To retire to a beautiful Thai lake would be a dream. Husband and wife have their own ideas!
“Here Comes the Sun. Watch this,” he whistled.
The couple sat on a rock arm in arm.
“Beautiful, you know I’ve never seen the sunrise like this in England?”
“You mean not over a flat lake? You’ve seen it plenty of times, but over council house roofs.”
“Yes, on my way home after a late shift at the hospital,” she laughed.
“Not quite the same, is it?”
“No dear, I feel a lot will change living here.”
“And just think, on your sixtieth birthday you celebrate by watching nature’s beauty in Thailand.”
“Thank you, darling, for a wonderful surprise, and the many I’ve had married to you. I’ve one for you.”
The steel needle plunged between ribs deep into her husband’s heart.
His last word as he rolled forward. Mrs Murphy strained as she sat him back on the rock.
“Come and get us,” she said to her iPhone.
The long-tailed speedboat roared into view. The front of the craft scraped over small stones as he cut the engine.
Its driver, Khun Jojo, jumped out grinning.
Mrs Ann Murphy returned the warmth of his smile. Opened her arms and hugged him.
“Let’s get him in the boat, then we can enjoy my birthday,” she said.
Difficult, but Jojo was a strong young man. Between them, they rolled Mr Murphy into the weighted fishing net. The sun already glistened darting bolts across the lake.
“Jeez, Jojo, it’s going to be a hot one.”
“This is Thailand,” he answered, twisting the steering bar. The boat slowed and drifted in the middle of the enormous lake. They humped the net over the chipped wooden edge of the speedboat. The package slid rather than splashed and quickly sank out of sight.
“Goodbye dear husband, safe trip wherever you are going,” she giggled.
Jojo started the engine. Black clouds of diesel fumes drifted on the breeze, earning Jojo a glare from his passenger.
Flapping the smog away, she brightened, “Do you want breakfast?”
“You mean your English version? Toast and jam? No thanks, I’ll go home to my wife’s Thai breakfast.”
“Suit yourself, when do you want the balance of your money?”
“I’ll return my brother’s boat, then I’ll come to you. After you’ve had your toast. Okay?”
Finishing the last mouthful of toast, Ann counted out the thousand Baht notes, one hundred of them.
“Haha two thousand quid well spent,” she said to herself.
“Thank you, Ann,” said Jojo stashing the notes in his truck, “Are you going to live here now?”
“Oh yes, I enjoy living here, we can do things we would never get away with at home.”
“After a couple of holidays, you have decided?”
“As you know, my husband came here alone ten times before he invited me, so it was he who decided we should retire here. But, I love the place. So yes, I’ll stay.”
“If you need me for anything else, you know where I am.”
Ann waited until lunchtime before she reported her husband missing.
“I’m sorry, madam, there is nothing we can do at the moment. He may have gone for a walk… or something?”
“Yes, officer, I understand. Thank you,” mopping the fake tears.
Out of sight, she rubbed her hands and went home.
Their home in England had fetched the expected price, and the money invested.
“Leave it to me, I know the stock-market,” her husband had promised. She had no reason to doubt his judgement.
To own a home in Thailand was not as simple.
“I’ve bought us a lovely bungalow,” he told her on his return from one of his regular trips.
“Look at the pictures,” he had said.
A cute two-bedroomed property on a new estate smiled at her.
“It’s lovely,” she said. “I thought foreigners can’t own houses in Thailand?”
“True enough, my dear, but there is always a way. Don’t worry.”
Ann often wondered why her husband chose Songkhla to retire to. It boasted the lake he loved and was near the sea. Bangkok, a busy capital, would not have been suitable after living in London. Pattaya had a bad name with a good deal of ex-pat wives. Phuket sounded lovely, a touch expensive, Hua Hin would have been her pick. She wasn’t offered the choice.
“Ah, it’s morning in England, I’ll ring Lucy before she goes to work.”
“Lucy darling, are you sitting down? I’ve got some worrying news.”
Ann sniffed back pretend tears.
“What is it, mum?”
“Your dad, he has gone off. He wasn’t in bed when I woke. His phone is here. God knows what happened. I thought he may have gone to buy his paper. No sign of him. I’ll ring you later.”
They always deliver his Bangkok Post at eight am. As usual, Ann turned it over, “Anything happening in England,” she wondered, then reminded herself to check the share market later.
The phone was ringing, “I hadn’t finished. Mum, I’m worried. Have you been to the police?”
“Yes, they told me there have been no accidents involving British people. I’m worried too, what shall I do?”
“Sit tight. I’m sure if anything happens, the authorities will contact you. It may be… he met a friend and forgot the time?”
“Yes, dear. I’ll ring you later, or tomorrow.”
The Bangkok Post’s financial pages didn’t offer any information of use. She didn’t know what she was looking for, anyway.
Her phone rang.
“Hello,” answered Ann.
A woman spoke for an entire minute without stopping.
“Sorry, love, I don’t speak Thai.”
She cut the connection.
“What the hell was that about?”
The fridge boasted fresh salad ingredients to which she added half a can of tuna. Sitting down in front of the telly, she tucked in.
“Why don’t I open a bottle of wine? A small celebration for a job well done.”
She was no wine expert, and a locally produced white was perfectly adequate.
An urgent rap at the door disturbed her cheery mood.
“Sawasdee,” said the lady offering the traditional Thai greeting, the wai.
Ann had been in Thailand long enough to know they expected her to return the bow with her hands together as if in prayer.
“Hello, can I help you?”
The slightly built, well-dressed woman spoke non-stop to the vacant face of Ann. She then politely peered over and around Ann’s shoulders.
“Do you want to come in?”
The woman ducked away, got in a car and drove off.
Scratching her head, Ann returned to her now warm wine. The mobile was ringing again.
“Yes, hello,” said Ann
“Mum, the bank is trying to track you down.”
“Er, why? They know where I am.”
“Did you know dad changed his next of kin?”
“What do you mean?”
“They wouldn’t tell me, but as they are my bank too, I was told a little. The manager asked me who Khun Su is? I do not understand. Do you know?”
“The only Su I know is our driver’s niece.”
“The Su the bank mentioned is a baby. Is that her?”
“I’ll call you later, there is someone at the door.”
“You again? And who is this?”
The gentleman answered, “I’m Tanai Geek, this lady’s lawyer. Can we come in?”
“And who is she?”
The two guests made themselves comfortable, Ann was dreading the next conversation.
“You are no doubt aware that foreigners may not own property? It is against the law in Thailand.”
“Yes, I know, my husband organised it all safely. We own this house until we die.”
“That is not quite true. It was your husband’s for now. But when he dies, they pass it to his daughter.”
“Okay, and our daughter wants me to live here. What is the problem?”
“His daughter is not old enough to speak. Not old enough to decide on property matters. Therefore, her mother has power of attorney.”
Ann was not listening.
“Of course she is, I just spoke to her in England…” the truth dawned on Ann, a hammer blow struck as she lost the power of speech.
“His new Thai daughter will take possession of all his belongings on his death. We know he is dead, as do you? Now, do you want to hand over the keys? Or do you want to explain photographs we took this morning to the police?”
Her phone was ringing, again. She threw it into the lake.
“You got the better of me again. You always did. I thought finally I had won. Let’s call it a draw.”
The moonlight bounced off the water’s ripples as she strode into the tepid wetness; her pockets full of rocks.