“Chapter 15”

Smiling locals waved to him from small outdoor bars but it was time for lunch; the booze could come later. A few yards ahead nailed to a tree, was a simple, red printed sign which said, English Tea House. That’ll do. He turned and walked down a narrow, sandy picketed lane to an open air Nipa style restaurant. He took a table which gave him a view of surrounding gardens and the beach through the palm trees. The menu was very English indeed. Shepherd’s Pie, Toad in the Hole, Spotted Dick as well as a variety of hamburgers, toasted sandwiches, pies and salads all to come, with A huge pot of English tea. He settled for a hamburger with the lot and the pot of tea. A few minutes later his order was brought by a bright, young Filipina waitress who’s flashing smile made his day.

Trade was quiet and he sat there alone for a few minutes until Trevor the owner, an ebullient, larger-than life Englishman, came and asked to join him. Conway introduced himself and declined Trevor’s offer of a beer. Trevor asked for a San Miguel and in answer to Conway’s question, told how he had discovered Boracay on holidays three years before. He fell in love with the place and the people immediately. He couldn’t wait to return to London and sell his bakery in Shoreditch. He returned to his paradise where he was happy to spend his last days.

‘They can bury me here Steve,’ he said, his big ruddy face breaking into a contented smile. Conway looked across at the brightly coloured tropical gardens of frangipani, sampaguita and bougainvillea, gently swaying palm trees, sparkling blue sea in the distance and the general air of peace and tranquility. No wonder Trevor was one of the happiest men Conway had ever met. He was living his dream. Two months later the dream ended. Someone came up behind Trevor while he was having breakfast and put two bullets into his head. The dark side of Boracay had emerged and rumours abounded.

Trevor was known to be something of a “ladies man”. Was it the revenge of a jilted lover? A robbery gone wrong? There was more than one Boracayan restaurateur jealous of the success of his Tea House. Maybe one less competitor? Perhaps it was a ‘get square’ for a previous misdeed? But the theory commonly believed but not publicly admitted, was an internal business dispute. There had been rumours of discontent among the ranks of the other shareholders. But nothing was ever proven; no one ever charged. A month later the English Tea House was converted into a Filipino Caldera. But Trevor got his wish. He was buried on Boracay - without a headstone, in an unmarked grave.

Conway finished his lunch, thanked Trevor for his hospitality and set out to explore more of the island. Another sandy track leading away from the beach took him into a small village of artisans furnishing woodcrafts and a variety of souvenirs for sale on the beach. He stood watching for a while, all the time surrounded by a giggling bunch of small children some of whom had obviously never seen a white man before. A couple of the braver ones came close and tugged at his shorts then to Conway’s amusement, scuttled away giggling as if they had accomplished an act of great courage. It was then that he saw him…again.

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