Mobi’s eBook Market Place
MADJU-RAJ, THE MESSENGER OF DEATH….
is now live on Kobo ebooks.
Yes, it was a bit of a struggle for this ‘semi-luddite’, but I made it in the end.
If you click on the new Kobo link on the right side bar, you will be able to buy a download of the book from Kobo books.
The UK price is the same as Amazon at £1.99 but the US price is a few cents more than Amazon, at $3.20. This is because of exchange rate issues and the fact that it has to be a few cents more in order for me to get the maximum royalty rate.
There are now three ways to get hold of this bargain-priced book….
…. So there is no excuse for not supporting the cause and buy my second novel. It is a really good read and I promise you will not be disappointed.
It has been a slightly better week, all in all.
My health is still giving me grave concern and I had three severe pancreatic pain attacks during the week, which meant three more sleepless nights and my diarrhoea has more or less continued unabated, but for some unfathomable reason, I feel slightly better about everything.
During the week I bought a slow cooker as I thought it would be useful for cooking some fat-free recipes, and yesterday we gave it its first test run.
I decided on a simple, beef stew recipe, using only lean meat and with Noo’s culinary skills and my undoubted ability to read a recipe, we managed quite well, although it was not without a few heated moments when I failed to tell her everything in a logical order. (Like preparing the beef stock, which involved boiling water and adding Oxo cubes before preparing the meat and veg).
Anyway, we got there in the end and after 6 hours of slow cooking, I had a pot full of delicious beef stew. Unfortunately, it was so tasty that I overdid the beef consumption with predictable results – a pain attack on the stroke of midnight.
Of all the meats, beef is the most problematic for pancreatitis sufferers, and too much of it will bring on a pain attack, so clearly I must have eaten too much as there was vitually no fat in the meal.
My next two recipes are for pork and chicken, so we’ll see how they go.
At the time of writing, I have managed to obtain the name of the foremost specialist for pancreatic conditions and the management of enzyme replacement in Thailand. Unfortunately he only works at Siriraj hospital in Bangkok and as Siriraj is a government hospital it will be very difficult to obtain an appointment. In any case, with all the political protests going on, I don’t feel too disposed to go to Bangkok until all the troubles die down. But at least I have a name, which is progress.
My wonderful, darling Noo never ceases to amaze me.
Two weeks ago, she came over to me at home, cradling a wild bird – I have no idea what variety – that had been savaged by one of our dogs. She told me that she had to rescue the bird from the dog’s mouth and half the bird’s wing had been bitten off. It looked to be in a pretty bad state and could never possibly survive.
I intimated that there was nothing to be done, but she insisted in trying to help it get better. I told her to ‘leave me out of it’ and thought no more about it.
Then a few days later, she told me that the bird was still alive and was living in a makeshift cage that she had put together out on our terrace. Again, I put from my mind as the ramblings of a crazy woman…
Two days ago she told me that the bird was looking much better and that the wing was growing back, but she didn’t think it wouldn’t be capable of flying for a while yet. She was feeding it rice and that it seemed quite happy in its little cage.
Yesterday morning, I watched Noo from my window as she walked out onto the terrace and took a cloth off the makeshift cage. It was daytime and the bird needed to wake up. It reminded me of the same routine we used to go through with our pet budgies, back in England.
I decided to go and take a look. Sure enough, sitting on a makeshift perch on the floor of the cage was this badly wounded, wild bird staring back at me with its beady eyes, apparently completely unafraid. I had to admit that it was certainly looking much healthier than it was a couple of weeks ago,
I am now eagerly waiting for the day when Noo decides that the bird is ready to fly again and is set free to join its mates in the sky. Personally, I’m not at all convinced that it will ever be able to fly again.
But there again, I never thought the poor thing would still be living after two weeks in a makeshift cage; so what do I know?
Noo seems to be regular Thai Doctor Doolittle…bless her little cotton socks…
Mobi-Snaps: There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country’… Part 11 – Stamford, Lincs.
It was during my last few days with my eldest daughter in Nuneaton back in the summer that I had a recurrence of my abdominal pain attacks that I had first experienced just before flying to England a couple of weeks earlier.
The pain was so excruciating that on two occasions my daughter rushed me to hospital in the middle of the night. On my first admittance the doctor thought it was some kind of heart problem, especially after seeing my open heart surgery scars and insisted in carrying out a whole raft of tests to make sure my heart was OK. By the time they had done all that and realised that it wasn’t my heart, the pain had receded and they sent me home with some indigestion pills.
Two days later I was back again, and this time they knew it wasn’t heart related as they had my records and it was then that the doctor thought that gall stones were the likely culprit.
These medical emergencies meant that we were obliged to delay our trip from my elder daughter’s home in Nuneaton, to my younger daughter’s home in Stamford.
We finally made it to Stamford on August 12th, a few days before flying back home to Thailand. On the first day we arrived, we spent the afternoon taking a stroll through picturesque Stamford with its historic buildings and adjacent park-lands.
“From Thailand with Love.”
In 2000, I retired from my full time job in the city of London, and in 2001 I produced my first piece of creative writing – a collection of 6 short stories/ novelettes set in Thailand, under the collective title of Tales from Thailand.
I was extremely fortunate to have Tales from Thailand published in 2001 by a small UK publisher. Unfortunately, sales were minimal and the book has long since gone out of print.
I have now had a fresh look at this collection and am in the process of giving the Tales a good ‘dusting down’ and plan to re-publish them as an ebook under the new, (provisional), title of: ‘From Thailand with Love.’
As I complete the rewriting/editing of each story, I will publish them here on my blog and they will be remain on my website to read for free until such time I publish them on Amazon and Kobo.
“The Good Doctor Jak”
The first story in the collection has been re-titled as per above, and at a mere 4,600 words, it is by far the shortest of the six stories.
I have pleasure in publishing The Good Doctor Jak below, and I hope you enjoy it.
As ever, I welcome any comments.
THE GOOD DOCTOR JAK
The Country Hut Crossroads is not a hut. It’s not at a crossroads. It’s not even in the countryside – well not when you consider that the town of Rayong is a pretty big place, even if it is well over one hundred miles down the coast from Bangkok.
It’s one of those Thai places with an English name which doesn’t quite make sense, yet at the same time, evokes more of a meaning as to what you will find inside than most conventional English names may tell you.
Its location is on the main road towards the edge of town, the English name standing out among the myriad Thai signs in their distinctive Sanskrit-based script.
It was a pub, although it wasn’t quite like any Western pub I had ever seen before, and it was quite large, with a conventional bar and an extensive area for tables and chairs, with nooks and crannies and all sorts. Memorabilia from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies decorated the walls; posters for fifties American musicals, Carnaby Street signs, and the like.
I was there with Eddie, revelling in the incongruity of a pub in provincial Rayong which was promoting a group of young Thai musicians with shoulder-length hair, playing sixties and seventies rock ‘n roll.
The music was surprisingly good and brought back memories of a miss-spent youth – for both of us but especially for Eddie, who in a past life had played the guitar in some nameless seventies rock band.
Eddie was a long standing friend from the really good old days in Bangkok in the late sixties, when the average westerner had never even heard of Thailand unless you happened to mention the name ‘Siam’. We had gone our separate ways for many years and had only recently met up again, quite by chance. Our trip to Rayong was a business cum pleasure excursion, and was part of a tour around Thailand to renew old acquaintances.
We were both in our mid-fifties and Eddie had put on a lot of weight and gained considerable respectability since those mad hippie years of long hair, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.
Song requests were welcomed, with CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival) being among the most popular. We made our fair share of requests as we sat in the corner sipping our Carlsbergs. For some inexplicable reason CCR’s huge hit, Proud Mary, was requested over and over again.
‘If you come down to the river
I bet you’re going to find some people who live
You don’t have to worry if you got no money
Big wheel keeps on turning
Proud Mary keeps on burning
Rolling…. Rolling…. Rolling on the River’
‘I haven’t been here for a couple of years’ I told Eddie, ‘but it doesn’t seem to have changed at all. It’s almost as though it’s been here since the seventies.’
But of course, that was nonsense, as it was only opened five years ago by some rich local entrepreneur who must have been indulging in his memories of a miss-spent youth in Europe and the States.’
‘What made you bring me here today?’ asked Eddie – ‘seeing as you don’t frequent the place anymore.’
‘Well, it’s a kind of anniversary, and anyway I thought you might appreciate its special ambience.’
‘It’s great, but you’ve got me curious John – what anniversary?’
I suppose that all along I had brought Eddie here so that at last I could share with someone the story that had unfolded in this pub some two years earlier.
It didn’t take much prompting, and with the help of a few more Carlsbergs, I was soon immersed in my tale.
It must have been some two and half years ago that Prasit, my local branch manager, based in Rayong, first brought me to Country Hut to meet his friend and our host for the evening.
I found the place fascinating, and we weren’t there very long before he joined us; a well-dressed Thai that looked to be in his early fifties. Prasit explained that the gentleman was his close friend and introduced him to me as Doctor Jakimar Chevalit. Everyone called him Dr Jak.
Dr Jak was a respected doctor at the local hospital and had been practising there for many years. In fact, he had been there so long that it seemed as though the whole town knew him. He declined to drink any alcohol, and was content to sit and chat and listen to the music.
After a while some young lads at the next table spotted him, and they all ‘wai-ed’, bowed with hands clasped in a prayer fashion, greeting him with affection. They had all had occasion to use his services; he had probably even delivered many of them into the world, as he was a General Practitioner in the widest sense of the word.
It wasn’t long before the intrusive ring of the ubiquitous mobile phone interrupted the music and disturbed our conversation. It turned out to be the first of many calls – all of them to Dr Jak. He would deal with some of them at the table and sometimes he would have to go outside due to the noise of the music. Upon return, he apologised for the disruptions and explained that he was on permanent twenty-four hour call at the hospital. The nurses had been told to call him at any time if they had any concerns with patients.
I asked him if there wasn’t anyone else who could take the calls, but he just smiled and said that he preferred to deal with them personally.
After half an hour, another call sent Dr Jak rushing back to the hospital, but with the assurance that he would be back later. After he left, Prasit explained that Dr Jak had been assigned to Rayong Hospital from Bangkok some twenty years ago under the Thai system whereby every doctor is required to do a two year spell up-country post-qualification. Once they had completed their obligatory stint in the provinces, most doctors would then return to Bangkok and start to generate serious earnings.
For some reason, Dr Jak had decided to stay in Rayong, and had been a fixture at Rayong hospital ever since. He had been Prasit’s close friend for many years and, when he heard that his boss, an Englishman, was coming to town, he had insisted on taking us both out.
The Carlsbergs kept coming; the music was getting better and better.
‘Rolling… Rolling… Rolling on the River’
It was quite late when Dr Jak re-appeared and apologised profusely for his long absence. We didn’t mind – we understood, but somehow he appeared to feel guilty for leaving us. It didn’t seem quite right. We were having a good time, getting drunk, listening to music, and Dr Jak was out there working, saving lives. Yet he was the one feeling guilty!
Yet another call sent Dr Jak rushing off again, and considering the hour I thought it unlikely that he would return again that night.
We’d had a skin-full, and we were thinking about leaving, when Dr Jak finally made it back, which was just as well, as neither Prasit nor I were in any state to drive.
A considerate gentleman to the end, Dr Jak insisted in driving the two of us to our respective abodes for the night, Prasit to his home, and me to my Hotel. When I was safely back in my room, I lay awake for hours puzzling over this truly virtuous man that I had met in such a strange setting.
At the office the next morning I asked Prasit whether Dr Jak was married or if had a girlfriend.
‘No wife, No girls,’ was the abrupt reply.
‘Is he gay?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know. If he is, he never flaunts it – or indulges as far as I know. I’ve never seen him with anyone except friends and ex patients.’
‘Why does he like going to Country Hut Crossroads – He doesn’t drink – he doesn’t bring any girls there – and he’s always rushing back to the hospital?’ I asked.
‘Well, he likes the music, which is one thing. But then he doesn’t really have a proper home. I went there once to drop him off when his car broke down. It’s just a tiny, almost empty room in a wooden house on the edge of town. There’s a threadbare mattress on the floor, and that’s about it. He sometimes catches a few hours’ sleep at the hospital, and the rest of the time he’s in the pub where we met him last night, keeping an eye on his ex-patients, and sometimes finding new ones.’
‘What do you mean – finding new ones?’ I asked.
Prasit smiled sheepishly. ‘That’s how he met me. I suppose you could say that if it weren’t for Dr Jak I would be in a very sorry state by now. I certainly wouldn’t be working for you, and it’s more than likely that I would be long gone.’
‘That sounds a bit dramatic, come on, tell me more.’
‘Well to cut a very long story short, you could say I was sliding down the slippery slope to hell – two bottles of whisky a day, four packets of cigarettes, missing work more days than not, getting into drunken brawls. You name it, I was doing it. I had long since given up any attempts to change my lifestyle as I had decided it was all down to fate – karma as we call it. I believed I was being punished for some terrible misdeeds in my former life.’
He was referring to the Buddhist belief in reincarnation. I pressed Prasit to relate how he had managed to turn his life round. He certainly wasn’t teetotal, but as a rule he was content to just have the occasional beer or two. He never touched whisky; he was a non-smoker and was one of the brightest and most diligent Thais I had ever employed. He was a good and trusted manager, who treated his staff fairly but with compassion and had a first class reputation amongst the local business community. Over the past few years, I had grown to like and respect this quiet, unassuming and honest person and was most intrigued by what he had just said about his past life.
‘Quite simple really – Dr Jak took me under his wing and he got me thinking straight. He made me feel that it was his life’s mission to save me from myself. It took a while, but in the end he succeeded in bringing me to my senses. And here I am today, a reformed person – all thanks to Dr Jak.
‘He does it all the time. When he’s not ministering to the sick, he spends his time saving drunks and no-goods from themselves. People like me. You westerners would say he is very virtuous. Some Thais think he has made so much merit in this life that he will be well on the way to nirvana in the next.’
Business was booming in Rayong so I became a fixture in town for a while. Many evenings were spent at the Country Hut Crossroads where Dr Jak and I became good friends. I got used to his frequent telephone calls that would send him rushing off, and also to his habit of leaving our table to join strangers who were looking a bit the worse for wear. I became fascinated with his unerring knack of befriending them and then helping them to solve their problems.
As I got to know him better, I started to press the good doctor to tell me why he had never married. It was none of my business really but I wanted to satisfy my curiosity. Somewhat frustratingly, he had a way with questions that he didn’t want to answer, and he would just produce an enigmatic smile and change the subject. I finally came to the conclusion that he probably was gay but had no desire to come out of the closet, and probably never would.
I suppose I would never have become any the wiser regarding his sexuality or anything else to do with his background if it hadn’t been for one fateful evening. As on many previous occasions, I had met Dr Jak at Country Hut to listen to the live music and have a few drinks – Carlsberg for me and Diet Coke for the doctor. He was looking particularly weary. He explained to me that he hadn’t slept for two days due to so many emergencies at the hospital and was feeling pretty exhausted.
‘But I can’t sleep, I’m still on call,’ he said somewhat dejectedly.
Prasit joined us and I asked him if there wasn’t any way we could persuade Dr Jak to let another doctor at the hospital to take his shift.
‘Leave it to me, John.’
Prasit took out his mobile and made a couple of calls and then proudly announced to Dr Jak – who by this time was half-asleep – that he was officially off duty for the night. Dr Jak started to protest but I could see his will weakening, and reluctantly he agreed to turn off his phone and leave the night’s emergencies to others.
I asked Dr Jak if he had ever drunk alcohol.
‘Oh yes, I’m not teetotal you know. I just can’t drink when I’m working – and I’m nearly always working.’
‘Well not wishing to encourage you into something you may regret, may I offer you a glass of beer,’ I suggested somewhat hesitantly.
Dr Jak seemed to consider this for many minutes before finally he smiled a tired kind of smile and said:
‘Thank you John, that would be very nice.’
The three of us sat sipping our beers and although Dr Jak only had two glasses, It soon became obvious that his long abstinence from alcohol and his extreme fatigue had conspired to exaggerate the effects of the small amount of alcohol he had consumed.
It is often said that coincidences, which occur in real life are usually stranger than the coincidences which are created in fiction. The Thais have far less problem in accepting this concept due to their belief in karma – or pre-ordained fate.
What happened that evening, after Dr Jak started to get prematurely drunk, was something I will never forget. It was either one of those incredibly true coincidences, or it maybe it really was karma – destiny. I will never know.
A rather shabbily dressed man, about the same age as Dr Jak, but almost skeletal in build suddenly appeared at our table.
The exchange in Thai, roughly translated, went something like this:
‘I see you haven’t changed your habits then – Dr Jak?’ the man said, in a very sarcastic tone of voice.
Dr Jak nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the stranger. After a few moments he seemed to recover his composure and sat there, staring at him, speechless and motionless.
The stranger went on, ‘Drunk again eh? You made all those promises. They were just lies!’
Dr Jak sat and stared. The music faded out. Complete silence descended, and it seemed as though everyone in Country Hut was following the drama.
‘Tonight I went to the hospital to find you, and they told me that you are on duty tonight. And what do I find? You are here, in a pub, drunk!’
Not a word from Dr Jak. I couldn’t understand, why didn’t the doctor tell the man that he was off duty?’
‘Prasit,’ I whispered, why don’y you tell the man the doctor is off duty?
‘I doubt whether he would believe me. Anyway, don’t tell doctor Jak , but I told him a little lie. He’s actually still on duty, but for once in his life, I wanted him to relax for a few hours.’
‘You lied?’ I asked, astonished.
The stranger started shouting.
‘How can you be a doctor on duty if you are drunk? You haven’t changed at all after all these years. All those promises! All those promises, just lies! Lies! Lies!’ the stranger continued in an increasingly hysterical manner.
Dr Jak continued to stare, and I noticed that his eyes started to well up and tears started to run down his cheeks.
The stranger suddenly picked up the mobile phone next to Dr Jak and shouted, ‘How can you answer this phone when you are drunk? Tell me, how can you? I want to know?’
Then he looked at the phone and realised it had been turned off.
There was another long silence. The stranger stared at the phone and Dr Jak sat there with the tears still on his cheeks.
Suddenly, the stranger’s anger seemed to disappear, and in a much more controlled voice he said,
‘You know what, Dr Jak? After twenty long years I came to find you to tell you I forgive you, that I can’t spend the rest of my life with such hatred in my heart. And now this….’
Suddenly he hurled the phone at the wall and it smashed into pieces, and he started to leave. As he reached the door he turned around.
‘I can’t forgive you, and I can’t live with this hatred. It will be our karma.’
He left, closing the door very quietly. The band started playing again.
‘Rolling, Rolling… Rolling on the River’
During the very long night that followed Dr Jak helped us to piece together the happenings of some twenty years previously when he had first arrived as a junior doctor in Rayong to do his two-year ‘stint’ in an up-country hospital.
We learnt that Dr Jak had as much weakness of the flesh as his fellow mortals did, and he used to drink and carouse with the best – and worst – of them. It turned out that he was a hot-blooded heterosexual after all and the fleshpots of Rayong held as much attraction for him as any other young, single male.
It wasn’t long before Dr Jak had inevitably entered into a long-term relationship with one of the young ladies from a Rayong night-club and they set up home together in a rented apartment in downtown Rayong. Of course he didn’t marry her. After all she was from the lower classes, had minimal education and was really just there for the pleasures of life, until his stint was up and he returned to Bangkok.
The girl’s name was Noi and she had a brother, Yot who was a local taxi driver.
Somehow Dr Jak managed to struggle through his two years without making too many mistakes and without ever over-exerting himself from a professional point of view. He made sure that his medical duties didn’t interfere too much with the important business of drinking and having a good time, as there were always others who were more dedicated, and who would always cover for him.
His two year stint was finally drawing to a close, and he was making preparations to return to Bangkok to take up a more lucrative position back in ‘civilisation’. The only unpleasant part of the process was that he would have to break the news to Noi that she wouldn’t be going with him.
He tried to explain to Noi that she wouldn’t like it in Bangkok, and that people would think she was stupid and unsophisticated. She would be much better off staying in Rayong where she fitted in. Noi pleaded with Dr Jak to take her with him. She didn’t even mind if she became his ‘minor wife’ if he was too ashamed to marry her properly.
This wasn’t part of Dr Jak’s plans and when she refused to stop pleading with him to take her to Bangkok, he became very angry. He told her that he didn’t care about her at all, and he had just been playing with her because he had nothing better to do in Rayong.
Noi was devastated. She begged and begged but the more she begged, the angrier Dr Jak became and finally he stormed out and went to a nearby bar to get drunk.
Dr Jak was supposed to be on duty, but there were no mobile telephones in those days and nobody knew where he was.
About three a.m., Noi’s brother Yot, finally tracked him down. Yot told him he had to go back to the hospital immediately as there was an emergency only he could deal with.
‘But I’m too drunk’ Dr Jak complained.
‘We’ve been looking for you all evening. You’re supposed to be on duty and you’re the poison expert.’
One of Doctor Jak’s specialities had been the treatment of people who had been poisoned.
‘I can’t go, I’m too drunk, get someone else!
‘For God’s sake, you must come – it’s Noi, Your girlfriend – my sister. She’s dying.’
They both rushed to the hospital. But it was too late. Noi had died after taking an enormous overdose.
Dr Jak looked at us across the table, the tears still in his eyes.
‘So you see I’m not so virtuous, as you used to think John, and I’m not going to a higher plane in my next life, Prasit. I’ll be lucky if I return as a sewer rat – it will be more than I deserve’
From the day that Noi had died, Dr Jak had promised to dedicate himself to a life of selflessness; trying to undo the wrong he had done by devoting all his energies to those in suffering, and to those who needed saving from themselves. By some uncanny stroke of fate, Yot had come looking for him on the first day in 20 years that he had taken a drink, and though that he had been ‘off duty’.
‘But Yot was mistaken, he got it completely wrong!’ I protested.
Dr Jak looked at me, and with an air of weary resignation, he whispered, ‘As Yot said John, it is our karma. What will be will be.’ Then he turned to Prasit and added, ‘Isn’t that so Prasit, my good friend?’
‘Is that the end of the tale?’ asked Eddie.
‘More or less,’ I replied somewhat evasively.
‘Well what happened to Dr Jak? Did he get over it?’
‘Dr Jak seemed to give up after that, and he reverted to his old ways of drinking too much and missing most his duty shifts. Eventually, he stopped working completely, which was just as well as he was in no condition to minister any medical assistance. This went on for weeks, and every night he would stagger into Country Hut, take his usual seat at the table and drink himself into oblivion. We tried to reason with him but he would just give us his most enigmatic smile, and tell us there was no point in doing anything about it, as it was his Karma, and that he was waiting.’
‘Waiting for what?’ Eddie asked.
‘We weren’t sure. Then one night, the three of us were there, drinking as usual, and Dr Jak was looking much the worst for wear. His grip on reality seemed to be fast fading, he smelt pretty bad and he hadn’t changed his clothes for several days.
‘Suddenly, the front door crashed open and a tall, very scary looking man burst in and came straight over to our table. He looked like a soldier and was dressed in army khaki, but I couldn’t detect any insignia. He addressed the doctor and asked him politely in Thai if he was indeed Dr Jak.
‘I think Prasit must have suspected something. He looked at the man and said, ‘My friend, you have made a mistake. There’s only one Dr Jak around here, and that’s me.’
‘I looked at Prasit with astonishment. What on earth was going on? It was a cool night for Thailand, and the Pub’s air conditioning was making the air almost frosty – but Prasit broke out in an uncontrollable sweat, which drenched his shirt and broke out on his face in tiny droplets.
‘The man looked at him and said, ‘I was told the doctor was a lot older than you,’ he snarled, looking back, he pointed towards the real doctor, ‘about his age!’
I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at that moment, but I had a very uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I tried to interject.
‘Keep out of this John, please,’ Prasit interrupted me in English. Then, addressing the intruder in Thai, said: ‘I don’t know what you’ve been told, but do you seriously think that that dirty drunk sitting here can be a doctor? Of course it is me – you must have got your information wrong’
‘Then you are the Doctor? You are definitely Dr Jak Chevalit?’ the man asked.
‘It seemed like an eternity, but couldn’t have been more than a couple of seconds.
‘Yes, I most certainly am Dr Jak Chevalit,’ Prasit replied.
‘The man blasted Prasit’s head into smithereens all over the wall with a twelve-millimetre pistol, before making a very fast getaway on a waiting motorcycle.’
‘I’ll never know quite what made Prasit do that,’ I said to Eddie, a little later. I’m sure he knew what was coming. ‘OK, he had much to be grateful to Dr Jak for, and he did lie to him about him being off duty, but that was no reason to put himself in the firing line. He didn’t have to die – it wasn’t his fight. You know it costs less than fifty quid to get someone killed in these parts? For some reason, Prasit must have thought it was his Karma’
‘Did they get the guy who did it?’ asked Eddie.
‘No – as I say it was a contract killing, and it was assumed that the killer just melted away into the jungle. But we’re sure that it was Yot who had made the contract. He’d been grieving for his sister all these years and had become unbalanced. But they could never prove it. Yot was found hanging in his room, on the same night that Prasit was killed.’
‘My God. What on earth happened to Dr Jak? Don’t tell me, I suppose he drunk himself to death.’
‘That’s the funny thing. Somehow he came to the conclusion that it wasn’t his karma to die yet after all. He quit drinking, quit his job in Rayong, and moved back to Bangkok. He married into a wealthy family and now has a thriving practice tending to the rich and famous. During his twenty odd years in Rayong, he had built up a reputation that was akin to a folk hero, and he had no problems in attracting the most prestigious patients when he returned to Bangkok.’
‘That’s one of the most ironic twists of fate I have ever heard of,’ Eddie said. ‘Now John, this is a true story? It really happened, didn’t it? You’re not having me on, are you?’
‘No, Eddie, it really did happen, exactly the way I’ve been telling you. And today is the anniversary of poor Prasit’s death,’ I concluded.
‘That’s terrible,’ said Eddie.
‘That’s Thailand,’ I replied.
We ordered a few more Carlsbergs.
‘That’s Karma!’ we both agreed.
‘Rolling…Rolling… Rolling on the river’