- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st U.S. Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.69(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)
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It's Richard's grinning face Daniel can see now, hovering behind hisclosed eyes, a great toothy smile like the Cheshire Cat. He opens his eyes and the same movie about a friendship between a man and a dog is still playing on the blurry screen up the front of the plane. He'd kill for a cigarette. He read somewhere they put stuff in the food to stop you from shitting. They don't like their clean aeroplane toilets messed up. That was the same place he read that if you don't touch your meal they suspect you of smuggling drugs and search you at customs. He pulls his jumper up and wraps it around his head like a bandage, trying to block out the next-door conversation and the light. They don't let you smoke. They don't let you take a dump. They don't let you out.
Finally he's at Don Huang airport then on the minibus to Pattaya. Daniel lolls in his seat. In the window his reflection looks dark-eyed, his thin nose and his high cheekbones sharp with shadows. It could be any time in London now. He didn't sleep on the flight. Hasn't slept much since the visit to Sticksy's. His head knocks against the bus window in time with the bumps in the road. There are noisy package-tour lads in the back of the bus. One pasty-faced guy, the softness in his middle emphasized by his towelling polo shirt, is rolling empty beer cans up and down the aisle and staggering, shaking with laughter, after them. His three friends entertain themselves with a burping competition. A gay couple across the aisle from Daniel take photographs of each other. They keep swapping seats so the kit-set suburbs of Bangkok, TV aerials and car factories, appear through the window in thebackground of each shot. It's hot. Daniel keeps his eyes on his suitcase, slipping around on the seat beside him.
Richard had come around the night before and given Daniel the name and address of the hotel in Pattaya he was staying at. He sat there, in his annoying ginger-haired way, stroking his goatee and almost smirking as Daniel threw T-shirts into his scuffed plastic case. He was giving Daniel the low-down. The picture had altered, just slightly.
'So you don't move, right? Hotel room, hotel pool. Room, pool, room, pool. No night spots for you, matey. No twelve-year-olds popping ping pong balls out their twats. Mr Go Home Stay Home, that's your name.'
'OK.' Daniel was doing his best to ignore Richard's presence. 'Whatever.'
'No, not whatever. No moving, I'm serious. You don't want to go to the beach anyway, it's a fucking toilet. And the clubs around Pattaya are shit as well. Used to be ravers and now it's just sad old krauts. So don't feel as if you're missing out.'
There was a tightness in Daniel's stomach. He went into the kitchen and drank a glass of water. Ran his wet hands over his face and went back to the packing.
'Mate? Don't sulk, mate, this is a fantastic opportunity. Thailand, for fuck's sake. I did you a favour introducing you to Sticks, you could be a little bit fucking chirpy about it.'
Daniel couldn't look at him.
'Ah, fuck it.' Richard stood up. 'So, the guy's going to turn up with the gear. I'm not sure exactly when but probably your last day. So that's why you can't move, OK? If he shows up and you're not there it's a complete cock-up. It could get nasty.' Richard bent his head around into Daniel's face. 'This is why I'm telling you. You've got to be a bit careful. All right?'
Daniel made himself nod. 'Yeah. Cheers, mate.'
'And listen. You get your ten K when you deliver to the guy in Auckland. He'll sort out Sticksy's payment, his money side of things, you don't worry about that.'
'I get paid in Auckland,' Daniel said. 'New Zealand dollars?' For some reason he'd imagined US dollars when they'd been mentioned before. 'What are they worth?'
'The Kiwi dollar's really strong, mate, it's right up there with the Americans, right up there. So you got me? You know what's going on?'
'Good.' Richard paced the room, swinging his arms back and forwards. 'Whoo! You're going to have the best time. Sunshine, pool, sometimes they send a girl to your room.'
'When were you there?'
Richard stopped pacing. 'What?'
'When was the last time you were there?'
'Yeah, OK, this is what I hear, all right. I don't know if your hotel does it or not but Sticks stays at this place every time and he says it's top. Exclusive, know what I mean? Sticks, mate, he's got taste.'
Daniel snorted. He shut the suitcase and looked at Richard's skinny face. He didn't know why he had agreed to do this but he knew that he was glad to be leaving...
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