Wednesday March 14th.
Somchai was pissed, very seriously pissed off about Ning. She said the Englishman Farang was taking her away for 4 days and now it was 6 days and she was still not back. How was he supposed to live without money? When she left she had given him 2000 baht but that did not last long. A few drinks with friends, some food and then the card game. He had stayed out of cards for 2 days but on the third day, with a few whiskies in him he succumbed and while at one stage he was up around 8000 baht, about 3 AM he came away from it broke. Absolutely skint! When he woke up with a big hangover next day around 1.00 pm and remembered what happened, it made him angry. If the bitch had been home and had given him his dues and he had more money to gamble with, he just knew he would have been rich, he would have won for sure. But having no money meant he could not continue to play and so he went back to the room to sleep it off. The room was a mess, clothes everywhere, dishes piled up in the plastic basin all because she was not there to do her job. She said she hated going to Pattaya hotels or Phuket to those resorts with farangs but Somchai was not sure of this. Sure she always brought back good money and she always looked very good like she had been eating and drinking well and she said she made sure they got her spas and massages to make her skin smooth and soft as she said that she knew that Somchai liked her this way. But he was starting to think that she enjoyed being away with them, more than being there with him, he who was a real Thai man, not an old fat bald white skin person. She had told him that some of them could not even get it up to do the job, not like him who she said was a strong man.
He also did not like some of the ideas she came back with; asking him to help her clean up the room, or put his dirty dishes in the basin. His mother had done all this for his father while he relaxed, he did not have to get up and wash dishes or sweep floors so why should Somchai start this. The time she came back and asked him to do some different sex positions annoyed him and then the time she said he should go down there and eat her woman part, well that was the end. The man did his job and he was not going to waste time on her and as for eating that part of her womanhood, that would be disgusting. He knew he beat her too much that night as she had black eye for 10 days and only got small money from drinks and small tips for next week with no real customers. He would not do that again but he had to keep her in line or else who knows what would happen.
When he went to the drawer where she kept her rings and chains, nothing was there. The bitch had taken them with her. How was he going to get any money now with nothing to pawn? The TV was already in the pawn shop and all he had left now was his motorbike and he was not going to hock that. Better to go to money lender in next Soi as he could pay him as soon as Ning arrived back. Sure it cost him 20 baht a day interest for every 100 baht he borrowed but he thought it was only for two days and then she would be back. He would be a little careful and not spend too much so 2000 baht would be enough.
As soon as she came in the room, he was going to give it to her, right there on the floor, just behind the door. No funny positions, just him on top and then 5 minutes later, take her from behind. She would initially say no, say she was tired but that would not stop him. He knew she really wanted her man in there giving it to her the way she had always known from him. She better have a lot of money for making him wait for 2 extra days. If she had all the smooth face and powder and lipstick and all that shit on, he would give her a tough time like the previous occurrence. He had taken the scouring cloth and rubbed it all off her face to make her look like a proper Thai country girl again like they were in the east where he came from. He was not sure where her family was, it was in Issan somewhere but he would not go there with her; who wanted to go there and eat all their smelly north food? She had stayed 2 extra days on the last visit as well and when she returned late he showed her what he thought of that. The trouble today was the women wanted to be like farangs not like proper Thai woman. She should respect him as he was the man and she should look after him as she was a woman, which was the way it had always been up country and she should know all this, not start this stupid farang way, just because she had to work with them did not mean she had to be like them. He thought that I should get her pregnant as that would tie her in. He thought that maybe she could not have baby as he refused most times to use the condom she always had with her, the ones the bars gave to her free of charge. He was a real man and he had already got two women from his part of the country pregnant so why she did not get this way he did not know. Of course having these children meant he could not go back to the area where he grew up as both of the women were still around there and as soon as he showed up, they and their family were straight after him for money and one of these older brothers also gave him a good hiding and belting last time as he had no money. Somchai was smart enough to know to stay away from there now.
Thursday March 15 Th
Ning lay in bed, she could not sleep, and she kept asking herself, have I done the right thing. She had thought about this and had planned it for last 15 months and it had seemed a good idea then, but now she was no longer dreaming about it, she was doing it. She actually had her own shop selling goods to foreigners in Phuket. She would be in control of her own life, what happened now was up to her, not up to Somchai or her lazy brother in laws back home in Nong Khai in Isaan where all they did was as little work in the field as they could and sit around and talk and then drink when her sisters brought home money from working in the fields for other people. She felt sorry for her sisters although they both said they were happy and ok.” Don’t we have TV and fridge and fans, our mother did not have these when she was bringing us up”. They were right of course, but then their father was a good man, he worked hard on his land to get food and money for the family. He let his older daughters stay at school until 14 years old to help them do better than him. The mother also worked for others in planting season and also when it was picking time. She realized now, looking back that they did not have much but they had enough to have a healthy life in the village, where they were in the middle rung of the social ladder.
It had all started to change for the worse when the father died and then the two older sisters got married within 3 months of each other and both the brother in laws wanted to work the land: they really wanted their wives’ and their mother to work it for them. Then mum passed away and there was just the three of them. By now Ning was working in a shop in the town and knew she was not going to marry a local guy and live this way all her life. She was 19, looked good as she never had shortage of local guys wanting to take her out and was so happy she had studied hard at school as her father let her stay until she was 16 and she finished high school. She was also very happy that she did so well in English and farang often commented on this when they came into shop where she worked.
When she realised there was never going to be good opportunity to do better for herself in Nong Khai, she went to Bangkok to work in a shop and then after a little time in the city she saw how things played there and she realised the extra money she could make if she went to work in bars where farang went. She decided that this would be her way out of the current life. It was all going well as in first 18 months she managed to save around 95,000 baht from fees and tips and her bar salary. She also quickly learned to find out the customers who were going to stay for a longer period in Thailand and this way she could get some holidays with them. The first time she went to Phuket to a 5 star resort, it was like heaven, with walk in showers, big baths, spas and massages. She had to “work” for it but mostly she enjoyed that part as well.
Her big problem was her own fault as one time she went with her bar sisters to a party after work and she drank too much and ended up sleeping with Somchai. He immediately moved in with her as he now thought of her as his woman or property and they had to get their own room. Somchai quickly showed her what would happen if she did not obey him in every way and if she did not bring home enough money to keep him happy. All the money she had saved was now all gone on his motorbike, beer, clothes for him and a big TV. Ning was unhappy about it and discussed with her sisters in the bar. They told her the best way was to contact and pay the heavy guys who would tell Somchai to stay away from her and also give him a demonstration of what would happen if he did not obey their instructions. Luckily one mamasan advised her not to do this as once you approached the heavy men they would never forget you and would be after you all the time for money and favours and she could never say no to them even if 3 of them decided they wanted the same favour the same night.
She thought about how it had all come together after she met Peter in the bar in the first few months she was with Somchai. He was English and she initially had trouble understanding his accent. He seemed a nice person and when he took her away for 3 days to Pattaya the first time, she was nervous as what he intended to do with her. She had a great time and learned that he was gentle and kind and looked after her. The times in bed with him were so enjoyable as he always wanted to spend time making her happy first and then they had fantastic time finishing the fun together. He came to Bangkok about every 6 –8 weeks and would take her to either Pattaya or best of all to the resort in Phuket. She loved it there as it was private and she could laze around and be entertained by Peter. She realised how good he was by the way other customers she went with treated her when he was away. He asked her about her life and when he heard her dreams of having her own shop, he set about trying to help make this happen. He gave her money and tried to teach her about business, explaining to her that it was different in owning the shop and buying stock in and keeping books then just getting there each morning and selling stuff to customers who came in.
Over the course of the past 18 months they had planned how they would start a shop for her in Phuket so she could be away from Bangkok and Somchai. Peter helped her plan it all and gave her money for the rent deposit on the shop and to buy stock. When the time came to go there, she had to pretend to Somchai that she would be back in 4 days so she could not take all her clothes and shoes: that would have made him suspicious. She was able to get her rings and jewellery out by packing it in her underwear. Peter helped her open the shop and she had hired a local woman to help her sell the products. Peter would be back in 6 weeks and he said that this time he would arrange to stay for a week to give her support and make sure the books were all done correctly. She was worried about if it would all end up ok, but she trusted Peter. She hoped that soon he would leave England and his wife and come back and marry her and they could start their own family. He said she just had to wait for another 6 months and they would be together
Friday March 16th.
Peter knew something was up as soon as he got into his office in South London on the Monday morning. He had arrived back in England on Friday morning but always took the rest of the day off after his 21 days away looking after Asia. This gave him time to acclimatise again, spend time with the kids and with Mary, although that was now a difficult part as his heart was not in it in more. He wanted to be with Ning and her wonderful lithe body and beautiful infectious smile not with Mary who was always busy with the kids, cleaning the house and trying to organize everybody. She said she had to do this as with him being away so much she needed to have the household in a routine but he felt like he was coming back to an army camp not a household.
When he went into his office, his assistant Mandy followed him in and said that Mr. Williams the M.D, and majority owner wanted to see him straight away, and he would be having his morning coffee in there. Pater asked her if Bill, the sales director would be there and she just smiled and said no. You will be on your own. This made Peter feel uneasy. As Peter went down the hallway to Mr William’s office, his secretary Rhonda smiled at him: this was a warning he thought, she has never smiled at me in the 6 years I have been here. When Peter went in, Williams stood up, walked across to shake hands: again this was most unusual. He gestured for Peter to sit down,”I guess you are wondering why I have called you in here” he said smiling: this was also an unusual occurrence. “Well I have good news for you, Bill has left the company and we have decided to make you the Regional Manager for Europe”. Peter looked at him and then stammered, “But what about my customers in Asia?” Williams looked at him and said, “Don’t worry about that, we will have Sam Peterson take over that area as he already travels to Australia and New Zealand.” Peter blurted out “but I have some unfinished business there, I must see it through.” Williams did not like the way this was said and then drew himself up in his chair and said “Europe is our core market; it is 10 times the size of what you are doing in Asia. This is a prime opportunity for you, you surprise me, it sounds like you don’t want to progress up the ladder to a senior role”. Peter looked down at his shoes and inside his stomach was one big knot.
Four weeks later.
Ning was frantic. Nothing had turned out the way she thought it would. She had hardly any customers come through the shop and had taken very small money. Then on top of this she came into the shop late on the Thursday morning to find nearly all the stock was gone: She rang her only employee Poo but her phone was off. Then some of the other shop keepers told her that they believed Poo and two men had come into the shop around 7.00 am and emptied the stock out into a truck. She asked them “why didn’t you stop them”? they just shrugged their shoulders and said Poo had told them that is was consignment stock and the supplier was taking it back and going to swap it. She was beside her self. She had only started to give a key to Poo two days earlier because she wanted to have a late start on the Tuesday morning but Poo had said, “give me a key and I will start earlier than you on time, we may get customer in this time”. Ning did this and found Poo there in shop when she arrived around 9.30 am. The same thing next day so on Thursday she did not get there until 10.30 am to find everything gone. She tried to ring Peter on the special number he had given here but it was turned off. She guessed it was still night time in England. She went to the police station but they were not helpful. They asked her for copy of Poo’s ID but that copy was missing; Poo had obviously forced open the cupboard in the small back room and had taken the copy with her. She had nothing but her name.
Morning in England.
Peter heard the phone ringing as he sat in his office having the meeting with the overseas visitors. He knew it was Ning as she was the only one who had the number to that phone. He had to buy a new phone with new number just for calls to and from her. He could not use the company supplied phone and could not ring her from home. He tried to call her often but sometimes he could not as he was just so busy and then when he was finished for the day, it was around 1.00 am in Thailand. The few times she did answer at that time, it was hopeless as he could not understand her properly when she was sleepy.
This was first time she had rang him on this special number so he thought she was probably going to give him good news. He hoped so as then she would be so happy and he could tell her that he would not be able to get back to Thailand for a very long time, as his job had changed. With the visitors in his office he could not answer then but made a mental note to call Ning as soon as he could, but with these visitors here all week, it would be next week before he could get on the right time zone.
Somchai’s room in Bangkok.
Somchai was so happy again, really happy again for the first time in four weeks. After the bitch Ning did not show up after 6 days and the recovery men from the money lender came around looking for their boss’s money, Somchai knew he was in deep trouble. They showed him what would happen if he did not pay up within two days. All the bruises were on his body and legs so no one could see them but he could feel them, every step he walked. He had to go and put his motor cycle into hock and pay the money lender back. The guy then thanked Somchai and smiled and said he was a good customer and now a good friend and to come back any time he needed more help. Somchai felt his hair stand up on back of his neck as he waied him and walked out of there watched by all the same recovery men who had visited him two days earlier and walked back to his room. When he got there the manager reminded him that his monthly rent was overdue so there went another 1800 baht. After a night of drinking whiskey with his friend Rat, he had a hangover and the grand total of 9250 baht in his pocket and no bike. That night he hid 5000 baht in his mattress in the room and went out and played cards. It was a good night, as karma was with him and at around 4.00 am, he had a full stomach of food and alcohol, a beautiful young Thai woman hanging off his neck and she was from Bangkok, no more of those northern woman and he had about 12000 baht in his pocket. Life was good again. Over the next three weeks, the Bangkok girl stayed with him, cleaned his room, washed his clothes and did everything in the house just like his mother had for his father. She also made him very happy in bed, in fact she was too much as he was out of shape and having a young one like her was taking its toll. He was secretly happy when her time of month came around and she could only make him happy with her other orifices. Not only this, but she also brought him really good luck at cards. Over the past three weeks he had won around 80000 baht and had taken his motor cycle and the big TV back, had paid the rent for three months and had even bought himself some new clothes, very trendy stuff and let her buy some clothes and make up. Somchai felt they looked a handsum couple as they walked around the streets and he thought everyone was watching him as they probably all knew by now that he was a winner. Life was very good.
4 days on.
Ning had arrived into Pattaya after a long bus trip and 420 baht in her pocket. She had to skip out of Phuket in middle of night as people were after her for money owed and there was no way she could give it to them. The electricity company and telephone people had copy of her ID card so they would keep after her wherever she went, but she just needed to get away to get started somewhere to get some money in her pocket. She could not go home to her sisters and their husbands as her pride would not allow this and she could not go to Bangkok in case Somchai saw her and she knew what would happen then. She had to sell the phone that Peter had given her and her jewellery to pay some debts off and to get money for bus trip. At least she knew Pattaya from visits there with Peter and other customers so she used part of the small money she had left to go to Beach road just up from Walking Street and look for a customer there. As she sat on the wall and tried to look good and smile at the old men who were walking past in late afternoon, she started to think how she got into this situation. The dreams of a good life with a farang were gone and she would never trust them again.
Peter was sitting in his office and was frantic. He had rang Ying’s number over 100 times in past 3 days but it did not ring, just a message saying the number is unavailable. He could not concentrate properly at the office and in fact a number people had asked him if everything was ok. What could he say? The frequency of arguments with Mary had escalated and gotten worse and he was trying to spend as little time as possible at home just to avoid being with her. When they were in bed together he could only dream that it was Ying next to him. If they did get intimate, he had to fantasize he was with Ying to get the job finished. He just sat there in his office and wondered how he got into this situation.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”