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A Lust For Life

A Lust For Life

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A Lust For Life

Lunghezza:
758 pagine
14 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Feb 20, 2015
ISBN:
9781311983831
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

‘A Lust for Life’ is the story of Toby Stark, a saga of 210,000 words, spanning five decades, and five continents, with much of the action taking place in South East Asia, primarily in Thailand.

It is the tale of a troubled, hard drinking Englishman who was born to an abusive father in post-war, economically depressed London, and whose foolhardy escapades take him to America, Canada, Africa, the Middle East and Indonesia, before arriving in Thailand where he decides to spend the remainder of his life.

Along the way Toby lurches from poverty, to wealth, and back to poverty again; is subjected to spells in many of the world’s jails; wins and loses countless women - including five wives, four of whom are Thai - and also develops an unhealthy addiction to alcohol.

In later life, he becomes inextricably involved with two beautiful women from rural Thailand.
‘Ying’ is born in impoverished circumstances in Eastern Thailand, and at the age of eight she witnesses her gangland father being shot down in front of her. Ying’s eventful life takes her to Bangkok at the age of twelve to work as an indentured servant, and later to the south of Thailand where she suffers constant abuse by the father of her child. She eventually escapes and moves back to Bangkok where she becomes a popular hostess at one of Bangkok’s nightspots.

‘Na’ is also born into incredible poverty in the North East of Thailand and moves to the resort City of Pattaya at a very young age. Despite her appalling suffering at the hands of paedophiles and other criminal elements, she survives to become a highly sought after ‘working girl’ in one of Pattaya’s premier red light districts.

The two women meet by chance and reluctantly join forces to try and save Toby from almost certain death in a Pattaya jail after he is arrested for causing a fatal road accident.

Their efforts to rescue him and their subsequent adventures are an exciting, roller-coaster of a ride, which exposes the sordid underbelly of Pattaya’s criminally controlled, lawless, sex industry where death, human trafficking and unspeakable depravity are the order of the day. The thrilling and shocking climax of the saga is both uplifting and distressing.

"A Lust for Life" leads the reader deep into the dark side of Thailand’s corrupt and morally bankrupt society. It explores the fatal culture clashes that are experienced by thousands of eager westerners who flock to Thailand, only to learn that their dreams of happiness in a tropical paradise are largely an illusion.

It also delves into the causes and the punishing effects of alcoholism in both eastern and western civilizations.

At its heart, "A Lust for Life" is a novel about abuse and its long lasting effects and of desire, love, greed, adventure, heartbreak and shocking violence - the bread and butter of daily life in the exotic "Land Of Smiles."

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Feb 20, 2015
ISBN:
9781311983831
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Mobi D'Ark was born in 1946 in Hampshire, England and grew up in post-war, economically depressed East London/Essex. He left school at the age of sixteen to become an accountant and had a 40-year career in the world of global finance. During this time he lived and worked extensively abroad, primarily in South East Asia, West Africa, The Middle East, and North America. He concluded his career back where he started - in the City of London. Taking early retirement in 2,000, Mobi turned his hand to his first love, creative writing, and over the following 14 years, he has written a collection of six Thai-based novelettes, a children's novel, a crime novelette based in the Middle East and three full-length novels, two of which are mainly based in Thailand, and the third in Nigeria. Mobi is a much-wedded world traveller and has been caught up in many sensational adventures. These include a bloody civil war; a kidnapping; high-level corruption; a murder or two and a few other foolhardy escapades which on occasion, have caused him to spend several brief spells in third-world jails. Much of his writing is based on these personal experiences. After living overseas for many years, Mobi returned to the UK in 2017 and now lives in Rutland.

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A Lust For Life - Mobi D'Ark

author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mobi D'Ark was born in 1946 in Hampshire, England and grew up in post war, economically depressed East London/Essex. He left school at the age of sixteen to become an accountant and had a 40-year career in the world of global finance.

During this time he lived and worked extensively abroad, primarily in South East Asia, West Africa, The Middle East, and North America. He concluded his career back where he started - in the City of London.

Taking early retirement in 2,000, Mobi turned his hand to his first love, creative writing, and during the past 14 years he has written a collection of six Thai-based novelettes, a children's novel, a crime novelette based in the Middle East and two full length novels, both of which are largely based in Thailand.

He is presently working on a series of six novels which are collectively entitled: The Six Wives of Mobi D’Ark. The first one, Azzy, is expected to be published in late 2015.

Mobi is a much married world traveller, and has been caught up in many sensational adventures, including: a bloody civil war; a kidnapping; high level government corruption; a bloody murder or two and other foolhardy escapades which on occasion, have resulted in him spending several brief spells in third-world jails.

Much of his writing is based on these personal experiences.

Mobi has lived in Thailand since 2002.

WORKS BY MOBI D’ARK

A Lust for Life * (Novel)

Madju-Raj; The messenger of Death * (Novel)

Tales from Thailand * (A collection of 6 six short stories/novelettes)

The Remarkable Adventures of Terry The Tom Cat (Children’s novel)

The Bahrain Incident * (Novelette)

*Available on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, Amazon-Kindle, and other eBook publishers

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WORKS BY MOBI D'ARK

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

CHAPTER 40

MADJU-RAJ; THE MESSENGER OF DEATH

FROM THAILAND WITH LOVE

THE BAHRAIN INCIDENT

CHAPTER 1

Na parked her rented Honda motor cycle at right angles to the kerb, next to three other bikes which were similarly parked, and then eased her weary body off the warm machine to join the roadside queue for her nightly fix of somtum.

It was 3 a.m., and she was parked in Second Road, in the heart of Sin City, Pattaya, Thailand; but despite the hour, the town was still wide awake – buzzing with life. The streets, restaurants, bars, massage parlours and brothels were all bustling with frenetic activity. The night was still alive with punters; foreign tourists who were out for a night on the town and unwavering in their desire to squeeze every ounce of illicit pleasure from this most infamous of red-light metropolises.

Then there were the Thais; thousands of them - of which Na was one - mostly temporary residents in this ever expanding city, who were also out in force and equally full of unwavering determination to squeeze every hard earned dollar and cent from the inebriated, sex-crazed punters.

She was moderately drunk and very hungry. Three in the morning may not have been particularly late by Pattaya standards, but it was late for her. She usually clocked-off from her job as a hostess at Kismet, one of Pattaya’s more discerning Gentlemen’s Clubs, at around midnight.

On this particular night there had been a group of high rolling, very drunk customers who had been reluctant to leave. Her American boss had prevailed upon the few remaining ladies who had not been ‘bought out’ for the night, to stay past their normal finishing time and provide some extra, late night entertainment.

At first, she had welcomed this request, as she was very short of money and she hoped that one of the western foreigners –farangs - from the drunken group would take her back to his hotel. The thirty dollars or so that she would earn from a short time fuck would come in very handy. In the event, she had been obliged to allow the drunken, pot- bellied slobs to paw her for the best part of three hours and all that she had to show for her personal degradations was a lousy two hundred baht – six dollars - her cut from the few overpriced drinks they had reluctantly agreed to buy for her.

Na was almost broke. She hadn’t slept with a customer in days, her rent was overdue and her mother and her two kids were waiting patiently in her room for her to return home with some food. She looked in her purse and counted two hundred and thirty baht. By the time she had bought her somtum, there would be less than two hundred baht remaining to feed her mother, her five year old daughter and her one year old baby son; just enough for one meal.

It was already September, and for some reason, in 2012, the tourist low season seemed to go on forever. The small funds at her disposal, together with the ever upward spiral in the cost of food, meant that her family would be hungry again long before she had a further opportunity to earn some more money, when she clocked back on to work the following evening. She wasn’t overly worried – it wasn’t in her nature to worry too much about tomorrow, and anyway something was sure to turn up.

Her main thoughts at that moment were centred on satisfying her craving for somtum pala, which was at that very moment being pounded out in the chipped mortar in front of her by the ancient Issan woman. She could worry about feeding the family later. She was typical of most Thais; if she allowed herself to worry about all her problems at the same time, she would never be able to laugh and joke her way through the day, never be able to bai tio – go out and enjoy herself with her friends. Most of all, she would never be able to smile her magic smile and work her wicked wiles on the stupid farangs who came looking for sexual gratification at her place of employment.

No, tomorrow would take care of itself – it always did. It was the Thai way; just live for today and not worry too much about what may happen tomorrow. But even the irrepressible Na felt a little weighed down with life’s misfortunes as she sorted out her bank notes and coins to pay for her food. If things didn’t improve soon, she may have to pay a visit to one of the dreaded money-lenders. She knew that once she allowed herself to get into the hands of the local Chinese loan sharks, it would be the start of a very slippery and dangerous slope. She had been there before and she knew only too well how it could end if she wasn’t very careful.

She had just chalked up three months as a hostess in Kismet, one of the newer Gentlemen’s clubs that had recently sprung up in Pattaya’s more affluent suburbs and it had been her first regular job for quite a while. These types of club normally operated from noon to midnight and mainly catered for well-off, married, European residents, who were seeking a bit of daytime distraction. In addition to the regular expatriate customers, there was also the occasional group of well-healed tourists that were brought by tour guides looking for a ‘punter’s commission’.

It had been just such a group that had prevented Na from going home at normal closing time on this particular night. When she first started there, her personality and good looks had made her one of the most popular hostess three months ago and she had been in much demand as a drinking companion by the mainly retired patrons. Unfortunately, not many of the regular customers were interested in having full-blown sex – or even a blow-job.

It wasn’t that they couldn’t afford it – after all, the going rate was pretty much the same as anywhere - it was just that they were of an age when their testosterone levels no longer raged as they once did. As a result, the needs and desires of these elderly gentlemen were a little different. Most of them were quite happy to sink their generously endowed backsides into deeply piled, leather couches, sip their gin and tonics and enjoy the cuddles of pretty ladies, a third of their age who sat on their laps. Heavy groping was all that a majority of Kismet’s patrons were after. Sex in one of Kismet’s beautifully furnished, private rooms that were provided for the purpose - was simply not on their agenda

This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as these well-heeled westerners would often spend more money during a brief visit to Kismet than many of the younger, sex-mad foreign punters who patronised the Walking Street bars. Often the client’s drink bills alone ran to several thousand baht; far exceeding the amounts spent by a typical tourist in one of the less salubrious short-time bars, downtown. The girls at Kismet worked very hard for their ladies’ drinks commission, and their tips. Occasionally, they got lucky and landed a younger man who was looking for a proper sexual encounter and was happy to pay generously for it, but for the most part, they had to rely on their drinks and trusted to fate that they would receive generous tips. It was the luck of the draw.

But after only three months at Kismet, most of the regular customers knew Na by sight, and this familiarity seemed to reduce her drawing power as a paid companion. The punters still greeted her warmly, but then they would make a beeline for one of the newer, younger ladies waiting patiently at the bar. She was fast becoming part of the furniture and as a consequence, her income had tapered off quite alarmingly. She had grimly concluded that she would soon have move on – yet again.

The old woman snapped Na out of her reverie as she handed her the freshly prepared dish of spicy papaya salad laced with tiny black crabs together with a second dish containing raw vegetables. Na needed both hands to carry the two plates to the kerbside table and she was still a good meter away from a vacant stool when her sleepy senses were assaulted by the ominous sound of metal crunching against metal .

It was the disturbing, deep, metallic thud that occurs when vehicles collide. She instinctively spun around in time to see a low-slung, black saloon careering into the side of a second moving vehicle after it had bounced off a nearby parked vehicle. The second vehicle was one of the ubiquitous Baht Buses that plied the streets of Pattaya; a converted pickup truck with specially fitted bench seats in the back to transport paying passengers. It was hit with such force that it tumbled over onto its side, spilling its helpless occupants out across the road. The smoke in the air was palpable, and the black sedan buried its nearside front wing into a third, parked car and finally ground to a shuddering halt.

An eerie silence descended over the scene of the carnage. For a fraction of a second, it seemed as though Sin City had ceased to function; for a brief moment in time, no-one moved and no one uttered a sound.

The shock of being so close to a serious accident caused Na to lose control of the plastic dishes of food, which spun out of her hands and bounced on the hard surface of the road scattering their contents in every direction. She recovered from her initial shock and started to take in the enormity of the scene of carnage that lay in front of her. Some of the passengers had been thrown completely clear of the pickup truck and lay on the ground in unnatural, twisted heaps. Two more victims were hanging half in and half out of the overturned vehicle, and she noticed that the shirt on one of the dangling bodies was turning a bright shade of crimson.

Then she glanced at the car. It was somehow familiar to her – it was a BMW – a car she had seen before somewhere. Yes, she knew that black BMW - she recognised the number. She closed her eyes in a vain attempt to obliterate the bloody scene from her mind; to eradicate what lay in front of her and the realisation of who had caused it.

‘My God,’ she shouted, ‘I know that car! I know that fucking car!’

Her unsatisfied craving for somtum temporarily forgotten, Na hurried over to the smouldering car wreck to confirm what deep down she already knew. A large crowd had gathered around the badly damaged vehicle, but she pushed her way through in unladylike fashion and peered in through the darkened side window. One glance was enough; she knew him well enough. It was Toby – that bloody drunken Englishman who had given her such a hard time.

‘What a bastard!’ she said out aloud. ‘What a fucking bastard!’ You crazy, drunken, bastard!  How many people have you killed Toby?’ she screamed through the window at his still form, which lay slumped across the steering wheel.

She turned round to look at the scene of carnage – at the dying and badly mutilated bodies that were strewn across the road. Then she turned back towards the car and the perpetrator of this outrage.

‘I hope you’re dead, Toby, I hope you’re fucking dead! Because if you’re not – your life won’t be worth living, I can promise you that!’

She remained transfixed to the spot as the smoke and dust started to clear from the scene of the accident and the full extent of the carnage became even clearer. The BMW had careered into two parked cars which looked as though they had been ripped open by a giant can opener and the third vehicle, a converted passenger- carrying pickup truck, was lying on its side; with the roof of the driver’s cab partly caved in. She could see that the driver was still at the wheel, but it was impossible to know for sure if he was alive or dead. She then turned her attention back to the BMW. The front end and nearside were so badly mangled that it was difficult to imagine that it could ever be brought back to its former glory, but the remainder of the car was relatively unscathed.

It seemed to Na that the eerie silence lasted for ages, but in reality, it was only a few brief seconds. The one-way the traffic behind the scene of the accident had come to a halt; most of the drivers had cut their engines and were climbing out of their vehicles to get a closer look at the horrific scene ahead. The uneasy peace was suddenly broken by an injured passenger from the converted pick-up, who let out an agonising screech of pain. It was coming from a young lady who was lying on her back in the middle of the road - her legs spayed out at an unusual, almost grotesque angle. But it was her head that drew the onlookers’ compulsive attention. It was dripping with blood from a nasty gash on the side of her forehead; the poor girl was clearly in a very bad state.

It was almost as though the unfortunate woman’s screams of pain became the signal for a general commotion to begin. Other passengers from the overturned pick-up started to join in with an unholy chorus of wailing and moaning. People streamed out of the nearby bars, shops, restaurants and from the backed up vehicles, to gather at the scene of the accident and see what could be done to help the injured. Na joined her fellow Thais and did what she could do to help the victims. She tried to make them more comfortable and helped to cover them with makeshift sheets that the nearby workers had rustled up. She had forgotten that she was hungry. The shock of what had happened had jolted her to her very core, especially as she now knew the identity of the person who had caused this terrible accident.

Two taxi drivers tried their best to force open the front doors of the BMW, but without success; both doors were locked and wouldn’t budge. Na saw what they were trying to do and left off from helping the injured to join the two men who were peering inside the heavily darkened widow. She could just make out the figure of a farang inside, his head lying at an odd angle against a partly deflated air bag. He was unconscious, and as she looked closer, she knew that her earlier suspicions were correct. One of the men tried smashing the side window with a brick he found on the kerbside, but the toughened glass didn’t even crack. By now, something akin to a lynch mob had surrounded the car and they were all trying, in different ways, to smash their way in, but the doughty BMW was having none of it.

Inside the car, Toby was slowly regaining consciousness. At first, he didn’t know where he was, but as he came to, he suddenly felt sharp stabs of pain in his legs, arms and face. He opened his eyes, looked at the airbag and realised that he was in his car and that he had been in bad accident. He had no recollection of what had happened. Through his pain, he tried to think back and his memory gradually started to function again. The last thing he remembered was walking along Beach Road, very drunk, looking for a friendly prostitute to take home with him. What was he doing in his car? How had he got there? How had the accident happened? He couldn’t remember a thing after that drunken stagger along the beach. Where the fuck was he?

Then he looked up at the screaming Thais who had surrounded his car and were shouting and gesticulating at him. What were they shouting? He couldn’t make it out. He closed his eyes momentarily in a futile effort to clear his head. But he felt so woozy and lightheaded, and then he realised why. The one fact his brain was able to register was that he was still very drunk. He was still pissed out of his mind, and he had been driving a car that had been involved in a serious accident. He knew he was in very deep shit. He opened his eyes again. ‘They don’t look very friendly’, he thought to himself.

He realised they were screaming at him to unlock the door so he instinctively reached out to release the door lock before quickly thinking better of it. ‘That might not be a very good idea,’ he told himself, ‘those people look like they want to string me up!’ He removed his hand from the side of the door and sank back down into his seat, which provoked an even louder uproar from the angry crowd outside. His aches and pains were suddenly forgotten and he almost jumped out of his seat in panic when he saw the crowd trying to break the windscreen with a huge lump of concrete they had found nearby.

‘Jesus fucking Christ! They really mean to have me!’ he said under his breath.

He was in imminent danger of losing control of his bowels when he caught the sight of two uniformed policemen, who were trying to force their way through the angry crowd to the side of the car. Never in his life had Toby been so happy to see the sight of two Thai cops. He watched in desperation as they came up alongside the driver’s window, and angrily gestured to him to unlock the door. ‘Will I be safe?’ he asked himself. He soon realised that if he didn’t do as he was asked, sooner or later they would succeed in breaking in, so with much apprehension, he flipped the lock and the door was immediately swung wide open. The pains from his injuries returned with a vengeance when the two cops dragged him brusquely out of the car. Somehow, he managed to stand upright and the crowd instinctively backed away – staring in bewilderment at the lone perpetrator of the carnage that lay about them.

He was a pathetic mess. Strands of blood-caked hair were stuck to his face and there was a nasty gash on his temple. There was several days’ of stubbly growth on his face and his beer-stained shirt was splattered with his own blood. The shirt was unbuttoned, revealing a sweaty, potbellied stomach, partly covered by his filthy, wrinkled jeans, which looked as though they had been slept in for the past week. To complete the picture, his filthy, bare feet revealed black, broken toe nails.

He gazed at the scene and despite the fact that he was still very drunk, the awful realisation of the mayhem he had caused started to dawn on him. He blinked his eyes in disbelief as he took in the sight of the four wrecked vehicles and the plight of the wounded and dying who were scattered all over the road. ‘My God!’ he muttered, ‘Holy fucking God! What the fuck have I done?’

The sound of a siren pierced the air. Two ambulances were fast approaching the scene of the accident, driving the wrong way down the one-way road. It was the only way they could get through, as by now, the road behind the accident was backed up with traffic for several kilometres, but in front, it was empty. Toby watched as the two ambulances parked up alongside a police truck which had arrived moments earlier and the drivers and medics ran over to the scene.

He knew how these freelance rescue teams operated. The ambulances, which belonged to the notorious Sawang Boriboon organisation, were little more than glorified pick-ups, run by a privately owned outfit that received commissions from local hospitals for delivering the sick, injured and dying to their doors. The more exclusive the hospital, the greater the commission, but they had to make sure that the patients had the means to pay, or the hospital would refuse admission and the ambulance operatives would get nothing for their trouble.

The medics from the first ambulance rushed over to administer rudimentary first aid to the injured passengers and two medics from the second ambulance ran over to take charge of Toby. They had taken in the sight of a BMW with its injured farang driver and surmised that there would be an excellent commission in this if they could get him to the upmarket Royal Pattaya hospital. Toby breathed a sigh of relief as soon as he saw the medics approach. ‘This is a stroke of luck,’ he thought. Despite the presence of the two policemen, Toby knew that he was still in dire danger and the situation may yet get out of control. The crowd were shouting at him in an increasingly hostile manner and he spoke enough Thai to know that they were very angry and upset with the all the mayhem he had caused. It was by no means impossible that they would take the law into their own hands and attack him, even kill him. It had happened before.

He wondered if he could persuade the two medics to take him to one of the cheaper hospitals – he knew he couldn’t afford the fees at the Royal Pattaya – as he was pretty much broke. He suspected that his injuries were quite serious, and it was probably only due to his drowsy and inebriated state that he was able tolerate the pain and remain standing. He needed to get out of there and into the emergency department of a hospital as soon as possible. Will they be able to whisk him away, before the hostile crowd turns into a lynch mob?

The decision was taken out of his hands. The two policemen still had a firm hold on him, both to prevent him from running away and to stop him from falling over, and were not about to let anyone take him from them. They had arrested a drunken criminal and they were going to take him to Pattaya police station where he would be formerly charged. They impatiently waved the medics away; their boss could decide later whether he should be sent to hospital,

‘I’m… I’m injured! I need a doctor!’ Toby objected, ‘please let me go to hospital…’ he pleaded with them in Thai.

‘No! You will go to the police station and my Lieutenant will decide what to do with you,’ one of the policemen snapped back at him.

‘Go and take care of the injured passengers over there,’ the second policeman shouted at the medics.

‘Please, please I beg you… let me go with them…’

Na, who had been watching the proceedings with interest, decided to intercede. She pushed forward towards the policemen and Toby caught sight of her, recognition dawning. He smiled a weak smile of relief at the familiar face, even though he vaguely recollected that the last time they had met, they had departed on very bad terms. ‘Any straw in the wind,’ he thought. He decided that the arrival of Na must be a lucky break. Yes, his luck was definitely changing, now he had someone to help him. He tried to listen as Na spoke to the police in fast, angry Thai, but couldn’t make out what she was saying, so in desperation, he interrupted her.

‘Na, thank God you’re here. Please tell these cops to let the ambulance take me to hospital. Look at me, I am badly hurt – I need to see a doctor. I won’t run away. I promise.’

He fumbled in his pocket and produced a plastic, laminated copy of his passport.  'Here, give them this.'

Na looked at Toby’s pathetic, drunken face and the plastic card that he held out to her. She took it, gave it a cursory glance and threw it onto the ground in front of him.

‘Help you?’ Why the fuck should I help you?’ she snarled at him. ‘You weren’t very nice to me – were you – you drunken bastard! And now look at what you’ve done!’ waving her hands towards the scene of destruction in front of them. ‘You can’t get away with it, not this time, Toby, I’ve told the cops to put you in cook and throw away the key. I hope you fucking die!!’

Toby was completely bewildered by her stinging remarks as they slowly sunk into his alcohol-sodden brain. ‘Why would she do that?  I was very good to her, before… before it all went wrong…’ he thought to himself.

The two policemen wasted no time in dragging Toby to the waiting police pick-up truck where they half carried and half threw him into the back. He lay there in agony, knowing without doubt that he was in the worst trouble of his life. How the fuck was he going to get of this? He was left lying in his own blood for a few minutes while the police took notes and chatted to yet more police who had just arrived at the scene.

He was in serious shit and he was wondering who in hell was going to come to his rescue when he heard a voice, shouting at him in English. His heart missed a beat; it sounded like a farang. He lifted his head from the floor of the pick-up and looked outside. Two, middle aged farangs were staring at him.

‘Hey geezer!’ one of them shouted, ‘are you the driver of that Beamer?’

‘Yes, I am! Thank God you're here. Look, I’ve had a bad accident – I’m injured, but these fucking cops won’t let me go to hospital. They’re taking me to the police station – it’s only just round the corner.  Can you walk round and meet me there? Maybe you can call my wife for me? Please… lend a hand to a fellow Brit, will you…?

‘Meet you there? Lend a hand? Mate - you must be fucking crazy! You just caused a mega accident and killed fuck-knows how many Thais and you want us to help you? Look at you! You’re a fucking piss-head… and … look at what you’ve done! I hope you rot in jail, you stupid, drunken motherfucker….!’

The man spat into the road in front of him in disgust, and the pair stormed off into the crowd. Toby’s last chance of help faded away into the darkness of the early morning.

CHAPTER 2

It had been a slow night in the Pattaya nick for Police Lieutenant Somkid and station Sergeant Thongbow. Earlier in the evening, there had been a group of drunken, farang troublemakers who had been arrested after starting fights in beachfront bars. They had soon been set free to continue their carousing - once they had made generous donations to the police coffers - and since then, there had been no real money-generating activities. Just the slow drip feed of small bribes, extracted from unsuspecting motorcyclists - farangs and Thais alike - who had been caught at the various police road traps set up throughout the city. Infractions such as failure to wear a crash helmet, lack of a Thai driving licence, invalid vehicle documents or simply ‘failure to drive the bikes in accordance with Thai road traffic regulations’, would all result in an instant cash fine. 

The Lieutenant sighed. This paltry, unofficial police income had to be shared between every member of the entire Pattaya police force, and even on a good night, it barely provided each cop with the price of a decent meal, or fund a decent night out at one of the local karaoke bars - let alone be sufficient to pay their monthly finance payments on their motorbikes.

Occasionally, they would find drugs in a motorcyclist’s possession which meant that the normal ‘fines’ could be trebled – or, in the case of a farang – would be increased tenfold. Indeed, on a slow night, Somkid’s cops weren’t even averse to planting the odd yaba tablet – especially on farangs - to augment their meagre night’s takings; but in all the cases involving drugs, they had to tread a fine line. They didn’t want to upset their own network of drug dealers who were allowed to trade throughout the city with impunity.

He gloomily pondered the reduction in police income from their main source of revenue - the world famous ‘Walking Street’ - the half-mile of pedestrianized thoroughfare, jam-packed with go-go bars, massage parlours and other sex establishments located in the very heart of Pattaya’s red light district. Walking Street was the pearl in the oyster of Pattaya’s corrupt, income-producing nightlife. There had been a number of events in recent years which had all played their part in reducing the numbers of sex-tourists in Pattaya. Violent political conflicts, the world recession, the strengthening of the Thai baht, the floods, all partly responsible for discouraging wealthy western tourists from patronizing the delights of Pattaya’s sin city.

There were still plenty of Russians and other East Europeans in town, to say nothing of a large increase in Asian tourists, but the hard-core sex tourists from Western Europe, Australia and The USA - the ones that mainly kept all the seedy bars and bar girls in business - were becoming an ever rarer commodity. It seemed to Somkid that all but the most hardened of farang sex- tourists had decided to stay at home or find cheaper, safer places to indulge their perverted pleasures.

This was bad news for the local constabulary who relied on extorting the bar owners and their customers to keep themselves in the style to which they had become accustomed. Even the income from a hitherto inexhaustible supply of naive, farang bar owners was slowing down, as many of them had gone broke. Many had sold up or disappeared, leaving their Thai wives or girlfriends in charge. Local relatives had been left holding the reins, and had little or no money to pay off the cops for breeches of the law, such as late closing or employing underage girls - or boys.

Then, to top it all, the fucking Bangkok cops had been continually invading their turf. They would descend on Walking Street and the surrounding sois, closing down everything in sight; extracting on the spot fines from anyone who looked as though they could afford to pay: bar owners, bar staff, tourists, anyone. A massive raid had occurred only the previous weekend which had upset the delicate financial balance of the semi-lawless community – the tourists, the bar owners, the shopkeepers, the hotel owners, and of course, the local police.

The local police had a tacit understanding with the rest of the community on how each party could behave, what laws could be broken and how much had to be paid in order to be left in peace. Now this uneasy co-existence had been upset by the fucking bastards from Bangkok. As a direct result of this latest raid, the bar owners had no money left to pay the Pattaya police and the police were seriously short of cash to finance their extravagant lifestyles.

Somkid’s boss, the soon-to-retire Police Major Chamlong had been furious and had vowed revenge on the bastards from Bangkok. But he knew that all the police forces throughout Thailand were hurting. In normal circumstances the Bangkok cops would never have dared to muscle in on Pattaya’s turf. They were clearly desperate, as was the young, good-looking lieutenant Somkid, whose debts were mounting by the day.

These thoughts were still running though his mind when he spotted one of his police vehicles arrive and park up in the station car park, just off Beach Road. He watched as two of his constables climbed out and walked around to the rear of the vehicle where they dragged a half conscious man out of the back and towards the police station entrance. His sergeant had advised Somkid earlier that there had been a nasty pile up on the adjacent second road, just behind the police station, so he had dispatched a couple of police trucks to get the road cleared.

At this late hour, he had assumed that the accident would involve purely Thai drivers and he hadn’t expected much in the way of tea-money from it. But they were dragging an injured, elderly farang into the station and his interest suddenly picked up. Maybe this farang had some money – maybe a lot of money. There was a twinkle in his eye and the makings of a smile on his lips. His two constables succeeded in manhandling the farang into the station where they dumped him in a chair in front of the long counter where the Lieutenant was now sitting in hopeful anticipation.

*

Toby was in agony. The shock of what had happened was rapidly sobering him up, and the pain from his injuries was becoming unbearable. The journey to the station had been short, but it still managed to shake him badly and send him flying to one side of the truck when the driver had taken the left turn into Beach Road at speed. When they arrived at the station, he couldn’t move and the two officers had to lift him out of the back, allowing his legs to drop to the ground, jarring his injuries yet again. Then they grabbed him under his shoulders and dragged him with his face downwards and his toes and the tops of his feet rubbing along the ground, scraping off his skin as they walked. It was a merciful relief when he was finally deposited the chair where he could rest his badly injured body.

The two constables quickly briefed the Police Lieutenant on the background of the accident, and although Toby could only understand a little of what was being said, he did catch the words ‘BM’ and saw a smile appear on the face of the Lieutenant. When the three had stopped conversing, Somkid looked at Toby, and spoke to him in English.

‘You! Passport!’

Toby replied in Thai. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have it with me – it’s at home.’

He rifled in his pocket for the small, laminated copy he always carried with him. Then he remembered. He had given it to Na but she had thrown it on the ground. ‘My God! What do I do now?’ he wondered. He tried to explain to the officer that someone had thrown his ID away, when one of the constables put his hand in his shirt pocket and produced the missing piece of plastic and handed it over to his superior.

‘I found it on the ground next to him.’ He said in Thai. ‘He must have been too drunk to know he had thrown it away,’ he added, laughing.

Toby breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the vital piece of plastic and made a grab for it, but Somkid was having none of it.’

‘No! I keep this!’ he snapped at Toby in English.

He looked at Toby, trying to assess how much he might be worth.

‘Driving licence!’ he shouted.

‘I – I haven’t got it. I lost it a few months ago,’ he replied, now speaking in English.

In truth, Toby had lost it one drunken night over a year ago and he wasn’t even sure if it was still valid. He had told himself over and over again to sort it out and get a replacement, but his drinking always took precedence.

‘Toby! You in big trouble!’

He knew that.

‘You drunk! You have bad accident! You kill Thai people! You go to jail for long time – very long time…..’

Toby looked at the officer. He didn’t know what to say.

After a few moments of silence, the officer continued.

‘Toby! You married? You have Thai wife?’

‘Yes, I have Thai wife,’ he replied.

‘OK, you call her. Tell her to come here. I want talk with her.’

Toby felt in jeans pocket and breathed a sigh of relief when he found his mobile phone. He pulled it out. It was switched off, so he turned it back on and was relieved to find there was still one bar of battery life remaining. He was on the point of calling Ying, when he thought better of it. He looked at the officer.

‘I – I’m sorry. We not live together. She – she won’t answer my call. I know she won’t.’

‘Why? Why she not answer?

‘Because she hates me. She won’t come here – I am sure!’

Somkid thought for a few moments. He didn’t like telling farangs that he wanted money, a bribe. It had to be done through a third person – a Thai. He needed to speak in Thai, and he could use certain ‘code words’ that indicated that money might solve a particular problem, without completely incriminating himself. It was the way it was done. He needed to talk to the farang’s Thai wife or some other Thai go-between. He looked back at Toby.

He decided that the farang sitting in front of him must have some money; after all he was driving a BM. He leaned across to Toby. ‘Your phone; give me your phone!’

Toby did as he was bid.

‘Your wife name? What her name?’

‘Ying.’

‘And number?’

Toby told him Ying’s number, one of the few that he knew by heart, but had little hope that his wife would answer a call from his number.

Somkid dialled the number, and listened to the phone ringing.

***

Fifteen kilometres east of Pattaya City, Ying manoeuvred her Honda Jazz through her front gates, drove slowly up the long driveway and parked up under the carport. The car stereo was blaring out so loudly that when she opened the front door of the car, it sounded like one of those mobile discos; the ones that drive along Pattaya’s roads at night, blaring out music with such ear-splitting intensity that bystanders can barely think, let alone hear themselves speak. The deafening pop music reverberated harshly in what only moments before had been a peaceful, still night. Until Ying’s abrupt arrival, the only sounds to be heard were those of the toads in a nearby pond, emitting their repetitive mating calls.

She cut the ignition and suddenly the world returned to its state of blissful somnolence and once more the toads held pride of place in the humid night air. Getting out of her car, she unlocked the side door to the house, dumped her handbag on the dining table and then summoned up one last burst of energy to climb up the central staircase, enter her bedroom and collapse, fully clothed, on her bed. She lay there for a few minutes, too lazy to move. She had been drinking but was not wholly drunk – she had drunk just enough to make her feel quite woozy and very sleepy.

It had been a very long day. She had been woken that morning before eight a.m. with the news that the girl who usually opened her hair dressing salon was sick and would not be able to make it into work that day. Ying had only had about four hours sleep and it had taken all her will power to drag herself out of bed, and make it to her shop by nine a.m. She had spent the whole day working, and when the final customer had left at around eight, she drove to her friend’s house where they had spent the next six hours playing cards and sipping Bacardi Breezers. By three in the morning, she was down about three hundred baht and she had decided to call it a night. She had realised that in all likelihood, her girl would still be sick and that she would have to get up early, yet again, to open up her shop in six hours’ time.

She roused herself briefly – just long enough to pull off her jeans and top before collapsing once more onto the bed in her underwear. She lay there for a few minutes with her eyes closed, but for some reason, sleep refused to come; a problem she often encountered when over-tired and moderately drunk. She was exhausted, but her mind kept going round and round. What sort of life was this? Living in this huge house virtually all alone? It was far too big and it was a daily battle to keep it in in a half way decent state with the minimal funds that were at her disposal, while at the same time trying to start a business that was struggling to break even. It was all a bit of a nightmare and now that her assistant was ill, she wouldn’t even be able to have a decent night’s sleep.

The longer she lay there in contemplation, the more she knew in her heart that she was never going to make it to her salon much before noon. She was just too tired. She idly speculated on how many customers she might lose with yet another unscheduled closure. It had been difficult enough to attract customers in the first place, and if any of her regulars came today and found her closed, they most likely would not come back again. There were simply too many other hair salons in the vicinity for anyone to remain faithful to a place that kept closing without warning. What a mess!

She curled up with her favourite fluffy toy panda in the enormous four-poster bed, but still she couldn’t sleep. She was a woman of thirty-four years of age, living in a huge house, with a nice car in the driveway, but perpetually broke. Her estranged husband, Toby, barely sent her sufficient money to cover the house utility bills. She knew that he was also financially distressed and very soon, even that cash stream would probably dry up. There was little chance that they could sell their jointly owned house in the foreseeable future. The market was dead - no one was buying. It was an albatross around both of their necks. If they could somehow find a buyer, they could both move on with their lives, but as it was, they were both broke and unable to make the clean break that they both yearned for.

She had drifted into a deep, dreamless, alcohol- induced sleep for a few exquisite minutes when she was suddenly awakened by the screeching sound of a Thai rock song, rudely piercing the silence of the early morning. As she slowly regained consciousness, she tried to work out where the music was coming from. Then she knew; it was coming from her phone – her mobile phone was ringing. She reached out blindly, grabbed hold of the phone and without looking at who was calling, she put it to her lips. ‘Hello?’

‘Hello, is that Ying?’

‘Yes. Who is that?’

‘This is Pattaya Police station, I am Lieutenant Somkid. We would like you to come here immediately.’

‘Why? Why? What is it? What have I done?’

‘Nothing – it’s your husband. We want you to come here as quickly as possible. We would like to talk to you about your husband. He is in a lot of trouble.’

‘My husband! Not Again! He doesn’t live with me anymore. He left me ages ago! I can’t come – I’m not free!’

‘Ying, if you don’t come here and help your husband, he will be in very serious trouble. He will go to jail.’

‘I don’t care! I don‘t care! Screw my fucking husband! I don’t care what happens to him. I told him! I warned him! I told him last time that I wouldn’t help him anymore. I don’t care what happens to him!’

‘Ying, if you don’t come here immediately and help him, your husband might even die.’

‘I don’t care!’ Let him fucking die!’

She cut off the call, turned off her phone, and closed her eyes, praying that sleep would return and blot out the images in her mind.

‘Fuck Toby. Fuck him…fuck him… fuck him…’

Despite the air-conditioning, she suddenly broke out in a sweat. ‘Oh no, not again!’ she said out aloud. ‘Please not again…’

In spite of her irritation and anger, she couldn’t help worrying about what horrors may befall her errant husband… her fucking husband.

‘Surely that shitting cop didn’t mean it literally? Toby die? Why should he die? What the fuck did that cop mean?’ she kept asking herself.

She continued to lie sleepless, fretting.

‘Die ? No, surely not…’

She had already seen too many deaths in her life to contemplate yet another one.

***

The conversation had been in Thai, but Toby had got the gist of it. The cop had told Ying that if she didn’t come down to the police station, he would be locked up, and he might even die. He wondered what Ying’s reaction would be to this startling piece of news.

Somkid closed the phone and put it on the table in front of him. There was a long silence.

‘Is she coming? Is my wife coming?’

On the spur of the moment, the financially distressed lieutenant looked at Toby and decided to break a rule of a lifetime.

‘Toby! You have money?’

‘Money? Why? What about my wife?’

‘Your wife say: ‘Fuck You!’ She not come! I want money -  now! - or you go cook!

Toby started to shake in fear, he tried to stop but couldn’t stop himself, he was terrified.

‘I – I no have money…’ I’m broke!’ he muttered, in English.

‘No money? You drive BM and you no have money! You gohock!’

‘No, I not gohock – I’m not lying - It’s… it’s complicated…. But… my wallet was stolen and…. there’s no money in my bank….’

Somkid was becoming angry. He wasn’t going to get any money from this fucking farang. He stood up, suddenly becoming bored with the whole, miserable affair.

‘OK, Toby! You drunk, you no have driving licence, you have accident, you no have money! You – farang - go to cook!!’ he screamed, before reverting to Thai to bark orders at his sergeant and the two constables to take the ‘filthy piece of scum’ away.

Toby knew that the Thai word for jail was cook, and at the repeated sound of the dreaded word, his heart, which was already beating at the rate of knots, suddenly felt that it was about to explode.

‘No! No! No!’ he screamed at the Lieutenant who was now towering angrily over him from the other side of the counter.

‘You have money?’ Somkid asked, for the final time.

‘No…but….’

Somkid looked at the grovelling, dishevelled, drunken dead-beat in front of him and he grimly concluded that despite the fact that he was at the wheel of a BMW, maybe he was speaking the truth – maybe he had no money. He certainly didn’t look as though he had any.

‘Take him away’, he shouted to his men, ‘and make sure the shitting farang isn’t given any help in there. He is a fucking drunk killer and I want him to suffer!’

With that, Somkid picked up Toby’s phone from the table, dropped it into his pocket and strode away in disgust, effectively washing his hands of the whole sordid business.

The three policemen grabbed hold of Toby - two at his shoulders and one at his feet - lifted him off the chair and bundled him up the stair-case to the second floor, where the Pattaya holding cell was located. Once back on level ground they dropped his feet onto the floor and dragged him across to the waiting cell, and threw him inside. His injuries, together with the rough handling he had received at the hands of the police, proved to be too much for his battered body and when his head hit the hard, concrete prison floor he immediately lost consciousness.

*

When he slowly came to, a few hours later, he had no inkling of how long he had been lying on the floor of the cell. Within seconds, the tortuous pains from all parts of his body returned with a vengeance. He opened his blood-caked eyes and looked around, making out a heavily barred window on the opposite side of the large cell, through which the sun was now bursting through. He was in the shade, but there was no fan and he immediately felt the humid heat permeating his weary body as the cell rapidly heated up.

He looked around and saw that that floor space next to three of the cell walls was occupied by maybe eight or nine Thai prisoners; either sitting or leaning against the walls. Unaccountably, he could only make out a single, well-dressed, middle-aged man sitting against the fourth wall. He felt the need to sit up and lean against something, so he decided to drag himself over to the wall that only had one occupant. As he inched himself towards the wall, he was verbally assaulted from all sides by fellow inmates, angrily screaming at him not to go there. He stopped and looked at them.

‘What’s wrong? What have I done? He croaked at them in Thai.

‘You’re not allowed to sit over there!’ they shouted at him, ‘that area is reserved for special prisoners, not dirty, filthy farangs like you. Stay away from that wall or you will be sorry…’

He was told that the entire far wall was reserved for police friends, a code word for people with money and influence, most of them drug dealers, and if he tried to go near there again he would be beaten up. He was still feeling groggy, but the message got through. The clean wall on the far side of the cell was out of bounds to the likes of him. He looked for a small space against one of the other walls, but every time he tried to manoeuvre himself into a gap, he was kicked and slapped by other prisoners and he had move away again. Eventually, he gave up. He didn’t have the strength to try any longer and he sunk back down again onto the hard concrete floor in the middle of the cell.

He closed his eyes, trying to blank out the pains that were racking his tired, injured body. He felt his pulse; it was racing at well over a hundred beats to the minute. It had been more than twenty-four hours since he had taken his beta-blockers and other heart medication that he used to keep his heart rate under control. And he was extremely tired and sleepy, despite the fact that he must have slept for several hours when he had first been thrown in the cell.

He knew that this was probably due to his high blood sugars. He was a diabetic and he had to inject his body with insulin four times daily to keep his blood sugars under control. But his medical bag was presumably buried deep inside the wreckage of his car. The car – Oh my God the Car! He remembered seeing it before he was thrown into the back of the police truck. It was a terrible mess, as were the other vehicles he had hit. He was suddenly seized by another panic. If he couldn’t produce his driving licence, his insurance company would refuse to pay for the repairs. He was in the worst kind of trouble. If the insurer wouldn’t pay, he would be held personally liable, but he had no money – it was all gone. His last remaining asset was his car – and now that was probably worthless.

Now that he was almost sober, the awful realisation of his dire plight was sinking in. In addition to his injuries, his elevated blood pressure and high blood sugars, he was starting to feel hungry and thirsty. He hadn’t eaten for at least twenty-four hours, certainly not since he had started his drunken binge a day or so back, but there was little or no chance of getting anything palatable to eat in this God forsaken cell. He had been suffering from severe stomach upsets for years – one of his many chronic medical problems - and he knew that his fragile digestive system, ravaged by a lifetime of alcohol abuse, would never be able to keep down the unhygienic Thai gruel that might be offered to him in while he was in custody. He had heard many stories of farang prisoners starving to death in Thai jails, when they had no money to buy decent food.

What a fucking mess! He knew with a blinding certainty that his severe injuries and untreated health problems meant that he couldn’t possibly last more than a few days if he wasn’t released from custody. He was staring death in the face. Why? Why had it come to this? He was a despicable criminal, with no money and no family or friends to rescue him or even to ease his plight. He accepted that after all he had done that he probably deserved to die. But like this? - lying on the concrete floor of a miserable, sweltering police cell? He closed his eyes; his mind began to wander – a long way back, to the time when he was a child – a child of post-war, dour, economically depressed England; a baby boomer who had grown up during the longest period of sustained peace that the world had ever known. Such a long time ago – such a different world…

CHAPTER 3

…It was mid-Autumn, the year was 1950 and the infant Toby, along with the other residents of East London, was enjoying an ‘Indian summer’. He was playing in the back yard, digging a hole in the hard earth with a rusty old trowel. On the ground next to him was a half rotten potato with shrivelled roots. Mummy had told him that if he dug deep enough and put the potato at the very bottom of the hole, it would grow during the winter and by next spring, the family would have a bowl full of new, delicious potatoes to eat. He looked up at his mother who was sitting on a chair by the first floor open window that overlooked the back garden.

‘Mummy!’ he called out, ‘Is it deep enough?’

It was impossible for Toby’s mother to see the bottom of the hole from her position at kitchen window, but she smiled lovingly at her four year old son and said: ‘Yes, darling, that will do very nicely. Pop it in then.’

Toby did as he was told and placed the rotten potato in the hole. Then, recalling that his mother did something similar with a spade when she had planted some bulbs in their small patch of garden a few days earlier, he stood up and kicked some earth into the hole with his foot. The potato disappeared under the falling earth and he stamped down on it, just to make sure it was firmly in its place. He smiled up at his mother for approval.

‘You’re such a clever little boy! Now go and get your little bucket and water it.’

He wandered down the garden path towards the house and found his rusty toy bucket inside the dilapidated garden shed. He picked it up and walked back out across the yard, along the side of the house to where the water tap was located. The weather was hot and humid and the flies were everywhere - especially in the area near water tap and the adjacent battered iron rubbish bin. The bin was half full of putrid rubbish which was only partly covered by the dented, ill-fitting bin lid. The flies buzzed around his head and a large bluebottle settled momentarily on his face, and he instinctively swatted it away.

His mummy had told him to keep away from the flies because they were dirty and would make him very ill. She said that if he wasn’t careful he would get very sick like little Barry next door. He hadn’t seen Barry all summer as he had been confined to his bed with something called scarlet fever. Mummy said that Barry might die. So he filled up his little bucket and ran back to the flower bed while a small stream of water leaked out of a small hole in the bottom of the bucket, leaving a moist trail in the dusty earth behind him.

The bucket was barely a third full by the time he reached his potato patch and he quickly emptied the remainder into the earth, smiling with pleasure in anticipation of the feast of potatoes that the family would be able to eat in a few months’ time. He looked once more towards the window where his mother had been sitting, but she was no longer there. She had disappeared. For a moment he started to panic, but after a brief moment he was able to make out voices coming from the open window.

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