This is a work of fiction
*One of my very first work from back in 2012*
How far would you go to help clear your wife’s debt ?
I can’t think of an appropriate start to this story despite having several drafts written down.
There are some things in life that is simply too hard to be put down into words.
My wife and i lead a simple life. An occasional holiday here and there, we are happy and contented with our quiet 4rm flat in bedok. We have no children and after 3 years of marriage, we are happy just to have each other’s company.
We are conservative by nature, we lost our virgin to each other on our big day.
All these changed in June of 2010 when my father in law ‘run road’.
Running from both the bank and loan sharks.
He is not a gambler nor drinker, the debts he chalks up are a combination of failed businesses and credit cards. We are not talking millions here, but nevertheless still a big amount.
Banks wise is a whopping 87000+- while loan sharks is chasing for 16000+-.
The 3 room flat my FIL is staying in is already a colourful art piece. I’m thinking the loansharks are hiring NAFA or La salle students these days. I can almost see the angst and effort in every stroke. The splatter of colours, though it’s restricted to black and red really lights up the corridor. I am already thinking of putting it up for a arts competition.
My mother in law is no longer around, the art house is currently owned by my MIL’s brother who is working in malaysia, taking care of oil palm plantation.
My wife, being the only daughter, ends up being saddled with the debts of her dad.
For those of you who have been hounded before, you should know the psycological impact it has on you. From the legit debt collectors, to the banks, to the countless letters, although we are not the intended target, everyone is asking where is Tim ( my FIL )
The whole fiasco is affecting our lives and we quarrelled frequently. We threw in the towel eventually and decide to settle the outstanding debt.
Selling my car only got us 30k and i can only afford to chip in another 10k from my portfolio. My wife also liquated some of her holdings which she painstakingly built up since she started work 7 years ago. She managed to raised 44K. Scraping here and there, we manage to pay off the banks.
At that point of time at age 32, we have less than 10k in our bank, around 5k each in our stock portfolio.
We could have emptied everything and settle the loansharks but we did not.
Despite trying everything from calling the police, to talking to MP, there is no end to the harrassment. We are embarassed because the neighbours of the art house is being harassed as well. These are people who watched my wife grow up.
Our big break came when somehow through friends and contacts, we manage to get hold of a mediator. Someone who can act as a channel to communicate with the loanshark. Not the runners, i’m talking about the ceo of the moneylending organisation.
There was no dramatic entrance, he was not flanked by heavily tattooed body guards, no thick gold chains around the neck, no shaking of legs at coffee shop. We just had a simple meal at swensens, ( his treat ) . The main thing we want to discuss is about stopping the harassement, and that to work out a payment arrangement.
It went really went as the mediator manage to stop the recurring interest and we worked out an installement plan for the debt which is now around 28k, but this is no credit card 12 months installement. We have 3 months and we need to pay up 10k within the next 3 days.
We literally emptied out everything and scraped together 10k for the 1st installement.
With our combined salary of 6k a month, if we scrimp and save, i still don’t think we can meet the rest of the payment for the next 2 months.
Time flew by and miraculaously,by borrowing from friends and colleagues, we met the 2nd payment of 9k.
3 days before the next 9k is to be due, we are at our wits end.
The ‘ mediator’ can;t help us again because apparantly he ‘mediated’ himself back into lockup for some reason or so we’ve heard from the relative who introduced us.
On the day the loan is due, our phone rang at 7am in the morning.
We tried bargaining for more time but he said no way. I tried to ask him out to discuss about this matter and after a while he simplied.
“i’ll only talk to your wife”
My wife and i simply looked at each other as i switch off the speaker mode after agreeing to meet him for lunch near her workplace at bugis.
We are not retarded nor stupid. The very suggestion is already very clear to us what the loanshark wanted. If fact the idea did cross our mind as a joke during one of the nights when we were intimate.
Truth is, my wife is no longer a 20 year old with , the exact words from her that night were spoken with a bit of shame, as if she blames herself for growing old.
“ Ha, even if I would, who would want me. I’m already 32”
Her words hurt me a little that night as I look more closely at the woman I married. I still think she is beautiful and I am the luckiest man on earth to be able to have her as my wife. I guess life sometimes throw a curve ball at us and this must be a really curved one.
As we were waiting for the feeder bus to the interchange, we held hands and no words were exchanged.
I made up my mind that I will join her for lunch, regardless of what that loanshark want, we will face this together as husband and wife.
I can’t concentrate on work as I looked at the picture of my wife on my desk. Standing at 1.60, she is only 10cm shorter than me. Despite not working out often, she still has a nice figure. Heads still turn whenever we attend weddings of friends and colleagues, people say we look good together.
Even during the trip to our neighbourhood provision shops for our groceries, the uncles will steal an occasional glance. The provision shop owner in his mid 50s always like to chat with my wife, giving her extra freebies.
The thought of my wife having to sleep with the loanshark to pay off her dad’s debt infuriates me.
Lunch came and I wanted to leave on the dot to meet my wife in bugis. It’s only 3 train stops away but I got held back for a few minutes to answer a urgent call.
I got an sms from my wife that she is already at the foodcourt, waiting for the loanshark.
I rushed out of office the moment my matters are settled but by the time I reach bugis foodcourt, it’s already 1.30pm.
I saw my wife sitting back faced towards me as the loanshark was gesturing and talking to her.
Pulling the chair back, the loanshark did not react with much of a surprise but simply gave me a nod to acknowledge.
The words were chillingly simple and straight to the point.
“I’ve already told your wife what I wanted, it’s a matter of her agreeing to it “ He was stiring his drink with his straw as his eyes met mine.
My wife was just staring at her feet as she contemplates his demands.
I put a reassuring arm across her shoulder and gave it a tight squeeze saying’ “ Dear, we can surely work something out, let’s go off first ? “
She simply nodded her head and replied to the loanshark that she will get back to him.
We walked to the national library and sat down on one of the bench as she relates to me what the loanshark wanted.
Tears rolled down her eyes and I felt like crying too.
“He is willing to extend the payment period for another week if I sleep with him”
Just like that.
I felt helpless and angry at the same time. For some unexplained reason, the image of my wife sleeping with the loanshark gave me an erection, I dispelled the thought immediately and told her we can think of something. Don’t do anything stupid.
She limply nodded her head and dried her tears.
Standing up, she said she is very tired, tired of having these burdens on her shoulders and just wished all this could be over soon.
We parted ways after and went back to work.
In the midst of clearing the last few emails for the day, my wife smsed me saying that she has been in contact with the loanshark.
She will accept the deal only if the deadline is extended by 2 weeks instead of 1. She would also want me to be present in the hotel. Those are the terms she is discussing with the loanshark.
He agreed to the point of me being present and he offered a payment term of 10 days starting the day after they’ve done the deed. It has to be done within 3 days.
He expects a reply in 2 hours.
I met my wife at the train station as usual after work before walking together to take the bus back home. We were quiet throughout the journey before I finally blurted out the first words.
“ there is no need for this, we can work something out”
My wife refused to look at me but instead offer a reply almost immediately, “Let’s not forget we still owe friends and relatives, I am really tired of all this. I don’t even know where my dad is now”
We had a simple dinner of instant noodles when her phone rang.
We did not have a reply ready.
My wife picked up her phone and answered’ ” I need 30 more mins to discuss this “
We left our unfinished noodles as they were and moved to the couch where my wife cuddled up to me.
“I want you to know i love you very much, and i’m really sorry for all these troubles my dad has caused.” She mumbled in between short breaths and tears.
I could not think of a suitable reply but she saved me the need for 1.
“I want to take his offer”
Just then we heard a thud outside our door.
Opening it i found a bag of rotting chicken liver and parts with bits of head spilling over our potted plants.
I cleaned up the mess as my wife just stared blankly into space.
I was splashing the 3rd pail of water along the corridor when i heard her reply on the phone.
” ok , i’ll do it “
that was followed by an almost immediate ” what ? now ? “With that, i saw her stomp off into the bathroom.
My wife was in and out of the bathroom in a couple of minutes, she did not shower but instead changed out of her work pants into a pair of casual jeans and tied up her hair into a ponytail.
No short skirts, no high heels, no makeup. Just plain o wife of mine
She rewore a ‘starbucks’ t-shirt that was left hanging in the bathroom.
She couldn’t have looked more normal but I still find her beautiful.
She went on to say that he wants to meet now at pan pacific before pausing a moment adding that she just wants to get this over and done with.
I nodded without giving much of a reply, deep down I felt confused and lost. My wife is going to sleep with another man yet I felt this strange stirring in my pants as if I yearn to be part of this. I had butterflies in my stomach as I watch her kept the dishes and did the washing up. What is this that I am feeling ?
We left the house together at 9.45pm that day , August 17th, 2010, Tuesday.
Her phone rang the moment we got to the busstop. The loanshark demands to know where we are and what time we will reach.
My wife simply replied “ 1 hour, waiting for bus.” And hanged up.
A barrage of smses followed soon after, saying she should take a cab, it’s much faster. Things like he will offer to pay for the fare started popping up. He even offered to send down a cab when we were already on the train at paya lebar station.
My wife’s head is on my shoulder as the train pulled away. I kept replying the image of her being violated by that slum of a loanshark, I wanted to stop this but I don’t know how. At the same time I am having a sustained erection as the train takes us closer and nearer to pan pacific.
I looked at the crowd coming into the train, all looking forward to head back home for a good rest while here we are, on our way to a stranger’s hotel room, looking to clean up the mess left behind by my FIL.
The hiss of the train braking at cityhall snapped us both out of our dreamlike stage and we alighted.
We held hands as we walked towards pan pacific. My wife’s phone is still ringing now and then and she updated on our location.
The cold air hit us like a gust of winter wind as we walked into the main lobby of the hotel. My wife edged closer to me as we stood in the middle of the hotel, a little lost as to what to do next. We were about to make the call when the loan shark appeared behind us.
“Hey James , Lynn , nice to see you, shall we? “
Calling our names like we were old friends did not make things any easier. I could feel my wife’s hand shaking a little as we were let to the lift.
A card was flashed and we were on our way to the 12th floor.
We followed him to a corner unit and he beeped us into the room.
It’s a big unit , I entered and saw the washroom on my left, I was greeted with a 6pack of beer on the dining table and the TV playing spiderman on the screen.
“Alright, James, I’ll take care of Lynn, you want to grab a coffee or something downstairs in the meantime ? “
He said it so casually that I did not know what to reply.
“Daryl, can James stay here? , I want him to be here with me” My wife replied on my behalf, still clinging on to my arm.
Daryl : whatever, but he stays out here on the living area, only we go into the room.
My wife gave me a helpless look and probably thought it’s for the better that I am not in the room.
Without wasting time, Daryl is already casting looks of lust on Lynn.
Daryl : Shall we shower together ?
Lynn : No, I already did. You go ahead.
With a shrug of his shoulder, he went ahead to the bath in the bedroom.
My wife and I settled down on the couch as the sound of Daryl singing loudly in the shower spread to the living room. I held her trembling hands and told her we can walk away, we can always find another way.
Lynn: I really can’t think of anything else. I just want to get everything over and done with. We still owe friends and relatives.
Time seemed to slowed when I saw Daryl appear at the door to the bedroom in bathrobes.
Daryl : Lynn ?
He stretched and offered his hand to my wife.
My heart was thumping hard and fast as my wife stood up and cast me a longing look before mouthing ‘ I love you ‘
Her hands did not rise to meet Daryl’s, instead she just walked straight on into the room.
Daryl just grinned at me and gave me a wink.
Despite the feeling of lost and feeling humiliated, i had to stand up and adjust my erection the moment Daryl’s back was turned and he disappeared into the room.
He left the sliding door opened.
I can clearly see Lynn sitting at the edge of the bed through the reflection of the TV on the wall inside the room.
I saw Daryl, walking towards her slowly, undoing the knots of his robe.
Lynn sat unmoving on the bed as Daryl approaches he closer till both their reflection seem to blur and merge into one.
Then there was no movement at all.
I wanted to stand up and go into the room but my legs seemed to be frozen. My throat felt dry and i held my breath thinking what is going to happen next.
There seemed to be a furry of movement as i saw a robe being thrown on the floor, right in the middle of the door, as if Daryl wanted me to know he is now naked in front of my wife.
My teeth was chattering and my hands was trembling despite holding on to the TV remote.
Then there was that familar flash of green as i saw my wife’s starbucks t-shirt land on top of the white bathrobe.
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