by: Mark Jones
“There’s a nice little cafe that serves a good western breakfast and coffee, a bit further up the road beyond Saraburi,” said Nat taking pity on the growls coming from my hungry stomach.
I was feeling ravenous after our physical activity of the night before and needed a decent injection of protien and carbs to bring the energy levels back to normal again. After the carnal heat generated in the shower we’d carried on for a good hour or so in bed before finally exhausting ourselves of pent up lust. I’d been up for it again in dawns first light but astutely, I’d heeded Nat’s tempered approach regarding the need to be fully alert for the coming day. Another round of passionate sex would’ve taken the edge off me in terms of dealing with any unfolding situations. Luckily I’d downed a banana before heading out the door but after almost an hour down highway one, I was quite literally starving. At eight a.m. the traffic was just starting to pick up and I had to admit, once again, Nat had got it right. I’d wanted to make breakfast before leaving but she was adammant even a thirty minute delay would double our time clearing Bangkok. We’d hit the road at seven. Ninety minutes later we were turning up highway two towards Nakhon Ratchasima. Another few kilometers further on and we were pulling into the wide expanse of one of Thailand’s trucking service stations. To the right hand side of the ubiquitous Seven Eleven stood our breakfast stop, a nice little cafe advertising hot coffee and a western breakfast. There was a parking spot directly in front so as soon as Nat brought the car to a halt, I was out the door striding towards the cafe. Nat, being a shining example of Thai mindfulness and patience, came through the cafe door a minute later and joined me at the table I’d taken next to a side window. She was the epitome of coolness as she removed her shades and sat down.
“Farangs,” she said shaking her head and smiling.
“Yes?” I said smiling back.
“You’re crazy, you really are,” she said breaking into a laugh.
The waitress moved towards us and placed two white coffees on the table as Nat raised her eyebrows.
“I’m impressed,” she said, nodding in approval of my seemingly better appreciation of her presence.
I took a slurp of my coffee and smiled. There was no doubt I was beginning to develop some serious attraction to her.
“You’re welcome. Can you order the breakfasts please Nat. I’ve got to send an SMS to Pete’s lawyer,” I said as I placed my phone on the table.
“Aow menu ka (menu please),” said Nat looking at the waitress.
“I don’t suppose you could give me an estimate of what time we should be there?”
“It’ll take another two hours but I think we should be checking into the hotel by midday at the latest. Are you arranging to meet this lawyer?” she said beginning to develop an interest in what I was doing.
“Yes, I said I’d let him know what time to meet us at the hotel before going to the Police Station. I think one p.m. should be okay,” I said as I picked up my phone and scrolled through to the messages menu.
“I think you should ask him to join us for lunch, Mike,” said Nat as she ordered our breakfasts.
“Why should I do that? Buying him lunch would just mean an extra expense and an unnecessary delay,” I replied looking a little perplexed at her suggestion.
“Because it’s the Thai way of doing things, that’s why. And besides, buying him lunch will accrue a small advantage to you in terms of making him more flexible to your needs,” she replied with complete certainty.
“Hmmm, I can’t argue that. Lunch it is then.”
I sent off the message to Det saying as much, then sat back to enjoy the rest of my coffee and wait for his reply. A couple of minutes later my phone beeped in response with Det’s short SMS confirming our one p.m. lunch appointment at the Rachaphruk Grand.
“ I haven’t noticed you holding on tightly to a sack of money so when, and where, do you plan to pick up the one million baht for bail?” said Nat as our eagerly awaited breakfasts were placed in front of us.
“Well, I was planning on stopping in at a Bank somewhere on the way to the Police Station. I’ve got my savings account passbook and passport with me,” I said patting the side pocket on my cargoes.
“I don’t think that’s a very good idea Mike,” said Nat frowning at me.
“Because you should know with absolute certainty your friend will be released once you hand over the money. I think it would be much better to go to the police station first, with the lawyer, and make sure all the paperwork is in order prior to paying the bail. When the documentation is complete we can go to the bank and withdraw the bail payment. Trust me, there’s bound to be some sort of delay and it will, no doubt, be due to some extra tea money payment.”
“Tea money? That’s just another polite word for corruption,” I said shaking my head incredulously.
“Call it what you want but it will be an extra payment to see things moved along.”
“How much might this extra payment amount to?” I said shovelling down a large portion of scrambeled eggs.
“It won’t be too much compared to the size of the bail, but there’s a good possibility your friends lawyer might be getting a portion of it as well. Anyway, if you do get hit with a tea money payment we can try and negotiate it down,” she said trying to put a positive spin on things.
“It’s a good thing I’ve got you along,” I said with a wry grin.
“Yes, very fortunate and I’m sure the Rachaphruk has a good wine list,” she said with that calculating smile I’ve come to know so well.
“No doubt,” I said resigned to the simple fact, apart from the air we breathe, there’s hardly anything for free in this land of smiles.
“I don’t think you should worry about it too much Mike because, no matter how much the tea money might be, your friend is going to be paying for it anyway,” she said as she reached across and gave my hand a reassuring squeeze.
“True enough Nat. I think we should get on with things if we want to make that lunch appointment with the lawyer,” I said looking at my watch.
Twenty minutes later, with our stomachs filled and Nat’s car refueled, we were back on the highway to Khorat. Nat put on some easy listening music and it wasn’t long before I was snoozing away. I must have been right out to it because in what seemed like a blink of an eye, Nat was prodding me in the ribs.
“Mike, we’re on the outskirts of Nakhon Ratchasima. The traffic is quite heavy. It will probably be another thirty minutes before we reach the hotel.”
I shook myself awake and checked my watch. It was just on eleven thirty. She’d made good time on the run up. The traffic on the highway was as thick as anything I’d seen in Bangkok.
“I didn’t realise the roads here were so busy.”
“Well, this is the second largest city in Thailand Mike. The problem is highway two goes straight through the middle of Nakhon Ratchasima meaning it gets the local traffic as well as all the trucks and vehicles passing through to Khon Khaen and further into Isarn,” she said as she patiently worked her way through the midday congestion.
“No problems, I think we’ve just got enough time to check in and freshen up before our lunch appointment. How far is the hotel from here?”
“You see that big shopping mall up ahead on the left?”
“Yep,” I said as a massive, multi-storey complex came into view.
“The Rachaphruk is about one kilometre past that, but on the right.”
At a couple of minutes before noon we were pulling into the hotel car park. In complete contrast to the way I’d bolted out of the car earier I climbed out, and took a few seconds to stretch away the travel weariness, as Nat sorted herself out. I grabbed my small overnight bag from the back seat and went to the trunk to remove Nat’s rather hefty trolley suitcase.
“I’ve only booked us in for one night,” I said taking the opportunity for a bit more good natured ribbing.
“For the moment. If things change I’m prepared for a longer stay,” she countered with complete confidence while appraising my meagre travel bag.
Nat locked the car and we made our way to the lobby. Even though it had a slightly worn, eighties look about it the Rachaphruk’s main advantage was it’s central location to most of Nakhon Ratchasima’s down town shopping malls. After the formalities of checking in were out of the way we were soon settled in to our junior suite room. While I sat back and relaxed over a coffee, Nat spruced herself up with a chang of attire and a fresh layer of make up. We were back down in the lobby area with a couple of minutes to spare. There was a Thai restaurant off to one side of the lobby so we decided to eat there. After getting seated I sent a short SMS to Det telling him where he could meet us. A minute later a reply beeped through telling me he was going to be a few minutes late.
“Hmmm, that’s going to throw a spanner in the works. Most banks close at three thirty p.m. If I go to the Police Station first it’ll be a really close call as to whether or not I’ll have time to withdraw the cash.”
“Is he running late?” said Nat intuitively.
“Yep,” I replied slightly non-plussed.
“Now you know why I packed a few extra changes of clothes,” said Nat with a “told you so” smile.
“So it seems,” I said resigning myself to the fact things almost never pan out the way you expect them to in Thailand.
“Let’s order then,” said Nat as she waved to the waitress.
“Shouldn’t we wait till he gets here?”
“No, we’ll just order enough for three people. It should be ready by the time he gets here,” said Nat as the waitress handed us some menus.
“That’ll save time but how do you know he’ll like what you’ve ordered?”
“I’m Thai Mike. There are some standard dishes all Thai’s will eat.”
“Oh,” I said, once again impressed by her confident handling of the situation as she rattled off the order to the waitress.
“Tom yum goong, pla ning manaow, pad pak gluam sai neua, gai pad met mamuang gap kao suay sam jaan na ka.”
“Derm arai ka (what would you like to drink)?” said the waitress.
“Nam plow, sam quart ka (three bottles of water),” replied Nat.
The waitress scribbled it all down and scurried off to the kitchen with our order as I sat back and conteplated the afternoons coming dramas. For some reason I had an uneasy feeling regarding what was about to unfold. A few minutes later the fried vegetables with beef, fried chicken with cashew nuts and rice servings were placed on the table. As if on cue a tall, slim, early fortyish Thai male, in a charcoal business suit, and carrying a black briefcase, approached the reception desk.
I was fairly certain it was Pete’s lawyer and after a few seconds spent conversing with the reception staff he turned towards us.
“Khun Det,” I said smiling and waving him over.
As he approached the restaurant area Nat and I stood to greet him.
“Khun Mike?” he said as I offered him my hand.
“Yes. This is my girlfriend Khun Nat,” I said as he returned her polite wai.
“Please,” said Nat indicating towards his seat at the table.
As he sat down I got the impression he was feeling slightly off gaurd by Nat having joined me. Perhaps it was her sophisticated city girl appearance putting him on edge but, despite his attempts at trying to look calm, he appeared anxious or almost nervous.
“Let’s eat,” said Nat trying to break the ice.
“Thank you,” replied Det as he relaxed a bit more.
I wanted to find out what was going on regarding Pete, but realised it would be better to let the lawyer enjoy his meal for a while before getting stuck into him with some serious questioning. I smiled as Nat started dishing out portions of tom yum goong. There was no doubt about it, she was the perfect ally to have along for the ride to take the edge off the mood and we interspersed our appreciation of the fine food with some lighthearted banter. In that regard, Det’s english language skills were proving to be as good as Nat’s. I was champing at the bit to find out what he really knew about Pete’s predicament but showed enormous restraint until everything had been eaten and we were washing it down with the last drops of the bottles of water we’d ordered. Finally Nat gave me an imperceptible signal with a smile and a raised eyebrow, to get on with it. I smoothed the way by ordering a round of coffee and, as we leaned back on our seats to relax, I fired my opening salvo at Det.
“Is everything okay regarding the payment of the bail. Will Khun Peter be released today if I hand over one million Baht?”
Det wouldn’t meet my eyes and, as he looked down, began fidgeting nervously.
“There’s been some complications,” he replied in a flat tone.
“Do you mind telling me what those complications might be?”
“Amm has made some accusations against her husband.”
“What sort of accusations?”
“It appears she went to the police station earlier this morning and made claims Peter has threatened to harm her if he is released.”
“But that’s ludicrous. Pete’s not a violent person.”
“Even though it’s unsubstatiated, and only her word against his, the Police are siding with her.”
“So, what does that mean?”
“Well, I’m sorry Khun Mike but they’ve increased the bail by five hundred thousand Baht,” said Det not daring to look me in the eye.
I wasn’t at all surprised. When it comes to last minute changes to cutting a deal the Thai is a very tricky, wily, operator. I just sat there slowly shaking my head and quietly laughing.
“The problem for Khun Peter is his wife has a good deal of influence with the Police here. Her father holds the rank of Captain. I’m sorry if I’ve wasted your time and understand if you don’t want to go through with the bail payment.”
“I haven’t said I won’t pay it,” I said in a deliberate, measured tone.
“Oh,” said Det looking at me with renewed interest.
“Look Khun Det I want you to level with me. Pete told me Amm was creating all kinds of problems for him. What the heck is really going on with Pete and her?”
“I think it’s mostly to do with the planned sale of the house. Amm wants half the sale price and Khun Peter has told me he’ll only give her fifty percent of the gain after the original purchase price is deducted from the sale.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me,” I said shaking my head at the greed of it.
“I suspect Khun Peter’s claim his wife planted drugs in his vehicle, when taking into consideration the disagreement over the house sale, certainly has merit. The problem, as I’ve already said, is the local police won’t consider his side of the story. Drugs were found in his vehicle and therefore he is guilty. The bail payment will go someway towards downgrading that guilt. If you can’t help him with the bail payment there is another way.”
“What?” I said trying to contain myself.
“Convince your friend to hand over the land Chanote to his wife and to sign an agreement to give her fifty percent of the sales price.”
“Hmmm, I can try but what would happen to the drugs charges?”
“They can be smoothed over with a small payment to the right people at the police station,” said Det without batting an eyelid.
“Ha ha, how convenient,” I said unable to contain my laughter.
“Yes, but Khun Peter’s problem could dissappear very quickly. Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom,” said Det rising from the table.
“I can see this is already turning into bit of a mess for you Mike,” said Nat coolly as we watched Det heading towards the restrooms.
“Unfortunately so. I could pay the extra bail money but that would leave me a bit thin on ready cash flow for a while,” I said shaking my head.
“I shouldn’t be doing this but it’s time to enlist some high powered help again,” said Nat as she flipped out her phone.
“Yes,” she replied raising an eyebrow and giving me that motherly look.
A few seconds later she was in earnest conversation with Major Chaweng. As she continued to talk Det reappeared and began making his way back to our table. As he drew closer Nat stood up and walked off towards the hotel entrance with the phone still glued to her ear.
“Khun Mike, I think we need to get moving if you want to be able to pay the bail before the banks close,” said Det taking a seat and looking at his watch.
I nodded towards Nat who was putting her phone away and walking back towards us. As she drew nearer Det and I stood up in preparation to leave.
“Before we go, I need you to be completely honest with me Khun Det,” said Nat holding up her hands to signal we should stay where we are for the moment.
“Yes?” countered Det looking her squarely in the eye.
“Are you getting a cut of the Bail money?” she said eyeballing squarely back at Det.
“Normally it would be quite easy for me to cut that type of deal with the police but in this instance I’m not, due to Khun Peter also using my services in the sale of the house. Why?”
“Because I need to know you’re completely on our side, that’s why,” said Nat with a determined look about her.
“What have you got in mind?” I said enjoying the idea she’d decided to become a bit more involved in the situation.
“When we get to the police station I need you to arrange for us to meet with the commanding officer before anything else occurs.”
“Hmm, so you’re going to try and cut a deal?” said Det nodding and smiling.
“Yes,” replied Nat assuredly.
“You seem very confident. What influence do you have?” said Det looking doubtful.
“My uncle is a Major in the Arintharat,” countered Nat almost arrogantly.
“Oh,” said Det looking a bit gob-smacked.
“I think we should go in your car,” said Nat enjoying taking the lead.
A few minutes later Det was easing his car way through the mid-afternoon traffic congestion of Nakhon Ratchasima.
“We need to stop at a liquor store or a super-market, before we get to the police station,” said Nat.
“It’s a bit early in the day for that isn’t it?” I said turning and looking at her dubiously as we sat in the back seat of Det’s car.
“It’s a gift for the commanding officer of the police station. I think a one point five litre bottle of good scotch should be suitable. There’s a mini-mart up ahead I know, which sells Black Label,” chimed in Det.
“Oh, an ice-breaker, so to speak,” I said, again comprehending the small nuances of Thai culture.
“Yes Mike and couple of thousand Baht spent now could possibly save you two or three hundred thousand later this afternoon,” said Nat smiling with genuine assuredness again.
“Well in that case I’d better get my wallet out,” I said with renewed enthusiasm at the idea.
Twenty minutes after leaving the hotel we were pulling into the car-park of the Nakhon Ratchasima Central Police Station. The traffic at this time of the day was as bad as anything I’d seen in Bangkok and I was getting a bit concerned we wouldn’t have enough time to sort out the bail payment. Det led the way into the police HQ front office. The bottle of Black Label was wrapped up and safely tucked under my arm as Nat and I sat down in the waiting area whilst Det made his way to the front desk. As the minutes ticked by I started noticing Nat’s well-proportioned figure was receiving some measured looks from the officers in the vicinity. Cool as ever she didn’t bat an eye-lid. A few minutes later Det re-joined us in the waiting area.
“We’ll have to wait for a while,” said Det as the officer at the desk eyed me suspiciously.
“Any problems?” I said checking my watch and noting there was only an hour left to get to the bank before closing time.
“To be honest, I don’t know. The officer on the desk seemed cool on the idea of us seeing the station commander. It took me a few minutes of sweet talk to convince him to give us a few minutes of his bosses time.”
“Sweet talk or a bribe?” I said with a hint of cynicism.
“We watch the football at the same bar on Saturday nights and I promised to buy him a few drinks next time we bump into each other,” replied Det flatly.
“Thank Buddha for the football then,” I said with a chuckle as Nat gave me one of those withering looks when I’ve pushed things a bit too far.
“Mike, you must appreciate we’re doing all we can to make things easier for you and your friend.”
“Sorry Nat,” I replied as the desk officer indicated we should follow him.
After pushing through a large set of double swing doors we walked a few meters down a wide, tiled corridor before stopping at an ornately carved teak door. A large brass plate, at eye level, proclaimed whose office it was. The desk officer knocked lightly on the impressive door and after a short pause, a sharp reply from within beckoned us forward. We filed in and stood in a line facing a no-nonsense looking, mid-fifties thick set, Thai male sitting behind a large wooden desk. Colonel Tanangkul, the stations commanding officer, raised his eyes from his paper work just long enough to acknowledge the wais of Nat and Det before continuing his matters of office. The desk officer made the introductions before leaving, as the colonel waved us towards some chairs in front of his desk. We sat nervously and waited for what seemed an eternity of uncomfortable silence before the Colonel began talking to Det and Nat, in a rather unforgiving tone. After a couple of minutes of questions and answers Nat stood up, took the bottle of Black Label from me and placed it towards the middle of the colonels’ desk before returning to her seat. The colonel, after breaking into a smile for the first time, took the offering and placed it behind his desk. Now a bit of goodwill had been established the colonels’ demeanour took on a more friendly appearance. There were more questions and answers before Nat pulled out her phone and made a call. The recipient, no doubt, being her uncle. Colonel Tanangkul took Nat’s phone and engaged her uncle in what appeared to be a polite, but professional, conversation. My Thai language skills are rudimentary but I was able to pick up enough of the exchange to determine things were looking positive. Nat and Det sat there with deadpan expressions and gave nothing away. With the final closing pleasantries the colonel handed Nat her phone. No doubt a deal had been struck. The colonel then sat back for a few seconds to consider the nuances of the deal.
“Considering the circumstances, this is a most unusual request by the farang,” said the colonel looking in my direction.
Nat and Det sat there nodding in agreement while I held my breath.
“If it wasn’t for the fact I needed to establish more influential connections in Bangkok you wouldn’t be sitting here now. This is what I’m prepared to do. The bail will stay at the original amount but I would like an extra cash payment of two hundred thousand baht for one of our police charities. The bail will be paid at the front desk. The other two hundred thousand can be given to me directly. Do you have the money with you now?”
“No, Khun Johnson needs to go to the bank,” replied Det.
“Well you’d better get going then if the farang wants his friend released this afternoon,” said the colonel checking his watch. Nat and Det waied once again as we stood to take our leave when the colonels voice halted our enthusiastic exit.
“I think it might be a good idea if Miss Nat remains here until you come back,” said the colonel in a matter of fact tone.
“Can I ask why?” I replied politely.
“I have it on good authority your friend’s wife will be making an appearance at the police station this afternoon. In order to avoid any kind of potential confrontation it might be better if Miss Nat remains in my office. When you get back here we can settle the donation payment before you pay the bail,” said the colonel.
“Khao jai krap (understood thanks),” I said, nodding in agreement to his suggestion as Nat made herself comfortable again.
Det and I made for the door and as I went through Nat turned to face me, smiled and gave me a wink. I smiled back and quietly acknowledged she was being presented with an opportunity to work her more than ample charms on the colonel. Forty five minutes later I was back in the colonel’s office and handing him the two hundred thousand baht donation. After quickly locking it in a small safe behind his desk he stabbed at the intercom and barked a short abrupt order into the speaker. There was an almost instant muffled reply after which the colonel stood and motioned towards the door.
“While you were at the bank I had the duty officers begin the bail payment process. Everything is ready, you just need to hand over the cash, sign some forms and your friend will be released,” said the colonel as we moved towards the door.
“Thank you colonel, greatly appreciated,” I said doing my best to imitate the wais Nat and Det were proffering to him.
Two minutes later we were back in the waiting area getting Pete’s bail processed. Like most things in Thailand, nothing happens as fast as you would like it to. The officers processing the bail first had to count the money, regardless of the fact it was still in the bank wrappers, to ensure there was no shortfall. Eventually I was waved over to the desk and asked to sign a receipt for the bail payment. With that done I was handed a copy and told to sit down again. Just as I was beginning to think there was going to be another glitch and I wasn’t going to be seeing Pete that afternoon, the double doors swung open and a disheveled, angry looking farang appeared.
“Jesus H. Christ, it’s bloody good to see you mate. Thanks Mike, I won’t forget this,” said Pete as an officer directed him towards the front desk to sign his bail papers.
“No problems mate, let’s get the paperwork signed and get out of here,” I said as Nat, Det and I moved to join him at the desk.
“Fuck that bitch has caused some shit for me,” said Pete.
“Mate, just cool it for now and we’ll talk about once we get away from here,” I said trying to calm him down.
“Yeah, righto mate. Just feeling pissed off after two nights in the cooler. I’ll be fine once I sort myself out. Let’s get outa here,” said Pete as he was handed copies of his bail papers.
“Where are you staying tonight?” I said as we all turned towards the station exit doors.
“I’m renting a condo here in town. Where are you are staying?”
“Nat and I are booked into the Ratchapruk Grand. I’d like hear what the story is. Why don’t we drop by your condo, so you can grab an overnight bag, and then we can take you down to Ratchapruk for a night?” I said as we moved out into the car park.
“Sounds like a good idea. The cops have impounded my car so a ride would be greatly appreciated mate,” said Pete as we made our way towards Det’s car.
“Great. We can chill out over a couple of cold beers and a decent meal,” I said as Nat gave me another of those withering looks.
“Can’t argue with that mate,” said Pete as Det unlocked the doors to his vehicle.
Just as we were climbing in a black SUV pulled into the car park, halted momentarily, and then gunned it straight towards us.
“This smells like trouble,” said Det winding down his window.
“Who is it?” I said as Pete’s face began to take on a flushed look.
“That fucking bitch wife of mine and her relatives,” said Pete twisting about in the shotgun seat.
“Stay in the car mate and don’t say anything. You’ve just been released on bail and I can’t afford another million Baht,” I said climbing back out and taking up a defensive position with Nat.
“No, fuck that, I’m going to give that bitch a piece of my mind,” said Pete beginning to fume.
“It would be much better for all of us if you stay in the car and do nothing to antagonise the situation. She’s already made false accusations against you which the police took seriously. Why give her another chance?” said Det as he placed a restraining hand on Pete’s thigh.
“Yeah, okay,” said Pete relaxing back into his seat.
The vehicle slowed to a halt, blocking our way, and then Pete’s wife Amm, wound down the driver’s window.
“Hi Mike, have you come to rescue that drug dealing, keeneow husband of mine,” she said in a voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Look Amm, whatever problems you have between yourself and Pete it’s for the two of you to work out. I’m just here helping a friend,” I replied in a neutral tone.
“Just helping a friend? I see, how noble of you Mike. And who do we have here, your latest Bangkok hooker?” she said as she removed her Gucci sunglasses and peered down her nose at Nat.
Nat instinctively reached for my hand, removed her sunglasses, smiled, and looked Amm squarely in the eye as she rose to the challenge of the insult.
“Well, at least this hooker can afford to buy her own property. Unlike other hookers who need to marry a farang to get what they want,” replied Nat in deprecating tone that immediately got under Amms skin.
A few seconds later it was a no holds barred slanging match, full of invective and spite between the two. Amm made a move to get out of her vehicle but, before it developed into a full on cat fight, Det jumped out of his car and quickly intervened between the pair of them. While Det took care of Amm I maneuvered Nat into the back seat of his car while at the same time doing my best to calm her down. A couple of minutes later Amm was getting back into her SUV and before driving off, gave all of us a long icy stare.
“Jesus, how did I get hoodwinked into marrying that?” exclaimed Pete, shaking his head slowly.
“I don’t know, but she really is a very bad mannered Thai lady,” said Nat as Det got back into the driver’s seat.
“You took care of that little problem rather well Det. What did you say to get her to leave?” I said intrigued to know how he quickly diffused Amms aggression.
“I appealed to her ulterior motivations.”
“I told her, her poor behaviour wouldn’t help in getting a share of the house sale.”
“Fuck her, I’m not giving her anything after what she’s put me through,” said Pete grimly.
“Pete, Det wasn’t serious. He was just using a bit of psychology to diffuse the situation,” I said beginning to tire of Pete’s knee jerk reactions.
“Psychology, how do you figure that? If he didn’t mean what he said then it was a blatant lie,” said Pete guffawing.
“Exactly. The only way to deal with a liar is to lie to them,” said Nat as Det nosed the vehicle out of the parking lot and onto the busy streets.
Two hours later we were back at the hotel relaxing with a few drinks at the lobby restaurant. Det had been good enough to drop by Pete’s apartment and ferry us through the late afternoon traffic to the hotel. He had other clients to see and, after making arrangements to catch up with Pete the following day, bade us farewell. After a hot shower and a stomach full of Thai food, Pete was in a far more agreeable mood as we sat mulling over his dramas of the previous forty eight hours. Pete had gone to visit Amm at her family’s house here in Korat in an effort to patch things up between them. Things had seemed okay until they began discussing the planned house sale and then it had turned into torrent of invective from Amm when Pete wouldn’t agree to give her fifty percent of the sales price. According to him he got less than a kilometer down the road, in his vehicle, before being stopped and searched by the police. They found a small package of methamphetamines in the glove box within a few seconds of starting their search. It was obvious it was a set-up.
“Mike, I can’t thank you enough mate for coming to my rescue. I’m a bit short with ready cash at the moment but you can rest assured I’ll pay you back in full just as soon as this house sale goes through,” said Pete sitting back and taking a healthy slug of his gin and tonic.
“Yeah, no worries mate. I know you’re good for it. Have you got any prospective buyers yet?”
“Well, as it happens there’s a mate of mine in Sydney, a lawyer and keen golfer, who’s pretty much said he wants to buy the place.”
“Sounds good, has he had a look at it yet?”
“Yeah, he stayed with me for a week last year. Reckoned he loved the place due to the fact it backs on to the golf course. He’s flying over here in a few days’ time, to get the ball rolling with the transfer of funds into the country. There’s a slight problem though.”
“I’ve got the bloody chanote stashed at the house and I know if I go anywhere near there at the moment Amm, being the bloodhound she is, will know something is up. Christ, I’m in a bind here. I need that chanote to finalise the sale. Without it I’m buggered. My mate, the lawyer, won’t even consider buying the place if there’s no chanote. I don’t suppose there’s any chance you could sneak over there, in the dead of night, and get it for me?” said Pete looking at me wryly.
“No, but I know someone who might, for the right price,” I said thinking of Baey.
Within two seconds of the last word passing my lips I received a dig in the ribs from Nat.
“What?” I said looking at her slightly confused.
“Can we have a private little talk for a minute please?” she said in a motherly tone to Pete.
“Yeah, umm, okay. I need to go to the men’s room anyway,” replied Pete.
“Why are you getting more involved in this mess of his? I thought you said you’d just give him the bail money and leave it at that,” said Nat when Pete was out of earshot.
“Yes, I know what I said Nat but I don’t have any choice now.”
“How do you figure that?” she replied looking unconvinced.
“We need that damn chanote so I can get my money back.”