A FREE short story set in Thailand by Colin Devonshire
“There’s a delivery guy here asking for you,” Chok Dii called up the stairs.
“Sign for it can you, I’m tired,” Dan shouted.
“No, you must, he said.”
“Oh, all right, I’m coming.”
Dan covered his boxer shorts with a towel picked from the bathroom floor.
A man in a green uniform looked him up and down. “Khun Dan?”
“Yeah, what do you want? My passport?”
“Sign here, please.”
Dan grunted, scribbled his name, threw the small, but neatly wrapped box to the sofa through the living room door. He stomped up the stairs, dropping his towel, slumped onto the bed.
“Aren’t you going to open it?” His girlfriend asked.
There was no answer. She picked it up, shook it gently. Studying his typed name and address. Noticing the back had no return address. “It had better not be from that tart in his favourite bar.”
She shook it harder, no clue.
The temptation was great, “Dare I?” she asked herself. She fingered the sticky tape, but couldn’t tear it back without ruining the paper wrapping. “I need my scalpel and fresh tape, then he’ll never know.” She checked for sounds upstairs before going to the kitchen.
Armed with the razor, she slipped the blade along the paper joins. Gently she prised it open. Under the paper was a vacuum-sealed pink container. There was no way she could open it without giving the game away. “Unless he doesn’t know about this container?” she thought.
“Then I can see what’s in there. Repacking it perfectly, no one will know.”
Her phone trilled. “Not now, I’m busy.” She looked to see who the caller was. Name withheld. “Who the hell?”
Then a message, ‘Do not open it. I won’t hear of it!’
She trembled as she hastily taped the package again. “Good as new.” Gently replacing it as she found it.
“Wake up, you lazy git. I must know what’s in it, and who it’s from?” She mumbled to herself.
The kettle popped, she made two mugs of coffee and took them upstairs.
“Wakey wakey, sleepyhead,” she said as she delivered the drink.
“I’m still sleeping,” he said, twisting and turning away from her.
They had been together exactly one year that day.
“Remember last year?” she asked.
“Yeah, of course. You had just started running your market stall, selling fake football shirts. How could I forget.”
“And you came by, wearing a real one.”
“Yes, my favourite Spurs shirt,” he smiled.
“You were with your blondie girlfriend.”
“Then, I returned alone, with a gift for you.”
“The shirt, your best shirt and ideas for my stall, genuine Premier League football kits.”
“Yes, my great idea worked well. Get the tourist drunk and offer him a wager, his real shirt against my 1,000 Baht note, in an unbeatable bet.” He snorted at the memory. “And low and betide our great little market stall started with real shirts. And pays the rent here.”
“Yes, and we fell in love and here we are with our own house,” she grinned.
“The best year of my life, really I mean it. Now let me sleep,” Dan asked.
“What happened to your girlfriend?”
“She got a taxi. Now can I sleep?”
“What about your coffee? It’s getting cold.”
“Okay, okay, no peace for the wicked,” he groaned.
“Don’t forget you have a present.”
“What makes you think it’s a gift?”
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“Is it for our first anniversary?” he asked.
“I didn’t send it. But I wonder who did?”
He sensed jealousy creeping into the conversation.
“Come on, let’s open it together.” He didn’t worry about the towel for this trip downstairs.
“Don’t forget your coffee,” she grinned.
He tore off the paper and raised his eyebrows at the inner packing.
Her phone’s ‘do not’ message was ringing around her head, making her desperate to see deeper.
The pink plastic container was welded shut. He shook it, something wobbled, eyebrows lifted higher.
“How am I supposed to open this?” he asked. She handed him a scalpel.
He looked up at her as if to say, ‘How did you know I’d need this?’ But taking the blade without a word, he prodded, searching a spot in insert the steel tip.
The blade skidded and jumped, nicking his finger drawing blood.
“Shit!” he yelled. Slamming the table, “I should throw the damn thing away.”
Calming he tried again. This time, he eased a small opening wider, the weld cracked, splitting into two halves. Tissue paper and cotton wool spilt, revealing brown bloodstains and an ear.
Dropping his gift he leapt backwards, knees bent to his chest, arms clutching his shins, sitting like a newborn, the coffee mugs jumped and smashed as the table tipped over.
He trembled, pushing to the back of the sofa, Chok Dii bent to see what scared him. Picking up her scalpel, she flicked at the paper, uncovering the ear, small and dainty boasting a diamond stud, and a few strands of blonde hair. She prodded it with the knife blade, stood the table, then studied the pink flesh.
Turning and staring at Dan, questions flowed. Dan stammered, eventually he calmed and sat next to her.
“I used to wear that earring, I gave it to her.”
“Did you cut her ear off?”
“Of course not!”
“I’m ringing the police.” She hunted her phone. It rang before she touched it.
Chok Dii snatched at it only to see a message. ‘Do you want another gift?’
She ran to the sink and threw up.
Dan sat, head in hands, remained still as the doorbell rang. Chok Dii rinsed her mouth before answering the bell.
A green uniformed man held out a well-wrapped package, looked at her, “Mr Dan?”
The paperwork was signed; the package rested next to his brother on the table.
“Don’t open it,” Chok Dii yelled.
“I’m not going to, phone the police, let them deal with it.”
Her smartphone beeped a message.
‘Do you know Vincent van Gogh?’ She read. Before handing her mobile to Dan.
“Who sent it?” asked Dan.
“No idea, some quiz or game app? What did the message mean?”
Dan’s skin lost all colour. He rushed to the kitchen sink.
“What’s the matter? Who is Vincent whatever?” she asked as he cleaned his mouth.
“He was an artist who hallucinated because of his depression. One day he cut his ear off.”
“Oh, my God, you mean…?”
The doorbell chirped and rang again as if stuck. Dan rushed to the door.
Not a male in a green uniform this time. A blonde girl stood with a hairbrush sweeping her locks across her shoulders.
“I’ve gone one better than him. You said you’d love me forever, I never want to hear those words again,” she said, smiling.