Getting into Bed with The Voice
Part 23 of Notes on a Small Island: Expat Living on Hvar
Start at the beginning! Notes on a Small Island, Part One
Notes on a Small Island, Part 23
I knew it was The Voice as soon as he opened his mouth, for the first word to emanate was his favourite adjective beginning with F. He was big and he was scary. I fled, my inner calm once more shattered. What to do?
More assurances from the lawyer, and I decided to continue as I was, and deal with the consequences as they arose. I did not have a lot of choice, unless I wanted to give up all I had worked for, and there were no other employment options I could see.
And things did settle down for the most part. Apart from various abuse hurled in my direction whenever I appeared on his ‘territory’, especially when accompanied by clients, I was left alone by The Voice.
Shades was a different story however, and I was regularly subjected to The Glare from a cafe across the square, which became a regular feature with my morning coffee and croissant. I was still very much aware of their existence, and would take steps to avoid their paths where I could, but the fear of physical violence had receded. If I just kept my head down and tried to be as low-key as possible, things should be fine.
And then one day...
There were three of us having a beer at the cafe. Another good day for me, celebrating another sale with a young British guy who wanted to move to the island permanently. His three-month search for the perfect property was at an end, and the beers were flowing.
The square was fairly busy but I did notice one person in particular who was strutting up and down in front of us, glaring in our direction. Shades.
It was more than a little intimidating, and I tried to hide in my beer and the table’s conversation, but after the tenth lap, I looked up at Shades. He stopped, glared back and motioned me to come over.
My heart stopped. After all this glaring and the threats at the ferry, he was motioning me to come over to him. Could this be a trick? Dangerous? We were in the middle of a fairly busy square, so what was the worst that could happen? The beer gave me courage and I proceeded cautiously in his direction.
“Du sprechen deutsch?” he began in bad German. I nodded. “Ich habe Haus. Viel Haus. Du hast Kliente.” I nodded again. “Du, Ich, Artbeit. Zusammen. OK?”
From what I understood, Shades and The Voice had lots of houses for sale, but couldn’t find anyone to sell them to. I, on the other hand, also had lots of houses for sale AND people to sell them to, but Shades thought it would be better if I sent my clients to him so that he could sell his houses. It sounded like a great deal – for him.
On the other hand, it might just keep the peace, remove the intimidating air and, much more interestingly, allow me to find out if The Voice knew any other adjectives than his favourite F word. I couldn’t see what harm it could do, and so I agreed.
Suddenly a new side of Shades appeared, a caring, smiling side, which was a lot less scary. I was wary though, especially as he told me to be at the car park the next morning with my car, and he would show me some properties. His car was unavailable. Was it a trick to get me away from the crowds and finish me off?
I persuaded my best friend Mark to come with me, reasoning that he would have first look at these new properties for sale. Conversation was friendly in the car (as friendly as broken German can be) and I was promised a coffee with my new partner, The Voice, who I was told was a great guy.
After touring a few properties in the towns and the villages, Shades told me to drive to Basina, where there was an amazing agricultural plot with some stone houses on it. We were in the middle of nowhere, Shades up ahead, his phone pinned to his ear in earnest conversation.
“This is it. I bet he is calling the guy digging your grave,” said Mark, “and is explaining that there are two of us...”
We survived the day, and I the business relationship, which did not last long. It was, however, the first close contact I had had with other agencies on the island, in what I was quickly discovering was a very dirty and uneven playing field. My first Internet smear campaign was just around the corner...