Saturday, 4th February 2023 - 2:02:13 am
Click, and click again. It was either a misfire or bad ass was out of ammunition. Perhaps there really was a supreme being after all. Bad ass scowled, said something to his little side kick mate and nodded towards me as I began backing up to the perimeter fence. My mind was racing as I looked about for an escape route and then realized there was only one thing for it; I was going swimming again. I readied myself to clamber back over the fence as the knife wielding side kick moved purposely towards me. I was half way over when I caught the first imperceptible, sweet sounds of an enduro bike fast approaching. It was Baey, thank fuck. He came powering down the road, onto the sidewalk, and skidded to halt between me and my assailants. I moved towards him as he jumped off the bike to face the bad guys.
“Stay back Mike, I’ll take care of this” said Baey as he glanced over his shoulder at me then readied himself to take on the pair of them.
As I stepped back I caught a look of intense concentration in his eyes as he went into a kind of widespread power stance similar to the type used by Tony Jaa in his fight scenes. Bad ass and his side kick looked hesitant as Baey slowly advanced towards them. Then the two of them, as if by some unspoken tacit agreement, moved apart to gain an advantage in terms of angles of attack. Baey needed to have his wits about him; while he was busy taking on one the other might try to come in from behind, or the side, unsighted. To even things up I moved across, to a nearby flower bed, and picked up a loose brick as the bad guys continued to try and move into a position of advantage. The taller one, the one that had raped Fon, was trying to look confident but, clearly, appeared nervous about taking on Baey.
“So, it’s the relative from up North. Such a pity about your cousin at the hospital. And now you are a running dog for this foreigner. Have you no pride?” he said trying to sound brave.
“You are a disgrace to your unit and a traitor to your oath” said Baey with calmness and determination.
“Ha, what would you know lackey” said bad ass.
Baey quickly removed his jacket to reveal his unit tattoo. The bad ass saw the insignia on Baey’s shoulder and looked rattled by this new development in the confrontation.
“Yeah, I served but for what, to be a lackey running for others? Never! I have money and respect now” he said trying to justify what he’d become.
“Chad – Sassan – Pramahakasat (Nation – Religion – King). Your actions have insulted all; prepare to pay for your sins, traitor” said Baey as he began to advance towards the pair opposing
Bad ass, realizing there was no avoiding the showdown, launched a standard type Muay Thai kick at Baey’s head. Baey seemed to be almost expecting this as he spun, almost at the same time his opponent threw the high kick, on his front foot using his rotating rear leg to sweep bad ass off his feet. The timing was perfect as bad ass, with his kicking leg still high in the air, was sent airborne, off his single standing leg, and came crashing down on his back into the pavement. As Baey was momentarily distracted, with bad ass, the side kick saw his opportunity and moved towards him flashing the long bladed knife in his hand. This was the moment I feared most and just as he was about to thrust at Baey’s midriff I let fly with the brick. It caught the side kick flush on the jaw just as his knife tip was barely inches from Baey’s floating rib area. The side kicked groaned in pain and dropped to his knees, the knife being loosed from his grip and clattering onto the pavement. Baey looked at me and nodded, acknowledging my timely intervention, as the bad ass grabbed his friend’s knife and scrambled back to his feet. Bad ass was shaken but far from beaten as got into an offensive, knife fighting position and again squared up to Baey who, as he took up his previous attack stance, stooped down quickly gathering up his jacket. As Baey inched forward, towards his knife wielding opponent, he bunched the jacket in his leading hand. Without warning, bad ass slashed in an arc at Baey’s head. Baey neatly side stepped the wild swing and continued circling for better position. Bad ass stepped in and slashed wildly again but, in doing so, slipped on the wet surface and was momentarily off balance. It was the opportunity Baey was looking for as he launched the jacket into his opponents face and, while bad ass was temporarily distracted, immediately stepped in and delivered a savage kick to bad ass’ groin. Bad ass convulsed in pain and, while he lost focus, Baey followed up with a powerful Muay Thai kick to the thigh. Bad ass buckled but he wasn’t down yet. Wincing in pain, and gasping for breath, he threw Baey’s jacket to the ground and advanced with an almost insane look of menace in his eyes; killing Baey was his intention now. He slashed out again but this time with less energy. Baey read bad ass’ telegraphed movement, quickly stepped inside his crazed adversary’s line of attack grabbing the knife wielding arm and putting it into a pressure lock. As bad ass continued to struggle Baey continued to apply more downward pressure on the elbow until, eventually, the knife fell to the ground. Baey quickly kicked it clear of his weakened opponent and then threw him into a flower bed. Bad ass, limping but still not beaten, picked himself up and, with the still menacing look in eyes, again advanced towards Baey. Baey remained calm and focused as his tiring opponent launched a half hearted kick at Baey’s rib area. Baey stepped inside, grabbed bad ass’ kicking leg and, once again, swept his weakened attacker off his standing leg to send him crashing into the pavement. Within a second of impacting into the hard surface Baey dropped his knee into bad ass’ solar plexus and followed it up with a wicked forearm smash to the nose. Bad ass was nearly unconscious and, as Baey was about to smash into his nose again, I stepped in again grabbed his shoulder.
“That’s enough Baey, don’t kill him. Remember your Buddhist precepts” I said restraining him.
Baey turned and looked at me with an intensity I haven’t seen in a fighter’s eyes since Bruce Lee beat the crap out of Bob Shepherd in ‘Enter the Dragon.’
“Uh, oh yeah, thanks Mike” he said as his focus came back to the present.
Baey stood up and moved away from his bloodied opponent as I went over to where the knife was laying, picked it up and threw it into the ocean. The side kick was still slumped over nursing what, I suspected, was a broken jaw. I looked at bad ass; he was battered but conscious, just. I checked my Casio as I walked back over to where Baey was standing; it was a few minutes before four am.
“I think we should get out of here, quick smart, mate. The associates of these scumbags might not be too far away” I said as I looked back down the road towards Pattaya.
“Okay Mike. Where to?” said Baey as he moved towards the bike.
“I need to get this looked at” I said as I pointed at the wound in my calf.
“Wow. From one of these guys” said Baey as climbed onto the bike
“Yeah, no doubt. I’ll tell you where to go once we get away from here” I said as he hit the starter.
Bad ass was starting to come around; he looked at me while I climbed on behind Baey. I indicated to Baey to head back up the hill and, as he took off in the fine mist of the dampness still enveloping us, I glanced back at our adversaries knowing that we probably hadn’t seen the last of them. As if reading my thoughts, bad ass pointed his right hand at me, in the form of a simulated gun, and sneered. I gave him the one finger salute as Baey shot out onto the road and accelerated up the hill. As we powered by the car park I looked over at my bike and shook my head; it was less than an hour ago that I’d crashed it into the fence. I’d need to sort that out over the next day or two. A few minutes later we were cruising along second road, on our way to Pattaya International Hospital. In the approaching surrealness, of dawns’ first light, the last of the late night party animals, with their one night stands, were staggering back to their bolt holes as we turned into Soi four and, a few seconds later, took the driveway into the hospital.
“Do you want to tell me what happened” said Baey as I climbed off the bike.
“Those two scumbags murdered Chris and that bitch, Ning, stood by and watched them do it” I said somberly.
“Oh my Buddha, how? Why?” said Baey looking at me incredulously.
“Why? I can only speculate. How? They threw him off the balcony of his condo and I watched them do it. I was still in the room, we rented, when it happened and filmed the whole disgusting act. I’ve got the memory card, from the camera, here with the evidence on it” I said patting the traveler’s hip pack.
“Hmm, no wonder they were chasing you. With evidence like that then for sure they would want to eliminate you” he said shaking his head.
“They don’t actually know I filmed the murder. They chased me because, when I went down to check on Chris’ body, they saw me and probably assumed that I’d seen them do it. Anyway, I’d better go and have this looked at” I said glancing down at my swollen calf muscle.
“Yeah, okay. Let’s get you checked in” said Baey gesturing towards the hospitals’ entrance.
“Thanks mate but I think I should go in alone”
“Oh, okay. You don’t want me to come with you?” he said looking a little confused.
“I think it’s better if no one knows that you are associated with me at the moment. There’s a possibility that the police may turn up here asking questions if word gets out there’s a farang laid up in the hospital with a gunshot wound. I think you should stay under the radar until we see in which direction things pan out” I said unzipping the travelers pack and removing the soggy roll of thousand baht notes.
“Ahh, okay. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Take this and book yourself into the Sabai Lodge. It’s back up Soi Four and just to the right on second road” I said as I peeled off thirty of the limp notes.
“This is a lot of money, Mike”
“Don’t worry, you’ve earned it mate. After you’ve checked into the Sabai Lodge, and if you’re not feeling too tired, can you go back over to the condo and snoop around. I’d like to know if the cops have been over there yet”
“Yeah, no problems” he said as he stuffed the roll of damp notes into his pocket.
“Give me a call when you get over there mate, but be careful. There might be cops or, even worse, those scumbags who killed Chris hanging around there. You may want to park up by those trees, on the beach, and quietly survey the area” I said as Baey got back onto the bike.
“Okay Mike, I’ll give you call” he said as he hit the starter button.
I gave him a thumb up for good luck. Baey replied in kind, kicked the bike into gear, powered back out onto the road and was gone. I walked towards the entrance doors and laughed inwardly. It was ironic; the last time I’d been here it was to visit someone who’d suffered a gunshot wound. Now, within the space of only a few days, I was afflicted with the same injury. I pushed through the doors and thought about the idea of unpredictability again in this exotic land. The receptionist looked up as I placed my registration card on the counter.
“How can we help you?” she said with a friendly smile.
“Uh, I need to see a doctor. Urgently I think. I’ve got a gunshot wound in the left calf area” I said trying to sound unperturbed.
“Oh, I see. I think we should check you into the emergency ward straight away” she said as she started typing my details into the computer.
“Probably a good idea” I said nodding in agreement and noting that the wound area was beginning to throb a bit.
“Insurance or self payment?” she said as she handed me a receipt.
“Self payment, credit card” I said as she called out to a nurse waiting nearby.
“Please follow the nurse”
“Thanks” I said as the nurse led off to the emergency ward.
A couple of minutes later, after quickly removing my soggy running shoes, I was lying face down, on a ward bed, as two nurses went to work on the grazes I’d picked up scrambling across the reef. As they did so a Thai male, in a white coat, arrived next to them and appraised my condition.
“How are you? I’m Doctor Thanit. If you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Johnson, have you been in a fight?” he said having a closer look at the entry point of the gunshot wound.
“I’d rather not say too much at the moment doctor. Let’s just say that I had a difference of opinion, with a couple of nasty types and, in the process of evading them, they shot me” I said keeping my flow of information to a minimum.
“Were these nasty types Thai or Farang?”
“Thai, why? Does that make a difference” I said looking at his face for a reaction.
“Possibly. Anytime a foreigner is assaulted or, worse, killed in this country it’s a major cause for concern. Please bear in mind that, as per instructions from our local authorities, I am required to report any foreigners, arriving at this hospital, suffering from gunshot wounds”
“Fair enough. I appreciate your honesty. When do you think you’ll be able to remove the round?” I said as he gently probed the wounds’ entry point.
“I think we should attend to it straight away. It’s looks as though some low level infection is beginning form. We need to get on top of that as soon as possible. As soon as the nurses have finished cleaning you up we’ll get you prepped. We should have the round removed within the next hour.” He said as he turned back to converse with the nurses.
“Will I be completely out to it during the surgery?”
“No, there’s no need for that. I’ll just anaesthetize your lower leg area. You’ll be conscious during the procedure. Did you get caught out in the rain; your clothes are still wet?”
“Ah no. I’ve been for a swim in the ocean”
“The ocean. Hmmm, was that during your getaway from the nasty types?”
“It’s a long story doc” I said.
“Fair enough. Maybe you can tell it to me later then. I’ll see you shortly. The nurses will help you with the preparations” he said giving me a friendly smile and then turning back to converse with his assistants again.
Thirty minutes later, after changing out of my damp clothes and into a hospital smock, I was lying face down, on the ward bed, as one of the nurses administered an anaesthetizing injection to my lower left leg. As soon as the doctor was satisfied that my leg was numb, he got to work to removing the round. Less than five minutes later I heard a metallic clank as it was dropped into a stainless dish. I turned and faced the doctor.
“I would say you were quite lucky there. That was a large caliber bullet” he said as he grabbed the offending round in his gloved hand and held it up for me to see.
“Why do you say that?”
“Well normally a round of this caliber, about nine millimeter, will either pass right through a limb or create a lot of damage smashing bone or, worse, sever arteries” he said as the round clanked back into the dish.
“I guess the water must have taken the velocity off it before it entered my calf” I said feeling relieved that it had been removed without any further complications.
“Ah yes, your swim in the ocean. Perhaps that was fortuitous after all” he said smiling again.
“Yes, it certainly was” I said reflecting on the events of the past few hours.
“Did you pick up all those grazes from your swim in the ocean as well?”
“Yeah, the reef I had to scramble across had some sharp edges to it. Is there any chance that these will become infected? What about the gunshot wound?”
“The gunshot wound is surprisingly clean and the cuts and scrapes have been disinfected thoroughly by the nurses. I’m going to put you on a course of antibiotics anyway just to ensure that the slight swelling you have doesn’t flare up into something more serious”
“Will I need to be here for any length of time?”
“Well, that’s entirely up to you of course but I my recommendation is that you remain here for at least one night for observation. If you’re worried about being reported to the authorities, that may not happen for another two or three days as I’ve got quite a bit of paperwork to take care of before I get around to that” said Dr. Thanit smiling and giving me a friendly wink.
“If that’s the case then I suppose I could rest up here for a while. Thanks doc” I said genuinely appreciative of his concern.
Buzz, buzz, it was my phone. I reached for the travelers pack stored inside the small cupboard next to the ward bed, pulled out the ringing phone and looked at the screen; there was no number being displayed. No doubt it was Baey.
“Excuse me doc, I need to answer this call”
“Mai bpen rai (never mind) khun Johnson, I’ll catch up with you later” he said smiling and moving off towards the wards’ exit.
“Hello” I said lowering my voice.
“It’s Baey. How’s the leg?”
“Not too bad. I’ve just had the round removed. What are you up to?”
“I checked in to the Sabai Lodge and then came down to the condo. I’m at the car park, on the beach, under the cover of those trees”
“Anything happening down there?” I said as a nurse came into the ward and began to close the curtains around my bed.
“Yes Mike. When I arrived down here there were a couple of police vehicles parked outside the condo’s lobby. The police must have found out which room we were staying in because a few minutes ago they came down carrying all of our bags”
“Fuck, it looks like we won’t be seeing that gear for a while then. Did you have anything of value in your bag?” I said as the nurse disappeared behind the closed curtains.
“Yeah” said Baey neutrally.
“A Glock nine mill”
“Oh double fuck, that’ll really piss the cops off” I said beginning to laugh.
“Yeah, well maybe that’s my karma” said Baey trying to make light of it.
“How do mean?”
“If a man goes looking for trouble, it will come to him”
“Aint that the truth. Did you have a look over at Chris’ condo?”
“Yes, there’s nothing there except a dark stain on the driveway. I’m sorry Mike for the loss of your friend” said Baey with a sincere tone to his voice.
“Thanks mate. I did try to warn him though. He just wouldn’t listen” I said feeling a great sadness beginning to overwhelm me.
“I know it’s a sad thing Mike but you should try to understand that this was his destiny and, probably, nothing you could have done would change this course of events”
“Perhaps your right mate, perhaps your right. Anyway, I’m feeling pretty zapped. I’m going to get my head down for a while. I think you should as well, it’s been a really long day” I said as I began to feel my eyelids droop.
“Yes it has Mike. I’ll talk to you later. I’m going to get some sleep as well”
“Okay Baey, I’ll call you this afternoon”
I lay back on the ward bed and closed my eyes. The events of the past few hours began to flash through my mind like some kind of high paced action replay until, eventually, there was only two images left; the faces of Ning and the bad ass that had raped Fon. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was sure there was something going on there with those two; some kind of connection.
“Mr. Johnson, Mr. Johnson”
I’d been in a deep sleep and, for a moment, I thought I was still in a dream; sitting in a plane being buffeted by bad weather while my name was being announced over the intercom. I slowly opened my eyes to find it was only a nurse shaking my shoulder and calling my name. I turned and looked at her, still feeling groggy.
“Yes” I said with a yawn.
“You need to take your medication Mr. Johnson” she said with the look of someone who did things efficiently.
“Hmmm, okay. Can I get something to eat as well” I said as I propped myself up in the bed.
“Meal time is at six pm” she said as she placed a bed tray over my legs and dropped the medication on it with a glass of water.
“Hmmm, okay” I said as I glanced down at my watch.
It was a few minutes before six; I’d been out to it for ten hours. The ward TV was on so I asked the nurse to pull back the curtains so I could watch it. As if by some kind of weird twist of pre-conceived fate, it was set to the Pattaya News Channel. I swallowed the medication and watched, apprehensively, as the six pm news broadcast flashed up.
“Earlier today an Australian man was found dead outside his apartment building in Jomtien. The man’s girlfriend later told police that her boyfriend had arranged to meet another man, a friend of the deceased, in the Condo’s parking area in the early hours of the morning. The man, pictured here, is being sought by the Pattaya Police for questioning over this incident and also for the recent sexual assault on a twenty six old lady in the Jomtien area.”
Oh fuck, the shit had just hit the fan. Ning, no doubt, had spun a nice web of lies to the police and I wondered how long it would before I’d be fronting up to them. A nurse, who’d been watching the news broadcast as well, looked across and did a double take. By tomorrow morning the entire hospital staff would know who they had laid up in their emergency ward. I grabbed my phone again and hit the speed dial for Baey.
“Did you get some sleep?”
“Yeah, I was out to it for a while. I’ve just woken up to see my photo being broadcast on the Pattaya News service. It looks like I’m currently the most wanted person in Pattaya” I said laughing at the absurdity of it.
“You’re becoming famous then?” said Baey laughing as well.
“For all the wrong reasons unfortunately mate” I said as a nurse came in and dropped a couple of plates of food on my bed tray.
“What did the news report say?” said Baey returning to more serious tone
“Well it looks as though Ning has given the police BS story regarding what happened.”
“Why, what did she say?”
“She’s told the police that Chris went to meet me in the early hours of the morning in the condos’ car park. They had a clip of her being interviewed. She was shedding fake tears but her eyes were like knives. That’s one evil, lying bitch”
“Yes Mike, she surely is. Thai people would say she’s got some sort of ghost spirit eating her up inside”
“Well, whatever it is, she’s one nasty piece of work. The thing is the report included a photo of me and, to make matters worse, it also mentioned that I was still being sought by the police for questioning over the assault on Fon” I said somberly.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’ve had enough of being slandered, I‘m going on the offensive” I said determinedly.
“How?” said Baey.
“I’m going to get in touch with the Pattaya News Service and offer them the video clip I’ve got” I said feeling a bit more confident.
“Please be careful Mike. That may not be a good idea” said Baey sounding concerned.
“Because you may end up getting yourself seriously offside with the police”
“I understand that Baey and I’m not planning on airing the video clip at the moment; I just want my photo removed from the news broadcast. If I can show the Pattaya News Service people my clip, proving that I wasn’t involved in Chris’ murder, hopefully they’ll drop the references to me from the reports on Chris and Fon”
“That sounds like a better idea Mike”
“I might be bit crazy at times Baey but I’m not silly. Anyway, my foods here, I’m going to eat. I’ll catch up with you later mate”
“Okay Mike, enjoy”
Fifteen minutes later, after polishing off a largely forgettable hospital meal and another lukewarm coffee, I picked up my phone again. The TV was still set on the Pattaya News Channel. Their contact number was being constantly scrolled across the bottom of the picture with some continuous news updates. I punched in the number and hit call.
“Pattaya News Channel, how can I help you?” said a friendly sounding female voice.
“Could I speak to the manager please?”
“We don’t actually have a manager”
“Well, could I speak to the person in charge there?”
“That would be the chief editor. Unfortunately he’s busy at the moment. Can I take a message and get him to call you back?”
“Tell him it’s the guy wanted by the Pattaya Police in connection with the death of the Australian man this morning over at Jomtien” I said remaining calm.
“Are you there?”
“Yes, wow. I’m a bit shocked that’s all. Ah, just a moment please”
There was some muffled noise in the background.
“Paul lyons speaking, how can I be of assistance?”
“Hi Paul, my name’s Mike Johnson. You’ve been running my photo in couple of your lead news items over the past couple of days”
“How do I know this isn’t a crank call?” he said sounding a bit doubtful.
“You don’t. The thing is though, if I wasn’t who I claim to be, I wouldn’t be calling to offer you video footage of the murder of my friend Mr. Lane”
“His girlfriend claims that it was you that killed Mr. Lane”
“She can say whatever she likes. What she doesn’t know is that I filmed her, and two local thugs, throwing Mr. Lane off the balcony of his sixth floor condo”
“Hmmm, okay. Let’s say I’m prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt. What are you offering?”
“A copy of the video clip on the proviso that you remove my photo from those two news items”
“If you have what you claim you have then I think we might be able to come to an agreement on that” said Paul sounding a little more enthusiastic.
“Good. As a matter of interest, who gave you my photo?”
“I can’t tell you who it was but I can tell you that it was a local policeman. He came in and handed us your photo, shortly after that young lady was found on Jomtien Beach. He said she was your girlfriend and that the police were trying to locate you for questioning. Earlier today he called in again and informed us that you were a friend of Mr. Lane’s and you were being sought, by the police, for involvement in that incident as well”
I had no doubts who that local police officer was; Ning’s boyfriend.
“Sms me your email address and I’ll get a copy off to you, with some supporting info, within the next twenty four hours”
“Yes, no problems”
“Can you give me your word that you won’t air this until I give you the green light?”
“Normally I’d say that nothing, well almost nothing, interferes with the freedom of the press. Can I ask you why you’d want to delay airing this to the general public?”
“I can’t say too much at the moment. Let’s just say that it’s my get out of jail card. Anyway, I’ll give you a few more details when I email you. Can you give me your solemn oath that you won’t air it until I say so?”
“You’ve got my word for ten days. After that I can’t make any promises” said Paul showing himself to be a shrewd bargainer.
“Fair enough, I’m sure it will be before that”
“Good. I’ll sms you my email contact”
“Cheers” I said as the nurse finally cleared away the meal time debris.
A few minutes later I began to feel the effects of the meal I’d just eaten; my bowels were beginning to move and a trip to the toilet was in order. The restroom was at the far end of ward and I was half way there when I suddenly remembered the hip pack. I hurried back to retrieve it knowing that the memory card stashed inside it could be the difference between my freedom and a long spell in the Bangkok Hilton. A couple of minutes later I was seated comfortably in a cubicle when I heard the restroom door open and the sound of heavy steps outside.
“Khun Johnson, are you in here?” said an officious sounding voice.
It was the boys in brown; someone from the hospital, no doubt, had tipped them off.
“Bap neung krap (one moment thanks) I’m just finishing up in here” I said unzipping the hip pack and getting hold of the memory card.
No time to think, what to do? If the cops get hold of it who knows what could happen if I don’t have a copy of it. There was only one thing for it; I was going to have to swallow it. A second after dropping it into my mouth there was a loud crash against the toilet door and a head appeared over the top; I was staring into the eyes of Ning’s boyfriend.
“Open this door now farang” he said looking at my malevolently.
“No problems, as soon as I’ve finished washing my ass” I said as I swallowed and smiled at him.
“Laew laew (quickly)” he said as he dropped back to the floor.
I finished my ablutions and, with the hip pack secured around my waist, stepped out to face the reception party with my hands up. Ning’s boyfriend was accompanied by a shorter, fatter cop who, from the pips and braid he was wearing, appeared to be the more senior of the two. Ning’s boyfriends’ hand was hovering over his gun; the senior guy told him to cool it.
“Where’s that memory card farang” said Ning’s boyfriend with real menace to his voice.
“I’m not saying anything until I get to the Pattaya Police station and, I want to go now” I said looking at the senior guy.
The senior guy turned and spoke with Ning’s boyfriend who, from his body language, looked seriously intent on doing me harm. Well fuck you I thought. You’re not going to get what you want. The senior guy turned back towards me.
“Okay, I’m going to take you down to the Police station now. Do you have some clothes you can change into?” he said raising an eyebrow at my hospital smock.
“Yeah, back in the ward” I said noting that Ning’s boyfriend was looking severely pissed off about not being able to get his hands on the memory card.
“After you” said the senior guy indicating back into the ward.
A few minutes later I was back in my, still damp, shorts, T-shirt and jogging shoes. Just as we were about to head out of the ward a nurse arrived and handed me a bag full of capsules. I had to wonder if it was the hospital staff that informed the police. Who knows? Maybe one of them was a relative of Ning. Whatever the case, at least they were still being professional and taking care of my health. I paid my bill at the front desk and then stepped out into the warm, humid evening. As I walked towards the police vehicle I realized that this was really the only option I had; there was nowhere to run.