“Elroy you are number one principal. Innocent you are a major distributor. The Nigerian syndicate has recruited you because of your family link. More importantly; you have used the bank robbery money to buy into a share of the profits.” He stopped. “Is that clear?”
They looked blankly at him.
“Okay, try this. You will arrange shipments of counterfeit notes and collect the money. Make sure you protect the money from falling into unwanted hands. Nothing fancy.”
Elroy and Innocent seemed to be getting it.
Elroy said, “I principal man, no friggin’ problem.”
Innocent said, “I get to kill these slant eye ‘motherfuckers’ as well?”
Vince sighed again. “Let’s play it cool first, ok? I do the talking while we negotiate. Magnam acts as banker and interpreter? You keep quiet and observe. Now I must have told you this many times over,” he said. “Is it clear now?”
“Crystal,” said Elroy. “We slap a few slant-eyes around and take their dough.”
“You think we stupid or something?” said Innocent, his voice rising.
Vince backed off the hassle. Tried to reason. “Our lives are on the line. These Chinese are serious competition…and they have backup.”
“Hey they’re no competition, they dead,” grunted Innocent. “Give me a pump gun and I’ll spread their ‘motherfucking’ brains all over.”
Vince gave up and closed his eyes. This was going to be a right pantomime. He decided to go back to his apartment and spend some quality time with Nok.
Dong Sui See went over it once more with Lai Chan Chen. “At no time must you threaten the black criminals. We will deal with them later. It would also be better if I oversee the negotiations from the observation point.”
Lai nodded. During the first day of the Buddhist holiday, the Lucky-Nine club had secretly installed and tested a High Definition miniature camera that recorded all activity in the room at the back. Whilst the main business was to produce pornography and perhaps use video stills for blackmail, it was also going to be obligatory photographic and audio insurance for such covert activity.
Dong continued, “Lucy Lee will act as a principal and you will be our Chief of Security. Make sure our Bank associate is there to test the notes.” Dong closed one eyelid. “We will have no use for him after that.”
“Lucy Lee?” queried Lai.
Dong smiled. “She thinks it is a screen test for a new Chinese drama series. I told her it is only her role that is being auditioned and not to concern herself with the other ‘impromptu actors’. She even has an outline script.”
Lai smiled. He would see Lucy Lee later. It was working out perfectly.
On the morning of the meeting, whilst Nok was at the hairdressers (an all-day job, trimming and washing hair, attaching extensions, adding highlights,…Vince tuning her out), he visited Panthip Plaza, New Phetchaburi Road in Ratchathewi district of Bangkok.
The plaza houses five stories of computer hardware, software, electronics, and accessory shops at very affordable prices and is a haven for computer geeks, and gamers looking for the latest counterfeit software. A few shops also stocked sophisticated electronic items.
Mr. White had told him to find a Dr. Ohm who owned a small shop next to Sawadee electronics on the 4th floor, and who could speak good English (at least in explaining how electronic gadgets work).
Vince took the crowded escalators up to the 5th floor and found the shop, Ohm’s Electrics written on a small sign on the desk. He gave Mr. White’s card to the thin Thai man behind the counter, who looked at him through myopic reading glasses. He then muttered something in Thai to his lady assistant and ushered Vince into the back room. He pointed to a chair next to a small wooden desk.
“Sit. Mr. White, he good man for business. What you want?”
Vince explained the template that he had taken from the Provo manual.
‘Construct what looks like a calculator the size of a credit card, but thicker. Assemble copper structures incorporated into the integrated circuits. Test and calibrate it until satisfied. Finally, insert what looks like a cube of ‘Blue-Tac’ into the false battery compartment.’
Dr. Ohm shook his head, “Cannot.”
Vince considered this encouraging because the man did not say ‘not have’; therefore it was probably just a matter of cost.
“I pay cash,” said Vince testing. “Maybe 5,000 baht.”
“Tell me good price.”
The man thought a moment “This very difficult. Police find out, shut shop, and lose away business.”
“Mr. White told me you could help. He would not risk you losing your business.”
The man looked closely at Vince, and came to a decision. “15,000 baht. Big discount for Mr. White.”
Vince nodded and peeled off the notes. “Thank you Dr. Ohm. I tell Mr. White you have been very helpful.”
“You come back maybe one hour, two hour ok?” said Dr. Ohm.
“Make it one hour, I have a plane to catch,” joked Vince.
Dr. Ohm did not find the joke funny. Muttered something in Thai about Farang ting tong (crazy).
While Dr. Ohm constructed the calculator, Vince took the escalators back down to the ground floor. After choosing some new ‘chic-flick’ DVD’s for Nok, he sat in a small café inside the front door. He ordered a Root beer, and a ham and cheese sandwich, and waited.
Anything could and would go wrong, he thought. We may or may not have back up; Elroy and Innocent could blow the whole thing. At the very least, he would have a little electronic security that could give him a few minutes diversionary cover, if necessary.
Dr. Ohm modestly explained to Vince that the ‘calculator’ was powered by a micro battery about the size of a pencil tip, and had a life span of several years. Using the simple numeric mode, delay times measured in seconds could be keyed in and set by pressing the ‘INV’ key. The unit would be activated by using the scientific keys to key in a chosen password, and again pressing the ‘INV’ key to start the countdown.
He grinned as he said the unit could be de-activated by re-entering the password, that is, if there was enough time to do so. “Good joke, eh?”
On the morning of the meeting Lai Chan Chen, wearing short chinos and a green open necked shirt with a gold chain on show, called at the bank teller’s house. His wife, Naomi, opened the door. He could see a couple of children peeking from the kitchen. Although it was early, she looked very elegant wearing a chic cream blouse with the top button undone, and a wrap around sky blue skirt that accentuated her figure. Nice, thought Lai.
“Is your husband ready?” he smiled, thinking she was certainly ready. He was looking forward to the next time.
“Ron’s just packing his machinery; he’ll be with you soon. Can I offer you some tea?” she asked politely.
Lai smirked as he looked at her appraisingly. “No it’s ok, maybe next time.”
On the morning of the meeting, whilst Magnam was soaking in the Jacuzzi, Elroy and Innocent were seated in the lounge, talking.
“We sure in a mess,” said Elroy. “We should have gone somewhere else, anywhere but Thailand.” He chewed thoughtfully on a piece of burnt toast. “Those bar girls in South Carolina screwed us good and proper. And they screwed my friggin’ head up even more.
“Fucking right. Every ‘motherfucker’s’ on our backs; slant eyes, dumb prick police and the white asshole all ordering us around.” Innocent picked his nose and flicked a slime ball against the wall. “I outta this.”
“Yeah Dawg, and then what? We got no passports, remember.”
“Screw the passports, you gotta better idea?”
Elroy thought about it. “Maybe we go get new passports.”
Innocent snorted another slime ball. “We got nothing, just pocket money. The white ‘motherfucker’ pays for the ladies, we get no cut there.” Innocent stopped and stared at Elroy. “You have money? You not telling me something?”
Elroy took on the challenge. “Who says we friggin’ pay? I got a secret stash somewhere in this room, you crazy or something?” He glared across and wiped some crumbs from his mouth. “No, we just go get photos, and then order passports. Pay a deposit to show we’re serious and when they ready we got guns. Easy.”
Innocent found something interesting to pick off his leg. It looked alive. He snuffed it out. “We go order from who, wise guy?” They got a shop in Landmark, maybe?”
Elroy stopped. Good question. Where did that come from? He poked a finger round his teeth, trying to dislodge a sticky bit. The best he could come up with sounded like bullshit. “All these Thais think about 24/7 is money, right? They think we rich people, staying in this penthouse room for weeks with expensive ladies visiting us.” He looked across. Innocent seemed to be listening, not playing with the remote. “Even the security guard will know someone. Yeah that’s it; we go talk to the guard tonight, when we get some R&R break.”
Innocent switched on the TV. He had lost interest. “Yeah, right.”