Vince glanced out the window at the rain hissing down, a grey sheet hammering at the glass. He turned back the crew. They were slumped in chairs not really doing too much. Magnam was playing with the remote, browsing through the TV channels, while Elroy was watching Innocent pick his nose. All the adrenalin dissipated. “Listen up,” said Vince. “Go and take some R&R, for Christ sake. Same restrictions as before, ok?”
Elroy stirred. “Dawg, it’s gym time. Get some power before the ladies come.”
Innocent flicked a slime ball to join the others on the wall. He glared at Vince. “Don’t need nursemaids, and don’t need reminding either. You think I’m thick or something?”
Vince kept his expression bland. “We can settle it right now if you want.”
Innocent tensed, but didn’t have the energy to make a stand. “When I’ve blown the chinks off the map, I’ll be coming for you.”
Vince stared him down. “I’ll be waiting. Until then, if I tell you to eat shit you eat it.”
Innocent slouched out of his chair mouthing obscenities. He gathered up his gym bag and turned to Elroy. “It sure smells bad in here.”
With Elroy and Innocent gone, Magnam said he preferred to watch TV for a while, and then maybe go to the noodle stall across the road.
Vince thought about relaxing in the Jacuzzi. Perhaps he should call Nok, or maybe Lucy, as he entered her contact number into his cell phone.
He called Prik Dum instead. “First consignment delivered as planned. We need to talk about the next delivery. By the way, do you know a woman called Lucy Lee or a man named Ron?”
Prik Dum sounded surprised. “Why you ask?”
“She was fronting the negotiations. He was using electronic equipment to test the notes. But there was someone else watching. Upstairs through a hidden camera.”
“Okay we talk now. Meet Landmark terrace bar one hour.”
Prik Dum sipped a coconut smoothie through a straw. “It could be important. The final consignment must be delivered to the Chinese master, the man who is directing Lai Chan Chen. He Dong Sui See, husband Lucy Lee.”
Vince relaxed. Picked up his glass and swilled the beer around. Watched the bubbles rising to the top. It was becoming clearer now. Lucy Lee was being used by her husband, who wished to remain anonymous. At least for the time being. That was another problem. “How do we make sure Ding Dong is at the exchange?”
Prik Dum’s face contorted. He hesitated. “You could say Nigerian controller want personal contact. This impersonator expendable.”
It was insane. Vince gulped down his beer, and held his hand out. “Tell me, where are you going to find a black man who will impersonate the head of the Nigerian syndicate…and be willing to be expendable?” Vince was becoming apprehensive, and was glad that Mr. White’s boys would provide the backup.
“Yes, not easy,” replied Prik Dum. He sucked at his straw. “Must think. Maybe he get malaria or something.”
Dong Sui See played back the tape. Something not right he thought. Mr. Rennie made one or two negotiating misjudgements that he wouldn’t have made, or was it intentional? He had agreed to a really low exchange rate. Clearly Mr. Rennie suspected there was a camera, and at times appeared to be looking straight at him. Maybe he was becoming paranoid, but better to be sure.
He called for Lai and offered him jasmine tea. “Cousin, the situation is too delicate to dispense of our bank contact at this point.” He waved aside Lai’s protestations. “We’ve reached a critical point in our negotiations with the Nigerians, but is it a genuine deal?” He paused to savour the aroma before taking a sip from his bone china cup. Lai was frowning, but attentive.
He came to a decision. “Do not compromise yourself, but find out exactly what is happening before our next consignment. Use one of our trusted interrogators to interview the Thai translator. I am told he frequents the Dim Sun Noodle shop, off Sukhumvit, close to Ashok BTS.”
Lai nodded compliantly. “I will use ‘Le Chef’.”
When Lai left, Dong Sui See looked studiously at the footage of Lucy Lee. It was a pity that she had her back to the camera, but she looked a little too close to Mr. Rennie. He decided to increase surveillance and called Ngn to massage him.
Dong Sui See was right, thought Vince. He relaxed in the Jacuzzi and re-ran through the negotiations. Too eager to compromise and he had made more concessions than needed at the end. He shook his head and soaped himself. Lucy Lee had sensed his Achilles heel, and distracted him somewhat. Just thinking about her now distracted him. He turned on the cold tap. Maybe the Chinese would assume he was an amateur and underestimate him. He reached out for his travelling cell phone.
“Sangporn beauty salon, can I assist you?”
Vince was a bit surprised that Lucy had given him a business number. He recovered quickly. “This is Mr. Vince Rennie, Ms Lee asked me to call about an appointment. Is she there?”
“Please wait, I ask,” replied a lady.
Vince was left waiting for several minutes until the lady returned. “She say she busy with customer. Leave number. Maybe she call… or better you call another day.”
“Ok,” said Vince as he left his number and pressed the red button to end the call. So much for that, he thought. He considered calling Nok. She was a good kid, bright and sexy, and Vince liked her a lot, but she was still a kid and most of all she didn’t turn him on quite like Lucy had done.
He was drying himself when the cell phone rang.
“Hello,” said Vince. “Who’s that?”
“Lucy. Is that Vince?”
“Yeah, but I thought you were busy.”
“Vince, my husband monitors my cell phone calls,” she explained in a stage whisper. “I’m sure he pays one of my staff to spy on me.”
Vince, having experienced Lucy’s dramatic style, laughed. “Sure, ok, whatever,” he said. “How about we get together later?”
Lucy gave him directions to a very private address. “Be there at 10pm darling,” she said in her best stage voice, “I am so looking forward to negotiating with you again.”
Nok complained. “I not see you Raynee, you always busy,” when Vince called her and said he had to see ‘a man about a dog’. “You always look for dog, you no like me anymore. Maybe you like dog more.” she accused.
Vince placated her, that is, he tried to placate her by telling her why he needed to see the dog man. “I have very private business, maybe find missing bank money,” he said.
Nok was unimpressed. “No believe you. You see lady. You butterfly.”
No, I’m really busy.” Big lie. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Vince said he would spend quality time with her.
Vince said he would make her happy.
Vince said he would buy her a gold bracelet.
“You don’t want a gold bracelet?” said Vince.
“Yes. Want. No want you.”
Vince said he would talk tomorrow.
“Up to you,” said Nok.
Well that went well, thought Vince as he ended the call. Maybe it was just too difficult to fathom out how Thai women thought, there again, how any women thought.
Tan Dai’s wife, Mai Dai, was very surprised. First Lieutenant Prik Dum visited her. Drinking his tea, he offered his deepest consolations and vowed to bring her husband’s perpetrator to justice, as it was his duty and main priority.
He asked a lot of questions about her husband that she knew nothing about. After a while, he seemed satisfied that she was not going to complain about the lack of police progress and he gave her 5,000 baht from the police compensation funds.
She lit a candle and offered a prayer to her bedside Buddha. To be honest, Tan Dai was a useless lump of shit who got what he deserved.
After that a Farang gentleman in a dark grey suit and wearing matching dark sunglasses visited her. He asked a lot of questions about her husband, in a mixture of bad Thai and English with an American accent that she knew nothing about and could not really understand. She just smiled and offered him tea, which he accepted.
After a while he seemed satisfied that she posed no threat to his world, and as he left he removed a brown paper parcel from his inside pocket. He told her that it was found in her husband’s locker at the 7-Eleven shop.
When he had left she opened the parcel in her bedroom, and found it contained 20,000 baht. She lit another candle and offered a prayer to her bedside Buddha. To be honest, although Tan Dai got what he deserved, he was a useful lump of shit after all.
Then Lai Chan Chen rang her doorbell. It was dark and raining outside and the streetlamp outside her door was blurred. She opened the door and shuddered as the night wind rushed around her feet. He smiled at her as she recognised him, and invited him inside.
Elroy waited until the guard was sitting alone reading his newspaper, before he sidled up to him in his tracksuit. “You speak English?” he asked.
The man nodded his head. “Okay,” he said. “Manchester United, Liverpool, good.”
Elroy was puzzled Tried again.
“Chelsea, Arsenal also good.”
Elroy gave up and went back up to the Gym.
“Well?” queried Innocent, who was pressing a heavy weight without a lot of effort, and trying to impress a petite Thai girl with long black hair who was using the walking ramp. She had a walkman attached to her ears and was paying no attention.
“He wasn’t very helpful,” said Elroy. “He spoke some bullshit no-one could understand.” He leaned against the rowing machine. “Perhaps we should involve Magnam. Maybe cut him in.”
“Like no way,” said Innocent. He lowered the weight and eyed Elroy. “Cut him into what? We got nothing.”
“Well he don’t know about that,” explained Elroy. “We make it real easy for him.”
“Like shove a gun down his throat,” said Innocent.
“No, we get him a new passport also. Then the asshole can go where he likes.”
“He gives me the creeps, just sitting there and playing with his blade,” ranted Innocent. “Like I got to watch my fucking back all the time, in case he uses me for target practice or something.” He slapped another couple of weights on his bar. “Can’t trust these Thai assholes; they’ll all smiley-smiley to your face, then they stab you in the back as soon as you turn around.” He pointed a huge paw. “Like when I busy watching TV or something, he don’t get me my beer from the fridge any more, also.” He spat a globule of saliva onto the mat. “No fucking respect.”
Elroy waited until Innocent had his say. “Well bro, this is the only way we going to get our new passports so we got to use him. We’re friggin’ screwed’ is the alternative.”
“We’re screwed, anyway,” said Innocent. He switched off and started to press up his weight. “You go sort it, I’m busy.” He looked hungrily in the direction of the petite Thai lady.
Upstairs, Magnam was watching TV alone. Vince had gone out to ‘see a man about a dog’ or something, he told Elroy, when he returned from the gym.
Elroy looked at him. “What you talking about?” he asked. “Everywhere tonight, people talking bullshit no–one understands.”
Elroy recovered a bit, and held his hands up. “No disrespect Magnam, just thinking how we get out of this mess.”
Magnam pointed to the door. “You can go. No-one keep you.”
Elroy went to fetch his gun to blow Magnam’s brains out all over, but then thought better about it. God had locked them all in the safe and changed the combination. He sat down facing Magnam and used the remote to turn off the TV.
“Now just listen up to me,” he started.
Vince paid off the taxi driver. He had messed around long enough going with the flow and had got sidetracked with Nok. (Find them, fuck them and forget them was his normal motto.) In other circumstances, he would have just shot the kneecaps off the black bastards. Then, if this counterfeit sting hadn’t been arranged, he would have picked up his spare passports from the lock-up and pissed off back to Cambodia or Vietnam. Or even Dubai.
What was now holding him back was the prospect of crushing the Chinese crime syndicate, with a big payday bonus from the police. In addition, there was the missing bank money that Lucy might know something about. Now he needed answers, and quickly, otherwise what was left of his life was going to be short. More than that, he was going to screw Lucy’s brains out.
“And I just thought you wanted to screw me,” laughed Lucy as Vince began to quiz her about her role in the counterfeit operation. Lucy was wearing a modest Dior cream blouse with pearl buttons down the front and hazel green hot pants that matched her eyes. She modelled crocodile stilettos that showed off her shapely long legs.
They were sitting in two luxury white leather armchairs facing one another, and sipping their drinks. Lucy had offered Vince ‘Dom Perignom’ champagne, but he said a beer would be fine. “Well if you want to re-open negotiations, first you have to show me the goods,” she said, arching her back and letting her long black hair bounce across her blouse.
Vince looked at her breasts thoughtfully as her nipples strained against the fabric. No bra, he thought, but there again her breasts didn’t need support. She certainly knew how to turn men on; he would need to be careful. “You invited me here, why don’t you show me first?”
Lucy crept like a cat out of her chair and knelt down between Vince’s feet. They watched each other as she slowly undid the buttons on her blouse until her breasts swung free. She fondled her taut nipples as she raised them to his face and whispered, “Is this what you’re looking for?”
Vince didn’t answer because by then he had his mouth full.