A Lustful Gent
This week, the words seem to have been flowing much quicker from my digital pen than of late and I have made more progress than I had previously anticipated. So I am now pleased to be able to publish yet another chapter of my novel, and if things continue to progress in this manner, I have every expectation that another new chapter will be published next week.
I am getting quite excited, as once next week’s chapter is done, there will be only one more chapter remaining, (or possibly two if it turns out to be overly long), before the mammoth epic that is Part Three is finally put to bed.
Then I will embark on the final part, (Part Four), which will tie up the entire saga, and bring the three key characters together for an explosive and emotional finale.
That’s the plan, anyway…..
Here is chapter XVII, I hope you enjoy it.
A Lustful Gent
PART THREE –TOBY
Pattaya, Thailand, 2011
Police Colonel Chamlong picked up the telephone in the office and called Lieutenant Somkid.
‘This is Colonel Chamlong.’
‘Yes, Colonel, what can I do for you.’
‘Last night, Lieutenant, do you remember arresting an elderly farang named Toby?’
‘Toby? Toby? Yes, he’s the drunken bastard who crashed into that ‘Baht Bus’ at four a.m. this morning on Second Road. He was driving a BMW, but the bastard was drunk out of his mind and completely broke. I threw him in jail to sober up and I’ll be dealing with him tonight when I come on duty.
‘So he’s in jail – upstairs?’
‘Yes, he is. My sergeant should be taking witness statements today and I’m waiting to hear from Banglamung Hospital to check how many passengers were killed. The paramedics told my men that at least two of them were on the point of death, and there were several others who were also on the brink. So I am waiting for confirmation of the death toll before charging him. That cunt isn’t going anywhere for many, many years – unless… he can miraculously produce a pot of gold from somewhere.’
‘I was told earlier on that there wasn’t anyone with the name of Toby on the jail inmate list,’the Colonel snapped with irritation.
‘They couldn’t have looked properly, Colonel. That man wasn’t going anywhere, especially in his condition – he was half dead himself – we had to carry him upstairs and throw him inside the cell. He’s there Colonel, I’m quite sure of that –send someone upstairs to check.’
‘Yes, yes, I’ll do that. There are two women coming to see me about him. One of them is his wife.’
‘Wife! I phoned that bitch last night and she refused to come down to the station. She told me that she hoped that he died.’
‘Well, I don’t know about that, but she’s here now. She must have had a change of heart. I wonder if she has any money. The other woman claims she is Toby’s ex-girlfriend; I suppose between the two of them, they could kick up a bit of fuss if we don’t take care how we handle this.
‘I wouldn’t worry too much on that score, Colonel, the bastard has killed innocent Thais, and we’ll throw the fucking book at him – wives or no wives.’
‘The first thing is make sure he is still there – I’ll send an officer upstairs to check, and I’ll call you back.’
Bangkok, Thailand, 2003
Toby fastened his seat belt and breathed a sigh of relief. He had made it on the plane without any untoward incidents, and he could now execute the second part of his risky plan. Within an hour or so, he would be winging his way back home to England, while his erstwhile wife, Noi, would hopefully be flying in the opposite direction; heading for their holiday home in Bang Saen – the popular Thai beach resort on the eastern seaboard.
As the plane became airborne, he opened his briefcase and withdrew some papers to review the current situation. There were bank statements, investments accounts and other miscellaneous financial documents, which he studied for a while to make sure he was satisfied that everything was in good order. Since he had been back in Thailand, he had been drunk out of his mind every evening; but before he had started his nightly drinking sessions, he had spent the afternoons on his friend’s computer, transferring funds out of the joint accounts and into his own, sole account. Underneath the pile of financial documents lay his letter to Noi that he would be faxing to her in Bang Saen, as soon as he arrived back in England. He re-read it for the umpteenth time, making sure that he was happy with every single word.
I’m very sorry to tell you that I’ve left you, and you will be hearing from my solicitor about a divorce. I am truly sorry that I have had to take this step, but for me there is no other way. I believe your behaviour to me and Samantha is completely unreasonable, and has resulted in an irretrievable breakdown in our marriage. I cannot talk to you about this as it will only make everything worse.
I have been very unhappy for a very long time, but I stayed with the marriage because of the children. Now Samantha is almost grown up, I don’t have to worry about her any more, and I need to try and make a new life for myself before time runs out. You know that I am not happy, and you must know that you cannot make me happy. Your whole approach to life is so different to mine, and I think you have spent the last 26 years trying to change me – but you never can – deep down I’m still the same as I ever was. I honestly do not believe that you have been any happier than I have over the past years– we are simply not compatible – we never have been – and I’m sure it has been as frustrating and difficult for you as it has been for me.
Of course, life for me has got a lot worse since I retired, starting with that nightmare holiday in America – you will never understand how miserable you made me on that trip – with your bad moods and determination to control everything we did. Since then, things have just got steadily worse. I have tried and tried and tried, but there is no way out. I cannot stay with you another day. I think you can understand what I am saying, and believe me, this has been the hardest decision of my life. At this moment, I am desperately unhappy, and even crying as I write this letter. I never wanted our family life to end like this – but my mind is made up and I will never change it, so please don’t try to – it will not work.
Whatever happens, you will end up with a lot of money – I don’t want to cheat you out of anything that you’re entitled to. You must try to make a new life for yourself – you are still young and attractive – you can have anything you want – just go and grab it. I think you have made a big mistake all these years by not doing something useful with your life, outside the home. You are so clever and smart – why don’t you try doing some business? You know you can be successful and I’m sure you would enjoy it. Don’t waste your life just being a discontented, frustrated home-maker. You are better than that.
You have made a huge mistake with Samantha. She is a wonderful girl with a great personality – but you have tried to smother her and control her. Oh, how foolish you were to try and ban her from seeing her boyfriend. She is just a normal teenager – you’ve been in England so long, yet sometimes you don’t seem to understand anything. You can’t control her – and I’m afraid you’ve controlled me for far too long. But moral and emotional blackmail can’t work forever.
I am moving out of the house, so you can continue to live there for now. Don’t worry – everything will be as you left it. I’m not taking much – just my personal things and a few bits and pieces that I will need to get by. So when you come back to England, you can stay at the house until the divorce and the money is all settled. You will be receiving the divorce papers in due course, and my solicitor will advise you to get your own solicitor. If we don’t have too many disagreements on the terms of the divorce, everything can be settled quickly, probably by Christmas. You don’t have to hire a solicitor if you don’t want one, it’s up to you.
I know this will sound terrible, but I don’t want to see you or talk to you or receive any letter from you until the divorce and the finances are agreed between us. I will turn off the fax, and if you send me any emails, I will delete them without reading them. I will also change my mobile number. If you want to communicate with me, you must do it through my solicitor. Once everything is settled, I hope we can then try to remain friends for the sake of our daughters, and also for your family in Thailand. But for now, we must stay completely away from each other. If the divorce goes through quickly, there is no reason why Matilda’s wedding can’t still go ahead as planned. But that’s really up to you, and ‘Tilda of course.
I have discussed my plans with Samantha, and she has made it clear that she wants to come and live with me when I get settled in a new home. She does not want to live with you. In the meantime, during the summer holidays, she will stay with her boyfriend and she will NOT be coming to Thailand. Of course she will want to keep a mother / daughter relationship with you – she just doesn’t want to live with you any more
I have told Matilda what is happening and I have been to see her.
I will keep the Volvo, and you can have the Land Rover – but if you want to swap, it’s OK with me. I will be cancelling your American Express card but will leave the Visa card open until you have had a chance to get new cards in your own name. Also, I will make sure there is enough money in the joint bank account to pay the bills and some left over for you to live on until you have a chance to transfer some money from your internet accounts, and open your own bank account. I will be in touch through my solicitor to advise you of all the passwords and everything you need to manage your money.
In many ways you have been a good mother and wife, and I thank you for that. But keeping a nice home and cooking good food doesn’t make a good marriage – and I know that our marriage has not been very good.
Well I think I’ve said enough. When you get back you will get all the information from my solicitor.
This is the last communication you will receive directly from me until the divorce is finalised. Please do not try to track me down – even if you do I will refuse to talk or listen to what you have to say.
I wish you luck and happiness in your new life.
Satisfied, he put the letter and the other papers back in his briefcase, closed his eyes and tried to sleep. His heart was still racing – there was still much to do before he could finally be free of Noi. He had planned his ‘escape’ meticulously, but it was still possible that things might go wrong. What, if for some reason, Noi hadn’t made the flight to Bangkok – suppose she had smelled a rat and had cancelled her flight. Or what would he do if she did make it to Bang Saen, but after receiving his fax, decided to rush back to England on the next plane before he had had a chance to sort everything and move out? For sure, he would have to move very quickly as he might only have a couple of days.
He knew that he could not bear to go through any more personal confrontations with her. He knew what she would do; she would scream and shout and get violent – smashing up everything in sight and threatening all manner of dire consequences unless he changed his mind. It had happened many times before, so he knew only too well what she was capable of. She was only a small woman, but he ruefully admitted that somehow, she always had the upper hand, and that he was utterly impotent when having to deal with her, face to face.
But he was pretty sure that he had covered every angle. The main thing was that he was ‘in the driving seat’ as far as their joint finances concerned, now that he had transferred a majority of their investments into his sole name only. He had no intention of cheating Noi out of her rightful dues; but it was much better that he had the majority of the assets in his name – and when everything was agreed by the lawyers – he could pay over the agreed share to her, rather than the other way round. So even if it didn’t work out as planned – and she made it back home before he had a chance to pack his things and move out – in the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter. He would still be a wealthy man, even after a potentially expensive divorce, and he would still have more than enough money to replace all his essential belongings when he embarked on a new life, with his younger daughter, Samantha.
Now he had made the big move, he felt confident that nothing could happen that would force him back into a relationship with Noi. As soon as he landed at Heathrow, he would phone his friend, Geoff, the next door neighbour – who would tell him if Noi had left for Thailand as planned. Geoff would know, as he was the one who had been given the dubious pleasure of driving Noi to the airport. Toby smiled to himself in relief and relaxed. Whatever Noi did or didn’t do, he was safe. He had out-witted her – for probably the first time in their long, twenty six year relationship.
London, England, 1986.
Toby was fuming; he felt he couldn’t take this bullshit for another single minute. He had been humouring his pig of a boss for almost three years and enough was enough. Ever since he had handed in his formal notice two weeks ago, he had been in something akin to ‘holiday mode’ – but there was still two more weeks of work to undergo before he could walk out of the office for the final time and report to his new employer on the first of the following month.
Martyn, his boss, had just subjected the young female accounts clerk sitting opposite to yet more scathing and insulting comments. True enough the girl wasn’t particularly bright, but she didn’t deserve to be treated like this. The more he insulted and humiliated her, the more mistakes she made, but Martyn, being the ignorant philistine that he was, didn’t understand – or care.
Martyn was bright enough, but his youthful age – some fifteen years younger than the forty year old Toby – exposed his immaturity and sheer witlessness in his management of staff. But really, there was no excuse for anyone behaving the way Martyn does in this day and age, Toby thought to himself. ‘At his age, I was managing hundreds of staff out in the deserts of Abu Dhabi. He’s a boor and a bully, and I’ve had my fill of it!’
Indeed, without Toby’s somewhat restraining influence over his young boss, things could well have been much worse for the dozen or so staff who worked in accounts office of the up and coming city insurance broker. Toby had been hired three years ago on a temporary basis to sort out some of the mess that the previous accounts regime had created; and in those days, Martyn was his friendly, inoffensive work colleague. But poor old Trevor – the previous boss and the man who had hired Toby – was soon obliged to leave by mutual agreement and within a few days, young Martyn had been surprisingly promoted to replace him.
Toby had never seen such a change in the character of anyone in his life. From being a mild mannered, friendly, helpful colleague, Martyn had suddenly become transformed into a positive ‘little Hitler’, and the entire staff rued the day that Trevor, their gentle and considerate boss, had been forced to leave. Fortunately for Toby, he held a unique position in the office, both by virtue of his obvious accounting and ‘trouble-shooting’ expertise, and also because of his seniority and maturity. From day one, it had been clear that Toby would not take any bullshit from anyone, and he had been left alone to do his job.
Martyn had grown to rely on Toby to more or less run the department and to resolve all the myriad problems that arose, almost on a daily basis, so he reserved his overbearing and bullying attitude to the remainder of the staff. He regarded Toby as his ‘second in command’, and always left him in charge when he was absent from the office. In effect, Toby did the work, and Martyn got the glory, and Martyn was well aware that without Toby, he would be in serious trouble. If he needed to ask Toby to undertake a particularly onerous assignment, his normal plan of attack would be to slump into Toby’s visitor’s chair, make a deep shrug of mock despair, immediately followed by a big smile, before launching into his latest request….
‘Toby, old mate, it seems like we have a bit of a problem with the brokerage fees we are receiving from certain Insurance companies. The directors are giving me a hard time and I think there’s something wrong with our computer programme. Can you look into it? I know it’s a real pain in the arse, but can you help me out? I’d really appreciate it, Toby?
And of course Toby, the unqualified accountant, with a wife, and daughter to support –with another one on the way – would be only too pleased to oblige.
On this particular day, true to type, as soon as Martyn had let fly a torrent of invective at the young lady sitting opposite, he walked across the aisle and eased himself into Toby’s visitor’s chair and grinned at him.
‘That stupid bitch’, Martyn began, ‘Do you know what they stupid cunt has done now?’
Toby would normally try to deflect his boss’s antagonism toward the other staff with conciliatory responses such as: ‘Give her a chance Martyn, she will improve over time, I’m sure of it – she’s very young and a bit nervous. Maybe if you laid off having a go at her so often she might get a little more confidence in what she is doing….’
But on this occasion, to Martyn’s astonishment, Toby let go with his own piece of invective.
‘You know what you are, Martyn. You are an ignorant, mother-fucking bully! You treat all your staff like shit and you think you are so fucking superior to everyone here!’
Martyn was so taken aback that he didn’t know how to respond. He got up from the chair and stood there, staring at his soon to be ex-colleague.
Once having made the first step of defiance, Toby warmed to his task and he raised his voice a few more decibels, just to make sure the entire complement of staff heard what he had to say.
‘You think you are so fucking smart don’t you? Yet everyone here knows that it is me that has done all the work, and you… you bastard take all the credit. And what do I get for all my sweat? – Sweet fuck all! You won’t make me an Assistant Director and you won’t give me a company car – even though people more junior than me in other departments get them almost as soon as they get hired. I know; you just want me here as your personal skivvy – you don’t want anyone to know how much you rely on me, so you always ‘bad mouth’ me to the big bosses. I wonder what you’re going to do when I leave? Find another mug to do all the hard work and rescue you from your accounting crises? You know what, Martyn? Nobody here likes you; nobody here has any respect for you; they all hate you. They know you are a fucking lazy coward and a bully.’
Toby had been shouting so loud he was breathless, and Martyn was clearly a little scared of this enraged man sitting in the middle of his office. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, he left the office without saying a word, leaving behind an ofice of stunned, deadly silent staff. They were all secretly delighted at what Toby had said to their nasty boss, but feared the repercussions. Toby sat at his desk, trying to get his rage under control and stared in front of him. Nobody moved, wondering what was going to happen next.
They didn’t have to wait long; Martyn, apparently wishing to disprove the ‘coward’ allegation, returned to the office by himself and once more approached Toby’s desk – but this time he decided to stand.
‘Toby, please go and see Fred Stokes, the personnel manager. He is waiting for you in his office.’
Toby knew Fred very well and they had often exchanged private views on Martyn’s bad behaviour towards his staff. He knew that the personnel manager was no fan of Martyn – in fact, he hated him almost as much as Toby did, so he had few qualms in getting up from his desk and going to see Fred, as requested.
‘Toby,’ Fred began, ‘Martyn tells me that you insulted him, and swore at him in front of all his staff.’
‘Well… yes Fred… I did… but I had good reason…’
‘Toby there’s never a good reason for swearing at your boss in public. Look, I understand your frustrations, but what you did was wrong.’
‘Yes, I suppose it was.’
‘Toby, you’ve overstepped the mark and this is what we are going to have to do. You are already working out your notice and you have two more weeks to go, but we have decided to let you go today. You will receive your full pay, so there’s no problem there, but I must now ask you to go and clear your desk and leave the company’s premises immediately.’
But…but Fred – can’t I even say good bye to all my mates?’
‘No Toby, I’m sorry, you have to go now. No goodbyes – just go. I’ll call you in a couple of days when we have your final salary package and other employment papers sorted. Now, if you don’t mind, I have another appointment.
As Toby drove slowly home, trying to decide what he was going to tell Noi about his unexpected two weeks off work, his thoughts drifted back over the past four years, since they had made the decision to move to England. He had never really wanted to leave Thailand, but once Noi had got a taste of England – when she had travelled with him to the UK to attend his father’s funeral – her mind was dead set on going. There was something about the UK that appealed to her and she was utterly determined to make it her new home.
Before they left Thailand, for want of a quiet life and to concentrate on his demanding duties as General Manager of Blinkers, Toby had tacitly gone along with Noi’s plans to make the big move to England. But he well recalled the occasion, a few weeks after they had returned from his father’s funeral, when he had tried to tell her that he really didn’t want to go. They were at home, and Noi had gone berserk. She started shouting at him at the top of her voice and she picked up his portable radio-cassette player and had thrown it across the room, smashing it to pieces. Then she had burst out crying and sobbed uncontrollably, blaming Toby for ruining the lives of herself and her daughter. It was all too much for the compliant and fearful Toby; he tried to comfort her by telling her that he hadn’t realised how much it meant to her – and of course they would go to England, if that was what she really wanted.
Almost a year to the day after his father’s funeral, his grateful employers held a massive farewell party and the next day the three of them had made that chaotic journey to the airport. His cynical Thai colleagues had taken bets on how long it would be before he was back in Thailand, and Toby wasn’t at sure that they were wrong. He was uprooting his family and going to live in England with little money in the bank and no idea how long it would take to find himself a job. He was thirty seven years old, with no accounting qualification and no practical experience of working in England in the past fifteen years. On top of all this, the UK economy was close to recession and unemployment was alarmingly high.
For their first few months in east London, life was pretty tough. If they hadn’t enjoyed free accommodation at his mother’s council flat, God knows how they would have managed. Toby signed on for unemployment benefit and Noi obtained part time work as a cleaner, but the employment agencies were telling Toby that there was little or no chance of him picking up any kind of accounting job with his work background and lack of qualification. Then, just when he was seriously considering getting a job as a barman in a local pub to help make ends meet, he received a call from an accounting agency. It was one of the local agencies which, a few weeks back, had grimly informed him that he was more or less unemployable as an accountant. Now, they seemed to be changing their story as they told him that there was an insurance broking company in the City who were desperate for an ‘experienced accountant’, to work on a temporary basis, to sort out some serious accounting problems. The agency had recommended Toby to their client, and it didn’t take him long to prove his worth to the hapless Trevor, his new boss; the rest was history.
Toby had been so impressive in resolving those early problems, that the company was happy to continually renew his temporary employment contract. He was delighted that at long last he had something approaching a decent income coming in, but it was more than a year before his temporary employer finally decided he was so valuable that they had better put him on the payroll – before he found a permanent position elsewhere. He had continued to work his heart out and became the mainstay of the department, but try as he may, he could not get his employer to budge on the question of his request for an Assistant Directorship or the provision of a company car. Toby knew that they valued his work very highly, but also knew that his face just didn’t fit. It seemed to him that just about every employee in the company above the rank of office junior automatically became an Assistant Director with a company car; but he was born on the wrong side of the tracks and would never be accepted into the rarefied circle of rich, upper class, insurance brokers, most of whom had been educated at elite public schools. The class system was alive and well amongst the city insurance brokers of the 1980’s.
The final crunch had occurred when Martyn told him to his face that the Managing Director had stated unequivocally that Toby would never, ever be given a company car. Whether this was actually true or whether it was just Martyn’s attempts to ‘put him in his place ‘, without being held personally responsible, he would never know; but his mind was made up and come hell or high water he would find a new job. He felt that now that he had three years of work under his belt, he felt that the task would be much easier than when he had first arrived back in England.
He proved to be right and had several successful interviews before opting for a position as company accountant with an insurance company in Mincing Lane, a few streets down the road from his present employer, in the heart of the city. The starting salary was no more than he was currently earning, but crucially, the job came with a company car, and to Toby, that was the one thing he craved above all else. On top of that, he could wave the employment offer in the face of his boss, Martyn, and show him that if they weren’t prepared to give him a car, there were plenty of other employers out there who would.
Secretly, Toby had nurtured the hope that once his current employers were faced with a fait accomplis, they might relent and decide to give him what he wanted. But although they were prepared to offer Toby a substantial salary increase if he agreed to stay, they remained obdurate on the question of a company car. So Toby told them to go to hell.
As he turned his ancient Ford Escort into the small side road that led to his mother’s council flat, he knew he had made the right decision. What if they had agreed to give him a car? He would have been stuck with that arrogant bastard, Martyn, for years. Now, thank God he was out of his life for good. He thought back to that final confrontation, re-living the moment when he had finally told Martyn what he thought of him. The expression of shock on Martyn’s face would remain with him for years. What was it the bastard had said as he cleared out his desk and left the office for the final time?
‘You know what Toby? Only two days ago, we sent a very good reference about you to QDC Insurance Company, your new employer. ’
He mulled this over. What was Martyn trying to tell him? That they had been so good to him and given him a glowing reference? Why the fuck shouldn’t they give him a good reference, he asked himself. He certainly deserved it; but suddenly, panic set in. What if they tried to somehow rescind what they had done? What if one of the senior Directors called his new boss and told him what had happened? These London insurance people were all pals together, so suppose the bastards decided to take their revenge and ‘blackball’ him?’ Surely not! He wasn’t that important in the wider scheme of things. Or was he? He hoped not, but one thing was for sure, he was going to have a very worrying and unsettled two weeks holiday before he returned to the City to take up his new position as the new Company Accountant at ‘QDC’.