A short story by Colin Devonshire
Art for Art’s Sake
“Dad, what are you doing?” Jilly asked.
“That’s it, I’ve had enough,” said her father.
“You have, what about the rest of us?”
“I took over this shop from my mum, we had a thriving business. Now, it’s gone, the world has gone mad. I can’t get enough sales to pay for the expenses. Enough.”
Jilly snatched the papers her dad had flung to the counter.
“The rent has gone up, so what?” she said.
“Everything has gone up, except sales.”
“Dad, let me run the business. You can retire.”
“You want me to tell you? Okay, look around, can you see a customer? Even someone browsing? No, it has been like this for days. There is now no need for your mum to come in and help me. We’ve had lockdowns, we were hardly a necessity shop, people don’t spend on their hobbies. So, sorry, but we are going out of business.”
Mr Jacobsen pulled his leg back as if to kick a stack of unused canvases leaning against a paper-filled cupboard. He had a change of mind, relaxing his leg, leaned back against the battered cupboard, head in hands.
“Dad, I want to keep the shop going.”
“It is not up to you.”
“What if I had an idea, that will bring in money?”
“Yeah right, as you’ve done for years,” he sneers sarcastically.
“Jamie can help me,” said Jilly.
“Your brother is even more useless than you are.”
“Dad, that’s not fair, I want to modernise the store.”
He grunted, “Really? What do you do all day? Play on your phone. Jamie plays games on his computer. A lot of good that will be.”
“I am not playing with my phone, I am producing art with it.”
“Art is with paintbrushes and canvas.”
“Dad, my idea is to run art courses. People love to create pictures with their phones and laptops. I can help them improve here or online, and then we can print off the work. We earn all round. We can still sell brushes and paint like before, Jamie can mind the till. I will do all the work.”
The quick coughing fit ended with a fake smile, “I said no.”
“Dad, look at this,” she pulled up YouTube.
“See what he’s doing? He has a photograph on the app, see?” her father looked away. She nudged him, “Then he cuts half of it away with a wavy line. Now watch…” Jilly looked at her uninterested father. “Then, using the app, he recreates the portrait exactly as before! Brilliant, isn’t it?”
“No. What is the point?”
“Oh, dad people love this kind of hobby.”
Mr Jacobsen snorted, “That is not art.”
Jilly walked out. The glass in the front door almost came out of its frame.
“Mum, what has got into dad, he wants to shut up shop,” said Jilly.
“Yes, dear, he’s been thinking about it for a while.”
“I want to take over.”
“I don’t think your father will go for that.”
Jilly went up to her room. Google was busy looking for poisons in paint tubes. After gaining the information she needed, she returned to the kitchen.
“Mum, how long is dad planning on keeping the shop?”
“The sales agent is meeting with him later this month, but I don’t suppose it will sell quickly, do you?”
“I don’t know. Please talk to him for me, I can make a success of it.”
“Your dad never listens to me. Especially if it’s about business and if he’s decided.”
Jilly’s brain was pulsating, she felt it would leak grey matter from her ears. She marched back to her room. Flicking on her computer, she searched for information on ‘electronic art courses’. Jilly already accomplished the skill but needed to learn how to monetise her idea. She then went back to a page on Wikipedia where she reread about dangers in the art room.
“What do you want for your tea?” mother called.
“No time mum, I’m off to my pottery class. Bye.”
Nodding to the other students, she went straight to the kiln.
“Beautiful work, Jilly,” the teacher said as he admired the mug. “Are you a fan of Matisse’s work?”
“The Blue Nude is my favourite, so I copied it onto this as a present for my dad.”
“It’s wonderful how you got the shade of blue in the ceramic. It works brilliantly on a coffee mug.”
“Yes, I hope he likes it?”
At 9 am the following morning, Mr Jacobsen turned the closed sign to open. Jilly marched in.
“Here you are, dad, a special gift for you. And not made by a computer.”
“Wow, Jilly, it’s beautiful.”
“Give it here, I’ve also bought some coffee, I’ll make us a cup.”
Jilly went to the backroom which doubles as a kitchenette. Filled the coffeemaker with her purchase, and waited for the correct temperature, then poured two cups. She pulled out a small sachet of powder from her pocket. The Blue Nude cup had a little extra sprinkled in.
Jilly and her father talked about their favourite works of art, and how and why Matisse painted as he had. It was as if the years had turned back to when Jilly showed eager abilities as a nine-year-old artist.
“I thought you were going to make something of your life. That was before you got hooked on your damn ‘apps’ or whatever you call them. Jilly didn’t respond, she carried on dusting the shelves.
“Is there any more coffee in the pot? It tastes better in an arty mug,” he smiled.
“Designed by a digital app,” she whispered.
The next morning Jilly travelled to the shop with her dad.
“I’ll continue with the clean-up today,” she said.
“I’m not feeling all that well this morning. Is it okay if I sneak off and leave you on your own?”
“Sure dad,” she smiled, “I know where everything is. Do you want a coffee before you go?”
Alone, Jilly took her time, looking through every drawer, cupboard and hide-hole. Anywhere her dad may have tucked something of interest. She didn’t know what she was looking for.
“Ah-ha, what is this?”
She dusted off a carton filled with rusting jars of oil paints.
“Jesus, they made this in 1922, maybe a collector would buy it?”
Tracking down a dealer of antique art, she sent him a photo of her find.
“Whatever you do, don’t open the jars. They are brilliant oils and glorious shades, but it contains arsenic. We wouldn’t dare sell it. The best you can do is to destroy it. Carefully.”
“Thank you,” she said to him.
“Idiot, you can’t destroy arsenic, it says so on Google,” she said to herself. “Also, I haven’t got an osmosis machine, whatever that is?” she laughed.
Yesterday’s powder had worked. She only had enough for one dose. Dad was feeling sick. But she needed a novel idea to progress her plan.
“That can wait, I need to get my digital course up and running,” she said to herself.
“YouTube? Facebook? Instagram? All three?”
She was making her favourite social sites busy on her laptop. Her phone was being used differently, this time in advertising.
“Mags, I’m taking over my dad’s shop. I will run eArt sales and learning. Interested?”
“Great idea? How much?”
“To you, free, you will be my guinea pig. What do you say?”
The following day Jilly’s dad was still weak but improving.
“I may pop in later and help you cash up,” her dad offered.
“Cash up, you are dreaming. There was not a soul in the shop yesterday or today.”
Mags spent two hours with Jilly.
“Look what I’ve done,” Mags beamed.
“Hey Mags, I’ll make an artist of you yet. Now, do me a favour and spread the word. Let all your contacts know I’ll teach pupils here, or we can go online.”
“Can I print this picture out and show my Mum?”
“Sure, that’s the idea, maybe she can have a try?”
Jilly’s father entered the shop leaning against the door frame as support.
“Oh hello, Mr Jacobsen. Are you feeling better?”
“Hello Mags, are you buying paints?”
“No, my new skill is on the phone, look.”
“Skill maybe, but not art, try with a paintbrush,” he said.
Mags nodded a farewell.
“Dad, why are you being so cruel, she was proud of that,” said Jilly.
“She was in here wasting your time and her own.”
“Fancy a coffee? I’ve got some cookies too.”
“Sure, thanks, my stomach feels better now.”
There was a tap at Jilly’s bedroom door.
“Can you open up this morning, Jilly, something took your dad bad during the night. He is poorly, I’m worried.”
“Probably nothing mum, like yesterday? Maybe he rushed with coming back to the shop?” she sniggered behind her hands. Jilly rushed into the shop and opened her emails.
She cheered and ran around the store. Then got down to set times for the classes.
Jilly flicked open her phone, “Jamie, can you come to the shop? I need your help and bring your fancy camera with a microphone?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’ll tell you when you get here.”
Jilly started rearranging the shop. She printed several of her artworks and stuck them on the wall. ‘Borrowing’ some of her father’s elaborate frames. A jam jar full of paintbrushes tipped on its side and a collection of paint tubes scattered on the desktop.
Her brother strolled in, “What is all this? Dad will have a fit.”
“How is he?”
“Dunno, still in bed, I think.”
“Right, I want to make an advert for my eArt course. The brushes and paints signify out with the old and in with the new, i.e. my eArt lessons. I’ll mention that I can turn their works into coffee mugs, like the one I made for dad. Like it?”
“And you’re going to sit there and demonstrate?” he pointed to the stool.
“That’s right. Can you do it?”
“Sure, I’ll film you talking, and splice in the shots of the art on your phone later.”
“Where will you stand? Because I need to clip my script to the tripod next to the camera.”
“Okay, are you ready?” Jamie asked, “Watch my fingers, when I signal three, start talking. Oh, wait, my phone’s ringing.”
“Leave it, I’m all keyed up,” said Jilly.
“It is mum, I’d better answer.”
Jamie turned away, “What? I’ll be right there.”
“Finish the filming first, I want to post it on Facebook.”
“No, dad is seriously ill, mum wants me to take him to hospital.”
“I want you to finish this now,” Jilly glared at her brother.
“Dad is sick!”
He shoved his phone into his shirt pocket and rushed for the door.
She swept the jam jar and all the brushes to the floor, the coffee mug was hurled to the back wall. She began ripping her prints into tiny strips. The tripod kicked into the air, and papers flittered. Next, to smash her brother’s camera and mic.
Sitting down, she felt better. First, a smirk appeared which spread, and then turned to a grin. Finally, the full force of her laugh as she roared, head held back.
Seconds later, the door flung back, “Madam, we are here to arrest you for the murder of your father. If you wish to say…” the sentence trailed to nothing.
Jilly was laughing too hard to listen.
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FREE short story by Colin Devonshire
“Thank you, most entertaining. That was the most tasteless meal I’ve ever had the misfortune to not eat. I was going to say eat, but I hate to lie. I couldn’t swallow a mouthful,” Chantana said as she pointed her spoon at a gooey mess of chicken curry.
“Brilliant, that’s what I wanted to hear,” Dennis said and, smiled.
“What? You take me out for a meal, and wanted me to hate it? Thanks very much.”
“No, no, you don’t understand. I will take you for a glorious dinner soon.”
“Look, let’s get one thing straight, I am a food critic. I am not here on a date.”
Chantana swept her thick, glossy hair away from her face. She loosened the front of her taut blouse away from Dennis’ eyes.
“Yes, I know, and I understand. As much as I’d love to take you on a romantic whirl around London one day, I need your food thoughts.”
“Let’s say, this restaurant will not be getting any praise from my magazine,” Chantana said. “What are you up to?” she continued.
“We both know, I love Thai food.”
“I want this restaurant. And I will get it,” Dennis smiled as wide as the Chao Phraya River.
“Why on earth do you want this place? It is a dump.”
“And what does that mean?”
Dennis smiled, “It means, I will take over this place for a great deal less than you think.”
“I’m not with you?” Chantana said.
“Why do you think this restaurant has such a poor showing on social media?”
“Because it’s bloody rubbish?”
“Yes, but if no one comes here they don’t rate it, one or more stars.”
“What are you on about?”
“I come here, and give it a one-star rating, over and over again. You see?”
“No, I don’t see.”
Chantana was shaking her head. “You can only leave one rating per email address.”
“Yes, that’s why I have many addresses.”
“So, you deliberately get it a bad name?”
“That’s right. The price drops, and I pick up a killing,” Dennis was proud of himself.
Chantana, stood, “Thanks for the meal. You will see my article in the next issue. Goodbye.”
She left five pounds as a tip. Dennis gawped, when she had turned her back he pocketed the note and switched it for a coin.
“Can I have the bill please,” Dennis called to the kitchen.
“Yes, sir, tonight we’ll give you a ten per cent discount. Okay?”
“No need, but thanks.”
“Can you wait a moment, my boss needs to talk to you?” Mimi, the young waitress, ducked her head and opened the dividing door.
“Sure.” ‘Now the price drops, even lower.’ He thought to himself.
An elderly Thai lady shuffles in.
“Thank you for waiting. The real owner, my husband, is ill and cannot talk to you. He is the chef and sadly cannot cook any longer. My granddaughter, who you’ve met, has been left to run the place. And, well, we are going out of business. We will need to sell. Please find a buyer for us, at a fair price.”
“I will indeed. What makes you think, I may know someone?”
“You are here often, I hoped you like our little restaurant, and would find us an interested person?”
“I see. Out of interest, what price did you have in mind?”
“We have a long lease, which is valuable, and all the equipment here,” she waved her arms at the furniture. “And a fully operational state-of-the-art kitchen. Oh, and our top-secret recipes.”
“Your star rating is poor, there is probably not much interest. Would I be right?”
“The rating is upsetting, and it is strange. You are our only patron. So, I’m not sure who would write them?”
“Okay, I’d better fly. I’ll see what I can do for you. Bye.” Dennis rushed out.
Dennis decided not to rush his bid. “Let her sweat.”
He called into his local wine bar. “Now, let me think,” said Dennis to himself. “I will expect a rent reduction from the property owner. And he must start the lease length from scratch. Ten years, or more? Fair enough. The restaurant equipment is okay, everything is in place. But, secondhand, it’s not worth much. I guess they haven’t got time to sell it all separately. Good name? That’s a joke, after the reviews I posted?” Dennis chuckled.
The bar owner smiled and raised his glass of red, “How’s it going, Dennis?”
“Great thanks. It’s about time you offered a few Thai dishes with your Singha Beer?”
“I’ll be taking over a Thai restaurant, and can give you a great deal on spicy snacks.”
“Yeah, not the one I read about?”
“Big secret, until the ink is dry,” laughed Dennis.
“I may have a buyer for you,” said Dennis into his phone.
“Oh wonderful, when can I meet them?”
“I’m acting as an agent for a wonderful Thai couple. Can I come around today?”
The time was set.
Dennis had time to pick up his magazine on the way.
“I see there is a feature on Thai food in here. I’ll read that later. Perfect timing.” He laughed.
“Oh, I didn’t expect to see you here, Chantana?”
“I thought there may be something newsworthy to write about. You don’t mind do you?”
“No, not at all. All publicity is good publicity, is it not?” said Dennis with a smirk.
Mimi came in carrying a huge steamer of rice. The old lady followed with a tray and three plates of curry.
“I didn’t expect food,” said Dennis, turning his nose up.
“There are three dishes of our secret recipe. One very spicy, for Chantana, one medium for me, and one, not so hot for you.”
“Who said, I can’t eat spicy? Give me the hot one.”
“Okay, up to you. There is a bottle of water,” she said, winking at Chantana.
The food reporter smiled and started on the food.
“This is lovely, auntie,” she said.
“Auntie?” asked Dennis.
“A show of respect from Thai to Thai. Try your food, it is not like the slops the other night.”
“No,” mumbled Dennis. “It’s not, is it? But, not too spicy for me.” He woofed the whole plate. Gulped some water.
The ladies smiled at each other.
“You know your friend too well,” said Auntie.
“He has to show off, offer a challenge, he’ll accept it.”
Sweat was bursting into droplets on Dennis’ face, and he loosened his collar. “I need more water.”
Chantana signalled to Mimi. “A clean, fresh bottle for our guest, please.”
“What do you mean. She’s not your staff to order about,” croaked the guest.
“She is now,” all three laughed.
“I see you have your magazine, don’t you want to read it?” Chantana pointed.
Dennis damping the art paper, as he flicked to, ‘New Owner at Thai Restaurant. Our acclaimed reporter has taken the lease of the town’s exciting establishment. After some wicked and untrue reviews. It is back to its best. Do try the secret recipe curry. You’ll die for it.’
Dennis’ head hit the tabletop.
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Free short story – Back to Thailand. By Colin Devonshire.
“I remember! You said, you, you, you promised, that we could go somewhere.”
“You promised!” screeched Yaya. “I remember,” her voice quietened to a whisper.
She kicked at the seated boyfriend.
It was early Monday evening. Yaya had studied Business English all day, she was tired. Students were expected to perform non-stop at the most famous and prestigious university in all of Thailand. Parents are proud of their offspring for passing their way through to a learning place all Bangkok admired. Yaya’s were no different.
‘Why?’ she wondered as she strolled the short trip to her boyfriend’s hotel. “Why is it so difficult to learn here? Because my dad wants me to be a lawyer. While, I want to see the world. At least somewhere other than this city,” she mumbled to herself.
Waving at the reception lady, she marched to the lifts.
Seventeenth floor, room eighteen, 1718.
“A good number for tomorrow’s lottery?” she wondered, as she swiped her credit card-sized bit of plastic across the lock.
“Oh, you’re early,” said Church. He covered his little book and slipped it into his pocket.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“What do you mean ‘nothing’, why hide it from me?”
“I was checking my visa status.”
“I don’t want it to run out.”
“Okay, but why hide it? What are you up to?”
“Come on, I fancy a beer, let’s go to the bar?”
“I haven’t even showered. But, I could pop out and buy my lottery numbers, while you order?”
“Yeah, great idea. Let’s go.”
The bar was empty. The barman smiled, “Usual, sir?”
“Yeah, a cold one for me and a Coke for Yaya.”
She waved as she nipped to the newsagent. There, she bought sets of one seven, one eight, and every combination she could think of. Returning with her little packet of numbers, she grinned as she waved them at the barman,
“I’ll buy you a drink when one of these wins tomorrow,” she said to the barman.
“That was quick,” said Church.
“Yes, I knew what numbers will win, so I got them all.”
“I don’t know why you waste your money on that.”
“If I win, I can quit school and travel like you.”
“It’s not all it is cracked up to be.”
“Because it’s not a special thrill for you. You don’t have to take time off work, you don’t count the days before the plane whisks to somewhere exciting. Your dad pays for everything. If you had to save up, you may enjoy things more. It is all too easy for you.”
“Yeah, whatever you say.”
“When are we going to go somewhere?” asked Yaya.
“You haven’t even got a passport.”
“What if I got one?”
“No, but if I did?”
“I would take you wherever you wanted to go,” said Church, with a smile.
“Yes, where would you like to go?”
“I don’t know. What about England?”
“Too cold. Too boring.”
“It may be boring for you. What about America then?”
“Depends, it is a big place you know.”
“I’d love to visit Hollywood. How about there?”
“Get your travel documents, then we’ll think about it.”
“Okay, how about now, as I haven’t got a passport, why don’t we travel around Thailand?”
“Nah, you wouldn’t like it.”
“What? What do you mean? I love Thailand, it’s just that I haven’t seen too much of it. I’ve only seen Bangkok.”
“Well, how do you know you’ll like it?”
“It is warm, great food and fantastic beaches. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.”
“Yeah, but let’s wait.”
Yaya was puzzled, ‘Why would he not take me anywhere? A bus, car, taxi, train, or a plane, easy? Yes.’
“Why wait? I got my term break soon. Why can’t we go somewhere in Thailand?”
“You think about the seaside, I need the loo.”
Church didn’t go to the bar’s gents, he went to the lift.
“Now, where is he going?” she asked herself. “Back in a minute,” she said to the barman, leaving their drinks.
Church opened the bedroom door as Yaya watched from the lift. Creeping behind, she silently opened the door. The bathroom was open, with no sound inside. Any noise came from the bedroom, a scuffling.
“What are you doing?” asked Yaya. Church was trying to shove his half-packed suitcase out of sight.
“Er, I was eh…”
“Why is your bag packed?”
“It is not.”
“Really?” She grabbed the handle. “Swimwear, t-shirts, shorts. Are you going to the beach?”
“I’ve got to pop off for a day or two, that’s all.”
“And you would not tell me?”
A thought flashed across her mind. ‘He has left his phone in the bar.’ She flew back downstairs. Leaving Church slumped on the bed.
As a couple, they never checked each other’s private messages. Yaya, however, had looked over his shoulder at his password some time ago.
“Now what was it?” she asked herself, tapping a few numbers and letters.
“Ah-ha, here it is, I’m in.”
She slammed the phone onto the table. She stormed back upstairs to the room.
“So, you are having a holiday on Pattaya’s famous beaches?”
“No, it’s…” he stammered.
“With Miss Sexy wet t-shirt. The beautiful winner of last month’s competition?”
“Argh. How do you know?” He scrabbled around for his phone.
“It is in the bar, where you left it.”
“Yes, oh. You promised to take me somewhere. I remember every word you utter.”
“Please, don’t lose your temper with me. I’m a normal bloke.”
“And I’m your average girl. Is that what you’re saying?”
“No, you are way above average.”
“Yes, really. Come here, sit on my knee.”
Yaya smiled she relaxed. Loosened the clips holding her hair up. Shook it all free. She slinked across the room.
Church grinned and looked up at her.
The first hair grip stabbed deep into his eyeball. The second gouged at the other eye. Jelly oozed between her fingers and down his cheeks.
“One, two, three…” she counted seventeen stabs in one eye, then eighteen in the other. The empty sockets stared vacantly. She swept her fingers clean and checked her lucky numbers once more.
Kicked his legs again for luck, and returned to her Coke downstairs.
“Put the bill on Church’s room, thank you.”
Jam dai means to remember in Thai.
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Let us know what you think. Some of the tales are not for children.
For a change, not horror, but, a surprise at the end.
“Grow up, can’t you?” Sammie asked her brother for the tenth time that morning.
“I enjoy playing, what’s wrong with that?” Phet answered.
Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated from April 13th to 15th. Songkran is the Sanskrit word meaning, passing or approaching. Buddha images were passing and approaching. A parade of trucks laden with huge statues, all shielded by local beauty queens drove along the road. All that bored Phet, he loved the fun bit. The water festival, where everyone got drenched.
He went to fetch the hotel’s hose. Today was ‘Songkran Day’, the annual Thai celebration. Phet was happy, the country’s most fun-filled water festival had begun. The celebration kicked off, to Phet’s mind, dour and boring. Family members washed their elders’ feet and wished them ‘all the best,’ for the coming year. But today was the day, that Phet lived for. You could splash anyone you liked. Buckets of water were hurled at passers-by, policemen, teachers, or anyone you saw.
It was a national holiday. It stretched to seven days in some provinces, allowing workers to travel home. Some unfortunate people still had to work. These people were great targets. As businessmen, especially foreign ones had to wear their suits to the office. They had their phones and wallets wrapped in plastic bags for safety. They would try to get to work before all the fun began. Lunchtime was a problem. The office workers were not brave enough to risk the revellers. They ordered food from ‘Grab’ or similar delivery guys, who had to change their uniforms three or four times a day. The food was always carefully wrapped and arrived unharmed. At going home time? Well, they all got soaked, at least, they were on their way to enjoy the fun and a well-earned beer.
Police were on duty in case the revelry got too much, they always knew what to expect. And they often joined in with the fun. Their radios and other valuables are stashed behind a plastic coat.
Yet, there was always one group that did not join in. These were tourists who had never heard of Songkran, these folk had no clue what was coming their way. Uncovered cameras, passports and wallets were all fair game.
Phet loved the newbie tourists the best. Clueless, they did not know what was coming. They were his prime targets. He left the water hose to refill the fish pond, as he armed himself with a high-powered water rifle. The gun fired high in the air, showering passersby, thumbs raised all around.
Phet and Sammie were guarding the entrance to their family’s hotel. From the steps, they had a great view up and down the road. Today was clear of the most traffic. What few cars there were had to crawl past dancing and frolicking folk. Riding a motorcycle was at your own risk as a gallon of ice-cold water would have you bouncing on the tarmac. Cycling? You need the balance of a gymnast and the strength of Popeye.
“I hope this one stops,” Phet pointed, as he saw a yellow and purple taxi rounding the distant corner.
“Yes,” he shouted, as the cab pulled up.
The driver, too smart to leave his vehicle, leaned back to gather his fare.
“My bags?” said the passenger.
The boot lifted as the driver released the catch.
The puzzled tourist, humped his cases and pissed off, slammed the lid. Children rushed and layered white goo across the taxi’s windscreen. The taxi now matched at least half of the people with small buckets of watered and scented powder.
“Bloody kids,” mouthed the tourist. The kids unsure how to approach the grumpy man, decided to flick him from behind. The beer-drinking men in the next-door bar cheered and saluted the children with bottles raised.
“What is wrong with these people?” said Mr Tourist. “Bloody idiots, the lot of them.”
Phet pumped his weapon and sprayed him. Long and hard. The jet had the man ducking.
“Crack shot!” screamed Phet.
The man spluttered, as he received a mouth full of dirty water.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” screamed the man.
Phet continued firing. His sister tutted.
“Phet, he’s a guest, leave him alone.”
The man let go of his baggage, dropping to the footpath. Glaring at Phet, he kicked his large case and, for good measure, the smaller one, then he dropped his shoulder bag on the big one.
“Do you work here?” the man asked as Phet was crisscrossing wet bullets all over the man’s jacket. “You bloody idiot, my passport, wallet and mobile phone are in these pockets. “Bloody fool.”
Phet was laughing and dancing as he had when he saw his first clown. His sister didn’t share the joke, she signalled the busboy to lug the cases inside. She placed her arm across the man’s shoulder, guiding him away from her brother, showing him the way indoors.
Many staff were given extra time off to visit their folks in the provinces. Leaving a skeleton crew, including a new boy, halfway through his first month’s training.
The lad ducked and zigzagged his way to the bags. Passersby couldn’t resist the chance to soak a young lad in a dry uniform. The guest stormed ahead, as Phet fired water from his head to his feet. The man turned ready to grab and swear at his assailant. He issued another mouth full of wet obscenities. Phet stepped forward, he dropped his weapon and grabbed a bucket full of water and feigned a sprint. The guest decided enough was enough and ducked behind the door in the dry reception.
Phet stood in front of the cases and pointed at them then to the pond.
“No, I daren’t,” the new boy said. He gaped and begged with his eyes, as white goo was fired into the air.
“My family own this hotel. Do it!” ordered Phet.
“Do you want the sack?” asked Phet.
Starting with the biggest, the luggage all sank to the bottom of the pond.
Sammie, stood, arms on hips, “Buddha above! Phet, you are eighty-two years old, don’t you think it is time to grow up.”
Short story by Colin Devonshire
What A Day For A…
“We’ve had a miserable spring, but today is the first day of summer, and the sun is shining,” said Bradley.
“So?” asked Rob.
“Yeah, so what?” asked Tina, Rob’s little sister.
“I thought it would be great to enjoy a picnic. If your mum will knock up a few sandwiches?” Bradley looked across at his new wife.
“Yeah, right, I’ve got nothing else to do,” she answered sarcastically.
“Come on, pet. It has rained every weekend since we got married. This is our chance to get some fresh air.”
“Robbie, Tina, what do you think?” Trish, their mum asked.
“Do we have to?” they whined.
“Okay, up to you lot, I’m going on my own. And I’ll make my food.”
The children and their mum sniggered. They all went their separate ways, Rob and Tina went to their bedrooms. Trish tidied the kitchen, Bradley snatched The Express and skimmed the news.
“Lunch,” shouted Trish. Rob and Tina arrived phones glued to their noses.
“We were told it is now summer, so you all got a salad.”
“It could have been Wagyu steak or dog food, for all their care,” said Bradley.
His comment was unanswered.
“Look, it’s lovely out. I’m making sandwiches, last chance, who’s coming?”
The children ran up to their rooms. Bradley looked hopefully at their mum.
“I may come later with a flask of coffee, okay?” said Trish.
Bradley made an extra round of sandwiches in case. He grabbed a couple of chocolate buns and wrapped them in clingfilm.
He showered and changed into shorts and a fresh t-shirt. Tightened his trainers and called an unenthusiastic, “Cheerio.”
Bradley and Trish had known each other since school, growing up in the same village, and sharing the same friends. It was no surprise that they wed. But, fifteen years later than their mates expected.
Trish and her children moved across the village to Bradley’s home. He loved his house, positioned near a cricket ground and ‘the woods’.
“When do ‘woods’ become a forest?” He meant to find out, never did. It was big enough for him.
He ploughed deeper, past the craters left by German bombs in WWII. He ducked away from the footpath, deeper and deeper to his favourite spot. Trish would find him, they had been there together, many times over the years.
His spot was a circle of grass surrounded by oak trees. Most trekkers missed the most beautiful patch, thanks to the oak covering.
He flattened the square of cloth. Positioned his bag of goodies and pulled out today’s crossword puzzle.
“Seven across starts with a ’T’ ‘floating iron, sunk.’ Got to be Titanic.” Bradley was pleased with himself.
“Stinging pest, fourth letter, ‘Q’, no idea?”
He swatted at a buzz in his ear before reaching for a sandwich.
The WIZZ and the SWIZZ got louder, more flying insects were drawn to the honey-pork snack. He slapped his cheek. Again and again, he swatted his face, puffy welts burst against lips and nose.
“Christ, look at them. Little monsters, Jeez, that stings.”
The crossword in his paper was forgotten, his newspaper, now a weapon. He thrashed and battered, killing scores of his enemy. Mosquito, the answer to the clue he was stuck on, came to him as a needle pricked his ear lobe.
Throwing his sandwich as far as he could, his action did little to halt the attack. Red boils were appearing on any uncovered skin. Itchy lumps grew and multiplied. He hoisted his shirt over his head.
“Better to save my eyes than the skin on my back,” he mumbled aloud. A mouth was full of wings his prize. He was spitting lacy bomblets as his lips swelled. Breathing was harder. His bloated nostrils filled with pus. He fell to the grass, curling into a ball, leaving his back and lower legs unprotected. Ceaseless was the attack. Robin Hood’s arrows and Zulu spears couldn’t feel worse.
“Bradley, Bradley, whatever is the matter?” Trish gasped.
Her husband was rolling, slapping the earth.
She crouched and hugged him to her, slapped his cheeks and shook him until the colour returned to his eyes.
“What is wrong?”
His focus returned, his quaking lessened. He felt his face, looked at his fingers, expecting blood to be dripping. No blood, no lumps, bumps, or scars. Only scratches left some skin under his nails.
“Did you see them?” he asked.
“What? There is nothing here, your plastic bag and a blanket. Oh, and there is your crumpled paper. You shouldn’t leave your waste here you know?”
“What are you talking about, I was attacked by millions of flying insects.”
“Honey, relax and calm down. You must have dropped off.”
“No way, I felt every jab,” said Bradley.
“How come there’s no mark?”
“Uh, I don’t know, Jeez, that was scary.”
“What did you have in your sandwiches?” she laughed.
“Over here, look.” He bent and lifted a slice of ham from the ground.
“A few flies attracted to the honey, that’s all.”
“It is not a few flies, there are hundreds if not thousands of mosquitoes covering my filler.”
“So what? It is summer.”
Bradley stopped talking, still, he looked over her shoulder.
“Now what?” she asked.
He pointed and turned to look between trees.
“There. See him? A man covered in flies.”
“It is a rotting tree trunk.”
Bradley bounded through the gap to confront the black mass. His head collided with a rotten branch, he collapsed to the weeds.
Trish ran to him, rested his bruised head in her lap.
She fingered her mobile, considering calling for help, as he stirred.
“Come on darling, we had better go home and put you to bed.”
“But, but, I saw him,” breathed Bradley.
“Yes, dear, you’ll be better after a good night’s sleep.”
She grabbed the blanket, shook off a few dead insects, then arm in arm they wandered home.
The house was quiet; the children were in their bedrooms, all normal. Bradley checked each room, opening doors, peering in and moving on. Finally, Trish got him settled, she tucked him in. Gave a peck on his forehead.
“I’ll watch a bit of television, see you later. Have a good sleep.”
A buzzing woke him. In the corner was a black shape, an arm raised, and a finger pointed at Bradley’s face.
“Leave my wife and children alone. My little friends will come back, only for real, next time.”
Another short story by Colin Devonshire
Einstein The Genius
“I’m gonna call you Einstein,” said Adam.
“What’s an stein?” Henry asked.
“What are you on about?”
“We are mates, yes?”
“Of course we are,” said Henry.
“Well, mate you are not like a razor.”
“Why are you talking in riddles?”
“A razor is sharp, yes? And you are not,” Adam answered.
“Because I failed maths?”
“Yes, and no, you are the stupidest person I’ve ever met.”
“That’s not nice, I’m never rude to you,” said Henry.
“No, I’m sorry. I’ve had a few bad days, that’s all.”
“Who is the best footballer in school?” asked Adam.
“Ump, I suppose you are. I don’t understand the sport.”
“No, I guess you don’t. I got dropped by Mr Smithers, as team captain. It pissed me off.”
“Why? You’ve got more time to watch TikTok.”
“I hate that rubbish, and I want to impress Lucy.”
“Lucy? Why? Oh, I get it, you fancy her?” said Henry.
“Brilliant, genius. That is why I am not happy with Simon or Mr Smithers.”
“Give me strength. Simon is now captain, and Mr Smithers gave him the job.”
“I see. But what about Lucy?”
“Lucy’s dad runs the weekend adult team. I am big and strong enough to play men’s football, so…”
“You want to get in Lucy’s good books?”
“I also want to get in her knickers, and be captain, and play for the adult’s team. Not too much to ask.”
“No, I suppose not,” Henry was lost, his face clouded over.
“Has your mum got any Coke and a cake?” asked Adam.
“She’s always got both, why?”
“Because I want some, come on,” Adam said as he jogged away.
“Hang on, slow down,” Henry sputtered.
Adam was leaning against the front door when Henry arrived.
“Come on, back door,” panted Henry.
Coke and cake were served in the dining room.
“I need you to do me a favour. Only a small one.”
“Sure, what do you need?” asked Henry.
“That slimy sod, Simon has taken my job as captain of the football team. And, my girlfriend, Lucy, seems to have a thing for Simon, I think it’s only because he is the skipper.”
“Because if we win the cup, the captain is presented with it, and they like a pretty girl to kiss him for the local paper’s report. She thinks she will be front page and start her modelling career.”
“Oh, I see. So what do you want me to do?”
“Simple. I want you to stick a note on his back.”
“Why?” Henry asked.
“Because it will say, ‘I’m an idiot,’ or something like that, he’ll walk around all day with everyone laughing at him.”
The boys’ arms were around their shoulders as they marched upstairs to their rooms. As the first lesson ended, Adam slipped a square sheet of paper with extra sticky tape across the corners. Henry tried to conceal it without getting tangled with his jacket.
Science next meant a walk to the ground floor. Simon chatted to Lucy as Henry crept nearer, with the message outstretched. As he touched Simon’s jacket a scream from behind.
Adam gave Henry a push, Henry clattered into Simon, they both bounced from stair to stair.
Adam made a show of bouncing from the bannisters to save Lucy from falling. He then looked around and shouted, “What was that for Mr Smithers? You could have injured somebody.”
All the children turned and glared at their sports teacher. He stood open-mouthed.
At the bottom, Simon was wailing. Henry struggled to his knees. The school secretary was on the phone, matron rushed from her office. Three teachers heard the commotion and aided the injured. Adam grinned.
“What is going on?” bellowed the headteacher. Children were dusting themselves and their friends. Stretching joints and testing for bruises. A ginger-haired boy held a handkerchief to his bloody nose.
“It was his fault,” said Adam, pointing at Mr Smithers, as he made his way to the bottom.
“Sort out any injured pupils, then get in my office,” said the head.
Adam’s grin got wider Mr Smithers glared at him.
A siren screamed in the distance. Within seconds, ambulance staff rushed stretchers through the entranceway.
Simon’s leg appeared broken, he grabbed his ankle twisting it at a painful angle. The boy with the broken nose was aided to a seat in the vehicle.
Other students were queuing outside the matron’s room. Gradually the uninjured children were led back to their classes. Henry was causing concern. He had been leaning against the wall; he slid down until he sat on the floor, tipping sideways, he passed out.
“Quick, nurse, what has happened to him?” shouted one girl.
Lucy was there in an instant, she lifted his head and rested it on her lap.
“Okay, young lady, let me take him.” The ambulance driver signalled a stretcher across, Henry was taken to hospital.
“That wasn’t part of the plan,” said Adam to himself with a smirk.
Voices were raised in the head’s office. Mr Smithers defended himself, with the head determined. “I’m going to sort this out. Children don’t just fall down the stairs,” said the head.
Lucy was called in to give her witness statement. Then, Adam was called.
“Mr Smithers said you were at the back, and you were playing about with Henry. Is that true?”
“I was near the back, true enough, but, I tried to grab poor Henry when Mr Smithers gave him a shove.”
“What?” said the head, “Have you got anything to say for yourself, Smithers?”
“Sir, I was answering a text message. I did not touch any pupil.”
“So, you didn’t push Henry, but bundled into him, because you weren’t paying attention to where you were walking?” asked the head.
“No, sir, I didn’t touch anyone.”
“Both of you, back to your classes. I need to decide what I’m going to do.”
Smithers pulled open the door and stormed out. Adam caught Smithers’s ankle, with his foot, causing him to trip against the door.
“See sir, look how clumsy he is,” said Adam.
Smithers grabbed Adam’s throat and raised his hand.
“Get out of my school. Do not enter until I summon you,” said a red-faced headmaster.
Adam smiled the rest of the day. That evening he went to visit Henry.
“What are you doing here?” he asked Lucy.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Lucy said.
“I came to see my best friend.”
“The friend you call Einstein?”
“How do you know?”
Lucy slammed a piece of sticky paper upside down on the hospital bed.
“You gave him that? You planned the whole accident, right?”
“No, would I write so badly?”
“You mean the grammar and spelling?”
“How did you know what the sign says if you didn’t write it?”
She turned the paper over. The message said, ‘I is a idoit’.
“There, see, only Henry could write that.”
Simon limped in.
“I thought you had a broken leg?” asked Adam.
“Just a twist, I won’t join training tonight, but I’ll be fit for the weekend game. When we tell the head what happened, I don’t think Smithers will pick you.”
Henry sat up smiling and winked at Lucy.
“My boyfriend might not be a genius student, but he is far from stupid. He saw through you,” Lucy said. Three friends laughed, as they would never stop.
Short Story by Colin Devonshire
Try, Try, Try…
“All I wanted, was to be your friend,” said Butch. He turned to hide his tears. He jogged away, soon tired, then trudged home, slumped shoulders edged through the door.
“Whatever is wrong with you?” asked his mum.
“Why did dad name me Butch?”
“Would you have preferred Brian? That was our first choice.”
“Anything but Butch. All the kids at school laugh at me. They go on about fierce dogs and gay men. I am not Butch,” he stormed to his room.
There was a tap, tap, tap at his door, no answer, his mother popped her head in.
“I’ve got your dinner ready, do you want it here or downstairs?”
The boy lay on his back with a pillow over his face.
“Butch, Butch, are you okay?”
She rushed and pulled the bedding clear. Butch was breathing.
“Stupid boy, don’t play like that, you gave me a scare.”
“Are you the only one who cares?” Butch asked.
“Oh, don’t be silly, we all love you.”
“And who is ‘all?’ Dad cleared off as soon as he could, and I’ve no brothers or sisters.”
“You’ve got grandparents and uncles and aunts.”
“But they live miles away. I’ve got no friends at school or outside school,” he answered.
“Maybe if you stopped playing that stupid game and tried to talk to people.”
“Nobody wants to talk to me,” he said as he turned to the wall, grabbing for his pillow.
“Come on darling, what is it?”
Butch clammed up. His mother left him alone without his dinner.
Hours later, he relived his day in dreams.
“Butch Baker, get to the headmaster’s office this minute. Tell him why you are there,” the maths teacher was not impressed at his effort at homework.
The girls sitting in the front row sniggered. The boys at the back threw screwed up paper balls.
“You again? What was it this time?” asked the head.
Lunchtime detention was the punishment.
Butch, worried about after lunch. He had deliberately ‘forgotten’ his sports kit.
“No kit again?” laughed the captain, “Good, we don’t want you, join the girls’ netball, I’m sure they will lend you a skirt.”
The boys all pushed at him as he sloped to the tennis courts, sliding down the surrounding fence.
“I wonder if I can make myself so tiny, no one can see me?”
“What are you doing?” A gentle voice asked.
Butch looked up. A girl was smiling at him, not laughing, smiling.
“Who are you? I’ve never seen you before,” he asked.
“I’m Saffy, I’m new here. I only came today to look around with my mum. I will start next Monday. What’s your name?”
“I’d rather not tell you, you’ll only laugh, like the rest of them,” he pointed at his football team.
“No, I won’t, what about my name?”
“Nothing wrong with Saffy. I like it.”
“That’s a nickname.”
“Oh. What is your real name?”
“My secret, until Monday, then everyone will know,” she grinned.
“You’ll have to wait for mine, too.”
They laughed together.
Butch awoke with a smile. He was starving, remembering he had no dinner. Toast smelt great as he joined his mum in the kitchen.
“You must have slept well, you look happy?”
“Yes, I had a wonderful dream.”
“Dare I ask, what was it about?” asked his mum.
“The new girl, her name is Saffy.”
“Is she pretty?”
“Not really, but she is nice, and she talks to me.”
“Tomorrow’s Saturday, we are going to your Gran’s house, you can take your game, she has Wi-Fi now.”
“Great, things are looking up,” said Butch as he hoisted up his school bag and plodded off.
“Christ, Butch, that bag is nearly as fat as you.” The boy pointed and grinned. The gang pushed and poked his stomach.
Butch, shrugged and smiled at them. Wandering off to the art room.
“Okay, students, today I want you all to think of your favourite letter. Then paint a design featuring that letter.”
The bully next to him slapped the letter ‘a’ on his paper and turned it into a ferocious ant.
“Very good,” muttered the teacher, as she passed. “And Butch, what will your ’s’ become?”
“Still thinking, Miss,” he answered.
“S, for stupid,” said the boy.
“S, for sex,” said the pretty head girl. The class fell about.
“That will do, get on with your work,” shouted the teacher.
Butch scratched his chin and studied the ceiling, how to turn ’s’ into a work of art to present the new girl on Monday. He finished a winding stream with a canoe paddled by a gorgeous girl. The teacher was amazed. The class was quiet.
That night, Saffy came to his dreams. This time, they walked hand-in-hand home from school.
“Look at him, quite the young man, he’s even combed his hair,” said his gran.
“Yes, I don’t know what’s got into him? He’s never brushed his mop unless I chase him,” said his mum.
“Oh, gran, have you any salad? I shouldn’t eat pie and chips,” said Butch.
The two ladies stared at each other.
“Yes, dear, whatever you wish. Give me a minute,” Gran rushed off to the kitchen.
“Butch, you love my mum’s pie, what is wrong?”
“It is time I started looking after my figure. I’m going out for a jog, okay?”
When they arrived home, mum asked, “Is your game broken?”
“I thought I saw you reading one of Gran’s books?”
“I can read you know?”
“Yes, yes, sorry. Off to bed, you must be tired.”
Sunday was wet.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going running.”
“In this weather, wait until it stops.”
“No, mum I need to get fit.”
In Sunday night’s dream, Saffy leaned across and kissed him full on the lips. The class were speechless, even when the pair were sent to the principal’s office. He glowed with pride.
On Monday, Butch hunted his freshly ironed and pristine uniform. Brushed his shoes until a mirror image of a smiling boy beamed back at him.
“Come on mum, we’ll be late.”
The children all sat in their usual places. The empty chair was next to Butch, nobody wanted to sit next to him.
Their room teacher came in, clapping his hands.
“I want to introduce you to a new student who will be joining us for the rest of the term. Meet Saffy.”
The clapping was stifled except for one boy, who stood and cheered. The rest all looked around at him.
“What’s up with the dork at the back?” said the new girl. The class cheered.
The sun flashed from her nose stud getting attention from the girls. Her too-short skirt grabbed the boys.
“I’m not sitting there, move!” said Saffy to the head girl, who sidled next to Butch.
At four-thirty, the groups of kids separated to find their way home. Leaving Saffy to walk alone. Butch watched the traffic, a bus increased its speed as it pulled away from the stop.
Butch ran towards her, shoulder down as he had seen rugby players aiming for the try line.
Saffy stopped. Butch didn’t. Neither did the bus. Good try Butch.
Thank you, readers. I’ve been writing short stories for some time because of the comments and support I’ve been given I decided to publish the tales. First up are the ‘dark’ stories set in Thailand with Thai characters.
It is available as an ebook and paperback.
Amazon – Paperback – Here
Amazon – ebook – Here
Draft2Digital – most of the other booksellers – Here
Books2Read – Here
Smashwords – Here
Short story by Colin Devonshire
“WHOA, THAT WAS close,” Jeah breathed.
The door frame splintered above his head.
“His bodyguards must have had shooting practice?” he whispered to himself.
Jeah ducked and rolled sideways, laying on his front he fired two shots in quick succession. The guards crumpled. Walking towards the car, the driver stretched his arms through the window and put his empty hands up.
“Get out,” Jeah ordered.
The front of the driver’s trousers was wet. “Go.”
He scampered away. The real target sat in the rear seat.
Jeah opened the door, studied the man’s face. He knew who he was, and he didn’t make mistakes. The man didn’t have time to beg. A bullet entered between his eyes. A miniature puppy yelped beside him.
“Aw, who’s a pretty boy, then?”
Jeah threw the pistol into the front seat. He walked away, peeling nail varnish from his fingertips.
The gun had been stolen from one of his rivals. Jeah much preferred the police tracked it back, without his prints on it.
A single worded message was posted on Line. “Dead.”
“Good. Come and see me,” was the answer.
Jeah was in no rush to see his boss. He would be given payment and another job. First, he had to visit his temple and talk to his favourite Abbot. The monk didn’t ask questions, he listened, offered prayers.
“Am I getting too old for my job? Should I quit?” Jeah asked.
“You’ll know when to stop,” said the Abbot.
When ready, Jeah would drive to Bangkok and collect his fee.
His boss, Khun Kiat, sat with his feet up, smiled, stood and signalled for Jeah to sit.
“Well done, young man.”
“I’m not so young, I’m feeling my age,” said Jeah.
“You’re still young enough to handle the tasks I give you.”
“The last task’s guards took shots at me. That has never happened before, I’m still picking out wooden splinters from my head.”
“Haha, could have been worse,” Khun Kiat said.
“What? You can’t.”
“I can and I will.”
“Look, I’ve got two more tasks for you. Double pay, and then retire, how about that?”
“I don’t know, I’ve been lucky, I feel the luck is running out.”
“Okay, I understand your feelings. You’ve been great for me, and I’m sorry you want to quit. But I’ve two urgent tasks. The first is simple. A movie star has embarrassed my client. He wants to make sure she only stars on the front page of the newspapers as a corpse.”
“But, you know, I never kill women.”
“Yes, this woman was born a boy. He has had major reconstruction. Hence the problem. Not everyone knows yet, and it must stay that way. My client is not happy, he thinks people are laughing at him. That must stop.”
“Okay, and the last job?”
“That is still a mystery to me. I have no names. But a hefty deposit and a date.”
Jeah, looked puzzled, screwing his face. “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“I agree, let me find out more, the last thing we want is for you to walk into a trap.”
“When is it?”
“It’s to be this Saturday. Not only that, but it needs to be before dark.”
“Let’s refuse it.”
Khun Kiat, smirked, “I have never failed a client. Certainly in the work you’ve handled for me. I’m not happy about it. I don’t aim to start now. Let me find out who we’re talking about and why. Then we’ll decide. Okay?”
An envelope slid across the desktop. A collection of posed photos were pulled out.
Jeah stared at his boss. “That’s a boy? Christ, who would know?”
“It’s been confirmed. We don’t want the world to know.”
“As long as he’s a male, I’ll do it. Where and when?”
“Tomorrow there is the premiere of that new movie. He/she will attend. So will the press. We don’t want one of the hacks to spill the beans. Make sure our star doesn’t get there. The press will have something else to write about.”
“Leave it to me.”
Jeah marched back to his car, considering his next move.
‘Superstar with an unbelievable secret,’ Jeah imagined the front pages.
He rewrote them, ‘Star goes missing.’ “Much better,” he mumbled.
Jeah’s closest friend and aide was a computer programmer. A mugging left Tam disabled and started Jeah’s hit-man career. The first jobs were unpaid. The guys who crippled his friend, won’t cripple anyone else.
“Can I come in?” said Jeah into the intercom.
“Yeah, yeah, you’ve got a key,” answered Tam.
Jeah showed the photo to his mate.
“Yeah, what about her?”
“What do you know about her movements?”
“That’s easy, the first time I don’t even need to flick on the comp.”
“Because every Thursday morning she gives a press meeting in her local Starbucks. The reporters fawn all over her and spread her name on social media. Easy.”
“For your information, she is a he, and her is him.”
“Really? And Mr Big Shot football team owner is not happy?”
“You got it.”
Thursday morning he/she didn’t make Starbucks. Weighted ropes were tied on her limbs and hooked under one of the gambling barges on the Chao Phraya River. These barges only moved when the police raided them. As the police controlled all illegal gambling, they remained in place. ‘Movie star lost to the world.’ Another headline danced across Jeah’s mind.
Jeah’s bank account swelled. “Okay boss. One to go, or not?”
Khun Kiat roared with laughter. “You will not believe this one. What a job to go out on.”
“So we are going through with it? It’s not a trick?”
“No my friend, it’s no trick.”
“Come on then, who is it?”
“It’s Phu Ying.”
“I told you, I never kill women.”
“You won’t have to.”
“And how do you work that out? Phu Ying means lady, does it not?”
“Yes, it does. I need you to kill, my client’s enemies’ favourite female.”
“I’ve never killed or even injured a woman or girl in my private or business life. And I won’t start now. For you or anyone else. I quit.”
“Steady on. This Phu Ying is a cat. A Kanchaburi gangster owns a private zoo. He has upset my client. His revenge will be to kill his puma!”
“I also don’t kill pets.”
Coming soon. Keep your eyes open. Available at Amazon and all good bookshops.