Beat The Beach
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An anthology of short stories. All of the tales have Thai characters or are set in Thailand. In story one, the protagonist is a skilled rock 'n roll drummer; she follows in her father's footsteps. But he is dead, and she wants revenge. Set in Phuket. A collection of 39 short stories. And one not so short. "Handsome Man" is a long short or even a novella. Either way, the "Handsome Man" is not a person. Some dark, some darkly humorous. And some blacker than dark! We all love tea; it grows in north Thailand and is unique, but why? A young lady is sent to find out how. She should have stayed in Bangkok. How about the guy who was left a fortune in a will? It didn’t work out well for him. Or the couple who move to a new home in an antique house. But something lives in the locked cellar. Read and discover why so many people love Thailand - or not!
Story 1 - Beat The Beach
'YOUR SEAT, SIR,' the air hostess cleaned some imaginary dust from its cushion.
The passenger looked around before answering.
'Thanks, I'd like to sleep, with no interruptions.'
His crumpled Daily Mail hit the floor. The headline glared up at him, 'Guitarist - Dead.'
'I know you,' wailed a girl sliding into a seat nearby.
Mr Giles Goodly tutted and glared at the hostess. The Thai Airways lady offered an embarrassed smile.
'You're the drummer! I know you. Why have you cut your hair?' she continued.
The once bouncy black curls were now a grey crewcut.
'Excuse me, young lady. Please leave him in peace,' said the hostess. 'We are about to take off, sit and fasten your seat belt.'
'Your hair didn't fool me; I recognise your hand tattoos,' the young girl said, sitting down.
Giles Goodly, better known as Beat-Em Up, or Beat for short, was the drummer for chart-topping, 'Forsaken'. An ageing band of hell-raisers. He was wearing a blazer and Levi's jeans. His long-sleeved denim shirt covered his arms, his jacket now stowed above.
'You should have worn gloves,' laughed Amy, his neighbour, for the long flight to Thailand.
'Next time, I'll take your advice,' he grinned.
'You look good without the curly bonnet,' she noted. 'Pity about Pots, I loved his voice, and how odd and sad about the guitarist; what was his name?' she asked, judging Beat's facial reaction.
'Please let me rest,' he said, reminding him of his friend did not improve his mood.
'Sure, sure, I bet you are still upset. Half the band dead!'
He closed his eyes and hoped to drift to sleep. Without thinking about the group's leader, with whom he'd had a love-hate relationship. Once more, he started visualising the Ferrari. It's spinning and smashing into an M4 barrier.
'What happened to Jethro?' he wondered. That was news to him.
Beat's relationship with the fastest fingers in London had been far friendlier than with their leader. He slept the rest of the way to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport fitfully.
Amy rushed to join him at the exit, 'Where are you heading?'
'A day in the city, then down to Phuket for a party. Are you alone? You are young. I hope someone is meeting you?' he asked.
'I'm fifteen, quite old enough, thank you,' she answered, almost stamping a young foot.
'Okay, be careful. Bye, have a wonderful trip.' Beat jumped into a taxi.
'I will,' she mouthed. 'It will get better.'
'Follow that one,' Amy ordered her taxi driver. She felt like James Bond as she entered the hotel. Keeping back, she tracked Beat into the reception. She scribbled a hasty note on hotel-headed paper, 'Your bass player is dead too!'
She folded the paper in four.
'Please deliver this to that man's room,' she asked the receptionist, pointing to Beat as he entered the lift.
As soon as the porter left, Beat read his note, then checked Google on his phone.
'Oh, no. 'Bassist found dead in his bedroom. There was no trace of foul play. Police suspected he died following an overdose. Time of death approximately forty-eight hours ago,' Oh God, oh God,' he said, fighting back the tears.
He went to the room's mini-bar and downed all the spirits collection.
'Should I go back to London?' he asked himself before ringing his manager.
'There's nothing you can do. Stay there. We've got a new release to sell. Imagine the sympathy sales we'll get. Do it for the band,' said the manager.
'Take me to the airport,' Amy said as she signalled the next taxi cruising to head the rank.
Checking all the following day's flight times, she bought a ticket for the next plane to leave for Phuket.
It took only two phone calls to hotel receptionists to discover where the Drummer Hammer Night was being held. An international gathering of the world's renowned drummers.
She was pleased that she needed only one further call to find out if he was staying in the same hotel.
'Has Mr Goodly told you of his dietary requirements? Of course, as his private assistant, I need to check that he keeps to his regime,' said Amy. But, unfortunately, her spy skills did not reveal his room number.
'Are you press?' asked the receptionist. She disconnected the call.
She then checked into the hotel herself.
Excited, she whispered to herself, 'Not long now.'
After a much-needed shower, she planned the next day's activities before sliding back into the quilt to enjoy a refreshing night's sleep.
'Good morning, madam, you're the first for breakfast,' grinned a server.
Amy sat patiently waiting for Beat to arrive. Instead, she flicked through the pages of a pop magazine, whistling to herself.
'Khun Giles, welcome to our little hostelry,' gushed the manager. 'I hope you find everything to your liking. We will do everything to make your stay happy,' continued the limp man.
Amy watched them enter the nearest elevator in a bank of four. The lit number said floor seven. She jumped into the next-door lift. She was pressing button seven. She arrived as the grinning porter exited room number seven-one-zero, pocketing his hefty tip.
Downstairs, the drummers started arriving at the party before eight o'clock. They were seated around large circular tables. All chairs face an enormous stage. They had positioned ten drum kits awaiting attention. Lights beamed and flickered as a spritely drummer leapt from one kit to the next as an athletic warm-up act.
All seats were taken but one. The backing music quietened, and guests turned to face the entrance doors. Lights dimmed, a drum roll started, and the applause began, gradually increasing. Then, finally, they saw their hero, Beat. Striding in, arms above his head, hands waving. He grinned at the attention given by his adoring fellow drummers.
Young drummers took to the stage, banging out their favourite star solos. Beginning with Buddy Rich. Then on to Ginger Baker, Phil Collins, and Ringo Starr. Ending with a twenty-minute tribute session to the late, great Keith Moon. 'Stars of the future, playing great oldies,' said their host as the applause rang out.
'And now, in a change to our published programme, a young lady, all the way from London, please welcome, Miss Amy. Another big hand, please.' The compere bowed out as leather-clad Amy walked across the stage. She was throwing drumsticks spinning high in the air, beaming. Without looking up, Amy caught the sticks, one in each outstretched hand. Taking a hasty bow, she took her time adjusting her seat. She glanced around, then hammered out Moby Dick. An exact copy of John Bonham's 1970 Led Zeppelin performance. Silence. The stunned audience was speechless, and the management was unsure how to follow that. Time stalled. And then, cheers, claps and whistles rattled the ceiling for ten whole minutes. With a tear in her eye, Amy ducked the congratulatory back slaps to dash out of the back door.
'That was the girl I met on the plane! Who the hell is she?' asked Beat.
Nothing but shrugs answered him.
Beat left without a word. The manager tried to get his show restarted. The guests were no longer interested; they had seen an unbeatable performance.
'What could cap that?' he said into the mic, signalling servers to deliver food and beverages. 'Quickly, move, get the dishes out.'
'Where did the girl in leather go?' Beat asked at reception.
They pointed to the beach. Beat ran, looking both ways as he raced through the coffee shop out onto the moonlit sand.
'Stop, please stop,' he yelled at the black shadow nearing a rocky outcrop. Amy disappeared out of view. Beat searched, squeezing between rocks.
'There you are,' he said.
'Yes, I'm here. I've waited for years for you to talk to me.'
'What do you mean?' he asked. 'Should I know you?'
'I am not one of the thousands of girls screaming your name. Instead, I cry in anger at the sight of you.'
'Why, I don't understand?'
'You and your band killed my Dad,' she answered, tears dropped in the sand.
Beat studied her face, struggling to see a resemblance to any man he had ever known.
'Who was your father?' he asked.
'He died because of your thoughtless behaviour? You never gave him a chance.'
'I've no idea what or who you are talking about?' he said.
Half sitting, half standing, leaning back against a rock, she bent forward and gripped her ankles. Then, with her head on her knees, she wept.
'Oh, Dad, I miss you.'
Beat was unsure if he should hug her and try to comfort the lost girl. But, nervously, he edged closer.
Striking fast as a cobra, she pulled stilettos from the cuffs of her trousers. Flashing in the moonlight, the blades sliced behind his knees, slashing Beat's hamstrings. Left and right, he collapsed to his knees. Her hand clamped his mouth, halting the screams.
'Mr Drummer Man, how hard do you think it is to tamper with a sports car's brakes? Flash git. Easy. How stealthy do you have to be when adding poison to alcohol? And how difficult is it to doctor heroin for an addict? Easy, believe me, especially when we have an alcoholic, a drug taker who likes solitude by hiding away for days. And now, Dear Beat, it's your turn, the last member of Forsaken,' she smirked. 'All superstar musicians who didn't give my Dad a second thought.'
Beat's jaw dropped as a distant memory glimmered.
'My Dad taught me to bang on drums, but he could do much more. He was a genius with guitars, and my God, was his voice sweet? Freddie Mercury learned from him. All he wanted was a chance. You laughed at him. He would have made 'Forsaken' the best band ever. All you had to do was listen, and you laughed at him. He died holding my hand. You will die looking at my feet!'
Amy left Beat pinned to the wet sand by the blades that slashed his throat.
She skipped along the beach, whistling the latest number-one hit.
Story 2 - Tea Junction
'I'M GASPING FOR a cuppa,' said Angie.
'We will not have your usual,' Suk answered.
Angie was the new girl at Pert Exports. She brewed the office tea. But, of course, that wasn't her job. She was head of international sales. But, as the new girl, she made the tea.
Suk was the daughter of PE's owner. She ran the show.
'Today we are going out for our afternoon "cuppa". I'm taking you to a tea shop. Okay?'
Suk led Angie by the arm to her chauffeur-driven BMW.
'Where are we going?'
'We are going to Yaowarat Road, Bangkok's Chinatown. They know about tea, the tea we export to Europe. It is about time you sampled our best seller.'
'Oh,' said Angie. She was brought up on Lipton's or PG Tips if there was no Lipton's.
The car crawled through Bangkok's late afternoon traffic. There was no parking, and the ladies jumped out.
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