Goodbye Mr. Robinson.
The late afternoon sun was disappearing behind towering monsoon clouds gathering over the horizon as a yellow motor scooter came to a halt in front of the hotel by the beach. Yip, a young looking Thai lady of thirty-five or forty dressed in shorts and a white t-shirt drove it. The pillion passenger was a tall slim Englishman of about sixty, smartly although slightly incongruously dressed in beige trousers, pink shirt, and a navy blue blazer that he removed and slung over his arm as soon as he had stepped from the machine. He climbed the four steps up to the restaurant area, deserted now in this the low season, draped his jacket over the back of a chair and took his habitual seat on a high wooden stool at the far end of the bar. He pulled a packet of American cigarettes out from his shirt pocket, tapped the packet twice, and lit one from a silver Ronsen lighter he carried in his back pocket.
'Good afternoon Mr. Robinson,' called Tam the waiter from the far end of the restaurant where he was flicking a dirty white cloth over the tables. Mr. Robinson turned slightly in his direction and nodded, exhaling a cloud of blue smoke towards the rafters where a large green gecko hung upside down and immobile from beam.
'Good Afternoon Mr. Robinson.' Echoed the voice of Anoma the manageress from the poky office behind the bar. ‘Are you happy today?'
She appeared in the doorway, an attractive woman in her late twenties, tall and well built for a Thai girl.
'Oh! You look so handsome today. Yip will be sad to say goodbye.' She came and stood opposite him behind the bar and put one hand lightly on his arm. They had been friends for a long time, with an easy comfortable relationship.
Mr. Robinson looked at her through half closed eyes. 'I'd be a lot happier if you'd pour me a beer.' Anoma laughed and took a bottle of Singa from the fridge behind her and poured it into a tall glass, smiling and humming to herself.
Tam appeared at his elbow, a small brown man with bowlegs and a permanent smile, he twisted his cloth nervously in his hands and looked up at Mr. Robinson.
'You go home today Mr. Robinson? Go first Bangkok, then London?'
'That's right Tam. Back to cold wet England.' The glass of beer appeared in front of him, already the sides coated with condensation, the little bubbles streaming upwards to the yellow white frothy clouds. Mr. Robinson picked it up and stared at it as if he had never seen such an object before.
'Take Tam, Mr. Robinson, he needs to learn more English.' said Anoma laughing.
'When you come back?' Asked Tam seriously.
'Oh, I dunno, maybe a month, maybe more, don't know yet.'