“Time for bed, young lady.”
“Ow mum, it’s too early,” answered Maew.
“You have exams tomorrow, only two more days, then you are on holiday, and you can stay up later. But not too late, like last time.”
“That wasn’t my fault, Granny forgot to look at the clock.”
“And you forgot to tell her your bedtime.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry.”
“Forget it. What do you think our new neighbours will be like?”
“Don’t know mum, I hope it’s not the man I saw there last Wednesday.”
“I didn’t like the way he looked at me.”
“The agent told me an Englishman had bought the house, was it him, I wonder?”
“Mum, how do I know? He wasn’t Thai, that’s all I know.”
“Okay, that’s enough, bed and sleep, we’ll know soon enough. Good night, darling.”
The mobile phone’s alarm rang at seven, Maew, rubbed her eyes and crept to the bathroom. She prepared her uniform and school bag and joined her mother, father and elder brother for breakfast.
“How is BoBo?” Maew asked.
Daeng, her elder brother snorted and didn’t look up from his cereals.
“Better, he's still asleep, but not well enough for school,” said her mother.
“Lucky him, no exams. I bet he’ll be better as soon as his school breaks up.”
“Don’t be like that, your brother has a fever, he didn’t plan it,” said her father.
Maew slung her bag on her shoulder, “See you all later.” She waved and strolled to the path.
A pickup truck laden with furniture slowed as it reached the next-door house. A new saloon stopped behind it. Two ‘falangs’, jumped out and ran to the door, keys in hand. The bigger of the two had cropped ginger hair, turned and walked back to the gate, whistled and signalled to the pickup driver to park in the driveway. Then, his eyes connected with Maew’s. She turned and hurried off to school.
“God, it is him!” she breathed.
“Oh, darling, you’re home from school. Look who’s here to see you,” Maew’s mother said excitedly.
A tall ginger-haired man stuck his hand out.
“Hi, I’m Roger, and this is Philip. We will be your new neighbours.” He looked her up and down.
The other man moved closer. “Yes, I’m Philip, you can call me Phil. I’m an English teacher, I can help you with your homework if you like?”
“Hello. I’d better change and start my school work,” said Maew, rushing off.
“Why are you dashing off, darling, these nice men offered to go over your exams with you,” said her mum.
“Yes, you look fine in your school uniform.” Three people laughed. Maew ducked out and ran for the stairs.
She heard chatter and the clink of coffee cups as she shut her bedroom door firmly.
“BoBo, come down here, please. Philip and Roger have brought you some English sweets, come and try some,” shouted his mother.
Maew opened her door a crack, “BoBo, get in here now.”
“I don’t trust those two.”
“So? They’ve got chocs,” said BoBo as he skipped to the stairs.
Maew shut the door soundlessly. She didn’t want to draw any attention to herself.
An hour later, her mother tapped at the door and stuck her head around.
“Finished your revision?”
“I wonder if you’d mind popping next door to collect your little brother?”
“Don’t tell me you let him go with them?” said Maew.
“Why ever not? They are very nice.”
“Mum, I don’t know why, but I don’t trust them. Please don’t allow BoBo to go to their house again.”
“What are you talking about? They are respectful people, one teacher and the other is a programmer, whatever that is?”
“It probably means he has a website. Just because they have jobs doesn’t mean they are perfect.”
“Whatever, will you fetch BoBo?”
“Yes mum, won’t be long.”
“Come in, come in, welcome to our new home,” said Phil.
“I’ve just come to get BoBo, no need to come in, thanks.”
“Please do, he'll be a few minutes, he’s finishing his ice cream. Would you like one?”
Maew, peeked left and right, “Where’s my brother?”
“He’s upstairs in Roger’s room.”
Maew ran up the stairs, opening each door as she reached them.
“Ah, there you are. What are you doing upstairs?”
“Hi, sis, look at all these computers. They’ve got tons of great games,” said BoBo, without looking up.
“Come on, mum wants you home. I’m sure the gentlemen have better things to do?”
“No rush, let him finish his ice cream. Phil doesn’t start until next term, and I work at night.”
Maew pulled up a chair and watched over her brother’s shoulder.
“What game is that, I’ve never seen that one?” she said.
“Oh, that’s one of mine.”
“You, invent or develop games?”
“Yes, that’s my business.”
As the bowl was cleared away, BoBo stood and followed Roger, Maew looked around. At last, she found what she needed. She slipped the business card into her pocket.
“Did you have fun kids?” asked their mum.
“Yeah, great ice cream,” answered BoBo.
Maew ran straight to her room. Google became busy as she tracked down websites, with names close to Roger’s company name. There were a few similar, but they sold children’s clothes.
“Ah-ha,” she called. “You have to be eighteen to view this site.”
She slipped into big brother Daeng’s room. “I hope he hasn’t changed his password?” she breathed.
“I’m in.” She typed in the over eighteen only site name.
“My God! He’s been reading it.”
Her hands dropped to her knees, she leant back and took a deep breath.
“Oh no! Is that him?”
A picture of a teenager appeared. She looked closer.
Running downstairs she shouted, “Mum, mum, come and see.”
“What is it Maew, I’m busy.”
“Those lousy men next door run a filthy porn site!”
The door opened, “Hi, mum, little sis.”
“Why are you on their site?” screamed Maew, pointing next door.
Daeng ran upstairs and slammed the bedroom door.
“Go look, mum,” Maew said.
Her mother brushed flour from her hands and marched upstairs.
“Open this door,” she called as she banged on the wood.
“What is it, mum?”
“What have you been doing with those men next door?”
“What? I don’t even know them, what are you talking about? I’m writing an article for college.”
He showed her his screen.
His mother stalked back to the kitchen, “What are you talking about? Are you dreaming up stories to get him in trouble again?”
“Oh, mum, why don’t you ever believe me?”
She stormed outside and sat on the wall, deep in thought. She heard BoBo’s laughter from next door.
“Right,” she said, as she rushed to Philip’s door.
“Alright, alright, you don’t need to bust the door down,” said Roger.
“Let me in, have you got my brother in here?”
“Which brother do you mean?” he sneered. “Daeng called me, he said you’re prying into his private matters.”
“Leave Daeng out of it. I want BoBo, get him, please.”
“BoBo is having a shower with Phil.”
Maew shoved Roger aside and ran upstairs. BoBo’s laughter rang out.
There was BoBo standing in the bath, shower water rained on him, steam filled the room. Cameras and sound equipment packed the small room. Phil was next to her brother, squirting shower gel over him. Both were laughing.
“Why not jump in with them?” asked Roger.
“Get out now!” Maew screamed at her brother.
The little boy ducked and slipped past his sister, hunting for his clothes.
“You perverts were filming my little brother?” she screamed.
She grabbed one poll supporting a powerful light and threw it in the tub.
Sparks burst from the shattered glass. An adult scream pierced the steam, as Philip fell, hitting his head on the taps. He was shaking as he hit the water. Roger rushed to his aid. Maew grabbed another ellipse light and tipped it into the shower. More flashes, sparks spat at the water. Two men fried.
BoBo’s head popped from the bedroom as Maew shut the bathroom door.
“In a minute, tell mum you had another ice cream. But you don’t want to play with the men anymore. Okay.”