Crime Suppression Unit Part 6
Hey, give me back my transfer, Rick shouted as he pushed through the crowd. You’re too small to drive.
You don’t even have a car.
The child stopped for a second, still grinning furiously. Car outside. I not allowed here.
Rick and Soopies followed the boy. There was an old beat up Austin-Healy sedan by the curb. It was an early 1950s model and was painted light blue at one time. Now it was mostly dents and rust. One front fender was missing completely and the hub caps had left a long time ago. Rick could see the top of a boys head peeking out just above the steering wheel. He did not look much older than the first child.
The door creaked and protested as Rick opened it for Soopies. They got into the back of the car. The little boy jumped into the front and turned around kneeling on the seat facing his new customers. He was still smiling.
Pyin Oo Lwin Hotel please, Rick said.
I know. First we take you city tour. See many things. Only ten dollars United States money. My name Nui. This my brother Saa. We take you Pagoda now. Number one tour.
Not today Nui. Take us to the hotel. Maybe tomorrow. How old are you guys anyway?
We eighteen years old sir.
If you don’t start telling me the truth, we are not going anywhere.
I twelve. Brother fourteen but we drive good.
So how come you can speak English?
We live orphanage three years, They teach us everything.
Why, where are your parents?
The boy looked thoughtful. My parents die. Missionaries find us. Take us here We live with them now.
Where are you from?
North, in mountains. We are hill tribe. Karen. Can not come to city but now have I. D. card from church. He smiled brightly revealing perfect white teeth. He pulled a card from his pants pocket. It had his photo on it and The Church of Latter Day Saints was printed prominently across the top.
Why aren’t you in school?
Everyday we run away, go back, sleep at night. They always let us in, say prayers to Jesus. Then we eat, we sleep.
The car drove towards the hotel. The streets were crowded with rickshaws and motorbikes. An old Plymouth bus passed going the other way. It was in worse shape than the car.
How old do you have to be to drive?
I don’t know, the driver said.
Whose car is this?
Oh yeah. Where did you get it?
We found it.
I bet you found it sitting right in the street waiting for you, right? Rick looked at the dashboard. The ignition had been broken open and in place of a key, a wire had been jammed into the hole. Don’t they teach you not to steal in school?
Nui became serious again. He was still facing towards the rear and rested his face on his folded arms. We need money.
We cant tell you. He seemed pretty firm on that point.
Come here, you handsome man you. Sonia pulled him over the front seat and set him on her lap. She put her arms around him, looked into his eyes and smiled. Sonia’s smile melted the hearts of men and boys alike. Thai girls are always smiling but Sonia’s smile held magic. Her face was close to his and his eyes widened. You can whisper in my ear, she said.
Nui wrapped his arms around her neck and started speaking softly and slowly. In a few minutes he started sobbing the words out, then crying louder and louder. Great choking sobs filled the car and he gasped the words. He hung on to Sonia for dear life and buried his head into her chest. Rick looked over at Sonia with a question in his eyes. She shook her head no and tears ran down her cheek.
They drove in what passed for silence after that, listening to the valves clicking away. Every time Saa stepped on the gas, the valves clicked faster. Nui held tightly to Sonia. The sidewalks were filled with people selling old magazines, books, second hand clothes, sunglasses, tiny bottles of hand lotion, small bottles of liquor and ear phones obviously from an airliner.
The car pulled in front of a whitewashed three-story building. There was a doorman dressed like Punjab in the old Mandrake the Magician comics. He wore a huge red turban, a white jacket with gold buttons, white pants and knee high black boots. He held a large stick in his hand, like a broom stick but fatter.
This is hotel. We pick you up later for city tour. Is only ten dollars, said the diminutive driver. He seemed pretty sure of himself for a fourteen year old kid.
How about we skip tonight. Can you be here at eight thirty in the morning. Well take the tour then.
Yes Sir. He beamed at Rick. He was a handsome boy with dark skin like his brother. Sonia unwrapped herself from Nui and got out of the car. A dozen street kids, all ragged, half clothed and starved looking jumped up from the curb and started over. Punjab raised his stick and advance towards them. They stopped immediately, fear in their eyes. Sonia took a fist full of dollars from her pocketbook and gave it to the kids. They squealed and shouted in delight. She took another handful of money and put it in the drivers lap, then turned and walked past the doorman into the hotel. There was a white marble floor with a faded red rug in the center. The marble steps of the circular stairway were worn in the middle. The hand railing was made of teak. Rick wondered how old the hotel was.
He checked in at the front desk and a uniformed bellboy led them up the stairs to their room and opened the door with a large brass key attached to a wooden square with the room number carved in raised letters. He turned on the air-conditioner and closed the heavy drapes. Rick caught a glimpse of green grass and the swimming pool through the window.
Ricky, lets just stay here and rest for a while. I don’t feel like doing anything right now. Sonia spoke quietly and pensively.
She came up to Rick and put her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder. Just hold me for a while. Come and lay on the bed with me. I want to be in your arms now.
They lay down together and Sonia just kind of stared into space.
Rick put his arm around her and spoke gently as if not to disturb her thoughts.
Okay. What did the kid say?
Nice stuff, Frank!