When I inked that paper, in early October last year, the current tenant still had two weeks in which to move out.
I had met her husband, an American journalist, in the bar late a few evenings when he was looking after shop on his own. He was a personable enough man and had been willing to stay open late once or twice to humour myself and some friends.
The place had been closed for some time before I took a contract so, when I saw it open a few days after I went inside and saw Mr S (as I shall call him) I called him over and explained that I would be taking over the premises and was possibly interested in purchasing the bar stools and tables when they were finished with them. He gave me his wife's telephone number and said she would probably like to talk about that.
I called her the next day and met her at the bar, where some younger family members of hers were staying, and I struck a deal with her for close on twenty chairs and a number of tables. If I recall we settled on $275 – and I also bought a classic Honda cub her little brother had for $250.
I buggered off for what I knew would be my last jaunt around the country for a few months as, when I returned, I had to re-furbish this hole and make it my hole.
I left during Pchum Ben and went to Mondulkiri and through the jungle to Rattankiri on what turned out to be the wettest day of the year – but that's a whole other story in it's own right.
I returned on the 20th and the next day I phoned Mrs S and went down the bar to pay her for the furniture. I met her, made small talk and then we turned to the business of paying for the furniture. . .
So – “Where are the rest of the chairs?” - I asked as I could only see nine.
“Oh, my sister asked me for them so I sold them”
“I see, but we had a deal for all the furniture”
“Yes, but my sister wanted them”
“Can you get them back, as I want matching furniture”
“No, but I will give you a better price”
“Look, you need to get them back or I will go and buy all new”
“You better buy new furniture then”
I left, cursing under my breath.
When I took the keys two days later and came back to begin decorating I discovered that the building had been stripped of all lights, wiring and fuse-boards.
Charming. I wonder if it were her or her little brother?