“That’s the thing about this city, you can do anything here,” said Pope.
“Why do they call you Pope?”
“The simple answer, it’s my name.”
“Yeah? I don’t believe you.”
“And I’m supposed to believe Gratis is your name?”
The two men laughed and drained their beers.
“You were saying about the city?” asked Gratis.
“You can get away with a lot more here. We have a similar problem.”
“You don’t know me, how can you know about my problems, if I have any?”
“Because I can read,” said Pope.
“What do you mean?”
“You are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are you not?” Pope ordered two more bottles of Leo, “Make sure they are cold this time,” he grinned at the scantily clad girl with the sexy bob-cut, who pretended to be embarrassed at his leer.
Bottles clinked as if friendship was sealed.
“You posted a pic of yourself, ‘Plastered and pickled’, did you not?” asked Pope.
“You entered a conversation with the world, all laughing at your unhappy role as a husband in the world’s playpen for bachelors,” said Pope.
“What of it?” asked Gratis.
“You want to be a free man. I have a similar wish,” as Pope stared into the eyes of his companion.
“What exactly are you suggesting?”
“Do you know the word mariticide or perhaps uxoricide? The look on your face tells me you are thinking of a joke? Am I correct? The words mean, killing your spouse,” said Pope as he finished his beer.
“That is not a joking matter,” said Gratis.
“No, and I am not joking. I will kill your wife, you kill mine.”
The thumping hip-hop music slowed, any surrounding movement was slow-motion, the bob-cut frozen.
“Are you serious?” Gratis mouthed as life returned to normal.
“We both need to free ourselves, my plan will leave us able to get our lives back.”
“It would stop my misses whinging about not having enough cash,” said Gratis, dreaming of bliss.
“And mine kicking up about ‘suspected’ girlfriends.”
“It was not my original idea. Other guys have got away with this scheme in fictional books,” said Pope, failing to mention the men got caught in the end.
The men shook hands, sealing the deal.
Pope explained, “Just to show my determination, I will go first. When you are satisfied she’s dead, it will be your turn. When we set the date, I suggest you book a few days away, somewhere plenty of folks will see you.”
The music got louder; the lights got brighter, bob-cut got prettier. The men got drunker.
Two days later, Gratis and his wife were arguing, “My mum is ill, she needs to go to the hospital,” Daeng said.
“So?” said Gratis.
“I must send her some money for the doctor.”
“Tough, I have got none.”
“You are lazy and useless,” Daeng was looking for something to throw.
He held his arm up to defend himself as his mobile beeped.
“Yeah, Pope, perfect timing,” he chuckled.
“Well now, my darling Daeng, it looks like our problems are over. I have a job interview, I’m off to Pattaya on tonight’s bus.”
“Ee, heer, you lousy bastard,” she screamed part in Thai. “You’ve got no money for my sick mum, but you can afford a trip to Sin City.”
Cutlery, coffee mugs, anything within reach rained onto the fast ducking husband.
Two hours later, Gratis checked into the Sithole Hotel on the beach road. He always stayed in that place, not because it was top-class, or anywhere near, he just loved the name. And they knew him.
“Back again Khun Gratis? Good to see you.”
“Yeah, I need a break from the wife,” he grinned at the night manager.
Gratis slung his shoulder bag in his room before dashing to the lively bar next door.
“You buy me a drink?” said one of the mini-skirted bar girls.
“Come on darling, sit with me,” he said as he signalled for a 'lady drink', smiles all round as the 'mamma san' passed over the oddly coloured little drink to her newest girl, Pinky.
Drinks flowed, the Brit in the Arsenal shirt got louder. “Give it a break, mate,” shouted Gratis.
“And what are you gonna do about it,” as he lunged to grab Pinky.
A half-empty Leo beer bottle crashed on the Arsenal fan’s head. Stools, tables, customers and staff flew in all directions.
“You can go in the morning after you have paid for the damage,” said the police officer.
After spending a more peaceful day on a boat trip to a nearby island, Gratis nursed his cuts and bruises with a gang of youthful backpacking Dutch tourists. His last evening was enjoyed with Pinky. His mobile beeped.
“You had better return home. The police have been hammering on your door,” chuckled Pope.
On the bus back to Bangkok, Gratis upset his neighbouring travellers as he practised his sad face, his acted tearful display, and various displays of emotions.
“Oscar, coming my way,” he laughed to himself.
He took the lift to his single-bed condo, “Hi, Daeng, darling, I’m home, give me a kiss.”
One stern police officer stood at the door.
“Khun Gratis, sorry, but have bad news. Come to the station.”
Gratis looked over the brown-shirted uniform, “What has happened? Is that blood, oh, my God, where is Daeng?”
A message beeped, “Now, it’s your turn.”
After answering questions about his trip to Pattaya he was allowed home, “Very sorry, Sir, we will do everything to solve this terrible crime.”
His phone bleeped again as he reached his front door.
“What is that? Who is she? You had better be joking?”
The message continued below the photo of the fortyish European women.
“My wife,” the details, name, address and make of her car followed, “Tomorrow at six pm”.
“But, but, she’s English, that’s not fair, the police and the Embassy will go mad to catch the murderer!” he screamed at the Samsung.
He answered the first bleep, “That was not the deal.”
“Why? Because she is not Thai? What’s the difference? She will meet at her school at four pm, she will be home straight after that, make sure you are there.”
All the next day, Gratis was thinking how? Also, how did he get caught by Pope? The police would be keener to catch the killer of a teacher at a swanky international school than a girl with a bar background.
“Pope is right, I’ve no connection to her or her snooty school,” the more he thought he calmed and got on with planning.
“Plastic bag over her head? Got to be. It is quiet, easy from behind, as soon as she gets out of her car. That’s it!” he congratulated himself. “Oh, and don’t forget to take her things, make it look like a theft.”
At four-thirty pm a taxi dropped him at a row of shops near his target’s home. He ordered a coffee and studied the surrounding area. Dressed in jeans and a Bangkok t-shirt, he looked like any tourist, the only difference was the bulge in his trouser pocket. A large and sturdy plastic bag. He walked past her address and back again. The home was a tidy-looking terrace, narrow, three floors with a garage, and no sign of a dog. He clapped his hands.
At five minutes past six a Japanese saloon pulled up, the driver lifted the garage door. Gratis leapt from behind the bins and deftly swung the bag over her head.
“Stop fighting you silly bitch,” he squealed. This was not as easy as it looked in the movies.
Her outstretched leg crashed into the bins, Gratis was struggling to keep his balance.
“Christ, you’re a battler,” he sweated, as she lost power and slumped to the drive. Gratis held on for a full minute. As he unwrapped his hands from the plastic. He straightened, panting.
He heard, “Bastard!” shouted behind him, as pain ripped into him, his skull cracked as he hit the driveway, blood pooled as he died.
Pope pulled his phone and called the emergency number.
“Police, ambulance,” he shouted, neighbours ran to his assistance.
Two ambulances took away the bodies. The police led him gently to the station for questioning.
Later that evening, Pope made another call.
“Daeng, it's all clear, you can come home. We can be together at last.”
“Oh, darling…” she gushed.
She calmed herself and made one more call that evening. She didn’t know the name of the person she had called, just his profession.
“I’ve sent half the money to your account, you’ll get the rest when you complete the job.”