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Around The Sun: Jekyll And Hyde

Steve Harrison tells of a Jekyll and Hyde character.

I first met Jim in Sihanoukeville in Ted’s bar on the beach. We were all drunk and guffawing. Jim introduced himself as Ted’s best friend. He said he was an expert in IT. We had a problem getting a website on line. For his part he was looking for an inexpensive long stay room in Phnom Penh. So a deal was arranged. Jim would get a room for $60US a month. In exchange he would supply us with computer solutions.

My partner soon offered Jim a salary, along with a job description.

Jim was an easygoing man but after drinking spirits he went from Dr Hyde to Jekyll, becoming a nightmare. And he drank to excess every night.

He got stuck into our computer problem on his very first day. That night he started on me. “I’m a very important man,” he said. "How dare you insult me by giving me such an awful room and treating me so shabbily.''

He then became violent and pushed me around. I figured it was the drink talking and left him alone.

Next morning I was greeted heartily by Dr. Hyde, who was busily tiding up our computers. He sorted out lots of problems and made a big impact on getting our website functioning. I was very happy.

That night in the bar he announced that he was the new manager. When the alcohol kicked in he started telling our staff off and firing them one by one. Jim had no business being behind the bar ordering staff around. When i intervened he became aggressive and I got the security guys to carry him off to bed.

Day three Jim was in a happy mood and casually finalized the website to my satisfaction.

That third evening his alter ego came out early. “Watch out for Declan,'' he said. "He's working for you know who. He’s storing arms behind your bar, caches of hand grenades and automatic weapons. He's also storing weapons behind another bar on the riverside, I’m an operative sent to keep an eye on him, but keep this top secret.''

By now I was getting very worried about having Jim around. He was making me nervous. He was also making other people nervous. During the day he told me that he had talked with his best friend Ted, who he said was dying of a severe heart problem. Ted had asked him to look after his wife Syna when he was gone.

That afternoon I got a call from a very disturbed Ted. He's been told by Jim that the CIA were on to him and he should keep a low profile as operatives were out to arrest him. Ted had gone from a guy at peace with himself to a scared rabbit.

“But he told me he is your best friend and had known you forever,'' I said.

Ted said “Rubbish. I met him on the beach on the same day you did.''

This is one weird guy, I thought.

Everyone around town soon became aware of Jim. Rumours about him were rampant. He was a gun runner, a drug dealer, a CIA undercover man, whatever. When he went into a bar people anxiously began to twitch. Phnom Penh was a city filled with expats who had lots of things to hide.

We fired Jim. He was to much of a liability.

Several weeks later I was talking with a guy who was involved in building the new American Embassy. On two evenings his men had run into Jim and his stories. On two evenings Jim had been knocked unconscious vecause he had annoyed them.

Later on he annoyed an American construction worker who knocked out half his teeth.

I ran into Jim a week later. He was cowering in the shadows, and half his teeth were decidedly absent. His face was bruised.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I was on a motordup which got involved in an accident,'' said he.

Yep, right on Jim.

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