by Colin Devonshire
She took a deep breath and said to her boss, “I quit!”
“But you just begged me for a raise,” said Travel Tim.
“Yes, and I thanked you. Now I want to see the world,” Tina was panting. Her managing director thought she was about to have a fit, another fit.
“Sit down and relax, please don’t get worked up.”
Tina took a gulp of tea, swept her hair away from her overlarge glasses and started a three-minute monologue. She then smiled at him.
“I am sorry to let you go, but as you’ve explained at length, great length, that you are fed up with booking other folk’s holidays, you want to take one yourself. Correct?”
“How about we extend your leave?”
“No, thank you,” she stammered. “I want to feel free.”
“Fine, and I understand that, what about your epilepsy?”
“I have pills for that.”
“What about last week?” he asked.
“I forgot to take them, that’s all.”
“You forgot them and…?”
“Okay, I was dealing with a difficult customer.”
“Don’t go on, I was having my period and yes, I had a hangover, okay?”
Tim puffed, “Where are you planning to go?”
“I’ve worked here, three years and have not set foot on a plane,” she started with another long speech, Tim cut it short.
“So, France? Spain? Maybe Italy?”
“No, Thailand!” she beamed.
She worked her month’s notice and set off to Heathrow. Tim and her Mum went to see her off.
The flight was twelve hours, the time difference confusing. Her mobile phone calculator was needed to judge her medicine timing.
“Oh, bollocks to it,” she said as she swallowed the pills.
The elderly Thai lady next to her looked puzzled, “Are you okay, my dear,” she asked.
“Oh, sorry, yes fine thanks, I’ve never felt better,” smiled Tina.
From then until they reached Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport they didn’t stop talking, when they bumped onto the tarmac they were best of friends.
“Forget hotels, they are so expensive, come and stay with me,” Khunying Far offered.
The Thai Air staff were polite and efficient to Tina, but they fell over themselves when aiding her neighbour. Not just because she was in her seventies.
For all the chitchat on the Jumbo, the kindly Thai had failed to mention that Khunying is a Thai title much like ‘Lady’ in the UK.
The immigration queue was longer than Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. Tina gasped.
“Come with me,” Khunying Far signalled.
Ten minutes later, with a Mercedes saloon waited outside, a polite ‘wai’ greeted them as the rear doors opened.
“This is Khun Daa, my driver. He is yours to use when needed. Can I suggest we skip a Bangkok tour? I’m tired, we’ll go straight to my home in Hua Hin?” asked Khunying Far.
“Yes, of course. How far is Hua Hin?” she knew from the travel brochures it could take three hours.
Both ladies dozed in the luxurious German leather. Sleeping most of the way south. As excited as she was, Tina’s head dropped before leaving the city.
“Nearly home,” nudged Khunying Far, as they skirted the seaside town of Cha-Am.
“Oh, it’s gorgeous, everyone is smiling,” said Tina.
“The weather helps, unlike London,” her companion said, smiling. “You must be hungry?”
“Are we stopping?”
“No, dear, what would you like?”
“Oh, I don’t know, something Thai?” answered Tina.
Khunying Far chatted at her mobile.
Khun Daa took the bags to the bedrooms. A middle-aged woman came out to help him.
“This is Pi Yah, she can help you find anything you need, towels etcetera,” said Khunying Far.
“Can I wash and brush up before we eat?” asked Tina.
“Of course, take your time. Don’t forget your medication.”
Much refreshed, Tina studied her room. The house appeared old and made of teakwood, polished planks on the floors, painted in creams and light browns elsewhere.
“Gorgeous, like a dream house,” breathed Tina as she moved to the open windows. “Oh my, look at the view!”
Below her window was a sandy lawn with rocks dividing small rose gardens leading to a low wall. Beyond were a handful of fishing boats gently bobbing on the waves.
“This is heavenly,” thought Tina as she planned her first email to her Mum.
There was a tap at the door.
Pi Yah pointed downstairs, “Can you speak English?” asked Tina.
A lost look was her answer. Tina followed her to the dining room.
Aromas met her as the door opened.
“Come in, Yah is a superb cook, I think you’ll agree?”
“It looks and smells wonderful. What is it?” asked Tina.
“My favourite, green chicken curry. I hope you like it. Yah always cooks this dish if I’ve been away.”
Pi Yah backed away through an open door on the far side of the room. Tina sat down and copied her hostess, using a spoon and fork to attack the feast.
The women heard a car on the gravel. Then cutlery dropped behind them.
“Khaw mah, chan ja pai noow!” said Pi Yah.
“Pai, pai,” signalled Khunying Far, flapping her arms. The driver took his wife the maid home.
The front door opened and slammed against the wall. An immaculately dressed man burst in firing words like splinters from a rotary saw.
“This is my son,” said Khunying Far.
He spotted Tina, halted his torrent of Thai, staring at her, then turning into the gallant charmer he could be when needed.
“Oh, hello, who are you?” he said in accentless English.
“Hello, I’m Tina,” she stammered.
The man stared at his mother.
“Meet Khun James. As you’ve seen, he scares away my staff, and I’m sure he’ll try to scare you too.”
“Not me mother, I would never scare a friend of yours, especially one so beautiful.”
Tina blushed and wished she could hide behind her glasses.
“What do you want, James?”
“Can I eat? I’m sure your cook would have added a little something if she knew I was coming,” he laughed, reaching for a plate. “I want what I’m due, that’s all. And I’m not talking about food.”
Tina thought she should leave, slid her chair back, “I’ll go to my room if you’re having a family discussion.”
“Stay, where you are, I want you to see James at his worst.”
Tina hid behind her spoon shrivelling.
“Mother dearest, you know this is my house. I’ve offered to allow you to live here. But I want what is mine.”
“Dearest son, I could not live in the same house as you, here or elsewhere. That is the end of the discussion.”
“I am not prepared to wait for you to die and bequeath it to me.”
A smirk turned into a giggle then a full belly laugh.
“What is so funny?” asked James.
“I have willed this house to a dog’s charity. All the ownerless beach dogs can live out their lives in peace,” she roared with laughter.
“But you can’t,” stammered James.
“Can and have,” stated his mother.
“Show me the will.”
“You can see it when I die,” she snorted.
James grabbed the serving spoon, pulling his mother’s short hair backwards, thrust the cutlery in his mother’s stretched jaw.
Tina, frozen to the chair stared at the nightmare scene. Looking around for a weapon, finding nothing, she took the curry bowl from the centre of the table in both hands and crashed it against his head. Curry splattered everywhere, but the china was not strong enough to stop him in his mad quest. It burst into shards. He turned and grabbed Tina’s throat and squeezed. Khunying Far, choking and coughing fought to clear the spoon from her mouth. She ran to the kitchen behind her and pulled open the first drawer. Grabbing a cleaver, she turned and plunged it into her son’s unprotected back. He arched and screamed in agony, stretching backwards as he dislodged the steel. Kneeling, he stared with unfocused eyes, “Why mother?” he croaked. “Everyone thinks you are perfect, but I know better. I remember what happened to Dad.”
He collapsed forward and bled to death.
Tina coughing and panting started shaking from head to toe. Khunying Far had seen somewhere that people suffering a fit could swallow their tongues. She knelt next to Tina pushed on her side, then grabbing the cleaver and using the rounded corner of the spine she gently forced her teeth open pressing the tongue down. Slowly the tension lifted, the woman relaxed and began thinking.
She removed the blade, tipped Tina onto her back, then using the cleaver’s handle poked the tongue down Tina’s throat. Now there were no witnesses.
She considered burying the bodies in the garden next to her husband.
“No, too much like hard work, I’m not as young as I once was,” she thought with a smile.
She hunted for her phone, “Police please,” she said with a quivering voice.
Before two minutes had passed, she heard wheels on her gravel.
“Thank God you’ve come,” she said, showing the officers through. They showed the Khunying the respect she deserved, then got on with their task.
“I was dressing for dinner upstairs, we had a lovely meal planned, my wonderful son was going to introduce me to his new girlfriend. Then I heard shouting and screaming. I rushed down to this…” she collapsed in tears.
Read more of Colin’s work at Medium.com @colindevonshire