Saturday, 4th February 2023 - 2:08:02 am
Forty five minutes later we were heading up an on-ramp to highway number one, the main route heading north from Bangkok. It was a straight run to Saraburi after which we’d hang a right onto highway two, then make another straight run to Pak Chong. Baey had the timing just about spot on. It was just on two thirty p.m., and the drive, allowing for one or two stops, would put us in Pak Chong Township at around four to five PM. As we whizzed along the three lane carriageway I couldn’t help but be impressed once again, by his calmness. As soon as we’d got onto the highway he’d dropped his seat back and drifted off into a semi coma. In contrast to my hyped up state, brought on by the impending maelstrom I was about to get myself into, he was the epitome of a man with ice in his veins. No doubt he’d seen this kind of situation, and probably a lot worse, during his years in the military. The plan was fairly straight forward in terms of getting to our probable destination, Pete’s house on the golf resort. We’d drive straight to Pak Chong Township first then hole-up in a service station or roadside café, until around six pm. At just before six I had to send Pete an SMS telling him we’d just finished getting the alternator repaired, in Saraburi, and we were on our way to Pak Chong. Hopefully the thugs would spare Amm and give us another hour or so to get to their hideout. Baey was fairly certain it was the house at the golf estate and the more I considered it I was fairly certain it was as well. The bottom line was we wouldn’t really know until we got much closer.
As Baey continued to snooze away I was locked in my own thoughts about what may, or may not occur, when I eventually confronted the loan sharks. There was a good possibility someone could get shot or even worse, die. I knew it went against the grain of any ethical and moral, principals but I really couldn’t help thinking Baey had a point regarding my ongoing situation with Ning. The only way to see an end to it was to terminate her. It seemed abhorrent but was the reality when dealing with a psycho like her. I also needed to patch things up with Nat. Like Pattaya eighteen months before, we’d parted under strained circumstances yet again in the morning, and I wanted to make things right just in case I didn’t make it back. I resolved to call her just before we departed Pak Chong Township to meet with the thugs.
At a few minutes after four we were on the outskirts of Saraburi. The congestion of mid-afternoon Lorries and busses heading out of Bangkok, had slowed our progress somewhat but we were still ahead of our planned schedule. The highway on to Pak Chong actually diverted around the edges of Saraburi and with a number of signs flashing into view proclaiming such, I shook Baey for directions.
“Just follow the signs. There’s a bypass around Saraburi and it’s roughly another forty five minutes to Pak Chong Township. There’s an over pass at a major junction just before the built up area begins. Go straight under it and keep going another two clicks. There’s a PTT service center on the left,” he said coming out of his slumber momentarily.
Baey drifted off to sleep again and I put on one of Pete’s easy listening CD’s to break the boredom. I must’ve made good time because forty minutes later I was pulling into the parking area of a large PTT service station with attached café’s and dining facilities on the outskirts of Pak Chong Township. After doing the obligatory toilet run we made our way to a small air-conditioned café next to the service stations retail outlet. Just as we were about to enter, Baey stopped in his tracks.
“Order me a cappuccino Mike, I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he said turning on his heels.
I ordered two coffees and grabbed a window table. Five minutes later Baey was back at the café.
“That’s all sorted then,” he said as he the waitress dropped our coffees on the table.
“We’re probably going to need an extra vehicle when we head over to Pak Chong.”
“How do you figure that?” I queried.
“Those loan sharks might be predictable in their intentions but they’re probably not likely to give you the exact location of where they’re holed up. More than likely they’ll give you arranged place to meet first then once they’ve confirmed you’ve got the cash, take you to where they’re holding Pete, Amm and Det. I’ve arranged to hire a car from the workshop here. Once we know the RV point I’ll tail you into Pak Chong but keep some distance. It may well be those thugs are completely dumb and give you directions straight to their hide-out but, I doubt it. As I said, I still think it’s the house on the golf estate and I wouldn’t be surprised if those idiots don’t even know you’ve been there already. Pete, Amm and Det may have been smart enough not to mention it. Either way we’ve got all bases covered. The only spanner in the works might be if those punks decide to take the money and run. But I don’t think they will because Ning wants some payback on you,” said Baey as we downed our coffees and ordered another.
“It’s a possibility though, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it can’t be discounted,” said Baey deep in thought.
“How about this, if they want to meet at an RV point first I’ll go ahead with just the chanote and you hold the cash in reserve. When I meet them I’ll tell them I want to make sure their captives are all okay before handing over the cash. I’ll tell them I’ve got someone waiting in Pak Chong with the money and ready to come once I confirm Pete, Amm and Det are in good order. That will buy you a bit more time, and darkness, for the attack on their hide-out?”
“I’m impressed Mike. Are you sure you weren’t in the secret service before?” said Baey grinning as we got stuck into our second coffees.
“Nah mate, just the SAS.”
“The SAS, I don’t think so buddy,” said Baey looking dubious.
“Not the real SAS mate, just the army reserve. SAS is a slang term for the reserve, it means Saturdays and Sundays,” I said as Baey broke into laughter with me.
“I’ve never heard that one before but I’ll keep it in mind when some of those bar stool commando farangs back in Bangkok start trying to tell me they were in the Special Forces.”
“Ain’t that the truth? Every second one you meet in a bar was in the SAS or the Seals. Bloody wankers. Anyhow, I take it you like my plan?”
“Yes, it could work out quite well actually Mike. If those loan sharks want to meet at an RV point first I can tail you there and onto their hide-out afterwards. I’m still fairly certain it’s the house on the golf estate so once we confirm, I’ll swing into action.”
“What’s your plan for hitting the thugs and freeing us all?”
“Well, the first thing I’ll do is cut the mains to the house. After that I’ll break in and take out whoever gets in the way. As I said earlier Mike, as soon as the shit starts going down, hit the deck and don’t worry about anyone, or anything else. You got that?”
“Absolutely mate, I’m not ready to check out yet.”
With the sun inching towards the western horizon, and the shadows beginning to lengthen, the heat started to disappear from the day. Even though it was still officially the North East Monsoon the humidity was stifling in the build-up to the first rains. We ordered a meal to give ourselves a bit more respite in the air-conditioned comfort from the late afternoon heat. We washed it down with another coffee and by five thirty PM Baey decided it was time to get things moving. As I made my way to the SUV he went over to the workshop to sort out the car hire. Maybe he wanted surprise me but, when a slightly battered, dark green, two door Toyota pick-up pulled out from behind the far end workshop wall, I had to wonder what sort of deal he’d made.
“I hope you aren’t paying Avis rates for this mate?” I said as he pulled up next to me and rolled down the window.
“It’s ideal for where we’re going Mike,” countered Baey with the smile of a man who’s just won the lottery.
“Oh yeah, it’s agricultural for sure.”
“Blending in is exactly what I need to do. This old work horse will be hardly noticed up there. Now, I’ll get changed into my night attire and you can load the cash into this,” said Baey taking his black gear bag from the Fortuner transferring it to the pick-up.
While Baey headed to the toilets to change into his special ops outfit I transferred the two million Baht from the briefcase into his gear bag and in doing so, didn’t fail to notice a nasty array of hardware for inflicting damage on humanity. Besides his holstered Glock there was an assortment of knives, both short and long bladed, cans of mace, and what looked like a flare gun. There was also the pair of bolt cutters we’d bought in Korat for the job on Pete’s house. I piled the bundles in and zipped it up quickly. Five minutes later he reappeared in the same head to toe, black gear, minus the ski mask and gloves, he’d worn on the last night op.
“Dressed to kill again I see mate?” I said.
“Yeah, but there’ll be one difference this time.”
“I’ll be wearing a flak jacket as a matter of necessity. It’s nearly six p.m. Mike, time to send that SMS. Tell them you’ve just left and you’re on the way to Pak Chong now.”
A minute later a message, saying as much, was on its way to Pete’s number. The seconds ticked away in intense anticipation waiting for their instructions to come back to us. Finally, after a five minute delay, my phone beeped with an arriving SMS.
“Go to the entrance of Khao Yai National Park, Pak Chong side. Send SMS when you arrive there.”
“What do you think?” I said showing Baey the message and noting there was no mention of Amm’s fate.
“Just as I thought, they’re playing it safe. They want to make sure you aren’t bringing reinforcements. No doubts they’ll probably get nasty when they find out you don’t have the cash with you. Stick to your guns though about wanting to see Pete, Amm and Det are okay before handing over cash. If they blindfold you, when they take you to their hide-out, I’d almost be certain it’s going to be the house on the golf estate. Otherwise, if they knew you’d been there already, there’d be no reason to do so. Anyway, I won’t be far away so when they head down that side road I’ll be on their tail. It’s only a forty minute drive to the meeting point so we can wait for a while before we go. If we arrive too early it might arouse suspicion,” he said locking the doors on the hired vehicle.
“Okay mate, maybe we can grab another coffee. You order up, I need to make a phone call,” I said checking to make sure the SUV was locked.
While Baey went back to the same table in the café, I scurried over to the toilets. I didn’t really need to go, I just wanted a bit of privacy for my conversation with Nat. I scrolled through my logged calls, found her number and hit the call button. Two rings and she was on the line.
“Hi Mike, is everything okay?” said Nat sounding a bit glum.
“Yeah, things are okay at the moment babe. We’re leaving soon to meet those loan sharks and hopefully free Pete, Amm and Det.”
“I know I can’t stop you Mike but I’ve already told you my feelings about your involvement in this. Promise you’ll come back to me safely, I love you.”
“I promise Nat, and I love you as well. If you haven’t heard from me by tomorrow morning can you send out the search party?” I said laughing and trying to make light of things.
“That’s not funny Mike. Where is the location you’re going to?”
“There’s a golf resort with an attached estate near the entrance to Khao Yai National Park on the Pak Chong side. It’s somewhere around there.”
“Okay, if I haven’t heard from you by the morning I’ll ask my Uncle for assistance. Take care Mike and don’t do something silly like getting yourself shot. I need you to make an honest woman of me.”
“I’ve been thinking of that as well babe.”
“Do you mean it?”
“I love you Mike.”
“I love you too.”
I had a bit of a spring in my step as I made my way back to the café. Mike Johnson married? That was a hell of a thought.
“Does she still love you?” said Baey as I rejoined him.
“Yeah, she even made me promise to make an honest woman of her.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, it’s probably about the right time.”
“Well the fact is her family has probably been expecting it for some time as well.”
“Yeah, I know. It was just a matter of me getting my head around the idea. Anyhow, not wanting to put a negative spin on things, I’ve told her if she hasn’t heard from me by tomorrow morning to send out the cavalry,” I said taking a gulp of my coffee.
“That’s probably not a bad idea but I hope like hell it doesn’t come to that. Her uncle will be a bit pissed with me if it does. He told me to keep a low profile.”
“My old unit is copping some flak unfairly, over that damned red shirt business that occurred recently.”
“Oh yeah, I heard something about that. Black shirts seen lurking in the shadows, was it?”
“Not my old unit Mike, just some imposters making us look bad and attracting unwarranted attention. Anyhow, I think it’s time we were on our way,” said Baey checking his watch.
“This is it then, into the valley of death,” I said trying to relieve some tension.
“It won’t be that bad Mike. Just remember what I told you and stick to your guns about wanting to see the hostages before handing over the cash. Those thugs might get angry about it but they aren’t going to shoot you because they want the cash. I’ll lead and when we get near the meeting point I’ll pull over for a final brief before you head in there,” said Baey as we got into the vehicles.
A few minutes later we were clear of Pak Chong Township and turning into the main route to Khao Yai National park. The shadows lengthened with the encroaching dusk and, as we travelled further into the rural landscape, the number of dwellings became sparser along the tree lined road. Thirty minutes on the dual carriageway became a single lane and with the light fading Baey flashed up his indicators and pulled over to the roadside.
“What’s the plan then?” I said as he hopped into the shotgun seat.
“The entrance gate into the National Park is about ten minutes further up the road. You can’t miss it as there’s a check point which requires a fee to enter. When you get there turn the vehicle so you’re facing back this way, on the opposite side of the road, and leave your engine running with the parking lights on. When the reception committee arrive turn off the engine, and lights, so I’ll know you’ve made contact. I’ll be parked back along the road watching things with a night sight. When they leave, and I’m sure they’ll take you with them, I won’t be too far behind. I’ll tail you to make sure where they’re headed. I’m fairly certain now its Pete’s house, I just want to make sure. I’ll double back to that side road, park up and make my way along to the house. You’re going to have to put up with whatever they throw at you for at least forty five minutes. Try to lull them into a false sense of security by convincing them the money’s on the way when you know Pete, Amm and Det are okay.”
“What happens if they’re not okay?”
“You won’t know that until you’re in the house and, to be honest, it’s a bit late to worry about that now. I think they’ll still be okay. Just remember to go to ground immediately when the shit starts. I’ll try and pinpoint where the hostages are being held before I cut the power, that way it’ll be a fairly quick break in.”
“No worries, when the lights go out I’ll duck for cover.”
Oh, almost forgot. Give me your phone,” said Baey pulling a slightly battered looking Nokia out of his pocket and passing it to me.
“What’s this for?”
“It’s got two numbers on it; mine and Pete’s. Those loan sharks will probably want your phone as an added precaution. The last thing you want is them getting a hold of all your personal contacts,” said Baey as we swapped phones.
“Yeah, good point,” I said pocketing the Nokia.
“Good luck Mike,” said Baey offering me his hand.
“Cheers mate, I’ll buy you a bottle of Blue Label if I come out of this unscathed,” I said as we shook.
“I’ll look forward to that,” he said closing the car door and banging twice with a clenched fist on the roof top.
As I moved off at a steady pace along the single lane carriageway Baey’s lights were flickering two to three hundred meters to the rear. The timing was perfect for what Baey needed to do. It was almost dark and the trees crowding in along the roadside created a mood of eerie foreboding. The press of surrounding jungle only broken by couple of small roadside villages, their street lamps throwing a weak yellow light on to the tarmac as we drove on into the deepening blackness. At just on ten minutes, as Baey predicted, a large sign came into view advising of the park checkpoint ahead. I recognised the side road, down to Pete’s house, on my left. Three hundred meters further on the road widened as the checkpoint, and pay toll, came into view. I slowed and brought the Fortuner around, to face in the opposite direction, then pulled up on the roadside one hundred meters distant from the checkpoint. To Baey’s instructions, I left the motor running and park lights on. Somewhere back along the road he was concealed in the shadows. It was a couple of minutes before seven thirty and dusk had given way to the night. I grabbed my phone and punched in a short message to Pete’s number, “At the Park Entrance Now, Mike.” A few seconds later my phone beeped. It was their reply, “wait there, coming now.”
I figured if they were holed up at Pete’s place it wouldn’t take them long to arrive, probably no more than ten to fifteen minutes. At bang on twelve minutes after getting their message a late model black Fortuner turned out of the side road, down to Pete’s house, then moved slowly up to the park entry point. No doubt they were checking things to see if there were any potential threats. It moved slowly past me, the tint on the windows making it impossible for me to see anyone inside, then swung about and came to a halt twenty meters directly behind. I watched in my side view mirror as the doors opened and three figures climbed out. The vehicles headlights were still on so all I could see were silhouettes in the glare. There were two male figures and one female. The female figure I couldn’t fail to recognise. It was Ning, the bitch herself. As they neared the rear of the Fortuner they split. Ning and a muscled thug came to my side of the vehicle while a skinny, long haired type moved to the passenger’s side. As they approached the cab I turned off the vehicles engine, and parking lights, then turned, with the window still up, to face Thailand’s criminal classes. The muscled thug with the tight fitting black T-shirt, tattoo’s and short cropped hair indicated to wind the window down. As I did so, Ning stood next to him sporting that nasty sneer I’d come to loath. She looked just as hideous as ever with her pumped up plastic breasts jutting out beneath a low cut, tight fitting Lycra top. As it is often said in this country, “You can take the girl out of the bar but you can never take the bar out of the girl.” I glanced across to the opposite window and the skinny punk, obviously the hit man, flashed open his jacket to expose a pistol tucked into the top of his jeans.
“Hello Mike, long time no see,” said Ning in that horrible rasping bargirl tone.
“Not long enough for me, you murdering bitch. Who did you bribe to get out of the monkey house,” I said trying hard to contain my rising anger.
“Hop pak (shut up) you fucking farang. Where’s our money?” said the muscled T-shirt.
“Not here,” I said with a shit eating grin.
“Alai wa? (what the fuck),” he said glancing at Ning then kicking the door of the vehicle.
“You think I’m so fucking stupid?” I said looking the pair of them.
“Maybe we just shoot you now,” said Ning in a venomous tone.
“Yeah then you’ll never get any money, I can guarantee that. I want to see Peter, Amm and Det are all okay first. When I know that you can SMS a friend of mine who’s waiting in Pak Chong with three million Baht. You can meet him back here and do the swap. Me, and my friends go free and, you get the money. That’s the deal, take it or leave it.”
“Who’s the friend?” said Ning squinting at me and looking unsure about trusting what I’d said.
“Another farang. He’s waiting there, with the money, and will come as soon as he gets the okay.”
“What about the chanote?” said the muscled T-shirt.
“It’s here,” I said reaching across to the passenger’s seat and holding up the briefcase.
“Show me,” said Ning nodding across to the hit man for extra emphasis.
“No problems,” I said opening it up passing out the document.
The muscled T-shirt took it, and turned so his vehicles headlights illuminated the chanote, as Ning sidled up next to him for a closer inspection as well.
“Hmm,” grunted the thug as he nodded his head in approval.
“The real one, not a copy like that fucking hiso bitch cheated us with the last time,” said Ning pulling out her phone and making a call.
A few seconds later she was yapping away in earnest. No doubt reporting the situation to whoever was the gang boss.
“Out now farang, you come with us,” barked the muscled thug.
“What about the Fortuner?” I said opening the door and stepping out.
“No problems, I drive. You go in our car,” he said as the hit man moved around to join us with his hand on the butt of his pistol.
“No problems,” I said as we moved off towards their vehicle.
The hit man pointed towards the back seat. I climbed in. He followed, indicating I should keep a space between us, as Ning hopped into the driver’s seat.
“Take his phone,” said Ning as she hit the ignition.
The hit man looked at me with cold calm eyes and placed his hand on the butt of his pistol again. I remained calm and passed him the battered Nokia as we moved away in convoy behind Pete’s Hilux. As we rounded the corner into the side road, leading down to the golf estate, I allowed myself a faint smile of satisfaction at how things were all going in our favour. What was also surprising was these amateurs hadn’t even bothered to blindfold me. As expected, a few minutes later, we turned into the golf estate. It looked as though Baey was right again and as we stopped for the boom gate to come up at the guardhouse, a dark coloured vehicle whizzed by to the rear. I was certain it was Baey. These idiots were in for a shock, that was for sure. The guard waved us through and we continued on into the estate. As we approached Pete’s house I glanced at my watch, it was a few minutes before eight p.m. and darkness had well and truly enveloped the landscape. There were a couple of houses with lights on but, for the most part, the street was dead quiet. The muscled thug turned the through the gates, into Pete’s property and drove under the carport. We came to a halt directly behind. The house was pretty much as I remembered it, an overpriced project home next to a beautiful golf course.
“Ok bpai (go out),” said the surly little hit man.
I climbed out and noted there was only the front door light on. Ning, and the muscled thug, led the way with me in the middle and the greaser with the gun trailing behind. As we approached the door I was half expecting a bullet in the back. The door was opened by another wiry, tattoo covered, long haired punk waving a revolver about. He grunted then turned and walked back into the darkened hallway. The hit man gave me a push in the back as I followed the troupe of criminal scum into the lit up lounge room at the rear of the house. There was no sign or sound, of Pete, Amm, or Det so I figured they were probably being held in the downstairs area. I came to halt in the middle of the lounge as the group spread around me. An older lank haired, pudgy looking hood, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth was lounging in one of the expensive leather sofas. The pudgy one, apparently the leader, looked me up and down warily as Ning passed him the battered little Nokia.
“Your friend has our money?” he said appraising the two solitary numbers on the phones screen and taking a draw on his cigarette.
“Yes, he’s waiting in Pak Chong for confirmation my friends are all okay,” I said eyeing him off and realizing this was the owner of the psychotic voice I’d spoken to earlier in the day.
“And he’s a farang?” he said taking another draw on his cigarette.
“Yes,” I said not batting an eyelid.
“Hmmm,” said the pudgy one as cigarette ash dropped down his grubby polo shirt.
He turned and broke into conversation with Ning and the muscled T-shirt. I couldn’t really catch onto what they were saying because they were using an unfamiliar Thai dialect. With his fingers adorned in gold rings, and a heavy gold chain around his clammy neck, the pudgy one was certainly the epitome of the Thai mafia hoodlum. The conversation ended abruptly and the perspiring, gold clad leader turned towards me again.
“We think you are telling us lies,” he said with a menacing smile.
“I don’t care what you think. You want the money, you follow what I say.”
The pudgy one smiled again then nodded across to the greasy little hit man. The long haired, tattooed bag of bones reacted immediately pulling out his pistol, cocking it and then placing the muzzle at the back of my head. Even though my heart rate went into hyper-drive the only thing going through my mind was to stay calm and stick to the plan.
“I think we call your friend now. Maybe he not farang, maybe he Thai police, chai mai?”
“Up to you but he won’t answer. I told him to communicate by SMS only. We’re wasting time here. If you want the three million baht show me Peter, Amm and Det are okay. You can meet my friend at the same place you met me. He’ll be here in an hour if you message him now,” I said gritting my teeth in an effort to suppress my rising anger.
The pudgy one lit up another cigarette then took a moment to consider what I’d said. After two draws, on his cancer stick, he grunted to the hit man and I felt the pistols muzzle drop away from the back of my head.
“Take this damn farang down to the basement to see his friends,” he said with more than a hint of impatience.
The muscled T-shirt walked over and pushed me towards the stairwell leading to the lower areas of the house.
“Bai (go),” he said leading the way.
We filed back along the hallway and on the left towards the front of the house, was a spiral stairway leading down to the lower level. The muscled T-shirt flicked on a light switch, to illuminate our way down the stairs, and we made our way along another hallway towards the rear for the house. There were bedrooms to the right and left and at the very end, a doorway into the golf workshop. Ning banged on the door and barked out an order. No doubt to alert whoever was inside to our presence. The muscled T-shirt pulled out a key and opened a padlock on the door. As the door swung open I didn’t really know what to expect. The workshop looked dimly lit with a single fluorescent light casting a dull glow from within. The hit man gave me another dig in the ribs and I stepped into the workshop to see Pete, Amm and Det, all with their limbs cabled tied, sitting on a mat along the right wall. As they all roused to attention another greaser, similar in appearance to the hit man but younger, appeared from the left with a drawn revolver. He was obviously the watchdog.
“Surprise, surprise your savior has arrived,” said Ning sarcastically.
As I moved into the center of the workshop they sat up from their slumped positions. Their faces showed signs of acute stress and weariness, and Amm, normally the epitome of facial beauty, looked as though she’d aged dramatically.
“Thank fuck you made it here Mike. Did you bring the money?” said Pete as they all looked at me expectantly.
“If I did we’d all be dead now mate,” I said neutrally.
“Mike wants to know you’re all okay first. Are you satisfied now?” said Ning spitting out her words with venom.
“I’ll be satisfied when you’re six feet under you evil cunt,” I said glaring at her.
From behind the muscled T-shirt stepped in and whacked me in the kidneys.
“Fuck,” I said dropping to my knees in pain.
“Shut your mouth you goddamned farang. Give me that phone,” he said turning towards Ning.
“Of course, teerak,” she said, obviously enjoying seeing me getting dealt to what appeared to be her boyfriend.
“Type the message and show it to me before you send it,” said the muscled T-shirt thrusting the phone in my face.
“I guess you don’t trust me then,” I said taking the phone and trying to make light of volatile situation.
“Now, damn you,” he said grabbing the revolver from the young punk and pushing the muzzle against the side of my head.
I took a few deep breaths to help absorb the pain and then got to work on the phone’s keyboard. A minute later I handed the phone back to him. The message on the screen was short and to the point, “all okay, bring the money now to Khao Yai Park entrance. Send SMS as soon as you arrive. Mike.”
“Good. Sit over there with your friends while we wait,” he said as he showed Ning the phone screen.
I took a spot on the mat next to Pete as the young punk grabbed some cable ties and bound my hands and feet.
“What the fuck is going on Mike,” said Pete looking confused about what was happening.
“The money’s coming mate and we’re getting out of here,” I said as the Nokia beeped with a reply.
“Hmmm, good,” said the muscled thug as he showed the phone to Ning.
“Well, it looks as though your friend hasn’t run off with the money yet Mike. If he’s good to his word we might let you go. Watch them,” said Ning turning and heading for the door with her boyfriend and the hit man.
The punk with the revolver took up a position on a seat directly opposite us and tried to look tough as the sounds of the padlock, being put back in place, rattled from the other side of the door.
“Thank you for coming Khun Mike. We owe you for saving our lives,” said Det.
“We’re not out of it yet mate. Just because the money is going to be paid doesn’t mean these bastards will let us go. There’s still a good chance they’ll off us,” I said as the punk continued glaring at me.
“That was a ballsy move coming here first without the money mate but it was the right one to give us a glimmer of a chance of getting out of this mess,” said Pete.
“Listen mate, I’m only going to say this once,” I said in a deadly serious tone.
“What?” said Pete focusing.
“When the lights go out, hit the deck,” I whispered from the corner of my mouth.
“Don’t think about it Pete, just do it. Understand?”
“Ah, yeah no worries mate. Lights out, hit the deck. Got it.”
“Good,” I said as the rattles of the padlock being removed came from behind the door again.
The punk with the revolver stood and moved warily towards the front of the workshop as the door swung open and the gang boss, cigarette still hanging from his mouth, entered the room.
“There’s been a slight change of plan,” said the pudgy one as more cigarette ash fell onto the grubby polo shirt covering his protruding belly.
“Oh great, you’ve decided you don’t want the money and you’re letting us go immediately?” I said deprecatingly.
“You are a funny man, Khun Mike. I’m beginning to like you,” he said with a tone tinged in sarcasm.
“Well the feeling isn’t mutual, I can assure you.”
“Hmm, it seems as though your friend’s wife is in breach of the loan contract she signed,” said the gang boss waving a bunch of paper work in our faces.
“Here we go. Take it up with her,” said Pete flatly.
“Oh we will, I can assure you of that farang. The breach, under the terms of the contact, is she’s provided us with a false chanote. That means forfeiture of the house for the value of the loan.”
“Yeah, well that and fifty cents will buy you cup of coffee. My signatures not on it so it’s worthless,” said Pete.
“Well it appears your wife signed it for you,” said the pudgy one, smugly, as he shoved the document in Pete’s face.
“You fucking, greedy bitch. How could you do that?” said Pete getting his hackles up.
“Fuck you Khun Peter. If you not such a keeneow I not have to do it,” said Amm without a hint of remorse.
“Fucking greedy, deceitful little whore. You’re all the same. Even when the truth of what you’ve done is staring you in the face, you’ll still deny it. Is saving your face so fucking important? Fuck you, I’m not signing anything,” said Pete with grim determination.
“Oh, perhaps you need a little persuasion then,” said the gang boss nodding to the young punk.
We all looked on as the punk cocked his revolver, grabbed a handful of Amm’s hair and shoved the muzzle into the back of her neck.
“Now, all we need to complete the transaction is for you to sign these land transfer papers. We’ve got a registered lawyer here who can witness it,” he said dropping the paperwork and a pen into Pete’s lap.
“Fuck you, you piece of shit, I’m not signing anything,” said Pete getting even angrier.
“Really? Well perhaps we can offer you a bit more incentive by putting a bullet in your wife?”
“Up to you. I’ve got no feeling for the lying bitch anymore. Maybe you should take it up with her boyfriend?” said Pete nodding across to Det.
“I’m not signing anything, you damned criminal,” said Det.
“Haha, we’ll see about that,” said the gang boss as he pulled a snub nosed thirty eight, from behind his waist band, and shot Amm in the leg.
The noise of the round going off, in a confined area, was ear splitting and the shock of what occurred seemed to make time stand still. The acrid smell of burning powder filled the air and the dissipating echo of the gunshot was replaced by the high pitched shrieks of Amm. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more surreal, the lights went out.