The late afternoon sun was disappearing behind towering monsoon clouds gathering over the horizon as a yellow motor scooter came to a halt in front of the hotel by the beach. Yip, a young looking Thai lady of thirty-five or forty dressed in shorts and a white t-shirt drove it. The pillion passenger was a tall slim Englishman of about sixty, smartly although slightly incongruously dressed in beige trousers, pink shirt, and a navy blue blazer that he removed and slung over his arm as soon as he had stepped from the machine. He climbed the four steps up to the restaurant area, deserted now in this the low season, draped his jacket over the back of a chair and took his habitual seat on a high wooden stool at the far end of the bar. He pulled a packet of American cigarettes out from his shirt pocket, tapped the packet twice, and lit one from a silver Ronsen lighter he carried in his back pocket.
'Good afternoon Mr. Robinson,' called Tam the waiter from the far end of the restaurant where he was flicking a dirty white cloth over the tables. Mr. Robinson turned slightly in his direction and nodded, exhaling a cloud of blue smoke towards the rafters where a large green gecko hung upside down and immobile from beam.
'Good Afternoon Mr. Robinson.' Echoed the voice of Anoma the manageress from the poky office behind the bar. ‘Are you happy today?'
She appeared in the doorway, an attractive woman in her late twenties, tall and well built for a Thai girl.
'Oh! You look so handsome today. Yip will be sad to say goodbye.' She came and stood opposite him behind the bar and put one hand lightly on his arm. They had been friends for a long time, with an easy comfortable relationship.
Mr. Robinson looked at her through half cl...
... middle of paper ...
...on!' Called Tam from across the room having heard the last remark. 'Most top secret mission!'
Yip turned back towards Anoma. 'He lie. Not business trip.' Her wide brown eyes were hard and bright, 'He lie!' she repeated forcefully. Mr. Robinson pulled on his cigarette and looked up at the ceiling where the Gecko began its call. 'Too Kai, Too Kai, Too Kai.'
Anoma looked from Yip to the man, a slightly embarrassed expression clouding her face, and said something quietly in Thai to the woman.
Yip turned and thrust her face close to the man's, trying to make him look at her, and in a voice betraying both anger and misery shouted, 'No! He not go to England for business, not holiday, not to see family. He go England to die.'
Mr. Robinson stood up, his stool clattering to the floor behind him, and stubbed his cigarette out viciously in the seashell ashtray on the counter.
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