A leather-bound writing desk, glass topped table and four high-back wooden chairs were ample. Coffee was percolating on top of a crockery sideboard. Prik Dum perched on a padded seat, holding a small black leather case. Some hand written documents lay on the table. While Vince poured out a mug of coffee for him, he explained that the Royal Thai police had been working with the Treasury to produce both 1,000 and 500 baht samples that could be identified as ‘almost genuine’ to other than expert scrutiny.
Prik Dum opened the case, which contained counterfeit samples and showed it to Vince. He seemed pleased. “One hundred thousand baht. Chinese not discredit these bills.”
Vince gulped his coffee, uncommitted. He’d better be right or we’re likely Chop Suey, he thought. He picked up a bundle and examined it. Seemed real enough. “You sure?”
“100%.” Prik Dum peered down at the table. He moved his mug to one side, selected one document and read aloud. “High-quality plates and ink. Also bona-fide watermarked paper. No problem with ultra-violet machine check.”
Vince wasn’t wholly convinced... this was Thailand. Well, he would see. Magnam could test one bill, maybe two. He looked into his empty coffee mug, and then grinned at the Lieutenant. “Better lock the cash in the safe then.”
Prik Dum caught on. “I take passports for new visa. Make sure no problem with immigration,” he told Vince. “Give back later.”
Vince was not concerned. He had other passports in his garage lock up, but a current visa could be useful if he had to leave in a hurry. He got up, deposited the cash and took out the four passports: Elroy, Innocent, Magnam and his. Locked the safe, and handed them over.
Prik Dum wasn’t finished. He pulled out a cell-phone from his jacket pocket and offered it. “New phone. Number untraceable.”
Vince took it. Samsung. Silver case with a pretty picture on the front. He put it in his pocket.
Magnam was impressed with the quality of the notes. “These very good, even bank not reject,” he said.
So Vince gave Magnam the Samsung phone and took him along to the Lucky-Nine club. When Magnam explained at some length in Thai, the bartender nodded and took the case. Magnam told Vince that the bartender would call the Chinese contact Lai Chan Chen. He waved the Samsung. “I gave my new cell phone number.”
Vince just looked at him.
It was the first time that Wilbur Bruce had met Colonel Chooshoop. Surprisingly, for a Thai national, the Colonel was a tall imposing individual, who held himself straight-backed, just like the army officer he was. What was not surprising could be expected. His features reminded the Director of a cunning jackal; and his handshake was limp and clammy. Not to be trusted with Grandma. Wilbur Bruce listened in while the Colonel took a call from one of his subordinates. Abrupt, cursory politeness hiding a thinly-concealed contempt for the lower minions.
The Colonel brushed an imaginary speck of dirt from the top of his desk and smiled thinly at the CIA Director. “The Chinese have been contacted. Our operation is underway.”
Wilbur Bruce sat back in his armchair and bathed in the cool breeze being generated by the air-conditioner. He sipped his drink and reflected. The Colonel obviously had expensive tastes. His oval office was lavishly decorated, with hand-finished teak furniture resting on a green lush-pile Axminster. Pictures of the Colonel in full uniform replete with medals, being greeted by the King and other dignitaries, adorned the walls. To one side, a large double-glazed window presented a panoramic vista of Bangkok’s high-rise skyline. Probably as corrupt as they come, he thought.
It was good news. He had timed it right. Now he could orchestrate it to a satisfactory conclusion. But first the political pleasantries. “Colonel, I am happy to leave the detail in your capable hands.” It was enough.
Colonel Chooshoop nodded. Motioned to the whisky bottle on his desk, sitting imperiously by itself on the otherwise empty surface. He lifted an eyebrow.
Wilbur Bruce held up his hand. “One’s enough. I had a long flight.”
Dong Sui See examined the notes that Lai had brought. He sipped his tea and lit a cigarette, much to Lai’s surprise. Never had the master smoked in his presence before. This was unusual behaviour.
“Cousin Lai, take these to our associate in the Siam Commercial Bank,” he instructed. “It is important. I want an answer by tomorrow.”
Lai bowed and left.
The man in black was curious. First Rennie and the girl meeting Tan Dai in the Lucky-Nine club. Then there was Lai Chan Chen. All were intermingled somehow. He would carry out discreet surveillance; it was expected of him. He followed Lai to the bank carrying a small black leather case and leaving without it. He sat on his motorcycle and waited.
At 5.30pm a young man left the Siam Commercial Bank carrying the case. He walked to the parking lot and rode off on his red Honda 150 motorbike, with a yellow number 9 on the front. The man in black followed and noted the address.
The banker’s home was a four-bedroom detached house in an upmarket district, with a sea green Lexus estate in the drive-in shelter and a large walled garden with palm trees and other exotic plants. The nearest neighbour’s estate was fifty metres away. A woman who looked like a cover on Vogue, immaculately dressed and accompanied by a maid and two small children greeted him. Clearly more than a bank manager’s salary funded this lifestyle; and the young man couldn’t have reached that position at his age.
The man in black decided to stay with the case. It was a long wait. He was still there when Lai emerged from a taxi around midnight. Twenty minutes later he emerged with the case and got back into the cab. The man in black decided to call it a night. He knew where the banker lived, and he was tired.
Lucy Lee shuddered as Lai drove her to her first climax, and she savoured the expectation of several more. Lai was not the most experienced lover she had known, but she was a good actress and he possessed the animalistic energy she craved. Her nipples brushed his chest as she moved her body to satisfy his hard erection. “Oh yes, darling,” she gasped. “Give it to me.”
Some time afterwards, Lai told Lucy Lee about the counterfeit notes and possible huge business opportunity.
“We can make enough money to be totally independent from your husband,” he said.
Lucy Lee smiled and kissed him. Maybe, maybe not, she thought.
Lai reported to Dong Sui See the following morning. The master was not in a good mood; maybe Lucy had complained of being too tired to accommodate him properly. She had been insatiable the previous night. Or maybe he had other things on his mind.
Lai explained from his notes. “The bank teller’s analysis showed the quality was exceptional and the notes had passed all of the standard commercial tests.” He looked up from his stool. Dong Sui See was tapping his long fingernails on his chair. But his face was a mask. Lai swallowed and carried on. “For example, some (but not all) of the features were visible under the ultra violet light and the words ‘Thai Government’ were actually embossed in Thai script on the bank notes.”
Dong waved a manicured fingernail. “Get to the point.”
Lai was surprised at such directness. Usually Dong Sui See demanded fine detail. “Master, it’s good news. Our associate guarantees that we could launder these notes through the financial system in Thailand. And without raising any concern from the authorities.”
Dong Sui See nodded. “And the cost for this…expert opinion?”
“Twenty thousand baht.”
Dong Sui See hissed. “Our associate is becoming greedy.” He took a deep breath and regained control. “However we need him now.” Dong Sui See raised an eyebrow. “Maybe later, you can pay him a visit.”
Lai bowed. The meaning was clear. Lai would force the bank teller to watch him enjoy the Vogue wife, before he killed them both. Maybe also the maid…and the children.
The bartender called Magnam later that day. “My contact and his principals would be willing to discuss business. He suggested meeting here in the Lucky-Nine club in two days time. It’s an extended Buddhist holiday, and the club would be closed for stocktaking. Is lunchtime acceptable?”
Magnam related this to Vince, who nodded. “Tell him we will be represented by the two chief Nigerian distributors in Thailand. If agreement is reached we can deliver an initial two million baht.”
This was acceptable.
Vince informed Prik Dum, who balked a little. His voice rose. “Two million baht. This is large amount. Need clearance.”
Vince was undeterred. Limit the risk of being killed. “You have two days.” He realised Prik Dum needed an explanation. “We have to appear credible or they will suspect a trap.”
Colonel Chooshoop swallowed. “I will get back to you soon,” he said. However, when he contacted Wilbur Bruce who was in his Jacuzzi with a petite Thai girl with long black hair straddling him, the CIA Director was only too willing to underwrite the cost of counterfeit notes infiltrating the banking system, to support USA/Thai relationships.
“That’s no problem, he said into his cell phone as his girl soaped him. “Let me know if you want any more funds.”
The girl looked at him. “Big business, mister?”
He pointed downwards. “Yeah, just like this.”
The CIA agent in the hotel lobby called Sam Morrell. “That arrogant Langley prick has a girl in his suite. She’s probably screwing out his security right now.”
“That’s ok,” replied Sam, laughing. “She’s one of ours. Well 50-50 anyway. Stay there and get her to debrief you later. That’s a joke by the way.” Sam clicked off the phone. What operation was Wilbur Bruce overseeing on his patch? Well he had ways of finding out. This was Thailand…