“What? Who?” Budgie asked.
“Yes, Mr Um… Budgie, it is strange, but I am only passing on instructions as requested by my client,” said Mr Paulson.
“Just call me Budgie, everyone does, no need for formality.”
“Um, no, I suppose not. Mr Kanom told me you are the man he wanted to turn his daughter into a ‘decent’ person.”
“Look boss, I don’t know why I’m here, I came because I thought you wanted me to quote on a building job.”
“My letter was quite clear, I needed to speak to you about a delicate matter,” said the aged lawyer.
“I assumed your girlfriend needed her room painted,” Budgie sneered.
The lawyer sighed, “I don’t have a girlfriend. He asked me to talk to you, and that is what I’m trying to do. Let me start again. Mr Kanom has died…”
“Oh, sorry to hear that. Who is Mr Kanom,” asked Budgie.
“It appears that Mr Kanom’s wife had some er, um, friendship with your father. Were they related at one stage?”
“What is her name? My dad was a sailor, he had many friends.”
“What was her name, you mean. She passed five years ago. Her name was Khun Wan. She owned the instant noodle business that made them wealthy,” said the lawyer.
“Wealthy? So, why am I here?”
“As I said, Mr Kanom was fearful about his daughter, her future and her somewhat wayward lifestyle. He named you as a beneficiary in his will.”
Mr Paulson now had Budgie’s full attention. The lawyer sighed and lifted the paper that had been waiting more patiently than the solicitor.
He started reading, “I Mr Superit Kanom, in full control of my mental faculties…” he read on. Budgie twitched in the leather chair.
“If it is proven that my daughter, Miss Jak Kanom, no longer uses drugs or alcohol and is in full control of her life, to Mr Paulson’s satisfaction, I bequeath my home in Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, one-hundred million Thai Baht, all contents of said house and the three cars parked there to Mr Budgie Regar.”
“How much is one-hundred million Baht? Sounds a lot?”
“It is, somehow I guessed you would ask,” he said, shuffling through the Telegraph financial section.
“Today one UK pound is thirty-two Thai Baht,” he said, sliding the calculator towards him. As Mr Budgie was playing with his fingers.
“Three million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds, said Mr Paulson.”
Budgie feinted, his head bounced on the highly polished desk.
“Jane, please come in with a glass of water and lean Mr Budgie backwards in his seat. Thank you.”
The secretary rushed in and gently slapped Budgie’s cheek as she pushed him backwards in his chair. She stared at her boss with questions in her eyes, then retreated as Mr Paulson's weary eyes told her to leave.
“I’ll make some fresh coffee,” she offered as the door closed behind her.
Mr Paulson slid several photographs across the desk. A groggy Budgie’s fingers trembled as he looked at a Jaguar, a BMW and a sports Mercedes. Room after room filled with Asian antiques, with uniformed staff smiling in attendance.
“There is a twenty-metre pool, oh, and a well-stocked wine cellar,” said Mr Paulson.
“This is a prank,” he looked around for hidden cameras, waiting for a show host to leap out grinning.
“It is not a trick. Mr Kanom was a wealthy man, and he wants only the best for his daughter. He chose you to straighten her up,” he ran his fingers through his thinning hair, before whispering, “God only knows why?” he controlled himself, “Then, and only then can you take possession of the listed items.”
Budgie leant back, dreaming of holidays on Thai beaches, cocktail in hand.
"Do they have Singapore Sling in Thailand?" he wondered.
Eventually, he asked, “Who is the daughter and when can I meet her?”
“I thought you would never ask,” said Mr Paulson.
“Miss Jak? Hi, just to let you know, Mr Paulson and his client are ready to meet you at one. They will be in ‘The Club’ awaiting your presence,” said the secretary with a cheeky grin.
“I thought my father was the client?” said Jak.
“Er, yes, technically,” Jane answered.
“Don’t worry, I’m only messing around. I’ll go as soon as they finish my nails.”
The Club, established in 1887, was busy. All diners wore suits, except Mr Budgie. The grandeur hushed the conversations. Servers wore tail-coats as did the bar staff.
“Yes, sir, are you ready to order?” said one of the long tails.
“We are awaiting a lady, we will order then. A small sherry for me, and my guest will…”
“A beer for me, mate, do you have Carlsberg?”
Budgie leaned back and grinned at those who tried to hide their gaze. Mr Paulson attempted small talk and failed badly. Budgie wasn’t listening, he was too busy dreaming.
A minor disturbance broke through the muted chatter.
“That must be them,” a stylish Asian lady pointed a newly varnished nail at a central table. She marched in, leaving the Maitre De struggling to keep up.
“Hi guys, I’m Jak.”
Mr Paulson stood and delicately touched her hand. Budgie smiled but remained seated.
“Vodka for me,” she waved at an open-mouthed waiter. Sitting at the proffered chair. Mouse-like Paulson returned to his place.
The dishes were delicious; eating stunted the talk. Budgie was lost for words, Paulson uncomfortable hearing a young woman swearing. It all bored Jak.
“I’ve gone through Mr Kanom’s wishes, I trust it was all clear? May I suggest that you both exchange contact details? The quicker you can prove… follow your father’s wishes, the quicker I can ensure we tick each item. Good afternoon, I have other work that needs my attention.”
“Hang on, who’s paying for all this?” asked Budgie, grabbing Mr Paulson's jacket.
Jak covered a snigger.
“I have an account here, no money needs to change hands,” said Paulson, stalking out.
“I didn’t know, did I?” said Budgie.
“Come on, let’s get ourselves a proper drink,” suggested Jak.
Hailing a cab, “Take us to Xteme please,” said Jak.
“Xtreme? What’s that?” asked Budgie.
A monster of a man with Maori facial tattoos opened the undecorated door.
“Is he coming in?” he said, nodding at Budgie.
“He’s my guest. Do not question me like that again.”
“Sorry mam,” he answered quietly.
The club didn't open until ten pm, but the staff had to prepare, some days their boss would turn up early.
Beaming greetings to her staff on the way to a private office above the empty dance floor. Mouse-like Budgie followed speechlessly.
“Sit,” she ordered, pointing to a low leather chair.
Looking around nervously, Budgie did as he was told.
“I assume you expect to collect on my father’s will?”
“Um I, I..”
“I’ll take that as a yes. We will both collect if you follow my instructions, okay?” she breathed, crossing her legs, tight buttocks perched on the corner of her mahogany desk. Her guest had no idea her red-soled shoes cost more than he earns in a week.
Budgie looked at the lack of plaster on the bare brickwork boasting brass designs between modern oil paintings showing off a huge drinks cabinet.
“On my say so, you will mail a letter to Mr Paulson, saying that I joined AA and that you never saw me with white powder on my nose, etc, etc. In fact, please forget that I’ll write it myself, you just sign it,” Jak looked at him considering if he could read or write.
“Will he believe me?” asked Budgie.
“Jane, could you bring my schedule in?” called a more relaxed Mr Paulson.
The secretary had a paper in one hand, something tangled the other in her wavy hair.
“Sorry, sir, could you help me, I’ve got my hair caught in my earring?”
Paulson grunted, unsure of how to approach this problem.
“You seem to have…” he started.
The top two buttons on her blouse popped open.
“Oh my goodness,” she fiddled, another came unclasped.
Jane pulled Paulson’s head between her breasts as she pulled her phone from her skirt. The camera clicked soundlessly.
“Come to my nightclub, I’ve some news you will be happy to hear,” said Jak to her mobile.
Budgie took less than twenty-minutes to change his jeans and search for a clean shirt.
“These are the keys to my little Merc, they park it in my Bangkok driveway.”
She slid an envelope across the desk, “First-class air ticket on tomorrow’s flight. Have fun.”
“You mean, Paulson agreed?” asked Budgie.
“Naturally, enjoy Bangkok,” she waved him off.
“Sir, are you okay?” the pretty air-hostess asked.
“I’m fine, maybe too much free champagne?” he stammered.
They whizzed him through passport control and into a waiting taxi.
“Ah, Khun Budgie, welcome to your Bangkok residence. I’m your butler, here to serve. Please let me take your bags. Which bedroom would you like?”
“I’ve got a choice?”
“Why, of course, the um… highly decorated one is Khun Jak’s, her mother and father had the biggest, as they no longer need them, may I suggest one of those?”
“Let’s have a look?”
“Follow me, I will hang your clothes. Dinner at seven? Would that suit?”
“Sure. I want to take the Merc for a runaround. I’ve never had a car like that.”
“Can I suggest later, the jams are worse at this time,” said the butler.
“Never mind, I can’t wait to give it a run.”
Budgie searched his pocket for the key.
The engine hadn’t run for a while, but it burst into action. Budgie felt at home in the bucket seats. He deserved it. He roared down the driveway, only to inch into Sukhumvit Road’s famous jammed traffic. He crawled two-hundred yards before a police officer jumped in front, his hand demanding he stops.
“This is a bus lane,” he shouted in Thai.
“Let me see your license?”
Often the pro-offered license discretely holds a five-hundred Baht note. The problem disappears. But Budgie was ‘newbie’ on matters of graft.
The car impressed the police officer, “Nice motor,” he was expecting payment. When Budgie sat staring at him, the officer spoke in his radio.
A more senior man joined them, “Ni alay?” pointing at Budgies’ holdall containing his paperwork.
“Oh, this? It’s my passport,” Budgie guessed, as they led him to a waiting vehicle.
“In,” he used the one English word the officer knew.
An hour waiting for processing, “What a joke, I can pay any fine they hit me with,” Budgie grinned.
“Sir, we have found class A drugs in your holdall.”
Budgie hadn’t learnt that they gave the death penalty for serious drugs offences. He never used drugs, beer was his vice.
“No way, they are not mine,” he shouted as the cell door slammed.
“I have a welcoming gift for you Jane,” Jak tossed the keys to the sports car to her.
“I’ve been waiting so long for this moment,” gushed Jane as the girls hugged.
The Thai girl led her wife upstairs to her father’s computer room.
Jak typed in the password, a part of her father’s bequeathment. A video film clicked into life.
“My darling daughter,” he said smiling, “I knew you’d gain control of the family’s wealth. Even if I made to work for it. I just wanted you to prove you could. To win the password, you had to be exceptionally clever, you did it. Now you are in control of everything your mother and I owned. The big prize? Well, the shares in the noodle company. Congratulations, and good luck running the business. One last thing, whatever you do, don’t marry that idiot Budgie,” he said grinning. She had never seen him so happy as she clicked the off button.
A tear slid down her cheek as the girls cuddled.