The Worry Wart
The keys were lost. When he checked his pocket they were gone. Good grief, now what? His face crumpled into a pool of dark lines and sunken cheeks. What time was it, 10 am? And why wasn’t the queue moving faster. The red light on the digital display in front of him was stuck on one number, and it wasn’t moving.
He sat in the Thai Immigration Office, ready to check in with the immigration officer when his number was called. An ex-pat living abroad, it was his job to report his whereabouts every ninety days or else run the risk of getting kicked out of the country.
But the keys. What about the keys? Where were they? They were the keys to his house in Lam Luka, a thirty minute drive from Bangkok. He remembered backing out of the car port this
morning at 8:30. As sure as his name was David Bailey, he could have sworn he hooked the keys into the lock in the front gate. Yeah, that’s what happened. That’s what he did. He left the keys stuck in the lock. Then he rolled the gate back into position and locked it while the car stood idling on the street in front of the house.
Then where were they? The keys to the house? He raked a hand through his short dark hair anxious and worried as he stretched his long legs out on the floor. They’re gone, lost, or were they?
Think…think…think get control of yourself and THINK!
He recalled taking the keys out of the big iron padlock. But where did they go…if he didn’t put them back in his front pocket? The other set of keys were in the ignition with the car running, ready for him to get in and drive off. He was in a hurry –as usual –where he should have taken more time. Got his act together, and checked where he put the keys before getting into the car.
The only thing he could think of was he’d removed them from the padlock. Then somehow –who knew exactly – but rushing to get into the car he’d dropped them on the ground inside the driveway.
Anyone passing by on the street could see them. Just look on the ground, there they were. Then reach through the bars in the gate, snatch them up like a thief, and go in and rob the house.
Take anything they wanted. His computer… his wife Sothara’s jewelry, and other stuff of value lying around. He didn’t want to think about it. His stomach was churning and a pain stabbed his heart.
And now, to make matters worse, Sothara was leaving town. She and one of her high school girlfriends were going to Bible camp for the weekend. Good grief, what next?
He could see it now. Driving home. No way to get inside. The place probably ransacked and looted too. All because he wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing. A nightmare in the making…that’s what it was. A colossal nightmare –one thing after another going wrong.
He checked his queue number on the board in front of him. Then checked the little number tab they’d given him when he first came into the building. The tab indicated 25 people were ahead of him. It could be another hour before he got in to see the immigration officer.
People were going past him, up and down the aisle, in a hubbub of noise. Every sound, every bit of raucous laughter disturbed him. He slammed his eyes shut then opened them worried about losing the keys.
An elderly Asian woman with gray hair and kind eyes stopped and looked at him. “Are you okay?” she asked.”You don’t look good.”
He forced a smile. “I’m alright. I just need to get to a phone. I don’t have a cell phone. I’ve never owned one. I need to call home.”
The woman went into her purse. She brought out her cell phone and snapped it open.
“What’s the number? She said. He told her. She punched in the number and handed him the phone.
It rang and rang. No answer.
He slumped back in the chair depressed, feeling his stomach knot. He looked at his hands. They were shaking. “I don’t know what to do,” he said to the woman. “I’m stumped.” He explained to the woman about his wife going away for the weekend.
“Is she Thai?”
“Huh?” He wasn’t following her. His forehead wrinkled. He looked confused.
“Is your wife a Thai lady?”
“Yes, she’s Thai. We’ve been married for five years.”
He shook his head. “Not at my age,” he said. “I’m fifty-eight. A little old to start a family.”
The woman managed a warm smile. Thais are generally polite and respectful people. They are especially helpful and friendly when they know a foreign man has married one of their own.
“Well, I think we call until she answers.” The woman called again and handed him the phone.
It rang for a long time. His heart beat faster and his palms were wet. “I don’t know,” he said discouraged, about to give up when he heard a voice come over the line. It sounded like it was coming from a long way off. Sothara had to be driving on the highway with her girlfriend.
“Sothara, is that you?”
“Yes.” Her voice reflected its usual calmness, the exact opposite of his tone of alarm and panic.
“I lost the keys to the house.” He could barely keep from shouting. The woman beside him turned away. Others passing by stopped to look at him then kept going.
“Are you talking about the keys I gave you this morning?” his wife asked.
“Yes. I should have put them on the ring with my car keys. Now they’re lost. I think in the driveway for someone –anyone –to find and rob the house.”
He realized he was overheating and needed to calm down.
“Please, David. Listen.” Sothara spoke softly, her voice full of composure. “The keys I gave you this morning are up in your room on your desk.”
“Then how do I get into the house? You’re gone for the weekend. I’m stuck. I’m like a man on the edge of a Roto-Router.”
She giggled. “Dao has an extra set I gave to her.”
“Dao –your sister –she has a key?”
“Yes. You’ll have to stop by and get it.”
He exhaled a sigh of relief, looked at the woman next to him, and gave her a thumbs-up sign.
She matched it with one of her own, and another smile.
“You worry too much, David. Please, don’t be a Worry Wart. It’s not good for your health.
Everything’s solvable. It just takes time.”
She said good bye and the call ended.
A moment later he thanked the woman. “No problem,” she said walking off. “I’m glad I could help.”
Forty minutes passed. At last his number came up. The immigration official called him into her office with a friendly smile, and he completed his ninety-day check-in requirement.
On the way out to Dao’s house he felt lucky to be married and luckier still because in time all those petty little problems and inconveniences in life could get solved.
About the Author: Mike Sullivan's writing credits include three thriller novels published by Eden Press, Santa Rosa, California. As a US ex-pat and freelance writer, he lives and work in Bangkok, Thailand. His novels Dead Girl Beach, Ransom Drop, and Eden2 are listed on Amazon.