I checked it wasn’t one of Delcie’s games, but Hannah’s room was empty of her personal belongings — apart from the picture of Jesus on the cross.
My betrayal of Delcie told me I deserved no better fate; succumbing to my lust in a moment of madness. Now, time to put some distance between us.
I spent some time to select the clothes needed for a few days stay in Medan — I anticipated Delcie would have calmed down by the time I returned with my new visa.
But my hopes foundered. After I carried my bag downstairs, I found a handwritten note on the dining room table from Delcie telling me she’d gone out for the day, with an underlined postscript.
LOCK UP AFTER YOU LEAVE
I could take that two ways — she knew I planned to visit Medan, but to my mind the message was clear.
I wasn’t welcome.
A setback, but I’d overcome worse at Sandhurst, and besides, if it came to it, my long-stop was Hannah.
She wasn’t a virgin…
‘Yes, but…you not tell Madam, ok?’
‘Baby sick, Meester Charles.’
‘You have baby?’
‘Mama take care…’
Meaning that I could now take on the paternal role and provide for the family. She played her cards well, but I was spared that responsibility when Delcie sent her packing.
Now any contact with Hannah would be on my terms. I felt comfortable with my position — it worked to my advantage.
If I could locate her.
I chuckled — first Richard going on walkabout, followed by my finder’s quest. I put the thought aside. Forward planning was all very well, but any fling with Hannah would be transient. My priority was to get Delcie back onside.
I bolted the kitchen door shut, picked up my bag — a trolley on wheels — and locked the front entrance. The keys were in my hand. I gave them a long stare, and then popped them back through the letterbox.
I wasn’t coming back — that would soften her up.
Taxi cabs — most deadbeat jalopies — regularly passed the House, no doubt hoping Delcie would be waiting. I could have told the drivers it was a waste of time — she programmed in her English-speaking drivers’ numbers into her Nokia.
A Nokia, yes of course.
It would be my first purchase in Medan. Mainly, I used the house phone for my infrequent calls (mostly to Mary when Delcie was out shopping). So did Richard, but Delcie was always calling Jane. There was talk of her purchasing a laptop to make calls, but that never happened. Can’t be bothered, she said. Computer illiterate, I replied.
That had started another discussion...
‘...Charles, you may think I’ve got my head in the clouds, but let me tell you I know more about you than you know about me.’
‘Is that so?’
‘You can wipe that smug grin off your face…you don’t know the half of it.’
‘Delcie, are you playing games again?’
‘I don’t play games...Like I said; I know more about you than you think.’
‘I’m sure you don’t.’
‘Maybe I’ll tell you one day...’
My thoughts were interrupted by a noisy hoot of a car horn, and an old Toyota rolled to a halt beside me. The driver, with a weather-beaten face, wound down his window and beckoned me — tattooed arms flailing — to get in.
I leant over. ‘Airport …and go slow. No accidents today, understand?’
Si senor? I glanced at him. A swarthy individual wearing his cap back to front. Not a local.
I declined to engage in inane conversation, though, and clambered into the back seat. The muddy-coloured upholstery was torn, exposing the fabric, and I swore something moved inside the hole. I dumped my bag hard on top. The noise alerted the driver. He turned his head as I spoke.
‘I’ve changed my mind. Get to the airport as fast as possible.’
It was a close-run thing. I lost count of the times I shut my eyes and prayed for divine intervention, but we arrived unharmed through others’ more considered driving skills. My driver — for the first and last time — grinned at the money I gave him; he scrabbled around the ash tray, pulled out a grubby card and handed it to me.
‘Call me, senor,’ he said. ‘Anytime you need taxi.’
I nodded my head and swung on my heels without looking back. I tossed the card into the nearest garbage basket — a lone sentinel full of fast-food wrappers and cardboard cups — and wheeled my bag into the washroom to clean up before making my way to the booking desk.
A couple of hours’ wait before I could guarantee a seat on the next flight to Medan — although I was sure my ex-army credentials carried notable influence — but after an Aid Agency cancellation I was given priority.
I was on my way.