A Trusting Person Turns Into A Skeptic
by Colin Devonshire
“Sloopi, we will bankrupt Mem.”
“What fun! What do you want me to do?”
“She knows me, so it is better if you do it.” Camilla’s last visit to Mem’s little casino held a surprise or two, but at least all the gamblers in town knew the English girl. They did not know the Thai.
Sloopi had moved from the north of Thailand to join her ‘wife’ and her partner’s daughter Philippa, in the seaside town of Hua Hin.
“Yes, but, do what? You know I’ll do anything for you.”
“You will pretend you are a clueless bar girl. Your boyfriend has left you a lot of money in his will. And you are keen to play the odds.”
“Right. But how will that bankrupt her?”
“Let’s call it a warming-up phase. I have some bigger plans, which will follow later.”
Sloopi knew better than to argue with her girlfriend. Previously working as a Tourist Police Officer, she knew it was often better to watch and wait.
Another Thai girl, but with very different characteristics, Skylab, was not at her cheerful best. She believed in Kev. But, her boyfriend had let her down. They had become guardians of a small boy. Little Nick was not an ordinary boy. So Skylab decided that they should see a specialist. Skylab is not her real name, her Grandmother had called her that as a young girl because she would not sit still, she had not changed.
“Kev, why did you not come to the doctors with us?”
“I had thinking to do. And I don’t believe clap-trap.”
“How do you know it is clap-trap, at least I’m trying to do something?”
“Yeah. Saddling us with more bills, I suppose?”
“Actually Camilla is paying the doctor.”
“I’ve no idea. She is being unusually friendly at the moment.”
“Well, I don’t like it. Anyway, what did the quack say?”
”I see, you’re interested now it’s free.”
“Come on, just tell me. I’m in no mood for a row.”
“Well, he asked the children a few basic questions. Philippa was answering for both of them. She seemed to know what Nick was thinking.”
Kev was thinking, “That’s why I did not go.” He wisely kept his mouth shut. Skylab continued, “Then we stepped out of the office, and left the children together. The office has a two-way communication system for the doctor and his receptionist to talk. He had left it turned on. We could hear what the children were saying to each other.”
“Spying, I see.”
“No, some research. They were chatting just like lifelong friends. It was like they knew the answer before the question was asked. It was weird.”
“Yes, but what does it prove?”
“Well, nothing I suppose. But when we went back in, Nick immediately shut up. I said to the Doctor that I had a question for Nick, I wanted the Doctor’s opinion. I dropped a coin onto the desk. Nick immediately listed numbers. I suggested that the first number he called out was the speed of the coin, and the second was the height the coin bounced. I had witnessed that kind of thing from Nick before.”
Kev was shaking his head.
The girl who had accompanied Skylab and Nick to the Doctors was Camilla’s outspoken daughter, she happens to be the same age as the little boy. They get on incredibly well. In fact, she is the only person Nick will talk to. He reels off numbers to anyone, and the figures seem to have meaning to him. But talking in the normal way? He refuses, except for Philippa.
Skylab continued, “The doctor said it was impossible, so he tried a test. He had a golf ball in his drawer. Bounced it on the floor tiles. Once again there was a list of numbers spewed out. The speed of the ball, angle of return and the only one we could check, was the number of bounces before the ball rolled along the floor.”
Kev kept silent.
“The doctor wants to take Nick to the engineering department of the university and measure some of these ideas. He needs Philippa to go as well. Do you want to come?”
“Not really my thing is it? You go, it may be fun!”
“It’s not funny, I am trying to do something here. All you do is make snide comments.”
“Ok, ok, I’ll come. Try to stop me if I start giggling!”
After an hour of testing, they impressed Kev.
The group of adults, qualified or not, had discovered something, but no one, qualified or not, was exactly sure what it was. But, one thing for sure was that Nick had some incredible talents. He could judge the speed of moving articles. He could predict the outcome of events. Also, he knows if he is being told an untruth. Most surprising, it needed further testing, but it seemed the children had telepathic abilities. Only with each other that was enough. Skylab decided she had better tell Camilla sooner rather than later.
“Camilla, you will not believe this.”
“Let me guess. The children have skills that other kids don’t have?”
“How do you know?”
“My dear girl, I watch, and think, and find things out. That is why I wanted them to see an expert in the first place.”
Skylab promised herself not to question Camilla again.
“Tell me exactly what they can, and can’t do.”
After half an hour of Skylab’s explanation, it satisfied Camilla. Naturally, she kept her plans to herself.
Skylab returned home and put the kettle on. Kev was gasping for a cuppa, he had been gasping for more than an hour! The phone rang. As Skylab was busy in the kitchen, Kev had to answer. “Hello Camilla, I thought Skylab has just been with you?”
“Yes, she was, but it’s you I need to speak to. I know Skylab won’t agree, so it is up to you to arrange what I want.”
Camilla, the custodian of Kev’s gambling secret, he had lost a lot of the couple’s hard earned money. Camilla had bailed him out.
“I feel a problem coming?”
“Your problem, not mine, I want Nick to accompany me.”
“That is easy, he comes round to play.”
“This will be at night.”
“What? How can I fix that, Skylab will go mad?”
“As I said, that is your problem, just sort it!”
“When are you talking about?”
“Soon, I’ll give you some notice, a day at least.”
With that, both callers ended the call, Camilla as she was finished saying what she needed, and Kev, because his cup of tea was arriving.
“Who was that?”
“Nobody, wrong number.”
Nick on his way to the kitchen for a snack cringed. Kev spotted and quickly jumped up to assist Skylab. Neatly blocking her view of little Nick.
“I say, you are welcome to help me more often.”
Kev was busy planning how to get Nick out one night soon.
It was as if all his prayers were answered at once. Not that he ever prayed to anything, but the following day the phone made them both jump. Nick was already walking towards the office desk. The small boy pointed to Skylab, who answered the call. She listened wordlessly, then the tears fell silently. Her sister, who Kev detested, had been in a life-threatening accident on her scooter. Kev heard his partner promise to leave straight away.
“I don’t suppose you will come?”
“Someone has to run the business.”
Kev was rubbing his hands. Nick just shook his head.
“Ok, Camilla, all set. Skylab is going to Bangkok for two nights.”
“Tell your friend, the owner of the bar opposite Mem’s place, that you need his upstairs room for an hour.”
Kev got on with his latest task while Camilla went shopping for some equipment.
Later that day, Kev and the two children moved into the bedroom above the bar, it caused eyebrows to be lifted. But the friend was too polite to start questioning.
Sloopi, dressed down for the event, started her act, as the bereaved but rich wife of a dead German. Camilla pretending she didn’t know her wife, started playing cards on a nearby table.
Sloopi was brilliant, Oscar-quality performance. She gradually and steadily lost all her cash. She called the casino owner. “Miss Mem, I must borrow some cash, I didn’t bring enough with me.”
“And when can I expect repayment?”
Camilla moved nearer the conversation. “Excuse me, I’ll take over the debt.” She now positioned herself so the dealer could be seen from the window opposite. Camilla continued,
“Let her continue playing, but you must be the dealer!”
Nick was busy with one of Camilla’s purchases. A little boy with night vision binoculars was a strange sight, in fact, the lenses were bigger than the boy’s head. What was not as big, was the mic held by Philippa, who saw the signal from her mother, who touched her earpiece. Ready to go.
The little girl tapped her friend’s leg. Ready.
“She is lying.” Said the boy.
The instruction was relayed across the road. They placed bets; they picked cash up. Mem was losing but could not believe it.
“I want to change games!”
“Fine, but this lady chooses it!” Camilla pointed at her lover.
“Go ahead, what do you want to play?”
Sloopi was enjoying herself. “I want you to guess the time? No looking allowed.”
Casinos the world over had no clocks visible, who want losers to know it is time to leave. Mem’s place was no different. Sloopi had noticed that the owner had no watch.
“It must be about midnight?”
“Not close enough I’m afraid. Sorry, you lose.”
“Wait, I want to have one last go. In fact, we can increase the bet!”
“What do you want to wager?”
“Your rings, your bracelet, in fact, everything you’ve got.”
“Fine, but your side of the bet is your business here!”
“You are on.”
All the gamblers in the small casino had moved around, not wanting to miss this, the biggest bet ever placed here.
Mem, very pleased with her brains and her gambling acumen. “All you have to do is guess how many marbles are in the goldfish bowl behind the bar.”
She couldn’t hide the giggle. “I’ll give you 5 either side of your guess.”
“You double your side of the bet and I’ll get it exactly.”
“You are on, everybody, you heard her? I’ll throw in my house and my car, and there,” she was beaming, “is my bank book.” As she threw it in front of Camilla.
“Please pass the fishbowl, I need to weigh it in my hands.”
Mem nodded at her barman, who handed it to the English girl. She touched her ear as she held it up to the light.
Little Nick was doing what he was good at, predicting.
He whispered a number to his little friend, who calmly repeated the number to her mother.
Car keys, house keys were followed by the casino keys all thrown onto the table, as Mem, head down walked away.
“Drinks on the house.” Shouted the barman, hoping his new boss wouldn’t mind.
The following day, the office door opened and in walked Skylab. “Everything ok?”
“Of course dear, we haven’t done a thing, we have been here all the time.”
Nick shook his head, but this time with a cheery grin.