WRIT LARGE: Ch 15, Part 2
While the waiter brings my breakfast, a plate piled high with crispy bacon, grilled mushrooms and steaming, fluffy scrambled eggs, I happen to glance at a table behind Beth where a gentleman is reading the local newspaper. It is the headline that catches my eye:
HIJACKED DHL VEHICLE RECOVERED
I ask the waiter if he would be so kind as to bring me a copy of the newspaper. When it arrives, I read the article aloud to my companions.
The manager of Malaysia DHL says that while on a routine patrol, their officers discovered the hijacked vehicle with its rear window smashed from the inside. On closer investigation, the driver was found unharmed but in shock and is currently being monitored in hospital where he is expected to make a full recovery. In his official statement, the manager said, “Our driver was hijacked by two men in full head masks, who stole boxes of national exam papers. The company is working closely with local authorities to deliver the remaining outstanding packages.”
I tell Beth and Cathie about the package that I was expecting containing Leann’s welcome pack and signet ring.
“That was unfortunate timing,” says Beth. “What are the odds?”
“You couldn’t make this stuff up, could you?” says Cathie. She glances at me and realises the implications of what she said. “Well, I’m sure you could.”
I say that it isn’t a plot point I’d ever considered using before, but that I’ll keep it on file for potential future use. I’m satisfied now that Leann’s package should arrive in time for our writer’s retreat.
“I wonder what the hijackers were hoping to achieve?” says Beth. “It was obvious the missing exam papers would be reported, so surely new exam papers will be set.”
“Unless these exam papers were being transported for marking,” says Cathie. “Maybe the hijacker’s son or daughter botched their math paper and Daddy stepped in to guarantee an estimated result that will see them into college.”
It’s a little extreme, I tell them, but reality is often more extraordinary than fiction. I suggest that an even more outrageous explanation might be that the school paid the hijackers to steal the papers. Schools have standards to maintain and if they have a particularly uncooperative year group who are on target to achieve below-average grades, it wouldn’t be unheard of.
“Dodgy as hell, but clever,” agrees Beth.
Is it really any different, I ask, to Resolute sitting on their majority share option, biding their time until they realise Cathie wants them out and then, wham, hitting her with it as a last resort? I’m assuming Cathie kept them on board but as minority shareholders.
“I did,” Cathie says. “And you’re right, I guess. Everyone has a back-up plan.”
Beth smiles. “I was going to follow Richard Branson around the world until he gave me a job. Unfortunately, I only got as far as LA. I would have quite enjoyed a little break on Necker.”
I ask Beth what the ideal vacation for a woman who has seen the world from space would be.
“Well, believe it or not,” she says, “I love a trip to Disney-world, and before you ask, yes I do enjoy Space Mountain. I find I can switch off as easily tearing around on a rollercoaster as I can on a sun lounger sipping cocktails through a straw. I’ve been to Sydney and London and loved both cities, but I also love the Bahamas.”
I confess that I’ve never been but will add it to my list of places to visit.
“It’s Mexico for me,” says Cathie, “although it’s been a while since I’ve taken a vacation. Too long. The west coast of Mexico,” she continues. “Away from Cancun. I don’t gain much pleasure from sitting beside the same pool every day for a fortnight; I want to get out and explore and see how people live. I want to wake at dawn and stroll along the shore watching the dolphins playing in the ocean.”
I suggest that a break when she returns home from Genting may be exactly what she needs – remove herself from the business situation and think about it with a refreshed mind.
Cathie pours the last of the coffee and gestures for the waiter to bring a refill. “Maybe,” she says. “Are you joining us later for the safari? Tuah and Putera have organised it.”
I tell them that I have been invited on a surprise camping trip with a rather special guest I was introduced to last night, and that I want to purchase a backpack before we set off.
“Special guest?” asks Beth. “Intriguing. Do we know them?”
I say that I would be extremely surprised if they didn’t recognise this person, but that I’ve been sworn to secrecy. All will be revealed in time, I assure them.
“Well, that’s no reassurance at all,” says Cathie. “You can’t tell us that someone’s presence here is hush-hush and expect us not to ask questions.”
“Is it Sandra Oh?” asks Beth. “I’ve seen on her Instagram that she’s on location somewhere in Malaysia.”
I try to keep my expression neutral and say that I’m not at liberty to reveal their name but that it was a great guess. I glance up as Olivia enters the café and raise a hand to beckon her over.
She comes straight to the table and almost crashes into the spare seat, catching the table leg with her knee. Her eyes are bloodshot and puffy with dark shadows beneath. Her hair is scraped back into an untidy ponytail, and although she is wearing a lemon cotton dress, she doesn’t look quite as impeccable as she usually does. Her cheeks are pale, and she eyes up the coffee as though it were a lifeline.
Spotting the gesture, Beth rises. “I’ll ask the server to bring more coffee for you,” she says.
I like the suspense created for the other characters and not just the audience. The characters are so relatable, even the ones you expect to be larger than life, like Beth. Even after flying to space, she still enjoys the common things like riding roller coasters at Disney. I love that.
Love this - so vivid. Looking forward to the camping - a wonderful way to connect with nature, your own core needs and the fae of the forest 😉