when she started work on her contract, enid employed a cleaner. well, to be accurate, two cleaners - a molvanian woman called natalie and an american man called hank. enid thought this doubling up was a good idea, because often cleaners disappear, and this way she’d have one in reserve, like on blue peter. (and she turned out to be right - in november natalie’s child was ill, and natalie took two weeks off to visit the hospital. then she didn’t come back, and didn’t answer her phone either. enid hopes all is well with her, and worries that it isn’t, but that is another story.)
hank is a very odd person indeed. he came to molvania to marry olga, a local woman he’d met on the internet. hank arrived with just his american passport in his pocket - no money, no job, no return ticket. he met his internet bride, and married her, despite a screaming row the night before the wedding about their differing views on bringing up olga’s two children. (olga believes in motherly love and the gentle approach. hank is a mid-westerner who has served in the us army, and he believes in discipline, sometimes physical.)
after a few months of poverty in olga’s home town, hank and olga moved to kernib, the capital of molvania, leaving the children with their grandmother. after a few weeks, hank got his job with enid, and olga found work too. they moved into a small flat, and everything was looking good. but then (and “but then” is something you often write when telling hank’s story) they got pregnant. olga lost her job, and money was tight, until she found bar work which paid quite well. but then (see) olga grew too pregnant to duck under the bar and had to resign. hank and olga fell behind with their rent, were chucked out of their flat, and had to spend a few nights in a motel.
enid and the man ‘lent’ hank some money and olga found another apartment, cheaper than the last. olga got work on a sex chat line, and started spending her nights talking to americans. hank was jealous because he and olga had started this way. who knows, olga might get talking to a richer american.
a few months later, a woman turned up at hank’s apartment, asking for money she claimed she was owed. hank told enid proudly how he’d opened the door and pushed the woman over, then gone to the balcony and thrown bottles at her and her husband as they left. enid became nervous, and made sure hank cleaned on wednesdays, when the man is there because he works from home that day. really she’d have liked to have sacked hank, but she knew her money was all that was keeping hank and olga off the streets.
things settled down for a while. instead of his usual stories of how incompetent, emotional and pathetic olga was, hank started saying that she was a fine woman, and a hard worker. enid sighed - perhaps it would work out in the end, this ridiculous marriage.
but then, this morning, hank arrived in a terrible state. last night, after midnight, a woman had telephoned their apartment and asked for hank. olga thought he was having an affair (although he claimed that she was just answering an advert they’d put in the paper months ago offering hank’s services in any english-speaking job. “call anytime, it said,” hank told enid. “yeah, right,” thought enid.). olga took hank’s passport, got in a taxi and left. now all hank has in the world is £2 and his west virginia driver’s licence.
the man called the american embassy for hank, and told them the story.
“oh, not another one,” they said, and offered no help at all.
hank knows that the only train back to olga’s home town leaves the main railway station at noon today. he and the man have driven off there to try to catch olga and retrieve the passport.
hank claims that this time he’s through with olga and he’ll be off back home if he can get his documents. poor olga. poor hank.