This is not my usual style, but it’s just too good to miss. Hopefully I’ll be able to do justice to the story without appearing to overdo it too much. You be the judge…
It starts with a youngish man who, for reasons probably best kept to himself makes the decision to invest in a mail-order bride. Although, if you saw him, you’d come to the conclusion that the investment wasn’t entirely misplaced. In any case, the young lass from Bali duly arrived in the UK, and they settled down, happily ever after.
Except that this is real life, and there are a lot of places in the world that people would want to get away from and escape to the UK from, but I’m guessing that Bali isn’t one of them. So a few months down the road of marital bliss, she suddenly gets all upset, homesick, and desperate for some basking in the sun. So, after a bit of goading, the poor man coughs up the money for a plot, and takes out a mortgage to build a house in Bali. A holiday house. Good investment, thinks our lad – keeping the wife happy, allowing for the odd Indonesian holiday, and taking advantage of the booming property market all in one shot.
Except that when they return to the UK, she breaks down a few weeks later, asking for a divorce. And she’s off, back to her family and a nice new house. And this is where it all starts to go wrong – because Balinese law prevents foreigners from owning property, and so the house is in her name. And through some inept financial practices, he manages to get himself declared bankrupt. However, while you’re thinking that the story has just gone all sour, and sad, I’m afraid that the opposite is true. Because if you’ve a modicum of sanity, you’d have realised that the poor chap has been scammed. However, our man is unencumbered by such powers of reason, and thus has spent the last five years constructing ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to explain what happened to him. So lets introduce some of the main characters in the story since then.
Firstly, there’s her brother, who quickly managed to become the chief confidant of our hero (“Brother-in-law”). Then, there’s this shady character who has gained some sort of hold over the ex-wife (“Gangster”). He also has a son, who’s working for a large computer company in Austin, Texas (“The son”). And then there’s an Australian who bought the house from the ex-wife (“Aussie”).
Now, in the mind of the scammee, his ex-wife is completely innocent. She’s in the grip of the Gangster due to some horribly unsavoury activities of this evil fiend (did someone say ‘witchdoctor’? I’m afraid so…) All she needs to do is break down in tears, and he’s putty in her hands. The Brother-in-law is also completely unconnected with the deal in his deluded version of the story, and he gets regular updates of what’s going on in the mission to bring these people to justice. Needless to say, whenever the Brother-in-law gets an update, the Gangster miraculously manages to evade the pursuit, and gets a few steps ahead. (I wonder how he does it? It’s almost like he has an inside track. Phenomenal.)
Now, the Aussie was accosted when he was about to buy the house, and let in on the sob-story. To which he responded, in true Australian style, “Sorry mate. She’s the legal owner, so I don’t know what your problem is.” Which is a sure indication that he’s been in on the deal from the start. So, he became the object of serious research, and it was discovered that while on the one hand he’s accepting donations to help save the Bali rainforests, on the other hand he’s a director of a company involved in bio-fuels. And of course, everyone knows that bio-fuel production involves stripping rainforests to plant soya, or other crops. Such evidence of fraud was a red rag, and off he went to prove this, and expose his perfidy.
Meanwhile, on the trail of the Gangster, the son gets tracked down, and gets a visit in order to be confronted. I don’t have too much information about that little spat, which probably means that our protagonist came off second best. Or maybe even third. Office blocks in downtown Austin are not made for conspiracy theory exposes. Florida is much better for that sort of thing.
And of course, whenever the list of things to do to get back at the Nefarious Gangster and Aussie Show gets a little short, he manages to come up with a few new entries. Here’s a good example. The Aussie, now comfortably esconced in the house in question, surely must have some documents proving his complicity in the scam. So, the obvious thing to do is to go on a locksmith course to find out how to pick the top 50 most popular locks used. And we’re off!
Here’s another one – apparently he ran into someone in Austin who, upon hearing this story, offered to buy the rights to it for $50,000. Oh no – he’d rather sell it in a deal which allows him to retain a portion of the profits. Because it’s going to be a Hollywood blockbuster. Can’t imagine his reaction when he watches the movie and find that instead of a suspense thriller, it’s a buffoon comedy, with his character as the lead role.
Now, you may be asking either a) what I’m smoking in order to make this stuff up, or b) where on earth I ran into this guy. The answer is b) – he used to work for me. Except that ‘work’ is a relative term for someone who spends more time researching houses in Bali, locksmithing, rainforest supporters, biofuel producers, and providing succour to grieving enslaved ex-wives than actually doing anything productive at the office. So when he handed in a piece of work three days late, and then ran off to Bali, Austin, Australia and half a locksmith course, I lost my patience. Having had spent the time he was on leave completely re-writing his pathetic attempt I got somewhat irked. And having heard all the stories of what he’d (not) produced in his two months in the role before I arrived, I put the wheels in motion. And when he returned, I terminated his contract. Which he actually took rather well – it gave him some time to complete the locksmith course, and two weeks’ notice pay upfront to fund his crusade. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say he was overjoyed, but that wouldn’t be far off. I must say, though, that our lunchtime conversations are considerably more dull since he left.
So, if you find yourself watching a movie one day that feels slightly familiar, remember, you read it here first…