The Green-Eyed Monster – by Mike Bell
Her name was Saifon Glahan and she was proud of it. It meant threads of rain she told her boyfriend Steve. She was proud of him too; he was young and handsome. He worked in computers making lots of money designing web-sites. Naturally he had a state of the art computer in their house at Silk Road ; a prestigious housing estate just outside Pattaya. He had taught her so much about computing and showed her how to set up an email account for herself.
She sighed as she replied to her older sister’s latest troubled message. Malee’s love life was so complicated that she often threatened suicide to escape the abusive relationship she found herself in. Her Thai husband was a violent drunk who often beat her if he thought she had looked at another man. Steve too was extremely jealous even with Saifon who never gave him cause. Sometimes he would remonstrate with complete strangers who looked too long or too longingly at Saifon. He went to great pains in The Londoner, his local in Soi Post Office, to stress she came from a good family and had never worked in the bar. His drinking partner Ian begged to differ. ‘They’re all the same under the skin. They weigh up every guy’s financial prospects and move onwards and upwards.’ He snorted into his drink only happy when badmouthing women.
Why Steve allowed the words of such a misogynist to influence him is one of life’s mysteries. He found himself becoming obsessive about the time they were apart. Sometimes she visited Malee or went out for a drink with her. Occasionally Steve followed her. His full face helmet allowed him to follow the family car in traffic with impunity. The more he watched the more he burned inside. Had she favoured that man with a smile? Did she touch his hand when she reached for a drink?
Once he sat all day in a car park outside her office. The sun beat down on his helmet. Too obsessed to leave and buy water he watched for four hours before he fainted from heat-stroke and was revived by the attendant. When she went on an office outing one evening, he sat unobserved whilst the ants and mosquitoes feasted on his flesh. Despite these lonely vigils he was never able to prove the infidelity that Ian claimed was endemic in all Thai women. One night Saifon was away all night, she said she was comforting Malee and dared not leave her. He sat sleepless in an agony of inertia till he heard her taxi. When Saifon asked if Malee could stay a few weeks with them to escape finally from the blows of her drunken husband, he almost jumped with joy that he would be spared another such night.
Soon he regretted his hospitable decision. The sisters would sit talking in Thai for hours, excluding him. He was sure their conversation was about other men. When they weren’t talking, they were on Facebook, exchanging messages in Thai with God knows who. It was Ian who suggested the Keystroke Logger; a program which recorded and saved every keystroke. Steve took to accessing his home computer remotely from his work’s office. That was when he discovered the secret email account. She wrote messages only in Thai and Steve burned to know their contents.
He paid eight hundred baht for the translations. It was worth every baht to finally learn the extent of her deceit. She was lonely, her life hardly worth living. She had decided to leave as soon as possible and couldn’t wait to be in her new lover’s arms.
He was incandescent with rage. He had loved her utterly; surrendered his heart to her and her infidelity had broken it into a thousand pieces. He drove home in the heat of the afternoon. By the time he had ransacked the house and packed all her belongings and those of her sister, his shirt was soaked. He had just placed them outside the house gate when Saifon’s taxi drew up.
All afternoon he had rehearsed words, phrases, full sentences. These he delivered in an unending flow; his voice cracking with anger. He was immune to her tears, her protestations of innocence. A lesser man would have been fooled by her act but he had the proof and clung to the bundle of papers as a drowning man hugs a lifebelt to his chest.
He watched the taxi dwindle into the distance taking her out of his life for ever. He felt as if he had swallowed a heavy stone which hung round his aching heart. At the same time there was also a feeling of release; there would be no more sleepless nights; no more sweltering days in strange car parks.
He celebrated his new found freedom at The Londoner. He went directly over to Ian. ‘You were right all along mate. She has been two timing me for months.’ Over a number of drinks he relayed his trials to his one true friend. He shoved the bundle of emails and their translations over the table. He rang the bell to signal drinks for all. ‘Ladies, I’m celebrating being back on the market,’ he announced to the world at large. He watched triumphantly as his friend scanned the emails. Ian turned to the Thai originals, a worried look on his sweaty face. He licked his lips nervously, his piggy little eyes suddenly shifty.
‘What did you say her name was? Her full name?’ He was staring hard at the Thai names at the foot of the incriminating emails. Steve knew Ian had studied Thai for a number of years since they first arrived and whilst not fluent he perused the Thai originals intently.
‘Her name is Saifon, Saifon Glahan, otherwise known as faithless bitch.’
He watched the puzzlement grow on Ian’s face. When he spoke there was a note of dread in his voice.
‘All these emails were unsigned. I thought you told me Saifon is the youngest daughter? Yet one of these letters she mentions her younger sister. Has Saifon got an older sister or not?’
As he stared into Steve’s face he saw the colour drain from it. He clutched the table for support as he seemed about to faint clean away. Through dry lips, he whispered, ‘Her name is Malee; her sister’s name is Malee.’ He laughed bitterly, ‘She’s just broken up with the love of her life, too.’