t leave his shopping spilt over the pavement. My exaggerated laughter rang as I ducked around the corner.

“Where the hell have you been?” shouted my father, hands-on-hips.

“I’ve been saying goodbye to my oldest friends,” I lied.

“We haven’t got time. I had to pack for you. So if anything is missing, tough. You’ve had weeks to prepare.”

We are going to fly to Bangkok. God knows why? He possibly does. My dad, Dr Jacob Smithson, has a new job. Not as a GP, he is something to do with chemicals. I never understood, he has told me, but I wasn’t listening. 

Oh, and we are going to rejoin my mum. She couldn’t cope with London, I got some of the blame for that too. She went back to Thailand. Now after two years apart, she hopes I’ve changed. I told her I had. I mean to. New home, new school, new me.

My dad tugged my ear, forcing me to release next door’s kitten that cat enjoys being held by the tail.

The taxi arrived on time, and we arrived at Heathrow with two hours to spare. I wandered off in search of something to do. Dad had his nose buried in The Telegraph.

Some bloke in a uniform marched me to the seat next to dad. 

“Keep your eye on him, please, sir.”

Dad looked up, and then quizzically at me. I shrugged.

Our plane was delayed by thirty minutes. “So what?”

The Thai customs and passport people all looked at me as if I was a wanted criminal. Mind you, so did the Brits. What is up with these people.  

“I hope your mum is here to meet us,” said dad.

There was no sign of her.

Another taxi, the traffic is worse here than in London; it was hotter too. Thank god the cab had air-con. Dad and I were tired, the endless rabbit in a foreign language was boring. When did dad learn to speak Thai? I wondered.

“Well, son, here we are.”

“What? It’s a bloody factory,” I said.

“Less of the swearing. It’s only temporary accommodation. We can start looking for somewhere this weekend.”

Our new, if only for a short while, home was two rooms, a tiny kitchen, and a shower jammed in next to an odd-looking toilet. Dad told me it was an old fashioned Thai squat effort. I didn’t want to use it, and old Mrs Ricketts couldn’t. At least there was something to laugh about.

Dad got himself connected to the phone system, there was no need for me, as I had no one to call. He spent ages on Line and e-mailing my mum. Eventually, she agreed to house hunt with us at the weekend, does that mean she’s moving in with us?

Dad took me to my new school yesterday. The kids were a mix, about half of them were Thai, at least they could all speak English. I start next week. I’m not sure what the homeroom teacher meant when he said, “I’ve spoken to your last headteacher, we don’t want the same behaviour here. Got it?”

Trouble seems to follow me across the world, but I’m determined to change.

My dad left me at home. “I’m going to meet your mum,” he said.

“Can’t I come?” I asked.

“It is better if I go alone. I’ve bought you an electric game, that’ll keep you busy this evening. Don’t forget we’re home hunting tomorrow. Tonight, I hope I can convince your mum to join us.”   

The game was boring, so I attempted hacking into dad’s laptop, I had little success. But was getting somewhere with it, I gave up and decided to go for a walk. Hot and sweaty outside and no kids playing. People were just sitting outside their doors, all looking at me as if I’m a space creature.

Dad had found three houses to view, all had three bedrooms and were much cheaper to rent than London. He said it depended more on where the places were and how difficult the trip to school and his work were. Traffic in Bangkok can be dreadful he said. What do I know?

And yes, mum was joining us at the first address.

We arrived early, dad had rented a car, so thankfully we didn’t need a taxi. The agent was already there; she gave dad a tinned coffee and me a coke; I liked her. After showing us around, she handed dad sets of keys and a piece of paper with addresses on it.

“I must get back to the office, sorry I can’t show the other two. Take your time and then pop back and let me know your choice.”

With that, she disappeared. Shame, it was nice following her up the stairs.

There was a knock at the door. It was mum.

She had put on some weight; I kept my mouth shut, maybe I am changing?

“You’ve grown,” she said.

“So have… yes, I guess I have.” At least I smiled at her.

Dad put his arm around her and tried leading her in. She shrugged him off. 

“Well, mum, what do you think?” 

She glared at me and snorted, “I’ve only just walked in.”

“Come and see the bedrooms,” said dad.

“What makes you think I’m sleeping here?”

My dad dropped his shoulders, “Look at the lovely kitchen then, they have a western one inside and a Thai kitchen outside,” he carried on bravely.

“Has he learned any manners?” she said, pointing at me.

“Eh, um, he…”

“I’ll take that as a no. So he’s as bad as before?” She still refused to look me in the eye.

“Please darling, I want us all to be together.” My dad was quaking. It was sickening to see.

She looked at the ceiling as dad dropped to his knees, begging.

I had seen enough. I took a few steps across the kitchen, opening a drawer, first try, and first time lucky. An eight-inch carving knife stuck to my hand.

It soon found its way across dad’s throat, mum hands to face, looked at me for the first and last time, as I slashed her windpipe.

I had the keys to a car, keys to three houses, not sure what to do with them yet, I’ll think of something. Now I must pop back to our little hovel and continue with hacking dad’s laptop to arrange some funds. Then I think I’ll travel south to the beaches.

I said I was going to change. I didn’t say for the better!

The END

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Is Everything Ready?

A free short story by Colin Devonshire

Is everything Ready?

“Everything was ready for the ritual. What have you done?” Mr Kirkwood asked.

“Sir, I don’t feel right about this,” Khun Daw answered.

“You may not, but I am the General Manager of this hotel, and if the owner’s wife wants a, eh, different party to celebrate, eh, her special day. Well, we do our best. Okay?”

“Sorry sir, not okay, I am Thai, and we don’t celebrate death like this.”

“The owner and his wife are Thai, I believe they know what they require. Rearrange the ritual or hand in your notice.”

“But, I’ve got a new baby and a mortgage.”

“Tough, what is more important? Reset the, eh, display, and make it better than before.”

Mr Kirkwood stamped out of the hotel’s Celebration Hall, ignoring his staff greetings as he stormed past them. Fighting to hold his bubbling temper and longing to discard his traditional Thai uniform jacket. 

“Against hotel policy!” he mouthed as he slumped behind his desk.

“One cappuccino, and make it snappy,” he called to his secretary.

Peering around and seeing no one, he poured himself a large Scotch under his desk, knocking it back in one swallow. 

“Also, against hotel policy,” he snorted, then grinned.

His coffee arrived, “How are the bookings looking for next month?”

His secretary, bowed her head, “Sorry, sir, not good.”

“Don’t give me ‘not good’, I want figures.”

“We only have the owner, his wife, and her friends staying after the party. There are no tourists because of the COVID situation. The Indian company cancelled their staff holiday. Sorry, sir. The F & B manager also requests a meeting.”

“What does he want?”

“His staff can’t manage on their salaries without tips.”

Kirkwood snorted, “Okay, I’ll see him later, not that there’s much I can do.”

In the Celebration Hall, Daw was scratching his head as he studied the layout plan. Snatching his phone, “Get up here, and bring three strong workers, we’ve got to redecorate the hall. Again.” 

The second call organised black paint from the warehouse and yards of black material from housekeeping.

His third call was to the nearby slaughterhouse.

“Yes, you heard it right. Ten gallons of fresh blood, and nine ox heads, nine pig heads, and buckets of offal. Yes, I mean it. All to be delivered tomorrow morning. Add the cost to your monthly bill.”

Hammering quick as machine-gun fire cloaked the psst, psst of the stapling. Battered planks of aged wood lay still long enough to be sawn. The hotel’s artists balanced on ladders as they splashed fluorescent designs onto black drapes.

Daw stood back, impressed with his team’s work if he was unhappy with the theme.

Mr Kirkwood arrived and nodded his approval. “That’s better, let’s hope she likes it.”

“Sir, I know it’s Halloween for the westerners, but why for Thais?”

“I’m just a manager, I do as ordered.”

“But it is unusual, for a Thai to celebrate death in a fun way.”

“That is not my problem.”

“Sir, do you mind if I call in monks, to, eh, say a prayer?” said Daw hopefully.

“What? Are you mad? It’s only a party.”

“I’ll do it at my expense. And on my own time.”

“But why?” asked Kirkwood.

“It is embarrassing.”

“What is it?”

“My wife has been suffering from depression since our daughter was born.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but what has it to do with this hotel?” Kirkwood asked.

“My wife blames my work for our child’s deformity.”

“That is crazy. How can it be the hotel’s fault? You mean because I make you work too many hours?”

“Yes, and no. My wife has always had an interest in, the rituals of magic. The magic certain elders perform.”

“You mean ‘black’ magic?” asked Mr Kirkwood.

“Maybe not what you think. In Thailand, most people believe in Buddhism but are tainted with magic. Believers can be educated, even university qualified, some are rich. Wealthy or poor, their souls crave. They crave prizes from the world of magic. There is good magic, chanting, and special oils are used. But there is also a place for evil. Black magic in Southeast Asia has a more nefarious intent and is often fuelled by all that glitters. A wild lust for power and control is the evil twin desire that drives people to the doors of a shaman. The measure of these men is his use of power. People don’t like to talk about the darker side of magic in this region; in fact, those who dabble in black magic guard their identities zealously. After all, these are people who often want harm and woe to befall others, so they hide in the shadows. There will always be people who want quick money without having to work for it. They believe strongly in mystical and spiritual powers, so they are drawn to black magic, ‘white magic’ practitioners work hard to dispel the maledictions brought on by the black magic masters.” 

“Wow, you certainly know your subject, and your command of English is better than I thought,” said an impressed boss.

“I should be good at both.”

Daw stared at Kirkwood’s puzzled eyes.

“We should not encourage this at a joke party,” he continued.

Kirkwood’s mobile rang before he responded.

“Yes sir, yes, sir, of course sir,” he stammered. Clicked off the call and replaced it in his pocket. “You will not like this. The owner has instructed me to collect pre-cooked and raw dishes from the kitchen. Plus, we’ve to display a collection of red wine bottles on the head table at exactly ten minutes before eleven pm.”

“That’s not so difficult.”

“Normally, you’re right. But on Halloween night only you and I are to work. The hotel must be empty, with no guests, no staff. Just us, and the party guests.”

“Okay, we have no guests and the staff will welcome a night off.”

The hall’s doors swung back, delivery men struggled with two bulky packages. Sweating, they placed them on the stage.

“What the hell are those?” asked Daw.

Kirkwood’s phone rang again.

“Yes sir,” he said.

“Daw, unwrap the chairs please, and set them next to each other.”

“A throne and its baby sister,” laughed Daw.

At nine o’clock on the 31st of October, all the staff packed their things and left, Mr Kirkwood and Khun Daw were presented with new uniforms for the party.

They had matching white dinner suits.

“What the hell is all this?” Kirkwood moaned, “I haven’t served wine since I was food and beverage manager.”

As instructed, Daw laid out the covered dishes on the tables.

“No cutlery? Should I get some?” asked Daw.

“We are to follow the orders to the letter, there is no mention of knives and forks, so no. Maybe it is just sandwiches?”

Kirkwood began opening and pouring the wine. Daw stood by the Hall’s grand doors and waited for the knock. He heard the buzz of chatter approaching.

He swung back the decorated wood and showed the guests to their tables.

The guests were all female; they wore dark purple full-length gowns. The women remained standing in silence, even when the men pulled back the chairs for them.

Daw returned to the front with his boss and lined up glasses at the edge of the table.

Chanting began, soon the women were bellowing out the wail. Some screeched, some cried. Then silence.

A woman entered from the back of the stage, dark purple robes flowed, a tall headpiece graced her tall stride.

“Gentlemen, if you look down, you will see loops of rope by your left feet. Put your foot in the ring. Thank you.”

A guest stepped forward and checked the rope was tightened.

The hubbub restarted increasing in volume the chanters remained standing. Instantly silent once more, another purple-clad woman entered.

“The owner’s wife,” whispered Kirkwood.

A woman dressed in white followed her out. She was carrying a tiny baby.

“My baby, my wife,” screamed Daw.

The ropes were tugged, tightening painfully, and snatched by a pulley above their heads. Slowly they were lifted by their ankles until they were swinging heads down above the serving table.

The owner’s wife, taking the role of black queen, offered a seat to Daw’s wife, who gratefully accepted and cuddled her daughter.

The girl screamed as she wriggled in her towelling.

It was only then that the men realised the ropes were the ones Thai boxers of old wrapped around their fists. Glass embedded rope.

The men tried to reach each other to free themselves, only causing irritating cuts to legs, hands and anywhere the rope touched.

As the ropes swung, the white suits darkened.

“The deformities to this beautiful girl were caused by them.” She pointed up.

Blood dripped. The guests wandered to the table and uncovered the food, trying to catch some red liquid in the cartons. One lady held her glass directly under Kirkwood’s foot, she gulped the contents of her goblet. Licking her lips and fingers, stood back, offering her place.

Kirkwood suffered a stroke and died, Khun Daw lasted an hour longer. The women kept eating and drinking.

The baby stopped crying. Her cleft healed.

The END

Enough! full story published at Wattpad, read HERE

You Bet! full story published at Wattpad, read HERE

Kid Kill new chapters daily at Wattpad, read HERE

I Said No!

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire. This time set in England.

I Said No!

“And no, you cannot go out tonight!”

“But why?”

“Because tonight is Halloween.”

“That’s why I want to go out.”

Young George, known as Bestie to his many mates, and his mum, Petra Best, had this argument annually. This year George, was a teenager. Today, 31 St of October, he had turned the grand old age of thirteen. Thirteen years ago a heavily pregnant Petra, was attending a ‘service’, deep into the woods. George decided the time was right to pop into the world. He was not due for another month.

The forest surrounded the small, and if you believe the tourists, a quaint village in Bucks. It had a long and dark history. Odd things occurred on All Hallows’ Eve, some planned, some not. Not every year, but too often not to create rumours amongst ‘non-believers’ in Petra’s faith.

“Mum, you do your thing, I want to have fun with my mates.”

“You know, today is important for me. I don’t want to worry about what you are getting up to.” She studied the ceiling for aid from above. “You are staying in your bedroom, reading or watching TikTok or whatever it is you are glued to. Okay? No arguments.”

Petra knew her only child too well.

George stamped up to his room, with the door firmly closed he called his mate on his mobile. 

“I’ll see you all later, outside the pub at nine as promised.”

He lobbed his Android to the unmade bundle of the quilt. Bouncing next to it, he grabbed his phone once more.

“They won’t serve us in the boozer, we’ll have to get something to drink in the off-licence earlier.”

He smiled and lay back, thinking and hoping for some fun with the boys and one very special girl.

Petra had spent hours getting ready, why it took so long, only Petra knew. She had long flowing cream robes, a face covering and hat, also cream, it all made her appear to be a Ku Klux Klan supporter. She wasn’t. Her group, far older than the American Civil War wore the outfit on special days. Halloween was one such date.

George flicked from rubbish on TicTok to some more visual junk on YouTube. He decided it was time. Opening his bedroom door he listened, she had not come back for something forgotten, or to check on him.

He raced back and opened the bottom drawer on his wardrobe. There, his pride and joy, a hideous zombie costume staring at him. He needed to raid his mum’s make-up to touch up around his eyes. His dripping blood looked real. He was happy.

He was the first to arrive at the ‘offie’, he bought a small bottle of vodka, and waited for the gang.

The lads all soon arrived. A pair of his dream girl’s female friends also turned up.

“Where is Sally?” he asked.

The girls looked sheepishly at each other.

“Come on then, is she coming?” George bleated.

“Eh, no,” said one.

“She can’t,” said the other.

“What do you mean?”

“Her mum told us, she had something else planned,” the female zombie said.

“She promised, she would partner me tonight,” said George, pleased his made-up face hid any dampness.

“You know us girls, we do things on the spur of the moment. Especially if mums order it,” said the witch.

“What do you mean? Her mum won’t let her out?” asked George.

“Oh, I think she is going with her mum.”

“Going where?”

“I don’t know. Come on, let’s start our fun.” The young zombie joined the other’s arms outstretched, taking a sneaky look at George as she turned.

The gang grabbed pails of blood, broomsticks and empty sweet containers, and marched off in the hunt of their first victim. Flicking fake blood at vehicles, shop windows, and anyone unlucky enough to be passing them.

George ducked into an alleyway, no one noticed.

“Where did she go?” he wondered. “What is she doing?”

He went to the playground and sat alone, swinging gently back and forth. “I’m not allowed out tonight, so I can’t ask mum if she knows. What shall I do?”

He was deep in thought. Dreamily he strolled away, not sure where to go, but walking was better than sitting. “Something may come to me.”

Rap music was blaring, he hated it. Tonight at least. He went in the opposite direction, away from the village’s shops and into the woods. He began puffing as the walk inclined.

“What’s that?” he asked himself.

He spotted a glow above the trees. He edged nearer. Without knowing why, he crept, frightened to crack a twig. The glow brightened, he could now hear something. 

“What?”

The noise became louder, a mumbled groan, it was unclear but the smell of wood-burning was masked by the fragrance of something he recognised. 

“What?” 

Perfume, of flowers, or pine needles mixed with citrus, confused George’s nose. It was like his mum’s scent.

The glow was a fire, he could hear crackling and pops. Not one fire, many more, as he edged nearer he saw a trestle, no it was a large table, surrounded by smaller fires. And people, all dressed like his mum.

“Who are they, what are they doing?”

It was impossible to see who they were, masks, facial coverings and tall peaked hats, like his mum’s covered their heads.

George got as close as he dare, he crouched behind a boulder with a tree overhang. He could now hear clearly. They were chanting, chanting in a funny language.

“Is that someone asleep up there?” He mumbled.

People all joined hands and circled the table. The chanting stopped, two people released their hold of each other’s hands and opened as if welcoming a new member. A small person flanked by two larger people were led through. The bigger pair lifted the small person to the table.

The headwear was thrown to one side as a sword was drawn and presented to the once more circled gathering.

“My God, that’s Sally.”

A raucous cheer joined the raised arms.

“Sister Petra, have you anything to say to your folk, your worshippers, the devout lovers?” screamed Sally. The sword was pointed at the motionless body below.

“Mum?” whispered George.

He stood and ran at the crowd.

“Let me through,” he screamed.

In a strong voice, Petra said, “You are now thirteen, as is my son. He will arrive soon. You can marry in our faith as it orders, and continue in love and belief for the future of our coven. I willingly pass aside the chiefdom to your leadership.”

George fought the locked hands and bigger, stronger people held him back.

“George, my son,” Petra called. “Fear not, you and your new bride will be great leaders. Goodbye, my son.”

The sword fell and pierced Petra’s heart. Cheers rang out.

George collapsed. 

He awoke, dressed in cream robes. As he came to, he discovered he was now a husband and a leader of an aged faith.

The END

Are You There?

FREE short story by Colin Devonshire

Are You There?

“Hey, where did you go?”

Sam banged his phone on the counter. He listened and stared at the Android.

“Hello, are you there?”

He looked around, hoping someone, anyone, could help.

“Now what?” He asked the ceiling.

The patrons of the upmarket coffee shop were unaware of Sam’s daily drama. He felt like throwing the cheap unit across the room. The people on the next table read his mind, they hid behind menus. A limp smile calmed them.

“Phone’s not working,” he said, shaking it wildly.

“Try turning it on,” said the school uniformed teenager on the next table to him.

The plaster above and the screen in front, blank, had no answers.

Sam gripped it tightly as if squeezing the life out of it, then pressed and tapped. The screen lit, Sam smiled at his neighbour, who grinned at her friend. The smile said, idiot.

“It’s working!” he squealed.

A man burst in, “I need a large Americano please.”

He looked around, wiping sweat from his brow. His jacket tightened as he loosened stressed shoulders.

“Hey, it’s you,” he said, glaring at Sam.

“Sorry, do I know you?”

“No, but I just saw your face.”

“Eh, yes, I’m sat here,” said Sam.

“I mean, I saw you on a telephone screen,” the man was panting.

“I don’t know what you are talking about?”

The man calmed, “Sorry, I should explain. A phone crashed to the pavement, just missing me. It fell from the sky, hitting electric wires on the way, then thumped into the man in front of me, bouncing off him, then crashing into me. I glimpsed the screen, it showed a picture of you. The same cap, the same shirt. It was you.”

“I was just talking to my girlfriend. Was it her phone?”

“I’ve no idea.”

“Where is the phone?”

“A road-sweeper collected the bits and binned it.”

Minutes before, high up, a heated conversation was taking place, thirty floors above the coffee shop.

“See ya, dad.”

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“Oh, I’ve got university work to research,” said Chinsao.

“I thought I heard you saying you were meeting that idiot ‘gweilo’ boy.”

“His name is Sam, and I can meet who I wish.”

Chinsao’s father grabbed her wrist. He dragged her across the spacious living room.

“Come with me,” he fumed, leading the way past the open-plan kitchen and four doors to the bedrooms to a little-used doorway tucked at the back of the property.

“Where are you taking me?” 

The door creaked.

“To the roof, I want you to be clear about something.”

He pushed her gently up the dusty steps to another firmly shut steel door, which complained at the opening.

“And what is up here, that is so vital for me to see?” said Chinsao, dusting her skirt of cobwebs.

“Yes, it is important darling, when I was your age, I didn’t have a comfy uni to attend. I didn’t have friends in designer gear, I had to craft, getting covered in filth and dust. You should be grateful for the life you have.”

“Mum wasn’t!”

“It was sad what happened to her. I’m sorry, she couldn’t cope.”

“Mum hated you and the life she endured.”

“It was business, I worked hard. No wife should complain about a husband like me,” he said, walking to the edge of the roof. Concrete blocks, steel pipes and wiring littered the space.

Chinsao looked around, fixing her eyes back at the doorway, judging if she should dash for it.

Her phone bleeped.

“Give me that,” her father said as he snatched it. “Him again, has he no work to do?”

Sam’s beaming face filled the screen as it flew over the edge of the building.

“Dad, that’s mine!” She spluttered as it disappeared.

“I’ve brought you here for a couple of reasons.”

“What if I’m not interested?”

“You damn well should be. You are the last in the family. You are heir to my wealth.”

He spread his arms, looking left, right, up and down.

“On every rooftop, you can see, and in every room below us you know, they have electronic elements made by my company, every satellite dish, every box of tricks that supply internet, each tv and radio, have parts supplied by me. And, my dear daughter we own property up and down the country, as well as this, magnificent tower block,” he pointed behind them. “We live in luxury, the whole top floor of this block, why could your mother not wait? We own the most desirable part of Bangkok.”

“Yeah, yeah, dad, well done,” she clapped in slow motion. “I’ve heard it all before.”

“Which brings me to the second part of my little speech. The part you haven’t heard before.”

She looked around again for an escape route, guessing what was coming.

“Next week, my great friend and business associate from Beijing is coming here, to visit you. He is bringing his son. A dazzling and independently wealthy business executive, to meet you.” 

Chinsao’s eyes looked at clouds.

“No way, dad. I’m not interested in anyone else.”

“You my, dear, will do as I order.”

The talk in the coffee shop buzzed about the dangers of living below sky-touching buildings. Sam checked the time, his watch and his phone, both told him, she was late.

Coffee drinker’s eyes were drawn to the window. Pedestrians ducked and dived sideways, forwards and backwards in fear as a heavy object bounced from telegraph pole to advertising board and on a tangled clump of wiring. Out of view from the windows but all too clear to the people outside, a body was spinning on its downward spiral to crash to the street.

People covered their eyes and turned in horror as sirens raced to the scene. The police quickly covered the mess. 

Sam, leaning on one person’s shoulders, as he peered between other customers’ heads, they could see a gathering of people stepping away from a spreading puddle of blood.

The back entrance of the coffee shop burst open.

“Hi, all,” said Chinsao, “Coffee is on me. Who wants another one?”

“What?” asked Sam.

“What are you talking about?”

 “My dad just left me this business, amongst other stuff.”

“That’s him, over there, behind the police screens. He jumped off the building.”

The END









You Call That Fun?

FREE short story – Colin Devonshire

You Call That Fun?

“You wanna do something fun?” 

“Yeah, I’m bored, what have you got in mind?”

The boy’s school was about to break up for the long annual holidays. 

“You two at the back, stop talking. If you’ve finished your exam, sit quietly until time is up.” Mr Jacobs said. Further disturbing the unfinished papers.

“Wanker,” mouthed Geoff.

His best friend, Mart, snorted. The snort shifted to full laughter as Geoff was pulled out of the exam room by his ear.

A bell sounded, pens were retired, except for one girl’s that kept scratching until grabbed by Mr Jacobs. 

“Time’s up. Please pass your papers forward. I will collect Geoff’s although I don’t expect there is much to see.”

The grinning students filed out, sweating or punching the air, depending on their expected mark.

Mart slapped his friend’s shoulder as he joined him outside the headteacher’s office.

“Bastard, I hate him and the rest of them. They think they are clever. Just because they have a well-paid job in a fancy school.” Geoff was fuming, his dad would not be happy.

“Cheer up mate, holiday next week.”

“Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach,” Geoff smiled. 

A glass window slid back. “You can go in now.”

“Good luck with your dad. I’ll see you later,” Mart said as he turned, leaving his friend to his fate.

“Hi, dad, me again.”

“Don’t dad me in this office. Here you call me sir. Especially if you have been sent again. What is it this time?”

“Mr Jacobs thought I said something to offend him. He misheard.”

“What about the exam?”

“I didn’t complete it, I was sitting outside,” Geoff said with a smirk.

“What am I going to do with you? You don’t know how lucky you are to attend a school like this.”

“What’s lucky about it. I miss my mates in England.”

The dressing down ended with Geoff having to run around the school grounds, filling a bin with every piece of litter seen or imagined. The older boys laughed as they threw sweet wrappers behind him.

An hour later, he returned to the head teacher’s accommodation, dripping sweat and tired.

“Could have been worse?” Mart said, sitting on the school statue outside.

“That is it. It is time for revenge. Are you with me?”

“What are you planning?”

“Not sure yet, but it starts with Jacobs! Tomorrow I’ll tell you the scheme.”

Geoff spent the night sleepless thinking and planning.

“Don’t shave this morning,” said Geoff.

“You’re ringing early. And, as you well know I don’t need to shave every day. Anyway, why?”

“We will need to look older than we are.”

“Sounds like fun. What are we doing?” Mart was itching to know.

“See you at school. Don’t forget, last day, we finish early. Have clothes to change into. Smart casual, not shorts.”

The final day passed without incident. Mart badgered his friend for details hourly.

“Wait ’til we get to mine. Have you got any money with you?”

The bell rang, all students rushed for the gates, except Geoff and Mart. They strolled across the sports field to Geoff’s room.

“Come with me,” said Geoff as they dropped their bags.

Geoff’s dad had meetings and hand shaking to occupy him in the staff room.

The boys entered the head’s office.

“Should we be here?”

“Of course not no, but all the staff are at the farewell party.” Geoff tapped at the desktop computer. “I’m guessing my dad uses the same password for everything.”

Private details of all staff were displayed. 

“Here we are, Mr Jacobs, what does it say about you, and where do you live?”

Newer members of staff were gifted rooms on site, they soon found their own accommodation away from school. Mr Jacobs lived nearer the city centre. Geoff jotted down information. He was surprised to see some teachers even listed their social sites.

The boys started back to Geoff’s. 

“Nip to the girl’s changing room, please. Check it is not locked.”

“When are you going to tell me your plans?” asked Mart.

“The camera on your phone is better than mine, yes?”

“You know iPhones are the best.”

“This will be fun,” proudly stated Geoff. “Come on, time to hit the city.”

The taxi dropped them in Silom Road after twenty minutes slog across Bangkok’s congestion. It was 5pm. Not dark yet. While most office workers were thinking about braving the traffic. Other working girls were arriving at their clubs and bars.

“Sit here, fancy a coffee?” asked Geoff.

“I’d rather have a Coke.”

“We are supposed to be wealthy business owners, not children. Two coffees please,” he signalled the serving girl.

His eyes studied the people walking past their kerbside table.

“Who are you waiting for?” asked Mart.

“We are looking for a pretty young lass, who needs to earn a few thousand Baht. Eyes open.”

“How about her?”

“Too old.”

“That one?”

“Too ugly.”

“This one?”

“That’s my girl. Talk to her in Thai, yours is better than mine. Offer her three thousand, to pose for pictures. Only photos, nothing more.”

The girl snorted and walked past. Eventually, a girl agreed, but only if her friend came too.

“Wow, we are going to school,” grinned the pretty mini-skirt.

“Yes, now duck down, don’t let security see you.”

The taxi drove to the sports field. The four passengers giggled as they entered the girls changing rooms.

Inside the girls changing area was a lost and found office. Geoff, rooted around until he found school blouses, ties and short uniform skirts. The boys were embarrassed as the girls happily changed in front.

“Get your camera ready,” ordered Geoff, as he covered part of each girl’s face with other bits of clothing, masking their eyes.

“Now, tell them to act like pupils from this school, shy, but flirty, you know what I mean.”

The camera flashed, the girls were worth Oscars. They were instructed to mouth sentences. They pocketed three-thousand Baht each, plus five-hundred tip and the fare home.

Geoff and Mart rushed to Geoff’s room.

“Hi, dad,” he called, waving as he passed him.

“Link up your phone to my lap top, while I show you a new app.”

They were ready for action.

“This app is brilliant, watch this. You type in words or sentences, then add the accent you need, male or female. We need a high-class London girl. Then just listen,” Geoff beamed at his mate as the app said. “Come on, darling Mr Jacobs.”

“Do it again, Mr Jacobs.”

“Now I know. It’s not true you just like boys!”

Mart stunned, and open-mouthed in awe as he linked the voices to the video he took.

“Now, Mr Film Director, we upload to dear Mr Jacobs social media sites. FaceBook may not be shocked, but LinkedIn will be.” He laughed until coughing stopped him.

“Er, I’m not sure we should go that far,” mumbled Mart.

“If you don’t like it, go. I’ll do it. Oh, but, don’t forget whose phone it is on!”

Mart grabbed his iPhone and stormed out.

Geoff concentrated on his task. Then, sitting back, congratulating himself, he beamed.

Within days, pupils, staff and parents were trying to put names to the well-spoken girls featured.

The head’s phone constantly rang with school fee cancellations. The governors wanted answers. A meeting was arranged. Mr Jacobs expected to answer questions.

Mr Jacobs did not show, he had been murdered by a jealous boyfriend.


The END

Deadly Head-Trip

Deadly Head-Trip

Chaem Choi looked at her body, it appeared she had been dipped in the sea. She squeezed her long hair, a small puddle formed on the tiled floor, like a puppy’s pee. Her bed was drenched, she dropped her quilt and pillows to slop quietly next to her drenched pyjamas. 

“What the?” she said, brushing dampness from her arms, she tenderly fingered the cuts and bruises on her wrists.

“That was some dream,” she muttered, as she tipped the mattress angled against the wall, then pushed the windows fully open, hoping the breeze and sun would dry it before bedtime.

“Christ, I’m bloody starving.” She hunted for her watch, it was gone. “I put it here every night, where is it?” 

She grabbed a towel, wrapped herself and went to the bathroom and hunted in her washing basket.

“Thank God!” she said as she found her phone in her short’s pocket. It was dry.

Tapping in a well-used number. 

“What happened last night?” she asked Khao, her friend since school days.

“I was going to ask you the same. Why haven’t you answered my calls?”

“I just woke up.”

“What? It’s 3 pm.”

“What happened last night? I can’t remember anything,” Chaem Choi said.

“At 9 pm we went to the restaurant under your condo, we shared a large beer, or two, talked about the people we work with, then you went home. You were tired. And that was it. Did you not go to work today?”

“No, I just woke up. Are you at work?”

“It’s my day off. You forgot?”

“Come round, I’m starving. See you downstairs?”

Khao parked her new car and spotted her friend, menu in hand. There was a group of people near her, talking animatedly.

“What is going on?” Khao asked, sitting and ruffling her newly cut, short hair.

“No idea, I’m annoyed they haven’t taken my order.”

She clapped her hands, “Excuse me, we’d like to eat.”

“Sorry, sorry, the server’s brother died last night,” the restaurant owner stammered, fighting back tears.

“That’s sad, what happened?” asked Khao.

“We don’t know. The police have taken his sister to the station. We’ll know when she gets back.”

“Do we know the man?” asked Chaem Choi.

“I’m sure you do. He was here last night, pestering, no, sorry, I shouldn’t say that. He came to ask his sister for money. Good-looking lad, everyone around here knows him.”

“Red football shirt?”

“Yes, that’s him.”

“He kept staring at me,” said Chaem Choi.

“He always had a girl on his arm. I wonder why he didn’t last night?” said the owner.

“He was trying it on with me.”

“What do you mean?” asked Khao.

“Last night, he was standing behind you, winking at me,” said Chaem Choi. Realising she remembered a small part of last night.

“Hey, you remember. What else?”

“I paid the bill,” she said laughing, “I showered, got in my PJs and slept. That is it.”

“Then you slept for at least fifteen hours?”

Their food was delivered as a police car dropped off the crying server.

The owner put her arms around her and led her to a seat near the girls.

“What did they say?” asked the owner.

“He drowned. How, he was a good swimmer, but died in one of the condo’s pools? In his full clothing, I don’t understand?”

Chaem Choi turned and asked, “What about the other girl?”

Three open mouths faced her, “What other girl?”

Chaem Choi, was as shocked as them, “Did I ask that?”

“Yes, what do you mean?” asked Khao.

“I don’t know, it is all a blur. A girl, wearing a hat and dressed in dark clothing, appeared in my mind. I feel I know her?”

Khao scratched her head, “Which pool was it? Most of the condos around here have pools. I want to see the place, it may jog your memory.”

The server pointed behind and told them the way. Khao and Chaem Choi wandered off.

“To go into these condos, you need id. How did you get in?” asked Khao.

“I don’t know, I’ve never been in any of these places.”

“Ah, here it is. No security guard and a filthy, unused pool. You came in here?”

“I can’t remember. Look, a boy is watching us. Up there,” pointed Chaem Choi.

Khao waved at him, “It is possible he saw something?”

“Come on, I want to go home,” Chaem Choi pulled her friend’s arm.

The boy ducked out of sight.

“Wait, I think he’s coming.”

Chaem Choi edged away nervously. 

“What is wrong with you, don’t you want to find out?” said Khao.

The boy’s curtains opened wide and an older woman started banging on the glass. Flapping her arms.

“She doesn’t seem happy?” said Khao.

“Let’s go, I don’t feel well.”

Two police cars screamed to a halt, front and back of the girls. Officers jumped out guns drawn. 

“We are arresting you for the murder of Khun Silla.”

The girls looked at each other, then at the police. “Who and why?” they both said.

“Both of you. Hands-on the car’s bonnet.”

The girls were separated, as a woman came rushing up.

“I phoned you. They scared the life out of my son.”

The woman was shaking with fury.

“We will need you and your son to come to the station, please,” said the officer,

An hour later, the police had the boy’s statement. An eyewitness report of a murder and attempted murder. They had proof. Skin was taken from under the nails of the accused.

Silla was a self-styled playboy, he could not afford his lifestyle. His sister fed him when hungry, but could not give him any cash, she had her problems. But when a pretty girl with a car, took his fancy it was too good to be true, until he started on her friend.

Khao wanted him dead. She didn’t want to be jailed for murder, so she got her friend drunk enough to witness her being threatened. During the scuffle, nails scratched skin and broke a watch strap, the boy ran down later and retrieved it, he also called an ambulance. Chaem Choi saved her pal by shoving Silla into the pool. He hit his head and drowned. Chaem Choi tried to save him, jumping in. Khao was happy for her to drown next to him. She left them both there. Somehow, Chem Choi made it home. And dreamt.

The END

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